Tag Archives: Write a novel

New Novelist: 4 Tips To Help You Avoid Fiction’s Common Pitfalls

New Novelist: 4 Tips To Help You Avoid Fiction’s Common Pitfalls

You’re a new novelist, writing your first book. Kudos to you. Yes, writing a novel can be intimidating, so avoid thinking about all the words you need to write.

Focus only on the words you’ll write today. Do that tomorrow as well — do it every day. As long as you’re moving forward, you’re making progress.

You’re a new novelist: map the terrain

We’ve talked about a novel’s milestones. Be aware that you must hit them:

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.

The climax: the BIG scene, in which the hero does battle for what he wants. Alternatively (in mysteries for example), the big reveal — the sleuth unmasks the killer. You should hit this at the 90 per cent point.

Read the complete article. It’s vital that you understand the terrain of your novel.

Now let’s look at the tips.

1. Keep going, even if you get a “better idea” for a new novel

Everyone gets ideas. Writing begets ideas.

Unfortunately an idea for a new novel can seem like a solution when you’ve hit a challenging scene, or think your novel’s running off the rails. It’s tempting to trash your current novel and begin something new.

Your idea is a mirage. Write it on a sticky note, and look at it tomorrow. It’s doubtful that it will look as wonderful tomorrow as it does today.

Ideas are nothing in themselves. No single idea can support a complete novel. Create a Collection for new ideas in your novel’s bullet journal, and get back to writing.

2. Recognize “the wall” and bulldoze through it

Every novel hits the wall sooner or later.

Suddenly you hate your novel. You want your characters dead. You’re certain that your plot is the biggest load of trash any author has ever tried to foist onto an unsuspecting public…

This feeling of hatred is another mirage. Just like the “better idea” mirage, it’s not real. My walls usually loom up at around 25,000 words. I’ve no idea why.

From Writing A Novel You Hate: 3 Tips To Help You To Keep Writing:

When you hit the wall, you’ll know it. It’s a deep, visceral dislike for your book. As we’ve said, it’s not a bad novel just because you hate it at this moment in time.

Keep writing, even if it takes you an hour to produce a paragraph. Read through what you’ve written, and write.

Avoid the thought that: “I just need to wait for inspiration”. Trust me, when you hit the wall, inspiration won’t come. You’ve got to go through it, so be brave. Grit your teeth if you must, but write anyway.

3. Make your fiction real by using your senses

Where are you?

Look around for a moment. Perhaps you’re in a coffee shop. What can you see, smell, hear, touch?

Practice grounding yourself in this way several times a day, so that you can do the same in your fiction. You make your fiction real by putting the reader into your novel, right into the action, via his senses.

4. Yes, you really do need a “story question”

I was chatting with a new novelist the other week. He’d lost faith in his story question, and want to know whether he really needed one? He’s writing a science fiction space opera, and wanted to get on with the next galactic battle in the novel.

Yes, you do need a story question. 🙂

No matter how episodic your tale, something keeps your main character going, and that’s the story question. You’ve planted this question (we hope) sometime in the setup phase — the first 25% of your novel.

Maybe your character’s beset by vampires, or accused of murder, or wants something desperately. Maybe it’s a coming of age story, and your character’s troubles and travails help him to grow up.

Your character has goals. Aways. He must achieve those goals or die, literally, or metaphorically.

My new novelist friend wasn’t aware of the suspense devices you can use to bring the story question alive — both for you, and for your readers.

In this article, I offered some suggestions for devices, like the ticking clock, you can use to create suspense in your fiction:

… let’s say you’re writing a thriller, and a child goes missing. Every minute counts — the longer a child remains missing the less chance there is that the child will be found alive.

Your main character is a detective. You could start your chapters: Missing Three Hours… Missing Five Hours, etc.

In the “missing child” story, your story question might not concern the child at all. Maybe your main character is a female detective. Everything’s gone wrong for her. She wants to quit. The story question, which you might never state explicitly, is: will she overcome all her challenges and stay in her job?

As long as you know what the story question is, you’re good. It’s common for the story question to change several times. When it does, go back and revise, so that the your question fits seamlessly into your novel.

