How to Write a Book (For Beginners)

Back to basics. I recently had a request for posts specifically geared towards beginners. For those aspiring writers you have an idea and a dream but aren’t really sure how to take that next step. I’m going be breaking down the writing process step by step. It’s important to understand that everything in this post is a general overview of the process. I don’t want you to get the impression that this is something that can be done overnight or in a hurry because you couldn’t do this overnight.

Each individual step is a process in and of itself. Depending on what type of book you want to write it can be easy or hard. It can take a lot of time and a lot of dedication. These steps will at least give you the general idea of what direction to move in and will hopefully give you the basics that you need to get you started.

Here are the five steps for how to write a novel.
Step number one: come up with an idea. This may seem like the easy part, but in my opinion this is one of the more difficult steps of the process. You have to come up with an idea that has substance. It needs to be something that you could write an entire novel about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come up with an idea and thought it was brilliant only to discover later that it was problematic that there wasn’t any conflict at the heart of the story or there was no true antagonist or it simply wasn’t compelling enough to write enough words on it.

So how exactly do you come up with these ideas. Well, it’s kind of up to you. Every writer has their own process for coming up with ideas, for some it’s very organic. They just get an idea and it works and they run with it, or others it’s a little bit of inspiration/manipulation. I’m typically inspired by something around me, whether it’s something I see in the world or a feeling that I have and want to explore. Perhaps a song lyric or a painting that really speaks to me. I usually get some sort of basic idea from that and then I think about okay what could be the story here.

If you think about all of the elements that make up a good story, it’s really easy to take your idea and manipulate it into an idea that’s worth writing a novel about. Decide who is your protagonist, who is the antagonist, what’s the conflict of the story, what journey is the character going to go on what are their goals and motivations once you start thinking about all of these and sort of filling in all of the blanks. You should be able to tell if you have a novel worthy story on your hands. If you are finding that you’re struggling to make the pieces fit then, that may not be an idea that you want to continue developing. You just keep being creative and keep thinking what if, what is and then eventually you come up with an idea that you know is what you want to write your story on.

Step number two: planning. Some people consider themselves to be planners when it comes to writing. That basically means that they take their idea and sit down and just write completely by the seat of their pants and that really works for them. That is awesome.
some people are plotters. If you’re just starting out with a writing journey, I really encourage you to consider doing some planning before you start writing. You need to know who your characters are and where your story is going before the first word is even written. Think about it like this, it would be like going to a brand new place that you’ve never been before and trying to navigate that place without the help of a map or a GPS or directions from a local. It could be done, but it would be rather difficult.

When you’re first starting out, you want to make it as easy as you can for yourself. That’s why planning is really important and highly encouraged. I recommend that you do character charts or profiles for each of your main characters and an outline. Your character turns don’t have to be anything fancy, they just have to serve the purpose of allowing you to get to know those characters as if they were real people. You have to get inside their heads, after all and in order to write truly convincing characters you have to know and understand exactly who that character is and what makes them tick. Their fears, their motivations, their goals, their aspirations, their dreams, their likes, their dislikes, etc. This is a step that you do not want to skip. Once you’ve got your characters down, then it’s time to move on to your outline. You have to know exactly where your story is going so it’s a really important step. Stop, sit down, and figure it all out before you just dive right into the writing.

I can recommend Freytag’s pyramid to outline. It is by far one of the most helpful methods that I have found. By using that method the stories feel much more developed and fleshed out and the actual writing of those stories feels a million times easier than when I used to write without it. You need an outline, you’re the writer, it’s your story, and you have to know all of the inner and outer workings of that story before the first word is ever written. Take some time flesh out your characters and your plot and once you’ve done it’s time to start writing.

Step number three: write the first draft. Here’s what you do you put yourself in a chair, put your fingers on that keyboard and you write that story no matter what. Stop letting self-doubt be a distraction or an excuse. Stop trying to make things perfect. Just write your story. First drafts are usually crappy. It doesn’t matter who you are or how good of a writer you are. This is your first draft. You have a place to start editing. Get the bare bones of your story down on paper.

Step number four: celebrate. You just wrote a novel and that is amazing. So many people say they’re going to write a book and never actually accomplished it, but you did. It’s a good idea to take a little time away from the manuscript, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you so while you’re celebrating and recharging your batteries put the manuscript away. When you are ready dive back in with fresh eyes. Once the rest period is over, it’s time to pick up that manuscript and start revising. At this point, you’re not worried about all the little stuff like grammar and mechanics, you’re focused more on the structure of your story, the development of your characters, the advancement of your plot, and so on.

