Tag Archives: novel

How To Develop Infinite Novel Plots (With Your Own Personal Theme)

I’m always surprised by how many people have problems coming up with ideas for their books. I’ve never been the type to not have six or seven projects going at once. But there is one thing that I think is unaccounted for when people browse story starting sentences or images. This is something that I have always used and could not develop ideas without.

The Base Story

Now, this is the single most important, root for building every novel you could ever think of.  I always have my niche story start. Think of it as the first building block, the foundation to build upon. This could be as simple as ‘Man Vs. Nature’ or as complex as ‘Man struggling in the business world’ but it is the one common thread that all of your novels will have in common.

It MUST be Something that Interests YOU Deeply

For me, it’s gay romance where one of the main characters does not want to admit he’s gay. I find the dynamic extremely interesting with a thousand different plots. When you try to think of your base story make sure:

It can be set all different places across space and/or time.

You can interchange character types easily.

It is deeply interesting to YOU (not your mom, boyfriend or publisher).

It is flexible enough to fit many different subplots, character developments, and won’t have the same overall outline.

It can be used as a subplot if your interest turns to something else.

So for my example:

Novel 1: Boy is running for a position of power and is blackmailed into a marriage with another guy, main characters does not want to admit he’s gay but ends up falling in love. Novel 2: Boy has no memory of the past as he has died and while traveling through the afterlife the main characters

Novel 2: Boy has no memory of the past as he has died and while traveling through the afterlife the main characters does not want to admit he’s gay but ends up falling in love with his guide.Novel 3:

Novel 3: One of the most popular singers in America does not want to admit he’s gay because he’ll fall out of popular light, but he’s head over heals in love with someone.

I have 20+ ideas that center around this one idea. Whenever I’m stuck, I just start with this concept and brainstorm off of it. It’s a great starting place to get my mojo going.

It has Other Benefits Too!

If being able to develop plots extremely quickly isn’t enough, consider the fallowing. Your books will all be in the same category, making readers find your other work easier. Your publisher will know what to expect for you and can more easily pitch your book. Your current readers will like more that just your fist book and will look forward to others.

I hope this helps you with your plot development basics! Have a great day!

A Note on How to Write Gay Fiction

I have found that people are most interested in the things they know the least about. One of my most popular posts is ‘How to write characters with dyslexia’ in which I try to help people better understand what dyslexia effects in my life. It was not until just a moment ago that I realized I had another type of character that people were still fascinated by… Gay ones. So here we go, this is my number one and most important tip.

It is exactly the same as writing straight fiction.

When you are writing the actual romance, falling in love is the same for all types of people.

What is different is how the world reacts.

Once upon a time, I wrote a gay romance and the person who read it misread all the pronouns to make the main character a girl. It works for me, they liked the novel they just weren’t open enough to LGBT ideas for me to correct them.

So that is my footnote on how I suggest you write gay fiction- the same way as everything else.

My Best Tip to Improve Your Writing!

I have a game I like to play constantly. You can do it at work, during class, on a drive, while exercising, and every time it will help you become a better writer. It is simple and easy to do. Just look at anything around you and describe it. Outside my window I see a tree, here is my sentence. ‘There was no wind to shake the branches of the trees that stood rigidly outside my window’. Now I describe something else in one sentence.I do this

I do this with people, objects, sounds, actions, all of it improving my word bank and sentence structure. Doing this makes the places in my book feel more real. I don’t have to remember the line or write it down, it’s just something to do when I’m board. This little game gets my creative juices flowing. It works so well for me because there is always something new going on in the real world.

But what about when I’m stuck in the same room day after day? Well, I rewrite the sentences as if I were one of my characters. For instance, ‘The tree didn’t move no matter how long I glared at it, wishing I were somewhere else’. I do this task will all my characters and that helps me delineate character traits and speech patterns.

So the next time you’re bored or can’t write, try describing something around you. You’ll notice many more intricacies of the world that way. Be your own narrator and don’t forget to have fun!

Why Writers Need a Three Color Notebook

My most trusted notebook has three different colored pages, and it is my most valuable writing tool. Pink, purple, and blue each represent something very specific and it keeps my writing crisp and fresh. It is my most valuable guide, character developer, plot generator and the one thing I used to write all three of my novels.

The Blue Pages: Characters

In the very front of my book is a list of character traits I like reading. They are all positive and I try to incorporate at lease one into each of my character, even the villain. This is followed by a breakdown of my favorite characters good and bad traits. I underline the ones that come up the most. Then I have the same thing for real life people. The best part about this is every person gets to make their own list and write for those styles.

