In your successful writing project, it is necessary to know the narrative techniques and those negative aspects that, either by omission or excess, you should avoid.
This article will delve into the common mistakes we make when we start writing a novel. You will be surprised to see that they are widespread mistakes.
Don't start with a detailed description
Of course, the environment in which the action takes place is relevant, but only in its generality. That is, as an element subordinate to the plot (never the other way around).
We recommend that you do not begin by outlining the architecture or landscape of the place where your story takes place. You can do it, but later when the reader is already hooked on it. Let's look at an example.
Suppose your novel is in the science fiction subgenre. The story takes place in the year 3051, on a spaceship. And you begin by describing what that cosmic vehicle is like: its compartments, sections, command controls, windows, instruments, etc. Chances are you won't finish the tour because your reader will have left the ship.
The same goes for the characters. Describing them in detail, their physical appearance, psychology, personality, etc., is not suitable for your novel. The physical description should be very minimal. Stick to the elementary and to what is substantial to your story.
Once again, we remind you that it is the action that will capture the reader's attention. You will have plenty of opportunities to describe everything in more detail when your audience is already interested in the plot.
Spend a significant amount of time at the beginning of your novel. With the first paragraph, you must capture the reader, but you need to keep him there. Create expectations, intrigue them with a story that has the necessary suspense and progression without trying to throw everything in at once.
Don't write an implausible story
A writer can tell whatever he wants, whatever story his imagination dictates. The important thing is that the story be believable, regardless of its nature or the subgenre to which it belongs.
But that doesn't mean you have to stick strictly to reality. You can tell fantastic, marvelous worlds, with fictitious cities and invented times. It's all about the story, which must be plausible in the reader's eyes.
Facts or events without sense, absurd coincidences, forced coincidences, illogical actions, etc., will only make the reader lose credibility and trust in your novel.
For example, if you start with the murder of a character and, all at once, you put the name of a suspect on the detective's lips, it will not be credible because investigators do not reveal their intuitions or suspicions right off the bat.
Therefore, don't start with something implausible to any reader. You must be very careful about that, as well as not confuse plausibility with reality.
Use simple language
Many authors seek to impress the reader by using complex language, with stilted and strange words, overloaded sentences, and terms requiring frequent dictionary consultation.
In storytelling, mastery is not achieved by writing bombastic and complex words but by writing stories and events that readers fall in love with. And that is achieved by telling unique, suggestive, and exciting facts. Fancy language should be left for the erudite. Different practices for writers and use writing helper tools with additional exercises help you to build your language perfectly and be understandable. Read more and expand your dictionary to have more synonyms.
Don't weaken the tension
You've captured the reader's attention with the beginning, and you think it's all done. You believe that you can relax and start tackling other aspects by having that initial tension established. Nothing could be more wrong than that. It's time to nail down the beginning.
You can lose the reader's attention or weaken his interest if you start to dilute the intrigue with long descriptions, empty dialogues, irrelevant details, events disconnected with the triggering action you set in motion.
In this sense, you should avoid:
Falling too often into talking about the characters' past. It is a widespread mistake. The reader wants to be immersed in the story, in the plot. He needs to be tied to the facts. Then he will want to know the details, including the backstory of each character.
Delve into dreams or dreamlike images. Dreams should fit the story perfectly. For no reason, dwell on them for too long, as it could overtake the main plot, which would be counterproductive.
These things cannot be used just for their beauty. They must have a justification and contribute essential elements to the events. If they do not fulfill these functions, simply do not use them.
Delve very carefully and frequently into the thoughts of the characters. There are psychological novels in which it is necessary to delve into their minds, of course. But there is also a limit. You don't want to end up writing a treatise on human behavior.
Discard everything irrelevant
Recall here the words of the great Russian writer Anton Chekhov: "If you have a gun hanging on the wall in the first act, then it must be fired in the next chapter. If not, don't put it there."
He refers to the fact that many times authors become profuse in details and irrelevant data. Everything you write should help advance the action, delineate the characters and establish the relationships between them, place the reader in time and space, and fully involve them in the story's atmosphere.
Beware of time jumps
Time jumps must have a narrative function. Do not impress the reader by using this technique if it is not justified and ideally used. Its misuse can generate chronological errors and the reader's dislocation or confusion.
Time jumps should help the story to move forward. It seems a contradiction, but it is not at all. This resource works very well to provide important information about a character's behavior, the socio-political context, etc.
However, we recommend that you do not do it at the beginning not to confuse your readers. You will have enough time to introduce flashbacks and other time-related techniques.
Dare to begin
Stephen King said that the scariest moment in writing a novel is just before you start. But he also said, "The magic is in you." So let go of those fears and get started - trust your talent and your imagination!
Studying and learning from the great masters is fundamental. But don't try to start your novel by imitating theirs. Don't forget that you are building your brand as a writer, and originality is essential.
Avoid falling into these mistakes when you start writing your novel, and you can be a successful writer.