Welcome to Writing Tips Oasis, and our newest guide on writing New Adult Romance. New Adult fiction gained traction just as the publishing world drastically changed with the emergence of self-publishing. Therefore, it’s not a surprise to learn that the first bestselling New Adult romance novels were self-published by independent authors. After reaching the bestseller lists, these novels were picked up by traditional publishers, and once the traditional publishing industry also began focusing on New Adult as a genre in itself, a new trend was born.
The most interesting thing about the New Adult genre is how, despite its relative youth compared to other well-established genres, it has already established its own set of common elements when it comes to plot (mostly romance), characters, and themes. This, of course, does not mean that all New Adult novels are the same; however, the common elements serve as a basis upon which someone who is new to the genre can understand what it is all about.
With a target audience of late teenagers to mid-twenties (even late twenties), and protagonists – heroes and heroines of around the same ages, there are ample opportunities to explore different themes against the backdrop of (most often) a University campus. With college parties and humor, as well as angst and melodrama, the New Adult genre quickly became the next big thing, both for traditional publishers and independent authors as well.
So, how does one write a New Adult romance novel?
Table of Contents
- The New Adult Genre
- 1. Basic markings of the genre
- 2. NA, YA, and Romance
- 3. Common themes
- 4. Character creation
- 5. Established stereotypes
- 6. Hero stereotypes
- 7. Heroine stereotypes
- 8. Secondary characters
- 9. Outlining vs. just writing
- 10. NA plot structure
- 11. NA Romance
- 12. Inclusion of sex scenes – yes or no?
- 13. The Happy Endings
- 14. New Adult Narrative Voices
- 15. Language and Writing Styles
- 16. Establishing a book series
- 16. Editing and proofreading
- 17. Publishing: traditional vs. self-publishing
The New Adult Genre
As we previously said, even though the New Adult genre has only been around for about ten years, it already has established markings. For that reason, we will focus primarily on writing New Adult romance, since that’s the most prevalent category. On the other hand, please note that romance is not the only category within the genre. Many authors have already begun writing novels that are New Adult fantasy, science fiction, and more.
The name of the category may be self-explanatory, since romance is romance no matter what age group you’re writing about, from early teens to late fifties. However, while Young Adult focuses on protagonists in their teenage years, and adult romance has characters who are well-adjusted to being adults, New Adult focuses on a specific age group that falls in between: the protagonists are not yet fully fledged adults, but they are also more mature than teenagers.
In addition, New Adult is marked by tackling difficult themes, hence the protagonists – the hero and the heroine – are often marked by difficult pasts that may involve abuse and tragedy.
1. Basic markings of the genre
The basic markings that make a novel belong in the NA genre are the writing style, the themes, the ages of the heroes, and the plot. Let’s take a look at each of these markings.
The writing style: Like Young Adult fiction, most novels in the NA genre are written from first person point of view by the heroine, although, they often feature two points of view: one from the hero, or the love interest, and one from the heroine.
The themes: we already mentioned that NA tackles more difficult themes, so do not be afraid to give your characters a difficult background and resulting issues that they need to overcome within the course of the novel.
The plot: the plot usually revolves around the romance, but often, there may be a subplot that serves as a framework. For example, a freshman at college may be partnered with someone whom they don’t like. They need to work together to get a good grade, and their romance happens as a result of the circumstances they’ve been put in.
2. NA, YA, and Romance
What are the similarities and the differences between YA, NA, and the Romance genre?
The similarities are easy to spot. A New Adult novel will often revolve around romance, and a common theme is coming of age, since it features protagonists who have not yet become fully fledged adults. And just like in the romance genre, New Adult does not shy away from erotic scenes that would be inappropriate in the Young Adult genre. On the other hand, Young Adult novels can be full of angst and teenagers that feel as if no one understands them, and most often, the protagonists of a New Adult novel will also have a similar worldview that they need to overcome.
What sets New Adult novels apart is the setting. Most often, these novels revolve around college students, or protagonists that have recently graduated and are just starting their new jobs or internships. Adult romance, on the other hand, involves characters who are already established individuals: they have jobs, friends, and a certain way of life. Meanwhile, the protagonists in New Adult fiction are just beginning to figure things out.