That’s followed by all of my characters on their own page. I have their name, book, what their goals are and what their personality is. Then I have what they want most, what they are trying to accomplish and one thing they would never say, never do, and never think. This allows me to reference my characters easily and develop their worst fears while I’m writing. I can force them to do the opposite of their goal, say something completely out of character, and display human emotion. I can also reference all my characters and make sure I’m not writing the same person twice.

The Pink Pages: Plots

I want all of my plots to be very original. Whenever I draft an idea I always write it’s tag line in the book followed by a synopsis and notes. This lets me keep everything jotted down for later so I won’t forget that story idea or reuse it. This is particularly important for me because I need to keep everything in order. It is also my bank when I’m working on a new idea. I mix and mash old thoughts together until I create the perfect plot.

The Purple Pages: Forget-me-nots

When I try to jump into a piece after a long time or I’m switching into it from another project it’s easy to forget the subtleties of each project. So I have a page dedicated to things I need to put in later, whether that is symbols, subplot, recurring images, scenes to put in or edits to make in the future, it all go’s on one page. During edits, I reference this to make sure nothing is forgotten.

I hope this can help you keep organized in some way! Have a great day.

Interview With Self-Published Author Annie Louise Twitchell

Annie Louise Twitchell used to be like the rest of us, an aspiring writer. But she was braver than the rest of us and took on the challenge of self-publishing. Her book Spinner of Secrets has been described as an “amazing retelling” and “an enchanting fairy tale retelling written with a lyrical hand.” She has been running her blog since December of 2015 and detailed the publication of her book but I was also able to interview Annie about her process of writing and publishing Spinner of Secrets. So please read on for tips and tricks for publishing your first novel.

What is your background in writing?

I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I taught myself to write cursive when I was five or so, so I could “write pretty”. I’ve always adored books. My dad read The Hobbit out loud to me and my brothers when I was quite small; it became my favorite book of all time and still is. I joined my uncle’s website for writers when I was 13, and won my first writing contest within a year – it was a Christmas writing contest, and if I remember, I was the youngest person competing. I was pretty proud of myself for winning. I’m quite sure I’ve written over one million words since then.

What inspired you to write this specific story?

A writing prompt on a forum. The prompt was to write a short story with the following three elements, person, place, and thing: an outlaw, a castle, and a rose. My first impulse was to write Beauty and the Beast, but after thinking about it, I ended up doing Rumpelstiltskin. Why not? I fell in love with the story and just went with it. It was two years in creating, almost exactly from when I posted the prompt reply and when I published the book.

What was it like writing in a specific time period?

I inhale historical fiction, so I have a lot of background for it. It’s a fairy tale, so I didn’t worry too much about having every detail perfect. Fairy tales allow for some flexibility. The biggest thing was figuring out how to convey passage of time – they didn’t measure time in minutes and seconds, as one of my beta readers pointed out. So I had to do a lot of research into that. There were other things I had to research as well; that wasn’t hard, because I know how to do that.

What did you do in order to keep the story of Rumpelstiltskin fresh while staying true to the story?

To keep a little more reality in it, instead of spinning gold from straw, Letta spins linen thread. Linen thread is made from the fibers in flax straw, which has to go through quite the process to get to the point of spinning. It involves water and rotting off the husk. Spinning linen thread from raw straw is impossible to do overnight. I spent a couple years working with fiber animals and fiber arts. I’ve done some spinning and let me tell you, it is not as easy as they make it look.

Do you have any tips for wannabe authors?

Write like nothing matters, edit edit edit edit edit, and at some point be willing to draw the line and say this is good. Not okay, not good enough, but this is good. There are going to be people who hate your work, there are going to be people who are really mean and cruel about it. Don’t you dare let that stop you. This is your story, not theirs. Yes, take the constructive criticism. Take the people saying “I think this needs to change…” – especially if they’re your beta readers or editors and you asked them to. But even then, it’s your story, not theirs. They’re trying to help you improve it. You can decide not to change something if you don’t want to.

What were your goals when you published Spinner of Secrets?

Really, it was about me. Beating my anxiety, putting a finished work out there, putting down the voices in my head that said I’m not good enough, I’m only a girl, I don’t have any right to even try. The month before publication was really hard and exhausting, and I’m still kind of patching myself up after it. But I did it. I have a stack of my books sitting on my chair.

What went into creating the cover and synopsis?

