The Book Outline—Dispelling the Myth

Outlining. It’s one of those touchy subjects among writers—should you outline your story or not?

But like my recent post “Are You Crippling Your Creativity?” there is a certain misconception about outlines many beginning writers have that I hope to dispel today.

Most of us grew up being taught the traditional outline. [Read more…]

6 Steps to Story Development

spinning platesWhen you get right down to it the major goal of the fiction writer is to keep the reader reading.

And like the performer who spins plates at the top of a stick, writers must spin several plates too—characters and character arc, plot and plot development, conflict, dialog, show vs. tell, and pacing. If we focus on only one aspect of story development and neglect the others, the story falls flat.

But that’s a lot to deal with. I certainly can’t get my brain wrapped around all those things at the same time as I write.

So what’s the answer?

Focus on one at a time, using these 6 steps. [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…]

Who’s the big bad wolf in your story?

Big bad wolf chasing 3 little pigsWhat was the big bad wolf’s goal in the story of the 3 little pigs?

To have dinner. He needed to eat and the 3 pigs met the bill. The wolf was doing what came naturally to him.

There was nothing evil about eating the pigs, but of course to the pigs, who stood to lose their lives, the wolf was evil.

At the heart of every story is a protagonist with a goal. It doesn’t matter what the goal is, just that it is essential to the character and without reaching it he/she suffers great loss—physical death being the ultimate loss.

In the case of the wolf and the three pigs, each faced the same loss if they didn’t meet their goal—death.

What would the story have been like if the wolf told it? [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…]

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