Writing A Novel and Getting It Published

Novel writing is a most rewarding but challenging experience (even for seasoned authors). When you decide to write a novel, it is always a creative process and you never know when a good idea is going to come to you.  Write about what you know and love then stick with your project! Keep this checklist by your side as you finish off your writing and start to approach publishers.

Don’t ignore the easy stuff. When you write a manuscript, make sure its perfect before you send it to a publisher.

  1. SPELL CHECK – don’t ignore your grammar either.
  2. CONSISTENCY – Character names and place names must have conformity in your book. This is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.
  3. CHRONOLOGY – have you checked the arrangement of dates and events in your book? Do they follow your story accurately?
  4. LANGUAGE – is your book clearly written? Does it use words in a structured and conventional way? f you use more than one adverb and adjective in any sentence, are you sure you need them? Can you say the same thing but use less words in each sentence?
  5. CHARACTERS – Who is your strong main character? Is this character a protagonist? Does this character pursue the goal in the plot of your story? Does he or she differentiate from other main characters, mentors, or sidekicks?  Does his or her character center around and develop throughtout your book? Can your reader identify with this character?
  • By defination a protagonist is often the hero of the story.  Most protagonists display common traits. These traits set them apart from  other characters:
  • They are driven by a goal, duty, or curiosity
  • They have a relatable character flaw
  • Often these characters are loyal to cause, family, and allies
  • Many times they experience change
  • They are brave and courageous; superior in intelligence and strength
  • They invoke likeability

Does your story have an antagonist who stands in opposition to your protagonist’s goals? An antagonist is often called the villain, but can also be a group of people, or institution, a force of nature, a personal conflict or a flaw of character that your protagonist must overcome. The best way to discern the antagonist is by asking who stands in the way of the story’s goal? The antagonist can share most of the protagonist traits but for different reasons. The most noticable shared trait is the antagonist’s ability to invoke feelings of unease or distrust.

6. WRITING STYLE – do you show and not tell? Have you presented things as in real life?

7. THEME – What genre does your book fall into? A genre is determined by writing style such as narrative; technique; tone and content. Some common genre types are: Science fiction – Comedy – Satire – Drama – Action Adventure – Romance – Mystery – Horror – Self help. You must know what genre, or in some cases, genres, your book falls into. Ask yourself if the characters in your book fit your chosen genre?

8. DIALOGUE – An author uses dialogue in a novel to help their readers get to know a character.  Start a paragraph as soon as possible with dialogue.  Dialogue will also reveal a character’s emotions and actions. Good dialogue shows reality in conversations between characters and brings about character development and helps to advance the plot of a narrative. You use less words when you have characters in dialogue and as characters engage in dialogue, they reveal plans of action, as well as their inner thoughts and emotions. The use of “he said” and “she said” are one of the few invisible uses in the English language and is almost impossible to overuse. It is much less distracting than “he retorted,” “she inquired,” “he ejaculated,” and other oddities. It should be used.

Remember: Your reader doesn’t care. If you must use something other than “he said,” or “she said” use the simplest, most common word you can get away with. But mostly, use “said.” Dialogue must have a purpose. It must reveal character, move the plot along and build tension. Above all it must be interesting.

Dialogue tags: she said/he said is almost invisible when read on the page. The eye skims over it. It does not skim over she replied, he retorted, she answered. Use other verbs sparingly in dialogue. Nor does the eye skim over:  She said sadly, while gazing at him adoringlyHe snarled angrily. (Use adverbs sparingly.) Show how your character is saying something (or feeling) using your dialogue.

Using such a sentence as – He snarled angrily – think about it. You cannot snarl in a sentence. You cannot giggle or laugh in a sentence! NO – ‘You are the uglist person I’ve ever met in the entire world,’ he snarled.

YES – ‘You’re a nasty piece of work,’ he said.

Good dialogue is not realistic. It is a smarter, more dramatic version of real speech.


  1. Exposition — Does the opening of your story, including a reader’s introduction to characters and settings flow? Do your characters attributes and issues that you introduce continue in theme throughout your book?
  2. Rising Action — Do you show a series of events which complicates matters for your characters? Does these events result in increased drama or suspense in your book?
  3. Climax — is the the final test or confortation where your characters encounter their opposition, and either win or lose clear in your novel?
  4. Falling Action — This can be a series of events that unfold, usually after a climatic episode, which then leads to the end of your story.
  5. Resolution — This is the end of youre story. All the problems must be resolved (or if not resolved, that must be clear in the story also.) A resolution, is the final part of your novel in which the strands of the plot have been drawn together, matters are explained and resolved. This is called the denouement, catastrophe, or revelation.

Every chapter of your book should make your reader WANT to turn the page!

Now that your novel is completed you must submit a great Query letter.

A query letter is an important step to getting your book published. The goal of a query letter is to get a literary agent or an editor at a publishing house interested enough in your book to sign you as a client.

  • A good query letter is one page — never longer

  • It contains no errors — typing, spelling, punctuation, and grammar must be perfect

  • Gets immediately to the point

  • Appears on good quality paper

  • Is upbeat in tone and style

Another Important Point is finding the RIGHT EDITOR for your book.

One of the most important tasks in getting your book published is to find an editor who’s going to get behind your book.

A good editor helpsyour book and you make it to the publishing world. To find an editor who’s a good fit, try these tips:

  • Read acknowledgment pages of books similar to yours — authors often acknowledge their editor’s contribution

  • Scour press coverage of books you admire for the editor’s name

  • Go to writers’ conferences and/or conventions and network

  • Call the company that published a book similar to yours and ask who the editor is.