Tag Archives: fiction

Write A Novel Readers Love: 5 Tips

Write A Novel Readers Love: 5 Tips

Want to write a novel readers love? If you do, you’ll need to become comfortable with conflict. This can be a real challenge, because most of us hate conflict in our lives. But unfortunately if you try to avoid conflict in your fiction you’ll get reviews which call your novel “boring” or “thin”: you haven’t given your readers want they want. (By the way — short stories need conflict and emotion too.)

Essentially, readers read to escape to another world, or to learn something.

Write a novel readers love, and can experience

Readers read to experience. If you can’t touch their emotions, they’ll stop reading.

It’s always useful to read readers’ reviews on Amazon. Bestselling authors aren’t immune from bad reviews, and you can find a lot of these types of comments when authors haven’t delivered a novel that readers want:

  • “Waste of money. Nothing much happened…”
  • “The story ended at 50% and then dragged on… ”
  • “Boring, no tension, too thin…”
  • Etc.

Let’s look at five tips which will help you to write a novel which readers love.

1. Kick your main character at least once every 1000 to 1500 words

When I’m writing a novel or short stories, my scenes usually average  around 1500 words. When you write a scene, it’s much like writing a novel. The scene has a set up, rising action, a climax, and then it’s over. In other words, every scene gives you a fresh opportunity to make life more difficult for your characters. Take that opportunity.

2. “What’s the worst thing that could happen now?”

The easiest way to include a lot of conflict in your novel is to have each and every character have a conflict with every other character.

Although this sounds difficult, it’s not. Think about the people you love. Your partner, or your child. Do you have conflicts with them? Of course you do. They’re minor conflicts:  they do things you don’t agree with and they know you so well that they push your buttons effortlessly.

That said, you want your story to be one in which something happens. Therefore, in addition to the major obstacles to your main character getting what he or she wants, and minor conflicts, you need constant additional obstacles.

It’s all trouble and strife, all the time. 🙂

Think about the conflicts that your characters have with each other, and aim to have something bad happen in each and every scene.

3. Take away what your character values most

What does your character value? Perhaps you’re writing a New Adult novel. Your main character is a young woman who’s just left college. She’s managed to get the job of her dreams — that’s what she values most. So take that away.

Or perhaps she doesn’t realize what she values most. She takes an overseas job, and realizes what she values most is the man she left behind.

Always torture your characters. Your readers want an involving story. You can give it to them.

4. Ensure that conflict happens because of who your characters are

When new authors first hear about “creating conflict”, they tend to have a lot of conflict happening, but that conflict isn’t directly related to the characters.

For example, perhaps the main character gets involved in a minor fender bender. Or the character does something embarrassing. We all have stuff going wrong all the time, and these minor contretemps are useless in fiction. Readers read for escape — they don’t want to read about minor nuisances because they experience them themselves, daily.

Vital: every conflict which happens in your novel must relate directly to the story question, and must happen because of who your main characters are.

5. Resist your own resistance to conflict

There’s an old saying which goes something like this: if the novel’s characters are having fun, the reader isn’t.

Never make things easy on your characters. Ensure that each and every scene contains conflict. Scenes are “showing”, rather than “telling” (narration), so before you start writing a scene, ask yourself: “what’s the conflict? Who wants what? Who opposes that? How?”

When you write a novel, make your characters FIGHT for what they want

In summary, when you write a novel, make your characters fight for what they want.

Your characters are proactive: they know what they want, and they make plans to get what they want. When they fail, they try again, and again.

Go ahead and kick your characters. Your readers will love it. 🙂

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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 →

Self-Publishing: 3 Tips To Sell More Novels Via Short Stories

Self-Publishing: 3 Tips To Sell More Novels Via Short Stories

Self-publishing is becoming a lot more challenging. Things are changing quickly, and you need to change too, especially if you’re not having the success you want. Even if you’re thrilled with your sales, keep in mind that self-publishing changes quickly.

Our new self-publishing environment in 2017

Authors who have been self-publishing for years realize that today, self-publishing is mainstream.

In 2015, The Passive Voice published several posts on indie authors quitting their day jobs; they were the most commented-on posts in the history of the blog. Many thousands of authors revealed that they went full-time in 2015.

However in 2016, things got a lot tougher. Not only did Amazon tighten its spam-fighting algorithms, some authors found that their ebook sales were dropping off a cliff. I wrote blog posts on both those things…

More on Amazon tackling spammers here.

More on ebook sales’ slumps here.

One of the decisions I made for my own self-publishing plans this year was to publish shorter ebooks in addition to the novels I have planned. Short stories, and short nonfiction, can definitely help the sales of your longer ebooks.

Let’s look at the tips.

1. Use short stories as a valuable form of painless marketing

Sometimes when I suggest to an author that he publish some short stories, the response is: Yes, but short stories don’t sell. I’d take issue with that, because many authors are making a lot of money from short stories. In some cases, they’re making more money from a 5,000 word short story than they’re making from an 100,000 word novel.

Readers don’t care how long or short your story is, they just want a GOOD story.

In My Top 6 Tips for Self-publishing Fiction In 2017, I suggested:

Here’s the thing about self-publishing: your ebooks can be as long, or as short as you please. Strictly from a money angle, if you can get $2.99 for a 10,000 word short story, OR a 60,000 word novel, it makes sense to write more short stories.

When you write short stories, not only do you build your visibility, you also improve your fiction writing skills.

Short stories are brilliant for increasing your visibility on the ebook retailers. When you’re on Amazon’s Just Released lists, you’ll make sales of your other ebooks too.

2. Reward your fans’ loyalty: send them your short stories, then publish them

Your readers are GOLD. Treat them well.

Show your mailing list subscribers that they’re part of an exclusive club. When you’ve completed a short story, send it out to the fans on your mailing list first. A week or two later, you can publish the story on Amazon.

Several authors make their short stories available on their blogs for a week or two, and then they publish the stories.

Anything you can do to reward your fans is worth doing.

3. Create serials: use cliffhangers to get more readers

Some authors HATE cliffhangers and they refuse to use them. However, publishing short stories as a continuing story — as a serial — works. Just be sure that your short story is a real story, with a climax and resolution, otherwise you’ll annoy readers.

As I said in Kindle Publishing: Serialized Fiction Strategies:

Your challenge with serial fiction is to make each episode in the story satisfying. Yes, you want readers to read the whole thing. However, each episode has to deliver entertainment and value. So each episode has a throughline, with a setup, action, and climax.

Also, most importantly, add “A Short Story” both to the title, and to the description of your short fiction, so that readers know what they’re getting.

Add a few short stories to your own self-publishing plans for this year

I enjoy writing short stories; I like instant gratification. 🙂

You never know, you may find as I do that you sell more of your novels when you include short stories in your publishing plans.

Resources to build your writing career

Watch for free contests, writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

$5.99
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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Write A Novel: 5 Tips To Keep You Sane

Write A Novel: 5 Tips To Keep You Sane

It’s November 1. Hundreds of thousands of writers all over the world have one goal: write a novel. By the end of November, many will have written 50,000 words. That’s an immense achievement. Any writer anywhere who writes 50K words in just a month has begun a journey which will change his or her life.

Some authors will go on to establish careers as novelists. Even if you don’t however, NaNoWriMo is an immensely valuable exercise. So, how do you write a novel in a month?

How to write a novel in a month and stay sane

Let’s look at some tips which will help any NaNoWriMo author to stay sane. You can use these tips even if you’re not doing NaNoWriMo, of course.

1. Establish a time and place to write, and stick to it

Novelists lead boring lives, by intention. Yes, they take vacations, and socialize, but they know that novels are written alone, in solitude.

Don’t despair if solitude is impossible. Even if you have a full-time job, three kids, and many commitments, you can nevertheless complete NaNoWriMo if you set a writing routine, and stick to it.

You’ll need to write 1600 words a day to complete 50,000 words in a month. It takes me an hour to write 1000 words when I’m starting a novel. Once I’ve written the novel’s setup — the first three chapters — I know the people and the situation, and my writing speed increases automatically.

Try setting your alarm clock and getting up earlier so that you can write in peace. Or write as soon as the kids are in bed. Whichever you choose, stick to that routine. Within a few days, you’ll have trained your body and brain so that when it’s time to write, you’ll write.

2. Forget writing a novel: write ONE scene (or even just a paragraph)

You’ve written 1600 words, and you’re proud of your achievement. Well done! Then you realize how many words you still have to write.

Please stop thinking. You just need to complete one day’s writing at a time. When I start a novel, I never think of all the words I’ll need to complete by my deadline, because it’s pointless.

I like to focus on one scene at a time. I make a list of who’ll be in the scene, what each character’s goals are, what they’re scared of, and where the scene takes place. Then I write the scene.

Usually, my scenes average at 1500 words. Some are shorter, many are longer. Just like a novel, your scenes need a setup, and a climax. Focus on that scene, only.

On slow writing days you may need to just focus on a paragraph at a time. That’s OK. Writing a novel is frustrating, because a super-fast writing day may be immediately followed by a day in which the words won’t come.

My creativity seems to run in four-day cycles. I have four good writing days, followed by two very slow writing days. On slow days, focus on your paragraphs. 🙂

3. Write first, socialize later

Social media is a blessing because it makes writing easier. There are endless writing groups you can join, so you never need to feel alone.

Unfortunately, social media is also a curse. How many times have you opened Facebook “for five minutes”, then realize that an hour has passed, and you didn’t notice?

Write first.

4. Forget all the rules you’ve read: let yourself WRITE

For several weeks, you’ve prepared yourself to write a novel. Your head is stuffed with writing rules, and hopes and fears about your characters and your plot.

Forget that. Forget it all. The creative side of your brain hates rules. It’s basically non-verbal. It “thinks” in feelings and images.

Relax. Accept the words which pop into your head, and write them down. You can worry about writing rules and whether you’ve done justice to your characters after you’ve written 50K words.

5. Focus on your characters: they will grow your plot

Your characters will surprise you. If you love outlines, your characters will shock you, because they won’t perform as you expect them to. When it comes to following your outline, or following your characters, let your characters win.

You can always change your outline. If you try to send a character into a direction he doesn’t want to go, you may find yourself blocked.

If you find a character’s baulking, and you MUST get him to do something he won’t do, think about his background. Come up with a reason for him to do what you want him to do. Rewrite early scenes, or pop in a little backstory, and the chances are that he’ll oblige you.

On backstory: as a rule, I’m against flashbacks and great lumps of backstory for new novelists because it can quickly get out of hand. Writing backstory makes it too easy to wander down byways and lose the forward momentum of your plot.

If you do find yourself writing backstory, keep it to under 200 words.

Onward, one day’s writing at a time…

Keep writing. Expect to have some days you hate writing.

Write anyway. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

Watch for free contests, writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

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