Writing a novel recap

Blame it on summer…I am falling back on an old favorite that I pull out when I am temporarily at a loss about what to write about or when I simply don’t have the time to pen something new. So today I am doing a recap of some of my posts about writing a novel.

Starting a novel…

So you have decided to write a novel. Before you sits a blank screen. For some that brings excitement at the unlimited possibilities but for others it can be intimidating. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task at hand. (read more)

story ideas9 ways to brainstorm story ideas  

Many authors are teeming with story ideas, so they just need to pluck one and develop it into a novel. But newbies and even a few veteran authors sometimes falter when finding a story to write.

Here are nine ways to help you think of an idea for your next story. (read more)

Can your story idea be original? 

There are so many plots that have already been done that it sometimes is hard to come up with something new and unique. While yes, your story may be original with its characters, but many times the story itself has been told before. (read more)

Making sure your story idea is sound

You have a brilliant idea for a story. You can imagine the main character and even the opening scene…but when you sit down to write, you realize that is all you have. You don’t have a complete story with a structured plot and a satisfying ending. All you have is this great story idea. (read more)

Choosing the setting for your novel

irish wolfhound grey dayWhen many new authors begin writing, they focus on plot and character. While these are important, it is vital to consider the setting of your novel.

The setting is the location where the events of a scene take place. This could be in a room, a park, a car, a pool hall, the White House, in space, on another world or any of a thousand different places. (read more)

Deciding how to begin a scene in your novel 

The goal of the beginning of a scene is to draw the reader in. It must make the reader want to read more. A few months ago, I wrote about writing the opening scene of your novel. That crucial scene is often where readers decide if they like your book or not. (read more)

Finding the perfect ending to your scene 

Last week, I discussed ways in which to begin a scene in your novel. Alas, every scene also must end, and that is what we are going to focus on today.

Every scene has a beginning, middle and end. The ending moments complete the scene and should leave the reader wanting more. It should make them eager to begin the next scene. (read more)

Tips for writing a prologue (if you even need one) 

Where to begin your novel is always a daunting decision. You want to begin with an interesting scene to draw in your reader and set the stage for your story. But sometimes your reader might benefit from more information before they are introduced into the world you have created or so that they may understand the importance of what is happening. This is where a prologue can come into play. (read more)

Do you need an epilogue?

An epilogue is a section at the end of the book that wraps up the story. This is not to say you can’t just end your book with the final chapter.

However, sometimes, and I often see this in romance novels, the epilogue shows a snippet of what happened to the characters at a later point in their lives, whether it is several months, a year or perhaps even a number of years later. (read more)

Beginnings of a novel: Establishing Routine and the Inciting Incident

A good way to start your novel is to begin with a gripping scene that grabs the readers’ attention. But most of the time this gripping scene is probably not what is drawing your character to leave their “normal” life to partake in the adventure of your story. (read more)

Following a Story Arc

arcWhen you write a novel or even a short story, your storyline will follow an arc. Knowing and understating the nature of this arc can help you ensure that your story stays on course or let you know if the story is getting away from you. (read more)

Writing a Trilogy – Dos and Don’ts

I recently read a book that was supposed to be the first book in a trilogy. But I don’t think the author knows what a trilogy should be. It turned out to be more of a short story that suddenly stopped. To find out what happened, you needed to buy the next book. No thanks.

A trilogy is a series of three movies or books that are closely related and involve the same characters or themes. (read more)

Short Story, Novella, Novel – what’s the difference?

Many new authors ask, “How long should my story be?” The simple answer is as long as it takes to tell the story. (read more)

The importance of character flaws

No one wants to read about perfect characters that always smile, act polite and eat their vegetables. No one is perfect and readers don’t expect your characters to be perfect. In other words, everyone has flaws and so should your characters.

As humans, we are short tempered. We overeat when we are nervous. We leave our dirty clothes on the floor. We envy others. We are afraid of heights or the dark. There is no limit to the negative aspects of human behavior. People are greedy, selfish, arrogant, pessimistic, uneducated, abusive…the list can go on and on.

Simply put a character flaw is an imperfection, phobia or deficiency in your character. These flaws can affect your character’s actions and abilities. But this goes beyond just bad habits such as leaving dirty clothes on the floor or chewing with your mouth open. I am talking about the flaws in our character that are ingrained in our very being. These are the flaws that stay with us for our whole lives such a violent temper.

Since these flaws are deeply ingrained, don’t expect your character to overcome them. It is better to have them stay true to themselves. Does this mean they can’t overcome their flaws? No, it means you need a compelling reason for the change, just as there was a compelling reason for the original trait.

Now when creating your character, don’t just concentrate on developing a whole bunch of quirks – those minor flaws that don’t impact your story. Quirks, such as cracking your knuckles, a scar or a thick accent, can be good for differentiating your characters from other characters, but they won’t affect how the story is played out.

You want to focus on flaws that will affect how the character meets his needs. The opponent should “attack” the hero’s weakness, bringing out character flaws in the hero. That is the kind of tension you want for your character. You want your readers to wonder whether his flaws will outshine his virtues this time. You want the reader to wonder if this is the day your character’s flaws actually destroy him.

You don’t need to give your character a tortured past or give him a physical problem. You just need to make him human. Remember the best obstacles are those that are created by the character themselves and these start with character flaws.