Category Archives: Writing techniques

3 Essential Creativity Tricks To Help You To Write A Book

3 Essential Creativity Tricks To Help You To Write A Book

“I’m not creative…” Have you ever said this to yourself? You may believe that creativity is essential if you want to write a book, but no matter whether you’re creative or not, there are easy tricks you can use to spark your creativity.

We’ll look at some of those tricks, but firstly, consider that perhaps you’re just not writing enough.

The more you produce, the more creativity bubbles up

This was recently brought home to me by a friend I hadn’t seen in years. We contributed to the same magazines, some 20 years ago. Although I’ve trained myself to be reasonably productive, she’s much more productive than I am, and also more creative.

In the past 12 months, she’s ghostwritten three trilogies, written 50 short stories, and writes for four blogs. This is in addition to writing several books for children with a collaborator, as well as publishing five cozy mysteries under one of her pen names. (She has several.)

“How do you do it?” I asked. “How do you become so creative? Tell me some tricks — I’m blogging about creativity tricks.”

She laughed. “You know the old saying, the harder you work, the luckier you get? The same applies to creativity.”

She’s right.

Here are three simple tricks you can use to inspire your own creativity.

1. Build a fence around it: limits make you more creative

Limits make you more creative, so set limits before you start writing your book.

For example, you might decide that your book will be about baking sourdough bread, rather than about “baking.” Or if you’re writing fiction, you might decide that you’re writing a cozy mystery with an amateur sleuth who has four children rather than “a novel.”

Even if you’re an experienced author, writing a book can be intimidating. You can choose to write about, and include, anything in your book. All those choices lead to indecision and procrastination.

2. Schedule time and space for creativity

Schedule time for creativity? That sounds strange, because your best ideas occur to you when you’re doing something unrelated to writing — I get great ideas in the shower.

If you want a regular stream of good ideas however, it’s best to schedule the time. Consider scheduling half an hour, or an hour, sometime on the weekend. Aim to brainstorm in an area which you don’t associate with writing.

For example, I write in my home office, but I do my brainstorming on the dining room table on Sunday afternoons.

3. Trust your intuition: it’s your unconscious mind at work

Creative people pay attention to their intuition. They trust it. They’re always listening for that still small voice which presents you with an idea, or an insight.

Meditation inspires creativity, and intuition. In this blog post, on writing goals, we talked about meditation:

Writing is much easier when you meditate (even if you think you can’t do it, the attempt is enough) because your focus carries over into everything you do and feel, for the rest of the day.

When you meditate for a short time each day, it seems to sweep the junk out of your head, so that you’re more open to intuitive and creative insights.

Writing is easier, when you trust your creativity

My friend’s right: the harder you work, the luckier you get.

You can’t be creative when you’re not writing. The perfect idea won’t slap you on the head like a whack from your fairy godmother’s wand.

Schedule time to write your book every day, and you’ll amazed at how creative you are.

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

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

eBook: $5.99
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. More info →
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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

eBook: $5.99
In this book we'll aim to increase your creativity to unlock your imagination and build the writing career of your dreams. More info →
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Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.

Plotting Fiction: Holiday Offering For Hot Plots Ends December 1

Plotting Fiction: Holiday Offering For Hot Plots Ends December 1

Plotting fiction seems complicated, but it isn’t.

Fiction is all about people. Craft characters readers love, put them in exciting situations, develop your settings and story clock, and have fun with subplots.

Plots grow as you write. Whether you’re ready to write your next (or first!) novel, or want to revise a first draft, Hot Plots will help.

Learn more.

 

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 Secrets: 5 Tips To Write A Novella Fast

Fiction Secrets: 5 Tips To Write A Novella Fast

In our Advanced Fiction class we’re writing novellas. It’s fun to write a novella, because you can finish your story quickly and get it published

You may be wondering… what’s a novella?

Novellas are short fiction. Novellas are too long to be short stories, and too short to be novels. So they’re an ideal length for today’s readers who want stories they can read quickly.

I think of novellas as overgrown short stories, and write them at anywhere from 15,000 to 40,000 words.

Write a novella, and sell it — fast

Did you know that when you write a novella, you can make as much income as you can writing a novel?

I asked a couple of self-publishing authors who specialize in short fiction how they priced their novellas — did they price them lower than novels? Both said that they invariably priced their novellas at either $2.99 or $3.99. They added some of their novellas to KDP Select, some they didn’t.

What you do with your novellas will vary according to what you want them to achieve for you.

For example, if you’re writing a series, you could write a novella as a lead-in to the series, and price it at 99 cents. The hope is that you’ll get readers hooked on the series.

Now let’s look at some tips to help you to write novellas confidently.

1. Start with the story question: what’s at stake?

The story question is also known as the narrative drive; it’s what powers the novella.

I talked about narrative drive here:

What will the surgeon do? Will she choose her family, or the prime minister? Who will live, and who will die? That’s the story question. It powers the narrative — it’s the narrative drive.

The story question is the point of the story; in a mystery, will the sleuth unmask the killer, in a thriller, will the hero overcome the terrorists and save thousands of lives?

Bryn Donovan has some plotting ideas from classic novels here; it’s a great list, and will get you thinking in terms of the story question.

2. Create characters, but keep your cast small

When you’re writing a novella, keep the cast of characters small. You haven’t the space for a tribe.

On the other hand, if you’re writing a novella as a prequel to a series of novels, you may add in a couple of characters you don’t strictly need, because they’ll make an appearance in your series.

3. What’s the climax?

What does your point of view (POV) character fear most? Once you know that, you know that this greatest fear will play out in the climax of the novella. You’ll torture your character by making him face what he most fears.

A student asked whether you need a climax in a novella. Some authors feel that you don’t. Other authors end on a cliffhanger, so that the reader will buy another book which carries on the story.

I like to include a climax, and I never end on a cliffhanger. I like my novellas to be a complete emotional experience for readers. That said, it depends on your own needs, as well as the genre.

For example, let’s say that you’re writing a mystery series. The series has an overall mystery, which won’t be resolved until the final book, although each book contains a complete mystery, which is resolved in the climax. Each book in the series adds more clues to the “big” mystery of the series.

Let’ say that you want to write a novella to promote your series. Of course you won’t resolve the overall series’ mystery, but you will resolve a complete mystery for readers.

Please don’t get too hung up over what to do, climax or no-climax. Your story will usually tell you what’s needed once you’ve written a few thousand words.

4. Write your first draft quickly, in scenes and dialogue

I like to write the dialogue in scenes first. The dialogue is usually the action of the scene. Writing that first gets it out of the way. Then you can focus on underpainting your scene.

5. Add your “underpainting”: character motivations, thoughts etc.

When you’ve written a scene, mostly in dialogue, go back and add stuff. I call this process adding bits of business to the scene; bestselling Outlander author Diana Gabaldon calls the technique “underpainting”. Great word:

… the technique involves a good deal of body language and inconsequential small actions. The reader is conscious of the main thrust of a paragraph, page or scene; the spoken dialogue, the main actions. Subconsciously, underpainting brings the scene alive in the mind’s eye.

In underpainting, you’re putting in whatever the scene needs. You add the viewpoint character’s thoughts, actions of other characters in the scene, the time of day and weather if it’s relevant… Anything and everything which fleshes out the scene.

Of course, in a novella you add less of this than you’d add in a full-length novel.

So, there you have it: some tips to help you to write a novella. Let me know know if they work for you. 🙂

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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Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today

Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today

eBook: $5.99
You can, when you discover the secrets of writing blurbs (book descriptions) which sell. More info →
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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.