Categories
Craft

How to Write Conflict in Your Novel: Tips for Crafting Dynamic Drama

Conflict is the backbone of any good story. It makes readers want to keep turning the pages, desperate to discover what happens next. If you want to write a novel packed with conflict, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, I’ll give you tips on crafting dynamic scenes of conflict that will keep your readers hooked from beginning to end.

So, what are some tips for writing conflict in your novel? Here are five to get you started:
  1. Make sure each character has a clear motivation for why they’re doing what they’re doing. Without this, the conflict will feel contrived and forced.
  2. Allow the conflict to escalate gradually. Start with small disagreements and then amp up the stakes as things progress. Conflict doesn’t always have to be big and dramatic. Sometimes the most interesting stories come from more subtle conflicts, like those between friends or family members. Experiment and see what works best for your story.
  3. Don’t be afraid to let your characters make mistakes. This will only make them feel more real and relatable to readers. We need to be able to root for them, and this means giving them relatable goals and motivations. Remember that not every character needs to be involved in every scene of conflict. In fact, sometimes, it can be more effective to have just one or two characters locked in battle while the rest of the cast watches on from the sidelines. This allows you to focus on the emotions and motivations of the characters involved and explore their relationship’s intricacies.
  4. Use dialogue to heighten the tension between characters further.
  5. And finally, remember that conflict should always serve a purpose. It should move the story forward and help to develop the characters in some way. One of the best ways to create believable conflict is to write about universal themes we can all relate to. Love, loss, betrayal, ambition, greed, fear… these are all emotions that we have all felt at one time, so they make for great fodder for conflict in your novel.

With these tips in mind, you should be well on your way to writing conflict that is dynamic and engaging. Would you like to talk about writing conflict? Get in touch here. 

Want to read something similar? Check out the following:

How to Create a Realistic Character
How to Create Tension in Your Writing

Categories
Productivity Coaching

How to Get Back into Creative Writing: Tips for Returning Writers

Perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve written anything creatively. You used to enjoy writing short stories, poetry, and novels, but now it feels like a chore. You can’t seem to find the inspiration you need, and the words just won’t come out right. Creative writing can be a lot of fun, but it can also be daunting to start again after taking a break. These tips will help ease you back into the swing of things so you can enjoy the process and produce your best work.

Here are some tips for returning writers that will help get your creative juices flowing again:
  1. Assuming you haven’t written anything in a while, the first step is just to start writing again. Set aside some time each day, or even each week, specifically for writing. It doesn’t matter what you write about – just get words on the page. The important thing is to keep the momentum going and not let yourself get too discouraged. Making time for regular writing sessions will help train your brain to think creatively again.
  2. Pick up a pen and paper instead of typing on a computer. Sometimes the physical act of writing can help jumpstart your creativity.
  3. Start with prompts. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, try using prompts to get started. You can find them in my newsletters, prompts online or in books designed specifically for writers. Once you get started, the ideas will begin to flow more easily.
  4. Join a writer’s group or take a writing class. Connecting with other writers can help jumpstart your creativity and give you some constructive feedback on your work. If you want to take a Creative Writing class online, check out my Creative Writing Masterclass here!
  5. Read, read, read! When you’re not writing, fill your time with reading material that inspires you. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, reading will help.
  6. Set small goals at first. Trying to tackle a massive project right off the bat can be daunting and lead to writer’s block. Instead, start with something more manageable that you know you can complete. This will help build your confidence and keep you motivated to keep going.
  7. If you’re having trouble getting started, it can also be helpful to lower your expectations. Write for yourself first and foremost, and don’t worry about whether what you’re producing is good or not. The goal is simply to get back into the habit of writing regularly.
  8. And finally, don’t forget to have fun! Creative writing should be enjoyable, so find a topic or genre you’re passionate about.

Taking some time for yourself is essential, too. Make sure to schedule some downtime to relax and recharge. Once you’ve taken some time to refresh yourself, you’ll be ready to start writing again with fresh energy and ideas.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to getting back into the swing of things when it comes to creative writing. Just remember to take things slow, be patient with yourself, and most importantly, have fun!

