Articles about how to write a novel

What's the Difference Between Narrative and Exposition?

by ProWritingAid Sep 14, 2016

What's the Difference Between Narrative and Exposition?

Sometimes, narrative and exposition are used synonymously to explain parts of a novel that “narrate” information for the reader. They are, in fact, different devices used to give the reader information. Used appropriately, narrative and exposition affect the pacing of your story.

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Write What You Know? Think Bigger

by Kathy Edens Sep 07, 2016

Write What You Know? Think Bigger

When I decided I wanted to be a writer, the idea of “Write what you know” made me feel like a whole realm of literary possibility was off-limits to me. And yet, my own breadth of experience felt too small to contain a great story. I began to worry that my lack of experiences in life meant that I had nothing important to say. Seriously, who wants to read about my boring life?

I wish someone had explained that the concept of “Write what you know” is much bigger and more nuanced than that.

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What’s She Thinking? How to Use Inner Dialogue…

by ProWritingAid Aug 26, 2016

What’s She Thinking? How to Use Inner Dialogue…

Inner dialogue. Internal thought. Interior monologue. Internal speech. Whatever you call it, this internal thought process is as important as regular dialogue, character arc, and narrative arc in helping your reader understand your main character at an intimate level. It also serves to move your story forward and keep your readers deeply connected.

Unlike the one- or two-dimensional characters you see in movies and on television, when using inner dialogue in your narrative, it helps you present a much more nuanced and three-dimensional character. And since most stories are character driven, you really need to add that inner dialogue in.

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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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Writing App Reviews…The Novel Factory

by Kathy Edens Aug 17, 2016

Writing App Reviews…The Novel Factory

This month we look at The Novel Factory, a writing app that will appeal to all the planners out there.  

The app walks you through 16 highly-detailed steps that include: defining your basic premise; setting out your plot points; fleshing out your characters; building your world; generating scenes; weaving your plot details together; and so much more. It even takes you through the submission process. What makes this program so incredibly useful is that you learn about the process of writing a novel as you go.  

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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 Write Dialogue in a Narrative Paragraph

by ProWritingAid Jun 23, 2016

How to Write Dialogue in a Narrative Paragraph

The Chicago Manual of Style, putting dialogue in the middle of paragraphs depends on the context. As in the above example, if the dialogue is a natural continuation of the sentences that come before, it can be included in your paragraph. The major caveat is if someone new speaks after that, you start a new paragraph and indent it.

On the other hand, if the dialogue you’re writing departs from the sentences that come before it, you should start a new paragraph and indent the dialogue.

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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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What is Passive Voice and How Do I Make It Active?

by ProWritingAid Apr 22, 2016

What is Passive Voice and How Do I Make It Active?

Passive voice occurs when you take the object of your sentence—the part that the action happens to—and make it the subject of your sentence.

Here are some examples:

  • Passive: The flag was raised by the troops.

  • Active: The troops raised the flag.

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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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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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