Today we’re going to look at story beats to help craft your romance novel. Beats are specific points of significance that occur in stories that a) help keep the tension up and b) help drive the story forward. They can also be extremely useful in helping you map out your story before you dive into your first draft.
Romance tropes are the heartbeat of what makes romance novels feel like cozy sweaters you want to snuggle into. Learn how to weave in these tropes to enhance your romance story!
Book marketing. Those two innocuous words instill fear and loathing into the hearts of so many writers. You just want to write your books and have them sell themselves. Why do you have to tell people about it? Well, Susan, because you do. I know you want to write, but if your goal is to write, publish, and make money from your books, then you’re going to have to find a way to make them visible. Thousands of new titles are uploaded to Amazon every single day. Millions of books are being published every year, and no matter how good your story is, without marketing, there’s not much chance very many people will find it.
What kind of writer are you? Are you the sort who writes a meticulous outline that tips into the five digits or the type who sits down in front of a blank sheet of paper and lets the words pour out of you like a runaway train? Did you know there are specific terms for this kind of writing? Writers will come up with words for anything, I swear. Plotters are the first type of writer. They like to have detailed outlines that tell them exactly where their story is going. Pantsers are the other type of writer, which is kind of a weird name, but the term was coined by Stephen King (a famous pantser) to describe writing by the seat of your pants. Cute, eh? There is no right or wrong way to write your book, and I’m going to repeat this so many times. The right way is the way that works for you.
You’ve probably heard the terms plot-driven versus character-driven stories and maybe wondered what they mean. Like a lot of things in writing, it can be tricky to define because the lines between the two are often blurred. And what feels like a plot-driven story to one person might feel like a character-driven story to another. Which is all a little confusing. In the most basic terms, a plot-driven story is one where the plot moves the characters, while a character-driven story is one where the characters drive the plot. It sounds simple enough, and it kind of is, but also has a bit more to it than that. In this article, we’ll break it down a bit more.
One of the primary reasons people don’t finish a book is because the characters didn’t feel real to them. They couldn’t relate to them. They felt like caricatures or templates, rather than breathing, thinking, living beings on the page.
We spend a lot of time thinking about our characters—what they look like, how they talk, their backstory, and their emotional wounds. But one thing you might not have given as much thought to is how they earn a living every day.It’s just a fact of life that most of us have a job of some kind to bring home the bacon (or perhaps tempeh, if you’re a vegetarian), no matter the setting or time period we live in. A roving knight works as a mercenary for a corrupt king. A billionaire manages properties while he’s busy whisking his lover all over the world. Or a ragged survivor of a dystopian nightmare works as the leader of a rebellion (some jobs definitely pay better than others). In some cases, the job is the story. Think about a detective or an office romance. Without the work, there’s no story.
Love. That universal feeling that brings us all together. It’s an emotion that can destroy us or uplift us. Make us feel safe or make us feel lonely. It can give us the highest highs and the lowest lows. Love can bring down empires and love can overcome evil to save the world. Wow. That’s a lot for one little four-letter word to handle.
Essentially, a beta reader is an (hopefully) objective third party who will read your novel or story and provide (hopefully) constructive feedback. A beta reader is not an editor, and often they’re not writers either, though there’s a good chance a lot of your beta readers are going to be authors as well.
So you want to publish a book, but maybe you don’t want everyone knowing you published a book. Or maybe you’ve already published a lot of books but you want to publish one in another genre. Pen names or pseudonyms are common amongst authors, and many writers use them. In fact, a lot of the most famous authors you know go by a different name on their cover than what is listed on their birth certificate.
When you start to draft or plot a new novel, you probably have a vague idea of who your characters are or will be. A lot of people start with the basics first, such as age, sex, gender, and hair, eye, and skin color. And that is a very good place to start. But to create memorable characters that leap off the page, you’re going to need a little more. Probably a lot more, in fact.
Conflict. It’s the lifeblood of any story. Without it, all you’ve got is a bunch of people wandering around aimlessly. Conflict is the source of tension, excitement, suspense, and drama. It drives your plot, gives your characters motivation, and sometimes allows you to hold up a mirror to the world.
