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  1. Point of view issues keep more otherwise sellable authors from selling their work than nearly any other problem. That’s why as an agent, author, and writing teacher, I always caution my clients, fellow writers, and students to play it safe when it comes to POV. And yet every once in a while I come across a story whose author threw caution to the wind so splendidly I am tempted to play around with point of view myself. If you find yourself so inclined, read on. FIRST, THE RULES As Picasso reminded us, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Here are the POV rules you need to observe long enough to master them before you break them: 1) No omniscient POV. (It’s considered old-fashioned these days, at least here in the U.S.) 2) When writing first-person, stick to one POV per book. 3) When writing third-person: a) Stick to third-person close; b) Use only one POV per scene; c) Use no more than five POVs per book; and d) The protagonist’s POV should predominate. A caveat: The following explores how a few bestselling authors far more skilled than I—and probably you, too—took POV risks that worked big-time. So if this your first rodeo, you’re better off writing by the aforementioned rules. But sooner or later, regardless of your skill level, you’re going to want to break the rules. When you do, remember these examples of stories where the novelists’ POV gambles paid off. FIRST-PERSON PLURAL POV In two of my favorite novels of all time, the authors use first-person plural POV (we/us). In The Jane Austen Book Club, Karen Joy Fowler writes the story from the book club’s point of view. The book club members meet every month to discuss a Jane Austen novel, with unpredictable consequences for them all. (This 2004 novel is a must for all Austen fans; the film adaptation’s is fun, too, if not particularly faithful.) Here’s the opening: Each of us has a private Austen. Jocelyn’s Austen wrote wonderful novels about love and courtship, but never married. The book club was Jocelyn’s idea, and she handpicked the members…. We suspected a hidden agenda, but who would put Jane Austen to an evil purpose? Irresistible, and we the readers fall in love with the literary, gossipy voice. The same is true for Unlikely Animals, Annie Hartnett’s second novel, published just last month. A sort of “Our Town meets Alice Hoffman with a touch of John Irving,” this wonderful novel is written from the point of view of the dead people in the cemetery of the small New Hampshire town where the story is set. Which may sound morbid, but is not, as you can see from the opening lines: Maple Street Cemetery Everton, NH 43.3623° N, 72.1662° W Years later, when people in Everton would tell this story, they would say it was Clive Starling who called the reporter, the way that man loved attention. But we remember the way it happened…. Again, irresistible. We want to hear the real story, as told by the dearly departed, who know this town—past and present—better than anyone. SECOND-PERSON POV This POV (you/you) is rare, at least from my point of view. Only one immediately came to mind—Bright Lights, Big City, by Jay McInerney. This 1984 novel grabs readers from the very beginning, promising a ride as wild as the Eighties: You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this hour of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy. You are at a nightclub talking to a girl with a shaved head. And we’re off on the journey with McInerney, because we’re not that kind of guy either….and yet. OMNISCIENT POV Omniscient point of view is “Author as God.” Think 19th century novels, and fairy tales: Once upon a time there was a girl…. “Author as God” has fallen out of fashion in the 21st century, most notably in the United States. You still see it sometimes, especially in science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and literary fiction. No one does it better than Alice Hoffman, who writes modern-day fairy tales, a kind of “Yankee magic realism,” a literary legacy she has attributed to Nathaniel Hawthorne. You can see why in the opening to Practical Magic, the 1995 novel I reread whenever I’m feeling blue: For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in town. If a damp spring arrived, if cows in the pasture gave milk that was runny with blood, if a colt died of colic or a baby was born with a red birthmark stamped onto his cheek, everyone believed that fate must have been twisted, at least a little, by those women over on Magnolia Street. Hoffman has us at “the Owens women.” The scope and timelessness of the novel are part of its attraction, and the omniscient POV helps her establish both. MULTIPLE FIRST-PERSON POV Conventional wisdom has it that if you’re writing first-person point of view, you should stay with that one POV for the entire novel, if only so readers know whose head they’re in the whole time. Mixing it with third-person is tricky enough, but using more than one first-person point of view can be very confusing for readers if it’s not done with finesse. But when Gillian Flynn used his-and-her first-person points of view in her blockbuster thriller Gone Girl, writers took note—and we’ve been flooded with multiple first-person novels ever since. As an agent, I see a lot of them, and mostly it doesn’t work. Gillian Flynn made it work, by making the voices of the husband and wife characters very different—and by first introducing the wife’s POV through diary entries. The diary entries not only help the reader remember who’s who, but in Flynn’s capable hands, they also serve as a clever plot device. Speaking of devices, Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a master class in these tools. This book club favorite, technically told from the first-person point of view of an eighth grader named Bee, opens with Bee’s report card, just one of the dozens of devices Semple uses over the course of the story that become, in effect, other POVs. (For more, see the full list in my book on story openings, The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings. MULTIPLE THIRD-PERSON CLOSE POV Nobody breaks the rules as beautifully as George R. R. Martin. When to my chagrin one of my clients changed points of view half a dozen times in the opening of her novel and cited A Game of Thrones as her model, I went right to my copy of the epic fantasy. And yes, in the first fifty pages alone, Martin changes points of view at least five times (the conservative limit for an entire book). But it’s neither choppy nor confusing—it’s brilliant. Martin keeps the reader reading, through the skilled use of compelling action, likable POV characters, and clear links from one chapter to the next. I was so thrilled by his masterful handling of POV that I sat down and wrote a detailed analysis of his opening for my client (which you’ll also find in The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings). So it can be done, and done effectively, but most easily if you’re George R. R. Martin. I’m just saying. GO FOR IT For the record, I still say it’s risky to break the POV rules, especially if you’re writing your debut. But ultimately, all writing is risky. And the more we write, the more challenges we like to present ourselves. Point of view may be one of the challenges you take on in your next work. I have the terrible feeling it may be in mine. But as we’ve seen, other writers have met that challenge with grace and grit.
  2. Ruminations provoked by the NY Write to Pitch 2022. I recently led a workshop at the New York Write to Pitch Conference, an event dedicated to helping writers perfect their pitches as well as discover what factors in their novels might prevent their work from becoming published in an increasingly unforgiving marketplace. Often it’s the fact that there’s nothing unique enough about the novel itself to persuade agents and editors and ultimately publishers to take a chance and champion the work. In a publishing landscape that’s more difficult than ever, thanks to the pandemic and other factors affecting retail businesses right now, it’s more important than ever that you are able to differentiate your story, positioning it against all of the bestselling titles by brand-name writers. While it’s true that book sales are up, they are up for backlist, that is, books that have already been published, mostly by authors who have already found an audience. For new titles, especially those being published by debut authors and midlist authors trying to build a readership, breaking out is tougher than ever. That’s why it’s imperative that you be able to differentiate yours from all those other bestselling books out there. We talked a lot about this at the conference and we’ve talked a lot here at Career Authors but the confusion about how to differentiate your work remains. Are you being told that your story is “too quiet“ or “not compelling enough” to compete successfully in your category? Or that the editor or agent didn’t “fall in love with your protagonist” or “feel strongly enough” about your project to take it on? Or that they’re looking for more “high-concept” stories—and yours doesn’t hit that bar? Here are six ways to make sure your story stands out—in a good way. Ways that can help get you past the gatekeepers and into the bookstores. 1) Get Crazy With Your Story Idea The idea of the story/series itself needs to be different from the competition. And you need to be able to articulate that difference. As in Jaws, Jurassic Park, Wicked, Moneyball, The Martian, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, even Snakes on a Plane. Or these two recent New York Times bestsellers: The Maid, by Nita Prose A maid with autism and a love of Columbo finds herself involved in a murder at the luxury London hotel where she works. Razorblade Tears, by S. A. Cosby A Black father and a white father team up to avenge the murder of their gay married sons—sons neither fully accepted while they were alive. Just from these short elevator pitches, you can see why these stories are finding an audience. 2) Get Crazy With Plot Points It’s not enough that the story idea is big. Your plot points have to be big, too. Make sure that each of your plot points—the big scenes of your novel, from inciting incident to climax—are worthy of the name. Milk the drama, the conflict, the setting at every significant step on your protagonist’s journey. 3) Beef Up the Sex Appeal. And I’m not talking sex scenes here. I’m talking the sexy, publicity-worthy stuff of your story. Can you weave in: Dramatic settings—ask yourself if a location scout would get paid to find the locales where your scenes are set Real-life people—as Jess Walter did with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Beautiful Ruins Over-the-top plot elements ripped from the headlines—think Jodi Picoult 4) Name Your Protagonist’s Superpower. The best protagonists have superpowers, that is, something that sets them apart from your run-of-the-mill characters. They don’t have to fly faster than a speeding bullet, but they should have some quality, ability, or talent that makes them smarter, braver, wiser, something more than the rest of us. In my Mercy Carr series, Mercy has the ability to see what others miss. But she’s not alone; even the dogs have superpowers in my books. Bomb-sniffing Malinois Elvis has a great nose but it’s his fierceness that sets him apart, while Newfoundland/retriever mix Susie Bear pairs her superior scent work with a congeniality that helps her draw out the lost and frightened children and elderly folks she finds hiding in the woods. 5) Emote! Emote! Emote! Readers read to feel something. So start evoking emotion right there on the first page, and keep the drama going. I got the best reviews of my career in The Hiding Place, thanks to the fact that it was my most emotional story so far in the series. Think of the last story that made you laugh out loud, cry ugly tears, sleep with the lights on. Do that. 6) Go for Broke. As an agent, I find the hardest thing to sell is a story that’s a little of this and a little of that. If you’re writing a thriller, make it the mother of all thrillers. If you’re writing fantasy, give us a world we’ve never seen before and a hero who must find his way through that world with his heart, mind, body, and soul somehow intact. If you’re writing romance, make us fall in love right along your heroine, break our hearts and piece them back together and break them all over again before that happy ending. If you’re writing literary fiction, make your prose sing and your characters suffer and your plot soar. Whatever your genre, embrace it entirely—and get crazy!
  3. Literary and Genre Novel Writing At Your Own Pace Below you will find our program syllabus. In our quest to get you as close to the brass ring as possible, we've developed this series of multi-genre commercial writing courses that enable you to write or rewrite your novel a step at a time, and at your own pace, while also reality-checking all core and peripheral elements of your work-in-progress. Initial focus is placed on developing story premise and proper market position, major antagonist and protagonist features, primary plot conflict(s), and overall setting decisions. The next set of crucial elements are addressed in turn (see syllabus below) and addressed again, as appropriate, by Algonkian editorial faculty once the sell sheet stage is reached. How long will it take you to write or rewrite your novel to commercial or literary quality? Everyone is different, and it depends on a host of factors. However, you will subtract at least two years of trial-and-error rewrites off the time frame using our methodology and editorial guidance. Btw, the methodology we utilize in the courses we refer to as the "model-and-context method." In other words, we demonstrate practical application of necessary and advanced technique as learned from a suitable variety of masterful fiction authors in a variety of genres (models), then guide you to apply said craft as appropriate and necessary in the context of your work-in-progress. NOTE: WRITERS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO READ THE FOLLOWING NOVELS IF TIME DOES NOT PERMIT - ALL ARE REFERENCED IN CONTEXT DURING THE COURSE OF THE PROGRAM The Program Syllabus Art of Novel Writing - Part I - Eight Course Modules Module I The Act of Story Statement and Protagonist's Goal; Conjuring Your Breakout Title; Market Positioning and Vital Comparables; Utilizing the Short Synopsis Pitch to Create and Define Novel Basics Including Rising Plot Action, Exposition, Backstory, Climax, Denouement, and Theme. Works studied or referenced: ISSAC'S STORM, ANTIGONE, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, COLD MOUNTAIN, HISS OF DEATH, SUMMER'S SISTERS, THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY, THE HAND OF FATIMA, THE GREAT GATSBY. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module II Choosing the Antagonist; Antagonist Role in Energizing Plot Lines and Defining Dramatic Tension; Social Reaction and Psyche Profile of Antagonists; Traits and Physical Nature of the Antagonist; Anecdotes Featuring Your Antagonist; Antagonist Relation to Three-Level Conflict Dynamic. Works studied or referenced: THE KITE RUNNER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE GREAT GATSBY, LES MISERABLES, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing a Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module III Using the Hook Line to Bait and Test Your Commercial High Concept; Hook Elements; the Coming of the "Agon" and Creating the Three-Level Conflict Dynamic; Writing Conflict Lines; Using the Right Setting to Maximize Opportunities for Unique Circumstance, Complications, Character and Verve. Works studied or referenced: ISSAC'S STORM, HISS OF DEATH, SUMMER'S SISTERS, THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY, THE HAND OF FATIMA, THE HUNGER GAMES, SOUND AND THE FURY, THE ROAD. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module IV Personality Types and the Counter Trait; Importance of Backstory; Elements of Character Animation; Protagonist Makes Plot or Vice Versa; Sympathetic Character Factors in the Hook; Defining the Transformational Character Arc. Works studied or referenced in Module: CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, FIRST FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN, SECRET LIFE OF BEES, LIFE OF PI, BEL CANTO, PATTERSON AND GROSS, WINESBURG OHIO. