Editing Tip – Is It Logical?

by Stephen Nelson

I read the novel and jot down some details in each chapter about characters, location or something I think will be referred back to later in the novel.

I write down sentences that don’t make sense to me.

Some examples are:

He walked upstairs, put on his suit, showered and shaved.

To me, the sentence is not logical.

The way it’s written, he showered when he was wearing his suit. So… he’s wearing a soaking wet suit. Unless that’s the point, the word order should be changed.

Johnny printed his name in blue ink on the black puck.

The idea of printing his name on the puck so he wouldn’t lose it is perfect, but it’s not logical.

Blue ink can’t be seen clearly on a black object. I recommended the authour amend the colour of the ink to neon green. 

© Stephen Nelson 2020

The Art of Worldbuilding, Part II

by Stephen Nelson

A world for your characters to inhabit is a daunting task to build. Doing the research to make your world believable to your readers might take as much time as writing your novel.

You probably have compiled a Story Bible or electronic folders and files containing the aspects of geography, society, fashion, language, inventions, nature and weather. The collected information is important when writing the novel, especially if there are differences from the world we live in. 

If dragons, elves or aliens exist in the world of the novel, maybe their lifecycle and powers can be noted in the documentation for easy access when you write the novel. 

Cheat Sheets

Cheat sheets can be helpful for reference when you write. A double-sided page for each character, location, geography, weather conditions, flora and fauna (nature), inventions, society, language(s) and fashion.

Map and Illustrations

Some readers love seeing a map of the imaginary world in which the novel is set. A map and illustrations dispersed through the book can pique a prospective buyer’s interest when they take the book off a bookstore shelf and thumb through the pages. Illustrations can be simple or complex in nature.

List of Characters

I find it useful sometimes to read a list of characters in the back of a novel. Their name, relationship to others and maybe their occupation, if relevant can be written.

Glossary

Historical and any sub-genre, science fiction and fantasy novels can have terms or words which the reader might not know. Some names of creatures or the alien lifeforms for example can be described in a glossary at the end of the book.

Guide Book or Encyclopedia

Why let the hard work of research, developing and writing a new world go to waste? Something to consider is writing an encyclopedia which is the source material you used to build the world where your novel is set.

Anything you have written as source material for the novel can be incorporated in a guide book or an encyclopedia. Many readers love to know more about their favourite novels. An example is, J.K. Rowlings, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a guide book.

Conclusion

These ideas might trigger your own creativity to develop the material you were ready to purge. Remember that fabric scraps in the right hands can make a beautiful quilt. The same goes for scraps of information can be recycled and reused. After all, it is your material to use in another work in progress.

© Stephen Nelson 2020

The Art of Worldbuilding, Part I

by Stephen Nelson

Reading a short story or novel pulls the reader into the world which the authour has made for the characters. That is the beauty of imagination. To make a person believe they are in the world of the characters. Worldbuilding can be as small as a room or a boat on the ocean. Other stories and novels can be set in a fictional city or even on a planet.

Each genre has its aspects of worldbuilding. An historical novel regardless of its subgenre like mystery or romance has to have some accuracy in its description of society, fashion and events unless it is an alternative history novel or short story.

Whether a novel is a standalone, or one of many in a series, the novel’s world must be created. The set could be set in an existing town or city or an invented location using bits and pieces of a current place. An authour might create a complete world from their imagination, like J.K. Rowlings, Harry Potter and J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings.

I must confess. I am a Planner. I plan as much as possible before putting pen to paper or striking a computer keyboard to write a short story or novel.

I will do a second Worldbuilding post for science fiction and fantasy writing, but a novel can have locations and settings which are from the authour’s imagination. I like to think the following should be considered before writing any genre.

Geography

I like to call it, the “lay of the land”. Sending characters on a quest or trip to find a person or an object is affected by the geography they cross. Obstacles like mountains, volcanoes soon to erupt, raging rivers, oceans to cross provides drama and conflict in a novel or short story.

Society

A character’s social class, where they live in the community and income might influence how they react to an event. The late 1800s social norms are far different than present day. Research is necessary to write accurate details.

What a wealthy family does for a living, where they live and for entertainment wouldn’t be the same as a poor family.

Fashion

Fashions and fads change. Different countries have different fashions. A person wearing bell bottoms and platform shoes would stand out in a Regency romance novel. The fashion of the people has to be from the era which the novel is set.

Language

People speak differently, depending on where they are from. Idioms and slang words might identify the nationality or at least the region to which the character has connection. Two different words in English can mean the same object if one is from North America and the other is from the United Kingdom.

Inventions

When writing an historical novel or story, you have to make sure the inventions of the day are accurate. As examples, do not have a telephone or telegraph in a novel set before they were invented.

Weather

When a real event happens, research the actual weather that occurred to make the event more authentic.

Conclusion

You can develop and build your new world for your novel as detailed as you want. After all, it is your novel.

© Stephen Nelson 2020

How Much To Research

By Stephen Nelson

Paraphrasing Shakespeare, “To research or not to research or how much to research?” is the question and it’s up to the authour to decide the answer.

A person isn’t an expert in everything. Therefore, do research to add realism to a story or novel. It doesn’t matter what the genre.

A work in progress set in an historical period, a writer needs to know the language, fashion, transportation, occupations, society, technology and food from that time period.

When writing a novel, whether it’s science fiction or historical, try not to repeat the facts most people know. Mix in new facts which relate to the theme, subject or time period.

Michael Crichton read an article about extracting DNA from an insect in the amber and he wrote “Jurassic Park”.

Even if you don’t use all the information you have researched for the novel you are going to write, you might just have an idea for another novel or a short story buried in your research folder and files.

© Stephen Nelson 2020