Articles about writing fiction
It’s time to burst your bubble. Sorry! The typical paperback novel is between 80,000 and 100,000 words long. Yes, you completed 50,000 words, and that’s an amazing achievement in 30 days. But 50,000 words does not a novel make.
The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that it releases you from worrying about what you’re writing, trying to make it perfect, and instead you just focus on getting words down on the page. And that is a serious accomplishment: 50,000 words in 30 days. NaNoWriMo hopefully taught you that when you’re not seeking perfection, you can get an amazing amount of words out instead of staring at a blank page.
So, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you’ve likely got more work ahead on that novel of yours. Here's what you need to know...Read More »
We have just released the new (and much improved) ProWritingAid editing tool and we wanted to tell you a bit more about one new feature that we are particularly excited about.
What is it? A Summary Report is an all-in-one look at the statistics in your writing. Not just the basics like word count, sentences, and paragraphs, but it also points out the key actions you need to take to strengthen your writing.Read More »
Foreshadowing allows you to plant clues, hint at what’s to come, build the tension, or even place a red herring in your reader’s path.
You can use foreshadowing in a variety of ways. The resulting action can be immediate or delayed. You can use dialogue or narrative to set the scene, and you can foreshadow a symbolic event or an ethical dilemma. You can use direct or indirect foreshadowing, and it can even be true or false.
Foreshadowing can feed the tension of a scene. Who doesn’t know the famous shower scene in the movie Psycho? Right before the character Marion Crane pulls up to the Bates Motel, her windshield wipers are slashing through the rain, foreshadowing what awaits her in the shower scene.Read More »
A flashback is a scene you use in your current narrative to show something that happened in the past. The two key differentiators are: 1) it must be a scene (as opposed to narration about an event), and 2) it’s past news.
Flashbacks are great for building three-dimensional characters because readers gains insight on how a character’s thoughts, feelings, and morals were formed by important events. They’re also useful for dropping hints about what happened to lead your main character to the current point in time. They help your readers understand and care deeply about your characters and what happens to them.Read More »
The newest version of ProWritingAid comes with some shiny new features to check out including a Word Explorer, summary reports, easier navigation, contextual thesaurus, detailed explanations and more. Take it for a spin now.Read More »
As someone who lives and runs a business in the UK and has travelled extensively in the US, I can tell you from first-hand experience that there’s a world of difference between the way Americans and Britons do things.
And I’m not just talking about the fact that we drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road (though, you know, obviously remember that if you decide to visit).
There’s the whole ‘s’ versus ‘z’ argument, the fact that we prefer spelling colour with a ‘u’ and grey with an ‘e’. And of course, let’s not forget about our penchant for the imperial system.
Grammar and measurements aside though, when it comes to marketing across the pond the differences are both vast and nuanced. We’re all speaking English, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same language.Read More »
Pacing your story is like using the throttle to give an engine more gas. With more throttle, the engine revs up and speed increases. Less throttle slows you down so you can see the passing scenery.
Controlling the pacing of your story is like maneuvering through city streets, main thoroughfares, and high-speed highways. You need different speeds to maintain control of your vehicle in each situation.Read More »
The term “literary device” refers to some common techniques that writers use to add meaning to their writing and get their message across more poignantly. When mastered, literary devices can help your reader interpret your scenes and understand your ideas with greater depth.
There are hundreds of literary devices to choose from, but let’s talk about some of the ones that will add layers to your writing.Read More »
We love technology at ProWritingAid and how it helps writers improve. Over the past few months, we’ve been checking out some of the best writing technology out there. We've already reviewed Scrivener, The Novel Factory, Ulysses, and ILYS, this month we look at a new app called Rough Draft.Read More »
Very occasionally some exceptional writers can get away with shifting Point of View (POV) between two characters within the same sentence. Most of us, however, should avoid this kind of head-hopping.
Where Faulkner and Joyce are masters at POV shifting (and they make it seem so effortless), here are a few rules the rest of us should follow when shifting between characters.Read More »
Inner dialogue is an excellent way to give your readers a peek inside the heart and mind of your characters. Readers can’t get this depth of character strictly from the actions you include in your story. You should give them inner thoughts to create 3-D characters with which your readers will fall in love.
The bad news is that there is no hard and fast rule about formatting inner dialogue. Depending on which author, editor, or publisher you talk to, there are as many ways to handle inner dialogue as there are people writing it.Read More »
Writing narrative essays, short stories and other creative texts is a meandering path. Creative writing skills do not appear out of nowhere, they require determination and effort. To master them, you need to work not only hard, but also smart.
Creativity is a tricky business. Your notebook is a great place to apply your inspiration, test your skills and boost your energy – or to fail. And this is how you evolve. Failures and mistakes provide valuable lessons. However, to progress faster and to make your creative juices flow better, we have collected some practical and useful resources that will improve your skills. Let’s get started.Read More »
So you are ready to write your novel. Excellent. Are you prepared? The last thing you want when you sit down to write your first draft is to lose momentum. Have you figured out the key traits of your characters so that you know how they will act (and react) in each scene? Have you thought through the climax of your narrative so that you can lay all the groundwork to get there? Have you researched the setting of your story so you can make it feel authentic?
Use this guide before you start writing to work out your narrative arc, plan out your key plot points, flesh out your characters, and begin to build your world. Then, when you begin your writing journey, you will have a map to follow along the way.Read More »
In this post, Kathy Edens introduces us to six of the most popular novel-writing methods out there: 1) The Snowflake Method, 2) The 30-Day Method, 3) The 5-Step Method, 4) The Write From The Middle Method, 5) The 5-Draft Method, 6) The Novel Factory Methods. The best method is the one that speaks to you. It’s the one that you’ll commit to and use to start writing your novel. But more importantly, it’s the one that will help see you through to the end.
Only you can decide what’s the best method for you because every writer is different with different needs and motivations. Choose what works best for you. Or experiment with different methods to find the one that helps you be your most productive ever.Read More »
Write first. Proofread in December.
It’s all about getting the words down on the page (or the computer screen). We published an article a couple of months ago about ilys, an online platform that only allows you to see the last letter you typed on the screen. You can’t go back and edit—you can only keep typing until you’ve hit your word goal for the day. While this platform may take the “just write, don’t edit” rule further than many writers are comfortable with, the idea remains the same whether you are writing in word, Scrivener or with a quill and ink. Just write.Read More »
Writing myths have been around as long as we’ve been writing—“real writers don’t get writer’s block”, “the tools maketh the story”, “writing is solitary”, and on and on—and they’re so common we often simply accept them as truth. But just how much weight do they really carry?
These are four of the most common writing myths. From tools to time to mindset, you might be surprised to find there’s less truth to them than you thought.Read More »
Danny Mancini is part of the team at Penguin Random House The Writers’ Academy. They excel at helping aspiring writers to hone their craft and sharpen up their writing technique. Whether you've been writing fiction for a long time or are completely new to the process, there are a number of common writing mistakes that all authors should be wary of.
So if you're struggling from a case of writer's block, or wondering what's blocking you on the path to publication, read on below to ensure that you're not making any of these fatal writing errors...Read More »
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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