Effective character development is not absolutely essential. If you read Greek mythology, those characters are minimally developed. We hardly know anything about them they. Don’t stand out as individuals. Someone can create a great story without working too much on exactly who their characters are and make them resemble as much as they can, real life, breathing, walking human beings.
But there is a great percentage of a potential audience that is interested in what is called three-dimensional characters. So there is a character that is described as flat, or there is a character that is described as three-dimensional, and we could spend a lifetime studying psychology – psychology, psychiatry and sociology, writing down everything that we overhear people say, looking at them, trying to figure out why they do what they do, and it’s a fascinating journey.
There is no end to that exploration and anyone who embarks on studying people, and who they are, and why their inner workings, and why they do what they do, will discover things that no one else has discovered. As writers improving our character portrayals, it is a fascinating journey. Put yourself in the place of the fiction writer: you’re sitting down, you’re making up a new character and you have your story, and before you is a character not developed at all.
My Favorite Technique for Fleshing-Out a Character – Creative Writing
You have a name. You know what they’re going to do in the story. What can you do to bring that character from flat to three dimensional, besides, you know, brainstorming on their history, their family, their economic situation, their class, how they’re raised, how much money they have and their general opinions about the world – brainstorming on all those kind of things.
Here is a technique that I find just works magic on developing a character. I have this written down and I have it by my monitor. It is the difference between how they intentionally present themselves and how others see them. I found that when working this out, it is very different for each character that I work on.
The reason I like using this technique is that it takes the vague problem of trying to flush out a three-dimensional character, to this puzzle that I can work out, and by working with this puzzle with each character, it really makes a lot of things fall into place. It flushes the character out and at the same time makes the character really fit in the story.
So I’ve learned when using this technique it is really helpful to decide ahead of time that we’re not we’re not going to stick with with the ideas that we brainstorm. Along these lines but they give us a stronger idea about who that character is. So if I try out the idea that the character dyes their hair, I may only be half into that idea but I’ll go ahead and brainstorm and write that down because it describes to me exactly what kind of character they are, in terms of how they would attempt to present themselves to others.
Here’s an example. I have a character who preys on other people, and not only that, her tactics, the way that that she does that, is to present herself as vulnerable. So the way that this describes is way that she intentionally presents herself. She presents herself as helpless but she wants to really make sure that others see her that way, and so she would present herself, make it much more obvious than most people would actually appear when they are in a situation where they’re helpless.
But they’re not intending to appear helpless, so this character will say and and do things that that are a little too obvious, or are a little, you know, for the characters in the story who read more into people, they definitely it would register with them. Maybe she’s just putting on an act. At the same time, it’s very important for her to get ready to to to take advantage of people in certain ways.
So I’m just going to make up some stuff, to give you an idea what I’m talking about, even though it isn’t what I’m actually doing with this character. She could have a gun hidden in her suitcase. The reader sees this but as you continue to present this character to the reader, there are, you know it, it seems like she sure does go out of her way to present herself as helpless, to a point where some of the readers will start to wonder about what her true intention is.
There’s a contradiction between those two. There’s a definite difference between these two. If you make a definite difference between how your character presents herself and who they actually are, making that difference distinct, there’s something about that that really appeals to the reader.
Exactly how you work out this formula really depends on the effect you want that character to have on the reader. In the example I gave I wanted to know if this is an antagonist, so I wanted to up the level of feeling of this character, you know, the potential harm to the protagonist. In real life we feel very engaged when we meet people and can notice the separation between the things they do to present themselves as a certain kind of person and we have evidence of who they really are.
The difference between these two compels us in society. This is one of those things that captures our attention and makes us interested in our socializing, and we can have the same effect with our characters.
In fiction creative choices, we can decide how artificial this presentation is or how authentic seeming it is. How obnoxious it is or how subtle it is. Everyone works on the social mask. Everyone develops their social identity that is kind of there on the surface of the deeper levels of who they are. There’s no escaping it and there’s nothing wrong about it either.
It’s just kind of another reality of being human. If you wear clothes, you’re putting on some kind of uniform. You’re putting on some kind of identity, and it it’s not a falsehood. You know, think about it. You know, if you’re going to go work in an office, you’ll put on office clothes. It’s a way of communicating with people, so that they know how to relate to you.
If you’re going to work in an art gallery, you’re going to wear clothes that are expressive, so that when you meet people, they get an idea about how are you, how they want to see, how you’re going to talk with them, what kind of things you and they are going to talk about, what kind of life you want to live, so there is a lot of necessity and sincerity in your your social mask.
But this is this is also something that plays into who we want to be and who we actually are, where we want to go, and and where we come from, and so this is one of those kernels of the human condition that can make for compelling characters.
As an exercise you can find one person each day or each week to journal about, and write down what are they intentionally doing, what are they consciously doing to present themselves in a certain way, and who is it that they want to define for the onlooker. Who they are, what title are they giving themselves, what what kind of character do they want to be treated as, and then from there creatively come up with things that are distinct that are definitely different.
If you’re ever concerned about your characters being too flat, try it with each of your characters. Only spend an hour on each character. Find your favorite character in your story and write down ‘how did they consciously present themselves?’ How does the world see them and make sure that you do it creatively.
Whatever first comes to your mind. It doesn’t have to be what you stay with, but it’ll trigger your creative thinking, and it’ll flush out your character. Remember – the goal is to find creative and fun ways to flush out your character. You don’t need to do an exhaustive study of each character and really give the character as much flushing out time for for the time that they actually appear in the story.
For four characters that she’ll want to say one thing, and then they’re gone. In the next, they can be totally flat characters. They can be ‘here is the baker’, ‘here is the the bus driver’ and move on from there. Now try to work with this technique in a way so that you’re having fun. Don’t make it such a big deal.
Just try it out. Say ‘ I’ll try this for 10 minutes and brainstorm’, and if you’re having fun, your reader will be more engaged in your writing in the long run, because if you’re having fun that means that you might discover a new interesting contrast between these two points of character.
Your reader will be interested in that contrast. Now I guarantee you, if you come up with with one of these that really works, well, the contrast between intended impression and actual impression it is going to be something that is going to give you a lot of power over how you can present that character, and and the way they’re going to react him in all the different situations that you put them, in so again this turns out to be a very effective tool.
An example – it could be how they feel they should act and how they actually want to act. It could be presenting themselves because of the social situations that there is about. People don’t just write what they say and do, and leave it in that. Fine, this is a lens through which to study them and find the formulas of their behavior.
This is a great way to look at the people around you, and you can really get an idea about about what the true trajectory of their life will be like. You can get a good sense of how they’ll react in different situations and really understand why they say things that could seem totally random otherwise.
So I hope this is helpful for your fiction writing. Please take the time to check out the story I’m working on at solonation.com and also vote to get me to make more of these tutorials, by hitting the like button. Leave a comment. Let the other viewers know if this triggered an idea that you thought is along the lines of what the video discussed.
Leave a comment so that other viewers can read. Subscribe please. Tell other writers that you know about about these videos, if you find them helpful. I hope you’re writing goes very well and I hope you have a good day. This is a quick side note because as an artist, we can all use more motivation to get into doing our artwork.
However you’re going to spend your day today will send ripples into your future, so no matter what you’re doing recognize that you’re not just doing that activity in the moment, you’re also sending these ripples out about the way the rest of your life is going to be.
Through your action, you are determining what the rest of your life will be like, and if you have a great day, you send out only a few ripples but if you pile them up,if you do this on a daily basis you can continue to reinforce it and it has a greater and greater and greater effect that builds up.
Humans are the most the most highly adaptive animals. We are able to rapidly and very effectively adapt to any environment. The environment you’re at, the activity or engaged in, is a big part of your environment. When you sit down to do your artwork, you begin adapting to that activity, so in the future you’re going to find it easier to do artwork. You’re going to find yourself getting better and better at it.
The debate goes on – how to plot a novel for success? Plotters tend to stick to a formula, to make sure that all the story elements are in place, while Pantsers say that it stifles creativity.
As with most points of view, there is merit in both sides of the argument and it also depends on the writer’s personality. Some say that they can’t even write the first line until they know what the last line of their novel is. Others say they like the thrill of not knowing where the story is going or what the characters are going to do.
I secretly think that there’s an element of both in all of us, both in life and when we write. Of course we want an exciting ride, but it’s also nice to know where the train is going, at least the general direction!
In the video below Mandi Lynn interviews Brittany Wang, fantasy author, about here approach to writing her stories.
Hello everyone, my name is Mandi Lynn. I’m the author of the fantasy novels, Essence, I am Mercy, and thriller novel, She’s Not Here, as well as the creator of AuthorTube Academy.
Today I have a special guest, Brittany Wang. Would you like to introduce yourself?
– Yes, hi guys, I’m Brittany Wang. I am an author of an upcoming YA fairy fantasy series, and I also have an AuthorTube channel and I also host a Facebook group called The Plotter Life Writers Facebook Group. We have about 300 members and it’s been so fun to collaborate there. So thanks for having me on your channel.
– Oh absolutely, and she also has an awesome Instagram that you should check out as well.
– Thank you.
– So today we discovered that I’m a pantser and she’s a plotter, so we’ve been doing some fun interviews so if you wanna hear an interview of her asking me all these questions about being a pantser, head over to her channel.
I will have a link to that video down below. But today, I’m gonna be interviewing Brittany about how she is a plotter and how that may work. Because I don’t know what that life is like. (intense music) So for those of you who don’t know, a plotter is someone who sits back and plots the whole novel before they start writing.
A pantser is just someone who just goes for it, which is what I do. (laughing) So, Brittany, why do you plot your book?
– Ah, okay, well I’m a person who love, we were talking about this on the other video, but like I love to have a plan. I just feel more secure (laughing) having a plan, but I also really love studying story structure and really understanding why stories work.
And with that, I really also enjoy just like the story of transformation, which is a lotta stories, and when I’m thinking about where I wanna take a story or even like the theme of a story, I wanna be like really purposeful about that. And you can definitely do that while you’re pantsing as well, but it’s hard for me to do that without a plan.
So I love to like sort of use story beats and just like a basic novel outline to figure out okay where am I going, even if that changes later, I love to at least have a direction. And then when I feel like I have that direction, I feel like I can sort of just fill in the holes from there and do that.
– How do you plot your novel technique-wise? Like do you have a certain way you go about plotting your novel?
– I’ve tried a bunch of different ways and I don’t know that I have a specific way yet, and again this is my first novel, so as we were talking about before, it could change from book to book. But right now I’ve tried Scrivener, but I really just like using a Word document.
I love sort of writing down all my ideas, maybe I’ll do that first on a piece of paper, but then I’ll start seeing connections and I’ll start seeing those story beats sorta pop up, like oh this is the inciting incident or this is the ending or this is the midpoint.
And then I’ll start organizing that on like a Word document. And then I also really loved when I started using a story bible or a novel bible, series bible, whatever you wanna call it, and I have a video about that.
But it just sorta takes each character profile, and I’m doing fantasy, so that’s a whole nother thing where you’re trying to do the world-building, and I love to wrap the world-building into the story, make that really purposeful, so I love brainstorming within that, even if it’s not in story form, within like those templates and then figuring out how do these things mesh into the story.
So between the outline and the series bible, those are like my main forms of plotting right now.
– I love the series bible, by the way.
– Oh good.
– Almost part of me wants to do it, even though I’m not a plotter. (laughing)
– Right so you could even, whatever part of the process.
– Now we have Catio – Yes.
– Okay so since you’re a plotter, do you feel like the quality of the first draft is better?
– Again I have nothing to compare it to personally, but I will say that when I’ve shown the first few chapters to some of my CPs, and they have said, hey, this actually feels more like a third draft or second or third draft, and I, yeah I think that it’s because I’m already like setting things up, I’m already able to like foreshadow certain things.
That being said, that particular draft was like, I did like a really rough like, I think for Camp NaNo, and that was like terrible. (laughing) So I wouldn’t show any of that to anyone. But it was just like I would speed through with the basic outline and then I was like, okay, now I’m gonna go back through.
So yeah, but they said that it felt like pretty strong, and I’m really happy with it, but there are also some drawbacks to that which we’ll talk, I’m sure we’ll talk about. (laughing)
– Now if you didn’t write fantasy, do you feel like you would still need like that plotted outline?
– Yeah, I feel like yeah, with fantasy, you do have like a lot of world-building that you’re trying to do, but I feel like with any story I would tell, even if it’s contemporary, like I would wanna do research about if it’s a real place or if I’m doing like a sci-fi or dystopian, like I’d wanna figure out like where am I (laughing) generally you know and try to pull some of those things in.
So I think for me, I might do a little less plotting, but I think generally naturally I would still go for some plotting. (laughing)
– You would need to.
– I would have fun with it, I can’t help it. The only other thing I would add is that doing like the plotting, and not just the plotting, but like research, so I didn’t get to ask you this in the other video, but like about how much research do you do, because even for like She’s Not Here, I know like you have some knowledge already previous to like where you work, but also do, did you do a lot of research? And for me I feel like I learn a lot during the research and it instructs my plotting.
