My guest today is Bill Hopkins, and he's given some great writing advice. Wish I'd started doing what he suggest in his first tip way back when I started writing my two series.
Let me give you the best two pieces of writing advice I ever got. This advice is good for any kind of fiction. I don’t remember where I heard this and for that, I apologize. I do, however, know they work.
Here’s the first: Whether you’re an outliner or write by the seat of your pants, write at the beginning of each chapter how many scenes are in the chapter. Then for each scene, insert what day in the novel you are at, where the scene takes place, who is in the scene, what happens in the scene, and which character’s point of view you are using. This helps you keep your timeline straight, your geography correct, your cast in line, and your action making sense.
Another important thing is that this information stops you from straying from the point of view. I recommend keeping one point of view in each chapter. Head-hopping (telling the story from two or more characters’ viewpoints in a scene) and shifting points of view (telling the story from different characters’ points of view) can be distracting and, in effect, plop down speed bumps on the Interstate of your story. So, avoid head-hopping altogether and don’t shift points of view in the same chapter.
If you have the information in the first tip in writing, either in your novel itself or in a separate file, you’ll be amazed how helpful it is when you write the sequel!
Here’s the second: In every scene, show (not tell) who is there and where it takes place. Also, show the source of light (day, night, whatever). In addition, show how all six senses affect the point of view character in that chapter. Six? Yes. Besides taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing, add the sense of emotion. How does your character feel and react? Show us. Don’t tell us.
A good example of the second piece of advice is Stephen King’s novel 11/23/63, the best novel he’s ever written in my never to be humble opinion. Read it.
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