Tag Archives: how to write a great novel

Cut it out with those full sentances! — Rule #23 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever


I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #23

23: Don’t allow your fictional characters to speak in sentences. Unless you want them to sound fictional.

Time for all the English teachers to cringe! But it’s true, right?  Do we speak in sentences?  Well, sometimes.  But there should be a good mix of full sentences and fragments.  Heck, even an incomplete thought here and there will help make the dialog seem more real.

And if you are not sure if it sounds real or not, read it out loud.  Even better… have someone else read it to you.  If it sounds weird with a voice attached, then you need a little re-write.



Rule #4 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever


I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #4

4: Cut adjectives where possible. See rule 3 (for ‘verb’ read ‘noun’).

Ha!  Since I posed it last week, let me do a little cut and paste for you.

3: Use strong nouns in preference to adjectives. I won’t say avoid adjectives, period, because about once every fifty pages they’re okay! What’s not okay is to use an adjectives as an excuse for failing to find the correct noun.

swish swivel squiggle 2

Hmmm.  No adjectives?  As in NONE?  I’m not sure I agree with this, although I have caught myself using TOO MANY from time to time.  I mean, you need to describe stuff, right?

Strong nouns?  I think maybe he should have re-thought that.  I can understand not saying: “The angry dog barked”

What should be said is “The dog lowered his head, baring teeth.  His bark echoed through the room”

The second angry dog is much more menacing, and I didn’t use any adjectives.  I think he may just be talking about the whole show verses tell issue, because you’re gonna have to describe a few things sooner or later, right?

Open discussion time!  What have you found with your writing and adjectives?  What do you think Allen Gutrie’s point is? Where do you think adjectives are necessary?


Wow. I hated this book. I mean, I REALLY hated it.

My son (the MMGR) asked me what I was reading yesterday.  I gave him the title.  He asked if it was good.  I laughed and said, “No, actually it is really bad.”


“So why are you still reading it?” he asked.

I smiled and said:  “I am taking notes to make sure I never write like this.”

I am going to save the writer the pain of giving you the title of the novel or the author’s name, but I thought this experience was worth mentioning.

I picked up this novel for free from the author.  It was one of those things where the author gives away book one, with a teaser of another book at the end, and links (in Kindle) to where you can buy the next four books in the series if you liked this one.

Did I buy the rest of the books?  Ahhhhhh…. No.

Giving away Book One is a perfectly sound practice to drum up an audience to buy more of your work and get your name out there… IF YOUR WORK IS GOOD.

This was so sad.  Really, it was.

This was a self-published novel.  Now, self-publishing is fine… IF YOU ARE READY.  This novel read like a third or fourth draft that had never had a beta read.  There were a few typos, missing dialog tags, etc.

I can forgive that.  The big problem here was the Show versus Tell issues.  I never really became immersed into the story.  I always felt like I was reading a book.  I never had a problem putting it down, because each page was kind of dull.

The story revolved around an orphan girl, who finds out on her eighteenth birthday that she is a witch.  A male witch takes her from her “normal” life to train her and teach her the ropes.  He is handsome.  You know what?  He is handsome.  Oh, yeah, did I mention… he is handsome.  That’s all I know because she never said anything else about what he looked like.

These two characters don’t like each other to begin with.  Then suddenly, out of the blue, he mentions that he’s engaged, and he doesn’t want to get married.  They decide (in one page) to pretend they’ve fallen in love so he can get out of it. The next page, in a big tell section, she falls for him, and then BOOM he says he’s fallen for her and they end up in bed together.  From dislike to bed in two pages.

Then in the last few pages the fiancée (I guess the bad guy girl) materializes and is ticked about the relationship.  Where’d she come from? I’d never even heard of her until about six pages ago.

This was a short story/novella.  If it was written properly, it could have been a solid novel, and very exciting.  I felt like I was reading an elongated synopsis.

Was the story good?  Well, yes, it could have been great.  It just was not ready for publication.

This is what scares me about self-published novels.  So many are just not ready.  If you want to self-publish, go ahead.  Good luck to you… just PLEASE pay your dues.  Get at least five hyper-critical betas and LISTEN TO THEM.  You don’t need to change everything, but get lots of opinions.

NOTE:  The betas CANNOT be your Mom or Dad.  Let’s be real, here. Get yourself an editor, too.  Get opinions on your story arc.  Develop you characters and your story.  Don’t rush things just to get something “out there.”

I feel bad, because this story had a lot of potential, and could have been great if it was actually finished before it was published.

If you are going for traditional publishing, the publisher will tell you if it is ready or not by giving you a contract.  For me, that nod is priceless, because I know then that my story is ready, and I won’t have someone blogging about me (and maybe not being as nice as me, and using my name **GACK**)

Please don’t get caught in this trap.  Give your story the attention and work that it deserves.  Pay your dues, and make sure you are ready.

And by pay your dues – I don’t mean that traditional is the “only way”.  I mean don’t skip the steps that will make the difference between a really bad review… and a slew of awesome reviews.  Give your novel the time and attention it needs in the editing phase before you publish.

Enough said.

How to Write a Really Great Novel: The FUNNIEST EVER (And Maybe Best) Review

Yes, he is reviewing a novel, but WHO CARES!

The Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer goes off on a tangent starting at about 1:05 on how to write a great novel, and then goes in-depth around 1:59 about what makes a good action scene, and then again at 3:35 on how to write a great action scene.

This is probably his best interview EVER.

If you care about a kid’s opinion, this is a great interview to take a look at.  I am bookmarking this just to come back and take a look at it once in a while.

I think this kid has a future in reviews.  Oh, yeah.  The actual novel is Rick Riordan’s Battle of the Labyrinth

Take it away, Dude!