Novel Writing: Backing Up Important Work

As a writer who writes every day, I go to great measures to ensure my work is safe.   I’ve described some of the online storage sites I use in a previous post.  Since then, I’ve discovered some more.

All the sites listed are free at a basic level, although users pay for extra features. Seems fair enough to me.  You can also store photographs and digital music files free of charge with some of the sites.

Here’s the list:


Novel Writing: Tell The Story You Want To Tell

From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved concocting scenarios.  Indeed, I constantly told harmless tales when I was a child.  Lies, yes, but not serious ones.  (Although I’ve told a few big lies as well over the years and managed to keep a straight face!)

Some years ago, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, a psychological thriller.  When I began the project, I relied on gut feeling.  Hence, my main character got frightened early on in the story, but soon stood up for herself, for I sensed that characters should fight back and not become too passive. Then came the local writing group and all the various “rules,” and my writing soon lost focus, due in part to that awful phrase “Show, Don’t Tell.”  From that point on, I concentrated  on “showing” and producing a good writing style, and ended up missing the whole point of the writing: the story.

When I met the editor last December, she wouldn’t give me a detailed critique of my first novel.  Instead, she told me to look to myself for the answers – which, hopefully, I have done.  I’ve spent the last three months delving deep into the central character of both novels and examining the plots in detail so that each plot is believable in terms of forensic investigation.  At the same time, I’ve taken an intuitive view and asked myself what it is I really wish to convey. What issues do I feel passionate about?  What scenes can I easily envisage?  How do these scenes affect the lives and the emotions of the central characters?

At times, I’ve discovered answers I hadn’t originally considered, but I feel the writing has taken on a new quality – shape and structure.

Intensity In Novel Writing/Hershey’s Blog Hop for Children’s Miracle Network

I am fairly satisfied now that the various story questions in my second novel are unfolding in a way that allows immediacy and atmosphere and tension.  Earlier, I went through the basic plot outline, refining those few points that were still presenting slight problems.  I’m enjoying the psychological intensity in the story, the feeling of building layer upon layer.

I’ve recently developed an interest in digital photography, particularly the type of scene for each shot – landscape, portrait, close up.  For some reason, close up seems closest to the narrative scenes in my second novel, focusing intensely on the emotional drama in each scene.  It’s tiring, but rewarding.



Hershey’s Blog Hop for Children’s Miracle Network

Adam Dustus and various bloggers I know are participating in the Better Baskets Blog Hop. I am following their example.

For every blog post written today and linked up, the Hershey’s Corporation will donate $10 to the Children’s Miracle Network.
Children’s Miracle Network is a non-profit organization that raises funds for more than 170 children’s hospitals. Countless individuals, organizations and media partners unite with Children’s Miracle Network hospitals to help sick and injured kids in local communities… (read more)
Rules of Acceptance :
* Copy and paste these *rules to your blog post.
* Create a blog post of giving a virtual Easter Basket to 1-? bloggers – you can give as many Virtual Baskets as you want.
* Link back to person who gave you an Easter Basket.
* Let each person you are giving a Virtual Easter Basket know you have given them a Basket.
* Leave your link at where you can also find the official rules of this  #betterbasket blog hop and more information about Better Basket with Hershey’s.
* Hershey’s is donating $10 per each blog participating to the Better Basket Blog Hop to Children’s Miracle Network (up to total of $5,000 by blog posts written by April 4th, 2010).

* Please note that only one blog post by each blog url will count towards the donation.

I would like to extend a basket to:

Teresa, a very gifted writer.

Novel Writing: Projecting The Story


Alan is a web designer, living in London and married to Lana.  But when Lana disappears, abandoning their eight-year-old son, Alan’s nightmare is just beginning.  Forced to move to his sister’s country cottage, he struggles to rebuild his life.  But on the eve of the move, he receives an email from someone in his past. The events that follow trigger a series of flashbacks, dragging Alan deeper into the past and danger.

I’m at that stage again, nearly a quarter of the way through a psychological thriller and wondering how to proceed.  Instinct tells me I should concentrate on the central character himself – what he most wants, what he most fears, his conflicts, his hopes.  In the past, I tended to give the other viewpoint characters (i.e. sister, best friend) too much space in the story, resulting in a piece of writing that had too many strands and confusing details.