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module V Synopsis as a Planning Tool; Methods for Delivering Exposition; How Does Theme Define and Pervade the Novel? Character Symbolism and Making a Theme Statement That Will Layer Into the Novel. Works studied or referenced in Module: ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, WISE BLOOD, THE SUN ALSO RISES, RHINOCEROS (the play), MAN'S FATE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module VI Coming of the Six Act Two-Goal Novel; Act 0 - Developing the Backstory; Act I, Part I - the Critical Act of Opening Scene, Foreshadowing the Primary Conflict, In Media Res; Act I, Part II - Inciting Incident, Exposition Parceling, the MacGuffin, Theme Start, Antagonist Intro With Possible Minions. Works studied or referenced in Module: CATCHER IN THE RYE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, MISERY, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE MALTESE FALCON, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GLADIATOR AND CITIZEN KANE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module VII Act II - More Hook: Story Statement Redux, Establishment of Major Goal, Primary External Conflict or Complication Begins, First Major Plot Point and Plot Line, Protagonist Psychology, Rising Action; Act III - Plot Line Evolution, Minor Reversals, Complications, thee Levels of Conflict, Major Reversal Time, Plot Points. Works studied or referenced in Module: CATCHER IN THE RYE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, MISERY, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE MALTESE FALCON, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GLADIATOR AND CITIZEN KANE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module VIII Act IV - New Rising Action and Suspense, Conflict Levels Revisited, the Final Puzzle Piece, Surprise or Twist, Climax, Victory at a Cost; Act V - Denouement, Loose Ends, Theme Resolution, End of Protagonist Arc. Works studied or referenced in Module: CATCHER IN THE RYE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, MISERY, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE MALTESE FALCON, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GLADIATOR AND CITIZEN KANE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Primary elements studied and applied in the eight modules of Part II: The act of creating narrative suspense. Dynamic description and competitive narrative cinema. Utilizing character personality to create tone and verve. The four levels of storytelling viewpoint. Levels of successive narrative transformation. Complications and conflict in fiction narrative. Approaches and experiments in masterful dialogue. Establishment of active and aggressive style. Coaxing imagination and unpredictability in narrative and storytelling. Art of Novel Writing - Part II - Eight Course Modules Module I Mastering the Art of Point-of-View: Four Levels of Third Person Point of View; Advantages of 3POV; Effective First Person POV Transition From 3POV; Choice of Viewpoint Character and Effect on Tone; Four Stage Narrative Transformation. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module II Mastering the "Art of Fiction" Narrative: Spatial Orientation in the Scene, Quality Ruminations to Add Dimension and Arc, Transforming the Quiet Set and Circumstance with Imaginative Leaps of Interior Monologue, External Complications, Emotions, Musings, and Narrator Observations. Writing Concise and Artful Dialogue, Mastering the Right Genre Style and Voice. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module III Mastering the Art of High Impact Subject Matter and Issues of Proper Narrative Composition : Creating Social Energy and Conflict, Ways to Aggressively Milk Imagination, Complex Visual Phenomena Reflecting the Human Condition. Creating the Color, Movement, Sounds and Smells of the Meta-Cinematic Narrative Experience. Injecting Pre-event complications, and Fantastical Circumstance Creating "Delayed Cognition" Technique. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module IV Mastering the "Art of Fiction" Narrative: Complex Description of Characters Using Both Third and First Person POV, Metaphor Sketching to Describe Unique Characters, the "Single Statement of Impression," Deriving Unique Metaphors From Setting, Using the "PDQ" to Brainstorm Approaches to Challenging Subjects in Prose Narrative, Details of Face and Body Movement, Charged Emotional States, Occasional Acts of Bold and Imaginative Appearance. Balancing Prose For High-Impact Subject Matter VS. Upmarket Prose Narrative. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module V Mastering the Art of Narrative Composition: High-Impact Subject Matter VS. Upmarket Prose Narrative, Mastering Style and Voice, Using FIGHT CLUB to Write Your Own Version In Order to Practice Those Narrative Elements Make Chuck Palahniuk a Great Author; Using THE RIVER KING to Write Your Own Version In Order to Practice Those Narrative Elements That Make Alice Hoffman a Great Author. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module VI The First 5000 Words of the Novel Hook Incorporating Elements From Prior Modules : Four Levels of 3POV Narrative, Level III Narrative Minimum, Transitions to Reflective Interior Monologue, Interior Fantasy, Ruminations or Musings, At Least Five Minor Complications. Narrative That Allows For Color, Sound, and Smells; Narrative That Creates Impact On the Page in a Dynamic and Cinematic Manner. Color, Tension, Curiosities, Mystery, Conflict, With a Goal of Not a Single Quiet Paragraph. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module VII Self-Coverage Narrative Scorebox and Reference to Part I of Program Regarding Act I and Act II as Appropriate For Inclusion of Proper Plot Elements, Sympathetic Character Elements, etc.. the First 50 Pages of the Novel Incorporating Elements From Prior Modules : Brilliant First Person POV, or All Four Levels of 3POV Narrative; Level III Quality Narrative Minimum Striving Towards Level IV, Transitions to Reflective Interior Monologue, Ruminations and Musings, As Many Minor Complications As Necessary. Narrative That Allows For Color, Sound, and Smells; Narrative That Creates Impact On the Page in a Dynamic and Cinematic Manner. Color, Tension, Curiosities, Mystery, Conflict, and All 50 Pages With a Goal of Not a Single Quiet Paragraph. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module VIII Post Coverage: the Next 50 Pages of the Novel Incorporating Elements From Prior Modules (for a total of 100) : Brilliant First Person POV, or All Four Levels of 3POV Narrative; Level III Quality Narrative Minimum Striving Towards Level IV, Transitions to Reflective Interior Monologue, Ruminations and Musings, As Many Minor Complications As Necessary. Narrative That Allows For Color, Sound, and Smells; Narrative That Creates Impact On the Page in a Dynamic and Cinematic Manner. Color, Tension, Curiosities, Mystery, Conflict, and All 50 Pages With a Goal of Not a Single Quiet Paragraph. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample.
  4. It's like acid rain. It never ceases to scar, harm the environment, and ruin vacations. We're talking about bad writer advice, of course (btw, see our first article on this subject). While perusing several collections of "Worst Writer Advice" found sprouting like toxic tulips after a simple Google search (most of it authored by insufferable rank amateurs working for the ad-driven content industry, and who wisely appear between ages 12 and 17), I found the various fallacies and idiocies about novel writing contained therein to be worth pointing out. Much of it was reminiscent of childish Twitter rumor, and therefore, potentially harmful to aborning novelists. Should one even bother though to set this straight? It makes you feel a little like the baffled ex-astronaut prodded into revealing Earth really is a globe when addressing a convention of flat earth fanatics, i.e., "I can't believe I'm even talking about this." And btw, I also visited the kingdom of Reedsy, one of the more popular writer advice hangouts. I was investigating their article on writing for NaNoWriMo, aka National Writing Month, but I found the surge of cheerleading blather concerning this competition to be a grand welcome mat for bad advice scuffery. No surprise there (not *everything* was bad advice, though most points required far more elaboration, and enough dark neoplasms did exist to cripple a writer's ability to succeed, e.g., "Follow whatever crazy character shows up and leads you down the rabbit hole, and let yourself be surprised!”). Yes, yes, leave the plot behind, just follow that crazy down the hole, and once you've reached the bottom, sitting with your crazy on a toilet in a squalid gas station bathroom just south of Pismo Beach, look up and squint to see that small crack of light high above you. Overall, I felt as if I were being lectured by children who had just discovered how to type, and it made me think... Could I now toss aside decades of experience and acquired knowledge regarding the topic of novel writing, and quite simply, like them, sally forth and tap out a new "epic novel" in a month? We are awash in wunderkind. Where do they come from? What do they want? Not long ago, a Reedsy-like writer in a Zoom workshop enthusiastically erupted, "The best thing about writer groups is that no one is necessarily right. Writers are free to approach novel writing in any number of ways, even if they have to INVENT IT AS THEY GO." I informed her that was actually the worst thing about writer groups (btw, was the inverse "necessarily wrong" also true?), and the "invent it as they go" was itself an invention of ignorant narcissism on the "go" only to rejection. Next, I asked her if she knew the definition of a plot point, whereupon she evaporated into electronic memory. I never saw her again, but apparently, "no right way to write a novel" was an important standard for her, one she clung to tenaciously. And btw, she's not alone. Such "writers" don't wish their "creativity" to be "controlled" or "diluted" with rules meant for "some." In all fairness, it's likely she'd absorbed such foolish and ruinous maxims after ingesting the literary advice equivalent of cyanide, the kind one inevitably discovers puddling around the web (see Google search above). Where else?... Oh right, I forgot. She could have learned it from her writer group? Where is the nearest cliff? Maybe this act of investigatory literary journalism will rescue your dream from ruination, or not. As one of the wise sages we'll review points out, "don't listen to experts if it makes you feel bad.. just follow your instincts." Again, I repeat, where is the nearest cliff? Regardless, more favorites below, from mind boggling to laughable. WE will not provide them with free publicity by naming or linking to them. As follows: "Some people, however, will say that no book will ever succeed without an outline. This is terrible writing advice. If you don't want to use an outline and want to go straight to writing then go ahead - don't allow anyone to tell you otherwise." (Some people? In two decades I've never heard anyone make this sweeping statement; however, I do belong to the non-pantsing school. I adamantly advocate for productive planning and/or outlining in advance, especially for aspiring genre-specific authors relatively new to the field. WE article on this issue here.) Some people are fortunate and they don’t have a lot of time commitments on their hands. These writers might get their book written, edited, and on their way to publishing in just a few weeks. This in no way means it’s not good! It just means they were able to spend a lot of consecutive time on it. (Some writer people known to this writer person are able to conceive, write, edit, and publish their novel in a few weeks... Tell me who. Show me the novel. This reminds me of the ancient Jack Kerouac novel-typing-in-one-sitting stunt, but not quite as extreme. Nevertheless, preposterous no matter how you look at it.) Join a writing group either in person or virtually and give them extracts of your work. (We've debunked that solution here.) Write in your own voice, with your natural grammar. Let copyeditors and proofreaders worry about your grammar later. (Your "natural grammar"? As both a line and developmental editor, this green light to ignore reasonable grammar can result in eye popping hybrids. Consistent and obvious bad grammar is a red flag to professionals. There are irritating nuances to grammar, yes, but advising writers to ignore grammar rules in general is wrong.) Most of the writing and publishing industry is shockingly elitist, and most of what they teach is bad advice that doesn’t work. (The portion of the industry that might present itself to some as elitist is not that portion of the industry currently engaged in freelance editorial work, i.e., unless the editor in question happens to be a former publishing house editor or literary agent. In that case, they are feverishly searching for jobs and will not be inclined to act snotty. The broad brush allegation that "most of what they teach is bad advice" is plain ridiculous, if for no other reason than the allegation is too sweeping. Most? Really? No examples given here. No names. Who provides unproductive advice and who does not varies widely.) (FYI, the statement above, and below, was made by an instructional-and-self-publication website) Nothing about reading books about writing—or subscribing to blogs about writing—is going to help you do that... But I have yet to find a book about writing that’s a better use of your time than actually writing. (I'm still bandaging my jaw. Well said, I must say. The writer has yet "to find a book about writing" that's any good? Waste of time? For example, "Screenwriter's Problem Solver" by Syd Field teaches nothing worthwhile? "Art of Fiction" by John Gardner? And so forth? We addressed this issue quite well on WE. It's hard to believe this issue has to be debated. I've only ever heard one person say this in twenty years, and that was an MFA prof attempting to sell his program to a writer workshop. And I'll maintain that if you cannot communicate writing advice using the written word, then you cannot communicate it verbally either. ) Read as much writing as you can in your genre (the kind of books you want to write)?... I actually tell people not to do this... Instead, read only the minimum amount necessary to know what the general consensus is in that field. (Huh? This fellow actually finds harm in immersing in one's chosen genre? Read the minimum amount? What does that mean? How does he define? We never find out. It's just overall ridiculous.) Do you find it hard to believe that a portion of the above isn't just an invention? I'd prefer it that way actually. Far more disturbing to see fellow writers (or alleged writers) passing this pap around as if valid. God bless the Writer's Edge. ________________________________ [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  5. Algonkian Writers Conference Events and Retreats - Ongoing Client Review: Manuscripts to Market Editorial Service - $1500+ - Rolling Admissions: Novel Development and Writing Program, Online, $799 (see below) - September 08 - 11, 2022 : New York Write to Pitch 2022, ONLINE ZOOM, $795 - September 22 - 25, 2022 : New York Write to Pitch 2022, LIVE IN NEW YORK, $795 - September 28 - Oct. 2, 2022 : Algonkian Park Workshop Retreat, $1095 - (Map/Directions) - November 10 - 14, 2022 : Monterey Writer Retreat, $1095 - (Map/Directions) - December 02 - 5, 2022 : St. Augustine Author-Mentor, FL, $2459 - (Map/Directions) The Algonkian Novel Writing Program was brainstormed by the faculty and director of Algonkian Writer Conferences, and later tested by NYC publishing professionals for practical and time-sensitive utilization by genre (YA, SF/F, mystery/thriller, WF, etc.) writers as well as upmarket literary writers who desire to become career authors. Therefore, if you wish to begin or restart your novel, rewrite it with guidance, or just reality-check the progress with our faculty professionals, you've come to the right place. The goal is to get you as close to the brass ring as possible, to make your novel as commercially competitive as it needs to be on all levels while avoiding critical missteps, bad advice, and exorbitant prices for classes and mentorship. And it does not matter what stage your novel is currently in, or where you are in your writing life. The program steps and methodology, as well as the faculty, enable you to learn and grow as a writer together with your novel, and at your own pace. Once you accomplish the program, your work is thoroughly reviewed by our professionals and together you set publication goals, discuss agent representation options, and engage in manuscript and project edits as needed and appropriate ... [continued]
