Robert Donaldson: Author

The Literary Works of Robert Donaldson

English Grammar and Composition

English Grammar and Composition

If you plan to become a writer, one of the first things you will need to learn is Basic English Grammar and Composition. English grammar is using generally accepted standards for sentence structure in your writing. There are two generally accepted literary styles recognized in fiction writing. They are Chicago and AP styles. Most of what you read in books, magazines and on the internet falls under AP style. It is the most commonly accepted way of putting together sentences in the United States.

A Proficiency in the English language will enable you to communicate clearly and precisely in you stories, articles and books. Avoid embarrassment and being made to look foolish. Study grammar religiously. Any study of English Grammar and Composition should begin with the study of the parts of speech including nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions and interjections. You will then need to move from forming simple sentences to more complex sentences using the basic parts of speech.

There are few things worse than reading an article or story and seeing where the author used “your” when he meant “you’re.” Beginning writers sometimes use “its” when they should have written “it’s.” Such glaring errors reflect badly on writers in general and on those writers in particular who want to be taken seriously as being professionals.

Punctuation is also very important in becoming a writer. Periods, commas, colons, hyphens, parentheses, brackets, dashes, slashes, exclamation marks, and quotation marks serve to make your writing easier to understand and can also elicit particular emotional responses from the reader.

Composition is, basically, how a person writes. It involves putting together words to make sentences and putting together sentences to make paragraphs and so on. The most important thing to remember when writing a story, book or article is that you communicate clearly and concisely. Avoid superfluous word in an attempt to show how “smart” you think you are. Short sentences are better than long sentences. When using synonyms, make sure they convey the intended meaning. A “vermillion robe” conjures up an image with greater depth of color than does a “red robe.” Choose your words carefully. Write and rewrite your story or article.  Pay particular attention to spelling, sentence structure and tone as you write.

The mechanics of writing follow certain rules. These rules are usually taught in elementary school, starting at about the second grade. While you might have forgotten those lessons in grammar and composition, it is not too late to review them. A copy of a guide to English Grammar and Composition should be one of the first reference books you add to your collection. Get a good quality dictionary to add to your arsenal of tools for writing. I prefer Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. A copy of Roget’s Thesaurus is an indispensable tool when it comes to finding synonyms and antonyms and sample sentences for correct usage of a word.

Fiction writers might want to start a collection of reference books related to the genre they like to read an in which wish to write. There are many books available on writing fiction in general at your local bookstore and online. There are also many reference books on writing horror, romance, mystery and any other genre.

Read as many different genres and types of books, magazines, internet articles and non-fiction books as you can. Read anything and everything. This is how you will learn the rules of grammar and composition. Read and observe and reflect. After a while, it will all come naturally.

Get a good reference book on grammar and composition and study and apply its rules. Read a write and revise. This is the sure way to become a professional writer.

Essentials of English

Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary

Writing Fiction

 

Blogs and Blogging

Blogs and Blogging

It is very important for writers of any genre and any type of writing – whether writing articles, short stories or novels – to have a blog. A “blog” is short for web log. Basically a blog is a place online where you write things. A website is also a place where you write things, but the difference between the two is that with a blog, you are expected to add postings regularly. A website is more static. Websites are most often used to sell things. A website is usually changed when new products are added to your offerings or when prices change. Otherwise, things stay pretty much the same.

A blog, on the other hand, is the place where you connect with your followers. If you have an interesting blog, people who follow you tend to look forward to reading new postings. They know and expect that you will give regularly give them something new and interesting to read.

The only real difference between a blog and a website is that a blog is more dynamic. It is updated regularly and blogging offers many challenges to writers who really want to get into the habit of writing regularly. A blog can be updated daily, monthly or every two or three months. The important thing is that you present readers with a unique twist on a particular topic.

Blogs are often the outgrowth of a hobby or interest that a person might have. If you like model airplanes, you can write regularly about new developments and new products in the area of model airplanes. The same goes for vegetable gardening or flower gardening or sewing or just about anything people might be interested in reading about.

There are many places on the internet where a writer or hobbyist can set up a blog. Many are free while others cost money. If you have your own website, you can easily attach a blog to it as an extension. The following web addresses are for illustrative purposes only. They do not actually lead you to a real website. Say your website is mysite.com. You can add an extension to your original website by appending the site name to mywebsite.com/blog. You can also later add more extensions to the original website by adding an extension such as mywebsite.com/modelairplanes. You can have one website with ten or more blogs attached all of about ten dollars a month.

