Welcome to my toolbox!
Over the years, I've seen the same queries and requests and issues reoccur consistently, so I've built this page to hopefully answer some questions before you even realize you need to ask them.
You've finished your first novel. What next?
Or maybe you've finished your fourth novel, but you're not sure you've hit your writing stride yet.
First and foremost - congratulations! I probably don't even know you yet, but I'm still incredibly proud of you. Writing an entire book is a marvelous accomplishment. Be sure you celebrate a little before you dive into editing and revision.
The steps below are numbered to help you determine when in your process you should be considering each aspect.
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Step 1: Story structure.
Each of your main characters should have:
- a goal - something they want
- motivation - the reason they want it
- conflict - what's stopping them from getting it
- character arc - what they learn through the course of trying to obtain that goal
- flaw - the wound or bias that guides their (poor) decisions
- stakes - the consequences of not attaining the goal
Story structure tools
My self-paced online course teaches the six elements of romance using popular film examples like The Proposal, Crazy Rich Asians, Trainwreck, Dirty Dancing and more. Definitions, tips, how and when to use the elements in your plotting or revision process (spoiler - anytime!), and even a recorded plotting call with one of my authors are all included, plus lifetime access to the content, even when I make future updates.
If you prefer books over classes, Gwen Hayes's Romancing the Beat is a guide I recommend to nearly every client who is new to this whole writing deal. Hayes breaks down romance novel structure into an easy-to-follow roadmap of story beats and provides plenty of examples.
Debra Dixon is kind of the queen of goal, motivation and conflict. Her book has been used by writing craft instructors for years as a crucial part of teaching fiction story structure. One key point to keep in mind with this book is that it isn't romance-specific like the other two resources. That said, it is a very thorough and readable guide to understanding GMC and why it's so vital to story.
Step 2: Deep POV and showing versus telling.
What is deep POV? To put it simply, it's when the book is written in a manner that allows the reader to experience the story as (or with) the narrator rather than being told the story by the narrator or author.
Use coupon code JSE10 for a $10 discount!
Jill Elizabeth Nelson's book is short and to-the-point, offering definitions, descriptions, and examples of how and when to use deep POV in your writing. The book was released in 2012 and indie publishing has changed significantly since then, but writing craft has not. This little book is 63 pages of concise information you can read and start implementing relatively quickly. It even includes exercises!
Step 3: Self-editing.
With saving you money in mind (or at least putting your money to the best use), I recommend two books for self-editing before you send your manuscript to me or any other editor or an agent.
Tiffany Yates Martin is a tremendously skilled editor, an incredible teacher, and a lovely human being. If you ever have the chance to take a workshop she leads, jump on it! Until that day, this book is a great substitute.
Renni Browne and Dave King's book has been recommended for years and 700+ reviews on Amazon attest to its usefulness. Not only does it provide guidance and examples, this baby offers exercises so you can practice what they teach!