Sanity’s Other Side: How to Write a Light Novel

Actual writing talent optional

Oni Ai LN cover

Evening readers, the Inverseman here tonight with a quick tutorial on how you (yes you!) can write a light novel.


The most important  factor to writing a successful light novel is its title. Look above at the cover to OniAi. The full title is As Long as There’s Love it Doesn’t Matter if He’s My Brother, Right? Your title should have enough characters to be longer than the spine of the book itself. Most preferably, it should be such a chore to recite the title that fans and detractors alike will adopt some kind of shortened abbreviation of the title. That’s viral marketing right there, use it! OreImo is the industry standard of long titles at work!  The title should summarize the entire plot. After all, the readers won’t know what they’re reading if they don’t know the title.

OreImo LN cover

They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but in the world of light novels, always judge a book by its cover. The front of the novel should depict the main female character prominently in the foreground, even if the lead character who is subject to the main problem of the story is male. Sure the main character of Haganai is Kodaka, but he’s not gonna be roping in readers anytime soon unlike Yozora. This is a visual attention grabber! Just like 4th grade writing class and the five paragraph essay. Should you make the egregious writing mistake of having no central female characters, the main character’s grandmother (who looks very young for her age) who only appears in one scene will suffice.

Haganai LN cover

Light novels are meant to be easy reads for teens and young adults in their early 20s, it’s all good fun. Therefore, make your manuscript simple. If there’s a word that is too big, you risk alienating young Kenta who doesn’t want to study SAT-level vocabulary on the morning train ride to school. You must reuse the same word in your descriptions over and over. Consider Sword Art Online, Reki Kawahara knows not to pull a Tolkien and spend countless pages describing the majesty of one mountaintop, literally immersing the reader into the world. Instead, Kawahara would rather describe such a mountaintop as “vivid”, just like Asuna’s eyes, her hair, and the unspecified flowers that are also “pretty”, “vividly pretty”.

Sword Art Online LN cover

However, the true aim of a light novel is not to enrich the minds and cultural-artistic development of teenagers with lighthearted stories, no, they aren’t even the audience. The real audience is the big-wig anime studios ready to line your pockets with money. Think of it this way, your light novel is like a spec script but for anime! But unlike the spec script, people will always claim your novel will be better than the anime adaptation. No matter how atrocious your novel is, the anime will always be worse and fans will be flocking to Book Offs and Kinokuniyas nationwide, pronouncing the original source material as Holy Scripture. “You low-tier plebeians! The anime didn’t capture the genius of the original novel!”

Haruhi LN cover

Oh wait I forgot about the plot. Seriously, why bother writing a good light novel like The Melancholy Haruhi SuzumiyaKino’s JourneyA Certain Magical Index, or Spice and Wolf when you can follow these guidelines? Anime studios will be at your doorstep in no time! Okay Okay. Fine. You wanna write a good story? Here. First, make sure you’re very inclusive! Make sure you include as many moe archetypes and fetishes as possible so everyone’s moe is represented! As a good checklist, include some of the following: a loli, an imouto, a tsundere, a kuudere, a girl with huge boobs, a ditz, a yuri fanatic, and whatever else you can think of! Like a trap! Once you have your cast, put them in “wacky shenanigans” with the lead and now  you have a plot!

Accel World LN illustrations

As for the lead character, make sure if your demographic is lonely single male NEETs, that they can totally relate to him. The lead should either be just like your target audience in a cesspool of socially awkward fedora felt or,equally valid, a blank ideal flawless avatar for them to step into; a true god among men competent at all things. Assuming your lead character is male, because if not you committed a financial blunder equivalent to selling your car for gas money, he must always attended to by his entourage, even if there was no valid reason for them to gather.  May I recommend a completely pointless school club? If your lead is “just an ordinary guy” (i.e the pathetic Haruyuki from Accel World) surrounded by over-competent characters, he provides the most important support of all, morale support. He will sit around doing nothing and probably be the only sane  man, literally, until the final chapter where he reveals his super special power that, yes, you -the lonely reader- also have just like him!

OreShura LN cover

As for the rest of the cast, you could waste time developing these characters into very real and deep representations of humanity, but I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! If your deadline is tomorrow because you were procrastinating, don’t be afraid to reuse the same gags but in different contexts. Like in a swimsuit or at a maid cafe for the school festival. Your tusndere’s adorable trait for socking the main love interest in the gut out of reflex at the mere insinuation of sexual matters will always be funny. Always.  To truly gauge how effective your cast is, log onto a popular message board and see the verbal vitriol fly as your fans argue about the “best girl” completely objectifying an already cardboard cut-out of a character. OreShura already has the childhood friend fighting the little sister, bring that battle to the real world for great success!

Koakuma LN cover

Why My Tsuntsun Koakuma Sister Became Deredere Before Becoming My Waifu (Yes, this is allegedly the title)

Finally, get a good artist. Contact your old college roommate  who drew tons of hentai to draw the cover and illustrations of your novels. It is vital that your illustrations impress the readers. Prioritize them above your writing, especially since that’s what your fans in the West will be looking at, thereby giving your novel global appeal. Don’t waste precious pages describing your characters, the pictures will do just fine like a children’s book. Once you have your title, your pictures, and maybe a plot, send your novel to the publishing company and start waiting for those late-night anime deals. The above light novel captures all of these tenets perfectly down to the pantsu!  If you too stick with these steps then you will have a legion of weeaboo neckbeards to command. Oh but if you want to write something actually good, that’s okay too. I guess… Join me next time when go home from school.

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Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

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