Tag Archives: author

New Author: 4 Tips To Help You To Write Your Novel

New Author: 4 Tips To Help You To Write Your Novel

You’re a new author, and you want to write a novel — a good novel. Perhaps you’ve already started writing.

You’re excited, and nervous. So far you’ve managed to shout down all those voices in your head which tell you that writing a novel is hard, that you don’t know enough, that you don’t have time… and on, and on.

Take this to heart: baby steps.

New author: want to finish your novel? Take daily baby steps

Nothing blocks a new author as quickly as the knowledge that he’s “writing a book.” Avoid thinking that.

Here’s why. Even a short novel contains at least 40,000 words. At 250 words a page, that’s 160 pages, give or take. A year from now, after you’ve written a book (or two books, if you catch fire) 40,000 words may seem easy-peasy. A stroll in the park.

However, for a new author, when the realization hits that you’ve written five pages and have 155 more to write, the thought of writing all those pages makes you cringe.

Instead:

  • Tell yourself you’re creating a title for a book you may want to write one day, or not…
  • Describe a character, who might appear in your hypothetical book, one day;
  • Imagine your new character in his daily life. Close your eyes. Can you see him? What’s he doing? Write it down.

Think “baby steps” — and write every day. It took me many years to stop thinking about “writing a novel”, and chunk a novel down into simple and easy daily tasks. Baby steps help you avoid drama and procrastination, and make writing easier.

Here are some tips to help you to write those words with brio.

1. Have fun: if you don’t have fun, readers won’t either

Many years ago, when I was writing my first novel, I though that writing was hard. Nevertheless, I love to read, so I was convinced that I could write a novel.

It took a multi-book contract from a major publisher before I realized that:

  • If I wasn’t having fun, or was bored, it came out in the words, which meant red slashes from my editor’s pencil, and rewrites; so…
  • I decided to have fun — to entertain myself.

Not only did the writing flow more smoothly when I was writing to entertain myself, I got far fewer slashes from the editorial pencil.

Moreover, I was eager to get to my desk to write each day.

Have fun.

2. Experience your novel, so that readers will too

In a similar vein, think of your novel as a series of experiences. Readers read to experience your novel.

In my career as a ghostwriter, occasionally someone asks me to write a horror novel, or a serial killer thriller. I refuse, because I can’t read those genres with pleasure. Why would I want to put myself through those kinds of experiences?

You’re a new author, so you’re very focused on the words of your novel. Make it your goal to get beyond the words as soon as you can. Aim to put your readers right into your novel, seeing through your main character’s eyes, to experience what he experiences.

3. It’s all about the characters: what’s your main character’s flaw?

From Characters in Fiction: Love Me, Love My Flaw:

How many people do you know who are perfect? No one’s perfect. We all have flaws – many of them. So characters in fiction need flaws too. Creating a flaw which works can be a real challenge, especially if you’re new to writing fiction.

While all characters are based on aspects of their creator, if you’re a new writer you’ll create characters who are Mary Sues or Marty Stus: idealized people, representations of yourself, and your counterpart of the opposite sex.

To avoid this, focus on a character’s flaw.

Here’s my favorite list of character traits. Pick a flaw (one or two for each character in your novel) which you can SHOW readers.

4. Ramp up the tension (you may not be able to do this in your first draft)

As a new author, your primary goal is to keep readers reading.

Here’s how. Use open loops.

From Write Fiction For Readers: 3 Tips For Narrative Drive:

Open loops are psychological strategies used most often as copywriting tricks. They’re hooks and unanswered questions. You can and should use open loops right throughout your novel.

Many novels use a rapid cutting technique of a series of cliffhangers — open loops. The author places a character in a tough spot, and leaves him there for a few scenes. When the author returns and rescues the character, he’s closing that loop, so he immediately opens another one.

As we’ve said, until you’re an experienced author, you’re unfamiliar with this strategy of writing to keep readers reading, so be happy to make this a goal when you write your second draft.

Also, in your reading, watch for open loops, and how authors use them.

And of course — have fun. 🙂

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

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

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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.

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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

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.

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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

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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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Fiction Writing Magic: Outlining And Connecting With Readers

Fiction Writing Magic: Outlining And Connecting With Readers

Readers have asked for more fiction writing tips on what to include when they’re outlining a novel. Here’s a big tip: connect with your plot, and with your characters. Sometimes, when we’re outlining, we focus on the plot so much that we forget why readers read.