  6. As you explore the nooks and literary crannies here, you'll find considerable words devoted to warning you away from foolish and terrible advice. But what about professional, tested, and proven advice? Below are ten bullet points for aspiring authors designed to help them overcome any confusion or misdirection when it comes to starting the novel. However, before you investigate, make certain you've already prepared by reading this sensible prologue. Note: the list below makes a base assumption that the writer is a relative novice and currently searching for direction and focus--the same stage we've all endured. For those in the second stage, or higher, the list might well begin further down. Nonetheless, we cannot stress enough how important it is to fully understand your genre. Eat and breathe it. Know the currents in the market, what makes for a "high concept" story in this context. You'll never be published otherwise. KEY CONCEPTS: genre, high concept, Publisher's Marketplace, self-editing, readers, core development strategies, craft and research, story premise, SATG Novel, novel hook, first draft outline, inciting incident, plot point. Choose Your Genre Historical, thriller, women's fiction, mystery cozy, etc. Focus on one that will consume you, one you have passion for. Passionless choice never bodes well (can you guess why?). If on the fence, consider what kind of author do you wish to be known as five years from now? A thriller author? Horror author? Mystery?... Makes a difference, no? So be specific and take a slot (no "slot" shaming). You are attempting to break into a crowded and tough marketplace with a breakout novel. As of this point, you have no real idea how difficult it will really be in a country as big as America. Best to begin wisely. WARNING: failing to locate yourself firmly in one genre will only result in failure. And believe us when we tell you that agents and publishers will be merciless in their demand that you understand and obey the rules of that genre. From the heart, but smart. One last thing--you cannot invent your own genre. Don't try. Don't even ask. For the love of all that is holy! Mercilessly Immerse Read the classics in your genre combined with the latest and hottest. Look up "best book" lists, read reviews on Amazon, dive into review journals dedicated to your genre, and obtain a membership at Publisher's Marketplace. It's never too early to familiarize yourself with who is publishing what in your genre. At PM it's all there. And no, we don't get a kickback. As a bonus, you get to review expertly written hook lines for new novels bought by publishers, thereby also getting a chance to note the type of high concept stories in the works. Invaluable! Truly. Via obsessive immersing, you'll also get an idea which authors and novels might compare favorably with you and your own work. Strongly consider analyzing story progression, character introduction, and scene development in three to five of the best in your genre. Take notes. Compare what you've learned to what you read here at NWOE. Avoid Writer Groups Do not join a local or online writer group, however socially alluring it may be, and regardless of what its apostles tell you. Don't fall for it. We know, it feels like the right thing because so many recommend it, but it's the wrong thing by a mile. You *might* consider it a year or two from now once you've developed enough novel writing savvy to actually know the difference between an amateur group that *might* be somewhat productive and one that could be potentially ruinous or time wasting at a minimum. Review carefully our notes on this crucial and controversial subject. Begin the Reader Hunt Following on above, attempt to engage upwards of five good readers, if humanly possible. It will take time to ID the right ones, so begin the hunt early. Take note, they will not be in a group. They will not meet to discuss your work. If possible, best they do not interact or know each other. This condition will disallow the inevitable evolution of group politics, groupthink, imagined slights, false flattery, etc. Yes, it can happen. Regardless, can your picks be reasonably trusted to provide generally intelligent reaction to your narrative? You might have to jettison a few. Be prepared. Additionally, serving as a reader for them will provide you with a form of editorial experience that might prove invaluable. IMPORTANT: utilize "beta readers" for narrative purposes only (prose style, clarity, imagery, dynamic motion, dialogue quality--that sort of thing), NEVER for novel development, i.e., premise, plot, character roles, important setting details, etc. Engaging in the latter imperiling act will only threaten your progress with those insidious major flaws inherent in 98% of writer groups. Study Self-editing Technique Do it carefully, it's an art form, even if you're not onto your second draft yet. No reason to delay. It takes experimentation and practice. Relying exclusively on your readers or future freelance editors is a mistake. Ultimately, you are responsible for the final product. Faith should not be necessary. Also, keep in mind, the more refined your fiction narrative waxes, the more productive the future editorial professionals engaged to review your work can be, i.e., if you've already ascended to level 8, they can bump you to level 10. Now, what about that contract? Craft Until Your Head Hurts While researching your genre, immerse simultaneously into your core novel development strategy. Don't rush it or fret over it. You will inevitably revise. Meanwhile, utilize NWOE as a staging platform for the illuminating pursuit of obligatory craft technique. This is NOT an option. Devour every single article or essay on development, drama, plotting, prose, and viewpoints. Set aside a space for experimentation. Practice writing scenes, dialogue, complex descriptions for starters. Additionally, consume only the best books on novel writing. You will ALWAYS be an apprentice to your craft. Let Truman Capote be an inspiration. Conceive Primary Premise Given that you've chosen your genre and you're well on your way to possessing a true literary skill set (it's not easy, so don't be impatient), and given you've taken careful note of the quality of new novels coming to life at Publisher's Marketplace (have you?), you may now begin to formulate your own novel premise, the "high concept" story that will form the development, writing, and marketing basis of your genre novel from title to last sentence. Uncertain on how to go about it? One way to initiate a bit of productive pondering is to visit the High Concept page first, followed by the Loglines and Core Wounds page. Read carefully. Note the three "hook line" examples. Consider WHAT WILL BE YOUR CORE CONFLICT, AND WHAT WILL BE THE CORE WOUND? (all caps for emphasis). Play with it. Write down options. Choose wisely. Seek discreet professional advice if necessary. Begin the Planning Process Engage in a careful examination of the Six Act Two-Goal Novel. With your embryonic story concept nearing the birth canal, use the SATG Novel outline to assist with beginning to conceive smaller parts of the bigger picture. At each separate stage, from Act to Act, take a deep breath and sketch ideas, circumstances, characters into your electronic notebook. Be free and easy with the process. Jot down everything that comes to mind. Keep in mind it's all in dynamic flux. It can change. Just as importantly, attempt to finalize insofar as possible your novel's major setting. Extremely important. Organize your thoughts, questions, commentary, and scenarios as needed. Have fun with it. Imagination is truly your best friend (even if you don't like the original Willy Wonka). Sketch a Draft Outline No need to engage in overmuch detail. Make certain your story premise is commercially viable and your chosen setting is simmering. Have on hand sketches of your major and secondary characters. Use the SATG to locate and ruminate over your major plot points. Sketch your inciting incident and first major plot point. Go from there to your first major reversal, pinch point, etc., all the way to climax. Keep in mind this is all a draft, yes, however it should reflect your efforts to date at fleshing out your genre story. Consider also, not just your basic plot but those special points, twists, and turns demanded by your chosen genre, e.g., if writing a cozy mystery you best get that body on the first page (or pretty close). Refer to steps 1 and 2 above. Draft Your Hook Scenes Don't think of the novel in units of chapter. Think of it as units of scene, each scene dedicated to a particular task, and each driving the plot forward (a must) in one way or another. I use the term "hook scenes" to refer to that combination of opening scenes that will lead us through the initial set-up to the inciting incident and from there to the first major plot point that begins the next Act of the novel--30 to 50 pages into the novel, roughly. There are always exceptions. Download the Algonkian Study Guide for necessary additional references and a breakdown of hook scenes up to and beyond the first major plot point in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (a favorite for the application of classic dramatic technique in the novel). _______________ [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  7. Now that you've fully absorbed Relentless Application I, you must approach Part II. It begins with Labors, Sins, and Six Acts. Read this article in its entirety. It concludes with a great deal of linkage to important essays and articles on novel conception, development, and narrative style, as well as on the many pitfalls of poor preparation. Will there be sources of revelation or items of crucial guidance you’re not yet aware of? Yes, no question, and like the discussion of dramatic act structure noted in RA I, the knowledge revealed here, in the context of developing and writing publishable commercial fiction, is generally non-negotiable. Why? Because for the most part, and like dramatic act structure, it details a score or more of important elements both publishers and readers demand be present in contemporary novels. As a bonus, it dispels the ever-lingering smoke of ridiculously stupid advice by creating models and drawing examples directly from the best authors in all genres, and we refer to this method as "model-and-context." In other words, as an aspiring author you examine models of both narrative and structural technique utilized by numerous authors in a variety of ways, and by doing so, provide yourself with a bridge to application in the context of your own work-in-progress. And btw, not one shred of this advice is arbitrary or culturally derived. For example, we don't gavel-slam against the teaching of writing because the Iowa Writing Program bizarrely denies the possibility, or frown on plotting because Stephen King proclaims his divine disdain from the snow-job bluffs of Mt. Olympus. But back to reality. If for some bad reason you have not, or cannot read every vital article contained in Labors, Sins, and Six Acts, get a cup of coffee, curl up before the fireplace for an hour or so, and read these asap: Ten Carefully Chosen First Steps For Starting the Novel (sure you know them all?) The Epiphany Light You Must Enter (major vision adjustment) Seven Critical Novel Rejection Sins (the blunt and pithy Richard Curtis) Loglines and Core Wounds as Development Tool (combine with high-concept below) The Six Act Two-Goal Novel (dramatic act structure outline – crucial) And it’s not over yet. Alas! We must now inevitably stress the following three core elements because at the onset of novel conception they will have the biggest cascade effect on the work as a whole : 1. Choice of Novel Setting 2. Uniqueness of Primary Antagonist 3. High-concept Premise Consider the extreme necessity of a story idea that sounds sufficiently unique to stand out in today’s crowded market. Consider next the most important character in genre fiction, the antagonist, and their role in galvanizing the entire dramatic act structure. And finally, consider that without a dynamic and intriguing setting how much more difficult it will be for you to create characters, complications, and circumstances that will sufficiently enhance the novel enough to make it truly memorable and quite marketable. Keep in mind also that theme, dramatic act structure, protagonist, and all else derive organically from these core elements. And to answer ahead of time the one question that inevitably gets asked by writers who don’t wish to create an actual antagonist: can a protagonist be their own antagonist? Answer: they can be whatever you wish, but if you really desire to become published and therefore not waste time and effort on your manuscript, then follow the advice offered above and create a living, breathing antagonist (unless they’re space aliens who don’t need lungs). NOTE: all NY Pitch writers should be prepared to discuss their work in the context of elements presented above. Never forget, we are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams. There are no great writers, only great rewriters.
  8. Pre-event work below in three parts. Please read carefully and complete all of it. You might get a little woozy or be astonished, but push through. You’re responsible for the seven assignments, the several score readings in the next section beginning with Labors, Sins, and Six Acts, and from there, jump to section III, log into the Algonkian Novel Writing Program, and get started. Lot’s to do! Is it ever enough? No. But we’re getting close. All of this is crucial and fundamental. Don’t recoil if portions won’t comport with what you’ve been told elsewhere (writer groups, conferences, chat boards, etc.) because the odds are extremely high, in this case, that what you’ve been told is wrong, if not potentially ruinous. Keep in mind that our advice is thoroughly based on applying methods of approach, structure, and craft learned from great fiction writers and authors. We all stand on the shoulders of those gone before. Seven Assignments First we include a seven short assignments forum that will persuade you to consider several crucial and foundational aspects of your commercial novel project. Think of them as a primer. All together, they should not take you more than a few hours at most. Complete them at your convenience and post the responses. Your responses to these assignments will be reviewed by faculty with an aim towards achieving a better understanding of your project and its current stage of development. We recommend writing down the answers in a separate file and then copying them into the forum to prevent any possible loss of data. To enter this forum (Algonkian Author Connect), click on the “Sign Up” link, top right and follow the instructions regarding password, email, etc. Critical Readings in Market and Development Next stop is Labors, Sins, and Six Acts – The Novel Writing Guide. The first category concerning novel trip wires (culled from “Novel Writing on Edge”) is a must read. We assure you there is a deluge of vital information here, perhaps any number of things that will make your novel or narrative non-fiction stronger and more competitive. Can it be too good? Don’t think so... And if the next category looks overly daunting, focus initially on the first eight articles from “High Concept Premise” to the “Six Act Two-Goal Novel.” The Algonkian Novel Writing Program The Algonkian novel writing program is open to all Algonkian and NY Pitch writers (no extra fee) and is one of our best novel manuscript tweakers on all levels. Whatever your skill set or knowledge base happens to be at the moment, keep in mind there is always more to learn. There are no great writers, only great rewriters. We want you to see you fitted for that brass ring, and if we can nudge you across the line by providing the best guides and tools possible, then why not? It’s the least we can do. _________ Our strong advice is to complete the first two parts above, in order, then approach the first eight modules of the novel writing program. You can begin the program before the event, or afterwards, whatever makes more sense in your situation. Following your posting of the first seven assignments noted above, you may return to edit later, as needed, using the same login. As with your application, all sign-up information supplied is confidential and will not be shared with any third parties under any circumstances.
