Showing posts from June, 2012

Does Observation Matter?

Imagination alone isn’t always enough to help you write.   Writers can fill their stories with as much ‘made up stuff’ as they like, but there is no substitute for astute observation – the kind of things that add fine brush strokes and layers to your narrative. Observation is one of those things you can choose to include in your writing, or not.   It’s entirely up to the writer.   But writing without some observation is like a painting without colour.   It’s about noticing the smaller details, the backgrounds, the minutiae.   The kinds of things that help build a picture, a scene or a landscape in the reader’s mind. Artists, for instance, don’t paint with their hands – figuratively speaking, they paint with their eyes.   That’s because, on a deeper level, their observation and study of their subject is what is translated to the canvas.   The same is true of writers.   What a writer observes and studies is translated into the written word and then built into the narrative.

What type of writer are you?

The tortoise or the hare? Everyone knows the old fable about the Hare racing the tortoise, and the assumption that because of his speed, the hare will easily win, until he decides to take a snooze, leaving the tortoise to overtake him and amble across the finish line.   Most writers fall into discernable categories, depending on how they approach writing, and some could be described as hares and others might be more like tortoises.   Writers are as individual as fingerprints when it comes to writing, but how do you approach your writing?   Are you the kind of writer that likes to dispense with meticulous planning and instead rather get right into the writing and letting the story go wherever it takes you?   Or are you more likely to take the time to carefully plan in detail and plot how your story and characters will evolve?   Perhaps you fall between the two types.   You might be a mix of both – you like to get on with it, but might do a little bit of planning beforehand to

The Art of Foreshadowing

A writer’s job isn’t just about telling a story.   It’s more complicated than simple storytelling, because there are so many devices available to help writers improve and enrich their writing. One very useful tool available to writers is the art of foreshadowing, or in simple terms, the art of subtle revelation, forewarning and teasing. It’s surprising how much foreshadowing is overlooked in fiction – we don’t always think about little things like this and we tend to forget the minute intricacies that help bring depth and richness to our stories. What does foreshadowing do? Foreshadowing has many functions, from providing subtle hints about characters or situations, clues to events yet to happen, to imparting necessary information, but it also serves to move the story forward and to sometimes deliberately wrong foot the reader. Foreshadowing more often than not brings an extra dimension to the story, because it means you are hinting at what might come, what might happen, wh

Varying the Narrative for Better Writing

There are, on occasions, when fiction writing causes numerous headaches for writers in their pursuit of better writing. One of those headaches is the rate of use and occurrence of ‘he’ and ‘she’ within sentence structures, and in particular, the incidence of the old ‘he said’ / ‘she said’.   ‘He’ and ‘she’ become so commonplace within the narrative when we are writing that we take them for granted, but it’s not until you read back through our story that you realise just how much you have relied upon their usage, and only then you can appreciate how clunky your descriptions might appear if they are overused. Of course, using them is completely unavoidable. We all do it and we do need them, but as with adverbs and adjectives, writers can limit the amount of ‘he’s’ and ‘she’s’ within sentences by tightening and tidying the narrative so that it not only reads better, but it looks better to the reader’s eye.   Look back through previous manuscripts and stories and you might be sur

Tricks of the Trade - Handy Tips

As writers, we’re always on the lookout for helpful advice and hints, and every writer should get used to using some of the tricks of the trade in order to improve their fiction writing.  They are there to make out life much easier, and our writing much better. Hook Not sure where to start? Start with a hook.   Something that instantly sparks the reader’s imagination.   Get straight into the heart of the action in your first chapter. That way there is less chance to bore the reader.   Grab them from the start and keep up the same momentum. Slow narrative When you read through the narrative and you find it seems to plod in all sorts of areas, that’s a clear indication that you need to adjust the pace of the narrative by speeding things up and giving it some balance.   Slow narrative occurs when there are few action scenes, very little conflict, not much dialogue, too much description and not enough balance.   Also, prologues can make the pace become slow before you’ve even s