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The 5 Turning Points in Your Novel

Almost every great story has five turning points. Movie, play, novel—regardless of genre. Traditional story structure goes way back to ancient storytellers sitting by the fire and regaling listeners with their tales. While we didn’t live back then, we can assume their stories had these essential five turning points. They’re the foundation of practically ever story we’ve ever heard.

If you’re writing fiction, you need to know what these turning points are. While short stories don’t often conform to this structure, you will see it sometimes. But if you’re writing a novel, this post’s for you.

Turning Point #1:“Opportunity” Knocks

Turning Point 1: “Opportunity.” Yes, this is the inciting incident. Michael Hauge puts it so nicely: “An event occurs that creates desire in the protagonist. Reader gets a glimpse of their longing or need.”

Ah: core need. How often I harp on this. Protagonists (and all main characters) need motivation. We do things for a reason, and your protagonist needs a strong reason to chase after her goal. We bond with characters whose needs are clear. We see what they care about, what they’re passionate about, what they love to do, what they believe in. But underneath all that is the need. A basic, maybe even primal need.

Every great story has this. Scarlett O’Hara needs love. She sure hasn’t a clue what it is or how to get  it. But it’s her core need. Continue Reading…

5 Steps to Write Thrilling Historical Fiction for Teens

Today’s guest post is by author Phyllis Still.

Have you discovered an intriguing character or story from history? You believe it would make a great historical fiction novel for teens, but the amount of research, organization, and development needed to complete the project gives you the hives. Why?

Perhaps, because I began my writing journey delving into the depths of an intriguing family story, I can help writers understand a hidden truth about historical fiction. It differs from other genres in the story world only.

How so?

The story location, past events, and even some characters are a mouse click away. A lot less work in my mind. All that is needed once the research is complete is for the author to weave in extraordinary and inspirational plots with emotionally relatable protagonists. Readers will believe the story is true, no matter the genre. Continue Reading…

Using Dialogue in Scenes to Reveal Character

Dialogue is perhaps the best tool in the writer’s toolbox. Through it, writers can reveal things about character and plot, set up and amplify conflict and stakes, create mystery and microtension, and so much more—and this is why it merits a lot of attention.

Yes, dialogue always serves more than one purpose—more than merely conveying information. Fiction writers should want to learn skills and methods to help them pack dialogue with as much punch as possible.

Dialogue is also extremely difficult to do well. It has to be condensed and distilled to be effective. Great dialogue in fiction is hardly realistic or exact; it infers more than it states. In essence, it’s stylized for effect.

That’s why you can’t merely listen to people’s conversations and copy them down verbatim and use them in your scenes. Much of conversation is boring, repetitive, rambling, and full of extraneous words that clutter.

Use Dialogue to Reveal Character

What I want to talk about for a bit is the way dialogue can replace character description and create an impression without the narrative “telling” that is so often maligned (and usually for good reason).

When we both listen and watch someone speak, we pick up a lot of information that is inferred by the listener. With characters, not only can other characters infer and react to what the speaker is saying and what their body language is conveying (those can be and are often two wildly different things), the reader infers as well. Continue Reading…

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