The synopsis, I just worked at for a year or so. I had a sudden burst of inspiration (probably while I was making dinner) and just kept refining and polishing it. The cover was a lot of fun, actually. I took the photo at the river near my house, which I frequently haunt, and my housemate/sister/best friend worked with me to design it. She’s a professional photographer and has a lot of experience with graphic design. I’ve gotten both extremes in response to it – either they hate it and it’s dull and boring, or they love it and it draws them right in. It was mostly other authors who said they hated it, interestingly enough, and other people who loved it. I love it, especially in print, and it’s perfect for the story.

 

What advice would you give to other authors who were going to self-publish?

Get help. Beta readers, proofreaders, an editor if you can afford one (I couldn’t, so I had seven beta readers plus me and my mom and my proofreader.) Definitely invest in a proofreader. It’s less expensive than an editor but it will help polish everything up and catch those annoying typos. Do your research. Just because it’s faster than traditional publishing, doesn’t mean it’s easier. Everything is on you. You are the party responsible for getting it out there looking decent. Market yourself and your book. Run specials and promote them. Do. Your. Research.

Would you self-publish again?

Absolutely. I love having the control and the freedom, as well as doing it on my own schedule. I also found I love the formatting and designing process. It was so. Much. Fun. Definitely work, but it was fun! It was a challenge and it was an exciting one that I was able to meet.

What’s next? Another book maybe?

Ahh, yes. Currently I’m working on eight books as well as a poetry collection. Which one ends up being published first is yet to be seen, although it will probably be another novella, just because I’ll finish with that first. My writing style is really weird – I write and write and write, and then I leave it be for a long time and work on something else. It gives the story breathing space, it gives me breathing space, and it just makes the process easier for me. It’s like making bread. You have to let it rest in between beating the snot out of it, otherwise it comes out dry, flat, tough, and tasteless.

If you want to find out more information about Annie Louise Twitchell find her on Facebook or her Blog! And don’t forget to order her book Spinner of Secrets so you can experience the tale of Rumpelstiltskin like never before.

Writing Characters With Dyslexia Part 2!

Last year I wrote my most viewed article, Writing characters with dyslexia. Today I’ve come back to clarify and expand on writing these quirky characters. Keep in mind, this is how my dyslexia affects me and it might not be the same for others.

First, The science

So when you think synapses are fired in your brain. That triggers another one to fire and the chain is what creates the way you process the world around you. (At least that’s my understanding.) So when someone who is dyslexic thinks the same thought, different synapses fire and it takes longer for us to figure out the same information.

This also means we can come up with ideas others never would!

We think about each idea longer and think about it differently that normal people would. This ends up in us coming up with out of the box ideas and odd ways of doing things. For instance, my dad and I are picking up pinecones, he holds open the bag and tosses them inside. I go find a box and put the trash bag inside it to act as a trash can outdoors, my way is much easier. This principle is also true for concepts. Someone reviewed a novel I plotted out and told me the idea was too complex for normal people to fallow.

Dyslexics are usually called 3D thinkers.

I can imagine what a room looks like from any angle without walking there. I can figure out what it would look like to be shorter, taller, on the ceiling, upside down, all while sitting in one place. I never get lost walking around Chicago. When I leave a building my mind always forms a mental map of how to get back home. I can never give anyone directions though. When I try to figure out how to get somewhere, I start at the place I want to be and work my way street by street backward to my current location.

Memory

I have a great memory for places, textures, and objects but I will not remember your face. I am just enough on the autism scale that I hate looking into people’s eyes. At 19 I still find it hard to look in my parent’s eyes. I wouldn’t make full, sustained eye contact with my boyfriend until I had been dating him for upward of three months. So when I meet someone new I am much more likely to remember their shoes that the color of the hair or what they looked like at all.

I can’t make eye contact with myself in the mirror

 When you meet me you will think I look like a train wreck, my hair will be messy, I might have something on my face and my hands will by stained with dirt and paint. The reason for this is I hate mirrors. I can not look myself in he eye. The first time I remember doing so was middle school. So I don’t look in the mirror when I brush my hair, I won’t wash my face unless I’m in the shower. I don’t even like washing my hands because of the mirror.

I hope this look into my life helps you understand how to write dyslexic characters better. As you can see, it’s much more than just the reading, writing and math parts I covered last time. If you have any questions or want me to expand further, feel free to tell me in the comments!

Why Publishers Will Only Read Your First Page!

I have always thought it was unfair that a publisher spends so little looking at people’s novels before sending the rejection letter. But recently I was able to talk with an editor about why that is.

This is the most important thing she told me.

