Fiction writers don't start from scratch. They can utilize existing character and story archetypes, personality and emotional types, and the goals and the fears of each type. Combining them in a strong storyline is almost a guarantee for creating best-selling works.
Let’s take a look at the four types of stories that Orson Scott Card says comprises every novel. He uses the acronym "MICE", which stands for milieu, idea, character, event. Within this framework, Card argues something deeply contoversial: not all novels require in-depth characterization.
Shifting back and forth in time creates suspense. Your readers can unravel the past and understand the ramifications in the present a little at a time. It creates a tension that makes your books hard to put down.
What do we love so much about Elizabeth Bennet? She's strong, and she's feisty. Just because she's expected to act a certain way doesn't mean she'll bend her convictions and change her behavior. She's real, right?
Here at ProWritingAid, we're geekily interested in writing tech, almost obsessively. And in honor of the upcoming NaNoWriMo, we thought we'd do a roundup of the apps we've reviewed over the years. Links to our full reviews are throughout.
Are you trying to fit into a genre or sub-genre because it's popular right now? That's like trying to fit into a political party when your philosophy is somewhere in the middle. It's hard to find the right fit in either party, right? Maybe it's time you created your own sub-genre or genre. Look at what *Bridget Jones's Diary* did for chick lit. And what *The Hunger Games* did for YA dystopian. And I'm still not sure how to categorize Jodi Picoult's novels. If you look up the genres of her books, you'll find "Genre: Fiction + Literature; Sub-Genre: Literary or Contemporary." Huh? Nonetheless, she's created her own space on the best seller list.
Are you ready to create a strong, thorough outline for your novel? Brilliant! From September to November this year, ProWritingAid will be paying for its community to have **FREE access for 30 days** to Beemgee's world-class novel-outlining software. Whether you are preparing for NaNoWriMo or just ready to finally write that book, this 30-day challenge is crucial for getting you to the finish line.
Are we hard-wired to seek symbolism in everything from our literature to our everyday life? Spirituality is rife with symbolism, advertisers use symbols to sell their products, and we interpret a smile from someone as a symbol of friendship. Symbolism in literature uses an object or a word to represent something abstract in your work. A person, an action, a place, a single word, or an object can have symbolic meaning. Symbolism, done well, allows you to hint at a certain mood or emotion instead of showing it.
Your antagonist can make the difference between a ho-hum novel and a break-out one. A fully realized villain is someone who shows us parts of ourselves in his or her makeup. If you can connect in some human way with the antagonist, it's going to bring up all kinds of tension for readers.
I recently came across a book by James Scott Bell that lays out an interesting premise about something he calls the 'mirror moment'. Bell's theory is that there is a single moment in the middle of the story where the main character takes a "long, hard look at himself (as in a mirror). He asks, Who am I? What have I become? Who am I supposed to be?" Bell says if you can nail that moment, everything that comes before and after it will have more depth and resonance.
When you’re starting a new story, determining POV is a very important choice. Writing from multiple POVs can be frustrating and confusing for readers if it’s not handled well, so you need to have a very good reason for using multiple POVs in your story. That said, here are a few tips on how to craft a story using multiple POVs:
Have you ever been so engrossed in a book that if the ending isn't strong and doesn't resolve all the plot threads, you're disappointed in the whole book? I once read a novel with a deeply engaging main character I really connected with. She struggled and overcame and struggled and overcame. And at the very end of the book, the author killed her. WHAT? It's the only time I've ever thrown a book. And I refused to read anything more by that author. You know how important it is to hook your reader from the very beginning. It's why you start in the middle of the action, plunging your reader right in so they get caught up in the excitement. Your ending is as important…if not more.
Mind maps have been a useful tool for creative folks to brainstorm for quite a while. Remember the old days when you’d draw a circle in the middle of a piece of paper and draw lines from there to connect your thoughts? It’s much easier today. Brainstorming is a huge part of preparing for any writing project. Mind maps help you capture your creativity in a right-brained manner, by graphically displaying the connections between ideas. If you’re trying to outline a novel (left-brained) and it’s just getting messy, consider trying a mind map first to let the ideas flow naturally. With a mind map in front of you, ideas will spark and you’ll see connections where you hadn’t before. It’s also a great tool for generating new ideas, like scenes for your story or character traits for each character.
Chefs around the world don’t merely copy the recipes of other great chefs. Instead, they dissect the completed dish, looking for ways to improve it and make it their own. In the same sense, writers shouldn’t copy the masters. We’re not saying don’t learn from the masters, but rather dissect their work and see what makes it great.
If you haven’t read *The Martian*, it’s 369 pages of full-on tension. Mark Watney, the main character, faces one set-back after another as he’s fighting for his life on Mars. The stakes are pretty high; if he doesn’t get off Mars soon, he’ll die. Weir is a master at creating tension. Just when things are finally going right for Watney, Weir pulls the rug out from under his feet. We watch as Watney perseveres through untenable disasters that would crush the rest of us. Weir keeps readers asking throughout the story, “How’s he going to get out of this one?”