How I Plot A Novel in 5 Steps By popular request (ok, 1 person, but they're populace, so that makes it popular, right?) I've put together a step by step process for how I go from "Hey I should write a novel" to "Ok, let's get writing!" Though I managed to get things grouped into steps, what I've really done is labeled and applied order to the phases I go through as I work toward the point where I feel I know enough about a book to start writing. Some parts of my process may seem a bit obsessive, but the most important part of writing fast is knowing as much as you can about what you're writing before you write it, and that means lots and lots of planning. Planning a novel takes me anywhere from a few days to weeks. Well, enough of that. Disclaimer: Unlike my other posts, which I think will work for anyone, parts of this method are personal and might not be right for your books. While not actually part of the planning process, this step is really, really important. Now, what bare bones am I talking about?
Is the Writer’s Only Responsibility to His Art? Each week in Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. Faulkner said, “The writer’s only responsibility is to his art.” This week, Zoë Heller and Francine Prose discuss the obligations of artists. By Zoë Heller The belief that artists are entitled to be morally careless has proved to be one of the more tenacious parts of our Romantic inheritance. Photo Faulkner seemed to rather relish being horrid in the name of art. We may flinch at this sort of thing, but we remain, for the most part, curiously reluctant to reject Faulkner’s credo of artistic ruthlessness altogether. Perhaps one way of disturbing our reflexive deference to the bad manners of great men is to read the firsthand testimonies of the women who have suffered them. Was it Tolstoy’s artistic vocation that stopped him from bringing one of his 13 children the odd glass of water, or just boorishness of the same dreary, unglamorous kind that is wont to afflict firemen and accountants? By Francine Prose
Chapter & Novel Lengths Just how long should a chapter be? What’s the best length? And does a novel have to fit into a set amount of words? These are just two of the most common questions asked by writers. They assume they have to work to a strict template of X amount of words and X amount of chapters, usually because most novels have around 30 or 40 chapters and around 80,000 words. Novel Lengths Firstly, let’s dispel a few myths - novel lengths are dictated by the story itself, not the writer or the editor or a specific written formula. It’s also worth knowing the different types of novels that work well with different word counts. Longer, more complex stories, which contain a handful of main characters and peripheral characters, tend to run at about 60,000 to 95,000 words. The saga – plenty of characters and a complex, epic story told over many generations – think Roots or War and Peace - usually run at over 100,000 words. If you are writing a standard length novel, aim for 80,000 to 95,000 words.
How to be More Productive I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing productivity and questioning my daily routine. I picked up Daily Rituals: How Artists Work from the library because like the author, Mason Currey, I want to know how great artists organize their days in order to be creative and productive. Currey does not pretend to offer certainties by chronicling the rituals of 161 great minds, but rather gives the reader examples of how some brilliant people have met the same challenges we face when we hold the tension between inspiration and hard work, between our big creative visions and our small daily doings. Every day my mind tortures me about being more productive and my body leads me to my quiet spot in the backyard where I do nothing. Until my hand starts guiding the pen across the page. I like to align with what is ready to arrive in the moment. I know that is the way of the creative. Yes, AND… How do I stay productive? I don’t have certainties, no calculated number of words I should be writing. Oh.