You may find yourself deleting entire sections and chapters. You may find that you need to rewrite a lot of things, you’ll move stuff around and rename things and do a whole lot of changing,. This can be a good thing and is actually part of the process.You get to take your idea and really start chipping away at it until it becomes something that you’re really proud of. This may also a really great time to enlist the help of beta readers and critique partners. Beta readers and critique partners are invaluable when it comes to feedback.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to take that draft you’re revising and really making the story shine. Send it out to people and get the feedback you need to make that story ten times better than it is. A lot of writers consider this step optional.

Step number five: polishing. Once you’re sure the content of your story is a solid as you can make it, then the next step is to go through and make edits. This is where you’re focusing on those little things where you’re looking for grammatical errors and sentence structure issues, you’re removing filter words and changing up dialogue tags, etc.

At this point, you really should not be making any significant content changes, just fixing those tiny little errors and tightening things up. Once you’ve done that, you have a finished and polished novel. Remember no matter how tough things get just keep writing. Don’t give up, you can do it!

Fun Exercises for Creative Writers

New prompts for creative writers to help get you writing.

Select an object, place it on a table in front of you and write for a few minutes from that perspective. Get up and move to another place at the table. That allows you to see the object from a different perspective and write a few minutes from that perspective. I particularly like puzzles when doing this exercise and moving around the table so every side of the puzzle can have a few minutes written from that perspective. This also helps you put a puzzle together when it seems you are not able to spot where the pieces belong. Seeing the puzzle from one of the other views will help you begin to work on puzzle placement again.

Observation on an object. This one you can begin by doing on a small object and work your way up in size. Take any object from your room: your bedroom, your living room, your dining room, your bathroom. Place it on a table or a chair or a stool in front of you sit in front of it and observe this object. As you observe the object write about the object. For some people this will work as a straightforward description of it as an object. Then describe it as what your mom would say, or your dad, or one of your other family members. You will find everyone will have a different observation because they bring their own psychology, their own philosophy, their own inward feelings, their own outlook, and they project this onto this object. This can give you an insight into your own self, but it also gives you an insight into the environment and what this item can mean to different people. Now work your way up to a bigger object. Try it with different objects, take it out onto the street and observe a building.

Pretend you are serving in an apprenticeship: ex: there are many apprenticeships, plumbing, carpentry, sculpting, painting. Ask yourself what might be the things you would learn from each of these apprenticeships. Use those descriptions in your writing.

  • Make a list of 10 people, occupations, jobs. You can have banker, baker, carpenter, electrician, dentist, artist, football player. You get the picture.
  • Second list is a place. So 10 places. Like a restaurant or cafe, being in bed, book shop, bank, airplane, an airport, a ship.
  • Next is a list of things. Objects, noise, a baseball bat, a mobile phone, a candle, a hammer, a guitar, a balloon, a packet of gum, again you get the idea.
    The next part of the exercise is: take your ten people, cut the list up, put each name into a hat and you draw out 1 person. Then cut up your list of places, put them all in a hat and draw out 1 place. Cut up your list of things, put them in the hat and draw out 1 thing.
  • You then have a person, in a place doing one thing. Write about that. Keep going until you have the ten of them as a start to little adventures, little stories, little short projects. It could develop into an idea that sparks off a whole story or book for you. Great for you to practice creating your skills for stories about person, place, thing.

Next is called I am this. What you do is your version. Must contain metaphors. Ten lines with metaphors that tell us who you are. EX: Detroit you know what you are _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ who you are _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Remember use metaphors. This is a good exercise for getting you into knowing how to use figurative language. Try different cities, events and situations.

Next exercise is the sounds of your neighborhood, or your childhood, or the place where you grew up. You can, of course, use it for the place where you live now and what you do there. This will help you in describing places and what is important about them.

Sound is a thing that is often underused or overlooked in creative writing. Think of the sounds of your childhood, of the place where you grew up, of your mother’s voice, of your father’s belching, of your grandmother’s laugh. Sounds that may no longer be around, kids games that are no longer played, music that you heard growing up.

