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World-Building through Your Characters’ Eyes

Today’s guest post is by Holly West.

World-building is a writing term most often heard in discussions of fantasy and sci-fi novels—genres that require writers are create complex realms, often with rules different from our own. But in fact, all books need a certain amount of world-building, even if it’s just conveying the layout of a school, the interior of a restaurant, or the clues of a murder scene.

And it can be tricky to figure out how much world-building you need to include, especially in those oh-so-important opening pages.

There’s so much that needs to be accomplished there. Writers have to grab the reader’s attention, introduce the character, set the stage, and jump into the action . . . and they have to do all of these things very quickly. It’s a tough challenge.

But, it’s doable. Continue Reading…

How You Can Avoid Making Structural Mistakes in Your Novel

I’ve spent more than three decades writing novels. And at first I had no clue what I was doing.

Like many people, I think it would be a cinch to write a novel. I read voraciously, so why wouldn’t I just intuitively know how to construct a novel?

This is what a whole lot of people think. But perhaps you know the truth by now: writing a terrific novel is complex, like building a house. You have to have the “big picture” in mind the while time you are plotting and writing. And that’s like spinning a dozen plates at one time.

It’s doable, but it does take practice.

So after spending three decades dropping a lot of plates, I spent a ton of time tearing the novel-writing process apart. During those years I attended plenty of writing conferences and retreats and workshops. I read lots of books on the craft, and when the Internet became part of daily life, I started reading blog posts and listening to podcasts and doing all I could to get novel construction under my belt. Continue Reading…

Is Your Novel Staying on the Tracks or Derailing?

What do I mean?

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.

I hope my posts and books have helped you not just tackle but conquer the many challenges inherent in this pursuit of excellence.

However, even with piles of books and countless instructional posts, writers can’t always be sure they’re on track. And that’s why it’s so helpful to get professional feedback.

I WISH I had help when I started writing novels more than thirty years ago. I thought I knew enough about writing. But I didn’t know squat. Seriously. Continue Reading…