The Major Plot Events of a Novel and When They Occur

building blocks, an analogy of plot eventsThis month’s last post on plotting concerns the major plot events, or building blocks, of your story.

Most writers understand all fiction has a climatic scene, aka the climax. They also know it occurs very near the end of the story.

However, many writers miss several other plot events essential to their story. [Read more…]

Story Premise: What it is and how to develop it

In last week’s “To Plot a Story,” guest Deborah Lyn Stanley stated, “A one-sentence premise is essential to a strong story.”

Many writers may not understand what a premise is or how to arrive at that one-sentence, so let’s take a look at it today.

Premise. Little boy meets alien.In almost all of my books on the craft, discussion of premise is missing, or perhaps they use different terminology. So is it any wonder when I ask writers what is the premise of their book, they answer with a blank stare. [Read more…]

Plotting: Finding a system that works for you

Plotting know where you're headedIn recent months I’ve been stymied by my work in progress (WIP). Would I call it writer’s block? No. I was struggling to write because I simply didn’t know where the story was going.

You see, I decided to take a short story I wrote for a college class a few years back and develop it into a novella. That meant I had to expand on the plot of the story, and I hadn’t taken the time to do that before I started writing.

If you have no plot, you have no story.

For that reason, I’ve decided [Read more…]

3 Common but Easily Avoided Mistakes in Fiction

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid in FictionLately, I’ve noticed several of the same kinds of mistakes occurring in the manuscripts I’m reviewing, so I thought I’d address them here today. Let’s start with the easiest one to fix.

Dialog tags before the dialog

You can find this mistake with ease, and fix it just as quickly. It happens most often when writers give their characters an action prior to the dialog.

Gary turned to me and said, “I don’t make that mistake.”

Readers know quotation marks indicate speech. The words and said are superfluous.

Laughing, Gary said, “I don’t make that mistake.”

In the example above, [Read more…]

The Problem with Flashbacks

shattered glass from a car wreckFlashbacks.

You know what I’m talking about. When a writer rips us from the present moment of the story and catapults us into the past.

And that’s the problem. It stops the forward momentum of your story. Like a driver slamming on the brakes and you go flying through the windshield.

First, realize a flashback is not equal to backstory. In The Portable MFA in Creative Writing, Tim Tomlinson tells us backstory is: [Read more…]

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