Monday, December 28, 2009

How to Write Emotional Scenes in a Novel

As we are in the writing stage of the novel using the free novel writing software of yWriter5, I found an article today which I think offers great value in regards to writing tips. The blog, Tell me a Story by Anthony James Barnett has a post titled: The Fulfilling Facet - Emotional Influence.

He gives the reader, presumably also a writer, tips on how to write emotion into the novels. Personally, I find it difficult to generate the right amount of emotion to balance with the descriptive parts. We need drama without being melodramatic and the advice he offers is sound and makes sense. (Why didn't I think of it?)

Anyway, be sure to return to this page and tell me what you think of the post.

Happy writing.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Free Novel Writing Software - Plan Your Book's Scenes with yWriter5

As stated previously, you don't need to buy novel writing software if you are just a beginner and can plan/plot the novel with free software available. But feel free to investigate the other paid versions like Novel Writing Made Easy, Storycraft and NewNovellest.

Now, we have created our characters and feel that we know them. Planning the novel can take the form of a step-sheet or scene by scene creation. I use the step-sheet as chapter summaries to ensure I stay on track while writing the chapter, while the more detailed scene summaries prevents me from getting stuck at any time during the writing process. If you know what you are supposed to write, it is just so much easier to find the words, but everyone must find the method that works best for them.

Each scene must have a purpose, otherwise why write the scene in the first place. Defining the goal of the scene before the time, helps you write scenes that advance the plot in some way, whether it is setting a scene for something else to happen or introducing a character to a reader by their actions or moving the story forward.

Every scene should have conflict to be engaging to the reader. Conflict can be inner conflict of the character, conflict with the environment or with another character.

yWriter5 has a space for defining the goal of each scene. Below the short scene summaries, a tab labeled "Goals" provides you with the space to enter the goals of the scene.

In the same row of tabs as the "Goals" tab, select "Description" and enter a short description of the scene you have planned. Remember to save the description after you are done.

We know what we want to convey with the scene and can now proceed to write short scene descriptions. This sounds like a lot of work while you probably only want to get started and write the book to tell your story to the world. But, be patient. If you want to someday attempt to have the book published, you will need a summary of the book. Writing short scene descriptions from the start, provides your with a basic summary/synopsis on which you can expand after you have finished the book.

Select "Reports" from the top menu, then Synopsis and then full synopsis.

A report will open in a new browser window, providing you with a synopsis of your project to date and a summary of your book and will save you hours of time after you finished writing the novel.

Now we can start writing the novel using the free software provided by Spacejock - yWriter5.

Please tell me if you found this post helpful. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Free Novel Writing Software - Developing Characters Using yWriter5

Using the free novel writing software yWriter as mentioned in the previous post, we must meet our characters. We know what the story would be about and saved it in the project notes and project settings tabs.

The book blurb for my project would read something like this:

Having lost everything in her life that she holds dear, 29-year-old Superintendent Valarie MacDonald grabbed at the chance to track a serial rapist to New York. When the FBI offered their assistance to find the man she had been hunting for three years, Val didn't think twice. That is until she met Special Agent Rocke Gillian. Arrogant and self assured, he challenged her investigative methods and her life philosophy. In the bustling city of New York, she has to battle the cunning of a dangerous murderer, but her worst enemy appeared to be herself and the attraction she felt towards the handsome Rocke.

I know it sounds so clichéd, but we have to start somewhere.

If you read the other posts on this blog, I suggested ways to develop a character so that you feel you intimately know the person. From the short summary above, we know there are at least three characters in the book, namely Valarie MacDonald, Rocke Gillian and the murderer. We now need to create bios for each of them so that at least we know what we are talking about (even though the writing skills may still confuse the reader).

Click on the Character tab in the top toolbar and select "Add New". A character sheet opens with five tabs. Start by typing in the character's name, nickname and then proceed to the description box - still on the same tab.

Here I like to answer questions like:
1.    How old is the character?
2.    What does the character look like (eyes, complexion, hair, height, weight)
3.    How does the character dress?

Moving to the next tab (Bio) I want to know the following:
1.    Where did she grow up?
2.    What kind of childhood did she have?
3.    How does she feel about her parents?
4.    What type of child was she - introvert/extrovert?
5.    What lead to her doing the job she does now?
6.    What was her love life like before the book starts?
7.    Anything that happened in her past that influenced her actions and decisions in the book.

