Saturday, February 16, 2008

Novel Writing Tips

I'm back to posting about novel writing. My current work in progress is a sci-fi space opera with all the buzzes and whistles. You have to invent the setting too when working in this genre so even more work. Yay.

I'm going to talk about plotting for a bit. It's a good plan to be able to lay out your story with just one or two lines and then get put out the bones of the story. For me, I call this the chapter flow.

If you have not had some serious complication in the first 20 pages, you need to throw a monkey wrench into the works. Something baaaddd needs to happen or no one reading will care.

I like to break up the plot like a screenplay, mainly because it makes handling a huge novel more manageable. This is some kind of slogging work. You have to sit in that chair and drive out handfuls of plot points. Solid plot points will take pain out the slog. This is the part of writing that I affectionately call "The Plan". This includes a balanced first act, second act, and third act. Click here to get the summary outline of hero's journey.

BIG TIP: Take some time and really run several stories through this matrix until you get the feel for it. Make sure you can easily narrate back your personal journey. Be sure you understand.

I use a few tools to help me set up the structure of a novel. I try not to reinvent the wheel. I find books that look like the length of the book I want to write. I look inside these books until I see one that has a similar chapter breakdown as I had in mind. I set up a document map that is similar to the book I've investigated. Then I take my carefully constructed story and divided it evenly into my chapter breakdown. I also create a One Note file with all my character bios, setting notes, maps, etc., so that I might easily access to that information as I move forward.

Remember this is hard, technical work. You will have to keep slogging at it for many months and possibly years. Enjoy the journey.

To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.

Chinese Proverb

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