Archive - Novel Structure RSS Feed

The Way to Really Get Ready for NaNoWriMo

With the mayhem of NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month) approaching, I’d like to encourage writers to avoid wasting time and effort throwing something together in the month of November that’s basically a train wreck.

If your aim is just to complete a “novel” (let’s just call it that for now …) of about 50,000 words in one month, and the only reason for doing so is to feel good about meeting your commitment, then fine. If you don’t care about your final result, then fine. Just write your head off for a month, smile at your accomplishment, then throw the manuscript out.

I’ve been hired by some aspiring authors to critique and/or edit their NaNo product. I do believe it was a waste of their money to hire me to work on something that was such a mess (maybe a fun mess to create) but that had no potential at all to be fashioned into a solid novel.

You’ve heard it from me over and over. Novels need structure. And the best time to lay out that structure is BEFORE you start writing scenes. Put an outline together after you’ve studied novel structure. Use my 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction book and workbook, and study Layer Your NovelContinue Reading…

Outlining Your Novel – Whether You’re a Plotter or a Pantser

Today’s guest post is by Harrison Demchick.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Pantser is a term that has come into vogue in the creative writing world over the last few years. When it comes to the process of writing, a pantser is one who flies by the seat of his pants, barreling his way to a completed draft with little planning and less revision. It’s an approach well-suited to writers who otherwise find themselves so stuck seeking perfection that they never actually finish anything.

I’ve never been one to fly by the seat of my pants. I’m a plotter. I plan. But I’ve also never been one to advocate for only one approach to writing. We’re all different writers with different writer brains. What works for one may not work for another, and as a writer you need to find what works best for you.

But fiction is complicated no matter how you approach it. And whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, I think there’s much to be gained by considering the value and application of a well-constructed outline. Continue Reading…

Deconstructing Best Sellers in Your Niche Genre

I’ve been studying thrillers because I’m about to write a thriller series. Even though I’ve written a couple of novels with thriller elements, I want to nail this genre. I want my novels in this series to fit right up there with best-selling authors.

And that has involved a lot of work. I spent a bunch of money flying to NY to attend Thrillerfest (and I’m so glad I did!). I took a masters class, and all-day ATF workshop (the highlight of the week!), I met with and shmoozed with best-selling authors. I listened to panel discussions. And so much more.

In addition, I’ve been doing hours of research online. I’ve made phone appointments to talk with experts (FBI, ATF, park rangers, lightning experts, etc.). I am heading up to Seattle to scout locations and meet with local ATF special agents and park rangers in Mt. Rainier.

Yes, I take my writing seriously, and that means I do my homework. Before I wrote my latest novel in my Western series, I went to Wyoming to get a feel for Laramie, the state penitentiary, and the environs. I also went to many museums, dug into newspaper archives, and read passages from books that I couldn’t check out and had been written decades ago that shed light on the 1870s (the decade in which my series is set). Continue Reading…