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For many unpublished authors getting stories on paper and then into readers’ hands can be frustrating and downright discouraging.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 clichés 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



  1. I like that one about introducing characters gradually.

    Also, try to make the character names different, so that a reader isnt constantly seeing "Susie and Lucy" or "Mary and Margie"...and I HATE books who use two non-gender names like Lee and Cricket, or
    Sandy and Lou...

  2. My favorite writing quote that was said by Elmore Leonard, "Leave out the parts that most people skip."

    1. Colleen,
      Yep, I think you have something there. Thanks.

  3. Some good reminders in that list - definitely helpful and well worth remembering. Thanks for sharing them with us - I know I've needed a little extra help with my writing, lately. ;)

    1. Kimberly Menozzi,
      You're not alone. I think we all need a boost from time to time.

  4. I actually had to teach myself to write slower because too often the details made huge changes in the story. I try to get down enough to prevent that, but still end up adding at least a third again to my rough draft word count just to reach an acceptable minimum of description.

  5. Alice Audrey,
    It sounds like you know yourself and you've found a system that works for you. :)

  6. I think #5 is a great tip. I've read too many beginner's stories that have slow dialogue. If it doesn't mean anything, skip the niceties and get to the meat of it.

  7. Great tips!! I miss writing short stories again