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Saturday, October 21

Day Twenty-One: Idea to Novel Workshop: The Opening Scene

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Welcome to Day Twenty-One of Fiction University’s At-Home Workshop: Idea to Novel in 31 Days. For the rest of the month, we’ll focus on plot and the major turning points of a novel.

Today, we’re looking at writing a strong opening scene.

The Opening Scene


The opening scene is, of course, the way the novel opens. It usually introduces the protagonist, though sometimes an opening scene starts with the antagonist, or a bit of history instead. It shows the world and gives a taste of why the protagonist is different or special enough to ask someone to read about him. It also sums up the key points readers need to know to understand the character.

Friday, October 20

Day Twenty: Idea to Novel Workshop: Developing Your Plot

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Welcome to Day Twenty of Fiction University’s At-Home Workshop: Idea to Novel in 31 Days. For the rest of the month, we’ll focus on plot and the major turning points of a novel.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at structure and the major turning points of the plot.

Understanding some basic story structure will make both the planning and the final plotting a lot easier. Novel structure formats offer plot turning points to aim for and provide a framework for your plot. Even if you’re a pantser, structure can help during revisions when you have a first draft done and want to make sure all your plot points are working.

Thursday, October 19

When Your Muse is Missing in Action

By Jana Oliver, @crazyauthorgirl

Part of the Indie Authors Series


In every writer’s life there are days when the words flow like a raging river over a waterfall. Nothing gets in your way as the sentences and paragraphs and pages pile up. Then there are days when you should be cranking out 1K or 2Kwords and you’re lucky to get 500, and most of those are iffy, at best. Even worse, your Muse decides to take a vacation, as in a “head to the beach” type of holiday where there’s nothing but chirping crickets left behind. We’ve all been there, even though I’ve heard authors claim that’s never happened to them.

Day Nineteen: Idea to Novel Workshop: Create the Most Basic of Outlines

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Welcome to Day Nineteen of Fiction University’s At-Home Workshop: Idea to Novel in 31 Days. For the rest of the month, we’ll focus on plot and the major turning points of a novel.

Today, we’re creating a basic overview outline to get a feel for our story.

Not everyone is a fan of story structure. Some find it constricting, and others fear following a particular structure will make their novels feel formulaic.

This simple three-point process provides a basic framework to keep your story organized, without making it feel predictable or driving you crazy trying to hit specific beats.

Wednesday, October 18

Day Eighteen: Idea to Novel Workshop: Turning the Summary Line Into a Summary Blurb


By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Welcome to Day Eighteen of Fiction University’s At-Home Workshop: Idea to Novel in 31 Days. For the rest of the month, we’ll focus on plot and the major turning points of a novel.

Today, we’re essentially writing a query blurb (but don’t panic!). This summary blurb is a very useful tool to ensure you have all that you need to write your novel.

Tuesday, October 17

Create the Perfect Villain: a 6-Step Master Plan

By Laurence MacNaughton, @LMacNaughton

Part of the How They Do It Series (Contributing Author)


In my last article here on Fiction University, I laid out 6 Ways to Make Readers Fall in Love With Your Characters. You can use the opposite of those exact same methods to create a villain that your readers will love to hate.

Building empathy in your readers gets them emotionally involved in your story. They start to feel what your characters are actually feeling, making the story a shared experience. That's why, when you set out to build empathy in your readers, I suggest using the acronym SHARED:

Day Seventeen: Idea to Novel Workshop: Turning Your Idea into a Summary Line

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Welcome to Day Seventeen of Fiction University’s At-Home Workshop: Idea to Novel in 31 Days. For the rest of the month, we’ll focus on plot and the major turning points of a novel.

Today, we’re clarifying our idea so we know exactly what we’ll be writing.

Turn Your Idea into a Summary Line


A summary line is a one-sentence description that sums up what your idea is about in a way that also captures the key elements needed to turn that idea into a novel.

Monday, October 16

Day Sixteen: Idea to Novel Workshop: Finding Your Stakes

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Welcome to Day Sixteen of Fiction University’s At-Home Workshop: Idea to Novel in 31 Days. For the rest of the month, we’ll focus on plot and the major turning points of a novel.

Today, we’re looking at the reason our characters are going to all the trouble of solving the novel’s problem—the stakes.

Find Your Stakes


The stakes are the motivating factors for the protagonist’s goals, and why she has to overcome those conflicts right now as opposed to whenever she gets around to it. The stakes are what happens if she doesn’t succeed. Stakes are bad. Stakes are killer. The higher the stakes, the more tension is created and the more compelling the plot. They’re the “or else” in every threat.

Sunday, October 15

Day Fifteen: Idea to Novel Workshop: Discovering Your Internal Conflicts

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Welcome to Day Fifteen of Fiction University’s At-Home Workshop: Idea to Novel in 31 Days. For the rest of the month, we’ll focus on plot and the major turning points of a novel.

Today, we’re heading inside our characters to discover their internal conflicts.

Discover Internal Conflict


Internal conflicts are the issues the protagonist faces on a mental or emotional level. They’re internal battles that require emotional sacrifices and tough choices that challenge a personal belief. The internal conflicts help make the external choices more difficult, as well as help create the character arc.

Saturday, October 14

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This YA Opening Compel You to Read On?

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 I 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 October 28.

This week’s questions:

1. Does this opening compel you to keep reading?

2. Am I showing, not telling?

3. It feels a little off somehow. I can't put my finger on it. Can you give me your professional opinion (if that's not too vague)?


Market/Genre: YA Dystopian

On to the diagnosis…