– So I don’t know if you wanted to add anything from that, but I just felt like that was, (laughing) it’s helpful for my plotting.
– Yeah, so working off the last question, do you feel like you have an easier time with draft two when it comes to the editing process? Do you reference your outline when you’re doing draft two?
– Yes, I reference the outline and the draft. Right now I’m taking, I did a fast read-through of the first draft, and I took notes, even though I had an outline, there will still things that I pantsed as I was going. So it’s not like I’m plotting every single scene or every single moment or piece of dialogue.
It’s more just getting that picture and like that progression and any specific things I know I want in it, but then like yeah, there were definitely areas where I pantsed and I was like, oh I found out about this character, I found out more about this part of the world.
And so now I’m taking those like little markings in the draft and putting them into a Word document (laughing) which I just showed on my Instagram Stories, I might do another video about, but where I’m then transferring all of those notes and that will then change the outline.
– Right now, so here’s one of the downsides, is that I think there are certain critical things in my last outline that will change based on this first draft, based on some of the pantsing that did happen, and some of the things that like didn’t, like I didn’t write as well as I thought I would, like I’m not completely happy with the ending that I plotted, even though it sounded really strong in the outline, it didn’t end up being super strong, hi. (laughing)
And so with that, like you can be as prepared as you can, but you can still end up having to trash a lot or having to rewrite a lot. For me I still feel better about having the plotting ahead of time, but that can be the downside.
– Just laughing. (laughing) Okay is this what we’re doing now? (laughing)
– She likes the book, no he.
– I’m sorry, he likes the books too. (laughing) Oh really likes the book. (laughing)
– Little destructive, okay, you can sit there, why not. All right, just get a little cat booty in the video. (book thumping) Oh thanks. – I want him, I want the attention.
– You can be the star now I guess. (laughing) Okay, (laughing) would you be able to pants a novel if you had to? Do you think you could do it?
– You mean if I had like a gun to my head? (laughing)
– If I told you, you have to write this novel but you’re not allowed to outline it, would you be able to?
– I think I’d be able to. You know I’ve definitely done like some microfiction, like we were talking about flash fiction earlier, and I feel like yeah I could, I could probably do it in shorter spurts. But I feel like it would be really hard (laughing) to like, I would get into like a certain amount of chapters, then I would be like, ooh and then this thing and then, I sorta wanna write this down and like chronicle a little bit and like brainstorm a little bit to get there.
But if I had to, (laughing) I would, it would probably just take me awhile.
– Yeah. (laughing) If you had a gun to your head.
– Right, all right, which plotting still takes awhile, like I was plotting for months before I even wrote any like real words or any real pages. So that’s another downside, like sometimes you might get out like a full draft like sooner than like a plotter would.
– So yeah, there’s that.
– So that was one of my next questions was how long it did take to plot a novel. But with that said, since you kinda sorta answered it, feel free to digest more if you’d like. But with that in mind, once you have the novel plotted, how long does it take to actually write it?
– Okay, well, so the current story that I’m working on, the seedling of the idea I like to say started in like middle school.
So I wrote like a 7,000 word, which actually, I might have pantsed that a little bit, I have, I can’t remember. But it was a complete story, and then, now that I’m like sorta getting really back into writing and like have this like trajectory of like I’m gonna publish this book, I really started getting serious about it like in January, and then I was plotting up until like the first Camp NaNo.
So that was like April. And then I tried to write the first like really messy draft (laughing) and I didn’t, I reached the end, but there were so many scenes that I didn’t even write because I was like I don’t even know what’s going on here.
And then I did more plotting between then and the next Camp NaNo and I tried to write the next draft, which I only got like 25,000 words, but it was something. (laughing) And then I had a goal throughout the summer to get the first real draft done by the end of August, which I did.
So that’s sort of the timeline, but even before then, there was more like plotting even before January that was like sprinkled. But once I got serious, it did take, what is that, like four or five months, somewhere around there, to get to a place where I was like okay, I feel comfortable diving in now. (laughing)
– Is there anything else you would like to add?
– I would just say that if you have pantsed your whole life and you really haven’t done any kind of plotting, I would just say to like try, just like you know there’s so many videos out there, especially if you’re struggling. If you’re not struggling, why mess up something that isn’t broken, right?
But if you’re having some struggles with it, there’s so many different forms of plotting, there’s so many different forms of outlining or approaches, and some of them are like really general and simple and you could do really quickly and some of them like take forever, like my process. (laughing)
SAo yeah, so I would just say that it’s something, especially to strengthen your idea or understanding of story structure to study that a little bit and even if you just have it in your head, then that helps produce I think a stronger story from the beginning.
– Thank you for joining us today in this discussion of plotting a novel. Thank you to Brittany Wang for joining. Be sure to check out her video down below so you can see her interview me on pantsing. Which one is superior?
Let us know in the comments down below. Give us your vote and say what you are and which one you think is better. Otherwise, that is it for today’s video. Be sure to give it a thumbs up, comment down below, and subscribe.
There’s oodles of advice on the internet and elsewhere about planning a novel’s structure and analysing everything from plot to characters, but where does the original idea for writing a book come from? Does it arrive in a flash of inspiration or the result of hard work and brainstorming?
By all accounts, it seems to be a combination of both – this is the real world folks, nothing is black or white! The good news is that the process doesn’t have to be one way or the other. The craft of writing adapts nicely to every author’s whim.
Personally, I think the first seed of the idea does indeed come in a flash, which is then finely tuned by asking those ‘what if’ questions around that first basic scrap of inspiration. A famous author once said:
‘Inspiration is for amateurs. Professionals get to work!’
It sounds a bit brutal, but that’s about the size of it. Once you think about a possible idea that just might grow into a great book, you need to work on it, organise your thoughts and approach it like a boss.
How To Get Ideas For Writing A Book – One Author’s Perspective
Hello everyone. I’ve decided as some of you may know to start a little series on my Youtube channel called ‘How to write a book’, (remembering that there isn’t one way to write a book) and essentially everything I say you can actually ignore, because you can just do what you want!
I get a lot of questions about writing books because I’m an author. I’ve written two books. I got published and I was quite young, and people starting writing, just want a bit of advice and I thought I could just address like every little part of writing a book in just a series of videos.
A simple series of videos definitely not, so when I keep getting asked the same questions I can just link them to videos instead of having to explain the same thing over and over again. On Tumblr a question I get asked a lot is ‘how do I come up with ideas?’ and that’s like the very first point you will be at before starting a book, especially if you want to write a book but you just don’t have an idea.
I mean, sometimes you have the idea at first and you’ll be like ‘that would be a good idea for a book’ I’m going to go write bit but sometimes a lot the time you just feel like I want to write something but you don’t have any ideas. So I’m gonna talk a little bit about coming up with ideas.
This is a whiteboard. Yes, I have a whiteboard. You know, just seeing and talking on YouTube is fine but is anyone else, like, obsessed with whiteboards? I actually love whiteboards. Every moment in school when I got to write on the whiteboard just made my day.
I just made this word, I mean I’ve had a real thing about this, and I think there are three main things that you need to consider if you want to try and come up with an idea. The first one, which apparently is red, and I have three colors for the three different things.
I know this is ‘Wow’, this is YouTube to the max everyone. The first thing that you should consider is inspiration. Gonna write it down. Sorry about – my oh god! I just forgot how to spell. Okay, so satisfying, sound inspiration when you’re coming up with ideas, only if you can’t come up with ideas.
If you don’t have any ideas, you want to try and get inspired by something, because the thing is about ideas is that there’s no such thing as an original idea. Every single idea you have will be influenced by things that you have seen in your life.
Anything from things have happened to you, people you’ve met, things that you’ve done, TV shows you’ve seen – literally anything that you have experienced in your life that is going to influence the ideas that you have.
And that’s why originality doesn’t exist. Yeah, it can be quite hard to find inspiration because inspiration in its nature tends to be quite a spontaneous thing. It tends to be this moment of, like, I’m inspired, rather than you like you can’t just force it to happen.
But I think there are several ways to kind of go out of your way to try and get inspired and in my opinion that’s mostly kind of experiencing new things. Personally, if I’m lacking inspiration I like to do things like go to the cinema and see your film I haven’t seen.
Or go to the theater and see a play I haven’t seen. Maybe listen to a new album that people have been talking about and I haven’t listened to yet. Basically, for me, it’s just kind of consuming other people’s art and that usually inspires me to think of things.
Let’s add that to a bubble map shall we? Consuming art. That sounds like I want to eat a painting. That can be a metaphor for something. Yes, good and there’s lots of other things that can inspire you. Like as I said, things in your life life experiences.
You don’t have to wait around for something dramatic to happen to you, because dramatic things happening to you are quite rare, but you can think about if you want to write this sort story. You could think about, you know, things that have affected you in your life.
Things that have made you feel deep emotions and a good sound. Yeah and those can all kind of feed into your ideas and inspire you to want to write them down. Because writing is a form of emotional expression for many people, so that could be good.
So to summarize, yeah those are like, for me, those are the two main things but obviously inspiration can just come from anywhere. So you know, be open to pretty much anything. If something makes you feel something, think about why it makes you feel that way and think about whether it would be a good and fun thing to put in a story.
Then good – one thing down. You can go down, the red pin. Okay, so the second thing um leads on quite well from inspiration and yes this is going to be the blue pen everyone. That wasn’t as satisfying. Blue pen is disappointing so far.
The second thing that I think is good for coming up with ideas is thinking about purpose. Strong word – very good. Look, we’re getting some nice colors now. Very very nice indeed. So what I mean by purpose is just having a think about, you know, you want to write a book.
You know you love writing. You want to write but you don’t have the idea. Purpose is figuring out why you want to write a book and think like and from that what sort of book would you want to write. I think the ‘why’ is quite important personally, because there are so many different reasons why someone would want to write a book.
Which is why there are so many different genres of fiction. For example, the person who wrote, James Joyce who wrote Ulysses, probably had a very different reason for writing a book than E.L. James, who wrote 50 shades of grey.
But they both wrote a book. They just both had very different reasons. There’s two very odd examples I chose there. Then probably thinking about why they wanted to write the book, that the type of book that I wanted to write was probably a very big part of figuring out what actually happens in their books.
So you want to write. You need to find your purpose. So from some examples, some people write because they want to explore a theme which is one of my big reasons for writing. Like in solitaire, I explore isolation and loneliness and feeling like different from other people and then in radio silence I explored like school stress and kind of expectation.
You might also want to write a book to express a message and to kind of teach people about something not in life a preacher a but just in a edge sort of educational way. Like I immediately think of only ever yours by Louise O’Neill, which I’m sure Louise wrote.
I mean, maybe it’s a bit presumptuous. I don’t know why anyone writes what they do, but I’m sure Louise wrote that because she wanted to teach people about feminism and about women like having rights over their own bodies and things like that.
So yeah but you know those took two quite serious things. People might also want to write books because they want to give people fluffy warm feelings. Like you know, if you write a very cute romance novel.
That’s not really exploring any deep themes but you’ve still got a purpose for doing that because you’re letting the reader feel lots of nice warm feelings. So yeah, have a sit down, think about, you know, you want to write book but think about the why.
Why do you want to write and then leaving on from that, what would that entail? What to genre would that mean? What characters would you need? What setting would you need to explore? That cool, t nice little flow chart. Now we’ve got bubbles. We’ve got a flow chart and Mr. McCauley from Rochester Grammar School would be proud.
One last thing – I’ve left the whole half the board to do this. I’m not, I’m gonna try and fill up the board third and final thing is brainstorming. This green pen. All right everyone, the green pen is disappointing and I can’t fit the full word brainstorming on the whiteboard.
Just a disappointing final round everyone. That is weak, weak. The final thing I want to talk about brainstorming. Coming up with a book idea , it’s not gonna happen immediately. I mean, you can get that spark of inspiration, you can get like a sudden idea for a character or a theme or a be even a plot line, but you can’t come up with a full book plan in just like in one night.
I mean if you can, good well done. Why are you watching this video? I mean, if you don’t brainstorm, even if it’s just happening in your head, I don’t really know how you would write a book unless you brainstormed.
And so if you don’t know what brainstorming means (I’m sure you do) it just means just coming up with loads and loads of different ideas but miniature ideas. Coming up with loads of these little miniature ideas. Images, words, phrases, quotes and just collecting them all.
That’s right. Words, images, phrases. Wow, I mean this is top quality education. My handwriting is really deteriorated. I’m blaming this pen. Words, images, phrases and quotations. So brainstorming is so much fun. Like you can pretty much do it any way you want.
You could do it like this. You could do a bubble map, loads of bubble maps. You could just get a notebook and write down loads of words and ideas in a notebook and I tell you what is fun. What I always do is I make an inspiration blog like a Tumblr.
