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Showing posts from December, 2011

Can music help the writing process?

Some writers work better with the sounds of a bustling cafe around them, others prefer the comfort of silence, but for some writers, the medium of music helps them to write better. There is something about the right background music that magically lights the creative touch paper.

Imagine watching a movie without any musical score. Would the emotional, dramatic or action scenes seem right? Would they have any impact? Imagine the opening scenes of Jaws without the clever cello build up of John Williams’ score. Without that creeping sound, the scene loses the sinister feel and it also loses any opportunity to create tension.

And what would the vast visual beauty of Lawrence of Arabia be without Maurice Jarre’s romantic swish of strings to rouse the audience? It would be somewhat empty.

Music and writing works the same way. The right music can create drama, it can affect the mood and it also stirs the imagination.

Of course, every writer is different and it may not work for everyone…

Character separation disorder...moving on from your characters

You’ve created your novel, you’ve devoted months or perhaps years to writing it, but then the daunting task of sitting down and starting your next big creation begins, yet somehow you just can’t get into it.

Sometimes writers become so entwined with their characters when writing with them for such a prolonged period that it’s difficult to move on and think about new characters and new stories. Months or years spent sheltering in the skin of their protagonists and antagonists can force a wedge between the writer and their creativity.

But this isn’t unusual for writers.

We grow to understand and love our characters, and sometimes it’s hard to move on from them. Character separation disorder simply means that the bond we have with our well-drawn heroes and villains is sometimes hard to break. When we need to create new characters for new stories and themes, we first have to let go of our first set of characters in order to gain and understanding for the new set of characters.

Of course…

How being subtle can improve your descriptions

The art of good description is sometimes about intentionally holding back from your reader.

Have you ever watched horror movies where the monster or creature is never revealed until the very end? You only get hints or shadows or brief glimpses. But if you compare them to movies where you see the monster from the outset, while they might be entertaining, you get two very different results.

The reason that not seeing the monster works so well is that, psychologically, it deprives the visual part of your brain from what is, so consequently, your brain has to fill in the gaps, it has to build up a picture of what the monster looks like. It also helps focus tension and atmosphere, precisely because you don’t know who or what it is.

Imagine the same technique in fiction. By not revealing too much to the reader, you not only create a sense of tension and atmosphere, but you also keep them guessing. And by doing that you keep them reading, because physiologically, they have to fill in t…

Narrative Oppositions

Firstly, what are narrative oppositions? These are certain words – they can be nouns, adjectives etc - that crop up within descriptive passages, but are actually opposite it their meaning. In other words, the writer is trying to describe a scene and inadvertently ends up using pairs of words that mean opposite things.

This is not uncommon because many writers misunderstand the meaning of some words and therefore group them together. For instance, ‘foreboding’ and ‘forbidding’ mean different things but are often wrongly used together when trying to create tension and atmosphere within a scene. For instance:

The house had a cold, foreboding appearance, forbidding in the dark...’

Forbidding means ‘repellent, stern’. Foreboding means bad omen, an expectation’ of trouble or evil.’

Another often seen example is sob and wail.

‘She sobbed into her hands, wailed into the silence...’

To sob means to cry quietly. To wail means to cry very loudly or bitterly, therefore you can’t have a charact…