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A Novel Is Not A Sum Total of Its Parts

This is our last post wrapping up the year’s course on The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction. I hope you now have a toolbox full of great building tools, as well as a handle on how to use them to build strong pillars for your novel. The twelve pillars we’ve looked at are foundational to your story; they hold it up. If any of these pillars are weak, your novel will fail. It’s as simple as that.

I spoke last week about approaching the writing of a novel in a holistic manner rather than piecemeal. In other words, there is a big problem in tackling a huge undertaking such as a novel by looking at the pieces as separate components that can be developed apart from all the others. Continue Reading…

Building Your Novel with a Holistic Approach

We’ve spent a whole year looking at the twelve pillars of novel construction, and I hope you’ve gained a lot of great, new insights on how to “build” a novel. I want to take a little time to go over some points about construction that I hope will stick with you through the years as you write your many novels.

There are plenty of books that teach novel writing. I probably have most of them in my library, and there are some great ones, to be sure. What prompted me to put this material together for my blog (and which I’m now compiling and expanding to release as a book in a few months as part of my Writer’s Toolbox Series) is that, despite all the great writing craft books available, many writers are struggling with novel structure. Continue Reading…

Layering Motifs in Your Novel for Powerful Effect

When our beach house fell off a cliff due to El Nino years ago, we felt a horrible sense of loss at this sudden catastrophe. We had been married on the back deck, and the spot we’d stood upon and said our vows now hung out sixty feet in the air, a hundred feet above the roaring surf. In combing the beach after the disaster, I picked up one brick from the fireplace that we’d spent many long, peaceful hours in front of, watching the crackling fire and listening to the pounding surf.

I kept that brick on my kitchen window sill for years, and you can imagine the symbolism it held for me—and not just reminding me of my loss. For it also symbolized for me that something solid was salvaged from the wreck of my house (and of my family, which suffered massive emotional destruction). Seeing it gave me resolve, comfort, inspiration. Continue Reading…

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