L.C. Wright

Author

Category: How to Write a Novel

Fighting the Good Fight

You’ve done it! You finished that novel you always wanted to write. You’ve edited and stroked and prodded and you finally got it published. You know it’s what everyone should be reading. You know that if people had any brains what-so-ever, they would be lining up to read it. That’s what you know.

Now the truth sets in. People don’t know you. People don’t know your work. And the great novel you slaved over for of the weeks and months is barely being being noticed.

Hey…I’ve been there. I have the same issues that everyone has that isn’t well known. But, I’m not here to help you market your book today. Maybe I will get to that in another issue. Today I want to talk about you…the writer. I want to talk about what you need to do to keep being a writer. I want to help you keep fighting the good fight.

Life get’s in the way. 

One of the biggest problems for writers is that “things” happen. Life happens and is cruel and constantly works under the premise of bad timing. Every day it seems that we are being bombarded by pressing needs. Family, work, health, all kinds of issues want to stop you from being what you are…a writer.

Solution: Do what you do best. If life throws you a problem…write about it. If the kids are being a pain…write about it. Take out your frustration on your keyboard and not someone else. It will help you in two ways: 1) It will help you keep your sanity without hurting others. 2) It will keep you focused on the habit of writing. Write every day. Write something and things will work out.

Writer’s Block.

You haven’t written in a month. You can’t seem to get the story to work out the way you know it should go. You’ve got writer’s block, you say.

I’ve got bad news for you my friend. There is no such thing as writer’s block. You are just lazy. Ideas come to us every day from everywhere. Maybe a story isn’t going the way you think it should, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to not write. You could write about something else. You could write about me for telling you that you are lazy and what a mean person I am.

Solution: Get on your butt and write something. (Notice that little play on words?) Write a sentence, a paragraph, about anything. Ideas are are like water. If you cup your hands in a stream and lift it out, some of it always gets away. However, if you want some more water, just stick your hands back into the stream.

There are always going to be perceived reasons for you to sit around and not write. If you want, contact me and I can give you a few reasons you may not have thought of. Instead, get your thoughts together and start with one word. Make it a good word and then surround that word with other, complementary words. You will feel better for it.

Now here comes the sales pitch:

To help out another author that writes great mysteries, check out my books:

Castle Grey – A Katt and Mouse Mystery Click here for Kindle or here for paperback.

Long Shot – A Katt and Mouse Mystery   Click here for Kindle or here for paperback

Connections – The Devil’s Door  Click here for Kindle or here for paperback.

How to Write a Novel: Part 9

        Whether it’s a book, short story or a poem, sooner or later, the writing must come to an end. And just as with your project, so must this one. That doesn’t mean I’m finished with the lessons. It means we must talk about the end of your story.
With every book I’ve written, the ending, for me, is the most difficult aspect to do correctly. For me, writing crime novels, the case must be solved. For Harry Potter, he must find a solution to the mystery with which he is embattled. I don’t know what you are writing, but the for the most part, the principles are the same.
You must find an ending that will capture the minds of your readers, not to mention the bad guys, and leave them with a desire to look forward to your next masterpiece.
Trust me on this…NEVER ACCEPT YOUR FIRST DRAFT OF AN ENDING AS THE BEST ENDING POSSIBLE.
When I finished my first novel, Through the Eyes of Death, I changed the ending seven times before I was satisfied that it was done right. Let me translate that for you. When I finished my first book, Through the Eyes of Death, my wife made me re-write the ending seven time before she said it didn’t stink.
Endings are hard. There is a feeling that I want to have when I close a book at the end. I want to feel good about the time I spent reading it. I want the satisfaction of knowing that the characters I got to know, who became a part of my life and I theirs, had justice served. At the very least, barring any of the former, I want some type of surprise, something that makes me say, “Holy crap, Batman.”
When I rate a book on a five star system, I always start from a three star position. If the book flows right, and if the story doesn’t bore me to death, and I can finish it, then it gets three stars. Lacking any of that, the number falls.
If the story keeps my attention; has a good plot line, and interesting characters, the number goes to four.
Now here’s the key for me: I ONLY GIVE FIVE STARS IF ALL OF THE PREVIOUS IS MET AND THE STORY HAS A GREAT ENDING.
If you want your work to stand out…finish out with a great ending.
Did you here with one about the guy…..

