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Labors, Sins, and Six Acts - Official NWOE Novel Writing Guide - All Genres


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You will discover below a series of scholarly, researchable, frank and indispensable guides to conceiving and writing the commercial genre novel, as well as the plot-driven literary novel - all derived from our sister site, Novel Writing on Edge. However, the nature of the developmental peels and prods as presented makes an initial big assumption, namely, that you are honestly desirous of true publication either by a classic publisher or traditional literary press, and therefore, willing to birth the most dynamic and can't-put-it-down novel you possibly can. Further, you are also naturally desirous of great sets, mind-altering theme, unforgettable characters, and cinematic scenes, among other things. Does that go without saying?  
 
lesmiserables.jpg
Perhaps, but you must know, it won't be easy.

First of all, the method-based assertions and information we've gathered and elevated before your eyes below will shiver many of you like a 6.5 on the literary Richter scale because it will contradict some or much of what you've been told about novel writing elsewhere - at writer conferences, for example, by your writer's group, or by various content-marketing websites operated by amateurs (75%+) playing to their demographic. Second of all, we don't cut corners or hold back to simplify matters for off-track or rank beginners who might be driven away (starting right about now) by the realization of just how much needs to be learned and applied. And though more of you might be driven away immediately following the forthcoming assertion, it is nonetheless true: there are no "SEVEN EASY STEPS" or other shortcut gimmicks that will catapult you into becoming the author of an authentically fine novel. Anyone who believes otherwise is sadly ignorant. 

Nonetheless, if you are astute and mature enough to know there are many things about novel writing you don't know, but must learn, you've come to the right place. And yes, there is a whole mass of matter to absorb. We make no apologies. Our mission is to take you from A to Z. You should consider all that follows to be a kind of master primer, i.e., whatever is necessary to sufficiently comprehend the novel writing universe. We divide the exploration into three sections, each with their own rubrics.
Just know, it makes no sense to begin writing a novel you plan on selling to publishers or even smaller presses without first having a relatively good idea whether they'll want to buy it in the first place. This concept is radical to many beginners, but it shouldn't be. And the concept that you can't balance an artistic approach with pragmatic story considerations is not only indefensible but contradictory.

The first category approaches the reality of novel writing vs. the myths and the source of those myths. For many of you, it will create emotional responses up and down the spectrum from humor to melancholy and back, depending of course on your mood and experience thus far with the aforementioned universe. Regardless, the overall point is to make a valiant attempt to filter out the many falsehoods and misperceptions with extreme prejudice in order to begin the journey of novel writing with a clear head and a view towards realistic expectation.

The second two categories are relatively self-explanatory. Just know, it makes no sense to begin writing a novel you plan on selling to publishers or even smaller presses without first having a relatively good idea whether they'll want to buy it in the first place. This concept is radical to many beginners, but it shouldn't be. And the concept that you can't balance an artistic approach with pragmatic story considerations is not only indefensible but contradictory.

att.jpg Btw, you might wonder if it's advisable to pass on any of the articles below, but it isn't. Everything we've included is considered vital. Even if you believe you have a certain element pretty well covered, don't believe you know it all. Most likely, you don't. Also, the potential exists that you've read or received advice that is counter productive. The advice featured here, however, is based on decades of experience in the business (e.g., hundreds of sessions at the New York Pitch Conference and many more hundreds in writer workshops across the U.S.), as well as lessons learned from great novel authors, playwrights, and screenplay writers - more about this model-and-context methodology  found here (feel free to leave comments on any of the items that follow).

Before we begin, a favorite quote from one of America's greatest authors, Truman Capote:

  • As certain young people practice the piano or the violin four and five hours a day, so I played with my papers and pens... My literary tasks kept me fully occupied; my apprenticeship at the altar of technique, craft; the devilish intricacies of paragraphing, punctuation, dialogue placement. Not to mention the grand overall design, the great demanding arc of middle-beginning-end. One had to learn so much, and from so many sources.


