Learn How To Write A Novel - Writing Classes and Workbooks

Starting to Write?

40 video/audio lessons that take you step-by-step from idea to finished novel, taught by an award-winning, best-selling novelist and nationally acclaimed writing teacher. Easy, understandable, foundation elements essential for every genre. Learn Skills, Secrets and most of all... Story.

Rewriting and Editing?

A great book isn't written. . .it's rewritten. Learn how to analyze and fix your novel’s problems with this unique “self-editing” system. . .then arm yourself with over 40 Advanced Fiction Classes and rewrite your story into publication.

Ready To Publish?

You’ve worked too hard to quit now. Your story is nearly ready, but now it’s time to sell your novel. Learn the steps to creating a powerful proposal, secrets to pitching, the key elements to your marketing plan, a social media primer and how to create rabid reader fans. It’s time to ignite your career.
3D How to Write a Brilliant Novel

The Job of the Author (It’s all about Story!)

It’s all about story.

No, wait. It’s all about characters. Or – what about the plot?

These comments are constantly batted around at writer’s conferences, in libraries, over mocha-lattes and in book clubs. What makes a story powerful, something you want to pass along?

All of the above. Because story, plot and character all conspire to create the one thing a reader must have in order to enjoy – and pass along – a story.

The emotional connection.

Let’s stop here and just remind ourselves what a story is about: A sympathetic character who wants something, for a good reason, and has something to lose (aka, a problem) who goes on a quest to attain that goal and solve that problem. He faces substantial internal and external obstacles, and discovers he must change and grow to overcome them until he finds himself in a new—better–place at the Happily Ever After ending.

How well our reader connects with and cares about this character determines the success of a story. In other words, if they’ve gone on the journey, emotionally, with the character, then the author has done his job.

Because, if a reader is emotionally invested into a story, they will be glued to the outcome, cheering for the characters, weeping with them when they fail and ultimately learn the lessons the characters learn in the finale of their journey. And, in this way, they’ll be forever impacted by the story.

I’ll say it again: The job of an author is to make a reader care, and they accomplish this by creating an emotional connection with the reader. If a reader feels the story and lives the story, then they will like your story. Yes, having a well–written book is important, because glaring errors pull readers out of a story and distance them. A smoothly written story, and a well-crafted plot pull a reader in.

And it’s this connection that causes stories to change lives forever–they are carried in the hearts of readers, passed from friend to friend, generation to generation and ultimately make a mark on the world with the truths held inside.

Think about it.

What stories have changed you? To Kill a Mockingbird? A Christmas Carol? Little Women? The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

Think about the books you loved as a child. Did they empower you? Inspire you? Anger you? How did they shape your view of the world?

Did you read the Shack? Millions read the book, and it touched people on a deep level, regardless of whether you agreed with the theology.

I was forever changed by Francine River’s Redeeming Love – the rewritten Biblical story of Hosea and Gomer. A romance, yes, but deeply impacting to the point where it changed my view not only of romance, but of God.

How about that for leaving a legacy?

And isn’t this, deep down, the desire of all authors? Sure, we want to make money, and we’d like our stories to be critically acclaimed, but at that end of the day, most authors would admit to wanting to be listed among the books that mattered most.

The ones readers tally on their must-read lists.

So, how does an author create an authentic, powerful emotional connection with a reader?

As an author who’s written over 50 novels, many of them award-winners and best-sellers, I’m always striving to reach for the higher shelf with my writing, and deepen that connection with my readers.

One might think that a great story has layers of characterization and devices hidden in the prose to tug at the readers emotions. I’ve sat in classes and read books where authors suggest a 100-point checklist in building a character. My brain suddenly blows up and I run in search of chocolate. Seriously? How do I even think of 100 things about a character? And then, how do I make him change?

Thankfully, the answer to powerful storytelling does not lie in making the stories and characters more complicated. Storycrafting and Character building don’t have to be mind-numbing and confusing.

Just the opposite, in fact. That doesn’t mean our stories or characters are simple, shallow or even mundane, but rather the process to getting at the heart of a character, crafting the plot around the character’s journey, and helping the reader relate to the character is simplified.

As I have developed my storycrafting over the past decade of writing, I came upon a journey that has helped me break down the storycrafting and characterization into one simple “equation” or process that is both organic and. . .easy. Seriously.

In fact, you’ll be shocked at how easy. And simplified. And, dare I say it . . . fun?

I’ve named it the Story Equation, (the SEQ) but listen, if math freaks you out, like it does me, then delete the word Equation and think…diagram. Or step by step ingredient list.

Hey, you can even call it the story doughnut if that helps. The key is, all the pieces start with one easy question…and add up to a brilliant story. We’re going to work through the SEQ this year on Monday’s blogs…but let’s start with these simple questions:

  • What are your favorite stories?
  • Why did you like them?

Now…take those answers and ask yourself:  Am I putting those elements into MY books?

If not, you know what you need to do.

See you next week! In the meantime, Go! Write Something Brilliant!

