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3 Steps to Successfully Outlining Your Novel

Outlining your novel in some fashion is one of the best ways to ensure you have a solid story structure. For those of you who’ve been following my blog awhile, you know I’m a huge proponent of structure—and I’ll dare to say that any great writing instructor worth his or her salt would agree.

Because novels are so complex, it makes sense to lay out a blueprint. Face it: few people have the talent or aptitude to wing it when it comes to writing a solid story without first plotting carefully. And—I’m being honest here—every single successful author I personally know who “pantses” through the writing process suffers from varying degrees of frustration, aggravation, and huge blocks of wasted time.

Seriously. I know authors who write, and discard, numerous full drafts of a novel, taking months of precious time to arrive at the solid plot. I know other pantsers who say that writing novels is a painful, grueling process that they almost hate as much as chopped liver. Continue Reading…

3 Essential Elements to Crafting Believable Romance

(Note: this original post of mine ran on Romance University last year. You can find it via this link.)

Boy meets girl. Sparks fly. They fall instantly in love. Voila! Happily ever after.

Oh, really?

Well, maybe in fairy tales and with couples who are self-delusional or sickeningly codependent. But in real life? Among “normal” people?

Not happening.

Sure, maybe we all wish romantic love worked that way. But wishes don’t reflect real life. And a writer’s job—unless writing a particular type of fantasy story or showcasing highly dysfunctional characters—is to create stories that are slices of life. Continue Reading…

Rival Archetypes for Your Novel

What would a novel be without a good antagonist or two? There are some wonderful “Rival” archetypes that you might consider developing to give your novel depth and provide strong conflict.

Last week we looked at some of the archetypes that can be found in allies and friends of the protagonist.

Your novel needs a cast of characters, all playing specific roles. And sometimes a character will play different roles at different points in the story. Think of these as masks a character might wear.

We all slip into a variety of roles in our lives, as I mentioned in the earlier posts on this topic. This will depend on who we’re with and what the situation is. A best friend might take on a Magi role when giving needed, hard advice. But that same friend might turn into a Joker archetype when he’s had a few drinks, and might even act patronizingly, assuming a type of King archetype if his “domain” is threatened.

Archetypes resonate deep within us, and so when we writers apply archetypal attributes to our characters, our readers find it easier to relate to and connect with those characters. Continue Reading…

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