I just I collect images on Tumblr. I also make playlists, that’s a good form of brainstorming. So just anything that kind of spurs your imagination. Let’s give you some examples. Here we’ve got playlists ,notebooks, Tumblr – just Tumblr or you could use like Pinterest.
I’d never use Pinterest. I don’t really know like what Pinterest does. I think it’s like move boards. Oh bubble maps, I’ll try and show you some examples or I’ll insert them here, some images of my brainstorming methods. But this needs to go in a bubble continuity everyone.
And oh one more thing about brainstorming – important! You need to give it time. Don’t feel frustrated if you start brainstorming and you don’t immediately have a book idea. Just keep brainstorming . Keep working on those ideas and eventually something will just click.
That was a weak click. Ideas don’t arrive fully formed and complicated in your head. Plots don’t arrive fully formed complete in your head. Neither do characters. Everything starts small. So hopefully I’ve given you some starting points.
At least for me, those are kind of the three main things I think help me come up with ideas but as is the motto. I’ve decided in this series, you don’t have to listen to a single thing I say because writing is art and art is subjective and you can pretty much do whatever you want.
Okay I hope this is helpful. I’ll be back soon with the next one, which i think is gonna be on hold on. I’m gonna check planning. Let me know if this was helpful. Let me know if the whiteboard was a success. I think it was and I’ll see you in the next video. We’ll talk about planning. It’s gonna be good, yeah. Bye.
Everyone has read the stories about John Grisham and Frederick Forsyth, two authors who wrote best sellers with their first novel. Enthusiastic writers point out that Grisham had no formal training and just wrote by the seat of his pants, without any form of novel writing course online to help him!
Forsyth, on the hand, wrote his novel ‘Day of the Jackal‘ in 30 days and we all know the rest of the story. Here’s the rub folks – it ain’t going to happen! The market for new novels in all genres is incredibly crowded today, and a new author needs all the help he or she can get.
Of course, you can go it alone, picking up all those free tips on Youtube, but a well-taught and structured approach to creative writing will lift you above the crowd fast.
Statistics show that writer’s who successfully complete a professional online novel writing course are three times more likely to eventually publish a novel. It’s a fact that 3 or 4 students out of every 100 who enrol in the best writing workshops in New York or UK become published novelists. The problem is: We don’t all live in a city and real live writing creative writing classes are prohibitively expensive.
For many people, a book writing course online is the answer and gives the best of both worlds. They are affordable and the best are taught by real authors. Not all online writing workshops are the same. Look for tutorials offered by published authors and industry professionals, preferably award-winners!
Creative Writing Courses Online Presented By Holly Lisle
Holly Lisle has a fine collection of book writing courses online and her credentials are about as good as they can get! According to her Wikipedia page, she ranks among the most prolific and successful authors who also excel at teaching their craft – a rare combination indeed.
Writing professionally since 1991, her first novel FIRE IN THE MIST won the Compton Crook Award, which is presented in the category of Best First Novel. Since then, she has written and published over 30 books and incredibly, finds the time to create some of the best online writing workshops in general, and how to write novels in particular.
The video below is an example of her teaching style. It’s infectious, fun and entertaining, while oozing with tips for improving your fiction writing at the basic level and learning how to write a good novel.
She puts herself in the reader’s place and asks herself the right questions – am I telling the reader too much or too little? Is the main character active or passive? Does the point of view suit the story?
It’s tremendously practical and the course reviews speak for themselves. Holly has gone the extra couple of miles by providing a lively forum where writers at all level hang, exchanging ideas and offering encouragement to their peers. Of course, Holly is always on-hand to steer people in the right direction.
In short, Holly’s writing courses are the ‘real deal’ and offer a fast track to writing your own fiction and getting it published – knowing how to write a good novel is just the first phase of an author’s work! You’ll also find courses for creating book covers, publishing and book marketing. Holly Lisle writing courses are the complete package for writing success.
A head peaked around my nearly closed door. I saw panic in the eyes that looked back at me. Panic and cold hard fear. Kate was back and she was in trouble. They’re always in trouble, that’s why they come to me. I’m a writer crash tester. After 17 years and 32 novels of my own, I can shake down a plot, twist a sentence like a pretzel and slam a paragraph against a wall until it begs mercy.
I take no prisoners, I brook no excuses and now I’m on the case of a fuzzy thing. Kate needed answers and she needed them fast. She handed me a sheaf of papers and said, “I want the opening to suck the reader in and I don’t think this is sucking.” So I started reading.
The first time it was a nightmare. I was seven years old and it was the middle of the night. when my dreams turned from a Queen’s banquet to a dark hazy world which was all too real. It was like walking alone at night without any light but there was something more to it. Strange intrusive beings surrounded me and I cowered in their presence.
I awoke to a wet bed shivering and alone, and although it was still early, I didn’t sleep again that night. I didn’t tell anyone. Whenever I’d tried to tell mama my dreams in the past, not that they’d ever been anything like this, she’d always laughed at me and in the bright light of a summer’s day this one seemed as silly as any of my other nightmare adventures.
The second time was much the same. I was nine when I wandered from a sunny meadow into the twisted reality of the nightmare once again, a little older but no less scared. I shrank away from other beings that approached me and longed desperately for my eyes to open to that wet bed.
This time I told my friend Alex, although not about the wet bed. Naturally, he told me I was weird and went back to showing me his wooden sword. It didn’t happen again for a while. When it did I was 13 and it happened a bit differently. I was reluctantly helping mama prepare dinner. I’d wanted to go for a ride with Alex and Kaliesha but Mama and Papa wouldn’t let me.
So there I was shelling peas with an air of great offense and injustice, fuming to myself when the world went dark. Mom’s pretty singing faded to an eerie silence. I could feel strange things coming toward me, approaching me, eagerly. I desperately wanted to get away to hide but there was nothing there, but then I was terrified, more so than before because I knew I wasn’t asleep.
Panicking, I shouted at them to leave me alone and they did. I couldn’t see them but I could feel them. They stopped as if surprised and then began to retreat. Before I had time to do anything more, I was back in the kitchen leaning heavily on the wooden table with Mama’s arm around my shoulders and her murmurs of worried comfort in my ears.
We walk away from this scene lost in smoke and confusion. What happened here? It raises its ugly head and it is a problem. We are told the first time it was a nightmare. We see that it was the middle of the night.
We see that it was like walking alone at night but there was something more to it. In the same sentence, or in the same section, here we have my dreams turned all too real, and the word ‘strange’.
We’ll get into why those are problems in a minute. We cannot see, hear, feel, taste, smell or touch anything. The character awakes to a wet bed. It was still early but she didn’t tell anyone because she says her dreams were different than they were in the past – ‘not that it ever been anything like this’ but we don’t know what ‘this’ was like.
Move on; what is real to the writer must be real to us. We’re told the second time was much the same but we don’t have a clear feel for the first time. We’re told about a twisted reality. This is a vague phrase.
We’re told about ‘other beings that approached me’. Beings are a vague word and move on. For an instant here we have light clarity and action, not in the first sentence. There we have it ‘didn’t happen’ and ‘it happened’ a bit differently.
But moving down into the second paragraph on the scene ‘so there I was shelling peas with an air of great offense and injustice fuming to myself when the world went dark for a moment’. Here we get a sharp view of this kid. We know who she is. We know what she’s thinking. We understand her then, it all goes away.
We are confronted again with ‘I could feel strange things coming toward me’. Move on and in the climax, the climax comes and goes, and it leaves us unmoved. She yells at the things that are coming at her and they just go away.
We have no feel for her fear. She tells us ‘I was terrified’ but ‘I was terrified’ says nothing. It requires us to believe her, to take her at her word. It does not show us.
So what we have met in this example is the monster ‘tell’ and we as writers must fear him.
Fix number one, ‘escape’ from it and other vague pronouns. The writer’s job is to make the world she imagines real to her reader. Concrete nouns give the reader something to hang on to.
Instead of the introductory sentence ‘the first time it was a nightmare’ I used as an example ‘that first time darkness devoured me and cold iced my skin and emptiness crushed the air from my lungs’. Those are strong nouns ‘darkness’, ‘cold’,’ emptiness’. We understand them.
Fix number two – kill the verb ‘to be’. You can use it occasionally but Hamlet’s soliloquy aside, ‘to be’ is not the writers friend. It tells. It says ‘this is what is because I say so’.
It does not show us anything. Strong verbs are ‘devoured’, ‘iced’, and ‘crushed’ as in my example sentence here, ‘that first time darkness devoured me and cold iced my skin and emptiness crushed the air from my lungs’.
Fix number three – engage the reader’s senses. You must be your character. Get inside his head. Breathe air through his nose and mouth. Feel his sunburned skin, the ache in his muscles. Taste the dried stale bread that’s all he’s had to eat, and bring it to us so that we are in him.
To my example here, instead of the ‘strange creatures’, I have ‘tall pale creatures surrounded me crowding, close to me like too much smoke from a fire and like a fire smoke I could see them and see through them at the same time’.
Fix number four – keep the character moving. This is a passive character. In three nightmares the only thing she does one time is yell. She does nothing else but tell us what is around her.
Characters to whom things happen bore readers. Characters who act intrigue readers. My example from her third encounter – ‘I fought to break free of the darkness’ to force air into my lungs’ to move my frozen limbs but I could not so I stared into their glowing eyes and willed their hands off my skin.
Willed them back from me with my anger and my hatred. Back half an inch. Back an inch. Back a step, then two steps. I willed them gone and without warning they were.’
The biggest fix, however, is the fuzzy thing and this comes from the writer not knowing clearly what it is she’s writing about before she starts to write. Know what’s in your world before you write it.
Don’t describe the monster, and by monster I mean whatever it is you have to describe, or put in front of your reader on page one but describe it to yourself beforehand so that you know your monster inside and out.
Strange is not a writer’s word. My example here – ‘smoke’, ‘dense body 10 feet tall’, ‘glowing eyes’, ‘suckers on palms of clawed hands’, ‘no mouth’, ‘speaks telepathically’, ‘exudes fear’, ‘exudes cold’, this is the way you describe the thing on the paper to yourself before anybody ever sees it. You don’t put this in front of your reader, as such, but you know it’s there, so that you can use it.
In the case of the fuzzy thing, you’ve seen a vague noun crash leaning on evasive pronouns like it in an attempt to heighten mystery. A weak verb crash – telling with is rather than showing with active verbs. A sensory deprivation crash – forgetting to figure out what the writer would do and feel and see and think and hear in a similar situation.
An action crash – the character watches without acting and a visualization crash – not knowing the monster well enough. Crash tests – I do them because all writers make mistakes. Working writers learn how to fix them. Learn to crash test your own writing. From me, Holly Lisle novelist, writing teacher, writer crash tester.
Novel Writing Course Online For Beginners With Alessandra Torre
I’ve researched several novel writing courses delivered over the internet, and the tutorials offered by Alessandra Torres stand out. I particularly like the fact that she is a New York Times award-winning author, so she really knows how to put a novel together.
In this short video below, you can see a preview of her course ‘How To Write A novel’:
It’s a general rule that a writer’s job has a 50/50 split between actually creating a novel and then getting it to the readers. Alessandra Torres understands this aspect very well and also offers much sound advice on this important aspect of the craft.
Online Novel Writing Workshops & Beyond!
An editor talks about the mistakes hat new authors regularly make:
I wanted to talk about something a little bit different today. Most of you know that I have a book editor background and some of you seemed kind of interested in that, so I thought we’d have a little bit of an editor discussion.
I kind of wanted to talk about three common mistakes that I see in fiction generally with new authors. These are minor things and honestly, I’ll probably continue talking about this maybe make a few other videos, because I think these really small things can help with the pacing of the novel.
They can help tighten up the language and ultimately help you connect with readers. Before we dive into that I did want to address something, and that is the misconceptions that people have of book editors. A lot of people tend to think of editors as these snobby mean monsters with their red pen, going on a mission to crush your dreams and cackling at their computers.
Fixing all these grammatical errors – monsters, monsters. You think we’re all monsters but I want to tell you that I could not be further from the truth. In fact it might go off on a little bit of a tangent, so this might be a two-part video. We’ll see what happens but really book editors. Editors who care are not in it to rip up your manuscript.
Yes there may be some uncomfortable things that, you know, you might have to address as an author, but you have to think of your editor as a partner. You have to think of your editor as like that friend who will let you know if you have lipstick on your teeth. Like we are here to help you. Ultimately, we’re here to help you connect with readers.
We’re here to watch a better product emerge, to help you with your revision. I just want that to kind of be like the underlying theme of this video. It’s important that you know that I don’t take lightly the fact that authors hand over their manuscripts to me. That is a very durable thing. Your manuscript is your baby. It’s precious. I get that.
I don’t take that lightly and so I really can’t stress that enough. You created something. You sat down and you wrote a book, and that’s something to be celebrated. So just know that before we go into this. And also I want to say that I understand for first-time authors that it can be frustrating to work on something and to know where you want to go with your work.
