For all the young writers out there who have the ambition to write a novel. I know I had that ambition, but it took me a while to learn my style and to figure out what it takes to write a novel. Here are some tips for those beginners, you can maximize how amazing your novel will be.
1. Know Your Characters
Knowing their names and interests is important, but knowing the nitty-gritty of everything that has ever happened to them is even more important. How do they handle stress? How do they handle pain/anger? What do they love about their best friends? What makes them want to scream in agony? These types of questions go deep into the psychological profile of your character and help flesh it out and seem more human. This will help advance the amount of emotion you can put into the character and enhance the overall experience for the reader. You can find many lists of questions to know about your character online, such as here. I also have a link to a guide that my creative writing teacher gave me, that's very extensive. You don't need to answer all the questions, but it's good to at least know some of these vital questions around your character.
2. Know The Ending
If you're going to write a novel, you have to figure out the ending way before you even write the first word. This will help mold the plot of the book so that it shapes into be directly into what you need the end to be like. If you know where the story is going, it's easier to help fill in the gaps and add foreshadows for your readers. Some great endings of books leave things on a cliff-hanger for a sequel, or maybe a cliff-hanger that makes you want to cry. Some books like to have a fairytale ending where everything ends up good for the protagonists, while others like to end it with not such a bright disposition. Regardless, you need to know how it's going to end before it starts.
3. Subvert Genres and Disregard Expectations
No one wants a stereotypical love triangle anymore, they want something they haven't seen before. Like in the book Carry On by Rainbow Rowell it subverts the reader's expectations of who the love interest is going to be by making it the opposite gender of who you thought it was going to be. Books these days don't have any stereotypical perfect princess in their writing anymore, no one wants a perfect character. What people want is deeply flawed by a relatable character who they can sympathize with, not one that can't do any wrong. If you subvert the expectations of what's going to happen in the story with well thought out plot twists and deep narratives, you'll be sure to have a book that has your reading on the edge of their seat.
Diverse characters are also something that can make your book have more depth and realism, but only make your characters diverse if they have good narratives. If your story is diverse but boring, no one will read it. Many people tend to force diversity into their stories, which can be detrimental if the writer doesn't know much about the culture they are talking about. If you want to write a story with a Muslim character, make sure to research and do hard work into looking at the similarities and differences that you and they have. Do not write a character into a story if you know nothing about there history or culture, it will end with you sounding dumb or insensitive to it.
4. Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is important because you need to know who this book is for. If it's a children's novel then you can't have it curse or use many big words, while if you're writing a novel for teenagers you are free to do so. Young adult novels have the most diverse set of characters that are fleshed out and interesting since that's exactly what those readers want. Do not only write a story for an audience without meaning, but even children's books can explore deeper and complex themes. This is very true in the children's book called And Tango Makes Three about two male penguins adopting an abandoned egg to raise, which brings up controversial ideas and topics like homosexuality and abandonment in a child-friendly way. What audience your addressing too also effects the words you use, since words like immense or sporadic are not something little kids would know.
5. Don't Kill Characters Just Because
If you're going to kill a character in your story, it has to mean something. You can't just kill off a character and expect the other characters in the novel to pretend not to have long-lasting effects because of this death. If you plan on killing a character off, I recommend at least glancing at the five signs of grief list, which can help you further the emotions and stories of the others affected by the death. I wrote a book once where I killed off the main character, but because the character could manipulate the probability of anything, like turned her grief down to zero. That book was terrible and that idea didn't work, it just made to many loopholes and alternate universes that were too confusing and convoluted. Readers only respect deaths if they mean something, but if it means nothing to them they will find it useless or get mad about it.
6. Just Get It Out There
When you are first writing a novel, you may stare at a screen for hours trying to think of that specific word and failing to do so. It's something that gets many writers frustrated, but there's a simple fix for this ailment. There are two different ways this can go with this, you can use a thesaurus or use the ELEPHANT method. Anybody born after 2004 might not know how to use a thesaurus, and that's okay because there's now an online version. A thesaurus helps you find synonyms for words and phrases, so if you forget a word you can type in a word like it and look through the synonymous with it.
The ELEPHANT method is one I came across on a writer's tip page on Pinterest and has helped me greatly. Whenever you forget a word while writing, just type ELEPHANT in its place, then keep writing. When your done writing that chapter or scene just hit command f on your computer and search for ELEPHANT. Then you will have a fresh new look at things and might even remember the word you forgot. If not, you can go back to it later! This will help you become fluent when writing and able to get more writing out there. It's better to have something, then nothing. Even if you perceive a piece of writing you made as horrible, with revising you can make it into something truly incredible.
Now you know the best ways to make your story a best seller! Go out there and get writing! I believe in you.