How to Outline Your Novel If you are writing a creative nonfiction essay or a fiction story, writing an outline can be a good way to organise your ideas before beginning. An outline for a story, however, is different from an outline for a research paper. Take care as you write your outline not to make it overly detailed as too much rigidity can kill your creative impulse. Instead, loosely outline story-specific items, such as characters, setting, main conflict and plot. Skill level: Easy 1 Begin with a character sketch that includes the character's name, age, physical description, career, likes, dislikes, hobbies and idiosyncrasies. 1 Outline some of the main events of your story. Tips and warnings Don't worry about the order in which you write your outline. More slideshows
Location, Location, Location A writing tutor once told me that setting is just the frame for a story. It contains the story and highlights it – without intruding upon it. I believed her – right up until I started seriously writing my own novels and short stories. Well – perhaps not quite everything – there are characters and plot and themes too. Star Wars gets it right – the first movie made opens with the words… A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… With those words we are transported to the Star Wars universe. One of my favourite books of all time is Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. For this reason, I am not a huge fan of modern adaptations of Jane Austen’s books. Locations can reveal characters. Locations can also develop characters. I love to explore how our own backgrounds affect the way we see people and the way we react to them. In Game of Thrones, George R R Martin introduces Ned Stark and his daughters in their home in the north – where life is harsh but straightforward. Website www.janetgover.com
How to Plot a Character Driven Book in 3 Easy Steps | Historical Romance Author Robyn DeHart, Legend Hunters , Ladies Amateur Sleuth Society Theme & Premise: Or How to Plot a Character Driven Book in 3 Easy Steps It is said that there are two types of writers: plotters and seat of the pants writers (or fly into the mist writers). Obviously the majority of us fall somewhere in between. Step 1 – THEME. To define your theme, you need to know what theme is, so what is theme? But how do you come up with a theme out of thin air, especially if you’re doing this with a book you haven’t even written yet? So now you have your theme, let’s move on to Step 2 – PREMISE/CHARACTER LESSON. This is the biggie for me when I’m doing my prewriting. Character lesson or premise is just what it sounds like: what does your character need to learn? Which brings me right into Step 3 – CHARACTER ARC. Now comes the plotting. So you have a character who is at Point A (believing her past dictates her future) and needs to get to Point B (accepting her past and allowing herself a future). That’s it. Let’s face it, writing will never be easy. Share this page
5 Ways to be a Smart, Gutsy Writer I used to think that becoming a writer was like leafing through a travel brochure or scrolling through a vacation website to find that perfect, sunlit place (writing genre). Once I found the perfect spot, I would earmark that page and say, “Yeah, that’s where I’m headed.” Then, once I actually got there, I’d set down my suitcase (full of chic outfits to wear to my book launches) and announce: “I’m heee-eere.” Ask any working writer who crams in a round of edits on her lunch hour. Or ask any of us who wake up at 2 a.m. with that perfect, ah-ha idea, and, damn it, someone’s moved the bedside pen and stack of notebooks (again). And, like all other aspects of our lives, writing has its ups and downs. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. An Irish native, Aine Greaney now lives on Boston’s North Shore where she writes non-fiction and fiction. Follow her on twitter @AineGreaney Visit her website at www.ainegreaney.com Tags: featured Category: Contemporary Women Writers, How To and Tips
How to write an effective ‘flashback’ (and bring your reader with you!) | a Portia Adams adventure I promised my friend Rami over at a post about writing effective flashback scenes (something I don’t think I’ve nailed), so after some research, here are my findings. First a wikipedia definition in case not everyone uses the same term: The Writers Digest has a great post about this issue in which they offer 3 tips: Your flashback should follow a strong scene. (so the flashback should not be your FIRST scene, though lots of TV shows start that way, with a scene from the future that makes no sense, and then a black screen that says ’72 hours earlier’ or something like that)Orient us at the start of the flashback in time and space (in other words, don’t just give a time reference for the flash back, also set the scene in terms of characters and where they are).Use verb tense conventions to guide your reader in and out of the flashback (tricky, but it depends on what tense your ‘current’ timeline is written in and from what voice) Like this: Like Loading...
What Choice Would You Make?: Margaret Atwood & Steve Paulson Discuss Dystopias, Prostibots & Hope Margaret Atwood doesn’t rest on her laurels. For all of her acclaim over a publishing career that’s spanned more than half a century, she’s still experimenting with new literary forms and dissecting the oddities and inequities of our post-industrial society. Her latest novel, which began as a serialized story for an online magazine, conjures up a dystopian future that could be, as she puts it, “just around the corner.” In The Heart Goes Last, a young married couple, Stan and Charmaine, are down on their luck and stuck in a gutted landscape that resembles a scary movie version of Detroit. Some readers might call this science fiction, but Atwood prefers “speculative fiction” to describe this and previous novels like The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake. I talked with Atwood about the current craze for dystopian stories, the legacy of Orwell and Huxley, and her longtime fascination with prisons. Margaret Atwood: The voluntarily-go-to-live part is the only invention. MA: Yeah. SP: Sure.