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…]

How to Review Your Story Scenes for Conflict

horses jumping hurdles

Are the hurdles in your story growing harder?

As discussed in “6 Steps to Story Development,” a story needs conflict. In fact, without it you have no story. So let’s take a closer look and see how you can make sure you’re developing the conflict in your story.

James Scott Bell, in his book Conflict & Suspense, defines conflict this way: “a clash between at least two incompatible sides. One of those sides must be personal, that is, having the ability to exercise conscious will.”

At the heart of conflict are your character’s passion and goals. In review, here are 3 questions I posited in “Story Development”: [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…]

9 Aspects of Dialog, from Author Cecil Murphey

 

When I heard New York Times best-selling author Cecil Murphey (90 Minutes in Heaven) was doing a workshop for the writers group I belong to, I wasted no time in signing up.

How better to learn about writing than to be taught by a multiple, best-selling author? During the day, he taught on dialog. Here’s part of what he shared.

In all novels, dialog must accomplish 1 or more of the following tasks.

Dialog:

  1. Must have a purpose.
  2. Advances the story, furthers the action.
  3. Develops/shows the character.
  4. Shows emotional state of speaker.
  5. Conveys needed info succinctly.
  6. Brings immediacy to prose. Makes readers feel they are part of the scene. They “hear” the dialog with the character.
  7. Builds suspense and intensifies plot.
  8. Controls the pace of your story. It’s a speed control device.
  9. Can sum up: a character can explain in a few sentences to another person who wasn’t present during the action.

Thank you, Cec Murphey, for your permission to share these 9 aspects about dialog! Be sure to visit his Writer to Writer blog for more meaty advice on writing.

In the coming days, I’ll be diving deeper into writing dialog. In the meantime, how do you feel about dialog? Love it, hate it, dread it? Leave your comments below.

 

Get Rid of Superfluous Characters

people arguingIn his book The Art of War for Writers, James Scott Bell says,

[E]very character in every scene must have an objective, otherwise he shouldn’t be there. Replace him with a chair.

Review your WIP. If you find a character(s) who is superfluous? Do as Bell suggests, rewrite the scene and cut the character.

Now reread the scene. Is it stronger, weaker, mediocre? Revise until you are satisfied. It may mean putting the character back in, but do that only after you’ve determined his/her objective.

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