16+ Free Online Resources for Doing Research for your Novel

doberman doing research on a laptopSo, your work in progress takes place in the 1800s … or maybe it’s a contemporary story, but one that is set in a region of the country you’re unfamiliar with. You know you’ve got a lot of research to do to make your story accurate and credible, but where do you begin? [Read more…]

What do football and fiction have in common?

football field

What do football and fiction have in common?

The first thing we as writers must accomplish with our story is to hook our reader. But if we merely hook them, the reader can get away. So we must also then compel them to read on to the middle and then right through to the end of our story.

We spur our reader to the middle of our story by creating a compelling lead character with whom our readers bond. Next, [Read more…]

6 Tasks to Accomplish with Act 1 of Your Novel – Part 1

bend in the roadAs writers we know we have to hook our reader at the onset — no matter what it is we’re writing.

But as novelists, the opening act of our story needs to accomplish six tasks to keep our readers interested and wanting to know what’s just around the bend. For the next several Tuesday Writing Tip posts, that’s what I’ll be discussing. Included with this series is the opportunity to win James Scott Bell’s book Plot & Structure. You’ll find the giveaway details at the end of this post.

You may know what those 6 things are already without even realizing it. You’ve gleaned them from your own reading most likely, but, like me, may not be consciously aware of them. What’s #1? [Read more…]

How to Ensure Your Characters and Plot Don’t Flat Line

Heart beat flat lining.Is it possible to sell a story that is high on action and adventure, but has flat characters?  Yes, though it isn’t easy.

What about a story that is flat on plot, but rich with three-dimensional characters? If your plot is flat, your reader (and that agent or publisher) has no reason to turn the pages. (Look out trash can.)

Your story stands a much better chance of being published if both the plot and characters are well developed. (Tweet this.)

I’m a writer whose strength is in [Read more…]

Writing Good Dialogue

“Bloated, chunky, dull dialogue is a five-alarm warning to the reviewer that you can’t write salable fiction,” says James Scott Bell in his book The Art of War for Writers.

Dialogue, like any other part of your novel, must move your story forward.

An important part of good dialogue is the distinctive voice of each character. Even if your characters grew up in the same neighborhood and went to the same schools, they have different parents, siblings, and perspectives on life. Those things will affect the way they speak.

Discover your character’s voice by creating a voice journal, a stream of conscious writing you write from a character’s POV. Start your character’s journal by having her or him respond to the questions “Who am I and what do I want?” Then write for about 10 or 15 minutes.

I recommend creating a journal for each main character of your story. Utilize these journals throughout the process of writing your novel, especially when you feel stuck.

What tools do you use to create compelling dialogue?

Debra L. Butterfield © 2013

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