Posts Tagged With: how to write

Top 3 Questions of Aspiring Writers

Thriller Author Interview

with Yours Truly

I’m always happy to answer questions from aspiring authors. This week, I got some tricky ones:

Q: How do you know when to end one chapter and start the next chapter?

A: You end a chapter as soon as the lead character either achieves their goal or fails.

The best place to end a chapter is immediately after you raise a new question in the reader’s mind. The desire to answer that question will make them turn the page. Continue reading

Categories: For Writers, how to write a book, how to write a novel, Uncategorized, writing, writing a book, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Win a Manuscript Critique, Help a Great Cause

Brenda Novak diabetes auction

All the proceeds of this fundraiser will go to benefit the Diabetes Research Institute. You can help!

You can win 50 pages of intense story development editing in the Brenda Novak diabetes auction:

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/Bidding.taf?_function=detail&Auction_uid1=3405168

If you’re a writer, or you know someone who is …

Find out how you can get my undivided attention and advice for a full 50 pages.

Plus, you’ll get a personal 20 minute follow-up phone call to talk about your book, answer your questions, and learn more about how to get published.

It’s a donation you can feel good about!

Continue reading

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How to Write Anything

How to Write Anything

Forget fancy software. Just grab a pen and follow along!

Have you ever needed to write something, but you didn’t know how to get started?

As a professional writer, I face that problem daily.

Luckily, I’ve discovered a super-simple way to organize any writing project.

And I’m about to share it with you.

Continue reading

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New for 2013: Instant Plot – FREE ebook!

Instant Plot ebook

Hate outlining? You’re not alone. Whether you’re plotting your novel, creating an outline or writing a synopsis, you need this FREE ebook.

Find out how to take charge of your plot, avoid the dumbest plotting mistakes, spot the warning signs of a dead-end story and master the core principles of dramatic structure.Just by answering a series of easy questions, you’ll map out the spine of your story and create a solid plan to get your novel finished – in less than an hour.

And the best part is that you can get this ebook for free. Continue reading

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Win Literary Prizes and Help Fight Diabetes

Just a quick reminder that bidding starts Sunday for the Brenda Novak Diabetes Fundraiser.  This year, aspiring writers get a chance to win some incredible prizes.  Seriously, some mind-blowing stuff!  Like lunch with agents, editors and other Very Important People.  Or a chance to get your polished manuscript into the hot little hands of people who can actually get it published!

Also, this year, I’ve offered up my own humble donation:

Get your opening chapter into shape!

Get a critique of the first 25 pages of your novel manuscript, including personalized suggestions on how to polish this crucial part of your book.  (Submission must be made by November 1, 2011.)

Laurence MacNaughton is a writing coach and contributor to Writers’ Journal.  He teaches fiction writing at You Can Write A Novel .com.

Check out all the details:

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/Home.taf?_start=1

Remember: you can write a novel — and you can help a good cause!

Categories: how to write a novel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Aspiring Writers Can Learn from Instant Coffee

Anybody who has ever worked in advertising (like yours truly, natch) knows how tough it is to tell a good story while you’re trying to promote a product.  I could bring up the time I had to write about a certain brand of high-end skater hoodies (yes, hoodies, as in a sweatshirt with a hood on it), and ended up writing about both ninjas AND space aliens — but I won’t bore you with the details.

Suffice to say that my favorite example of advertising storytelling is probably the old Taster’s Choice commercials (aka Nescafe Gold in the UK).  I’m not a big fan of commercials, but there’s something to the art of storytelling to be learned here.  I’d like to draw your attention to the new tab at the top of the page: Storytelling Secrets from Taster’s Choice.  I had a lot of fun with that one.

And yes, you can write a novel using the same tricks that the instant coffee people used.  Read it and I’ll show you how. 

New media is heading this direction, I think.  We’re seeing filmmakers large and small putting out webisodes featuring ultra-short episodes of a longer story arc, each one crafted to tag you into watching the next.  Sort of like chapters in a novel.  Hmm…

Anyway, not to spoil anything, but the coffee couple had a happy ending.  Just read the book.  (And yes, somebody wrote a novel about those two.  Seriously.)

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Want to Get Published? Know Your Genre!

You can write a novel in any genre you want, as long as you know what it is.  To me, a “genre” is anything that comes with a certain set of expectations.  If you tell me your story is a hard-boiled mystery, then I’ll know what to expect.  If you tell me it’s a time-travel romance, I know what to expect.  But if you tell me your story is so original that it defies all genres, I just scratch my head, because I have no idea what to expect.

With an editor, it’s a little more cut and dried. Genres have very specific definitions. Mystery is one thing, Fantasy is another. Tell an editor that your book doesn’t fit into a genre and you’re doomed.

