Tag Archives: plotting

New Author? 3 Tips To Help You To Outline Your Novel

New Author? 3 Tips To Help You To Outline Your Novel

Hate writing outlines? If you’re a new author, do your best to write an outline anyway. If nothing else, an outline assures you that yes, by heavens, you’re writing a novel, rather than a mass of words.

The following tips will help.

Why outline? One simple reason: you’ll avoid a horrible fate… Unlike the vast majority of new authors, you’ll write a real novel, one that has a real story.

The most common new author pitfall: nothing happens

Here’s your challenge, if you’re a new author.

You must make something happen. Preferably on every page. Moreover, that “something” must be relevant — integral to your story.

Does that sound easy? It is. However, when you’re a new author, you’re all about the pretty words. Experienced authors don’t care about the words — they care about the story.

An experienced author knows that you can fix your word choices, scene construction and grammar, but if nothing happens in your novel, then you’ve just wasted all the time you spent writing.

1. Make something happen NOW

You’re a new author, so you want to start writing NOW.

Please don’t…

If you go ahead anyway, please avoid these kinds of common and horrid novel beginnings…

  • The “waking up in the morning” novel opening. Trust me, no one cares. As I’ve said before, if you don’t wake up with a space alien bending over you, or beside a corpse… we don’t care.
  • “Poor me, I’m having SUCH a bad day…” — romance novelists love this opening. Sadly, similarly to the above, we don’t care. If your main female character spills hot coffee over her new silk blouse, rear-ends a car, gets fired… Nope, we don’t care.
  • Please also avoid the “bang, bang, you’re dead…” — the dead bodies/ or car crash opening, loved by new thriller authors… We’re reading a novel, not the news, so we’re not interested in dead people before you’ve made us care about them.

An experienced author may have the skills to begin his novel with these kinds of first pages, but you don’t — attempt them later in your career.

Write your novel’s opening pages after you’ve outlined a real story.

Start by thinking about your novel as a STORY

Before you think about your novel’s first page, think about the novel, as a whole. What happens? What’s the story?

From How to Write a Novel Even if You’re a New Writer:

Now you have your title, it’s time to brainstorm a fantastically crazy situation.

Mysteries usually involve a crime of some sort, often murder. So, who’s your victim? Why was he/ she murdered?

How was he/ she murdered? Where was he/ she murdered?

At this stage, you don’t need a complete plot, you just need enough material to become enthusiastic and inspired.

Choose a genre (category) and dream up some situations which would be appropriate for the genre you’ve chosen.

Choose one situation.

2. Create your milestones: they’re the bones of your outline

After you’ve chosen a situation, list your milestones:

• The setup (at the 25 per cent point of the novel);

• The midpoint, where everything changes, at 50 per cent;

• The OOPS milestone: the kick in the pants. Think of it as a sharp jolt, or the dark moment. It occurs at the 80 per cent point.

Etc…

This article tells you about milestones; I don’t want to repeat the information here.

3. Choose your Point of View character: your novel starts when his life changes

Well done, new author! You’ve got the bare bones of a real story.

Next, choose your primary character, your Point of View (POV) person — the one through whose experiences you’ll tell your story.

For example, in a mystery, your POV character is usually the sleuth. In a romance, the female protagonist is your POV person.

You may even choose to create an “unreliable” main character. An unreliable POV character is common in psychological thrillers.

Plot out several scenes, new author, then start writing

Got your main story, and POV character? Excellent. Note down a couple of scenes in your outline, if you wish.

Alternatively, just start writing.

Your process will probably change with each novel. My goal is always to start writing as soon as I have an intriguing idea for a story, plus a main character, because I know that new ideas will develop while I write.

You may want to develop your outline further. Whatever you choose… onward. 🙂

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

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.

Write Fiction: 3 Tips To Kickstart Your Bestselling Novel Today

Write Fiction: 3 Tips To Kickstart Your Bestselling Novel Today

You want to write fiction — a bestselling novel. It’s your dream, but how do you get started? Your novel may turn out be a bestseller, or a dud, but you’ll never know until you complete it, and it’s published.

Of course, something is holding you back, otherwise you’d have started your novel the first time the thought occurred to you.

Here’s the thing. Writing fiction is simple.

Truly, it is, as long as you remember to daydream.

If you want to write fiction, start daydreaming stories

Consider that you’re already an expert on stories. You’ve read thousands of novels. (If you haven’t… start reading, today.) Stories are everywhere. Movies, TV, Netflix.

Story starters are everywhere too; just watch any reality show to get dozens. Choose someone you hate on a reality show, and daydream about them. Or choose someone who intrigues you in a coffee shop, and daydream about the kind of person they are.

If you can daydream, you can write fiction.

These tips will help you to write fiction.

1. Sit down somewhere: grab your computer, or a notepad

This tip is vital. Put your rear end in a chair — chances are, you’ve heard this suggestion before. Please — DO IT.

I like to start my novels and short stories with a pen and notepad, but use a computer if you’re more comfortable.

OK. Let’s start writing your novel.

Write:

  • About a movie you saw. Think about someone in the movie, and write a description of them. Let your mind wander… and imagine something horrible happening to that person. Write your imaginings down.
  • A list of words. Any words you like. Just write them down the page — aim for 20. Choose any five words from your list, and use them in a paragraph. Close your eyes, and daydream. Keep writing.
  • A description of an acquaintance — someone at work, or a neighbor. Write about this person’s biggest secret. It’s a huge secret, a secret that they would literally kill to keep.

See what you did there? You were writing.

Anyone can write fiction, but don’t say to yourself: I’m writing a novel. That’s fatal. You’ll immediately become self-conscious, and your fears will crowd in.

