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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Share Your Story About Forgiveness

Everyone, I'm currently working on a book about biblical forgiveness.  I'm looking for people to interview, submissions of short stories, poems, etc. on your thoughts or real life experiences with forgiveness.  These can include your own struggle to forgive someone, or a time when you yourself have sought or needed forgiveness.  Remember that your voice and your story is important, and no matter what you have to say, there are people out there who will relate and benefit from your contribution.
Interviews or submissions can be anonymous if you'd like. 
The deadline for submission or to contact me about a contribution is 29 February 2012.
I look forward to speaking with you and hearing your stories.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Novel Writing Tips #6 The Three Act Structure- The Conflict

Well, I'm back after slacking over the Thanksgiving holiday, and its now time to discuss the second act of the three act structure, the Conflict.
Once your story is set up and you've established a tone, conflict must be introduced.  Your protagonist needs something interesting to happen to him (or her).
Let's use Star Wars as an example because most people are familiar with the story.  After we are introduced to Luke Skywalker, we get to follow him around for a while, meet his Uncle and Aunt, and get a glimpse of what life is like on a moisture farm on Tatooine.  Can you imagine how boring this movie would have been if we continued to follow Luke around for two hours as he performed menial tasks on the farm?
To keep things interesting to the viewers, conflict needed to be introduced.  The evil galactic Empire showed up and murdered Luke's family, giving him the final push he needed to run off and join the rebellion, and the rest as they say, is history.
Once some sort of conflict is introduced in your story, your characters are given a problem or a series of problems to solve.  This transition into conflict doesn't have to be as drastic as someone's family being killed, but if we like and can sympathize with the protagonist then we care about what happens to him and are pulling for him in whatever kind of conflict there is.
This second act is the largest one, encompassing the majority of the story until a climax is reached and we transition into the resolution of the story, which we'll talk about next time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Novel Writing Tips #5 The Three Act Structure- The Setup

I'm sure you learned this one way back in grade school, and you'll recognize this structure from all forms of modern day story telling.  The three act structure consists of braking up your story into three basic parts of your story, the setup, conflict, and resolution.  Each one of these elements are just as important as the others.  Today we're going to take a look at the setup.

The Setup- this is your introduction of the books tone, protagonist, other main characters, and setting.  Some stories jump right into the action, while others take a little more time and start a bit slower.  The important thing is that you want to give your reader a reason to keep reading.

I have learned from hundreds of hours of experience that the same thing is true of public speaking.  You have about 5 minutes for your audience to decide if they will continue to listen to you or not.  I don't know how many pages that would equate to in a book, but the point is to introduce your readers to something that draws them into your material and gives them a hunger to keep reading.

Next time I'll write a little bit about conflict, but in the meantime, here is an excellent article on the basic Three Act Structure.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Novel Writing Tips #4 The Protagonist

Time to give some thought to your characters, and the protagonist is a good place to start.  Wikipedia defines the role as follows- A protagonist (from the Greek πρωταγωνιστής protagonistes, "one who plays the first part, chief actor") is the main character (the central or primary personal figure) of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify.
Assuming your novel is a work of fiction, you're going to want to give some thought to your central character.  This should be someone with whom the audience can identify, a person who your reader uses to discover your story.  Usually this person is at least somewhat likable.
In the original Star Wars movie, Luke Skywalker is the protagonist, and it is through his eyes that we discover this vast and interesting universe.  One of the complaints with Star Wars The Phantom Menace was that there was no clear protagonist.  You may think it was young Anakin Skywalker, but he didn't show up until about 45 minutes into the film.
Ebenezer Scrooge is an interesting protagonist.  In the beginning of A Christmas Carol, we don't really like this man and hopefully you didn't relate to him very well, but we soon found ourselves pulling for him, hoping that he would see the error of his ways.  It is actually the ghosts (even Death) that we relate to more than Scrooge, but in the end we get to rejoice with our protagonist as he finally understands what the rest of us already knew.
In the Twilight books, (no I haven't read them but have suffered through the movies), Bella Swan meets this role, and millions of starry eyed tweeny boppers got to discover Meyer's world through her eyes.
Can you think of some other interesting protagonists, and how they led you through a favorite story?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Novel Writing Tips #3 Delelop a Method

In the last post I spoke about the way I jump around while writing, and wanted to expand on the method I use to write.
Everyone needs to find the method that works best for them.  I remember watching an interview with J.K. Rowling where she pulled out all kinds of papers that she had taken notes on, as well as concept drawing of some of her characters.  It was obvious that Rowling is not the kind of author who sits down at a typewriter and hammers a book out from beginning to end, at least not from what I saw.
For my books I use a program called Scrivener.  I bought and downloaded this program from the Apple Store for $50 and it's some of the best money I've ever spent.  I don't have a lot of experience with other writing programs, and I'm sure there are some great ones out there, but Scrivener has been perfect for my method of writing.  It allows me to organize all by chapters and scenes easily and jump around while I write.
If you set out to write a book or other lengthy work, just do what comes natural and find the organizational method that works best for you.  If you want to write with a pen and pencil, then that's what you should do.  If you are a skilled typist and like to work on your computer, then find a good program like Scrivener.
I personally don't recommend trying to write a book on something like MS Word, although I'm sure many have done it, and it's definitely an okay place to start.  After your work reaches a certain length however, you'll find that it becomes difficult to manage.  You'll waste time trying to find certain locations in your work or have to deal with a whole lot of different files for each chapter or scene.
The bottom line is, find a method that you feel comfortable with, one that will make your already daunting task easier.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Novel Writing Tips #2 Just Start Writing

Getting started on your work is not always an easy thing to do.  It's a prospect that seems to scare some people.  One thing to remember however, is that writing a large work must be done like eating an elephant, you have to do it one bite at a time.  Writing a novel is a big project, and like any big project, it’s easy to procrastinate about getting started.

One thing that makes this easier for me is the fact that I don't write from beginning to end.  I jump around all over the place, so when I get a good idea, I just start writing.  It doesn't matter if the scene I'm thinking of happens in the middle of the book or the end, I just start writing and then come back in and fill in the gaps later.  I honestly don't know how many other writers work this way, but it’s been the best method I've found that works for me.

The main point that I'm getting at here is if you have a good idea, get it on paper or into your computer as soon as you can.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the way words flow once you convince yourself to simply get started.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Novel Writing Tips #1 Stick With A Genre You Love

Stick With a Genre You Love.
Welcome to my first tip in a series on getting your novel written.  Nearly every reader has at some point wished that they could write a book of their own.  You may find these tips useful, and I'm sharing them because I've found them helpful myself.
First let's talk about genre.  I definitely think that any writer should stick with a genre they love.  I once heard or read someone say, "Write what you know," and I think this is excellent advice.  If you love to read about history, then write about it.  If you love to read crime or mystery novels, then that's a great place to start.
Now I believe that most people already do this intuitively, but there can be things that prevent potential writers from working on a subject they really enjoy.  Perhaps you feel you don't know enough about your subject matter, or may not think there would be a potential audience for what you have to write.  There could be dozens of reasons that prevent you from writing what you want to write about, but my advice is to follow your own heart and write about what matters to you, or what you are most interested in.
The reason I wanted to write a fantasy novel is because this was the genre that's had the most impact on me throughout my life.  The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia were there for me as a child, and now I enjoy sharing them with my own kids.  As a family, we've read the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter books together, creating valuable family time and nurturing the imaginations of our own children.
The Adventures of Michael Belmont series is my first contribution into the fantasy genre, which I have enjoyed so much.  I hope others will enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed the fantasy works of others.