Writers of novels have to keep the reader interested in the story so that they continue to turn the pages. Anyone can write a novel, but writing a great novel takes a combination of skill and talent. Once a writer has a general plot in mind, the hard work begins. If you are working on a novel, keep these factors in mind while you are writing and your novel will benefit.
Consider Your Audience
Is your novel targeted for adults, young adults, or middle grade readers? Knowing who you are writing for can help you craft an appropriate novel. You need to keep your language and themes at a good level for the age group you are targeting. It might also help to consider other factors about who you are targeting (gender, for instance).
Keep Your Voice Consistent
If you want to keep your reader interested throughout the story, try to keep your tone and style consistent unless you have a good reason to change your perspective. Jumping around in tone or point of view too much can put off the reader, even if they can't verbalize the reason why there is a problem.
Hook the Reader
Beginning your novel with back-story or descriptions of the scenery will not grab their interest. Instead, start your story with some sort of action. Move right into an event, and reveal the history and setting with small details throughout the book. You may find that many of these details are not even necessary, as the reader can imagine the scene with their own spin.
Get Them to Care
If all your characters are unlikable, or are flat caricatures of real people, then why would the reader care what happens to them? All characters need to have strengths and weaknesses. The reader needs to have a reason to root for your main character to succeed in their story. Make them realistic, with some vulnerability.
Hone Your Dialogue
Poorly written dialogue can kill an otherwise great novel. Many writers attempt to cram too much of the story into their characters' conversations, creating "info-dumps" that do not read like actual speech. While your dialogue should be more refined than everyday speech, it might help to spend time listening to the people around you. Also, remember that you characters should each have their own voice. If they all start sounding alike, your reader might wonder if they are all you.
There needs to be some sort of suspense or conflict for the protagonist of a novel to overcome. Your story will become boring if there is nothing that really challenges your characters. Plant some doubt in your readers mind about whether or not the ending will be happy. Having one central conflict within a novel is the most traditional way to go.
No one's life is focused on only one event. Even when there is something huge going on, people still go to work, have friendships, and encounter smaller problems. Using subplots can be a good way to develop your characters or create tension in your writing. By having small conflicts that are resolved in the subplots, you can play with the pacing of your story.
Make Them Change
Your characters should grow and develop as they face the obstacles on their journey. Some of the most dynamic stories ever told feature main characters who start off weak, but gradually build the skills to accomplish their goals. They learn who they are, and the reader learns along with them.
Although some people will argue that negative or sad endings can work, it takes great talent to make these unsatisfying conclusions work. The ending to your novel should grow naturally from the story you have told. Many people still prefer the "happy ending" in whatever capacity that is appropriate for your characters.
Writing a novel is a fun and rewarding project, but it takes an extraordinary amount of work to finish. Do not worry if your first draft does not come out the way you would like it to. First drafts are created to get the story down on the page. Then you can use these tips to revise and rewrite your novel until it shines.