Showing posts from March, 2013

Constructing Scenes - Part 1

Well constructed scenes perform a multitude of functions for the writer.   Not only do they help to support the narrative, they also help bring the story into focus, they help stitch together the story arc, but more importantly, they help relay the story for the reader. When we refer to ‘scenes’, it usually means key scenes – the important and often significant ones that help break up the narrative into palatable chunks for the reader to understand. But how do you construct such key scenes, and how do you make them work?   It’s important to stress that any scene should form as a natural progression of the story arc.   It should come about because the story requires it, not because the writer forces it in order to try to make it appeal to the reader in a contrived or overt way, because readers can easily spot scenes that seemed forced or don’t quite belong to the story. If the story is a good one, and the writer has done some planning, then these key scenes should come

Writing Action Scenes

We tend to think of action scenes as the kind we see in movies – fast paced, furious, violent and with lots happening etc, but in reality, action scenes can encompass many things in fiction, and are not always so fast and furious – they can be single character scenes providing action, or slower paced scenes between two characters which still contain action, for instance sexual scenes. Action scenes don’t necessarily equal violence and chases. Action scenes occur when there is a significant shift in the narrative – an argument or disagreement between characters for instance, or a character discovers a secret, or something is revealed.   Perhaps a food fight breaks out, or you might have a character competing in a race. Perhaps your characters have fled an aircraft with parachutes.   And action can take place without your characters even moving. Many new writers assume they have to have lots of action scenes in order to maintain the reader’s interest and keep up a fast pace, bu

The Art of ‘Weaving’ – Part 2

Continuing the theme of ‘weaving’, there are other elements that can also be weaved throughout a story, not just the usual suspects like characters and plot and subplots etc. Weaving Dialogue Every writer should come to understand just how important dialogue is in a story.   It’s not just about breathing life into your characters with their words, but dialogue can help move the story forward, control pace, and also act as a conduit for weaving information to the reader – the kind that is pertinent to the story. To do this a character needs to share information or knowledge with other characters (and the reader), but it needs to be believable and relate directly to the narrative or be an integral part of the plot. For instance, John and Sarah have bought an old house that they want to refurbish.   The writer needs to show the reader that all is not what it seems, and through character dialogue, certain snippets of information might be imparted, but in such a way that the exp

The Art of ‘Weaving’ – Part 1

What is ‘weaving’, what exactly does it mean?   All the elements in writing are interconnected – they’re like atoms, they’re needed, and so the structure is considerably weakened without them. Theme, plot, characters, story arc, setting, subplots, research, backstory and so on make up those interconnected elements, and they have to be connected, otherwise there would be no story. But the strength of any story relies entirely on the writer’s ability to bringing all of those elements together in a complete and cohesive manner. Weaving has been used by writers since the human race could learn to tell stories; it’s not a new concept at all.   Most writers do it without realising, even first time writers.   Experienced writers, on the other hand, will use it to their advantage, with exceptional results. Weaving information, characters, subplots, themes and so on is a universal necessity for any story, and should be done in a seamless manner.   Not only that, but they should

Is it bad to have autobiographical elements in stories?

The truth is, whether we realise it or not, there are many autobiographical representations in our stories.   This happens because we draw on our own experiences which we use to either layer the stories or our characters, and this is particularly true for those embarking on their first novel. In essence, it’s not a bad thing at all – writers often project themselves into stories and characters because we all have to work from something .   The only negative is that when it happens too much, and a great deal of ‘ourselves’ find a way into the stories, the strength of the story may be diminished. As with everything in fiction, it is about balance.   Remember, fiction is just that – most of it should be fictitious. Usually our first creations – the characters we choose as first time writers – are often a facsimile of ourselves, an ‘alter ego’ with a few embellishments.   Most writers would admit they’ve done so, and it lends to the learning process.   When I first started wr