You have the idea. You have the vision. You have the good taste. Hugh Glass talks about this. He talks about it, he calls it the gap. I’ll try to link it down below if I can find it, but he basically talks about that gap between knowing what you want to create, and just not being there yet, because practice makes perfect .
You have to work hard with any creative project to get to kind of where you want to be, and I know it can be frustrating sometimes. You have to create that terrible first draft, or that second draft, or that third draft that just is bad. It’s not useless. It’s your doing the hard work. Your revising and revising takes courage.
It takes courage to write a book, to really put yourself out there and entrust your manuscript with someone like me, so I respect you. I find it incredibly brave. Who could do a whole video on that? We’re gonna keep trucking along here. So the first common mistake that I see a lot in fiction, kind of the overused words or techniques that I see.
These include masking emotions with strong verbs. So many writers are able to show readers what’s happening with a character but often when it comes to emotions, it’s really really easy to tell us what’s going on instead of show us. You’ve heard ‘show don’t tell’. I’m sure if you’re a writer you’ve heard it, but this is a really overused technique that kind of creates the illusion of a powerful scene or a powerful emotion.
When you take a closer look, you realize that it doesn’t really tell the reader anything. Examples: fear slammed into her sadness, strangled him, anger shot through her doubt and fear rose in her chest. These are not bad sentences but they are masking emotion. At first they seem like really solid strong sentences but they’re actually more abstract.
Rather than writing these ambiguous sentences, ask yourself if you can show how a character is confused or scared during. Ask yourself if it shows how a character really is. If it doesn’t convey the physical and mental associations with that emotion. then it’s a telling sentence.
I want to take a second here to recommend a resource called the emotion thesaurus, the writers guide to character expression. I’ll link it down below. It is the best resource if you struggle with conveying body language or just really showing what’s going on with the character rather than telling.
Number two mistake – using unnecessary words, such as started to, or began to, or begin to, or start to. This seems like so minor it’s almost not even worth mentioning, but I promise you that if you keep a look out for these words, you will tighten up your language. You will improve the overall pacing of your novel. Keeping an eye out for unnecessary words is the best thing you can do.
Now what do I mean by empty words? When someone starts to do something, they’re already doing it. When she starts to walk down the driveway, she is walking. If he begins to cook dinner, he is cooking dinner. I think a lot of writers tend to use empty words to build tension or suspense. but really it’s not helping with the pacing. As with all writing guidelines, don’t go eliminating every time you see this word, but just ask yourself ‘can I remove this?’ If it’s not adding value, it’s gone.
The third one is kind of a few issues combined and that is over explaining, or insulting the readers intelligence. Now, this isn’t something that I experienced just as an editor. I’m sure you as a reader have seen this in novels. When they just kind of like dump all this information on you and it’s something that could have easily unfolded naturally in the story through dialogue or descriptions.
I’m not saying that readers need to be confused on what’s going on in the first chapter or whatever, but play around with how you reveal certain information. Can you reveal it naturally through dialogue? That’s the info dumping, part the over-explaining. Insulting our readers intelligence has to do more with kind of using unnecessary words again. There’s nothing worse for readers experience when the author is watering down what’s going on.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
“I don’t understand why you did that to me,” said Molly, with a confused look on her face.
So, is that dialogue tag necessary? Not really, if it’s clear by the dialogue that Molly doesn’t understand something, it’s probably safe to say that you don’t have to tell the reader that she has a confused look on her face. If it’s not necessary slows down the story.
Those are my three teeny tiny bits of advice. Just common overused words and techniques that I see in fiction generally with first-time authors. Again these are things that we all do. These are things that I’m sure I would do if I wrote a book, and I think practice makes maybe not perfect, but you’ll get there. You will improve and hone your craft.
Anyway, I would love to know as readers, or maybe your editors and writers out there, what are some pet peeves of yours, or what are some common mistakes that you find in your everyday reading experience. I would probably be making more editor talk videos like this. If you guys enjoy, it you’d like to get into that, leave a comment. I love to nerd out about this kind of stuff, and yeah, I will talk to you soon . Bye.
Avoid Author’s Mistakes With An Novel Writing Course Online
Hi community of awesome! I’m Ava Jae, and this is Bookishpixie. So as I think I’ve mentioned here before, I was really young when I decided I wanted to be a published author. Like, pre-high school, eighth grade young. And when I decided that that was my life goal, I dove right into it.
It was a 100,000-word YA Fantasy, even though I hadn’t really read YA, except for ERAGON and HARRY POTTER, but…we’ll get into that. What I’m leading up to is I made a lot of mistakes as a young writer. Which is understandable because I was totally new to the whole thing, but I want to share with you some of my mistakes so that you can hopefully avoid them.
So here we go. First, I set a time limit to reaching my goal. Because I was a just-turned teenager teen, I decided that I wanted to be published *as* a teen. The title in my mind was “Bestselling Teen Author.” Aaaand…that didn’t exactly happen. I did not get my book deal as a teen, I didn’t even get my agent as a teen. And yet, by the time I’d graduated high school, I had written five books.
But I had put *so* much pressure on myself to get published by a certain age. And so it became harder and harder for me as I got older and started realizing that the teen author thing wasn’t going to happen for me, and honestly I just made it so much more difficult for myself than I needed to. It was really hard for me to let go of the expectation of getting published as a teen.
But as I’ve said before, it takes time to hone your writing skill, and it takes some people longer than others, and that’s okay. I was on the way longer end of that scale, and I don’t regret one second of it. So don’t put the pressure of a time limit on yourself. You’ll get there at exactly the right time for you.
Second, I didn’t use critique partners…yeah. I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, especially because I now know how important they are and I can’t even imagine trying to move forward with my writing career without my amazing critique partners, but um…yeah, I didn’t at first. I didn’t really know that I wasn’t…sort of?
Because I had family members read it, and I thought that was good enough. But it was *so* not good enough. You need to work with critique partners who are a) not related to you, because people who are related to you are too nice to you, and b) who are writers. I’ve done an entire vlog already on the importance of critique partners, so I’ll link to that below.
But basically don’t skip them, seriously. You need critique partners. Learn from my mistakes, you guys. Third, I didn’t read my category or genre. Like I said, there were a couple exceptions to this because I had semi-recently read ERAGON and HARRY POTTER, which…is middle grade at the beginning, but anyway, that was my knowledge of kidlit and fantasy.
At the time that I was writing my first book, I read a ton of Ted Dekker books, and he’s still one of my favourite authors, but he does not write in the category and genre that I write in. So…I really should have been exposing myself to other voices…and I wasn’t. I’ve also done a vlog on why writers must read, so I’ll link to that below. And fourth, when I finished my first draft, I immediately jumped into line editing.
Yeah. Your second draft is not the place for line edits…at all. When you first start your revisions, you want to be focusing on big picture issues, like plot, and character, and pacing, and those kinds of things, but line editing needs to be saved for your later drafts when you’re nearly done.
Why? Because if you do it early on you’re probably gonna have to redo it toward the end again after you’ve made your bigger changes. And I mean not only did I jump into line editing, that was the *only* editing I did. When I first started editing my own work, I thought that editing meant changing commas here and there, and making sure things were grammatically correct, and changing words here and there to make it sound prettier and flow a little better…and that was it.
But there’s so much more to revisions and I’ve already done vlogs on editing, so I’ll link to those below. So those are the mistakes I made, and I hope that you guys will see this video, and not make the same ones. Good luck. So that’s all I’ve got for today! If you liked what you saw, don’t forget to subscribe and comment, and I’ll see you guys next time.
For a new author, writing a novel is similar to climbing a mountain. It’s worthwhile asking yourself how you might do that, if you had to?
Like all large projects, it needs to be done in a structured way, if the project is to be completed. Novel writing is a step by step process, and although formulae exist, there is sufficient flexibility to cater for an author’s particular tastes and way of working.
Some authors are ‘Pantsers’, so called because they like to fly by the seat of their pants, using the flow of consciousness to create the story. This can (and does!) work, but for most of use a step by step novel writing template or guide is absolutely invaluable.
The two videos below show that professional authors rely heavily on structure and planning, but that doesn’t mean that the step by step approach is a straight-jacket to creativity. Each author adapts the way that they outline a novel to suit their own needs and working style.
Step By Step Guide To Writing A Novel – Melanie Anne Phillips
Hi I’m Melanie Anne Phillips, author of ‘Write Your Novel Step by Step‘ and this video series is intended as a companion piece to the book, so that step by step we’re a little more conversational, bring in a little more contextual information and help you get from concept to completion of your novel.
So step one describes what’s different about this system. Now what’s different is that instead of looking at with the story needs, it looks at what you the author need. In other words, what is motivating you to write in the first place? What interests you in the story?
Why did you decide you wanted to write a novel. Maybe it’s just a piece of dialogue that you will have running around in your head. Maybe it’s a setting or a genre that you’ve always liked to to read and wanted to write in.
Maybe it’s a character that you’ve developed that you’d really like to see what they were doing in certain situations. Whatever the reason that you’re wanting to write your novel, we focus on what’s motivating you and that becomes step one, inspiration.
So inspiration in the first stage is what are all the ideas that you have bopping around in your head. As long as they’re flowing freely, as long as you keep free associating and have a new idea about this or new thought about that, you really don’t need any help at that point.
You just need something to help you open the floodgates and keep it going as long as possible. When you have finished with writing down everything that you know about your story already and new ideas are kind of getting down to a trickle, because you’re starting to think more about how am I going to fit things together.
How am I going to make this idea work with that idea in the same story? Do all these things belong in the same story? How do I fill this hole? What happens an app to all of these kinds of issues? You’ve moved on to the second stage of story creation, of novel writing, which is development.
Now in this stage, this is where you start working on the details. You start figuring out how to plug the holes and see what fits in the same story and what doesn’t. And logistically, structurally, all all of these interesting topical ideas or subject matter, setting, or mood ideas that you want to work with. How many of them can be incorporated into one single novel.
Well, when you finish that second part you move on to the third stage of novel-writing and that’s exposition. In exposition you need to work out, you know, what you’re serious about. You know what your novel contains.
You’ve got a law worked out in development based on the ideas. You have inspiration but now how do you reveal it to the audience? How do you unfold it? At what point do you tell them things? Do you hold it back on certain parts that, like in a mystery, do you reveal it bit by bit, like in a conspiracy theory.
Do you want to mislead them by telling them that this is what’s going on, only to turn out something else later without making them feel violated. You need to work that out. Once you’ve got it figured out, then you move on to the final stage, which is story talent.
Here’s where you figure out moment by moment exactly what’s going to happen in your novel. So that by the time you’re finished with the book or with this video series you’ll end up with probably a 40 to 50 page treatment of your novel, which will contain everything except the dialogue.
Unless the dialogue’s absolutely essential to say it this way in order to get the point across. In other words, it’s like the blueprint for your novel. Something that you just sit down and write from, you know, everything that’s going to happen.
What your story’s world is. Who’s in it. What happens to them and what it all means. And it’s in sequential order and then you’re all ready to sit down with your word processor and just put it into your own literary terms.
So the book focuses on what will keep you going. What will keep the ideas flowing. Other systems tend to focus on what the story needs. You have to have a protagonist. He has to have some kind of a motivation, a ghost to drive an internal issue or problem.
You have to have a goal for him to try to achieve. You have to have obstacles in the way. An antagonist is essential. Maybe there’s some sort of a philosophically opposed character that represents the thematic issue that is troubling the main character.
Well if you start focusing on all those things, as important as they are to a story, if you’re looking in that direction you’re going to lose yourself. You’re going to lose your muse and you’re going to get all tied up in the process of the structuring of your novel rather than in the joy of writing it.
So step one describes all of these stages – inspiration, development, exposition and storytelling a little more fully, a little more clearly than I’m doing extemporaneously. But the whole purpose is to say ‘let’s try an approach where we take our focus our interest and turn around what makes you want to write what makes the process enjoyable, so what you write will be interesting to you and therefore the words you write will be more interesting to your readers.
Now if you want to follow this through step by step you also have my website. You’ll find that we put a new step up every week and we’re serializing the book, so that people who can’t afford it or just want to go through one step at a time and not be bothered with the whole book all at once, can get it right on the internet at no charge.
But if you do want to order it, you can either buy it through our website or go to amazon.com and look for me Melanie Ann Phillips or for the book Write Your Novel Step by Step and you’ll find available both in paperback and for the kindle.
Well that’s it for step one. In step two we’re gonna move on to how you get your head clear of all these ideas that are clogging it up because most authors come to a story with a lot of work that they’ve already done and they’re afraid they’re gonna lose some of these ideas if they don’t keep rehearsing them their head over and over again.
So they end up cramming in more and more stuff and spending more and more time trying to recall it all and how it fits together that they end up closing the valve on new ideas. Because there’s just no place to put them. So in step two of running your novel step by step, we’ll give you some suggestions for how to avoid that problem, or if you’ve got it how to get rid of it. That’s it for now and we’ll see you next time in step two of writing your novel step by step.