Here is an example: think of the most recent adult romance novel you’ve read. We are willing to bet that the hero of the story was either:
- a) A rich CEO;
- b) A famous rock star;
- c) Expert at his job.
And for the heroine:
- a) Recently moved to a big city/small town;
- b) Has financial problems/is fresh out of a job;
- c) May be recovering from a break up.
And so on. Basically, readers of adult romance expect a hero that is well off, and a heroine that is most often a damsel in distress, which in modern times often translates as financially strained.
New Adult romance, on the other hand, allows for characters that are struggling: they need to pay bills, they work minimum wage jobs, they go to college and struggle with classes, social life, and making ends meet. Although, even the New Adult romance is not free of the “rich college boy” meets “scholarship small town girl” kind of plot.
3. Common themes
Before we expand upon the most common themes currently found in New Adult Romance, let’s establish what exactly is a theme in a novel, or the theme of a novel. For example, if you are writing a book revolving around the romance of two people who, at first glance, seem unable to stand each other, then the central theme of the novel is romance between two unlikely candidates. To draw upon a more classical example, this theme is prevalent in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. However, there are other themes in Pride and Prejudice, and in that manner, your novel can also touch upon other themes as well.
The most prevalent themes in New Adult Romance are:
- Coming of age: this theme, just like in Young Adult novels, stems from the age of the characters. They’re not teenagers, but they are also not independent yet. As such, the characters will grow throughout the course of the novel, become more mature and more aware of who they really are and what they really want.
- Abuse: this is a very delicate theme, and we do not recommend including it in your novel in any way – physical or mental abuse – unless you’re ready to do it justice as a writer. Maybe (and we hope not) you are able to write about this theme from your personal experience, but if you are not, we suggest a very through research into the matter at hand. Make sure that you do it justice and treat this topic with the utmost respect. There are many people in the world who have suffered from abuse one way or another, and using this topic just for the sake of shock value is not the way to go.
- Mental health: abuse and mental health go hand in hand. You cannot touch the topic of abuse without dwelling into the consequences of abuse – that is, the mental health of your characters. On the other hand, you can have mental health as a theme in your novel without the subject of abuse, because mental health is equally important for everyone. However, in the same line, treat this topic with respect and delicacy, because a lot of your readers will relate to your characters, and the theme (and the characters) will affect them deeply on a personal level.
- Politics: politics may not affect people on a personal level as much as mental health and abuse can affect them, but please remember that your novel is not a place where you can preach your political opinions. For that reason, we advise that if you do decide to include politics, make sure that your characters do not try to preach their political views to other characters – and therefore, to the readers as well.
- Social issues: social issues include everything from diversity, LGBTQ rights, the division between the rich and the poor, women’s and men’s rights, feminism, political correctness, and more. When it comes to themes examining social issues, please refrain from trying to explore too many of them in one novel. Since these topics are currently very sensitive at the moment (and will probably continue to be in the near future), if you do decide to tackle them, make sure that you represent these themes carefully, without being too preachy on the subject, and without going overboard with unrealistic representations. For example, the life of a person belonging to the LGBTQ community will be a lot different than the life of a person who doesn’t, and if you try to portray a social issue in an unrealistic, utopian manner, you may cause a negative effect among your readers.
- Sexuality: both women’s sexuality and men’s sexuality is a theme that is quite prevalent in New Adult Romance, especially since you may have characters that are very open about their sexuality, and you may have characters who would come across as naïve, inexperienced, or maybe even uninterested in their own sexuality. The way that you portray this theme will depend on your characters and their own views, especially if you decide to include sex scenes in your novel. On the other hand, make sure not to overdo the characters’ sexuality in your novel, lest your novel becomes a lot closer to erotica rather than New Adult Romance.
4. Character creation
The most amazing thing about writing a novel is that good, memorable characters are good and memorable regardless of the genre your novel belongs to. And what’s even more amazing is that good, memorable characters can be crafted with creativity and hard work.
The not-so-amazing thing is that all of that hard work and creativity may not make it onto the pages of your novel. Character creation begins with backstory, continues with beliefs, attitude, principles, emotions, a character’s arc, and ends with the character’s voice. In your novel, characters act a certain way, and they speak in a certain way, a unique way that is only theirs, and they do this because of their background, their history, and their beliefs. This, however, does not mean that you need to tell every detail about your characters to the audience.
