Tag Archive - theme

2 Key Factors in Successfully Outlining Stories

Today’s guest post is by Andrea Turrentine.

If you intend to write a novel, I can tell you most publishers may ask you for an outline and a few chapters.

Outlining may be unavoidable, especially for new writers.

It is also pointless to debate the efficacy of outlining because no doubt most of the best pros do it.

Atwood. Rowling. Martin. Patterson. Gaiman. Sorkin. Rhimes (She doesn’t need to now but teaches her students how she did so when she started out).

If it works, it works. That’s right. I’m taking a hard stance.

What we are going to look at is about outlining in practice. So, while devout pantsers may wish to leave, don’t! I may yet convert you. Continue Reading…

4 Ways to Bring Out Theme in Your Story

Theme is such an important element of story, regardless of medium. Even visual arts, such as paintings or sculture, tell a story and often center on some theme. Yet, you’ll find few blog posts or podcasts discussing what theme is in a story and how to showcase it.

I feel theme is so crucial to a great story that I chose it as one of the four corner pillars of novel construction. And while some novelists may argue that the genre they write in really doesn’t require themes (suspense/thriller, mystery, for example), for a deeper, richer story, themes are the ticket.

To get to the heart of the themes for your story, ask yourself questions:

  • Why I am passionate about this plot I’ve come up with?
  • What issues speak to my heart or upset me?
  • How can I have my characters embody these opinions or passions?
  • What kinds of conflicts in values, morals, beliefs, and ideas can my characters have that will enhance my premise?

Continue Reading…

Mind Mapping for the Novelist

Since many of you are in the throes of NaNoWriMo, here’s a reprint of a post I wrote years ago discussing how helpful mind-mapping is and how you might use it to spur your creativity and work through your plotting ideas.

And, of course, any writer can utilize these techniques to help come up with great plot and character elements for any story.

Brainstorming ideas seems to be one of the hardest stages in the writing process for many novelists. As I discussed in a previous post, this storm of ideas that flash and thunder in our brains often appears unruly and difficult to harness.

I introduced the practice of mind mapping, which is used across many disciplines—such as in classrooms for essay writing and in business meetings to problem-solve. Mind mapping can be used in just about any situation when ideas need to be reeled in and transformed into practical application. Continue Reading…

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