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Labors, Sins, and Six Acts - Official Novel Writing Guide - All Genres

An ideal first stop... You will discover below a series of scholarly, researchable, frank and indispensable guides to conceiving and writing the commercial genre novel, as well as the plot-driven literary novel. But the cutting edge of the developmental peels and prods as presented makes an initial big assumption, namely, that you are honestly desirous of true publication either by a classic publisher or traditional literary press , and therefore, willing to birth the most dynamic and can't-put-it-down novel you possibly can. Further, you are also naturally desirous of great sets, mind-altering theme, unforgettable characters, and cinematic scenes, among other things. Does that go without saying?   Perhaps, but you must know, it won't be easy. Labors and Sins First of all, the method-based assertions and information we've gathered and elevated before your eyes below will shiver many of you like a 6.5 on the literary Richter scale because it will contr
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Writing Novel Scenes A to Z - Drama, Sex, and Sass

So now you're writing the novel, or rewriting it, or preparing to?   There is so much to consider your head has exploded and now you're groping for the parts. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend in this phase somewhere between false confidence and mortifying epiphany that you wisely execute your novel a scene at a time. No better organizing principle than this. Forget chapters, for the moment. Know that each scene serves a purpose, often more than one, e.g., pushing the plot forward while introducing a major secondary character. Each scene also evolves with its own beginning, middle, and end (see the steamy example below). Btw, if you've not yet done so, great idea to absorb the Six Act Two-Goal Novel before continuing. Also, please review the First Ten Steps , as well as our crucial articles on setting , antagonists , and delivering exposition . Why? Because the points below will make way more sense if viewed in the proper context. KEY CONCEPTS : story premi

Settings Are 60% - Maximize Opportunity

When considering your novel, whether taking place in a contemporary urban world or on a distant magical planet in Andromeda, you must first sketch the best overall setting and sub-settings for your story.  Wasn't it F. Scott Fitzgerald who said something like, "Setting is 60% of what makes your novel stand out"? A great setting maximizes opportunities for interesting characters, circumstances, and complications. Therefore, with a dash of unleashed imagination and a dose of sufficient research, nothing provides a stronger novel foundation than a great setting. Fact.  One of the best selling contemporary novels in recent memory, THE HUNGER GAMES , is driven by the circumstances of the setting, and the characters are a product of that unique environment as well as the plot. But even if you're not writing SFF, the choice of setting is just as important, perhaps even more so. If you must place your upmarket story in a sleepy little town in Maine winter, then choose a set

Aspiring Authors and the Epiphany Light

A WATERSHED EVENT FOR SERIOUS WRITERS Whatever the stage of your project or writing life, know that all writers, if they desire to become commercially published, must see and enter the Epiphany Light. First of all, what is the "Epiphany Light"?  The EL is a state of mind crucial to any aspiring author desirous of commercial or serious literary publication, and one which clearly divides the 99% from the 1% of those who've learned the hard way how challenging it is to have their expertise and projects taken seriously by professionals in the publishing business. But are the percentages so drastic as depicted here? Yes, and probably even more so.  Consider the very small number of first time authors who emerge with publishing contracts from major houses, imprints, or even well-regarded traditional presses, and then compare these few hundred to the hundreds of thousands of writers in America struggling valiantly yet vainly to accomplish the same feat.  Viewe

Dialogue - Never a Gratuitous Word or Boring Moment

For starters... Let's place this in a context rarely mentioned elsewhere. At such time dialogue becomes difficult or perplexing for writers to produce, it's usually because they have failed on some level to create interesting characters in the first place, or because they do not properly understand the role of each relevant character in the scene (please stop and read this article now if you've not already done so), or both. To complicate further, the writer may not actually understand the role of the scene in the novel. Put these three conditions together and artful dialogue becomes impossible regardless of other factors . KEY CONCEPTS : screenplay emulation, dialogue as art, the LED, major functions of dialogue, delivery of exposition, dialogue arc, character style, tags and ellipses, provocations and disagreements, the foil character, dialogue samples. Initial Admonitions But let's assume the first three conditions above have been met. So where

The Six Act Two-Goal Novel

What makes for good drama is a constant. To begin, we combine Siegal's "nine act structure - two goal" screenplay (very much like the Syd Field three act except that the "reversal" from Field's structure joins "Act 5" in Siegal's version) with the Field classic three act. The Two-Goal Structure, Siegal maintains, creates more dynamic plot tension due to the insertion of PLOT REVERSAL later in the story. We concur.  NOTE:  "Plot Point" is defined here as a major occurrence that emphatically changes the course of the story. In the genre novel as a whole, we see three to five major plot points depending on various factors: a first PP that begins the rising action, second PP defined by the first major reversal, a third PP defined by a possible second major reversal, a climax PP, and a theoretical PP residing in the denouement, i.e., we think the story is going to resolve a certain way after climax, but a surprise happens that resolves

Loglines and Hooks With Core Wounds

HOOK OR LOG WITH CORE WOUND AND CONFLICT Your hook line (also known as logline) is your first chance to get a New York or Hollywood professional interested in your novel. It can be utilized in your query to hook the agent into requesting the project. It is especially useful for those pitch sessions at conferences, lunches, in the elevator, or anywhere else. When a prospective agent or editor asks you what your book is about, your high-concept hook line is your answer. Writing one also encourages a realization of those primary elements that will make your novel into a work of powerful fiction.  The great novel, more often than not, comprises two stories: the exterior story or plot line, and an interior story focused primarily on the protagonist, one that defines and catalyzes her or his evolutionary arc throughout the novel. For example, a protagonist with a flaw or core wound that prevents her from achieving a worthwhile goal is forced to respond to a lifechanging event instigated