Next is called the difference of place. You go to a place let’s say a restaurant or a museum and you write down (bring a notepad or your iPad or your phone or whatever you use) a description of this place. When you describe the place don’t just give a straightforward description of the architecture, for instance. Give us the sounds, give us the colors, give us the details, give us the textures of the place, give us the atmosphere of the place, the energy of the place. Places have a feeling, places have a life of themselves so go to this place, this museum, describe it in detail, in immense detail as much as you can write down.

Read it to yourself, go through it, edit it down, rewrite it, and put it in your descriptions file. Then as you go next week to another place, a place that is very different than the museum or the cafe. It could be a park, it could be a church, a church that’s empty or a church that’s full you could do both of those one after the other and what’s the difference between a full and empty.

Have a look you have these two different descriptions and you’ll see the difference that different places have. What is the setting of your novel, what is the setting of your book, your character may emerge from this, a story may emerge from this, a whole book may emerge from this.

How To Create A Great Character

What makes a great character? This is a very open-ended question for which there is no one answer. Your characters have to be likeable. The trait that every good character shares is that they engage the audience in the story that’s being told and by extension of that they are interesting. This is what it comes down to, can you make this character interesting.

Here is a way to create interesting characters. When it comes to creating a strong character there are three qualities that must be addressed: likability, competency, and activity.

Likability: how much will the audience like this character?
Competency: how good are they at what they do?
Activity: how much do they persevere?

Additional questions to ask.
Do they affect the plot or does the plot affect them?
Would you enjoy having a conversation with that character in real life?

Two rules you need to understand:
1) your character must be good in at least one of these areas of likeability, competency or activity.
2) they cannot be good at all 3.

The reason why is when you do that you create a flawless character they have no fundamental character flaws. The lower they rank in these factors, the more numerous and fundamental their flaws. If you have too many flaws, they may cease to be an interesting character.

How to Write Physical Descriptions of Characters

Writing physical descriptions of characters are a tricky and can be hard to insert naturally into the narrative. They can easily come across as cliche or force and for first-person narrators if they’re not done well they can make the first person narrator come across as very vain. Here are some ways to take your physical descriptions from bland to interesting, make them work harder in the narrative, and make them a part of the story that’s actually interesting and important.

Avoid something that just feels necessary. Let’s address the great debate. Do I need a physical description of my character. That is a strong yes. Readers seem to fall into two camps: readers who don’t need physical descriptions and if there is one we’ll probably just ignore it and readers who really need one or they can’t picture the character.

The next thing is how to insert that description into the story. This is where a lot of writers struggle. Decide if your story is high energy or low energy. Put your descriptions and how you physically describe your character in as soon as they are introduced. Keep your descriptions short. One of the great pitfalls of character descriptions is when they go on way way too long. When in doubt, three sentences. If you are doing two characters at once then perhaps a full paragraph.

What you should avoid in a physical description of a character and what to include.

Avoid cliches. Simple descriptions often fell prey to cliches in how the description comes about.
The next thing you want to avoid is over-the-top detail. If you have too much in detail the reader won’t retain it. It would be much better to go with fewer bolder traits that are strongly described than a lot. Make your descriptions interesting. We can describe eyesin an interesting way without them being glimmering orbs of ocean.

Include voice. Voice is such a great story element and is very important to consider in your physical description. Like everything else in the story, the voice of the character and as well it should be in the tone. Tone is the view the story has towards itself introduced to the description. You can think what is the view the character has of their own appearance: insecure or confident. A side character what’s the view that the main character has towards them.

Make your language interesting or you have to make the features interesting. Both would be good. Example of making traits interesting: her face was narrow and she had hawk-like features strangely soft like she was. A broken piece of marble weathered by centuries of current curls fell ragged around her face, knotted around her ears, pale, uncombed, and grappled into an unraveling braid. She looks like an unfinished doll abandoned by her maker.

This is very important and I think it was touched on quite well in that last example. Flaws are more interesting than perfection. It’s also important to notice that the lack of description of flaws can cancel them. They’re not flaws if you describe a character to someone and you don’t mention the flaws. Even if you just describe them in kind of simple ways the reader will probably picture them as like conventionally attractive because that’s how people are.

If left to our own devices we should really just picture attractive people because people like looking at attractive people. If you don’t specifically point out the flaws and you don’t go out of your way to make sure you comment on the flaws, the reader will not picture them. I also want to note that if the word perfect or any of its synonyms or any similar word appears at any point throughout your physical description, you should delete it immediately. Anything that is perfect is not interesting. Rather than trying to convey how attractive your character is, convey how interesting and unique your character is.

