Category Archives: writing ideas
What process do you use on a day to day basis to determine what happens next in a novel? What is your decision-making process for introducing new characters and how do you determine their importance?
Early on I researched how other authors went about prepping for writing a novel. Some created elaborate outlines and spent inordinate amounts of time agonizing over every detail. The system works, just not for me. In the attempt to recreate the entire book in outline form, I lost contact with what I was trying to say. Consequently, it would take me months to find I wasn’t getting any closer to the actual writing process.
I finally hit on how it functioned for my level of impatience and trust me, once you find it, stop butting heads with the inevitable . . . just write. I started over a lot until I realized one key thing; by trying to adhere to an existing outline, letter by letter, number by number, the story got lost in the translation from my attempt to force the outline to become the book. The story has to come from the gut, not from a preconceived notion that was designed before the writing began. The story needs to have a mind of its own, and at times, should not be controlled. Sometimes, you should just let the monster out of the box.
I usually dig back into my past and find that moment, everybody has them, where everything that could go wrong . . . does, and then allow the characters to go through, at least in spirit, the same level of agony, just to see where they will take it instead of me. I discovered that if I put on my writing shoes, and then just followed my feet, the characters managed to get themselves into enough trouble to satisfy my wanderlust. Sometimes, I don’t even know what they’re about to do, but isn’t that how life works?
The importance of characters in a story should be dealt with in primarily the same way that God deals with us down here on earth. No one person is of greater importance than anyone else. If we treat any single character with less importance than their counterparts, we have done them a grave injustice. We as writers never know which character will surface again in a subsequent story. Today’s sidekick might be tomorrow’s hero.
Do you have a certain process that inspires you to create new characters or prep for a new piece or novel you are writing? I’d love to hear your comments.
You can purchase or preview my books at www.solitaireparke.com.
If you want to find information on anything concerning being an author or just writing in general, there are some outstanding and informative blogs out there to help with anything and everything you might need to know, including all the things you didn’t realize you needed to know. So here are a few of them for you to check out.
Have a great September – and Happy Reading!
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Writing fiction can be complex and multifaceted. There are countless details to consider throughout the process. There’s the initial brainstorming, the outlining, the countless hours of research, the actual writing, and the inevitable revising. As if that wasn’t enough, you still have the editing process, a monumental task of its own. All this to create what you hope will be an amazing work of fiction that readers will fall in love with. Not much to ask, right?
In doing this research, I’ve gathered an immeasurable amount of ideas concerning fiction writing. These writing tips, from countless sources, might be helpful to other writers tackling a novel by offering different viewpoints and by providing food for the creative process.
Hopefully, the tips below will help make writing that novel a little easier.
- Read more fiction than you write.
- Don’t lock yourself into one genre (in reading or writing). Even if you have a favorite genre, step outside of it occasionally.
- Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
- Dissect and analyze stories you love from books, movies, and television to find out what works in storytelling and what doesn’t.
- Don’t write for the market. Tell the story that’s in your heart. You can make an outline before, during, or after you finish your rough draft. It will provide you with a road map, which is a powerful tool to have at your disposal.
- Some of the best fiction comes from real life. Jot down stories that interest you whether you hear them from a friend or read them in a news article.
- Real life is also a great source of inspiration for characters. Look around at your friends, family, and coworkers. Magnify and mix the strongest aspects of their personalities, and you’re on your way to crafting a cast of believable characters.
- Make your characters real through details rather than lengthy head-to-toe physical descriptions.
- The most realistic and relatable characters are flawed. Find something good about your villain and something dark in your hero’s past.
- Avoid telling readers too much about the characters. Instead, show the characters’ personalities through their actions and interactions.
- Give your characters difficult obstacles to overcome. Make them suffer. That way, when they triumph, it will be even more rewarding.
- Cultivate a distinct voice. Your narrator should not sound warm and friendly in the first few chapters and then objective and aloof in later chapters. The voice should be consistent, and its tone should complement the content of your book.
- Give careful consideration to the narrative point of view. Is the story best told in first person or third person? If you’re not sure, write a few pages in each narrative point of view to see what works best.
- Is your story moving too fast for readers or are they yawning through every paragraph? Are the love scenes too short? Are the fight scenes too long? Do you go into three pages of detail as your characters walk from point A to point B and then fly through an action sequence in a couple of short paragraphs? Pay attention to pacing!
