Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to make every chapter interesting

So, I had another not-so-original epiphany today. I've only completed one novel to date and it was hard going. I think it was so hard because I had no clear division in the story, other than scene-to-scene. Today the thought occurred to me that it might be easier to get through that first draft if I wrote by chapter, instead of by scene.

I know this is nothing new to the writing community in general, but I've never tried it before. Not only did I not write by chapter in my first book, but I didn't write chronologically either; I literally wrote scenes in random order as they developed in my imagination. This is NOT a good writing strategy: you have to figure out where each scene fits best, reconcile slight differences in plot or detail, and then go back and figure out where chapter breaks should go. It's a nightmare! So, I'm going to take a leaf out of the books of several writers and create a new Word doc for each chapter (incidentally, it was my good friend Shallee that got me thinking about this suggestion again, if in a round-about way; she mentioned doing more intensive outlining in her post the other day).

Now, here's the (hopefully) brilliant part of my epiphany: the way to make each chapter more fun to read (and write) is to structure each one as a complete mini-story as much as possible. What I mean is try to make every chapter have a clear conflict and plot structure of its own. That way, in addition to supporting or advancing the overarching plot, each chapter helps keep the readers attention/interest and gives the reader mini-doses of the reaction he/she gets from an entire book. If I can make this work, it will make my writing infinitely more interesting.

Now, I'm sure it's going to be about 8 billion times harder than it sounds, and will require a heck of a lot of outlining (again, thank you, Shallee), so I hope you all will be sending good vibes my way.

What do you like to do to make each chapter interesting and engaging?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Logistical Solutions and Old Problems

Hi everyone! I'm sure you've noticed my posts over the last few months have been a bit sporadic. The problem is that most of my ideas come during the day, while I'm at work. At my old job this wasn't a problem because I literally had no work to do (one of the reasons I quit); unfortunately, now that I've actually got work to do, it would look really bad if I were blogging in the middle of the day. Thankfully, today I cam up with a (not so) novel solution: I have a notepad on my desk, and whenever I come up with an idea I jot it down really quick so I can post it really quick when I get home. I know that's not exactly a new idea, but what can I say...

Now, on to something actually related to novel writing! I've been pulling my hair out over the last couple of weeks; I found I've fallen into the same old trap I always end up in. A few weeks ago, I decided I was going to buckle down and knock out a first draft of Dathan the Sorcerer. I managed to make a little headway, but as always, I was derailed by two things: 1) I reached a certain point and can't figure out what comes next (a HUGE apology to Tanya, my CP, but it might be a while before I send her any more), and 2) I've been distracted by a veritable deluge of ideas for one of my other stories (none of which I can afford to ignore because I intend to write that story later). GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Anyway, I've (hopefully) solved one writing problem and will be posting more regularly. As for my other problem, I'd welcome any advice you guys might have. I'm at my wits' end.

Speaking of which, what's the biggest obstacle in your writing process? Maybe we can give you some ideas!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Choosing a POV character

Yesterday I realized something about my writing style: I don't like to write from the hero's perspective, at least not much. I much prefer to write from the point of view of another character observing the hero. The funny thing is I'm not entirely sure why.

The problem is that it's a lot harder to characterize a person and show his/her thoughts and emotions when you can't get inside his/her head. You have to rely on other characters noticing certain things (e.g. facial expressions, nervous ticks, tone of voice, etc.). And there's also the problem of those times when the hero does something courageous, virtuous, selfless, or ... well, heroic, but there's no one around to see it or report on it. Those are about the only times I can bring myself to write from the hero's POV.

What do you all think? What are the advantages and disadvantages of my little quirk? Do you have any particular preferences (rational or otherwise) in POVs?