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Checklists Are Good for Your (Novel-Writing) Health!

Are you a “list” person? I sure am. Even though I have software programs like Sticky Notes to help me make my many (countless) lists, I still find myself scribbling notes to myself: Things to do today (before I breathe) . . .

Those of us who depend on lists as if they’re lifelines to sanity understand the “list mentality.”

Life is busy and distracting, especially in this tech age in which a gazillion things are vying for our attention. It’s hard to keep track of our schedules, kids, keys, glasses—you name it.

In order to write a terrific novel, we have to organize so many things. Novels aren’t just a compilation of characters, plot elements, and themes.

Those are just a few of the many components making up a novel. And, as I mentioned in an earlier blast, novels aren’t a result of throwing a bunch of ingredients in a bowl and stirring.

It’s so important to have a blueprint, some framework to use to direct our efforts in a logical manner. Continue Reading…

Tips for Building a Riveting Main Character

Today’s post is by Natasha Lane.

As writers, our main characters are usually some manifestation of ourselves. These beings that run around our heads, tossing story ideas at us in rapid succession, are miniature versions of ourselves. Sometimes they only partially represent us, symbolic of specific aspects of our personality. Other times, they are everything we are at the moment we write them into existence, or, in some cases, they are what we hope to be.

Still, despite being their creators, we sometimes just don’t know what to do with them! Our minds fill up so quickly and our characters can be sporadic—it’s enough to make a writer toss her laptop out the window and become an accountant.

Well, not really. Let’s not do anything too drastic here. The point I’m trying to make is characters can be hard to get a hold of, especially if you’re trying to write at a professional level. Readers need to be able to connect with your main character, they need to be able to identify his purpose, how he helps the story, etc. Continue Reading…

Create the Storm, Then Tame It!

Today, I want to talk about brainstorming. I love that word. It succinctly describes what goes on in a writer’s mind when in the throes of creating a novel.

I imagine we all spend large blocks of time stirring up the storm. Thinking up characters and scene ideas and twists and cool ways to bring out the themes we want to explore.

A mind is an amazing thing! But it can be hard to harness that storm of ideas and funnel them into something cohesive. I picture Ol’ Ben out in the storm with his kite, the key dangling from the string, hoping lightning will zap the kite and travel the string to the key.

What then? Did he stick the key in a jar, hoping the electricity would be trapped like a firefly? I can’t remember the story.

Can you really trap electricity in a jar? Maybe if you have a tight lid. And then what can you do with it? Well, a few smarties figured that out, and now I can turn on a switch and voila! Light. I’m grateful for electricity because it powers my computer. Continue Reading…

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