Find little details specific to that character whether it’s a birthmark, a scar, or your clothing choices for that character. Next time you want to include more than appearance or the way to character looks you will discover it teaches a lot about their personality, their lifestyle, and their habits. Just describing their natural traits it’s also describing how they work with their natural traits.

Clothing is also important. You can say a lot about your character and you’re physically describing your character. Don’t make the aim that the reader can picture them, make it so that the reader can learn about them as people.

Use a physical description in the form of showing the character’s personality layers and depth to your physical description. This is what I mean about making a physical description work harder. Make it pull its weight in the story. Make it accomplish more than just physically describing the character. A physical description is a good time to more overtly include other details beyond just the basics.

How to Avoid Melodrama In Your Writing | Writing Tips

One of the most common writing problems for new writers is melodrama. Here are some strategies for how to spot melodrama and how to avoid it. What exactly is melodrama? Basically melodrama is when the emotions being presented are not supported or earned by the storytelling. The story is too emotional and because of this it actually loses its emotional complexity. If the story becomes over the top, instead of becoming impactful it just kind of becomes cringy or sureal.

It can be really very hard to find the balance between too subtle and to over the top when it comes to expressing emotions. Writers generally overcompensate in this area so then they withhold too much and it’s boring and detached. If you are scared of the writing being bland, boring and not emotional and can begin expressing emotions way too much. Watch if you start thinking “this isn’t coming across”.

Melodrama generally is the result of the writer thinking there is no emotion and not trusting their ability to convey emotion. Trust yourself, trust your skill and your ability to convey an emotion with a sentence rather than five paragraphs. Just write your first draft and come back later to adjust the emotions. Get out your thoughts and then come back to it later to get the balance between emotion and melodrama.

Ways to avoid melodrama:

1) Melodrama comes from using language that is more intense than is warranted. It can just be word choice. Some word choice is just very very loaded and very emotional.

2) Mentioning souls in regards to emotion. EX: anger bubbled in my soul or I felt sadness in my soul. The concept of a soul can be in essence very melodramatic and emotional. At first it might be best to avoid mentioning souls in relation to an emotional context. As you get better at writing you can see where this might work itself in to your story.

3) Pathetic fallacy often refers to when the natural world mirrors the characters emotions. So for example, it’s raining because I’m sad. It’s not actually raining right now it’s sunny and I’m happy.

Another form of pathetic fallacy is just personifying the natural world. Now personification isn’t a bad literary device but personifying the natural world especially in excess can become quite melodramatic it’s kind of similar to the soul thing where it gives the natural world this lofty spirituality.

4) No subtext. Subtext is basically everything the characters aren’t saying. When characters just say what they mean without subtext it often means the thing they’re withholding is that really dark deep emotional feeling that they don’t want to express. If they just say it out loud, if there’s no subtext whether in dialogue or in the characters narrative, then it becomes quite melodramatic. It also removes the subtlety and possibility for interpretation in your story. It can also about drama. It’s best to have subtext. An exception to this might be very young characters or if your character is drunk. They’re exceptions to this. An interpersonal conflict involving an adult who has control of themselves will probably be speaking with some degree of subtext.

5) Cliches. Cliches especially even on the line level can be really melodramatic because they’re just familiar. I don’t really know why they feel what they do. If there are a lot of cliches or familiar phrases it just makes it seem melodramatic even though there’s nothing really inherently emotional about a familiar phrase.

6) Forced suspense. Suspense would be another example of a writer not trusting themselves. They don’t trust their ability to create suspense so they tell you that their suspense is. When you end a chapter with no idea what was about to happen. Ending every chapter on this really forced line, forced cliffhanger, where you’re really hitting the point way too hard. It sounds like you are saying it’s suspenseful keep reading. It’s actually super melodramatic and also cringy. It kills the suspense because it’s telling instead of showing the suspense. It often happens at the end of scenes where the writer wants to wrap things up but keeps you reading. When the writer throws this one-liner at you where it’s like keep reading because this is suspenseful it’s also melodramatic you know it is being forced.

7) Talking too much about abstract concepts. This is going to relate to what we often say about show don’t tell in terms of emotions. Talking about abstract concepts like sadness, anger, love, peace, are quite melodramatic. Similar to the soul concept. Even if it’s not the main character saying I am sad. It’s not even a telling thing, it’s just having a discussion of abstract concepts in the narrative rather than showing them through the character’s world, how the character experiences the world, even showing them through symbolism would probably be a stronger way than just having the character going on a little side tangent about the nature of sadness. Occasionally you can learn these things especially in a novel where you are going to have more leeway with melodrama.

