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Writing a Novel: Get Creative With Lists

Writing a Novel: Get Creative With Lists
Writing a novel? I wrote this post over a year ago. I’ve been sending the link to writers who need help, so let’s update the article for 2014.

If you’re disappointed with the sales of your Kindle novels, there’s usually just one answer — get more emotion into your books. Readers will forgive you just about anything, as long as they get an emotional payoff from your books.

When you write fiction, your aim is to give your readers an EMOTIONAL experience.

In order to do that, you must arouse the emotion in yourself, first. You can’t do that if you’re uptight, and are using your logical left brain. Relax, and free your creative, and emotional, right brain self.

Big tip: read in your chosen genre. Monitor your emotions as you read. Study how the author managed to arouse whatever emotion you’re feeling while you’re reading.

For example, let’s say you’re reading a horror novel. Chills go up your spine… You can’t turn the pages fast enough. You’re there, alone in the house, with the victim. You are the victim. Something woke you. You hear the stairs creak — someone’s coming up the stairs…

NOTHING is as important as arousing emotion in your reader.

Now let’s look at my favorite fiction-writing strategy: lists. Listing helps you to capture sensory details, which trigger emotion.

Generating Words (and Arousing Emotion) Using Lists

I start each writing session creating lists. Yes, each and every writing session. Lists help me to stay on track, meet my goals for a scene, and of course… arouse emotion.

Today, I’m working on a scene in which my lead character first meets the antagonist. So, I create a list: sunshine, bird song, clink of harness, creak of saddle leather, tired, hungry, sunburn, sound, fear, spooked horse…

Your lists help you to be in the novel, to hear the sounds, smell the scents, feel the emotions, see the sights. If you’re there, right in the action, using your senses, your reader will be there too. Your reader will feel what the characters are feeling, because you’ve triggered his imagination, and his emotions, by first triggering your own.

Here’s the thing — it doesn’t matter what you write on your lists. Their sole purpose is to kick your imagination into action. Your lists inspire you.

Aim for strong sensory details, and write them down. Then you can focus on the writing. If you don’t use lists, you’re trying to do too much — you’re trying to remember the scene’s details, and write at the same time.

If you need to stop writing, your lists give you an entree back into the scene, when you start working on it tomorrow.

Use lists. You’ll find that you’re more creative, and you can trigger your own emotions. When you feel the emotions, your readers will too.

 Other ways to use lists in fiction, and nonfiction

Lists are useful at all stages of your writing:

  • They help you to develop ideas;
  • They help to build strong characters;
  • They help you to KEEP WRITING, when you’re not in the mood to write;
  • They help you in revision…

Create a list for your current Work In Progress, right now.

Write Commercial Fiction

If you’re struggling with your writing, trading your hours for dollars, maybe it’s time you considered something different: write commercial fiction. Once written, your ebooks will sell for years…

Write Commercial Fiction

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Jumpstart Your Novel Today

Want to write a novel? Many writers are gearing up for NaNoWriMo on November 1, but you can start your novel at any time.

Just decide that that’s what you’ll do.

Yes, you can decide, without a single idea of HOW you’re going to do it, that you’ll start your novel today.

Here’s how.

Write a series of titles, suitable for your genre.

For example, if you’re writing historical romance, you could write:

Lady Annabelle and the Deadly Duke

The Enchanted Duchess

A Gentleman’s Temptation

And etc. — I could keep this up all day, and I’m sure you could too.

By the way, those three titles are off the top of my head — they’re not actual titles — at least I hope they aren’t.

Did you see what happened here?

Firstly, I chose a GENRE — a type of novel, historical romance, in this case.

Next, from my reading in the genre, I created some titles which are suitable for the genre.

If I were doing this for real, I’d brainstorm between 20 and 50 titles, before I chose one. (There are many reasons for doing this, I’ll go into them in a later post.)