  9. As noted previously, steps for you to take following the conference for purposes of further structural and narrative development. Don't fail to take it seriously. Everyone needs rewrites. Keep in mind, you are in a fierce competition with the nation’s best writers. You need ALL THE EDGE you can get. 1. The Algonkian Novel Writing Program - reality check and polish the intricacies of character arc, setting, theme, opening hook, plot and dramatic rising action from first page to final denouement. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/forum/52-novel-writing-program-modules-and-consults/ 2. The Prose and Narrative Enhancement Forum - all the elements you must consider in order to write imaginative and compelling execution. In other words, can’t-put-it-down pages. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/forum/108-new-york-discussion-and-critique-2022/
  10. You will discover below a series of scholarly, researchable, frank and indispensable guides to conceiving and writing the commercial genre novel, as well as the plot-driven literary novel - all derived from our sister site, Novel Writing on Edge. However, the nature of the developmental peels and prods as presented makes an initial big assumption, namely, that you are honestly desirous of true publication either by a classic publisher or traditional literary press, and therefore, willing to birth the most dynamic and can't-put-it-down novel you possibly can. Further, you are also naturally desirous of great sets, mind-altering theme, unforgettable characters, and cinematic scenes, among other things. Does that go without saying? Perhaps, but you must know, it won't be easy. First of all, the method-based assertions and information we've gathered and elevated before your eyes below will shiver many of you like a 6.5 on the literary Richter scale because it will contradict some or much of what you've been told about novel writing elsewhere - at writer conferences, for example, by your writer's group, or by various content-marketing websites operated by amateurs (75%+) playing to their demographic. Second of all, we don't cut corners or hold back to simplify matters for off-track or rank beginners who might be driven away (starting right about now) by the realization of just how much needs to be learned and applied. And though more of you might be driven away immediately following the forthcoming assertion, it is nonetheless true: there are no "SEVEN EASY STEPS" or other shortcut gimmicks that will catapult you into becoming the author of an authentically fine novel. Anyone who believes otherwise is sadly ignorant. Nonetheless, if you are astute and mature enough to know there are many things about novel writing you don't know, but must learn, you've come to the right place. And yes, there is a whole mass of matter to absorb. We make no apologies. Our mission is to take you from A to Z. You should consider all that follows to be a kind of master primer, i.e., whatever is necessary to sufficiently comprehend the novel writing universe. We divide the exploration into three sections, each with their own rubrics. Just know, it makes no sense to begin writing a novel you plan on selling to publishers or even smaller presses without first having a relatively good idea whether they'll want to buy it in the first place. This concept is radical to many beginners, but it shouldn't be. And the concept that you can't balance an artistic approach with pragmatic story considerations is not only indefensible but contradictory. The first category approaches the reality of novel writing vs. the myths and the source of those myths. For many of you, it will create emotional responses up and down the spectrum from humor to melancholy and back, depending of course on your mood and experience thus far with the aforementioned universe. Regardless, the overall point is to make a valiant attempt to filter out the many falsehoods and misperceptions with extreme prejudice in order to begin the journey of novel writing with a clear head and a view towards realistic expectation. The second two categories are relatively self-explanatory. Just know, it makes no sense to begin writing a novel you plan on selling to publishers or even smaller presses without first having a relatively good idea whether they'll want to buy it in the first place. This concept is radical to many beginners, but it shouldn't be. And the concept that you can't balance an artistic approach with pragmatic story considerations is not only indefensible but contradictory. Btw, you might wonder if it's advisable to pass on any of the articles below, but it isn't. Everything we've included is considered vital. Even if you believe you have a certain element pretty well covered, don't believe you know it all. Most likely, you don't. Also, the potential exists that you've read or received advice that is counter productive. The advice featured here, however, is based on decades of experience in the business (e.g., hundreds of sessions at the New York Pitch Conference and many more hundreds in writer workshops across the U.S.), as well as lessons learned from great novel authors, playwrights, and screenplay writers - more about this model-and-context methodology found here (feel free to leave comments on any of the items that follow). Before we begin, a favorite quote from one of America's greatest authors, Truman Capote: As certain young people practice the piano or the violin four and five hours a day, so I played with my papers and pens... My literary tasks kept me fully occupied; my apprenticeship at the altar of technique, craft; the devilish intricacies of paragraphing, punctuation, dialogue placement. Not to mention the grand overall design, the great demanding arc of middle-beginning-end. One had to learn so much, and from so many sources. NOVEL WRITING TRIP WIRES, CHECKLISTS, EGO, AND VITAL FIRST STEPS The Author Dawn - Rise and Blink (tell us why) https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/the-author-dawn-rise-and-blink.html Ten Carefully Chosen First Steps For Starting the Novel (immerse, prep, reflect) https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/best-10-steps-for-starting-novel-all.html The Epiphany Light You Must Enter (major vision adjustment) https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/aspiring-authors-must-cross-epiphany.html Top Ten Worst Pieces of Writing Advice (and it gets worse) https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2015/04/top-ten-worst-pieces-of-writing-advice.html Top Worst "Worst Writer Advice" - Outrageous and Mind Boggling https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/top-worst-worst-writer-advice-advice.html Avoid Bad Writing by Name Authors! https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2008/10/new-writers-must-be-careful-of.html Bullet Point Reasons Why Editors Reject https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2017/02/timeless-and-valuable-editors-rejection.html Writer Groups - More Harm Than Good? https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/problems-with-writer-groups-where-to.html Seven Critical Novel Rejection Sins https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/seven-narrative-rejection-sins-bad.html Novel-Into-Film Checklist https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2019/07/check-points-to-turn-novel-into-film.html Important: Coverage Checklist for Aspiring Authors https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/important-coverage-checklist-for.html Top Seven Reasons Passionate Writers Fail https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2015/05/top-seven-reasons-why-aspiring-authors.html Writer Ego and the Imaginary Bob (Could this be you?) https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/writer-ego-and-imaginary-bob.html DEVELOPMENT REALITY - MAJOR POINTS OF PLOT AND MUCH MORE We endeavor to list the points below in the order they should be read, however, it isn't a perfect arrangement due to overlapping. Ideally, the high-concept premise must come first in any case. What is Your High-Concept Premise? https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/12/high-concept-sufficiently-unique-what.html The Need For Human Drama in the Novel https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/theme-plot-strong-character.html Loglines and Core Wounds as Development Tool https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/hook-lines-with-core-wounds.html The Novel's "Agon" - Vital Core Conflict https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/the-novels-agon-primary-conflict.html A Statement of Theme From the Dark Classics https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/cuckoos-rhinoceri-and-miss-l-i-admit.html Can You Choose a Great Title? Will You? https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/choosing-great-title-before-publication.html Setting is 60% - Maximizing Opportunities For Verve https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/great-settings-maximize-opportunity.html A Clever Dose of Antagonistic Force https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/antagonists-in-novel-most-important.html The Six Act Two-Goal Novel (premise, reversals, complications, major points) https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/the-six-act-two-goal-novel.html Classics Deliver the Key to Exposition https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/learning-exposition-from-classics.html Sympathy Factors in the Hook (protagonist or major character) https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/protagonist-sympathy-factors-in-hook.html Deep and Fresh Traits for Secondary Characters https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/deep-and-fresh-traits-for-majors.html ADVANCED NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE, SCENES, AND PROSE STYLE Dialogue - Never a Gratuitous or Boring Word https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/dialogue-never-gratuitous-word-or.html Writing Novel Scenes - Drama, Sex, and Sass https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/12/scenes-to-z-glue-drama-sex-sass.html Storyboard Considerations for Producing Effective Scenes https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2013/02/algonkian-writer-conferences-michael.html Four Levels of Third Person Point of View https://novelwritingonedge.com/2020/08/four-levels-of-third-person-pov.html Experiments in High Impact Narrative https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/12/experiments-in-high-impact-narrative.html A Great Damp Loaf of Description https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/12/a-great-damp-loaf-of-description.html Prose Narrative Enhancement https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/09/the-prose-description-questionnaire.html Brilliant Fiction Narrative in Four Stages https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/11/writing-brilliant-fiction-narrative-in.html Narrative Enhancement Via Nabokov https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/09/narrative-enhancement-via-nabokov.html "To Be" or Not? Too Much "Was" Will Hurt Your MS https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/boot-was-for-more-verve.html The Sublime Inner Voice of Godwin https://www.novelwritingonedge.com/2020/10/interior-monologue-by-gail-godwin.html ________________________________
  11. First of all, let's look at what a pitch should never be. This is a modified example from a past pitch conference. Despite the fact that this writer received our pitch models in advance, the following is what they produced for the first day of the conference. The title and author's name are withheld for privacy reasons. As follows: Sixteen-year-old Warren’s grandfather was his world: Chicago firefighter, Marine, master builder, musician, upstanding Polish-American man. Now Warren’s a stranger in his own house. His mother, a doctor, is guilty and distant; his father, a fire chief, means well but fails. His siblings seemed to get all his grandfather’s gifts: discipline, heroism, talent, craft. Warren tries his best to mimic their feats – swimming, piano-playing, building, firefighting – battling in spirit to take his grandfather back. He tries, and he fails. He resents and fears his awesome big brother, who guards the family heritage like a hero of yore; he envies and resents his kid brother’s grandstanding and musical gifts. Warren’s part of the family and not, home but not home, with no one and nothing but his grandfather’s picture – his one guiding light – to call his own. In the end, shame and pride drive him to dream of revenge: unable to belong in his grandfather’s world, unwilling to accept the world that he’s left, will Warren set this house on fire? Before you compare the above example to the examples below, you'll note that this pitch contains an ample amount of set-up. We learn about the kid and his life circumstances. Okay, great, and a wrap statement in the second paragraph. But what is missing? Consider, we know zero about the plot. There is no hint of it, not a sign. The writer leads us to believe the kid will lead towards a revenge of some kind, but what kind? He apparently has no journey to undertake, no challenge to overcome, no complicating obstacle as far as we can see. What must Warren do? What will Warren do? Who knows? And it's the failure to answer these questions that cuts the heart out of this pitch. The professional hearing it, or reading it, will immediately see there is no plot evident. Not exactly a good idea. We recommend instead the following as effective models for a novel pitch session. Keep the core body of the pitch to 150-200 words. Note too that your pitch is a diagnostic tool that helps professionals determine the strong and weak points of your novel, thus enabling productive discussion on matters of premise, character, and plot development. Take special note of inciting incident, protagonist intro, setting, stakes, plot points, and cliff-hangers. SURVIVING THE FOREST by Adiva Geffen Historical Women's Fiction (PROTAGONIST INTRO AND SETTING) Shurka is a happy young woman who lives a fairy tale life with her beloved husband and their two young children, in a pretty house in a village in Poland. She believes that nothing can hurt them. Or so she thinks. Then, World War II breaks out (INCITING INCIDENT) and the happy family quickly understands that their happiness has come to a brutal end. The family is forced to flee and find shelter in a neighboring ghetto (STAKES AND FIRST MAJOR PLOT POINT) where they discover the Gestapo is taking Jews away on trucks every night, never to be seen again. Backs against the wall, the family makes the brave and very difficult choice to flee into the depths of a dark forest (EXTENSION OF FIRST MAJOR PLOT POINT). There, surrounded by animals, they know this is their only chance to escape the real beasts. They have no idea what will await them, but they know that doing nothing is not an option if they wish to survive. (CLIFF-HANGER: WILL THEY SURVIVE? WHAT PRICE MUST BE PAID?) ______ GIRL IN CABIN 13 by A. J. Rivers Detective Murder Mystery (PROTAGONIST INTRO AND SETTING) FBI agent Emma Griffin is sent undercover to the small sleepy town of Feathered Nest to uncover the truth behind the strings of disappearances that has left the town terrified (STAKES AND INCITING INCIDENT). To Emma there is nothing that can lay buried forever. Even though her own childhood has been plagued by deaths and disappearances. Her mother’s death, her father’s disappearance, and her boyfriend’s disappearance--the only cases that she hasn’t solved. Her obsession with finding out the truth behind her past was what led her to join the FBI. Now, she must face what may be her biggest case. In Cabin 13 there lies an uneasy feeling. The feeling of her movements being watched. When a knock on her door revealed a body on her porch and her name written on a piece of paper in the dead man’s hand. Suddenly her worlds collide. (FIRST MAJOR PLOT POINT) With the past still haunting her, Emma must fight past her own demons to stop the body count from rising. The woods have secrets. And this idyllic town has dark and murderous ones. Either she reveals them or risk them claiming her too. (CLIFF-HANGER AND ADDITIONAL STAKES - WILL SHE SAVE THE "FARM" AND LIVE TO TELL THE STORY?) _____ Now, go and write the pitch for your novel following a thorough analysis of the above examples, and please, take your time. Once done, put it aside for a few days then read it again and ask yourself this question: WILL THIS MAKE SOMEONE WANT TO BUY MY BOOK? _________________________________________________
  12. Algonkian Novel Writing and MS Revision Courses Pre-MFA, Post-MFA, or No MFA - Get Your Novel on a Realistic Path to Publication In Cooperation and Partnership With Algonkian Writer Conferences and the New York Pitch Why is This Novel Writing Program Unique? A number of significant things, as follows: Our "model-and-context" and "cross-module method" approach to studying and applying proper technique on all vital levels while your novel is being effectively developed and edited at the same time. Our detailed 16 module syllabus that exhaustively covers all the major novel elements as well as the authors studied or referenced. The array of fiction works studied and referenced in the program modules. The books and analytical fiction articles studied in the program. Our layer by layer approach to teaching you how to write multi-angled and unpredictable cinematic narrative, taking show-don't-tell to its ultimate expression. Our program faculty which consists of seasoned NYC professionals who have not only sold and developed major commercial projects, but who are also fiction writers themselves with publication records; and as a bonus, the faculty are literary agents actively looking for new projects for both film and book purposes. Keep in mind, it is always in our very best interest to get you an agent or book contract, since this is great publicity for our program. The fact that advice and critique on all levels derives exclusively from faculty professionals. In our opinion, this approach is crucial. If you wish to learn how to build your own house, and then actually do so, or invest your money wisely and then actually invest it, you know better than to seek advice from inexperienced non-professionals. Why? Because the issues are important and the stakes are high. Why should they be less high when you are writing a break out novel with the goal of becoming a career author? How Much Hand Holding is Necessary? From experience, the designers of this program knew that every writer entering it would most likely require serious ms rewrites as well as instruction in advanced narrative and structural technique, and therefore, be insufficiently close to a publishable manuscript. The aim and method of the program is to get you as close as possible via the modules, and once done, a faculty consultant assumes control from that point in order to provide professional editorial input and hands-on query guidance. NOTE: if you are participating in this program as an Algonkian alum you do not have to register a payment for it, however, to gain the benefit of indefinite and private editorial consults, an arrangement for compensation must be made with the professional developmental editor on staff--whatever both parties agree is appropriate and necessary. Having noted this, however, faculty will review final sell sheets prior to query, and for all writers regardless. Feel free to contact us on this issue. Once you are in the editorial consult and agent query phase, your communications with a faculty member are not limited to a set number of emails or phone calls, but are indefinite in consideration of the fact that varying projects and writers require varying amounts of time to come to successful completion. Does Every Writer Have the Potential to Succeed? Nearly everyone has the potential to write a breakout novel and go on to become a successful commercial author, but precious few finally accomplish the task. Why is this the rule? Writer conferences, author workshops, books, ms editors, and even the most pointless of MFA programs play a part in a writer's evolution, but none of these provide the overall pragmatic means and method to finish the job (and quite often, not even to start it). If this were not the case, an imaginative and ambitious writer would only have to attend an MFA program at Iowa, for example, and become a published author in due course. But this rarely if ever happens, despite expenditures in the range of $30,000 to $80,000 (Iowa Grad Program for two full years). And aside from this lack of comprehensive and realistic training, many other factors come into play that hamper the aspiring commercial author, everything from prickly skin to incompetent writer groups to misunderstandings of market dynamics. Consider. Would you try to build a livable and quite stylish home on your own without an architect and a professional home builder simply because you had the ability to hammer a few boards together with nails? Of course not. You would acquire the expertise and skills before you began. And yet, new writers approach the creation of a thing equally or more complex, such as the writing of a competitive commercial novel, in the belief they can do so because they have a story idea, can type words on a page, and have read a few magazines about writing. They consult with other new writers as ignorant as themselves and proceed to build a house called a novel, but one that will not risk their lives because fortunately for them, it is all on paper. What Type of Aspiring Authors Should Apply? Serious, self-starting writers willing to conceive, write and craft their novel in the due course of completing this program, and who are willing to accept critical guidance from professionals in the business. We emphasize "serious" because this program is rigorous and challenging, and not like a college extension cyber-class or a typical online workshop. The more knowledge and skills you acquire, the more you apply, returning as necessary to edit until a review by a faculty editor takes place. Aspiring authors, regardless of manuscript stage, benefit from this approach and editorial mentorship. It's about starting with the first sentence and proceeding to the denouement. The program methodically addresses all structural, premise, and narrative aspects of your novel, and in a manner beneficial to making it more competitive while also evolving your writer skill set, no matter your level at the start of the program. How Does This Program Apply to All Genres? The art of good storytelling never changes. The courses and modules approach the art of writing commercial fiction in a manner that applies to upmarket/literary and all commercial genres. See the Six Act Two-Goal Novel page on "Novel Writing on Edge" to get an idea of what we're talking about. The courses accomplish three primary goals. They enable you to: Learn and practice advanced premise-plot and character technique. Learn and practice advanced narrative and prose style craft. Learn and apply said technique, narrative craft, and knowledge to your own work-in-progress. Come to a firm understanding of the role today's market plays in getting your novel published. Genres we work with include upmarket/literary, general fiction, SF adult and YA/MG, fantasy adult and YA/MG (as well as New Adult), urban fantasy, mysteries of all types, detective/true crime, suspense/thrillers, women's fiction both serious and light, as well as paranormal romance. What About Start Date, Time Involved? There is no arbitrary start date. You begin the first module and proceed through the next 15 modules once you've entered the program, or at such time you decide to begin. In theory, you might wish to review a few modules first, take some notes and consider before starting the first assignment. Once you have begun, you progress through the program, writing or rewriting your novel a step at a time at your own pace, returning to prior modules as needed and editing further based on new skills developed and knowledge gained. The amount of time it will take any particular writer to complete the entire novel writing program, receive professionals reviews, return to edit their work, and move on to the agent query process (or else to further project development), will depend entirely on each writer's background knowledge, skill set, and novel manuscript quality upon entering the program. Also, given the fact that most people work and have other lives, we estimate a minimum of 18 weeks to complete the program--though if it takes longer, so be it. Additionally, our writers can also take whatever breaks or hiatus they need, for whatever reason, and suffer no detrimental issues as a result. How Do I Graduate? Successful completion of Parts I and II. Application of work, editorial direction, and critical lessons learned to your novel-in-progress manuscript as evidenced by story development outlines, prose samples, and other criteria as deemed appropriate by program faculty. Completion of the self-coverage novel scorebox. Completion of all extra assignments and readings related to the program. Completion of faculty review and adoption of further edits as necessary. Joint approval of your publication plan going forward.