Recently I’ve been working with an author who shocked me. She told me that she’s self-published three novels over three years, and has made NO sales at all. When I checked her books’ blurbs on Amazon (she’s published ebooks and paperbacks) I saw the problem immediately.

Plot, plot, and more plot, and no real connection to be found. Your stories need to connect with readers. This connection can be subtle, but as the saying goes, you know it when you see it. 🙂

Readers read for connection — they want to be drawn in to your novel, or short story… that connection MUST be there, in your blurb, and of course, in your outline, and in your books.

All very well, I’m sure you’re thinking… but how do you CONNECT?

Fiction writing tip: your fiction MUST connect with readers

Blurbs (book descriptions) to which readers connect sell books.

For example, the blurb for Nora Roberts’ novel Blue Smoke, begins:

Reena Hale has always understood the destructive power of fire.

Fire burns. We can relate. Just yesterday I burned my hand on a cast iron skillet. Ouch! (We’ll get to the senses and connection in a moment…)

Here’s another example, from the blurb for Joseph Finder’s novel, The Switch:

Michael Tanner is heading home from a business trip when he accidentally picks up the wrong laptop from security.

Have you ever picked up someone else’s bag? I haven’t, but last week I strolled into the supermarket car park, right up my car, and kept pressing the key in my hand in irritation.

Curses — why wasn’t the car unlocking?

Finally I realized. Heh, right color, make and model, but not my car…

We’ve all made similar mistakes. Finder makes a connection with readers, as Roberts does, in the first sentence of the blurb.

Want another example? Just check bestsellers. I defy you to find me a blurb which doesn’t connect with readers in some way. Here’s another example, this one is from David Baldacci’s End Game: A Will Robie Novel 5. And again, we find connection right in the first line of the blurb:

London is on red alert.

We connect with that. We watch the news of terrorist attacks in London, and we feel vulnerable too.

In this article on outlining fiction, I suggested that you start outlining with an image:

… start with an image: an image has built-in emotion – if you choose the right image. Fiction is all about emotion. No emotion? You’ve got nothing. Your idea, no matter how wonderful, will fizzle out. Or you’ll have a bunch of weird emotions tumbling around, which you can’t get a handle on… and the novel or short story fizzles out.

Let’s add to that: start with an image to which you respond.

Then:

  • Think about the emotion the image inspires; and
  • Think about how that connects with readers; and
  • WRITE DOWN that connection in your outline.

1. Outlining: connect via conflict — remember emotions

Fiction is all conflict, all the time. It’s easy to forget the reader connection, and create melodrama.

Let’s say that you’re great with conflict. Everyone’s upset in your novel, and fighting with everyone else.

Good work. Now make an emotional connection with your character, a highly intelligent, 30-year-old, brand new detective. She’s been taken off a case. How does she feel? Add a note about those feelings, right in your outline for the scene.

Add another note: how do you want the reader to feel? If your detective is your primary point of view character, you want your reader to empathize with the character.

2. Look for opportunities for sensory writing in your outlines: connect via the senses

Readers will connect with your fiction if you provide sensory details.

Take a moment, and glance around the room, or around the plane or around the park… You’re somewhere, aren’t you? And as long as you’re awake, you’re aware of your environment, on some level. You’re using your senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch.

Proust’s madeleines (biscuits) are famous, because the sense of taste is linked to memory:

The madeleine anecdote is considered one of the key passages in À La Recherche du Temps Perdu or In Search of Lost Time. It is at the heart of the book’s main theme of involuntary memory…

Readers will connect if you make it easy for them to experience your characters’ environment, via the senses. Don’t describe everything, but do choose sensory details which connect with readers.

From Georgette Heyer’s Frederica:

Wiser counsels had not prevailed with Jane: she had been determined on roses and pink gauze; and as she had inherited her mother’s shrewish disposition, and was capable of sulking for days together, Lady Buxted had allowed her to have them.

If Heyer had written: “Jane sulked until she got a dress with roses and pink gauze,” it wouldn’t have the same impact. Nevertheless the “sulking” makes a connection with readers; we all know people like Jane who want their own way.