Moving to the "Notes" tab, you can put anything you like in there. Oddities the character does and why, particular pet peeves or likes. Does the name of the character have a meaning? Can you incorporate that into the book?

Under the "Goal" tab, you can insert the way you want your character to grow. In this instance, Val lost her husband and son in a freak motor accident. She is love-shy and afraid to commit her heart to anyone else for fear of experiencing the same pain of loss again. (Yikes, but it does sound like all the other romances out there!)

She needs to grow into unwillingly feeling more for Rocke than she is prepared to admit, concluded that it isn’t so bad to have loved and lost the love. A life without love is not worth living - something like that. I’m sure you get the message.

Under the same tab, I like to have the character tell me more about herself/himself in her/his own voice. This may sound ridiculous, but it establishes a voice for the character in your head. The reader will never see the notes you make here, but these notes will help you keep the narrative true to the character you set in the beginning of the book.

The last tab is the "picture" tab where you can upload a picture of a person resembling the character you try to create. This helps when you need to describe other people's reactions to the character and makes your character seem more real to you.

Follow the same procedure with the locations where the book takes place and here, if you have a picture of the places you describe, it would aid tremendously in writing good prose to take the reader there.

In the next post, we will start planning the novel itself - chapter by chapter and scène by scène.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Plan/Plot Your Novel with yWriter5

So you have downloaded the yWriter5 program as discussed in the previous post, installed it on your computer and now you are ready to start using it. First of all you need to create a new project. Click on the project tab on the left and select New Project Wizard from the drop down menu.

Fill in all the details required by the wizard and return to the main screen. Now you need to add a short summary of your novel (think of the book blurb on the back of a novel) to the project notes so you keep your writing focused and on track. On the main screen at the right hand side you will notice the tab "Project Notes". Click on the tab and select "New".

 Save the note you made there and click on the "Chapter" tab on top and select "Create Multiple Chapters" from the drop-down menu. A screen will pop-up asking how many chapters you want to create. Enter the amount and the chapters will be created in the left side pane of the view.

Next you want to create a number of empty scenes for each chapter. Click on the "Scenes" tab on the top and select "Create multiple scenes". Insert the number of scenes you want to add per chapter and repeat for each chapter. You can always add more scenes or delete scenes later.

Click on the "Project" tab on top and select "Project Settings" from the drop- down menu. In the pop-up box , enter the name of your project in the Project tab and if you wish, enter a short description of the project/book there. Move to the next tab and inset the author name. In the "Deadlines" tab you can enter the dates you want to finish with each part of the novel writing process.

 This is important if you have a deadline to submit the novel to an editor (I wish) or a publisher. Next from the "Tools" tab on top, select "Daily Word Count Target" and fill in the amount of words you want to write, in other words the length of your novel and when you want to start and when you want to complete the first draft. The yWriter program will then calculate how many words you have to write per day to stay on target.

Now that you know how many words you have to write per day, you can start planning your novel. This you can do in various ways. You can first create your characters in the characters tab and add detail to each character or you can start planning the chapters (the story) and add the character detail as you write the draft. Having the details of the characters listed under the character tab helps you later in the novel to avoid inconsistencies in appearance, character traits, etc. The same reasoning applies to the locations tab and the locations where your novel takes place.

Write a short description for each chapter. What is the purpose of the chapter? Think of ten or fifteen questions you want answered in the chapter and formulate that into scene descriptions. In the long descriptions write three or more keywords to remind you what you wanted in the scene.

Once the outline is done, you can begin to actually write the novel by clicking on the scene and entering the text into the text box. This I will deal with in the next post.

All the images above can be expanded to view a larger image in a new tab.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Free Software to Write Your First Novel - Get to Know the Software

The term "free novel writing software" is actually a paradox. No software will write your novel for you and you must still use the good old grey matter.

 Doing a search on the internet for free novel writing software, I could find yWriter5 from Spacejock and Storybook on the first couple of pages of Google. There are a number of other programs available offering free demo's like Novel Writing Made Easy, Storycraft and the ever-popular NewNovellest, but to make use of all the feaures you have to buy the program. Granted, it is not that expensive an exercise to buy these programs and you do get many additional features, but for a novice, first use the free ones.

People have different preferences in their method of writing and you may prefer to simply start with your story idea and let the characters lead you where they will. For some people this works very well, but for others, like me, I need some form of structure to guide me when I stare at the blank page and the character refuses to do his/her own thing. Hence, the search started for software that could make life easier.