Your novel will have its own cast of characters: the protagonists – the hero and the heroine, and other characters that the two of them interact with: friends, family members, professors and bosses, and other characters that will help your protagonists, or prevent them from achieving their goals: antagonists and maybe even villains.
You need to know these characters as well as you know yourself – maybe even better. You need to know how they speak, how they move, how they act – and why.
When creating your characters, you have to answer several questions:
Where was the character born?
What was their family like?
What are important events from their past and what kind of an impact did those events have on the character’s personality in the present?
What kind of opinions and principles does you character have?
What are the character’s strengths, and what are the character’s flaws?
And, most importantly, how does the plot (romantic or otherwise) influence the character’s growth? Which aspect of the character is susceptible to growth and change?
How would your character react to different situations?
Answering these questions will help you form the iceberg that will be your character – and just like an iceberg, the readers will get to view and experience only the tip of it. This doesn’t mean that you need to write a separate character book where you will detail each character’s personality and traits, flaws and virtues, favorite colors and most painful memories, but even so, you need to spend some time detailing each major character. This will help you bring those characters to life when you’re writing the novel, and make each and every character unique and memorable.
5. Established stereotypes
No genre is free from stereotypical characters and character tropes. A fantasy novel may have a protagonist who discovers via prophecy that he or she is the Chosen One set to save the world. New Adult fiction rarely deals with world annihilation, but even so, it has had a decade to accumulate certain types of character stereotypes and tropes that seem to pop up in many different novels.
Understanding these tropes and stereotypes will help you create protagonists that have something unique going about themselves, preventing the readers from lumping them all into the same category. There are tropes regarding the heroes, the heroines, and even the secondary characters. For example, how often have you read about the quirky heroine whose best friend is a gay male, whose job, in turn, is to swoon over the hero’s abs and eyes?
For that reason, let’s take a look at the most common types of characters appearing in New Adult fiction, and then, take a look at how these characters can become unique and memorable for the readers.
6. Hero stereotypes
First and foremost, the age of the characters – the hero and the heroine – is almost always between 18 and 25, although there are a few occasions when a New Adult novel has an older character as the protagonist.
The heroes have a few trademarks. One of them is womanizing. The hero is often either surrounded by other women, who all hit on him and want to get it on with him. Even more often, his womanizing ways are the reason why the heroine is very reluctant to be with him or give him a chance. The hero is also, almost always, playing sports: hockey, football, and so on. This means he is a part of a group, and has more than a few very close friends, and him being into sports means he has some kind of superstar status on campus.
But, if you leave it at that, then the character will have no depth. This means that your job as the writer is to take this character that appears like a jock on the surface, and transform him into something unique on the inside – even without the involvement of the heroine. The first and easiest way to do this is to involve trauma from the past, but this may take your character very close to “he is a womanizer because he is tragically misunderstood by everyone around him.”
Of course, this does not mean that you need to avoid trauma in the past for your characters. After all, abuse, mental health, and dealing with problems from the past are among the prevailing themes in New Adult romance. But it’s not just about what happened to your characters in the past, how they act in the present, and who they are at the beginning of the novel. What’s important is how they change, what they learn during the course of the novel, and what they are doing at the end of the novel. The sports jock may become a tender teacher by the end of the novel and leave behind his womanizing days, but the readers need to see the hero change in this way without having it be too easy.
Another way to add layers to common stereotypes is to give your characters not just a decent backstory – regardless of whether or not that backstory involves trauma or abuse – but also, hopes for the future, dreams, and a lot of fears that they need to overcome to get there.
7. Heroine stereotypes
If the hero is almost always a womanizing jock, the heroine is almost always bookish, nearly nerdy, and may have very little romantic experience. She may have never had a sexual encounter before the novel, and in one way or another, the heroine has been hurt in the past, had her heart broken, and now, she is not easily trusting of people. This combination leads to female leads that are most often innocent, bookish, but very witty and sarcastic. Beneath the veneer hides a girl who is longing to be loved by the right guy in the right way, and this draws the hero to her like a magnet.
