Tag Archives: Write a novel

Plotting Problems? 3 Easy Fixes (They’re Fun)

Plotting Problems? 3 Easy Fixes (They’re Fun)

You’re writing a novel, and you decide that you’ve got plotting problems.

Perhaps you’re stuck, and have no idea what happens next. You may decide that your novel is trash. One of my students couldn’t get started on a new novel. She was bored with every idea she had.

Before you decide that your “plotting problems” are so severe that your novel can’t recover, take a moment to consider that your real problem is that you’re uninspired, so you’ve stopped generating ideas.

When my students complain about their plots, I reply: “chances are that you have idea problems. Let’s look for ways to generate more ideas, so that you can keep writing.”

Plotting problems are idea problems

When you’re inspired, you’re an idea machine. You churn out ideas effortlessly. Unfortunately, you’ll have many days when it seems that your muse and creativity have departed for parts unknown.

On those days, you need to kickstart your creativity manually, and develop ideas — the more ideas the better. Bonus points for crazy ideas.

One of my students said in complete frustration: “BUT ideas about what, exactly?”

Try these easy fixes; they’re fun, and easy.

1. Develop a subplot: money, sex, personal relationships, or…?

Money and sex make the world go round, and everyone has relationship problems of one kind or another. Use this knowledge to develop a subplot.

Every novel, no matter the genre, benefits from a subplot. Your subplot will tie into the novel, giving you more plot ideas, and enhancing your main characters’ characterizations.

2. Give your primary characters more problems: both internal, and external

When you have plotting problems, chances are that you’re not making the most of your characters’ problems.

While you’re alive, you have problems. So do your characters; they need both internal, as well as external problems.

Let’s say you’re writing a thriller. Your main character’s a resident doctor at a major hospital. She’s concerned that a new drug is killing patients.

What does she do now? You have no idea. So, let’s tie your plot to your main character.

Make a list of negative internal character traits of your doctor. Perhaps she’s paranoid, and obsessive. How does she show her paranoia, in a scene? How does she show her obsession? How do these traits affect her? Again, remember you need to show.

Her positive AND negative traits, will affect your plot — your plot is what your characters DO.

Next, make a list of external problems she has. Perhaps she’s sharing accommodation, and doesn’t like it. What about her family? What problems does she have with them?

Everyone has problems. Your characters’ problems equal PLOT.

By the time you’ve generated negative internal traits, as well as external problems for your character, you should have many ideas which will solve your plotting problems.

Key: create scenes, and keep writing.

3. Give your primary character a pet, a hobby, a passion, or a bad habit

Got a pet? Give your primary character one too. Or give him a hobby, or a passion. Perhaps he loves to cook.

Habits are plotting gold too.

Make a list of bad habits you can inflict on your primary character. Maybe he:

  • Smokes, and is perpetually trying to give it up (or maybe he’s unrepentant, and has no intention of quitting.) This habit leads to problems, like… (fill in the blank.)
  • Is always late. This habit masks a deeper problem, which is… (fill in the blank.)
  • Has the habit of interfering in the lives of his children. Or parents. Or wife. This leads to… (fill in the blank.)

Plotting problems are always idea problems

Make idea generation a habit. It’s a good habit, because no author can rely on inspiration. At times, inspiration will fail, and you’ll need to kickstart it.

Have fun.

Planning And Writing A Hot-Selling Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 7

Planning And Writing A Hot-Selling Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 7

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When you write in series, you're giving yourself more chances to sell with every novel you write.

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Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

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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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Writing A Novel? 3 Tips To Boost Your Creativity

Are you writing a novel? It may well be therapeutic. Over the past decades, studies have shown that both writing and art have therapeutic effects.

Writing a novel may be good for you

Writing has been used as a therapy to recover from emotional trauma as well as to aid physical healing.

For example, a JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) article from 1999 was titled: “Effects of writing about stressful experiences on symptom reduction in patients with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized trial.”

The study concluded that writing offered: “clinically relevant changes in health status at 4 months compared with those in the control group.”

Many writers and authors have suffered from ill health for much of their lives. As the saying goes… much of the world’s work is done by people who weren’t feeling well at the time.

Julius Caesar, for example, arguably the most effective military commander in history, suffered from epilepsy. Not only did he command his legions, and live in the field with his soldiers, Caesar was a prolific writer.

Caesar wrote well. Cicero, no slouch at writing either, wrote of Caesar’s Gallic War (a seven-volume work):

The Gallic War is splendid. It is bare, straight and handsome, stripped of rhetorical ornament like an athlete of his clothes. … There is nothing in a history more attractive than clean and lucid brevity.

Tip: if you’d like to be as prolific as Caesar and Cicero, consider dictating some of your writing, as these busy men did.