 

I love sharing my thoughts about writing. I hope you appreciate the effort and make suggestion about other topics. In the meantime, check out my novel, Castle Grey – A Katt and Mouse Mystery. Click here (Kindle or here (Paperback). You’ll be glad you did. Lannie

How to Write a Novel: Part 8

       As I go along and discuss the principles of writing, I’m reminded of what my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Reynolds, once told me about the art of story telling. She said, “The concept is easy. Say what you are going to say. Say it. Then say what you said.”
The concept is rather simple when you boil it down like that. Every story has a beginning, middle and end. Unfortunately, that’s where the simple ends and the complex begin.
When I talk about the three phases of a story, you then have to define what makes a story? The book is a story. Of course it is. But then if you think about it, every chapter is a story as well.
And if a chapter is a story, with a beginning, middle and end, would it not also stand to reason that every paragraph has the same quality? For me, at least, that’s how it has to be defined: likewise with each sentence.
I find it difficult to get so wrapped up in the book, or the chapter, that I forget about the words necessary to get me to the end. It sort of a reverse trees and forest thing. (You can’t see the forest for the trees.) In this case, you can see the words because the book is getting in the way.
Take the time to ask yourself this…if I were to read this sentence (insert paragraph if need be) by itself and without the content of the rest of the story, would it make sense? Would I be proud of what I just wrote? Would the reader actually smile (frown, jump or whatever emotion you elicited) once they were finished? If so, then you have done your job. If not, you need to take another look and see where it can be improved.
For the record, these are not difficult concepts. Anyone who truly wishes to write a book can use them and do remarkable works with them. But, truth be told, most of us struggle with them. We get in a hurry. We let life get in the way. There are a million excuses why we fail to make our words perfect. That’s just the way it is.
I’m offering these lessons for one purpose…to enlighten you on issues we all struggle with everyday to be a better writer—a better person—as we share with the world the thoughts and dreams pouring from within. Use them if you dare to be a better writer.
A beginning, middle and end. That is what life is all about.
It plays well when you break it down.

 

According to Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage.” Check out my stage a look at my novel, Castle Grey – A Katt and Mouse Mystery. Click here (Kindle) or here (Paperback). You’ll be glad you did. Thanks

How to Write a Novel: Part 7

  If you are like most new writers, somewhere along the way, life has decided that maybe you should take a break. I had it happen to me. I was just thinking that maybe it’s happened to you.

This part of the writer’s life lessons, is brought to you by…LIFE.

Like many of you, I was writing a book. I was starting to see things come together and visions of sugarplums were dancing in my head. I was just getting comfortable with the notion that maybe I was cut out for this. The story was great. The characters were becoming people I wanted around for a long time to come.

That’s when it happened: my friend died. And like Doc Holiday said in the movie “Tombstone” I don’t have all that many.

This story isn’t about my friend’s death, although I should point out that he was a great guy and a good friend. It’s about how it affected me. I quit writing. I started questioning whether I really was cut to be an author. I started wondering that if I did keep writing, what difference would it make? So many questions…so little time.

It took me six months to get my head back on straight. Six months to get over myself and realize that what I had to say was important. Somewhere out there in the world, someone is going to read this and it will matter. That’s all I can ask of anything I say or do. Somewhere…what I do matters.

My books are not intellectual works of literature. Hell…I feel great if my spelling is correct.

But somewhere amongst all those words, I know, there is a life lesson that will resonate to someone. That is all I need to keep going.

You need to ask yourself a question: Why am I really doing this?

 

I write because I am meant to write. Check out my mystery novel, Castle Grey – A Katt and Mouse Mystery. Click here (Kindle) or here (Paperback). You’ll be glad you did.

How to Write a Novel: Part 6

       Your novel is taking shape. I like that. So where do you stand now? What’s going through your head? Are you really doing this? Are you an author yet?

To answer that, ask yourself one question: When you wake up in the morning, when you are driving your car, what are you thinking about? If the answer is the book you are working on, then the answer is, yes. You are an author[. At this point; you may not be a published author, but you are an author.

If you want to become published, then here are a few tips to consider doing while you are writing your masterpiece:

1) Make a list of each character that enters your book with descriptive detail.  There are a couple of reasons for this. Depending on the number of characters in the work, over time, some of them will get blurred with other ones. The book needs to maintain continuity throughout and the marathon called “writing a novel” will, in time, create opportunities to get one person mixed up with another. Also if the work should be the beginning of a series, there will be the need to maintain the same information from one book to the next. Having this list will save you hours of time going back to find what you wrote before.

2) With every chapter, write a short paragraph (one or two sentences) about that chapter. Set it aside for future referrence. The reason here is that should you choose to get your novel published, you will need to write a synopsis of one or two pages about the book in its entirety. This will save you a lot of time down the road when you must go through this process.

