How to write your novel

Hey, did you put ‘how to write your novel’ into a search engine and end up here? Wow, there is so much writing advice out there in the internet world. Published writers, unpublished writers, bloggers and wannabes, people flogging ‘how to’ books.

You know, in the gold rushes of the mid 1800s a very few people struck it rich and made a fortune. Very, very many people didn’t find much at all. And some extremely smart folk made a motzer selling stuff to the gold miners. Beer, water, sex, food, tools, supplies – you name it. I think the writing game is a bit like that. I’m not saying you should ignore advice – far from it. If you do your ground work and find out what everybody has to say then you’re in a better position to judge what you want to do yourself. Make no mistake – good writing is craft as well as art. Although the story is the thing, you must be able to tell the tale, draw the reader in, have her turning the page. If you want to be published you must know more than just writing. Who is your audience? What is your genre? How does publishing work? How do you approach agents and/or publishers?

Me, I’ve had one book published by a very small publisher. Am I going to tell you how to write? No. But I can tell you my tale. I have an academic background. I started with a degree in history. When I decided to be a teacher (for good or ill) I obtained a post graduate qualification in education. When I decided to go into the computer industry I obtained another post grad qualification. When I decided to dabble in copywriting I did a course. So (of course) when I decided to write, I did courses

I’ve commenced two on-line novel-writing courses. The first one I never finished because it didn’t suit my needs. The second one I did finish. That was because in the process I actually wrote my own book (not the published one) and a good number of chapters were read and commented on by a tutor. This is the course, for those interested. I can also recommend looking at Holly Lisle’s guides. I bought her create a plot clinic which I found was great value for money but she also offers free guides to writing. I also did a one year, Year of the Novel course presented through the Queensland Writers Centre, and during that course I wrote my published novel, Die a Dry Death.

Just remember whatever you do has to work for you. Lots of people will tell you there are rules for writing and just as many people will tell you that all those rules have been broken. But the only way you’ll know you’ve broken a rule is if you know what the rule is. The best advice you’ll ever get is to read again those writers you love. Look at how they write, what you like, what you don’t and apply that approach to your own work. Persevere, be willing to change and to learn and you’ll get there. Off you go…


About Greta van der Rol

I'm an author of fast-paced, action-adventure novels, mainly space opera - although I've been known to write in other genres. I live not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoy photography and cooking when I'm not bent over the computer. I have a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping me in my writing endeavours.

Posted on 15 November 2010, in On writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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