What is some advice that you can give regarding plot development in writing?

2. All good stories have beginnings, middles and endings. Write down the beginning and the ending on separate slips of paper. Again, a sentence or two will suffice.

3. Put the ‘story’ slip on your desk where it won’t get lost and where it will constantly remind you what story you’re telling. Because it’s easy to forget that when you get into the details. (The details are the middle that you’re not worrying about yet.)

4. Put the ‘beginning’ slip on the left side of your desk and the ‘ending’ slip on the right side. You’ll have a large space between them that’s waiting for the ‘middle.’

5. Get some more slips of paper. If you are telling a really long novel (like 100,000 words or more) get at least six slips. Maybe eight or ten, depending on how long and complex your novel will be. If it’s a fairly short novel (like 50,000 words or less) then get four slips. If it’s a short story, then just get one slip because short stories are just that — short.

6. Figure out the important places in the story. The places where things change. Where the hero/heroine makes a life-altering decision. Meets someone that changes everything. Hits a road block that seems insurmountable. Anything and everything that can make reaching the end harder and make it take longer getting there. Write each ‘change’ down on a slip of paper and start placing them between the ‘beginning’ and the ‘ending.’ Think about it enough to sequence them in a way that makes sense, from easiest to hardest, or from least to most, or whatever works for you.

7. Then figure out how your hero/heroine will reach each of the ‘changes’ in the story and jot the action down on more slips of paper that you’ll put beneath each of the ‘changes’ because they’ll be the meat of the story, the pages that will lead your hero/heroine to the ‘changes’ that’ll make the story different, and finally lead to the climax and the triumphant ending. Because each slip of paper that you’re slipping beneath each ‘change’ slip is a scene that, when put together with the other slips/scenes under each ‘change’ slip, carries the hero/heroine closer to each ‘change’ and, ultimately, to the ending.

Or use a computer if you don’t want to cut out a lot of little pieces of paper.

It’s a technique. There other techniques for plotting a story, but this particular one is simple and works for both long and short stories.

Is it true that there’s little to no money in writing fiction?

Sadly, that’s true. I read somewhere that the average fiction author earns $5,000 a year from his/her writing.

However, the e-market is changing everything, including the potential for making as much money as you are willing to work for.

And I do mean work. Two kinds of work are involved and each is equally important if you wish to make more than $5,000 a year.

The first kind of work is the actual writing. Write what people want to read that you can write well enough that they will want to part with some of their hard-earned money to read it.

The second kind of work is marketing because the today’s market is so over-full of fiction, both e-published and bricks and mortar, that getting your wonderful work noticed by enough people to actually make money by selling it is very difficult indeed.

The bad news is that both are hard work.

The good news is that both are possible.

How does one express oneself in writing a science fiction novel with an original idea so that it can impact people and never leave their minds? Take the writing style of, The Martian, for example.

You write without considering that you’re writing for people to read what you write. That way you’re more concerned with what you write than you are with how you write and your writing will flow more naturally.

You also write without considering that you’re really writing, not for your reader, but rather for the editor or publisher (bricks and mortar or online) that will look over what you wrote and decide whether it’s worth publishing or not.

In other words, you forget all the rules of writing you learned over your long and arduous writing education and write what you want. How you want. Any way you want.

Then, when you’re finished —- (of course there’s a ‘then’) —- you go back over what you wrote and figure out what changes can be made so the result will be what people want to read and what those oh-so-important gate-keepers to the writing world will publish.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find a way to make such changes and then you’ll have the best of both worlds, that of the professional who writes to give other people what they want while also writing for yourself.

If you can achieve those goals, you’ll have reached a plateau of meaning and elegance that few writers ever reach.

Good luck!

Does being social help with writing dialogue for your stories? If not, what do you think helps with writing good dialogue?

I doubt that being social helps because people in books don’t speak the same way that they do in real life. Not even close.

Nor can you just pull sentences out of thin air.

But I suspect that reading books that have the kind of dialogue that you wish you’d written, then taking apart those scenes, is possibly the best way to learn how to write good dialogue.

What is the best point of view to use when writing a multi-character novel?

