When writing a scene, should I really describe the clothes of each character? What is the best way to not mess it?

So —- if describing your character’s clothes helps move the story forward, then you describe them. If describing their clothing enhances the story by telling the reader something about the characters, which is logical since what people wear says something about who and what they are and what their immediate plans are (since people dress for the occasion), then describe their clothes.

But in both cases, think of the story itself when describing what they are wearing and only describe enough to get the point across to the the reader and use words that go with the kind of story you are writing. Colorful words if the story is a colorful one or if the characters are colorful characters. Drab words for characters in a depressing situation. And so on.

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How can I think of ideas for the plot of a story?

 There’s a fun exercise that does exactly that. It might not lead to stories that will change the world but it will lead to stories that people will like to read. And who knows, you just might win a prize with one of them.
  1. On a small slip of paper, write a one-sentence description of a character you’d like to see in a story. Any kind of character. (A note here. The characters will probably be the kind you’d like to see in a story so some writers might describe real people while others will describe science fiction or fantasy characters. Whatever trips your trigger.) Repeat this until you have several characters. At least five, ten is better. Put them in a pile.
  2. Use more slips of paper to write down descriptions of places: a castle in Spain — the asteroid belt — a cottage in the woods — an apartment in New York — whatever comes to mind. Write several and put these in another pile.
  3. Repeat with more little slips of paper on which you write action phrases: run to town — escape the fire — climb the tower — fly the plane — You get the idea. Lots of actions here. Put them in another pile.
  4. Use more slips of paper to jot down lots of emotions: love — hate — fear — boredom — All you can think of and put them in a pile.
  5. On more slips of paper, write down several possible conclusions: they lived happily ever after — everyone dies — good triumphs — evil wins — the world is never the same again — the world isn’t annihilated. And put them in a pile.
  6. Take 2 slips from the character pile. You now have the 2 main characters for your story. Then take 1 from each of the other piles and you’ll have your plot. You might find you want more than 1 from the ‘action’ pile to provide lots of action for your story.
  7. Use your imagination to connect the slips of paper and concoct a story that will knock readers’ socks off.

What’s the difference between a novel, novella and short story?

 The difference is length.

A short story is anything less than a novella. Since most novellas are approximately 20,000 to 40,000 words, a short story is anything less than that. The usual length for a short story back in the day when they were printed was 4,000 words because publishers allotted that much space in their magazines.

A novella used to be unusual because not many publishers had a place for them, wanting either a short story in a magazine or a full-length novel in book form.

A novel normally starts at 50,000 words and goes up to anything. 150,000 words isn’t uncommon these days because publishers want readers to think they are getting their money’s worth by giving them long novels.

I know authors who strive to shorten their books to a mere 100,000 words. I don’t and won’t ever write such long books but a lot of writers do.

Can you have multiple POVs in a novella?

 Yes you can. A novella is just like a novel except shorter. As such, it can contain everything that a novel contains but in more compact form.

If you decide to have multiple viewpoints, make sure the reader is clear as to which character’s mind you are in at the moment. That’s not hard, it just requires that you truly BE in that character’s head when you are writing from their point of view.

If you are truly thinking from that character’s point of view, then more than likely your reader also will know what’s going on and who is doing the narrating at the moment.

Check by having someone else read the story and ask what they think. Ask if the point of view caused confusion. They probably won’t know why you are asking because it’s totally clear to them.

Do you write your story linearly or do you write chapters as you go and put them in order later?

I plot out a story as a synopsis in a linear manner, pretty much one paragraph describing what will happen in each chapter. But then I go back over the whole thing and, often, move chapters around until they make as much sense as possible and lead nicely to a climax.

How can I effectively write of a book character who slowly descends into madness?

 The answer depends on how you are portraying that character.

If you are using first person point of view and are showing the world through that character’s eyes, then you gradually describe the world and the people in it as if the world and everyone in it is changing and the character is having more and more trouble adapting because it’s not that character’s fault, it’s the world that’s gone mad. Because that’s usually the way people with mental illnesses see themselves and the world. They are right, the world is wrong.

If you are writing from third person point of view, it’s a little more difficult because you must show how that character sees the world changing until the entire world has gone mad and he/she is the only sane person.

So it’s all a matter of description. Normal versus abnormal. Sane versus insane. But all the time remember that the person losing their mind doesn’t realize it’s happening, just thinks that everyone and everything else is going wrong. At least that’s the case with almost all mental illness so it’s most likely the way a reader would expect to see it happening in a story.

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