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Author Intrusion

Author intrusion is almost always unintentional, but very common. That’s because authors tend to get carried away when in the throes of writing and sometimes forget they are not their characters – they’re simply the writer. It’s no surprise that, for the most part, writers don’t realise they’ve intruded the narrative. But why is it a problem? Author intrusion is what it says. It’s when the author intrudes the narrative with opinions, ideas, words or context that doesn’t belong in the story. Fiction is just that; home to fictional characters in a fictional world, so an author should never project him/herself into the story. When it does happen, it can be distracting and confusing for the reader and can disrupt the rhythm of the story. Not only that, but the reader isn’t interested in the author’s personal opinions. They’re only interested in what the characters think and feel and if they don’t, it can jar and stop them enjoying the story. Your fictional world isn’t the place to express yo…

Can You Write a Story Within a Story?

A story within a story can exist, it’s an old technique, but they’re not as easy as they might sound.It’s a literary device that works by having two separate stories that don’t necessarily have to be linked. Don’t confuse it with a subplot, which is a specifically linked plot thread to the main plot. A story within a story is exactly what it describes. The best way to try to understand them is the think of the inner story and an outer story. The inner story tends to be the main story while the outer story is used to tell the inner story, usually by way of a ‘narrator’, although there’s no reason that the outer story can be the main story and the inner story is used to help tell the outer story. Whichever way around they are, one story sets up how and why the main story is told. Writers like to use a character within the story as the narrator, by having him/her tell another character a different story. Other writers have characters that create their own stories within the main story. Swa…

How to Make Stories Allegorical

Every story has something to say, and sometimes our stories become more than what we expect – there are times when we weave hidden themes or have deeper meaning with use of symbols, and sometimes stories become allegorical, without us realising. For others, creating metaphors and allegories takes a great deal of planning. But what exactly is an allegory? We’ve all read stories with strong moral themes that teach us something about the world around us and how humanity fits within it. It’s a metaphor – but not the short metaphors we sprinkle throughout our novels. This metaphor runs through the entire story arc and uses characters, events or situations, themes, sub plots, symbols etc., to show the reader the moral of the story, but which falls outside of the literal interpretation of the story. Beneath the actual story lies the real meaning. And like any metaphor, it must have meaning; otherwise the reader won’t understand it. An allegorical story can be about anything – they can be about …

Avoid Mistakes When Editing Your Own Work – Part 2

In part 1, we looked at some of the common mistakes writers make when they try to edit their own work, simply because they don’t understand the processes that editing entails. It’s important to point out that self-editing isn’t about being an expert. Self-editing is about the kind of collective things to look out for when reading and redrafting your work, so let’s look at some other common errors. Not Redrafting This is the stage most writers often skip over, without taking proper time out and without doing a full read through of the manuscript. They write the first draft, edit as they go, then do a second draft and hey presto, their perfect, brilliant novel is ready for the masses. Except it isn’t. Redrafting is the next stage on from the read through, where all the notes from the read through are translated to the manuscript. Redrafting shouldn’t be confused with actual editing. They are two separate processes. The redraft allows the writer to tweak the manuscript, correct some of those…

Avoid Mistakes When Editing Your Own Work – Part 1

HoHEvery writer should make an effort to edit their own work. It doesn’t matter what skill level the writer has – self editing is a crucial part of the writing process because not only does it allow the writer to understand their writing on many levels, as well as style and voice, but it also helps them to recognise those common editorial mistakes. Learning to edit, even on a beginner’s scale, empowers the writer; and that’s always a good thing. It’s no secret that good writers know how to self-edit. To gain an understanding of how to self-edit takes time, because the process of writing is a learning process – the more we write, the more we understand our writing and how it works, but there are a number of errors writers make when they try to self-edit, so here are some of the most common writers should look for: Don’t Edit As You Go This isn’t a rule. It’s tried and tested advice, which works. Yes, there will be writers who are adamant that this works for them, but in almost 35 years of…

How Important is Emotion in Writing?

If there is such a thing as a true magical ingredient for fiction writing, then emotion is one of them. Like conflict, it’s the one thing a story absolutely needs. Emotion doesn’t just make a story; it feeds it, sustains it and heightens it. Emotion is essential. A story without emotion isn’t much of a story. That’s because every story relies on emotions we all feel, the kind we all understand and can all identify with. It may not seem like it, but everything in a story revolves around emotion and there are two distinct ways to work with emotion in fiction writing – showing it and eliciting it. Show the Reader Our characters convey all manner of emotions as the story unfolds. Scenes are often charged with emotion, be it anger, love, betrayal, pain or fear etc.Characters act and react constantly to other characters, to different situations and to personal conflicts. We put our characters in danger, we’re mean to them, we give them dilemmas, we kill off their loved ones, we raise the stak…

Complex Characterisation

We all want to create characters that are so well developed that they seem real to the reader. Complex characterisation not only makes the character believable, or realistic, it shows them as they should be – fallible, flawed and anything but a hero.
Complex characterisation isn’t just about knowing what they look like, sound like, how old they are, how they dress or what their favourite colour is. Complexity within characters starts with the background.Every character has a backstory and a past.It’s these details that help the reader identify with that character.We’ve all done stupid things. We’ve all felt pain. We’ve all endured hard times and amazing moments. We all have inner demons. We’ve all accomplished things.These things define us, and so we understand when we see a fictional character going through the same moments and emotions. That’s how we connect with the characters; we feel for them and we empathise, because we’ve been through similar events. We can relate. Writers then u…