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The Crucial Setup Scene in Your Novel

Way too often writers start their novels in the wrong place. With a scene that does the premise a disservice.

The setup is tricky but essential to nail. You have to be concise, succinct, and deliberate regarding what you show and tell about your character. Because . . . you don’t want to take a whole lot of time (numerous chapters) to do this.

Little bits, small tells, that quickly get your reader on board with your protagonist. You need the following:

  1. Descriptive details to indicate gender, age, possibly occupation, and pertinent aspects of appearance and demeanor and personality.
  2. A sense of something missing or out of place in the character’s life—either physically or spiritually—which I call the hint of the core need.
  3. Indication of the motivation in the character—what’s driving him at this point in his life and what factors are influencing him. The moment your character shows up on the scene, he should be in pursuit of something. He wants, but he’s not just sitting around wanting it. He’s already up in motion, pursuing it.
  4. A situation that will help set up your premise. It not only helps the reader get to know who your protagonist is and what motivates him, it also sets up the world situation, possibly the conflict or threat that will play a big part in the opposition for your protagonist. The issues or themes that will come into play and drive home what your story is really about. It sets up your premise—the situation your hero must deal with.

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The Secret to Getting Readers to React Emotionally to Your Writing

Getting readers to feel something from our writing is hard. Even harder is to get them to feel complex emotions that you can’t really name. Yet, a masterful writer will accomplish this. A masterful writer knows exactly what she wants her readers to feel and will write her scenes with that goal in mind.

Hemingway said, “Find what gave you the emotion . . . Then write it down, making it clear so the reader will see it too and have the same feeling as you had.”

Why does this work? Because all humans, for the most part, have the same emotional makeup. Behavior that scares, infuriates, humiliates, or alienates one person will generate the same reaction in others. You will never get 100% of your readers to feel exactly the same, but you can come pretty darn close if you are an emotional master. Continue Reading…

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…

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