She is almost never a part of a big group, like a sorority, or a sports team. Most often, she has a few close friends that she hangs out with – unlike Young Adult novels, which often feature a solitary heroine that has very few friends and is socially awkward. Since the New Adult heroine is not as young as a teenager, she is usually comfortable with social interactions, unless they involve awkward situations.
So, how do you turn the heroine stereotypes and trademarks around? By giving her more than just a few common qualities. She may be nerdy, but she does not have to be innocent. Or, she may be innocent but pretend that she is not, going out of her way to show that she is comfortable with everything, only to show that she is not. And yes, there may be trauma in her past, in which case, our earlier warnings come back in full force: be careful when dealing with rape, domestic violence, and other topics that may trigger a lot of other women out there. If your heroine has had something traumatic happen to her in the past, have her deal with it in a realistic way, drawing on her strengths and the people around her. If she is witty and uses a lot of humor, for example, then that humor should be a part of her journey. On the other hand, it’s not necessary for your heroine to have had a traumatic past for her to be relatable. Focus on both her strengths and her vulnerabilities, and where they stem from. This way, you will create a realistic character, who has both good qualities and quite a few flaws.
8. Secondary characters
The secondary characters in a New Adult novel are important – well, the secondary characters are important in all novels – but when it comes to New Adult romance specifically, it’s the secondary characters that help bring the book to life.
The secondary characters are friends, family members, and maybe people who have a certain kind of authority over the characters: bosses, professors, coaches, and so forth. Now, these characters can be cardboard cutouts who are only there to say the right thing at the right time, or, you can develop them just like your hero and heroine. You can achieve this by giving these characters their own agency, and their own motivations in their interactions with the hero and the heroine. In addition, they need to have their own backstories, and their own wishes, desires, and fears. In other words, they also need to be unique. A mother is not just a mother, she has her own personality, and the same thing applies for the father. If they are not around, give a good reason, and have that absence affect your hero or heroine in a realistic manner.
In addition, secondary characters also offer the opportunity to start a series where each new book focuses on a different couple, involving characters from the first book. This way, the location stays the same, and you end up with a central cast of characters that appear in almost all of the books.
9. Outlining vs. just writing
Writing a New Adult novel is no different than writing any other novel, when it comes to the act of writing itself. There are many different ways and methods of writing a novel. In fact, each writer has their own method. Some writers like to write a novel chronologically, from the beginning to the ending. Other writers prefer to write out of order, writing separate scenes and chapters, which they will assemble later into a final form that would be ready for editing (and publishing). However, there are two methods that have come forward as the most common. Those are outlining the novel before you start writing it, and writing the novel as you go along without any planning or outlining or plotting whatsoever.
Outlining the novel before you write it has its benefits, but it also has drawbacks that may hinder you during the writing process. The biggest benefit is that you will be able to stay on course as you write your novel. You won’t get lost and wonder where your story is supposed to go next. Armed with your characters, the themes you wish to represent, imagination, cause and effect, and the characters’ arcs you have in mind, you can create a compelling outline that may make the writing itself easier to you. Or, it might hinder you. Because you cannot plan dialogue, and you cannot plan emotional impact. Those things happen best when they happen organically. Even though you will probably end up cutting away a lot of dialogue during the editing process, outlining to the point of planning what the characters are going to say at any given moment may take away the joy of discovering your characters through writing them. In addition, your novel – your story – needs to flow, from once scene to another, and if you try to strictly follow your outline, you might end up disrupting that flow. Writing per an outline is not the same as checking off plot points from said outline. The outline is nothing but a guide for you follow – but you still need to give your characters and your setting room to breathe and expand. If some changes to the original outline happen because you feel that the characters, the setting, or the plot demand it, then by all means, go for them.
On the other side of the coin we have writing by the seat of the pants – which some authors may even describe as flying. You start writing without outlining anything. You may have an outline in mind, but nothing is written in stone (or on paper, or in a word document), and the sky is the limit. So, why does this method not work for every author out there?
