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3 Ways to Make Your Novel’s First Page Cinematic

Today’s post is a reprint from some years back—important technique for anyone writing fiction!

Readers will often stop reading before they finish the first page of your story. While this has always been true, in this fast-paced age that foments impatience, it’s even more true.

If a writer doesn’t deliver what a reader hopes for on that first page, it’s going to be tough to convince the reader to stick around for the whole chapter—let alone the whole book.

There are lots of things needed on a first page of a novel or short story. And while it’s not a hard-and-fast rule that all these elements have to show up on page 1, the more elements a writer includes, the better.

This, of course, is going to vary a lot. And if a writer is starting with a prologue or some scene that doesn’t introduce the protagonist, that makes a difference as well. But the overall objective, regardless of opening scene, isn’t going to change. And that is to engage the reader. Continue Reading…

6 Tips to Make Your Scenes Visually Dynamic

Today’s post is a reprint from 2016.

Many of us were raised watching thousands of movies and television shows. The style, technique, and methods used in film and TV are so familiar to us, we process them comfortably. To some degree, we now expect these elements to appear in the novels we read—if not consciously, then subconsciously.

We know what makes a riveting scene in a movie, and what makes a boring one—at least viscerally. And though our tastes differ, certainly, for the most part we agree when a scene “works” or doesn’t. It either accomplishes what the writer or director has set out to do, or it flops.

As writers, we can learn from this visual storytelling; what makes a great movie can also strengthen a novel or short story. Much of the technique filmmakers use can be adapted to fiction writing. Continue Reading…

Crafting Great Characters Starts and Ends with Motivation

This material ran on my blog four years ago, but it’s worth sharing again!

Most fiction writers know that character is at the heart of a story. Whether you are writing short or long fiction, you need terrific characters.

But what’s in a character? And how much do you need to know about your characters before you start writing?

The depth of detail you develop for your characters may vary. It stands to reason that you aren’t going to put as much work into crafting minor characters as you would major ones. And the most important character—your protagonist—should have the most depth.

How deep should you go? That’s a good question. Some writers spend months working on a character: her looks, her history, her family, her issues. But often the details a writer works up are trivial details. Continue Reading…

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