How to write believable fiction

There are many articles on the internet, in books, and advice from authors/editors on how to write believable fiction.  One of the best online sites I found was   The articles are in-depth and far more extensive than I could go into here.  If you’re looking for information on

this site has what you’re looking for.

But what if you’re having difficulty coming up with a race of characters or a world or anything fantasy?  Maybe a character name or even a title for a book?   That’s where GENERATORS are invaluable.  Might I suggest the following:

Romance Title Generator

Seventh Sanctum – for any and all writer needs.  Awesome site.

Place Name Generator – Seventh Sanctum also has ‘place’ generators

Character profiles

Or maybe you’re brain’s frozen and you can’t think of anything to write about. Try:

Again, my first choice is Seventh Sanctum.  Afterwards, head over to these sites.

Plot Generator

Writers Plot Ideas

Logline generator

Need a twist to your plot but you don’t know what to do?  Try:

Plot Twist Generator

And when you’re done goofing around for a few hours, head over to your word processor or your notebook or whatever method you choose to write, and get busy on that novel!  The world is waiting to read your words!

I have a novel to publish, short stories to edit, and a new novel to write in 30 days. I’m swamped.

Remember this fantastic scene from the Princess Bride?

Swap the words for the title of this post and that’s me facing down NaNoWriMo which starts a week from today. Am I nuts?

Unlike Prince Humperdink, I am not a planner. I don’t outline, I don’t figure out my characters or what they’re doing. I just write. Now, I do have a plan in my head. I know where I want to start and how I want to end but that’s it. I guess you could say my writing style reflects my everyday look at life.

I don’t plan. In fact, I hate to plan because nothing ever goes right when I plan. The best vacations I’ve ever had were the ones where no plans were made except to say “We’re going on vacation to [fill in the blank]”. Once we got to wherever we were going, my family and I did whatever caught our interest. We’ve never had an itinerary to uphold.

One of our best vacations was the one we took two years ago to Key West over Labor Day weekend. It was literally a spur of the moment trip, completely unplanned. I told the boys we were going to the Keys the next day (you should have seen their faces! priceless!) and to go to bed early. I got online and made reservations for us and the pooches (they love traveling, too) at a fabulous Sheraton Hotel on Key West beach (at an AWESOME rate that I couldn’t even believe myself] and off we went. I even took 1 extra vacation day from work so we would have 4 fab days in the Florida Keys. I got to live out two of my dreams: to see Hemmingway’s house and stand at the southern most tip of the United States. Kewl!

Hopefully, NaNoWriMo will offer the same opportunity to fulfill one of my dreams: to write and finish the second installment in my 3-part saga. I have butterflies in my tummy, my nerves are starting to twitch, and my brain is gearing up to face the unknown. The trip is going to be a fantastic one and I’m going to learn a lot, especially about myself. Can I stay focused? Can I make and accomplish goals? I believe I can. What I am sure of as a writer, is if I can get through and succeed at NaNo, I can succeed at anything. Today – Little Town, Florida. Tomorrow, New York! Look out world! I’m coming for you!!!

(gotta love the ‘I am awesome’ message!)

The Latest on Word Count for Fiction

I have had several writers, authors, aspiring authors, etc. ask me what the industry word count is for fiction these days. My response has always been: it depends on the genre and the publishing world at the time; however, I must say, the industry standards have been pretty stable for the last few years. But, just to make sure, I checked in with several agents’ sites to see what they had to say and have come up with the following guidelines. Keep in mind that these are only suggested word counts; rules get broken all the time but usually by published authors, not newbies, and books that are e-published usually don’t have to conform as much to the rules. With that said, here is what I found:

An average novel length is between 80k and 100k, again, depending upon the genre but this can be broken down even further.

middle grade fiction = Anywhere from 25k to 40k, with the average at 35k

YA fiction = For mainstream YA, anywhere from about 45k to 80k; paranormal YA or YA fantasy can occasionally run as high as 120k but editors would prefer to see them stay below 100k.

paranormal romance = 85k to 100k

romance = 85k to 100k

category romance= 55k to 75k

cozy mysteries = 65k to 90k

horror = 80k to 100k

western = 80k to 100k (Keep in mind that almost no editors are buying Westerns these days.)

mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction = A newer category of light paranormal mysteries and hobby mysteries clock in at about 75k to 90k. Historical mysteries and noir can be a bit shorter, at 80k to 100k. Most other mystery/thriller/crime fiction falls right around the 90k to 100k mark.

mainstream/commercial fiction/thrillers = chick lit runs anywhere from 80k word to 100k words; literary fiction can run as high as 120k but lately there’s been a trend toward more spare and elegant literary novels as short as 65k.

science fiction & fantasy = 100k words is the ideal manuscript size for good space opera or fantasy. For a truly spectacular epic fantasy, some editors will consider manuscripts over 120k but it would have to be something extraordinary. And regardless of the size, an editor will expect the author to be able to pare it down even further before publication.

Agents and editors cannot stress enough that there are always exceptions to every rule, especially in SciFi and Fantasy. However, debut novelists who are trying to catch the eye of an agent or editor for the first time should probably err on the side of caution with your word count.

Just finished writing death scene…

and let me tell you, it was one of the hardest scenes I’ve ever written. However, thanks to three re-writes and coaching from my super duper beta reader, I have written a scene that grips me and my reader to the point of tears, which is what I was going for.

So what held me up on this scene? Basically, I forgot to be the storyteller. I failed to get inside my characters’ heads. The basics were there, the movements were there but it lacked depth, persuasion. It lacked emotion. I mean, it was so close, but you know how sometimes you’re thinking of something and it’s right there on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t blurt it out? That’s how this scene was with me. It was right there. Right on the brink, but I kept missing the mark.

Until I listened to my beta reader, made myself uncomfortable and visited the spot where grief lives. I had to reach down deep inside of me and relive what I felt when people I loved died. What did I feel? What did I say to myself? What sort of bargains did I make? And then I had to transpose them onto a seventeen year old boy without sounding cheesy or overdone.

I can’t believe how many hours this scene took to perfect. Again, a big tip of the hat to my beta reader and her harsh, strong comments that forced me to dig up painful memories so I could make this scene shine.

I wonder if anyone else has written a death scene and if they had as much trouble to get it right? If so, what did you pull from for inspiration?

As a side note: there are three novels that come to mind with great, gut-wrenching death scenes that just turned me into a bawling baby: The Order of the Phoenix when Sirius Black dies, The Hunger Games when Rue dies and an old classic, The Miracle of the Bells when Olga Treskovna dies.

What are some of your favorite death scenes in fiction and what emotion(s) did they stir in you?