Posts Tagged With: how to write a novel

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Suspense in Your Novel

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Suspense in Your NovelHave you ever read a book that you just couldn’t put down?

The whole time you were turning pages, you were probably desperate to discover the answer to a burning question.

That’s the essence of suspense, and it makes readers devour your book.

So how do you build suspense in your novel?

Start by avoiding these four suspense-destroying mistakes.

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How to Write Kick-Ass Action Scenes (Part 2)

how to write action scenes p2Believe it or not, it’s easy to write gripping action scenes—if you know how. In Part 1 of this article, I showed you how to break down complicated action scenes into their component parts: location, characters, goals, and actions. Now I’ll show you the real secret to wrapping up any action scene with an unforgettable bang.

Read more at Fiction University >

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How to Write a Novel This Year: 10 Free How-To Articles

Writing Desk - how to write a novel

Do you have questions about writing a novel? Here are the answers.

Something like 92% of all New Year’s resolutions are doomed to failure. If one of your goals is to write a novel this year, don’t let yourself become a statistic. Find out the answers to your questions and learn how to write your book.

Since I joined the powerhouse faculty at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University, I’ve written a monthly how-to guide for writing fiction. If you’re looking for some writing inspiration or technique, you could do worse than checking out some of my favorite articles: Continue reading

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Create the Perfect Villain: a 6-Step Master Plan

Create the Perfect Villain: a 6-Step Master Plan


In my last article on Fiction University, I laid out 6 Ways to Make Readers Fall in Love With Your Characters.

If you’re writing a story or novel, pay attention. Because now I’m going to flip all of those techniques upside down.

I’ll show you how to use the opposite of those exact same methods to create a villain that your readers will love to hate.

How? Find out on Fiction University.

Want more free fiction writing tips, plus a chance to win free books? Sign up for my author newsletter. >

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The Simple Secret to Fixing Ugly Story Problems

how to write: retroactive continuity

When you’re in the middle of writing, don’t stop. Except for coffee.

It happens to every writer: you’re writing along when suddenly you need to go back and change some fact or detail.

Because if you don’t fix it, the story won’t make sense. Should you stop writing at that moment to go fix it?

Nope. That could kill your momentum.

Here’s a better idea. It’s called a retcon, and comic book writers have been using it for decades.

Retcon is short for “retroactive continuity” and it means that you’re stating a new fact that changes what’s come before.

In other words, you’re changing the past.

This is a term I first encountered in the massively entertaining and informative book Writing for Comics with Peter David. (Mr. David, by the way, has an impressive list of comic writing credits, including Spider-Man, Wolverine, Supergirl, Hulk, Star Trek, and tons of others. He knows what he’s talking about.)

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How to Plan and Write A Novel

non-English typewriter

Think Microsoft Word is a pain to use? Try cranking out 100K on this sucker.

I’m often asked what my writing process looks like.

How do I write a book? It’s pretty simple, actually.

(Not easy. But simple.)

First, I start with the basics:

  • Who are the good guys?
  • What are they trying to do?
  • And, especially, why?
  • Who are the bad guys?
  • Where does this take place?

Then I boil all of that down into a strong core idea. For example: a bookish crystal shop owner has to save the world from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – who drive possessed muscle cars.

The idea has to work at the core level, it has to really grab me, before I start writing it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Then I figure out how to make the whole book work, beginning to end, in a short synopsis. Maybe one page. That takes time. And even once I have that figured out, I don’t start writing it yet.

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How to Make Writing Your Career: Word Cafe Interview with Yours Truly

Word Cafe author interview

Just for the record, the lace doilies were not my idea. Now you know.

Hey, this is cool. Join me over at Word Cafe for an interview where I reveal everything I know about:

• Building a full-time career around writing, as a novelist and a copywriter — and what a copywriter does, exactly.

• How my first book from a New York publisher actually started out as a short story — and how I grew it into a novel.

• The pros and cons of being a hybrid author (both traditionally published and self-published).

