About my Book
The first thing a publisher or person will ask you is 'what is your book about?' This is a question you need to answer in 50 words or less. Other questions you need to ask yourself is what genre am I writing? This will help you set a word length limit as well, which is more important than it sounds. Genre expectations are real, and word count is included in that. So know your genre expectations and what story it is you're trying to tell.
The main events of a novel should be in the following sequence:
- What are the key events in my story?
- Where does my story start?
- What is the initiating change?
- Do I have enough complications/conflict? Make sure there isn't too much!
- What is the climax?
- How does my story resolve/end?
Characters are the people in your novel and the main tool to drive your story. So ask yourself:
- Who is my main character?
- Do I have an antagonist or do I need one?
- How many characters do I need? This will be based on genre. Romance will likely have fewer than fantasy.
- Who is telling my story? Remember, you are not telling the story. The story needs to be told by your characters.
- How does my character drive my story?
Point of View
Point of view (POV) is the narrator's position in relation to the story being told. Remember, in today's world, a story should be told from ONE point of view at at time. You may have two or three characters telling the story, but each point of view needs to be clear and separate from each other. Not doing so, telling the story from two POV's in one scene, is known as head-hopping and editors will pull you up on it.
So consider which POV you're going to tell the story from. In romance, you may tell it from the hero and the heroine's POV. In crime, it may be the detective only, or you may include the villain's or victim's POV.
How many POV's should you use? Again, this is based on genre. In romance, readers generally only want to read about the two people falling in love. Unless you're writing suspense, where you may include the villain's POV, generally readers aren't interested in the POV of the best friend or parent or colleague. You can easily get their POV across in different ways, through dialogue or action rather than their inner thoughts.
Of course, there is plenty more to think about when it comes to writing your first novel, but the above is a good place to start. There is nothing worse than needing to rewrite your 100,000 word manuscript from scratch simply because you weren't aware of POV consistency. Which I have done for every one of my novels.
August's Popular Fiction Workshop will be about pitching and more about knowing what your book is about and how to summarise it as briefly as possible.
Until then, happy writing!
Rachel is an aspiring author of romantic fiction. She is the facilitator of the Popular Fiction Writers Group at the Townsville Writers and Publishers Centre, where she hosts monthly workshops to help improve writing skills for herself and fellow writers.
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