The Conversation of Literature: What Are They Saying About Your Book?


We don’t write in a vacuum. Your story is in the context of the whole of literature, and specifically, the literature of your genre. How does your story add to, change, enhance the conversation? This question was brought home to me as I picked up my son’s comic book. It’s a reproduction of the original […]

7 Total Shares

Abandoned Story? Pick up the Story Lines Again and Create Magic

fear of half-written page

Some fear the blank page. I fear the half-written page. I was writing along, doing great on a story when life interrupted (how dare it!). Has that happened to you? You know where the story is going, you’re in the drafting mode and going strong and BANG! Something happens. You have to set the story […]

20 Total Shares

How to Ruin Your Novel’s Opening with a Few Wrong Words

Choosing the right set of words–the diction of your novel–is crucial, especially in the opening pages of your novel. Novels are a context for making choices, and within that context, some words make sense and some don’t. A novel sets up a certain setting, time period, tone, mood and sensibilities and you must not violate […]

23 Total Shares

Novelists: You are Gifted & Talented

Gifted and Talented If you have finished a draft of a novel (however messy!), you are Gifted and Talented. The fact that you are Gifted and Talented has an important implication for revising your story. GT Learners. First, I’ve talked with Gifted and Talented Teachers about how their students learn. When they learn something new, […]

9 Total Shares

Point of View: Inside a Character’s Head


How does an author take a reader deeply into a character’s POV? By using direct interior monologue and a stream of consciousness techniques. This is part 3 of a 3-part series on Point of View: Techniques for Getting Inside a Character’s Head. Read the whole series. Outside Outside/Inside Inside Going Inside a Character’s Head, Heart […]

21 Total Shares

Point of View: Outside/Inside a Character’s Head

Partially Inside a Character’s Head: OUTSIDE AND INSIDE POV How deeply does a story take the reader into the head of a character. Many discussions of point of view skim over the idea that POV can related to how close a reader is to a reader. But David Jauss says there are two points of […]

22 Total Shares

Excitement: Starting a New Novel

There’s an excitement in the air! I’ve started a new novel project. Here’s what I don’t want to happen: I don’t want the excitement for this project to get bogged down and dribble away. It happens too easily, as life issues take over, as problems arise with the project, or just as the work drags […]

11 Total Shares

First Readers v. Manuscript Critique


When you finish your draft, do you look for a manuscript critique or a first reader? They are different and serve different purposes. Manuscript Critique. The reader puts on his/her critical glasses and looks at your manuscript through that lenses. How does this story match up with the ideal novel? Of course, that assumes that […]

13 Total Shares

Saying, “NO!” to an Editor


Hurrah! You have a revision letter from an editor and you are going to make every single, solitary, revision the editor asks for. Right? Maybe. When can you say, “No,” to an editor? You can refuse a contract for any number of reasons. Money, vision for the published manuscript, an unkind word. You never have […]

17 Total Shares

Narrative Arcs and Progressions


A narrative arc is a necessary part of fiction and is often a key component of nonfiction, especially narrative nonfiction. The arc indicates that there is some sort of progression. Emotional Progression. The most common sort of progression is for the emotions to build to a climax. If two characters are arguing, the intensity, complexity […]

13 Total Shares

How Powerful are Your Words?


Yesterday, I went to a local elementary school to tutor, something I’ve recently started. My second grader, CL, brought a nonfiction, information worksheet to go over. He read through the information on what makes popcorn pop and did pretty well in the reading. But his understanding was weak. The paper said that popcorn kernels pop […]

1 Total Shares

Revise for Focus: Plot and Subplot in the Right Proportions


I recently did a revision of a short novel manuscript, based on editorial Notes. The Notes were not specific, rather quite general. You see stories of 15-page editorial letters, but this was the total opposite. Basically, the story seemed out of focus and the interest lagged at a couple points. Refocus the Story Wow. What […]

14 Total Shares

Openings: And the Winner Is. . .

As the curtain opens on your story, what is the first thing the readers encounter? Your opening line. "Make it a good 'un."

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on yesterday’s post on story openings, in which I gave you twelve options from a WIP from which to choose. First, the informal survey hit some hotspots for some writers: “I would throw the ‘it was’ line in a lake with a stone tied around it. Sorry, I’m […]

4 Total Shares

When Are You Finished with Your Revision?

hammock is hosting a “Revision Week” in which she interviews various authors about their revision process. Today, Robin LaFevers answers the question, “When it is sent to the printer. Seriously. I could fiddle and tweak forever. In fact, I have been known to tweak and edit on a printed copy of the book before doing […]

15 Total Shares

Opening Lines, Scenes, Chapters: Best, Worst, Fix Them, Write Them


Today is a compilation of previous posts on the topic of how to open a story or novel. These are among the most popular posts here on Fiction Notes, so I gathered them in one place for you. 12 Ways to Open Your Story: The Story in Miniature First Page: An Editor Discusses Why It […]

7 Total Shares

February 750 word challenge

Take the February 750word challenge. The website challenges writers every month to write every day that month and make it at least 750 words. Now, think about it. February only has 28 days; except this is a leap year, sorry. Still, that’s one day less to win this challenge. You can write 750 words […]

1 Total Shares

Does Sentence Structure Affect Tone?

Tone is the overall feel of a story. Does this sound depressed, joyful, or hopeful? Beyond that, though, tone can determine the audience for your story. One of the main differences between a middle grade and YA, or a YA and an adult story, is the tone of the piece. Tone reflects the author’s attitude […]

11 Total Shares