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Developing a Strong Novel Concept Starting with an Archetype

We’ve been starting to explore archetypes on Monday’s section on novel writing. I talked about some of the basic archetypes a writer might borrow from when developing characters, and I gave a series of questions you might ask of your character, to start identifying qualities that might tend to a particular type.

You might wonder if you have to stick closely to the standard archetype or if you can mix it up. Sure, characters can have bits of one or another. But the aim here is to identify those dominating markers and to choose archetypes that best serve your plot.

Starting Novels with a Character Type

Some writers begin their novel-brainstorming process based on a character type. When I put together my 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction Workbook, I decided to take a random idea and build it into a solid concept, fleshing it out through the workbook as an example, to help writers along with the process. Continue Reading…

How to Create a Powerful Image System for Your Novel

On Throwback Thursdays, we’re looking at excerpts from past posts on Live Write Thrive. Today’s post comes from How Novelists Can Create Image Systems for their Story. Creating an image system for your novel can enhance the reader’s experience and help to subliminally affect them emotionally.

Last week, we touched on a concept called Image Systems, which is something filmmakers consider when preparing to shoot their movie. Image systems can be made up of many different types of components, and by looking at some movies with powerful image systems, hopefully you will get some ideas of how you can do similarly with your novel. Using an assortment of these “building blocks” can give deeper meaning to your overall story.

In the movie The Sixth Sense, writer/director Shyamalan uses red to link with the supernatural. In every scene in which something “beyond the veil” is shown, you’ll find an object in red: a balloon, a sweater, a tent, and many others. Using a repeated color is probably the most common element in an image system, which makes sense with movies, since they are so visual. Continue Reading…

4 Ways to Subtly and Tastefully Present Theme in Your Novel


I find it curious that when I do a Google search for theme in fiction or novels, it’s hard to find blog posts or articles on the topic. I wonder why that is. Theme is such an important element of story, regardless of medium. Even visual arts, such as paintings or sculture, tell a story and often center on some theme.

I feel theme is so crucial to a great story that I chose it as one of the four corner pillars of novel construction. And while some novelists may argue that the genre they write in really doesn’t require themes (suspense/thriller, mystery, for example), for a deeper, richer story, themes are the ticket.

To get to the heart of the themes for your story, ask yourself questions:

  • Why I am passionate about this plot I’ve come up with?
  • What issues speak to my heart or upset me?
  • How can I have my characters embody these opinions or passions?
  • What kinds of conflicts in values, morals, beliefs, and ideas can my characters have that will enhance my premise?

Continue Reading…