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Showing posts from March, 2012

Use of Prepositions

A preposition is a word which demonstrates a logical relationship with other words within a sentence, by highlighting time, place and direction. They usually precede nouns or pronouns, and they’re the kind of words we don’t think too much about. 

Take this example, ‘The envelope is on the table, just under the alcove.’ The sentence shows us where the envelope is. Another simple example is, ‘He went out to the car and got in.’ Most prepositions usually fall at the end of a sentence.

But the thing with prepositions is that there are too many of them (150), so half the time, most are usually unnecessary.

It’s how the writer positions prepositions that make them more effective. Look again at the sentence above. It starts with the proposition, ‘But’. I chose this because it brought the sentence into effect - it directly made the point.

Most of us have probably been taught that starting and ending sentences with prepositions is frowned upon, especially by grammarians who eschew that wo…

Writing isn't just about imagery...

Every writer knows how important imagery is. It’s what connects the writer to the reader and allows them to imagine more than mere words. But imagery isn’t just about stimulating the reader by building up words and sentences to create scenes. There is much more to it. 

Don’t just write, but feel the words that you write. This might sound a little crazy, but essentially writing is all about ‘feeling’ – not just the emotions and the tensions within a story, but it’s about feeling the depth and richness of the words you are writing, the sound they make, the colours they evoke.

Effective writing is also about being able to ‘listen’ to the words, to be able to hear how they sound within a scene and therefore help you visualise everything. Writing is undoubtedly a sensory experience, if done correctly. Listen to anyone reading aloud and you will understand what it is to ‘listen’ to the flow, the speed, the inflection and richness of words. This is how we ‘feel’ those words.

Intuitive, a…

How to use Subtext

Few writers take the time to understand subtext and the part it plays in a story, and yet ironically most use subtext without really thinking about it. It is one of those things that may sometimes naturally manifest itself during writing, while other writers take the time to pour over what they want to subliminally say with their subtext.

So what exactly is subtext?

We can best describe subtext as a subtle undercurrent running through your story, just below the surface. It’s what remains hidden from obvious notice, but it simmers just enough to catch the attention of the reader. It’s an understated thread that becomes apparent to the reader as the story unfolds.

Basically, it sums up what lies beneath the story, those hidden meanings so subtle that it may not always be apparent on the first reading. It’s the undertone to your story; however that is not to say every story should have subtext, because that is not the case. Not all stories do. 

Subtext is simply a way of enriching your…

Do characters need goals?

New writers often ask me about whether characters really need goals, and my answer is – yes, always.

Your main character must have a goal; otherwise there is no backbone to your story. Their goal(s) form the heart of the entire story, they form part of the reason your character embarks on their journey in the first place. This could be anything from saving someone’s life, averting a disaster, solving a crime, uncovering the truth about something or someone, rescuing the girl (or boy), finding love, getting revenge or even saving the world etc. All of these are goals for which characters strive.

There is one thing that must always happen in a story, whatever the goal - the character must achieve his or her goal by the end of the story. If they don’t, you will leave your reader feeling short-changed, and your character will have achieved little or nothing at all, because by achieving their goals – what they set out to do at the beginning of a story – is their personal journey which …

Turning Points in Novels

We often hear about ‘turning points’ in novels, but what exactly are they and how do they work?

A turning point is a defining moment within the story, and often involves the main character. Invariably it involves a high moment of tension and action and may be followed by some sort of resolution. This doesn’t have to happen at the end of the novel – that’s the climax, the denouement, and it is very different from a turning point.

Turning points can happen at those moments your character has an epiphany, they learn something significant, or something very important is revealed. Perhaps the story goes in another direction. Sometimes a turning point comes with a change of dynamics – such as serious events that happen to characters, their darkest moments through something terrible, or it might involve a change of momentum, i.e. stepping up a gear with fast-paced action, thus taking the character in a completely new direction.

Turning points are about the experiences and dramatic events…