NOVEL WRITING TRIP WIRES, CHECKLISTS, EGO, AND VITAL FIRST STEPS 

att.jpg The Author Dawn - Rise and Blink (tell us why)
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/the-author-dawn-rise-and-blink.html

att.jpg Ten Carefully Chosen First Steps For Starting the Novel (immerse, prep, reflect)
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/best-10-steps-for-starting-novel-all.html

att.jpg The Epiphany Light You Must Enter (major vision adjustment)
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/aspiring-authors-must-cross-epiphany.html

att.jpg Top Ten Worst Pieces of Writing Advice (and it gets worse)
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2015/04/top-ten-worst-pieces-of-writing-advice.html

att.jpg Top Worst "Worst Writer Advice" - Outrageous and Mind Boggling
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/top-worst-worst-writer-advice-advice.html

att.jpg Avoid Bad Writing by Name Authors!
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2008/10/new-writers-must-be-careful-of.html

att.jpg Bullet Point Reasons Why Editors Reject
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2017/02/timeless-and-valuable-editors-rejection.html

att.jpg Writer Groups - More Harm Than Good?
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/problems-with-writer-groups-where-to.html

att.jpg Seven Critical Novel Rejection Sins
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/seven-narrative-rejection-sins-bad.html

att.jpg Novel-Into-Film Checklist
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2019/07/check-points-to-turn-novel-into-film.html

att.jpg  Important: Coverage Checklist for Aspiring Authors
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/important-coverage-checklist-for.html

att.jpg Top Seven Reasons Passionate Writers Fail
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2015/05/top-seven-reasons-why-aspiring-authors.html

att.jpg Writer Ego and the Imaginary Bob (Could this be you?)
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/writer-ego-and-imaginary-bob.html


DEVELOPMENT REALITY - MAJOR POINTS OF PLOT AND MUCH MORE
We endeavor to list the points below in the order they should be read, however, it isn't a perfect arrangement due to overlapping. Ideally, the high-concept premise must come first in any case.

att.jpg What is Your High-Concept Premise?
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/12/high-concept-sufficiently-unique-what.html

att.jpg The Need For Human Drama in the Novel
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/theme-plot-strong-character.html

att.jpg Loglines and Core Wounds as Development Tool
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/hook-lines-with-core-wounds.html

att.jpg The Novel's "Agon" - Vital Core Conflict
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/the-novels-agon-primary-conflict.html

att.jpg Can You Choose a Great Title? Will You?
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/choosing-great-title-before-publication.html

att.jpg Setting is 60% - Maximizing Opportunities For Verve
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/great-settings-maximize-opportunity.html

att.jpg A Clever Dose of Antagonistic Force 
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/antagonists-in-novel-most-important.html

att.jpg The Six Act Two-Goal Novel (premise, reversals, complications, major points)
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/the-six-act-two-goal-novel.html

att.jpg Classics Deliver the Key to Exposition
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/learning-exposition-from-classics.html

att.jpg Sympathy Factors in the Hook (protagonist or major character)
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/protagonist-sympathy-factors-in-hook.html

att.jpg Deep and Fresh Traits for Secondary Characters
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/deep-and-fresh-traits-for-majors.html

att.jpg A Statement of Theme From the Dark Classics
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/cuckoos-rhinoceri-and-miss-l-i-admit.html


ADVANCED NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE, SCENES, AND PROSE STYLE

att.jpg Dialogue - Never a Gratuitous or Boring Word
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/dialogue-never-gratuitous-word-or.html

att.jpg Writing Novel Scenes - Drama, Sex, and Sass
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/12/scenes-to-z-glue-drama-sex-sass.html

att.jpg Storyboard Considerations for Producing Effective Scenes
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2013/02/algonkian-writer-conferences-michael.html

att.jpg  Four Levels of Third Person Point of View
https://novelwritingonedge.com/2020/08/four-levels-of-third-person-pov.html

att.jpg Experiments in High Impact Narrative
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/12/experiments-in-high-impact-narrative.html

att.jpg A Great Damp Loaf of Description
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/12/a-great-damp-loaf-of-description.html

att.jpg  Prose Narrative Enhancement 
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/09/the-prose-description-questionnaire.html

att.jpg Brilliant Fiction Narrative in Four Stages
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/writing-brilliant-fiction-narrative-in.html

att.jpg Narrative Enhancement Via Nabokov
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/09/narrative-enhancement-via-nabokov.html

att.jpg "To Be" or Not? Too Much "Was" Will Hurt Your MS
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/boot-was-for-more-verve.html

att.jpg The Sublime Inner Voice of Godwin
https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/interior-monologue-by-gail-godwin.html
 

Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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