The Writing Process

How Not to Write a Novel

by Kathy Edens Aug 17, 2016

How Not to Write a Novel

Here at ProWritingAid we spend a lot of time looking at the things you should be doing to get your novel done. But what about the things you SHOULDN'T be doing?

In this essential post, Kathy Edens looks at five common things that will ensure that your novel never gets finished.

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How to Self-Publish Your Book: Advice from Iain Rob Wright

by Iain Rob Wright Aug 17, 2016

How to Self-Publish Your Book: Advice from Iain Rob Wright

Did you know that a large portion of ProWritingAid users are professional writers? Some are published authors, some run high-traffic blogs, others run successful content generation companies. We love it when they take the time to share what they have learned over the years. We hope that their insights and experience help you become the writer you want to be.

This month, we speak to self-published author, Iain Rob Wright. We connected with him after he created a ProWritingAid tutorial video earlier this year. Iain was one of the first to see the potential of the self-publishing movement and managed to ride the wave back in 2011. He is now a full-time writer with fourteen books under his belt.

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Create Compelling & Evocative Scenes

by Kathy Edens Jul 13, 2016

Create Compelling & Evocative Scenes

Scenes are the rising and falling action, and the soft moments in between, that move your story forward. They have a couple of basic purposes:

  • They establish time and place. They give the reader a marker on where and when things are happening.
  • They help develop character. Even if the scene is pure action, you learn about the character’s motivations by his or her decisions, choices, and actions.
  • They let characters set goals. Without goals to achieve, characters have no reason to act or emote. Readers want to know what’s at stake.
  • They allow the action to rise or fall. This movement is what carries your reader forward.
  • They let you crank up the conflict. Without conflict, you won’t have tension. And without tension, your story is boring.

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8 Ways to Make Your Story Boring

by Devlin Blake Jul 11, 2016

8 Ways to Make Your Story Boring

It’s the fear of every writer: writing a story your reader CAN put down. No writer wants to think their story is boring, but sometimes it is. Fortunately, there are only a few reasons stories are boring. Once you know what they are, you can make sure that your reader will keep reading.

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How to Create Striking Similes

by ProWritingAid Jun 20, 2016

How to Create Striking Similes

Similes can be found in all types of writing, from journalism to fiction to advertising. They’re creative ways to bring more attention and clarity to your meaning than straight narrative.

If you want to give your reader a thoughtful mental image while they’re reading, a simile is a great place to start. When you compare your main character to an animal or even an inanimate object like a giant sequoia, you’re exposing your reader to another way of looking at something that’s fresh and new.

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How to Create Fantastic Metaphors

by ProWritingAid May 25, 2016

How to Create Fantastic Metaphors

Aristotle said a metaphor was “the act of giving a thing a name that belongs to something else.” It allows you to pack a powerful punch in a few words. Your reader can take their full understanding of one thing, and apply it to another thing. By writing, “my cubicle is a prison,” your reader understands how you feel about your job. With just that one word that they know you feel trapped, unhappy, desolate.

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How to Use Subplots to Bring Your Whole Story Together

by Kathy Edens May 17, 2016

How to Use Subplots to Bring Your Whole Story Together

Just like real life, your characters will have more than one thing demanding their time and attention. Romances, family life, work concerns, health issues, friendships, etc. These additional plot lines are subplots that give your story depth and help keep it moving.

And as with your main plot, all subplots should follow a narrative arc of conflict, crisis, and resolution, usually wrapped up before the main plot’s climax.

Subplots can be what’s happening to secondary characters or an internal conflict your main character is facing in addition to the main conflict of your story. The key to an effective subplot is how you work it into the main plot.

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The Drafts Your Novel Needs (and Why You Probably Won't Use a Single Word of Your First Draft!)

by Katja L Kaine Apr 26, 2016

The Drafts Your Novel Needs (and Why You Probably Won't Use a Single Word of Your First Draft!)

The way I draft is an extension of the way I approach novel planning as a whole - which is to start with a simple concept and then add more and more detail until I have a fairly comprehensive outline.

With drafting that means starting with a rough outline and slowly fleshing it out and adding detail, tweaking and weaving until it is finished, polished prose. I try to approach each draft with different priorities in mind so I can focus on tackling particular elements of story-telling at each stage while setting aside other aspects for later so I don’t get bogged down trying to do too much at once.

In this article, I give details about the objective I assign to each draft, how I prepare for that draft (i.e. what I do in advance) and then the technique I use when actually writing it. I’ve also added a very rough guide to projected timescales and a bullet point summary of each stage.

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Map Out Your Character’s Transformation Using the 9 Enneagram “Levels of Development”

by Kathy Edens Apr 26, 2016

Map Out Your Character’s Transformation Using the 9 Enneagram “Levels of Development”

The Enneagram details 9 internal levels of developmentwhere your main character can find him or herself at any point in time. A person’s personality isn’t static, meaning that it fluctuates depending on whether they are under duress or some good fortune happens. Each of these 9 levels of development represents a major paradigm shift in awareness, meaning your main character changes—for better or worse.

