Write Great Scenes to Build Great Stories – Quick Writing Tips

writing conflict

Action, Conflict, Scenes! Scenes and summary are building blocks of stories–both fiction and memoir. A scene is a piece of story action, rendered continuously moment-by-moment, without summary, but with action and, often, dialogue. A scene can be acted out on stage. She wants, he wants: Characters work in conflict. If they both want to go to the same party and they go, sorry, no conflict, no scene. In contrast, let’s say Joe and Suzy are on their third date and Joe wants to take Suzy to Dave’s party. Dave is Joe’s best friend. But Suzy absolutely doesn’t want to go to Dave’s party–Joe just pointed …

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Help Writing Your Novel—Yes You Can Revise with Ease!

help writing novel-revision

Want to start and finish your first, fifth, or tenth novel in 2017? Read on! In my previous post, I wrote about 1st drafts, and I shared my best suggestions for finishing draft 1 of your novel within 3 to 6 months (without losing your mind). Your 1st draft is the one Anne Lamott aptly dubs the “shitty first draft.” Give yourself permission to work quickly with forward momentum. When your 1st draft is complete: Set it aside for days, weeks, maybe even a month or more. Give yourself time to let it go and separate yourself. When you come back to the …

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How to Write, Revise & Finish Your Novel in 2017, Really: Part I

help writing fiction

It’s that time of year when many of us are looking forward to 2017, evaluating what matters to us, and making our resolutions. If writing and finishing your novel tops your list, here are some tips to help you write your best book. I use these steps to write my own fiction and I’ve just finished the 1st draft of my newest novel, working title, The Book of Riddles. Write your 1st draft quickly, ideally within 3 to 6 months. Key to this process of drafting is to refrain from editing your 1st draft! I know that makes some writers howl with …

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#NaNoWriMo2015–Get to the Heart of Your Story (writing tip #4)

When I’m drafting my novels I think in threes: first draft is fast and lean and messy (remember Anne Lamott and shitty first drafts); second draft (aka revision) comes after I’ve had the chance to take a breather and then give my book a focused read so I can sense what needs expanding, cutting, honing, deepening, this time moving at a slower pace–remember that revision is seeing again with fresh eyes; if all goes well my third draft is about “housekeeping”–tidying up, freshening up, tossing out, and adding the final touches. When I speak with writers, some new to the …

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The View from Here: One Writer’s Thoughts on Viewpoint Any in-depth discussion of viewpoint or point of view (POV) is a complex undertaking because viewpoint is perhaps the most intricate element of fiction. Because in this blog, I aim for simplicity, I will cover a few basics, and, with the examples interspersed, encourage you to register and reflect upon your impressions. For the moment lets consider point of view as the person and perspective used to narrate the story. More simply yet profoundly put by author and teacher Janet Burroway, viewpoint is the vantage point from which a story is …

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The Loose Novelist

This advice from Alan Watt’s wise how-two, THE 90-DAY NOVEL: “I didn’t try to figure out the ending, but rather, imagined a sense of my hero at the end of the story. How was he relating differently to his father? What had he come to understand as a result of his journey? How was the dilemma resolved? What was the visual metaphor, the image that captured the essence of my story at the end? As I pondered these questions, ideas came to me, and I realized that they were a goldmine of images for what preceded the ending. Imagining our …

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WORD PLAY

Every writer knows word play is addicting. And, happily, readers flock to those writers who express themselves with originality and authenticity. By that I mean, the images evoked are vivid and often surprising, and the words feel “right” for the narrative world they bring to life. My seven-year-old daughter and I are currently enjoying the series, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. We look forward to our nightly installment, and always we end up laughing out loud. Today’s playful description comes courtesy of Cressida Cowell, the series author, and Toothless, Hiccup’s tiny and sleep-deprived dragon: “Toothless crawled up from his place …

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Life of Fiction

From Kenneth Atchity’s A WRITER’S TIME: Fiction isn’t identical with reality. Instead, dramatic fiction gives the impression of reality. Aristotle described it as an “imitation” of action. In many ways we prefer the imitation to reality. Fiction has a definable shape, a satisfying closure. When you read a good book or see a good play, you walk away with a feeling of having experienced something definite, something conclusive. Unfortunately, life itself doesn’t often provide such a well-rounded feeling. We go to the theater or the bookstore to find fictions that are philosophically, morally, or dramatically more meaningful than those we …

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Fiction, the Mind, and Ghosts

“So far we’ve looked at two places where you can put the character emotion you’ve stripped out of your dialogue mechanics–into the dialogue itself and into the language of your descriptions written from an intimate point of view. A third place is interior monologue. Movies and television may be influencing writers to write more visually, using immediate scenes with specific points of view to put their stories across. But fiction can always accomplish something that visual media will never be able to touch.” From Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King In other words: The fiction writer …

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Quote of the Day on Point of View

Today’s quote from Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass: “Point of view is more than just a set of eyes looking upon the world. Those eyes come with a mouth and a brain. Those must come into play, too, or your novel will have the chilliness of a movie camera. There may be times when objective point of view is useful, but by and large it is best to use the singular advantage that the novel has over other art forms: the ability to bring us deeply inside a character’s experience.”

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