Showing posts from November, 2009

Eliminate Repetitive Scenes

This article I wrote originally appeared on Suite101. Eliminate Repetive Scenes Rehashing Information May Cause a Sagging Middle in Your Novel Utilize a scene index to look at your novel’s story structure and identify possible repetitious scenes to beef up the pacing. Many times, writers will be able to see that their middle “sags,” or the pacing slows in the middle portion of the novel. There are several ways to avoid the sagging middle , but often the problem can be some repetition of information. Identifying it, however, can be difficult when faced with searching a 100,000 word manuscript. Utilize a Scene Index For each scene, skim the scene and jot down key elements: Pertinent information to the plot that is revealed Key character emotions that are uncovered or hinted at Changes to the character that results in different decisions New developments or plot twists New characters introduced Character backstory that is confessed or discovered Many times, writing

Writing Interesting Valleys in Between Peaks

This article that I wrote originally appeared on Suite101. Writing Interesting Valleys in Between Peaks Keep the Reader Intrigued Even If Conflict Has Ebbed In lulls in the novel, narrow the scene’s focus or change things up to keep the reading pace strong. Stories are a series of peaks and valleys, high tension scenes and low tension scenes, also known as Scenes and Sequels . You must have those lulls in order to give the reader a chance to catch his breath, and also to set up the next scene. However, while you must have these low tension scenes, make sure they don’t put your reader to sleep. Use Words and Phrases to Pace the Sequel In general, higher tension scenes have shorter sentences and a choppier reading flow to encourage a faster reading pace, so for lower tension scenes, use longer sentences and more flowing grammatical structure. Obviously, don’t go to extremes. Use your own better judgment in this. However, this can be a valuable tool to clearly indicate to

The first page, part 11 - Query letters and critique partners

This is the last post of my series on things to look for in your first page. Click here for part ten. Use that first page with a query letter Now, many people advise not to put anything into an envelope with a query letter except for the query letter. This is good, safe, and proper. But if you are a trifle daring, why not include your first page? After all, if you’ve spent all this time working on it and revising it and making every word count. It ought to be so fantastic that an editor skimming that page will shout, “I must read the rest of this novel!” If you plan to include the first page with your query letter, that should also spur you to put more time and effort into that first page to make it worthy of that brief glance. After all, you’ll only get that one chance. Utilize your critique partners Every piece of writing could use another set of eyes to catch errors, or tell you if something you thought was clear as a bell is actually a bit muddled. Take advantage of friends to go o

80% discount on Snowflake Pro

From Camy: I just saw this program being used today by a friend of mine, and I can tell you it's fantastic. Very easy to use and intuitive. If you have problems: --writing a synopsis or --structuring your novel or --pacing your plot or character arc then this program will help you with that. From Randy Ingermanson: Final Reminder: 80% discount on "Snowflake Pro" ends soon To Readers of my Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine: Just a quick reminder that my 80 percent discount on "Snowflake Pro" ends soon. As I write this, about 24 hours remain before I'll end this special. (It ends on Friday night at midnight, California time.) Snowflake Pro is software to make my Snowflake method faster, easier, and more fun. In the last few days, a very large number of you, my loyal e-zine readers, have taken advantage of this one-time special offer to get Snowflake Pro. Thanks to all of you who've already e-mailed me to tell me how much you like it. This note is just a remi

Control Story Flow With Sequels

This article that I wrote originally appeared on Suite101. Control Story Flow With Sequels The Classic Sequel as Described By Dwight Swain Dwight Swain’s Sequel can be broken down into easy segments to enable the writer to write a strong story segment that develops character and transitions to the next Scene. One of the most famous writing books is Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain, where he breaks down fiction writing into modules. One of his most popular techniques is Scene and Sequel (described in this article). Swain describes a Sequel as “a unit of transition that links two scenes,” but Sequels tend to encompass a broader range of purposes than just transition. Reaction The Sequel following a Scene allows the writer to slow the pacing and give the reader some breather space. This can be easily accomplished by enabling the character to react to what just happened in the previous Scene. This controls the story’s tempo and flow by giving the character

Q&A: Deepening Character

Camille Cannon Eide asked: Hi Camy - I'm working on a substantive edit and I'm looking for ways to deepen a character, give her more dimension. What are some ways to bring out more of a character's strengths and weaknesses, give the reader more of a reason to root for her? Camy here: You’re actually talking about two slightly different things—character richness and character sympathy. Character richness: A three-dimensional character with flaws and strengths actually doesn’t just jump out of a writer’s head. Typically, authors spend a great deal of time embellishing and digging deeper into a character, whether before the book is written or as they’re editing. Three-dimensional characterization is a deliberate, concentrated effort. One of the best books I’ve found for doing this is Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins, chapters 1 and 2. She uses dramatic techniques to enable writers to create a richer character, just the way a good actor will create a richer charact

Writing Conflict-Filled Scenes

This article that I wrote originally appeared on Suite101. Writing Conflict-Filled Scenes The Classic Scene as Described By Dwight Swain Dwight Swain’s Scene can be broken down into easy segments to enable the writer to write a high tension, interesting story segment. One of the most famous writing books is Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain, where he breaks down fiction writing into modules. One of his most popular techniques is Scene (described in this article) and Sequel. Swain describes a Scene as “a unit of conflict lived through by character and reader.” The key word here is Conflict. Goal The Scene moves the story forward by changing your character’s situation. To do that, the character has to want something different than what he already has: the Scene Goal. Basically, what the character is striving for in the Scene. He doesn’t necessarily achieve it, but he has to at least have an idea of what he wants at the beginning of the Scene. There are thr

Author-Speak Cheat Sheet

Hey guys, Sorry I've been MIA for a few weeks. I've been fighting off some kind of sicky that's left me really tired and headachey (and NO, I'm not pregnant! :) Anyway, I'll kick off the week with this great "cheat sheet" by Janet Dean that basically summarizes all the major fiction writing terms that a writer might encounter from a contest judge. These are terms thrown around pretty often in the writing community because they refer to common principles which, if mastered, help a writer improve. Author-Speak Cheat Sheet Upon occasion, I play golf. Perhaps I should say golf plays me. Either way, there’s a language to this game. Terms that make me grunt, “Huh?” Like: “Pick the ball clean.” “Get down on the ball.” “Play your drives off your left heel.” I can’t blame my game on these baffling words of advice, but they’re not helpful if I can’t decipher their meaning. Writing has its own language too. I call it author speak. Click here to read the rest of the a