Writing, Writing Resources

Story-fixing Your Novel––Part IX

This lesson will be a challenge for me, because although I understand the concept, I’ve not used it as much in my writing. Subtext––is what’s really meant, not what’s said. Click to Tweet #amwriting #storyfixing

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Writing, Writing Resources

Story-fixing Your Novel––Part VIII

plottingIt’s all in the details. But there are so many of them. Which ones to include? What is necessary to the story, and what isn’t? Details will either help your story take wing, or weigh it down like an anvil. They’ll either lift your story or burden it. Click to Tweet #amwriting #storyfixing

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Point of View, Writing, Writing Resources

Plunging the Depths of Deep POV –– Part VIII

from Flickr
from Flickr

We’ll finish this today. Hopefully, this series, though not scouring for every little detail of Deep POV, will give you tools to improve your skill at making your POV characters come alive. Click to Tweet #amwriting #DeepPOV

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Plotting, Writing, Writing Resources

Plotting Systems—Part II

plot-structureLast time, I surveyed what plotting systems could work for a “pantser” or a “No Outline Person.” (NOP). I’m using James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure. #amwriting #plotting systems #plotsystems. What are you—an OP or an NOP? Click to Tweet

Let’s take a look at the various plotting systems outliners or Outline Persons use, from index cards, to headlights, to the Borg.


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Writing, Writing Ideas, Writing Resources

Writing Unforgettable Fiction—Part II

Story Trumps StructureLast week, I talked about making promises to readers from Chapter 11 of Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules, by Steven James. Today, I’m going to talk about plot twists.

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building characters, Plotting, Writing, Writing Resources

Writing Resource–Plot & Structure Part III Character Arc

James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure
James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure

“Great plots have great characters. While this is not a book on character creation and implementation, we can’t let the subject of plot go without touching on at least one aspect of character work that is all important: character change.

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Plotting, Writing, Writing Resources

Writing Resource–Plot & Structure–Part II

James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure
James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure

Chapter 5–Middles

We’ve all heard about “the middle” of a story and usually what we hear is that it sags, stalls, and slumps. It doesn’t seem to move the story along or go anywhere. James Scott Bell addresses this in chapter five of Plot & Structure.

The middle is typically known as Act II. In a three-act construction, which most stories, plays, and movies are structured, Act II is important because it must move the story along. “What you do in Act II, the middle, is write scenes – scenes that stretch the tension, raise the stakes, keep readers worried, and build toward Act III in a way that seems inevitable.” Pg. 79. How do we do that?

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Donald Maas, Writing, Writing Resources

Putting Fire in Your Fiction

The Fire in FictionThe tagline to Donald Maas’ The Fire in Fiction is “passion, purpose, and techniques TO MAKE YOUR NOVEL GREAT.”

The book covers everything from characterization, the story world, scenes, dialogue, and voice. Each chapter has a set of practical tools dealing with each section from that chapter. As an example, I’ll talk about Chapter Three, Scenes That Can’t Be Cut.

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Writing, Writing Resources

Writing Resource – The First Five Pages

by Noah Lukeman
by Noah Lukeman

Called “A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile,” The First Five Pages is a how-to manual on sprucing up the beginning our your novel. I’ve had this book a long time. A dear writing friend gave this to me years ago. I’m just now reading it. Covering the basics, it’s everything from presentation, to style, to dialogue, to adjectives and adverbs. The author, Noah Lukeman, a literary agent, also covers characterizations, pacing, point of view and tone.

His first chapter is on “Presentation” – what does your manuscript look like? How is it formatted? Does it look nice? We all know that a child prefers a colorful and interesting looking package to a brown paper bag. Think of an editor or an agent that way. Lukeman gives the example of a potential author whose manuscript came to him “in a substandard format, printed on a dot-matrix printer, hard to read, filled with errors, even pagination mistakes.” We may think that’s funny now, but presentation is important.

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Breakout Workbook, Donald Maas, Writing, Writing Resources

Breakout III – General Story Techniques

breakout workbookThis week, we’ve been looking at Donald Maas’ Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. I trust you have had your whistle whetted to learn more from this writing resource.

Yesterday, we looked at Lessons 13-24, Part II, Plot Development. The lessons covered everything from subplots, to adding tension in different ways, to how and when to use backstory, plot layering, and complications.

I’ll do the same today – pick out one point from each of the remaining lessons to encourage you to acquire the workbook and devour it. It will help you grow your novel and make it special. That’s what readers want and it’s what we writers want.

Today – I’ll be listing the lessons from Part III – General Story Techniques. This unit covers Lessons 25 to 34, everything from raising the stakes, complications, layering plot lines, subplots, turning points, conflict, and adding tension. I also talk about the Appendices.

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