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The Fun Way to Learn How to “Show, Don’t Tell”

Many of you joined me a couple of years ago on this blog as we strolled through the movie lots in Hollywood and tried on some different hats. Meaning, you learned a bit about thinking like a director, a film editor, and a screenwriter.

I want to revisit some of the ideas I put out to you because I feel they are so helpful. If you don’t have Shoot Your Novel, consider getting it and digesting all the unique, great material in there. No other book explains and shows how novelists (or writers of any kind of fiction or creative nonfiction) can use cinematic technique effectively.

The book isn’t about story structure—it doesn’t tell you where all the plot points and turning points are. It’s about approaching scene structure the way directors do—as a compilation of segments, using different camera shots, which then get edited into a smooth, seamless scene.

If you learn only one thing from Shoot Your Novel, I hope it’s this: your job as the creator of your story is to make your reader pay attention to what you want her to.

Cinematic technique for scene building is all about leading your reader visually by the hand and showing her what you want her to see. Continue Reading…

4 Tips to Writing Expanding a Novel into a Series

Today’s guest post is by Vivek Hariharan.

Ever since the enormous success of the Harry Potter saga, there have been many writers who stopped writing single novels and focused on writing a series of novels. The successful ones that made waves in the world of fiction are Eragon with four books, The Hunger Games Trilogy, Divergent Trilogy, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Twilight Saga, and the 50 Shades of Grey series.

Novels in a series are more likely to become blockbusters and chartbusters than individual books unless the author is already world renown.

Keeping this in mind, you might have the urge to expand the novel that you have written so carefully into a massive series. However, that is not an easy task. It would mean expanding the world, introducing new characters, building new timelines, creating back stories for the characters, and integrating all of this into each novel without losing the essence of the individual story by overcrowding.

So the most interesting question now is this: How do you create the series and at the same time integrate the individual stories and each character without losing the flavor of each individual novel itself? Here are four key aspects that you should keep in mind when you want to spit your story into a series. Continue Reading…

How Does Internal Conflict Fit into the Character’s Arc?

Today’s guest post is by Becca Puglisi.

If you’re writing a story in which your character will need to evolve internally to achieve his goal, a cohesive and well-planned character arc will be vital to its success. This type of arc (a change arc) requires internal conflict, which will provide opportunities for your character to adapt and grow.

But first, let’s quickly summarize what the change arc is and what it looks like.

At their heart, most stories boil down to a simple formula: It’s a story about A (the character) who wants B (goal/outer motivation) because Y (inner motivation). That Y explains why the character so desperately wants to achieve the goal. If you look at the movie Groundhog Day, Phil Connors (A) wants to win Rita’s love (B) so he can find meaning in an utterly meaningless life (Y). This example shows how the character’s outer and inner motivations work together in the story.

The outer conflict is the main external thing keeping the character from his goal. Phil’s conflict comes in the form of the supernatural forces that have him reliving the same day over and over, making it virtually impossible to get Rita to fall in love with him. Continue Reading…

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