Tag Archives: Write a novel

3 Tips To Writing Page-Turning Fiction, Starting Today

3 Tips To Writing Page-Turning Fiction, Starting Today

Want to write page-turning fiction?

Start by writing in scenes.

Then focus on the emotions.

Fiction is all about emotion

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

Fiction is all about emotion, and that emotion has reasons, which derive from action. You’ll often see novels which critics hate on top of various bestseller lists. Remember the fuss about the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy? Critics hated the books. However, those books sold in their millions. Why? Simple. Emotion. The books gave readers an emotional experience: they entertained readers, so the novels sold — and sold some more.

They’ll go on selling, because readers will always want entertainment.

Let’s look at some tips to help you to write fiction that readers love.

1. Focus on emotion while you write

We talked about outlining for emotion here:

Consider the emotions you want your reader to feel. Keep reminding yourself of the emotions as you write – this will soon become automatic. I’ve found that if I’m getting bored as I write, it’s always because I’ve lost the emotional thread. Throw in more conflict. Make your characters fight for what they want.

2. Find the feeling in each scene

It’s vital that you write in scenes, so that you can focus on the emotions, because readers are reading for emotion. When you focus on each scene, you can ask yourself:

  • Who wants what, here, in this scene?
  • What are they feeling?
  • Why?
  • What changes in the scene?

3. Think about what your characters want, before writing a scene

From Fiction Writing Basics: Focus On EMOTION:

Your characters have GOALS. If they don’t have goals, you don’t have a story. They also need to be motivated to achieve their goals: no motivation, no story. And of course, your characters don’t get an easy ride. Their goals are hard to achieve.

This means that your novels and short stories need to be about something important — important, that is, to the characters — important enough to raise strong emotions.

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

Want to write better fiction? Know yourself emotionally

Writing fiction can be difficult, because (if you’re writing good fiction) you’re dealing with emotions, day after day. It’s wearing.

You may find yourself avoiding scenes which you know you need to write, because you don’t want to feel those emotions. That’s OK. Over time, you’ll become accustomed to manipulating readers’ emotions, and will understand your own emotions on a deeper level.

So you could say that writing fiction is therapeutic, and good for you. Remember to have fun with it. 🙂

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 →
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Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
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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.

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Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.

Writing Mystery Novels: 3 Dramatic Plotting Strategies

Writing Mystery Novels: 3 Dramatic Plotting Strategies

I’ve received some questions about writing mystery novels; specifically about plotting them. Over the years, I’ve developed my own little specialty in ghostwriting fiction for several clients, so this genre is near and dear to my heart.

Writing mysteries is huge fun, because you’re creating a puzzle for readers to solve, as well as developing characters who can be as weird as you can contrive them.

So, how do you get started writing a mystery?

Get started writing a mystery novel: start with the crime

The crime’s at the heart of your novel; without the crime, there’s no mystery.

Therefore, you have three major characters with whom to work. As we said in Writing A Mystery Novel: 3 Tips For Starting Your Bestseller:

A mystery’s three primary characters are: the victim, the murderer, and the sleuth.

New mystery authors spend a lot of time creating an unusual sleuth, especially in “cozy” mysteries. Over the past couple of decades in cozies, there’s been an abundance of hobbyist sleuths — the sleuth is a caterer, or a dog walker, or a quilter.

My students tie themselves into knots developing unusual sleuths. That’s OK, BUT if you settle on your sleuth before you’ve organized the victim and crime, it can lead to problems later.

My suggestion: start with the crime.

Why start with the victim and crime?

Several reasons:

  • It’s easier to plot your mystery;
  • There’s less chance you’ll write yourself into a corner;
  • You may write a page-turner which becomes a bestseller.

Let’s look at three plotting strategies which give you a head start on writing a dramatic mystery.

Ask yourself these questions.

1. Where does the crime take place?

The crime’s location/ setting offers the perfect opportunity to add drama to your mystery, so don’t waste it.

It’s a few years since I read John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers mystery, Bad Blood. I’m not likely to forget the novel because the murder occurs in a grain silo, a gruesome — and very unusual — setting.

2. Who discovers the crime?

The discovery of the crime gives you another opportunity for drama. Some authors do the “discovery” scenes brilliantly; P.D. James for one.

Please don’t skimp on this scene. It’s the heart of your novel, and sets up everything to come. Additionally, this scene may be the only time readers “meet” one of the main characters, the victim.

