Want to Write A Novel- Developing the Protagonist

By blogging about this topic, I do not intend to teach anyone how to write a novel.  There are plenty of classes, by qualified teachers, you can attend and of course, you can read every single book about writing a novel you can get your hands on, like me.

 I am following a book on how to write a mystery – chapter-by-chapter – step- by- step.  The last few days, I spent developing my sleuth.  She is a romance writer whose career is failing.  Her publisher has said they don’t plan to offer her another contract.  Her agent is encouraging her to complete a novel she seems to be struggling with trying to get finished.  In the meantime, her fiancé dies in the arms of another woman.

 My character’s name is Rachel Miller/Rachel St. James.  Her motivation is to continue her writing career even though she is feeling blocked with the current project.  Now she is also mad and hurt because Bradley, her fiancé is now dead and had obviously been cheating on her before he died.  I do know that Bradley’s death will not be of natural causes, as everyone initially assumes and that Rachel will become a suspect in his murder.  That is why she is the sleuth.  She has to solve the mystery as to who killed Bradley and is it the same person who eventually starts threatening her.  She is early 30’s and I picture Sandra Bullock as I am writing the story.

 On another note about naming the character, the book I’m using suggested you use a list of eight qualities this character has and then pick five first and last names that reflect those qualities.  The next step was to go to the internet and Google the names.  See how many people have that name.  If there are too many, maybe you should pick another name.  The only problem with doing this was that every name I chose was out there, a lot.  So in the end, I chose a name that I liked and thought I wouldn’t get tired of writing down frequently.  If you have any suggestions about naming characters, check in and let me know how you do it.

 That is about all I can share with you so far about this character.

 Now I am on to developing the crime and victim’s secrets.

 Another note about your premise, from my last post, if you write it tightly enough, you could use it later for an elevator pitch.  If you don’t know what an elevator pitch is, let me know and I will explain.

 So, to recap, we have an idea that we developed into a premise and we have created a protagonist (for me, a sleuth), and we will be developing other characters.  If you are writing a mystery like me, you will be working on your crime, victims and their secrets.  If you are working on another genre, now would be a good time to develop other characters.

 I will catch up with you again after this step.

 Keep checking in frequently, I will be adding author interviews to this site.  Come back and meet Carla Cassidy soon.

 In the meantime, keep writing and have some fun.


Want to Write a Novel – The Premise

This blog is a way for you to look over my shoulderas I write a book and to interact with me while you write your own. I left the last blog with a promise to write a premise for my story.

I guess I should have given some advice as to how to do it, just in case you are just starting out and needed to know.  Look for ideas where you normally look, newspapers, magazines, people you know, what you overhear in a crowded place, whatever jumps out at you as a possible story idea.  When you develop a premise, you are taking an idea and constructing it into what your story is about within a few sentences.  It is the basic core of your story.

Since I am using Hallie Ephron’s book Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel, here is how I would do it using her suggestions:

Let’s start with my basic idea.  What if a failing romance author’s fiancée dies in the arms of another woman? 

Maybe an interesting concept but at this point just an idea.

To develop my premise, I have to take it a little further: Suppose a failing romance author’s fiancée dies in the arms of another woman.  What if because of her pride, she lets everyone think he was with her and all seems fine until the police determine that he didn’t die of natural causes and she becomes a suspect?

 Now I have something a little more substantial to hang a story on.  Nothing is ever set in stone at this point but this is my start.

Now I am going on to developing my mystery sleuth.  If you are not writing a mystery, this is when you develop your protagonist.  For the next few days, I will be creating my own templates to determine who this character actually is.  Her physical appearance, likes, dislikes, background, everything that has made this character, my sleuth, who she is at this point in her life.

Does what I’ve covered so far make sense?  Do you see anything that isn’t logical?  Do you understand how to develop a premise and create a character?  Feel free to comment at any time.  Like I said, this is a lonely business and it’s nice to know someone else is out there doing the same things.

For now, I’m going on with the story and will be back as soon as I get past this step.

If you’d like to see how other authors write, check out Lois Greiman’s interview within this blog site.  I will be adding other author interviews over the next few weeks.  They include Carla Cassidy, Franscesca Hawley, Cheryl Saint John, and Dennis Maulsby.  I will continue to post author interviews so keep checking back for more.  After you’ve read Lois’ interview you might take it a step further and read some of her books.

You are keeping me accountable and I hope to hear from some of you too along the way.

Until next time,


Lois Greiman’s Views On Novel Writing

Maybe knowledge is power, but it’s damned hard to think a burglar to death. – Glen McMullen, defence of the Beretta under his pillow.


Glen McMullen is a character created by Lois Greiman and he lives in her (Unzipped, Unplugged, Unscrewed, and Unmanned) series.  Picture Chrissy McMullen, a thirty something, single psychologist, who is treating a famous football player for impotency and ends up having him chase her around her desk…unzipped… and discovers that he definitely was lying about that little problem. She doesn’t have time to worry about it though because he has the bad manners to drop dead at her feet.  Next thing she knows, a sexy police detective with an attitude is determined to prove that Chrissy had a more intimate relationship with her dead client and is out to prove that she killed him.


Lois writes more than just mysteries, if you’re  into steamy romances, do check out her website for the full list of books she’s written.  In the meantime, she was kind enough to allow me to interview her for this blog.

