Completing the Climax

room of our own

I finished writing my climactic scene today, and it really was everything I hoped for.  I had to work within the limitations of my story’s situation, so the youngest ghost, who can leave the house, was popping in and out to tell people what was happening.  He was also instrumental in getting the husband, who actually is a police detective, to get to the scene faster than he was doing.  Of course, the fact that my young ghost was pushing every button he could find in the patrol car may have helped.  He had the heat fluctuating, the radio blaring, and eventually the sirens screaming and the lights flashing.  It’s handy to be a ghost, sometimes.  I’ll have to try it some time.

The thing is, using the ghost helped to build the tension in a way that I had not been able to do when I forgot about the…

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How to Expand Your Novel


You’ve been working on your novel or your short story, but you’re stumped. There’s something off about your story, something that makes it hard to believe, not to mention your word count might be lower than you anticipated.

How do you go about remedying this? How can you expand your work?

One way is through narration.

  • Force your characters to do more, go bigger. You want to push them outside their comfort zone.
  • You want to make sure there are enough obstacles in your characters way to make what they’re doing have a big emotional and physical impact.
  • Find ways to reveal your characters’ internal states of mind – their thoughts, beliefs, ideals, fears– through their actions, or lack thereof.

Another way to expand is through description.

  • Find ways to show tension and movement through description.
  • Show what’s happening through sensory details. Make readers experience the same sensations your characters…

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Novel Writing – My Process: Plotting

Kevin A. Ranson

BookhouseIn a discussion of Stephen King’s book On Writing, he claims he doesn’t see the value in plotting. This is what I had to say on the subject on the eve of the 2014 NaNoWriMo:

Whenever I write a short story, I often envision it as a single scene or chapter with a single point of view. When I scaled that up to writing a novel, I treat each scene/chapter as a separate short story, giving it a beginning, a middle, and an end. To find those scenes, I usually start at the end, then work my way backwards to figure out what scenes I need to get to that conclusion; my first scene is often the hardest to decide upon: what is the perfect spot to jump into the story? I also imagine specific scenes – money shots – to act as way points to work toward while filling…

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What’s in a name . . .?

Millie Thom


The names we choose for the characters in our novels may come to us in a blinding flash . . . or we could spend days, weeks, or even months dredging them up from the bottom of the fish pond. Alternatively, we might have already chosen our main characters’ names before we even start writing the book. Then again, we might have known for years we would write about a particular character or characters.

shutterstock_174166391 You may call me Miss Gertrude Ramsbottom.

How do we actually go about the name-choosing process? For example, why did we call the pretty and very feminine young lady ‘Daisy,’ or ‘Poppy’ – or any such flowery name – whereas, for the older strait-laced woman we opt for Gertrude, Beatrice or Penelope?

Of course, the abbreviated form of these formal-sounding names (e.g. Gertie) could be used for a less prim and starchy figure.

Often, we pick…

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Getting from a concept to a story

The amazing thing about being a writer is that you learn to spot the ideas and ‘what if’s that other people would normally pass by. They’re everywhere, and they’re incredible. And they can also be incredibly frustrating. You can get incredibly intricate and detailed ideas in your head, but for the life of you, you can’t do anything about it. Creating a world is wonderful, but it’s just words on paper unless you have a story to take place within it.

So you’ve got an idea…

This afternoon I had a conversation this afternoon on the subject, so I’ll use that as an example: one character discovers that his friend doesn’t actually exist.

It’s a fantastic idea, and there’s a lot of directions you can go on the subject. So how do you shape that idea into a story?

Find the problem

At its core, every story is driven by…

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Blitz Novel – Day 14


Well hello dear friends. I am in a most amicable mood, which is rare for a writer I might add. Today we hailed as a break-back, that day when you know if its a winner (in my eyes I might add), or a damp squib. Happily I can report we this end have had the most excellent day. I have spent the last two hours trying to explain the feeling. If you are running in the rain but feel like you have unsurmountable energy, well that was today. All I can advise is…keep running!