The answer is different for everyone, but the gist of it is that when you don’t have an outline to follow, your characters can (and most often do) have complete and utter freedom. We’ve all heard many different writers say “I don’t know where my characters will take me,” and they’re probably writing by the seat of their pants, eagerly discovering where their characters will take them. However, not everyone is able to instinctively feel a story, at least not a fully cohesive one. This is not much of a hindrance, since you will need to extensively edit your novel before publishing it anyway, but, if you take too many tangents, if you allow your characters to go on too many side quests, you may end up with a bloated manuscript. To avoid this, you may need to keep an outline in your mind all the time while you’re writing the novel – and have to “struggle” to keep your characters in line with it.
10. NA plot structure
Like any other novel that involves romance, there are two ways you can go. First option is to have the novel focus solely on the romance and nothing else, in which the plot structure is easy. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, something happens that breaks them up, and then the boy grovels until the girl forgives him and takes him back. The end. In the meantime, there may be a catty girl who is after the hero, or another guy who is trying to win the heroine’s good graces, and trouble ensues mostly from outside influences, and the conflict between the hero and the heroine is caused by outside sources and based on misinterpreting situations.
Or, you can go for the second option, which is creating a plot that revolves around more than just the romance. It can be a school related plot, where the hero wants to improve his grades, or the heroine wants to achieve something special. In this case, the secondary plot has direct effect on the romance, which helps raise the stakes for both the hero and heroine by the end of the novel. The secondary plot is where you can tackle different themes like friendship, camaraderie, family dynamics and expectations, mental health, and coming of age.
If you have two protagonists, then you need two Hero’s Journeys: one for the hero and another for the heroine. Both journeys will need an inciting incident: a problem that they need to solve. In New Adult fiction, usually this problem stems from within and is expressed in an outside manner. Something happens that makes the character step out of their comfort zone and face their inner problem.
11. NA Romance
What makes New Adult romance different than the romance found in Young Adult novels or adult romance novels?
Some may be tempted to say, absolutely nothing, because romance, in essence, is about love. Two people fall in love, have some trouble, they work through it and end up happily ever after.
And while it may seem like that on the surface, the truth is that you can make any romance unique by making the characters unique, and their relationship as well. In New Adult romance, you can find several different love stories coming across:
- The girl falling in love with her brother’s best friend;
- Two people being friends with benefits until they realize they love each other and become a couple;
- Two people being just friends and helping each other until they realize they love each other;
- Two people who argue all the time, disagree on everything, and constantly bicker, which only serves as a veneer for the passion they feel for each other.
And there may be even a combination of two or more tropes from above.
What can you do make this unique? Besides making your characters have something unique about themselves, you also need to put these characters together, which is helped by the secondary plot. They don’t just meet because they bumped into each other on the street, maybe they are working together on a project and they need to succeed, but the budding attraction between them forces them to face the passion in any way possible, which may be by giving in to it, or keep denying it.
However, you also need to show the emotional connection between the hero and the heroine. They need to open up to each other and show vulnerability in front of one another. You need to make them good friends regardless of how they started. Sure, they need chemistry and passion, but that will leave your readers feeling like there was no reason why the hero and the heroine fell in love. An emotional connection is what draws them together, and it is the emotional connection that adds depth to the characters and the story.
12. Inclusion of sex scenes – yes or no?
There is no cardinal rule that says sex must be included in a New Adult romance story, even though many critics say that New Adult is basically Young Adult with sex. New Adult separates itself from Young Adult novels with many other elements as well, not just with the inclusion of sex.
On the other hand, even romance novels – adult romance novels – do not include sex scenes. In the end, it’s up to the author to decide whether to include sex scenes in a novel – and how many. As with every other scene in your novel, if the sex scene serves to develop the characters, their relationship, and their romance, then by all means, go ahead and include it in your story. If the scene is gratuitous, then you need to figure out how to make it important, and how to make it work with the characters and the story. For example, if a character has a difficult time trusting anyone, then that character deciding to have sex with another person implies that trust has been built in the course of the story – in previous scenes and interactions between the two of them. For that reason, make sure that even if you do add sexual scenes in your novel, they make sense in the course of cause and effect, and that the scenes conveys something important for both parties included.
13. The Happy Endings
Everybody loves a happily ever after ending. In fact, it’s the reason why the romance genre (in general) is the most popular in the world today.