Just start writing, without expectations of anything.

You’ll be surprised at the result.

2. Build a treasury of ideas to help you to write fiction

We read fiction for an emotional experience. Before bedtime tonight, you can pick up your Kindle, or a paperback novel, and you can immerse yourself in someone else’s world.

You might become:

  • A gladiator in ancient rome;
  • A submarine mariner in a nuclear submarine;
  • An astronaut, setting foot on Mars for the very first time.

To write fiction, you need a treasury of ideas. Each of these ideas must have emotional resonance for you — that’s essential. Something about an idea intrigues you, and before you know it, you’re daydreaming…

Pay close attention to how you feel. Most people avoid their emotions, and that’s sad. If you’re doing this, keep a gratitude journal, so that you can start familiarizing yourself with your emotions.

Ideas are everywhere:

  • Look out the window. What do you see?
  • Read the news. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has made the news;
  • Listen to people. Most people like to gossip. Squirrel away the stories they tell you.

Write down your ideas, just a sentence or three, in an idea notebook.

3. WRITE fiction every day: start by creating characters

Remember: avoid saying — to yourself and others — I am writing a novel. Tempting yes, but it might be fatal too.

To write a novel, you need:

  • Characters
  • Those characters do things, because they MUST and that creates…
  • A plot.

Every short story or novel begins with a character who has a huge problem. He can’t avoid the problem.

So, start writing about a character who has a problem.

Then create another character with a problem.

And another…

See? You already know how to write fiction.

Get started.

The Journaling Habit: Achieve Your Goals And Change Your Life In Just Ten Minutes A Day

The Journaling Habit: Achieve Your Goals And Change Your Life In Just Ten Minutes A Day

eBook: $5.99

Do you love your life?

If you don't ADORE your life, you can change it — more easily than you can imagine.

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

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.

Ultra-Simple Plotting For Pantsers: Focus On 3 Steps

Ultra-Simple Plotting For Pantsers: Focus On 3 Steps

Do you HATE plotting? Many authors do. Others are convinced that they “can’t plot.” Either way, these non-plotting, outline-averse authors are pantsers: authors who write by the seat of their pants.

Plot? Who needs to plot, or outline? Well… maybe you, even if you are a pantser, especially if you habitually start novels you never finish.

Ultra-simple plotting with three steps to success

Last year’s classes on plotting were fun. Amazingly all the pantsers discovered that yes indeed, they could plot, in a fun, minimalist kind of way.

We discovered a fun new way of plotting: I call it the “open the door” method. With this method, you’ve got a clear visual of your plot. It helps.

Look at your plot like this:

  • You’re standing in front of a closed door. Look around… when you open the door, you’ve done the setup of your novel;
  • Next, explore the darkness. Careful — don’t stub your toe!
  • You reach another door. Open it gently (you’ll need to fight to open this door.) Then SLAM the door, and step away.

This method is fun, and helps you to structure your novel.

1. Entry: open the door with the setup

You know that the first 25% or so of your novel is the setup. You get to know the main characters. If you’re writing a mystery, the detective goes to the crime scene, and we learn a little about his (messed up, always) home life.

The setup ends when you open the door. In the Hero’s Journey, the Quest/ Adventure begins.

Getting back to our mystery novel, our detective tries to get someone else to take the case, and fails. He’s stuck with it. Moreover, if he doesn’t solve the case, the results will be dire. The setup ends/ he opens the door when he sets off to hunt for clues and question suspects.

2. Walk around in the dark: nasty surprises

The “walk around around in the dark” phase is the long stretch of the novel from the 25% point (end of the setup) to the roughly 80% point, which is the Dark Moment/ All is Lost/ Ordeal in the Hero’s Journey.

I love the Dark Moment. Prepare for the Dark Moment (80%) as soon as you open the door and start exploring. However, there’s a long stretch between 25% and 80%: this long stretch is often called the “saggy middle.” Your sole aim is to stop the middle sagging. 🙂

Imagine you’re walking around in the dark. Do you:

  • Find a torch?
  • Tumble off a cliff?
  • Meet someone threatening, who injures you?

Pantsers love the idea of walking around in the dark, because they know that the midpoint’s coming up.

At the midpoint — the 50% point of the novel — there’s a BIG change. In our mystery novel, the detective gets fired, and it’s his own fault. He faces his demons. Often, he has a drinking problem, or a drug problem, and he knows he has to overcome this.

In a romance, the hero and heroine make love at the midpoint.

3. Open the door gently, then SLAM it — and step away

As we’ve said, at the 80% point it’s the Dark Moment, or the All is Lost Moment. You’re heading for another door, which is the Climax; the Big Fight at around the 95% point.

At the Dark Moment, your hero loses big: it’s his fault. His negative attribute (carelessness, bad temper, dislike of authority) or whatever it is, means that he knows that there is no way he can win.

Of course he does win… 🙂 However, at this stage, it looks as if he won’t. After the Dark Moment, the hero pulls himself together, and decides that he will win, or die trying.

And it’s onward to…

The Climax: the big fight, or reveal, before your novel is DONE

In a mystery novel, at the Climax, the detective discovers the killer, and captures him. Or, if you’re writing a cozy, your Miss Marples character calls all the suspects into the library, so that she can reveal the killer.

The Open the Door Method helps you to visualize your plotting journey

Students who are pantsers enjoy this method of plotting, because it’s visual. You know where you should be at the 25% point for example: you know that your setup should be done by now.

Give this plotting method a try. It’s sufficiently freestyle to please most pantsers. Have fun with it. 🙂

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

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.