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Writing Tip 101: A Most Serious Guide to Writing Epic Novels

Tips by neocoladdict

Originally posted on neopets.com

imageThis just in.

Forget restocking. Forget the games room, forget the Fruit Machine. The Neopoints you earn from those? Nothing. A mere pittance, compared to where the big bucks are.

What, you don’t know? I’ll tell you then. Novel-writing, that’s where the big money is.

Don’t believe me? It’s simple. Cook up some story everyone’s read before, switch the character species around a little (instead of, say, Usuls and pirates, try Ogrins and pirates), add in a few spiffy lines, and delectable descriptions, and voila.

You’re a Novelist, and you’re making big bucks. Bookshops across Neopia and Kreludor want to stock your books! The Space Faerie turns up at your book signings with a copy of your latest thriller. Dr Sloth shows up at all your press conferences, Mutant Grundos in tow. Fyora can’t wait for the seventh novel you’re written about origami Petpets. King Skarl never misses a book reading, not even for lunch.

You’re famous.

You’re rich.

But wait! Before you rush out to stock up on Quill and Ink, remember that almost anyone can whip up a fast tale. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will sell. To make the most Neopoints and fast, I suggest sticking with my favorite type of book to write: the Epic Novel. If written correctly, your new Epic Novel will become a bestseller in a matter of days! All you have to do is stick to these guidelines as studiously as possible, and you can hardly go wrong. *cough*

Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Plot

The first step to writing your Neopian bestseller is to ink out a basic plot. While that sounds tough, it really isn’t. In fact, it’s simple! Most Epic Novels will have a very similar plot that appeals to the mass Neopian market. If you’re new to novel-writing and this all sounds terribly confusing, go with one of the ‘hot’ plots I’ve listed out below. Sell every time, they do.

A favorite with authors is the tried-and-tested Saving Neopia From The Forces Of Evil. Most Neopian plots will deal with something like this. In this type of Epic Novel, the main character must battle legions of evil minions to save Neopia from an untimely end. (Oh no!) After all, who doesn’t love reading about the world being saved? If using this plot, the story MUST include a showdown between good and evil, MUST include an Epic Battle, and MUST end with the forces of evil being vanquished, battered and defeated (but alive, to plague Neopia in the future so you can write a sequel).

Another popular choice would be The Quest for a Rare, Powerful and Magical Object, with which your main character must use to save his/her friends, family and Neopia with. These Rare, Powerful and Magical Objects are usually used by evil villains to destroy/take over Neopia. On his quest to save the world, our hero often ends up thwarting the antagonist’s plans by using the Rare, Powerful and Magical Object to destroy him. Popular objects to use for Rare, Powerful and Magical Objects include enchanted Sparkshooters, cursed Amulets and vengeful Spell Scrolls full of dark magic.

Most experienced authors will use a combination of these two plotlines, with maybe even a side story thrown in.

2. Main Characters

Your Epic Novel must have a Hero, and your Hero must save the day with as much style as possible. You must choose a protagonist with appeal, so keep your target audience in mind. The young adult owners market is a goldmine, so novelists have taken to using angst-y Neopets as heroes a lot lately. He/she must be courageous, loving, generous, extremely good-looking, immensely likeable, yet subtly flawed. (Flaws add depth to an otherwise bland character). Teenagers are also ideal main characters because they are constantly in the middle of an identity crisis, which adds flavor to bland prose. Ideally, you’d want your teenaged hero to explore the land of Neopia, defeat the bad guys, explore their inner soul and discover who they truly are! Exciting.

After you’ve decided on a hero, it’s time to pick out a Trusty Sidekick! Your Hero’s Trusty Sidekick must be all of the following and more: loyal, kind, trustworthy, plain-ish looking, and more than a little dim-witted. Whatever you do, never let the Trusty Sidekick become more interesting than the Hero. The Trusty Sidekick can be used in situations when the Hero requires a distraction, a quick escape or the ropes around his hands to be untied.

