Articles about writing fiction
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
So many people – people that you might not even expect – have the beginning of a novel hidden somewhere in a drawer or closet. They sat down and started writing because they had something to say and a story to tell. The vast majority started out strong, writing pages and pages each week, and then slowly lost momentum as they encountered difficult passages or become distracted by another aspect of their lives. Their untold story remains untold, languishing for years in a forgotten file folder.Read More »
You wrote a novel! Well done. Reaching the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words in a month is an impressive feat. So, now you can just sit back, put up your feet and wait for the publishers to come knocking.Read More »
Dialogue can be about much more than just the words on the page. Good authors use it to build tension and subtly set the tone of each interaction. The words their characters choose say so much more than just their lexical meaning. So how you can use dialogue to create captivating characters and move your story forward? Here are 5 tricks: 1) Create power dynamicsRead More »
Ever see another writer crank out a great essay or compelling post in record time while you're there slaving over your desk for hours with only a few sentences to show for it? The secret to fast writing is preparation. It’s like training for a sport. When you see a sprinter break a record, you're only there for the few seconds of glory, but the runner has spent years in preparation for that moment. The same is true with fast writing. You can write fast too, but you’ll have to be disciplined and do the preparation necessary to finish quality work in record time.Read More »
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