How You Can Avoid Making Structural Mistakes in Your Novel

I’ve spent more than three decades writing novels. And at first I had no clue what I was doing.

Like many people, I think it would be a cinch to write a novel. I read voraciously, so why wouldn’t I just intuitively know how to construct a novel?

This is what a whole lot of people think. But perhaps you know the truth by now: writing a terrific novel is complex, like building a house. You have to have the “big picture” in mind the while time you are plotting and writing. And that’s like spinning a dozen plates at one time.

It’s doable, but it does take practice.

So after spending three decades dropping a lot of plates, I spent a ton of time tearing the novel-writing process apart. During those years I attended plenty of writing conferences and retreats and workshops. I read lots of books on the craft, and when the Internet became part of daily life, I started reading blog posts and listening to podcasts and doing all I could to get novel construction under my belt. Continue Reading…

Is Your Novel Staying on the Tracks or Derailing?

What do I mean?

If you’re like many fiction writers, you often have no clue if you are on the right track. If your characters are terrific. If your conflict and stakes are big and explosive. If your scenes are sturdily built and in the right places.

If you’ve been following my blog and reading my Writer’s Toolbox books, you know that novel writing is complex and challenging.

And you really have to nail structure.

I hope my posts and books have helped you not just tackle but conquer the many challenges inherent in this pursuit of excellence.

However, even with piles of books and countless instructional posts, writers can’t always be sure they’re on track. And that’s why it’s so helpful to get professional feedback.

I WISH I had help when I started writing novels more than thirty years ago. I thought I knew enough about writing. But I didn’t know squat. Seriously. Continue Reading…

How to Wow Your Readers with Your Novel

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking about the importance of mastering how to “show” effectively in your writing. This is one of the key things that will make or break your novel.

Meaning: if you don’t master this technique, it’s likely your novels will never see success.

Readers just don’t want to mull through pages of explanation, boring detail, lengthy narrative, excessive backstory.

They want to “watch” the story unfold before their very eyes. And the best way to do this is by using cinematic technique.

Let me share one last excerpt with you, and I’ll get off my soapbox:

Haven’t you read scenes in which two people are sitting somewhere (and you’ve probably not been told where) and just talking? The dialog goes on for pages, and maybe some of it is interesting, but you can’t picture where these people are, what the setting is like, what they look like. Or maybe you have more description than you want—of the restaurant and their clothes and hair and the noise and smells inside. But still . . . nothing happens. Continue Reading…

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