Category Archives: Write a novel

Fiction Writing: 3 Ways To Find Novel-Worthy Ideas

Fiction Writing: 3 Ways To Find Novel-Worthy Ideas

Hunting for ideas for your fiction writing? Finding novel-worthy ideas can be challenging.

You find a brilliant idea today. Then you look at it tomorrow, and wonder what you were thinking. The idea has died for you.

So, how do you find ideas for fiction writing which are worth exploring in 50,000 or more words?

Start by watching for what fascinates you.

Fiction writing: ideas from things that fascinate you

Not only do you want “great” ideas, you want to find ideas which will hold your interest. So, watch for things which grab your attention. If something holds your attention for more than an hour or two, there might be an idea hiding in it somewhere.

I read a lot of nonfiction to help me with my fiction. A month ago, I read a biography which described an event which made me go… “hmmmm….” After doing a little more research, I found that the event had never (to my knowledge) been covered in fiction.

This idea may well turn into a series of novels in a few months, because I haven’t lost interest in the event, and find myself thinking about it several times a day.

Now let’s look at some quick tips for finding novel-worthy ideas.

1. Read the news: who’s doing what? Why? Where?

Global and national news is depressing. Murder, mayhem, misery, and politics… For me, it’s also useless as a source of ideas.

However, if you write thrillers, crime fiction or adventure novels (or even fantasy) you might find the headlines fascinating for your next “snatched from the headlines” idea.

I prefer local news for idea exploration, because (generally speaking) it’s more relatable. Also useful to me: magazines which cover psychology and science.

When you find yourself reading a news article, and looking for more information, ask yourself: who? and why? You may find an idea. Be sure to keep the information you’ve gathered. And if you find yourself thinking of the news story a week from now, hunt for a potential character, and a story question in your idea.

2. Nonfiction can be a wonderful source of ideas

Over the years, I’ve collected my own reference library which I should browse for ideas more than I do. Frankly, I’m scared that I’ll find ideas which intrigue me so much that I’m forced to revise my current publishing program.

Explore your local library. I’ve found novel-worthy ideas in recipe books, history books, autobiographies and biographies… If you find a book which captures your attention, either make notes from it immediately, or check it out of the library. (If a book is truly useful, buy your own copy.)

3. You may find novel-worthy ideas in fiction

I’m not suggesting that you plagiarize a recent or past bestseller. However, every genre has tropes, which readers love.

In mysteries, common tropes include:

  • The closed room mystery;
  • A mysterious book, letter, or confession;
  • Strange case: the primary suspect who couldn’t have done it because… (but yes, he did it, in a very clever way)

Fiction writing from your life: can you fictionalize real life events?

I’ve had many questions about this over the years. My answer is usually: find something else to write about.

Here’s why:

  • You may get stuck on what “really happened” and forget to add drama and suspense (I know one author-to-be who’s been obsessing about something that happened in her life for the past ten years, and no novel in sight);
  • It’s challenging to write fiction about an event if any of the people concerned (or their relatives) are still alive;
  • My instinct and experience tell me that it’s almost impossible to do well if you’re a new author. Fiction is telling lies, and finding truths. Fictionalizing a real event takes a lot of distance from the event, as well as the ability to find meaning in it, and create drama from it. Experienced authors can do this. A new author often can’t.

Does this mean you should never try to fictionalize people or events from your own life?

No — definitely not. Every author can only write from his own experience, and only you are the judge of what works for your fiction writing.

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

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In this book we'll aim to increase your creativity to unlock your imagination and build the writing career of your dreams.

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Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

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I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.

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If You Want To Write A Novel But Can’t Get Started: 3 Tips

If You Want To Write A Novel But Can’t Get Started: 3 Tips

Last week I chatted with a new author who told me that she’d always wanted to write a novel. “It’s been my dream for 20 years,” she said. “I always thought I’d write, but something’s holding me back. I don’t know what it is… my children have left home, so I can’t tell myself that I don’t have time any more.”

Desperation’s the key for many authors. They want to write, and don’t write. Then something tips them over the edge. One fine day they decide that they’ll start writing now. And they do.

Let’s make today the day YOU start.

You CAN write a novel, even without an idea in your head

Oddly enough, “ideas” are a challenge for many authors. They either have too many ideas, and can’t pick one, or they “can’t think of an idea.”

My new author friend was in the latter group. “I can’t come up with a great idea,” she told me. “Every idea I come up with is stupid.”

Ideas are over-rated. It’s easy to come up with ideas. You can do it — challenge yourself to come up with ten ideas in ten minutes. You’ll do it, even if you loudly proclaim that you can’t think of an idea.

Here’s the thing. A novel requires more than an idea. It needs thousands of ideas. Start writing, and you’ll come up with dozens of ideas in a single session.

These three tips will help you to get started.

1. Write 100 words about someone’s secret

Fiction is people, and people are endlessly fascinating.

Do you have a secret? We all have a secret we’d hate to see splattered all over the Internet, or on the front page of a newspaper.

You can write 100 words about any secret: your secret, your mother’s secret, a friend’s secret… or an imaginary character’s secret.

Sit down at your computer now, and start writing.

STOP when you’ve written 100 words.

Why stop? Because you’re training yourself to write on demand. Writers write, just like bakers bake and doctors see their patients. It’s no big deal — your aim is to demystify the act of writing. So stop when you’ve written your 100 words. 🙂

2. Write 200 words about your favorite movie or book character

Write whatever comes to mind about your favorite.

Don’t judge your words — when a word pops into your head, write it down. That’s what writers do — they think on the computer screen. Then they knock their thoughts (words) into shape — again, on the computer screen.

(Or on paper — whatever floats your boat.)

