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Fairfield, Queensland, Australia
Fairfield Writers Group is a mix of beginner and experienced writers who meet the second and fourth Saturdays of the month at the Brisbane City Council Library in Fairfield Gardens Shopping Centre, Fairfield road, Fairfield, Queensland. Our passion is writing and we work hard at our craft. Our aim is to encourage, support and help each other to reach new heights in our writing. New members are always made welcome and usually whisked off to the local coffee shop at the end of meetings for sustenance and socialisation with the rest of the crew.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Handy Information on Novel Writing

Lorraine has provided some invaluable information on how to write a novel which are:

1. Write a log line

2. Write a brief precise

3. Answer these questions about character and conflict:
  • Describe the main character, focusing on exposing the conflict that is central to the story
  • What does the main character want? (Describe the over-arching want that drives the story. There will be less important shorter term goals throughout the story.)
  • What stands in the way of the main character achieving his objective? Who is the villain and how do they obstruct him?
  • By the end of the story, does the main character achieve his goal, change his goal, or accept defeat?
  • How is the main character changed by the end of the story?

Now draw up a spreadsheet or table with the following columns:

 Scene name; Scene style (narrative, dialog or live action); Purpose or theme of scene; Character motivation or goal; Beginning style (narrative, dialog or live action); Beginning hook; Ending style (narrative, dialog or live action); Ending hook.

 For each scene in the story, determine whether the scene is primarily a live action scene (things happening in real time), narrative (the narrator telling what happened); or dialog. Also determine whether the scene opens and closes with narrative, dialog, or live action.

For each scene, describe the purpose or theme of the scene and the main character's motivation or goal in that scene.

For each scene, describe the opening and how it hopefully 'hooks' the reader and drives them to continue reading. What questions will the opening generate in the reader's mind?

For each scene, describe the ending and how it hopefully 'hooks' the reader to turn over and read the next scene.

Now divide the book into chapters by highlighting the cell containing the beginning hook of each scene that starts a new chapter, and the cell containing the ending hook of each scene that ends a chapter.

 By looking down this table, you should be able to instantly see the following possible flaws in your novel:
  • Too much narrative. Does the 'scene style' column have too few 'live action' entries?
  • Too many narrative beginnings or endings to scenes. Do the beginning and ending style columns have too few 'live action' entries. Focus particularly on chapter starts and ends. Are most of these 'live action', or at least dialog?
  • Weak hooks. Not every chapter should end with a cliff hanger. Readers will get very tired and bored if they end every chapter hanging by their fingernails, but endings should be powerful enough to drive readers to read on. Beginnings should grab reader interest quickly.
  • Irrelevant scenes. Are there scenes with a theme that doesn't really fit or isn't important to the story. Are there scenes you can delete without taking away from the story?
  • Scenes that don't move the story forward. Are there scenes where the character goal or motivation isn't in line with the over-arching motivation described above? Every scene should move the story logically forward toward the conclusion of the character ultimately achieving his goal, changing it, or acknowledging defeat.
  • Do the chapters start and end in the most appropriate places? Would the start and end hooks be more effective if you moved a scene or two up into the previous chapter or forward to the next?
  • Does every scene fit with the overall theme and message of the book?

You can then add columns to record tension levels in each scene/chapter. Does the tension level rise and fall in the right places?

If your story is told from multiple points of view, record whose POV each scene is told from. An 'at a glance' view of where points of view change can be helpful in identifying possible problems.

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