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About Writing Right: The Blog


First, I'm assuming you're an adult. If you're not, you may have stumbled across why your book reads like a YA. It's tough for a kid to create a story from an adult's point-of-view. If that's the case and you're attempting to write the way an older person would, I think superimposing an adult to whom you feel close in place of yourself as the narrator might help. In other words, instead of asking how you, a 16-year-old high-school student, might describe a scene involving a 24-year-old man, ask how your 39-year-old favorite Uncle Jack might do so. Imagine yourself as he might tell the story. Just one possible solution.


Second, no matter your age, I'm guessing you haven't thought the story through in detail. I'm also betting you haven't written out a comprehensive, chapter-by-chapter outline from which to work. If you're "winging it," hoping for inspiration to strike around every corner every time you sit down to tackle your story, you're likely to be disappointed. That's been my experience, at any rate. Particularly with Sci-Fi/Fantasy, if you can't picture the story and don't have it outlined from start to finish, it can be really tough sledding—and a huge disappointment in the end. So, here's what I suggest.

  1. Set your work aside for a few days. Spend that time thinking things through. If you're afraid you might forget some good points that pop into your head, jot them down. Keep refining and revising things mentally until you see the story as clearly in your mind as if you were home watching your favorite movie on television. And watching it again. And again. And again.
  2. Once you get to that point, begin creating a written synopsis. Include all the major issues you've been developing mentally, from start to finish. When that's complete, you should have something along the lines of a two- or three-page outline for an average-length book. Don't waste time including small or insignificant details that are likely to change in the end, anyway. Think about Mrs. Lemke, your sixth-grade composition teacher, and how she drilled those outlining techniques into your cranium during her class.
  3. Once you're satisfied with your written synopsis, go back and begin breaking it down into chunks. This is another opportunity to refine things as you go. Add some things you missed, and delete some things that aren't really important. You'll find logical starting and stopping points as you work your way through the synopsis. Number each one as a new chapter. Doing that will also allow you to refine and fine-tune your story even more. Don't fret about being tied down to some storyline details that you might want to change later. As you begin expanding the chapter outline into full chapters, you can make whatever changes to your story that you feel are relevant—but only if they advance the storyline and plot or add to your characters' development!
  4. When you're convinced that the story has an adult feel to it and your protagonist is everything you'd always hoped him/her to be, start fleshing out the chapters one at a time. Work from the beginning forward until you reach the grand finale. Start with chapter one, take the first sentence from the chapter outline, and expand upon that sentence until you've covered everything to which it pertains. Take the second sentence in your chapter-one outline, and do the same with that. In short, you're taking a skeleton outline and fleshing it out into fully developed chapters by adding more detail, one sentence or point at a time. The outline at this point functions pretty much as a road map for your summer vacation: Turn left at the next intersection; continue on that road for six miles, and turn right at the light.

Finally, after you've finished fleshing everything out, you'll have a completed adult Fantasy novel that reads EXACTLY the way you pictured it in your mind—only better because you will have refined and tuned it several times! Then, just sit back, pour yourself a glass of Merlot, and wait for the good news from some interested editor or literary agent who can't wait to read the book in its entirety.




D. J. Herda is author of the new eBook series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere.

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