Tag Archive - Four Corner Pillars of Novel Construction

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…

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…

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…

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