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How to use active not flat words with dialogue when writing a 24-chapter novel

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Social Smarts Strategies That Earn Free Book Publicity: Don't Pay to Market Your Writing - Anne Hart

How to use active, not flat words with dialogue when writing a 24-chapter novel: So you want to organize and write that novel containing 24-short, forward-moving chapters? Keep those paragraphs short: Two to four short sentences per paragraph in your novel helps move the story, plot, and dialogue. It's also a good idea to keep sentences short--about ten words or so per sentence.

 

Interested in writing the social issues, adventure-suspense, or romance novel of push and pull -- set in any time or place? If you start to write fiction or take a class in creative writing of thriller novels or other genres such as action, suspense, or romance, one shortcut that works better and quicker to make the complex more clear.
 
Start by organizing your work of fiction into 24 chapters. The goal is to have 12 odd chapters focus on bringing your main characters together and 12 even chapters focus on creating romantic tension or suspense by pulling them away from each other.
 

Keep chapters and paragraphs short and fast-paced. You want to focus on consistency in your novel. The constant push and pull tension and togetherness or comfort level in relationships work to move the plot forward. The characters drive the plot by this constant contraction and relaxation of their behaviors and attitudes. This is how you start to plan and organize your novel, short story, or script/play. The method also can work when you write song lyrics.

 

12 chapters of conflict interweaved with 12 chapters of bringing the characters together

 

Here´s how to divide a novel into 24 chapters of 12 odd pull (conflict) and 12 even push (resolving the tension) chapters. Or you could start with push and then go to pull (the opposite) as long as the story moves forward faster and faster, especially if you´re writing a thriller within a historical or ethnic novel.

Historical novels may be divided into 12 chapters of dialog and description that push the plot forward and 12 chapters of dialog and description that pull the tension and conflict backwards. The even-numbered chapters create more problems to solve and additional growth and change for your main characters.

 

The rule of 12-12 or 24 short chapters of push and pull, tension apart and joining together

Organize your novel quickly into 24 chapters where the 12 odd chapters focus on bringing your main characters together and the 12 even chapters focus on creating romantic tension or suspense by pulling them away from each other.

That's the easy way to lay out a plan for a novel, or a movie script adaptation from play or script to novel. You flesh out the main dialogue to 24 short or longer chapters with 12 even chapters focusing on tension or 'pull' and 12 odd-numbered chapters focused on 'push' or bringing your main characters together to live happily ever after or go their own way and move on with serenity and closure or the ambiance of what the audience expects to get out of the work.

 

Even-number chapters show inner growth

 

Even-numbered chapters show results that can be measured in each character´s inner growth, reflection, emotions, dialog, behavior, frame of mind, mood, attitude, tag lines, and arc of change. Odd-numbered chapters are devoted to descriptions of locations, dates and times, geography, folklore, customs, habits, ethnology, nuances, settings, ceremonies, adventure, explorations, coming of age rituals, travel, descriptions of village life, cooking, costumes, warfare, military and social history backgrounds. For every action in a historical novel, there's an equal and opposite reaction.

 

The Twelve Even-Numbered Chapters

 

Divide your historical novel into 24 chapters. Number those chapters on your outline and plan. Next separate 12 even-numbered chapters from the 12 odd-numbered. On the even numbered chapters write your characters dialog showing the rise of dramatic tension, the conflict, the push-and pull of any relationships or romance.

Your characters in a historical novel need to solve a problem and show the reader the results, the range of change, and their inner growth. What protagonists think of themselves in their social history context are shown in the even chapters. How they act toward others showing how they have grown by the midpoint of your story and finally by the ending chapter belongs in the 12 even-numbered chapters.

 

Write your character's dialog within the even-numbered chapters showing descriptions, locations, settings, scenes, action, adventure, and exotic descriptions of ceremonies, rituals, and significant life story highlights or turning points and events that animate your writing—make the writing come alive with sparkle, charisma, and the dash of adventure.

 

The Twelve Odd-Numbered Chapters

 

If you're writing an historical thriller, the odd-numbered pages get the physical action such as the ticking clock or count down to the high point of your novel. In historical mysteries, thrillers, and intrigue, the ticking clock is more like a ticking bomb.

Time evaporates at a faster and faster rate the farther you read into the book. The pace speeds up dramatically using more conflict and action where the characters need speedier reaction times with each advancing chapter as you head toward the middle point of your story.

 

Let the characters drive your plot forward. That´s how you illustrate the illusion of the count-down and create the push and pull tension in a historical novel.

It´s the same technique used in a thriller, without the historical attributes, settings, and costume drama or historical dialects and props, such as a setting at Versailles in the 18th century. Historical novels portray character-driven plots.

 

Begin Your First Chapter by Writing the Dialog

 

Your first chapter—chapter one—is an odd-numbered chapter. Here´s the chapter where you put your setting, props, and descriptions. You´re staring at a blank page. What do you write as your first sentence? Ask yourself what is your main character´s payoff or reward in the book?

 

Is his or her reward to understand and control nature in order to become rich and powerful, run away from unbearable duty, get recognition, be remembered, and make an impact, or be loved and also be the center of attention?

You can break down your protagonist´s goal or life purpose into four categories: control, duty, attention, and impact. To avoid writer´s block on that blank first page, you write 90 seconds of dialog. Read it in 90 seconds aloud to a digital recorder. Play it back. How smooth does it sound to your ears?

