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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…

Outline Your Novel for NaNoWriMo

You’re all signed up for National Novel Writing Month. Great. Are you going to get working on an outline? No? You’re going to “pants” your way through. Fine, do that. Have fun. But, seriously: Do you expect to have a terrific novel written by the end of November?

It’s really not likely. And as I said in last week’s post, maybe you don’t care. Maybe you are all about getting to the finish line, unconcerned about the train wreck you create. It can be a lot of fun setting a writing deadline and barreling toward it. And there is surely a sense of accomplishment in that.

But why waste a whole month writing just to say “I did it”? Why not actually outline a novel that is worth writing?

I want to pull some content from a post I wrote last year to help you prepare not just for a one-time NaNo experience but to write many great novels that hold together structurally. Continue Reading…

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