Writing programs that offer you the ability to organize your novel in easy to find chapters and scenes and have information about your characters physical and psychological traits on hand while your write, just makes life easier. How many of you had to search for that one scene where you described a location or person. Searching through 40 000 words is time consuming and causes procrastination when you could have spent the time writing the next scene.

Whether you plan the novel completely in advance or simply write by the seat of your pants, copying the scenes into a program that organizes the work, makes editing at a later stage, easier. Trying to edit a scene of 300 words just seems like less work than staring a 3000-word block of text.

If you are a novice like me, you don't want to spend unnecessary money on a sophisticated program when you don't know if you are any good at writing. The two programs mentioned above will surely suffice for a start. Paid programs do offer additional features to assist the author and I would definitely consider looking into them - as soon as I manage to publish my first novel.

Do investigate the free programs mentioned here and tell me what your views of the programs are.
In the next post, I will start showing how I use yWriter to plan/outline a novel.

Friday, October 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo - Novel in a Month - You've Got to Be Kidding!

November is National Novel Writing Month. The mission? Write a novel of 50 000 words in one month. Start on the 1st of November and submit to verification from the 25th of November to 30th of November.

Long way to end when starting gate looms ahead.

 Sounds easy? Think again.

You have to write on average 1700 words a day, every day for 30 days. Any writer busy with a book will tell you this is no easy feat. The positive side to this is that you get the first draft down and finished in a very limited time frame. Although most of what you are going to write is going to be crap style- and grammar wise, at least you will have something to edit in December.

I find that writing the first draft is the hardest part of getting the story down on paper. That is only until I have to start editing, then that is the hardest part, but at least it gives you something to work with.

Check out my personal blog for progress on the novel (don't even have a plot yet! )

Feel free to add you own nanowrimo story in the comment section. The more support we have the better.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Contest - Emotions Red Roses Evoke

What emotion do red roses inpsire in you?

This week I propose a little contest of sorts. Take a look at the picture and write a short story of no more than 300 words describing what emotion the roses inspire. Off the cuff, I can think of happy, sad, love, regret and forgiveness.

Post your story in the comment section before 12 midnight on Saturday, 18 October EST. After the entries have closed, I will afford everyone a chance to vote for their favorite entry until 12 midnight Tuesday 21 October.

On Wednesday 22 October I will reveal the result of the vote.

Why do I think it is a good idea?

No one can ever know enough about writing and reading other people's creativity often sparks some of your own. I believe all writers can learn from each other and that too few people are afforded the opportunity to do so.

So put pen to paper and let us have it.

Above all - keep writing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Literary Agents Are Accessible

Anyone who finished a manuscript and edited it to perfection (well, your own version of perfection in any case) knows that finding a literary agent is a nightmare. First, you need to find out which agents are taking on your type (genre) of manuscripts, if they are taking on new clients to represent and lastly, and to me the BIG question...whom can you trust.

Call me cynical, but an agent about whom you struggle to find information, whether it is in print or online, inspires little confidence in me. I do not want a manuscript that reflects months and sometimes, years of work, to land in the hands of an unscrupulous fly-by-night agent who might disappear with my precious work.

This brings me to the agent Nathan Bransford. I mentioned him before in some blog posts, but never explained why I feel following his blog is worthwhile. Therefore, here goes:

  1. He is accessible through his blog - unlike most people he actually checks his comments and responds to them.
  2. His blog offers valuable advice to aspiring writers, including everything from how to write query letters (the hardest part of writing any novel), to which genre, terminology to understand the publishing world better and a lot more.
  3. His blog is updated nearly every day with current news, views, and experiments that will leave you wondering how someone manages to produce fresh ideas every day.
  4. Reading through the comments makes you realize you're not alone in the struggle to get your first book published.
In short, don't take my word for it. Check out his blog for yourself.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Makes You Stop Reading?

Whether you read fiction or non- fiction books, some books you just can't seem to read to the end. What makes you stop reading? This must be the most prominent question in a writer's mind along with the question: "What makes you keep reading?"

Consider the following:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Writing Exercises - Why Do Them?

The moment the word exercise creeps into a conversation, most people shift uncomfortably in their chairs. Exercise implies work and writing is supposed to be fun, isn't it?

Well, writing exercises can be fun too. If you are busy with a long-term project, like writing your first, second, or third novel, but you don't have time (or energy) to battle ahead, a short writing exercise will do wonders. Established writing coaches and lecturers agree that writers should write everyday to keep in 'shape' and to hone their skills.

