Writing A Memoir | 5 Common Misconceptions

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers, For Memoir Writers

So you’ve always dreamed of writing a memoir. Where should you start, and how can you get a handle on the big and small turning points, traumas, and people that constitute your life? Several subscribers to this blog are writing memoirs, and I want to help them get started (or finished). Are You Confused? Writing […]

What Makes A Good First Line?

A good first line is one that draws the reader into the world of the story. Kick off your story with a sentence that makes the reader want to read the next one, and so on, until the end. A good first line can entice the reader by doing one or more of the following: […]

Limited Third Point-of-View Explained Simply

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

Limited third person point-of-view (POV) lets you experience the world through the eyes of a single character. The experience is so intimate that you’ll soon begin to hear the character’s voice inside your head. As an author you’ll be especially interested in knowing about limited third because of its potential to build a close emotional […]

Fictional Characters | Shhh! Secrets Revealed!

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters, For Beginning Writers

Know your fictional characters before you start your novel, and you’ll have a much easier time figuring out your plot. That’s because plot (which is action) arises from character, and not the other way around. If you can get your characters to share their hopes, dreams, fears, and secrets, you’ll know which obstacles to place […]

How To Set Up A Critique Group | 5 Cardinal Rules

All writers get butterflies when they submit works-in-progress to a critique group. No matter how experienced or professional we might pretend to be, we writers have thin skins. A critique group can do a lot of good. It can help a writer identify one-dimensional characters and boring plots. But, writing groups can also do a […]

Storyboard Your Novel | A Road Map To The Climax

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

In Hollywood a storyboard helps directors plan their projects. Storyboards provide a quick and easy way to visualize the ups and downs of the plot. Writers working on scripts use storyboards to make sure the “beats” (key story developments) fall where they should. Fiction writers can use a storyboard to imagine where a story needs […]

Does A Plot Outline Stifle Creativity Or Enhance It?

A plot outline can either stifle creativity or bring a novel’s plot into sharper focus. I don’t outline before I begin a novel, but when I am revising, an outline helps me make decisions about which scenes to keep and which to throw out. Scene Outline of Draft 1 When I began The Vermillion Sea […]

Story Arc | A Simple Way to Understand Plot

A story arc is the chain on which the pearls of your novel are strung. You can think of story arc as the things that happen—the scenes or episodes—from the beginning of the novel to its conclusion. The story arc—also called a narrative arc—is the same thing as plot. Some writers are naturals when it […]

What Are Half-Scenes?

Half-scenes are a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short time. Consider using half-scenes when you want to get to your next big scene, when you need to trim the story’s word count, or when you’re taking a walk down Memory Lane. In my post explaining the difference between scene and […]

Scene and Summary | What’s the Difference?

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

Scene and summary are the key building blocks of any novel. Some novelists devote more of their page count to scenes. Other writers use fewer scenes and more summary. Sometimes, publishers want writers to cut a book’s length, and writers are forced to compress moments in the tale when they might have wanted to let […]