Yet, everybody hates a happily ever after that feels undeserved for the characters. For example, the womanizer meets the right girl, falls in love, and everything is good. That’s not even a story, because then the womanizer has not learned anything in the course of the novel.
So, how can you make the happy ending for your characters feel deserved?
Well, by putting your characters through an emotional wringer. Sure, the womanizer may have met the right girl, but what if he could not stop himself from womanizing afterwards, which leads to the heroine giving up on him? In this case, the hero first has to realize what he did wrong, why he did it, and work himself back into the heroine’s good graces. In addition, the heroine herself should have a good reason to forgive him beyond just loving him and wanting to get back to him because she cannot breathe without him.
The trouble in paradise needs to seem unsolvable until both the hero and the heroine change deep inside. Of course, their romance should serve as the catalyst for this change, but the change should already be on its way even before they get involved (and separated). Ultimately, the hero and the heroine need to change (for the better) on their own, and not because they have to change in order to get their happily ever after.
14. New Adult Narrative Voices
New Adult novels are most often told in two different points of view: one from the hero and another form the heroine. They’re both considered to be the protagonists of their own side of the story. Another aspect of New Adult (which is similar to Young Adult), is that both points of view are told in first person. What does this mean, exactly, when it comes to language and writing style?
First and foremost, this means that you need to create two different narrative voices: one male, one female, or two male and two female narrative voices, if you’re going for same sex pairings. What’s really important here is that you do not have a single narrative voice, you have two of them. And they need to differ from one another, because no two people sound the same in real life – and in fiction as well. Or, at least, in well written fiction. In addition, these voices need to be in line with the characters themselves. Your voice, as the writer, needs to be masked by the characters themselves. This is where inner thoughts come through to help, but you also need to be careful with descriptions, similes, and language as well.
For example, a character that’s majoring in Linguistics, for example, may have an extensive vocabulary and use that vocabulary when describing places, people, events, action, and in dialogue and inner monologue as well. On the other hand, if your character is very into sports (and New Adult is full of heroes who are hockey players, soccer players, and so on), then that character should use sports lingo in their inner thoughts, dialogue, and even descriptions, metaphors and similes. It is these aspects that make the characters feel more real, and it is the language and the writing style from their narrative point of view that make characters memorable.
On the other hand, if every character in your novel is witty, including your hero and heroine, and this wittiness comes across in every paragraph, then wittiness itself becomes overdone and not as enjoyable as it should actually be.
15. Language and Writing Styles
Or, in other words, do not get too complicated in your writing. When it comes to descriptions and metaphors – or using metaphors and similes in descriptions, you may get the urge to write long elaborate sentences and paragraph. Long winded descriptions of buildings, places, and even clothes. You may get the urge to complicate your prose until it’s too difficult to read.
When it comes to language, New Adult is not targeted at young adults, and while this means that you should not shy away from curse words, make sure that you do not overwhelm the reader with them either. In addition, there is no need to shy away from being literary – especially if it fits the narrative voices of the characters, however, it’s advisable to stray away from purple prose. Purple prose is defined by flowery writing, overuse of metaphors and similes – using them just for the sake of using them, and most often, purple prose has a negative effect on the readers, rather than a positive one.
The reason why purple prose should be avoided in New Adult romance is mostly due to the first person point of view narrative. This type of narrative means that your protagonist needs to sound like he is speaking directly to the reader, which means that if that character does not use flowery language in “real life” – as in, dialogue and interactions with other people – then they would not use it in their descriptions either.
Elaborate metaphors are also not a particularly good idea, especially if these metaphors are literary. Again, this stems from the narrative and the characters, so the descriptions and the metaphors you will use in writing will depend on the nature of the protagonists who are narrating the story.
16. Establishing a book series
We already talked about the importance of the secondary characters in initiating a book series. New Adult romance book series almost always focus on different characters from a central group of characters, with each book focusing on a different character usually introduced in the first book.
If establishing a book series is your intention, then the first book offers ample opportunities to set up new characters that will appear in future books. The readers can meet these characters in passing, grab a short glimpse of them in the first book, and then be pleasantly surprised when that intriguing character gets his or her own book. In addition, you can use the sequels to set up other characters, or to offer a slight change in the relationship between two characters who have been around since the first book, but now they react differently to one another.
