What Makes a Good Novel?

What makes a good or a great novel? Is it the characters, the setting, the plot, the dialogue, or the ending? It’s probably a combination of all of these things, and more.

I’ve always believed that a good novel has to have the following ingredients, regardless of what genre:
1. Interesting characters
2. An exciting plot
3. A great story
4. A great ending

Good dialogue is important too. It is how we get a glimpse inside a character’s head and a character’s heart. When dialogue moves us—and makes us smile, laugh, and/or cry—we feel a stronger connection to the story and the characters, which makes the book memorable.

What makes a novel bad? I guess the opposite of the above, right?
1. Boring characters
2. A boring plot
3. A bad ending

And a lot more…

When you find yourself skipping paragraphs and/or pages, chances are, you’re losing interest in the characters and/or the story. I’m sure that many of you have opened a book, started reading it and then midway through, closed the book and never finished it. Do you remember why you stopped reading? 

I do. I once read a story that seemed interesting enough to keep going. But when I got to the chapter where descriptions began to feel like the author simply wanting to show off her knowledge on history, even though it didn’t necessarily pertain to the story or to the protagonist, I closed the book.

Description is a vital part of a story. It is what paints the picture for the reader. It is what puts them in the mood and helps them see the story clearer. But when descriptions become too flowery or too detailed, I lose interest.

Last year, I began reading a novel that started off strong. A few pages in, I found myself skipping sentences and paragraphs. The author described too many mundane details I didn’t care for. I wanted to get to the story, but instead found myself skipping through sections about what the character ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then what beer he bought, when and where he bought it, and how he sipped it. It was way too much. I stopped reading in the midst of chapter four.

So now I’d like to ask you a few questions about fiction. If you’d like to answer them, simply leave your answers in the comments section below:

1. What genre of fiction do you enjoy reading?

2. What is your favorite novel, and why?

3. Who is your favorite novelist, and why?

4. What makes you lose interest in a story?

5. What types of protagonists do you like reading about? Do you dislike?

6 What type of endings do you prefer (happy, tragic, sad, cliffhanger endings)?

7. What type of narration do you prefer (example: first-person or third-person)? Does it matter?

8. What novel(s) have you read more than once? Why?

Thanks for answering the questions.

Happy reading and writing!

Bookstores, Books, and Blogging

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Hi everyone! Lots to celebrate…

I just learned that today is my three-year anniversary with wordpress! Pretty sweet.

Another reason to celebrate: HIGH and Goodnight World are NOW AVAILABLE at Folio Books in Noe Valley, San Francisco! If you’re in the area, pop in and pick up a book or two. Tell them I sent you. 😉  Lovely bookstore, lovely staff.

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And another reason to celebrate…Valentine’s Day is tomorrow!

Happy Love Day, everyone!

 

Buy a Paperback and Give Back

The holidays are upon us again. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and there’s a lot to be thankful for. In the spirit of the holidays, I thought I’d do something special this year.

From today until December 20th, if you…

1. Buy a paperback copy of my novel, HIGH, and I’ll donate 50% to SFCD
When you purchase a paperback copy of my novel, HIGH, I will donate half of the profit to Support for Families of Children with Disabilities (SFCD).

What is SFCD?
SFCD is a parent-run San Francisco-based nonprofit organization founded in 1982. They support families of children with any kind of disability or special health care.

Why SFCD?
My four-year-old daughter, Samantha, has a global delay. SFCD has helped us with a wealth of information from the very beginning. I feel it’s time we give back to them.

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If you’d like to help, click here to buy a paperback copy of HIGH. Get it for yourself or as a gift for the holidays!

2. Buy a paperback copy of my children’s book, Goodnight World, and I’ll donate a copy to a child with special needs
For every paperback copy you purchase, I will donate a copy of Goodnight World to a child with special needs.

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If you’d like to help, click here to buy a paperback copy of Goodnight World. Get it for your child or as a gift for the holidays!

Other ways you can help:
Spread the word and email your friends and family, or reblog this post, share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

I’ll be posting updates in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

How Often Do You Write?

