• Craft,  Revising and Editing

    Why Story Structure is So Important

    One of my favorite writing books is Story by Robert McKee. I love it because it is a heady, thorough, and challenging explanation of exactly how to tell a story. While it’s designed mostly for screenwriters, I imagine every novelist would find value in it.

  • Charles Dickens,  Craft,  Discipline,  Revising and Editing,  Uncategorized

    Top 10 Signs You’ve Given TMI & Need to Cut The Dickens Out Of Your Backstory by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

    You are not Charles Dickens. As much as you may want  to be Victorian, champion for the London’s most needy, and father 10 children, that doesn’t give you the right to overwrite your novels. That is, if you intention is to sell them in today’s market, you may want to reconsider how much backstory you have and how you may want to cut it. In today’s market, there are general guidelines for genres. Writer’s Digest has a nice article that breaks it down for your use. But these are general guidelines. Anyone who self-publishes can basically do whatever they want. And if you look hard enough, you’ll find exceptions to nearly ever…

  • Revising and Editing,  Uncategorized

    Beginning Badly: Eight Awful Ways To Start A Novel

     In the beginning . . . It’s the first page of a brand new novel. Will it be a good beginning or a bad one? Within reading the first two sentences, you’ve already made a decision on whether or not you’ll keep reading. Your reader has too. If they have picked up your novel, they may be turned off by what they read if you have one of these eight awful beginnings. Your main character is asleep, dreaming. Why is this bad? Sleeping is passive. Unless the action of the entire novel is based in dreams or sleeping frequently, this is an amateur move. Take out the dream sequence completely and…

  • Craft,  Revising and Editing,  Uncategorized

    Does Your Backstory Make Your Readers Stabby?

    Backstory? Oh yes, you’ve been working on that character’s backstory for months! You’ve written thousands of words of backstory! You know how his parents met, how he got that scar on his pasty white tuckus, and why he gets all shaky and whiny when he’s served enchiladas. This is all important stuff you told yourself as you dumped it out into the first chapter of your work-in-progress. It sets the stage! The readers can really know him! This will make the story richer! Your character’s backstory may have bored your reader to tears. They left after the second or third page. They want a story: they don’t want genealogical report or long-winded…

  • Craft,  Revising and Editing,  Uncategorized

    Four Reasons Why Authors Shouldn’t Be Nice In Their Stories

    Nice authors can be dull ones. I think that authors should be well-behaved and respectful. They should have great ethics and never be undignified or rude in public where their readers can see them. I fully believe that an author’s brand is far too fragile (especially in this competitive market) to risk alienation by their readers for their bad behavior. But when it comes their writing, authors need to stop being meek. Instead they should be as mean as they can possibly be within the confines of their genre. If well-mannered authors carry their sweetness into their stories too much, they risk weakening their books. Nice people can make dull…

  • Discipline,  Revising and Editing

    Editing. Is It More Important Than The Writing? Hell, Yes! A Guest Post by Jennifer Senhaji

    Writers, like all artists, are a creative bunch. There are some that are meticulous about structure and form. There are some that fly by the seat of their pants on the winds of inspiration. Both make good writers. Editing, proper and professional editing, make great writers. You may be thinking you’ve heard this before. You know you have to edit. You know not to rush to publish. You’ve read enough poorly or unedited books by now to know the value of editing. But I’m here to tell you that’s just the tip of the publishing iceberg. You can have the most fantastic, most original, next Pulitzer Prize winning novel sitting…

  • Beautiful Words,  Craft,  Revising and Editing

    Top 10 Easy Ways To Make Your Sentences More Beautiful

     For the month of April, this blog is celebrating Beautiful Words! Today I have a list! Top 10 Easy Ways To Make Your Sentences More Beautiful 1. Eliminate the adverbs and adjectives. Stick in a metaphor if you want the reader to appreciate the nuances and features of the noun. Or pick a better noun. 2. Read it out loud. Listen for rhythms and cadence. Add in phrases or clauses to slow things down, add description or amp up emotion. 3. Don’t let it start with “There was” or “There were.” 4. Rearrange where the verb and noun are in the sentence, but don’t make it passive. 5. Add an element…

  • #Top10Tuesday,  Nanowrimo,  Revising and Editing

    #Top10Tuesday Top Ten Signs You Have Too Much Backstory

    They really should call December CleUMessNoMo, for Clean Up Your Messy Novel Month. And that kind of looks like clueless. I think that’s fitting because many writers, especially new and inexperienced writers are clueless about what to take out of the hot mess that is their Nanowrimo Project. If you have any doubt, this handy list can help you address the backstory problem you may have in your little darling. Backstory is great for writers who need to know the true motivation of their characters. Backstory is not great for readers who are aching for action and just want the writer to get to the point!  Tell the story for crying out…

  • #Top10Tuesday,  Nanowrimo,  Revising and Editing,  Work-In-Progress

    #Top10Tuesday Top Ten Questions To Ask Yourself When You Clean Up Your Nano Project

    Nanowrimo is almost done!! And if you are one of those gold star, overachieving type, you may be wondering what to do with this little project once it’s all over. (This blog will have plenty of advice in December!) But for now, let’s list a few general tips to consider when fine tune that draft. These all have to do with the general story structure and plot –these are big issues. In fact, you can’t do much more with the development of your story until these wrinkles are ironed out. Are you ready to answer some tough questions? (And have a stronger manuscript as a result?) Let’s Go! 1. Does…