Showing posts from June, 2013

Fiction Writing: Character Basics - Part 1

Without characters, you won’t have much of a story, and every writer knows how important it is to pay attention to characterisation.   But one of the key things to characterisation, however, is knowing the basics of constructing characters and therefore not making the kind of simple errors that will make an editor cringe when they read your MSS. Every writer knows that they need fully rounded, three dimensional people to bring their story to life. That means plenty of background information, details about who they are and what they’re about, what they look like, and the kind of things they like and don’t like and so on. But it’s the simple mistakes that let writers down when they submit to agents and publishers, things that are not always obvious until someone points them out, especially where characters are concerned. You might think you’ve got great characters, but it’s surprising how some basics are forgotten or ignored.   These 10 basics should help with getting the b

‘Moving the Story Forward’ explained

‘Moving the story forward’ is another of those things that deserves a second in depth look.   You may have come across the expression a number of times in the course of fiction writing. It’s a wide reaching phrase, but it’s also one that writers shouldn’t ignore. But what does it actually mean? If you’ve seen the phrase in advice columns, critiques or feedback from editors etc, it means that the editor wants to keep the momentum of the story moving to its conclusion, without interrupting its natural flow and without being overloaded with unnecessary, superfluous information. From the opening sentence to the closing paragraph, the writer must always move the story forward – it should never slow to a boring pace because the narrative drags on and on and on, nor should it deviate from the main thread of the plot, which often happens with some writers. In basic terms, it means that each scene and each chapter is a stepping stone to the next scene and next chapter, and so on, r

The Title is Vital

Getting your story written and finished is one thing, but no story is complete without an attention-grabbing title. Just like the opening hook of the novel – those first few sentences that are designed to lure your reader into your story – the title also plays an important part in this process.   Not only should the calibre of your writing sell your talent to prospective agents and publishers, but the piece-de-résistance should be a catchy, well thought out title, because this is also selling the writer to the publisher. In fact the title of your story or novel is the very first thing the agent or editor will see, and first impressions always count. The idea is to prod and arouse their curiosity, to make them want to read your novel.   An eye-catching title is a useful self-marketing tool.   You are not just selling your novel; you are selling the next novel and the one after that. You are selling the whole package. If you look at some of the titles of bestselling novels

Why Appraisal is Important

Writers rarely think about feedback and appraisal while they’re writing.   The story always takes precedence.   But there will come a point, however, when the novel or short story is finally finished – finished in the writer’s eyes – that the work should be appraised. Feedback is such an important tool for writers, and not nearly exploited enough.   The idea is that a selective range of people – fellow writers perhaps, and ordinary folk – read your work and provide you with constructive feedback. This obviously means opening yourself to criticism, however is it important to point out that it is useless becoming a writer unless you can’t take criticism.   As a writer, the very work you produce becomes a part of the public domain, so by the very act of publishing a story, you are and can be the subject of criticism. You cannot avoid it, and the quicker you become accustomed to it, the better it will be to deal with. Why get people to read your work? Even if we hate the ide

Getting the Setting Right

You’ve got the story, you’ve got the characters and you’ve have the plot all planned out, but do you have the right setting? The setting of the story is just as important as all the other aspects when it comes to writing.     It doesn’t matter whether your story is set in Victorian London, modern day New York or the planet Mars in the 23rd century, you still have to let the reader know where and when the story is taking place because it helps the reader instantly understand the context and tone of the story and it tells them where the action is happening so that not only can they can visualise it, but they can become involved in the story.   In novels, readers expect a little more than a few lines of description to tell them that character A is walking around in some nondescript city.   Which city?   Where? Is it morning or evening or afternoon?   What’s the weather like?   Are the streets full with people or are they empty and desolate? If the writer fails to share m