8) Being off balance between telling and showing. Both too much showing and too much telling can cause melodrama. If you tell too much it’s too over the top. Things like she was angry is not interesting, there is no emotional texture. I think it’s common for writers to be very aware of this show don’t tell rule and so they go overboard with I need to show. They show way too hard. If you show with too heavy a hand and you hit those points too hard then, it’s just overblown and so it’s again about trusting. Trust that you can convey emotion with a line, with a subtle character gesture, rather than going on this long tangent about emotion and having the character cry. You can convey things in subtle ways.

9) Dreams. There are cases where you can use a dream and it makes sense. In most cases dreams are forced symbolism or very bad ways of conveying information. In fiction it’s used to show us something the characters feeling deep down, through their subconscious, through their dreams. It can end up being an extreme situation that is not subtle at all.

It is often thought of as a subtle technique where it’s like oh I’m just going to use dream symbolism and not actually show what the character is feeling. Then it’s quite evident through the dream that the main character has seen her brother standing on a cliff, then he disintegrates and she’s standing among the ashes or something. It’s not actually that subtle at all. It’s pretty obvious, but it’s meant to be subtle and so then it’s really melodramatic. When the main character is too aware of the symbolism you don’t really need it. If the main character have some object like a locket and represents her mommy issues because it holds the secrets of her family. If the main character is aware that it’s a symbol, it’s not really a symbol. A symbol is one half of a metaphor. You just kill it being a metaphor by going oh yes this is the metaphor. You have to let symbolism speak for itself and be somewhat subtle or else it’s very heavy-handed and melodramatic.

11) Murphy’s Law. Murphy’s Law is basically everything that could possibly go wrong goes wrong. Now obviously in fiction and in writing things are going to go wrong. That’s the nature of conflict. Things might go wrong more often than they go wrong in real life however, abusing Murphy’s Law is like every single thing is bad. There’s literally no light, there’s no hope, every possible thing that could go wrong goes wrong. Or when you throw in random hardships that don’t really play into the main plot, that becomes quite an abuse of Murphy’s Law.

12) Overly intense character reactions. It’s not just the reaction itself, but how it’s described. Giving your characters appropriate reactions to things and then also describing them with the appropriate level of intensity is so important to your story.

Have genre awareness. Some genres are going to be inherently way more melodramatic. Some will be less melodramatic. Know your genre and what is allowed, what the standard is, and what people would be expecting.

9 Tips for a Satisfying Plot

9 tips on how to write a satisfying plot.

1) Genre awareness. Genres exist for a reason so that people can find books they will find enjoyable to read. Know what makes a satisfying plot in the genre you select. Some principles and obstacles in character relationships really exist in all genres but they appear in different ways in the different genres. It is especially necessary when talking about writing a satisfying plot.

2) Change and growth. Stories are essentially made of change. A novel is made up of many little changes that add up to create the primary change. If there is no change, there is no story happening. There is no narrative and is just a situation. Where nothing is changing that is not a relevant moment to be including or the moment isn’t pulling its weight within the plot.

Little changes in the plot should be causing changes within the character also. If the characters emotional state and just state as a human are not changing throughout a long period of time then that’s also not really relevant to the plot. The story is a story because of the character and what is happening to the character. With no changes you have created kind of a lull in your plot where nothing is essentially happening. Change and growth are the foundation of the plot.

3) Setup and payoff. This is a term that is used a lot in screenwriting, but is very important for no matter what kind of story you are writing. Setup and payoff is quite simple. As a concept it essentially just means that what you introduce into the story pays off later on. You introduce in the beginning even things that might not seem substantial which turn out to be substantial and affect the plot throughout or often towards the end. If you are feeding threads into your story and then they never affect it, those threads aren’t really necessary or satisfying. Introduce threads into the beginning and have those threads weave all the way through. Then have a causal relationship where they effect the plot in the end.

4) Have an element. Whenever that element is introduced in the beginning, it might seem important at the time or not. When that element is relevant and important, hopefully in kind of an unexpected way, that can be really satisfying later on for its unpredictability. We generally expect that a good story isn’t going to be predictable and a boring story is going to be predictable. In some books unpredictability comes from possibly a drastic plot twist where everything is shaken up. You don’t necessarily need a plot twist or a dramatic turn, but rather it just means that the plot progresses in a way that could not be foreseen from the beginning.

