Story Structure: All a Novelist Needs to Know

story jigsaw puzzle for writersThe structure of every story follows the pattern of the average human emotional experience. That pattern is the same, whether it’s a first kiss, eating a chocolate bar, having sex, or reading a full-length novel. Hollywood scriptwriters have found this pattern, follow it, and often make great heaps of money for their producers by doing so.

But how does this help the novel writer? We’re all much more “seat of the pants,” aren’t we? Creative, innovative, never following the crowd? Well, yes, we all have an intuitive grasp of the idea, or we wouldn’t be writers. But my experience is that a formula helps you most when you discover you’ve screwed up. Be as creative as you want, but when you finish your first draft and discover it’s flat, boring, and takes too long to get anywhere, what do you do? You go to the formula to see what you missed. Because it will be there.

My favourite crutch at times like that is Continue reading “Story Structure: All a Novelist Needs to Know”

Serving the Story – Part 2

Sycamore tree by Melissa BowersockIn an earlier post, I talked about how the ending — indeed, every part — must serve the story. It may not be obvious, but we writers may actually have several forces tugging at us, and they often don’t agree in either intent or methodology. We have the story, of course. The story is what drives us; it’s what inhabits us until we get it down. In most cases, I would say that the story is outside of us, even though it’s inside of us. What I mean is that it’s not ours — it doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to the characters; it belongs to the theme. All we are doing is writing it down. Continue reading “Serving the Story – Part 2”

Are You Meeting Your Readers’ Expectations?

confusedUnless you write fiction for the sole purpose of personal fulfillment, you probably hope other people will read your work. When you publish a story, you are setting up a kind of contract between you and your reader. For the investment of the reader’s time and money, you agree to provide a satisfying reading experience. Of course, your definition of “satisfying” may vary, depending on what you like to read, and I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to tell you that as writers, we are communicating. Successful communication requires not just the delivery of a message but also for the recipient to understand the message. Okay, now that I’ve boiled down my expensive college education into one sentence, we can move on. Continue reading “Are You Meeting Your Readers’ Expectations?”

How I Wrote a Novel in a Month

I thought that title would catch your attention. Let me explain how I wrote a novel in a month and how you might be able to do it too.

It really took me over nine months to complete my latest novel – the fourth in my Scott Tucker Series. The first three books are fast-paced mystery thrillers – clean but sexy. For some reason, this fourth book turned out much racier. MUCH racier. Not quite erotica, but definitely not of the same style as the first three. So what did I do? I rewrote it to match the earlier installments, and then I published both versions under different titles.

Writing two novels in nine months is not that bad, but really one only took a month. How can I do that? Well, I’ll tell you. Continue reading “How I Wrote a Novel in a Month”