Writing a novel is not easy. If you are a writer of fiction then you probably fall into one of two broad categories – a plotter or pantster. If you are definitely in the second category then read no further. There is an excellent new eBook available that shows even the novice how to write a novel in 17 killer steps.
How to write a novel in 17 killer steps
The beauty of this book is that it’s FREE if you act quickly. After October 7, 2016 it will cost you $8.99 on Amazon.
The book is titled:
THE NOVELWRITING TRAINING PLAN: 17 STEPS TO GET YOUR IDEAS IN SHAPE FOR
THE MARATHON OF WRITING
It’s available through ProWritingAid and I can tell you it is worth every penny of $8.99 and you can now obtain your own copy for free.
All you need do is follow my links for ProWritingAid and anyone who upgrades on or before October 7th will receive a link to download this amazing book in their ProWritingAid purchase confirmation email.
For those of you unfamiliar with ProWritingAid, please read all about it at the foot of this post. It’s a helluva great writing tool and I reckon it saved me a fortune in editing costs when I wrote my books.
But more about the book, it falls into the following chapters:
My reading on plotting a novel has taken in almost everything there is available on the subject. Without a trace of exaggeration, I can tell you this book blew my mind. It is detailed, thought-provoking and well-written in a clear easy-to-follow style.
If there is one thing that you do before embarking on your first (or next) novel, it is to sign up for ProWritingAid.
ProWritingAid IS A WORLD-CLASS EDITING SOFTWARE:
AN ESSENTIAL PART OF ANY WRITER’S TOOL BOX.
ProWritingAid analyzes your writing and presents its findings in 25 different reports. Each writer
has their own strengths and weaknesses and so different PWA reports will appeal to different users.
1. The Writing Style Report
The Writing Style Report is one of the most popular and comprehensive reports that ProWritingAid
offers. It highlights several areas of writing that should be revised to improve readability, including
passive voice, overuse of adverbs, repeated sentence starts, hidden verbs and much more.
2. The Grammar Report
The Grammar Report works similarly to the spelling and grammar checkers in a word processor.
It highlights any word that’s not in our dictionary in case it’s misspelled. It also looks at the
construction of the sentence to make sure that the structure, punctuation and tense are correct.
But, in addition to these standard grammar checks, our team of copyeditors have been inputting
thousands of specific checks that they have come across in their years of editing. For example, they
noticed that many writers write “adverse” when they actually mean “averse”? When this comes up,
the software will offer a short explanation about how the two words are different so that you can
make sure you select the correct one.
3. The Overused Words Report
There are some words and sentence constructions that are fine to use occasionally, but become
problematic when they are overused. They fall into five main categories:
1. Too Wishy-Washy
2. Telling Rather Than Showing
3. Weak Words Dependent on Intensifiers
4. Non-specific Words
5. Awkward Sentence Constructions
4. The Clichés and Redundancies Report
Writers often use clichés when they are working on their ﬁrst draft because thinking up original
wording takes time and can interrupt creative ﬂow. That’s ﬁne. But, when you go back to edit, this
report will pick out instances of unoriginal phrasing so that you can replace them with fresh ideas.
Redundant wording creeps into the texts of even the most experienced writers. It adds quantity
to your writing, but not quality. Every word in your writing should be there for a reason. This report
helps you eliminate the clutter.
5. The Sticky Sentence Report
A sticky sentence is one that is full of glue words. Glue words are the 200 or so most common
English words (in, of, on, the, at, if, etc.). They are the empty space that readers need to get through
before they can get to your ideas. Generally, your sentences should contain less than 45% glue
words. If they contain more, they should probably be re-written to increase clarity. Let’s look at a
• ORIGINAL: Dave walked over into the back yard of the school in order to see if there was a new
bicycle that he could use in his class. Glue index: 60.7% – Sentence length 27 words
*REDRAFT: Dave checked the school’s back yard for a new bicycle to use in class. Glue index: 42.8%
– Sentence length 14 words
The second sentence is much easier to read. Unnecessary information has been discarded, and the
wording is more concise. The point of the sentence comes across clearly.
6. The Repeats Check
Writers often mistakenly use the same word several times in the span of one paragraph because
it’s foremost in their mind. But those repeats can set off an echo in the reader’s mind – that
subconscious feeling of “Didn’t he just say that?” It can be irritating to read and it can detract from
what you are trying to say.
