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Showing posts from August, 2013

Are rules made to be broken?

Let’s get straight to the point – rules are put in place for a reason. But that’s not to say we can bend those rules when it suits us. But when it comes to fiction writing, how far can you bend those rules and is it okay to even break a few?

The answers depend upon the rules in question and the kind of circumstances that exist for writers – i.e. whether the writers are just starting out on their fiction writing journey, or still unpublished, or whether they’re established and experienced writers who perhaps can get away with a few writing transgressions.

There is certainly no reason why we can’t bend a few fiction writing rules; we all do it, but blatant misuse of them won’t do writers much good. Firstly, new and unpublished writers should dispense with any arrogance about “It’s my story - I can do what I like, how I like” where creative writing is concerned. That kind of attitude will not get you published (unless of course you are an exceptional writing prodigy bursting with immense cr…

Prologues – The Pros & Cons Part 2

In part 1, we looked at the advantages of having a prologue, so in part 2 we will look at the disadvantages of using them, and why they now proving unpopular with agents and publishers. What are the disadvantages of a prologue?

The simple truth is that prologues are seen as unnecessary. They form a great chunk of text at the beginning of a novel, which readers might either ignore or skim read out of boredom, or it puts the reader off reading the rest of the novel altogether because it’s just too much of a chore. The idea with the opening chapter of your novel is to get right in at the heart of the action or defining moment in your main character’s life, so why spend so much time constructing an attention-grabbing opening chapter, only to stall the whole thing with a large piece of narrative stuck at the front?

Any momentum, gravitas or excitement that you wanted to achieve in your opening chapter is completely wiped out by a plodding prologue. It’s not exactly the best way to thrill and i…

Prologues – The Pros & Cons Part 1

There are plenty of novels, particularly older ones, where you might see a prologue before the main story actually begins.

But what are they, and what purpose do they serve? Firstly, a prologue, or pro logos in Greek - which means ‘before words’- is a preface to the main story, or a separate introduction of sorts.

Sometimes they are only a paragraph or two long, while others could be as long as an average chapter. There is no set length to how long prologues should be, and no golden rules that govern them. In simple terms, for the prologue to be effective, it must contribute to the main plot in some way, it must provide facts and information which is relevant, otherwise it will lose impact and ultimately fail.

How useful are they? That depends on what the writer wants to convey.

Prologues are a way for writers to hint at the main story in some way because sometimes they feel they need to convey even more information than they can comfortably slot into their main story, especially if the wr…

Scene Breaks – Part 2

In this part we will conclude our look at scene breaks in fiction writing, and why we need them.
Following on from Part 1, where we looked at point 1 –a change of scene from one location to the other, and point 2 – to show a change of character viewpoint, we’ll continue with the reasons why and how we use them:-
3. To notify the reader that time has progressed from the last scene
Scene breaks are a very easy way to show how time has moved on from one point to the next. It’s possible to skip hours, days or even weeks with a scene break; as long as the writer draws attention to the fact that time will pass by before the next scene, otherwise a jump in time without hinting at it or preparing the reader might confuse the them. For example:
He peered across the River Thames, thought about Eve. Even though she had fled the country, Peter knew he needed to see her, and he wasn’t prepared to wait any longer.He knew he had to go and find her.
(SCENE BREAK HERE)
Six hours later, Peter arrived in the …

Scene Breaks - Part 1

Every story needs scene breaks, but what exactly are they and why do we use them? Writers use scene breaks for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they are a way of showing the reader that there is a normal break in the narrative. This is a way for the reader to take a breather from continual narrative and reflect on previous chapters or scenes.More importantly, it also gives the writer the opportunity to move the story forward.

There are two ways to denote a scene break. First there is the clean space which leaves a gap between the end of one scene and the beginning of the new scene.The second one is the use of three asterisks centred on the page.This is known as asterism (from the Greek word for star). Writers should remember that scene breaks in novels differ slightly from short stories because the requirements in terms of scene breaks can differ between editors and publications.

Where novels are concerned, writers use double line spacing, so to show a scene break they leave a cl…