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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. 🙂

Want to write a bestseller? Check out: How To Write In Scenes… The Magical Secret To Writing Well And Selling More

Fiction: How To Write In Scenes
Fiction: How To Write In Scenes

Want to write wonderful stories readers love… fiction which SELLS? Our new program guides you in developing an amazing (and fun) fiction writing career: you’ll write better novels faster. You’ll also win fans who love your novels and are eager to buy them.

Read 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 our ebooks for writers.

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

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Want to write short stories? If you answered yes, that's excellent… Here's why. Today, you can make money writing short fiction. More info →
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5 Tips To Help You To Write A Book Despite Your Inner Critic

 5 Tips To Help You To Write A Book Despite Your Inner Critic

You want to write a book, but you gave up after one page, or one chapter. Maybe you’ve written a book, but hate it, so it’s on your hard drive, a symbol of your failure.

Would you believe me if I said that there’s no such thing as failure, and you CAN write your book, starting today? All you need to do is become familiar with your inner critic, and expose him for the illusion that he is.

The big reason you can’t write a book

I work with writers every day. A huge part of that work is separating a writer from his killer “musts” and “shoulds.” These faux strictures and rules stem from the writer’s inner critic, and they’re immensely harmful until the writer recognizes them.

Once you recognize the lies your inner critic is telling you, and recognize the source, you can go ahead and write happily. Unfortunately, this recognition is hard, because the words your inner critic whispers activate your sympathetic nervous system: this is your fight or flight response.

Fight or flight shuts down your thinking processes. The only way to counter this is to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, so that your body calms and you can think again.

You can’t rid yourself of your inner critic, but you can stop giving him attention. Vital: never argue with your inner critic. That way lies disaster. Remember that he’s an illusion, he’s not real. 🙂

Let’s look at some tips which will help you to ignore your inner critic.

1. Practice gratitude daily: list 5 wonderful things

Although you might think that gratitude (of all things!) can’t help you to write a book, guess what — it can. It’s not only free, it’s a way to turbocharge your creativity.

Gratitude floods your body with chemicals from your parasympathetic nervous system. These chemicals are completely natural, they make you feel good, and they put you into a “writing” mind state.

Keep a gratitude journal for a few weeks; it can change your life.

2. Fool your inner critic: “I’m just practicing …” — and smile

Uh-oh… You’re happily writing, and your inner critic chirps in your ear: “how could you write that? You can’t write that…”

Remember: he’s an illusion. You can’t argue with an illusion and win. Mentally say to yourself. “I’m not writing anything serious. I’m just practicing and having fun.”

And smile: just a little Mona Lisa smile. Smile slightly with your eyes and tilt your lips upward at the corners. According to The Atlantic, a full research study,“Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Positive Facial Expression on the Stress Response,” was published in the journal Psychological Science.

Smiling is a psychological thing. Just do it. 🙂

3. Create a routine for your writing: do the same thing, every day

Every writer who writes commercially has a routine. Without a routine, you can’t get anything done. Routine includes:

  • Where you write: desk in your home office, or coffee shop, or…?
  • How you write: computer, iPad, longhand on a legal pad…
  • When you write: early morning, lunchtime at work, on your commute…
  • How long you write (research, outlining, and editing don’t count)…

It takes around four days to establish a routine. Eventually, if you keep following your routine, your inner critic fades. You’ve established a habit, and your inner critic is powerless against habits.

4. Say “thank you” to your inner critic, and write

Remembering that your inner critic is an illusion, when something he says catches your attention, say: “inner critic”, or “thank you”. You’re labelling the thought, rather than engaging it. This prevents you following the thought down a rabbit hole of endless discursive thought.

Mentally label the thought, and start writing immediately.

5. Meditate (breathe) for ten minutes a day

The voices in your head, including your inner critic, are not real. Your biggest challenge in dealing with them is realizing that you’re being baited by an illusion. Meditation can help you to recognize your inner critic as easy-to-ignore background noise.

Eventually, meditation helps you to recognize your thoughts as thoughts. Thoughts are not real. Meditation can’t eliminate thoughts — your mind chatter continues, but meditation slows it down. Meditation also prevents the constant triggering of your sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response. You’ll find that on days when you meditate for ten minutes, you’re much calmer — your inner critic is either missing, or if present, is ignored. Not bad for just ten minutes out of your day.

While there are endless ways to meditate, the simplest way is to breathe and count your breaths, because your breath is always with you. 🙂

Your inner critic is a toothless tiger, so write a book

We’ve focused on your inner critic’s role in preventing you from writing a book. However, he appears in many guises in all areas of your life. You’ll discover that when you follow the tips above, your entire life improves. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

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Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out 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 →

New Novelist: Write A Selling Novel With One Simple Strategy

New Novelist: Write A Selling Novel With One Simple Strategy

“I’ve done everything I can think of — bought advertising, did a blog tour, gave away free copies… Why aren’t my novels selling?” My coaching student was in despair, and that’s understandable. If you do everything “right” it’s devastating when a novel doesn’t sell.