3) Set a schedule. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it merits repeating. This is a long process. If you are like most of us, you have a REAL life and it will tug and pull you in every direction it can, not related to your writing. Talk to the people who want to interrupt and explain, in advance, that your writing time is personal time and not to be interrupted. They will understand. They will even encourage.

4) Make a commitment to yourself. The person most likely to interfere with your plans is you. That time you set aside for writing is a “no kill zone.” You cannot, under any circumstances buy any excuse for doing something other than writing. It can be “a dream come true” if you will believe in yourself and never quit the dream or buy into anything that will take you off track.

One last thing: If you have come this far…I know there is something inside you that needs to be told. Do not ever cheat yourself or the world of that great thing you hold inside. I believe in you. Believe in yourself. You are on your way, my friend. I look forward to the day when I can see what you already know is worth the time.

 

I’ve made these commitments for something I believe in. See the results and check out, Castle Grey – A Katt and Mouse Mystery. Click here (Kindle) and here (Paperback). You’ll be glad you did.

How to Write a Novel: Part 5

  You are finally doing it. The ideas are starting to take shape and it’s looking like something more than just a concept. Your characters are coming alive and the scenes are being vividly set. So now…what the heck do I do with it?

You are at the crossroads my friends. It’s a scary place that forces you—the author—to decide if this is what you want to do or are you better off going some other way. Would you like to know what keeps most stories from being told?

Indecision.

That’s right. Indecision will kill a story quicker than anything else. Why? Because as the story goes along, you, as a writer, discover that the characters will often want to go places you hadn’t anticipated. You’ve taken the time to develop the people who make the book what it is to this point and discover, as I often do, that if the character is believable, they will think differently than you will and because of that, they will want to go somewhere you had not anticipated. That alone will bring the story to a halt.

The question is…what the heck do I do about it?

As I see it, there are three most likely answers. First: You do nothing. That’s right. If you are like most people just getting into writing, you’ll stop everything and do nothing because you don’t believe the outline you originally created will work with the characters you’ve created and you can’t fathom the idea that the characters will take you where you think they should go, so you sit back and wait to figure out how to bridge the gap. You wait to see if you will get an idea how to make it work. You wait. And as you wait…you are doing nothing. And if you are doing nothing, you are no longer a writer. And that my friend, is why most people never finish their novels.

The second thing you can do is force the story. You make up your mind that these characters will just have to suck it up and do what you tell them to do. You can see where I’m heading can’t you? It’s like putting gasoline in a diesel engine. It just doesn’t work. It’s a good engine. The diesel fuel can even be the best money can buy, but it won’t work. Everything has to fit.

Finally, and certainly the most difficult, is that you—the author—must learn to adapt. Writing is more than just the words you put on paper. Writing is about the emotions of the people you put into those situations and find a way to help them endure and succeed no matter the difficulties they face. Allow yourself to adapt to the needs of the scene. Fight alongside your protagonist rather than pushing him or her where they can’t function. And by doing that, your story will go far beyond what you had originally planned. It will be better than you could have imagined.

Some people call it writer’s block. I say its character block. If you let the characters go where they need to go, you will never suffer from knowing what to do. Your only decisions will be to discover the best way to save the day.

 

Writing is a way to share a piece of our lives. See what happens in mine with Castle Grey – A Katt and Mouse Mystery. Click here (Kindle) or here (Paperback). You’ll be glad you did.

How to Write a Novel: Part 4

 We finally get to the fun part; writing the novel.

Regardless of the method you choose, a novel comes down to a few simple concepts. You have good guys and bad guys. The bad guys do something bad. The good guys try to stop the bad guys and there is a story that leads you from some starting point to a point where the story ends. I know that completely trivializes the whole process, but in reality, that’s what a novel is.

So the question comes into play. How come one novel is so much better than some other novels? The answer to that is not so easy.

Here’s what I know.

Each character is unique. Each have aspects about their personality that makes them stand out from every other character you have ever seen or heard about. It’s true that the physical qualities of your characters can, and probably will, be similar to others you have read about. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about what’s inside the character. What’s he like intellectually? How does he process his surroundings? How does he interact with other people when he’s having to deal not only with those people but also the stress of the circumstances of the scene. Is the protagonist prone to anger management issues? Does the antagonist think with clarity or does he have mama issues?

Each character is as unique as a fingerprint and it’s your job to insure that the reader sees, through your words, just how unique that character is.

When I write, my way of telling the story (or describing a character) is to put myself right in the middle of things. Think of it this way. There is something going on. What? Maybe someone is about to get murdered, injured or spat upon. It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that it’s going to happen. Where? If it’s going to happen, where is it going to happen? Look around and see it. Think three dimensional. Think light and dark. Think colors. Think textures. It all matters. Then finally, think emotionally. What’s going on in the killers mind, how does he see the whole thing going down? Think about the victim. What’s happening there as well? Get inside the heads of everyone involved.