Theses six steps can help show you how to become a fiction writer. Figure out what works best for you!
There are dozens of writing tools out there that can help you with this task, offering features like outline templates, plotting features, notes, syncing, and so much more. But what is the difference between them and which one is right for you? Today we’ll break down two of these programs. Dabble Writer and Chapterly. In this article, we’ll discuss the features of both, do a comparison, look at the price, and then offer our conclusion on which might be right for you.
Pacing is one of those things I think only writers talk about. Before I delved into becoming a writer, I was a reader and didn’t really toss around words like “pacing.” To me, if something was wrong with a book’s “pacing,” it felt either too slow and boring or too fast and shallow for it to hold my interest. Chances are most of your readers are the same.
Young adult books are easily one of, if not the fastest, growing genres in publishing. A lot of the biggest breakout books like the Hunger Games, Twilight, and Shadow and Bone are all based on YA novels. There’s something about the teenage experience that speaks to us all—no matter how old we get and how long ago teenagerhood was.
Remember the last book you read where you couldn’t stop thinking about the characters? They felt real and three-dimensional, with fully developed personalities, and their actions made sense. Or if they didn’t, then you knew why they didn’t. Chances are you were reading a character-driven story.
What’s the difference between a great love story and a so-so love story? Romantic chemistry, that’s what. If you’ve ever read a romance novel or a book with a romantic subplot and found yourself not really caring about the relationship between the love interests, there’s a good chance the author missed out on building up that oh-so important chemistry.
If you’re a regular writer of romance or are looking to dive into this popular genre, you might be on the lookout for some stellar plot ideas. Spend any time reading and exploring the genre and you’ll know that romance is just one word for dozens of different subgenres all with their own tone and style.
If you’re embarking on a topic that requires a lot of research, you might wonder where you even begin. How do you make use of all those juicy tidbits, and what kind of process should you use to ensure complete and total accuracy?
First person narrative is when you write using the words “I”, “us”, or “we”. It’s when your story is told through the eyes of one person and we spend time in their head, hearing their thoughts and seeing what they see.
Writing a sequel is an entirely different entity than writing the first book in a series. With a first book, you have all the newness and excitement of introducing fresh characters and settings. And while there is an entire canon of advice and articles dedicated to writing a book, most of that really applies to writing the first (or only) book in a series. Sequels come with their own set of challenges and rules. I wrote my first sequel last year after writing plenty of first books and it was definitely a different kind of beast to tackle.
If you read any articles on the art of developing a good writing habit, one of the most common pieces of advice you’ll see is to find an ideal writing spot. Somewhere that not only inspires you, but most importantly, gives you that special something you need to sit down and get those words on the page. Because discipline will trump inspiration every time. There are a lot of places you can go to write. The most obvious is probably somewhere in your home. But, maybe you don’t have an ideal setup there. Maybe it’s too small or there are too many people. Or maybe you’re just sick of the place and want to go out into the wide world.
Clichés are phrases you’ve heard so many times they’ve lost all meaning. They’re as dead as a doornail. They’re stones thrown in glass houses. They make your writing seem derivative, boring and lacking in imagination.
Save the Cat is one of the most popular ways of drafting screenplays and novels in modern storytelling.
Characters are the most important part of any story. They are the beating heart and the blood that flows through your novel’s veins. Yes, your plot and world and story structure are also important, but most people will fall in love with a book because they love the characters.
So you want to write a story with two protagonists. Cool. I mean, if you want to be an overachiever like that, then I’m here to help you. Maybe it’s not really overachieving though and is actually really critical to your story. I buy that.There are definitely certain stories that are ideal for dual protagonists. Romance would be a good example, when you have two love interests and are both exploring the coming together and coming apart and falling in love from two points of view.Of course, you don’t have to be writing a romance to have two protagonists. You might be writing a mystery or a fantasy novel where two main characters exist on alternate timelines and their destinies verge at some point. Or maybe they’re just in two different places and have a bone to pick with one another.
Lover archetypes embrace the love they hold for friends, family, their gods, or simply the world around them.
In this article, we’ll explore what active and passive writing is and when you should use them. Contrary to some beliefs, sometimes passive voice does make sense. Not everything you write should or needs to be active (though it should be most of the time).