And of course, not forgetting: where would our mighty Hero be without a suitably evil villain? A popular choice for the villain is the horrible, twisted Big Bad Guy. Mere mention of the Big Bad Guy strikes fear into the hearts of ordinary Neopians. Just the sound of his name should send Neopets quaking in their Lucky Green Boots. (When naming the Big Bad Guy, please choose an appropriately evil title. A name like Peter or Lucy doesn’t exactly strike one as fearsome, does it? No, your villain must be named something dark, dreadful and unpronounceable, like Tiuweyfwr or Kahrhek’d.) The Big Bad Guy has vast resources, mutant armies, advanced weaponry and often a pair of Evil Henchmen at his disposal.

What you have to know when writing about Evil Henchmen is that they almost always come in pairs. (The famous Meerca Brothers, anyone?) What’s more, their names almost always fit together. This can be achieved through alliteration or, better yet, rhyme. For example, we could have Mortog and Minnie, or Freeble and Weeble. This comes in most conveniently when the Big Bad Guy summons them together (which should happen frequently).

Now that you’ve settled on a story frame and you’ve readied your main characters, it’s time to move on to the Very Important Elements of any Epic Novel.

3. Very Important Elements (VIC)

Make your Epic Novel exciting and as different from your own life as possible. No one wants to read about the time you brought your pets to the Food Shop and bought a Pizza. No no no, unless you’re a Neopian celebrity, stick to good old fiction. Famous Neopians can and have written bestselling autobiographies: How I Lost Me Leg, King Hagans Biography, The Legend of Count von Roo etc. You probably can’t.

Snappy lines like “It was a dark and stormy night”, “their eyes glowed yellow in the darkness”, “her tears glittered like diamonds”, “his laughter rang evil and menacing” etc., can save your life. Stick to clichés – they never grow old!

Last but not least, I am providing you with some choice advice on the scenes you should incorporate into your story. Getting attacked by Meepits is always a safe bet, The Neopets Team and Neopia seem to never tire of speculating about Meepits! To be on the even safer side, be sure to insert a few well-placed *meep*s into the story. Never mind that they’ve got nothing to do with the plot. Neopians simply love Meepits because they’re just sooo cute and evil!

The presence of Pirates in an Epic Novel is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Your Pirates should talk, and at least a couple should be missing an eye or a leg or have a Pawkeet perched upon a shoulder. Pirates with eye patches, rusty belts, dirty rags and mugs of Grunion Fruit Grog will make readers go wild. Not only are Pirates guaranteed to make people laugh, they also never go out of style! Cool, huh?

When writing dialogue on a pirate ship, it should flow something like this:

Pirate 1: ‘arr.

Hero: I’m not afraid of you! *brandishes Sparkshooter*

Pirate 2: Eh, ye whippersnapper, coulda ya pass me a glass of dem waters?

Trusty Sidekick: Can’t follow your drift, chump.

A word of caution, however: if you are planning on using Pirates in your story, make sure that your Hero is not a Usul! Or else Neopians will be all, “Hannah and the Pirate Caves rip-off!!!!” D’oh.

4. Marketing Tips

A quick tip: quantity over quality. Write as much as you can, and leave the word salad for your editors/friends to clean up. The more pages your novel runs for, the more customers will feel they’re getting value for their Neopoints! Get as carried away as possible.

Advertising your books on the Neopian Noticeboard is a sure-fire way to get attention. It’s expensive, though, so I’d try sticking to the Games Room or the Neopian Times for advertisements first.

If your novels don’t sell well at first, do not fret! Get your Neopets and friends to read them and ask for feedback. Remember: once you find a winning formula, it’s the top of the bestsellers list for you, all the way!

And, final note; remember to pick up a copy of my latest book: Adventures in Neopia 4, in which the protagonist is attacked by a horde of evil Meepits. *meep*

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