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Do You Really Know How to “Show, Don’t Tell”?

Part of fast-tracking to success lies in writing novels that readers can quickly sink their teeth into. That usually means getting quickly into story and characters in a visual, active way.

In other words, starting scenes with pages of explanation and narrative are a kiss of death for novels these days. Our society is entrenched in movies, TV shows, video games, and dynamic apps for all our devices. All this has influenced (contaminated?) the reader experience.

Readers today expect our novels to read like movies. They want to get right into a character’s POV, right into action, become immersed in worlds without delay.

If you’ve been writing novels for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the golden rule: Show, don’t tell. I have numerous blog posts on this topic, to help writers get what this is all about.

Here are some of the posts. If you have any question about what it means to show instead of tell, it would be well worth your while to read (or reread) these. Way too many aspiring novelists commit this fatal flaw, and as a result, their novels suffer. Continue Reading…

Insights into Your Midpoint Scene

As we’re going deeper into the ten key scenes you need for the first layer in your novel, I want to explore the midpoint some more. I wrote about that 50% mark of your novel in past posts, but I’m going to share more examples of great midpoint moments.

The midpoint is a crucial part of novel structure. As I’ve explained before, it’s the moment in which something new occurs. Some new major development or complication. Some twist or disruption.

Sometimes it’s the spiritual or emotional place the protagonist comes to, after a series of difficult setbacks or obstacles, where he’s pushed to make a hard decision, go through another “door of no return,” solidify his resolve, and move into further action. It’s a turning point that usually ramps the story up into a higher gear. Continue Reading…

Insights into Your Inciting Incident

I want to take a look today at your inciting incident (since it’s one of the ten key scenes you need to have in your first layer when plotting with my layering method.

Since I did a lot of posts on the ten key scenes you need to layer in first, I’m not going to go over all that. If you don’t want to wait for my book Layer Your Novel to come out to start mastering your turning points and pinch points and midpoint and twists, jump into those posts and be sure to download my ten key scene chart.

While not every novel is going to follow this basic novel structure (and I’ll be sharing some examples and how, if you are writing in certain genres, you can tweak this framework), I’d suggest you at least start by identifying, at very least, those basic key scenes.

Let’s first consider the inciting incident. Every great novel is going to have something happen at the start of the book that sets up the premise. Most novels will have that inciting incident (or opportunity, or initial disturbance) that shifts the character’s focus from their ordinary life or routine or opinion and gets them turning in a new direction.

This can be big or subtle. It may be one specific scene; it may take place over a few scenes. It all depends on your story. But it needs to be at the start of your novel.

This should answer this oft-asked question: Where should I start my story? Continue Reading…