Tips to boost your creativity while you’re writing a novel

Want to boost your creativity? These tips may help.

1. Be guided by your intuition: if you’re ill, journaling can’t hurt, and may help you to heal

Do you feel you’d like to write about your illness? If so, do it, with this proviso: if you’re under the care of a medical professional, ask his or her advice about therapeutic writing before you start.

In the study referenced in the JAMA article above, they assigned patients to write about the most stressful event in their lives. They assigned the control group of patients to write about neutral topics.

2. Use journaling to lessen your stress

Unless you’re under the care of a doctor, please don’t write about events that are traumatic. However, you can write about stressful situations, if your intuition nudges you to do so.

Many years ago, when my children were small, I suffered from panic attacks. In those days, doctors were happy to medicate for any reason at all, so I ended up on medication for some months.

My intuition nudged me to write, so I wrote in my journal.

I used prompts:

  • What do I need to know today?
  • What can I learn from… (an event)?
  • What’s my best response to… (an event)?

When my medication ran out, I kept writing. Over time, my panic attacks occurred less often, and finally stopped.

3. Follow your intuition for ways to build your writing muscles

Is your intuition nudging you to doodle or paint? If so, consider taking an evening class. When speaking about creativity with writers, art journaling seems a popular activity. There’s a lot of satisfaction in splashing paint onto paper or canvas.

En Plein air (outdoor) painting is fun, and gets you out into the fresh air. Want company? Most towns, no matter how small, have an art society. Members take their paints with them on hikes, or have urban sketching days.

Watercolor painting has definitely enhanced my creativity. Not only is painting fun, it builds your writing muscles, because you become more observant. I often pause during my daily walk to marvel at the many colors in a cloudy sky, or at the variegated greens in trees.

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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Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

$4.99

What If You Were Twice As Successful, Or Even THREE Times More Successful Than You Are Today?

There's No Ceiling On A Writer's Income... You Just Need To Be Prolific.

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Write A Novel: How To Write What You Really Want To Write

Write A Novel: How To Write What You Really Want To Write

What if you want to write a novel, but you’re frightened of the struggle?

Several months ago I coached a novelist who was terrified of beginning another novel. She’s written three novels, and is pleased with the sales, but couldn’t face writing another.

“I want to write, but I can’t,” she said. “I’ve been putting off starting for six months. Maybe I should give up, and write a nonfiction book?”

Write a novel from your heart: what do you REALLY want to write?

Writers write. Writing may not always be comfortable, and at times you wish you were doing something else — anything else. Sooner or later however you realize that writing is just something you do, and you’re happier writing than not writing.

So, I asked the novelist to dig into her subconscious to discover what she really wanted to write. What if she kept a dream journal for a week?

Dream journal to access your creative self

Your creative self is part of you; a powerful part. If you’re not writing, chances are that your creative self is putting blocks in your way.

A dream journal is a simple way mine your subconscious mind, and uncover your creative blocks.

Funny story. A few years back a client commissioned me to create a plan for a series of horror novels, with the main characters, and the first three books in the series plotted out. He was targeting the Young Adult market.

Problem: generally speaking, I avoid horror stories. My favorite horror tale is Casting The Runes, by M.R. James.

So, I decided that I’d better leave generating ideas to my subconscious. I kept a journal beside my bed, and each night, I imagined myself waking up in the morning, with the perfect idea for a horror series.

This worked rather too well. (I’ve often thought that the subconscious mind has a sense of humor.) For the two months I that worked on the series, I’d wake up at least three times a week, shaking from a nightmare. It got so bad that I slept with the light on.

I’ve used dream journaling since, without any drama, so I’ve no idea why the nightmares occurred. 🙂

A dream journal exercise to help you to write a novel you really want to write

The dream journal exercise is simple. Before you go to sleep, write in your journal: “I need a plot for a story that I’d love to tell.”

When you wake up, scribble a sentence or two about any dreams you remember. Keep your notes brief, there’s no need to analyze your dreams, you’re just nudging your creative self.

If you wish, and if you enjoy drawing, draw or paint any images from a dream.

The blocked novelist I was coaching started writing a new novel three days after she began dream journaling, so that process worked for her. I chatted to her after Christmas, and she’s still using her dream journal. She says that the process has helped her in many areas of her life.

Resistance is common when you write a novel

“Resistance” is the feeling that you want to write, but you can’t. Unfortunately, resistance is common when you’re writing a novel.

Here’s the thing — it doesn’t matter why you’re resisting writing. You don’t need to know why. You just need a way to prime the pump of your creativity again. Try journaling, dream journaling, or even bullet journaling — the process may work for you too.

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.

More info →
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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

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