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Why Writers Shouldn’t Rush Their Novels

There’s a growing trend from self-help and ‘how to’ books to lure aspiring novelists into writing a novel in just a few months. There is one website that can help writers achieve a novel in just four weeks. Because it’s that easy to follow their ‘proven to work’ steps. Write, publish and on with the next book! Except that it’s nothing like that. Writing a really good novel should take at least 18 months/ 2 years, sometimes longer. Not a few months. And most definitely not four weeks. This is absurd and erroneous. Perhaps it’s a generational thing. But they forget the fact that ordinary people have jobs, families and a house to look after and simply don’t have time to write for long periods. If a first time author writes a book, edits it and publishes within a few months, the book will not be worth reading. That’s because it’s not just about sitting in front of a computer screen to write. A lot of time is spent on planning, researching, editing, re-writing and a huge amount of time just…

What Makes a Good Writer?

Most people will assume that being creative and knowing how to tell a story makes a good writer. But being a good writer isn’t just about writing a good story with interesting narrative and believable characters, nor is it about having the technical skills or being able to connect with the readers. It’s much more than that. Writing is an art form, so people are either exceptionally good at it, or they’re not. While lots of elements about writing can be learned, effective writing is down to raw talent and a deep understanding of language. Less obvious things make a good writer. Much of what we write is down to observation. An effective writer – i.e. a good writer – uses observation to construct descriptions and create imagery. What we’ve seen in life and often what we’ve experienced forms the rich layers for our stories. We see things in everyday life that bring a sense reality to our writing, no matter how insignificant or innocuous they might seem. Observation of people is all about a …

How to Stay Inspired

Writing isn’t easy. It’s a long, drawn out process that takes months or even years, and the ability to stay inspired can waver. No one is perfect, which is why there will be times during that process when writers grow weary of writing and the inspiration dissipates.
Staying inspired is as much about remaining focused as it is about having ideas and being creative, as these are intrinsically linked, but how we maintain that is a different thing altogether.
If inspiration dries up, don’t worry. It’s quite normal; so normal that all writers will experience this. It’s a matter of keeping things in perspective rather than becoming anxious about a lack of ideas and the thought that if you’re not writing then there must be something wrong.
There isn’t anything wrong.
Lack of inspiration or ideas is NOT writer’s block.Writer’s block is a problem with the writer, while a lack of inspiration is, well…a lack of inspiration. It’s as simple as that. The ideas are just not there.
There’s a lot of advic…

How Do You Know When Your Story is Finished?

Writers know that, in truth, a story is never finished, and if given a choice, they would tweak and rewrite ad infinitum. That’s because we’re never satisfied – we can’t help ourselves; we have to keep rewriting until we think it’s perfect. Of course, there must come a point when the story has to finish and reach a point where there is nothing else to write and you have to let it out into the big bad world for others to read.
But how do you know the story really is finished?
The answer is all down to the process of writing. There’s a logical flow to how stories are constructed. It happens in gradual steps, so the finished product comes as part of the last few steps in that process, rather than when you write ‘the end’, because ‘the end’ isn’t the end at all.
This process begins by writing the first draft – the bare bones of the story. New writers believe that’s all it needs. They’ve written the story, so it’s finished. But it’s far from finished – it’s barely written. The first draft is…

Irony and Deception as Literary Devices - Part 2

Part one looked at different types of irony writers can use – a very subtle way of duping or manipulating the reader.Outright deception can also be used to good effect, which is very popular among crime, thriller and mystery writers. There are different types writers can use, but the main ones are misdirection, red herrings and outright lies.
Throughout a story, writers often create deliberate deception. They do so by manipulating reality to mislead their readers to add a different perspective or heighten tension of conflict and to create drama. False clues help to achieve this.
Misdirection is an effective way to direct the reader from what is really happening. This effect is created by a false reality. For instance, writers can deliberately lead the reader into a wrong assumption whereby a character jumps to the wrong conclusion and accuses another character of perpetrating a terrible crime. The reader will most likely also think the same thing, until later in the story when its revea…

Irony and Deception as Literary Devices Part 1

Writers are always looking for ways to layer their stories, to give their writing depth and meaning and provide more than what can be gleaned on the surface. There are plenty of plot devices that help writers to do this; however, two lesser known ones are irony and deception. Irony in fiction occurs when the writer intentionally uses a different meaning to the literal one in order to create a dramatic, comedic or emphatic effect. Such meaning or intention will be clear to the reader, but some or all the characters(s) will not be aware. It’s about creating different layered perspectives. There are three types of irony commonly used in fiction - dramatic, situational and verbal. Writers use dramatic irony for different purposes and effects. It relies on the fact that the reader knows something that the other characters do not. This affects the way the reader reacts to the narrative. Sometimes none of the characters are aware, or it may be just one or two that don’t know what’s about to ha…

How to Plant Clues in Your Story

As writers we strive to write the best story we can. Constructing stories can be difficult and complicated at times, but we do it for our readers. They love nothing more than figuring out stuff for themselves.They like to peel away the layers and look inside the real story. They like to follow clues and they like to guess ‘whodunnit’. Clues are a way of enriching the story and creating a more enjoyable, deeper reading experience.
So, one question that writers often ask is: How do I plant clues in my narrative, and when?
Clues are a way to keep your reader interested because they impart necessary information at key moments throughout the story. They help layer the story and they can be as obvious or as subtle as you want them to be. Some clues may even be hard to spot, and readers miss them first time around, but they’re there, just waiting to be discovered.
They are a way of helping the reader ‘connect the dots’. A clue can be anything – an object, something said in a conversation, a col…