Intensifiers and Qualifiers

There are certain things in writing that should be avoided wherever possible, such as clichés, passive sentences or info dumping, but there are two things writers should also look out for, which are intensifiers and qualifiers. But what are they and what do they do? Intensifiers and qualifiers are words or phrases that can be added to another word to modify its meaning, by either limiting it or enhancing it. They are placed before adjectives and adverbs in an attempt to intensify or modify its effect, but u nless they’re a part of dialogue and form the way a character might speak, intensifiers and qualifiers can weaken the writing if overused, or make it look lazy and amateurish. A qualifier can change the meaning of a verb by limiting it, and so it changes how absolute or certain something is, for example: ‘She was somewhat flustered by his invite.’ In this example, the word ‘somewhat’ is qualifying the word ‘flustered’ and it creates doubt about any certainty. It has

Use Motifs to Make Your Novel Interesting

Motif is a literary device that is repeated throughout a novel.   It has symbolic and thematic significance that can add an extra dimension to your writing because it can evoke a mood, highlight certain aspects of the story, act as foreshadowing, underscore themes, provoke the reader’s senses, and provide depth and meaning beneath the surface of the story. A motif can be anything – a recurring phrase, a colour, a character, a scent, an action, an object, a specific image or even an idea. It can be absolutely anything, as long as it’s repeated throughout the story and is apparent to the reader, but more importantly, the motif must relate directly to the story. For example, in a crime story, the image of blood could be a relatable motif. Maybe a particular piece of jewellery keeps appearing in your romance novel. Maybe the sound of a grandfather clock is repeated. Whatever the object or image, make sure it relates to the story so that it emphasises your theme or something significan

Laying Story Foundations

On the surface, writing isn’t just about stringing words together. It’s much more than that, and it goes deeper than the surface. Think of a story like a house that needs to be built. You cannot build the walls or roof until you have sound foundations and the supporting structure in place. The same is true of storytelling – the foundations of any story always support the plot, subplots, themes, characters and everything else contained within the story. Laying solid foundations for a story is vital, otherwise the core of your story might crumble. We all know that a structure won’t support itself unless it has firm foundations. The same is true for a novel. It may not hold up too well without something firm to shore it up. The idea of laying your foundations shouldn’t be confused with creating the framework from which your story hangs. Instead, it encompasses the major building blocks required for the novel, like genre, plot, strong main characters, a main theme and a setting. From

How to Create Atmosphere

Like tension and mood, atmosphere is a key component in fiction writing. It’s a way of creating a particular emotional feeling with the reader and makes use of different elements to achieve this. It elevates the narrative and keeps the reader engaged, but it also means the writer can manipulate the reader’s senses. Let’s start with setting. Various scenes will take place in different locations, so the environment is key to setting the tone and mood. Is the location dark woodland, a deserted beach, the ruins of an old house or maybe a road in the middle of nowhere? Or what about a cosy restaurant, a coffee shop or even the sofa at home with a blanket and some popcorn? How does the location affect the way your main character acts? Are they comfortable in their surrounds, or are they apprehensive, scared or curious about something? Their emotions should enhance the mood and translate to the reader. They should pick up on those sentiments, too. With the right setting for a scene,

Creating Tension – Part 2

Part 1 looked at the importance of creating immediacy, conflict, emotion, escalating problems and generating lots of drama to help develop and maintain tension, but there are some more elements to consider, too, such as pacing, providing twists and turns, and probably the most fundamental thing – description. A sense of pace works by seemingly speeding up the narrative and then deliberately slowing things down. Varying the pace is a great way to intensify things for the reader. Think of their narrative journey like a roller coaster – it’s never constant and never stays still, it’s up and down, slow and fast, all at the right moments. Tension often works best when the pace is slowed right down (as opposed to fast paced action scenes, which heighten drama). That’s because it allows the reader to take in everything being described to them – the tone, the atmosphere, the words, the emotions and the conflict. It forces everything to become focused within the scene.   For instance

Creating Tension – Part 1

Tension is an important aspect of storytelling – it helps to create nail biting moments within the story and works in tandem with suspense and atmosphere to keep the reader turning the page. It not only heightens the reader’s sense of anxiety, but it toys with their emotions – it keeps them gripped to the story.   Tension comes in different guises, but works like an elastic band – it can be stretched to make things taut and then slackened to ease things. In much the same way, writers continually stretch and slacken certain elements within the story. They create quieter, calmer scenes which are interspersed with faster paced, exciting, atmospheric or suspenseful scenes. This keeps things interesting for the reader.   There are different ways to create tension in your writing – from making use of description, characterisation, problems and obstacles, to injecting pace, emotion and conflict to create that mixed sensation of unease, pressure and friction.   One thing to do ea

Keep Your Main Character Front and Centre

Do you keep the spotlight on your protagonist? One of the keys to good storytelling is to ensure your main character is front and centre – he or she is the star of your story, so whatever happens, that person should be the main focus of the story, even if they’re not in some of the scenes or chapters. The story must always revolve around this character. It’s common, however, for writers to lose sight of the main character. That’s because some scenes swallow them, or they’re overshadowed by other characters. I recently edited a story where the main character vanished after the first two chapters and didn’t re-appear until midway through the story. In that time, other characters had taken over the story and had grown more prominent. This meant the main character had inadvertently slipped into the background and had almost become forgotten. The spotlight had shifted. When that happens, the main character stops being a main character and they become a secondary character. Then wh