Tag Archives: writing process

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.

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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.

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Plot Your Novel: My Favorite Novel Writing Tools

Plot Your Novel: My Favorite Novel Writing Tools

If you’re an indie author, you’re always looking for writing tools which will help you to plan, plot, write, edit, and publish your books fast.

Every novelist is endlessly busy because today, productivity is vital. As the saying goes, you snooze, you lose.

Authors often tell me that their biggest challenge is getting organized. You can’t keep all the details of a novel in your head, and when you sit down to write, you want to get creative, and write.

So, let’s look at my favorite novel writing tools which help me to stay organized. You can use these tools for your other writing as well, of course.

Disclosure: you’ll find no affiliate links in this article, nor do I have any connection with the developers of any of the tools mentioned.

Writing tools for your novel

My favorite, indispensable writing tools include:

  • Scrivener (of course, always)
  • Trello (wonderful for plotting and blogging)
  • Evernote (my traveling filing cabinet)
  • iMindMap (currently my favorite mind mapping tool)

All four tools are available on your desktop machines (Windows and Mac), as well as on your devices.

Scrivener: bright and shiny and new — version 3 available for Mac, coming soon to Windows

Scrivener writing tool

I’ve been using Scrivener since 2005, when I made the switch from Windows to Macs. It’s helped me to become much more productive that I would have been without it.

Does it have a learning curve? Yes, and no. I’ve found that the learning curve arises when:

  • Writers try to get Scrivener to behave like MS Word;
  • Authors imagine that they need to “learn” the app before they can write with it.

Yes, Scrivener is powerful. And yes, you can make it behave like Word (sorta, kinda) but you don’t need to know everything there is to know about it, before you use it to write. Some features you may use occasionally, others you’ll never use.

For example, a few weeks ago, I started using Scrivener’s Scratch Pad — I thought it would help me to do something I wanted to do, and it did. Many Scrivener users never use Collections, but I rely on them totally.

Use Scrivener your way. Play with the app’s Tutorial (accessed via the Help menu) and write.

If you’ve never tried Scrivener to write a novel, and you know you need to get organized, give the app a try.

Hello Trello: lay your cards on the table

Trello writing tool

If you’re a visual person, you’ll love Trello. It’s like having endless boxes of digital index cards — which are much more powerful than paper cards.

I love Trello for plotting novels, and for writing blog posts. When I’m working with students, I create a new board for each course.

Evernote: take everything you need to write your novel with you

Evernote writing tool

I think of Evernote as my traveling office. I stuff anything I think I may need when I’m out and about into Evernote, and I can write — or give presentations — anywhere.

I’ve been using Evernote since 2009; it’s an essential tool to store and organize my research. It works brilliantly with iMindMap. I create lots of mind maps, and at the end of a writing session, I save each map as an image, then I drag the images into one Evernote note.

By flicking through the maps in the note, I can plot and write novels anywhere.

iMindMap: out in a new version, better than ever

mind mapping

While there are dozens of mind mapping programs, iMindmap has become my favorite over the past couple of years; it just keeps getting better.

Mind maps help me to think, plan, and plot. By the time I’ve completed a novel, I have one master mind map for the novel, and anywhere from ten to 20 “child” maps, to handle the various stages of plotting:

  • Set up — first 25%;
  • Preparing for the midpoint;
  • The midpoint;
  • The big twist at 80%;
  • The climax.

By looking at my mind map for any stage of the plotting process, I can see where I am at a glance: which scene, where the scene takes place, the time, the characters involved, and their conflict.

I also create mind maps for the main characters, and another mind map for secondary characters.

Good writing tools are essential: they make you a better writer

Think of writing a novel as if you’re building a house.

Not only do you have to create a blueprint for the structure, you also need to create the bricks, lay on the utilities, and decorate the house.

Whenever authors have problems with their novels, it’s usually because they’re trying to do several things at the same time. That doesn’t work. Use your writing tools. Do one thing at a time. Your creativity will thank you, and you’ll write more and better novels.

Have fun. 🙂

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.

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Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

eBook: $5.99
Author:
Series: Romance Writing, Book 1
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction

Love makes the world go round, and of all the genres in fiction, romance, with its many sub-genres, is the most popular.