Many of the websites that offer free blogs don’t allow you to have your own website name. You usually something like blogger.com/mywebsite or mywebsite.wordpress.com. While this will do for a beginner, this is a dead giveaway that you are indeed a beginner. Another problem with a free blog is that the blog provider will encourage you to post advertisements on your blog to make money for yourself. The reality is that ads on your blog only make money for the company that gave you the free blog. They pay something like a few pennies for thousands of views and clicks on their ads. This might translate into fifteen cents a year in income for you and lots of dollars for them. If you do make a few cents, there’s the possibility that the company will later cancel your blog for some obscure violation of their terms of service.

Start by getting your own website. Add a blog to it as an extension and, if you want to sell products, join an affiliate program like Amazon or Commission Junction and simply add links to your products. This is an easier and simpler way to make money with your blog if that’s what you want to do.

If you choose to start with a free blog, go with something like WordPress.com. For a few dollars a month, you can later transform you blog into a website with your own unique domain name like mywebsite.com.

Blogging is simply writing and posting to a blog or web log. If you are a writer, it is quite a benefit to have a blog where you can add chapters from your current project and give readers the opportunity to offer feedback to ongoing work. You’d be surprised to know how honest and helpful your followers can be in shaping your stories.

Another benefit of having a blog is that if you post a short 500-700 word article just once a week, after six months you’ve got over 18,000 words, a solid framework on which to build an e-book or even a print book. Expand and compile your posts and you can then self-publish your blog posts as a book on a free or paid self-publishing platform.

The benefits of having a blog are immeasurable. A blog can take you from beginning novice to published writer in just a few months if you are diligent and hard working. You should read as much as you can and study English grammar and composition and take up the challenge to start and post regularly to your blog. The internet age offers many great opportunities to those writers who are serious about getting published. Start today by finding out how you can get a blog on which you can post your own ideas as you hone your craft and aspire to become a published writer.

Blogging for Fame and Fortune

How to Blog a Book 

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Writing Your Memoir

Writing Your Memoir

Many writers choose to write about personal experiences in their lives. This personal story is called a memoir. When writers try to come up with ideas for fictional stories or non-fiction articles or books, they are often prompted by some past memory that elicits an emotional response that somehow cascades into a completed work.

While writing a memoir can be difficult, it can also be quite therapeutic in exorcising the demons that might have plagued you from the distant past. We all have unresolved issues in our lives that we try to avoid coming to grips with. There might have been physical, sexual or emotional abuse that we find difficult to discuss with anyone or even to think about when alone. These issues are best faced head on and dealt with by directly facing the truth.

Victims of abuse are often reluctant to even admit that they were, in fact, abused. They sometimes go as far as to rationalize the abuse as justified. They think that some flaw in their own character caused the abuser to perpetrate the abuse. A wife or husband might think they are not measuring up as a supportive and loyal spouse when they become the object of abuse. It has been shown time and again that an abuser is the one with the problem, whether that person has some unresolved mental, psychological or social issues of their own.

When a writer starts to pen his or her memoir the floodgates are opened and one memory leads to another and another until the flow of those memories often becomes painfully overwhelming. This is not something to avoid. Instead, the flood of emotions can be a springboard to the revelation of the inner self that might not otherwise happen. Remember that a writer reveals a little bit of his soul every time he sets about creating an original work. Writers have to be completely frank and honest about the truths they have learned through the experience of living. It is these truths that infuse every novel or short story or article that he or she writes and becomes the theme that forms the backdrop from which the creative work arises.

One of the reasons why journaling is so important to the writer is because it is by regularly chronicling the experiences, the impressions, the emotions associate with everyday living that one learns to explore the inner self and create unique and original perspectives through their writing.

A writer might wait years before reading a journal entry, but if he has written well, he can recall all the emotions and thoughts associated with that particular entry. It’s much like playing a recording of an old song from the past. Old songs similar call up associations to what we were doing when that song was popular. Memories of who we were dating who our friends and enemies were, our hopes and dreams at that time are all released by that memory. It is those memories that can form the framework for your memoir.

While your memoir might recount some painful and even traumatizing events, there are also good and hopeful memories from the past. We can recall our enthusiasm and zeal at learning new and interesting things in high school or college. We can remember good and close friends in whom we placed our trust. We can remember the teachers that lit the fires that stoked the passion for learning that defined our attitudes later in life. Those memories –bad and good; negative and positive – shaped our lives and enable us as writers to express ourselves in ways that few others can.

