Saturday, July 28, 2012




This is it. The training wheels are off. You have a snapshot of your novel and a rough map for creating it. You know which characters you’re bringing in, what they’ll face, and in what locations.  
            Step seven - start writing the story from the beginning and don’t stop until you have a complete first draft. Writing a novel really is this straight-forward when you break it into the seven manageable steps of the writing pyramid. Still feeling overwhelmed? Some things to consider.
1.     Get over the “every word has to be perfect” mindset. It’ll slow down your writing process. The first  draft is just that—a beginning.
2.     Set a daily writing goal and keep it realistic. I try to do a page and a half. If possible, set aside the same time daily for your writing.
3.     Keep your notebook on hand and refer to it often, adding new character points and sub-characters, names and places, so you’ll always have a reference guide.
4.     Fine-tune your outline as you write, which makes it easy to go back and find things.
5.     Keep your work well organized. If you do it as you go, you won’t struggle with things like missing chapters and out-of-sequence pages later.
6.     Second-guessing your work? Read it out loud. It’s amazing what comes to light when you hear the words.
7.     On days when you aren’t feeling creative—write anyway! That’s what the editing process is for.

Dear readers,
I wish you the best of luck with your writing. If you get stuck with anything, you’ll find a myriad of articles posted on writer’s blogs. It helps to get pointers from others who’ve been where your are.
      A special Thank You to Jess Lourey for creating The Pyramid Approach. I’m sure there are many other structure-resistant writers out there who will enjoy using such a simple guideline for writing their novel.
 Have a wonderful week,

Saturday, July 21, 2012

STEP SIX - It's Time to Outline


It’s time to do a rough outline of your novel. Are you ready? Feel like you aren’t? Remember the words of Jack London: ““You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Get your clubs out and begin.
A chapter-by-chapter, detailed outline is laborious to craft (Unless you’re James Patterson, who writes from 50 page outlines!) and restricts the creative drive when it comes time to actually write the novel.
Instead, I recommend generating a rough outline that highlights only the major conflicts and character interactions, essentially a more complex version of the summary you completed in Step 2.  A “big picture” outline allows you to always have something exciting to write toward without eliminating the joy of discovering what your characters will do when left to their own deices.
And if you’re still frantically looking around the room for distractions, try these tips:
1.                    Many authors begin with a three-part approach—beginning, middle, and end. With those divisions in place, you can fill in conflict and character details. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
2.                    Use your outline to fill in dates of events. A broad view of your time sequence will be invaluable once you start your individual chapters.
3.                    Some authors highlight appearances of their main characters with different colors. This is especially helpful if doing a mystery and the protagonist makes regular, individual chapter appearances.
4.                    A large, erasable whiteboard is useful if you need to look at things visually. It puts everything right up front and into perspective.
5.                    Another excellent, visual tool for outlining is a bulletin board. With index cards, you can arrange and rearrange sections and chapters at will.

Dear Readers,
I’m so happy you’ve stayed with me through these steps. For me, using structure is terribly difficult. I’m using these steps for my third novel, and must admit—I need the club!
            But I’m moving forward, and that’s everything. Next week - the last step.
Have a wonderful weekend. Make time for fun and for your writing.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Step Five

Develop each sentence from your paragraph in Step 2 into a full-page description.

You’ve established your characters, their placement in your scenes, and a paragraph’s description of where your story is headed. It’s time to expand. On each page, along with the narrative, try to include at least two sound, two smell, and two feel details. Sensory detail serves to bring the reader into your setting.
            For example, let’s look at the first sentence of The Time Machine summary from step 2: The book opens with the Time Traveler dining with learned peers in the late 1800s England, where he is trying to convince them that he has invented a time machine.
            In expanding to one page, you’d describe the characters’ clothes, the smell and flavor of the food they’re eating, the feel of the tablecloth under their hands, the clank of the forks on their plates. This would also be the time for some preliminary research into the political issues, mores, and scientific breakthroughs of England in the late 1800s, so accurate conversational topics, correct clothing, and hairstyles would be part of the page.
            Specific to the topic of a time machine, you’d brainstorm and roughly outline the give-and-take that would occur in a conversation if someone told you they’d invented a time machine. If at all possible, it's always a good idea to work some dialogue into your opening chapter.
            If your story is a mystery, you may want to think about planting a clue to it’s solution, or a foreshadowing of an event yet to come.
            Do this for every sentence in Step 2.

Dear readers,

This step will commit you to a bigger time investment. But this, and the other things you’ve gathered to prepare you for your project, the actual drafting of the novel will be much easier.
            Happy writing and have a good week,


Friday, July 6, 2012


                             Step Four - 

Sketch Your Setting

Like paper dolls, coloring books and paint by numbers, Step four is a fun step, especially helpful for all of us visual learners.
If you don’t have a notebook for your novel, buy one. You want to physically draw the neighborhood and the interior space where most of your story will take place. No need to be a graphic artist for this step, a rough picture of your scene will do.
For example, a room used frequently in your story: etch in the major pieces of furniture, placement of windows and doors, as well as which direction is north. In the novel I’m working on, I had to do this for a neighborhood that held a string of buildings important in the storyline. Also, I had to do the layout of the apartments above the stores. With a sketch, you won’t be floundering around later, like I did before the sketch, trying to decipher what’s what, and making sure the layout made sense to the readers.
If your book is set mostly in a neighborhood or small town, sketch out the relevant cross streets and put labeled boxes where you imagine all the businesses and homes would be.
Setting sketches anchor your writing and allow you to maintain congruity in your place descriptions. Staple in a photo or two if you come across an image that visually captures an element of your setting. This step, like the first three, will enable you to go with the flow when you write.

Dear Readers,
Have a good time playing with your scenes this week. If you recall, the Pyramid method, is a “reversed” pyramid with the smaller steps at the bottom. Not sure the next step is harder necessarily, but will be more time consuming.
Have a great week,