Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tips to Turn the Stories in Your Head into Novels-Part 2

For many unpublished authors getting stories on paper and then into readers’ hands can be frustrating and downright discouraging. That’s why I look for encouragement wherever I can. 

Recently, I found it in the Hartford Library. Karen McQuestion taught a class on "How to Write a Novel." She shared some of many things she'd learned in writing and published eleven plus books. 

One of Karen's latest releases

Eleven plus books? Yep. She’s a successful novelist and I can say from firsthand experience that she’s as likable as her characters. 

Here are more of her tips to turning the yarns in your head into published works. They've inspired me and I'm hoping they'll d the same for you. 

1.  If you want to produce lots of words, chapters and stories—you need to “write on a regular basis.”
2. “Write fast.”
3. It’s important to get the story down, “you can always embellish later. You don’t have to have all the details.”
4. When you write dialogue, “condense what’s not needed or interesting.” 
5. Consider the dialogue to be, “conversation’s greatest hits.”
6. Be careful not to use too much alliteration or too many clich├ęs because when the reader notices them, they “turn the story into just words.”
7. When writing characters it’s best to “climb into the character.”
8. “Emotional elements can be added through thoughts, physical responses, and sensory experiences.”
9. “Don’t assume that the readers know what the character feels.”
10. “Give the reader help.” For example, your first chapter is where “reader meets story.” When you start your story, imagine that you are a host introducing a new guest to party.  Make sure they’re not overwhelmed with too many people and that they find their environment understandable. 
11. “You want characters to seem like real people.”
12. “The biggest compliment a reader can give a writer is to say that they felt a connection with a character.”
13. Relax. Have fun with your stories. “Some people make it (writing) too woo-woo. It’s just words on the page.” 

I have fun writing to you and sharing my life and my efforts toward publication.  Knowing I’m not alone, that I have friends on this journey encourages me. If you’d like to share a tip, I’d be glad to hear it. If you’d like to learn more about Karen McQuestion or her many books you can find her at


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tips to Turn the Stories in Your Head into Novels

Ever wonder what goes into writing a novel? How a published and best-selling author transforms a story she imagines into a book?

Well, Saturday, January 30, 2016 Karen McQuestion, a successful author came to the Hartland Library. Karen is self-published and also published with Amazon-imprints. Her novels include: A Scattered Life, Easily Amused, The Long Way Home, Hello Love, Favorite, and The Edgewood Series and others. Karen has sold a lot of books. She said that recently her editor told her she’d sold over a million books, but she is still approachable, kind and generous with her knowledge. During the couple of hours Karen spoke, she talked about her writing journey and just how she puts a novel together. She gave all kinds of helpful tips. My fingers were flying as I took notes. Here are thirteen helpful insights I jotted down.

1. “I’ve wanted to be a writer of fiction since around third grade. I think that’s when most authors decide what they want to do because that’s when reading become easier and stories get longer and more involved.”
2. “I’ve tried to plot everything before I start to write but when I do, it just seems too much like homework.
3. However, I do jot down scene or chapters I’m going to write for the day.”
4. “The joy of discovery is half the fun of writing for me.”
5. “I find it really helpful to set a goal for the day.” A number of words or pages I hope to complete.
6. “I’ve been using a dictation program just for fun, but I use a laptop for 98% of my writing.”
7. “I like to be in a quiet place when I write.”
8. I do something called cycling or looping before I start writing. I’ll go back to what I wrote the previous day and make corrections or just let it get me into the story again.”
9. “I find it easier to write fast.”
10. “Writing got more fun when I said, ‘I don’t care. I’ll get it down and fix it later’.”
11. “You don’t pick the book, it picks you.”
12. “There are three components of a perfect novel: language, storytelling and emotional connection.”
13. “None of this is rocket science. If you want to write a novel, you can.”
Karen’s talk was encouraging and hopeful. I enjoyed listening to her speak just as much as I’ve enjoyed reading her novels. Thank you for letting me share what I learned with you and happy reading.

For more information, you can visit or wait for my next post.  I'm sure there will be a part two.