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How Novelists Can Work Plot Twists into Their Stories

Plot twists are important and powerful elements in a novel. We took a quick look at twists last week, and I explained that you can have these twists in various places in your story, and they can vary in strength.

One novel may have lots of small twists that are basically complications and obstacles the protagonist encounters. But often you’ll have one or two huge twists that wrench the story, and those are terrific when done well.

So what do you need to keep in mind when creating a plot twist?

Twists are all about redirection. Going against expectations.

Think about what readers are expecting and hoping for at a given moment in the story. Then keep twisting the story into new directions that stun and delight them. Continue Reading…

Less Is More When It Comes to Setting

On Throwback Thursday, we’re looking at excerpts from past posts on Live Write Thrive.

Today’s post is from A Peek inside the Envelope:

Sol Stein, the famous editor, author, and writing instructor, has a very short chapter in his classic book Stein on Writing that he calls “Creating the Envelope.” As I looked through my numerous books on writing craft, I drifted toward his book (which happens a lot), and was reminded again of the best advice to give writers regarding setting details.

Here’s what he says: “Writing fiction is a delicate balance, On the one hand, so much inexperienced writing suffers from generalities. The writer is urged to be specific, particular, concrete. At the same time, when the inexperienced writer gives the reader detail on character, clothing, settings, and actions, he tends to give us a surfeit, robbing the reader of one of the great pleasures of reading, exercising the imagination. My advice on achieving a balance is to . . . err on the side of too little rather than too much. For the reader’s imagination, less is more.” Continue Reading…

A Look at Plot Twists and Smoking Guns

You now have the first ten key scene types presented to you. If you missed the last few Monday posts introducing my 10-20-30 scene builder concept, catch up. These are the ten basic scenes with which you can lay a foundation for most any novel.

Last week I gave you your new chart that has the ten foundational scenes listed and the approximate position they take up in your story. Print it out; use it. You can’t go wrong if you start with these ten scenes when laying out your novel.

I say “approximate” because every novel is a bit different, and while I’m a stickler for structural rules, I also wholly believe you need flexibility and room for originality. My novels often veer into crazy when it comes to structure, but I make sure those foundational scenes and events are in there.

One person wrote and asked me why I didn’t have Turning Point #2 (the 25% mark where the goal is established for the protagonist) as one of the ten key scenes. Reason: that turning point isn’t necessarily one specific scene. It marks the place in the story when the protagonist has the goal fixed. But that situation might be the result of a few scenes in that section of a novel. Again, allow for flexibility. This is just a frame for your story.

Shape Can Vary, but You Need Strong Framework

Some of my novels’ shapes may look a bit wonky, like houses with strange extensions poking out of the second floor or an unusual alcove off the roof, but I keep within those “building codes” that will ensure my structure will stand up to the hard winds of scrutiny and the ravages of time. Continue Reading…