5) Causality. It essentially is a domino effect with every scene being necessitated by the previous scene. In Poetics by Aristotle (which is one of the oldest books on storytelling theory) he explains that a strong plot is one where you cannot disrupt or remove a single event without disrupting the entirety of the whole. For the most part, the majority of your plot has as many scenes as possible that are caused by a domino effect. Every time you are hiding the scene ask yourself if the previous scene wasn’t there could this scene still happen? Then ask yourself does this cause the next scene?

6) Mystery and revelation. You know stories are made up of questions, a plot line or a premise. It is just a bunch of little questions that make up the book. A lot of them will need to be answered for clarity, but others need to be left on the table for suspense. Ask questions a) who is this person b) what’s going on c) what’s going to happen.

Those questions will be more specific based on the actual plot and this pairs with revelation. Revelation is the other part that goes along with mystery. Mystery sets up. Revelation ties together. These two together are what make a plot satisfying. It needs to happen at the proper rate. If you don’t answer any questions your plot will be really confusing.

There is going to be a lot of information you are going to need to setup at the beginning. Those are the questions that are being answered. Answer the questions that you need to answer for clarity. Then there are going be some questions you want to leave open.

7) Suspense and snap. Suspense is a common term and is often tied to mystery. Mystery is more of an intellectual thing whereas suspense is more of a visceral reaction and the stress you feel related to unknown outcome.

Snap is the jump-scare. Snap is the culmination of suspense in this energetic moment. This is often a key moment off an important one in the plot. It is that you have been building up – so much suspense and then it snaps. Those moments especially in certain genres like thrillers you expect. Many genres cna use this kind of snap moment and it can appear in different forms. It is the actualization or action making use of that suspense you have built up.

8) Emotional balance and cohesion. I hear writers often say I want my reader to be taken on an emotional rollercoaster or I hear readers say the book was an emotional roller coaster but I would be careful with this idea. Obviously emotional range is really great and important if it is the same emotion throughout. If this emotional rollercoaster you have created is lacking in other elements like logic or causality especially, then it is actually not very satisfying. It can really impact your characterization. If your character doesn’t have a stable emotional thread whether they are an emotionally stable person or not, it can be hard to track and feel their emotions.

If they are just jumping from emotional state to emotional state to make the reader feel those emotions it can actually be really hard to invest in the character and develop a sense for who the character is. The reader is not actually getting a chance to experience who the character is or learn about them or what their emotional threat is because of this jumbled mess of emotion. Emotional range is good as long as it’s cohesive and there is causality to it.

Another aspect of this is the push and pull of hope and despair. It is essentially the idea that at any point in time in your story there should be both hope and despair. There is always despair in the hope and there is always hope in the despair. Without hope in the despair there is no point going on because there is seemingly no possible way that this problem could be resolved. Hope is what keeps the reader and the character going. Without hope there is no tension at all. Hope means that there is no conflict, everything is resolved.

9) Unrest and resolution. A story is essentially the story of unrest. In most plot lines by this model, you have a character who has some sort of emotional or internal unrest but they don’t have a way of changing it. The inciting incident gives them an opportunity to change this unrest that they feel within their life no matter what kind of form it takes. They have an opportunity to change.

The resolution doesn’t necessarily mean they have achieved what they wanted, but it means their opportunity in which they could see the kind of change in their life they wanted has come to an end. Through this example you have unrest and then the resolution caps it off, whether this is positive or negative. Whether the character has succeeded or not, whether they have changed their life or themselves for the better or not.

Resolution basically means that the plot is now going to de-energize and the reader knows that part of the story is over. This aspect of the character’s life or maybe the character’s life as a whole is not going to be changing substantially or have the opportunity to change substantially anymore. In the way we were exploring this idea throughout the story with the reader. Sometimes this resolution isn’t always fully explored, it is the imminent promise of resolution.

The reader knows that resolution is about to happen shortly after the end, but that is basically the same thing – the imminent promise of resolution. Or resolution itself signals the end of the period of unrest no matter what the characters emotional state is. It means the character can’t affect or change their life any more really to any significant margin so the reader kind of feels that sense of closure. The story is over no matter what that means emotionally that’s kind of what makes your story feel like a whole.

