Write A Novel And 9 Questions and 25 Chapters
In the same way that a tree is different from other trees, each novel should be different from the rest of its species, however, in the same way, that we all recognize a tree, the same happens with novels. A novel, whatever it is, must be recognizable at first glance, all must have the same structure.
All stories share some elements that make them recognizable, if we define these elements before starting to write,
we will have an important part of our work done, and it will be easier for us to refine and write the story that we really want to write.
Today I bring you in a brief way, a trick taken from a talk that Mark Teppo gave, entitled: Outline your novel in 90 minutes (sketch your novel in 90 minutes). It’s a quick and easy way to sketch an entire novel.
9 questions to ask yourself before writing your novel:
1. Why have you chosen that protagonist? (What makes it so special, as to star in the novel) Find out who he is and what he wants, find out what he does and why he is there.
2. What is the protagonist doing right now? (Get into the story as late as you can, as Kurt Vonnegut says. Leave his past for later.)
3. What factors create a conflict with your character? (What kind of forces are attacking/creating problems for your character?)
4. What is the goal of your protagonist? (You need to be clear and honest) Try not to beat around the bush, also try not to fall into hackneyed and simplistic Manichaeism.
5. What obstacles will you encounter on the way? (Some say it should be 3. Be that as it may, remember that things should get worse, after each solution).
6. What qualities does your character have that help or prevent him from solving his problems? (Remember that your protagonist has to be able to put into practice all his qualities, if he is left half, the reader will think that he is an idiot. Are your obstacles enough for your protagonist? If your character is a doctor in mathematics, surely a complex equation will adapt to your qualities and you will be able to solve it without major difficulties. However, trying to lift a 1-ton rock above your head will be out of place. Think about it. It’s important.)
7. How will your protagonist change throughout the story? (That is the basis of the story) Choose well the steps you will take and above all, in which direction you will take those steps.
8. What are you trying to say? Why are you ghostwriting this story? All stories tell us something, they teach us something. Find your voice, find the message, remove all the dirt, leave it very clean, and do not lose it.
9. What sacrifices will you have to make? Remember that the road is long and hard, and your protagonist will have to prove that he deserves it (Show your protagonist’s reactions to these sacrifices. In the moment of total despair: the greater the disaster, the more you can lengthen it.
This will be your 25 chapters:
Once you have answered these 9 questions, and above all, once you have answered them properly, try to fill 25 chapters; more or less, the first draft of about 75,000 words. That is already a novel. However, let’s see how to organize the chapters.
Chapters 1 to 6 will be your introduction. In chapter 5 your protagonist should be clear about his goal (P.4), normally, chapter 5 is usually “the one with the big problem.”
Chapters 7 to 18, are the crux of your novel. This is where all the chicha is, this is where we find the problems (P.5), the solutions and this is also where things are getting worse and worse. Mark Teppo tells us that if we get stuck, something that usually happens in chapter 12, we should write “SEX”. The next chapter will be: “Things get worse.” Teppo says it works for him, you will tell me how you are doing.
Finally from chapters 19 to 25, describe the epic act of victory. Do not forget to introduce the sacrifice in chapter 23 (P.9) and demonstrate the changes that our protagonist has undergone, throughout the journey, in chapter 25 (P.7).
Easy right? Well, there is still some work left, you should scrub, clean, caulk, and paint. Go over your draft, let it rest for a while (Stephen King advises leaving drafts for about 6 weeks to cool), and go over it again. You have managed to shape your novel, answering those great questions.
With the idea of making 25 chapters, you can structure in a simple way the events that will happen in each one of them; you can write down everything that will happen and make it worse at the end of each chapter, or even leave it on a cliffhanger. I recently started a project with a friend (Ana Bolox) and we decided to end each chapter with a cliffhanger, the truth is that it was a great idea. It motivates you to continue reading without stopping.
You may want to use cards, post-its, schemes, or writing programs, whatever it is, you already have an idea, if you were stuck, this method may help you, if you have never tried it, give it a try.