This piece of advice on how to not write a novel applies whether you finish your first draft or not. It’s the cry of the artistic rebel who will go to the grave denouncing rules and techniques and anything that gets within a hundred yards of structure.
This does create a very good feeling, like you’re the king of the world. You can completely ignore all of the storytellers who came before you (be sure to call them hacks or sellouts). The fact that you’ll most likely not place your book anywhere shouldn’t hinder you from your intractable writing course.
The misdirected scribes who actually sell their books and build readerships take the craft of writing seriously. They study it without apology. They have people give them feedback—editors, critique groups, trusted and objective friends—and they read countless novels and examine what’s going on. They’ll do the following:
Analyze successful stories. They ask questions when reading and use their findings to help strengthen their work. For example:
- How does the writer make me want to turn the page?
- Why am I drawn to the lead character?
- When are the stakes raised?
- How does the writer integrate minor characters?
- What makes a scene work?
- What’s the key to conflict?
- How does the writer handle dialogue?
These studious writers will be spotted reading Writer’s Digest and books on writing. What they learn they apply and practice, and through the wonder of trial and error find themselves growing as writers.
But this is an article on how not to write a novel, so follow their example at your peril.