Showing posts from April, 2013

Teasing the Reader – Part 2

Continuing the theme of teasing the reader, we’ll look at a couple more of those elements which are at a writer’s disposal.   The last two common essentials to look at are foreshadowing and dialogue. Foreshadowing is a really effective tool if used correctly.   While it is very similar to the information and revelation hints that we’ve already touched upon, there are subtle differences between the two and they should be treated separately.   The act of foreshadowing is a deliberate path that the writer takes in order to fulfill an integral part of the plot.   It foresees events that will happen, rather than what might happen, which s what information hints might do. Foreshadowing is usually interpreted as something foreboding yet to happen within the story. Clever foreshadowing is achieved by using metaphor rather than the obvious info dump or by “this will happen in chapter 30” kind of thing.    Foreshowing can be represented by anything, as long as the metaphor works

Teasing the Reader – Part 1

The great thing about writing is that is has a variety of tools available to the writer in order to render the best story possible.   We know about the right kind of characterisation, the right balance of basic elements such as description, narrative and dialogue, the amount of emotion and pace to use. We know about plots and sub plots, atmosphere and tension, and we’re aware of more complicated elements such as symbolism, metaphor and assonance and so on. But the one thing that readers seem to thrive on is the writer’s ability to tease – this is one of the reasons why they keep turning the page. Reading a story is based on a ‘need to know’ basis – the reader constantly needs to know. The deliberate tease has been used by storytellers for thousands of years.   It is designed to lure the reader, to keep them guessing, wrong foot them deliberately, or it allows them to make correct or incorrect assumptions. The opportunity to tease can occur throughout a novel and therefore s

Breathing Life into Description

Description is description, right? That depends on a writer’s perspective and how much the writer wants to invest in it.   Previous articles have looked at how important description is in any story, and why it’s needed, but what separates ordinary description from the kind that leaps from the page and gets writers noticed by editors and agents? The answer to that depends how a writer breathes life into description. Without doubt, description is one of the most important aspects required in fiction writing, and how a writer handles it makes all the difference to how good that description is. The thing with description is that sometimes it can be flat an uninspiring, not because something is particularly badly written, but because instead the author hasn’t really bothered with it.   This can make reading a laborious affair.   And if it is boring and unexciting, then this is indicative of ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’, which is one of the most common attributes to dr

Constructing Scenes - Part 2

Continuing our look at how to construct key scenes, we’ll take a look at Transitional scenes and Flashback scenes, which are quite common in fiction and very useful elements for the writer. Writers use transitional scenes to cross a specific time span, i.e. hours, days, months or even years, without the need to describe everything in detail.   Usually they are nothing more than a few sentences, but they tell the reader that time has passed, without the writer having to bore the reader by describing the details of the time span with long-winded passages. Example: Four weeks later, John drove the car to the high street and parked up near the bank, just as Dan had instructed. He waited. It says concisely what the reader needs to know – four weeks have passed since Dan’s conversation with John (in Part 1) and the narrative has moved forward to the day of the robbery.   Two sentences cover what might have taken the writer a page or two pages to describe. Well written tran