“You fail only if you stop writing.”
—Ray Bradbury

I love this quote. It’s so true. And it applies to life as well. It’s like saying, you fail only if you stop trying.

I’ve always wanted to become a writer ever since I was fourteen years old. Although I wrote on and off for years, I never quite believed that I was a writer. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally decided I was going to become one. Since then, I’ve managed to write my first novel and my first novelette. It turns out, in order to become a writer, all I had to do was keep writing.

So now I write every day. Even if it’s just a sentence or a paragraph. I know if I keep writing, that sentence or that paragraph could later become a story.

What about you? How often do write?

It’s Been Six Months Since…

…I published my first novel, HIGH.

Whenever I flip through the pages of HIGH, I still can’t believe I wrote those words. I was the one who spent hours, days, weeks, months—even years toiling over each word and each paragraph. I created that plot and made up those characters using my imagination. I wrote that story. For a good while, that story was my little secret. A secret I was afraid to share with anyone. Now it’s out there for the world to see.

I feel that no matter how many books I write and publish from now on, HIGH will always be the most important one. This book and I went through a lot of ups and downs together. In the process of writing and editing it—life happened. I got engaged, got married, got pregnant, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, became a parent, became a stay-at-home-mom, was diagnosed with a rare nerve disorder, had brain surgery—and through it all, I never gave up. Whenever I could, I kept writing. I wanted to finish my book. I wanted to achieve my goal despite the challenges that came my way. And I did it. It wasn’t easy. But I did it.

HIGH will always remind me of what I’ve been through and how strong I’ve become. It will always remind me of how hard I worked to chase a dream—no matter what. Regardless of how successful or unsuccessful HIGH may turn out to be—I will always be proud of it.

HIGH is available in paperback and eBook format on amazon.com.

Word Count

I recently shared with you that I’m working on a short story. Well, after checking my final word count, I realized it’s actually a novelette.

When I wrote the first draft of Paper Airplane, the word count was around 6,000 words. I continued to write and edit and didn’t pay close attention to the word count after that. I wanted to focus on developing the story and writing it until I felt the story was complete. Then I sent it to a couple of my beta readers. After I got their feedback, I did a few minor edits and checked my word count again. I was surprised to see it was now a little over 10,000 words. My short story was no longer a short story. It was now a novelette.

What is a novelette?
A novelette is basically too long to be a short story, but too short to be a novella. In terms of word count, a novelette has about 7,500 to 17,500 words.

So, will I cut my word count to stay in the short story category? No, I won’t. I wrote Paper Airplane for the story, not the word count. If it happens to be a novelette, then that’s what it’ll be.

In case you’d like to know more about word counts for fiction, check out the list below.

Flash fiction/short short stories: under 1,000 words
Short story: 1,000-7,500 words
Novelette: 7,500 to 17,500 words
Novella: 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novel: over 40,000 words

Here are a few helpful and interesting posts on word count.

http://theeditorsblog.net/2012/04/07/how-long-should-my-story-be/

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/02/novel-word-count.html

http://daringnovelist.blogspot.com/2011/04/novella-novelette-page-count-and-word.html?m=1

My Short Story

First off, I’d like to thank those of you who recently started following my blog. It means a lot to me. I promise to write more often and publish posts that are hopefully helpful to you.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, and I apologize for that. I’ve been busy writing and editing a short story.

A few months ago, I decided to read through some old drafts of short stories I had written a few years ago. One in particular pulled me in, and I’ve spent the last few weeks writing and editing it. I’m pleased about this piece—actually, I’m quite in love with it. My short story is called, Paper Airplane. I’ll be posting the synopsis and the book cover soon. I look forward to releasing the book in a few weeks. I hope you check it out.

As some of you may know, I had originally scheduled to publish my second novel this June, but because I was too inspired to write and finish Paper Airplane, I was unable to meet that deadline. The new release date for Hearts and Errors (my second novel) will now be September of this year.

More posts to come. Stay tuned. 🙂

What are your plans this summer?