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(P.S – Wanna learn my secrets?  How to Write a Brilliant Novel!  Only $4.99 on Kindle!)

 

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Joys of reading 2016

4 Tips to Help You Become a Writer Who Reads

“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”
—Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), fantasy & science fiction author

During the last decade, I’ve done a lot of different things to improve my writing, including

  • attending writers conferences
  • annually attending the MBT Deep Thinkers Retreat
  • entering writing contests
  • finding mentors — and listening to their advice
  • following writing blogs
  • upping my game with each book I write by focusing on one specific craft element to improve on

There’s always more I can be doing to become a better writer. As 2015 ended and the new year came into view, I determined to get back into one habit that I’d let slide: I’m going to read books again.

Oh, sure, I read books. On occasion. If someone asks me for an endorsement and I say yes because a) I believe in the author and b) I have time in between my deadlines. (A rare commodity these days.) To be honest, most of my reading involves reading and re-reading my manuscripts. A fairly limited amount of literature, yes?

But if you’ve spent any time in the writing world, you’ve heard authors and editors and agents exhort writers to  “READ!” Reading makes us better writers. We read other books in the genre that we write. We read other authors to learn what they are doing right — or wrong. And sometimes we read just for the pleasure of it … to give ourselves some downtime.

But deciding to read more in 2016 and actually reading more wasn’t just going to happen. I had to make changes to ensure I took time to read. Here are four tips that have helped me become a writer who reads:

  • Sign up for the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge. Join the online community by listing your goal of how many books you want to read in the upcoming year. I want to read 35 books — although my “secret” goal is to double that. I’m not worrying about anyone else’s goal. I’m competing against myself.
  • Join a book club — or start a book club. When my daughter was younger, we started a mother-daughter book club, which was loads of fun. Reading books and discussing them with others is a great motivator to read. You can go the traditional face-to-face route, or find an online book club.
  • Set aside specific times to read. If you just say “I’m going to read” but never determine when you are going to read, it will never happen. I’m developing the habit of closing my laptop at 9 PM and picking up a book. It’s a relaxing way to end my days.
  • Read both fiction and nonfiction. I’m a novelist, but I also love nonfiction. I just finished:
    •  Fervent, by Priscilla Shirer, which is a wonderful book about prayer.
    • Where the Wind Leads, a memoir about a family that fled Vietnam in the aftermath of the Vietnam war. The fact that the author is one of my husband’s professional colleagues makes the story all the more compelling.

And yes, I’m reading novels — both contemporary and historical and I’m about to start Curio by Evangeline Denmark, which is Steampunk.

What about you? What do you need to do to be a writer who reads?

 

 

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#ForHisGlory by Nick Joies

 

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been struck by the uproar over the bad sportsmanship by both fans and players in the playoffs. While I normally thrive in the midst of the noise, I’ve found myself thrown off – distracted even.

Why am I bothered by hurtful fans and players in a game where my team won. This isn’t the first time these issues have been part of the noise of life. Most times, these kinds of things make me ponder humanity. Where we fail. Where we lack love. How far we still have to go. I can write about this. I can capture some part of the noise and put it into a character, a conflict, a victory. Normally, these noises inspire me.

Not this time.

Why?

There’s the answer.

For me, and maybe you too, contest season for Christian fiction writers is upon us. Submissions for ACFW and the Frasier contest, amongst others, are due this spring. I’ve been pondering whether I should enter the contests. The Genesis would be big for me as I’ve never dipped my toe in that well. Maybe I’ll enter the Frasier again. I did okay last year.

Okay.

And there it was. My why.

I did okay.

Okay is why the noise was chaos instead of inspiration. My noise was their noise. My why was their why. There are good and bad games for every team. Why cheer an injury or throw bottles on the field? It’s only an award. It’s only a game. It’s not a matter of life or…

Death.

#RIPDavidBowie. #RIPAlanRick… No, wait. #RIPSeverusSnape. #RIPGlenFrey.

It’s only a contest. Does entering and, if I’m being honest, winning, matter? Should it matter? The answer is in the why.

Why enter? To gain valuable feedback on my work? Sure. To validate my storytelling skills? To test God to show me I should or shouldn’t be writing at all?

I’m guilty of this chaos – of these whys.

Better question. Why do I write? Because I can? Because I think I have a story or two or twenty to tell? Because I need the money? Can’t be these.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV)

To glorify Jesus. Make Him known. To spread the hope of redemption, grace and mercy I value as much as life itself.

These are the whys that matter.

It doesn’t mean contests aren’t worth entering. They offer helpful feedback at times. One Frasier judge made me rethink an entire character. Another pointed out I write long, sometimes convoluted sentences she had to reread multiple times, probably causing the lines in her forehead to etch deeper into her brow, to figure out what I was trying to say.

That one’s on purpose. I already knew that.

Still.

Enter contests. Or don’t. I may. But if I do. It will be for the right why. #ForHisGlory.

~*~

Nick Joies writes contemporary and Biblical fiction with a touch of romance, as well as Christian living, Bible studies and devotionals. She writes for His glory because salvation is a matter of life and death.

 

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