For example, meet George.  George doesn’t have a genre.

EDITOR:  What genre is this?

GEORGE:  It’s not really in one particular genre, it’s set in ancient Egypt, and it’s got vampires, and there’s a time-traveling robot who falls in love with a detective from Brooklyn, and–

EDITOR:  PASS, thanks.  Now scram.

Don’t be George!  Pick a genre that the publisher can sink their teeth into.  By that, I mean “Science Fiction” is a genre.  “Cyberpunk” is not.  I love William Gibson as much as the next guy, but there isn’t an actual Cyberpunk section at Barnes and Noble, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by calling it that.

A friend of mine once had a manuscript catch the eye of the editor-in-chief of a major publisher.  He took it to the marketing meeting, it was discussed, and the consensus was that his book was too much of this genre and too much of that, and not enough to fit squarely into one or the other.  So they passed.  He went from hero to zero in the course of one meeting.  Ouch.

Don’t let that crash and burn happen to you.  If you want to get published, pick your genre carefully! How? Stay tuned, and I’ll walk you through it, step by step!

Categories: how to write a book, how to write a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Now Featuring Yours Truly

If you’re a Colorado writer, you owe it to yourself to check out Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, a source of news, inspiration, critique groups, conferences and the occasional bestselling author. 

Editor extraordinaire Carly Willis puts together an excellent newsletter every month.  If you’re a member (or thinking of becoming one), check out the March newsletter, featuring an article by moi.  It’s absolutely jam-packed with life-changing writing advice that will make your life complete.  Or, failing that, it’s a good way to kill a few minutes while you’re sipping your coffee.

Either way, check out RMFW.org here, and join your local writers!

Categories: how to write a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feel the Invisible Robot Love

These days, most of our precious writing usually ends up online, where it is relentlessly scrutinized by robots.  Not the sparky “Danger, Will Robinson, danger!” kind of robots, but invisible little computer gremlins that furrow through the internet, looking for text to gnaw on.  That way, if you go to Google and search for — oh, I don’t know, maybe “You Can Write a Novel” — there’s a chance you might find my humble little corner of the internet.

What this means to writers today is that it’s crucial that we learn about arcane things like keywords, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and why graphics aren’t searchable.  I’m not suggesting you set out to write something completely driven by keywords, lest your timeless prose read a little too Macho Business Donkey Wrestler.

But whatever we write, we have to be cognizant of how people will find it on the internet, and then come up with ways to make finding it easier.  Is it fair?  No.  But it’s a reality of the 21st century.  Just like the blank look I get from the local office supply dude every time I need a new typewriter ribbon.  (Every.  Stinkin’.  Time.)  But hey, I look at it as a creative challenge. 

And after all, isn’t that what we face every time we write? 

Categories: how to write a book, how to write a novel, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Transform Your Hero and Get Published

I was just listening to a fantastic interview with the late, great Blake Snyder, author of the Save the Cat! books.  One of the many insightful things he said was, “Tell me a story about a hero who transforms over the course of an adventure.”

That’s something that I struggle with in my own writing.  Time after time, I get comments about it.  (“These explosions are really cool.  But how does the character feel about them?”)  And it’s only after I go back through the manuscript and focus on the main character’s emotional arc that the story starts to really work.  Here’s how I do it — and how you can, too.

First, figure out exactly what your character is lacking from his or her life at the start of the story.  What belief does the character carry around that prevents her from being everything that she can be?  What is she afraid of?

Now, write a scene near the beginning of the story where the character has to make a choice — and does the wrong thing because of this flaw.  What are the consequences of that?  Show them happening!  Your challenge is to write the scene in such a way that the reader is fascinated by this character, and even rooting for her, even though she makes the wrong choice.

Then, fast-forward to the other end of the character arc.  Write a similar scene near the end of your story where the character does the right thing, because she’s grown past that flaw that used to hold her back.  After the character has acted, have someone else point out this character’s newfound inner strength.

Voila.  Your character has just transformed.  Not only is this writing exercise a cool way to show the “before and after” pictures of your character, I suspect it has also shown your character in an entirely new light.  You might be inspired to go back through your story and tweak things here and there to really showcase this character’s emotional journey.  Go for it. 

What have you got to lose?  Keep an old version of your manuscript as a backup, then just go to town with it.  Jot notes throughout your manuscript.  What you want to do is go back through your story and put in a couple of scenes in the middle where your character is trying to change, and gets closer every time — but doesn’t quite make it until the end. 

When someone reads this story straight through from beginning to end, she’ll see a character who starts out flawed and living a troubled life, who strives to make herself better and eventually — after much struggle — achieves it.  Becomes a better character.  Now, that’s someone you can root for!

Categories: how to write a book, how to write a novel, writing a book, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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