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Novel Writing – The Three Act Story Structure

A quick reference Infographic for all writers, whether you’re a plotter or planster, to help guide you through your hero’s journey. Take a look at the Three Act Structure and see if it suits your story.

There are other methods, which I’ve covered them in another post: Four Ways To Structure A Novel. If you want to know more, check it out.


I hope you enjoyed this fun glance at structuring novels. The options are endless, let your imagination run free and don’t give your hero an easy time. 😉

If you’re interested in further ideas, check out: Six Ways To End Your Story. 

Happy Writing.
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Do you use the Three Act Structure? Or do you have prefer another method? Please share your writing style, know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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How to Overcome self-doubt as a Writer

A lack of faith or confidence in our ability as an artist is something all writers struggle with. Sometimes it’s fleeting like a summer breeze, other times, it lingers like a winter  frost. So how do we navigate the storm and overcome self-doubt?

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We’ve all heard the little gremlins, but what makes us carry on despite the crippling fear. One of my favourite quotes is by Suzy Kassem. She hits the proverbial nail on the head with her wise words. 

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem.

Sometimes it’s the shove I need to keep going, to keep trying. I cling to the hope that tomorrow I’ll believe in myself once again.

Dream Big and Let Nothing Hold You Back
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For me, perseverance is the only option. In the past, I’ve buried myself in a double quilt, hidden in Netflix series whilst gorging on chocolate: The ultimate self-pity, self-sabotage, procrastination. If you catch yourself in this place, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What do you fear the most? Failure? Ridicule? Or is it success and living in your own power?
  • What’s Holding you back? Is it a lack of knowledge, practice, or feedback? And how can you change that?
  • What would you do differently if you believed in myself? 

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“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  – Vincent Van Gogh

And so we should continue to paint with our words, dream up characters, learn our trade, and most importantly, let your joy and passion lead you. Forget the outside world, the setbacks, the criticism and write

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Remember we have the right to nurture ourselves, to take a step back, regroup and reconnect to those we care about. As a suffer of Complex PTSD, I understand that sometimes the inner voice is the cruelest one of all. I now know, self-care and self-love are important for me to be able to create. Occasionally, I need to step back from a project and recharge my creativity. I no longer allow guilt to weigh me down, it’s all part of the process. Me time, strengthens my writing. 

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.” – William Shakespeare.

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What helps you navigate the choppy waters of self-doubt? Please share your experiences to help other writers, and to help me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Dream Big and Get Writing

What should we do when life reveals itself as a broken fairy-tale? Unlike a fantasy novel, there is no white knight to save us. The first step is realization: Our world is what we make it.

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How do you create your best life? How do you discover your life’s purpose? 

Follow these simple rules:

  • Do the things that ignite your passion,
  • Dare to dream,
  • Become the person you aspire to be
  • And most importantly, take the steps to achieve those goals.

As writers we know how to hold on the vision; no one else is going to plot, draft or edit our stories. Everyday we create something new; pen to paper, fingers tapping at the key board. Over time, we hold something more than just a finished story in our hands, we gain experience, build a writing community and build upon our social media platforms.

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We are the ultimate creators of our reality, each word, each rejection, each new connection or failed attempt only brings us closer to the place we all want to reach – to have readers fall in love with our words; to experience something profound or moving, to feel a sense of kinship to the trial and tribulations our characters journey through, to escape and pleasure in our fictional worlds. 

The last thing any creative wants, is to experience a burnout: Writers block. Our imagination and determination dries up, causing our writing to come to a grinding halt. We need to listen to our mind and bodies, to slow down when things get tough. The last thing we need is to exasperate the problem, making the journey to getting back on track even harder.

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I’ve had my share of falling down the rabbit hole of procrastination, of not paying attention to self-care and letting stress take its toll. After the exuberance of the Christmas holidays and the celebrations of a new year, I’ve struggled to slip back into my old writing habits. In search of some much needed motivation, I stumbled across this enlightening YouTube clip. 

Psychological well-being by Nina Ellis-Hervey at TED

Nina is an inspirational woman, who has learnt valuable lessons from her failures and strives to encourage others, that they too, can achieve anything they put their minds too.

So to all of my fellow writers, as Nina says,

Dream big or not at all.

Do you have a favorite motivational or inspirational quote or video clip you’d like to share? We all need encouragement and support, and you know I love hearing from you.

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Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.

