- Email me
- Nail Your Novel: books
- FAQ: I’m a new writer: which book should I read first?
- FREE Nail Your Novel Instant Fix: 100 Tips For Fascinating Characters
- My writing process: the picture tour
- Nail Your Novel: A Companion Workbook
- Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and how you can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence
- Reviews of Nail Your Novel
- Who’s tweeting about Nail Your Novel …
- Writing Characters Who’ll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel
- Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart: Nail Your Novel
- Who am I?
Posts Tagged Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life
Today, Jane Friedman has showcased an excerpt from the characters book on her blog, and she chose the tutorial where I explain this tricky balancing act. If you’re curious about the book – or if you simply want to know how much of your carefully crafted background to include – come on over and see.
authors, back story, background, blog, character backgrounds, characters, deepen your story, developing characters, excerpt from, fiction, guest post, guest posts, how not to bore the reader, how to write a book, how to write a novel, Jane Friedman, lifelike fictional characters, making characters come alive, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life, novels, Roz Morris, stuff, trivia, trivial details, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart
Why is all good fiction driven by characters? How can we widen our repertoire so our fictional people aren’t carbon copies of ourselves? What kind of research can give us greater understanding of situations we have no experience of? Should we bother to create our villains with as much empathy and insight as we lavish on our protagonists? If our MC’s enemy is utterly evil, how can we possibly crawl inside their minds – and why would we?
In the yellow corner is Joanna Penn. In the pinkish corner is me, answering her questions. We’re at her blog The Creative Penn, and you can read a text summary, download a 50-minute audio podcast or watch us grin and and wave our hands while we discuss how to write convincing and compelling fictional people. Do come over.
audio, authors, carbon copies, Character, character building, character design, characters and viewpoint, characters emotion and viewpoint, characters in search of an author, characters with secrets, deepen your story, Depth & Heart, fiction, fiction characters masterclass, fictional characters, great fictional characters, guest post, how to write a book, how to write a novel, how to write fiction, how to write fictional characters, how to write great characters, improve your novel, improve your novels characters, improve your writing, inspiration, interview, Joanna Penn, literary fiction, literature, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life, podcast, Podcasts, posts at Creative Penn, posts at The Creative Penn, protagonists, publishing, Roz Morris, self-publishing, The Creative Penn, video, villains, writercraft, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing fiction, writing masterclass, Writing Plots With Drama, writing tutorials
When to trust the reader’s intuition – and when to spell out what a character feels: post at KM Weiland’s Wordplay
Readers don’t have to be told everything. Sometimes they will intuit how a character feels about a plot development or another character. Or they know what’s unsaid. Or they understand that the quiet character who rarely says anything is vibrating with mysterious depths.
Good storytellers are masters of the reader’s curiosity and emotions. They know what they can plant between the lines and how to make readers fill the blanks. So how do they do this? And how might it go wrong?
Today KM Weiland has invited me to her fabulous blog Wordplay, where I’m discussing this tricky – and exciting – balance. Do come over.
authors, Character, characterisation, characters, characters in novels, deepen your story, fiction, guest post, guest posts, how to write a book, how to write a novel, how to write great characters, improve characterisation, improve your novels characters, improve your writing, inspiration, KM Weiland, literary fiction, literature, My Memories of a Future Life, mysterious characters, mysterious depths, mystery, Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life, novels, plot development, polishing, publishing, quiet character, reader expectations, reader intuition, revising, Roz Morris, weiland, Wordplay, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing advice, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart
Characters and personality. Not the ones in your books: I’m talking about you, the brain that’s parked snugly behind your eyes and the temperament that feels the urge to write. Sometimes our human wiring is not ideal for creating the kind of havoc we need for stories – which is quite amusing in its own way.
Anyway, I’m enjoying this conundrum today at Authors Electric – do jump the gap and see.
authors, Authors Electric, brain, character types, characters, characters in novels, conundrum, creative personality, creative temperament, Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?, fiction, gap, guest post, guest posts, having ideas, havoc, how do you write, how do you write a novel, how to write a book, how to write a novel, ideal, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life, novels, personality, personality test, personality type, publishing, Roz Morris, temperament, urge, writer personality, writer temperament, writer types, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing life, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart
It’s live! New Nail Your Novel book shows you how to create characters who keep readers hooked and make you want to tell stories
Three guesses what it’s about … but here’s the formal blurb…
How do you create characters who keep readers hooked? How do you write the opposite sex? Teenagers? Believable relationships? Historical characters? Enigmatic characters? Plausible antagonists and chilling villains? How do you understand a character whose life is totally unlike your own?
How do you write characters for dystopias? How do you make dialogue sing? When can you let the reader intuit what the characters are feeling and when should you spell it out?
I’ve mined 20 years’ worth of writing and critiquing experience to create this book. It contains all the pitfalls and sticky points for writers, laid out as a set of discussions that are easy to dip into. And it wouldn’t be a Nail Your Novel book without a good dose of games, exercises and questionnaires to help you populate a novel from scratch.
Whether you write a straightforward story-based genre or literary fiction, Bring Characters to Life will show you how to create people who enthrall readers – and make you want to tell stories.
If you like more heft in your hand, the 200+-page paperback is in progress, and will proceed as fast as an index can be built and proofs can fly the Atlantic.
