Some advice can be sound but useless, especially when it comes to writing. Consider the following six simple “rules” for writing the perfect novel.
- Write an engaging first sentence.
- From that, build an equally compelling paragraph.
- Sustain that paragraph’s momentum with several more to form a chapter that will solidify the reader’s interest; paragraphs that completely introduce the “story problem” and bring to life at least one character about whom the reader is sure to care deeply. (Bonus attribute, make sure your enfolding work promises the reader that, by reading on, he or she is likely to learn many worthwhile things.)
- Follow your first chapter with others like it, all relentlessly advancing the storyline and the reader’s deep regard, or disregard, for its characters.
- Don’t prematurely disclose the ending. Be sure to leave no loose ends as the story winds down.
- Finally, when the moment arrives, end your novel quickly and sparely (while making sure that the reader is satisfied).
What could be simpler? Or truer? Or more difficult to follow? While the above “method” ensures success by definition, it’s useless in a practical sense; like the late comedian Will Rogers’ guaranteed technique for getting rich in the stock market:
- Buy stocks low.
- When they go up in value, sell them.
- If they don’t go up, don’t buy them.
Over the next several months in this, the “Chapters” category at writeJeremiah!, I’ll share several posts, with examples from my novel, Jeremiah’s Last Call, discussing my thoughts and reasoning as I did my best to follow steps 1 thru 3 above, despite their inherent fuzziness.