Writing Basics

Characterization and exposition in fiction writing

Characterization is the process of using words on a page to transform a figure of the writer’s imagination into a living, breathing, whole person in the imagination of a reader.

Characterization meme
Characterization is the process of using words on a page to transform a figure of the writer’s imagination into a living, breathing, whole person in the imagination of a reader.

Exposition = Narrative Summary

In the context of characterization, exposition is a comprehensive explanation of a character, consisting of a list of physical attributes, historical background, psychological profile, or a combination of some or all of these elements. Continue reading “Characterization and exposition in fiction writing”

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Editing, Novel Writing

#YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you can flip your own switches. #VotB

Original manuscript of a revision of "Spi...
Even Poe had to revise his work! | Original manuscript of a revision of “Spirits of the Dead” in Poe’s handwriting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At various crossroads on my writing journey, I have often happened upon “road signs” that let me know that I am heading in the right direction. These signs make me think, “Wow, I really AM a writer.” One example was when I completed my very first novel manuscript draft seven years ago. You know how it is. It feels like you will never finish. You often wonder if you are even capable of writing a complete novel. And then, one day, you find yourself typing, “THE END,” and you think, “Wow, I really AM a writer.”

At that moment, it feels like you have accomplished everything you need to do. You have reached the end of your writing journey. You wrote a novel! Woohoo! That’s a MAJOR accomplishment. And you are, rightfully, proud of that accomplishment.

But then, you realize that you need to edit that first draft. You realize that you still have a lot of work to do before you can call it, “done.” (Or, at least I hope you do!) You don’t rush out and self-publish that first draft because you take your writing seriously, and you want to offer your readers the best possible reading experience. Continue reading “#YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you can flip your own switches. #VotB”

Short Story

Love photography? Want to collaborate on a story? Join The 52.

Do you take a lot of pictures? If so, author Richard Wright is doing something over at his blog that I think you should check out and possibly help out with. He’s calling it The 52.

Here’s the deal. Richard is planning to write one short story per week in 2014. Each short story will be based on one of many pictures that he is asking his readers to submit. To join, all you have to do is send him a picture. He writes a story based on your image, then posts it to his blog sometime next year. You maintain the rights to your image, and he gives you full credit on his blog.

Sound like fun? I thought so. Here’s my entry:

The 52 - Image by Amanda L Webster - WriteOnTheWorld dot WordPress dot com
This is the image I submitted to Richard Wright for The 52.

Want to join in? Visit Richard Wright’s website for details.

Challenge: Write your own short story about Continue reading “Love photography? Want to collaborate on a story? Join The 52.”

Novel Writing

Studying the four-part story structure

William Faulkner's Underwood Universal Portabl...
I wonder if someone will one day turn my crappy apartment into a shrine to my writing? | William Faulkner’s Underwood Universal Portable sits in his office at Rowan Oak, which is now maintained by the University of Mississippi in Oxford as a museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second half of my novel is shaping up to be the toughest to figure out. The first half seemed to flow straight out of my subconscious mind and onto the page without much thought or effort on my part. Which is strange, considering I had no idea where I was going with my story at the time.

Now that I know where I want to go, I can’t seem to figure out how to get there. A recent Writer’s Digest blog post titled, How to Structure a Killer Novel Ending got me thinking about my story’s structure again.

In the early stages of writing my novel, I considered my overall structure many times and in various forms. It’s something I might not have done if not for the fact that I was taking an advanced novel writing course and was forced to do so by my professor. I am glad she did though, because that intense examination of structure really helped me get my story moving. Continue reading “Studying the four-part story structure”

Novel Writing, Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge

Sometimes it’s okay to tell a story rather than showing it

Staring at a blank page will get you nowhere
It’s true. So stop staring and write something!

Do you ever find yourself staring at an empty page, afraid to put down that first word because you do not know if it is exactly what you want to express in your story? Do you worry about each sentence, afraid you are going to write something that (heaven forbid) tells rather than shows your story?

I know you want to sit down and write a complete and perfect story. We all do. But most of the time it just doesn’t work that way. If you let yourself get bogged down in the details of perfection in the first draft, your first draft will never be complete. Continue reading “Sometimes it’s okay to tell a story rather than showing it”

Novel Writing, Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge

Featured Writer Prompt: How do you prep for a new novel writing project?

P writing blue
Do you outline first, or just start writing? |writing blue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At Write Your Novel this Summer, we just launched our Featured Writer series where we will feature individual writers who are participating in our summer novel writing challenge. To become a Featured Writer, all you have to do is ‘like’ our Facebook page, look for Featured Writer Prompts, and submit a response to the prompt along with a link to your blog or online writing portfolio. If your submission is chosen, we will feature you and link to your page from our Facebook page (see the Notes section of our Facebook page for more details.)

Yesterday, I posted our first Featured Writers Prompt, but I have yet to receive any submissions. So I thought I would answer the prompt myself to try to get the ball rolling. I want to also encourage my readers to submit. This is a great opportunity to drive readers to your blogs and writing portfolios. It’s also a great way to find out about other writers and learn how they approach the novel writing process. Continue reading “Featured Writer Prompt: How do you prep for a new novel writing project?”

Novel Writing, Writers on Writing

How to get your story line back on track

Master’s Thesis
Should I put my story line aside for now and concentrate on what I need to accomplish for thesis? | Master’s Thesis (Photo credit: hsivonen)

I’ve been zipping through the story line of my novel for the past couple of months in an effort to get the entire story on the page without worrying about revisions. I’ve hit 46,472 words, and I’ve been feeling pretty good about the whole thing. That is, until a few days ago when I got the idea that my story line had somehow veered away from where I wanted it to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m open to changing direction when it’s appropriate. However, it seems like this time I have turned down a dead-end. The story train has derailed, and I’m left wondering how to pick up the pieces of the train wreck and put it back on the right track. Continue reading “How to get your story line back on track”

Novel Writing, Writers on Writing

Plugging in to your local writing scene

Creative writing class-fine arts center (40269...
Nothing freshens your perspective on your writing project like a lively workshop. | Creative writing class-fine arts center (402690951) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wrote the BEST scene last night after coming home from class. Isn’t it funny how a vigorous workshop can totally recharge your creative batteries?

I’d been feeling a bit stagnant lately, writing mechanically, cranking out *blah* chapters that I knew I’d have to come back later and ‘fix.’ This in-class discussion of the chapters I’d submitted for workshop was exactly what I needed to wake up and reengage with my story. Continue reading “Plugging in to your local writing scene”

Education, Mount Mary College, Novel Writing

Novel Writing: The Next Step

Cover of "The Hero with a Thousand Faces ...
For this week, I tracked my heroine’s journey using Campbell’s 17 phases of the hero’s journey adapted from The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Last night was the second meeting of my Monday evening Advanced Novel Writing course at Mount Mary College. Our homework for last night was to complete two writing exercises designed to get us thinking about our stories and where we are going with them.

The first exercise was a “Building the Novel” exercise that our professor adapted from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. (I haven’t read this text yet, but it sounds like I may need to.) We were to review Campbell’s 17 Phases of the Hero’s Journey and then type up one paragraph for each of the phases, describing how the characters in our own novels would deal with each of the phases.

Even though I felt like I had much of my story figured out already, I found this exercise to be very helpful in getting me to the next step in writing my story. I worked out a lot of new details and answered a couple of old questions as well. I also wrote my first chapter last week, and the story now seems to be seeping out of my very pores, drenching the pages with word sweat. Continue reading “Novel Writing: The Next Step”