Characters are the meat of any story. They’re the beating heart and the blood that flows through your novel. You can have the most amazing plot, setting, worldbuilding, and prose, but what sticks with most readers are memorable characters. Fleshy characters. Ones with mass and density and layers and tissue.
So what is second person, you wonder? Well, it’s when you remove the fourth wall between the reader and writer, bringing your audience into the action. It can be used to make your story more interactive.
While the terms "story" and "plot" are often used interchangeably, they are actually two distinct elements of narrative, and understanding the difference can be a useful tool in your storytelling arsenal. You’re going to need some of both to create a compelling book that’ll have your readers coming back for more.
How to start a first chapter: include action, character, plot, emotion, and motivation or you’re going to lose your reader.
Think about the worst pain you’ve ever experienced. How would you have described it when you were in the moment? What did it feel like? Did it have a color and texture? Maybe even a sound or a smell? Did it make you perceive your world in different ways? Did you notice what was going on around you?
Theme—it’s a short, fancy word that often describes the larger scope of what your novel is about. Sure it might be about aliens or cowboys or alien cowboys, but what it’s really about is good always triumphs over evil or karma is a…bad thing.
Worldbuilding is the subtle backbone of your story. It won’t make or break your novel like the characters or plot might, but it’s necessary for building a believable setting that your readers will embrace. If they’re distracted by inconsistencies in your setting then they might have a hard time focusing on the story. And we don't want that.
Do you have a writer in your life who needs a gift? Check out this list of 61 gifts for writers that will help them with their author dreams.
There are hundreds of blogs out there for writers that cover everything from improving your craft to the business and marketing of being an author. There are ones that focus on indie publishing and those that focus on traditional publishing. It’s easy to get lost in the reams of information you can find online, so which writing blogs are worth checking out? While there is no definitive answer to that question, we’ve compiled a list of writing blogs that you’ll want to bookmark to help you on your writing journey. Just make sure you actually write, too, and don’t fall into the trap of just reading about writing (look, we’ve all been there).
Villains are the characters we love to hate. Or sometimes our love for the villain is equally strong as it is for the protagonist. Why? Because it can be fun to root for the bad guy (speaking in general terms here–not just guys can be bad, obviously). But readers only root for the villain if you’ve given them a reason to do so. A villain needs depth and development, just like any of your more heroic characters. They need motivation and faults and weaknesses to make them full and complete characters.
When you’re writing a book, there are more things to consider than just the words that end up on the page. There’s planning, plotting, outlining, editing, formatting, and so much more—especially if you’re planning to be an indie author. If you’re a self-published author, a lot of these tasks fall on your shoulders… well, all of them really… and it can be a lot. Luckily, there are lots of tools out there to help make this process a little easier. The question you now need to ask is: which one is right for you? Today we’re going to look at two popular tools available: Dabble Writer and Atticus.
There are a lot of pieces of writing advice you can ignore, but here’s one you shouldn’t: you need to include character goals in your story.
Dystopian fiction is one of the darker subgenres of science fiction and fantasy. It takes us into dark, foreboding worlds, where oppression and bleak landscapes are the norm. Books like 1984 by George Orwell, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley have become classics that shine a light on political corruption, environmental disaster, and societal collapse.Why do we love these stories? Maybe it's because dystopian fiction allows us to explore worst-case scenarios, to grapple with the idea that the world we know and love could be lost forever. It's a way for us to confront our fears and anxieties about the future, to see what could happen if we continue down a certain path.
We tend to give a lot of thought to our characters when we’re writing. Their likes and dislikes. Their appearance and disposition. Hopefully their wants, goals, motivations, flaws and all the things that make them feel like real people. But how much thought do you give to actually introducing them to your readers? A strong introduction to a character can help make or break that character and the way your reader perceives them. So what’s in an introduction, anyway?
Writing a whole book is no simple task. There’s a lot to consider when you’re crafting your novel from plot to structure to character and a thousand little details in between. From first draft to publish ready, there are a lot of steps to go through. There are also a lot of options out there to help make this task easier. Dozens of different writing, formatting, and drafting programs that might or might not work for you. Today, we’ll break down two of these options—Dabble Writer and Hemingway Editor—and compare what they have to offer, along with how much they cost and their main features.
