As a writer, the journey of crafting a novel can be an exhilarating and equally challenging experience. From hooking the reader to creating a satisfying conclusion, every aspect of your writing needs to be well thought out and executed. But, as with any creative process, mistakes are bound to happen. In this blog post, we will be discussing five common novel writing pitfalls that can derail your story and frustrate your readers. By understanding these issues and taking steps to avoid them, you can ensure a smoother writing process and a stronger final product that will captivate your audience.
The Slow Start
You generally have approximately ten pages to hook your reader (and often more like three), whether that reader is an agent or editor or your audience. If you do not get into the conflict and the tension of the plot within those first ten pages, your reader will likely move on. If background information is needed, that should be worked into the story as you move along, not stacked at the beginning of the story like an obstacle that the reader needs to overcome before he or she can begin the real meat of the plot. Jump right into your story, grab your reader, and let everything else flow from there.
Overly Complicated Plot
As you planned out your novel, you likely had many different ideas about ways that the plot could go. However, not every one of those ideas needs to be included in the final product. Too many overlapping story lines muddle the plot and confuse and exhaust the reader. Once you have outlined your story, you need to go back and evaluate each individual story line. Include only those that are necessary to drive the plot forward. Then make sure that you follow each of those story lines through to completion. If you find that you begin a story line, but never quite get back to it, that is a clue that the story line is extraneous and should be eliminated. Streamline your plot whenever possible and end product will be a stronger novel.
Drifting Point of View
Before you begin writing your novel, you need to decide from whose point of view the story will be told. This will be vital to the way you approach the rest of the writing. Once you make this decision, you need to follow it through, consistently describing each scene through that character’s (or narrator’s) eyes. While it is possible (and fairly common) to tell a story through alternating viewpoints, this needs to be carefully planned and executed, and done for a defined purpose, with each viewpoint clearly delineated. You do not want to randomly drift back and forth between the characters’ viewpoints within a single scene, as this will result only in confusion for the reader. Define your point of view from the start, imagine each scene through that character’s eyes, and be consistent with it.
Dialogue between your characters should sound just as if you are speaking it. Accents and dialects should be used consistently, not come and go, and the words themselves should flow easily off the tongue. Exposition in dialogue should be held to a minimum. The maxim “Show, don’t tell” holds true here. Read your dialogue aloud. This should give you a feel for whether it sounds natural or forced. Rework it until it rolls off the tongue easily.
The Missing Ending
Once you have hooked your reader, you want to provide a satisfying finish to your book, not leave them frustrated. Build your plot and your tension carefully, leading up to a final climax, and be sure to provide some resolution. Your end goal should be completion of the story, tying up all of the various plot lines, not simply a word count. Begin your story with your ending in mind, keep that ending always in sight, and do not stop until you have reached that point, and satisfied readers will be the result.
The Novel Factory
The Novel Factory is a powerful tool that can help writers navigate these common pitfalls and create compelling stories. This innovative software provides a structured, step-by-step approach to novel writing, guiding you through the entire process from outlining to editing. With features like customizable templates, character development aids, and plot management tools, the Novel Factory allows you to visualize your story and stay organized throughout the writing process. By using this comprehensive resource, you can keep track of your storylines, maintain a consistent point of view, and develop natural-sounding dialogue, ensuring that your novel avoids the common mistakes mentioned in this blog post. Whether you’re a seasoned author or just starting your writing journey, the Novel Factory can be an invaluable ally in bringing your story to life and creating a captivating reading experience for your audience.
In conclusion, avoiding these five common novel writing pitfalls can make a significant difference in the quality of your work. By giving your story a strong start, streamlining your plot, maintaining a consistent point of view, crafting natural dialogue, and providing a satisfying ending, you can create a captivating and engaging novel that your readers won’t be able to put down. Remember, writing is a process, and it’s essential to learn from your mistakes and grow as an author. Keep honing your craft, and you’ll be on your way to creating unforgettable stories that will resonate with readers for years to come.
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