Another problem a writer might encounter while writing a memoir is that of censoring him- or herself. Some writers are reluctant to put into writing some experiences or conversations that were particularly dramatic. If you recall a conversation in which someone called you names or were especially vulgar or profane, do not be afraid to include it in your memoir. If that person were truly concerned about people later reading about those conversations, then they should have thought beforehand about what they were going to say and avoided saying it.

Writers write. That’s what we do. Writers deal with Truth to one degree or another in whatever they write. Do not be afraid of Truth if you want to become a writer. Do not worry about what others might think of you. Just tell the truth as it was and let the detractors worry about themselves. Let them write their own memoir with their own perspective on the event. Write what you feel. Write what you think. Write what you know. Make your memoir a declaration of the Truth for the whole world to hear. Summon the courage to write about your experiences truthfully and your memoir will become a magnificent work of art.

Write Your Memoir: The Soul Work of Telling Your Story

Donaldson-Media

Writing Commercial Fiction

Commercial fiction is often seen as the kind of writing where making money is the motivation. Many writers of commercial fiction can churn out two or more novels a year and, because of their popularity, they earn several million dollars annually. There’s nothing any more wrong with making money for your writing than there is from the physician making money treating illnesses. In this age, the amount of money you have determines the quality of your life. If you have lots of money you can eat well and get better health care, thereby enabling you to enjoy more of life.

Let’s not kid ourselves. We all need money. It is my opinion that if a writer wants to write popular fiction of any genre to make a living, more power to him. The writers of both commercial and literary fiction must have a firm grasp of grammar and the basics of the English language. While literary fiction is aimed more at the college-educated, sophisticated reader, commercial novelist must handle grammar and composition even more adeptly. I came across a post on Facebook recently where, on Veteran’s Day, this person stated, “Thanks to all the veterans who have serviced in the military.” Just reading it makes me cringe. The unfortunate part is that this was written by someone who had a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree from a state university. Real commercial writers don’t need a degree to validate who they are. They just churn out the words and rake in the money.

Writers must know their craft. That’s not to say you won’t misspell a word or use the wrong tense of a verb from time to time, but you do need to be familiar with grammar and know what people are reading today. A quick review of the New York Times Bestseller List or Amazon Books will give you an idea about what people generally like to read. Also, read all the books by Pulitzer Prize Winners for fiction in recent years. These writers are the best of the best.

While many writers prefer to specialize in writing in a particular genre, others are able to transcend the confines of a particular genre and produce fiction that is a blend mystery, horror, fantasy and many other genres. This becomes what is known a popular fiction. While different audiences like different kinds of fiction, it is a rare author who can appeal to readers of several genres. One such author is Dean Koontz. Koontz’s novels are generally classified as horror fiction. The amazing thing is that he is able to infuse a story with horror, science fiction, mystery and fantasy all at the same time. Dean Koontz, James Patterson and Stephen King are all masters of writing popular or “commercial” fiction.

Any writer who chooses to write commercial fiction should first be honest with himself. If you are writing to make money, do not be ashamed. You should take pride in trying to make a lot of money from your stories. You will need to write regularly and churn out the words. The more you write, the better you become. Visualize yourself getting that fat advance check upon publication of your next novel. Take pride in your craft and represent it well. Few writers are ambitious enough to turn out two or three novels a year. If you can do this, it’s something to be proud of.

Once you have decided to become a writer of popular or “commercial” fiction, read every book on every bestseller list you can find. Aspire to win a Pulitzer for your novel. Extent yourself and reach for the stars. Set yourself apart from other writers and rise above those who have never written anything.

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Write a Book in a Month

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Journaling

As a writer it is important to keep a journal to jot down your thoughts, ideas, memories and events in your life. Simply put, a journal is a written record of your observations, life experiences, impressions and thoughts. A journal can be a book with blank pages on which you write with pen or pencil or it can be a word processing file on your computer’s hard drive. Your journal is you, so you can break all the rules of grammar and punctuation and any other writing rule you want.

I like to use my journal as a place for free writing where I can write anything I choose. I write about memories of the slights and insults from others in my life. I write about injustices, politics, people and whatever I choose. The beauty of journaling is that no subject is off limits. You can later use parts of your journal in a story or other literary work. Your journal is the place where you can say whatever you want to say.

