All posts by Angela Booth

About Angela Booth

Angela Booth is a top copywriter, multi-published author, and writing teacher. She offers many guides, courses and classes to help writers to enhance their skills on her websites. She also provides inspiration and motivation for writers on her writing blogs. Angela has been writing successfully since the late 1970s, and was online in the 1980s, long before the birth of the Web. Her business books have been widely published.

Write A Novel Readers Love: 5 Tips

Write A Novel Readers Love: 5 Tips

Want to write a novel readers love? If you do, you’ll need to become comfortable with conflict. This can be a real challenge, because most of us hate conflict in our lives. But unfortunately if you try to avoid conflict in your fiction you’ll get reviews which call your novel “boring” or “thin”: you haven’t given your readers want they want. (By the way — short stories need conflict and emotion too.)

Essentially, readers read to escape to another world, or to learn something.

Write a novel readers love, and can experience

Readers read to experience. If you can’t touch their emotions, they’ll stop reading.

It’s always useful to read readers’ reviews on Amazon. Bestselling authors aren’t immune from bad reviews, and you can find a lot of these types of comments when authors haven’t delivered a novel that readers want:

  • “Waste of money. Nothing much happened…”
  • “The story ended at 50% and then dragged on… ”
  • “Boring, no tension, too thin…”
  • Etc.

Let’s look at five tips which will help you to write a novel which readers love.

1. Kick your main character at least once every 1000 to 1500 words

When I’m writing a novel or short stories, my scenes usually average  around 1500 words. When you write a scene, it’s much like writing a novel. The scene has a set up, rising action, a climax, and then it’s over. In other words, every scene gives you a fresh opportunity to make life more difficult for your characters. Take that opportunity.

2. “What’s the worst thing that could happen now?”

The easiest way to include a lot of conflict in your novel is to have each and every character have a conflict with every other character.

Although this sounds difficult, it’s not. Think about the people you love. Your partner, or your child. Do you have conflicts with them? Of course you do. They’re minor conflicts:  they do things you don’t agree with and they know you so well that they push your buttons effortlessly.

That said, you want your story to be one in which something happens. Therefore, in addition to the major obstacles to your main character getting what he or she wants, and minor conflicts, you need constant additional obstacles.

It’s all trouble and strife, all the time. 🙂

Think about the conflicts that your characters have with each other, and aim to have something bad happen in each and every scene.

3. Take away what your character values most

What does your character value? Perhaps you’re writing a New Adult novel. Your main character is a young woman who’s just left college. She’s managed to get the job of her dreams — that’s what she values most. So take that away.

Or perhaps she doesn’t realize what she values most. She takes an overseas job, and realizes what she values most is the man she left behind.

Always torture your characters. Your readers want an involving story. You can give it to them.

4. Ensure that conflict happens because of who your characters are

When new authors first hear about “creating conflict”, they tend to have a lot of conflict happening, but that conflict isn’t directly related to the characters.

For example, perhaps the main character gets involved in a minor fender bender. Or the character does something embarrassing. We all have stuff going wrong all the time, and these minor contretemps are useless in fiction. Readers read for escape — they don’t want to read about minor nuisances because they experience them themselves, daily.

Vital: every conflict which happens in your novel must relate directly to the story question, and must happen because of who your main characters are.

5. Resist your own resistance to conflict

There’s an old saying which goes something like this: if the novel’s characters are having fun, the reader isn’t.

Never make things easy on your characters. Ensure that each and every scene contains conflict. Scenes are “showing”, rather than “telling” (narration), so before you start writing a scene, ask yourself: “what’s the conflict? Who wants what? Who opposes that? How?”

When you write a novel, make your characters FIGHT for what they want

In summary, when you write a novel, make your characters fight for what they want.

Your characters are proactive: they know what they want, and they make plans to get what they want. When they fail, they try again, and again.

Go ahead and kick your characters. Your readers will love it. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →

3 Author Behaviors Which Will Kill Your Career

3 Author Behaviors Which Will Kill Your Career

Happy days, you’re an author. Whether traditionally published, or self-published, publishing a book is a wonderful achievement, so kudos to you. Chances are you’re on a high. Unfortunately, that high won’t last. After the happy glow wears off, it’s time to consider that you’re now a pro, and think about what that means.

Basically, it means that what you say and do matters to your career.

You’re a professional author — what you say and do matters to your career

You’ve published a book. Whether you sell ten copies or 100,000, be aware that people are watching:

  • Editors and agents will Google your name;
  • Your readers will form an opinion of who you are, and that will affect whether or not they buy your next book;
  • Other authors will form an opinion too.

Let’s look at some author behaviors which will damage your career, or kill it entirely.

1. Acting like Cinderella: waiting, and waiting some more

This is very common author behavior. Cinderellas wait for other people to do stuff, because they feel that this is their route to success. They wait for:

  • Their agent and/ or editor to get back to them;
  • Readers to provide reviews;
  • Advertising to boost them into bestseller-status…

I met a writer I hadn’t seen in two years. When last we spoke, she was sending query letters for her first novel out to literary agents. Since I hadn’t heard that her book was out — not surprising, because so many books are published — I asked her who her publisher was.

She told me that she didn’t have a publisher. She’d parted ways with Agent One, and was now with Agent 2.

There’s not much you can say to that, so I made commiserating noises and asked what she was working on.

“Oh, I’m not writing. I want to see how this book does.” I wished her well, even though I wanted to shake her.

If you’re waiting for something, stop waiting. Keep writing. My friend could have written three or four more books in the time she was obsessing about agents. Not only would her additional novels had made her a more appealing prospect to both agents and editors, but she could have sold at least one or two.

