The Write Way to Novel: Steps 4, 5 and 6, Passion, Purpose, Titles, Settings and World-building

Passion and purpose aren’t optional. You must have purpose behind your novel and you need to be passionate about that purpose, or you shouldn’t even try. I wrote a time travel novel for 29 years, because it’s really an allegory for being disabled, and the point is that disabled folks aren’t “less than.” There’re just different. I was so passionate about this point, it carried me through years of writing and rewriting. You won’t get through 50,000+ words if you’re not fueled by passion and purpose. For more detail on how to find the purpose of your story, read this.

Titles need to ring. Good titles often come to me from the voice in my head. But sometimes, the voice only has obvious titles followed by a shrug. When this happens, Thesaurus.com and mind mapping are helpful. Circle a concept in the middle of a page and branch off related words. Eventually, you’ll find something.

Settings and built worlds need to feel real. If your setting is like the real world, you need to use it to reflect the emotions, characters and themes in your story. For more about what settings should accomplish, read this.

If you’re building a whole new world, you need to determine a bunch of things to make it feel real. Here’re 20 questions to get you there.

It’s also a good idea to have your characters experience smells, sounds and temperatures wherever they go in addition to quickly describing what they see. When possible, have them knock into things to feel them, too. (Have them interact with the setting instead of just staring at it and describing it, because that’s boring.) Taste is not something you’ll always be able to get in, but do it when you can. Sometimes, you can taste smells in the air.

Get started. Next week we’ll tackle writing scene by scene.

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