When a READER picks up your book, makes it past the cover and the back of the book blurb, the most they will read is a page. I was in Barnes and Noble for a few hours and picked up a few books based off of their covers. Most nonfiction got flipped to a random page and I read THREE LINES. I picked up few fiction books and read the back. I opened ONE. This is like the publisher reading your summary or Querry letter. They will be able to tell based off of that if they would open your novel.

The single book I opened didn’t even get the whole page read

In this era, we have very short attention spans. If the publisher didn’t get to the ‘best stuff’ then neither will your reader. Put your best work at the very beginning. But have hope. That one book I picked up came home with me because when I read the first half a page I decided I loved it. So when a publisher picks up your book they will read very little.

They will be able to see how much thought and editing you put in. They will see if you know how to write engaging work and know how to start a story. And most importantly they will be able to see if it’s the type of book they have been waiting for.

This summer I will be editing three novels I have been writing since 2014 and I hope to give you advice on getting published and making your book be one that people fall in love with. I hope this information was as eye-opening to you as it was to me.

Writing in Character Voice; Tips and Tricks

Maintaining character voice is one of the trickiest things in writing but I feel creating a distinct character voice could be trickier. Overall, character voice is often neglected in the writing community. Lots of people write all their character all in the same voice, that’s what I’m here to remedy today.

Font

Yes, font! You might think this is an odd way to write in different character voices and it is. One of the first things I do when opening a blank document is find a font that matches the was I think the character handwriting would look. This is a visual reminder that I should be writing in their voice. When I switch to a different story I’ll remember my style based on that font.

Length of Sentences

Some people ramble, some people don’t have much to say. I pause a lot to think about what I’m going to say, some of my friends don’t have any kind of filter. Try to picture the wheels turning in that person’s head, are they well greased or slowly falling apart?  How long it takes someone to express and idea is very indicative of character.

Word Choice and Dialect

This is a pretty common one. Some characters grew up educated, others are children, some speak English as a second language. Even just having a character from the south with one from Chicago will show you some very different results. Think through your characters past, where they were raised, who the hung out with, and what they know. Some characters will drop a ‘g’ off of ‘ing’ others won’t. These are the little differences that make characters distinct.

Mixed Speech Styles

Many great books use high class, ten cent words, but the funniest ones mix in character defining words.

“I can’t remember why the gods cast me down to Earth but I have continued to believe that they had a reason despite my recent fuck ups.”

I bet one art of that stands out to you. It really gives a sense of the character despite only hearing one sentence of narration from them.  I believe using mixed dictation makes characters seem more alive.

Now Pay Attention

As you go around day to day, listen to all the different people you meet and how they choose to organize their words. Even very similar people will phrase things differently. Try to learn from real life rather than films as those are often inaccurate. People often forget that a very simple writing tool is to listen.

I hope this helped you in some way. I think these are some of my best tips for making character distinct and interesting! Have a great day.

What Does ‘Write What you Want to Read’ Really Mean?

I always heard the advice ‘write what you want to read’ whenever I scoured the internet for inspiration. It wasn’t until recently that I really understood what that meant. I was at a writers conference talking with a creative writing teacher and I brought up this idea to him. When I think of writing what I want to read it stressed me out because it would need to be really well done and extraordinarily interesting (I’m quite a picky reader). I could never combine all the things I like into one book. Then he told me the meaning behind that statement.

If You Don’t Write What You Want to Read You Won’t Write Well

Thus the book you write doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to combine your interests. I have tried to write about things I don’t like before and those parts always end up uninteresting, short, or unfinished. So for that reason, I will write what I find most interesting in this world and I there are others out there who are also looking to read it. Knowing this took a lot of stress off my shoulders when developing ideas and I hope it helps you too!

Books on Marketing your Writing and Building Your Platform

I’m currently reading two books about how to market your novel. These both mostly focus on building your platform. “Sell Your Book Like WildFire” and “Your First 1000 Copies” both have similar content but their approach is entirely different.

Your First 1000 Copies is a very fun seemingly up to date book for having been written in 2013. This focuses on taking down your fears about marketing and making connections with people.

Sell Your Book Like WildFire has a very step by step approach to keep you moving forward. To me, it seemed less up to date but was written in 2012.

Both of these books motivate me greatly and I would recommend them. I personally like ‘Your First 1000 Copies’ more because of his writing style but I can see either beeing more useful depending on the style you like the most.

If you want to see more of my book recommendations or judge me based off of my childish style find my on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/55094969-sparren-fayne