Today, every novelist faces huge competition. In 2011, a novelist who could string together 60,000 words could make a great income. Not so in 2017. Authors who quit their day jobs to write are going back to those jobs because their incomes have dropped.

“My beta readers love my novel — I’ve got five star reviews. But no sales…”

My student sent me copies of his novels. I opened the first one and spotted the warning signs of a fatal problem right on the first page. I speed-read through the novel — and yes, the novel was dead on arrival.

Which brings us to…

New novelist: your simple strategy to write a selling novel

Here’s the strategy. Your novel must have a point. All the screaming excitement of your novel can’t and won’t make up for it if there’s no point.

The point of a novel is often referred to as the “story question”, or “dramatic question.” Although the story question might not be stated overtly, it must exist for your novel to be satisfying to readers. In many genres, the genre itself offers insight to the story question:

  • In mysteries — will the sleuth find the killer?
  • In romances — will the boy get the girl?
  • In thrillers — will the hero save the world?

Oddly enough, when a novelist writes a novel which has no point, it’s often sadly plain right from the first page. I call these novel openings “much ado about nothing.”

My student’s novel started with his hero in bed, waking up. OK — a fine opening, as long as the room explodes, or there’s a dead body beside him. There wasn’t an explosion, or a dead body. Nothing, except a whole heap of excitement about… waking up in the morning.

Readers are smart. When they buy a novel, they want a story that’s a real story. In other words, they want novels which have a point. When a novelist generates false excitement about waking up in the morning, readers are turned off. No matter how gorgeous your book’s cover, nothing makes up for nothing happening in your novel.

3 vital tips you need to write a selling novel, starting today

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

1. What’s your point? Who wants what? Why can’t he get it?

Your novel must have a story question, and your story question must be concrete — something you can kick. 🙂 It shouldn’t be: “love conquers all” or similar. That can be your theme, if you want one.

The easiest way to decide on a story question (even for pantsers) is: who wants what, and why can’t he get it? Think about your favorite novels. You can identify the story question easily. In Pride and Prejudice, for example, it’s who gets the “young man of large fortune from the north of England.”

You’ll usually find the story question in the blurb (book description) — here’s the story question from the blurb of the bestselling novel, The Night Manager:

At the start of it all, Jonathan Pine is merely the night manager at a luxury hotel. But when a single attempt to pass on information … backfires terribly, and people close to Pine begin to die, he commits himself to a battle against powerful forces he cannot begin to imagine.

2. Write in scenes, and include the important elements of a scene to maintain suspense

In Write Hot Scenes For Bestselling Fiction, we said:

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.

Want to write great fiction? Devote time to learning how to write scenes. Include these elements in your scenes to maintain suspense:

  • Setting;
  • Character development;
  • Sensory details — sight, sound, and more;
  • Plotting — movement on the story question.

3. STOP IT! Stop with the backstory junk already — readers don’t care about the past

In Writing Fiction Made Easier: Get Out Of Backstory Hell we discussed the pitfalls of backstory (that is, the history of your characters, before the story starts.) We said:

Important… Don’t worry about backstory in your first draft. Just write.

Remove ALL backstory when you’re editing.

You can add backstory into your novel/ novella/ short story, very carefully after your “slash and burn” editing fury. Restrain yourself. Only a sentence or two at a time. And only if you must add it for the story to make sense.

Backstory stops your story dead. Readers DO NOT CARE about what happened before the story starts. Occasionally backstory is necessary, because it makes character motivations clearer, and reveals something that readers must know. At those times, drop in your backstory in a sentence or two… please.

“Does it make sense? Is it important/ exciting/ fun to know?”

One of the definitions of “novel” is interestingly new or unusual.

This particular definition is a good guide to knowing what to write about in a novel. Keep it interesting, above all. For a new novelist, a big challenge is “writing” their novel. Bestselling novelist Elmore Leonard said:

My most important rule (for writers) is … if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

A very good rule. Be wary of anything you think is “good writing.” New novelists tend to fall in love with words, and that leads to horrors like writing about their characters waking up in the morning. There’s nothing interestingly new or unusual about that.

Keep your wits about you. When you’ve written a scene, or are about to write a scene, ask yourself if your idea for the scene makes sense. Logic counts.

Wondering about my coaching student? He’s fine. He’s happily rewriting, after we developed story questions for each of his novels. He tells me that he feels a lot more confident, and knows that his revised novels will sell.

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 our ebooks for writers.

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. More info →
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