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Showing posts from November, 2010

Too much use of the word 'was'

How many of us have used ‘was’ far too much in our narrative? Look back through your stories and you will see that it occurs more often than is necessary, which seems crazy because it seems such an innocuous, inoffensive word, but too much use of it can be detrimental to your narrative. This is because it has a tendency to slow overall sentence rhythm and stutter the flow of writing, making it appear clunky and contrived.

Of course, it must be said, we all do it. It’s a matter of habit, but bad habits can be just as bad as using bad grammar.

So why does this word limit narrative, and why?

To begin with, it acts like a barrier between you and your reader by limiting how you apply yourself descriptively. Your role as writer is to transport the reader into the story through description, dialogue and narrative. How effective these are together is down to you as a writer. Sentence structure plays an important role in linking these three elements. Even more important are the words to cho…

Finding 'Voice' in Creative Writing

First, what exactly is ‘voice’?

Novice writers sometimes worry about ‘voice’ and what it means. Voice is the word we use to describe a style of writing that is distinct and individual from everyone else. It describes how you write, the descriptions you use, the words you choose to express yourself, the structure and pattern of your sentences and paragraphs, the characterisations and how your characters express themselves, and the overall style of your story that defines your voice.

Think about how you talk. Your voice has pitch, emotion, subtlety, variation, accent, tone and so on. Your writing voice isn’t that different to these elements.

New writers also have a tendency to become frustrated by not having that voice to begin with. They can be impatient, little realising that voice doesn’t appear overnight. That is because they have not yet developed their own style. Writing is like any new skill that we learn. The more you write, the more your style and voice becomes apparent. If you…

Contemporary fiction v Literary

Which one are you?


Well, first you have to define the genres. Literary is almost always character driven and relies on characters to tell the story rather than the plot doing all the work. Literary is another way of describing ‘high end writing’, the literati. The prose tends to be either archaic, overly beautiful or a mix between the two. Nevertheless, literary stories can be a joy to read. They can be exquisite, poetic, powerfully descriptive, alluring and seductive in their very fabric.

Contemporary novels are mostly plot driven and concentrate on modern day dilemmas. They are usually action-packed and fast paced and have a broad base appeal to almost everyone, coupled with compelling stories to tell. These include many genres like thriller, crime, mystery, science fiction, adventure, westerns and so on. Contemporary novels (or commercial to be more precise) are about how many sales it can generate.  Commercial fictions sells.

Literary fiction could be classed as a genre in its ow…

Blog Plot v Character driven stories

Writers often ask me which type they should attempt to write, however, I always answer that the approach to writing is always subjective. In other words, it really is up to the writer, but on the whole, it depends on what kind of story you’re trying to tell because there is a distinction between the two. One kind may be more suited to the type of genre you are writing for.

New writers may not be aware of such distinctions, and may not know the differences between the two forms.

The most important thing to remember is that neither of these elements is right or wrong. Not all novels are 100% plot driven or 100% character driven. For the most part, they have a mix of both character and plot driven elements. How they balance is entirely up to the writer.

What is a Plot driven story?

A plot driven story concentrates almost entirely on the events or situations within the story and it focuses on how the characters influence those events or situations, usually through action. The story is not…