Need help on the first draft of your novel? Here are some great resources.
- Planning or Outlining: Many revision techniques found here can also be invention techniques for those first drafts. As I’m working on my first draft of a new novel, I’m finding that many of the same techniques are helpful.
For example, spreadsheet plotting works equally well as a revision technique or as an outlining technique for the first draft.
- Subplots: I searched through all my how-to-write books for tips on subplots and finally found a whole chapter in Robert Kernen’s book, Building Better Plots. He does a great job of laying out options. I’m choosing to contrast with a slightly comic (I hope!) subplot.
- Characters: While there are many great character books around, I still go back to John Vorhaus’s The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You’re Not. I know it’s about comedy — and it does help you be funny. But I read it mostly because it helps me develop characters better and faster than any other resource. Since I’m hoping my subplot will be a bit of comic relief, I’m using his plotline for that subplot, too.
- Narrative Arc: CD player in my car. One of the best things I’m doing right now is listening to a long series as a Books-on-Tape. Right now, it’s Garth Nix’s Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen trilogy. I read them long ago, but hearing them one right after another brings the overall narrative arc into much better focus. I did this a couple years ago with the Dark is Rising series and it was fascinating, too, to hear them all in relatively a short space of time.
- Emotional Arc: In Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot , Peter Dunne lays out two great charts of how the emotional arc intersects the narrative arc. I have a column in my plotting spreadsheet for the emotions of the scenes, so I can monitor the emotional arc while I’m planning, too.
Fiction Notes by Email
When a new post appears on Fiction Notes, we'll send it to you by email.
We love to make it easy for you!