  13. Algonkian Novel Writing and MS Revision Courses Pre-MFA, Post-MFA, or No MFA - Get Your Novel on a Realistic Path to Publication In Cooperation and Partnership With Algonkian Writer Conferences and the New York Pitch Works Studied or Referenced in the Novel Writing Program NOTE: writers are not responsible for reading all the following works. These works are referenced and portions of them studied in the context of the program. THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee LES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo BEL CANTO by Ann Patchett 3RD DEGREE BY Patterson and Gross THE CONCRETE BLONDE by Michael Connelly WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by Lucy Maud THE ALCHEMYST by Michael Scott MISERY by Stephen King COLD MOUNTAIN by Charles Frazier THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett ISSAC'S STORM by Erik Larson ANTIGONE by Sophocles ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST by Ken Kesey WISE BLOOD by Flannery O'Connor CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells THE INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN by Italo Calvino THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY by Michael Chabon THE PAINTED BIRD by Jerzy Kosinski EVENSONG by Gail Godwin THE SHIPPING NEWS by Annie Proulx HISS OF DEATH by Rita Mae Brown SUMMER'S SISTERS by Judy Blume THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY by Jonathan Stroud GET SHORTY by Elmore Leonard THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins THE GOLDEN COMPASS by Philip Pullman THE QUEEN'S GAMBLE by Barbara Kyle THE NOTEBOOK by Nicholas Sparks MATCH ME IF YOU CAN by Susan Elizabeth Phillips HARRY POTTER (series) by J.K. Rowling CLAUDIUS THE GOD by Robert Graves POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver FIRST FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN by Mitch Albom SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel WIZARD OF OZ by L. Frank Baum THE HAND OF FATIMA by Ildefonso Falcones de Sierra THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy THE SUN ALSO RISES by Earnest Hemmingway YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS by Michael Neff CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain
  14. Literary and Genre Novel Writing At Your Own Pace Below you will find our program syllabus. In our quest to get you as close to the brass ring as possible, we've developed this series of multi-genre commercial writing courses that enable you to write or rewrite your novel a step at a time, and at your own pace, while also reality-checking all core and peripheral elements of your work-in-progress. Initial focus is placed on developing story premise and proper market position, major antagonist and protagonist features, primary plot conflict(s), and overall setting decisions. The next set of crucial elements are addressed in turn (see syllabus below) and addressed again, as appropriate, by Algonkian editorial faculty once the sell sheet stage is achieved. How long will it take you to write or rewrite your novel to commercial or literary quality? Everyone is different, and it depends on a host of factors. However, you will subtract at least two years of trial-and-error rewrites off the time frame using our methodology and editorial guidance. Btw, the methodology we utilize in the courses we refer to as the "model-and-context method." In other words, we demonstrate practical application of necessary and advanced technique as learned from a suitable variety of masterful fiction authors in a variety of genres (models), then guide you to apply said craft as appropriate and necessary in the context of your work-in-progress. NOTE: WRITERS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO READ THE FOLLOWING NOVELS IF TIME DOES NOT PERMIT - ALL ARE REFERENCED IN CONTEXT DURING THE COURSE OF THE PROGRAM The Program Syllabus Art of Novel Writing - Part I - Eight Course Modules Module I The Act of Story Statement and Protagonist's Goal; Conjuring Your Breakout Title; Market Positioning and Vital Comparables; Utilizing the Short Synopsis Pitch to Create and Define Novel Basics Including Rising Plot Action, Exposition, Backstory, Climax, Denouement, and Theme. Works studied or referenced: ISSAC'S STORM, ANTIGONE, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, COLD MOUNTAIN, HISS OF DEATH, SUMMER'S SISTERS, THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY, THE HAND OF FATIMA, THE GREAT GATSBY. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module II Choosing the Antagonist; Antagonist Role in Energizing Plot Lines and Defining Dramatic Tension; Social Reaction and Psyche Profile of Antagonists; Traits and Physical Nature of the Antagonist; Anecdotes Featuring Your Antagonist; Antagonist Relation to Three-Level Conflict Dynamic. Works studied or referenced: THE KITE RUNNER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE GREAT GATSBY, LES MISERABLES, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing a Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module III Using the Hook Line to Bait and Test Your Commercial High Concept; Hook Elements; the Coming of the "Agon" and Creating the Three-Level Conflict Dynamic; Writing Conflict Lines; Using the Right Setting to Maximize Opportunities for Unique Circumstance, Complications, Character and Verve. Works studied or referenced: ISSAC'S STORM, HISS OF DEATH, SUMMER'S SISTERS, THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY, THE HAND OF FATIMA, THE HUNGER GAMES, SOUND AND THE FURY, THE ROAD. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module IV Personality Types and the Counter Trait; Importance of Backstory; Elements of Character Animation; Protagonist Makes Plot or Vice Versa; Sympathetic Character Factors in the Hook; Defining the Transformational Character Arc. Works studied or referenced in Module: CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, FIRST FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN, SECRET LIFE OF BEES, LIFE OF PI, BEL CANTO, PATTERSON AND GROSS, WINESBURG OHIO. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module V Synopsis as a Planning Tool; Methods for Delivering Exposition; How Does Theme Define and Pervade the Novel? Character Symbolism and Making a Theme Statement That Will Layer Into the Novel. Works studied or referenced in Module: ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, WISE BLOOD, THE SUN ALSO RISES, RHINOCEROS (the play), MAN'S FATE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module VI Coming of the Six Act Two-Goal Novel; Act 0 - Developing the Backstory; Act I, Part I - the Critical Act of Opening Scene, Foreshadowing the Primary Conflict, In Media Res; Act I, Part II - Inciting Incident, Exposition Parceling, the MacGuffin, Theme Start, Antagonist Intro With Possible Minions. Works studied or referenced in Module: CATCHER IN THE RYE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, MISERY, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE MALTESE FALCON, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GLADIATOR AND CITIZEN KANE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module VII Act II - More Hook: Story Statement Redux, Establishment of Major Goal, Primary External Conflict or Complication Begins, First Major Plot Point and Plot Line, Protagonist Psychology, Rising Action; Act III - Plot Line Evolution, Minor Reversals, Complications, thee Levels of Conflict, Major Reversal Time, Plot Points. Works studied or referenced in Module: CATCHER IN THE RYE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, MISERY, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE MALTESE FALCON, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GLADIATOR AND CITIZEN KANE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module VIII Act IV - New Rising Action and Suspense, Conflict Levels Revisited, the Final Puzzle Piece, Surprise or Twist, Climax, Victory at a Cost; Act V - Denouement, Loose Ends, Theme Resolution, End of Protagonist Arc. Works studied or referenced in Module: CATCHER IN THE RYE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, MISERY, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE MALTESE FALCON, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GLADIATOR AND CITIZEN KANE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Primary elements studied and applied in the eight modules of Part II: The act of creating narrative suspense. Dynamic description and competitive narrative cinema. Utilizing character personality to create tone and verve. The four levels of storytelling viewpoint. Levels of successive narrative transformation. Complications and conflict in fiction narrative. Approaches and experiments in masterful dialogue. Establishment of active and aggressive style. Coaxing imagination and unpredictability in narrative and storytelling. Art of Novel Writing - Part II - Eight Course Modules Module I Mastering the Art of Point-of-View: Four Levels of Third Person Point of View; Advantages of 3POV; Effective First Person POV Transition From 3POV; Choice of Viewpoint Character and Effect on Tone; Four Stage Narrative Transformation. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module II Mastering the "Art of Fiction" Narrative: Spatial Orientation in the Scene, Quality Ruminations to Add Dimension and Arc, Transforming the Quiet Set and Circumstance with Imaginative Leaps of Interior Monologue, External Complications, Emotions, Musings, and Narrator Observations. Writing Concise and Artful Dialogue, Mastering the Right Genre Style and Voice. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module III Mastering the Art of High Impact Subject Matter and Issues of Proper Narrative Composition : Creating Social Energy and Conflict, Ways to Aggressively Milk Imagination, Complex Visual Phenomena Reflecting the Human Condition. Creating the Color, Movement, Sounds and Smells of the Meta-Cinematic Narrative Experience. Injecting Pre-event complications, and Fantastical Circumstance Creating "Delayed Cognition" Technique. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module IV Mastering the "Art of Fiction" Narrative: Complex Description of Characters Using Both Third and First Person POV, Metaphor Sketching to Describe Unique Characters, the "Single Statement of Impression," Deriving Unique Metaphors From Setting, Using the "PDQ" to Brainstorm Approaches to Challenging Subjects in Prose Narrative, Details of Face and Body Movement, Charged Emotional States, Occasional Acts of Bold and Imaginative Appearance. Balancing Prose For High-Impact Subject Matter VS. Upmarket Prose Narrative. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module V Mastering the Art of Narrative Composition: High-Impact Subject Matter VS. Upmarket Prose Narrative, Mastering Style and Voice, Using FIGHT CLUB to Write Your Own Version In Order to Practice Those Narrative Elements Make Chuck Palahniuk a Great Author; Using THE RIVER KING to Write Your Own Version In Order to Practice Those Narrative Elements That Make Alice Hoffman a Great Author. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module VI The First 5000 Words of the Novel Hook Incorporating Elements From Prior Modules : Four Levels of 3POV Narrative, Level III Narrative Minimum, Transitions to Reflective Interior Monologue, Interior Fantasy, Ruminations or Musings, At Least Five Minor Complications. Narrative That Allows For Color, Sound, and Smells; Narrative That Creates Impact On the Page in a Dynamic and Cinematic Manner. Color, Tension, Curiosities, Mystery, Conflict, With a Goal of Not a Single Quiet Paragraph. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module VII Self-Coverage Narrative Scorebox and Reference to Part I of Program Regarding Act I and Act II as Appropriate For Inclusion of Proper Plot Elements, Sympathetic Character Elements, etc.. the First 50 Pages of the Novel Incorporating Elements From Prior Modules : Brilliant First Person POV, or All Four Levels of 3POV Narrative; Level III Quality Narrative Minimum Striving Towards Level IV, Transitions to Reflective Interior Monologue, Ruminations and Musings, As Many Minor Complications As Necessary. Narrative That Allows For Color, Sound, and Smells; Narrative That Creates Impact On the Page in a Dynamic and Cinematic Manner. Color, Tension, Curiosities, Mystery, Conflict, and All 50 Pages With a Goal of Not a Single Quiet Paragraph. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module VIII Post Coverage: the Next 50 Pages of the Novel Incorporating Elements From Prior Modules (for a total of 100) : Brilliant First Person POV, or All Four Levels of 3POV Narrative; Level III Quality Narrative Minimum Striving Towards Level IV, Transitions to Reflective Interior Monologue, Ruminations and Musings, As Many Minor Complications As Necessary. Narrative That Allows For Color, Sound, and Smells; Narrative That Creates Impact On the Page in a Dynamic and Cinematic Manner. Color, Tension, Curiosities, Mystery, Conflict, and All 50 Pages With a Goal of Not a Single Quiet Paragraph. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample.
  15. MODULE SAMPLE FROM THE PROGRAM The sample below is one part of a single module in the second half of the novel writing program. The purpose of this is to simply give you a sample of the module, not define all that came before. FOUR LEVELS OF THIRD PERSON NARRATIVE POINT OF VIEW Let's get right to the point on this issue. Yes, we know that CATCHER IN THE RYE and HUCKLEBERRY FINN would never have been famous novels without the engaging first person voice of their protagonists. And yes, first person seems to be in vogue with paranormal YA and some fantasy here and there, however, third person point of view is the best way to relate a dynamic work of fiction, hands down. Unless the first person voice is so remarkable, unique and/or compelling that the novel could not exist without it, third person is strongly advised. For purposes of this study, we define four levels of third person point of view (3POV) as follows: Author-POV 3POV Distant 3POV Close 3POV First-Close The Author-POV or APOV, refers to the author, the detached or "omniscient narrator" who steps in now and then to set the scene or make artful commentary at the right time (just *please* don't address the reader directly because that is so irritating and breaks the reader's immersion into the fictional dream). 3POV Distant or 3POV-D occurs at such time the narrative focuses on a specific character and we watch her or his actions as if we are the camera actively filming this character. 3POV Close or 3POV-C takes us into the character's head and camera viewpoint shifts to the character, i.e., we see or experience, for the most part, only what the character is viewing or experiencing. 3POV First-Close or 3POV-FC dives deeper into the character's head and effectively mimics first person POV, but naturally without the usual limits of first person POV because the author can cut from the 3POV-FC and pull all the way back to APOV. CONTINUE READING AND RETURN HERE FOUR STAGE NARRATIVE TRANSFORMATION What's one of the best ways to ensure a publishing contract? Master the art of writing fiction narrative, of course. But what does that mean, and are you sure you know the difference between relatively quiet fiction narrative and verve-packed narrative? Are you setting your standards high enough? Are you aware of the level of craft and attention to detail that will make you a great writer with not only a solid career, but a huge number of conference appearances wherein you can, with little effort, and in front of hundreds of people, act like a legend in your own mind? Writers set standards for themselves, often ignorant of how high the standards need to be raised in order for them to be as competitive as possible in this current marketplace. Rather than tell, let's show examples of how to take somewhat ordinary, perhaps even vaguely interesting narrative, and make it as competitive and energetic as possible by adding imagery, metaphor, emotion, more active verbs and better sentence structure. CONTINUE READING AND RETURN HERE MODULE ASSIGNMENT (three parts) as follows: PART 1 In 3POV, use the following scenario to write a scene. The scenario as follows: your protagonist narrator attends an antique car show (you choose location, season and types of cars), observes the cars, the sounds, the smells, the people, meets someone they know (you choose character), dialogue ensues. Then quite suddenly, the car show is invaded by a large gang of hooded men (you choose color of hoods and accents) who "steal the show" and hold the cars hostage, demanding the wealthy and terrified owners wire money to the gang's bank in Hungary via iPhone, or else they will bullet-riddle the priceless cars into mangled junk. Then something goes terribly wrong. But why? You figure it out. And btw, the character your protagonist met earlier is killed by a stray bullet. Your protagonist must act. What will she or he do? Fight? Escape? Save someone else? All of above? A few things: Consider this a scene in a novel. Confine the length to not more than 1,000 words. You must transition effectively through all four levels of 3POV as defined in this Module. You must elevate the prose narrative to a level commensurate with Level 3 as defined in this Module. PART 2 Utilizing the same scenario and bulleted goals above, now translate it through a completely different viewpoint. Choose any character you wish, just make certain the character you choose brings their own viewpoint and tone to the work, e.g., an eccentric friend of the protagonist, the person who gets shot, one of the gang, the snobby manager of the car show, a child with his parents? 1000 word limit. PART 3 Taking a favorite narrative sample from your own work-in-progress, or a suitable work, elevate it to the third level of narrative transformation, as defined above, and transition through all four 3POV levels. Limit of 500 words.
