3 Keys to Novel-Writing Success

In consideration of National Novel-Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I’m reprinting a post I ran a couple of years back, which should be helpful to anyone writing a novel!

Anyone who’s written a novel—or attempted one—can attest to the level of difficulty involved.

Some of you are presently in the throes of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). You’re racing the clock trying to complete a novel in one month. And that’s a fun and challenging thing to do.

But here’s my question for you: Why are you doing this? Is it just to see if you can throw together something that looks like a novel so you can feel a sense of accomplishment? And don’t get me wrong—I don’t belittle this at all. It takes real strong stick-to-itiveness (yes, that’s a word!) and a big jar of butt glue to stick you in that chair and write a whole lot of words.

If you get to the finish line, you should be proud! Continue Reading…

Evoking Emotions in Readers in a Masterful Way – Part 5

I’m picking up where we left off a couple of months ago, looking at the masterful writing of some amazingly talented authors. I want to revisit the topic of evoking emotions since that is one of the most difficult things to achieve yet so very crucial.

Surprisingly, there are very few blog posts and books that address this topic. Writers are told to “show, don’t tell” in order to draw readers into their stories. But we all know that “showing” a character pointing a gun at another character, and even showing the character is trembling or sweating, doesn’t ensure readers will be tense or scared or shocked.

If you’ve not taken the time to read the previous four posts in this series, I highly encourage you to do so. Start with the first one here. We write to evoke a response in our readers, and the primary purpose of fiction is to elicit an emotional response. Think about it. Readers of fiction aren’t reading to acquire facts, such as they might do when studying a nonfiction book. They read to be entertained, affected. They read to be tense, laugh, worry, get excited. In other words, they read to feel something.

And your job as a fiction writer is to masterfully write in a way that will evoke a specific emotional response in your reader. You may not be able to name exactly what those emotions are, but you should know what those emotions feel like when you experience them.

To reiterate: we’ve been looking at the way thoughts lead to emotions, and how getting into our characters’ thoughts can be a powerful tool to evoking emotion in our readers. When we show what our characters are thinking, via the narrative or direct thoughts (when in their POV), and even in dialogue (whether in the POV or not), we can sense what they might be feeling. Sometimes the feelings are obvious, but masterful writing will imply the complexity of the character’s emotions. Continue Reading…

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Immersion for Writers

Today’s guest post is by therapist Hayley Watkins.

Immersion is often a wonderful experience. It’s a particular state of mental involvement that many of us, as writers, find deeply comforting and satisfying, and it’s quite likely that it’s what draws you back again and again for more.

But like so many things, immersion is a double-edged sword. On the plus side it gives you the cocoon-like sense of protection from everything but the world you’ve created on paper. It’s also intense enough that when you withdraw from your writing you walk away feeling satisfied.

Both of these feelings offer big psychological benefits. After all, everybody needs to feel safe. When we feel safe, we feel ready to meet the demands life throws at us.

Satisfaction is the other side of that coin and can be described as a feeling of fulfilment of our desires or needs that we indulge in to avoid boredom or frustration. Safety protects (but may limit) us, while the pursuit of satisfaction stretches us. So far so good. Continue Reading…

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