There will be major characters as well as minor ones, but they all matter. The truck stop waitress who’s serving a piece of pie has feelings too. Even if the only time you ever see her is when she serves that pie. I want to know her thoughts. I want to smell and taste that pie. I want to know that when she comes into the scene, she is just as important in that scene as every other character. Maybe she’s wearing heels that make her feet hurt or something with comfy soles. You decide. Just make sure I can relate.

What about the storyline?

This is also difficult because I can’t tell you how to direct your story. If you’ve created an outline, my only suggestion is to use the outline as a guide.

Personally, I let the characters tell the story. Maybe that’s seems a little weird, so let me explain it another way. The characters may be fictional, but their existence happens because of the writer (you) and can only do what you know. If your imagination is limited by your experiences, then your characters will also be limited as well. If you’ve only experienced walking barefoot on carpet, how can you possibly write about what it’s like walking on hardwood floors. And forget about what it might be like if one of your victims has to run through an alley filled with stones and broken glass or woods barefoot if you’ve never experienced it.

I’m not saying it’s necessary to get shot or stabbed in order to know what that’s like. But if you’ve known pain, serious pain, then how much more vivid can your words be when describing what someone must feel.

Writing a novel is my way of experiencing things outside my reality. Since I’ve been doing it, I’ve seen and done things I could never imagine in the beginning. I am today a different person than I was when I started.

I see more. I feel more. I am more.

Take the journey. Don’t try writing the best novel ever. You can’t. Write something that takes you somewhere you’ve never been and then see how you can write it better the next time. They say: practice makes perfect. I disagree. Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect. Learn one thing correctly and then repeat the process. Eventually, you’ll be able to describe anything you want in such a manner that the world will beg for more.

 

To see how things can come together, check out and buy a copy of my book, Castle Grey – A Katt and Mouse Mystery here (Kindle) or here (paperback).

How to Write a Novel: Part 3

  Of all the parts of this journey, I suspect this part to be the most boring. I’ll get that out of the way so that anyone just writing for fun and games need not read it. However, those of you wanting to get serious about this concept needs to sit up and listen. Without this information, you will waste an inordinate amount of time and effort wondering why the heck those stupid, uneducated agents aren’t taking your work serious.

I’ve read just about every “How to get published” “How to get an agent” “How to pick your nose” book available. (I put that last one in to see if you were paying attention) They all say the same thing, yet they all tell you nothing that will actually get you published or contracted by an agent. What I’m doing here, I hope, is to share real life issues that take you past the fluff and get to the meat of the matter.

The first item on the agenda is taking a reality check.

You could be holding in your hands the next “War and Peace” and never be able to get it published because of one factor; the reality that you are not in control. With the development of e-books, etc., it is now possible for you to get the book published on your own. It’s also possible that in doing so, you could make the millionaire sales club all by yourself by doing just that. I’ve seen the results and they do happen. But lets get real, there just aren’t that many with the capabilities of writing at that level. Most of us (including myself) write commercial fiction that we hope will do well.

Agents are in control. That’s the down and dirty of it. At least until that first big published novel gets out there, agents run the show. It’s agents that decide if your work is worthy of extra effort or something to do when they have spare time.

I’ve talked to many agents and there is an underlying theme with them. They want the work perfect before they get it. They each have their own idea what that means and it’s up to us to see to it that their expectations are met. Otherwise, and this is very important, they won’t BOTHER to read your work. At best they will sit it on the side table while the dust settles. More likely, your get a pre-written form message (not letter) saying how your work of art just isn’t for them at this time. (Or some variation of said)

So how are we supposed to know what they want? Easy, they will tell you. Their expectations are not cookie cutter to another agent. They want something special to them. Double space? Indentations? Justifications? All of that needs to be understood as to how the agent wants it sent. Some things are similar regarding to the manuscript, but make sure you know the agent before you submit.

Now back to the writing.

I bring all of this up now because I’ve discovered that it’s easier to do the job right than to do it over. Most manuscripts are to be double-spaced. Each paragraph is to be indented 1/2 inch. The left margin is to be justified where the right margin is not. Do not extra space between paragraphs, unless there is a completely change of scene that you are jumping to.

If you start off this way you will be on the right track and at the very least will not have to re-do this much of the work when you are trying to get published.

 

To check out my exciting mystery, Castle Grey – A Katt and Mouse Mystery, click here (Kindle) or here (Paperback). You’ll be glad you did.