  16. Algonkian Novel Writing and MS Revision Courses Pre-MFA, Post-MFA, or No MFA - Get Your Novel on a Realistic Path to Publication In Cooperation and Partnership With Algonkian Writer Conferences and the New York Pitch Applying the Six Act Two-Goal Structure to Writing the Novel Algonkian developed the Six Act Two-Goal novel structure for writers of book-length fiction and nonfiction. The plot-point and reversal method will be utilized by all writers in the novel writing program to effectively brainstorm and outline a competitive and suspenseful plot for the commercial novel, regardless of genre (SF/F, thriller/detective, historical, etc.). Upmarket or literary fiction work with a strong plot also benefits. In short, the approach combines Siegal's "nine act structure - two goal" screenplay (very much like the Syd Field three act except that the "reversal" from Field's structure becomes the "Act 5" in Siegal's version) with the Field classic three act. The Two-Goal Structure, Siegal maintains, creates more dynamic plot tension due to the insertion of PLOT REVERSAL later in the story, and we concur with this. In the opening hook, the protagonist(s) are focused on a major goal begun by the first major plot point that starts the second act (in the Field model), but by the middle of the second act, or later, they realize they have pursued the wrong goal. The protagonist(s) are forced to alter their course and struggle for a more accurate goal or means to achieve the final end (even if that doesn't happen the way they expect). The fusion of the Siegal and Field models thus becomes a tighter six act model for the novel or narrative nonfiction. NOTE: the sample below is one part of a single module in the first half of the novel writing program. The notes are in the context of other modules which came before and defined the progress of the novel up until this point. ___________ ACT THREE TO FIRST MAJOR REVERSAL (Page 50+ - 250+) Plot Line Evolution: Minor Reversals - Complications - Thee Levels of Conflict - Major Reversal Time - Plot Points - The Martians are Winning The dramatic pursuit of the protagonist's major objective evolves. Plot tension is rising. The FIRST GOAL (a means to the final end) within the context of the bigger overall objective is pursued (as we noted in prior lessons), but this must eventually lead your protagonist to a dead end, and with potentially serious consequences. This becomes the FIRST MAJOR REVERSAL. In other words, we thought we were on the way back to Kansas until we realized the broomstick must be stolen. We thought an escape from home prison was possible in MISERY until our captor whacked our leg with ten pounds of iron. NOTE: This act pulls out all the stops to create tension, angst, conflict, and issues for the protagonist and appropriate characters to resolve: MINOR REVERSALS TAKE PLACE: protagonist(s) struggle, perhaps score small victories of one sort or another, but these are almost always reversed. For example, in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, McMurphy organizes the inmates and theatrically pretends to watch the World Series in defiance of the Big Nurse, but she makes her will known later and punishes him. MINOR COMPLICATIONS TAKE PLACE: in other words, things happen that have a notable negative physical or emotional impact on the protagonist or those he/she cares about. These are not as strong as minor reversals, but action must be taken to overcome them. McMurphy takes the inmates out for a boat ride, but conflict at the dock with the boat captain and a need to make a quick escape takes place (ONE FLEW OVER). And know that "minor complications" can be fairly serious. In WAR OF THE WORLDS the major character had to bludgeon an insane minister to death in order to prevent him from giving away their hiding place to the Martians. Whether upmarket or genre, MINOR COMPLICATIONS combine with MINOR REVERSALS to continually spike the narrative and story. It can't be easy for the protagonist and/or her companions. If too easy, you inevitably build to classic mid-novel sag. Tension runs out, wheels spin, and an inexperienced writer pads the middle with lumps of dull narrative and quiet situation. Ugh. "Best Wishes" rejection letter on the way. Off to a minor eBook publisher who will publish you if you have more than 100 Facebook members. Note: as a bonus, complications and reversals also assist greatly in maintaining all three levels of conflict. Also, prior to climax, we may have a smart and strong reversal or complication which serves to introduce a twist or an unexpected event in the story (sometimes called a MIDPOINT CLIMAX). Pinch Points Reveal the Antagonist Aims Sans Filter Pinch Points take place: an example or a reminder of the nature and implications of the antagonistic force, that is not filtered by the hero's experience. We see it for ourselves in a direct form as in a brief cut away scene that describes an impending thunderstorm, a peek into the villian's mind. There should be two and they should be at about the 3/8 mark and the 3/5 mark in the manuscript. In ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST a pinch point took place at the 3/5 mark when the Big Nurse informed the assembled hospital staff just what kind of cruel fate was in store for McMurphy. Crisis Point or FIRST MAJOR REVERSAL = Second Major Plot Point In Stephen King's MISERY, after the captive author protagonist has his knees sledge-hammered by Kathy Bates (God, that hurt!) to prevent him from trying to escape again, he knows he's been using the wrong means to pursue the master goal (ie, to escape). He must now reboot and choose another path, a second goal to achieve the master objective or goal (escape). To accomplish, the author conceives a new plan of theatrical cooperation with his captor, the new goal within the master goal being to trick her into passivity and lure her into a trap whereupon he can knock her senseless. In general, at this point, backstory issues, mysterious strangers, twists and turns and events all point out that your protagonist is on the wrong track, and the antagonist graph is rising. The Martians are conquering Earth and the Big Nurse is slowly tightening a noose around McMurphy's neck. Once more, success seems possible. INTERNAL CONFLICT IS ON THE INCREASE ALSO. Of course, and so is interpersonal conflict. All three levels of conflict are rising! But back to the protagonist for a moment ... Why should she or he turn back now? Why doesn't he/she? What's at stake? Is there a DILEMMA? What makes your protagonist realize the unavoidable importance of her/his original goal? What gives it new meaning? Does someone die? Do the stakes raise? Does reputation suffer or threaten to diminish? We must have a answer. This is true drama. Storytelling at its finest. MODULE ASSIGNMENT as follows: List at least three minor reversals and three complications that will take place in this Act (you will likely have more). Place them in the context of the story and sketch the circumstances for each--not more than 50 words each for a total of not more than 300 words. In 100 words or less, note how your minor reversals and complications will contribute to the three levels of conflict. Note your "mid-point climax" if you have one. If not, why not? See the note above. Work up a twist or unexpected event. In 100 words or less, sketch the nature of your antagonist pinch points. Why do they occur when they do? What are the circumstances? Sketch the first major plot reversal. Set the scene for us. What happens? Why? What is the aftermath? Finally, what is at stake for the protagonist? Why doesn't he or she turn back now? And if she or he does turn back or retreat for a short time, what remotivates them back to the struggle?
  17. Develop, Write, or Rewrite Your Breakout Novel Step-by-Step Courses Followed by Editorial Consults and Agent Query Process Originally brainstormed by the faculty of Algonkian Writer Conferences, this program was later tested by NYC publishing professionals for practical and time-sensitive utilization by genre writers (SF/F, YA, Mystery, Thriller, Historical, etc.) as well as upmarket literary writers. Now you'll find it designed not only for those currently in the process of writing the novel, or beginning one, but for those rewriting it as well. The ultimate goal is to get you as close to the brass ring as possible, to make your novel as commercially competitive as it needs to be on all levels while avoiding critical missteps and bad advice. And it does not matter what stage your novel is currently in, or where you are in your writing life. The program steps and methodology, as well as the faculty, enable you to learn and grow as a writer together with your novel, and at your own pace. Your work is thoroughly reviewed by our faculty (see the FAQ for details) and together you set publication goals, engage in necessary manuscript edits, and at the appropriate time, initiate the agent discovery process and the writing of the query letter. Faculty consists of New York Pitch Conference workshop leaders, in particular Paula Munier and Michael Neff. Algonkian Novel Writing Program Links Novels and Authors Studied Frequently Asked Questions Program Syllabus - Part I and II (with program samples) Application Form - Registration ___________________
  18. SEE ALSO: NWOE Bad Novel Writing Advice - Beware and Serious? Novel Writing on Edge is dedicated to the art of novel writing and assisting you to become published by a major commercial imprint or well-regarded literary press. Platitudes, entitled amateurism, popular delusions, and poorly presented or erroneous information are all conspicuously absent from this website. As the official blog of Algonkian Writer Conferences, it's mission is to provide you, the aspiring novel or narrative non-fiction author, with the realistic skills and knowledge it takes to succeed in the difficult book market of the 21st century. We tell it straight up. It's not always easy or comforting, but neither is the great task of writing a novel. Many if not most of our readers are "second stage," i.e., they've passed through the fire and entered the epiphany light to realize their initial preconceptions about the novel writing process were in error. In this context, we exist to place the horse back in front of the cart (forgive the cliché). From the beginning, we refocus attention on one crucial question, and one that often and unbelievably goes unexplored: Are you writing a commercially viable novel in the first place? In other words, is the story reasonably high-concept, as well as in the process of being developed and written in the precise way publishing professionals demand? We are here to help you provide a realistic answer. When it comes to the task of providing professional guidance on matters of methodical novel development and competitive prose narrative, Novel Writing on Edge utilizes an effective "model and context" strategy which relies on portraying models of technique, structure, or craft sampled from the best authors (both classic and recent, genre and literary). The writer is thereby able to pick and choose from these models for the purpose of creating or enhancing their narrative, characters, scenes, sets, and other major story elements in the context of their own novel-in-progress. We all stand on the shoulders of great writers gone before. You will find here an array of articles and essays on novel writing and development that gel to form an effective start-to-finish guide. Contained in this forum are many samples from that guide. Scimus via. Michael Neff Edge Editor ______________________________ Novel Writing on Edge - Development Maxims and Master Class Narrative From Algonkian NOVELWRITINGONEDGE.COM Novel Writing on Edge is a time-tested and trusted source for all genres on the topics of novel writing, development, editing, and publishing.
