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Novel Writing from A to Z: The Alphabetical Elements of Writing Fiction

Novel Writing from A to Z: The Alphabetical Elements of Writing Fiction

Staring down the primary clean web page of your novel-to-be may be daunting—however any hesitation stops right here. Our A to Z information of professional ideas, inspirational recommendation and useful hints will stroll you from Web page 1 by means of The Finish.

Compiled by Baihley Gentry & Tyler Moss



We’ve got to take a look at our personal inertia, insecurities, self-hate, worry that, in fact, we now have nothing helpful to say. It’s true that once we start something new, resistances fly in our face. Now you will have the chance to not run or be tossed away, however to take a look at them black and white on paper and see what their foolish voices say. When your writing blooms out of the again of this rubbish and compost, it is extremely secure. You aren’t operating from something. You’ll be able to have a way of inventive safety. In case you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you’ll not worry the critics outdoors you.

— Writing Down the Bones by NATALIE GOLDBERG (Shambhala)


When writing your first draft, being busy is vital. It might really feel irritating at first, however having every day writing durations curtailed by chores, household and different distractions truly helps you get the factor accomplished. That is partly as a result of the hectic tempo forces you to sort with a fleet-fingered desperation. However it’s principally as a result of noveling within the midst of a chaotic life makes “book time” a deal with moderately than an obligation. It’s a small psychological shift, nevertheless it makes all of the distinction on the planet.

— No Plot? No Drawback by CHRIS BATY (Chronicle Books)


Preventing muddle is like preventing weeds—the author is all the time barely behind. … Think about all of the prepositions which are draped onto verbs that don’t want any assist. We not head committees. We head them up. We don’t face issues anymore. We face up to them once we can unencumber a couple of minutes. A small element, you might say—not value bothering about. It’s value bothering about. Writing improves in direct ratio to the quantity of issues we will hold out of it that shouldn’t be there.

— On Writing Nicely by WILLIAM ZINSSER (Quill)

D: Discover the Telling DETAILS

“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything. Or a broken billboard. Or weeds growing in the cracks of a library’s steps. … The details are always the starting place in speculative or fantasy fiction. They must be clear and textured.”

— STEPHEN KING (WD Interview, Might/June 2009)

E: Have in Thoughts an ENDING

Beginnings, like first kisses, want solely seduce us with their potential, clearly set up the theme, forged and tenor of the affair to come, whereas the ending should understand the story’s potential, ship on the checks the start has signed, and achieve this in such a memorable means that the reader is left wanting extra. For we might overlook how a relationship started— we have been drunk, it was wartime, it started slowly—however not often can we overlook the way it ended—with a slap, a kiss tasting of tears, a farewell wave from the again of a camel. It’s the top of the story we’re targeted on once we recount these tales of betrayal, misplaced love, infidelity, isn’t it?

— “Endings: Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow” by ELISSA SCHAPPELL, in The Author’s Pocket book II (Tin Home Books)

Hearth Up Your Writing Mind

F: FIRE Up Your Curiosity

Researchers have discovered that when a topic’s curiosity had been piqued by the “right” query, they have been higher at studying and remembering utterly unrelated info. Curiosity creates a kind of mind vortex that sucks in no matter you are feeling most motivated to study, together with concepts that could be floating round your surroundings. The spark of curiosity lights up the hippocampus (the place the creation of reminiscences happens), and the reward and pleasure mind circuits, which launch dopamine. So if you would like an alert mind, begin your day by immersing your self in one thing you discover fascinating and mysterious. Pique your curiosity, benefit from the pure excessive and study one thing new.

— Hearth Up Your Writing Mind by SUSAN REYNOLDS (WD Books)

G: Maintain GENRE on the Core

Your selection of style has ramifications for the story. Enjoyable ramifications. Ramifications that may allow you to accomplish what it’s you’re hoping to do with this novel. … It’s all concerning the influence of your core story concept. What style would give your concept the utmost help in your effort to accomplish the belongings you love about it?

— Write Your Novel in a Month by JEFF GERKE (WD Books)

H: Type a HABIT

“My passions drive me to the typewriter every day of my life, and they have driven me there since I was 12. So I never have to worry about schedules. Some new thing is always exploding in me, and it schedules me, I don’t schedule it. It says: Get to the typewriter right now and finish this.”

— RAY BRADBURY (Paris Assessment, “The Art of Fiction No. 203”)

21 Ray Bradbury Quotes: Your Second of Friday Writing Zen

I: Know Your IDEAL Reader

Direct your [novel] towards one archetypal reader or a like-minded group, and also you’ll outline your story in a method that permits others to consider it and to really feel what you are feeling. You don’t have to know exactly what your story means in a bigger sense … however you do want to know what you need your story to imply to your readers and the way it will have an effect on them.

— The Artistic Compass by DAN MILLMAN & SIERRA PRASADA (HJ Kramer)

J: Maintain a JOURNAL

One consolation I take from my journals is that regardless of the place I’m within the present novel, I can all the time peek again into the journals I’ve stored for earlier books and uncover I used to be simply as confused and befuddled again then as I’m in the present day. Prior journals are reminders that regardless of previous struggles, I did one way or the other handle to prevail. Having survived by means of two novels or 5, and even 12, in my case, there’s some purpose to suppose I’ll survive to write the subsequent.