- Infuse your story with rich themes to give it a humanistic quality. Examples of themes include sacrifice, redemption, rebirth, life and death, faith, destiny, etc. These are the big shadows that hover over your story.
- Make sure you understand that every story needs a beginning, middle, and an end.
- Use symbols and imagery to create continuity throughout your story. Think about how the White Rabbit kept popping up when Alice was adventuring through Wonderland or how the color red was used in the film American Beauty. These are subtle details that give your story great power.
- Every great story includes transformation. The characters change, the world changes, and hopefully, the reader will change too.
- Enrich your main plot with subplots. In real life, there’s a lot happening at once.
- There is a difference between a sub-plot and a tangent. Don’t go off on too many tangents.
- If you write in a genre, don’t be afraid to blur the lines. A horror story can have funny moments and a thriller can have a bit of romance.
- Make sure your setting is vivid and realistic even if you made it up.
- If you didn’t make up your setting, then do your best to get to the location and see it for yourself before you finish your manuscript. If that’s not possible, get busy researching.
- Give the readers room to think. You don’t have to tell your story in minute detail, including each minute of the plot’s timeline or all of the characters’ thoughts. Provide enough dots, and trust that the reader will be able to connect them when your story makes time jumps.
- Let the readers use their imaginations with your story’s descriptions as well. Provide a few choice details and let the readers fill in the rest of the canvas with their own colors.
- Don’t focus exclusively on storytelling at the expense of compelling language.
- Appeal to readers’ senses. Use descriptive words that engage the readers’ senses of taste, touch, sound, sight, and smell.
- Apply poetry techniques to breathe life into your prose. Use alliteration, onomatopoeia, metaphor, and other literary devices to make your sentences sing and dance.
- When rewriting, check for the following: plot holes, character inconsistencies, missing scenes, extraneous scenes, accuracy in research, and of course, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- As you revise, ask yourself whether every paragraph, sentence, and word is essential to your story. If it’s not, you know where the delete button is.
- Before your final revisions and before you send your manuscript out to any agents or editors, find your beta readers: join a writing group, take a fiction workshop, or hire a pro.
- Do not send out your rough draft. Go through the revision process at least three times before handing it out to your beta readers. The stronger it is when you bring in editors, the stronger those editors will be able to make it.
- Have fun. If you’re not enjoying writing, then maybe it’s not for you. If you’re not enjoying fiction writing, try something else, like poetry, blogging, or screenwriting. Be willing to experiment and you’ll find your way.
Were these writing tips helpful? Got any tips to add? Leave a comment!
Check on the website for my “Dragomeir Series” (for dragon lovers) and various other genres,
And updates on my latest series – “Daughter of the Dark Lord.” Interesting EXTRAS available too!
Writing success comes down to hard work, imagination, more hard work, passion – and then more hard work. Even if you are an absolutely fantastic writer who will be remembered for years to come, you will still most likely receive a good amount of criticism, rejection, and possibly ridicule before you get there. It happens to everyone, no matter whom they are, and should come as no real surprise. These writers, having been through it all, offer us some writing tips without pulling punches.
- I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide. — Harper Lee
- A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? . — George Orwell
- Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. ― Kurt Vonnegut
- In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it. — Rose Tremain
- You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking its good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. — Octavia Butler
- You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. ― Jack London
- Introduce your main characters and themes in the first third of your novel. If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction. Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development. Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution. — Michael Moorcock
- Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one was not driven on by some demon that one can neither resist nor understand. — George Orwell
- There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ― W. Somerset Maugham
- If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. – Stephen King
- The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’” — Helen Simpson
- Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.– Anton Chekhov
- Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
- The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.— Neil Gaiman
- If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do. – William Zinsser
- Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Literally, when I wrote the last page of my first draft of Lincoln’s Melancholy I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years, literally years, writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly. – Joshua Wolf Shenk
- Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. – Mark Twain
- The first draft of everything is shit. -Ernest Hemingway
- Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you. ― Neil Gaiman
- You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ― Ray Bradbury
- Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously. – Lev Grossman
Even famous authors on occasion have a tough time, and often go through periods of self-doubt. So take a lesson from them and never give up. Don’t put off your writing plans. There has never been a better time than now to realize your dream of becoming a published author. Tell your story and let your voice be heard!
- How often do you use the word “very” in your writing? It is often extremely overused and can make your sentences sound weak. So check out this site. It gives you 128 ways to avoid using this word by replacing it with stronger more vibrant ones.