But it’s difficult for writers to spot repetition in their own work. When they are editing, they go over
the same text several times and become impervious to that echo feeling. And when you replace a
word when making amendments, it’s easy to forget that the same word was in the sentence before
or after. This report highlights repeated words and phrases in your document so you can use a more
7. The Sentence Length Report
Writing that uses varied sentence lengths keeps the reader’s brain engaged. Some should be short
and punchy, others should be long and flowing. Sentence variety adds an element of music to
ProWritingAid will create a bar graph of your sentence lengths so that you can pick out areas where
you should add more variety. It will also give you an Average Sentence Length Score, which will
highlight whether you are using too many long sentences, which may result in a monotonous text, or
too many short sentences, which may result in a choppy text.
8. The Pronoun Report
When writers are in creative mode, they often rely on pronouns to keep the narrative moving: “He
did this”, “She did that”, “They ran there”, “I found out.” That’s fine. It’s more important to keep writing
momentum up than it is to get every sentence just right.
ProWritingAid will scan your document and calculate a pronoun percentage. Ideally it should fall
somewhere between 4% and 15%. Any more than this and writing can feel dull. This is especially so
with initial pronouns – those at the start of the sentence. The initial pronoun percentage should be
under 30%. Run the report and replace your pronoun-heavy passages with more dynamic wording.
9. The Transition Report
Statistics show that published writing has a high level of transition use. Transition words are the
road signs in writing. And great transitions help your reader follow your train of thought without
becoming bogged down trying to discern your meaning. Words and phrases like “similarly”,
“nevertheless”, “in order to”, “likewise,” or “as a result” show the relationships between your ideas and
can help illustrate agreement, contrast or show cause and effect.
The Transition Report will give you a “transitions score”, which is based on the percentage of
sentences that contain a transition. We recommend that you aim for a score of 25% or higher, which
means that you use at least one transition word or phrase every four sentences.
10. The Consistency Check
Consistency is so important in writing. It makes it feel professional and polished. ProWritingAid
doesn’t care if you choose to write in American or British English, as long as you choose one and stick
to it. Likewise, it’s up to you whether you capitalize a word like “Yoga” but the report will highlight if
you have done it in one place and not in another.
11. The Pacing Check
Pacing refers to the speed at which a story is told and how quickly the reader is moved through
events. Good writing contains faster-paced sections, such as dialogue and character action, as well
as slower-paced sections, such as introspection and backstory. Differently paced sections should
complement each other, allowing the reader to move with you through the narrative.
ProWritingAid’s Pacing Check ﬁnds those areas in your writing that are paced more slowly so that
you can spread them out.
12. The Dialogue Tags Check
Dialogue tags are the words that refer dialogue to a speciﬁc character. The two most common
examples are “said” and “asked”. They are essential in writing, particularly in scenes that include
several characters, because they help the reader follow the conversation. Ideally, your dialogue tags
should be invisible within your writing, just signposts that point out who is speaking. The character’s
actions or the dialogue itself should be carrying the emotion. Where possible, try to omit dialogue
tags altogether. Instead, use description and action to point out your speaker.
The Dialogue Tags Check will highlight all your dialogue tags so that you can ﬁnd a better way to
13. The Sensory Report (NLP Predicates Check)
Every writer has a tendency to favor one or two of their senses over the others, and this affects the
way that he or she experiences the world, processes information and makes memories. When you
are writing for a broad audience, you should try to write with words (primarily verbs, adverbs and
adjectives) associated with all five of the senses. It will help emotionally engage with the widest
range of people.
Run your writing through the Sensory Report and make sure that you have all five senses covered.
14. The Vague and Abstract Words Check
There are two types of words that muddy the waters for clarity and concise writing: vague and
abstract words. Vague words lack specific information. If you say you will be “slightly” late it’s less
clear than if you say you will be 20 minutes late. Your understanding of “slightly late” may be quite
different to mine.
An abstract noun denotes something intangible, such as a quality or state, whereas a concrete noun
denotes the person or thing that may possess that quality or be in that state. For example: man is
concrete and humanity is abstract, brain is concrete and thought is abstract. Abstract nouns are
sometimes perfect, but they should not be used to excess as they lack specificity.
