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Writing A Novel: Body Building

Hello everyone!  I'm back with the next installment of "Writing A Novel".  Writers are bodybuilders, you know that?  Yes, I suppose you could be extremely interested in the physical bodybuilding process and be a writer too, but I'm thinking about building the body of your novel.  If you want to catch up with the last post, First Chapters, just click the link!

You're probably really mad at me for making that pun about bodybuilding, right?  But no -- really, think about it. Do you want a book that's "ripped" (metaphorically) and with a lot of strength?  Or, to be blunt, do you want a book that's just kind of oozing in every which way? 

In a more literal sense, do you want a book that is shaped excellently and that drives home strong points or do you want a book that meanders about in mediocre pointlessness before finally calling it quits?
Writing the body of a book covers a lot of terrain.  A lot of elements of story writing come into play here, but I'm not going to cover any of them: it'd take too long.  CLICK HERE for an excellent article from the Roane State Community College. You could also look up articles from Purdue OWL's website -- the entirety of which is amazing. 

Once you have a solid understanding of all the elements of story writing and how each play a crucial part in the story, you're pretty much all set.  However, you can still very easily fall into a rut with your story.  How?

First of all, details.  Either you don't have enough of them or you have too much detail.  It's hard to find a perfect balance, and this is why it's important to find several people to read your work or at least parts of it in order to give you feedback on that.  Too much detail will bore someone (unless you're like me and love detail), and too little detail will cause a reader to become confused and thus detached from the story.  There is no exact equation to finding out how many details you should have in your story, because I think it varies quite a bit on what kind of story you're writing.  However, you should try to include...
  • Appearance: occasionally.  Anytime a new character is introduced, their appearance should be brought up within an appropriate time-frame.  However, appearances shouldn't be brought up excessively.  The mind's eye can figure it out on its own!
  • Clothing: When necessary.  How a person dresses is actually, to some extent, a mark of their personality.  However, again, their clothing choices should not be outlined for every single day.  
  • Setting: Obviously, anywhere significant that a character travels or stays at should be described.  Think about the buildings, if they're modern or dilapidated; the conditions of the roadways, the people that live there, etc.  Get creative!  
  • Personality and emotions: Again, as needed.  Any medical or mental condition that a character might have, you can describe through symptoms and will need to in order to make the book more realistic.  Personality can be described as needed -- but not "She's an INFJ Gemini" for a description.  Actually explain little things, like how she laughs over stupid jokes or how he can't stand people who chew loudly.  Quirks, more like.  Emotions should be explained but not to the extent that the reader isn't forced to feel the same thing or relate to the character. 
  • Any creation of your own imagination: This is where you should give your license to detail a go.  Since readers have likely never seen anything of the sort, you need to inform them on how the creation works, what the uncharted land looks like, how the government operates, etc.  
Another important factor that affects your body is the continuity.  You absolutely cannot do something dramatic just for the sake of a plot twist without prior planning; otherwise it's just a half-baked plot period.  If the idea comes to you later, okay -- go back and make the necessary changes.  You must also keep track of your details in order for nothing to change.  I once read a book series (it was 24 books long and one of my absolute favorites through my childhood, and remains to hold a fond spot in my heart even though I'm technically too old to read them) in which a minor character's name changed halfway through the series.  You don't want to do that in your book or book series.  To combat this, do frequent re-reads of your work (although you'll hate your work by the time you're finished, guaranteed) or create charts of details or other info you may need in order to keep track of everything.  Keep this on paper so that, in the event that your computer crashes or something happens to it or your other documents, you'll at least have that.  Hindsight's 20/20, in my experience.

You also have to ensure that your plot is working well and not dragging along at a horrendously slow rate, or skipping along at warp-speed.  Both can be a major turn-off for readers, but again, it largely depends on what kind of story you're writing.

Finally, ensure that each part of the body moves forward together to drive home the important points that you want to make, and finally, the ultimate message you're pulling together.  Each piece of your plot, each chapter of your story, should eventually tie in or build up to a part of the story that is crucial.  Anything else is unnecessary and, perhaps, detracts from the content. 

Okay - that's really all the guidance I can give you concerning how one should build the body of a book.  In short, just like the majority of writing: everything in moderation, but don't skimp on things that, to each individual plot, are crucial.   

Thus closes this installment of the "Writing A Novel" blog-series; the next and final installment will be concerning the conclusion of your story. 

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