Tag Archives: writing a novel

Advice From A Young Reader

My seventeen year old sister has just started reading extensively late last year. From what I can recall, her interest was piqued right after reading Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. Then, she started reading Tanya Hurley’s Ghostgirl series, but decided that it was too juvenile for her taste. So I recommended that she try the Twilight series, since she was getting into those popular YA novels that are (to my surprise) common on Kindle. When she was done with that, I told her to read Harry Potter, explaining that it was one of the reasons that I decided to choose the path of writing. Of course, I didn’t have to tell her that, but I do have this rather annoying habit of having to justify why I liked/hated something. Anyway, from Twilight to HP, she’s now trying out Murakami (starting from his collection of short stories Blind Willow,Sleeping Woman).

As I mentioned, I’m currently trying to finish my first novel. Ever since I decided to get serious with this craft (around two years or so ago), I’ve been writing mostly short stories, with my longest story so far being just around 4500 words. In my opinion, it is easier to write short stories, as most of them can be done in a sitting. While novels, they could take months, and are a bit difficult especially when that damn thing called “writer’s block” strikes. I’ve got a (fantasy) plot that I’ve been developing for almost 5 years. I started constructing the plot as a pastime (school can be boooring), before even considering to turn it into a novel. I also have two other plots under development: one is a pseudo-YA novel with teen romance as the central theme, and the other is more of speculative fiction. I started writing my YA in third-person limited, but after four chapters, I had to stop. I just wasn’t feeling it, and the whole story seemed out of place. So I asked my sister for her opinion, and here are things I have realized from her, a reader:

  • Before starting, consider your target audience first. Then, decide upon the language you will use (formal, informal).
  • First-person POV works best for YA stories, because teenagers are more concerned with knowing the character. This specially works well with romance or coming-of-age types.
  • Third-person omniscient can be distracting at times. If it’s absolutely necessary to use this POV, it’s better to just focus on a single character’s POV per chapter.
  • Names can make or break a character’s likability.
  • Unless you’re intending to write a literary piece, try to avoid highfalutin vocabulary. It’s distracting and tends to come off as pretentious.
  • Know when to show, and when to tell. Details are important, but too much of it can be dragging and boring.
  • Over-the-top characters are annoying.
  • Clumsy girls and brooding boys who fall in love, are overrated.
  • Don’t make your vampires sparkle.

I think, as a writer, knowing about what the readers like is also important. Because as a storyteller, we do not only do what we do to please ourselves, but to please others as well.  (I still suck at ending articles. X_x)

Happy New Year! Let’s all rock our 2015.