 

Do real people talk that way?

 

Is your setting and dialog believable? After the first line of dialog, put in some of your background settings, dates, geography, action, and other props belonging in the odd-numbered chapters. Start a conversation between two characters. Then have them answer the questions or pose a new question by the end of the first page. Don´t put everything on the first page.

 

Introduce your novel a little at a time to readers. Don´t give the whole story away in the first chapter. In your outline, put in chapter summaries and headlines, not the whole story. Put your plan down after the first chapter.

 

Never start a historical novel with people in transit

 

Begin when they arrive at their new destination or write a historical novel that takes place entirely on the ship and end it when they step off the plank at their destination. The exception is if you're entire story takes place on a ship, plane, train, or in some form of transportation, for example, a space ship.

 

After you have your first page of dialogue written, insert in between the dialog the descriptions of geography, location, dates, foods, costumes, room descriptions, and anything else you will be putting into your odd chapters, usually falling on the right side of the book pages.

 

That´s where the right eye travels first in a right-handed person. Then you write the first chapter as if it were act one of a 24-minute play, but don´t put in any stage directions or sound effects. In fact, each of your chapters can total 24 pages. You´re aiming for balance. Beware of short and long chapters in an historical novel or any story or drama.

 

Keep in mind attention span

 

The average attention span of a reader is seven minutes, same as the attention span for viewing video. That´s why commercials are inserted at every 10 minute break. The human brain needs a pause every 90 seconds to recharge.

Knowing those elements of time, keep your scene segments changing every seven minutes and pausing for a change every 90 seconds of average reading time. Usually it takes a minute to read one page.

 

Your entire book would be 24 chapters

 

So keep the number 24 in mind as your yardstick. The pages don´t have to be exact, of course, but you need to balance your chapters so that one chapter is not much longer than any other.

 

Instead, you describe in animated language, the geographic setting and the century or date. Animated language is written by using action verbs—designed, wrote, built, cured, vaccinated, or fired or ....as in "The charivari and consonance of healing frequencies fired from the klaxon´s usual noise."

 

Avoid Repetition

 

Animate historical writing by avoiding tautology which means: don´t repeat the same ideas using different words. How many words a publisher wants varies with each publisher. It costs less to publish a 50,000 word book than a book twice that size. Historical young adult novels run about 40,000 words. Historical novels can be family sagas that read as if they were talking maps and family atlases.

 

Begin your planning stage of your outline by first compiling your plot and the names of your character, dates, customs, ethnography, social history, biography, and folklore in a computer file folder. Keep at least two backup copies on CDs and also printed out on paper in case your computer crashes or your files are lost.

 

Buy a 3-ring loose leaf notebook for your paper copies

 

In the binder place all materials related to your book in progress. When the book is published, you´ll need a second loose leaf notebook binder to keep track of publicity, press releases, reviews, contracts, and correspondence from your publisher and from the media. Place those little one-inch binder insert covers or tabs to label each chapter of your book.

 

Don´t leave your book on the screen. Print out each chapter to edit and revise in the loose leaf note book. Put the book´s title on the spine. Put into your note book plastic inserts.

 

Attach a tab to label your notes on research for historical accuracy

 

Put another tab for your synopsis, plan, outline, summarized chapters with chapter headings, and other notes. In another loose leaf notebook after the book is published, do the same type of labeling with plastic inserts and tabs for your editing, contracts, reviews, promotions, publicity press interviews, spin-off articles, history fact-checking, and royalty notices.

 

Keep your two notebooks in a metal filing cabinet in case your computer loses the work, and keep copies of the same in your computer. One format will back up the other format. If your computer fails, you have everything printed out on paper and two or three CD copies of everything in a fire-proof metal filing cabinet or box. When your editor calls, you can find anything in moments if you label your chapters and other materials and keep them close by.

 

After your book is published your second notebook will track royalties, reviews, the book cover design information or ideas, editing/revisions, query letters, and research of your potential market of readers or age groups and ethnic associations interested in the historical novel.

 

Emphasize universal values of morality

 

Historical novels are about looking for answers to solve problems and get results in exotic places, but finding simple answers were right under your fingers. You want to emphasize universal values such as commitment to family and friends, caring for one another, repairing social ills and sickness, earning a living and becoming independent, supporting your children and keeping the family together against all odds, or finding freedom, faith and values, in the virtues of finding and being accepted a new home land.

 

Another genre in historical fiction is the family saga. The saga may be fictionalized but it reads like biography. Fictional sagas use action verbs in the dialogue. They read almost like a drama. And the action verbs animate the writing. The opposite of animated writing is flat writing, where passive verbs weaken the story. Historical novels become weaker when the plot drives the characters.

 

Writing the family saga

 

The characters should drive the plot faster and faster to a conclusion where problems are solved or conflicts resolved. You have closure at the end for the characters. Or they transcend past mistakes and rise above them. The last chapter gives the characters a type of choice and balance they did not have at the beginning of the book. The characters grow.

 

They change with the times and inspire the reader. Or they are heroes because of sticking to their purpose and commitment. The protagonists don´t abandon their family or friends. But if they make mistakes, they find closure in rising above the mistakes by seeing more possibilities in the simple answers instead of the complex ones.

 

Simplicity of answers close by is the formula for the historical novel that emphasizes growth and change for the better.