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Importance of Updating your Blog

As the year draws to a close, I been looking back over the year, assessing the rise and fall of the last twelve months. Many of us will be wondering where the time has gone, asking what has been achieved and what’s next.

Don’t forget to give your social media, and blog, the same kind of attention by giving it an overhaul, bringing inline with where you are today.

When I first started blogging, I had almost finished the first round of edits on my first novel. Well, three years, and three novels later, my About page hasn’t reflected these developments, until now.

Our blog is the solid foundation of our brand, our home base, so don’t forget to keep all of your information relevant. You want to reflect the writer you are today, not who you used to be.

By keeping things up to date, you can make sure your readers know what you’re up to, what material they can buy, where they can find you, and any exciting developments in your career.

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When was the last time you edited your site, to keep it fresh, current and engaging? Tell me, how long have you been blogging, and how have you grown since the beginning?

Share your journey with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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Blogging, Social Media and Marketing.

Welcome, my wonderful readers, follower bloggers and writers. How we use social media is changing, how we market ourselves and our books is changing. In an industry that’s fast moving and constantly evolving it’s easy to get stuck. What used to work no longer brings results. In this post, I’ll share what works.

I’m back after taking a short hiatus from most of social media while me and my husband moved business premises. Our welding and fabrication unit is now located in the best of rural Wales, surrounded by beautiful countryside. It’s been a yearlong project and we’re both relieved and grateful to finally be set up and running. Phew.

I’ve had plenty of time while decorating to consider my approach to being a blogger and a writer. Media like Facebook has become a place that holds little engagement for me, whereas, Instagram and Twitter has become an interactive, positive place. But as the algorithms get updated, we must get savvy too. I love to watch YouTube clips to get the lowdown on what’s new and how to implement them.

Thankfully, my community of writers and bloggers has always been a supportive, caring place. The rules for blogging have remained the same; write great content, use amazing images, and most importantly – reach out to your fellow bloggers by reading their posts and commenting. Easy peezy.

If you’re considering becoming a blogger, know that you’re in good company. Having a website, a place where you can be authentic and creative, is a fantastic way to develop your brand and become established. Any content that you create on WordPress can be shared to a wide range of your social media accounts, making it a smart approach to marketing.

Creating a Logline for a Novel, The Perfect Pitch

Finally, a step that I’m about to embark upon, is to learn how to market books. In the last three years that I’ve been blogging, I haven’t had to consider this yet, because I’m still in the query trenches with my manuscript. But one day, hopefully soon, I’ll have a published novel ready to market. And starting to implement a marketing strategy at that point will be too late. So fellow writers who are in the same boat as me, drafting, editing and querying, lets test out the waters and read posts, books and take marketing workshops so that we’re ready to go.

How do you cope with the ever changing demands of marketing? Please share your experience, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.

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Time to Write, Don’t Procrastinate

We know that daily writing goals and being proactive creates a great forwards momentum for our novels. Yet putting that into practice can sometimes feel like a mountain to overcome and before we know it, writing has turned from a wonderful pastime, into a herculean beast that we can’t face. Then even if we find time to write, procrastination takes over. Suddenly, writing time has evaporated into a missed opportunity.

Today I’m sharing my productivity tips in the hopes that they resonate with you: Let’s do this!!!

Set intentions There’s no point in half-heartedly thinking; I’ll try to write today. No. Make it a definite intention: A promise to yourself. And keep it. I set mine the night before, listing the top 3 things I intend to achieve the next day and allocate the time for those things to happen.

Carve out time. I’m a mother of two and a partner in two businesses. Life can get pretty hectic. But I make it my intention to write first thing in the morning, so no matter what unfolds through the rest of the day my creativity won’t be impacted.

Don’t get distracted. Put down your phone. Turn the TV off. Don’t nip to your friends for a quick brew (Oops, I’m already guilty of this.) Sit at your computer and begin. Even if the words don’t flow, and your characters are silent. You can always edit, develop setting and plot or research – just not on Facebook.

Take yourself and your writing seriously. By putting everyone else’s needs in front of your own, you’re giving off the energy that your writing isn’t that important. If you can dedicate your time to your kids, running around for their needs. Dedicate your time to a job, because you need the money. Dedicate your time to your partner, because you want a healthy relationship. Then you should apply the same principles to yourself. Your passion. Your calling.Your love for words and literature make you who you are. Own it and believe in yourself. Even if it’s only for half an hour on your lunch break, or in the car while your kids play sports, or cutting out one Netflix show. (I love Netflix; they have great story lines… it’s research.)

