The Magic Ingredients of a Novel – Part 4
In this last part of the things that writers can incorporate into novels to help them get noticed by agents and publishers, we’ll look at the last group of ingredients that should help this happen, the kind of things that enrich and enliven the story, those very things that lift the story from every page.
Almost all novels have a flashback of some description. That’s because what has happened in the past always shapes the way our characters are in the present.
This device allows the author to take the reader back to a previous time in a character’s life in order to show prior events/incidents that have a bearing on the present story. They are a great way to impart information, plant clues and explain character behaviours. They can be constructed however the author sees fit – i.e. they can be brief, long, obtrusive or so subtle that they’re hardly noticed.
Include at least a couple of flashbacks to deepen the story.
Pace is something that agents and publishers actively look for. They want to know how the story reads; they want to see the variation of pace between reflective, quiet scenes, the fast, action scenes and everything else in between.
Pace helps to enhance the tension and atmosphere by heightening the perception of the flow of the narrative. Long words and more description help to slow the pace, while short staccato words in small bursts quicken the pace. Narrative should naturally slow down and accelerate throughout the novel. This is what gives it a varied pace, because without it the narrative would either be too boring or slow, or it would rush along without a break.
Keep it varied = keeps the narrative interesting.
Grammar & Spelling
The one constant that every novel should have is excellent grammar and spelling, because this is a fundamental requirement. It shows potential agents and publishers your grasp of the language and your skill level.
A terrible grasp of grammar and spelling won’t earn a novel any acceptances, no matter how good the plot might seem. It will also tell the prospective agent or publisher that the author is unprofessional and obviously can’t be bothered with the basics.
Go through your work as many times as it needs to ensure that spelling and grammar in no less than 100%.
Style & Voice
This is unique to every writer. It’s what sets you apart from others. It’s your own way of writing and telling a story and your way of describing things. And if you’re lucky enough to be an experienced writer, your work is instantly recognisable to readers, because they can readily identify your style and voice as an author.
A sense of voice and style doesn’t happen overnight, however. It doesn’t happen with the first book you write, either. A sense of style and unique authorial voice is something that takes years to develop. That’s why writers should spend time writing and honing their skills, their style and their writing voice rather than rushing to self-publish the moment they’ve written a book.
Style and voice comes naturally, so don’t rush the process. Good things always come to those who wait.
Next week: How DO you write - what makes your writing so amazing?