How To Write A Book Step By Step – Another Perspective
Hi literary nerds. I’m Meg LaTorre-Snyderand today I’m here to talk to you about the nine practical tips to start writing your novel. According to The Huffington Post approximately 80 percent of Americans want to write a book. That’s 8 in every 10 people but let’s be honest -writing a book is hard, really hard.
It’s hours of gruelling work, so before we talk about how to write a book, let’s talk about if we should write a book and some ones can tell you that you shouldn’t write a book and you believe them then maybe it’s not for you.
So if you hear that advice and you realise that, no you’re actually still like, you know, you’re supposed to read a book, then my friend keep watching. So writing a book, where to start.
Number one, research your age group and genre. A lot of people mix these two together, each group. So we’re thinking about middle grade, young adults adults. These are the groupings genre, so this is like fantasy, contemporary historical fiction, the overarching umbrella of what type of writing it is.
So these are two separate things, so you want to research both. If you’re writing adult contemporary, you want to read adult contemporary novels to see what’s the tropes in the genre. What’s been overdone. What’s selling. What’s not selling.
So you’re trying to research the market but any person means when they say research a novel is you want to read, read and read some more. You want to know the tropes and what’s going on in books these days but that’s how you learn actually how to write a novel, by reading the people who have written novels.
So an example in the fantasy genre – right now a lot of people are probably saying vampires and werewolves are way overdone. So you just want to be very conscientious of trends and overdone trends because you don’t want to like hurt yourself before you even start writing a novel.
Alright, so number two, outline your book. Okay now hear me out. I’m not saying outline the whole thing in every single plot detail, I mean outline the big plot point so you know where your arc is going to be in your novel. A lot of people have heard of architects and gardeners by that famous george RR martin quote and so basically the architects, they plan out everything in their novels, where gardeners they kind of write as I go and see what where things take me.
But essentially what I recommend is outline your book, just so that you know where the action is going to be because you do want that pretty plot arc in your novel. Number three, outline your characters like your plot. You really want to be very intimately familiar with your characters.
What are their desires, goals, greatest fears? So I’m not saying you really want to outline every single thing about your characters. However I do recommend making a couple of bullets and writing down things like their appearance or their impulses, so that way you don’t make an oopsie mistake.
Number four, set a daily word count goal. This is to kind of keep you in order and keep you running and keep you moving. It doesn’t have to remain the same indefinitely but set yourself a goal and then just keep at it. So you might do something like 500 words a day approximately.
That might be like two pages or you might be say something like 5,000 words a day. So do what you’re comfortable with and go for it in your workout goal every day. You do also want to be very conscientious that you do want to write every single day.
There’s tons of people who want to write a book but the difference between the people who want to write a book and who do write a book is that the people that do write their manuscript right even when they don’t feel like it.
So if you make a habit of writing every day, even when you don’t feel like it, then you’re well on your way to completing that manuscript. Number five, write in the same place every time. For me, I love writing either at my office or at a local coffee shop and that’s like my go-to spot.
But whether yours is writing at home, running at the kitchen table, going out somewhere, find that special place that you like to write and try to write there consistently. Because a lot of times your creative juices will start flowing just because you get to that place where you’ve been writing many times before.
Number six, set a total word count goal for your whole manuscript. In each age group and genre there is a word count expectation. You can check out some of the links below for those expectations but essentially you want to know if you’re writing a fantasy why a the work and expectation might somewhere around 75,000 words, and if you write something that’s 200,000 words long you might hurt yourself and have less literary agents and people interested in reading your manuscript.
Research, as we said before, for how long you want your manuscript to be. Okay number seven, give yourself weekly deadlines. So this is to kind of make make yourself very accountable. I think I’m 50 and my face you want to make sure you’re accountable.
So if your goal at daily goals to write, let’s say a thousand words, you want to make sure by the end of the week you have written seven thousand words. So maybe one day you write 500 words, the next day write 1500 words, make sure you hit that weekly deadline.
Number eight, make friends with fellow writers and get feedback. In my humble opinion this could be one of the hardest ones because, let’s be honest, a ton of writers are introverts and we are so awkward when making friends with other writers.
So get yourself out there go on Meetup. Go on Twitter. Meet some awesome people. They’re really not as intimidating as we introverts like to think. Get some feedback, shove them in your manuscript and don’t be afraid if people are gonna say ‘they don’t like something’ and that’s the only way you can get better.
Number nine – edit, edit, edit and edit some more. So the first draft of your book should not be your final draft. The first draft is just you telling yourself this story and that’s so true. The first draft is you getting that awesome story that’s bubbling up in your brain onto the page. So that second, third, fourth, fifth draft is when you’re preparing it for the reader, so that they can see that epic story that’s inside your mind. Just keep editing.
Alright. A couple of other tips that aren’t in the nine – eliminate all possible distractions. That includes social media. Consider starting a blog or a column or write a few articles. Novel writing is a very, very long process but you do also want to get your name out there as a writer.
Consider checking out other forums or places that you can write and get published. Other than writing, go on a walk, go for a run and get those creative juices flowing. Don’t just be a little rating machine. Turn off your inner editor when you’re writing. You can’t have both editor and the writer coexisting. If you write creatively at the same time, the editor kills the creative urges of the writers.
So write – first go crazy and then maybe edit the next day and you might delete every single thing that you wrote, but make sure you keep those those two things separate. Don’t be afraid to scrap that entire book and write another.
On average, writers tend to write four novels before they hit the road and get a literary agent. Keep a glass of wine handy when you do start submitting your novels. You read, read a lot. Absolutely everything that you can because that’s research and it’s fun.
I shouldn’t have to tell you to read! This has been the nine practical tips to start writing your novel. Thank you guys for tuning in. If you like what you saw, subscribe below and like the page comments. Tell me what you want to hear about next time. Keep writing you.
I’m Mette Ivy Harrison. I’m the best-selling author of the Bishop’s Wife series and I’m gonna be sharing my five best tips of how to write a novel.
Tip number one is you need to have an interesting character who needs or want something desperately. This is so that you can have a character who is propelling the plot forward. Passive characters are not super interesting.
They need to do something. You want to have a character who’s not just reacting to events but rather is causing events to happen and interacting with other characters in the world that they’re in.
Tip number two is that you need to have an interesting world for your interesting character to be in. You can have a fantasy world. You can have a science-fiction world or it can be a contemporary world, but it needs to have a kind of set of rules that you as the author know but you gradually reveal as the character interacts with the world.
If you have a contemporary world, you need to make sure that the world is different then that regular world that your readers are used to. The character then has to decide whether they’re gonna follow the rules or not follow the rules.
Tip number three is that you need to have a limited time frame in which the events happen. While you can write books that have 20 years over which the books take place, I highly recommend against doing that because it takes away the urgency of the events happening.
Your readers won’t feel like they need desperately to pick up the book and find out what happens next, so I recommend often choosing like a 24 to 48 hour period maybe a week, maybe even a month but short time frame. You want to choose the best frame of time in which these things can happen the most, where all the most exciting things happen.
Think about Star Wars. You think about George Lucas choosing what part of Star Wars he wanted to tell first. He told the story of Luke Skywalker first because that was a very compressed time frame. Some of the other stories take place over lots of different worlds and lots of different characters. It’s harder to get into the series, I think, with any of the other stories. Luke Skywalker’s single character in an interesting world and in a limited time-frame.
Tip number four is to make sure that there are exciting things that happen and that there are a lot of emotions that are involved in these exciting things. Readers read a lot because they want to feel emotions. You, as their writer, have to make sure that there are a lot of times for people to have feel emotions.
So you tell an exciting event and then you have to step back a little bit and make sure that the reader has an as an experience, so that they can also react to the events. I see a lot of writers focusing so much on the events happening and not so much on the reaction of the character.
It feels like it slows it down, but for a reader that reaction actually is the part where they’re most invested. That’s the most important part of the book, is the reaction emotionally of the characters.
Tip 5 – make sure that your character has time to learn. Now, I know that I said that you need to have a compressed time-frame, sometimes 24 hours or 48 hours, but you also need to make sure that your reader learns things at a normal pace.
When you do have a compressed timeframe of 24 to 48 hours that your story is happening in, think about how much a regular person could learn in that time frame. ou need to make sure that that’s how much your character learns. They’re not going to, you know, probably discover the secrets of the universe in that 24 hours.
They might decide to change one small thing about their lives, let me change everything but it’s going to be a small thing. They’re not going to be able to learn to use a sword, for instance if you’re writing a fantasy book, in one day.
It will take them a long time, so if you’re compressing the time frame, make sure that you allow the character to make the mistakes that they need to make. My best piece of advice – if you want to be a writer, is to write as often as you can. I’m not gonna say everyday, because most people have lives where they can’t do it every single day.
If you can write three times a week, and if you can even write only 500 words, three times a week, you will have a novel written in a year. If you can commit to that and have a full novel written in a year. You need to write it from beginning to end.
You need to not go back and rewrite your beginning 800 times before you keep moving on, because there are things that you learn about writing a novel from beginning to end.
Getting to the climax of the story, writing an ending, you will learn things about that that you cannot learn by rewriting your first page or your first chapter over and over again. Give yourself a full year, write an entire book then start going back and rewriting.
Hi everyone. My name is Bridget Bell. Welcome to my channel where I share with you ideas for a better life. I’m super excited about today’s video because it’s on a topic I’m very passionate about – writing.
Something a lot of you may not know about me that I’ve been writing and publishing books since the age of 17 and within this past year alone I’ve written and published three books. I’m currently working on few more and have concepts for four more that i plan on writing in the near future.
Now the reason I’m telling you this is not to brag or to boast, but simply because some of the most common questions I get asked when people find out that I’ve written these books are:
I’ve always wanted to write a book – can you teach me how?
Can you show me how to do it?
And so in this video I’m going to share with you a few of my very most basic, yet essential tips, for writing your first book. While writing a book may seem like a daunting task suited for only the most well-rounded, seasoned writers I’m here to tell you that it’s not so.
In this video I’m going to share with you a few of my tips when it comes to writing your first book, so if you’ve ever wanted to write your own book, or feel as though you have a story to share listen up because you’re going to want to hear this.
Before we start, I want to cover something that’s incredibly important to your success and that’s identifying your ‘why’. Why do you want to write a book? When it comes to accomplishing any goal, it’s important to not only know what you want to accomplish, in this case I want to write my first book, but even more important is the reason why you want to accomplish it.
I’ve said before in other videos but to think of a goal as setting the end destination on your GPS and your ‘why’ as the fuel to get you there. So why write a book? I’ll give you just a few reasons and you can feel free to add your own reason.
Number one is that everyone has a story to tell I truly believe that everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has a unique story or life experience or some sort of value to share with others. Everybody, I believe, is an expert, and writing a book helps share that expertise with others.
Reason number two is that book writing enables you to leave a legacy behind on this earth, even once you’re gone and no longer here, your worth will live on, and that is a pretty cool thing.
Reason number three is – writing a book establishes instant credibility and sets you apart as an expert in your field. It can open doors of opportunity and enable you to network and market yourself in a ways that you weren’t able to before.
Reason number four – having books that you author can also work wonders for your business, whatever it may be. Let’s say you have a coaching business. Well, having a book that you authored, it can be used as a tool to help you prequalify clients and generate leads for your business.
It also adds value to your customers because it’s another resource that they can turn to you for help and advice. It can even be used for marketing purposes, such as for free giveaway for building your email list.
Number five – finally, one of the biggest reasons most people think of when they want to write a book is because of the possibility of generating income through book royalties. Those are just a few reasons why I believe book writing is an incredibly powerful act.
Feel free to add your own reasons, as the more reasons you have, the more fuel you’re putting in your engine and therefore the more likely you are to complete your book and have the strength to keep going even when it gets tough or tiresome.
Now let’s talk about how you can go about writing your book. My first tip for you is to identify your passion. You may already have a good idea as to what you’d like your book to be about but if you don’t, that’s okay. My first piece of advice to you is to answer the question ‘what are you most passionate about or what am I most passionate about?’
If you don’t know the answer to that I recommend checking out my video ‘how to find your purpose’ and by asking yourself the following questions;
What do I like to do?
How do I like to spend my free time?
How do I like to spend my money?
What I do even if I wasn’t getting paid?
What do people ask me for advice on the most?
What are some of the biggest hurts and challenges that I’ve had to overcome?
What message do I want to share with others?
If I could be known for one thing or leaving one impactful idea behind on the planet,what would that be?
For me, writing has always been a passion of mine because it’s been the vehicle which has allowed me to share how to overcome my biggest hurts and challenges. It’s been something that I’ve been so passionate about. I’ve done it without getting paid and it’s just something that feels like breathing to me.