Voice versus point of view. These are terms that get bandied about a lot when we talk about our writing. But what do they mean, and are they the same thing?In short, they aren’t the same thing, though it’s easy to see why some people get them confused. Voice is the style the author chooses to tell the story and point of view is the perspective from which the story is told.
Perfect characters are boring. Every character needs a flaw or twelve, not just because it’s more realistic, but because they help deepen your story. Character flaws make your characters more interesting and give you leverage to create conflict, plot, goals, and motivations. If your characters are perfect and have nothing to strive for or nothing they wish to attain, then your story is going to feel a little (or very) flat. Flaws can include a wide range of traits, from something as simple as talking too loudly to as complex and serious as being wildly arrogant. There are degrees of flaws where some will have little to no impact on your story and some will have a significant impact.
Epistolary is basically the practice of conveying a narrative story through the use of letters, journal entries, or other documents. Once upon a time, that probably meant handwritten notes or mail between characters. These days, it can mean a lot more when you factor in the advent of electronic communication.
Have you ever read a book that just seems to flow? The writing feels effortless and smooth and almost like the literary equivalent of honey? Well, then you’re reading lyrical prose, my friend. It’s a style of writing that relies on a few techniques that make use of similar sounds and cadence to help create a more fluid and musical style of writing.
Plot holes: those pesky little mistakes that can fall anywhere between a simple accident in eye color all the way to messing up your entire story. We’ve all been there. You thought you wrapped up everything so nicely, but then you go back to edit, or a friendly and well-meaning beta reader asks you “what about this?” and suddenly you’re struck with a sense of impending doom.
Do your main characters tend to steal the show in your novels? Don’t worry, that’s not a trick question. They should be doing that. In fact, you should be putting lots of thought and development into protagonists because that’s who the story is about. But how much thought have you given to your tertiary characters? They can be important too.If you want to breathe life into your stories, it's time to give tertiary characters a little love. These small but mighty players can add depth, complexity, and a fresh perspective to your plot. They give you the chance to offer comic relief, a dash of wisdom, and just some good old fashioned friendship.
Just like a compelling opening, a good ending is a bit of an art form and can take some practice. As with anything in writing, the best way to learn is to read. Think about books with memorable endings that you’ve enjoyed: read them again with a critical eye and think about how and why they work.
Sidekick characters. The unsung hero of so many stories. They're the Robin to your Batman, the Luigi to your Mario, the Samwise Gamgee to your Frodo Baggins. They're the ones who are always there to lend a helping hand, crack a joke, or provide some much-needed emotional relief. And let's be real, sometimes they don’t go unsung. Sometimes they're more interesting and lovable than the main characters themselves and end up stealing the show.
The seven basic plot points offer perhaps what is the most open-ended of the structure archetypes with broad, high-level descriptions.
One of the most important decisions you can make regarding your novel is deciding what point of view you choose to tell it in. In fact, it might be considered the most important decision you make, second only to perhaps picking whose points of views you’re going to tell your story through.
Never judge a book by its cover. Ha, I’ve never heard anything that’s less true. I guess the origins of the phrase suggest you shouldn’t judge people by outward appearances or something like that, and yes, that’s definitely true. But when we’re talking about actual books, then you should absolutely, definitely be judging books by their covers. Publishers use book covers as marketing tools. It tells you, dear reader, where that book falls in terms of genre and age and lets you know if this might be a book you like. If you’ve ever wondered why all the books in a specific category look similar, that’s on purpose. It’s a sign post. A guide that says, if you like other books in this genre, then this book might also appeal to you.
The inciting incident is the make-or-break moment for your story. It’s the catalyst for change. It’s the thing that sets your entire tale in motion. It’s the kick in the pants your protagonist needs to force a change in their lives they probably never saw coming. Novel openings are one of the hardest things to nail and you can’t do that without a compelling, disruptive, and logical inciting incident. But how do you create an inciting incident that will carry your whole story?