And of course, she could also have self-published her novels, without waiting for anyone.

Listen up. Writers write. Everything else is totally peripheral. Whatever you’re waiting for won’t change your basic reality: you write today, you’ll write tomorrow, and you’ll write the day after that. As for waiting for things to happen: your aim needs to be to do all you can to make them happen.

2. Being a big mouth: gossiping, and/ or sharing proprietary information

This behavior is unfortunately common among traditionally-published authors, but self-publishing authors are guilty of it too. Traditionally published authors gossip about their agent and editors, and their sales; self-published authors gossip about their designers, web developers, other writers, and their sales.

Shush! Stop it, please.

Please don’t gossip. Word gets around, and sooner or later people won’t return your calls. It should also go without saying that you never share any proprietary information given to you by your agent, editors, or anyone else with whom you’re working.

3. Being a depressing Eeyore: cheer up!

Eeyore is a pessimistic stuffed donkey in the Winnie the Pooh books:

He usually expects misfortune to happen to him, accepts it when it does and rarely even tries to prevent it. His catchphrases are “Thanks for noticin’ me” and “Ohhh-kayyy”.

Never complain in a public forum, and that includes on your blog, on Facebook, in groups… Several editors have told me that when they’re considering an author, they check his social media profiles carefully. Any hint that you’re high-maintenance and prone to complaining, and you can kiss a publishing contract bye-bye.

Everyone has challenges. You can be as weepy as you like in the comfort of your bedroom or home office, but aim to be cheerful in public. You don’t need to be a Pollyanna, but remember that you’re a professional author.

Anyone and everyone can and will Google your name. Even if you’re a member of a private mailing list, or private Facebook group, these groups are public spaces. Keep everything positive.

Your career as an author is up to you

Be professional, and kind. Your career is always what you make it. Enjoy it. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →

How To Write Fiction When You “Don’t Know How”

How To Write Fiction When You “Don’t Know How”

You want to write fiction, but you don’t know how. That’s OK. No one else knows either, because fiction flows from your imagination. Unlike nonfiction, which is grounded in facts, and depends on logic, your fiction wilts and dies if you try to use the same mind state in writing it that you use for writing nonfiction.

Consider that essentially: fiction is daydreaming and igniting experiences in your readers.

Want to write fiction? Get out of your mind

Children are good at daydreaming. If you listened to your schoolteachers when they said “pay attention” you might think that daydreaming is wrong. However, fiction writers know that they daydream their stories to life.

Big tip: it’s not about the words.

In my fiction writing classes, new fiction writers focus on the words. That’s natural, because you’re getting used to writing. However, as we suggest in step 4, below, there are no perfect words. More to the point, if you focus on the words, your imagination will sit in a corner and sulk.

Your basic fiction writing mindset is: dream first — and start with an emotion.

Here are some simple steps to help you to write fiction when you “don’t know how.”

1. Start with an emotion: emotions trigger memory and images

I like this list of emotions from Byron Katie; download the PDF.

If you’re a newbie fiction writer, try spending five minutes a day feeling emotions.

Here’s an example. Feel apprehensive.

Hard, right? You need a situation. Imagine that your boss asked you to take the company’s biggest client out to dinner. The client made a lewd remark to your wife. You hit him. The police have been called.

How do you feel? Do you feel apprehensive?

Just for a moment, imagine yourself in that scenario. How does it feel to be apprehensive? What thoughts go through your mind?

As an exercise, come up with a little scenario of your own in which someone feels apprehensive.

If you spend five minutes a day on this little exercise, you’ll make your imagination stronger, and that’s a good thing for fiction writers.

2. Grab a person, anyone will do

I talked about my favorite character-creation method in Plot Fiction: Fill-In-The-Blanks Plotting For Pantsers:

All you need to create a basic character is an adjective, combined with a noun. The noun is usually the character’s job. Some examples:

  •  Naive model;
  •  Bedazzled lottery winner;
  •  Hardworking hairdresser;
  •  Jealous chef.

You can come up with any number of these thumbnail “characters” in a minute or two.

Choose an adjective and a noun, and create your character.

Now go back to your list of emotions, and choose one. Let’s say you chose impatient.

Create a little scenario in which your jealous chef (or whoever) feels impatient. Let’s say that the restaurant owner is complaining to the jealous chef that someone left a negative review for the restaurant on a social media website.

Your next step is to keep asking WHY.

3. Keep asking: “why?”

Grab a pen and a sheet of paper, or open a new computer file, and talk to the character you’ve just created. Keep asking him: WHY — you can add “who?” and “how?” too, if you like. 🙂

Write it down, don’t try to do this in your head.

You daydream your fiction, but you also need to write stuff down, otherwise you won’t remember it, sadly. Day dreams are just like night dreams. They can be hugely involving, but the moment they’re over, they start to fade. So get into the habit of dreaming first, then writing what you dreamed.

Keep going, until the story becomes clearer.

Congratulations: you’ve just experienced plotting. Easy, right?

4. Assure yourself that there are no “perfect” words, just emotion

Many authors find that their biggest challenge in writing fiction is getting out of their own way. Avoid thinking too much. Just daydream, and write down the first words which come to you. You can tinker with your words in revision, but not when you’re writing.

When you catch yourself wondering whether “temper” is preferable to “rage” you’ll know that you’ve just jolted yourself out of the fictive dream, in which:

the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols. The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it…

(If you get the chance, read John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers. It’s a wonderful book.)

You DO know how to write fiction: just day dream, and write down your dreams

That’s pretty much all there is to writing fiction.

You can now write a bestseller and get your revenge on all those teachers who called you a dreamer. Have fun. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →