Tag Archives: novels

Write A Novel: Include A Bestseller’s Vital Ingredient

Write A Novel: Include A Bestseller’s Vital Ingredient

You want to write a novel. You hope that it will sell well; that it will become a bestseller. I just checked, and the first five books on The New York Times Hardcover Fiction bestsellers’ list this week are all genre fiction: thrillers and crime fiction. These books, as do all books on bestseller lists, include a vital ingredient.

That ingredient is: drama.

Write a novel with drama

To write a novel which sells well, remember DRAMA while you write. Drama keeps readers reading.

Many books which are dramatic are quiet books; they don’t feature billion dollar bank heists and explosions. Pride and Prejudice, for example, which has been selling for 200 years, is a charming novel set primarily in a village in rural England.

So how do you add drama to your novel?

How to write a dramatic novel: write in scenes

Start with these elements:

  • A character with a problem he’s determined to solve
  • A setting
  • A story question

The story question is sometimes referred to as the “dramatic question”, which is misleading. To write a bestselling novel, you need drama on every page.

Check your novel now, and if you’ve written 250 words in which nothing much happens, correct that immediately — add some drama, every if it’s just a little bantering between two characters.

4 tips for writing dramatically

As we’ve said, drama needs to happen on every page of your novel. There are many ways you can do that. These tips will get you thinking.

  1. No one gets along. Every character in your novel has conflicts with other characters, or has internal conflicts.
  2. Description is used to reveal character. Again, consider Pride and Prejudice. When Jane Austen describes anything, she does it so that we can learn more about a character. For example, from Chapter 7: “The village of Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton; a most convenient distance for the young ladies, who were usually tempted thither three or four times a week, to pay their duty to their aunt and to a milliner’s shop just over the way.”
  3. Focus on scenes. Jane Austen writes in scenes — this may be why she’s sold 20 million copies of Pride and Prejudice — it’s a very dramatic novel.
  4. You answer the story question, as well many many other questions which you raise along the way by creating open loops.

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.

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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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Writing A Novel: NaNoWrimo And You

Writing A Novel: NaNoWrimo And You

You’re writing a novel, but you decided to skip NaNoWrimo this year. Or you started NaNoWrimo with huge enthusiasm, and stopped. Please don’t feel guilty. If you’re new to writing fiction, it’s almost certainly better for you to practice on short stories, rather than trying to complete even a short novel in a month.

Over the past week, I’ve received messages from writers who feel like failures. A couple wanted to do NaNoWrimo, but something came up. Several other writers started NaNoWrimo, and wrote steadily, but then stopped “just for today”. They didn’t start writing again.

Please don’t feel guilty. You’re not a failure as a novelist or anything else if you didn’t start NaNoWrimo, or if you started and quit. If you started, be glad of the experience, and cheer up. All the writing you do teaches you, and you’ve learned a lot, even if you think you’ve “failed.”

NaNoWrimo is a challenge for new novelists, because…

1. Novels are hard to control, even if you’re written one or more novels

Novels are very hard to control. Even if you’re someone who loves outlining, a novel takes off in directions you didn’t expect. Alternatively, if it doesn’t take off, and you hew closely to your outline, your characters never come alive. You begin to resent them, and stop caring about them.

Once you’ve gained a little experience, you’ll be thrilled when a novel takes off in unexpected ways, and you’ll know how to get it back on track. It’s almost impossible to do that without a few novels under your belt, however.

2. If you don’t write have a writing habit, writing 1,700 words a day is too much pressure

Here’s my goal for fiction every day: a thousand words. That’s all. Of course, I hope to write 3,000 words a day, or more, if I can. If I can’t, then 1,000 words is fine.

I’ve been writing for many more years than I care to think about, and I still keep my daily fiction word count goal low. Here’s why — pressure.

Fiction’s easy, as long as you can get yourself into a fictive dream while you’re writing. You can’t get yourself into this mind state when you’re feeling pressured, it’s impossible.

Setting yourself a word count goal of 1,700 words a day for NaNoWrimo is huge pressure.

Relax, give yourself time to build your writing muscles

Writing 50,000 words is hard. Turning those 50K words into a novel is even harder. If you’ve yet to complete your first novel, give yourself time. You have plenty of time, all the time in the world.

Here are two ways to prepare yourself to write your first novel.

1. Write ten short stories — take as long as you like

Yes, ten short stories. Take as long as you like to write those ten short stories. Writing short stories has one huge benefit: you get into the habit of completing your stories.

Some writers get into the habit of starting novels, and never completing them. Writing short stories is a great way to get into the habit of finishing what you start.

Every story hits a wall at some stage. When you have a little experience, you expect this. In fact, you realize that hitting the wall is a good thing. You’ve just got to find a way under, over, or through the wall. When you do this, you’ll complete your story.

2. Write for five minutes a day for a month

Writing fiction is very different from writing nonfiction. You need to pretend to be someone else, and write as someone else. You experience what your story person experiences, and you write about it.

Rather than scaring yourself to death by saying: “I’m writing a novel!” sneak up on it. Write fiction for five minutes a day, for 30 days. You don’t have to write more than a few sentences. Anything you get onto the computer screen is fine. You’re teaching yourself a new mindset.

Initially, you’ll feel uncomfortable. Soon, you’ll realize that imagining is fun. Then you’ll be well on your way.

You may even write a wonderful novel for NaNoWrimo next year.

Free writing programs to kickstart your 2016

Free writing programs

I won’t be blogging much between now and the end of January 2016. To help you to have a wonderful writing year next year, I’m offering you several of my older writing programs, completely for free.

Your first download is Six-Figure Writer’s Toolbox: From a Day Job to $500 a Day.

I hope that somewhere in the one of the free writing programs, you’ll have one major AHA! moment, which changes your writing life around.

BTW, an apology — the material’s unedited, so I know that there are some dead links and other kerfuffles in there. Please forgive.

Your first free download will arrive in an email message. More information here.

Writing Fiction Made Easier: Get Out Of Backstory Hell

Writing Fiction Made Easier: Get Out Of Backstory Hell

I’ve just looked at this blog’s stats for the past 12 months, and this post on backstory (kill it) is by far the most popular post. I’m not surprised. When you’re writing fiction, backstory is a challenge for new authors.

To reiterate from that post:

Resist the Impulse to Explain

New writers start off great. They get the woman in the trunk of the car (or create some other hot action which starts things off.) Then they feel they need to explain who the woman is, and how she landed in the trunk of a car. They go on for pages and pages. RESIST! Please do not do this.

How to manage backstory: remove it when you’re editing

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.

Here’s what a new author’s backstory hell looks like

I work with lots of writing students, so I may be more sensitive to backstory hell than most.

Here’s a common problem I see — messed-up scenes.

Not only does the new author cram backstory into a scene until the scene’s mangled beyond repair… he crams yet more backstory into the backstory.

Here’s what that looks like:

  • the scene starts. You settle down for an enjoyable scene between two characters, then the author inserts…
  • backstory 1, of one of the characters…
  • in the middle of backstory 1, you get backstory 2, the backstory of the other character…
  • Finally the author remembers he’s writing a scene. So you get a snippet of the scene (by this time the reader’s head is spinning like a top). After just a few paragraphs of the scene, the author inserts…
  • something or other, which may be backstory, or maybe it’s a flashback, who knows?

Sadly, readers have long-since stopped reading.

Forget backstory, PLEASE

Just kill it wherever you find it.

Keep your story moving forward.

Write in scenes, remembering that a scene happens in the present moment, just like a movie scene. There’s no room for backstory in a scene.

I blame advice like “write a character bio” for backstory hell. As I said in Kill Your Backstory:

If you’ve been happily creating character bios, and other junk, stop it. Who cares what flavor of ice cream your main character prefers?

The best way to create character bios is to do it while you’re writing. Yes, you need to remember that your main character’s eyes are brown, not blue, and that he lives with his Uncle Jake, who’s going out with Selma from the diner.

I copy and paste all this must-remember material into a single “characters” document in Scrivener. Then I open that document in Quick Ref while I’m writing the novel.

If you’ve been creating lengthy character bios before you start writing, STOP IT. Otherwise you’ll be tempted to insert all this junky material as backstory while you’re writing.

The benefit of killing backstory: a plot, and more fun writing

I’m convinced that authors cram in backstory because they’re nervous. They’re writing a scene, there’s conflict, so the author wants to explain that conflict. Stop explaining. Just write the scene.

Not only will you end up with a PLOT, and a story which readers enjoy, you’ll enjoy writing it. too. 😉

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.

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 →
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Amazon Kindle