Write in the third person limited tense. This is the most intimate tense with which you can write. With this tense, you can read the main character’s thoughts, but not anybody else’s. You know only what the main character knows. Conversely, the reader must know everything that the main character knows. Don’t leave details out to create suspense. Suspense comes from action, not from not knowing facts. Not knowing facts just confuses your reader.
Do not rush through your story. Take all of the time you need to tell all of the details needed. Novel writing is a leisurely paced activity. Focus on as much detail as you possibly can. This helps your reader to better understand the characters and the world.
Characterization comes from two things: events of the book and the relationships between the characters. Show what your characters are doing and explain why. To figure out which character in your story should be the main character, just ask yourself one of two questions. Who is the most hurt or affected by what is happening in the story? Which character is left with the most responsibility to deal with the event(s) of the book? The answer to either one of these questions will tell you who your point of view character should be.
There are three basic types of story: setting, character, and event. In a setting story, the whole point of the story is to create a new world and help your reader explore and discover it. In this type of story, your main character should be visiting the setting for the first time so your readers can explore with him.
A character story is one in which the story revolves around the development and change of your main character. Often the main character will have a personal dilemma that she needs to solve. This type of story should begin when your character begins a personal journey and end when she has discovered her new identity.
An event story is based on specific events. In this type of story, your novel should start when the event starts and end when the event is resolved. It could also start when your main character finds himself in the middle of the event, even if the event started a while ago.
Finally, you must format your manuscript correctly. There should be a header in the top right corner of each page that includes your first initial, complete last name, the title of your novel, and the page number. There should be a one inch margin and each new chapter should begin in the middle of a new page. If you need to intaicize anything, underline it instead. They will italicize it when it is printed for publishing.
Card, Orson Scott English 399R: Novel Writing Class. Buena Vista, Virginia. Spring 2006.