It’s just something that you have to do, so take a moment to pause the video and answer those questions for yourself. If you’d like more inspiration for identifying your passions and your purpose be sure to check out my video ‘how to find your purpose’ and I’ll link that below.
You may already have an idea of what your passions are or what you’d like to write about. Just having that crystal clear vision and being able to see it written out on paper is really important and really helpful.
Step number two to writing your first book is to eliminate limiting beliefs about writing books. So not directly related to the writing process, but it’s incredibly important. Our beliefs can either help us or hinder us on our path to goal achievement and it’s no different with writing a book.
If you want to successfully complete your first book, it’s imperative that you eliminate any limiting beliefs revolved around book writing. Some limiting beliefs may include writing a book is too hard, or it’s too time-consuming, or writing a book is reserved only for those who are well-rounded writers, famous or celebrities.
I’m here to tell you that none of those things are true. The truth of the matter is that anyone can write a book if they’re truly dedicated to doing so. As I’ve said before, everyone has a story to tell. Everyone’s an expert at something and it’s not as hard if you think, which leads me to my next point.
My tip number 4 is to write every day. Once you’ve decided to discard those limiting beliefs, because you recognize that they won’t get you anywhere, and once you adopt the empowering belief that anyone can write a book if they choose to set their mind to it.
The reason it’s important to write every day is because, not only will it strengthen develop and improve your skills of the writer, but it will help you create content for your book. Something I highly recommend doing is starting a blog. I’ve been blogging since 2011 and it’s been a very helpful tool.
Some of the books I’ve written I didn’t even know I was going to write. I wasn’t even planning on writing them, but tyrants began to emerge with the content that I was blogging about, that I realized that I had enough content for several books. All I have to do is kind of tweak my blog post and reformat them to create a book.
Another reason writing everyday, specifically for a did you publish, is important is because it can help you build a following of individuals who are eager to buy your book. You may be wondering ,well why would people want to buy a book of mine if I already share it all the information on my blog?’
The answer to that would be that in writing a book you’re putting it into a different format and you’re also tweaking things and adding more substance so that you’re providing more value in your books than you would in a typical blog post.
You want to share quality information and helpful advice but you want to save your juiciest information for your book. I definitely know what it’s like to have ideas of mine stolen or taken from my blog and used by other people, so you want to hook people in with blogging but do so without giving everything away.
You want to create intrigue but don’t give away your best secrets. It’s like on my youtube channel, I share what a lot of people consider a helpful tips but my books are really where the juicy stuff is. Finally, writing every day is important because it breaks down the daunting task of writing a book by breaking it into smaller segments.
If you think about it, if you right just one page a day for six months, that’s 180 pages. If you write a page a day for a year that’s 365 pages. That’s a pretty decent sized book, so anyone who said things like writing a book is too hard or it’s too time-consuming, when you break it down in a smaller bit it really becomes something that’s seen as much more doable and less of this ginormous monstrous task that’s intimidating for you to tackle.
I hope you enjoyed these tips. If you did, please be sure to give a thumbs up, share it with your friends and subscribe for more videos. Also let me know in the comments below if you would be interested in me creating a book writing eCourse.
I have a lot more tips that I can share on the subject, such as how to go about publishing, how to get artists to create artwork for your book, how you can create your own artwork, how to outsource for an editor, how to pick a title that sells and so much more.
If that’s something that you’d be interested in, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you’re interested in purchasing any of my books, I’ll put the links to those below as well. That’s all for this video. Thanks so much for watching, as always. I wish you a phenomenal week and I will see you all in the next video. Until then, take care.
Hi, it’s Peter here again from Writer’s Life and coming up today – essential book writing tips for beginner writers.
If you’ve never even come close to attempting to write a book before, even the idea of doing so can seem utterly overwhelming. It may be that you have some writing experience, have written some sorts of pieces for pleasure now and again, or have just been struck with a brilliant idea for a book or an urge to do it, but have no writing experience at all.
Whatever stage you are at and how ever used to writing you are, actually making that move to start writing a novel is a huge commitment and often people can be at a loss not knowing where to start.
However, writing a novel, though hard work, doesn’t have to be an overwhelmingly complicated process. Follow these straightforward tips and not only will you find yourself clear on how to get started but also armed with the know how to finish it too. Here are some essential book writing tips for beginner writers.
First, what is your book about? Our books need to be about something. What’s yours about?Have a clear idea of your story, who your characters are, what’s going to happen in your book before you begin. Just a single idea won’t get you very far, so you need to sit down and work out the details before you start writing. If you don’t you might find your great idea doesn’t go anywhere.
Next, writing the chapter outlines. Once you have a clear idea of your story, write chapter outlines to give yourself a firm idea of what you are going to write. Chapter outlines will provide you with the confidence to know that your story has enough meat to turn it into a book.
Next, create deadlines. You need to set yourself realistic and achievable deadlines for writing your book. Break them down. It’s a manageable bite-size choice, to help make them feel less impossible. Figure out a rough workout total for your book. Sixty to eighty thousand words is about right for a first fiction novel, and then set a weekly word count goal that you know you can stick to.
Next, create a writing schedule. Once you know your deadlines, create a writing schedule that you know you can stick to. Be ambitious but don’t push yourself to the points where you can’t get the work done you only end up feeling disappointed and be more likely to give up writing. At the same time, in the same place can help you to create a routine and immerse in writing so it’s a part of your everyday life.
Next, get feedback before you finish. Don’t wait until you’ve painstakingly written the entire manuscript before you get anyone to look at it. They’ll likely come back with so many questions notes and comments that you’ll feel like you have to start it all over again. Someone who knows what they’re talking about and isn’t afraid to be critical to look at your work early on can make all the difference.
Next, learn about the publishing process. Decide whether you’re going to try to get an agent or publisher to take on your book or if you’re going to self publish and then dedicate some time to learning everything you can about the publishing process.
If you’re serious about your book becoming a success it’s important to know exactly where the opportunities lie and what you need to do to give your book the very best chance.
Next, don’t aim for perfection. Your book isn’t going to feel perfect when it’s finished, so don’t hold on to that idea of perfection and use it as an excuse to put your book in a drawer and forget about it.
If you don’t land a traditional publishing deal then you can self publish. Don’t spend all that time and energy on your book and not do anything with it at the end.
Our final tip is a write another one. Many writers don’t experience success the first time around. In fact many don’t experience it the second third or fourth time either. However, you’ll have learnt so much from writing the first book, now you owe it to yourself to take those lessons and write another even better one.
Writing a book does take time and dedication but it doesn’t have to be too complicated. Use these simple tips for beginners to get you started. Stay on track and see it through to the end and don’t forget, if you’re struggling to write or finish your book, our free writer’s tool kit can help with it.
You’ll learn how to overcome procrastination, get organized, stay focused, find time to write and finally, your book published. To get access now while it’s still available, simply go to writerslife.org/toolkit. Be sure to give us the thumbs up and subscribe to our channel for more. My name’s Peter and I’ll see you next time.
Hello there, it’s Peter here again from Writer’sLive and coming up today – practical writing tips you can actually use.
There are so many different pieces of advice when it comes to writing. Some you’ll find useful, some you won’t. When it comes to writing tips, every writer is different and not all pieces of advice will be helpful to them or fit in with what they are trying to say or do.
Sometimes the most practical and straightforward advice is the best. These tips should resonate with all writers, give them food for thought and can apply to any kind of writing, so let’s take a look at them.
First, say something. Whatever kind of writing you’re into, you need to have something to say. Take a step back and think about what your message is, what your point is what, you’re trying to get across.
What’s your confidence of that? You’ll have the essence of your story or article and can build everything else around that.
Next, use short sentences and simple language. It’s so tempting to show your readers what an enormous brain you have and to use all the big and smart words you know to demonstrate them but it’s important to realize that’s not the way to impress your readers.
Be inclusive. Keep things simple the most intelligent writing will be able to create an impression without making their readers reach for the dictionary.
Next, get detailed. Be specific and use detail to build a picture in your readers mind. The more clever and arresting information you include, the more readers will feel they know your characters and the world they live in.
Next, use the active voice. We know you’ve heard it all before but using the act voice makes your writing more present and readers have a better connection to the words. So try, where you can to, use the active voice at all times.
Next, break up your text. Even in fiction writing massive chunks of texts can make a readers eyes glaze lays over. If you’re writing a story, breakup text into short paragraphs and use dialogue.
Articles can be broken down into smaller chunks of text and devices such as a bullet lists and fact boxes can help too.
Next, don’t overwrite. Good writing is where a writer’s ego stays out of it. If you put your readers first and thinking about what they need to know and what will give them a better more meaningful understanding of what is going on, you’ll find the instances where you overwrite will really stand out. Stop rambling. Stop trying to sound smart and merely say what you are trying to say.
Next, become a brutal editor. Eliminate what you don’t need. Become eagle-eyed at spotting mistakes. Read your work through the eyes of a critical reader and remember to keep that ego at bay. These tips will help make your writing sharper, more accessible and more readable, so why not try applying them to your writing projects today?
Plants everywhere will die, and the animals that depend on them will starve, and the animals that eat those will starve.
Winter will come early, and hard, and it will last a long, long time. It will end, of course, like every winter does, and then the world will return to its old self. Eventually.
The people of the Stillness live in a perpetual state of disaster preparedness. They’ve built walls and dug wells and put away food, and they can easily last five, ten, even twenty-five years in a world without sun.
Eventually, meaning in this case in a few thousand years. Look, the ash clouds are spreading already.
This is from the prologue of The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016. In this universe, the planet undergoes apocalyptic seasons every few centuries and the sky is dotted with mysterious obelisks, “massive crystalline shards that hover amid the clouds, rotating slowly and drifting along incomprehensible flight paths.”
Orogenes, people with the power to move the earth, are persecuted in this world. You can see how all the elements of the story connect back to one key feature: setting. We have the backdrop: a world that faces constant earthquakes.
From that springs the plot, of a society trying to survive environmental catastrophe. Then we have main characters that face discrimination because of their unique ability to control
A well-chosen setting adds to the story in some way. Let’s explore how various authors, in both genre and realistic fiction, have enhanced their work by emphasizing the characters’ larger surroundings.
We’ll examine setting in terms of survival stories, time period, different cultures, common tropes, and characterization. Like in The Fifth Season, many survival stories feature settings integral to the plot, with the natural environment serving as an antagonist.
In The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, harsh blizzards in Dakota Territory cut off a town from food and supplies, and the characters must save their family from starvation. Writing survival stories like this can be exciting because epidemics and natural disasters immediately put the characters in danger.
The setting throws people out of their comfort zones and strips humanity down to its core qualities. This type of narrative conflict is often referred to as “Man vs. Nature,” but there’s always an undercurrent of “Man vs. Self” in this type of story, given that the characters must rely on their inner strength to survive.
For example, in Robinson Crusoe, the main character is a castaway who spends twenty-eight years on a remote tropical desert island. During that time, he contemplates his relationship with God and creates his own miniature civilization.
His isolation on the island is what allows for this heightened level of introspection. In horror stories and mysteries that have a “survival” element, an isolated setting can also be a way to add tension.
Agatha Christie is fond of using isolated settings in her murder mystery novels, such as the house on an island in And Then There Were None and a train stuck in a snowdrift in Murder on the Orient Express.
The characters are trapped, and they know that the killer must be among them. If you want to increase the stakes of your narrative, think of how you might narrow down the location so that the characters are backed into a corner, with nowhere to run and nowhere nowhere to hide.
Conflict in post-apocalyptic fiction is also heavily dependent on setting, with the characters fighting for resources and shelter. This type of setting often poses questions about human nature: What morals would you sacrifice to survive?
How does society regain order after its destruction? These quandaries are what make survival stories worthwhile. Readers don’t just want to hear about the characters’ mundane efforts to obtain food and water; rather, it’s the frictions between PEOPLE that arise from these settings that are most interesting.
If you’re writing a survival tale, think about how your setting could amplify the protagonist’s inner turmoil and explore larger themes. Of course, setting entails not only place, but also time. The milieu, or social environment, of a story changes depending on the era you choose.
That might include differences in women’s rights, racial discrimination, or the role of religion. You could pick a specific historical event that shapes the story, as other authors have done—just look at the shelves abound with World War II novels.
It could even be a very specific, lesser-known incident in history. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez is set during the deadliest school disaster in American history, the explosion in New London, Texas in 1937 that claimed nearly three hundred lives.
The main characters are a young Mexican girl and an African-American boy. At its heart, this is a story about star-crossed lovers, one we’ve all heard before, but the setting adds layers of conflict—we have racial discrimination, religious hypocrisy, and an inevitable tragedy.
So what’s the appeal of writing a story set in the past? In the case of books like Out of Darkness, the historical background inevitably spells death for key characters, and that creates anticipation about who will live and who will die.
There’s also a powerful dramatic irony in historical fiction because the audience most likely knows how the story will end, but the characters don’t: war, a maritime disaster, a terrorist attack. You might even decide to imagine an alternate history, wherein the outcome of an important historical event has sent the world in a different direction.
