Showing posts from 2012

Giving Your Writing Emotional Impact

Eliciting emotional responses from your readers isn’t as easy as it sounds, because the right emotive reaction from them is what makes novels and stories so appealing. But to get that kind of response, the writing needs to be emotional, it needs to be arousing or moving etc - without being schmaltzy to the point where your reader might gag on the syrupy, soap-style sweetness of it all.   Conversely, you don’t want the writing to lack that important emotional punch either.   Little or no emotion in the narrative will produce a rather boring, flat read. Emotion within the story creates a sense of immediacy with the reader, a unique closeness that makes the reader empathise, understand and care about the characters. How to create emotion Firstly, you need a character that the reader will identify with, one that is fully realised and rounded, one that the reader will recognise and care about from the outset.   If you have a reader that does that, then it will be much easie

Twist in the Tale Stories

Continuing the theme of constructing short stories, one of the most popular styles of short story telling is the twist in the tale, especially within speculative fiction and horror genres. Not all stories have to have a surprise or sting at the end – most stories don’t need it, but the thing about the twist is that if done correctly, it makes for a great story; hence they enjoyed by readers.   It also represents a writer’s ability construct the story in quite a clever way. The premise of the twist in the tale story is very simple – the writer deliberately misleads the reader during the narrative, leading the reader to believe they might expect a certain ending, only then to be wrong-footed at the last possible moment to a shocking or surprising conclusion, one they ‘never saw coming’.   It sounds easy, but these types of stories are anything but.   And that’s because the twist – that moment you pull the rug from beneath the reader – happens only once and it must happen a

Getting to Grips with Short Stories Part 3

Structure - The ending Endings are just as important as the openings of stories. That’s because the ending of a story performs more than one function. A good ending is when the crux of the story reaches its pinnacle; that final moment before the climax. Everything in the story leads up to this moment. More importantly, the ending of a story is formed from the natural progression of the narrative.   You should never force an ending, otherwise you run the risk of demolishing the fabric of the story and thus ruining it for the reader, but also because they will see that it is contrived and forced. As with novels, short stories don’t have to have a happy ending.   Depending on the type of story you are writing, you can have a dramatic ending, a sad ending, a happy ending, or you can have the twist in the tail type of ending (these need careful consideration and construction in order to work – more on that next week). But whatever the genre, the ending needs to be natura

Getting to Grips with Short Stories Part 2

With your opening and your hook in place, your characters introduced, and the tone and crux of the story set, it’s time to look at the middle section of the short story structure.   This section is where the bulk of the story takes place, where conflict arises and pacing plays a vital role, and where key scenes happen. Structure – The Middle On the whole, the main portion of action happens in this section.   And just as you would construct narrative, description and dialogue in a novel, the same is true for short stories, where a balance of these three elements is crucial to the short story composition. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because it’s a short story that you have to scrimp on description and replace it with lots of dialogue, or replace any dialogue with constant action.   You don’t.   You need both in a balanced, equal measure. Set out the Character’s Motivation This section is where you show the reader the motivation for the main character’s acti

Getting to Grips With Short Stories - Part 1

Writing a short story might sound easy – after all, it’s only a few thousand words, right? Actually, the process is just as complicated and as technical as writing a full length novel.   It still needs a lot of thought, planning and preparation.   Short story writing doesn’t come naturally to some writers.   This might be because they’re not sure how to even tackle one, and because some have never written a short story, they naturally think they’re no good at it.   That means lots of opportunities like short story competitions and submissions for magazines pass them by, simply because they won’t attempt to write one. Sometimes they’ve failed to get to grips with it for one reason or another, and subsequently they translate that as not being able to do it.   And of course, to a writer, not being able to do it automatically means failure. But it’s mostly to do with fear.   Some writers just fear tackling the short story. These are common psychological barriers. To overco

How Writing Evolves

As writers, we never really think too much about how our writing develops or progresses as we write, but it does.   Writing is an ever changing, continual fluid process; there is always something new to learn, there are better ways of approaching writing and there are always different ways to improve our skills.   But how does how our writing evolve?   Do we notice it? Over the course of writing a novel, for instance, you will notice how your writing develops during this process if you were to compare later chapters with your earlier chapters.   You will see a significant difference between them – the writing at the beginning might seem raw and unstructured or a little less cohesive, but towards the end it is much better – it has better structure, it’s more unified and more refined.   Descriptions might seem fuller, characters might seem deeper and more complicated, dialogue has improved and the general writing structure is enhanced.     Also, you will notice that more c

General Fiction Cliches

We’re all aware of different narrative clichés which creep into our writing, and we know ways to avoid them - phrases and words such ‘all of a sudden’ or ‘or hell broke loose’, ‘just then’ and ‘suddenly’ etc, but there is also another kind of cliché which crops up from time to time without a writer even realising.   These are general fiction clichés. So what are they?   Unlike the usual hackneyed words and phrases, these general clichés can be situations, characters, places, events or even set scenes.   The best way to illustrate this is to give you some examples of common fiction clichés: a) The creepy/haunted house/log cabin in the middle of the woods or near a lake, enveloped by a ghostly where have we seen that one before? b) The hard-bitten cop with emotional problems, who doesn’t conform to the many books and movies have this kind if main character? c) The woman alone in her house, who for some inexplicable reason forgets that the light swit

Are there such things as Flashforwards?

We all know about flashbacks – the often used device for writers to tell a back story or fill in gaps of information for the reader by dipping into the past, but what about flashforwards? The case of the flashforward is debatable among writers. But there are such things. Flashbacks tell us what has happened in the past . Flashforwards, on the other hand, tell us what happens in the future , but since most writing takes place either in the first, second or third person, flashforwards should not exist because you can’t predict what might happen in the future. Or can you? This is the sticking point. Logic tells us that we can’t talk about the future, simply because the future hasn’t happened yet, so how can writers write about future events that are yet to take place without making the story sound trite and over the top? There are some circumstances where a flashforward is desired and wouldn’t seem out of place – science fiction and fantasy writing for instance.   These genres al