 

Before you write your plan, make a map or family atlas of your characters and summarize their problems and personalities in two paragraphs. Draw them on a map and point to how they relate to or interact with other characters and how they influence the other characters and the results.

 

You may want to read the book title, Silk Stockings Glimpses of 1904 Broadway, or A 19th Century Immigrant´s Love Story. It shows how a love story intertwines with a historical novel that can be both a social history, romance novel, and historical novel or family saga rolled into one published book. Or on another note, check out the article, "Messages of resilience are this year's hottest plots in ethnic novels."

 

Write Two Scenes for Each Chapter

 

Your first chapter will consist of two scenes. Write those two scenes before sending them out to a publisher in an outline which usually asks for three sample chapters and an outline summary of one chapter (summarized by two paragraphs) for each of the 24 chapters of your book. Almost all mainstream novels consist of two scenes per chapter. Take apart any mainstream novel, and you´ll see those two distinctive scenes in each chapter.

 

Within each chapter you´ll have one scene of interaction between two characters or a character and his or her family and one action scene. So keep this formula in mind: one relationship scene and one action scene. It has been said by published authors in the past decade and repeated at talks and seminars where published authors speak to other authors repeating this formula.

 

When you first plan your historical novel, separate the relationship side from the action side

 

First summarize the relationship side and then do the same for the action side. Then bring both together in one chapter. In every relationship scene and in every action scene, you will have your characters interacting together.

 

You need to make a laundry list in your plan of what happens specifically on the relationship side. Then in your odd-numbered chapters, you will fill in the plot side, the mystery side, the action side, the geography, costume, food, ethnography, travel and ballroom or battlefield side.

 

Shuffle your even and odd chapters so you have one chapter of tension followed by another chapter of bringing characters together or the potential of bringing people together

 

What you don´t want to do is have all even-numbered chapters where characters do nothing but talk or all odd-numbered chapters where characters don´t speak to each other and just travel the roads or sail the seas or fight the wars. No, that´s just the way you outline your plan, your skeleton. Now you bring the relationship scenes together and the action scenes together and put them inter-playing in each chapter. At this point, you´ll start writing your book. In the actual book, the reader will not see a difference between the odd and even chapters.

 

It´s in your planning stage that you separate each set of 12 chapters totaling 24 chapters

 

So when you finally bring the chapters together to weave them slowly, what you have left is an historical mainstream novel with "two scenes per chapter, one relationship scene and one action scene," as it has been said by numerous published authors speaking at writer´s seminars or meetings.


The quote I heard most often from popular published novelists emphasized that "Your protagonists interact together in the relationship and action scenes." What you do plan for in your historical mainstream novel is writing 24 chapters.

 

Show what's happening and how it's changing

 

Your first step is to write up a plan that shows chapter by chapter exactly what is happening, changing, and moving the plot forward on the relationship side and on the plot or action side. Then you have to balance relationship and dialogue against plot or action. When the two sides are in balance as if on a seesaw, you have a salable historical mainstream novel.

 

In your plan, you´d have two columns, one for scenes with relationships showing communication, connection, and interaction using dialog. And in your other column, you´d describe your plot using scenes depicting action and adventure. This is the best way to organize your novel before you sit down to write.

 

Locate any scene or chapter in your work of fiction

 

It´s set up so you can get a handle on what you´re doing and find any scene or chapter quickly to do fact checking with actual historical events. When you've picked apart your book´s main points, results, and are able to show how the characters solved problems leading to growth and change, commitment, closure, or transcending past choices and taking alternative paths, you have arrived at a point in organization where every turning point or significant event and relationship or social history highlight is labeled and filed. Now that you have organized the details, it´s time to flesh out your story.

 

Where do you get your storyline? You begin with a proverb related to the history your depicting. Look at a book of proverbs. Choose one. Flesh out the proverb into a story. Take a course in storytelling or read a book on how to be a storyteller.

 

Novels Spring from Proverbs

 

Most fairy tales, ethnic historical time-travel plots, and historical novels--either romance or suspense and intrigue are built around proverbs with ageless, universal values and truths or are related to a culture´s folklore and history. Check out the proverbs of a variety of cultures.

 

You can also use a proverb from the Bible or from any other similar book of any religion. Use an indigenous culture´s proverbs or those from ancient cultures or hidden histories. You can write a historical novel about military dog, cat, or horse heroes.

 

Use proverbs to flesh out into a story

 

Your story line can come out of a proverb or familiar quotation based on still older proverbs of any culture. If you need a plot, a proverb is the first place to look for inspiration or a start. Many novelists use proverbs as inspiration to write one-sentence pitch lines for their novels.

 

Before you write anything, summarize the pitch line of your book in one sentence. Pretend you were selling your novel to a movie producer. Pitch the book in ten seconds or less using one sentence. Here´s one example used many times in lectures by scriptwriting course professors, "Star Trek is Wagon Train in outer space." Perhaps your historical novel resembles various popular cultures placed in a new context that can be summed up in one sentence under ten words in length.

 

Note that different publishers may require different page lengths or different numbers of chapters. So check with your publisher´s requirements if the publisher wants more or less than a book with 24 chapters, as publisher´s requirements may vary. You can write a chapter of only a few pages or many. But keep your chapter length consistent.

 

Are creative writing classes abundant in your area?

