Showing posts from May, 2014

Creating Suspense & Atmosphere – Part 1

Firstly, let’s start with suspense. Writers love nothing more than dangling an imaginary carrot in front of readers, teasing them to the point that they can barely stand the suspense. But carrot dangling is one of the most effective ways of creating suspense, making the reader desperate to know what happens next. It keeps them turning the page. There are several factors that create suspense:- Characterisation and reader empathy The reader’s concern and worry Anticipation and expectation Exploitation of fears and emotions Impending danger and high stakes Escalating tension and climax Characterisation and Empathy Reader empathy is about giving the main character(s) a deep desire to reach his or her goal and we also give them internal and external struggles to deal with, the kind that readers can identify with, the kind they have been through themselves – things like fears and hopes, or feelings of loneliness, being on the outside and looking in, not bein

Writing Love Scenes

There aren’t that many writers who don’t like writing action scenes or descriptive scenes. But few things give writers the jitters more than having to write love scenes. They can prove troublesome even for the more experienced writers. Buy why? Surely they’re not that difficult? The answers to these questions depend on the writer, the story and the ever-changing writing landscape. The difficulties come in various guises. Firstly, many writers just aren’t into writing about the love and sex and would rather bypass it than try to even string any description together. They would much rather concentrate on action or violence or something else entirely. It’s just not for them. And more often than not, when we have zero interest in something, we have zero interest in writing about it. I fall into this category simply because love scenes bore me. I’m not interested in reading it and I don’t want to write too much about it. This is why I have zero interest in romance stories. Unl

How to Motivate Your Characters

Every writer will know just how important characterisation is. It’s what gives characters their unique characteristics, it’s what makes them seem real to their readers. One of the aspects of characterisation is motivation – the reasons why your characters do what they do.   What are the reasons behind their actions? What is it that drives them to act in a certain way, sometimes contrary to their personalities? Motivation is one of the driving forces with any story. It is what makes them achieve their goal by the end of a novel, and it is what makes them change in either their personality or outlook, it is what makes their journey so tenable and believable for a reader. More fundamentally, it moves the story forward . But how do you keep your characters motivated (and more importantly, your readers interested?). Writers use various ways to do this – Goals, obstacles, subplots and conflict. These main drivers, when combined, form a powerful fiction writing mix. Goals/Obje

General Rules for Formatting Your MSS

These rules are for those who still wish to seek publication through the traditional route, and therefore they don’t strictly apply to those who are self-publishing and therefore may follow different formatting routes. The idea of manuscript formatting is to make your MSS polished and presentable to agents and publishers, because it’s not just your story that needs to impress them.   A well-presented manuscript is just as important – it shows them that you have taken the time and effort with your MSS and you care about the standard of the work you’ve created. Unless agents and publishers they specifically ask for certain formats, most go with the accepted standard manuscript format , which these guidelines follow.   They are not my guidelines, but simply what is accepted within the publishing industry. Correct Margins Your margins should be minimum 1” all round (Word uses the 2.54cm default, which is perfectly acceptable).   Don’t make them any smaller in order to fit more

Dialogue Dilemmas - Part 3

In this last part of Dialogue Dilemmas we’ll look at some more aspects of the technical side of dialogue – the correct use of punctuation. Things like dialogue tags and question marks continue to confuse some writers, simply because they don’t always know exactly where they should go. Then of course, there are different ways of expressing quotation marks, depending on whether you’re writing for the US or UK market, so there are lots of things with dialogue structure that can still trip you up. Quotation marks One of the areas of uncertainty for many writers is the use of the type of quotation marks when denoting speech. This is where things become less clear, because there are some differences between British and American formats. American convention usually prefers double quotation marks “ ” to show dialogue, whereas British convention likes the use of single quotation marks ‘ ’ . Neither is incorrect, however, it is worth checking with any publication or publisher to