Do you have any other tips for getting back into creative writing? Share them with me here. Want to talk about you can get back into writing? Book a Discovery Call today!

If you want to read something similar, check out the following:

Don’t Know Where to Start Writing? Try The Triptych Method
10 Ways to Limit Writing Overwhelm

Categories
Productivity

5 Tips for Writing Creatively in the Morning

Do you ever struggle to find the time or energy to write creatively in the morning? If so, you’re not alone. Many people find it hard to get into the creative mindset early in the day. In this blog post, I’ll discuss some tips for establishing a morning routine that will help jumpstart your creativity.

1) Get up early. 

This may seem counterintuitive, but getting up earlier can give you more time to focus on your writing. Plus, there’s something about the quiet of early morning that just feels conducive to creativity. So set that alarm clock a little earlier than usual and see how it goes. Personally, I baulk at the idea of getting up an hour early, but I can manage twenty minutes. Those twenty minutes make a huge difference to me and my writing life.

2) Take some time for yourself. 

Before you start writing, take a few minutes to do something for yourself. This could be anything from taking a quick walk around the block to reading a few pages of your favourite book. The important thing is to take a few moments to clear your head and get into the right mindset for creative writing.

3) Find a comfortable spot.

Make sure you’re comfortable before writing. Find a spot where you can sit or stand comfortably. You might also consider playing soft music in the background to help you focus.

4) Try journalling or free writing before turning on the internet.

Set a timer for five or ten minutes and just write whatever comes into your head, without stopping to edit or worry about spelling or grammar. This can help get the creative juices flowing and warm up your brain for writing later in the day.

5) A change of space. 

If you want to write in the morning, but you’re struggling, try writing in a different location each day, or at least mix things up a bit. If you typically write at your kitchen table, try taking your laptop outside to the porch or park or working at a coffee shop instead. A change of scenery can help jumpstart the creative process!

If you’re not a morning person, don’t despair – there are plenty of other times during the day when you can get your creative juices flowing. Try setting aside some time each day to brainstorm new ideas or work on developing existing ones. If you can’t seem to get started, try brainstorming in the evening before bedtime or whenever you have some free time during the day. The important thing is to find a routine that works for you and stick with it! Want to know more about your writing routine? Click here for my fun quiz.

Do you have any other tips for jumpstarting your creativity in the morning? Share them with me here.

If you want to read something similar, check out the following:

How to Find the Time to Write
How To Set Effective Writing Goals

Categories
Productivity Coaching

11 Ways to Get Ideas When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

Do you ever feel like you don’t have any ideas? It can be frustrating when this happens. But don’t worry – we’ve all been there! In this blog post, I will share eleven ways to get ideas when you don’t feel like writing.

1) Get reading.

Reading can help jumpstart your brain and get the creative juices flowing. Try reading a book in a genre you don’t usually read. This can help open your mind to new possibilities and give you fresh ideas.

2) Free-writing.

Practice free-writing: Set a timer for five minutes and just write whatever comes to mind, without stopping to edit or judge what you’re writing. This can help clear your mind.

3) Get outside!

Take a walk: Sometimes, the best way to get inspired is to change your scenery. Go for a walk outside and take in the fresh air. Who knows, you might even come up with an idea for your next story while you’re out exploring!

4) Mindmap.

Mindmap with a friend: this can be a great way to come up with new ideas and get feedback on those ideas from someone else. If you’re feeling stuck, try meeting up with a friend or colleague and bouncing some ideas off of them. You may be surprised at what they come up with!

5) Research.

Do some research: If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, try doing some research. This can be anything from reading articles to watching documentaries. By learning more about your topic, you may be able to come up with new and interesting ways to approach it.

6) Journal.

Keep a journal. Write down any thoughts or ideas that come to mind, no matter how random they may seem. You never know when something you jotted down will turn into a great piece of writing.

