This article is the third one in a mini-series, and you can view the first two here and here. Today, we’re focusing on writing that novel. Initially, you may think that there might not be much to cover, but you would be surprised. There are some things to discuss, and they can be significant (and some are downright essential). Without further ado, allow me to answer the question of what is there to cover.

Writing the book

With the outline you created, you get to begin the writing process. Like I mentioned before, if you read the other articles, some questions are answered while you’re writing, and this is your chance to answer them.

If you are forced to deviate from the outline, that’s ok because that exists solely to ground your thoughts. Some of what you wrote down doesn’t have to be absolute but what matters is that you stay true to the fundamentals of the character(s) and the world(s) you created along with the plot.

Creating characters and worlds while writing

There is also the possibility of creating new Characters or worlds while you’re writing. Whether you add those to your outline or not is up to you. For me, it depends on their importance and presence in the story.

If, say, I create a new character who will only show up for a few chapters, then an outline isn’t necessary here, but that carries the risk of losing what plans you might have with them. If you decide not to write an outline for them, then just make sure that character or world doesn’t slip away from your memory.

Describing the story

Another thing that’s important when writing is the description. Any seasoned writer will tell you how important that is. Describe the color of the place, the sounds, details about the area.

I’m not exhaustive in what I listed here, and I haven’t even mentioned the five senses, which are essential in the description of a location and the perspective of the character you’re writing. Utilize the senses: What does the character see? Smell? Hear? There is plenty to pull from to avoid a monotone story that gets boring quickly. Life is never black-and-white but a very colorful and detailed thing.

'Show, not tell'

This phrase is critical in writing, and it might not be the easiest thing to understand, even for someone new.

As a disclaimer, I struggle with this myself at times, so I might not explain this well, but those that do understand it are free to comment. To “tell” is to state the facts, and it pulls the reader away from your story. Consider the following example:

“The door was closed when Eric and Michael had their conversation.”

Here, you have the facts stated, but the sentence is passive, and not as engaging. However, what if we “showed” it instead?

“Eric pressed his ear against the door as he listened to Michael’s musings about their mysterious neighbor.”

Here, the characters are more dynamic, and the closed door is implied rather than blatantly stated.

Also, the readers are more engaged and curious: Who is the mysterious neighbor, and what do the characters have for or against the person? That’s something in the sentence that clicks, and the reader wishes to carry on. With “showing,” you’re showing the facts, and you made the sentence more active and engaging. The examples I wrote here might not be the best in the world, but I do hope they illustrate the point. Avoid using adverbs and passive voice when “showing.”

With writing, it might seem to be straightforward, but there’s more to writing than one might think.

What I explained above covers the major points, but there could be others as well that I glossed over. To write a novel is to create art and while the writer is free to express themselves, they must abide by the conventions. Restrictions breed creativity as well but don’t be too narrow, or it just won’t be creative at all.

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