How to Write a Novel: Part 2

It’s all in your brain now and time to transfer your novel from thoughts to words in print. So…what’s next?

For me, and again I want to suggest that my way is only one of many, the next step is to determine a writing style. Don’t get me wrong, you still have a story to tell. You still have to put things down to tell that story. However, the first draft is just the beginning. Even when your book is complete, it will be reviewed, edited and changed many times before you can get it published. The question here is, what’s MY method of writing so as to make the whole process both functional and fun.

Stephen King says that he doesn’t worry about editing. To him the most important aspect of writing is getting the story out of his head and on to paper. He believes that the faster you can write down your ideas, the better your story will come together. On the other hand, from personal experience, I think it also creates a huge amount of work in the end correcting, editing, and everything necessary to clean up your mistakes.

Dean Koontz told me that he writes one page at a time and then may edit that page six to ten times or more until it’s perfect in his mind before he moves on to the next page. When he’s finished with his manuscript, there is very little editing needed so he can then move on to the next book.

Personally, I’ve tried it both ways and don’t like either. They are good for each author because that is their style. For me, I like using a combination of both. The idea of writing non-stop is something I like. As a writer, it just flows out of my head and then I can move on.

The problem with that style for me, is that if I don’t go back and review what I’ve written soon after I write it, I will sometimes go off on a tangent and don’t realize it until I’ve spent a lot of time working on things that need eliminated. Also, when I use that method, there are issues; story aspects I want to say, but when I write them down the first time, the words aren’t near as perfect as I would like them to be.

Using the Dean Koontz method doesn’t work for me either. Taking the time to go over and over something has a tendency to make me forget the next part or the order of things I want to say on the next page.

From a purest style, I would think Koontz’s method is better than the King method. But as a writer, if I were to have to work that way, I would more than likely never have completed my first book.

My solution, at least the one that fits me, is to incorporate both ideas. I write a page or two with each setting. When the thought is complete and the flow is such that I am ready to move to the next scene, I stop and take the time to read what I just wrote. I read it word for word and then again sentence by sentence.

By doing that, by focusing the majority of my time getting my thoughts on paper, the story comes together for me. However, I am also managing the content and flow in order to stay on track. It works for me. Something else may work for you.

Very few people have the time or inclination to sit for days working on their great work of literary achievement. Most of us, I believe, have to do this a piece at a time. Figure out what you need to make it work for you.

The key, here, is to make sure you do the things necessary to insure that tomorrow you’ll want to do it all over again.

Check out one of my novels for ideas on what your work can do for you. Click here (Kindle) to see Castle Grey – A Katt and Mouse Mystery! Here (paperback)

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How to Write a Novel: Part 1

 

If you have already labored through this process, you don’t need me to tell you what to do and I have no intention of raining on your parade. My way of doing things is merely a drop in the bucket when coinsidering the big picture. Writing a novel takes a piece of your soul. Then when you are done, you get to share that piece with the world.

I hear it all the time: “I want to write a book.” “I dream about writing a novel.” “I want to get published.” It’s something deep down inside of us all.

So what I am sharing today is my process. My way of doing things. Maybe some of you will take the time to share your thoughts on the matter as well.

Getting started: Okay, I’m already in trouble because I have read so many different ways to start that no matter what I say…it’s going to be wrong. Some people say that the only way to write a novel is to create an outline so that as you go through the process, you always have something to fall back on when the story starts to go astray. Others don’t want to be bothered with or restrained by an outline. In their opinion, an outline stagnates the creative process. Personally, I can see the value of both.

To some people, having a clear direction gives them the courage to move forward. Without an outline, things get too cluttered in their brain and they get bogged down. I can understand that. People that are confused and distraught seldom get anything accomplished.

On the other hand, having direction in the form of an outline stymes me. I like having my characters take me on the journey of their lives and figuring out the problems they face. To me, a character is just as real as (maybe even more so) than many of the people I meet in real life or on the internet. It gives me the opportunity to take myself away from one reality and place myself squarely in the middle of another. I personally like that, but either way is perfectly acceptable.

Here’s the key: It doesn’t matter which way you choose to write. What matters is that you take the time TODAY to sit down at your computer and write something about those characters and place them squarely in harms way. Once you do that, you’ll have to find a solution to their problems.

Don’t think about writing a novel. I don’t know of anyone truly capable of doing that. What you can do is write a few lines–a few paragraphs–a page or two. If you do that, you’ll be on your way.

I was once told that, “To sell more books…you need to write more books.” These are good words to live by. You should also know that as an author, I am trying to get people to read my books, so please forgive the less than veiled attempt of my marketing technique. To check out my books, please consider going here for a view or look at the side of each page.

Lannie

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