How can I become a good novelist? I feel that my language is failing me. I don’t generally make grammatical errors, but then it’s not good enough when compared to other writers.
As an amateur (that’s the caveat, although those who have read what I have written complement me)
READ OTHER PEOPLE.
Not for the story, but for the style.
What feels good, what feels clunky? Why is ‘x’ considered a great, and ‘y’ a hack?
Know your characters.
Inhabit them, role play them, let them have their own character.
Put yourself in their heads, and throw a situation at them, then role play their response.
If they all do the same thing as all the others, then you don’t have characters.
Let the characters talk to you, let them have their ‘head’ – A number of writers (including me) are sometimes surprised at what they do next – “Hold on that isn’t the next bit.
” Look at ‘I just write the thing’ on TV Tropes.
Be prepared to change the story – don’t force characters to do something they wouldn’t.
Give clues to the character in the way they appear, their names, or the things that happen round them.
In one romance the female lead appears in light when ever she walks into the scene, and leads the male lead in darkness when she leaves.
He is sitting in a darkened room when she phones, the phone screen lights up the room.
I’m not saying ‘She lights up his life’, but it is something that happens when she enters his life.
Likewise at one point she can go left back to her bad marriage or GO RIGHT to the man who loves her.
Use evocative language – Compare this is from a ‘Noir’ style passage.
“I shot him, making the world a better place”
“My gun barked, and he crumpled to the floor, making the sidewalk dirty and the world a little cleaner.
Link stuff up- reference things that happened earlier, not overtly, just so the reader goes ‘Ah!’.
I have a character who tells her friends the lead male is “the last person she would sleep with”.
By the end they are in love and he is the last person she will ever sleep with! (Pratchett was a master of this.
Be aware of stereotyping and cliche – they aren’t always bad, but can you say it better?