I started with ‘x’ number of words, we finished with ‘y’. In that time I wrote 8,500 words and closed a hell of a lot of loops. But wait, this sounds smug. Its not meant to be. I started this campaign to show the process, I can only hope that if anyone out there, at all…

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Writing a Book

Marieke Talking About Stuff

I am a writer, which most people, I think, associate with books. This is what I always associated writing with until I started college. I knew, of course, that short stories and plays and poetry existed, but never gave as much thought to them as to novels, books, which were primarily what I read.

I have only had one very short story “published,” in Suffolk University’s annual publication, Venture, and have never submitted anything to any sort of non-school-associated actual publication. However, I have written about four “novels” in my life. I put the word in quotes because I think a real novel is much more than just a large number of pages detailing fictional events about fictional characters, which is all these manuscripts are. The last one I don’t think even qualifies as a novel because the page length ended up much shorter than I intended. Yet I…

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Planning done; now all I need to do is write it all…

The parasite guy

Well, the title says it all, really. The (final) set of plans for this draft of the book is now finished. I now have a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the novel, and the “fragments” I mentioned before are rapidly being transferred to their proper places within the overall story.

Of course, the book’s outline will almost certainly continue to change in subsequent drafts; the key thing is that it isn’t going to change anymore in this draft, and that any further time on this draft will be spent writing it rather than planning. That way, I might actually get this draft finished at some point. I’m actually hoping to have the draft done by the end of the year…if only to add just that tiny amount of pressure I need in order to crack on.

It’s safe to say that my overall writing process has changed significantly in the past year or…

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Are You Being Specific Enough?

Life Is Fiction


Do you hate research?  Are you okay with being ‘close enough’?  Does it really matter if you tell us what kind of trees we’re looking at?

Before you answer any of those questions, be sure to remember that small distinctions make a huge difference.

Being specific can separate bad from good from great writing.  Am I looking at a bunch of tall and large trees?  Or am I looking at a forest of towering redwoods?

Yeah, research sucks.  It’s homework, and who in the history of the world has ever liked homework?  Nobody.  But having the right information is important. If you’ve convinced yourself that getting a book 90% right is enough, that you can make up the rest and people won’t notice, you need to get that thought out of your head immediately.  Because it’s the details that often make the book.

Details are what lend authenticity to your story and make it…

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Finished my first draft and feeling flat.

fabricating fiction

When I tentatively posted in May, declaring my intention to try and write a novel, I never quite believed that I could.

But, as the weeks have flown by, my word count has risen, along with my confidence, and today I have reached the end of my first draft.

On Monday, when I realised I would finish this week, this is how I thought I would feel.


Now I have put my final full stop, this is how I actually feel.


Why? I’m not sure. I think, being a new writer, I am feeling quite overwhelmed at what comes next. You know, the E word.  Edit, edit, edit, screams every blog I read. How, how, how? I want to scream back.

Any tips will be gratefully received.

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How Long Should Your Book Be?


How long should a book be? Chuck Sambuchino, in his useful blog Guide to Literary Agents, argues that while a brilliant book can be any length, it makes sense to aim for a word count which appeals to agents. For adult novels, both commercial and literary, this apparently means between 80,000 and 100,000 words, with 90,000 words looking the most appealing.

He gives analysis of his thinking on his blog, with specific suggestions for crime novels, sci-fi and fantasy and young adult books. Worth checking out.


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It’s A Wrap

Gossip and Solitude

memory cover

This post is a continuation of Monday’s and is about creating and publishing a book using Amazon’s CreateSpace. All things considered, it was a delightful experience despite our several challenges. What made the process more pleasant and doable was the customer service we received from CreateSpace.

I’ll share more on the exceptional cadre of young men and women who guided us, but for today, my goal is to wrap up the telling of our experience so that I can move on to the book itself: why we did it and why you should and could do it too.

After our marathon day of reading, editing, and correcting, we took a two-day break and met again. This time the number of proofers had fallen to three, mainly because we were confident that we had this thing in the bag. How naïve we were! We three actually thought we were practically done.

As we…

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