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Raising the Stakes in Every Scene

Today’s guest post is by best-selling author DiAnn Mills.

In the art of story writing, high stakes keep the reader turning pages. The writer establishes an endearing character and quickly tosses him into a troublesome incident. Our adventure begins.

Spellbinding tension in every scene causes the reader to forget about time and space. The genre doesn’t matter, only what a beloved character must do as a hero. Opposition simmers and boils in every scene, elevating the stakes higher than the previous one.

When writers understand the purpose of high stakes, they see how an unexpected turn of events affects a character’s goal and ultimately the story’s climax. These are the competitive factors between the protagonist and the antagonist, laced with the protagonist’s high probability of failure. Incorporating stress, tension, and conflict in every scene ensures a story thrives. Continue Reading…

Every Novel Scene Should Contain a Death

I hope that catchy title intrigues you. I’ll explain.

I’ve launched my new online course Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers, and it goes deep into both character and reader emotion.

One very important emotional aspect of a novel is character change. But I bet you haven’t thought of change as a kind of death.

Author and writing instructor James Scott Bell says every scene should contain a death. What does he mean? He’s not talking only about literal death, which might be the case in a suspense/thriller or murder mystery. He means we want our POV character to change by the end of every scene in some small or large way.

In that moment, something should have died: a dream, an opinion, a relationship, a hope, an assumption, a fear or worry … and so on.  Continue Reading…

The 3 Ways to Show Emotion in Your Characters

This month I’m launching my new online video course: Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers.

Let me just share a tiny bit of what you’ll learn in the more than six hours of intense instruction.

One of the most important emotional components of a novel or short story is the showing of emotion in a character. It’s not easy to do well. Often writers cram in tons of body sensations and physical tells, hoping to get the emotion across. But that is overkill.

What’s needed is masterful description of “showing emotion” in addition to revealing a character’s thoughts.

Utilizing body language should be minimal, original, and targeted, for best effect.  Continue Reading…

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