7) Talk to others.

Talk to people: One of the best ways to get ideas is to talk to others. Ask them about their thoughts on your genre, or see if they have any suggestions for what you could write about. You may be surprised at how much inspiration you can find just by having a conversation with someone else.

8) Get prepped.

Get organised: This may seem like an odd way to get ideas, but sometimes getting your thoughts down in a more organised way can help you see things from a different perspective. Try making a list of potential topics or chatting through ideas with a friend. This can help you identify gaps in your thinking and come up with new angles to approach your topic.

9) Rest.

Take a break: If you’ve been sitting at your desk for hours trying to come up with something to write about, it may be time to take a break. Get up and stretch, or take a quick walk around the block. Taking time away from your work can help refresh your mind and give you new ideas.

10) Keep a record.

Keep a list of ideas: One way to ensure you always have something to write about is to keep a list of ideas handy. Whenever you think of a new novel idea, add it to your list. That way, when you’re feeling uninspired, you can always refer back to your list for some ideas.

11) Ask what your ideal reader wants.

Ask your readers: If you’re struggling to develop a new idea, why not ask your readers what they want to read? Send out a survey or poll on social media and see what topics your audience is most interested in. Not sure who your ideal reader is? Check out this blog post!

By taking some time away from thinking about writing, you may find that the ideas start flowing more easily. Try out different methods and see which ones work best for you. And who knows? Maybe one of these methods will even become your go-to method for generating new ideas. Do you have any other techniques for getting ideas when you don’t feel like writing? Let me know here!

Want to read something similar? Check these blog posts out:

The Power of Taking Responsibility for Your Writing Journey
5 Books on Writing That Will Improve Your Craft

Categories
Publishing Craft

How to Edit Creative Writing for Clarity, Style and Substance

If you’re not sure how to edit your creative writing, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many writers struggle with this part of the process. But with a little guidance, it’s easy to improve your writing and make it shine.

No one writes a perfect first draft. Even the most experienced authors need to revise their work for clarity, style and substance. In this blog post, I will discuss how to edit your creative writing for maximum impact using clarity, style and substance, making your writing more interesting and engaging. Let’s get started!

Clarity:
One of the most important aspects of editing is clarity. When you edit your work, you want to make sure that it is easy to understand. You don’t want your readers to be confused or lost. To improve clarity:

  1. Look for ways to make your writing more concise and straightforward.
  2. Cut out unnecessary words and phrases.
  3. Make sure that each sentence has a clear purpose. If something doesn’t make sense, rewrite it until it does.

Your editing task: Focus on clarifying your ideas. Make sure each sentence is clear and concise. If a sentence is confusing or hard to understand, reword it or break it down into shorter sentences.

Style:
Style is another important consideration when you edit your work. You want your writing to be readable and enjoyable. To improve style, pay attention to the way you use language. Use strong verbs and an active voice whenever possible. Avoid long, complex sentences. Be consistent with spelling, punctuation and grammar rules.

Your editing task: Are your sentences too long or too short? Do you use too many adjectives or adverbs? Make sure your writing is easy to read and flows smoothly.

Substance:
Finally, make sure your writing has substance. Are you driving the narrative forward? In a first draft, we can easily get distracted, add information dumps, or write about something unnecessary to the plot. In editing, it’s time to make sure that your scenes and chapters drive the story forward and that anything unnecessary is taken out. We want to keep the reader engaged throughout.

Your editing task: Check for information dumps and any writing that isn’t driving the narrative forward.

Editing can be a challenge, but with these tips in mind, you can improve your creative writing. Don’t be afraid to rework your sentences – it’s all part of the process!

Thanks for reading! I hope this post was helpful. If you have any questions, please let me know here. If you’re looking for an editor, click here. 