These settings allow writers to explore some of the darkest moments in human history, to examine the past for hope and meaning that could enlighten the present.
You can also use time period to change the atmosphere. Rainbow Rowell’s 2013 Young Adult hit, Eleanor & Park, is set in 1980s Omaha, which changes the feel of the romance.
The main couple connects through comic books and mix tapes of music from that era, blending first love with the nostalgia of the 80s. If this story were set in modern-day suburbia, it would be hard to avoid the intrusion of social media and cellphones in their relationship.
In addition, since the author herself was born in 1973 and lives in Nebraska, it could be assumed that the book draws from her own life experiences, and this lends the story more authenticity.
Then we have stories set in the future, usually classified as sci-fi or speculative fiction. Dystopias usually involve an oppressive government and present warnings about what we should not allow our society to become.
Science fiction in general is often interested in exploring the consequences of new technology or different political structures. With futuristic settings, you can take “what if?” questions about modern life and put them in a new landscape.
What if society could predict its own downfall? What if the human race became infertile? If your plot feels too familiar, try choosing a distinctive historical or futuristic backdrop and see how the story changes as a result.
No matter the time period, culture also has a significant impact on the political and social climate of the story. For example, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini is set in Kabul and spans several decades, from the 1960s to the 2000s.
The female characters face arranged marriages to unloving husbands and the surrounding war brings violence at every turn. The conflict within the story is a direct result of the cultural setting.
Most authors set their stories within their own culture, using their personal experience to provide insider knowledge. The old adage “Write what you know” is absolutely true; it’s easier to write about places you’re familiar with.
Complete historical and cultural accuracy is incredibly difficult to achieve, and many books have received criticism for this reason. Even so, don’t let the limitations of your perspective discourage you from writing outside your experience.
Do your research, visit in person if you can, and talk to locals and experts. As author Aminatta Forna states, “Don’t write what you know, write what you want to understand.
I write from a place of deep curiosity about the world.”
The literal climate and geography of the setting shapes the culture as well—and those elements change the atmosphere of a story. Take The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, a biopunk sci-fi novel that won both a Nebula and a Hugo.
It’s written by an American-born author, but set in a futuristic version of Thailand. This setting generates a very different kind of atmosphere than if the story had been set in a future New York City or Moscow.
Book reviewer Thomas M. Wagner describes the atmosphere well:
Bacigalupi unfolds his story in late-22nd century Bangkok, a setting that allows him the right flavor of tropical exoticism to make the environment a metaphor for the human condition. It’s stifling, oppressive, way too hot, and everything feels like it’s either about to melt down or blow away.
Whether you’re portraying an existing culture or inventing a new one, you can consider how
the geography of the land impacts the details of everyday life. Science writer Carolyn Csanyi says, “Natural barriers such as mountain ranges, oceans and large deserts limit human travel and isolate populations, thus restricting cultural exchanges.”
So how do these barriers impact culture? For one, they can influence the level of linguistic diversity within an area, such as in the case of New Guinea, which features over eight hundred distinct languages.
Researchers have proposed that this wide variety of languages is a result of the island’s mountainous topography, making it difficult for interactions between groups, thus preventing the blending of local cultures.
In addition, geography can cause differences in religion. As a history professor on eNotes commented, “The Mesopotamian religion believed that its gods were much less kind than the Egyptian gods. Scholars believe that this was due to the fact that the rivers of Mesopotamia flooded in unpredictable ways while the Nile’s flood was rather consistent and predictable.”
When researching or building a culture, think of how the surrounding landscape relates to the religion, government, food, clothing, and industries the characters encounter. What other cultures are in close proximity, and how do they interact with one another?
Studying the fields of human geography and cultural anthropology can provide great insight into these questions. Say that you already have a time period and culture in mind, one that’s a common trope in a certain genre.
These settings are immediately familiar to the reader, making it easy to jump into the world: medieval fantasy, noir, steampunk, westerns. There’s less of a learning curve, and the audience has specific expectations in terms of tone and plot—a medieval fantasy novel will typically have sword and sorcery, dragons, and a prophecy.
Noir novels often feature hard-boiled detectives and gruesome murders. However, these types of stock settings can also lead to clichés and bore readers with their lack of originality. For example, a medieval-esque fantasy setting is expected for fairytales like Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood.
Many writers, though, have put a spin on these stories by dramatically changing the backdrop and time period, such as in Marissa Meyer’s YA sci-fi series The Lunar Chronicles, which are loosely based on a number of classic fairytales.
The first book, Cinder, is set in futuristic New Beijing, where the moon has been colonized and the story’s “Cinderella” is a cyborg mechanic. Meyer took a familiar story and put in a new time and place.
So, if you’re using a tried-and-true setting, think of how you can differentiate it from what’s expected and surprise the reader. Setting is often considered to be a character, metaphor, or symbol in its own right.
In an article from Writer’s Digest entitled “How To Make Your Setting a Character,” it is said, “In great fiction, the setting lives from the very first pages. Such places not only feel extremely real, they are dynamic. They change. They affect the characters in the story. They become metaphors, possibly even actors in the drama.”
This change might arrive in the form of seasons, the process of decay or renewal, or cultural shifts, like a small town becoming a point of national interest with the discovery of a local serial killer, or a new law legalizing something previously forbidden.
The characters’ perception of the setting could change over time, too. They might recognize the hidden beauty or hidden ugliness of a place they once called home. As the famous travel quote goes, “You can visit the same place over and over again and see it differently each time.”
In Willa Cather’s My Antonia, the Nebraskan prairie seems to become more and more precious to the book’s narrator over time. You can see his adulation from his first impression:
“There seemed to be nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or trees, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made. . .I had the feeling that the world was left behind, that we had got over the edge of it, and were outside man’s jurisdiction.”
As Writer’s Digest states,
… it is the combination of setting details and the emotions
attached to them that, together, make a place a living thing. Setting comes alive partly in its details and partly in the way that the story’s characters experience it.
You can also use setting to metaphorically convey a character’s mindset. Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman, winner of the National Book Award, is a great example of this. The book alternates between the real world and a fantasy one, wherein a pirate ship is headed for Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the Mariana Trench.
The reader quickly understands that the fantasy world parallels the protagonist’s mental illness, and his own distortion of reality is depicted through this setting. Recognize how your characters’ outlook affects your descriptions and how that setting in turn impacts the characters’ worldview.
We are all byproducts of our environments. When choosing a setting for your story, keep three things in mind: atmosphere, conflict, and character. An abandoned mineshaft creates an atmosphere of mystery and suspense, and promises conflict related to getting lost or suffocating.
That mineshaft might exist in a small Pennsylvania town, where the main character is struggling to decide if he should drop out of school and resign himself to becoming a full-time coal miner, just like his father, a man he hates.
To add a historical background, maybe this story happened in 1962 in Centralia, Pennsylvania, right before an underground fire ruined the coal deposits the town relied on for its prosperity.
The fire forced residents to evacuate as their land was scorched and eaten by fuming sinkholes. As writer Eudora Welty once said, “Every story would be another story, and unrecognizable if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else. . . .Fiction depends for its life on place.”
As a writing exercise, make a list of five specific genres. For realistic fiction that might include satire, family drama, or bildungsroman. A genre fiction list might feature epic fantasy, hard sci-fi, or paranormal romance.
Then, list five time periods (past, present, or future), followed by five big settings (such as countries, climates, or outer space), and then five small settings (like a library, hotel, or a cave behind a waterfall).
Choose one thing from each category and create a combination that interests you. You might end up with something like “Epic fantasy, 23rd century China, garden,” or “Horror, 19th century Ireland, chocolate shop.”
Then, write a fake book blurb—a one-paragraph summary of a story that conveys each of those elements. Think of the climate, technology, and social norms that would exist in this setting. The character names and plot should spring from the genre, time period, and culture you chose.
Play around, have fun, and see what surprises you can create. What’s the most interesting setting you’ve encountered in a story? I’d love to hear your fake book blurbs in the comments. Whatever you do, keep writing.
Welcome back to this study on fiction. I’m Kenny noble, an instructor here at Indiana Bible College and today we’re going to be looking at the elements of dialogue.
We’ll be looking at some of the important features of dialogue and hopefully give you some pointers to improve your dialogue. First, let me say that contrary to what many think, dialogue and fiction is not the way people talk.
Rather, dialogue is the way that we want to think that people talk. I’ve taken my pen and paper and set down in a restaurant, in a coffee shop and listen to people talk and if I put that conversation exactly the way it happened it would be very dull and boring.
There wouldn’t be much impact to it, so dialogue is not really the way people talk. It’s the way we want to think people talk. Dialogue and fiction is much more condensed. It’s much more to the point and actually dialogue must accomplish several things at one time.
Each word must carry it’s full load. Each word must do two or three things and by that I mean in dialogue, you want to communicate the message that the character is saying, but also you want to communicate their mood.
You want to sometimes imply things and you always want to move the story forward toward the end. First, let’s get the mechanics of dialogue out of the way. It’s pretty simple and straightforward but it does take some particular attention.
Some of the problems students have are the comma and the period. Notice that the comma always goes before the end quotation mark. OIf course, all of your dialogue will be enclosed with quotation marks. If there’s a period at the end of the sentence, then the period will go inside the closing quote.
If there’s a comma at the end the comma will go inside the closing quote. Many times dialogue will have an attribution. Attribution is the ‘he said’, ‘she said’ that goes at the end of the sentence and notice how it’s done in this example.
There’s a comma, a closing quote the words ‘he said’ or ‘she said’, and then a period. So in that case the period goes at the end. If there’s a question mark, there’ll be a closing quote afterwards but notice there will not be a comma. There is still be a period at the end.
This might take a little bit of getting used to but all you have to do is keep a novel on your desk and open it and look for an example. There are only a few different ways to close dialogue, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find the exact example that you need.
Next, let’s look at this attribution, these speech tags that we have at the end of our dialogue. It’s tempting, especially as a novice writer, to want to spruce up, to add to, to modify your speech tags.
Instead of going with the ‘he said’ ‘she said’ we want to add ‘he said passionately’, ‘she said with a whisper in her voice’, ‘he replied bitterly’, ‘she said huskily’. We want to add those adjectives but really all we need is the simple ‘he said she said’ and that’ll carry it along just fine.
Another point we want to look at is the position of the ‘he said she said’. The position of the attribution – should you put it at the end or should you put it at the beginning of the dialogue? You could do either or but if you look at contemporary fiction that’s selling, and surely you want other people to read your fiction, if you look at that you’ll discover that most of the time it’s put at the end of the dialogue.
So I think that should be a good lesson for us. The most important thing is to stay consistent. Resist the urge to put some of the dialogue attribution at the end and some of the dialogue attribution at the beginning. Keep it consistent because it will disorient the reader.
As we read fiction, that ‘he said she said’ become so mundane that we just subconsciously use it to keep our place in the story, to know who’s talking. We really don’t notice it and if we switch it up sometimes, and put the ‘he said’ at the beginning, then that makes the reader stop and that’s something you don’t want to do.
That makes the reader stop reading and notice that, and you don’t want to do that. You want to keep the reader reading along smoothly, so that they’ll continually have those pictures you’re making with your words inside their head.
What you do want to use are action tags, so let’s look at action tags. Action tags are those words phrases or sentences that show the action that your character is taken, because as you know, as we interact with one another, we don’t just stand there with our arms limply by the side and have a conversation.
Instead, we do things. We sit in the chair. We scoot to the edge of our chair. We cross our ankles. We fold our hands, we pull on our ear. We scratch our head, we pick up our coffee cup. We do different things.
As you’re writing your dialogue, you want to add those action tags occasionally. This is what will take the place of those adjectives we were talking about that you should avoid. It’s perfectly alright to show action tags.
Here’s an example:
Manny Hampton nearly shouted in the phone as she wheeled her suitcase through the airport.
Instead of ‘she said or Maddie Hampton said’ we left that out and we could do double duty here because really were showing who’s speaking now. We’re also showing that she’s shouting, so she’s doing some action.
Here’s another one:
“Ma’am you’ll have to come with me,” the man’s soft voice was demanding.
There we have another action tag, after the dialogue, that gives us a descriptor. We know it’s a man. We also know that his voice was soft and demanding but the action tag doesn’t always have to be at the end.
In fact, you want to switch it up once in a while. It would look boring and mundane if you always had your action tags at the end of the sentence. In real life people do it both ways. Sometimes they’ll pick up their coffee cup stare into it a moment as if they’re concentrating and then speak.
At other times they’ll spout off something and speak and then pick up their coffee cup. Since we do it both ways in real life, then in our fiction we should show it both ways. Typically, the method we use in fiction is to first show the characters feelings.
Second, show the action and then show their speech, but there’s nothing wrong with, once in a while, putting the action tag in the front. So here’s an example:
He fisted his hands on his hips. “You know, we’ll be checking into it, so anything you lie about is only going to come back and bite you.”
