A Novel in 3 Months (week 7) – snippets of wisdom as you write

What I’m watching: Prehistoric Park
What’s on the iPod: Beautiful Thing by Sister Hazel

Short post as we continue on our writing path (some more than others… my printer died and I had to buy a new one today!)  The last few years I’ve collected some writing gems from authors that have helped me write and rewrite… so here they are, along with a couple of articles and books that really are worth their weight in gold.   I wish I could provide names to the snippets but unfortunately,  I only saved the wisdom!


  • The past matters only in the moment it affects a person’s actions/reactions in the present. You don’t need to give a backstory until it impacts a character’s behavior.

Summarising your story ( I suspect this was from an article on pitching… possibly by Alicia Rasley or Laura Resnick)

When (heroine), a (role) who (empathy/setup) is (opportunity), she decides to (new situation/preliminary goal).  But when (change of plans) she now must (outer motivation/primary goal) by (hero’s plan/deadline) as well as (second goal if romance involved)  in spite of the fact that (outer conflict)

e.g When Trinity Jones, an animal communicator who wants people to take her seriously, is approached by an agent who needs her unique skills to stop a new kind of weapon – mutated brainwashed spiders, she decides to help them and at the same time get her abilities some much desired street cred.  But when Trinity discovers it’s her sister controlling the spiders, she now must put aside her family loyalty to stop her, in spite of the fact that her sister is the only family she has left.

Turning Points and The Black Moment (Anne Gracie or Bronwyn Jameson come to mind with this one..)

  • Look at what your hero or heroine want most in life, and position them on the brink of getting it.  Then snatch it off them by taking their deepest fears and insecurities and make the worst thing that could possibly happen to them happen.  The various crisis points in your story are all also points-of-change where the character(s) learns to see or do things differently from the way they have before – the ways that have stopped them finding love and happiness in the past.    So your black moment is the final, the ultimate, the big test/crisis – where they look as if they’re going to fail in the worst way again.

Writing Romance by Vanessa Grant

This is a great introduction to romance, including some extremely helpful examples of synopses.

Goal, Motivation, Conflict by Debra Dixon

A wonderful, comprehensive book that addresses the most vital part of writing – your characters.

Story by Robert McKee

Sometimes hard going, but this book also has diagrams and in-depth information for all fiction writers.  You can also check out bits from his seminars on YouTube.

Donald Maass

His Writing the Breakout Novel and the WTBN workbook are wonderful tools  for plotting and adding depth to your story.  You can also download his The Career Novelist for free from his website here.

The Writer’s Journey by Chris Vogler

I’ve talked about this before and I’ll say it again – a brilliant book that uses a logical flow to structure and advance your story and plot.  I’ve read it so many times, I instinctively write every story based on this framework.


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