Want more exercises? Here you go. You’ll find 70 writing exercises in my ebook, Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money. You can do many of the exercises over and over again.

You may be shocked that I occasionally do the exercises too. Writing exercises are an excellent way to kickstart your creativity whenever you feel stale, or “not in the mood” to write.

3. Write for ten minutes a day, every day

This tip is the biggie.

Schedule ten minutes of writing on your novel, every day. Write whatever comes. Write character descriptions, character names, a scene… Write. For ten minutes. Then stop.

Sooner or later, your confidence will be such that you won’t need to force yourself to your computer. You’ll leap out of bed in the morning, and will be impatient to write.

Write a novel: write every day… Don’t worry about writing when you’re not writing

Sadly, there’s nothing glamorous about the writing life. Writers sit down and write, every day. Or every week day.

When they’re not writing, they live their life.

To start to write a novel, and finish it, do the exercises.

Start now.

Angela Booth’s Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money

Angela Booth’s Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money

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Genre: Writing
Tag: writing process

What's holding you back from the writing career of your dreams? If you want to write more, sell more, and have more fun writing... it's easier than you can imagine. Discover the secret to writing every day, and becoming a prolific writer.

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Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

eBook: $5.99
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Genre: Writing

Today, the opportunities for writers have never been greater. Back in the day a writer who was making six-figures a year seemed a creature of myth. These days, highly successful writers are making six figures a month.

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

Plot Your Novel: My Favorite Novel Writing Tools

Plot Your Novel: My Favorite Novel Writing Tools

If you’re an indie author, you’re always looking for writing tools which will help you to plan, plot, write, edit, and publish your books fast.

Every novelist is endlessly busy because today, productivity is vital. As the saying goes, you snooze, you lose.

Authors often tell me that their biggest challenge is getting organized. You can’t keep all the details of a novel in your head, and when you sit down to write, you want to get creative, and write.

So, let’s look at my favorite novel writing tools which help me to stay organized. You can use these tools for your other writing as well, of course.

Disclosure: you’ll find no affiliate links in this article, nor do I have any connection with the developers of any of the tools mentioned.

Writing tools for your novel

My favorite, indispensable writing tools include:

  • Scrivener (of course, always)
  • Trello (wonderful for plotting and blogging)
  • Evernote (my traveling filing cabinet)
  • iMindMap (currently my favorite mind mapping tool)

All four tools are available on your desktop machines (Windows and Mac), as well as on your devices.

Scrivener: bright and shiny and new — version 3 available for Mac, coming soon to Windows

Scrivener writing tool

I’ve been using Scrivener since 2005, when I made the switch from Windows to Macs. It’s helped me to become much more productive that I would have been without it.

Does it have a learning curve? Yes, and no. I’ve found that the learning curve arises when:

  • Writers try to get Scrivener to behave like MS Word;
  • Authors imagine that they need to “learn” the app before they can write with it.

Yes, Scrivener is powerful. And yes, you can make it behave like Word (sorta, kinda) but you don’t need to know everything there is to know about it, before you use it to write. Some features you may use occasionally, others you’ll never use.

For example, a few weeks ago, I started using Scrivener’s Scratch Pad — I thought it would help me to do something I wanted to do, and it did. Many Scrivener users never use Collections, but I rely on them totally.

Use Scrivener your way. Play with the app’s Tutorial (accessed via the Help menu) and write.

If you’ve never tried Scrivener to write a novel, and you know you need to get organized, give the app a try.

Hello Trello: lay your cards on the table

Trello writing tool

If you’re a visual person, you’ll love Trello. It’s like having endless boxes of digital index cards — which are much more powerful than paper cards.

I love Trello for plotting novels, and for writing blog posts. When I’m working with students, I create a new board for each course.

Evernote: take everything you need to write your novel with you

Evernote writing tool

I think of Evernote as my traveling office. I stuff anything I think I may need when I’m out and about into Evernote, and I can write — or give presentations — anywhere.

I’ve been using Evernote since 2009; it’s an essential tool to store and organize my research. It works brilliantly with iMindMap. I create lots of mind maps, and at the end of a writing session, I save each map as an image, then I drag the images into one Evernote note.

By flicking through the maps in the note, I can plot and write novels anywhere.

iMindMap: out in a new version, better than ever

mind mapping

While there are dozens of mind mapping programs, iMindmap has become my favorite over the past couple of years; it just keeps getting better.

Mind maps help me to think, plan, and plot. By the time I’ve completed a novel, I have one master mind map for the novel, and anywhere from ten to 20 “child” maps, to handle the various stages of plotting:

  • Set up — first 25%;
  • Preparing for the midpoint;
  • The midpoint;
  • The big twist at 80%;
  • The climax.

By looking at my mind map for any stage of the plotting process, I can see where I am at a glance: which scene, where the scene takes place, the time, the characters involved, and their conflict.

I also create mind maps for the main characters, and another mind map for secondary characters.

Good writing tools are essential: they make you a better writer

Think of writing a novel as if you’re building a house.

Not only do you have to create a blueprint for the structure, you also need to create the bricks, lay on the utilities, and decorate the house.

Whenever authors have problems with their novels, it’s usually because they’re trying to do several things at the same time. That doesn’t work. Use your writing tools. Do one thing at a time. Your creativity will thank you, and you’ll write more and better novels.

Have fun. 🙂

124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today

124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today

eBook: $5.99

You want to write fiction. Perhaps you're a self-publishing author — or perhaps you're a ghostwriter, and want to offer fiction writing services to clients.

Whatever your needs and dreams, this book, 124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today, will help.

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Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

eBook: $5.99
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Series: Romance Writing, Book 1
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction

Love makes the world go round, and of all the genres in fiction, romance, with its many sub-genres, is the most popular.

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