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New Author: 4 Tips To Help You To Write Your Novel

New Author: 4 Tips To Help You To Write Your Novel

You’re a new author, and you want to write a novel — a good novel. Perhaps you’ve already started writing.

You’re excited, and nervous. So far you’ve managed to shout down all those voices in your head which tell you that writing a novel is hard, that you don’t know enough, that you don’t have time… and on, and on.

Take this to heart: baby steps.

New author: want to finish your novel? Take daily baby steps

Nothing blocks a new author as quickly as the knowledge that he’s “writing a book.” Avoid thinking that.

Here’s why. Even a short novel contains at least 40,000 words. At 250 words a page, that’s 160 pages, give or take. A year from now, after you’ve written a book (or two books, if you catch fire) 40,000 words may seem easy-peasy. A stroll in the park.

However, for a new author, when the realization hits that you’ve written five pages and have 155 more to write, the thought of writing all those pages makes you cringe.

Instead:

  • Tell yourself you’re creating a title for a book you may want to write one day, or not…
  • Describe a character, who might appear in your hypothetical book, one day;
  • Imagine your new character in his daily life. Close your eyes. Can you see him? What’s he doing? Write it down.

Think “baby steps” — and write every day. It took me many years to stop thinking about “writing a novel”, and chunk a novel down into simple and easy daily tasks. Baby steps help you avoid drama and procrastination, and make writing easier.

Here are some tips to help you to write those words with brio.

1. Have fun: if you don’t have fun, readers won’t either

Many years ago, when I was writing my first novel, I though that writing was hard. Nevertheless, I love to read, so I was convinced that I could write a novel.

It took a multi-book contract from a major publisher before I realized that:

  • If I wasn’t having fun, or was bored, it came out in the words, which meant red slashes from my editor’s pencil, and rewrites; so…
  • I decided to have fun — to entertain myself.

Not only did the writing flow more smoothly when I was writing to entertain myself, I got far fewer slashes from the editorial pencil.

Moreover, I was eager to get to my desk to write each day.

Have fun.

2. Experience your novel, so that readers will too

In a similar vein, think of your novel as a series of experiences. Readers read to experience your novel.

In my career as a ghostwriter, occasionally someone asks me to write a horror novel, or a serial killer thriller. I refuse, because I can’t read those genres with pleasure. Why would I want to put myself through those kinds of experiences?

You’re a new author, so you’re very focused on the words of your novel. Make it your goal to get beyond the words as soon as you can. Aim to put your readers right into your novel, seeing through your main character’s eyes, to experience what he experiences.

3. It’s all about the characters: what’s your main character’s flaw?

From Characters in Fiction: Love Me, Love My Flaw:

How many people do you know who are perfect? No one’s perfect. We all have flaws – many of them. So characters in fiction need flaws too. Creating a flaw which works can be a real challenge, especially if you’re new to writing fiction.

While all characters are based on aspects of their creator, if you’re a new writer you’ll create characters who are Mary Sues or Marty Stus: idealized people, representations of yourself, and your counterpart of the opposite sex.

To avoid this, focus on a character’s flaw.

Here’s my favorite list of character traits. Pick a flaw (one or two for each character in your novel) which you can SHOW readers.

4. Ramp up the tension (you may not be able to do this in your first draft)

As a new author, your primary goal is to keep readers reading.

Here’s how. Use open loops.

From Write Fiction For Readers: 3 Tips For Narrative Drive:

Open loops are psychological strategies used most often as copywriting tricks. They’re hooks and unanswered questions. You can and should use open loops right throughout your novel.

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.

As we’ve said, until you’re an experienced author, you’re unfamiliar with this strategy of writing to keep readers reading, so be happy to make this a goal when you write your second draft.

Also, in your reading, watch for open loops, and how authors use them.

And of course — have fun. 🙂

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.

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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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Buy from Scribd
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Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

eBook: $5.99
Author:
Genre: Writing

Today, the opportunities for writers have never been greater. Back in the day a writer who was making six-figures a year seemed a creature of myth. These days, highly successful writers are making six figures a month.

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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.