3. YOU are your fiction: connect to your characters, and to the events in your plot

You’re your fiction. No one else has your emotional makeup or experiences. You perceive the world differently from everyone else. So, in order to connect with readers, connect with your characters, via your imagination. Then get that connection onto the page. Readers will latch onto your fiction — you helped them to make a connection.

An author’s biggest danger when we create characters and plot, is forgetting to make a connection with our characters, and the disasters we create for them.

Once you begin looking for connections readers might make, you’ll find them in your writing and in others’, and will create them deliberately.

You’ll know that you’re doing it right when you have fun with your fiction. 🙂

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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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

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You can, when you discover the secrets of writing blurbs (book descriptions) which sell.

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Bestselling Fiction: 5 Tips To Turn A Wonderful Mess Into A Novel

Bestselling Fiction: 5 Tips To Turn A Wonderful Mess Into A Novel

You’ve completed your novel. It’s so horrible that you’re ashamed. What on earth gave you the idea that you could write a novel, much less write bestselling fiction? Calm down. If you’ve got a mess, that’s AMAZING. It’s exactly what you’re supposed to have at the first draft stage.

Seriously. Never, ever worry about your first draft. You’ve got a NOVEL — even in potential, and that’s a huge achievement. Celebrate that.

(Please be aware that your novel may still be at the first draft stage, even if you’ve written several drafts… Many new authors fiddle with sentence structure and word choice, and imagine that they’re writing a draft. You’re not. You’re copyediting.)

All bestselling fiction goes through a chaotic stage

Let’s look at what a “draft” is. Creating a second draft/ rewriting isn’t recreating your novel from the beginning. (That said, it can be, if you feel that you’ve missed the mark completely and want a do-over.) If anything, rewriting is more akin to putting together a jigsaw puzzle, while creating some new pieces to fit.

Let’s look at some tips to help.

1. What are you writing? What’s the genre and story question?

Before you do anything else, reread what you’ve written.

Makes notes on the emotional highpoints — what makes you feel? Fiction is all about emotion, so you need to know what works, and what doesn’t, at this stage.

Then decide on your genre, if you haven’t done it already. Also, check to see whether you have a story question — this is the one essential which turns a mess into a potential bestselling novel.

2. Rewrite your major scenes: these are the BIG scenes in your novel

If you’re not sure about scenes, this article will help, Write Hot Scenes For Bestselling Fiction: 5 Magical Tips:

Scenes are the building blocks of your fiction

In the 21st century, every reader understands drama.

TV and movie stories are delivered in scenes. If you want lots of readers, you need to learn to deliver your stories in scenes too.

Readers are impatient. They just want the story. Deliver. Show, rather than tell. “Showing” means writing in scenes.

You’ll have two or three major scenes. Rewrite these, without focusing on what you’ve written. You know your story, your aim now is to deliver emotion in all your scenes, but most especially in the big scenes of your novel.

3. Check for holes in your plot: create new scenes

All plots have holes. You can ask someone else to find them for you, but try to do it yourself. Read through your novel again, and check the characters’ behavior and thoughts. Do they make sense, logically? If any character’s behavior doesn’t make sense, that’s fine — you’ll need to foreshadow the weird behavior.

While you’re checking, write new scenes where you need them.

4. Characters: introducing a character, and showing character changes

Next, focus on your characters. Check how you introduce your main characters. Your main characters will change in your novel, as they grow from their experiences. Make sure you’re showing the changes.

5. Check (or create) your timeline

Timelines can be tricky. You can have someone’s mother marrying at five years old, and a character in London when he’s supposed to be on a ship somewhere in the Pacific.

And your draft is done… now comes editing. 🙂

Check out our current special offerings

1. Hot Plots: Craft Hot-Selling Fiction in 5 Minutes (or less)

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Happy writing. 🙂

Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

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What If You Were Twice As Successful, Or Even THREE Times More Successful Than You Are Today?

There's No Ceiling On A Writer's Income... You Just Need To Be Prolific.

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Just Write It: Write More, Sell More, Starting Today

Just Write It: Write More, Sell More, Starting Today

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Do you dream of being a professional writer? This book will help. Perhaps you already have a writing career, but feel that you're not living up to your potential, this book will help you, too.

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