 

For example, your public library can give you a list of the many classes. No matter where you take a fiction writing class, what creative writing teachers may never show you is how to quickly lay out, organize, and plan a 24-chapter novel of adventure, romance, or suspense. When you go back to school after the summer and take a class in creative writing--fiction, a shortcut that works that your teachers may never get around to tell you is how to organize your work of fiction. Or read a variety of articles or books on organizing and planning your novel before you sit down and write a story line. It's a craft that needs to be whittled to the bare bones before you begin to unfold the plot and the characters that move the story forward.

 

The DNA Detectives, working against time (a novel)
The DNA Detectives, working against time (a novel) Anne Hart, Book.
Interested in writing the social issues, adventure-suspense, or romance novel of push and pull -- set in any time or place? If you start to write fiction or take a class in creative writing of thriller novels or other genres such as action, suspense, or romance, one shortcut that works better and quicker to make the complex more clear is to organize your work of fiction into 24 chapters where the 12 odd chapters focus on bringing your main characters together and the 12 even chapters focus on creating romantic tension or suspense by pulling them away from each other.

 

Do you have the aptitude and personality to be a popular author? Professional creative writing assessments.
Do you have the aptitude and personality to be a popular author? Professional creative writing assessments. Anne Hart, Book.
You want to focus on consistency in your novel. The constant push and pull tension and togetherness or comfort level works to move the plot forward. The characters drive the plot by this constant contraction and relaxation of their behaviors and attitudes. This is how you start to plan and organize your novel, short story, or script/play. The method also can work when you write song lyrics.
12 chapters of conflict interweaved with 12 chapters of bringing the characters together

 

Here´s how to divide a novel into 24 chapters of 12 odd pull(conflict) and 12 even push (resolving the tension) chapters. Or you could start with push and then go to pull (the opposite) as long as the story moves forward faster and faster, especially if you´re writing a thriller within a historical or ethnic novel.

 

Historical novels may be divided into 12 chapters of dialog and description that push the plot forward and 12 chapters of dialog and description that pull the tension and conflict backwards. The even-numbered chapters create more problems to solve and additional growth and change for your main characters.

 

Organize your novel quickly into 24 chapters where the 12 odd chapters focus on bringing your main characters together and the 12 even chapters focus on creating romantic tension or suspense by pulling them away from each other.

 

That's the easy way to lay out a plan for a novel, or a movie script adaptation from play or script to novel. You flesh out the main dialogue to 24 short or longer chapters with 12 even chapters focusing on tension or 'pull' and 12 odd-numbered chapters focused on 'push' or bringing your main characters together to live happily ever after or go their own way and move on with serenity and closure or the ambiance of what the audience expects to get out of the work.

 

Adventures in my beloved medieval Alania and beyond - a time-travel novel sest in the 10th century Caucasus Mts.
Adventures in my beloved medieval Alania and beyond - a time-travel novel sest in the 10th century Caucasus Mts. Anne Hart, Book.
Even-number chapters show inner growth

Even-numbered chapters show results that can be measured in each character´s inner growth, reflection, emotions, dialog, behavior, frame of mind, mood, attitude, tag lines, and arc of change. Odd-numbered chapters are devoted to descriptions of locations, dates and times, geography, folklore, customs, habits, ethnology, nuances, settings, ceremonies, adventure, explorations, coming of age rituals, travel, descriptions of village life, cooking, costumes, warfare, military and social history backgrounds. For every action in a historical novel, there's an equal and opposite reaction.

 

30+ Brain-Exercising Creativity Coach Businesses to Open
30+ Brain-Exercising Creativity Coach Businesses to Open Anne Hart, Photography and Book.
The Twelve Even-Numbered Chapters

Divide your historical novel into 24 chapters. Number those chapters on your outline and plan. Next separate 12 even-numbered chapters from the 12 odd-numbered. On the even numbered chapters write your character´s dialog showing the rise of dramatic tension, the conflict, the push-and pull of any relationships or romance.

 

Your characters in a historical novel need to solve a problem and show the reader the results, the range of change, and their inner growth. What protagonists think of themselves in their social history context are shown in the even chapters. How they act toward others showing how they have grown by the midpoint of your story and finally by the ending chapter belongs in the 12 even-numbered chapters.

 

Write your character's dialog within the even-numbered chapters showing descriptions, locations, settings, scenes, action, adventure, and exotic descriptions of ceremonies, rituals, and significant life story highlights or turning points and events that animate your writing—make the writing come alive with sparkle, charisma, and the dash of adventure.

 

Counseling Anarchists (a novel)
Counseling Anarchists (a novel) Anne Hart, Book.
The Twelve Odd-Numbered Chapters

If you´re writing an historical thriller, the odd-numbered pages get the physical action such as the ticking clock or count down to the high point of your novel. In historical mysteries, thrillers, and intrigue, the ticking clock is more like a ticking bomb.

Time evaporates at a faster and faster rate the farther you read into the book. The pace speeds up dramatically using more conflict and action where the characters need speedier reaction times with each advancing chapter as you head toward the middle point of your story.

 

Ethno-playography: How to create salable plays, monologues, and skits from life stories, social issues, and current events
Ethno-playography: How to create salable plays, monologues, and skits from life stories, social issues, and current events Anne Hart, Book.
Let the characters drive your plot forward. That's how you illustrate the illusion of the count-down and create the push and pull tension in a historical novel.