Some writers like to keep their journals private, never allowing anyone to know or read its contents. I, personally, like to use my journal as a place to write about those people who have become either friends or enemies in my life. I like to date each entry so that when I read them later, I have a sense of the circumstances under which they were created. I often use those entries in whatever it is that I write. One thing many people do not understand is that writers enjoy a kind of freedom that others deny to themselves.

A writer can say anything. A writer with a conscience and who has the highest level of integrity will not deliberately lie about his experiences with those people from his past. It is this freedom that sets writers out from the crowd. If you want to be a real writer, do not fear telling the truth. Do not fear offending anyone—friend, relative, enemy or even parents—when you write. That’s why it is so important to keep a journal. It is the freedom that it bestows on the writer.

Aside from being a place to write down memories and experiences, a journal is a place where the writer can entertain ideas about stories. A journal can be used to outline your story and even to create characters and imaginary places for your story. Developing characters and settings for your story can sometimes involve creating personalities and little quirks and eccentricities for the people who populate your story. The journal can be used to create minute details about your characters. Physical descriptions and histories can be put into your journal.

One of the main benefits of keeping a journal is that in it you can write anything. One of the things that writers learn as they develop their careers is that much of what you write won’t be used anywhere public. It is all just practice, whether you intend it to be that way or not. Starting out, a writer will discard at least fifty percent of what he writes. It is not wasted effort; it is merely practice. That’s why it is important to keep a journal as a place to practice your writing.

Keeping a journal helps a writer to develop his literary voice. No two writers sound alike. You wouldn’t want to sound like you favorite author. It’s impossible to do this anyway. There is only one “you.” Don’t try to copy the style of the masters. What you have to do is to write enough and read enough that your natural story-telling voice is born and develops and comes to the fore. Do not fret over the details of developing your writing voice. Just read and write every day and the craft will blossom and grow within you.

It can take years to become a writer. Don’t let anybody kid you. You can go to college and major in creative writing but even after that, it takes years, maybe even decades before you can write anything worth reading. This is one of the reasons few people choose to become writers. Many choose writing as a hobby on the side because it is not very rewarding, financially. It takes years to become a writer and it takes a lot of painful experiences and frustrations to be able to fully convey those emotions on the page. Writing is suffering—suffering the recollection of some of the most painful and lasting moments in your life. A writer must write because to do otherwise is not an option.

If you want to become a writer, be prepared to observe everything around you and to write it down in your journal. Don’t hold back on your journal entries. Put anything that comes to mind in it. Feel free to write whatever you choose and view it as perfecting your craft.

Choosing How, Where and When to Write

Choosing Where, How and When to Write

Once you have decided what you want to write—short story, novel, memoir, poetry or whatever—the next thing to do is to select a place and time to practice your craft. Writing of any type requires concentration. Concentration means you focus on the task at hand, blocking out all external environmental distractions that might interfere.

I personally like to write where and when I am alone and it is quiet. I want no interruptions. I don’t want the television blaring in the background. Consequently, I choose to get up at three or four o’clock in the morning when the house is quiet ant there is little traffic outside my window. I do occasionally hear the blare of police and ambulance sirens in the distance, but I have learned to black out all the background noise while I write.

Some people like to have soft music playing in the background. I do too, sometimes, depending on my mood and what I’m writing. Soft music can induce a state of calm and be conducive to concentration. However, rap or rock music played softly doesn’t work for me. Some people might like it and might find it helpful to them. I prefer to listen to jazz or classical music playing very softly in the background.

It is also important to choose a place to write where you can create. I like to write on my computer using Microsoft Word. Back in the sixties, when I first started writing, I wrote longhand on a yellow legal pad with a smooth writhing ball point pen. I later typed what I had written longhand with a manual typewriter, editing as I typed. This kind of writing was quite labor intensive. The age of computers and word processing programs have made it possible for a writer to increase his output many times over. With the development of new technology, a writer can speak into a microphone and have his words typed instantly into a word processing program. This will be the next leap in the development of my writing career. Buying and learning to use such a voice recording program is a goal I have set for 2014.

Always carry a note pad or piece of folded paper in your pocket wherever you go. If an idea comes to you, write it down. You’d be surprised at the ideas for a story that often come to you when you least expect it.