  19. Algonkian Novel Writing and MS Revision Courses Pre-MFA, Post-MFA, or No MFA - Get Your Novel on a Realistic Path to Publication In Cooperation and Partnership With Algonkian Writer Conferences and the New York Pitch Why is This Novel Writing Program Unique? A number of significant things, as follows: Our "model-and-context" and "cross-module method" approach to studying and applying proper technique on all vital levels while your novel is being effectively developed and edited at the same time. Our detailed 16 module syllabus that exhaustively covers all the major novel elements as well as the authors studied or referenced. The array of fiction works studied and referenced in the program modules. The books and analytical fiction articles studied in the program. Our layer by layer approach to teaching you how to write multi-angled and unpredictable cinematic narrative, taking show-don't-tell to its ultimate expression. Our program faculty which consists of seasoned NYC professionals who have not only sold and developed major commercial projects, but who are also fiction writers themselves with publication records; and as a bonus, the faculty are literary agents actively looking for new projects for both film and book purposes. Keep in mind, it is always in our very best interest to get you an agent or book contract, since this is great publicity for our program. The fact that advice and critique on all levels derives exclusively from faculty professionals. In our opinion, this approach is crucial. If you wish to learn how to build your own house, and then actually do so, or invest your money wisely and then actually invest it, you know better than to seek advice from inexperienced non-professionals. Why? Because the issues are important and the stakes are high. Why should they be less high when you are writing a break out novel with the goal of becoming a career author? How Much Hand Holding is Necessary? From experience, the designers of this program knew that every writer entering it would most likely require serious ms rewrites as well as instruction in advanced narrative and structural technique, and therefore, be insufficiently close to a publishable manuscript. The aim and method of the program is to get you as close as possible via the modules, and once done, a faculty consultant assumes control from that point in order to provide professional editorial input and hands-on query guidance. NOTE: if you are participating in this program as an Algonkian alum you do not have to register a payment for it, however, to gain the benefit of indefinite and private editorial consults, an arrangement for compensation must be made with the professional developmental editor on staff--whatever both parties agree is appropriate and necessary. Having noted this, however, faculty will review final sell sheets prior to query, and for all writers regardless. Feel free to contact us on this issue. Once you are in the editorial consult and agent query phase, your communications with a faculty member are not limited to a set number of emails or phone calls, but are indefinite in consideration of the fact that varying projects and writers require varying amounts of time to come to successful completion. Does Every Writer Have the Potential to Succeed? Nearly everyone has the potential to write a breakout novel and go on to become a successful commercial author, but precious few finally accomplish the task. Do we know why this is the rule? Writer conferences, author workshops, books, ms editors, and even the most pointless of MFA programs play a part in a writer's evolution, but none of these provide the overall pragmatic means and method to finish the job (and quite often, not even to start it). If this were not the case, an imaginative and ambitious writer would only have to attend an MFA program at Iowa, for example, and become a published author in due course. But this rarely if ever happens, despite expenditures in the range of $30,000 to $80,000 (Iowa Grad Program for two full years). And aside from this lack of comprehensive and realistic training, many other factors come into play that hamper the aspiring commercial author, everything from prickly skin to incompetent writer groups to misunderstandings of market dynamics. Consider. Would you try to build a livable and quite stylish home on your own without an architect and a professional home builder simply because you had the ability to hammer a few boards together with nails? Of course not. You would acquire the expertise and skills before you began. And yet, new writers approach the creation of a thing equally or more complex, such as the writing of a competitive commercial novel, in the belief they can do so because they have a story idea, can type words on a page, and have read a few magazines about writing. They consult with other new writers as ignorant as themselves and proceed to build a house called a novel, but one that will not risk their lives because fortunately for them, it is all on paper. What Type of Aspiring Authors Should Apply? Serious, self-starting writers willing to conceive, write and craft their novel in the due course of completing this program, and who are willing to accept critical guidance from professionals in the business. We emphasize "serious" because this program is rigorous and challenging, and not like a college extension cyber-class or a typical online workshop. The more knowledge and skills you acquire, the more you apply, returning as necessary to edit until a review by a faculty editor takes place. Aspiring authors, regardless of manuscript stage, benefit from this approach and editorial mentorship. It's about starting with the first sentence and proceeding to the denouement. The program methodically addresses all structural, premise, and narrative aspects of your novel, and in a manner beneficial to making it more competitive while also evolving your writer skill set, no matter your level at the start of the program. How Does This Program Apply to All Genres? The art of good storytelling never changes. The courses and modules approach the art of writing commercial fiction in a manner that applies to upmarket/literary and all commercial genres. See the Six Act Two-Goal Novel page on "Novel Writing on Edge" to get an idea of what we're talking about. The courses accomplish three primary goals. They enable you to: Learn and practice advanced premise-plot and character technique. Learn and practice advanced narrative and prose style craft. Learn and apply said technique, narrative craft, and knowledge to your own work-in-progress. Come to a firm understanding of the role today's market plays in getting your novel published. Genres we work with include upmarket/literary, general fiction, SF adult and YA/MG, fantasy adult and YA/MG (as well as New Adult), urban fantasy, mysteries of all types, detective/true crime, suspense/thrillers, women's fiction both serious and light, as well as paranormal romance. What About Start Date, Time Involved? There is no arbitrary start date. You begin the first module and proceed through the next 15 modules once you've entered the program, or at such time you decide to begin. In theory, you might wish to review a few modules first, take some notes and consider before starting the first assignment. Once you have begun, you progress through the program, writing or rewriting your novel a step at a time at your own pace, returning to prior modules as needed and editing further based on new skills developed and knowledge gained. The amount of time it will take any particular writer to complete the entire novel writing program, receive professionals reviews, return to edit their work, and move on to the agent query process (or else to further project development), will depend entirely on each writer's background knowledge, skill set, and novel manuscript quality upon entering the program. Also, given the fact that most people work and have other lives, we estimate a minimum of 18 weeks to complete the program--though if it takes longer, so be it. The cost of the entire program is $799.00. There are no extra fees for consultations, query letter prep, or any other related activity deemed necessary by faculty. Additionally, our writers can also take whatever breaks or hiatus they need, for whatever reason, and suffer no detrimental issues as a result. How Do I Graduate? Successful completion of Parts I and II. Application of work, editorial direction, and critical lessons learned to your novel-in-progress manuscript as evidenced by story development outlines, prose samples, and other criteria as deemed appropriate by program faculty. Completion of the self-coverage novel scorebox. Completion of all extra assignments and readings related to the program. Completion of faculty review and adoption of further edits as necessary. Joint approval of your publication plan going forward.
  20. From the Desk of Agent Richard Curtis ***** (Best of Writer's Edge) "The truth is that if all other things are equal, the author with better writing skills is the one who will rise out of the pack." As the stakes continue to rise in the publishing business, writers are adopting a wide range of strategies to advance themselves out of the midlist and onto better-selling plateaus. I myself have recommended a number of such strategies. Recently, however, as I respond again and again to the question of what one can do to escape midlist oblivion, it's begun to dawn on me that many writers have been ignoring the most obvious answer: write better. The truth is that if all other things are equal, the author with better writing skills is the one who will rise out of the pack. Instead of reviewing what's selling these days and who is buying it, I thought it might be worth reminding you about some of the most common and flagrant writing transgressions to be found in a typical harvest of fiction works that fetches up on my desk. I hasten to point out that the perpetrators are by no means mere amateurs, but professional writers as well, so let those who are without sin skip this article. I have to confess at the outset that as I was preparing my list, I realized that nobody has ever come up with a better formula for analyzing problem manuscripts than the boss I had in my apprentice days, Scott Meredith. Meredith created the "Plot Skeleton," which goes something like this: A sympathetic hero or heroine confronts an obstacle or antagonist, creating a conflict that must be credibly overcome through the protagonist's efforts. These efforts result in a triumphant resolution that is satisfying to the reader. Unsympathetic protagonists, inconsequential conflicts, and uninspired resolutions are the characteristics of most of the fiction that agents thrust into stamped, self-addressed envelopes and return to senders. I have made notes, however, on some other fundamental failures that personally turn me off, and I've boiled these deadly "sins" down to seven. I should add that the problems listed here are the kind that jump out at me so quickly that I can usually make a determination about a book containing them after only a few minutes of reading. Instead of reviewing what's selling these days and who is buying it, I thought it might be worth reminding you about some of the most common and flagrant writing transgressions to be found in a typical harvest of fiction works that fetches up on my desk. 1. The Sin of Lousy Dialogue. Many writers try to carry their books on narrative alone, leaving me hungry for some conversation. Often, when at last I do encounter dialogue, it's of a trivial "Hello, how are you?" "Fine, thank you" variety. By fanning a manuscript like a deck of cards, a professional agent or editor can instantly perceive a paucity of quotation marks. Or, if you like your torture slow, you can read page by page waiting for somebody to talk to somebody else. Dialogue is an invaluable fictional device, yet many writers believe they can tell a story with a minimum of it. A playwright once said that a good line of dialogue reveals something about the speaker, the person spoken to, and the person spoken about. Without dialogue, a work of fiction becomes a tract. A rapid scan of a manuscript often discloses the opposite problem, a book so replete with dialogue that it reads like a screenplay. In such books, the dialogue reveals little about anybody, because it's mostly talk, and you have to listen to endless conversations in the hope of seizing some nuggets of genuine story. It should be remembered that dialogue is not only a character-revealing device, it is also a form of action, but an excess of it will have the opposite effect. Those guilty of this particular shortcoming should ask themselves in what way a dialogue scene moves the story forward. If too slowly, or not at all, you're doing something wrong. Writers sometimes forget what dialogue sounds like when actually spoken, and they should therefore try speaking it aloud or performing it with another person. That way, they might avoid one of my all-time pet peeves, which might be described as, "What did you say your name was, dear? "John, we've been married for fifty years and you haven't given me flowers for the last thirty." "Gosh, Mary, I hadn't realized it." "It's true, John." "Well, Mary, I'll just have to do something about that. "I hope you will, John." etc. 2. The Sin of Inaction. I hate this one because it takes me so long to diagnose. I may have to read as much as half of a manuscript before I realize that nothing, in fact, is happening. This is also the most heartbreaking failure in terms of wasted time and talent, particularly when you realize that it is the most avoidable. Most of the time, it's the result of poor outlining or no outlining at all. By synopsizing your work before you begin, you will readily detect soft spots in your story. A common offshoot of this problem is often found in mystery novels. I call it the "travel fallacy." After a crime is committed, our protagonist picks up a clue and visits a witness or suspect, where he picks up another clue and visits another person or suspect, who leads him to another, and so forth. All that traveling from one place to another gives the illusion of action, but when you analyze it you realize that the only thing that has happened is the protagonist has gotten into a car or boarded a plane, boat, or bus and gone somewhere. But travel is not to be confused with action. Not only do writers fail to describe the real world in sufficient detail, often they portray imaginary worlds in inadequate detail as well. 3. The Sin of Skimpy Detail. Many fiction writers believe that the best way to improve their craft is to study other fiction writers. Certainly one can benefit from reading the work of others. But if your spare time is limited you might benefit more by reading nonfiction. And not just history and biography but esoteric stuff like costumes of eighteenth-century France, Florentine church architecture, Samurai swords, and modern glassmaking. This will help to cure one of the surest signs of amateurism in fiction, the generalized description: "On the Czarina's desk lay a Fabergé egg." Don't you think a reader would rather read something like, "On the Czarina's inlaid walnut and ormolu escritoire a gorgeous gold Fabergé egg stood on a tripod of wrought gold. The egg was segmented with translucent green enamel trellising and inlaid with ceremonial scenes, miniature portraits of her children, and a particularly handsome portrait of Nicholas resplendent in blue uniform and gold epaulettes . . ." etc. Though books about furniture-making or Russian enamels may not be as entertaining as the latest novel by your favorite writer, reading the former will ultimately pay bigger rewards in the rich texture of your writing. 4. The Sin of Unimaginativeness. Not only do writers fail to describe the real world in sufficient detail, often they portray imaginary worlds in inadequate detail as well. If that world is not thoroughly thought out, readers will know it and eventually lose attention. I find this to be particularly true of fantasy and science fiction, where it is all too easy to think readers will buy into a writer's world simply because it is alien. A planet warmed by binary suns may be a good premise, but if the writer does not describe in detail how these twin stars affect this world's ecology, culture or customs, the strangeness of the premise will soon wear off and the reader will be left in the equivalent of Akron, Ohio, in space. Worlds that never were possess as much detail as those that are or used to be, and the writer's task is to research those worlds as assiduously as a scholar might research ancient Thebes or Alexandria. 5. The Sin of Weak Characterization. A similar criticism applies to characterization: many writers simply do not "research" their characters in adequate depth. Making up character details as one goes along may work well for a rare few, but I get the impression that many writers have not "investigated" or "interviewed" their characters at length. The result is trite people. The way to investigate your characters is to create dossiers on them that can later be reviewed as though one were a reporter going through diaries and scrapbooks. When and where was your character born and raised? Who were his parents, his grandparents? What events, friendships, circumstances affected his upbringing? What schools did he go to, jobs did he take, romances did he have? Whether or not you actually use all of the material you enter into your file or database, your intimacy with your characters will come through to your reader and they will feel you know more about the people in your book than you have revealed. 6. The Sin of Clichéd Story. The boredom factor is higher among agents and editors than it is among average readers, and a good thing it is, too. Writers don't always realize that stories that may seem unique to them are trite in the eyes of agents and editors. For every plot you write, we may see dozens of similar submissions. I freely confess to being easily bored, and I've stopped castigating myself for it, for I realize boredom is a critical symptom that a manuscript has gone wrong. I try to monitor the moment at which I started to lose my concentration and involvement, then to analyze precisely what it was that turned me off. Much of the time, it's a story I've heard before. I am weary of coups against the President of the United States (the Vice-President is behind it every time), former-CIA vs. former-KGB cat-and-mouse games, Arab-Israeli terrorist machinations, female journalists turned detective, and Colombian drug lords doing just about anything. Not that these stories cannot be rendered fresh: indeed, that is precisely the point. I demand, I beg, that they be rendered fresh. But if I start to nod off, I know that the author has failed to approach a familiar story from an unfamiliar angle, and that's it for me. Writers don't always realize that stories that may seem unique to them are trite in the eyes of agents and editors. For every plot you write, we may see dozens of similar submissions. 