- Need some help with your grammar? Take the following quiz and find out how much you know.
- Book titles, blog headings, or other articles are sometimes difficult to come by. You might need a little help occasionally. Here are 7 tools to provide that help.
- Do you love the television show “Game of Thrones” or the books? Here are 5 lessons to be learned from them.
- Do you know how to research a novel, and when to stop? This article could be helpful.
- Tips for finding those eye-catching images for your books, articles, or blogs.
Which ones are your favorites?
If these were helpful to you, please pass them on!
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When it comes to self-publishing, there are countless blogs out there written by authors primarily selling their books, by “experts” selling their services, and then the ones that are full of advice and entertaining stories that you don’t want to miss reading.
They are, however, not all created equal. Some are just more passionate about the information they are providing, and overall they give us more valuable knowledge in all aspects of self-publishing. I don’t know about you, but I can use every available resource. Knowledge is power, or in this case, possibly the difference between success and failure. So here is a list of some of the most informative blogs available to help you achieve that success.
Founded by Joel Friedlander, former book designer and founder of an information- packed blog. It has extensive resources and tools, guides and books, video instruction, and an online training course – The Self-Publishing Roadmap. This is a full service blog.
Former publisher of Writer’s Digest, a writer, editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, and media professor. She helps authors learn the business side of publishing and how the digital age affects everything from transforming writers, publishing, and storytelling. She has online classes and author services as well as countless resources.
London-based website by self-published author, entrepreneur, and speaker Joanna Penn. She provides the resources to help you write, publish and market your book. She has books, courses, tools, and podcasts to propel you in the right direction. All kinds of great information here.
Founded in 2011 by independent author and consultant Stephen Hise as a platform to celebrate independent authors. Operates like an interactive online magazine. Contains thousands of helpful staff articles as well as tutorial books for authors. Offers opportunities for authors to display their books on the site, video trailers, new release announcements and a featured book section.
Founded by David P. Vandagriff, a writer who has a background in law, intellectual property litigation and tech. Hundreds of articles relating to self-publishing. Learn about enhanced e-books, fiction fundamentals or self-publishing strategies.
At the Savvy Book Marketer, Dana Lynn Smith shares a wealth of tips, advice and tools to help you sell more books and make more money from your publishing business. She is an author,has a marketing degree, and 19 years of publishing experience. Endless tips and resources for aspiring authors.
There is always something new on these sites almost daily, so check them out!
Have any suggestions for other great websites or blogs?
Author of –
THE DRAGOMEIR SERIES ( If you love dragons, you’ll find this series intriguing and a lot of fun!)
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Do they just appear out of nowhere and land in your lap when you least expect it? Probably not very likely. Certainly some authors have wonderfully vivid imaginations, but others are often people who are simply good at making observations and interpreting them into amazing storytelling. Their characters can even be based on someone they know in real life. Some writers have so many ideas in their heads that it’s hard to know which one to go for. There are an abundance of sources for inspiration. Here are a few –
- Mark Twain based his character Huckleberry Finn on a childhood friend.
“In Huckleberry Finn I have drawn Tom Blankenship exactly as he was. He was
ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as ever any boy
had. His liberties were totally unrestricted. He was the only really independent
person—boy or man—in the community, and by consequence he was tranquilly
and continuously happy and envied by the rest of us.”
- John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, “The Grapes of Wrath” is a commentary on social injustice and the forces behind poverty and oppression.
“I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this
[the Great Depression and its effects].” – John Steinbeck
- The world of dreams is a magical place where writers often get answers and inspirational ideas. Dreams have been a source for my creative ideas for years. Many times I have been awakened with an unusual idea and have written it down on anything I can find so that it won’t be lost. Other times I remember vividly the entire thing when I wake up, and a book is spawned right then and there. Generally some changes ensue, but a dream was where it all started.
- You might find inspiration from a snippet of interesting conversation you’ve heard recently, or a dialogue from a movie might spark something in your brain that’s worth creating a story about.
- You might get some great ideas from going on a nature walk, watching the night sky, or looking at a magazine or reading a human interest story.
- Traveling around the world or taking a day trip to the next town and discovering new places and people can make you see new things and spark thoughts for a story line.
- If you have children or just watch and listen to children, it can change the way you view the world when you see through their eyes.
Ideas are free. Just about anything we experience, see, hear or read can spark an idea. We just need to be aware and observant – most writers excel at this.
What or where is the most unexpected place you’ve found a writing idea?