Novel Magna Cartas

For those who are interested, a new page has been put up on Dreamers Cove. Sorry about the delay.

On Thursday I picked up the book “No Plot? No Problem! A low-stress, high-velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days” by Chris Baty. Chris is the person who, with his friends, started the whole “National Novel Writing Month” way back when. It's filled with advice, inspiration and strategy for the craziness I have decided to participate in this year. It's darn hilarious, too. I was snickering like crazy about the 'guilt monkeys'.

One of the exercises he suggests in preparation is what he calls the Magna Carta I and the Magna Carta II, the formers evil twin. These are lists of what you personally enjoy  reading in a novel, and of course, those things that drive you batty. This is to help inspire you, but also to keep the sneaky little buggers in list 2 from creeping into your writing. And they are sneaky, slimy, slippery, tenacious, devious little things….

So, without farther ado, here is what I came up with:

Magna Carta I: What I like in Novels

  • Strong female characters
  • Characters who are at turning points in their lives
  • A good mix of physical ages of MC’s
  • Well-rounded antagonists
  • 3rd person limited omniscience (from one or more character POV)
  • Loyal friends
  • Ancient and/or lost civilizations
  • First paragraph hooks
  • Mystery
  • Strange/ancient/mysterious artifacts
  • Space travel
  • Mental abilities (but not overdone)
  • Aliens
  • Quirky characters
  • Feisty old people
  • People ending up to be more than they are at the beginning
  • Fun character interaction
  • Poetic justice
  • Foreshadowing
  • Concise scenery descriptions
  • Happy endings

Magna Carta II: The Evil Twin. Things I hate reading in a novel:

  • Omnipotent bad guys
  • Antagonists that don’t get their just-desserts
  • Perfect main characters (or Mary Sue/Gary Stu)
  • Young MC who have no guidance from adults
  • 3rd person omniscient POV (story feels too distant to me)
  • Fate as all-powerful (As in, don’t your choices make ANY difference?)
  • Lucky characters (i.e Gladstone Duck..KILL IT, KILL IT!)
  • Plot holes
  • Violence and/or sex with no point
  • Lots of swearing
  • Beginnings that take forever to get into the plot
  • Misunderstandings that exist only because people won’t talk to each other
  • Romantic attraction between characters that have nothing in common
  • Solutions that come out of nowhere
  • Magic
  • Witches/Wizards or the ilk
  • Demons or the ilk
  • Political Intrigue
  • Long descriptive passages
  • Info dumps (related to the above entry)
  • Too many names starting with the same letter or sounding alike (Can we say ‘confusion’? I knew you could!)
  • Unhappy endings

This weekend is for typing in all the notes I've made all this week. Choose what stays in, what gets thrown out. A new file has now been made for this project in the filing cabinet. Seems silly, but I actually stopped to think about what color the hanging file should be. In case you are curious, it's blue.

Yes, I know. I'm partially insane. 😉

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