Fun Creative Writing Exercises

If you feel like you have a lot of pent-up creative energy in you, here are some tips. If you don’t do anything creative for a while you might tend to get kind of artistically frustrated. If you have a bigger project, occasionally sit down and do short creative writing activities just to release some of the pent up energy. Put something on a page practice, then go back to your bigger project.

For ideas look at random pictures, look at a Wikipedia page about the subject you are writing about. On the left there is a link called random article. You can click on it then write for five minutes about the article. You might use that short writing project to rewrite an important scene in your book from a different characters point of view. You can also write each chapter in multiple perspectives to choose the one that fits best for telling the story. you get to know each character a lot better and it makes the story more complex and deeper. Those different ideas just might shine through at different moments.

This next activity is really fun. It’s kind of like found treasure. Pick two different things you can print out like two different newspaper or magazine articles. Cut both of the articles in half and put the halves together. See what you can add or subtract to come up with a story you like. Just have fun.

Description overload can be a problem. Using too many adjectives doesn’t mean you are a good writer or a creative writer. Come up with a very bare-bones description. Look at it to see what might need to be added to have the story more clear to your reader.

Make your writing more exciting using the five senses. Describe what your characters smell, what they felt or, what they heard. How can you describe things in a way that’s interesting and makes the reader feel like they’re actually there. That seems like a very simple thing to do and a very like obvious thing, but it can be interesting. Taking a second to stop and think about what all of your senses are feeling. Take your main character and think about everything that he or she is experiencing in that moment.

Have someone give you three numbers. Go to one of your bookshelves. For the first number, count off how many books. For the second number use it for the page. for the third number find the sentence. Time yourself for five to ten minutes and use that sentence as the first sentence in your writing exercise. Keep writing from that point.

These are great creative writing exercises. You might find you are writing for a lot longer than you originally planned. Sometimes it even ends up being a short story and that is really exciting when that happens.

25 Mistakes that Peg You as an Amateur Writer

Their are 25 common mistakes that will peg you as an amateur writer:

  • Number one is spelling changes If you spell a name a certain way, make sure it is always spelled that way. Also  with locations and abilities. Be consistent with the capitalization, too.
  • Number two is characters that are similar. Do not have multiple characters with very similar names, similar personality attributes, or that are on same side, either the good side or the bad side in your story.
  • Number three is mistakes in procedures with different professions like Social Work, the Police, the Court System, or Forensic Scientists to name a few. You need to understand how those professions work if you are going to write about them.
  • Number four is mistakes in descriptions of medical problems, medical care, technology, or weapons. Research to make sure you understand what you are describing.
  • Number five is small talk in the dialogue that takes up a lot of space but does not mean anything, or have any relevance.
  • Number six is forgetting to include sensory information like sight, sound, and smell.
  • Number seven is naming the main character after yourself or a slight variation of your name. This will be very apparent when you go to query agents or publishers and it is a big red flag.
  • Number eight is cliches used too frequently. You do not want to rely on cliche phrases.
  • Number nine is using the same sentence construction over and over.
  • Number ten is switching between past and present tense unintentionally. Make sure you know which tense you are writing in.
  • Number eleven is pausing the story every time a character is introduced to provide a laundry list of physical descriptions. One or two descriptions is fine, but the big long paragraph of descriptions is not going to read smoothly.
  • Number twelve is over use of alternative dialog tags. Use these very sparingly.
  • Number thirteen is using more than one or two adjectives to describe a noun.
  • Number fourteen is using more words than is necessary. EX: he lifted his chin slowly and then dropped it back to his chest instead of he nodded.
  • Number fifteen is thesaurus writing. Replacing words constantly with bigger or fancier words to sound more impressive or sophisticated.
  • Number sixteen is constantly repeating the character’s name.
  • Number seventeen is repeating character’s name in dialogue. You do not normally call people by their names in dialogue very often so it can seem unnatural.
  • Number eighteen is repeating the same description over and over.
  • Number nineteen is switching the point of view of your character at random. The point of view of the character should switch because it advances the story. You want to switch smoothly so your reader does not get confused with your story.
  • Number twenty is including mundane details for no reason. The reader does not need to watch your character brush their teeth, get out of the shower or pick their clothes. These descriptions are very rarely interesting.
  • Number twenty one is describing every article of clothing every character is wearing at all times.
  • Number twenty two is using an adverb plus a verb instead of just using a stronger verb. EX: saying he moved quickly instead of he jogged.
  • Number twenty three is overly formal dialogue.
  • Number twenty four is introducing too many characters at the same  time.
  • Number twenty five is writing stage direction instead of action. Nobody needs excessive descriptions.