Want to read something similar? Check out the following posts:

5 Things to Avoid When Writing Setting
3 Ways to Ensure Your Novel is Well Paced

Categories
Productivity

How to Start a Daily Writing Habit

I often talk about how important it is to find a writing schedule that works for you, and for me, writing every day doesn’t work, and that’s okay. However, it might be that it does work for you, or you want to give it a go. So, how do you create a daily writing habit?

It can be hard to make time for writing when you’re already so busy. And it’s even harder to find the motivation to sit down and write every day – but it’s not impossible. In this blog post, I will discuss tips and tricks for starting a daily writing habit. I will also provide resources that can help keep you motivated and on track!
The first step is to set aside some time each day for writing. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but you can start by giving yourself at least 20 minutes to write. If you can’t find that much time in your schedule, start with 5 minutes and work your way up. The important thing is to be consistent. If you respond better to word count goals than time goals, try setting a daily word count goal to keep yourself motivated. Start small, and then gradually increase your goal as you get more comfortable writing each day. Track your progress and give yourself a pat on the back when you reach your goal. This will help keep you motivated and on track.

Find a place where you can write without distractions. This might be a quiet room in your house or a coffee shop with good Wi-Fi, where no one will bother you. Turn off your phone and any other devices that might distract you, and just focus on writing. An excellent resource for this is the Forest App – one of my favourite productivity apps.

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, carry a notebook and jot down any interesting thoughts you have throughout the day. A great app for this is Evernote – it allows you to capture more than notes, including photographs.

Find someone who also wants to start writing more regularly and hold each other accountable. This could be a friend, family member, or even an online community of writers. Having someone to encourage and support you can make all the difference.

Finally, don’t forget to give yourself some grace when it comes to your daily writing habit. If you miss a day (or two), don’t beat yourself up about it. Just pick up where you left off and keep going.

So there you have it, a few simple tips to help you start a daily writing habit. Just remember to be patient, consistent and to set yourself realistic goals, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better writer. Good luck!

Want a hand creating your daily writing habit? Click here to book a Discovery Call!

Do you want to read something similar? Check these out:

3 Steps to Your Writing Management Plan
Want to get more done? Shrink your goals.

Categories
Craft

Investigating Creative Writing Advice: Never Use Passive Voice

When it comes to writing, there are all sorts of rules and pieces of advice that you’ll hear from different people. Some of it is good advice, while other bits are nothing more than personal preferences masquerading as hard-and-fast rules. Today, we’re going to take a look at one of those bits of advice: never use the passive voice. Let’s take a closer look at this writing advice and see if it holds up under scrutiny.

The passive voice is often seen as bad, mainly because it can make writing sound dull, wordier, and sometimes less clear. However, there are times when the passive voice can be used to your advantage. For example, if you want to downplay the importance of something, using the passive voice can help you do that.

Now, before we dive in, it’s important to understand what the passive voice is. In a nutshell, the passive voice happens when the subject of a sentence is being acted upon by the verb. For example:

The door was closed by a gust of wind.

In this sentence, “the door” is the subject and “was closed” is the verb. The sentence is in the passive voice because the subject (the door) is not doing anything; it’s being acted upon by something else (the wind).

So now that we know what the passive voice is, let’s talk about whether or not you should avoid it at all costs.

Well, the answer is…maybe. You see, there are times when using the passive voice can be perfectly acceptable (even preferable). For example, you may want to draw attention to your character (the ‘doer’). In this case, using the passive voice can actually be helpful because it takes the focus off of the action itself. If you want to put the focus on the action, an active voice works great.

So, let’s consider the above sentence re-written in the active voice:

A gust of wind closed the door.

The active voice can make a difference, but it’s not always best.

Would you like a hack for checking whether you are writing in an active or passive voice? Next time you’re starting to write a sentence and find yourself using the word “was,” you may be writing in a passive voice.

So, what’s the verdict? Is the advice to never use the passive voice always good advice? No, it’s not. There are times when the passive voice can be used effectively.

Do you have any other questions about the passive voice? Let me know here. Happy writing!

Want to read something similar? Check out the following!