3. Whodunnit? Planting clues and red herrings

The charm of reading mystery novels is finding clues and red herrings. That’s the charm of writing mysteries too — planting the clues and red herrings.

When you start your mystery with plotting the crime, planting your clues becomes much easier.

A tip: keep track of your clues. It’s easy to lose track, and forget where you planted what, as well as who found a specific clue, and what effect it had.

Have fun writing your mystery… 🙂

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.

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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.

Writing Fiction: How Much Dialogue?

Writing Fiction: How Much Dialogue?

When you’re writing fiction, how much dialogue do you need? a student in a recent class asked.

Great question.

Dialogue happens in scenes, so pacing might be your first consideration. Scenes heavy in dialogue read quickly, so you might avoid writing three or more chatty scenes in a row.

(On the other hand, you might not — “how much dialogue?” is a stylistic choice. Your choice.)

Next, consider your genre.

A psychological thriller might have less dialogue than a romance novel, or a mystery, for example, because the psychological thriller is concerned with characters’ state of mind: their thoughts.

Most importantly however, think about your readers’ entertainment.

Entertainment trumps all other considerations.

When you’re writing fiction, you’re creating an entertaining experience

In revision, look at each scene of your novel. Is the scene entertaining? (Ask your beta readers.)

All scenes can be improved, so check:

  • Your transitions, into and out of each scene;
  • Scene setting: is it clear who the viewpoint character is, and why he’s there?
  • Have you given a nod to time and place? (Check your timeline for continuity);
  • Who “wins” the scene (does every character in the scene have a goal?)

I like writing dialogue, so if a scene’s flagging, I’ll kick it along by adding dialogue, or spicing up the dialogue — anything to add entertainment value.

In revision, look at each scene of your novel. Is the scene entertaining?

What’s your style?

How much dialogue? is always a matter of style. You’re the boss; it’s your style for that novel.

The first time I read Robert B. Parker’s Western novel Appaloosa, I was struck by the amount of dialogue: that’s Robert B. Parker’s style.

As we’ve said, novels with lots of dialogue read more quickly than novels with extensive narrative. Done well, these novels are page-turners. Unfortunately, if the dialogue’s done badly, readers won’t finish the novel.

Tips for better dialogue

Let’s look at some tips to help you to write better dialogue.

1. Focus solely on your dialogue for a scene first (this helps you to write more dramatically)

As I said in this article:

When I write scenes, I write the first sentence, and the last sentence of the scene. I also write down what effect I want from the scene.

When you write “business” — the action part of the scene, description and other narrative — with the dialogue, your dialogue can fade into the background. You pay less attention to it.

Try writing your dialogue first: your readers will pay more attention to it than to anything else in the scene, so you should too.

2. Avoid repetition: it waters down your dialogue

As I suggested in 3 Fiction Writing Tips: Editing For Story Flow:

…when you’re lightly editing for flow, look for any “as you know” constructions, such as: “As you know Bob, my wife Tiffany is an accountant.”

Basically, avoid repetition. Nuke repetitions when you find them.

If you’ve spent three paragraphs describing the sun setting when you open the scene, avoid the sunset as a topic in your dialogue.

3. Keep your dialogue in character

Not easy, but necessary.

From John Sandford’s Silken Prey:

After a couple minutes of silence, Virgil said to Lucas, “At least we know he’s not lying to us now.”

“How’s that?” Lucas asked.

“His lips aren’t moving…”

From Philippa Gregory’s The Queen’s Fool:

I showed him a sulky face. ‘I am commanded by the king, I am commanded by the Duke of Northumberland, I am commanded by his son Lord Robert Dudley, I am commanded by my father; you might as well join in. Every other man in London seems to think he can order me.’

In summary…

Generally speaking, novels today feature more dialogue than novels written even a decade ago. Always however, the amount of dialogue is up to you. Have fun. 🙂

Self-Publishing Strategy Made Easy: How To Market Your Books In 15 Minutes A Day

Self-Publishing Strategy Made Easy: How To Market Your Books In 15 Minutes A Day

eBook: $5.99

Do you enjoy writing and publishing your books, but find that marketing them is a challenge? You're not sure what works, so your efforts are muddled, half-hearted, and inconsistent.

What if you could market in just 15 minutes daily?

More info →
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