But what to write about?

Simply put - anything. Look around you. Describe the surroundings, put down an unknown person's thoughts by just looking at them and observing or take a picture and write a short story based on the picture or photo. In short, let your imagination free and get your fingers typing or your pen moving.

How much should you write?

As much as you like - as long as you write something. The purpose of the exercises are to keep your creative mind functioning and to hone your skills in observing people and places. Try to make it a fun part of your day. Go back to what you have written a couple of days or even weeks later and you may be amazed at how good it actually may be.

For my part - I think I've done my exercise for the day. Until next time - keep writing.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Book Review - Dead Watch by John Sandford

John Sandford is mostly known for his popular "Prey" series of books, featuring the main character Lucas Davenport. His book Dead Watch was first published in 2006 and countless reviews have been written about his departure from the Prey - series of books.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Book by Diana Jay

Today I'm not going to say much. Diana Jay is busy with her new book and she provided me with a short teaser of what we can expect. If anyone else wants to feature their upcoming books or stories here, send me a message and I'll contact you for possible placement.

As promised, here is the teaser for Diana Jay's new book:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Drums of Siyapila Now in Free Downloadable E-book

Exiting news! Diana Jay's book The Drums of Siyapila is now available for download in e-book format - but only from this site. Right click on the link and select 'save link as' to download or simply open in a new browser and save the file to your computer.

This is the fist of a range of free romance and other e-books I plan to offer readers. For those not familiar with Diana Jay. see previous posts for an interview with her or check out her profile on Buzzle

Above all, check back regularly for more exiting reads.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why Novice Writers Must Join a Critique Group

Here I was, getting pretty pleased with my development as writer and posting chapter after chapter of a novel on Buzzle. com. Although I didn't get a huge following, the comments from readers reading the story, inspired me to try and finish a chapter a week. I felt I was finally beginning to apply what I learnt and getting into the 'right' writer's groove.

After the first chapter, a reader commented on her preference for writing in the past tense contrary to the present tense writing used in the story. It caused me some discomfort, but I decided to continue with posting the story as is, and the story progressed in the present tense, naturally. Things were going along just fine, although some chapters caused me some misery to write. I couldn't get comfortable with parts of the writing.

When, after the fourteenth chapter the same reader complained the tense made the work hard to read and understand, I did a double take. Where to get experienced and knowledgeable feedback?

Critique groups like My Writer's Circle and other online and offline groups play a vital part in the development of any writer. I used to visit the forum everyday, but lately time and work made me neglect that part of my usual daily ritual... to my detriment, it appeared.

Nervous and jittery, I posted the first part of the same chapter on the forum, inhaled, forced my heart back to its normal rate and with sweaty palms requested members of the forum for their feedback.

Two days later, I received the most wonderful advice which boils down to the following:

  1. Tense is a personal preference.
  2. Present tense writing is fine, but the writer must be careful with the construction of the sentences. This was the biggest problem in the chapter, making it harder to read and understand.
  3. When using the present tense, point of view (POV) must be treated with utmost respect and circumcision to avoid confusing the reader with facts known to the narrator and personal emotions and thought of the character.
  4. The thread can be viewed at:;topicseen#new
Wonderful advice once again from people writing for a living - well some of them, but mostly, all of them are much more experienced than I am and the constructive criticism is invaluable to anyone serious about writing.

So whenever you are in doubt about a part of your writing, ask the experts and fellow writers for honest critique. But above all...keep writing.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to Create a Fictional Three Dimensional Character

In any good novel or short story the main character (protagonist) must be someone with which readers can identify. Most of you heard the term 'cardboard character' before. Simply put, this describes a character with two dimensions and not much depth. A well rounded character is introduced to the reader as a person with a clear physical appearance, social background and emotional expectations.

How to create such a character? According to James Frey in his book How to write a damn good novel the explanation is simple. Get to know your character inside out. Ask questions like, how does the character look (physical appearance), where did he grow up and what circumstances formed him to be the man he is today? (social background), what work does he do and why, what is his current circumstances. In short, the writer must know everything about his character before he can attempt to introduce him to the reader.

A starting point is to create a list of everything one would like to know about a person. Pose questions like:

  1. What is your name?
  2. How old are you?
  3. What color is your hair, eyes?
  4. Where did you grow UP?
  5. Who were your parents?
  6. Do you have any siblings?
  7. What is your relationship with your siblings?
  8. What work do you do?
  9. Why did you choose to do this work?

