The creation of a successful page-turning novel that reaches publication involves many contributing elements and factors. The new writer must make it his business to study and understand what these elements are and what they do. Here is a selection of just five of those elements.
Let us discuss each element in turn to understand what each one is and what its function is in the novel. It will be noted that these five elements, although discussed separately, inevitably interact with each other. The complete novel is the sum of its many parts.
1. Tight writing.
What is meant by tight writing? Among other things it means the writing is spare, lean, that is to say, every word used must earn its place in the novel. It also means that the language used is at its most simple with short sentences and paragraphs, saying exactly what the writer wants to convey to the reader.
There should be no extraneous words or phrases included which are there to pad out the prose or to demonstrate the writer’s erudition. It goes without saying that long descriptions of locations or characters defeats tight writing and also pace; pace and tight writing go hand in hand.
It is during the final editing that tight writing is best achieved, after the act of creativity is over. The writer can then examine his work with a cool eye, eliminating anything that is superfluous.
2. Pertinent Dialogue
Dialogue in the novel should not be just a lot of idle chatter. Dialogue is a valuable tool when it is apt. It drives the plot forward and aids that vital component, pace. It is through apt dialogue that the reader grasps what the writer is trying to say and also what is happening in the novel, and gives the reader the illusion of being a part of the story itself.
Dialogue helps the reader to follow and understand the twists and turns of the plot. Apt dialogue also helps to deepen characterisation. The reader can size up the characters by what they say and how they say it. Idle and pointless dialogue is completely unhelpful to the reader, and defeats tight writing.
Perhaps creating plausible, rounded characters is the most important element of all in creating a page-turning novel. To create living characters their creator, the writer, must believe in them utterly. They should reside in his head and he should be aware of them constantly, even when he is not engaged in the actual writing.
To create living characters the writer must know everything there is to know about them; their family background, their social position, their hopes and dreams; their dreads and fears. Most of all the, writer must know the character’s ambitions and goals. The writer must know without any doubt, how his character will react in any given situation.
The character’s speech patterns, views and opinions will enhance his plausibility for the reader. If the writer does not know or understand his characters then there is no hope that reader will, which will result in lack of interest. The characters a writer creating must be living, breathing entities.
Getting the point-of-view right in the novel is a make or break element. Understanding the ramification of getting point-of-view wrong is important for the writer; the difference in succeeding and failing to publish.
For some reason, an explanation of how to maintain the integrity of the point-of-view is difficult to give and understand. But once the new writer has grasped it, it appears quite simple. Basically, the conventions are thus. (a) One point-of-view character per scene. (b) To enter the point-on-view of another character means to begin a new scene.
Multiple points-of-view in any given scene or even a paragraph kills the story for the reader. The reader needs one main character to follow in the story, at the most two. Minor characters will also have their points-of-view in their own scenes, and the reader will accept this because they have already attached their empathy to the main character, but will be curious about being in the minds of other characters also, which better help them understand the plot and action.
What is conflict and how does it enrich the plot? Conflict is the opposite of harmony. Conflict is what the reader is looking for in a novel as it creates interest and excitement. Conflict can arise as two different characters compete in striving for opposing goals.
Conflict can also occur when one characters is at war with himself, that is, when dubious desires within him clash with guilt and conscience. A character can be in conflict with the elements, where life is at stake.
To sum up, conflict is battle, when opposing forces confront each other. It is all the more exciting for the reader when one opponent is all powerful and the other weak; a David and Goliath situation, if you will.
Conflict is present when the main character has a dominant obstacle to conquer. Most all action is conflict in one degree or another.
These are just five of the many elements that create the publishable novel. It is hard to say which element is the most important, but all have their part to play, and it is in the new writer’s interests to make the extra effort to understand how they work and what they can do in making a success of their writing.