Posts Tagged With: how to write a novel

9 Surprising Things I Love about Writing (and One Thing I Hate)

Nerds That GeekTrue story: When I was 17, I met an African storyteller.

He traveled to distant parts of the world, collecting oral stories and writing them down for posterity. He was my first real-life writing teacher.

His feedback helped me get started as a writer. Within a couple of years, I had sold my first magazine article. I’ve been writing ever since.

I got a chance to talk about that experience (and a bunch of other sometimes-funny, sometimes-humbling stuff) on the ever-excellent Nerds That Geek website. Check it out.

P.S. Want a chance to win one of my new books for free? Get my author newsletter.

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Making Fascinating Monsters on The Bibliosanctum

The BibliosanctumHow do writers create fascinating monsters?

For me, it’s a many-layered process that involves thinking about where a monster came from, what it’s after, how it thinks, and what happens when it encounters the heroes.

I actually got the chance to dive deep into the monster-creation process and explain how to do it step-by-step, thanks to the marvelous Mogsy over at Bibliosanctum, the super-fabulous speculative fiction blog.

You can read my guest post here.

P.S. You can also get access to your own monster-making workbook when you get my author newsletter.

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Why Writers Should NEVER Carry a Notebook

Why Writers Should NEVER Carry a NotebookBefore I became a published author, I used to carry around a writing notebook in my back pocket.

You know the kind I’m talking about: the little black book that tells the world you’re a Serious Writer.

But that little notebook is a big mistake, I eventually learned.

Here are three reasons why you should ditch it, and what you need to keep in your pocket instead. Continue reading

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6 Rules to Pump Up Your Writing

When considering who gives out the best writing advice in the world, the first name that pops up might not be Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But a decade ago, Schwarzenegger presented his “6 Rules of Success” in a now-famous commencement speech at the University of Southern California.

And these rules just might hold the key to your success as a writer.

Continue reading

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4 Writing Pitfalls to Avoid at All Costs

4 Writing Pitfalls to Avoid at All CostsHas your writing fallen into a black hole?

Has your pacing dropped to a crawl, or your suspense become a snore?

Do you just feel stuck?

You might be sabotaging your own writing without even knowing it.

But don’t panic. Here’s how to avoid the four most perilous pitfalls of writing.
Continue reading

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Never Suffer Writer’s Block Again

Never Suffer Writer’s Block AgainHave you ever sat down to write, and found that everything you wrote seemed terrible?

Every writer has felt that way, at one time or another.

Here’s the uncomfortable truth about those critical thoughts: they can actually help you become a better writer.

But only if you know how to recognize those thoughts for what they are, and then train yourself to have them at the right time.

There are two sides to your creative process.

The creative side of your writing process helps you get the rough draft down on paper.

The critical side, on the other hand, helps you revise and polish the final draft.

In order to be write, you actually need both of these very different thought patterns in your head. You just can’t have them at exactly the same time. Continue reading

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How to Create Characters in 60 Seconds

How To Create Characters in 60 SecondsWhen you create great characters, they walk onto the page and make your story unforgettable.

They can bring every scene to life.

But creating characters takes tons of time and effort, doesn’t it?

Not necessarily.

I’m here to show you how you can create an impressively good character in 60 seconds or less.

 

Sound impossible? Here’s the secret:

You don’t need to write ten pages of backstory to make a great character. All you need is four short sentences.

Sentence #1: Name & Appearance

What is this character’s name?

If you don’t have a name in mind yet, use a placeholder name. (More on names in a moment.) Next question:

How would you describe this character’s appearance, in a single word, or as few words as possible?

Don’t limit yourself to just hair, clothes, or general physical description. Get creative. Come up with any noticeable outward feature that sounds good, and jot it down.

Continue reading

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Introducing the Six-Figure Master Fiction Plot

Lester Dent Master Fiction PlotEver wish you could write a novel in just a matter of weeks . . . and then sell it for good money?

Lester Dent did exactly that. In fact, he wrote his first novel in just thirteen days.

You read that right. Thirteen days.

Over the course of his career, he wrote nearly 200 novel-length stories. He crammed the pages of pulp fiction magazines with stories cranked out under various pen names. During the Great Depression, while legions of writers were starving, he boasted that he made $18,000 a year with his writing. In today’s terms, that’s more than $250,000 a year.

He often wrote a book-length story every month, using a “master plot” formula of his own devising.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get your hands on that top-secret recipe for success? You bet it would.