And so on.

Try to make the list as extensive as possible and the character will come to life. A final step must be to write a diary in the voice of the character. Every person has unique traits and mannerisms in speech and body language. Writing in the voice of the character will enable the writer to get inside the head of the character which will translate better during the writing process.

This is not an exhaustive list of how to develop a well rounded character and each writer must find their own way. Above all...Keep writing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Free Online Reads - Exciting New Chapters

Just to let everyone know, the free online reads featured on this blog has exiting new chapters. A New Beginning at Mokweni is heating up with Amy telling Luke about the baby she lost. That is not all happening, but you'll have to read it yourself to find out.

In The Bodywoman Sarah starts earning the excessive fee she is paid for protecting Ben. Dark forces intensify their efforts to harm her charge and Sarah needs to use skills she didn't know she possessed to fight them off, but Sarah's job is made more difficult by the the sparks flying between her and Ben. Again, much more is happening - you'll have to read for yourself.

Happy reading and feel free to comment on the reads - either on or on the blog.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Show - Don’t Tell - What Does It Mean

Any writer needs to get the reader involved in the story to the extent that all else fades away and the reader is transported into the story. The author must lure the reader into the fictive dream by the writer's ability to have the reader identify with the characters in the story. The reader must feel the emotions of the character - whether it is joy, anger, guilt, shame or passion. One way of keeping the reader in the fictive dream, is to show rather than tell.

According to James N Frey in his book How to Write Damn Good Fiction, 1994, a writer is showing when 'he or she is suggesting the sensuous detail that draws the reader into the fictive dream.' In plain language this boils to 'showing', what the character is feeling, smelling, hearing, seeing, tasting and touching.

An example of telling might look like this:

He walked into a room full of strangers.

Showing might look like this:

The copper handle of the door froze his fingers. The door creaked open and all laughter and conversation stopped. Perfume and smoke drifted up his nostrils as he searched the faces of the women in cocktail dresses. He recognized none of the painted faces and shoved his hands into his pants pockets.

This might not be the best example, but you should get the idea. The second example contains sensory detail - feel (froze), sound (creaked, laughter), smell (perfume and smoke), sight (painted faces) and emotion (awkwardness - hands in pockets).

Being a novice at this myself, I hope I offered some insight into this problem we all have. Above all - KEEP WRITING!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Learning How to Write - Books on Writing Skills

If you do a search on Google or Yahoo for tips on how to write a novel, the volume of results will render you speechless. The novice might find the selection of a good book to start with, a daunting task. Just writing down your story is not enough. You need to make people want to read your book and once they start reading, to keep on reading until the end. If you are not born with a natural writing talent, like me, you will need all the help you can get.

The consumer and would-be novelist are spoilt for choice by the numerous printed titles on the market. Books such as-

  • The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri
  • Writing Novels that Sell by Jack m. Bickman
  • The Craft of Fiction by Raymond C. Knott
  • Professional Fiction Writing by Jean Z Owen
  • The Basic Formulas of Fiction by William Foster-Harris
  • How to Write Damn Good Fiction by James N Frey

Offer the reader insights into the mind of the editors and prospective readers. Writing workshops all over the world use these books and although some were first published as early as 1946, the basic concepts still hold true. All of these books will offer the inexperienced and even the experienced writer new insights into storytelling and the craft of writing fiction.

Personally, I prefer the books by James N Frey. He wrote a range of books on the subject of writing fiction and his practical, no - frills approach makes his arguments easy to follow. He uses plain language to explain concepts like creating the fictive dream, creating suspense, using memorable characters amongst others. Through all the practical tips and guidance, one important factor shines through in all these guides on writing. You cannot be a good writer if you do not write often. Writers need to practice and practice and practice. Good writing skills require dedication and perseverance.

So whatever you do - KEEP WRITING.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Interview with Author Diana Jay - Part 1

Diana Jay is the author of the books The Drums of Siyapila and A New Beginning at Mokweni. Both these books are free to read on this blog and I thought that it would be a good idea to find out a little more about her. Below are some of the questions she answered for the blog.

Q: Where do you currently live and have you lived there all your life?

I currently live in Austria, Europe, but I was born in South Africa, and worked and lived in Namibia and China.