There’s a lot of to-do about the opening of a story. I mean, writers probably have more practice starting stories as opposed to finishing them. Right? We also hear a lot about that pesky saggy middle when the excitement of the opening is long over and now you’re wondering what the heck you’re supposed to do with these characters. Sure, the opening, middle, and all the parts in between are important, but truly nailing the end of that book is where you’re going to create dedicated fans who are already begging for the next one. And if you want to make a career of this whole writing thing, you have to make sure you leave them wanting more.
How long should your chapters be? On average, chapters tend to range from 1,000-5,000 words, with most falling in the 2,000-4,000 range.
If you’re planning to become an indie author, one of the first things you might be wondering is: how do you price a self-published book?
You might be wondering: how long does it take to write a book? The answer depends on a variety of factors.
A character flaw is a fault, limitation, or weakness that can be internal or external factors that affect your character and their life.
The Chosen One. It’s a trope that many people love to hate despite its pervasiveness across popular culture. If you’re unfamiliar with the Chosen One, it’s a popular trope or narrative device used across books, TV shows, and movies where a character is destined to fulfill a certain role or mission, often because they have unique abilities or traits. These traits are frequently tied to magic, meaning you’ll see this trope a lot in fantasy and other types of speculative fiction, especially those with a young adult audience.
Giving your characters a believable and compelling backstory is one of the best ways to bring them to life on the page. Making it nice and traumatic also doesn’t hurt.
So you want to be a romance author. Not just a romance author, but a romance author who makes money. Well, I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first? Let’s start with the good news. The good news is that the romance genre is far and away the best-selling genre out there and the potential to earn money writing romance is pretty high.
Conflicts in fantasy books are fun because they tend to have epic proportions. We’re talking war and strife and evil overlords planning to enslave humanity. You don’t really get that kind of massive conflict in say, a contemporary book set in downtown Seattle.
Historical fiction presents its own unique set of challenges. There’s writing the story itself. Getting the plot and the characters and the setting and all those important things that create a great story right. But there’s also the added challenge of making sure you’ve got the historical details to make it all come together with accuracy.
Showing how characters fall in love can be one of the most challenging things to write. It’s so easy to slide into something that feels forced or unnatural, because the pacing requires a delicate hand and impeccable timing to make it just so.
There are many schools of thought on writing character descriptions in your novels. Some people are of the “blank slate” variety offering up almost no physical descriptions and letting the reader decide. While others are more into the “give every detail” until their character might as well be a drawing on the page. Most writers fall somewhere in between that spectrum.
The short story. It seems like it should be simpler to write because it’s, well… short. Right? Maybe. It depends on you and a few other factors. Short story writing is an art unto itself, and while yes, there might be fewer words overall, you still need the same kind of practice and care you exercise when writing a longer piece. If you’ve ever wanted to write a short story, then pay attention, because we’re digging into everything you need to know to tackle your own.
We talk a lot about character development and how to make those paper children of yours come to life so they leap off the page. It’s one of the fundamental aspects of a good story—without characters your reader can fall in love with, you don’t really have much of a story. But a potentially less common question is, how the heck do you go about introducing those fascinating characters? Maybe this seems obvious, or maybe it doesn’t. After all, there are numerous ways you can introduce them into your story that not only tell the reader they exist but also show who your character is. Sure, it can be as simple as walking on and saying “hello,” but it can also be a lot deeper than that.
One of the biggest challenges in writing a novel is ensuring your characters sound different from one another. You don’t want carbon copy characters who all talk the same. After all, reading isn’t a visual medium, so while you can use descriptions to differentiate characters, in the end, your readers are really going to differentiate them in how they speak and act. Your readers are building these characters in their heads, so you want to offer them as many cues to tell them apart as possible. It will make for a better reading experience and ensure your characters are more memorable.
You’ve cobbled together 100K words of sheer brilliance, but now you must tackle the hardest task. How do you write book titles, anyway?
Editing. That tricky little step between drafting and publishing. Okay, maybe it’s not so little. Actually, it’s kind of important. I’ll even go out on a limb and say it’s actually the most important part. And the limb is very short. But where do you start? You’ve got all these words and now you have to take your messy first draft and make them actually readable. You know editing’s a thing, but you’ve probably heard there is more than one kind of editing. One of the most comprehensive is known as content or development editing. This is often the first kind of editing any book sees and, for new writers, can be a valuable step in honing their craft.