It´s the same technique used in a thriller, without the historical attributes, settings, and costume drama or historical dialects and props, such as a setting at Versailles in the 18th century. Historical novels portray character-driven plots.

 

Dogs with careers: Ten happy-ending stories of purpose and passion
Dogs with careers: Ten happy-ending stories of purpose and passion Anne Hart, Photography and Book.
Begin Your First Chapter by Writing the Dialog

Your first chapter—chapter one—is an odd-numbered chapter. Here´s the chapter where you put your setting, props, and descriptions. You´re staring at a blank page. What do you write as your first sentence? Ask yourself what is your main character´s payoff or reward in the book?

Is his or her reward to understand and control nature in order to become rich and powerful, run away from unbearable duty, get recognition, be remembered, and make an impact, or be loved and also be the center of attention?

 

Is radical liberalism or extreme conservatism a character disorder, mental disease, or publicity campaign?
Is radical liberalism or extreme conservatism a character disorder, mental disease, or publicity campaign? Anne Hart, Book.
Keep in mind attention span

 

The average attention span of a reader is seven minutes, same as the attention span for viewing video. That´s why commercials are inserted at every 10 minute break. The human brain needs a pause every 90 seconds to recharge.

Knowing those elements of time, keep your scene segments changing every seven minutes and pausing for a change every 90 seconds of average reading time. Usually it takes a minute to read one page.
 

Proper parenting in ancient Rome
Proper parenting in ancient Rome Anne Hart, Photography and Book.
Your entire book would be 24 short chapters

 

So keep the number 24 in mind as your yardstick. The pages don´t have to be exact, of course, but you need to balance your chapters so that one chapter is not much longer than any other.

Instead, you describe in animated language, the geographic setting and the century or date. Animated language is written by using action verbs—designed, wrote, built, cured, vaccinated, or fired or ....as in "The charivari and consonance of healing frequencies fired from the klaxon´s usual noise."

 

Ancient and Medieval Teenage Diaries
Ancient and Medieval Teenage Diaries Anne Hart, Photography and Book.
Avoid Repetition

Animate historical writing by avoiding tautology which means: don´t repeat the same ideas using different words. How many words a publisher wants varies with each publisher. It costs less to publish a 50,000 word book than a book twice that size. Historical young adult novels run about 40,000 words. Historical novels can be family sagas that read as if they were talking maps and family atlases.

Begin your planning stage of your outline by first compiling your plot and the names of your character, dates, customs, ethnography, social history, biography, and folklore in a computer file folder. Keep at least two backup copies on flash drives, CDs or DVDs and also printed out on paper in case your computer crashes or your files are lost.

 

The Writer's Bible.
The Writer's Bible. Anne Hart, Book.
Buy a 3-ring loose leaf notebook for your paper copies

In the binder place all materials related to your book in progress. When the book is published, you´ll need a second loose leaf notebook binder to keep track of publicity, press releases, reviews, contracts, and correspondence from your publisher and from the media. Place those little one-inch binder insert covers or tabs to label each chapter of your book.

 

Don't leave your book on the computer screen, even if saved. Print out each chapter to edit and revise in the loose leaf note book. Put the book´s title on the spine. Put into your note book plastic inserts.

 

Murder in the women's studies department: A professor sleuth novel of mystery.
Murder in the women's studies department: A professor sleuth novel of mystery. Anne Hart, Book.
Attach a tab to label your notes on research for historical accuracy
 

Put another tab for your synopsis, plan, outline, summarized chapters with chapter headings, and other notes. In another loose leaf notebook after the book is published, do the same type of labeling with plastic inserts and tabs for your editing, contracts, reviews, promotions, publicity press interviews, spin-off articles, history fact-checking, and royalty notices.

 

Keep your two notebooks in a metal filing cabinet in case your computer loses the work, and keep copies of the same in your computer. One format will back up the other format. If your computer fails, you have everything printed out on paper and two or three CD copies of everything in a fire-proof metal filing cabinet or box. When your editor calls, you can find anything in moments if you label your chapters and other materials and keep them close by.

 

After your book is published your second notebook will track royalties, reviews, the book cover design information or ideas, editing/revisions, query letters, and research of your potential market of readers or age groups and ethnic associations interested in the historical novel.

 

Why we never give up our need for a perfect mother.
Why we never give up our need for a perfect mother. Anne Hart, Photography and Book.Attach a tab to label your notes on research for historical accuracy Put another tab for your synopsis, plan, outline, summarized chapters with chapter headings, and other notes. In another loose leaf notebook after the book.
Attach a tab to label your notes on research for historical accuracy

 

Put another tab for your synopsis, plan, outline, summarized chapters with chapter headings, and other notes. In another loose leaf notebook after the book is published, do the same type of labeling with plastic inserts and tabs for your editing, contracts, reviews, promotions, publicity press interviews, spin-off articles, history fact-checking, and royalty notices.

 

Keep your two notebooks in a metal filing cabinet in case your computer loses the work, and keep copies of the same in your computer. One format will back up the other format. If your computer fails, you have everything printed out on paper and two or three CD copies of everything in a fire-proof metal filing cabinet or box. When your editor calls, you can find anything in moments if you label your chapters and other materials and keep them close by.

