American suspense author Michael Murphy is back today for a second guest post. He is going to give a writing workshop, based on his class You Too Can Write a Nove. Here’s Michael:
Six tips to get you started, keep you going and finish a novel.
What’s the most common statement I get when people learn I’ve had seven novels published? “I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but I could never do it.”
People who love to write often conclude they don’t have what it takes to write a seventy-thousand word (or more) novel. I tell them what I’ve learned from becoming a novelist.
The basic component of a novel is not a sentence or paragraph. The basic component is a scene. In school teachers often gave assignments to write a five-hundred word theme. We got through it right? If you can write a five hundred-word theme, you can write a five hundred word scene. If you can write three or four scenes, you can write a chapter. If you can write a chapter, you can write twenty or more. If you can write twenty chapters, you can write a seventy thousand word novel!
What else have I learned? I learned six tips that work for me and many others I’ve met, W-R-I-T-E-S. If you keep these tips posted somewhere near your computer, they’ll help you get started and keep going until you finish a novel.
W- Write your novel with an end in mind, but give your characters room to grow.
R- Rake your characters over the coals of extreme personal and professional conflict.
I- Ignore advice to write what you know. Write the type of novel you love to read.
T- Take your reader to exotic locations or scary places you’d never go yourself.
E- Edit later, outline later, take writing classes later. Just get started.
S- Start with a bang. Grab the reader in the beginning and don’t let go. The most important line of your novel is the first. Make it memorable. Librarian Nancy Pearl once said, “I think when you read a good first line, it’s like falling in love.
These six steps will help you get started. But often a novel will sag a third of the way through. The writer might get stuck wondering what direction the story should go. Some writers give up and never finish. How do you keep going? There are two things to remember that will keep you going, every scene needs conflict and emotion.
Conflict and emotion drive plot. Emotion will occur if your characters have to deal with conflict. If your scene lacks conflict it will lack sufficient emotion to keep your reader reading. If your scene lacks conflict, throw it out and write a new scene.
If your manuscript sags at any point in your novel, analyze the source of the conflict then add to your main character’s personal and professional conflict. Conflict and emotion, they will keep you going until the end.
You can do it. Get started. Until you write the following two words, you’ll never write a novel:
In addition to being a full time writer, Michael Murphy is a part time urban chicken rancher. He and his wife make their home in Arizona with their two cats, four dogs and five chickens. He enjoys writing mystery and suspense novels with twists and turns and splashes of humor. Scorpion Bay is his seventh novel.
Here are Michael’s links again. Two Amazon links, for paperback and Kindle:
Here are a couple of reviews of Scorpion Bay
‘Strap yourself in and get ready for plenty of action, suspense, crime, corruption, a touch of romance and comedy. Include a high tech motorcycle, our hero in a black disguise to hide his identity along with designer drugs, intrigue and danger on a luxury yacht on Scorpion Bay. Michael Murphy shares the map to fast paced intrigue with three dimensional characters and a great story line that will keep you involved and wanting more until the last page.’
Nikki Leigh, award winning fiction and non fiction author.
“Part thriller, part romance, part comedy, part mystery and all satisfying; Scorpion Bay is an impossible book to put down. Prepare to burn the midnight oil with this one, rooting for Parker Knight as Murphy carefully unravels the plot on the very last word.”
Alisha Paige, author of Circle City: Lord of the Wolfen–coming soon.
Thank you Michael. I’m sure your readers will have found your advice helpful and it will prod them to actually get started, go on and finish that book.