At Last, a Simple Solution to Get Your Novel Published Quickly and Efficiently
Publish your novel quickly with these 10 rules
You can’t expect to publish a novel without having a flawless manuscript, a strong well-crafted story, and motivated characters overcoming increasing conflicts. Follow this short guide to clean and polish your novel; agents and publishers will notice the difference.
1) Cut out everything unnecessary
A novel has one plot; one story. Side characters should be interesting and their stories should intertwine with the main characters in such a way that their actions directly bring about problems, consequences or unexpected benefits for the main characters. If they have their own story that doesn’t affect the one, true Plot – they are wasting space and stealing the spotlight. Your goal as a writer is to hook reader’s attention – but once our attention is hooked, you must deliver! We will not tolerate tangents, side trips, excursions. We will not be interested in getting to know some other character as the hero or heroine is in the heat of battle. Stick to the story. If it doesn’t affect or change the story directly – cut it out!
2) Make your characters have a strong reason for everything they do
Characters also have one thing they need or want; this one thing may change several times throughout the story, and sometimes they may feel confused about which path to take – but make sure they do choose, and have strong reasons for choosing. Example: Harry Potter is notoriously annoying because he never does anything on his own, he’s lazy and selfish and waits around whining until things happen to him. Luckily, he has two very developed best friends and a host of supporting characters that move the plot. Harry does, however, progress as he gets older – so that the final life and death decisions he must make are rooted in his deeply developed personal convictions.
3) Put conflict in every page, and increase it until the very end.
A story = conflict. Start with the ‘ordinary world’, and very quickly introduce the arrival of a problem. Conflict builds until the main characters must try and solve it; but they do it wrong or what they planned fails, and they try again, and things get worse. The whole book is a battle for order; the good guys are trying to ‘set things right’ but can’t, because they are opposed by other forces. (This is not just in adventure stories; conflict is necessary in every story.) If things are good, happy, fine, peaceful, readers will put your book down!
4) Raise the stakes
Show exactly what the worst thing that may happen is, and then let it happen. Have the characters worry about something, or say how terrible X would be or “at least X hasn’t happened”, and then confirm their deepest fears and have them claw their way out.
5) Get rid of repetition, strange words or phrases, things that attract attention.
Good writing is precise: choose the words that say exactly what you want them to. Try not to repeat the same word in a sentence, or even paragraph – especially if it’s an unusual word. Nothing draws more attention than repeating the same unusual word several times in a book. Read everything out loud; if you get stuck, pause or stumble, or if you keep hearing the same word or phrase pop out repeatedly, fix the writing.
6) Improve your dialog. If you wouldn’t say it in real life, don’t use it. Cut out everything but the cool, witty banter.
Authors often have trouble with dialog; so that’s one thing publishers and agents are sure to check! Always cut out the pleasantries (“How are you?” he said. “Fine, and you?” she said) and say what’s meaningful. Conversations should generally be terse; talking isn’t writing. People shouldn’t ‘preach’ or drone or give monologues to fill in the backstory. They shouldn’t be thinking about anything except what is important to them right then, and their relationship with that other person. Get a friend to read it out loud with you. If you wouldn’t say it in real life, avoid it.
7) Start and end chapters in the middle of the action.
Chapters go like this: ACTION, resolve, some background info, some new goal or aim, CONFLICT, end chapter… ACTION, resolve… etc. Build the story. Raise the stakes.
8) Describe your scenes – be specific. Give details. Be knowledgeable.
Don’t say “he pointed the gun” (what kind of gun? What kind of wood was the handle made of? How did the light from the room reflect off of it?) Always choose specific over vague. “Burgundy” or “Crimson” are better than “red”. A “wilted maiden hair fern” is better than “some plants”. At the same time, don’t refer to things that the reader will have to go look up, like a “Maserati MC12.”
9) CLEAN IT UP!
After you’re plot is stable and tight, your characters act for believable reasons and respond to increases in conflict and action, you writing is smooth and descriptive and it’s basically a damn good story – only then are you ready to clean it up. Don’t waste your time getting proofreading too early. Wait until it’s really PERFECT. But then, yes, you will need to go through painstakingly or pay someone to edit and proofread your novel. Mistakes are just not tolerable.
10) Make a PERFECT proposal, and send it out
You have have noticed that 1 to 9 are basically about improving the text. Authors are way to quick to try and hook the attention of a publisher or agent. Yes, they are looking for great manuscripts, but you better be damn sure yours is good enough before you waste their time. Don’t send a crappy query letter or proposal, don’t get too excited, don’t move too quickly. Don’t blow your shot by rushing, and then humbly have to re-submit the same idea months later after you’ve taken the time to do it right.
There are lots of resources online and off about crafting a proposal – it is of supreme importance that you spend a lot of time on yours. It’s definitely worth to get it proofread or edited, hopefully by someone who’s really good at proposals.
With the right proposal and a clean, well written manuscript, you’ll get published in no time.