How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide


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However research has shown that proficiency in English is not always the key to success in English-medium publishing. Based on 10 years of research in academic writing and publishing practices, this guide will be invaluable both to individuals looking for information and support in publishing, and to those working to support others' publishing activities. This guide comes as a most welcome and useful complement to the majority of linguistic and rhetorical guides to writing for scholarly publication in that it focuses on helping scholars explore, identify and understand the social practices, politics, networks and resources involved in academic publishing.

If you wish to publish your research in English, or perhaps more of your research in English, then this succinct and practical guide will help you to ask the right questions and to come up with appropriate responses. This very clearly organised and written guide provides an excellent overview of the larger social practices, politics, networks and resources involved in academic publishing.

In the process, it shows readers how to formulate and situate their research and gain access to publication in international refereed journals. I thoroughly recommend this book to more or less experienced scholars, both Anglophone and non-Anglophone, wanting to publish in international refereed journals. The book more than delivers what it promises to the target audience.

I also use selections from my own published work, which allows me to talk about the process of writing them.

This book is above all about the process of writing—how to get the novel out, how to get it as deep as you can, and how to begin the work of seeing it again and making it be the best it can be. It is very important to distinguish between the process of writing and the product you eventually show to other people.

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It is something available in the marketplace. Process, on the other hand, is how the thing is made or developed. Process is about the journey, not the destination. It is essential in creative work to separate the process and the product. The process of getting ideas down is qualitatively different from polishing up the finished product to show to other people.

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If you are writing a letter-to-the-editor, you may have a single strong idea that you can write in a single sitting. You sit down at your computer, dash off your thoughts, run spell check, change a word here and there, and you send it off—perhaps instantly, via email. Novel writing, however, is a slower and less straightforward process. The writing itself often directs where you go and what you say, and many novelists say they work out the story and characters as they go.

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This varies enormously from person to person, of course. Some writers mull over their story for a long time and then write rapidly with few drafts. Others tinker for months on a beautiful first sentence, letting their subconscious work while they tinker, and once they are satisfied with that first sentence, write more rapidly. Others are like me, blasting out twenty or sixty pages sloppily and quickly over a week or two, entertaining myself as I go, running out of energy and laying the book aside until I come back with a new burst of energy that may or may not start where I left off.


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It can take me many years to come up with a draft ready to polish. Running out of momentum is one of the most common problems novelists face. Whatever your approach to writing, your engine is likely to run out of gas at some point. Some people feel a lot of angst about this and say they are blocked. I believe that there will be more energy and more ideas, and that an important part of the process of writing a novel is to figure out how to restart and refine. How do you keep the process going? How do you come back after a hiatus?

Working with the material itself primes the pump. Some writers take classes or join writing peer groups for the assigned deadlines and the camaraderie of other writers. Some people just lay the book aside and work on something else. I laid aside a young adult novel, for example, to draft this nonfiction book you are reading. A novel is so large, so open-ended, so lacking in clearly defined guideposts, that it is almost guaranteed that you will need strategies for getting back to work. People write poems on a napkin in a bar; you could draft a short story on a Sunday afternoon, but a novel—you will only write a novel with a lot of time and regularity.

One important part of the process of writing a novel, then, is regular sessions at your computer or yellow pad. You need to know that you are going to work every Friday from nine to noon, or six weeks every summer, or every morning for at hour at 6 a. Some people need a place dedicated to writing. I knew a man who used to take a subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan to his job, and he drafted much of his novel in a notebook during those forty-five minute rides.

One way or other, it is important to find a point in the space-time continuum that is conducive to your writing. The final stage uses your cool, critical, rational brain. You look for holes in the story, for excessive adjectives, for gaps in continuity. Therefore, to express your ideas accurately, choose an appropriate verb and use it well. In particular, use it in the right tense, choose carefully between active and passive voice, and avoid dangling verb forms. Verbs are for describing actions, states, or occurrences.

To give a clause its full strength and keep it short, do not bury the action, state, or occurrence in a noun typically combined with a weak verb , as in "The catalyst produced a significant increase in conversion rate. In your scientific paper, use verb tenses past, present, and future exactly as you would in ordinary writing. Use the past tense to report what happened in the past: what you did, what someone reported, what happened in an experiment, and so on.

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Use the present tense to express general truths, such as conclusions drawn by you or by others and atemporal facts including information about what the paper does or covers. Reserve the future tense for perspectives: what you will do in the coming months or years. Typically, most of your sentences will be in the past tense, some will be in the present tense, and very few, if any, will be in the future tense.

Work done We collected blood samples from. Groves et al. Consequently, astronomers decided to rename. Work reported Jankowsky reported a similar growth rate. In , Chu published an alternative method to. Observations The mice in Group A developed , on average, twice as much. The number of defects increased sharply. General truths Microbes in the human gut have a profound influence on. The Reynolds number provides a measure of. Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Atemporal facts This paper presents the results of.

Section 3. Behbood's paper provides a framework for. Perspectives In a follow-up experiment, we will study the role of. The influence of temperature will be the object of future research. Note the difference in scope between a statement in the past tense and the same statement in the present tense: "The temperature increased linearly over time" refers to a specific experiment, whereas "The temperature increases linearly over time" generalizes the experimental observation, suggesting that the temperature always increases linearly over time in such circumstances.

In complex sentences, you may have to combine two different tenses — for example, "In , Albert Einstein postulated that the speed of light is constant. In English, verbs can express an action in one of two voices.


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  • The active voice focuses on the agent: "John measured the temperature.

    How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide
    How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide
    How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide
    How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide
    How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide
    How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide
    How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide
    How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide
    How to Write a Novel that Works: A Straightforward, Practical Guide

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