Run the Vague and Abstract Words Check to find those words that should be replaced with
something more specific or concrete.
15. The Thesaurus Check
Often, changing just one word in a sentence allows a writer to present a more nuanced or specific
idea. The contextual thesaurus allows you to explore a wider vocabulary. Unlike most thesaurus
suggestions, our report takes into account the context of the word in the sentence and offers
replacement words that fit within that context.
16. The Diction Report
The Diction Report helps you avoid unnecessarily complicated writing by analyzing your word selection and choice.
When it comes to writing, less is more. Make every word count. If it’s not essential, cut it. Too often
when writers are trying to sound authoritative, they choose the wordy ways of saying something
simple. Why write “has the ability to” when you can write “can”? You’re just using more words to say
the same thing, which actually makes your writing much less clear.
17. The Alliteration Report
Alliteration is the repetition of a beginning consonant sound. One of the most famous examples
is “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”. Alliteration creates an enjoyable rhythm when
reading and so is often used in advertising, or to attract attention and comment. Alliteration is also
widely used in poetry.
The Alliteration Report will highlight all instances of alliteration in your document.
18. The Homonym Check
There are many words in the English language that sound alike but have different spellings.
Choosing the wrong spelling can change your sentence completely. The sentence “He lost his
patients” means something quite different from “He lost his patience”.
The Homonyms Check will highlight all the words with homonyms. Hover your curser over the word
and the alternatives will be displayed as a tooltip.
19. The Corporate Wording Report
The corporate wording report identifies places where wording can be simplified. It concentrates
on words that are often found in corporate reports that make the reports harder to read and
understand. It highlights these words and suggests alternatives.
20. The Acronym Check
An acronym is a word or name formed as an abbreviation from the initial components in a
phrase or a word, e.g. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), ESPN (Entertainment and Sports
Programming Network), or LOL (Laugh Out Loud). The Acronym Report highlights all of the
acronyms in your text, and creates a list of all the acronyms you have used. Misspelled or inconsistent
acronyms are not usually picked up by normal spell-checkers so the list allows you to easily scan for
errors. It can also help you create a glossary of acronyms for your text.
21. The Complex Words Check
ProWritingAid defines complex words as those with three or more syllables. It is not wrong to use
complex words, but paragraphs that contain too many will be less clear. If you can replace a complex
word with a simpler one – e.g. enquired with asked or proximate with near – then do it.
Run the Complex Words Check and then scan your document for paragraphs that contain a higher
than usual occurrence of multi-syllable words.
22. The Eloquence Check
This report was designed to help you develop your use of stylistic writing techniques such as
alliteration, epistrophe, and hendiadys. The items in this report are not suggestions, just aids to help
you along the way.
23. The Combo Check
The Combo Report is a customizable feature that allows users to choose their favorite reports and
run them simultaneously. This is a great feature for content writers, bloggers or students who edit a
lot of shorter documents rather than one long book. You know your own bad writing habits better
than anyone, so choose the reports that will have the biggest impact for YOU.
24. The House Style Check
If you are a premium user, you can create your own House Style Check to look for specific issues
relating to your organization. For example, imagine a fashion design company who always wanted
their September collection to be referred to as the “autumn” collection rather than the “fall”
collection. They could create a rule where ProWritingAid highlighted any instance of the word “fall”
and offered a suggestion that it be changed to “autumn”.
25. The Plagiarism Report
Our plagiarism checker is designed to help you detect unoriginal content in your writing. Once
you have detected unoriginal content, you will be able to add proper citations to your document.
Plagiarism is a major concern for many people, especially those writing academic works. The
plagiarism checks performed by ProWritingAid will check your work against over a billion web-pages
and articles to make sure that you have correctly cited any unoriginal content. It is easy for unoriginal
content to slip into your work, and the consequences can be disastrous.
If you have read this far I do hope you sign up for ProWritingAid. You won’t regret it.
Disclosure: this post/page contains ethical affiliate links. I promote certain products and services that I have 100% confidence in. If you purchase as a result of clicking on my affiliate links, I receive a small commission. That commission is not added to the price you pay at checkout.
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