However, it’s very important to not repeat the same old story in all of the books you plan to have in the series. If your first book focuses on a hero and a heroine that bicker and banter and seemingly hate each other (while hiding the passion brewing between them), then your second novel should show a different type of romance.
16. Editing and proofreading
Writing the first draft of your novel is actually the easiest part of the process. Once you’re done with the first draft, however, it is time to edit it. And that can be very difficult, because you need to become your own objective critic and determine what you need to change in your novel, and what you can keep as it is.
For this reason, you may need to take a break from your first draft. Get it out of your mind, and then come back to it with fresh eyes. This will make it easier for you to detach from your own writing – or at least, detach enough that you can look at it critically. The negative aspect of this is the (very big) possibility that you will become too critical of yourself and your writing.
With that in mind, there are two ways to go about editing your first draft. The first is to do it yourself, the second, of course, is to get help from beta readers and professional editors. If you’re determined to do it on your own, then you need to do several types of editing:
- Macro level editing: where you read through your novel with the intention of looking for plot holes, cause and effect situations that do not make sense (due to the character’s motivation or course of events), and where you need to determine if the happy ending the characters have received is well deserved.
- Chapter and scene editing: where you need to determine if your chapters begin and end where they should, and if your scenes are structured properly (a scene is commonly divided into action and reaction, or action and reflection upon the earlier action and making a decision that leads to the next scene).
- Paragraph and line editing: where you need to work on the language in your novel. Here, you will tackle long paragraphs and long sentences. In addition, here you need to pay a lot of attention to the narrative voice. This is the moment when you need to determine if your two protagonists have different voices. If they don’t, then you need to edit your novel in a very through manner, where you will ensure that the protagonist’s voices do not blend. Be warned, though, this type of editing can be very long and grueling. However, ultimately, you will be rewarded with a novel written in a dual point of view where both narrative voices are very easy to distinguish.
- Proofreading: where you need to catch every spelling error, word error, and repetitive words. If you’re using the same words and phrases too often in your novel, this is the moment when you can change them.
17. Publishing: traditional vs. self-publishing
After you are done editing your novel, it’s time to decide how to publish it. These days, self-publishing always seems like the easier way to go, but that’s just a myth. Both traditional publishing and self-publishing have their own pros and cons that you need to consider before deciding which way to go.
Traditional publishing is a lot scarier, and it requires you to have a very thick skin. You may begin by looking for an agent, or you can try to submit your manuscript on your own. It’s easier if you do have an agent, because a good agent will have all the contacts you don’t, and they will know which publishing houses are willing to publish New Adult romance. If you want to try on your own anyway, be ready to do all the publishing house research on your own. You will need to find the right publishing houses. Then you need to discover if they accept non solicited submissions. If they do, they probably accept submissions for a limited time in the year – a month or two. If you miss this window, you will need to wait until the next time and look for another publishing house.
Even with the help of an agent, it may be a while before your manuscript gets picked up by a publishing house. You may get a lot of rejection letters, but in the end, you only need one publishing house to say yes.
On the other hand, self-publishing is also a lot of work, a lot of work that has nothing to do with writing. You will become your own publisher. You will need to be your own professional editor, your own cover designer, and your own marketing expert. These days, independent authors need a lot of online following on social media platforms in order to have even a meager chance at a successful release. However, Amazon and other platforms have already developed ways for you to promote your book on those platforms, which may cost a lot of money.
In the end, both paths can be really difficult, but they can also lead to great rewards. Both paths have equal chances of success. Today, the stigma surrounding self-published novels is slowly abating, and in the meantime, traditional publishers are getting stigmatized for publishing authors who have a lot of online fans. In recent years, YouTubers with a lot of subscribers get book deals, and when the book comes out, those subscribers are very unhappy with the novel they bought. The successful release becomes less successful once the negative reviews start coming in.
With that in mind, your goal should always be to write a good story. A good story will help you establish a fan base even if you don’t have one at the moment. If you already have an established fan base, then a good story will help you keep it and grow it, regardless of whether you’re self-publishing or getting traditionally published.
Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As a screenwriting student, she is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, watching a film or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her own.