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Showing posts from April, 2019

Storytelling techniques – Create Complications

One of the things that keep readers turning the page is the amount of tension, drama and conflict we create within a story. Every story relies on a certain amount of conflict, but part of creating all that drama is how we create complications for our characters. We don’t want our characters to have an easy time. In fact, we want the opposite. We want them to go through hell, we want them to suffer, we want to push them all the time, corner them and make their lives difficult. If they had it all their own way, there wouldn’t be much of a story to tell. That’s why we create complications for our characters to deal with. Because their story is not meant to be an easy ride. When we talk about complication – and creating them – we are referring to the escalating series of problems that take place in the story; the kind of things that make life difficult (but not impossible) for our characters. Lots of complications usually facilitate conflict. Don’t confuse complications with obstacles. They’r…

Storytelling Technique - When to Use Backstory

Backstory isn’t to be confused with flashback. Instead, when we refer to backstory, it means the characters’ background and history – things from their past that could have an influence on the present story. This could be anything, since every character will have a past, and it’s the stuff in the past that makes them the characters that appear in your story. On a more complex scale, the more the reader knows about your characters, the more they will care about them, but like flashback, backstory should be handled properly in order for it to be effective. The reason it’s confused with flashback is because backstory – by its very definition – is the past, and if it is introduced into a story, it has to be handled correctly so as not to alter the forward momentum of the present story or interrupt the flow. Many writers make the mistake of introducing backstory from the opening chapter in the mistaken belief that the reader should know everything about the characters, their lives and their …

Storytelling Technique – Disguise and Deception

Many writers may not have heard about disguise and deception, but some genres rely on it and in particular, thriller, crime and mystery writers use this concept to build their stories. They use disguise and deception to trick the reader into believing something true within the story but is, in fact, a lie. It all boils down to manipulation. The writer has a number of ways to manipulate the reader. The truth is never always what it seems. Deception in the fictional world is all about good old-fashioned pretence. For example, a story might have the antagonist kill someone and then he lies to cover up the crime, but then he must conjure more lies and cover ever more deepening deceptions – he has to work hard to keep the deception going, thus creating tension and conflict. Or perhaps the protagonist must lie about who he really is – or disguise himself – because the truth could lead to all sorts of danger, until, of course, the deception is finally uncovered. These kinds of scenarios crea…

Stock Gestures in Fiction

It’s something so common in fiction that no writer is immune from this. But what are stock gestures and how do you ensure you don’t overuse them? Like real people, characters gesture when they act, speak or react. Writers use hand movements, facial expressions or slight body movements or ticks to add little flourishes to their descriptions and dialogue beats, which in turn, adds some depth to the characters when they’re speaking. The only drawback is that this often results is the use of repetitive and familiar movements – otherwise known as ‘stock gestures.’Just to give you an idea, these are the most common ones that can be found in just about every story: She raised an eyebrow. His face furrowed. He nodded. She tilted her head. He shrugged. She winked. She wrinkled her nose. He titled his head. These are just some of them. They are so familiar that writers don’t think twice when they use them. They are so overused that they have, like words and phrases, become clichéd. There’s no doubt that …