Q: When in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was ten years old, I was fortunate to have a wonderful primary school teacher who travelled the world and who told us all about her experiences. She also encouraged us to read, and that opened up new horizons for me. I wanted to see the world and then tell people about it.

Q: At what age did you start writing novels?

I wrote my first story (for children) when I was eleven.

Q: Any chance that the readers will be able to read that first story?

I only showed it to my best friend to read after she insisted. At school, I always had to read my essays aloud and she wanted to read what I wrote in the exercise book. At that age, the fear of rejection was too much to have anyone else read it. The handwritten story disappeared after a couple of years.

Q: Where do you get the inspiration for your characters in the novels?

It is actually the places that I have visited which inspire me to write a story. The characters then fall into place.

Q: Can we expect more novels from your pen in the near future?

Yes. I am currently re-writing my first novel set in Kenya. It is, after The Drums of Siyapila, my favorite. I am also busy with a new story that will take my readers to the South China Sea.

Q: Who is your favorite author(s) and why?

I enjoy any romance novel, but my favorite author is Nora Roberts.

She is a versatile writer that pushed the boundaries of genre writing by impressing her own style on all her books.


New! Free Online Reads

After hunting through numerous sites to find my favorite writer's work on, I decided to post it here in sequence - chapter by chapter as it appears - under Free Reads. It is frustrating to know there is another chapter, but searching for it just takes too long.

Anyone may suggest an author whose work they feel is worthy of putting on the blog and send me a message to take a look. If it is good enough, I will include it in the free reads section. Please also remember to send me the link to the site where it is published.

I hope you enjoy the stories here as much as I do and please feel free to share this site with your friends.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Where to get information to improve my writing

A first time writer usually gets down to writing a novel in the language style she or he finds comfortable. In my opinion, this is the correct way to do it. However, and this is a big BUT, this is usually not the style the publishers want. There are certain rules they expect all authors to obey and finding these rules can be a daunting task.

In the previous post, I referred to books to read on the subject, but afforded no details. I can only comment on the books and resources I read and used to try further my education in the writing business. First, as I said previously, you need to join a writer's forum where you can get advice from other writers and some honest critique on your work. I found My Writer's Circle an invaluable source of advice and the pool of knowledge is extensive. There are many other forums like this and many other blogs offering advice. It really pays to read them. It also pays to read other people's writing and take note of the comments they receive.

James N Frey wrote a series of books dealing the pain of writing a publishable novel. He wrote these books in non-technical language, easy to understand even if your first language is not English, and offer a step-by-step guide to writing better fiction. For a novice, like me, the first read almost make you want to throw in the towel, thinking you will never get it right. On the second read and when you start applying the techniques, the task becomes a bit more manageable.

There are probably thousands of books like these in the shops and some may even offer better advice. Do your research and learn as much as you can.

Above all - KEEP ON WRITING!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

How to Get Ideas for a Novel

All stories start with an idea. Ideas are easy to find - just look around you and take notice of the environment, but mostly the people. Peculiar habits of friends, family and strangers often spark an idea for a character in a novel or short story. A family member or friend who reacts predictably to his or her environment affords the writer a wealth of information upon which a character can be build. Take notice of the manner in which people talk and gesture. In short - pay attention to others and the ideas for a new character will flow.

Characters are not enough to build a story on. You also need a plot or story line. In other words, what is the story about? You need to be able to summarize in one sentence what the central theme of the story would be. If someone reads the story, he or she must be able to identify the central theme. A romance novel's theme would for example be "friendship grows into love" or "helping someone in need leads to love". This central idea is the 'premise' of the story.

Most people think finding an original premise is an impossible task to accomplish, as there are thousands of romance novels, mysteries and science fiction books for sale. Even if your idea involves the classic romance between teenage sweethearts who grew apart over the years only to find each other later in life, it would still be your own unique characters with their own personality doing the romancing. Your characters will develop the story in their own way and if you stay true to the personality you gave the character, there will be no duplication of another novel.

Once you have the idea or premise of the story, you can begin to develop characters for the story and plot an outline of how the story will develop. Some people do not create an outline for a novel and choose to write and see where the story takes them in their imagination. Although this works for some, you may easily find yourself, after having written a couple of thousand words, in a corner and not knowing how to proceed with the story. The internet contains several free downloadable software packages to assist in planning the outline of the novel as well as writing the actual story - yWriter4 is a free program and can be of value to a novice writer.

Above all, read as many books on the subject of writing as you possibly can and visit free online forums for tips and ideas.