7. The Sin of Triviality. In order for a book to feel big, it should deal with, or at least allude to, issues that go beyond the day-to-day concerns of its characters. Yet, many authors fail to give their story weight or dimension, and the result is often a book that feels trivial and inconsequential. Take a simple love story: boy meets girl and they fall in love. They have a jealous quarrel and break up, but they are eventually reconciled and end up getting married. Such a story is the stuff of a romance, and that's probably where it will end up. Now let's retell the story. It is December 7, 1941. Boy and girl have met and fallen in love, but on that fateful day the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and the world is plunged into war. Boy enlists and is shipped overseas to fight. In war-torn Europe he falls in love with a beautiful French girl, while at home girl has fallen in love with an older man in the munitions factory where she works. Boy and girl break up, marry their lovers. Years go by, both marriages go bad. Boy and girl look each other up, discover they still carry the torch for each other, and are reunited. The difference between these two love stories is vast, but what is the essential difference? It's that in the second one, history, destiny, and war play a part in the story as if they themselves were characters. The war has taken a silly love story out of the realm of triviality and invested it with a dimension that approaches the tragic. It is not difficult for writers to add such dimension to their work but not all of them do so, and if it is missing, I quickly lose attention. A team that is struggling is often told by its coach to go back to basics. That's not bad advice for struggling writers, either. Copyright © 1990 by Richard Curtis. All Rights Reserved. ________________________________ [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  21. Aspire to be a great genre author? So what's your high concept? If you fail to grasp the vital importance of this second question, you will fail to conceive much less write a publishable genre novel - thriller, mystery, fantasy, horror, crime, SF, you name it. Just not going to happen. Don't let any writer group or self-appointed writer guru online or writer conference panel tell you otherwise. You're competing with tens of thousands of other aspiring authors in your genre. Consider. WHAT IS GOING TO MAKE YOUR NOVEL STAND OUT from the morass of throat-gulping hopefuls who don't know any better? Believe it or not, 99.5% of the writers in workshops all across the country *do not* arrive with a high-concept story. If anything, their aborning novel child is destined for still birth. They strut forward proudly waving their middle or low concept tale while noting how their hired editor from Stanford, or Iowa, or the Johns Hopkins MA program just "loves it!" As a professional, you inwardly groan, listen to them jabber, and realize within 30 seconds or less that you've heard a version of this story at least twenty times already. One of our NWOE contributors, famous literary agent Richard Curtis, talks about this sad phenomenon in The Seven Sins of Novel Rejection: "Writers don't always realize that stories that may seem unique to them are trite in the eyes of agents and editors. For every plot you write, we may see dozens of similar submissions. I freely confess to being easily bored, and I've stopped castigating myself for it, for I realize boredom is a critical symptom that a manuscript has gone wrong." Btw, did anyone warn the hapless writers noted above of this trite condition before they submitted to Richard?... No. Of course not. And why? Because they didn't know any better. Now consider this. *You* will be the bad guy because you are ethically obligated to inform them in the next workshop that their story ideas are cooked to a char. You do so in the most tactful way imaginable, and you make it clear you will brainstorm the solution with them. Nonetheless, the usual symptoms are observed: face drops, eyes freeze over, lower lip begins to quiver, and if the writer happens to be a narcissist, they naturally begin to snarl and plot disruption. But let's return to the issue at hand. First of all, what kind of story isn't a high concept? Several writer websites mimic each other and define a "low concept" story in this manner: 1. Not easily explained; 2. Character driven; 3. Talks about everyday life... Well, let's pause and reflect. One could actually possess a high concept novel yet be unable, at least temporarily, to express or "explain" it properly in one or two lines. We must differentiate between the actual product and the communication of that product, and by doing so, invalidate the relevancy of the first point above. In truth, with proper communication, one can explain (term should be "pitch") either a low or high concept, therefore, the nature of the concept itself, it's relative complexity or simplicity, staleness or freshness, has nothing to do with the difficulty of pitching or discussing it, and everything to do with the ineptitude of the person attempting it. As for point two above, a low concept pitch or hook line might be "character driven," but it doesn't need to be. It could be plot driven and still be low concept, therefore, "character" or "plot" driven isn't the real issue here (see Log Lines and Hooks With Core Wounds--character plays a big role in hooks). And as for point three, this is actually a false statement. For example, one could pitch or discuss a story idea that sounds like a GAME OF THRONES rehash, and last we checked, ice-eyed zombies bent on global acts of decapitation cannot be classified as everyday life. Which also points out what? The aspiring author MUST know their genre inside out, else how can they reasonably determine what is an overdone story idea and what is not? Alright, so how do we define a high concept? First from Wikipedia as it relates to film: "The term is often applied to films that are pitched and developed almost entirely upon an engaging premise with broad appeal, rather than standing upon complex character study, cinematography, or other strengths that relate more to the artistic execution of a production. Extreme examples of high-concept films are Snakes on a Plane and Hobo with a Shotgun, which describe their entire premises in their titles." Will we be fortunate enough to possess a novel title that describes our premise so efficiently? Most likely not, but we must possess a high-concept genre story nonetheless if we expect to be as competitive as need be while immersed in this insanely competitive market. A high concept must therefore be defined as "a story premise that presents itself as sufficiently unique and commercially viable at the same time." In other words, the premise when expressed as a hook or logline doesn't sound like one professionals have heard a hundred times in the past month. Instead, it immediately presents itself as relatively fresh, like a story publishers can market, perhaps even one that might make its way into television or film. Let's look at examples from various genres (note they're all sufficiently unique): DRAGON RIPPER by Melanie Bacon (historical mystery) - Jack the Ripper's daugher, fresh off the murder of her father and anxious to prove herself in a man's world, teams with the sister of Sherlock Holmes to fight an ancient evil society threatening the streets of London with murder and mayhem. GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn (domestic thriller) - An unhappy and frustrated husband returns home to find his wife mysteriously missing, not knowing she has faked her disappearance and written false diary entries to implicate him in first degree murder. DON QUIXOTE by Miguel de Cervantes (literary classic) - A delusional 50-year-old Spanish nobleman obsessed with chivalric notions asks a fat farmer to join him as his dutiful sidekick and the two venture forth to fight windmills. THE HAND OF FATIMA by Ildefonso Falcones (historical fiction) - A young Moor torn between Islam and Christianity, scorned and tormented by both, struggles to bridge the two faiths by seeking common ground in the very nature of God. THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY by Jonathan Stroud (young adult fantasy) - In seeking revenge on an elder magician who humiliated him, an apprentice mage unleashes a powerful Djinni who later joins him to confront a danger that threatens their entire world. Again, strive to understand your genre before you initiate your first steps towards writing a novel, and in this way, with a little wisdom and imagination, you've got a chance at inventing a high-concept that will sell to both New York and Hollywood. We should all be so lucky! Scimus Via. ________________________________ [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  22. My very first manuscript was horribly cliché and pretty much plotless. In fact, it didn’t even have an ending to it. I never bothered writing one. It was clear to me that by 80,000 words there was no point in wasting my time on devising a resolution because there was never even a climax. It literally turned into one very lengthy exercise in getting to know my main characters—because I hadn’t bothered doing that before I started to write my novel. And this was okay at the time. I was brand new to creative writing and I just wanted to test my hand at being a writer since I’d never done anything like it before, unless you count the horrible required writing assignments in English 101, which I don’t. My point is that in order to get out of those cliched beginning manuscripts and onto something really high concept and novel—pun intended—then we have to become more creative as writers. So, with that being said, I have just one top pick for the week that centers on this very concept of creating something new in your writing. #1: Novelty and the Novel Literary agent Donald Maass keenly points out the need for authors to write stories that have more unique and novel settings, characters and plots. I would recommend that you pay extra special attention to the bulleted list of questions he has come up with for you to ask yourself about your story. These are gold and well worth your time pondering over them if you need to get yourself out of a cliched writing rut, or if you need inspiration to breathe new life back into your story. Happy week and happy writing to you all. Until next time, Kara
  23. Novel writing, development, editing, and pitch forums for utilization by New York Pitch and Algonkian alums, as well as AAC guests and members. This is a focal point for polishing, rewriting, or beginning a new genre or literary plot-driven manuscript. => The Algonkian Novel Writing Program is open to all Algonkian/NYP alums at no additional cost. If you are not an alum, the cost is $799.00. First Stop - Primary Novel Development and Course Forums Development, Writing, and Editing - Concept to Query Platitudes, entitled amateurism, popular delusions, and erroneous information are all conspicuously absent from this collection of detailed novel writing guides and maxims. The goal is to provide you, the aspiring novel author, with the skills and knowledge it takes to realistically compete in the commercial book market of the 21st century. Best to begin the journey with Labors, Sins, and Six Acts which includes an overview and linkage to the best of AAC and Novel Writing on Edge. This forum grouping also contains the critical "Bad Novel Writing Advice" designed to assist writers in avoiding counterproductive contamination; "Art and Life in Novel Writing" (insightful reviews of non-fiction books on novel writing) that provides a balance of important advice from varying perspectives; the 16-Part "Algonkian Novel Writing Program" for editing or writing the genre novel in "six act" stages, as well as the Algonkian Writer Conferences forum, FAQ, and all other things related to Algonkian. __________ ACC Desert Buffet and Novel Writing Vids Reviews, Commentary, and Plenty of Controversy Entertaining literary book analysis in Audrey's Corner with an aim towards helping aspiring novel writers, and Writing With Quiet Hands, a new novel writing advice column by legendary agent, Paula Munier, plus Cara's Cabinet collection of ravels and unravels, combed feed, and worthwhile nuggets of information culled from AAC essays and articles. And don't neglect our most popular forum of all wherein Algonkian geniuses dissect and discuss novel writing videos from a number of sources--unquestionably worth a rant or two. Just ask Stephen King. __________ The Author Connect House of Blogs Superior Streaming Genre and Literary Content The definitive "best of" source for valuable book reviews and publishing news in general. We mix it up and dish it into the "Activity Stream" so don't be surprised at what pops up. __________ Narrative Critique and Community Forum New York Pitch and Algonkian Perspectives A forum for New York Pitch alums to post samples of their scenes and prose narrative for detailed critique based on AAC guidelines. Emphasis on choice of set, narrative cinema, quality of dialogue, metaphor, static and dynamic imagery, interior monologue, general clarity, tone, suspense devices, and routine line editing issues as well. __________ The Shooting Galleries (for pitch purposes - sell sheets required) New Worlds, New Voices The NWNV "Shooting Gallery" provides writers with the chance to test market their best SFF novels and hopefully score a contract. Agents and TV/Film reps will check in and review work during 2022. This particular SG for Algonkian alums only. The Real World Genres "Real World Genres Shooting Gallery" provides writers with opportunities to test market their best novels and hopefully score a contract. Agents and TV/Film reps will check in and review work during 2022. This particular SG for Algonkian alums only.
  24. When it comes to my all-time favorite fictional character it will always and forever be Andrew Wiggins, better known as Ender. I have loved fictional stories ever since I could read. I especially love fantasy and sci-fi. However, I had never really connected with a main character very deeply in a novel until I read Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, when I was in the latter part of Junior High school. I have since read that story multiple times and my 14-year-old self connects just as deeply every time. Every author’s dream, right, to have their stories cherished for decades? But why did I completely fall in love with this particular character? I was a teenage girl who secretly dreamed of becoming a princess one day, while Ender was a 6-year-old savant, battling in space. Well, the answer’s simple. I felt like Ender from page one. He was bullied because he was a Third, he was small and weak, and felt like no one wanted or liked him, with the one exception of his angel sister, Valentine. But then, as the story progressed, he had to overcome his obstacles in super creative ways, conquer his bullies and eventually he became someone the other kids looked up to and followed. I wanted to do what Ender could do. But other than seeing myself in Ender, I couldn’t really tell you why I loved him so much. At least that was the case until I decided to become a writer and learned all the intricacies of novel writing. It’s one thing to conceive of a particular character for a story and to see them in your mind, but to translate the images in your head to words on a page can be a very difficult thing. Orson Scott Card had to not only see who Ender was in his imagination, but he also had to write him in a way that would create sympathy from a reader. He had to make you care about Ender and what happened to him. He had to create scenes and moments in the novel that would show Ender’s personality, his ability, his vulnerabilities and fears. You learned about Ender little by little as the story unfolded, but in a way that created sympathy, mystery and kept you intrigued about what Ender would do next, and how he would react. Essentially, the author created a very appealing, but also realistic character arc; the protagonist starts out in a place of weakness, but then becomes the humble hero by the end—which is just one example of a character arc. We all connect with different characters for different reasons, but that is the very goal of all good authors. They need readers to care about their characters in order to sell their books. I can’t tell you how many books I have literally stopped reading within just a few chapters because the MCs have zero likeable or sympathetic qualities. I simply did not care what happened to them and the story was no longer interesting. So, how do you get your writing to a place that you can create these deep connections between your characters and your readers? I’ll let my top picks for the week explain: #1: Love me, love my characters This article is about the good and bad character traits generally present in romance novels, but it can be applied to other genres too, especially if you have an a**hole character that you’re including in your story. #2: The Bedrock of Character Development This is an interesting take on how to develop a character. If you’ve struggled with rounding out your MCs, or can’t seem to get past surface details about them then you may want to try a new approach. #3: Use Writing Prompts to Dig into Character Development While this title is a bit misleading, as there is only one writing prompt that they actually give an example of, I still find this helpful. Using this technique may be just what you need to dive deeper into your character’s head than you were able to before. #4: Creating Complex Characters: A ‘Mass Effect 2’ Case Study This is a super in-depth article that focuses on the RPG Mass Effect 2—something I’d never heard of until running across this article—and the complexities of those particular characters. It is a pretty lengthy read though, so I recommend viewing it when you have some extra time on your hands. #5: For the Love of Moira – The Arc of a Memorable Character This is the perfect example of a character and their evolution. Character arc is so very important to your story and this article demonstrates how that can be executed correctly. Happy week and happy writing to you all, Until next time, Kara
  25. Truthful, authentic, honest. All these words mean roughly the same thing, but in this case, I’ve chosen these words to describe writers and the stories they create. I’m sure you’ve all heard phrases such as “find your own authentic voice,” or “write your truth,” or “be true to your craft.” Or even “be honest with your readers.” I realize that these phrases are ambiguous at best and are usually tossed around at writing conferences to make a speaker sound like they know what they are talking about. So…what am I getting at? To be honest in what you are writing, or to be truthful in the story that you create means showing a side of yourself that you may not want to. To be authentically you as a writer means to be vulnerable, to let down your walls just a little bit, or a lot, and let people into your world. It’s a scary reality, but when it’s done well, it shows in your writing and enhances your story significantly. Any character you create, or any setting you envision all have bits and pieces of you, of your imagination, of your ideas, of your creativity. If you aren’t connecting with one of your characters neither will your readers. If you’re painstakingly writing every word just to get the book done, your readers will feel that as well. Stephenie Meyer said that she will not write a sequel to Midnight Sun because she experienced a great deal of anxiety every time she sat down at her computer to write Edward’s story. Guess what? I felt nothing but anxiety every time I picked it up. No joke. This stuff is real. Your emotions, your beliefs, your humor, everything about you ends up on that page and if you’re afraid of judgement, criticism, or “what will my family think?” then you’ll likely become less and less authentic and your story will suffer because of it. Your readers aren’t going to know precisely why they don’t like a scene, or heaven forbid your book altogether, but it will happen nonetheless if you start censoring your writing voice. If you find that you aren’t allowing yourself or your characters to explore certain emotions or situations because it’s uncomfortable for you as the writer then this should be a wakeup call. If you’re fighting this, but keep feeling pulled to write something you don’t particularly want to then it probably means that you need to put on your big girl or big boy underwear and do it. Even if it’s scary. Even if it means putting a little more of you on the page for everyone to see than you are currently comfortable with. In the end, you’ll be glad that you did. In full honesty (no pun intended, or maybe a little), I’m not perfect at this yet either. I’m guilty of taking whole scenes out of manuscripts because I was afraid of what other people would think. In the end, my stories suffered because of it. With all this being said, you certainly don’t have to take my word for it. Instead, take the word of my top picks for the week: #1: Terrified About Writing Your Novel? Excellent! The author of Waisted goes into depth about the fears she had to face in order to write her fictional story about weight obsessed women and the society they lived in. She not only had to face her own weight obsessions and body image issues, but also the criticism after her story was published. #2: What Gandhi Taught Me About Telling Stories that Mean Something Kelsey Allagood encourages writers to not only tell the truth, but also to create stories that push the boundaries of current societal belief. “Of course our readers are going to look at our stories through their own lenses—the ones that stories have helped them shape over the course of their lives. Our role as storytellers is to write stories that help shift those lenses.” #3: How Honest is Too Honest? 6 Books That Straddle That Line While most of these books listed are either memoir or self-help, I still find this article helpful for friction writers in order to see just how much truth previous authors have put on a page and lived. Perhaps this article will give you the courage to explore those ideas or scenes in your story that you’ve been avoiding. #4: Write of Way #15 – Write True to You “I think it’s a lesson all authors learn that, whether we intend them to or not, our books reflect things about ourselves that we might not have even realized.” “If your creativity is flowing through a filter, you risk losing themes and ideas like that. You might not notice you’re losing them, but you will be, all the same.” Spot on, A.Z. Anthony. Spot on. Oh, and the rest of the article is good too. #5: Make it as Honest as You Can - Neil Gaiman This is actually a short video I linked from the Novel Writing Advice Videos section of Author Connect. It’s Neil Gaiman talking about how he found his own style of writing by being honest with himself. It’s definitely worth the 5 minutes it takes to watch it. Happy week and happy writing to you all. Until next time, Kara
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