Keys to Moving Your Plot Forward

I tell writers often they are failing to “advance their plot.” What does that mean, and why does it matter?

I keep seeing novels that “land on my desk” that start off with a great situation but then veer off into the hinterlands. Other novels don’t even get out the gate. The opening scenes seem to have nothing to do with the premise of their story. I’ll go back and reread a synopsis and shake my head. Where is the premise setup? Who exactly is the protagonist?

This is such a problem that I’m going to share some points from a post I wrote two years ago on the topic.

If your scenes aren’t “advancing the plot,” you have a serious problem.

Each scene should reveal some new information, but not just anything—the information needs to help move the plot forward. The bottom line? Every scene must have a point to it or it shouldn’t be in your novel. Continue Reading…

Telling the Truth, But Not Quite! The Autobiographical Novel

Today’s guest post is by ghostwriter Barry Fox.

It’s a common problem. You’re eagerly writing the story of your life from beginning to end when suddenly you get to that jerk you’d love to omit—you know, the ex-spouse from hell, maybe the sibling you haven’t spoken to in decades, or some other diabolical character.

You don’t even want to think about this loser, let alone write about him. Why open old wounds? Or you might worry that if you tell the truth about him you’ll hurt others, or maybe get slapped with a lawsuit.

Then there are the embarrassing “What was I thinking?!” moments in your life that you’d like to scrub from your story. Or maybe your life is somewhat convoluted and hard to follow; too many people, places, events, and other things to cover. You’d like to simplify things to make it an easier, more interesting read.

As a ghostwriter, I’ve been faced with this problem more than once. One of my clients requested just “a little adjustment” in her autobiography—meaning she wanted to leave out husbands number two and three. Another client, a man who’d had a lengthy relationship with a business partner, regaled me with stories of what a jerk the partner was—and that was when he was sober. When drunk, the guy could be a real terror. This drunk’s bad behavior seriously affected my client’s business and life, but the client insisted that I totally whitewash this bozo in the book. Continue Reading…

15 Ways to Strengthen Writer Courage

Today’s guest post is by best-selling author DiAnn Mills.

While talent and a willingness to work hard are essential for a professional writer, the #1 requirement is courage to face the world of publishing.

The word courage can be confusing. A soldier enlists courage by saving fellow soldiers’ lives. A teacher possesses courage when choosing to teach in an inner-city school where gangs run the streets. A law enforcement officer shows courage when refusing to take a bribe. A teen grasps courage to say no to drugs. A person grips courage and accepts a beating instead of following a religion or political policy. A man or woman garners courage to walk away from an abusive relationship. A person embraces courage to walk away from a high-paying job to serve humanity.

We open the dictionary and find descriptors like bravery, daring, grit boldness, spunk, and a huge list of other words. We hold tight to what we believe is courageous. Continue Reading…

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