The Best Novel Writing Tips Ever

Read a novel, and learn how to write one — at the same time!

I loved Steve Hely’s How I Became a Famous Novelist for its amazing analysis of bestsellers and hilarious writing tips. Yes, I know it’s satire, but upon looking at some recent bestsellers and wondering why, I think this may be the answer.

I don’t want to forget his tips so here they are.

Rules of Writing a Bestseller
(includes selected rules outlined by Pete Tarslaw, the fictional character in Steve Hely’s comedic masterpiece How I Became a Famous Novelist.)

1) Write a popular book. Do not waste energy making it a good book.

2) Have at least one murder.

3) Clubs, secrets, shy characters, surprising love affairs, and most importantly, women who’ve given up on love but turn out to be beautiful (the Muffin Ripper rule).

4) Evoke confusing sadness at the end.

5) Write prose that resembles bad poetry.

6) Have scenes on highways that make driving seem poetic and magical.

7) At dull points include descriptions of delicious meals. *** This is my favourite.

8) Main character is miraculously liberated from a lousy job.

9) Include scenes from American towns full of readers — as many as possible because people like to read about home.

10) Obscure and exotic locations

I have to say I’ve included some of these in my own forthcoming novel, The Great Cubicle Escape, which I wrote before reading Hely’s book.

  • delicious meals
  • liberation from a lousy job
  • bad poetry
  • muffin rippers
  • obscure and exotic locations

Seriously, I think maybe Hely’s found something here. I’m going to give it a try!