Where, how and when you write depends on your own individual circumstances. Someone who works a full time job or who has young children to care for will need to make adjustments to develop their writing skills. When I worked a full-time job, I often used my lunch break as writing time. Commuting time is also a great time to write. You can write soon after you wake up from sleep or just before you go to sleep. The important thing to remember and to tell yourself constantly is that you are a writer. The where, when and how of your writing will evolve naturally as you develop the craft.

Get into the habit of writing something every day. Write longhand or with a typewriter or word processor. The choice is yours, but remember this. Do not allow yourself to fall victim to the myth of “writer’s block.” If you get stuck while working on a story, switch over and do a bit of journaling or write some poetry or do some free writing where you write down whatever comes to mind. Just remember that you are a writer. That’s what you do—you write.

Website: Donaldson-Media

Featured Author: Dean Koontz

The Writing Life: Creating Dialogue

By Robert Donaldson

Creating Dialogue

The reason for having dialogue in a story is to aid in the development of character. What is said and how it is said reflects the personality and character of the person speaking. That is why it is important to give lots of attention to what your characters are saying.

Do not tag your dialogue by repeating “he said” or “she said” endlessly. This can quickly tire the reader. Once the conversation has been established by tags such as, “he told her” or “he answered” the tags can be eliminated altogether since, if two people are conversing, either one or the other is speaking.

“What do you mean by that?” John asked her.

“I mean exactly what I said.” Susan answered. “I told you not to bother me again.”

“Bother you? You must be crazy.”

“Not half as crazy as you are.”

Dialogue should contribute to rising tension in the story. Conflict brings about dialogue. Dialogue raises the tension level and advances the story.

Most people do not speak in complete sentences when speaking in real conversation. Conversation is often cryptic and loaded with innuendo. Make the words of your character carry hidden meaning and implication.

People don’t like to be hit over the head with a lot of details in dialogue. Avoid using dialogue as a means to dump information. Information should be given in the back story or in the expository areas of the story.

Dialogue should flow smoothly. Stilted speech is difficult to read and can be quite distracting. It’s a good idea to read lots of different kinds of poetry to get the sense of the pacing and rhythm of dialogue. Read your dialogue aloud to a friend or relative. Ask their honest opinion. Most people will offer advice on how to make the words of your dialogue more pleasing to the ear.

Dialogue is an important part of the story. It serves several purposes and skill at writing dialogue takes time to learn. Don’t become discouraged if your dialogue doesn’t sound right or is stilted or cumbersome. Skill comes with practice. When editing your story feel free to cut and slash dialogue. Listen to the voices. Hear the tone and feel the pacing of the character’s words.

Website: Donaldson-Media

Featured Author: Stephen King

 

 

 

The Writing Life: Narrative Voice

Narrative Voice

The narrative voice in writing can be described as the writer’s own natural way of telling a story. While the narrative perspective is the point of view from which the story is told, the narrative voice is the tone and inflections that the writer elicits from within the reader. Put simply, the narrative voice is the voice that the reader hears inside his own mind as he reads.

Writers generally start out as readers. Over many years and after reading countless stories, the novice writer finally understands voice and how to use it. Some writers start out trying to emulate the voice of favorite novelists. No writer can successfully copy the narrative voice of say, Stephen King or John Steinbeck. After a while, the novice comes to realize the he has his own unique narrative voice, his own unique way of telling a story.

Just as two people cannot tell the same joke with the same effect, no two writers use the same narrative voice to tell a story. No two writers have the same life experiences or education or personal perspective. So it is that each write must read extensively and listen to the author’s voice in his mind as he reads. Then, and only then, will he start to hear and use his own narrative voice.

Writing, like any other skill, requires study and practice. The writer studies by reading other writers. He then practices by writing his own stories. To become a writer, one has to practice, practice, practice. The study of mathematics requires the practice of solving problems. Similarly, the writer must write many words and sentences and paragraphs to discover his narrative voice.

Beginning writers should not worry too much about developing a narrative voice. They should just read many different kind of books, both fiction and non-fiction. They must also try their hand at many kinds of writing from poetry to lyrics to stories. The broader your reading perspective, the broader will be your writing perspective.

As mentioned in a previous post, there are certain narrative viewpoints and combinations thereof that can be used to tell a story. Writers also use different forms of narrative voice, depending on the story. Some stories are told from the personal first person perspective; other stories have a broader perspective from which they are written. Each perspective requires a certain narrative voice.

The best advice for beginning writer is to read as much as you can. In so doing, you will understand and develop your own unique narrative voice. The more you read and write, the better you will be able to understan and to use narrative voice.