 

After your book is published your second notebook will track royalties, reviews, the book cover design information or ideas, editing/revisions, query letters, and research of your potential market of readers or age groups and ethnic associations interested in the historical novel.

 

Astronauts and Their Cats.
Astronauts and Their Cats. Anne Hart, novel.
Emphasize universal values of morality

Historical novels are about looking for answers to solve problems and get results in exotic places, but finding simple answers were right under your fingers. You want to emphasize universal values such as commitment to family and friends, caring for one another, repairing social ills and sickness, earning a living and becoming independent, supporting your children and keeping the family together against all odds, or finding freedom, faith and values, in the virtues of finding and being accepted a new home land.

Another genre in historical fiction is the family saga. The saga may be fictionalized but it reads like biography. Fictional sagas use action verbs in the dialogue. They read almost like a drama. And the action verbs animate the writing. The opposite of animated writing is flat writing, where passive verbs weaken the story. Historical novels become weaker when the plot drives the characters.

 

The date who unleashed hell.
The date who unleashed hell. Anne Hart, novel (paperback book).
Writing the family saga

The characters should drive the plot faster and faster to a conclusion where problems are solved or conflicts resolved. You have closure at the end for the characters. Or they transcend past mistakes and rise above them. The last chapter gives the characters a type of choice and balance they did not have at the beginning of the book. The characters grow.

They change with the times and inspire the reader. Or they are heroes because of sticking to their purpose and commitment. The protagonists don´t abandon their family or friends. But if they make mistakes, they find closure in rising above the mistakes by seeing more possibilities in the simple answers instead of the complex ones.

 

Cyber Snoop Nation
Cyber Snoop Nation Anne Hart, Book.
Simplicity of answers close by is the formula for the historical novel that emphasizes growth and change for the better.

 

Before you write your plan, make a map or family atlas of your characters and summarize their problems and personalities in two paragraphs. Draw them on a map and point to how they relate to or interact with other characters and how they influence the other characters and the results.

 

You may want to read the book title, Silk Stockings Glimpses of 1904 Broadway, or A 19th Century Immigrant's Love Story. It shows how a love story intertwines with a historical novel that can be both a social history, romance novel, and historical novel or family saga rolled into one published book.

 

Social Smarts Strategies that Earn Free Book Publicity
Social Smarts Strategies that Earn Free Book Publicity Anne Hart, Photography and Book.
Write Two Scenes for Each Chapter

Your first chapter will consist of two scenes. Write those two scenes before sending them out to a publisher in an outline which usually asks for three sample chapters and an outline summary of one chapter (summarized by two paragraphs) for each of the 24 chapters of your book. Almost all mainstream novels consist of two scenes per chapter. Take apart any mainstream novel, and you´ll see those two distinctive scenes in each chapter.

Within each chapter you´ll have one scene of interaction between two characters or a character and his or her family and one action scene. So keep this formula in mind: one relationship scene and one action scene. It has been said by published authors in the past decade and repeated at talks and seminars where published authors speak to other authors repeating this formula.
 
How to turn poems, lyrics, and folklore into salable children's books using humor or proverbs.
How to turn poems, lyrics, and folklore into salable children's books using humor or proverbs. Anne Hart, Photography, Illustration, and Book.
When you first plan your historical novel, separate the relationship side from the action side

First summarize the relationship side and then do the same for the action side. Then bring both together in one chapter. In every relationship scene and in every action scene, you will have your characters interacting together.

 

You need to make a laundry list in your plan of what happens specifically on the relationship side. Then in your odd-numbered chapters, you will fill in the plot side, the mystery side, the action side, the geography, costume, food, ethnography, travel and ballroom or battlefield side.

 

Shuffle your even and odd chapters so you have one chapter of tension followed by another chapter of bringing characters together or the potential of bringing people together

 

What you don't want to do is have all even-numbered chapters where characters do nothing but talk or all odd-numbered chapters where characters don't speak to each other and just travel the roads or sail the seas or fight the wars. No, that´s just the way you outline your plan, your skeleton. Now you bring the relationship scenes together and the action scenes together and put them inter-playing in each chapter. At this point, you´ll start writing your book. In the actual book, the reader will not see a difference between the odd and even chapters.

 

It´s in your planning stage that you separate each set of 12 chapters totaling 24 chapters 

 

So when you finally bring the chapters together to weave them slowly, what you have left is an historical mainstream novel with "two scenes per chapter, one relationship scene and one action scene," as it has been said by numerous published authors speaking at writer´s seminars or meetings.


The quote I heard most often from popular published novelists emphasized that "Your protagonists interact together in the relationship and action scenes." What you do plan for in your historical mainstream novel is writing 24 chapters.

 

Show what's happening and how it's changing

 

Your first step is to write up a plan that shows chapter by chapter exactly what is happening, changing, and moving the plot forward on the relationship side and on the plot or action side. Then you have to balance relationship and dialogue against plot or action. When the two sides are in balance as if on a seesaw, you have a salable historical mainstream novel.

 

In your plan, you´d have two columns, one for scenes with relationships showing communication, connection, and interaction using dialog. And in your other column, you´d describe your plot using scenes depicting action and adventure.

This is the best way to organize your novel before you sit down to write. It´s set up so you can get a handle on what you´re doing and find any scene or chapter quickly to do fact checking with actual historical events.