Investigating Creative Writing Advice: Show, Don’t Tell.
Investigating Creative Writing Advice: Write What You Know

Categories
Craft

Investigating Creative Writing Advice: Write What You Know

‘Write what you know’ is one of those common phrases that gets thrown around Creative Writing classrooms, sometimes without too much explanation of what it actually means.

As a Creative Writing tutor and coach, I’ve always gone into detail with students and clients about what I mean when I say this – and now I’m going to explain it to you!

Some people get confused when faced with this phrase, as they think it limits them to writing about the ‘real world’ or their personal world and experiences only.

However, this is not the case. One can write about a world filled with dragons and monsters and still be writing what they know. I’m not saying that one actually thinks they are in a dragon-filled land (although really, who am I to comment), but rather that writing what you know is not to be taken in such a literal way.

So what does it mean then?

It means that you should draw on your experiences to add value, realism and emotion to your writing. When Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings, he was not drawing on his experience of traversing mountainous lands with an elf beside him. He was drawing on his experience of:

  • Friendship and relationships
  • Storytelling
  • Geography
  • People
  • History
  • Religion

It was this knowledge that helped Tolkien write such an epic fantasy series.

Writing what you know, coupled with imagination, can equal a wondrous creation.

For example, you may be writing about a soldier leaving his family and joining the Second World War.

Now, chances are that you weren’t around during the Second World War, so how can you write what you know when it comes to this? Well, you may have experienced true heartbreak. You may have missed somebody dreadfully. You may know what it is like to do without or to focus on a smaller picture just so you can get through the day.

These are all elements of knowledge and experience that could add real depth to a character’s journey and story.

Writing what you know doesn’t mean you can only write about a thirty-year-old living in the UK. It means you should draw from your life experiences and the emotion that has ever driven you and pour it into your fictional work to create believable tales of depth and beauty.

I hope this blog post has helped you better understand what ‘write what you know’ means and show you how you can introduce it into your writing.

Do you have any creative writing advice you have heard that you would like me to investigate and break down? Let me know here. 

Want to read something similar? Check out the following!

10 Ways to Grow as a Writer

How to Write Subplots in Your Novel

How to Find and Fix Plot Holes

Categories
Craft

Investigating Creative Writing Advice: Show, Don’t Tell.

Here’s a new series of blog posts for you! I am excited to introduce: Investigating Creative Writing Advice. Throughout this series, I will break down all that classic and new Creative Writing advice we hear in both classrooms and online and get to grips with what that means. Through doing this, I hope to help you better understand the world of Creative Writing and choose the advice that suits you as a writer. It isn’t always easy to know which advice to pay attention to, and it is essential to remember that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. For example, I don’t write every day because it doesn’t work for me creatively. Writing and creativity do not have a set of instructions that work for every person, so let’s break down that advice and see what works for you.

Today, we will look at ‘Show, Don’t Tell.’ There’s a classic quote to share here, and that’s the following:

‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.’ (Anton Chekhov)

So, what does it mean? Essentially, this advice is telling you to paint a picture for your reader, using description and senses. Here’s an example:

Telling:

Sarah was late. 

Showing:

Sarah twisted her hands together, now damp from sweat. She avoided looking at her watch – she didn’t need the reminder; the day was already running away from her. Her t-shirt was still stained from last night’s dinner.

What’s the difference here?

Well, apart from being wordier, we get more of an impression of the character, the situation and the scene. In the original, we don’t learn anything apart from someone called Sarah is late. In the rewrite, we learn that Sarah is nervous, distracted, avoiding the situation and worried. Showing, not telling, is a powerful tool for a writer and gives you the opportunity to create a scene that brings a world to life. You pull the reader in and get them involved in the story.

However, be wary of this advice: there is a place for telling too. 

