Tag Archive - Conflict with High Stakes

The Secret Formula to Writing the Commercially Successful Novel

I’ve been writing novels for more than three decades, and while I have learned a lot about how unpredictable the market is, there are some specific characteristics that have consistently set apart novels that see success. You’d think every informed novel-writer would know what these are.

Here’s the thing:

I critique more than 200 manuscripts a year (95% novels). Even the best ones seem to be missing the key ingredients for a commercial best seller.

Why is that?

Because few writers have learned the specific elements that identify a great novel with great potential. And many of those elements are not what the average fiction writer is taught.

Sure, you need a great plot, an intriguing and fresh premise, terrific characters. And your scenes need to be tight time capsules of “show, don’t tell.”

But a terrific commercially viable novel has so much more. And few books or writing instructors teach what these essential elements are.

Continue Reading…

Raising the Stakes in Every Scene

Today’s guest post is by best-selling author DiAnn Mills.

In the art of story writing, high stakes keep the reader turning pages. The writer establishes an endearing character and quickly tosses him into a troublesome incident. Our adventure begins.

Spellbinding tension in every scene causes the reader to forget about time and space. The genre doesn’t matter, only what a beloved character must do as a hero. Opposition simmers and boils in every scene, elevating the stakes higher than the previous one.

When writers understand the purpose of high stakes, they see how an unexpected turn of events affects a character’s goal and ultimately the story’s climax. These are the competitive factors between the protagonist and the antagonist, laced with the protagonist’s high probability of failure. Incorporating stress, tension, and conflict in every scene ensures a story thrives. Continue Reading…

Mastering the 4 Key Elements to Support Your Novel

Since we’ve been exploring masterful writing over these last few months (and will continue to do so), I want to bring you back to the basics of novel structure. Why? Because all the masterful writing in the world won’t go very far if you don’t nail structure.

As you probably know (if you’ve been following my blog awhile), I write a lot about structure. And that’s because it’s crucial if you want to write a solid story. It’s as simple as that.

Every writing coach with a lick of sense is going to tell you essentially the same things I do. Maybe they use different terminology or describe concept or premise differently. Those are moot points.

What matters is that you understand how important structure is. And where to start.

That’s why I like using the building construction metaphor. You have to have a sturdy foundation for your building that meets established and proven building codes. A novel works on the same principles. Continue Reading…

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