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Keep the reader in mind: 

One of the most common problems that plague writers is that they tend to get carried away by word-play and descriptions, and miss the wood for the trees – or in simple words, they miss the big picture. There are some basic guidelines that need to be followed to ensure that there are no gaping holes within the story. Picture the scenes described:  Do they make (logical) sense to you? If not, they won’t work for your reader too. 

Remember that your reader can be anyone – someone in their late teens, a mid-20s working professional, a home-maker of any age – so you have to be careful about ensuring that all angles are covered. Your reader may not be able to point out the flaws accurately, but there will be a lingering sense of discomfort – and that decides whether they will pick up the next title or not.


Keep the narrative clean and crisp. Cut out repetitions, superficial and unnecessary descriptions, and excessive use of adjectives. Most importantly, the narratiave should ‘move’ – there is nothing more frustraing that a description of the female or male lead (no matter how good-looking) that runs for a good three pages. The best indicator of a good narrative is the extent to which you yourself (as writer or editor) feel involved with the plot: Do you wonder what the next page will bring? Are you feeling any sense of empathy for the person you are reading about? Do you want them to get together? 


The storyline has to flow smoothly. There is a fine balance here to be achieved – don’t add unnecessary events or characters to choke up space or to “create” a situation; readers can sense a contrived plot a mile away. At the same time, a story can’t stand on mere references to how the woman (or man) gets all excited on seeing the object of his/her affections. 

Most importantly, keep in mind that the novel has to reflect some semblence of reality – in real life, men and women don’t kiss at first sight, or jump into bed together after having coffee together (unless there is a very good reason to do so). Intimacy is something that is built up with time, even if you think the guy is a hunk or the girl is a babe. When describing intimate scenes, inject reality into that as well – men don’t ‘crush’ a woman’s breasts every time they come close; people don’t bite each other’s lips until they are swollen or bleeding; and most importantly, rough handling of any sort will leave a tell-tale bruise behind (which is why concealer sales are still high). 

There is also the element of logic to be taken note of – inasmuch as you want to give flight to your imagination, there shouldn’t be room for illogical/wrong references. This may be a romance novel you are writing, but that doesn’t give you the license to alter the reality of the situation your novel is based on.


Your characters form the backbone of your novel – without them, there is no story, so spend some time thinking about what they look like, what their character is all about, and what makes them fall in love with each other. When describing your male/female lead, try to vary your descriptors to touch on varied things – their physical features are just one part of them. Weave in references to their nature, their characteristics, likes and dislikes, reactions to things and people, etc, through dialogues and events. We are not looking for perfection specimens of human beings here, so add some downsides to your leads as well. 

Importantly, the way your characters behave should be consistent throughout. A short-tempered guy can’t become inordinately patient overnight, and a shy girl won’t become a wild cat suddenly either. So your story should work around them – they can’t change drastically to suit your plot.

Scene setting:

If your characters work in a certain industry – say an IT company or a hospital or a newspaper – make sure you know what the workplace of such an organisation looks like, what the work culture there is, and what sort of work they do. The research goes a long way in adding depth to the story and clarity to the narrative – all of which strengthen the novel. There is the other side as well – if you are extremely familiar with a certain industry, bear in mind others don’t know as much as you do. So add a short description.

If you have never been to a particular city, don’t rely on tourist information to set the story there, and just add in some popular landmarks to make it seem ‘real’. Familiarity with a place, people, or culture is something best handled when you are truly comfortable with the above-mentioned. Again, remember that your reader can easily detect whether you are really aware of what you are writing or if you are merely trying to put up a fogscreen.

Time line: 

Events within a story have to flow in a logical order – if you are jumping between the past and present in several places, you need to ensure that your reader is aware of the shift, and very clear on what is happening when. If needed, introduce a little title to explain where the character(s) is/are when a new time phase begins. The last thing your reader wants is to be confused and have to flip a few pages to find out what’s happening.

A common tendency is for writers to carry along a story with detailed events, and then hurtle towards a ‘quick-fix’ ending. Avoid this, and make sure that the end is something that comes about in as natural a manner as possible. We all know they are going to live happily ever after, but no one wants a pie-in-the-face ending either.

Language and grammar:

In any romance novel, the tendency to run riot with adjectives and descriptions is common – while we need a dose of heady description, it would be better to put a lid on excessive repetitions, superficial detailing and downright wrong usage of words (nobody “quirks” their eyebrow). Keep the sentences simple, the language easy to follow, and the dialogues natural. Also, many people have a tendency to translate expressions or sayings from the vernacular to English – this can sound very funny or even downright weird, so keep a watch for that.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is to be true to your own style of writing. If you are someone who doesn’t like big words, stick to simple ones. Don’t imitate someone else’s writing style (no matter how good it may be) – it never works well.