Telling is a great way to give information to your reader. If all you did was show, your book would be a dense read. So perhaps, instead of saying ‘Show, Don’t Tell’, we should say: Show and tell. Here’s a way to remember when to do what: If there’s a dramatic scenario, a scene you want to bring to life: Show. If there’s some information you need to get across (perhaps your character travels from A to B, and nothing happens during that time), you don’t need to show the reader the entire journey; that would be a waste of word count! Instead, tell them. In the book I am currently reading (The Bewitching by Jill Dawson), there are some fantastic examples of this. Dawson tells us what we need to know to drive the narrative forward, avoiding lengthy divergences into parts of the story that don’t impact the characters.

Want to have a go at writing your own ‘Show, don’t tell’ example? Here’s a prompt to help you. Rewrite:

Sophie was tired.

How can you rewrite this by showing us this? Consider how Sophie’s tiredness impacts how she moves and looks, and describe this to the reader.

So, there’s a breakdown of ‘Show, Don’t Tell.’ Is there a piece of Creative Writing advice you have heard that you want to be broken down? Let me know here! I would love to write a post about it and help you understand how to use it.

Want to read something similar? Check out the following:

5 Things I Wish I Had Known before Writing My First Novel
Why My Writing Routine Won’t Work For You
Reasons Not To Write Every Day

Categories
Craft

5 Tips for Writing Trilogies by Carly Bennett

So you want to write a trilogy. You’ve had a flash of inspiration for a story so vast, so packed full of adventure that it can’t possibly be contained in a single novel. Excellent. Then reality sets in…to tell your story you’re going to have to write not one but three books. Where do you even begin to plot? How are you going to wrangle enough subplots and character arcs and motifs to keep your readers engaged for such a sustained period of time?

Before you decide to consign your trilogy to the dusty graveyard of abandoned ideas in the back of your mind, I’ve got five tips to share that I’ve learned while plotting and writing my own contemporary fantasy trilogy.

1. Develop story arcs on both a book level and a series level:

I thought it was only fitting to start with advice Rachel gave me during The Writing Week Retreat. I wasn’t sure how best to tackle this when plotting my own trilogy – should I plan one act for each book or should each book have its own three-act structure? The answer? Both! You want to ensure your trilogy has an overarching three-act structure but each book should have its own ebbs and flows, with a satisfying ending for the reader.

2. Fall in love with your characters:

Whether your trilogy is plot-driven or character-driven, make sure you’re head over heels for your primary characters. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with them, after all! From compelling backstories to fun personality quirks that might never even make their way into the story itself, spending time getting to know your characters until they feel like old friends is a staple of any fiction project but it’s even more key when writing a series.

3. Give your characters room to grow over the trilogy:

Building on my second point, your readers also need to love your characters enough to follow them on a journey that will likely take place over a number of years. A great way to keep your characters engaging is to give them room to grow and evolve over the entire series, not just the first book.

This is a trap I definitely fell into when writing the first draft of my series – my two protagonists overcame all of their internal obstacles during the climax of book one, leaving them very few lessons to learn throughout the rest of the story. In reality, we never stop growing and learning so neither should our characters.

4. Find your plotting sweet spot:

The long-running debate between plotting and pantsing is never-ending but I think plantsing (the midpoint between the two) is the way to go when writing a trilogy. It’s imperative that you know where your story is going so you won’t run out of steam halfway through book two but I think it’s just as important to leave yourself space to explore new ideas as you write. Writing three books is no easy feat and plotting so intricately that there are no surprises to keep you entertained can make writing a trilogy feel like a slog.

5. Keep something back:

One of the joys of writing a trilogy is having the space to unfurl exciting twists and character developments that you’ve spent many a writing session dreaming up. There can be a real temptation to show your hand too early, pouring so much into book one that the final two books can be left a little dry in comparison. Keeping some cards close to your chest and spreading out those jaw-dropping moments throughout the three books will ensure your readers are entertained from the first page to the last.

I hope you found the above tips helpful and can apply some of what you’ve learned to your work in progress. You’ve got this! I want to give a huge thank you to Rachel for inviting me onto her blog and, if you want to keep up with my own trilogy writing journey, I blog over at www.carlybennettbooks.co.uk.