The BEST title would jump out at me: I’d get an instant dose of inspiration, with an idea for the plot, the main characters, and some scenes.

Hey presto — within half an hour or less, I’d be well on the way to writing my novel.

Write within a genre, if you want to sell your novel

Here’s a tip about the novelist’s craft. Writing within a genre is important. When they want to buy a book, readers know what they want. They have favorite authors, and in some genres, like historical romance, readers will buy every book their favorite author releases.

Publishers release a certain number of genre novels each month. If they’re heavily represented in a genre, they may release five or more each month. They need authors, so genre publishers are always looking for new voices.

So — what are you waiting for? Start brainstorming your novel. 🙂

Apropos of NaNoWriMo, the wonderful Scrivener people have released a preview version of Scrivener 2, which will help you if you’re writing your novel this November.

Also apropos of NaNoWriMo, I wrote a series of NaNoWriMo Quick Start posts in my writing blog, starting in September 2006. Check the blog’s archives to find them — they’ll help you in your NaNoWriMo journey.

The Write A Book Collection — the ultimate toolbox for writing and selling your books

These days it’s crazy to spend years writing a book, without having any idea as to whether or not you can make money from it. If you want to write, you can – you have a global market, which is hungry for information and entertainment. And YOU can provide it… even if you’re a brand new author.

As you may know, I write and sell many writing guides. I also sell information products in many other areas than writing.

I want to show you how you can do the same, if you wish. Your dreams of writing a book can be the spark which changes your life.

I’ve collected everything I know about writing and selling your books into my brand new Write A Book Collection: it’s the ultimate toolbox for anyone who wants to write and sell books in 2010 and beyond.

Write a Book: Four Easy Ways to Stop Procrastinating

Are you writing a book? It can be a long journey from the first word to the last page. Some procrastination is natural; but too much can lead to you giving up and never completing the project.

I’ve been writing books since the late 1970s. I’d love to think that I had the creation process down pat, but each book is different. You’re always facing the blank page and occasionally, you run out of courage.

Here are four ways to stop procrastinating.

1. Eliminate Desperation: Relax, and Let Your Book Evolve

You can’t create when you’re tense. How desperate are you to complete your book? You may be extremely desperate if you’re under contract. This stress kills your creativity.

Your first step is to learn some relaxation techniques. You can find relaxation CDs and DVDs everywhere, and you can even download MP3s online.

Make daily relaxation your goal. When you stop being desperate, your creativity blooms.

2. Journal With a Purpose: Ask Yourself Questions

It’s very useful to journal about your book. Write down any and all questions you have about your book. Your questions may be related to the book’s content, to its promotion, or to other things which are going on in your life.

I like to journal early in the morning, answering a question I’ve asked myself the evening before. I’m amazed that this simple process works so well. Try it.

3. Create Space for Your Book: Sit Down to Write Every Day

Schedule your writing time every day, even if you only have 20 minutes.

Then, sit down at your desk at the appointed time. You don’t have to write, but you can’t do anything else either during this period. Disable your Internet connection — no checking email or Facebook.

4. Create a Goal You Believe in, With a Deadline

Goals without deadlines are just dreams. Create a deadline which is shorter than you think you can manage, because this will make you stretch as a writer.

Try these four simple tactics. You’ll be amazed that you write your book without procrastination.

The Write A Book Collection — the ultimate toolbox for writing and selling your books

These days it’s crazy to spend years writing a book, without having any idea as to whether or not you can make money from it. If you want to write, you can – you have a global market, which is hungry for information and entertainment. And YOU can provide it… even if you’re a brand new author.

As you may know, I write and sell many writing guides. I also sell information products in many other areas than writing.

I want to show you how you can do the same, if you wish. Your dreams of writing a book can be the spark which changes your life.

I’ve collected everything I know about writing and selling your books into my brand new Write A Book Collection: it’s the ultimate toolbox for anyone who wants to write and sell books in 2010 and beyond.