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7 Important Sensory Elements That Writers Ignore

Fiction and nonfiction writers alike need to immerse their readers into the story they are telling, and the best and most obvious way to do this is by utilizing sensory detail.

While most of us have been taught that there are five senses, there are actually more than twenty specific ones humans experience. Keep in mind that senses aren’t just about responding to outside data. They’re not only about what we see and hear and smell.

Some of the most common and important sensory details come from within our body, and it’s these senses that writers ignore, for the most part.

I will venture to say, though, that a masterful writer will consider the whole range of sensory possibilities when writing a scene or descriptive passage that shows characters in any activity, even just sitting and thinking.

And not only that—insightful writers will think carefully about word choice, mood, and mind-set of their POV character, because sensory detail should be purposeful, targeted, and powerful. Sensory detail should be used specifically to help accomplish the objective of the scene or passage the writer intends. Continue Reading…

12 Weeks to Writing Your 10 Key Scenes

Anyone who tells you that writing a novel is easy doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Plain and simple.

Great novels are complex. And while seasoned writers like Stephen King might claim they never plot, their years of experience in writing well-structured stories merely shows their brains are entrenched in solid story structure. They plot intuitively. Kind of like how, once you learn to ride a bike or snowboard, you don’t think about it. You just do it. At least, that’s what I do–whether I’m plotting or snowboarding.

I don’t have to use my plotting outlines and templates anymore because I know in my bones where the twists and pinch points and all those other milestones need to show up in my story.

But if you haven’t written a couple of dozen novels and “gotten the hang” of traditional, expected, solid story structure, you’re going to need some help.

And that’s why there are lots of books, podcasts, and courses on plot and structure.

I wrote Layer Your Novel because I couldn’t find a simple, clear step-by-step method of approaching novel structure. I floundered writing my first four or five novels until I learned there was such a thing. Continue Reading…

The Secret Formula to Writing the Commercially Successful Novel

I’ve been writing novels for more than three decades, and while I have learned a lot about how unpredictable the market is, there are some specific characteristics that have consistently set apart novels that see success. You’d think every informed novel-writer would know what these are.

Here’s the thing:

I critique more than 200 manuscripts a year (95% novels). Even the best ones seem to be missing the key ingredients for a commercial best seller.

Why is that?

Because few writers have learned the specific elements that identify a great novel with great potential. And many of those elements are not what the average fiction writer is taught.

Sure, you need a great plot, an intriguing and fresh premise, terrific characters. And your scenes need to be tight time capsules of “show, don’t tell.”

But a terrific commercially viable novel has so much more. And few books or writing instructors teach what these essential elements are.

Continue Reading…

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