How to Tell If Your Novel Idea is Good

How to know if your novel idea is a good idea. Writers will fairly often ask is this a good idea for a novel or of all of these ideas, which idea should I focus on. Understanding the idea behind your novel is rarely the determining factor and whether it’s successful or marketable. To know if a book is worth pursuing or how to know if a novel is marketable, consider these things: plot versus the idea behind the story. Many ideas are not that distinct and they are not that original.

Also consider if you have created compelling characters. A group of unique characters with a very distinct or unusual approach to a project with some sort of wow factor to elevate the story will help you write and develop the flow of the story. Make what is happening in the story more exciting.

If you want your novel idea to be strong, you want your novel to be marketable. You need to make sure that you are excited about the plot and not just the idea. An easy and a good question to ask yourself is which plot points am I excited about? Is there a surprising conflict that just comes out of nowhere or a really dramatic showdown between two characters. If you have specific plot events that you are excited about, that is a good sign that your plot is working.

If you think about the plot and there is nothing that you are particularly excited about, there is no plot point that you are proud of, or you feel like the plot is sort of interchangeable or that you don’t feel that strongly about it, then you know  that is a good sign the idea, the premise, and the plot combined are not working very well. You don’t have a complete picture. It is not about the idea being bad it is at that point  it is about the execution of the idea. Focus on the craft of writing, focus on understanding plot and scene structure. If the melding of the idea has a good plot with strong characters with good world building when you are writing fiction is what makes the book work. Don’t neglect the plot because the premise alone will not sell your book.

Note: world building for your story, whether your story is set in a real place or an imagined one, you need to establish your characters’ world so that the reader can suspend disbelief and fully engage with the story.

Reasons Readers Don’t Care About Your Characters

Common reasons readers don’t care about your characters and what you can do about it.

Writers often think characters need to be likable, that they need to be nice people or good people. That is not necessarily the case. Readers care about a lot of characters that aren’t necessarily nice people or likable people, so you don’t have to worry about making your character nicer. Make readers more interested and more invested in what happens to your characters because that is what gets readers to keep reading.

You are never going to please everybody with your characters, and that is okay. If, however, you’re getting the same feedback over and over especially if you’re at the querying stage and agents or publishers are telling you they don’t care about your characters, they can’t relate to your characters or they can’t connect to your characters, it could be that you’re not really conveying your characters personalities. Know your characters personality so well that just everything about the character is clear.

One thing that can help a lot is distance from your story.

Another trick that can help is to have somebody else read your first chapter and ask them what they think about the personality of this character, and what are their personality traits. As a little secondary tip, make sure that you’re not showing personality traits that are not indicative of who your character is because you can confuse the reader.

Another reason readers might not connect to your characters is that you’re showing their most negative traits but you’re not explaining why they have those traits. You do want to give some kind of indication of why a character might be acting in a particular way. A hint of why they have the negative trait can help the reader to relate to them and not to see them as negative. It can make them more interesting to read about because then you want to learn more details and more depth about why this character has come to be this way reason.

Another reason that readers might not connect to your characters is that you’re not indicating what the character wants. It is really hard to connect with a character who seems content and happy with life and is there just sailing through. The reader really doesn’t have much incentive to care about them because they seem like they’re doing just fine. Make sure that you’re showing what your character wants or what they want to be different about their life because that’s what will get the reader interested.

Another reason that readers might not connect your character is you’re not introducing a problem. If your character wants something, there needs to be something that stands in their way. A conflict occurs when the character wants something and then something stands in the way of what they want. Make sure that those obstacles are there because readers will want to see how your character overcomes them.

Another reason readers might not connect your character is that your character is a stereotype. For readers to connect or find those characters interesting, the key is just to combine in unexpected or different ways and to not put typical characters into typical scenarios.

Another reason that readers might not connect with your characters, if you’re not putting the reader in the characters shoes. This can be a very easy thing to overlook, but sensory information is really important. Readers want to feel like they are right there next to the character and that can be very difficult to experience if the characters senses are described in a very bland or distant way or if they’re not described at all. The five sense descriptions of your characters help the reader to feel connected and as if they’re there in the character’s body and they can kind of experience things as the character experiences it.