— Writing the Personal Eye Novel by SUE GRAFTON (WD Books)

Okay: KILL Your Darlings

“The best technique,” Henry Miller as soon as remarked, “is no technique at all.” Which might be true. However Miller may need added that to attain “no technique” takes years of research and follow. Plainspoken writing seems to be straightforward. However to write plainly, transparently, takes modesty, self-discipline and saintly restraint. The end result goes down like a glass of clear chilly water, and is as onerous to argue with.”

— 179 Methods to Save a Novel by PETER SELGIN (WD Books)

L: LET Characters Affect Plot

A character in a specific state of affairs will react in all kinds of methods based mostly on his character and the connection he might have to different characters and the setting. If the whole plot is labored out prematurely and the writer merely peoples it with characters to perform the motion, the characters will appear stiff and unreal.

— Writing Nice Books for Younger Adults by REGINA BROOKS (Sourcebooks)

M: MANAGE the Center

After you’ve strengthened the inspiration of your story, you face the exhausting work of constructing the center. Most sag. Not sufficient occurs. The central battle just isn’t pushed terribly far. The principal drawback doesn’t turn into excessive. For nearly all novelists, the problem is to push farther, go deeper, and get imply and nasty.

— Writing 21st Century Fiction by DONALD MAASS (WD Books)


All of us need to know what occurs subsequent. Th at is common and that’s the reason the spine of a novel has to be a narrative. Some of us need to know nothing else— there’s nothing in us however primeval curiosity, and consequently our different literary judgments are ludicrous. And now the story could be outlined. It’s a narrative of occasions organized of their time sequence—dinner coming after breakfast, Tuesday after Monday, decay after demise, and so forth. Qua story, it could actually solely have one benefit: that of making the viewers need to know what occurs subsequent. And conversely it may possibly solely have one fault: that of making the viewers not need to know what occurs subsequent.

— Elements of the Novel by E.M. FORSTER (Harcourt)

O: OPEN Robust

A good opening suggests the character of the story about to be advised. It locates the reader, if not within the story’s place and time, then within the strategy of the story—its tone and narrative stance.

— The Author’s Concept Ebook by JACK HEFFRON (WD Books)


“The important parts are the prime plot elements … the peripheral elements spin off of those, sometimes affecting things directly, sometimes not, but you play them out because they are useful.”

— TOM CLANCY (WD Interview, January 2001)

Q: Don’t QUIT

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”



Revising is a component of writing. Few writers are so skilled that they will produce what they’re after on the primary attempt. Very often you’ll uncover, on analyzing the finished work, that there are critical flaws within the association of the fabric, calling for transpositions. … Keep in mind, it’s no signal of weak spot or defeat that your manuscript results in want of main surgical procedure. Th is is a standard prevalence in all writing, and among the many greatest writers.

— The Elements of Fashion by WILLIAM STRUNK JR. & E.B. WHITE (Penguin)


The sound of the language is the place all of it begins. The check of a sentence is, Does it sound correct? The primary parts of language are bodily: the noises phrases make, the sounds and silences that make the rhythms marking their relationships. Each the which means and the sweetness of the writing rely upon these sounds and rhythms. Th is is simply as true of prose as it’s of poetry, although the sound results of prose are often delicate and all the time irregular.

— Steering the Craft by URSULA Okay. LE GUIN (Mariner)


Each nice story, regardless of style, will embrace a twist. Why? Readers need to be each glad and stunned. The extra they will decipher precisely the place a narrative goes, the extra disillusioned they’ll be. Nevertheless, if the occasions of the story aren’t causally associated, they’ll really feel simply as let down. … Satisfying twists are revelatory within the sense that they add new which means to all that precedes them.

— Story Trumps Construction by STEVEN JAMES (WD Books)


As in life, so in fiction. Vulnerability creates a sort of undertow, pulling us towards a personality who’s wounded or imperfect, and that engaging drive is way extra necessary than whether or not the character is “likeable.” Individuals will settle for a sure diploma of unpleasantness, even outright evil, in a personality so long as she stays compelling, which depends far much less on her being nice than on her being engaged in a significant wrestle.

— The Artwork of Character by DAVID CORBETT (Penguin)

W: Watch Your WORDS

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”


plot, paula munier

Plot Good
How to Construct Unforgettable Tales Scene by Scene

XYZ: Be Your Personal XYZ

The similar, however totally different is what publishing is all about in at this time’s difficult market. Publishers are on the lookout for one thing the identical as [insert your favorite bestseller here], however totally different. “Just like a bestselling XYZ,” as a result of this proves there’s a marketplace for this type of guide. Nevertheless it also needs to be totally different sufficient to set it aside from the bestseller and to distinguish itself in a market full of comparable tales.

— Plot Good by PAULA MUNIER (WD Books)

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