It’s been a while since I’ve done an image content rich top 5. And so I couldn’t end January 2015 without one now could I? Today’s post features what I believe are the essential tips to finish your novel. And to writing a manuscript draft you can be proud of. So without further ado, here are the “5 Storytelling Tips to Completing Your Novel!”

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Write as if you’re in the story. I love the accompanying gif. It’s from one of my favorite scenes from “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Studio Ghibli. You have to watch it yourself to appreciate the scene with all its rich details. As if that world was so real you could touch it. You should approach building your novel’s world the same way. Just feel the wind on your face as you’re walking on air and across rooftops. Feel your heart race in excitement. Now break out your daydream superpowers and write it out as if you’re there. Write it like you’re seeing, smelling, touching, hearing and tasting it. Be as descriptive as you can (but without being too wordy).

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Write as if you’re the protagonist. I’ve said it before but a flawless, perfect, cookie cutter hero is boring. There’s more to your hero than doing his/her hero schtick. Know their backstory, their fears and pet peeves. Make them fall and tumble. They’re not infallible, though they might think they are. Know their weaknesses and faults as well as their strengths. And write as if they’re only human. Hell, even Superman is weak to kryptonite. And he’s Superman!

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Write as if you’re the antagonist. Is your villain coming across as too evil? Does he/she feels a little bland? Cutboard or cartoonish maybe? Is the conflict between your antagonist and protagonist as weak as a wet firecracker? And don’t know why? I ’ve gone through that feeling myself. But then I realized I’m making the big bad be bad without any deep rooted motivations. I’d forgotten that villains are people too. And that the most memorable are compelling because they have flaws as well. Being evil shouldn’t be the only flaw focused on.  Know what keeps them up at night. Does he/she have maybe a secret fear of ice cream?

Sometimes, just as much as the protagonist or more, they’re doing what they must. Their actions are based on the belief that it is right. As your hero has a reason to fight to save the world, then your villain has to have a reason to destroy it. Don’t neglect one’s goals for another. Know your antagonists’ dreams or goals or convictions. And pit them against your protagonist. Ooh, I wonder who’ll win.

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Write as if you’re the reader. Robert Frost said it best “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” Before you began to write, you’d probably had written an outline. But not everything from that outline will make it to your story. Why? Because cramming all your  imagination high genius will just ruin it. If you’re not already an avid reader, then read as many books as you can. Build your reading muscles. And write your story as it’ll excite you, instill dread and fear. Write as if you’re sucked into the story and whatever pulls you out of it, cut it out.

Write as if you’re the editor. Alright, you’re at the finish line and your novel is pretty much complete. You’ve tried your hardest to shut off your inner editor but now it’s time to set it loose. Now, we all need an extra pair of eyes to catch the mistakes we might’ve glossed over. Yet that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t refine our work as much as possible first. So here the three basic ways you can edit and polish your story. First read through it by chapter. You’re looking, or rather feeling if the chapter’s level of tension is as needed. Or is it too funny and lighthearted? And how you can strike the balance? Next, you’ll read it again by paragraph. You’re looking for scene(s) that don’t work with the current tone of the chapter. Cutting them out, rewriting them or maybe use them in another chapter. And strengthening those that do. Last, you’ll read it by line. Where are you being wordy? Where are you not clear enough? Are you using too many ‘ly’ and other passive words? How can you cut them out or rewrite your sentence without losing the image? Are you using the correct tense? All these are what you’re looking for.

Voila! As promised here are your five storytelling tips. It’s really thanks to a not so recent tweet that gave birth today’s top five post. I had a lot of fun creating all the “Write as if” and finding the images to go with them. Do you have any “Write as if” writing tips you’d like to include?

5 Storytelling Tips to Complete Your Novel

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