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How to Write a Good Novel - Learn From Your Favourites

There are lots of facets to writing a novel. Plot, character, mood, setting, and for those learning to write novels it can sometimes seem overwhelming. There are a number of very good publications that can help you and even some useful software for structuring your ideas, but one of the best places to start to learn how to write a good novel is with your own favourite writers.

I've haven't met a single successful writer who isn't also a great reader. I'm pretty sure you'll be the same. You'll almost certainly be wanting to write in the same genre as your preferred authors.

So if you want to write a romance novel, study your favourite romance author. If you want to write a historical novel, a thriller, whatever style of writing you want to emulate, study the best in the business first.

How does your favourite book begin? How does the writer suck you in? How are the characters developed? Read your favourite books again but this time have a notepad handy. Examine the book in detail. Just exactly how are they doing things?

Now I don't in any way mean you should copy. Never, ever copy. That's not how to write a good novel, that's how to fail. Plagiarism is nothing more than theft.

However, if you want to know how to write a romance novel you'll find there are structures which are more successful than others. How the main characters are fleshed out, how they are drawn to each other. Read a selection of romance novels and you're likely to find similarities in the way they're put together. Same if you want learn how to write a horror novel - there are ways to draw you in, to build tension, to shock.

If you study a dozen Stephen King novels you'll find patterns. A dozen Barbara Taylor Bradford books will give you different patterns but definable structure nonetheless. I'm not in any way saying that they're all the same but every successful author has a "style". You can recognise it in their writing and it's that "style" that you can learn from to help create your own best-seller.

I'm not suggesting it's easy. For every best-selling author there are hundreds who didn't make it. It takes dedication, perseverance, practice and determination but if you have those things, and if you study and learn from the best, the rewards are both achievable and more than worth the effort.

With the new demand for ebooks it has never been easier to self publish your novel and instead of getting perhaps 10% of the cover price you could get as much as 90%. That's a different subject though which I'll cover in detail another time.

How to write a good novel is a combination of things. Natural ability and passion are invaluable places to start but great success requires more. You also need to observe your market, realize what works. Study it and see if you can incorporate it in your own novel. You might also want to take advantage of one or two books that are available about the writing process. A few dollars invested at the start could dramatically shorten your learning curve.

Dennis Cordy is a writer and publishing consultant whose blog aims to help anyone looking for info on how to write a good novel. He also has a website dedicated to all aspects of writing and marketing your own ebook at

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