Recharge your batteries and don’t stress. We are notorious for burning out. Pouring our heart and soul into a novel and balancing family, work and personal life can take its toll. We are only human and life happens while you’re making plans. Relax, recharge and reboot your creativity. Although this could be considered procrastination, it’s different. If you’re running on empty, you need to refuel. So watch movies, walk in nature, laugh with friends and read books. It’s good for the soul. And a happy writer makes for a more productive writer.

Thanks for reading. Do you have any tips on creating time to write and how to stop procratination by? If so, please share, you know I love hearing from you.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

Querying Agents: Should you Hire an Editor First?

So you’ve completed the first draft of your novel, edited it the to best of your abilities and now you’re ready to query. Maybe you’re further along than that – perhaps the rejections have started rolling in and you’re wondering if you should hire a professional. And here is the important question: Would hiring an editor help you get representation from an agent or perhaps even lead to becoming published?

After my recent one-to-one with an editor I’ve battled with this question. Some of the advice I received resonated with my gut instinct. Great. Whilst other parts I’ve debated with my betas, toyed with changes and generally procrastinated over. Who’s opinion should I trust more, someone in the industry for 20yrs or just little, blundering novice, me.

On Friday I attended a writing conference with a fellow blogger from Uninspired Writers and we had two agents from Greene & Heaton give us their opinion on the matter. Working with any professional can be a costly matter, which may well be outside of many writers grasp.

But a far more interesting point was; agents are used to working with writers who have a rough draft, it’s their job to know how to edit a manuscript to make it shine. Provided your MS is polished to it’s best and has no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. By implementing an editor’s changes you’re effectively adding a third persons subjectivity to the mix. You may end up editing out parts that the agent would have loved and add elements they hate.

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These points aligns with previous advice I’ve heard, which is, by working with an editor before submitting your manuscript, it is no longer authentically yours. Because it has been enhanced by someone else. The agents may well assume your work is up to scratch only to discover that it is not.

I think these pose an interesting conundrum. Who amongst us wouldn’t want to jump the queue and get ahead? But is that really benefiting us in the long haul. On the other hand, having areas in our manuscript highlighted as weak by an editor, critique partner or beta, especially if we had a niggling feeling it was, can only benefit us.

Remember advice is subjective, an agents preferences is subjective, heck this blog post is subjective.

Listen to that inner voice and have faith in your journey. If you want to work with an editor, do it and learn from it. If you’re struggling with someone’s feedback, because you believe those elements are integral to your story, listen to your gut instinct and leave them in your story.

You are the master creator of your world – in fiction and reality.

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Have you heard similar advice from professionals? Or have you worked with an editor and known in your heart their changes would help or hinder your story? If so, share them with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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Top Three Tips On Mastering Character Traits

As writers we are actively encouraged to portray a variety of characters, with varying shades of positive and negative traits. The characters may have different skills from us, they may have more or less qualifications, and they will have undoubtedly gone through experiences that we as the writer have not. If every character only echoed our own lives, mimicking the qualities we have, the story would fall flat.

One of my readers recently asked me a great question: Lorraine, do you think it’s OK for a writer to  attempt to portray a character with qualities the writer doesn’t have? For instance, I am not funny at all, but I would love a secondary character to have a sense of humor, which means there is a risk the character will sound lame rather than really funny. I have read a short story where the character was supposed to be wise, but the writer was not particularly wise, so the wisdom was on the ‘weak side’. Do you think it is better to stay away from qualities you do not possess or to try anyway?

As writers we need to portray meek, strong willed, sarcastic, funny, intelligent or even obsessive characters. It is inevitable that we will write a character we are not familiar with, and so, here are my;

Top three tips for mastering character traits.

Watch and listen to other people.

It’s not only what people say, but how they say it. Their tone and volume of voice add to the weight of the words spoken. Possibly more important will be what their body language says. It’s true, writers see the world through different eyes, because these subtle things need to be taken into account. We can make a character more funny by his antics and the response of his supporting characters.

Research the subject matter

There will come a point when we need to know more about a specialized subject matter, so that we accurately portray our character to our readers. Whether its about science, motor sports, mental health, how to fly an airplane, or simply how long it takes for a broken bone to heal. If you don’t do your research, there will be glaring holes in your story that your readers will pick up on.

Thankfully we have search engines at our fingertips, with a few clicks and the correct tag words we can pull up vast amounts of knowledge. So take the time to research, don’t just guess.

