Category Archives: Fiction

Writing Fiction: 3 Easy Tips For Subplots

Writing Fiction: 3 Easy Tips For Subplots

One of the most fun things in writing fiction is creating subplots.

Unfortunately when creating subplots it’s easy to (literally) lose the main thread of the plot. When this happens, readers stop reading. Let’s look at some tips to help.

When you’re writing fiction, your primary aim is to keep readers entertained, and reading

Firstly, let’s be realistic. Subplots require words. If you need those words for your primary plot and character development, keep your subplots short. Also consider that if you’re writing a short story or novella, you almost certainly won’t have space for a subplot.

From Plot Your Novel: 3 Tips for Sizzling Subplots:

Subplots are easy. All you need to remember is that a subplot isn’t just an unconnected story dumped into your book to bulk it up; it’s a way of adding richness to your story. A subplot always relates directly to your main story in some way.

Let’s look at how subplots can help when you’re writing fiction.

1. Subplots increase the tension and keep readers reading

No matter the genre, you need to keep readers entertained because they have many options for entertainment today. So your primary reason for developing a subplot is to increase tension. You want readers turning the pages wondering what will happen next.

You can manage subplots any way you choose, but I like to hint at the subplot in the Setup phase of a novel (the first 25%), then develop it, and have it alternate with the primary plot.

When you do this, you can hit an OMG! moment in your primary plot, and switch to your subplot for a couple of scenes to increase tension.

2. Use subplots for a change of pace: to add humor, or romance

You may love chocolate cake, but you don’t want to make an entire meal of it.

So, whatever your genre and main plot, a subplot can add a needed change of pace. Shakespeare often added humorous scenes to his tragedies. When there’s too much gloom and doom, you need a contrast so that readers appreciate the next horror scene.

Whatever your genre, humor is always welcome. Try creating a character or two for comic relief.

Consider adding a romantic subplot, if you’re writing in a genre (science fiction, thrillers, mysteries) which doesn’t need romance. In these genres, a romantic subplot not only aids character development, it also provides a useful change of pace.

3. Develop your characters: think opposites

Have you seen the movie The Odd Couple? It’s a gem because it’s the perfect illustration of a strategy you can use when you’re writing fiction to make your characters memorable.

Let’s say you’re writing a mystery. Your subplot could involve your sleuth’s hapless sidekick, as he tries to do something or other. The sidekick is the opposite of your sleuth — think Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.

You may be writing a romance. A secondary character could be the polar opposite of your heroine or hero. Think Scarlett and Melanie in Gone With The Wind, and Jane and Lydia in Pride & Prejudice.

Not only does creating opposites help with your character development, the contrast between characters provides a change of pace.

Subplots make writing fiction easier

The change of pace which a subplot provides is often as beneficial to authors as it is to readers.

If you get stuck when you’re writing a novel, explore creating subplots. If a subplot adds nothing, you can remove it later.

Have fun with subplots, and write on. 🙂

Self-Publishing Strategy Made Easy: How To Market Your Books In 15 Minutes A Day

Self-Publishing Strategy Made Easy: How To Market Your Books In 15 Minutes A Day

eBook: $5.99

Do you enjoy writing and publishing your books, but find that marketing them is a challenge? You're not sure what works, so your efforts are muddled, half-hearted, and inconsistent.

What if you could market in just 15 minutes daily?

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Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99

Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters.

More info →
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Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.

Fiction Writing Basics: How To Make Sense Of Chapters

Fiction Writing Basics: How To Make Sense Of Chapters

When you’re new to fiction writing, you worry. One of the things you worry about are chapters.

Beginning authors send me questions like:

  • What’s a “chapter”?
  • How long/ short is a chapter?
  • How do you know when you’ve written one?

By the way, you might find this article useful, Fiction Writing Basics: Scenes, Narrative and Chapters if you’re not sure about scenes, etc.

In fiction writing, you’re the boss — take charge of chapters

When you’re writing your fiction, you’re in charge, and a chapter’s length is an arbitrary decision which you make, and you can make it at any time.

There aren’t any “chapter police.” 🙂

Years ago I read a mystery with a chapter consisting of ONE word. From memory, it was one of Don Westlake’s mysteries. The chapter was either at the midpoint twist, or at the “oops” milestone: the 80 per cent point of the novel.

I remember being startled by the device, but in that novel, it made perfect sense; and it worked.

Let’s look at why you might decide to combine a bunch of scenes into a chapter.

Reasons to create a chapter

The best reason is “because I need one.” That is, you instinctively feel that you should have a chapter here, and here, and here… Your intuition is usually a good guide to what a novel needs.

Let’s look at some additional reasons.

1. Chapters provide an entertaining structure so that readers will enjoy your novel

You build your novel so that it’s satisfying to readers. Therefore, certain things must happen in certain parts of your novel so that readers will enjoy your book.

