Tag Archives: novel

Writing A Novel and Finishing It

Writing A Novel and Finishing It

You’re writing a novel. Perhaps it’s the novel of your heart, the novel you’ve always wanted to write. Or perhaps you got all enthusiastic and wanted to join friends doing NaNoWriMo.

That first flush of enthusiasm — I’m writing a novel! — has long gone. It’s dawning on you that finishing a novel is a challenge. Anyone can start a novel. Finishing it is something else altogether, and it’s hard.

Get a Strategy: Sit and Stay

Leo Babauta at zenhabits has some excellent advice, because all writers face the same problem. They want to run away:

Whether I’m writing an article or a book chapter, creating something new is not easy. I open up a new document, and instantly want to go answer some emails or clean my kitchen or read that long article on magician Ricky Jay.

Don’t run. The feeling doesn’t mean anything — we all get it. You need a strategy to deal with it. Leo gives you some good advice.

Here’s what I do. I sit. That’s all. It’s what Leo advises too: “Sit there, and look inside yourself.” I sit, and just breathe for a few moments. Slowly, I get back to myself. I can hear birds outside my window. Maybe a car drives past. I get in touch with my hands, my feet. My breathing deepens.

Maybe an idea for the novel floats into my brain. If it does, I’m good. I start writing. Maybe no idea appears. If this happens, I reread the last two or three thousand words I wrote.

Then, right in the novel itself, I create an entry in a character journal. It can be a major character’s journal, or a minor one, it doesn’t matter. You may or may not use the journal entry in your novel.

Here’s how it helps. Dropping right into the middle of your story gives you perspective. You’re writing about real people (real to you, and your readers), and they have problems. You should feel your enthusiasm rekindling, and you’ll write easily for the rest of your writing session.

If you don’t want to write a character journal, try…

1. Getting Clear on What’s on Your Mind

Maybe you had a fight with your partner. Maybe your child has problems. Just grab a pencil and paper — or open a new computer file — and start writing. Start with these words: “here’s what’s on my mind. How do I write anyway?”

2. Killing Off a Character (or Characters)

This often works, because when you’re writing the first few chapters of your novel, you create characters with abandon. They seem necessary, at the time. However, these bit-players clutter up your novel, and you lose focus. Your subconscious mind is well aware of this. Your resistance is the early-warning siren.

Let’s say you’re writing a mystery. You’ve got a crime, and a sleuth. You created the sleuth’s family. He has a wife, and three teenagers. The wife has problems, the kids have problems. Before you know it, the crime’s left center stage, and you’re writing a family drama.

Make a note to yourself that you’ll trim his family down to size, and get back to the point of your novel — the sleuth solving the crime. You can delete scenes later, for now, keep writing. Refocus.

3. Writing a Later Scene You Really Want to Write

If you’ve been writing chronologically, look at your outline. If a scene jumps out at you, write that. There’s no rule which says you have to write a novel from beginning to end. You can jump around as much as you like.

I often do this, because it works. It’s always easier to write what you really want write. Trust yourself. Your subconscious mind is wise. You may find that once you’ve written what you want to write, the answers to the scenes you’re struggling with magically appear.

So, there you have it — some idea to ensure that you keep writing, when you want to run away. Remember: sit, and stay. Don’t run. 🙂

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How To Write Commercial Fiction With Hot Plots

The big secret of making money from your fiction is writing a lot. And publishing strategically and consistently. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program ensures that authors can make money from short stories, and all kinds of fiction. Moreover, whatever you’re publishing, you have a global audience.

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, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

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Write a Novel With 8-Hour Wins

Write a Novel With 8-Hour WinsYou want to write a novel, or you’re already writing a novel… Either way, you want to complete your novel. Not only do you want to complete it, you want to write a sizzling page-turner which has readers jumping onto Amazon to leave you 5-star reviews. (Yes I know… unlikely. But you can dream. :-))

You can do it in eight hour sessions, as we describe in 8-Hour Wins:

You want to write your novel as an 8-Hour Win. That’s impossible, isn’t it? Maybe not. Here’s all you need to do, if you can write 1,000 words in an hour — serialize your novel. Then write each episode as you would an 8-Hour Win.

In this case your 8 hours would become 10 or 20 hours or more, but that’s OK. “8-Hour Wins” is a framework you can use to write anything you choose — just create the project, and keep track of your time.

Does This Mean You Need to Sit Down for 8 Hours at a Time?

No. Here’s how 8-Hour Wins works:

  • Hour 1: get your idea
  • Hours 2 to 6: create!
  • Hour 7: edit your creation
  • Hour 8: sell it!

The framework exists so that you have a process, and a limit on your time. If you read my writing journal, you’ll notice that I schedule everything. And reschedule, because: Murphy’s Law.

Everything takes longer than you expect, and things go wrong. All the time. That’s perfectly OK. You just go to your schedule, and reschedule stuff. And yes, some nights I do end up working late because I have things I need to keep on track, but it’s all doable, as long as you have a framework.

