I’d heard about ilys, this amazing online program that lets you only see one letter at a time of the words you’re typing. You can’t see what you’ve already said, which helps you focus instead on what you’re going to say. This puts you in the flow. It lets your creativity jump ahead of your internal editor and crank out the words without worrying about typos and spelling errors. All you see as you write is the last letter you typed...
After a painstaking process of planning, writing, and editing your work, it’s time to consider publishing it. For most writers, this is the most exciting and fear-inspiring task (possibly a greater heart-stopping experience than editing alone). Your work will be on display for public consumption, and you want to ensure it’s the best work possible. If you’ve decided to join the ranks of the intrepid self-published authors, then you have one—and only one—person you can rely on: yourself. Back before we tech-savvy geeky writers existed, self-publishing was considered vain and a bit silly, and your work wasn’t taken seriously. David Wong, with his novel, *John Dies at the End*, broke that stereotype of the self-published novelist, and here we are. Now, traditional publishers are nervous (and rightly so) due to the wonderful world of technology.
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.
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.
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.
As a writer, I’d heard about Scrivener from many of my peers, but for whatever reason (pure obstinance, probably), I stuck with my old word processing program. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I finally acquiesced and purchased Scrivener. I haven’t looked back! If you’ve ever set up a binder to try to organize the various plans and ideas for your novel—or even just articles—you probably had sections to hold your character sketches, setting ideas, plot outline, and research. You may have had separate sections to contain each of your scenes and chapters. You might even have had a section that contained nothing but pictures clipped from magazines that sparked your imagination.
We know that ProWritingAid users like a bit of writing technology, so this month we begin a new series that looks at some of the best writing platforms out there. With so many options, and more being developed every day, how do you know which one is right for you. We sent one of our favourite freelancers, Kathy Edens, out to give them all a test run and report back. This month, she looks at Ulysses. Scrivener, ILYS and The Novel Factory will also be reviewed over the next couple months.
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.
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.
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.