There’s a good example of putting his hands on his hips showed his mood and then we gave the dialogue. Use action tags. Use them frequently and occasionally mix it up, and again, all you have to do is pick up any good novel and you’ll see some good examples of how they’re using action tags.
In fact, many authors keep a phrase book of phrases they see in fiction that they like, or phrases they come up with themselves, or action tags that they see that works really well. I got to tell you, you can keep pages and pages of these phrase books and when you’re looking for something to put in your own novel, you might look through pages and pages and still never find anything that works just right for you.
However, the idea of writing other action tags down and writing down other people’s phrases tends to help build those qualities inside your own mind. Another thing I want to mention about dialogue is, everything doesn’t always have to be straight forward.
In other words, sometimes you want it to be off the nose, and that means the character isn’t always saying what they mean. They say one thing and they really mean another. We show that in our own normal conversations. With a wink, I could indicate to the other person that you really are being sarcastic.
When we’re doing our dialogue and our action tags, when you do it, have things that are off the nose. For example, two people are talking and one says “what’s the matter, aren’t you feeling well today?” and the other person says “oh I’m feeling just great.”
We don’t know exactly how they said that. They could have said “well I’m feeling just great” but when you add the action tag of ‘they slammed the book down on the table’ or ‘they kick the chair back into place’, then we know that what they said is not necessarily what they mean.
You want to look for that in your fiction and try to add that. The reader, of course, is at least as intelligent as the writer and the reader will pick up on that. What about dialect?Sometimes in your story you’ll have someone that has a very bad accent. Perhaps they’re not a native English speaker, and you want to show that.
What I find that many authors do is they show it too much. All you really need to show that this person has a difficult time with the language is to show it once at the outset and then occasionally remind the reader of it.
You don’t need to show their poor dialogue in every sentence. It gets difficult to read after a while and the reader gets tired, so just remind the reader of it once in a while. Sometimes all it takes to remind the reader of the poor dialect is just a sentence that says the character had to think a minute about what they said.
Of course, you want to make sure that your characters don’t all sound alike, because we don’t sound alike. One of your characters will probably have extremely good grammar, one may have poor grammar, one person may talk in long sentences, one person may use short sentences.
Typically, women have better sentences than men and it’s not uncommon for a man to just answer with one word or two, instead of giving a complete sentence. You want to put that in your dialogue. Think about your characters at the outset and think ‘well, who has the best grammar here? Who’s using long sentences? Who’s using short sentences?’
Sometimes people in our daily lives talk very little. All they’ll say as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘maybe’, and you might have a character like that. Of course, then you want to think about the words your characters use. Some characters use longer words, some characters use shorter words.
Some characters will say ‘all right’, others will say ‘ok’. Some characters have particular words that they use over and over again, and even in our own lives, there are people that habitually scratch their head and we can put that in our fiction.
If someone tugs on their ear a lot, someone folds their arms a lot, someone Huff’s when they speak. Sometimes a character will answer a sentence with a question. We’ve all known those people that when they talk to you, they always have to add an affirmative tag at the end of their sentence.
“That car looks nice, don’t you think?” “I’m hungry, aren’t you?” “I’m ready to go to town. You going with me?” and we could use those ideas in our fiction. listen to how other people talk and you’ll get ideas of how your character should talk.
Well crafted dialogue will reveal whether your character is smart or dumb, whether educated or not educated, whether they’re passive or whether they’re active. You know, the Bible says that ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh well’.
That works with your characters also because the dialogue reveals what the character really cares about. Dialogue is very crucial in developing your character, as well as the actions they have because the actions say a lot about a person.
We know if a person is disinterested, he doesn’t like someone, because they avert their eyes or because they glare at them. Typically, when a person folds their arms they’re in doubt. All of us have a certain personal space about us but there are some people that their personal space is a little bit larger than everyone else’s.
So if someone sits by them at the table they might scoot the chair over a little bit or pull their glass in their table a little closer to them. Watch other people and how they act and record it and use these in your own dialogue.
Last of all students often ask ‘how much dialogue should be in my story?’ Should it be mostly narrative and a little dialogue, or vice versa, because your story should be a mixture of dialogue narrative and description.
Like spice on your salad, you want to mix that up until it’s just right and it doesn’t always have to be the same mixture. I went through several novels that I liked and used the highlighter to highlight all of the dialogue and I compared it with a narrative.
It seems that the novels that I like typically are around forty percent of dialogue compared to the narrative and description, so I think that’s a good ratio. I look at my pages after I’m finished with the novel and try to verify.
Do I have at least forty percent dialogue? I think most of us like to see white space on a page. We think it’s going to be a good read, an interesting story if we have more dialogue on the page. You pick up a book that’s very dense, and there’s a lot of long sentences, and not much white space and we tend to want to push that away.
We tend to be attracted to the pages, at least most of us, tend to be attracted to the pages that are full of white space and I should also mention dialogue runs. A dialog run is just several lines of dialogue without description or narrative and we like those.
Sometimes they kind of speed up the action and kind of give us a break, kind of a sigh of relief, and they’re interesting. We don’t always need an attribution in a dialogue run as long as there are only two people in the conversation. We alternate back and forth.
Then after the fourth or fifth line, then we have to add some kind of attribution to help the reader keep their place. We don’t want the reader to have to stop and go back, and figure out person, which characters said the line.
Use dialogue runs. They they look good on the page and readers like them. Last of all I want to mention contractions. Don’t be afraid to use contractions in your dialogue because that’s the way people talk.
In fact, you may want to have one person that always uses contractions and another character in your story who seldom uses contractions, or doesn’t use them at all. Contractions are okay to use, so don’t be afraid to use them.
We’ve covered several important things about dialogue and hopefully there’s some things there that you can use in your own fiction. Of course, there’s much more that could be said but we’ll stop there and I hope to see you in another lecture.
Hello and welcome back to my channel. If you don’t know who I am, I’m Britt Poe. I am an author and a writing a business coach for creative writers and authors alike. Today I’m gonna be talking about how to outline your novel using my absolute favorite method, the snowflake method.
So before I get into the how-to, I wanted to share a little bit of background. In the writing world there are two sort of sides when it comes to planning a novel. There are plotters, the ones who plan everything and set them out before they start writing, and then there are Pantsers, those who sort of just take their idea and go with it with really no structured plan on where they’re going.
In my writing practice, I’ve literally been all over the board with my writing and my planning techniques. I’ve tried so hard just to find something that really clicked with my creative process and ended up really uninspired with a lot of different methods to outlining, which then left my manuscript suffering because I was just uninspired and an uninspired writer is probably not the best kind of writer.
So when I heard about the snowflake method, I decided to give it a go and I am just loving the amazingness of the snowflake method. It works so well with my finger in my creative process and it really helps me get an outline down and completed, so that I can actually start writing that first draft.
The snowflake method is an approach to writing developed by a guy named Randy Inger Mason. I will link to his website below where he really goes into tons of detail about the snowflake method himself but in all this method is composed of ten steps.
The goal is to have an extensive outline filled with everything that you need for your plot and for your characters in order to write your novel. Something about the way that this method is structured just really jives with me and my process. So now I’m gonna tell you how you guys can do it yourself.
Step one of the ten steps of the snowflake method is to write a one sentence summary of your novel. This is the hardest part for me because something about having to fit all of the ideas in my head about the novel into one little sentence. It’s kind of tedious and excruciating for me, but yeah, I did it.
So you’re gonna challenge yourself to write one sentence to explain the plot of your book. The idea is to make this about 15 to 20 words. To avoid any running on, or rambling, and you really want to just get straight to the point. So I’m gonna share a couple tips with you guys to make this a little easier.
Tip number one is don’t use your characters names. It’s much better to say something like ‘a young wizard’ versus saying ‘Harry Potter’.
Tip number two is that you’re going to want to tie in the big picture, idea or goal of your novel with the personal goal of your protagonist or main character.
The thing to think about is which of my characters has the most to lose and why is it that they want to win? The third tip is something that really really helped me when I was doing my one sentence summary and that is to go and read the one-liners on the New York Times bestseller list.
It’ll give you a feel on how other people do this and how you can also use that strategy and use that structure to write your own one sentence summary.
Step number two is to expand that sentence into a full paragraph. This is where you will start planting the seeds for your plot. This paragraph will summarize the entire book, including the ending. There is a general structure that you’re going to want to follow for this paragraph.
Sentence 1 needs to be the backdrop to your story, where is it taking place and who is your character.
Sentence 2 is going to be a summary of the first quarter of your book, which leads up to the first disaster.
Sentence 3 will be a summary of the second quarter of your book leading up to the second disaster.
Sentence 4 will be a summary of the third quarter of your book leading up to the third disaster and …
Sentence 5 will be a summary of the fourth quarter of your book leading up to the conclusion.
Step number three is to write a one page summary of each character in your book. Here you’re going to want to know their name. You’re going to want to have a one sentence summary of the character’s storyline, know their motivation and their goals.
You’re going to want to know what conflicts that they’re facing and if the character has an epiphany, or basically what they will learn, or how they will change throughout your book. And then you’re going to want to write a one paragraph summary of the character’s storyline.
Step number four is to expand each sentence in your one paragraph summary to one page. This step is where they start to take a little bit longer than the previous steps, because here you will be expanding each of your plot points in the previous step.
To do this you’re going to take each sentence in your paragraph and expand that into its own paragraph. I have an example on how to do this on the blog post version of this video if you need a more visual instruction on how to do this. I will link the blog post in the description of this so you can go check that out when you are done watching.
Step number five is to write the synopsis from the POV of your characters. You’re gonna be focusing more on only the main characters of your novel here, but this is a really important step for me because it allows me to get into the head of my characters and find their voice. You’ll also be able to discover really useful things like what this character is doing, when it’s not actually present in a chapter of your novel.
Step number six is to expand each paragraph from your one page summary to a page. This is where you’ll start to get a grip on the high level logic of your main plot points. So just like we expanded each sentence into its own paragraph, now you’re going to expand each paragraph into its own page. Feel free to add as many details as you want here just make sure that it doesn’t go over a page, so that this this part of the outline doesn’t get too out of hand.
Step number seven is to create character charts of each of your characters. If you’re interested on getting your hands on the same character chart that I use in my writing, I have a free template available on my website. I will link that below as well and you are free to download it and use it for your own writing. The basic things that you want to focus on your charts are:
Step number eight is to make a spreadsheet outline of each scene based on your four page summary that you did above. So this step is very time-consuming I’m going to admit, but it is very, very important and so helpful for me at least, when I start the actual writing process.
So what you’re going to want to do is take each paragraph from the summary and brainstorm all of the scenes that are necessary to tell that part of the story. Then you’re going to want to get your favorite spreadsheet system out and then get one line for each sentence detailing the chapter number.
The POV, the setting, the date or timeline, as well as which characters are involved and a little description of what happens in that chapter. On my website attached to the blog version of this post I am offering up a free template of my snowflake outline Trello board, which is where I personally create all of my outlines and go through the snowflake outlining process.
It’s my centralized hub for all of my book information and so if you download the Trello board you’ll also get a copy of my same spreadsheet completely for free. It’s attached on the troll board itself. Also something to remember here is that even though everything has already been planned out, by the time that you write, you can diverge from your outline if your characters or your stories start pulling you in a different direction as you write.
If you’re like me, that tends to happen quite frequently, but just know that it’s super easy to go back to the spreadsheet and edit what you need to edit or add a line wherever you need to add it.
Step number nine is to write a narrative summary of each scene. I’m gonna admit that I do not write a full narrative summary for every single scene. Instead, what I like to do is on my scene card inside of Trello, I just like to go in there, and if I have snippets of dialogue, or setting ideas, or just all of the things floating inside of my head about that scene, then I’ll just type it up really quick in the Trello card.
When I do write that scene, I can just open it up and remember ‘oh yeah, this is where, you know, I wanted them to be here, or this is where I wanted them to have this conversation.’ Add things like that.
The final step, step number ten is just to write your book. By this point you should know what’s happening in each scene and where each character is development wise. It’s a great time to get that first draft down on paper.
This is where I print out all of my character descriptions and my spreadsheets and I slop them into my handy-dandy binder for easy reference. Now you might have noticed that this outline process is kind of labor-intensive and it can take a long time if you allow it to.
I was able to get steps one through nine of the snowflake method completed for my WIP and ten hours spread over the course of a couple weeks, but once you get all this detail right now and available to you it just becomes so much easier to crank out that first draft.
So if you would like a copy of my snowflake outlining Trello board it’s hop on over to the blog version of this video. I will link it in the description below. You’ll also be able to get my free spreadsheet complete there as well as my character charts.
Let me know if this method sounds like something that you’re interested in trying or if you have tried it before and what your thoughts about it are. If you like this video please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel, because every single week I’m releasing more videos just like this about writing and the business side of being an author. I look forward to you guys next time – bye.