 

When you´ve picked apart your book´s main points, results, and are able to show how the characters solved problems leading to growth and change, commitment, closure, or transcending past choices and taking alternative paths, you have arrived at a point in organization where every turning point or significant event and relationship or social history highlight is labeled and filed. Now that you have organized the details, it´s time to flesh out your story.

 

Novels Spring from Proverbs

 

Where do you get your storyline? You begin with a proverb related to the history your depicting. Look at a book of proverbs. Choose one. Flesh out the proverb into a story. Take a course in storytelling or read a book on how to be a storyteller.

 

Most fairy tales, ethnic historical time-travel plots, and historical novels--either romance or suspense and intrigue are built around proverbs with ageless, universal values and truths or are related to a culture´s folklore and history. You can also use a proverb from the Bible or from any other similar book of any religion. Use an indigenous culture´s proverbs or those from ancient cultures or hidden histories. You can write a historical novel about military dog, cat, or horse heroes.

 

Use proverbs to flesh out into a story

 

Your story line can come out of a proverb or familiar quotation based on still older proverbs of any culture. If you need a plot, a proverb is the first place to look for inspiration or a start. Many novelists use proverbs as inspiration to write one-sentence pitch lines for their novels.

 

Before you write anything, summarize the pitch line of your book in one sentence. Pretend you were selling your novel to a movie producer. Pitch the book in ten seconds or less using one sentence. Here´s one example used many times in lectures by scriptwriting course professors, "Star Trek is Wagon Train in outer space." Perhaps your historical novel resembles various popular cultures placed in a new context that can be summed up in one sentence under ten words in length.

 

Note that different publishers may require different page lengths or different numbers of chapters. So check with your publisher's requirements if the publisher wants more or less than a book with 24 chapters, as publisher's requirements may vary. You can write a chapter of only a few pages or many. But keep your chapter length consistent.

 

To write lively dialogue in your fiction, you can use tag lines to explain behavior and emotion

 

 

One way to explain one character's intent to another character as they are communicating is to write, "He laughed mockingly, clearly making an effort not to be patient." Or you can write the opposite, "He sighed, clearly making an effort to understand her pronunciation." Or he "clearly made an effort to be patient." You need to explain what the character did physically to show how he made an effort to be patient.

 

Ask what are his gestures and attitude as he makes an effort to be patient? What body language and/or behavior does the other person see to whom he's trying to communicate?

 

You might use words that aren't used daily in speech, words such as mollified, instead of the character's action while "trying to calm someone down" or to "hopefully make someone less angry." For example, the passenger mollified the driver by doing (insert the behavior/gesture).

 

If someone acts cheerful, you might say he is "buoyant." Then you ask how does the character display his buoyancy? Is he strangely buoyant or oddly buoyant or does he observe another person as a puzzle to be put together to fit easily into some category? Is the person a mystery or a does the person resign himself/herself to some solution that may or may not solve the problem? Ask yourself as you write does the solution at least get measurable results that readers can follow without the subplot being too complex or too easy to guess or solve from your clues, even if you're not writing a mystery?

 

How to write active as compared to flat words using imagery and description in your fiction, plays, or creative non-fiction works

 
 

 

Novel and photo by Anne Hart.  How to Start Engaging Conversations on Women's, Men's, or Family Studies with Wealthy Strangers: A Thriller

 

Here's how to practice writing 'live' as compared to 'flat' writing when creating imagery that makes an impact on the reader. Check out some examples of 'live' writing compared to 'flat' writing. When writing creative non-fiction or fiction and poetry, describing the way dialogue is spoken, or using 'tag' lines to denote behavior, expression, emotion or gestures, and even describing environment, the more specific the imagery, the less 'flat' and the more 'alive' the writing becomes.

 

Don't write as if telling. Your goal is to write the effects, that is, what happens as the results of the action. You want to use words that create imagery. You're aiming to design pictures/visuals using words. An example could be: "His first job, waiting on cabaret tables, felt as uplifting as being onstage. He laughed to himself often that it, in a way, finally made use of his degree in musical theater."

 

For example, instead of writing, "He or she scolded him," write as if showing. Use words as images: "She blistered his eyes with her cartoon illustrations." Or write, "His voice rose an octave as he blistered his teacher's ears with sharp objections to those medieval dress codes." You're amplifying. Words such as 'blister' -- do more than simply inflame, burn, or incite. You're describing the outcome in detail, turning up the volume of the event or words spoken in dialogue. You're not only heating up the words but using words as imagery to show the result -- the blister rather than stating the 'burn.'

 

When writing fiction, using "he said" all the time is supposed to separate the professional from the amateur writer who keeps changing the "he said" to words such as he explained, complained, shouted, moaned, squawked, or some other word that describes behavior felt in a speaker who is saying something to someone else. 

 

Here are the examples and variations on a theme of "he said."  

 

He croaked

He squeaked

He gurgled like a bittersweet weight on his bunions.

He pricked his finger while he fingered his mud-brick.