So here it is. Continue reading

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Answered: Your Most Burning Questions About Editors

James Persichetti, Developmental Editor at Lost Hat Editorial Services

For every brilliant manuscript that grows into a best-selling novel, untold thousands of others get dumped into the recycle bin. What’s the crucial difference between them?

Ask Jamie.

Over the years, James Persichetti has seen more unpublished manuscripts cross his desk than most people could read in a lifetime. He started out at the incomparable Nelson Literary Agency (Bird Box, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, etc.).

Now, he’s launched Lost Hat Editorial Services, a boutique editing business that helps writers like you succeed. Here he is, in his own words, to tell you how to find the right editor, polish your book to perfection, and avoid the biggest mistakes aspiring writers make. Continue reading

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6 Best How-To Books for Writers

Countless best-selling authors have told me that in their early years, before they were published, they relentlessly studied the craft of writing. Consequently, I’ve had hundreds of writing books recommended to me.

Here are the very best of them all, the books I always keep within arm’s reach of my writing desk.

#1: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

Way back when I worked for a book distributor, Michael Wiese Productions sent me a sample copy of the original Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. I devoured that book, and it helped launch my career as a novelist.

The original Save the Cat! book series was aimed at screenwriters. This brand-new version by Jessica Brody seamlessly adapts Blake Snyder’s methods for novelists. It’s one of the best “how to write a novel” books of the decade.

Get it. Read it. Follow it. You’ll be glad you did.

#2: The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Whenever you or I write the first draft of the story, our characters tend to exhibit the same cliche body language: nodding, shrugging, grinning. Pretty uninspired stuff, really.

Solution? Crack open this book, which contains more than 150 pages of body language, internal sensations, and mental responses to every imaginable emotion.

Is your character determined? Show him rolling up his sleeves. Is she mortified? Show her covering her face with her hands. Instantly, this book will have your characters winking, swaggering, leaning closer, tapping their feet, tightening their fists — and coming alive on the page.

While you’re getting this book, pick up the rest of the books in this series. Believe me, you’ll use them.

#3: Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge

Michael Hauge is a storytelling genius. He’s not only a best-selling author and inspiring speaker, he’s also one of Hollywood’s top story experts. He’s worked on projects starring Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Reese Witherspoon, and Morgan Freeman. This book is packed solid with practical, nuts-and-bolts techniques you can use to write a better screenplay, novel, short story, or any work of fiction. It’s no exaggeration to say that reading that book forever transformed the way I look at stories.

Plus, Hauge is a super, super nice guy. Every time I talk to him, I come away wiser. So check out his books.

#4: Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham

You really should read all of Jack Bickham’s books on writing, but this one in particular. It is packed with masterful techniques to keep readers hooked throughout a story.

Perhaps the biggest revelation in this book is the way Bickham breaks down cause and effect. Stories are told not just in scenes, but also in something he calls “sequels.” A sequel is a moment (or even a whole chapter) when the lead character emotionally reacts to the previous scene, revisits the big story questions, works through a dilemma, and decides on a new course of action.

If you want to become a successful author, you need to master the scene and sequel technique. This book shows you how.

#5: The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics by Dennis O’Neil

Even if you don’t read comic books, you can’t deny their enormous impact on popular books, movies, and TV shows today.

Best-selling novelist and comic book legend Dennis O’Neil breaks down the elements that make comic book stories work.

It’s also a fascinating primer on solid storytelling techniques that can benefit any writer.

#6: The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines by Tami D. Cowden, Carol LeFever, Sue Viders

I happened to pick up this book at the Tattered Cover bookstore nearly 20 years ago, and I have never since found a more practical guide to character relationships.

Aimed at romance writers (but useful to anyone), this book divides male and female characters into eight broad archetypes. Male types include The Chief, the Bad Boy, the Best Friend, etc. Female types include the Nurturer, the Free Spirit, the Librarian, and so on.

This is not in-depth psychology, here. But it works. Take a look at my Dru Jasper urban fantasy series. I have a Librarian named Dru and a Bad Boy named Greyson. They fall in love. By and large, the critics love them.

The genius of this book is that it shows you how the archetypes interact with each other. For example, how do the Bad Boy and the Librarian drive each other crazy? How do they work together as a team? How do they eventually change each other for the better? Read the book and find out.

What are your favorite writing books?

I’m always on the lookout for new books to add to my shelf. What titles have you found to be especially useful, interesting, or inspiring? Let me know.

By the way, for more free writing tips (and other cool stuff), why not subscribe to my newsletter?

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