Improve Your Novel with These 12 Top Writing Resources

GoodThere are many great writing resources on the web, but the best resources I’ve found are the ones on my own bookshelf. Writing reference books I’ve collected over the years have taught me how to write a novel, how to build characters, improve scenes, write dialogue – you name it – most everything that I’ve learned about writing has come from the treasures on my bookshelf.

Of course, there are several writing books on that shelf that I could’ve used as kindle for my fall campfires, but many of the books are like gold to me. I refer to the books when I’m writing an article about writing as well as when I’m writing my own fiction. I’ve taken the best of each book, combined some of their ideas, and come up with techniques that have helped me enormously. Many tips that I offer my followers were mined from these books.

Not so surprising is that many of these books are “Writer’s Digest” books. For many years, I subscribed to Writer’s Digest and loved their selection of books, gobbling up everything from books for mystery writers like Cause of Death – a Writer’s Guide to Death, Murder and Forensic Medicine by Keith D. Wilson, M.D. to the many on the basic elements of fiction writing. I want to share some of these treasures with you. Perhaps you will find some that help you improve your craft and get that novel written!

Great Novel Writing Resources – Writer’s Digest Books

The books listed here Continue reading Improve Your Novel with These 12 Top Writing Resources

Simplify Novel Revision with These Best in Practice Methods

pencil-education-pencil-sharpener-art-159731.jpegRevision is a key process of novel writing, but to the detriment of many an aspiring author, it is often overlooked and/or misunderstood. Having knocked off that first draft of a novel – the one you’ve already spent hours, months, sometimes even years writing – you might think that the really hard work is done. But it is not done. In many ways, it’s just beginning. The reason we have a manuscript “first draft” is that there are subsequent drafts.

For some, the second draft means running a final spell check, cleaning up punctuation, and they may go as far as removing some of their overzealous adverbs and adjectives. They then declare their work a finished novel.

But not so fast. There is much more to novel revision than spelling and grammar. Much more. Revising a manuscript is a big job, one that an author cannot afford to skip.

Objectivity – the Key to Novel Revision

The new writer tends to be overly attached to their writing and is reluctant to remove any part of it. This is the first thing a novelist must overcome. Novel revision calls for objectivity – it’s not an easy thing. Sometimes we think we’ve written the perfect snappy line of dialogue, the most beautiful scene, and there’s no way you want to edit it out of your novel.

Advice: don’t be too much in love with your own writing. If something isn’t working to either move the story or reveal more about your characters – get rid of it. You don’t have to press the delete button, forever banishing your beloved words Continue reading Simplify Novel Revision with These Best in Practice Methods

How to Use Images to Enhance Your Blog and Drive Traffic

So many of my followers also have blogs, so I thought I ‘d post an article that I’d written for another site. I think you’ll find it helpful…

Word MindOne of the best things a blogger or website manager can do to drive traffic to their blog or website is to learn how to use images effectively. The power of the written word is one thing but the use of imagery amplifies whatever story you are trying to tell, by thousands, you know the old adage. So wouldn’t that same rule be applied to images on your blog? It would. 

An Analogy–Attention Span 

Think of a child’s picture book – a toddler’s attention span is short and if we want them to pay attention, we look for books with great pictures. For them, the picture will tell more about the story than the words you read to them. Say it’s a book about a tractor…you can read all about a tractor, but if the child has never visited a farm, they won’t have a clue about what one looks like, what it can do unless you can point to the picture of the tractor as you read the word. Using a picture book, you give the little “reader” two things:

  1. An association of words and images to sustain comprehension, and
  2. A compelling reason to stay on the page long enough for you to read the rest of the words to them.

It’s a little sad that I’m making this Continue reading How to Use Images to Enhance Your Blog and Drive Traffic

3 Phases of Writing a Novel – Beginnings, Middles, and Ends

Every novel has 3 phases: a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Phases of MoonWhen rushing through the first draft of writing a novel, a writer often thinks only about getting the story down in black and white. They don’t worry about the words they use, the punctuation required, whether the characters are being true to their primary traits, or any of the other elements of writing that they’ll eventually attend to before the novel is finished.

By the end of the first draft, a writer knows what the story is about, who the lead character is, what conflict the lead must resolve and how they will resolve it. It is the time for the writer to revisit the story, performing revisions that will create a readable, “unputdownable”, story.

Part of this revision includes reviewing the different phases of a story – the beginning, middle, and end; phases that ensure the writer fulfills the implicit promises made to readers.

Writing a Novel that Fulfills Its Promises to the Reader

When I begin a novel, one of the first things that I do is jot down in a few sentences what I believe the novel is about. I also write a few sentences about what I believe will happen in the beginning, middle and end of the story.