He rambled

He shook his head

He shouted

He quietly murmured

He mouthed the words while burping loudly and rudely

 

If you're looking for a new word (verb) to use in your fiction to describe a fussy or crying baby, you might try the word 'mewling' instead of the familiar 'cry', 'wail', 'whimper', or 'whined'. Here's one dictionary's definition: Mewling | Define Mewling at Dictionary. com - dictionary.reference.com/browse/Mewling - verb 1. (intransitive) (especially of a baby) to cry weakly; whimper (often in the phrase mewl and puke) noun 2. such a cry.... Interestingly, mewling used as a verb sounds somewhat close to meowing, as in a cat's meow, or 'meowing' to make the crying sound of a cat. A human's cry or whimper would refer to the verb, 'mewling,' but a cat's cry or wimper refers to meowing, not to a howl or a growl.

 

Or describing behavior without emotion, you might write, "Our robot wove supple internets and intranets of persuasive essays as it wrote the one manifesto that would define a year of work in pure mathematics, but it could not compute the total number of atoms in this universe in the time allowed." 

 

Describing the behavior, the action, gestures, and the dialogue or monologue with or without emotion 

You want to describe the behavior, sound, and gestures of what you might hear when somebody speaks. If the person sounds like a frog, perhaps from exhaustion when returning home, you might describe the tag line of dialogue as whatever words spoken, described as "he croaked" instead of "he said."

 

In nonfiction, said is good enough, for example in a short news article. In a novel or describing the behavior in a play or script, you might use the words "he croaked" to describe the sound of the person's voice as the words emerge from a person returning home. 

 

In describing a language, you could write, "He spoke (name the outer space alien language in your science fiction novel) as though it dirtied his mouth.  The phrase has been used in a popular novel to describe an actual language, but to be "politically correct" in your own novel, if you choose to write a description of how someone speaks a language, you could use similar descriptive words to show what somebody feels about the language he or she is speaking at the moment. 

 

The point is to create imagery of how a person behaves and feels inwardly about the act, situation, language, or environment he or she speaks about outwardly. Active writing is using imagery in words to describe behavior and emotion, inward and outward. The goal is the reader gets the big picture through the small details. That separates flat writing from active writing that's 'alive.' 

 

For example, describe how an individual 'grips' or 'holds' or 'fingers' an object. You could say he or she gripped a penny, a painting, a book, a locket, a wallet, or a miniature horse as if it were a talisman or an amulet, lucky charm, or holy relic. The inner feeling the individual experiences becomes imagery in active writing so that the reader can feel the behavior as well as the emotion behind the behavior of the character in your work of fiction, creative non-fiction, or poem, play, feature article, or script. 

 

You might also describe someone or something that is inside different from outside. You can say the person is 'like' a diamond with flecks of coal, sound or unsound in the way it looks to the viewer, or worth or worthless, valued or valueless, inside.

 

Notice how many writers use the words "at heart" to describe emotion rather than "at brain" or mention the area of the brain that's the seat of emotion, that controls the other parts of the body. The goal and objective is to create imagery where the reader can feel immediately what you're describing. How would you describe someone or something that has toadies? 

 

Would you use the word toady to describe a flatterer in your novel or story? Or would you use the most familiar word for readers who don't want to look up every word in a dictionary that they read in a novel or story? A toady is defined in various dictionaries as a person who flatters or defers to others for self-serving reasons; a sycophant. It's also defined as someone who can be a toady to or behave like a toady. A toady is an obsequious flatterer; sycophant. fawner, yes man, parasite, apple polisher. 

 

How many readers know what a toady is? What if you're writing for an audience of adults reading at fifth-grade levels? Newspapers often write for readers with a vocabulary or readers who read at fifth-grade to 8th-grade levels. Some newspapers even write articles at fourth-grade reading levels, others at high-school reading levels. It has been said that most newspapers write at levels so that a janitor and college president can understand the article.
 
A toady is a person who flatters and ingratiates himself or herself in a servile way; sycophant, servile parasite." The word used in Britain around 1826, apparently had been shortened from "toad-eater" used to described a "fawning flatterer" (1742). Originally, to word  referred to the assistant of a charlatan, who ate a toad (believed to be poisonous) to enable his master to display his skill in expelling the poison (1620s). The verb is recorded from 1827. Related words are: Toadied; toadying

 

How would you describe lighting a stove to cook using imagery that creates 'live' writing as compared to 'flat' writing? 

 

You might write, as it has been done in popular fiction,  he or she "coaxed the coals to life." But first you'd have to mention, as it has been written, that the person has to "sweep the ashes from the ovens" and then "coax to coals to life." If you're writing about a village in a remote part of the world, the oven could be outdoors. And coals may not have been used in that area, but dried cow patties instead as fuel, or wood.

What would light an oven in the Arctic winter or in the Gobi desert or outer Mongolia, among nomads, for example? Or what would be used as fuel in the rural tropics, such as the South Pacific, rural India, or the Amazon River villages of rural Brazil? 

 

Would you describe a rainy autumn day as sodden heaps of auburn leaves? Or  as white plastic garbage bags tied with pink plastic strings displayed along the littered, gum-stained sidewalks puffed like macaroons on a silver matte baking sheet? The goal is to practice with words that denote imagery -- and then shorten the sentence to bare bones as far as using words that describe the picture you want to create. 

 

Example: "Plastic garbage bags puffed like macaroons standing at attention at curbside." An exquisite novel of fantasy historical fiction using words as imagery that makes the writing spark alive I highly recommend is The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Or you might see my 2007 novel, How to Start Engaging Conversations on Women's, Men's, or Family Studies with Wealthy Strangers: A Thriller,  or see my 1987 play on growing up in Coney Island and beyond during World War II.