What makes a good novel?

Exactly what conditions must be met in order for a fictional work of written prose to be considered a novel has long been the subject of intense and, depending on one's point of view, either fascinating or soporific debate.

There is no real consensus on exactly what the "first" novel was, but whether you're a staunch Dashakumaracharita advocate, or a proud member of Team Genji or Team Gilgamesh or even Team Gargantua, there's one area of undisputed common ground: A novel is first and foremost, a good story.

Because the term covers such a wide range of works, created by such a wide range of individual talents, we probably can't make an unqualified assertion that no good novel has ever been written about a bad story, nor is a good story alone a guarantee, but it's a safe bet that a good story has a much better chance than a bad one of becoming a best-seller.

That's what your Writer's Lifeline editor will look at first: the basic components of your story.

The story is the cornerstone, the foundation of your novel. It's the soil from which the tree will grow and flower.

Like the shape of a tree, a story can take on a life of its own during the writing process, and this can be a good thing, but most writers will be able to save themselves a great deal of revision time--and editorial costs--by putting the drawing board work on the front end: The sooner you show it to us, the more time and frustration you’ll save yourself.-

A story may evolve and change, but if it's a good one to begin with, it's only going to get better as it grows.

Modern bestsellers tend to be "character-driven." It's through the characters that the story unfolds. Strong, well-drawn characters will become as real to your readers as they become to you while you're writing about them, or more accurately, writing them.

Our character development specialists can help avoid pitfalls and sail over common hurdles that almost all writers face at some point.

They'll help you find that magical balance between characters that are nuanced and fleshed-out without overtaking both the story itself and your reader's imagination. The reader's mind is a key element of any good story! Leave plenty of room for it in your draft, or the reader will stop reading.

While natural talent cannot be taught or learned, the craft of writing not only can, but must, be learned if the writer aspires to a finished product that has a fighting chance in today's competitive marketplace.

There are a great many more solid, well-constructed novels based on good stories on bookstore shelves than there are works of timeless literary genius.

Let us help you get your story straight!

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