• What my fiction writing process looks like. (It’s both crazier and more straightforward than you might think).

• And, of course, my top piece of advice for writers.

Read the complete interview here. >

P.S. Also, I’m giving away a few autographed paperback books to my newsletter subscribers. Don’t miss out. Click here to subscribe to my author newsletter. >

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What an Editor Really Does — and Why You Need One

I first met Anita when she worked with my literary agent, Kristin Nelson. Anita is a freelance editor who helps writers bring out the very best in their novels. She was kind enough to share her editing insights, including why you should never let a rejection letter get you down, and why joining a critique group can not only improve your writing, but also save you money – and help you get published. Here’s Anita with all the insider info about editors. –L.


Anita, can you tell us what a developmental editor does, exactly?

Anita Mumm, founder of Mumm’s the Word Editing & Critique Services

Anita Mumm, founder of Mumm’s the Word Editing & Critique Services

The easiest way to describe a developmental editor’s work is that it focuses on the big picture: Does the plot work? Are the characters the kind of people readers want to spend an entire book with? Is the dialogue smooth or stilted? Is the voice appropriate to the genre and audience?

Developmental editing means making sure the foundation of the novel is sound, and that all of its parts come together in a meaningful whole.

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I Should Be Writing podcast with Yours Truly

Mur Lafferty's, "I Should Be Writing: The Podcast for Wannabe Fiction Writers."Attention writers: You’re missing out.

If you aren’t already listening to Mur Lafferty’s, “I Should Be Writing: The Podcast for Wannabe Fiction Writers,” you need to drop what you’re doing and go listen.

In every episode, Mur talks about the writing process, problems every writer faces, and how to solve them.

The unstoppable Mur was gracious enough to invite me on her show to blab on endlessly about writing, crystals, muscle cars, and the original idea behind It Happened One Doomsday.

Listen to the show here.

Honestly, I think the best part of the conversation happened after we stopped recording:

We talked about how so many creative people get discouraged because they don’t realize that their struggles are universal. I told Mur that what she’s doing with her podcast is incredibly important. And that’s so true.

By the way, since this podcast came out, I’ve gotten plenty of questions about the MONSTER acronym I use to create monsters in my stories.

It’s a handy tool for thinking your monsters completely through. Here it is:

MONSTER — 7 keys to terrifying creatures

MIND: How smart is it? What senses does it possess?

ORIGIN: Where does it come from? What is it called?

NEED: What motivates it? What is it after?

SKETCH: What does it look like? How big is it? What color is it? How does it move?

TAKE ON: How can the heroes fight it? What hurts it? What scares it?

EAT: What does it eat? How does it eat?

RELATIONSHIPS: Loner or a pack? Belong to someone? Obey someone/thing? Rule someone/thing?

If you find that helpful, there’s more.

Get access to all of my free writing tips when you subscribe to my author newsletter. Click here. >

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How do I get inspired to write?

It Happened One Doomsday at Barnes & Noble

Hey, read any good books lately?

Everyone has a unique way of getting inspired. I spark ideas by doing tons of research. The world we live in is so weird, it’s impossible not to get inspired.

Before I wrote about the crystal magic in IT HAPPENED ONE DOOMSDAY, I went to plenty of lapidaries (rock shops), which are all over the place in Colorado.

I also attended quite a few gem and mineral shows, and visited metaphysical shops to talk to people who really believe in crystal healing. It was an eye-opening experience. I took some of those ideas and expanded them to a super-powered level to create the unique magic system in this book.

I also drew on my own experience working in an antiquarian bookstore, where we had boxes full of ancient books that were strangely worthless, because no one wanted to buy them. Some of them were centuries old, some of them in Latin, some even handwritten. Those inspired the magical books Dru studies.

Plus, I used to be a professional test driver. I tested dozens of prototype and experimental vehicles, sometimes in hairy conditions, so I had some real-life experience to draw on when writing the car chase scenes.

Somehow, all of that came together in this book. It was so much fun to write, and I’m deeply moved that so many people are enjoying reading it!

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