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Showing posts from July, 2017

How Do You Start and End Chapters?

This is something that all writers struggle with as they figure out how to grab the reader’s attention and maintain that interest. But there is reason why chapters should start and end a certain way – they are constructed to grab the reader’s interest, maintain it and keep it sustained throughout the novel. The opening chapter of your book is always going to be the most important one, because it initially must hook the reader, then the rest of the story needs to be strong enough to captivate them. The end of that first chapter should then end in a way that entices the reader, it makes them pay attention or it teases them enough to turn the page and keep reading, because they simply have to know what happens next. The hard part is to repeat this formula for almost every chapter. That may seem a lot, but there’s a simple reason behind it. Writers do it because they must tease and tantalise the reader at every opportunity. The more they can provoke and evoke, the more interest they garner…

Story Archetypes

Writers use them all the time, but what are they? Why do we use them? An archetype is a typical character, situation, theme or symbol that is easily recognised and very common in novels, plays and movies. We always notice typical characters, or clichéd ones, such as the two-cop partnership, the quirky or unusual best buddies, the teacher/mentor student partnership, the sappy female who needs rescuing by the hero or the smart-mouthed wise guy and so on. These are familiar character archetypes, but we’re interested in story archetypes. A diverse range of story archetypes can bring a different purpose to the story. It’s not about complexity; to make a novel look complex, but rather it’s about simplicity - story archetypes help the reader identify with the characters and the story and their situations, because they see something they recognise and they easily understand such experiences. There are plenty of situation archetypes that writers use all the time. They’re commonly used and easily …

How to Create Drama in Fiction

Drama is a vital ingredient for all good stories, it’s those tense, nail biting moments that eventually build to a crescendo, or they make us sit on the edge of our seats in anticipation. It’s what keeps us turning page after page. But how do writers create drama? How do they make it work within the narrative for it to be effective? All drama derives from circumstance – in other words, we can generally create drama in any given situation, depending upon certain factors, and most frequently than not, drama occurs in tense scenes or scenes of conflict, and the catalyst almost always tends to be lots of emotion. There are lots of situations in any story that can cause drama – bitter sibling rivalry, a burning hatred of being wronged, the need for revenge, being misunderstood, or a desire to be accepted and so on. The list of dramatic situations is endless, but the one thing that drives all drama is conflict and emotion. Conflict – disagreements, fights, struggles and friction etc – drives a…

How to Make Your Writing Stand Out – Part 2

Part 1 looked at some of the ways writers can make their work stand out, especially if they want to be noticed by agents and publishers. These are things like description, voice and style, story and sentence structure, using the senses, full characterisation and so on, so in Part 2 we’ll look at some more ways that can help writers can stand out among the crowd. What’s the first thing that grabs your attention when you open a book? It’s the opening chapter – something exciting, gripping or tense. Without that, you wouldn’t probably read on. Writers take advantage of that by being different or quirky with the beginning of their stories. They use clever opening lines that really do make us pay attention. That can be anything – a posed question, a snippet of description, a statement or even dialogue. How it’s presented to us makes all the difference. Of course, we can’t leave out some of the vital ingredients in any story – conflict and action. Every story needs a certain amount of these, …

How to Make Your Writing Stand Out – Part 1

It’s an age old question for writers. What makes one book stand out from another? What makes one so amazing and others less so? It’s especially important if you choose the traditional publishing route, and you need to impress agents. From the outset, your writing needs to grab your reader’s attention and maintain that attention all through the story. It needs to continually captivate them, so much so that they’ll want to come back for more. To do that, your writing needs to stand out. But how do you really make it stand out? What makes a book a bestseller? A combination of things, since not all bestselling books would win a literary prize, but what makes them stand out is a mixture of elements that appeals to the reader, elements that make stories they enjoy, stories they will want to read. To begin with, you need to find your voice, one that is strong and different. Voice is the way an author writes, coupled with a style that’s different. This is why some authors stand out more than oth…