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.

Do you practice daily writing exercises to keep your writing flow active?

I never have, figuring that my time is valuable (to me, anyway) and that I’d rather spend it doing something than practicing doing something.

So I write and that in itself is an exercise in how to write. Sometimes what I write is deleted and that’s okay because few things in life are perfect. But sometimes it surprises me with how well it turns out.

The first scene of my novel is a chase scene where two boys are being chased. But I haven’t revealed their names, so there’s a lot of “the first boy”, “the other boy”, “then the other boy” for 4 pages and it’s confusing . How can I fix this?

Reading this question, I had a couple thoughts. Questions. The answers to the questions indicate how to handle the scene.

  1. First, is it necessary to distinguish which boy is doing what? Does it matter or are you mainly trying to get across that two boys are being chased? If it doesn’t matter, then don’t worry about it. Just describe what’s happening and let the reader know that there are two boys. If the reader wants to know which boy is doing what, let them figure it out for themselves.
  2. Second, though, if it is important to differentiate the boys, can you include dialogue? (Depends on whether they are in a situation where talking/whispering/shouting is appropriate.) If dialogue can be included, then use dialogue tags. (You can find out about dialogue tags in previous posts on my web page if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Dialogue tags are wonderful. Fabulous.
  3. Thirdly, if it is important to differentiate the boys and you cannot include dialogue, then choose something about each boy that can quickly and easily be described, like unusually long hair or a torn pant legs or something more creative that you’ll come up with because you know the story. As you describe the chase scene, describe what’s happening to that special thing as the boys are trying to get away. Long, blonde hair got caught and had to be torn free. A torn pant leg ripped more each time something happened until the pant leg had to be be torn off completely. Or something else entirely. The description of what happens to the item will also be a description of the boy so the reader will be able to keep them straight.

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.

I’m writing a novel and I’m finding it hard to make my chapters long enough, I’m currently on a 2 page long fight scene to start my book and I want to to at least break 4 pages, any ideas?

Common problem. Trust me on that.

Take a walk. Get away from your computer and stop staring at that dratted screen.

While walking and enjoying the weather and the trees and the beautiful birds overhead, think about your story. Dig deeper. Get inside the head of each and every protagonist in that fight scene.

What are they thinking? Why are they fighting? Do they really care? Let your mind wander and come up with whatever rises to the surface of your thoughts and don’t question your thoughts, just go with them.

Then, when you return to that dratted computer, remember your thoughts and you’ll probably discover that you have a lot more to say because you know your characters in that specific scene much better than you did before.

Maybe you’ll now describe more action because you’ll know what kind of action your protagonists might engage in. Maybe you’ll slip in some mini-flashbacks here and there to tell your reader why and how they are doing what they are doing.

Or something else that I can’t even imagine but that you can.

Is it better to get all of your ideas out and write a novel quickly, or to spend years in the process of curating the story and its elements?

Depends.

Some writers work best slowly and carefully, deciding each and every element and making sure the whole things works together.

Others work best just sitting down and letting it all come out in one huge, whoosh.

It’s a personality thing, not a writer thing. So go with whatever works for you.

Why is there a need of inserting sensory details in a creative literary work? How does it affect the interest or readers in a piece of work?

Because most readers have had similar experiences and the evocation of the senses brings back those experiences and makes the story more real, sharper, and more personal.

And that’s the goal of every writer. To bring the reader into the story.

Is it possible to write a novel or short story that doesn’t perpetuate stereotypes?

 It’s not a matter of stereotypes.

It’s a matter of whether the characters are described well or not so well. Good writing will turn them into archetypes and become the best and most representative of the group they belong to, whatever that group may be. Poor writing will make them stereotypes worthy of laughter and readers who put the book down without finishing it.

The thing is, if your characters are representatives of a group, they can be recognized easily and quickly by the reader and that’s a great help to the writer. Less work, less stress, fewer words for the reader to wade through to get to the story.

Use that quick recognition. It’s valuable.

Just make sure that you do your job as a writer well so your character is an archetype instead of a stereotype.