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The Burden of Your First Fifty Pages

I critique a lot of first chapters of novels. Having written twenty novels, I can attest to how difficult it is to craft those openings scenes. So much has to be included to set up the world of the characters, the premise, the tone and writing style, and the opening situation the protagonist is in. Yet, so much has to be left out in order to avoid backstory and info dumps that stall action and pacing.

It takes a lot of time and effort to master opening scenes.

These scenes are some of the most critical ones in your novel, so it behooves me to share what I wrote in a post a couple of years back. And I would like to encourage you to take advantage of my special discounted price on my fifty-page critique.

I do dozens of fifty-page critiques every year. I don’t know the exact count, but it’s what I encourage writers to start with when requesting help with their WIP (whether partially done or completed).

Why fifty and not one hundred? Why not twenty pages? Continue Reading…

How “Pantsing” May Be Harmful to Your Health

Pantsing? No, it’s not in the dictionary. But it’s a common word among novelists. Hey, we’re wordsmiths. We can make up words if we want to, right?

In novel-writing circles, there are “pantsers” and plotters. Usually there is a great divide, with the plotters astonished the pantsers can ever get a novel written and the pantsers decrying that by giving in to outlining, a writer is wholly compromising her integrity and tossing creativity out the window.

Since I’m an avid plotter, and I’ve written countless blog posts that explain why, I’m going to wiggle out further on my limb and, once more, advocate for plotting.

And, in doing so, I will pop a few bubbles. Continue Reading…

A New Online Video Course to Help You Write That Novel

I’m not the only one who says that writing a novel is a difficult task. Even if you’ve written a dozen or more novels, it’s still challenging. There is no easy formula . . . but there are some time-tested rules regarding story structure.

I’ve been writing about story structure for years on this blog, and I’ve probably written half a million words or more on the topic.

Let me pull some bits from earlier posts to share with you today, as preface to introducing you to my new online video course: The Ten Key Scenes That Frame Up Your Novel.

If you’re like many fiction writers, you often have no clue if you are on the right track. If your characters are terrific. If your conflict and stakes are big and explosive. If your scenes are sturdily built and in the right places.

If you’ve been following my blog and reading my Writer’s Toolbox books, you know that novel writing is complex and challenging.

And you really have to nail structure. Continue Reading…