Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Karen Mann with a guest post: "A Novel Idea: What Comes Next"

Welcome Karen Mann, author of The Woman of La Mancha.


A Novel Idea: What Comes Next

by Karen Mann

You have an idea for a novel. Before you type “Chapter 1,”think about the following.
Know what kind of novel you are writing. Literary, romance, sci-fi, mystery. These areas and others have conventions that you need to know, plus this information helps define your audience.
Know your audience. Be able to express who will read your novel. If the protagonist is under 20, you may be writing a young-adult novel. If your protagonists are in their sixties, then your audience may be baby boomers.

Know the arc of the story. While your ideas about the story may change as you write, take time at the beginning to jot down your thoughts about how the story will unfold. These notes may be in outline form or just a page or two of thoughts. Keep a journal handy and continue to jot down ideas. You don’t want to forget that great idea that comes in the middle of the night!

Know your characters. Think like an actor and get into character with each of your characters. Make up some interview questions that ask about their families, friends, likes, and dislikes, and write the answers from each character’s point of view. Become them as you write. Silas House, author of Clay’s Quilt, says each character has a secret. Ask “What is your secret?” Also ask, “What is it the reader will know about you that you do not know?” You’ll be delighted with what you come up with. Plus this exercise gives you backstory on the characters; tidbits you will use that will make your story more vivid.

Know your time period and the geographic area. Even if you lived at the time and place the novel is set, research until you know the period or place enough to write how it looks, feels, smells, tastes, and sounds. Look for those specific details that will make your story memorable.

Know that novels are true to fiction, not true to life. If you are writing something that is autobiographical, be flexible. You want to write the best novel you can, and that will probably not be what happened in real life. Yet there are moments and feelings from your life that will be the perfect fit.

Make a commitment to write a sentence a day, and even if that’s all you write, you’ll still be making progress toward a completed novel. Good luck! You can do it!

Thank you to Wow! Women on Writing for providing this stop on Karen Mann's blog tour!
For more information and more tour stops, click here.

About The Woman of La Mancha:
The Woman of La Mancha, a companion book to Don Quixote, tells the woman’s story of Don Quixote by recounting the story of the girl he called Dulcinea, the woman he loved from afar.

It’s 1583. An eleven-year-old girl wakes in the back of a cart. She has lost her memory and is taken in by a kindly farm family in La Mancha. She adopts the name Aldonza. She doesn’t speak for quite some time. Once she speaks, there is a family member who is jealous of her and causes a good deal of trouble, even causing her to be forced to leave La Mancha in tragic circumstances. Having to create a new life in a new location and still unaware of her birth family, she adopts the name Dulcinea and moves in the circles of nobility. While seeking her identity, she becomes the consort of wealthy men, finds reason to disguise herself as a man, and leans herbal healing to help others.

There is a parallel story of a young man, Don Christopher, a knight of King Philip and the betrothed of the girl, who sets off on with a young squire, Sancho, to find the girl. Christopher’s adventures takes them across Spain and forces him to grow up. Does he continue the quest to find his betrothed or marry another and break the contract with the king.

Both young people have many experiences and grow up before the readers’ eyes. Floating in and out of each other’s paths as they travel around Spain, will they eventually find each other and be together?

About the Author:

Karen Mann is the author of The Woman of La Mancha and The Saved Man. She is the co-founder and Administrative Director of the low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program at Spalding University (www.spalding.edu/mfa) and the managing editor of The Louisville Review, a national literary magazine since 1976 (www.louisvillereview.org). Having lived in Indiana most of her life, she now lives in San Jose, California. See more about her books at www.karenmannwrit

For more information about blog hostess, Audry Fryer,
please visit www.audryfryer.com 


  1. Audry, this is lovely. Thank you!

  2. Great advice Karen! I especially like the section about knowing your characters.


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