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft

Donaldson-Media

The Writing Life

Narrative Viewpoint

Every story or novel must be told from someone’s viewpoint. The writer has a duty to clearly define and explain who is telling the story. There can be no doubt about who is telling the story; otherwise confusion will overwhelm the reader. A combination of viewpoints can also be used to add depth and complexity to the story.

Writers use several general accepted conventions when they tell a story. The “narrator” is the voice that coveys the story so the narrative viewpoint can be described as the voice of the storyteller.

First person point of view. In the first person viewpoint, the narrator is one of the characters in the story. The first person viewpoint most often has the narrator telling the story from the point of view of “I” and the action is seen through the eyes of the narrator. In non-fiction the first person singular is generally accepted as the most personal viewpoint and is often used in writing the memoir or the personal experience story. The first person viewpoint allows the writer to convey emotions and personal impressions to the actions of the characters.

However, in fiction, the up close and personal viewpoint is used to establish as sense of familiarity with the narrator. It is like the reader is being directly addressed by the writer. It is fairly difficult to use the first person viewpoint in writing fiction as the writer cannot know or read the thoughts of the characters.

The first person point of view can also be used in the plural where “we” is often utilized to form something of a conspiratorial bond between the narrators and the reader.

Second person point of view. The second person narrative viewpoint is often used when the writer wants to make a personal connection between the narrator and the reader. In this case, “you” is often used to create a bond with the reader.

Third person point of view. In the third person narrative viewpoint, the writer uses the pronouns “he,” she,” “it,” and “they” to refer to the characters in the story. This convention allows the narrator to distance himself from the actual events while he tells the story. Third person viewpoint is the most used viewpoint for today’s writer. It is simple, uncluttered and allows both the writer and the reader to follow the thoughts and motivations of the characters.

The third person omniscient point of view has become one of the most popular viewpoints used in contemporary fiction. The omniscient narrator sees all and reports all, including thoughts, words, memories and emotions.

There are several viewpoints that the writer can use to tell the story. These viewpoints can be used in combinations and with variations that add depth and complexity to the story. Before you put down the first word of your story or novel, you, as the writer, must think deeply about and decide which narrative viewpoint to use to best convey the theme, plot and characters of your story.

Donaldson-Media

Writing Fiction

 

The Writing Life: Novel Plot.

Novel Plot

The plot to your story or novel might be seen as the story’s framework. It includes the elements of conflict, crisis, and resolution. All conflict must lead to action. That action must bring a reaction that furthers the conflict and leads more action and rising tension.

John might be in love with Mary, but Tom wants Mary not because of love but because he sees her as a challenge, a potential conquest. Throw in a healthy dose of deception, ulterior motives and emotion and you’ve got a story that draws the reader in and has him or her moving forward to see what happens next.

The antagonist must throw everything he has at the protagonist in an effort to thwart his efforts to reach his goal. This can include murdering minor characters that support and help the protagonist, blowing up the protagonist’s home or car, spreading lies about the protagonist and anything else that throws an obstacle in the path of the protagonist.  Conflict must abound. The battle must be a life and death struggle between what the protagonist wants and what the antagonist wants.

When I plot a novel, I like to start by giving a title to each chapter. This title feeds the conflict that leads to action that propels the story to the next level—the next chapter. This chapter naming forms part of the framework for the story. I can go back later and expand on each chapter by fleshing out the characters and adding description to the setting.

Writing a novel is much like painting a picture. Background colors are laid down, and then other colors are added layer by layer. The process can be time consuming and requires much attention to a lot of small details. I think that when a writer approaches the story in this way it eliminates the panic that often comes when the writer wonders, “What Next?” The “what next” will come as you come up with unique twists and turns of conflict that will move the story forward.

Finally, there must be a resolution or ending. This is when things either change for the better or for the worse comes about for the characters. The ending must tie up all the loose ends and reinforce the change.

Plotting a novel involves a lot of thought. I like to have brainstorming sessions during the planning stage of preparation. I brainstorm on title, chapter headings, characters, theme, conflict and all the other elements that must be included to create a rich and exciting experience for the reader. Writing novels and even short stories is much like building a house. Great builders use quality components to build a solid house that will last for years. Great writers must use the best of plot, theme, characterization, conflict and resolution over and over again in the construction of a solid story.

 Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting – A Guide to Outlining a Novel

Successful Novel Plotting

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