How to Write a Novel - by Sunday Times bestseller C.L. Taylor (Part 2)

How to Write a Novel – by Sunday Times bestseller C.L. Taylor (Part 2)

In this video Sunday Times bestselling author C.L. Taylor discusses how you need to identify what the ‘big mystery’ is in your novel, the books she recommends to help spark ideas and how the Four Act Structure can help you plot your novel.

hello I'm CR Taylor otherwise known as Callie Taylor and I'm the author of six psychological thrillers and one young adults riddle this is the second part in my how to write a novel series or rather it's how I write my novels in the first part I talked about character and how I often start my stories by working out what it is that my main character wants and what she has to lose what the high stakes are what her flaws are that stop her from achieving her goal and what her fears are in this then this part of the of the chat I'm going to talk about what I do next once once I've got those things sorted so the main thing is to identify what's the big mystery every decent commercial novel has a mystery at its heart Elizabeth is missing the mystery there is where is Elizabeth what's happened to her in before I go to sleep is Jane Watson it's what's happened to Christine why is she lost her memory in the girl on the train it's what's happened you know who is responsible for the murder there's always a mystery whether or not it's a crime or not you know even though romantic comedy can have a mystery at its heart whether or not that's you know will they get together or not or how will they get together big little lies balin Moriarty brilliant mystery what happens at the PTA party and who dies that drives the story all the way through so it's important to work out what the mystery is at the heart of your novel and before I started writing the novel that I've just started now 6200 words in I so what what is the mystery what is the mystery that's going to drive the novel right from the start I want I want my readers to be trying to figure things trying to figure the mystery out I'm not going to tell you what that mysteries yes because I don't like talking about enough force until I've ripped until they published or nearly had to be published anyway so I sorted that I sorted that and my trusty notebook came in very useful I went away to to a hotel for the weekend just to give myself some thinking space to try and work out what this novel was about and and to go about plotting and planning it so I worked out what the mystery is and then the next thing that I did was I went through my trusty how to write books this novel will be my eleventh that I've written but still every time I start writing a novel I feel like I don't really know what I'm doing how do I start I'm got clay and so I read these books these ones are very highly recommended by me they just spark thoughts sometimes if you're not entirely sure where you're going with it you're not sure what it's missing these reading these books often makes me think about the plot of my own novel and and I'll those spark ideas and this one is my Bible stealing Hollywood by except Alexander Sokolov as I said in my last in my last video I've tried lots of different techniques when it comes to to plotting and planning novels everything from the hero's journey to the 3x structure to writing hugely detailed outline outlines and now I mostly concentrate on using the 4x structure and that is something that Alexander talks about in this book Alexandra's a a author in her own right she's also written screenplays and worked in Hollywood this book basically teaches you how to use the 4x structure that is so popular in the film world and to use it to write novels it's just like the three-act structure apart from act 2 is split in half so if you I highly recommend you get the book but I'm going to give you a very brief overview so you know what I'm talking about so this board shows you that you've got act 1 and that sequence 1 so this 8 sequences actually got 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 and I find that using this helps avoid the novel going to saggy at any part often in this middle section was act 2 the book can get very slow and sort of plot II and the readers often enjoy Act 1 where it begins and it's awfully excitement and act 3 when there's you know the final battle and the stakes are really high so by splitting act 2 into 2 and into 4 parts you have a climax at the end of each which means you've got a real set piece moments really exciting tense tense moments in your book so what I do so we've got there the midpoint climax here as well which is worth pointing out which is it doesn't have to be a twist some books do have a twist at the midpoint but the midpoint needs to really up the stakes it needs to almost come out of left field thrown not to left field or else that won't work but the reader will feel that your book is progressing in a certain direction and then something happens at the midpoint that changes everything that ups the stakes that means that the main Harris has to go off in a different direction look for something slightly different or someone different something unexpected basically you need to make your reader that are you know when they get to the midpoint here and it's also worth pointing out that when I when I start writing my novels I know the inciting incident and the inciting incident can happen as early as right at the beginning of Act one or it can happen here at the at the climax of Act one you've got the normal life of your characters at the very beginning of your novel and then something happened an inciting incident that makes them go after their goal the goal that I talked about in in the last video so when I start plotting I will I will know what my inciting incident is for each in this book there's three characters so there's three inciting incidents so I will plot those out here I will also definitely know what happens at the midpoint climax and very often I'll plot what happens at these other climaxes at to climax various sequence climaxes probably know what happens at the big battle at the end but I don't often know what happens right at the end of the novel in the last two books that I've written the fear and the and the one that's coming out in April I didn't know what the twists were until I got there pretty much in until I got right to the very end I think I was about five thousand words away from the end of sleep I was having the shower and not sleep the fear and I saw a shower and I thought oh maybe maybe this could happen right at the end one extra little twist just to catch the the reader unawares and I wrote it and I put it in and yeah it worked and I've had great feedback on that so you know you can work out your twists at the beginning you know if there's a fundamental twist that your book rests on it is only revealed at the end it really helps to know what that is in the beginning so you can see come sort of them work it into everything as you go along but I will often get to the end and then I'll realize my twists and I'll have to go back and sort of seed it in a little bit so I got really teach you how to do that it's just it's just your way of working so this is the notebook like I said of what I took away on the hotel I'm only gonna flash this because I want anybody freeze framing it time to read it before have you been written the book but I've basically drawn out I've got my three characters in a row and then I've got the different climaxes of each sequence and I've written handwritten notes scribbly screaming scribbly there are gaps in it you know or where I've just written two words cuz I'm not entirely sure what happens but there's enough here for me to work on to actually get started so that's it really I used to in the past I've got a big massive whiteboard behind the sofa in my office and I will often get index cards and use magnets and stick different scenes on into each sequence I've not done that in this book and I kind of their last young adult book that I wrote I did it for about half the book with just random scenes that I knew were coming but what normally happens is I get about 40,000 words into a book and I think I'm not entirely sure how to get through you know the last 60,000 words so I'm gonna stop I'm going to do some plotting and then the whiteboard might come out then I'll start doing some some brainstorming and get those index cards with different scenes up and move them around and see what works to give it enough to get further on to the end of the story so to pimp the books again that I use stealing Hollywood my Alexandre sokoloff John York into the woods and the art of war for writers by James Scott Bell there's more books that I recommend particularly if you're if you're a starter you know if you're if you're very early in in writing a novel maybe it's your first novel you might need a bit more hand-holding and you not might need something a bit more sort of structured if you go to my website to WWC l tailor author calm and go to the new section and then go to September 2017 I posted a blog where I listed all the books that I've used in my career including ones for writing romantic and and I've split them into sections of sort of beginner intermediate advanced so go and take a look at that have a look at the books that I've recommended I have used every single one I don't use obviously they're sort of beginner books anymore because I've sort of built my own way of writing books but if you if you really need your hand-holding and it's all feeling a bit overwhelming that is a brilliant place to start I used the hero's journey for my very first novel from my rom-com because I liked how structured it was and I could fit in you know scenes in into that structure anyway good luck with your with your books and I hopefully talk to you again soon about some other topic but now I need to go with write my novel Cheers bye


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