Ebook price GBP £3.56 USD $5.50 (rough conversion estimate)
Amazon.co.uk, authors, beginners, Character, character building, character design, characters and viewpoint, characters emotion and viewpoint, characters in search of an author, characters with secrets, deepen your story, ebook price, fiction, fiction characters masterclass, fictional characters, great fictional characters, how to write a book, how to write a novel, how to write fiction, how to write fictional characters, how to write great characters, improve your novel, improve your novels characters, improve your writing, inspiration, literary fiction, literature, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel, Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life, novels, polishing, publishing, revising, Roz Morris, self-publishing, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing fiction, writing great characters, writing masterclass, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart, writing tutorials
I did my first bookshop signing yesterday. Big landmark! It was a terrific day, lots of people (which was a relief). The local writing group came in force and one question came up time and again. ‘My manuscripts end up so long. What should I do?’
Many of their novels were tipping 150,000 words. One gentleman was turning out whoppers of 500,000 and knew he needed to do something about it. But what?
How long is too long?
Actually, length is not a question of wordcount. It’s about pacing. No book seems too long if the material has been handled well. A tome of 100,000 words will read like lightning if it is well paced. A novel of half the length will be a tedious trudge if the pacing is poor.
Of course, the book may be considered too long because of the market and genre. That’s a whole subject in itself. But let’s assume for today that you can have any length you like, so long as it is, like Goldilocks’s porridge, just right.
What is good pacing? It’s holding the attention of the reader. Plot revelations come at just the right speed. Not just plot, but emotional highs and lows, notes of comic relief, moments of growing tension. Well-paced novels keep the reader up past their bedtime.
A novel also reads smoothly if it is coherent. Whether it’s a simple story of two friends or a sweeping epic with seven protagonists and a plot that spans a century, it holds together as one elegant work. Like a well-designed room, everything has a place and it belongs. The material is under control. The more a reader feels the author has this authority, the more they will be gripped.
So when a reader, critique partner or editor tells you the novel is too long, they usually mean you need to fine-tune its coherence and pace. You need to make it a more compelling read.
Why do novels end up too long?
- the writer was having fun and went off at a tangent – nothing wrong with that, it’s part of the organic growth of the novel
- the writer found it was more difficult than they expected to get their characters from A to B – again, this is good and will make your novel unpredictable, organic and true
- – and most important – it’s almost impossible to keep control of coherence and pace while you are writing. You have to tackle these issues once you have the manuscript complete, and can see what belongs and what needs emphasis. (Some of the writers I spoke to yesterday were surprised by the concept of revising. Especially that revising was an essential, radically artistic process, rather than a quick brush-down for spelling tweaks.)
Take a break, then make a beat sheet
Readers of my book Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence will be familiar with these two steps. To edit productively, you need critical distance. So take a break. Write something else. Lock your manuscript away until you’ve forgotten most of it. Most of us need at least a month, but the longer the better.
Then make a beat sheet. This is my ultimate revision tool. Before I start editing, I need a way to grasp the structure of the entire book. So I make a summary of each scene’s purpose – why it’s in the story, whether it advances the plot or our knowledge of a character. I use this to decide if I have scenes that aren’t necessary, or are in the wrong place or if they repeat other material.
When I start editing, I’m feeling my way. With each pass, I climb further inside the novel. I understand what every scene and character should do, and realise whether to emphasise or condense.
It’s as if cutting is like marathon training. To start with, I make light, obvious excisions. Repeated words, over-long descriptive passages, portions of scenes that go nowhere. By the end, which may be weeks or even months later, I’m hardcore. I’ll think nothing of reordering a whole sequence of scenes, downgrading a character’s role or merging them with another person. I will gladly let go of ‘darlings’ – scenes, descriptions, characters and plot developments that are there only because I like them, and not because they are needed. (I may have to add scenes too.)
Cutting is creative
Cutting a book can sound like a negative, dispiriting process – another reason why some writers find it difficult. In fact is creative, not destructive. Although the net effect is a tighter wordcount, we’re not throwing material away but discovering what’s not needed. It’s a process of refinement. I love it because it’s where the book develops its distinct personality and identity.
And… announcement! You may have noticed a new cover has appeared in the sidebar. Nail Your Novel: Characters is due for release in May, so if you’re interested to know more, sign up for my newsletter.
Thanks for the swordsmen pics CarrieLu
Do you like cutting your novels? Do you have any tips to add?
authors, beat sheet, book length, coherence, critique partner, darlings, deepen your story, editing, elegant work, fiction, highs and lows, how to cut a novel, how to write a book, how to write a novel, kill your darlings, length, literature, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel 2, Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life, novels, pacing, page-turners, polishing, publishing, readers, revising, Rewriting, Roz Morris, self-publishing, wordcount, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing life, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart
- Writers – how to find the editor that’s right for you November 10, 2019
- Writing memoir, taking control, long-term careers – talking to Victoria Dougherty about the 21st century author October 20, 2019
- What your readers will never notice… a small point about reader belief and story logic (with a little help from Terrance Dicks, Rod Hull and Nina Conti) October 13, 2019
- 7 writing resources I use all the time October 6, 2019
- My kind of weird, my kind of wonderful – interview at Davida Chazan’s blog September 11, 2019
- How to outline a novel – post at Ingram Spark September 8, 2019
- 7 swift storytelling hacks for back story, description, dialogue, exposition, point of view and plot August 18, 2019