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By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Discovering your novel doesn’t work is heartbreaking, but there are things you can do to fix it.

Story ideas are wonderful things, because they hold so much potential. Every spark of inspiration has the ability to become the next Great Novel and make a writer’s whole career. Or at least lead to a solid book readers might want to buy.

Not all ideas lead to good books, though.

Sometimes it’s the idea itself that’s the problem, but frequently, it’s the execution—but not in a “badly written” kind of way. The reason the idea (and the novel) falls flat is this:

It doesn’t tell a story, it explains a situation.

The “situation novel” isn’t about characters trying to solve problems, but scene after scene that tells readers how a situation occurs, offers a flat, play-by-play of how something came to be, or even examples of why this idea is so cool.
Written by Janice Hardy. Fiction-University.com
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By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your WIP to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week, check every scene and make sure readers are learning something new about the story, world, or characters.
One way to keep hooking readers in a novel is to reveal something new about the story. Maybe it’s a bit of character history or a not-yet-seen aspect of their personalities, perhaps it’s something about the world, or even how the story mechanics work if it’s science fiction or fantasy. It could even be the revelation of a secret—either the answer to one or that one exists.

It doesn’t have to me a major book-shattering reveal, as long as something is learned that lets readers further immerse themselves in your story and world.
Written by Janice Hardy. Fiction-University.com
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Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and we diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.

If you're interested in submitting to Real Life Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines. 

Submissions currently in the queue: Two

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through August 3.

This week’s questions:

1. What are your feelings about this character? Could you bond with her?

2. Is there enough tension to keep you reading?

3. What are your expectations from these opening lines?

4. In your view, what is the opening promise?

5. Is inserting the flashback a good or bad idea?

Market/Genre: Literary Fiction

On to the diagnosis…
Written by Janice Hardy. Fiction-University.com
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By Sherry Howard, @SherLHoward

Part of The Writer's Life Series


JH: They say hindsight is 20/20, but with today's resources, we can all benefit from what others have learned. Sherry Howard returns to the lecture hall this month to talk about motifs and how they strengthen our writing. 

Sherry Howard lives in Middletown, Kentucky, in a household busy with kids and pets. She worked as an educator, and now has the luxury of writing full time. Her debut picture book, Rock and Roll Woods, released in October, 2018. And her middle grade NF, Deep Sea Divers, just released. She has more books in the pipeline for publication soon.

Sherry loves to meet other readers and writers, so be in touch on social media here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Take it away Sherry…
Written by Janice Hardy. Fiction-University.com
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By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Getting stuck in your writing doesn't mean you've got writer's block.

At some point, we all hit a wall in our writing. We get stuck, we don't know what happens next, maybe we know where we need to go, but not sure how to get there.

Hitting a wall can freak us out and make us panic, because it feels a lot like writer's block. We get stuck and fear the words won't come anymore, and struggle to get anything down, and nothing works. But most of the time, we're not blocked at all--it's just our subconscious telling us we're missing something we need to move forward.

Next time you hit a writing wall, take a deep breath, step back, and diagnose what the problem might be:
Written by Janice Hardy. Fiction-University.com
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By Laurence MacNaughton, @LMacNaughton

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: Even though every writer has their own process, we still all face the same problems from time to time. Laurence MacNaughton is back this month with tips on avoiding the pitfalls no writer wants to stumble into.

Has your writing fallen into a black hole? Has your pacing dropped to a crawl, or your suspense become a snore? Do you just feel stuck? You might be sabotaging your own writing without even knowing it. But don't panic. Here's how to avoid the four most perilous pitfalls of writing.

Pitfall #1: Your plot is going nowhere.
If your story is bogging down, it's probably because you (the author) need to spend more time visualizing the specific outcome your main character wants.

Think about your main character for a minute. This person should desperately want to either: A) achieve something positive; or B) avoid something negative. Maybe both.

What does your main character want, exactly?

Written by Janice Hardy. Fiction-University.com
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By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

The age-old quandary--is a well-written novel novel better than a great idea?

Idea or execution. Two directions many writers struggle with. Should they write the technically perfect book and not worry about the idea, or find the perfect story and not worry about the writing?

The realty is that each takes precedence at different points of a writer's career. Sometimes you'll want to worry about the technical aspects of writing, and later, the storytelling is what matters more. By the end of your path, both become vital for success.

But you don't have to hit that end goal first, and focusing on the wrong aspect at the wrong time can even hurt you. I've seen plenty of first-time writers worry so much over finding the perfect idea that it keeps them from writing at all. I've also seen many long-term writers who were so sure of their ideas that they didn't bother to edit after a first draft.

Both types of writers struggled much more than than needed to.

For those of you heading down the writing path and wondering which matters more--idea or execution--consider where you are on your journey before you decide where to put your creative energy.
Written by Janice Hardy. Fiction-University.com
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Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and we diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.

If you're interested in submitting to Real Life Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines. 

Submissions currently in the queue: Two

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through July 27.

This week’s questions:

1. What are your expectations from these opening lines?

2. In your view, what promise is made to the reader?

3. Is there enough tension to keep you reading?

4. What is your overall impression?

Market/Genre: General Fiction

Note: This is a revised snippet: Here’s the original if you’d like to see what the author did

On to the diagnosis…
Written by Janice Hardy. Fiction-University.com
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By Ray Flynt

Part of The Indie Author Series


JH: Audiobooks are hugely popular, but not every author knows how to create one for their novels. Ray Flynt is back in the lecture hall today to walk us through the process of creating an audiobook. 

In its purest form, writing a novel is storytelling. The world’s first books undoubtedly had their genesis in timeless stories once told around campfires. We also know that children learn to read and develop their own love of books by being read to, whether from those first Golden Books or hearing about the adventures of Harry Potter.

Thanks to ACX.com (an Amazon company) Indie Authors can see their stories come to life as an audiobook. It makes sense to have your books available in as many formats as possible to appeal to a broad audience. I’m always puzzled when I see Indie Authors say, “I only have my novel available as an eBook, since a print version would be too expensive.” It’s my contention that if you’re willing to spend time and a modest amount of money, you can easily develop a trade paperback. In this article, I’ll provide my perspective on adding an audiobook format to your available mix.
Written by Janice Hardy. Fiction-University.com
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By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Going too far in our writing happens, and a good sentence or even scene can turn into an overwritten mess. 

The term purple prose has been around as long as I've been writing, and chances are you've heard it to. You'll also hear folks say "the prose is too flowery" or it feels "overwritten." People know it when they see it, but how do you spot it in your own work? And more importantly--how do you fix it?

If you're unfamiliar with the term, purple or flowery prose is so filled with adjectives and adverbs, similes and metaphors, that it screams "hey look! I'm fancy writing" and distracts you from the actual story. You often need a thesaurus just to read it.

Overwritten text is trying too hard, either trying hard to sound "written" or trying to explain too much. For example, one sentence that uses fifteen words when three is enough. Or explaining every single step in a task that doesn't need it. If you ever thought to yourself, "Yeah, I get it, he was angry, move on" then you probably read an overwritten passage.

(Here's more on Avoid Overwriting – Subtle is More Sophisticated)
Written by Janice Hardy. Fiction-University.com

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