Posts

Showing posts from 2017

Avoid Top 5 Writing Mistakes - Make Your Writing Better

As another writing year draws to a close, it’s worth looking at the basic errors all writers make at some point, so that you ensure they don’t reoccur in your own writing. Learning about the most common ones will help you avoid them in future and thus make your writing better. The ones I’ve listed are very common mistakes that all writers have made during their writing. There are, of course, dozens and dozens more well-known writing mistakes – and certainly more complicated ones – but as an editor, the following five are the most common that I encounter: Lack of Planning One of the biggest mistakes to make is to not do any planning at all, especially if you’re embarking on something as complicated as a novel. No rule exists that writers must plan, but it’s a simple fact that even a small amount of planning – some characterisation, plot points and perhaps some themes etc. – will result in a better story than one thrown together without any real thought. Editors know when a writer hasn’t d…

How to Construct Subplots – Part 2

In this part, we’ll look at how to construct subplots, but from the perspective of first person, which is much harder to get to grips with. The question here is: can subplots be constructed in a first person story? After all, there is only one perspective in first person – the protagonist.And that’s it. It’s not like having the diversity of multiple viewpoints as with third person stories, but that’s not to say that subplots can’t be done in first person. They can, but they’re quite limited. Unlike third person stories, where the viewpoint can change from character to character, and the richness of different character views can come into play (and so subplots can weave around the main character), with first person, this just isn’t possible. First person stories have to involve the main character, since the story cannot be told from any other character other than ‘I’ of your main character. By being involved in a subplot, the main character gets to see different outlooks of other charact…

How to Construct Subplots – Part 1

A subplot is an essential part of any novel. These little side stories add depth to the main story, and they help develop other characters beside the protagonist. They run parallel to the main plot; they are connected to it, but they should be constructed in a way that they never overwhelm the main story. They are designed to maintain further interest within the story, so that the reader will never get bored, and they help give the overall story lots of variation and substance. They add extra layers and levels of complexity to the story. In other words, there’s plenty to keep the reader occupied.A subplot can involve any of the main characters – the protagonist, the antagonist or secondary characters, so some of the story is seen through their eyes.They are all part of the main story, but they might also have their own stories that relate to the main story, so they might have different goals, different perspectives and different agendas and they will have different obstacles to overcom…

How Important Is Realism In Fiction?

Every story needs to have at least some hint of realism, even if the work is fictitious. That’s because the story is fictitious, not the setting, the era or history or the minor details. That’s where the realism should be. The idea is that a story needs to be believable and you want the reader to become immersed in the story. To achieve this, the story has to feel not just believable, but also real. And the characters need to feel real, too. With the exception of fantasy and sci-fi novels, realism in fiction is about portraying a certain reality. And the key word to understanding this is: plausibility. The story, the characters, their motivations, the setting and the plot all need to be plausible, regardless of genre. Readers want something that makes sense, something they could relate to, even if they’ve never experienced certain things, and that means they want some kind of realism – it’s what makes a fictional story seem real. This is known as verisimilitude. This is why suspension of…

How to Make a Story Flow

When writers talk of story flow, they are referring to the movement of the story and whether a novel moves smoothly from start to finish. Every story needs to be dynamic in this way. It needs to be smooth, seamless and coherent. This is what we know as story flow, but it shouldn’t be confused with pace because pace is the speed at which a story moves.Flow, on the other hand, refers to how the story moves along. It’s all about movement, and how it draws the reader in. But why is flow important? It’s something that needs to occur in for the story to make sense to the reader. If a story doesn’t flow, then the story may be too confusing or disjointed for the reader to make any sense of it. This is why the movement of the story is critical – it must constantly move forward. This is why we refer to the importance of a story moving forward. How does story flow work? Both scenes and chapters need to be relatable – the action needs to progress in a logical manner and not go off at tangents. Action…

How to Include Themes in Stories

The relationship between themes and the main story is an important one. Themes underscore what happens in the story and provide the basis of the reader’s deeper understanding of the characters, their actions and what the true meaning is at the heart of the narrative. When we think of themes, the most common ones we find in novels are love, betrayal, loneliness, acceptance, deceit, friendship and so on.Most are formed around emotions; therefore what characters think and feel towards others can form a theme – hate, perhaps, or misunderstanding. This emotional element draws the reader – they can relate to many themes, therefore they will create some empathy. Thriller and crime stories tend to lean heavily towards the darker side of human emotions – so themes of power, corruption, hate, mistrust, betrayal and deceit are very common. Romance novels rely on themes of love, naturally, but also might involve deceit, jealousy, betrayal and maybe forgiveness. Themes run through the entire story. T…

What Should Come First – Plot Or Characters?

Writing is an art form; there’s no set pattern, there’s no uniform way something must be done and no specific brush strokes to do, which is why this question causes confusion among writers who are unsure of themselves when it comes to putting a story together. Convention would have us believe that plot must come first, especially as the story idea almost always comes first. But sometimes the writer has a specific character in mind – usually a strong character who wants to be heard, whose personality is that strong and the story is often constructed around the character, rather than constructing characters around a story idea. Plot First Approach This is a little more complex in structure than the character first approach. Authors who have a strong story idea will work on it to expand the themes and the story arc, together with subplots and different scenarios. They ensure that it is mapped from start to finish. They know what will happen, the kind of obstacles the main character will fac…

Which is More Dynamic - Narrative or Dialogue?

It’s a question that’s often asked. Which is more dynamic – narrative or dialogue?And if there is a difference, should you use one more than the other? Dynamic storytelling means the story has varied pace and can move forward at the right moments – something that’s lively and active. There are two elements that do this – narrative and dialogue. But what about description? Unfortunately it doesn’t move the story along – its role is to describe scenes to the reader. Narrative and dialogue, however, do move the story forward. We think of narrative as simple explanation, with no real importance. It’s snippets of information to prop up the story, which may explain why it isn’t often thought of as dynamic. The smaller those informative bites are, the better. Readers pay more attention to small amounts of information rather large chunks of it. These smaller packages of narrative help move the story along to a degree, but not nearly enough as dialogue would. Dialogue, on the other hand, is natur…

Sequence of Writing - In Order or Not?

This is a common question that most writers ask. Does it really matter what order you write your novel? What works and what doesn’t work? The answer is simple – there is no right or wrong. There’s no rule that says we have to write a story in order. Both approaches work. It depends on the kind of writer you are. It’s down to the writer how they want to write their novel, but it’s also down to the writer to bring it all together to make it work effectively so the reader will enjoy the story. There are advantages and disadvantages to each one. It’s up to the writer to work with the method that works for them. Linear Writing Writing the story in sequence is known as linear writing. In other words, it’s written chronologically, in order as the reader reads it, chapter by chapter, from first chapter to last. This tends to be how plotters and planners like to write. They plan each chapter, they do chapter outlines and story arcs and they follow the story as they write. This keeps them focused …