Characters are almost inarguably the most vital part of your story. Sure, you can have a great plot and strong world-building, but if you don’t make your reader care about your characters, then chances are the rest of that stuff will fall flat. Characters are the thing that turn an okay read into a book your readers won’t be able to put down. So how do you create a character that makes them come back for more? By ensuring they have good character development, of course. But what does that mean? So glad you asked. In this article, we’ll go over what character development is, how to develop a character, and the things you can do to ensure you’ve created got the most memorable character possible.
Tropes are one of the most important ingredients in storytelling. There are tropes like “enemies to lovers” or “the chosen one” that you’ll see in all forms of media from TV to movies to books. They’re comforting plot lines that readers relate and respond to because they understand what they mean. Characters can have tropes too—often referred to as archetypes—and these are the kinds of characters you’ll see over and over again in your favorite pieces of fiction. These include things like the wizened sage who offers up advice to the hero or the rebellious anarchist whose only goal is to bring down the establishment (often known as The Man.)
That’s great—our fiction should reflect the world as it is and that means including people of various ethnic backgrounds and skin tones. But the history of writing about people of color is kind of… awful and it’s important to remember that you can’t just throw in a BIPOC character without giving some serious thought to how you represent and describe that character.
To write a romance you need to manage three separate arcs: your main character, your love interest, and the romance itself.
Secrets. They’re the lifeblood of any relationship. If you aren’t keeping at least a few secrets from your friends and loved ones, are you really living? Okay, maybe not. Secrets in real life can be a little tricky—we all have them—but they have a way of blowing up in our faces, depending on how big they are. Your characters are really no different. Only when you’re keeping secrets in fiction, you can make them even darker and deeper than any you might ever have in real life. (Hopefully, I don’t really know your life, so maybe not.) Secrets might not be something you’ve specifically thought about when you’re drafting a story. They’re the kind of thing that often happen organically, but you can actually make use of character secrets to make your stories better. Adding them with intention can help increase tension, make twists hit that much harder, and keep your reader engaged.
The Ruler archetype is one of the most recognizable and is about stability and maintaining order through control and power.
So how do you write well then? Realistically, there are a few things universally considered “good” writing. The story should follow a logical plot where one action feeds into another. The characters should behave in ways that align with their established personalities. There should be some high points and low points and stuff in between. Generally, good writing is also well edited and follows most of the conventions for grammar and punctuation. While you can write well with typos and mistakes, you run the risk of distracting the reader to a point where that good story becomes not so good because it’s unreadable. Ultimately, the success of things like your voice and your characters are going to be up to your reader and you’ll never please everyone. But we can take some steps to ensure we please more people than not.
Explore the fundamentals of the Outlaw Archetype and how they serve your story. Explore famous examples of Outlaws in popular media.
If you’ve never heard the term “meet cute,” let me explain. It’s a common expression you’ll hear when talking about romance novels, movies, and shows. It’s the moment that your love interests meet for the first time, often in a cute and humorous way (though it doesn’t have to be).
Explorer Archetypes long for adventure and seek out new places, ideas, and experiences to live a thrilling, exciting, and fulfilling life.
You’ve just finished a novel you couldn’t put down. The pacing was spot on and everything about it made you want to keep flipping the pages to find out what happens next. You’re going to be exhausted for work this morning and you really shouldn’t have stayed up until 3 am to find out if they found the killer. If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, then it’s probably because you were reading a plot-driven story. If you’ve ever considered writing a plot-driven story, you might be wondering what exactly that term means and what elements you need to write one. In this article, we’ll break that down and give you some tips for writing your own plot-driven book.
Young adult fiction is one of the fastest growing categories of books in publishing. If you’ve ever been interested in writing young adult (YA) fiction, you might wonder how it differs from regular adult fiction. There are a few key differences between the two age categories, but there are also some similarities. Sometimes it can almost be tricky to tell which category it falls in, especially with protagonists in the 18-19 age range.
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