When you put your writing out there for others to read, what do you hope will happen? If you’re like most writers, you want readers to get pulled into your story and keep turning pages to the end. You want your story to be un-put-downable.
It’s no secret that the time-tested method of using cliffhangers at the end of your chapters or scenes is a sure-fire way to make that happen. But what a lot of writers don’t realize is that the cliffhanger ending is only half the equation.
The cliffhanger is the hook that makes the reader turn the page, but if you don’t have a solid line supporting them across the gap and a sinker that pulls them deep into the next scene or chapter, your fish is likely to wriggle off and swim away.
If you’ve ever told a good story—one that has your friends or family on the floor laughing, or else on the edge of their seat asking, “What happened next?!”—then you know that you can’t get to the point of the story too quickly.
Instead, you draw out interest. You talk about all the things that went wrong. You make jokes and accentuate the best details. When you’re done, it’s not the punchline people remember; it’s everything leading up to it.
The same is true when you’re writing a story, particularly in novels, memoirs, and screenplays. It’s called the Rising Action, and it’s essential to get it right IF you want to write entertaining, informative, and deeply connecting stories.
In this article, I’m going to talk about the rising action: what it is, how it works in a story, how it’s been treated by scholars who study story structure throughout history, and finally how you can use it to write a great story.
We think that we need talent in order to be successful writers—or musicians, or golfers. But the truth is, writing, like any other skill, is learned and improved through daily discipline. Are you maintaining the disciplines you need to become a successful writer?
If you want to write a book, you’ll need book writing software that’s up to the task. Yes, you can invest in dedicated book writing programs. But you don’t have to: a great writing tool is likely already at your fingertips, if you know how to write a...
Have you ever wondered how the elements of story impact your book’s genre? Do some elements of story have greater importance in a book because of the book’s genre?
I can think of several times when I’ve gone to a restaurant and taking the time to slowly chew my food, so I can experience how each of my senses is impacted by the food: from taste to smell to sight.
The level of importance the elements of story have on genre isn’t so different. We all have certain tastes—factors that appeal to us in different ways on our taste buds—and it’s the same with our reading preferences. I came to understand this in a profound way when I worked for our local library system, which I’d like to share with you today.
Readers crave certain “flavors” and genre helps them define what they like and discover more of it.
How the five elements of story vary in level of importance because of the genre may impact your perspective—and in a good way, for writers trying to satisfy their target readers!
Writing a book is hard. I’ve written seven books and at some point during each one I had the thought, “There has to be a tool, a piece of book writing software, that would make this easier.”
Bad news/good news: writing a book will always be hard, and the best piece of writing software in the world won’t write your book for you. But the good news is there is book writing software that can make the process a little easier.
In this post, we will cover the ten best pieces of software for writing a book and look at the pros and cons of each.
Does the concept of “theme” confuse you? Do you have trouble writing a theme, or weaving a theme into your story? If you said yes, you’re not alone. Lots of writers struggle to identify a theme in their book—and many don’t even know what thematic message the...
How do good stories start? In the middle of the action? With a slow buildup to the action?
Exposition is a literary term that deals with how to start a story.
In this article, I’ll define exposition, talk about how it fits into the dramatic structure, give examples of expositions from popular novels, plays, and films, and then give a few tips on how to use the exposition best in your writing.
Sometimes getting your writing into readers’ hands can seem like a long, arduous process. You might feel lost. You might feel like the “gatekeepers” in the publishing industry are out to get you, hate your work, or are just plain mean.
In this interview, we’re talking with Iseult Murphy about her writing journey, her decision to self-publish, and the power of connecting with other writers.
When you started your novel, how long did you think it would take to finish? Have those initial estimated writing deadlines come and gone? More importantly, did you finish your novel in that time frame?
If the answer is no, don’t fret. You’re not alone. Like me, you might fear you’ll never complete your story in a timely manner.
Maybe one day you lack inspiration. The next you don’t know where your story needs to go. Perhaps you procrastinate or feel low energy.
You know, the struggles all writers go through.
I suffered those afflictions and more during the 100 Day Book program at The Write Practice. And for a time, I thought I wouldn’t finish my novel by the deadline.
Let’s skip to the ending: I completed the second draft of my book on time.
But I learned four valuable lessons in the struggle. Lessons that will help you in meeting deadlines and enduring the writing process.
I’d like to share them with you now, so you can write your completed novel far faster than you believe possible.
The Hero’s Journey is easily the most-used and most-loved storytelling structure in the history of humanity. It resonates with readers in ways that are as old as human D.N.A. itself.
If you want to connect with readers and engage them on a deep level, you would be at an advantage to study this storytelling method and use as much of it as possible in your writing.
One of the best ways to study and master the Hero’s Journey is by seeing it at work in another story. And in recent history, there is no clearer use of the Hero’s Journey than George Lucas’s space opera, Star Wars.
I bet you have a great idea for a story right now. In fact, I bet you have several. But can that story idea withstand the length of a novel? If not, have you tried turning your story idea into a premise of a book?
Plot has a specific structure. It follows a format that sucks readers in; introduces characters and character development at a pace guaranteed to create fans; and compels readers to keep reading in order to satisfy conflict and answer questions.
Do you want readers to love your story? (Who doesn’t, am I right?) Then you need to understand plot.
If you’ve looked into the process of publishing a book, you might have heard the term “beta readers.” But what are beta readers? Do you really need them? And when do they come into the writing process?
A couple hints: yes, if you’re going to publish a book, you need beta readers. And no, they’re not a replacement for hiring a professional editor.
Even if beta readers aren’t technically a part of the editing process, since they’re not editors, they are essential to impacting positive revisions.
Beta readers can—and will—do wonders for your book. If you know where to find good ones, and how they can positively contribute to your stories.
This is how I found knockout beta readers. Ones that made a big difference in making my story it’s best draft.
Ever had days when life feels like a broken-down Rube Goldberg machine? Cobbled together from bits of cast-off junk, limping along, and missing the connections that bring a satisfying result? If you have, you share something with the bulk of humanity. Most of us feel that way at some point.
A person’s life consists of an enormous jumbled mass of cause and effect events, on a scale so huge that connections are rarely obvious or traceable. By contrast, a character’s story is a relevant subset of such events in which the causal relationships are evident. Sometimes overt, and sometimes subtle, but always present if you want to create a story that resonates with readers.
Have you ever fantasized about writing a Hollywood movie? Or maybe, with a bit of luck, create the next Lost.
In a visual age, with the decline of traditional publishing, some look to writing screenplays as a way to create the “literature of the future.”
But what is the process to write a screenplay? How do you even begin? And how is it different or similar to writing a novel? In this post we’re going to look at the five step process professional screenwriters use.
Life is filled with stranger-than-fiction moments. You might be wondering, though, how do you know how to write a book based on a true story? Because in practice, it’s much harder than it sounds, right?