  1. First, what’s the genre of the novel? Some novels are so often done in one view-point or another that stories written in any other viewpoint will be ignored. Not read.
  2. IF you have a choice because such novels can use any of a number of viewpoints, then you continue the process to figure out which will work best for you.
  3. Of course, the first step in the process is figuring out if there’s a particular viewpoint that you do best. If there is, then go with that viewpoint because, no matter what other viewpoint might seem best, any story is best told the way that works best for the writer.
  4. If you’re okay with any viewpoint, then look at your story. Check out the characters to see if one of them stands out from the others. Maybe because he/she is important, but perhaps because he/she is in the story in such a way as to be privy to most/all of the plot as it unfolds. If so, go with that character.
  5. Remember that the viewpoint character will slant the story one way or another. In other words, the story you end up with will be influenced by the viewpoint character. So a second thing to consider is what kind of story you want to write. Choose the viewpoint character that best reflects the theme of the story as well as being able to channel all the action because he/she is privy to most of the plot.

This works because I’ve never seen a story yet where all characters are equal in all ways or where the viewpoint character does not, in his/her actions and reflections, mirror the theme of the book.

Can I write a love story if I’ve never been in love?

If science fiction writers can write about worlds and times that don’t exist, then you can write about love.

All it takes is a well-honed —- and well-trained —- imagination.

Because describing something you don’t personally know without thinking through how you want to do it, is an exercise in futility and will result in poor writing.

But describing something you don’t know after thinking it through and deciding what you want to say and why you want to say it is the mark of a professional writer of fiction.

What is the worst fiction writing advice you’ve heard?

The worst fiction writing advice I’ve ever heard —- and the best fiction writing advice I’ve ever heard — is to write about what you love.

It’s very easy to get so caught up in the enjoyment of writing about something you love that you can go on forever and bore your reader to death.

It’s also some of the best writing you can do — if you follow all the advice you’ve ever heard on the craft of writing — because your heart will be in it and that alone will make it wonderful.

Is editing the most time-consuming part of fiction writing?

Issac Azimov once said that he learned to write when writers were paid pennies a page, so he learned to write the finished product as his first draft as a way to same time and earn more money.

I do the same thing but it took a long time to learn how to say what I want to say with nothing extra thrown in that’ll be removed or changed later.

And I struggled with the necessary self-discipline to accomplish such a task. How to ignore all those little voices in the back of my head telling me to take this or that side trip because it’s ‘calling to me.’

It worked for Azimov and it works for me. I do very little editing and neither did he.

However, every writer is different and every writing process differs from every other writing process and many, many writers would produce inferior products if they used that same self-disciplined method because their best work comes when they take all those creative side trips that I don’t allow myself to take and when they simply let the words spill out however they wish.

Such writers say their best work happens when they don’t use self-discipline. But they do a lot of re-writing and editing.

A lot!!!

About rain — rainbows — writing — stories of wonder.

It’s raining today. Sort of raining, just enough to get everything wet and make me not want to go outside and stand in it because I’d get chilled and soaked, though the ground will still be thirsty when it ends because it’s not coming down hard.

Still, considering we’ve been in a ‘red flag’ event for a while — forest fires so likely that it’s scary — I love that it’s raining. Love it.

Perhaps one of the things I love most about rain is what comes afterwards. And that’s a rainbow. Once in a while the rainbow is double, making for double the wonder and double the beauty.

I always feel lucky when I see a rainbow, and if you’ve ever seen a double rainbow—two rainbows on top of one another— it’s an amazing sight.

But triple and even quadruple rainbows are possible. Okay, maybe they are found more often in scientist’s labs than out-of-doors after a rain, but they are still beautiful. Scientists in a lab used water droplets and a laser to create a 200th order rainbow. I can only imagine what that was like!

But I’ve tucked the idea and a gorgeous mental picture in the back of my mind because I fully intend to use it in a future story.

Imagine a world where seeing a rainbow is considered good luck and a double rainbow would bring double the good luck. Then imagine a character seeing a rainbow to the 200th order.

What a story that would make. Will make.