How to Write Novels That Sell: Sneak Peek

writing, fiction, writing resources

How to Write Novels That Sell, by Adrienne deWolfe, arms you with the knowledge you need to write commercial, book-length fiction and the tools that will help you sell that manuscript to book editors.

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Table of Contents

The Nuts & Bolts of Characterization

The Characteristics of a Plot Writer; Characteristics of a Character Writer; Give Your Readers What They Want; Round and Flat Characters; The Protagonist; Make Protagonists Larger than Life; Goal, Motivation and Conflict; Ways to Reveal Personality Traits; Secondary Characters; Sources of Characters; Point of View; Get Inside Your Characters’ Heads; Avoid Head Jumping; The Battle of the Sexes; Final Thoughts on Characterization

How to Start a Novel:  Opening Your Book with a Hook

How to Start a Novel; The Narrative Hook; Samples of Strong Opening Hooks; The Five Categories of Hooks; Other Ways to Start a Novel; Final Thoughts on Your Opening

Chapter One to the End

Chapters 1-3 (The Proposal); The Middle; The Last 2-3 Chapters (The Black Moment, the Climax; the Resolution)

Good Chapter Endings

Inflate or Deflate a Character’s Spirits; Flash of Action; Ask a Question; End in the Middle of a Scene; Examples from Published Novels

The Nuts & Bolts of Plotting

Drawing from Character and Setting; The Literary Tradition; Examples from Genre Fiction; The Seven Elements of Happiness; Scene and Sequel Techniques; The Climax; The Resolution; Ways to Lose Your Reader; Transitions and Flashbacks; Why Manuscripts Get Rejected; Hopscotching; Sagging Middle; Stampede; Bloat; Dumping; Weak Resolution; Bolt-Out-of-the-Blue Ending

Pick Up the Pace

When to Use Slow Pacing; Pacing to Set Mood; When to Use Fast Pacing; Tips for Picking Up the Pace; Action Scenes; Examples

Dialogue: An Essential Skill

Become a Good Listener; Dialogue Patterns Change with Mood; The Fundamentals of Dialogue with Examples; Developing Characters Through Dialogue; Forwarding the Plot Through Dialogue; Writing Dialect; Avoid Radical Spellings; The "Drawl" in Dialogue; Poor Grammar in Dialogue; Tips on Writing Speech for Children; Tips for the Historical Writer; When to Use Dialogue Tags; Obscenities and Oaths

How to Write Humor

Study Your Favorite Authors; Less is More; Timing is Crucial; Don’t Try so Hard; Milk the Situation; Examples

Suspense: How to Write a Page-Turner

Let Your Opening Drip with Evil; Make Your Reader Care; Throw in a Red Herring; Show the Details as Another Character Gets Axed; Give Your Secondary Characters a Secret; Make the Protagonist Propel the Plot Forward; Play Up Misunderstandings; Sound a False Alarm; Give Your Protagonist a Deadline; Raise the Emotional Stakes; Add Spooky Dreams and Anecdotes; Trap Your Protagonist in a "Mental" Prison; Foil the Rescue Attempt; Read Heavily in Your Genre

Marketing Your Novel

The Submission Process; Querying an Agent or Editor; Responding to an Invitation to Submit a Book Proposal; Manuscript Format and Guidelines; Rejection Letters: Reading Between the Lines; Analysis of Sample Rejection Letters

Writing the Query Letter

Elements of a Good Query Letter; Tips for an Eye-Catching Query Letter; Example of a Selling Query Letter (Scoundrel for Hire by Adrienne deWolfe)

The Selling Synopsis

Synopsis Technicalities; The Functional Synopsis; The Narrative Synopsis; Synopsis Pitfalls; Additional Tips

Research: Interviewing Sources in the Field

Essay on Research; Tips for Overcoming the Research Blues; Staying Organized: The Big Challenge

Books to Enhance Your Personal Research Library

Crafting Fiction; Characterization; Plot, Style and Story Structure; General Research Books; Research Books by Genre; Books for Marketing; Books for Writer’s Block

National Writers’ Organizations


  • Annotated copy of the narrative synopsis that sold Texas Outlaw (by Adrienne deWolfe) to Bantam Books
  • Annotated copy of the Prologue of Scoundrel for Hire (by Adrienne deWolfe) to show characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts.

Buy How to Write Novels that Sell (pdf download)

$5.99 USD