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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…

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…

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