Tag Archive - Online courses

12 Weeks to Writing Your 10 Key Scenes

Anyone who tells you that writing a novel is easy doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Plain and simple.

Great novels are complex. And while seasoned writers like Stephen King might claim they never plot, their years of experience in writing well-structured stories merely shows their brains are entrenched in solid story structure. They plot intuitively. Kind of like how, once you learn to ride a bike or snowboard, you don’t think about it. You just do it. At least, that’s what I do–whether I’m plotting or snowboarding.

I don’t have to use my plotting outlines and templates anymore because I know in my bones where the twists and pinch points and all those other milestones need to show up in my story.

But if you haven’t written a couple of dozen novels and “gotten the hang” of traditional, expected, solid story structure, you’re going to need some help.

And that’s why there are lots of books, podcasts, and courses on plot and structure.

I wrote Layer Your Novel because I couldn’t find a simple, clear step-by-step method of approaching novel structure. I floundered writing my first four or five novels until I learned there was such a thing. Continue Reading…

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…

The Punch at the End of Your Novel Scenes

I’m sure you’ve heard people tell jokes. Whether you’ve listened to stand-up comics on a stage who are masters at joke-telling or a friend at a party or coffeeshop, you know what they’re all about.

The punchline.

The genre of joke-telling is all about the last line. Everything builds to it. Listeners are eagerly awaiting that last line because they know that’s the payoff. They expect a twist, a surprise, a pun … something entertaining that makes the whole joke worth listening to.

If you’ve ever listened to a  joke that doesn’t deliver–that leaves you puzzled or disappointed because the last line is dumb or flat or obtuse–you would say the joke failed. And the person telling it is assessed as a not-so-great joke-teller. You may not pay a lot of money to go see that comedian again. Or watch a movie she’s featured in.

Thankfully, most of us don’t have to make a living telling jokes–because it’s hard to do well. We greatfly admire comedians that can tell a great joke or anecdote that builds to a terrific punch at the end. Continue Reading…

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