I’ve found that holding back on important disclosures and letting the reader make the connections allows the story to unfold.  To do this, I’m writing many of the scenes from scratch with the central story questions in mind, rather than relying on previous drafts. 

The novel also includes some memory flashbacks and instances where the character confuses significant childhood memories – this is the part I’ve reached in the story.  I feel the novel is taking shape, but it’s a long and tedious process.

Finally, I’m experimenting with present tense in all the viewpoint narratives – that’s first person present tense for the central character and third person present tense for the other viewpoints.

St Patrick’s Day

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day.  It’s also my birthday and I feel quite honoured to have been born on such a special day.  I’m planning a small celebration in the local pub tomorrow evening.  I may well take a day off from my writing.

Wishing everyone a good and happy St Patrick’s Day for tomorrow.

Novel Writing: Emotionally Gripping Drama

I’m at a crossroads in my writing.  Recently, I completed the revision on my first novel, a psychological thriller set in the countryside.   I think the editor will read it next month. In the meantime, I’m reworking my second novel.

The second novel deals with flashbacks and repressed memories of a childhood event, but for some reason, the novel has always lacked the smooth flow required for a compelling story, although one avid reader of crime fiction described it as “very exciting.”   I would agree that some of the sections are well written, but not presented in the right order.  Too many memories too early on, preventing the main story from unfolding  in the present.

In tackling the story, I hope to get straight into the head of the central character and find out what he most desires and most fears.  I’ve also changed the location to a particularly bleak place in the north of England to allow for intensity and greater atmosphere – and, of course, a bit of dialectic dialogue.  I already feel that the novel is in better shape.

Some thoughts on writing emotionally gripping drama

  • Choose subjects you feel passionate about
  • Don’t hold back from writing about topics that make you feel uncomfortable (unless the writing causes you to wince from embarrassment)
  • Concentrate on projecting the story
  • Don’t get too sidetracked by so-called rules.  I’ve heard aspiring novelists say that a new viewpoint should start in a new chapter –  but many good stories don’t adhere to this
  • Have fun with the story

My Second Novel

I recently finished the revision of my first novel and hope to send it back to the editor next month.   But the second novel is in a bad shape, I think.  I read about two thirds of it this evening and found I didn’t want to continue reading  – a very bad sign for a writer.

The story, a psychological thriller set in the UK, addresses what happens when two adults meet for the first time in twenty-five years.  As children, both characters ran from a murder.  The central character, a web designer recently separated from his American wife, has no recollection of the events in his past.  As he renews his friendship with his childhood friend, flashbacks of the murder return to haunt him, leading to confusion and danger.

Sounds like a good story, so what has gone wrong?   Too much cut and pasting scenes, I think.  The potential for truly spine chilling drama is never really developed, although a couple of the scenes scared me a bit. Attempts to improve on some of the previous drafts have had the opposite effect and interrupted the original flow of the story, causing it to become  disjointed.   Neither the present nor the past is ever really developed.  Nor is any viewpoint – a serious sign.

Maybe I’m judging the manuscript too harshly, but I plan to work on the novel away from the main computer file, concentrating on scenes rather than chapters.  I still think the overall story and plot could work. Like before, I will use the open source free novel writing software, Storybook.

Themes And Viewpoint In Novel Writing

I have finished revising my first novel, a psychological thriller set in the English countryside, and am waiting to hear when I can send it back to the editor.   The revision process took just under three months and proved less difficult than I’d anticipated.

The novel complete, I now have some time on my hands, but I can rarely go through a day without doing some creative writing, so this evening I took a look at the first twelve chapters of my third novel, another psychological thriller.  A few months ago, a local novelist group read some of the chapters of the third novel and commented favourably on the writing style but not the plot.  Having carefully read through the material this evening and made notes, I would say that the writing style and plot are not yet up to standard, although a couple of the scenes really chilled me.  The plot itself doesn’t ring true at this stage.

As I read, I concentrated on themes and story questions, composing a basic structure that I think could work, especially with rotating viewpoints to develop atmosphere.   I’ve always liked working with more than one viewpoint to allow one perspective to complement another.   Recording the relevant story questions is crucial too, as having a clear list of areas to address helps the draft stay focused.  I recommend the novel writing software Storybook, an open source package that can be downloaded for free. Storybook enables writers to work in scenes with various theme strand charts, crucial for the novel’s structure.