Jotting down these notes helps me immensely in knowing where I’m headed in writing a novel. While these notes are closely related to who my lead characters are, what problem they have to solve, what conflicts they might be up against that keep them from solving the problem, and then eventually solving it, their importance goes much further than that. I also need to take into consideration how each phase of writing a novel affects the reader.

Every novel makes two promises two readers:

  1. an Emotional Promise, and
  2. an Intellectual Promise.

The Emotional Promise goes something like this: “Read this and you will be entertained, thrilled, scared, titillated, saddened, or uplifted, but most of all absorbed.”

There are 3 versions of the Intellectual Promise. They are, Continue reading 3 Phases of Writing a Novel – Beginnings, Middles, and Ends

Writing a Novel – Learn What a Scene Is and How to Build One

books-book-pages-read-literature-159866.jpegOne of the biggest problems a writer encounters when writing a novel is misunderstanding the definition of a scene. I was once in the same boat. I have a slew of books on writing a novel – they’re all over the place in my home: in my office, living room, on the bedroom floor, in my computer bag, everywhere, a few are even on the bookshelves.

To write this piece of the novel writing puzzle, I dug through each of these rooms in search of the books with the best descriptions for writing scenes. And guess what? I found very little that talked about scenes – defining them, creating them. Novel writing books discuss plot, subplot, characters, motivation, emotion, dialogue, settings, descriptions, and publication – even how to write the blockbuster and breakout novels, but very little print space was allotted for describing how to write scenes.

No wonder writers have a hard time figuring out how to construct a scene when writing a novel. For many writers, the idea of writing a scene seems like a big mystery, something difficult to do that only the best writers know about. But that’s not true. If you’re writing a novel, you can learn to create scenes for it that move your story along and reveal the traits of your character. And that’s why I’m going to address what a scene is and how to go about constructing one.

Writing a Novel Requires Knowing the Definition of a Scene

The word “scene” as it relates to writing a novel (and movies, plays, the opera) can be defined in 3 ways:

  1. A scene is a continuous action set in one place
  1. A scene is a short section that presents a single event
  1. Scenes are the building blocks of a story’s plot.

When writing a novel, a writer must pull all of those definitions together so that the definition of a scene looks like this:

A scene is a short section (in comparison to the whole story) presenting a single event at a single location. A story is a series of scenes that when strung together make up the plot and ultimately the whole story.

Learn the Elements of Writing a Scene

So now that we know what the term “scene” means, let’s look at how a scene is constructed. Continue reading Writing a Novel – Learn What a Scene Is and How to Build One

The Three Important Elements of E-Book Cover Design

The E-Book Cover Provides the First Impression of Your Work

pexels-photo-384522.jpegYour e-Book cover is the first link to sales of your book. A cover that works for both an e-Book and a print book is not the same as designing a cover for the printed book alone. Someone browsing through a brick and mortar bookstore can pick up the book, hold it in their hands and turn it around to read the back cover book summary. They can also read the fine print offering such things as those irritating rave reviews for the already famous author, blurbed by authors of the same publishing house.

An experienced e-Book cover designer understands that the cover of your book has a big job to do and only seconds to do it well. Its job is to make an impression, to entice potential buyers to “click” on your book above all other books on an e-Book retailer site. To accomplish this, a cover’s imagery and typography must be:

  1. Eye-catching
  2. Winning, and
  3. Visually Suitable for Internet Browsing 

A Cover Should Draw New Readers to Your E-Book

E-Book browsers—in this case, potential buyers looking for books—glance at the small cover image and decide in a matter of seconds whether to click on the link to learn more about the book or move on to the next e-Book image. Instead of moving from book to book, having spent a few minutes with each one as they might do browsing in a physical bookstore, browsers are moving from image to image.

pexels-photo-683381.jpegThe browsers are looking for a good book to read, not necessarily your book. They didn’t begin browsing with your book in mind. These browsers are the type of people that you want to attract with your book cover—new people, people you’ve never met, and that have no relation to you—like your mother, father, siblings, extended family and friends who purchased your book and wrote 5-star reviews for it. These browsers are strangers, looking for a compelling book to read. You want to get a new and extended Continue reading The Three Important Elements of E-Book Cover Design

How to Write Dialogue that Speaks Volumes

pexels-photo-688662.jpegKnowing how to write dialogue in a novel is right up there, on the same level of importance, as the knowing how to write the scenes that contain the dialogue. There are two things a novelist needs to know about dialogue. The dialogue in any novel must always perform the following huge functions:

  1. Dialogue must characterize and individualize the speaker
  1. Dialogue must give the plot, the story forward momentum.

You may recognize these function as being the same things said of writing scenes. It’s true, in this way, scenes and dialogue are united in purpose, go hand in hand, and all that.

Learning how to write dialogue that shines involves some work, but if you can learn to write a compelling scene, you can also learn how to write dialogue that speaks volumes. To get started, let’s look at Continue reading How to Write Dialogue that Speaks Volumes

Wine Between the Lines