Let’s say that you have just 30 minutes each work day to complete your novel. That’s 2.5 hours over the work week. If you can manage eight hours in week on your novel, you’d need to make up the 5.5 hours on the weekend. Let’s say that you manage three hours on Saturday, and 2.5 hours on Sunday… done. If you’re writing a novel, you’ll extend that process over several weeks.

Estimate how long it will take you. Writing and editing will take you longest. Getting an idea will take you no time at all – try using the story-starter concept here.

Can you use 8-Hour Wins to complete NaNoWriMo?

This year’s NaNoWriMo is almost upon us. Yes, you can use the process to get your novel written in a month. Keep the serial publication idea in mind. We talked about serial fiction strategies here, and said:

Each Episode Needs to Give Value: Create a Plot Arc, With Climax (Cliffhanger.)

Your challenge with serial fiction is to make each episode in the story satisfying. Yes, you want readers to read the whole thing. However, each episode has to deliver entertainment and value. So each episode has a throughline, with a setup, action, and climax.

The Magic Is You!

One student said the eight hour process was “magic.” There’s no magic. Just you, and a framework in which to work on your novel. As you start writing with the process, you’ll imagine that you have more time. Realistically, you don’t. But when you use the process, you feel as if you do.

Try it. More on 8-Hour Wins here.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Fiction: Fast-Start for Stories

Writing Fiction: Fast-Start for Stories

Writing fiction is huge fun. Getting started on a novel however can be a challenge. You want your story to be wonderful, and your story’s beginning to be irresistible. This means that you put huge pressure on yourself.

Take the pressure off. Look at it this way: it doesn’t matter where you start, you can always change it later. You almost certainly will change it later, so don’t sweat your story beginnings.

The easiest way ever to start your stories

Here’s the easiest way to start your stories, whether you’re starting a short story, or a novel.

Write a sentence. Kick the story off in any way you like. As I’ve mentioned in my writing journal, I’m writing an ebook of 25 short stories. I want to experiment with several different genres, a few of which I’ve never written in before.

I’m writing the stories in my “spare” time, so I don’t have time to mess around, dithering about HOW I will begin the story.

I just start, without any goal in mind, or an idea in my head. I write a sentence, or two.


Her first Christmas alone. Totally alone.

Devon hated her father.

Sheryl had no choice.

I wrote the above sentences off the top of my head, without thinking at all. The sentences have something in common; they arouse the reader’s curiosity, and my own. I have no idea where I’m headed, so I just keep going, accepting whatever pops into my head.

Story-starter exercise

Set a time for five minutes. Here’s a simple online timer. Write a list of story-starter sentences, as above. Just write your sentences down the page, one after the other. Write as many as you can in five minutes.

Now choose one sentence. Set your timer again, this time for 25 minutes. Close your eyes for a minute or two, with your story-starter in mind. Can you see an image? Whether you  can or not, start the timer. Now start writing, and keep writing. Don’t take your fingers from the keyboard.

Turn Your Story-Starter Into a Novel, or a Short Story

How did you do? You’ve now got at least one story character. Maybe you have three or more. It’s time to use the fiction writer’s favorite tool – “what if.”

Warning: you can keep writing if you don’t want to play “what if”, right this minute. If you’re writing a novel, keep going for 5,000 words. If you’re writing a short story, keep going for 1,000 words. NO MORE THAN THAT.

Here’s why you don’t just keep writing: you can end up with a horrible mess. This happens with pantsers who do NaNoWriMo. They tend to end up with messes – convoluted “novels” which are parts of novels, rather than a coherent story.

So, as soon as you can, play “what if”. Here’s a “what if” I could play with the Devon hated her father story starter.

  • What if Devon’s father is a ghost?
  • What if Devon lives in 1350, and her village is about to be engulfed by the plague?
  • What if Devon is an orphan?

Remember to carry on with your story-starter for 25 minutes or so, so that you have enough material to play what-if.

Here’s Neil Gaiman on what-if:

You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions. The most important of the questions is just, What if…?

When you ask yourself questions, you can start to build your story people into real people, and you can slowly develop a plot.

You Can Use Story-Starters Whenever You Like

You ca use story-starters anytime you like. Just write a sentence, and keep going for 25 minutes.

Let’s say your story is rolling right along. And then your inspiration fizzles. You’re tempted to tell yourself that you’re “not in the mood” to write, right now. STOP! Load up your timer, and write a story-starter. Keep going for 25 minutes.

Now ask yourself some “what if” questions.

Just like magic, you’ll find that you’re inspired again, and are keen to keep writing.

Writing fiction is fun. Story-starters are a wonderful tool. Try a story-starter session today.

Here’s the exercise in a graphic.

Start Your Novel Or Short Story In Just 30 Minutes With Our Story Starter Exercise

Start Your Novel Or Short Story In Just 30 Minutes With Our Story Starter Exercise

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Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

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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Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories


Want to write short stories? If you answered yes, that's excellent… Here's why. Today, you can make money writing short fiction.

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Updated: May 5, 2019