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Creating Anticipation

Anticipation isn’t at the forefront of a writer’s mind, but it’s an equally important element for creating a good, page turning story. Isn’t anticipation the same as tension?   Not quite.   Writers use tension like a rubber band, they flex it to heighten tense moments during a story and then loosen their grip when they want to relax things or lull the reader into a false sense of security, but creating anticipation is a little different. A sense of anticipation is all about expectation . The reader is expecting something to happen; they’re expecting Character A will do something drastic, they’re expecting the story to conclude with a showdown…and so on. In a way, the reader is quietly predicting what will happen as the story unfolds, so writers need to divert that expectation so that the plot isn’t as predictable as readers think. And the way writers do that is by creating uncertainty and doubt to develop a different sense of anticipation. Think of a football competition – one team w

How To Recognise and Avoid Heavy Narration

Every story requires narration – it’s the glue that binds the dialogue and the description to the framework of your story, but if not done correctly, it can cause problems for writers. The narration in a novel is most often either first person or third person. It’s the informative stuff that the reader needs to help them follow the story – background information, facts, non-active description and character revelation. Narration is the ‘telling’ part of writing, not the showing. It fills the gaps between description, active scenes, and dialogue. It’s an essential part of storytelling, but as with so many things when it comes to writing, it’s easy to provide too much of it. When used correctly, narrative can help to control pace – it can slow the story when necessary. This allows the reader to take a breather from the action while they process prior information or events. It also gives the writer time to establish background details, give more information, move the story to the ne

The Ability to Control Time – Part 2

The great thing about fiction writing is that writers can manipulate time to move the story forward; however, there are also times that need to move the story backward.   This is the premise of a flashback or indirect recollection. Part 1 looked at how to move the story forward to clearly show the reader the passing of time – known as transition – so that they understand a period of time has continued from one scene or chapter to another, without confusing things. That ability to control time in a novel gives the writer the freedom to show much more to the reader than reality would allow. In order to tell the entire story, time must be controlled, whether that’s going forward or backward. That way, the readers can that see that some events that have happened in the past directly relate to the present story. If used correctly, the use of flashback – known as analepsis – is a good way of providing necessary or vital information to the reader to keep the story moving forward, a

The Ability to Control Time – Part 1

One of the things I see when I edit other writers is the inability to control time. But what does that mean?   The notion of time in a novel is different to time in the real world. That’s because in the fictional world, we can jump from point to point in time – sometimes whole generations. We can move forward or back, we can speed up time and manipulate it, but it needs to be done properly, otherwise it can cause problems with the pace of the writing and cause the reader to become confused as to when time should have passed, or not, and what might have happened in between. The biggest problem with controlling time is a tendency for the writer to rush the narrative, because that means the sense of time is also rushed.   For example, when one scene zips to the other without the slightest hint to the reader that three weeks have passed, then it blurs the sense of transition. This will confuse the reader. Has time actually passed? By how much? Of course, this does not need to hap

Intensifiers and Qualifiers

There are certain things in writing that should be avoided wherever possible, such as clichés, passive sentences or info dumping, but there are two things writers should also look out for, which are intensifiers and qualifiers. But what are they and what do they do? Intensifiers and qualifiers are words or phrases that can be added to another word to modify its meaning, by either limiting it or enhancing it. They are placed before adjectives and adverbs in an attempt to intensify or modify its effect, but u nless they’re a part of dialogue and form the way a character might speak, intensifiers and qualifiers can weaken the writing if overused, or make it look lazy and amateurish. A qualifier can change the meaning of a verb by limiting it, and so it changes how absolute or certain something is, for example: ‘She was somewhat flustered by his invite.’ In this example, the word ‘somewhat’ is qualifying the word ‘flustered’ and it creates doubt about any certainty. It has

Use Motifs to Make Your Novel Interesting

Motif is a literary device that is repeated throughout a novel.   It has symbolic and thematic significance that can add an extra dimension to your writing because it can evoke a mood, highlight certain aspects of the story, act as foreshadowing, underscore themes, provoke the reader’s senses, and provide depth and meaning beneath the surface of the story. A motif can be anything – a recurring phrase, a colour, a character, a scent, an action, an object, a specific image or even an idea. It can be absolutely anything, as long as it’s repeated throughout the story and is apparent to the reader, but more importantly, the motif must relate directly to the story. For example, in a crime story, the image of blood could be a relatable motif. Maybe a particular piece of jewellery keeps appearing in your romance novel. Maybe the sound of a grandfather clock is repeated. Whatever the object or image, make sure it relates to the story so that it emphasises your theme or something significan

Laying Story Foundations

On the surface, writing isn’t just about stringing words together. It’s much more than that, and it goes deeper than the surface. Think of a story like a house that needs to be built. You cannot build the walls or roof until you have sound foundations and the supporting structure in place. The same is true of storytelling – the foundations of any story always support the plot, subplots, themes, characters and everything else contained within the story. Laying solid foundations for a story is vital, otherwise the core of your story might crumble. We all know that a structure won’t support itself unless it has firm foundations. The same is true for a novel. It may not hold up too well without something firm to shore it up. The idea of laying your foundations shouldn’t be confused with creating the framework from which your story hangs. Instead, it encompasses the major building blocks required for the novel, like genre, plot, strong main characters, a main theme and a setting. From