Plan, Write, And Publish Serial Fiction In Four Weeks

Plan, Write, And Publish Serial Fiction In Four Weeks

eBook: $5.99

Why write serial fiction?

Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.

It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.

If you’re a new author, a serial serves to introduce you to readers. A reader may not be willing to commit to a novel by a new author, but be willing to read an episode of a serial.

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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 →
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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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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.

Newbie Novelist: 3 Tips To Ignite Your Imagination

Newbie Novelist: 3 Tips To Ignite Your Imagination

You’re a newbie novelist. Although you have lots of ideas, you’re uncertain about shaping those ideas into a book. When you try to write down what’s in your head, your words seem flat.

Alternatively, you’ve written many novel beginnings, then run out of steam. You don’t know why you lose inspiration — you fear that you’re not meant to be a novelist.

Newbie novelist: forget the words — imagine

When you’re new to writing fiction, you focus on the words. That’s understandable: you’re “writing”. You’re self-conscious and tense. It can take years to get over that feeling, and improve your fiction, if you’re not aware of what’s happening.

Here’s the best advice anyone can give you — and I wish that someone had shared it with me. It would have eliminated years of self-doubt and misery… Forget the words, focus ONLY on your imagination. Get what’s in your imagination, and what you’re feeling, onto the page/ computer screen.

Any words will do. You can tinker with the words later, if your grammar’s shaky — but don’t try to pretty up the words and “write.” You’re a storyteller, so tell stories.

Three tips to ignite your imagination

Waiting for your imagination to ignite, and nothing happens? 🙂

Over the years, many adults lose the imagination they had as children. Everyday life takes over. Give yourself permission to play with characters and stories.

These tips may help.

1. Your imagination doesn’t take orders, relax and day dream

Imagining your stories is similar to dreaming. As with your night dreams, you can’t order your subconscious to deliver the day dreams you want on cue.

Stress kills your imagination. Some authors rely on alcohol or mind altering substances so that they can relax. Avoid these dangerous crutches. Instead, try playing music, or take long baths in a candle-lit bathroom.

Over time, you’ll be able to switch on your imagination as if you’re switching on a light, but this ability takes time to develop.

2. Where’s the feeling? Go with the emotion

Stories which excite readers need to excite you first. Although your imagination won’t take orders from you, it will take them from your emotions.

Try thinking something like… “Now, Bethany tip-toes into the room, she’s uncertain about what she’ll find there. She’s angry with Thomas. We want something surprising, and a little creepy…”

Feel those emotions — the character’s anger. Then feel surprised — and so on. Your imagination will deliver.

Yes, I know, this seems weird. However, your creative self is your illogical self; it’s separate from your rational, everyday consciousness. Try this exercise.

3. Surprise yourself: boredom is deadly

When you’re writing, you’re focused on getting the writing session done. You have a deadline (even if it’s one you set), so you want to write that day’s words, and get on with the next project on your agenda.

This morning I wrote a scene in my current historical mystery, and realized that I was bored. Oops

Watch your own emotions. Treat boredom as a big RED flashing warning sign, and STOP. Initially, this is hard to do because you make excuses for your boredom, like: “I’m not in the mood to write today,” or “of course I’m stressed, because…” Yada, yada… You’re bored because you’ve switched off your imagination.

I went back to my process and rewrote the scene.

Keep writing, and imagining

Onward. Keep writing. Before you know it, your imagination will become your partner. Writing novels will be fun for you.

Serial Fiction Bonanza returns…

Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST

We’re thrilled that Serial Fiction Bonanza is available again. If serial fiction intrigues you, it’s a good investment in your writing.

Learn more here, and enroll now; you’ll download the entire class immediately, and you’ll work at your own pace.

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.

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Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

eBook: $5.99

In this book we'll aim to increase your creativity to unlock your imagination and build the writing career of your dreams.

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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 A Mystery Novel: 3 Tips For Starting Your Bestseller

Writing A Mystery Novel: 3 Tips For Starting Your Bestseller

You’re writing a mystery novel. Kudos to you. Mysteries are huge fun to write. They depend on skillful plotting however, so be mindful of the needs of your plot.

Essentially, mysteries depend on suspense, and your focus is on three characters: the victim, the murderer, and the sleuth.