Alternatively, speak to people who know first hand what it’s like to be homeless, or to be a policewoman. Tell them you’re a writer doing research, and that you wish to portray your character with accuracy. They might be willing to help you.

Hone your craft.

Read books and ‘how to’ blog posts, listen to podcasts, or take creative writing classes. No matter how many novels you write, you are always going to learn something new. Write more, read more, and be brave enough to seek feedback.

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How do you make sure you portray characters correctly? Have you avoided a certain trait because you weren’t sure how to write them? Share your experiences with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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The Courageous Writer

Writer’s and Artist’s are seen as fragile creatures, introverted and mysterious. But those are simply stereotypes; artists come from a multitude of backgrounds and have different personality traits. One thing we do all have in common is courage and persistence.

They say writers and artists see the world differently. Every voice we hear, every face we see, every hand we touch could become story fabric. – Buffy Andrews.

I love the last quote, the more I write the more I realize the truth in those words. I watch people and observed their behavior, I begin to ‘borrow’ their traits. How they reacted to bad news, how they hold their posture, and then I start to morph those borrowed pieces into characters.

When did this happen? When did I start enjoying psychology so I can channel it into my writing? When did I first observe my emotions so that I could transfer them on to the page? Suddenly, poetry is important because I want to know how to describe a simple object and give it meaning.

Jacob Nordby Quote about Artists

All of those things are fascinating, but other facets of our journey have become more apparent. In order to achieve our goals of becoming published, we constantly put our art out there: Submissions, beta readers, critique partners, writing groups and competitions.

We struggle with self-doubt and crippling anxiety over the future of our novels. All the while we work on; pressing our fingers to the keys, tapping away in the silent hours in between our real lives, where family and work commitments take president.

We continue to push through our fears, purging our darkest secrets into our written art, allowing our glittering hopes to shine through our WIP. When criticism pinches, or the rejections roll in, we fight on to make our work more succinct. Through our vulnerability, we risk everything in pursuit of our dreams, knowing that failure is inevitable. Yet when we fall, we brush the dust off our knees only to rise and continue.

My fellow artists: We are courageous. The next time you type on in seclusion, feeling the burden of isolation, I want you to congratulate yourself for being brave, for persisting, for following your dreams, because many people simply never bother.

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So my fellow artists, do you believe you see the word differently? Have you realize your own bravery, and if not, why not? Share your experiences with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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Writing The Perfect Opening Chapter… and what not to do

The first chapter of your novel is important; its where you’ll hook your reader, introduce your protagonist, hint at the antagonist, reveal their goal and introduce the stakes. And that’s not all, writing the first chapter will set up the rest of your novel, linking all of the plot points together.

Are you overwhelmed yet? I know I am. I thought I knew how to write a great first scene. Turns out, I was wrong and in today’s post I’ll tell you why.

We’re constantly told not to open with a clique start: No starting in the middle of a battle scene, waking up from a dream, or with lots of internal monologue while your character does something mundane like washing the dishes.

But we’re also told to show the character in his ordinary life, just before a pivotal point which will start the story and raise the stakes. BUT make sure it’s not the inciting incident, because that comes a little later. What?

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The first chapter should focus on your main character, don’t clutter the scene with secondary characters, unless they play an important role. Eeh?

Make sure you give the reader all the details; age, weather, time of year, appearance, their fears, a goal and, of course introduce the stakes. BUT don’t bog down the scene with exposition. Right?

World build: Know the rules of your magic system and adhere to them. BUT don’t throw too much at the reader and confuse them.

Start with an action scene to hook the reader, something to show the character actively engaging with the world around him, be careful not to write a passive character that gets led alone. BUT remember the reader doesn’t know the character yet, so why should they care if they get killed in battle.

Please, no prologues. Unless it adds to the story, them yes give the reader a prologue.  Ahh, screams at the conflicting advice and throws a fluffy pillow across the room.

Whilst wending my way through the S**t storm of conflicting information, I wrote a great chapter, but I also got it seriously wrong. I did not ask, Why should the reader care about my Main Characters?

You see, I’d used the checklist of Do’s and Don’ts, but completely forgot the power of empathy. We need our readers to become invested in our characters, right from the start.

And there we have it writer friends, there is no one-stop-post to fix your first chapter. It takes persistence, a continuation of building upon your craft, getting honest feedback, and practice, practice, practice.

Never give up, my writer friends. I believe in you.

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Please share your experiences of writing that all important first chapter, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.