Have a look at the different levels and see if you can place your main character(s) at the beginning of your story and where you want them to be at the end.

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4 Plot Pitfalls You Need to Avoid

by Kathy Edens Apr 26, 2016

4 Plot Pitfalls You Need to Avoid

We’re going to spend a little bit of time on plot this month—talking about what NOT to do.

Sometimes it’s hard to see plot problems while you’re writing and you don’t notice them until the end. This will send some writers into a downward spiral of negative self-talk. Others will white-knuckle their way through half-hearted revisions.

Here are a few common plot pitfalls and what you can do to rectify them.

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Are You Ready to Draft Your Plot?

by Kathy Edens Mar 22, 2016

Are You Ready to Draft Your Plot?

Plot is what happens to your main character (MC). Things happen and your MC has to deal with or resolve these issues: they receive a mysterious message, they come home to find their spouse in bed with someone else, their house burns down, etc. One thing happens, then another, then another, and each event leads your character further along your narrative arc toward the climax.

Plot is what gives us action. The narrative arc, working in tandem with the character arc, gives us the reaction.

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How to Create a Compelling Character Arc

by Kathy Edens Mar 21, 2016

How to Create a Compelling Character Arc

The standard definition of a character arc is how your main character changes over the course of your story.

The most common form of character arc is the Hero’s Journey. An ordinary person receives a call to adventure and, at first, he or she refuses that call. There’s usually a mentor who helps the hero accept or learn how to attempt the adventure. Think of Yoda in Star Wars. But there’s more out there than just the good guy or gal who’s transformed by the end of the story. Not all characters undergo some major transformation. In some cases, they will grow, but not transform.

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“Show. Don’t Tell.” What do they mean?

by ProWritingAid Mar 17, 2016

“Show. Don’t Tell.” What do they mean?

You’ve heard it before, most likely from a teacher, an editor, or your agent. But Anton Chekhov said it most eloquently:

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

It may seem apparent when Chekhov says it, but sometimes it’s hard to put that advice into practice. There are times when your reader needs to be “told” because brevity is called for. On the other hand, no one wants to read your brain dump on every little matter.

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FREE EBOOK: 20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers

by Lisa Lepki Mar 10, 2016

FREE EBOOK: 20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers

This practical guide contains 20 important writing tips and techniques from a wide range of professional writers. Some focus on the minutia of specific word selection; others focus on the more complex ideas like finding the right metaphor, policing your work for Purple Prose, or figuring out when it’s time to send it off to potential publishers.

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Are You a Couture Writer? Or a Word Spewer?

by Wynsum Wise Mar 07, 2016

Are You a Couture Writer?  Or a Word Spewer?

Words are the raw fabric: weave, knit, or bonded leather. We cut and combine words into phrases, and the phrases are the pieces that you stitch to reach your goal of the narrative package.

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Are You Ready to Draft Your Story Arc?

by Kathy Edens Feb 15, 2016

Are You Ready to Draft Your Story Arc?

Last month, we focused our articles on how to begin writing your novel in 2016, and we mentioned story arc in the article Start With Your Idea. In this month’s article, we’re going to delve a little deeper into creating your story arc.

The story arc (or sometimes called the narrative arc) is a more poetic way of saying that each story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end—or Act One, Act Two, and Act Three. This has been the guiding template of stories since the ancient Greeks started writing them, and holds true whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction.

Where authors fall apart in their story arc is that nothing much happens to the main character by the end of the book. He hasn’t been tested in some profound way.

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How to Create Your Story’s World

by Kathy Edens Feb 15, 2016

How to Create Your Story’s World

Your characters need a place for the story to unfold. It can’t happen in limbo. A movie or a play without a set and background would be hard to follow. It gives you the context in which the characters are placed in time and space and helps to connect your characters to your story.

Even if the world looks like your own, it’s still essential to build it for your reader. In many ways, the world functions similar to a character, especially for science fiction and fantasy. Think about a novel you’re currently reading. Can you picture his neighborhood or what his home looks like—majestic and imposing or squashed and run-down? Metropolitan, suburban or countryside? Do you have an image in your mind of her office, her car or her local bar? If you can visualise these things, the author has done a good job of setting up their world.

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Starting With Your Plot Idea

by Kathy Edens Jan 19, 2016

Starting With Your Plot Idea If writing a novel is one of your 2016 New Year’s resolutions, you’ll need to tune into ProWritingAid for the next several months. We’ll be discussing how to get started and what to focus on to keep you moving forward.

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What is POV? And How Do You Choose the Best POV for Your Story

by ProWritingAid Dec 11, 2015

What is POV? And How Do You Choose the Best POV for Your Story What is POV? It stands for Point of View, and it’s one of the most important aspects of your story that must be decided before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

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Planning Your Writing for 2016

by Kathy Edens Dec 08, 2015

Planning Your Writing for 2016 December is here already. That means it’s time to start planning for 2016. Whether you write novels, non-fiction books, articles, blog posts, or other content, the more you produce, the more money you’ll make. This makes planning a necessity if you want to maximize your time and your bottom line.

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