A vital tip before we go on: focus on emotion. What are your characters feeling? What feelings do you hope to arouse in your readers?

Writing a mystery novel: the victim, the murderer and the sleuth

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

The victim won’t play an active role, but the novel depends on him, because the entire novel focuses on the crime, and the activities and motivations of your murderer and suspects.

Your sleuth is usually your viewpoint character. Be aware that in all novels, authors create two strands of a major character’s characterization:

  • Outer obstacles (in a mystery, your sleuth’s activities as he solves the crime);
  • Inner obstacles: your sleuth’s inner motivations — what personal flaws and failings must your sleuth overcome?

Your sleuth’s inner life can lift your mystery from straightforward genre potboiler status, into a more elevated “breakthrough” bestseller status. (We’ll discuss breakthrough novels in another article.)

Now let’s look at our tips.

1. Choose your genre and sub-genre with care: your novel’s sales depend on it

Before I start a new novel, I like to check Amazon. It’s important to understand Amazon’s current classifications (keep an eye on them, because they often change), so that your novel can be found by readers after you publish it.

Here’s Amazon’s best sellers in its top-level Mystery, Thriller & Suspense genre (category.) Click on one of the sub-genres in the left sidebar — and you’ll find more sub-genres.

This can get a little confusing. Some genres are more open to gaming than others, so you’ll find books where they obviously don’t belong. Please don’t try to game Amazon yourself, even though people do it. You want your book to sell for years, so choose your genres with care: you want to help readers, and guard against an Amazon purge if you try to be too clever.

When you click on the Mystery sub-genre, you’ll see another list of sub-sub-genres. Try clicking on one of these to explore the titles. For example, should you click on the Series link, you’ll find mysteries which are part of a series, as you’d expect.

My suggestion: make some notes about possible genres for your mystery, and compile a list of links to the sub-genres too, so that you can find your way back to them when you’re ready to publish.

Although you can only choose two categories for your novel, Amazon’s algorithm will add your novel to other genres and sub-genres. Not happy where Amazon’s placed you? Contact Amazon. Often, the kind people at Amazon KDP are happy to add your novel to any genres which you suggest would be appropriate.

2. Introduce your three primary characters as soon as you can

We said that in a mystery, your primary characters are the victim, the murderer, and the sleuth.

Therefore, many mysteries begin with an opening scene of the unfortunate victim’s ordinary life. He’s alive, and he’s about to meet his end.

Readers expect this type of opening. An episode of the Law & Order crime series for example always begins with the victim’s murder.

The victim is going about his or her day when the murderer (or the murderer’s agent) arrives, and the murder takes place.

Remember: feelings. Your novel’s opening is an opportunity to hook your readers, so don’t waste it. Your reader expects to be there, with the victim.

In some sub-genres, notably Suspense and Thrillers, you can go to town and indulge yourself in blood and gore. In others, like cozy mysteries, the murder is air-brushed. The murder happens, and it’s nasty, but readers read cozies for the mystery puzzle. They want to know whodunit; graphic details are unwelcome and unnecessary.

3. Focus on suspense in solving the mystery

On this blog, as well as on the Fab Freelance Writing Blog, I’ve talked about developing suspense in your novels. Suspense is important in all fiction, and in mysteries and thrillers, it’s essential.

It’s vital that you control what you tell your reader, and when. In our Write Fiction For Readers: 3 Tips For Narrative Drive post for example, we talked about controlling information, and about open loops:

Many novels use a rapid cutting technique of a series of cliffhangers — open loops. The author places a character in a tough spot, and leaves him there for a few scenes. When the author returns and rescues the character, he’s closing that loop, so he immediately opens another one.

Please be aware that readers read mysteries for the clues. So although you should be careful about what you tell readers, and when, you must play fair with them too.

Plant your clues and red herrings, and hide your clues as skillfully as possible… But don’t omit clues, or readers will hate you.

Writing a mystery novel is great fun, so happy writing — I’m looking forward to reading your next mystery. 🙂

124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today

124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today

eBook: $5.99

You want to write fiction. Perhaps you're a self-publishing author — or perhaps you're a ghostwriter, and want to offer fiction writing services to clients.

Whatever your needs and dreams, this book, 124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today, will help.

More info →
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
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.