For example, in the first third of the novel, you’re setting up your characters and plot for payoffs later. So, it’s a good idea to corral those scenes into chapters; it makes for a better reading experience, and a better writing experience.

My scenes tend to average from 1500 to 2,000 words. In several of my mystery series, I have three scenes per chapter, and I aim to end the Setup phase of the novel at the end of chapter three.

That said, it depends on the novel — the Setup might end at the end of chapter two, or the end of chapter six.

2. You may create chapters in service of your plot

Psychological thrillers seem to be all the rage over the past few years, after the success of Gone Girl. In novels of this type, you’ll often see chapters which focus on a range of dates, and/or which are narrated by one of the main characters alternating with another.

For example, let’s say that your thriller’s main characters are: Betty, Tom and Jim. In chapter one, Betty and Jim are in place to murder Tom, Betty’s husband. Betty narrates the chapter.

Chapter two is narrated by Tom, who survived the murder attempt. Then the novel goes back in time: “Three years earlier…” Your three main characters alternate in narrating chapters. Readers discover why Betty and Jim want to murder Tom, and how Tom escapes.

Novels with alternating points of view are fun to write, and they work well in many different genres.

Keep in mind that when you’re creating chapters, your aim is always to surprise the reader, and involve him emotionally, so that he keeps reading.

3. After your first draft, in revision, you might create chapters to corral your plot

I number my scenes when I’m writing fiction. A few years ago I suddenly realized that I’d got to scene 40 of a novel, and hadn’t created any chapters.

Did I need chapters? I decided that I didn’t and kept writing.

However, in revision, I soon found that I needed the structure that chapters provide, so that I could set up additional open loops, and their payoffs. (Read this article for more on open loops.) So I created some chapters.

Fiction writing: you’ll develop confidence with chapters over time

You learn to write fiction by writing lots of fiction. Over time, you’ll develop skill and confidence with chapters. You’ll also experiment with unique ways of telling your stories, and you’ll use scenes and chapters to do that.

Have fun. 🙂

Plan, Write, And Publish Serial Fiction In Four Weeks

Plan, Write, And Publish Serial Fiction In Four Weeks

eBook: $5.99

Why write serial fiction?

Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.

It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.

If you’re a new author, a serial serves to introduce you to readers. A reader may not be willing to commit to a novel by a new author, but be willing to read an episode of a serial.

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Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99

Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters.

More info →
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Amazon Kindle

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 out Angela’s books for writers.

Fiction: 3 Quick Tips To Write A Novel In A Month

Fiction: 3 Quick Tips To Write A Novel In A Month

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

An author asks: “Can you write fiction more quickly than nonfiction?” It’s a good question. The answer? Yes, because when you’re writing fiction, there’s less research involved.

Of course, historical fiction requires research, but authors of historicals are usually grounded in their period. For these authors, research isn’t work; it’s fun.

Fiction is fun to write, when you develop a fiction mind state

Want to learn to write novels FAST?

Writing fiction requires:

  1. An understanding of the components of fiction; how elements like character, plot, setting, and dialogue combine in your novel;
  2. A certain mind state — a state of flow, where the author is in the story. You need to imagine yourself into the skin of your story characters, so in many ways, writing fiction has more to do with acting, than writing.

Let’s look at some tips to help you to write a novel in a month.

For more help, check out Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days.

1. Create a plan: how many words?

Start by deciding how many words you’ll write over the month. Authors in NaNoWriMo write 50,000 words, which is around 1620 words a day, for 31 days.

Next, you’ll need at least one character, and a dire situation in which to place your character. Some authors can start writing without anything — they discover their main character while they’re writing.

2. SIT (or stand if you like) at your desk every day

Life happens. You want to write, but something comes up.

Expect this to happen — that three family members will come down with the flu, or that people will come to stay… Many writers write first thing in the morning. Then the day can go to heck, but they’ve got their writing done.

Schedule your writing time outside normal working and family hours if you can.

3. Relax, and day dream to bring your story to life

Hours can pass when you’re writing, because you get into a mind state which opens you to your imagination.

Writers use different methods to achieve the mind state. I like to think about my current novel when I’m falling asleep at night, and the first thing in the morning. When a scene pops into my mind, I scrawl a few sentences onto an index card.

You may want to play music, or burn a candle… Do whatever works for you, so that you’re completely relaxed and can day dream your story to life.

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days is available now.

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.

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Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 3
Genre: Writing

How To Write Novels And Short Stories Readers Love: You're about to discover the easiest, fastest, and most fun plotting method ever. You can use it for all your fiction, whether you're writing short stories, novellas or novels. Take control of your fiction now, and publish more, more easily.

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Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.