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Showing posts from April, 2017

Making First Chapters Successful – Part 1

The success of a first chapter – grabbing the reader’s attention and keeping it - is dependent upon a number of things, all of which play a crucial part. It’s especially important if you are targeting agents and publishers, because then it’s not just the reader you have to impress. First chapters can be daunting for some, not because they are necessarily hard – where do you start? – but because they are the foundation on which the entire novel will sit and some writers are not sure how to begin. The name of the game, of course, is to entice the reader, to grab their interest and to maintain it from start to finish. What could be easier? There are no hard and fast rules, but the advice is quite universal – for first chapters to be successful, they have to include certain elements, they must perform certain functions, or they just won’t work. But before a writer commits one word to their story, they first need to establish a number of things in order to help make the entire process easier. O…

Creating Contrasting Description

What is meant by contrasting description? In this context, contrast is all about complimenting the underlying story with different, opposing aspects. It’s a literary device that provides the light and dark shades to description, but one that is rarely thought about. Contrasting description isn’t just about being vivid in order to draw in the reader. It creates a different tone and atmosphere by allowing the reader to imagine those subtle differences and therefore hold their attention. It is also a way of uniting two separate concepts, for instance if the writer describes abject stillness contrasted with lots of movement, or utter silence contrasted with overbearing noise. These are interesting contrasts that can be layered within the main description, for example: When the din finally stopped, when it seemed all had stopped, a strange kind of hush crept in, like a fine mist, and rendered the muddy, bloody landscape in a silence that he felt all too deafening, and for a moment he held his…

Is it Important to Have a Clearly Defined Antagonist?

Every story has an antagonist, in some form, whether that’s human, a corporation, a government, an animal, something environmental, something elemental, mechanical, robotic or even other worldly. But how important is it to have a clearly defined antagonist? The role of the antagonist is to thwart, impede or cause all manner of problems in order to stop your main character reaching his or her goal. Antagonists come in all forms and usually represent the immoral, negative side to the often moral, ethical and positive side of the protagonist. They are often portrayed as evil, nasty and villainous, but they can also be none of those. An antagonist doesn’t have to be evil, but he or she should be well drawn out and realistic in his or her behaviour. That means they also have a goal to reach within the story, which will bring them into conflict with the main character. Why and how is important for writers to explore and cultivate, just as they would do with the main character. These characte…

Is it Better to Edit During Writing, or the End? Part 2

In part 1, we looked at the editing during the writing process, and the problems it might cause to the overall flow of the story. In this second part we’ll look at editing after the first draft has been written, and whether this process is more suited to a polished, finished product. Editing After Writing Most writers separate the two tasks of the writing process – writing and editing –and treat them as such. The first part of the process is the writing, getting the bare bones of the story written and laying the foundations with which to build a brilliant story. The second part of that process – editing – follows a short down time which allows the writer to come back to the story refreshed, with new ideas and a clear understanding of the plot. This down time separates the writer from the story in an objective way. Writers do a read-through prior to actual editing. This gives them an idea how the story actually reads, however, the constant tweaking of editing as you go means this is just …