Posts

How to Get the Most from Your Plot – Part 1

The plot is the premise of your entire story; the idea of what is it that makes it into a story. It’s the very first thing all writers need before they begin to write, because without a plot, the story will fail. A plot can be a simple or as complicated as the writer wants. That’s because every writer approaches their writing differently. But a clear cohesive plot before you begin your novel will prove beneficial – it will help you get the most from your plot. Plotting consists of the following main elements, which we’ll look at individually in this first part and in part 2: Premise Characters Timeline Subplots Opening/Hook Conflict Ending Premise Every plot begins with an idea for the story. Let’s say a character’s husband – John – vanishes one day and the wife – Laura – must prove she had nothing to do with it. This is the basic idea that will form the entire story. But already this idea can be expanded with sub-ideas, just to make it more interesting. The wife had nothing to do with his disap…

Problems with Creating Character Skillsets

There’s one thing I see with writers in my role as an editor, and that is the way writers instantly equip their protagonist with God-like skills when they are backed into seemingly inescapable situations.
Writers have a habit of making their characters invincible and super hero-like, with the specially trained skills. That’s great if you’re James Bond. But in reality, your characters are not always trained soldiers, spies or other secret government agents.
They’re just ordinary folks who find themselves in extraordinary situations.
The reality is – just like in real life – we all have different skills we’ve picked up in life or things we’ve learned while working. Some people are great with engines or machines or can build things. Some folks are skilled working a computer. Some know their way around boats or yachts. Some people can pilot an aeroplane or work with animals. Not only that, but people are born with certain talents. Some people are brilliant at sculpting or painting. Others ca…

How to Get the Most Out Of Your Characters – Part 2

Part 1 looked at creating a compelling character using realism, emotions, fears, goals and motivations. They’re elements that an interesting and memorable character should have. But there are even more ways to get the most from your characters. The one thing characters do in any given situation is they display certain behaviours, depending what is happening. Actions often speak louder than words, so the reader will be looking at how your character acts and what he says. If you have developed your character well, they will have their own personalities – which in turn determine how they act. How would they act in a tense scene, or a confrontation scene, an action or love scene?And what they say, and how they say it, is also important. That’s why dialogue plays such an important role in characterisation. Characters have to carry emotion not just in their actions, but also in their conversations – characters can sometimes be profound in what they say, in a way that resonates with the reade…

How to Get the Most Out Of Your Characters – Part 1

Your characters don’t just tell a story. They carry the story. Great characters make the story. When planning a novel, characterisation, along with plot and subplots etc., is one of the most important elements. We want characters that are different from each other, not just in personalities or mannerisms, but in how they do things. That’s often how we judge other people, and so we have to ensure they’re interesting enough for readers to want to get to know more about them. Firstly, every writer knows that characters need to be relatable. They don’t have to be loved or even be likeable – they can be hated – but they need to be interesting enough to relate to the reader.And to do this we give characters fears, goals, motivation, weaknesses, strengths and lots of conflict. These ingredients draw the reader in because they are all relatable, too. We all have fears, we all have goals, we all have things that motivate us, we all have strengths and weaknesses and we all have all manner of conf…

Handling Dialogue Tags

Dialogue tags are not as hard to get to grips with as writers think.They’re the ‘he said/she said’ punctuations showing who is speaking, but because the reader is so used to seeing ‘he said’ etc., these tags become almost invisible. And that’s what writers should aim for – to make sure dialogue tags don’t get in the way of the reader’s enjoyment of the story. Attributions are a functional element that shows which character is speaking. It helps to prevent confusion during dialogue. Dialogue attributions can be placed before the character speaks, between the dialogue or afterward, for example: John said, ‘I don’t think this is the right way.’ ‘You know,’ John said, ‘I don’t think this is the right way.’ ‘I don’t think this is the right way,’ John said.​ This functionality allows writers to build seamless dialogue. ‘Said’ is a universally accepted verb that readers won’t even notice, and therefore won’t slow down the narrative. This is why it’s the preferred word, but that’s not to say write…

Verbs and Nouns Make For Better Writing

The strength of your writing comes from the choice of words you use. The general advice is that certain words help strengthen narrative, like verbs and nouns, while others, such as adjectives and adverbs, can weaken it. So why do verbs and nouns make for better writing? Nouns make up a large part of the English language – they denote things, people, animals, actions, places and even ideas. They are as versatile as they are useful because they have so many functions. Every sentence you write contains verbs and nouns, but because writers tend to rely too much on adjectives and adverbs, it often results in a lack of nouns and verbs in the narrative. There are several types of nouns: Proper, Common, Collective, Abstract, Countable and Uncountable nouns. A proper noun is a specific or unique name of a person, place or thing. Jupiter, New York and Samantha are proper nouns. Common nouns, on the other hand, refer to ordinary objects and things, names and places etc., for instance: Tom grabbed t…

Use Commas and Semicolons Effectively

Every writer at some point has probably asked themselves whether they should use a comma or a semi colon, as they are often seen as interchangeable. This is why the humble comma is abused, but both the semicolon and the comma provide different functions in your writing and shouldn’t be confused with one another. Commas are used to show a very short pause in sentences or to separate various objects in a sentence or several items in a list.Semi-colons, however, are used to separate two independent clauses that are closely related. They are also useful when listing ideas or phrases, just like commas do, which is why they may confuse writers. Effective writing is all about using words and punctuation to your advantage to produce the right effect. Commas in the right place can do this, especially when you want to create that momentary pause; a split second hesitation, for instance: Her expression folded, and with her eyes veiled, he could no longer read her. He wondered about the path ahead, t…