Articles about story planning
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.Read More »
It was during a Guardian webchat last year that one of my favourite authors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, offered no-nonsense words of advice to an aspiring writer that rather stopped me in my tracks. The commenter had asked how he, a middle-aged white man, should go about writing the story of a young Bengali girl, who belonged to a culture that he readily admitted was alien to his own. Chimamanda invited him to re-examine his motivation to write about something so unfamiliar and seemed to endorse the age-old adage that you should write what you know.Read More »
Authors often discuss how reading improves your writing. However, there’s a big difference between passive and active reading, and if you’re serious about using published novels to improve your writing you must learn how to do the later.
When you read passively, you consuming a novel as entertainment – you’re trawling through without paying attention to detail. This lets you form a broad judgement (“this is great!”).
By contrast, active reading involves specific focus on an author’s craft. It is to passive reading what fly-fishing is to trawling. Active reading encourages your judgement to be precise (“this is great because the chapter endings created lots of suspense!”).Read More »
Theme is not your character arc, nor is it the plot or what happens to your character. It's actually the essence that ties those two together. If someone asks you "what is your book about?" you don't respond with scene-by-scene detail, or the changes your character goes through.
You think of your character and what essential thing she or he comes to understand through the course of the book.
If you can't do that, you don't have a firm grasp on your story's theme.Read More »
The founders of Writers Helping Writers have created an innovative platform for writers to boost their creativity and enhance their skill set: One Stop For Writers. The creators call it the "library," and it's complete with an "Information Desk," "Thesaurus," "The Stacks," and more.
Whether this is your first rodeo and you need some entry level writing help, or you're an old hand and just want a fun way to plan your novel, One Stop For Writers has scads of resources, templates, online tools, and lessons to help you write the best novel yet.
We're going to cover just the highlights because it can take you days of roaming around the "library" to see and experience everything.Read More »
Being a writer does not mean sitting and waiting for the inspiration. It's a life of hard work and perseverance, and each writer must find a way to keep their own inner flame burning.
Check out these 7 approaches from 7 authors, each of whom found their own methods that allowed them to keep producing amazing work.Read More »
We’re obviously mad for technology at ProWritingAid, and there are so many apps, gadgets, and programs out there to help you finish your novel or write content for clients.
Here, in the sixth post of our Writing App Reviews… series, Kathy Eden checks out minimalist writing platform Write!.Read More »
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?”Read More »
A word cloud is “an image composed of words used in a particular text or subject, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance.”
So, the more often a specific words appears in your text, the bigger and bolder it appears in your word cloud.
ProWritingAid has a Word Cloud Gallery that makes it easy to create word clouds based on the text you paste into the tool.Read More »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
If you’re old enough, you remember the days of pen and paper writing, or dragging out the typewriter or word processor to write your novel. Planning your novel typically involved a notebook (or ten) to outline your plot, structure, list of characters, list of places, and timelines. If those notebooks were lost, stolen, or worse, destroyed, all that original work was gone. Wiped out. Never to be seen again.
Luckily for all of us, with the advent of technology, we have one less headache when planning a novel and can avoid devastation should the worst happen. The savvy geek writer knows to use the wonderful world of the internet to plan out their novels.Read More »
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- How to Use Deus Ex Machina Like Stephen King
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