First of all, I’d like to thank Lois again for taking the time for this interview.

Virginia – Where are you from?

LoisA cattle ranch in North Dakota.

Virginia – How long have you been writing?

LoisI started seriously writing in about ’87.  Wow.  That’s a long time ago.

Virginia – What do you write?

Lois – Mostly mystery and historical romance.  But I’ve written some contemporary romantic comedy and children’s fiction.

Virginia – Tell us a little about your publisher and agent.

LoisI write historicals for Avon Books and have since about ’91.  I’m writing my mystery series for Bantam/Dell/Random House.  I also have a new faerie anthology coming out from St. Martins Press.  As for my agent, she’s my fifth… but my first true love.

Virginia – How many books have you published so far?

Lois – About 30. I used to think authors must have to be a little retarded in order to lose track, but well… maybe I’m a little retarded.

Virginia – What is your writing day like?

Lois– Right now it’s nuts cuz I have a book due in three weeks and the book hates me.  but usually I feed my horses, get some exercise, check my blog, then write from 10-4, depending how things are going.  For the first draft I write about ten pages a day.  For the other drafts I edit 20-50 pages a day.

Virginia – Can you tell us about your 5 draft system?

Lois– For the first draft it’s just kind of a mind dump.  I write as quickly as I can so my internal editor doesn’t have time to get too outraged by all the mistakes I make.  I just get down the story and don’t worry about names, typos, or even logic really.  I just write.  Second draft I begin to make it make sense.  I know the characters a little bit now, so I can figure out why they do what they do.  By the third draft it should start showing some promise.  Or at least some hope.  Then I start fleshing out the characters, making changes as needed to sentence structure, character, logic, etc.  Fourth draft is mostly about fixing the flow.  I read that draft out loud to myself and let the characters tell me what I’m doing wrong.  Fifth draft is all mechanics and last minute hysteria.

Virginia – Do you have anything that just came out?

Lois Seduced By Your Spell, which has been getting really nice reviews (thanks everyone) was just released Feb. 24th and One Hot Mess hit the shelves on March 24th.

One Hot Mess
Seduced by Your Spell

Virginia – What are you working on now?

LoisThe third Witches of Mayfair.  Right now it’s called Charming the Devil… but hmmmm… not sure if I like that or not.

Virginia– Do you have some words of wisdom for us unpubs?

Lois– Hang in there unpubs.  It’s a tough course.  At least it was for me.  (and still is sometimes.) But if you want it enough to work really hard for it you can make it happen.

Under Your Spell was nominated for Romantic Time’s best Historical Love and Laughter Award.  Lois Greiman is also a nominee for Career Achievement for Most Innovative Historical.  you can contact Lois at www.loisgreiman.com.

Author Alert– If you would like to be featured in a future blog, please contact me at vagruv@msn.com to let me know.

Follow my own journey as I write a novel with my Write A Novel With Me blog. You can watch over my shoulder as I take it from idea to a completed novel and hopefully on to publication.  I also want you to tell me about your struggles and accomplishments along the way.

Until next time,

Lois Greiman


Want To Write A Novel With Me?

I started the 90 Day Challenge thinking that I could write a novel without any planning.  I can’t.  I need a story line and some kind of direction or it feels like all I’m doing is counting words.

I had signed up for the newsletter at Cheryl’s Learn to Write Fiction site and have received lots of information.  I’ve attended many workshops and read numerous books so I have a pretty good idea what I need to do, so here is my suggestion – if you have struggled like me to complete something, only to have half a dozen projects half finished, I am inviting you to join me in this quest.

I will blog once a week, at least, telling you what I am doing in the coming week and setting my weekly goal.  I am punting here so bear with me and hopefully I can make each post interesting enough for you to continue with me.

I am starting from the very beginning with the idea.  Each week, at the end of the week or as I complete a chapter, I will blog again to tell you what I accomplished and what my next week’s goal is.

Since I haven’t been real successful in the past, I am open to your suggestions. Or if I run into a snag, I may ask for your advice.  In the same vein, if you have something that is holding you up, send it to me and I will either offer advice or find out the answer for you.

Of course, I’m hoping this project will help me complete a novel but I would also like it to help you complete your project too.  Feel free to comment, offer advice, ask a question.

Okay for this week’s goal, I am working on my story idea.  I am wanting to write a mystery, hopefully a series so have decided to use Hallie Ephron’s book Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel. I will be creating my own templates as I go and work through the suggestions chapter by chapter.  You are welcome to use whatever source you have to help with each step of the way.  There are a vast number of how-to books out there. Find one that suits you.  You can also search the web for information too.  Or like I said, comment with your questions and I will try to help. 

Since I want to get to the actual writing as soon as I can, I will work on each section each day until I geth through to a finished first draft. I will post at least once a week and maybe more frequently as I complete the steps.

So for now, I will be starting at the beginning – The Premise.

Once I’ve developed the premise, I will make a new post.

Wishing everyone out there who wants to complete a novel and hasn’t success.


P.S. I will be posting author interviews amongst this series of posts. I will be re-posting some interviews that started out on another blog site, so will play catch up for the next few weeks.  For August, I have a new interview with Kylie Brant.

Happy Writing!

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