Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Five Points to Ponder when Novel Planning

 I find that there are a lot of overlaps between my job as a teacher and my job as a writer. I believe that, in learning how to plan meaningful learning experiences for my students, I have learned how to plan meaningful chapters for my readers. Here are five questions I feel you should ask yourself when planning a scene/chapter for your story:

1. What do I want the reader to learn from this scene/chapter?
Each and every scene in your story should have a point to it. If your reader is not learning something new, then there is no point in including that scene. You should have a clear idea of what you want your reader to learn before you start writing.

2. What do I want the character to learn during this scene/chapter?
 As the writer, you need to figure out what you want your character to know, as opposed to what you want your reader to know. A great way to build tension in a story is to have the reader know something really, really important that they hero doesn't. I have been caught out before yelling at a character to look behind them. A great writer is able to craft this so seamlessly that the reader is not even aware that it is happening.

3. Am I assuming too much prior knowledge from the reader?
When I am teaching a class I always write the homework on the board, show the students which pages they have to complete in their books, tell the students what homework they have, and ask the students to repeat back to me what their homework is. And yet, I still have some students come to class telling me that I never told them what homework they had to do, so they didn't do any. Worse, some even complain to their parents that I didn't set them any homework. Argh!

My point is that, just because you mention a detail to a reader does not mean that they will necessarily remember it. Especially in the first few chapters of your book, everything is so new and different that it is all a bit too hard to take in. A sentence or two later should suffice to jog a reader's memory.

A friendly note of warning: Be careful not to go overboard with the whole jogging-the-memory thing. A complete re-hash of previous events will only bore the reader.

4. Are you sharing too much?
 As a Science teacher I often find that I have to lie to my students. Not in a bad way, just in a way that prevents me from confusing them. For example, when I am teaching my Year 7's about atoms, I tell them that atoms are the smallest particles there are, and that everything is made up of atoms. This is not strictly correct, because I am deliberately not mentioning protons, electrons, neutrons, or the even smaller again quarks. It is not important for my Year 7's to know the ins and outs of atoms at such an early stage of their Science career, and mentioning them up would only confuse the poor little tykes. My Year 10's, however, are taught a huge amount of information about protons, electrons and neutrons because they can handle it.

So, are you giving your reader too much backstory? Doing so will often confuse the reader or, worse, may lead them to get bored and refuse to read any more of the story. *gasp* You need to keep it simple and drip feed the reader any important information. What your character ate for breakfast that morning can usually be left out of the narrative, for example, as it may clog up your story.

5. Do the readers have any misconceptions that you need to address?
I was watching 'Oz, The Great and Powerful', with my Mum yesterday, and a scene from the movie really stuck with me. When Mila Kunis told James Franco that she was a witch, he asked her where her brookstick was. She was confused, and he said he thought all witches needed a broomstick to fly.

When you are planning, you need to think about what misconceptions your readers may have about anything that you are including in your story. It can be really important to know this, because something a parent has told their child will often stick with them for life even in the face of strong evidence to the contrary. A thorough Google search should let you know about the ideas people have about the topic you are writing about. 

I hope my Five Points to Ponder help you with your novel planning. Good luck, and be sure to share anything you might be useful that you have learned along the way. Happy writing!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Read an Ebook Week - I'm giving my ebooks away for free!

March 3 - 9 is read an ebook week, and I am excited to be participating this year. For this week only I will be giving away my two children's ebooks, 'Scruffy the Christmas Bear', and 'Scruffy the Adventurous Bear' for free.

Head on over to my Smashwords page and fill in the promotional code 'RW100' in the payment section to get you free copy of my books. Alternatively, click on the book covers below to be taken to their own Smashwords page. Have a trawl through the 'Read an ebook Week Section' of Smashwords whilst you're there to find out what other awesome great reads you can pick up!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Scruffy the Adventurous Bear - eBook Release

I am very proud to be able to announce the release of my new children's ebook, 'Scruffy the Adventurous Bear', written under my children's author pseudonym, 'A.M. King'. This story continues on from the first book, 'Scruffy the Christmas Bear', following Scruffy and his best friend, Chloe, as they explore the garden whilst becoming even better friends than ever. This ebook comes complete with colourful illustrations by the marvelously talented, Benjamin Rawlings, who was also kind enough to illustrate 'Scruffy the Christmas Bear'.

'Scruffy the Adventurous Bear', by A.M. King

Scruffy the Bear and his best friend, Chloe, are back for further fun times together. Join them as they explore the backyard, climb trees and have exciting super slimy snail races.

Scruffy the Bear is a quick bedtime read about interactions between friends that is perfect for children aged three to seven. This story engages the imagination and gently encourages children to think about the feelings of others. Promoting outdoor activity, healthy eating, and getting along, this book sends a positive message whilst you spend quality time with your children.

Scruffy the Adventurous Bear is the sequel to Scruffy the Christmas Bear, and can be enjoyed alongside the first book, or as a stand alone story. 

I would love for you to read this story, and share it with your children. It is available for purchase for $1.99 from Smashwords. Stay tuned for the book's availability from other ebook retailers.

I absolutely love writing these Scruffy tales, so no doubt there will be many more available in the future. Thank you to everybody for your continued support. I love you all :)