Showing posts from May, 2015

How to Write the Passage of Time

Writers have sometimes struggled with the concept of time in fiction and how best to portray it, because as much as writers would love to, they can’t write about every minute of every day in a character’s life within a story. Somewhere between the action and the narrative the writer needs to show the reader that time has moved forward – be it hours, a day, a month or even years. The story should have time markers, or references, to indicate to the reader that time has passed from one moment to the next. Why do we have them? We use time references to help with the timing of certain events within the story so that the reader doesn’t become confused to when those events occur. If you don’t indicate the timing, the story would just go on and on without natural breaks between key events and the reader won’t always know that the events happen hours, days or even weeks apart. Not unless you tell them. By giving time references to the day, night, hour, month or season etc, you can ke

Some Grammar Rules Can Be Broken – Part 2

Continuing our look at grammar rules and which can be bent and, on occasion, broken, we’ll look at a few more ‘rules’ that writers do not have to stick too rigidly or are now accepted as the norm in fiction writing. Using Slang Slang is something we all use, it’s part of everyday life, so it’s inevitable that writers want to add some realism to their writing by using it, which is fine, if you want to set the tone, but it’s also one of those things that shouldn’t be overdone.   Snippets of slang here and there enrich the story, but too much can prove distracting for the reader and they will soon tire of it. Also, using slang is rather like using salt in cooking. Just enough gives flavour. Too much and you spoil your food. The same is true with any story. We tend to use slang within dialogue between characters, but it can, in moderation, be used within the narrative, for instance words such as ‘badass’, ‘fit’, ‘hottie’ or ‘selfie’. Again, it all boils down how writers use s

Some Grammar Rules Can Be Broken – Part 1

It’s a contradiction in terms because as writers, we spend much of our time abiding by certain ‘rules’ where writing is concerned, but there is a very good reason why such rules and guidelines exist – to make us better writers. That said, some rules can be bent and some can, on occasion, be broken.   Some ‘rules’ are now considered old fashioned because of the ever-changing way fiction is written, but writers should consider the context of their work before going ahead and breaking all sorts of guidelines – for instance, is the work to be self-published or will it go to agents and publishers for the traditional publishing route? Self-published novels tend to ignore every rule and the end result is an absolute mess, because there are no quality controls in place and the author hasn’t taken the time to learn about what they’re doing. Traditionally published work, by contrast, has to be vetted and scrutinised by editors, and so some rules and guidelines are important. You may ha

Avoid Getting Tenses in a Tangle

Writers are faced with lots of choices when it comes to writing, especially so when writing a novel – things like choosing the right characters, the right themes to enhance the plot, choosing the right setting, and even choosing the right beginning and ending. But there’s one thing that still make many writers stumble, and that is making the right choice of tenses. Getting the tenses right is essential for ensuring the writer gets the most from his or her story. If told in the wrong tense, or written with a lack of understanding and knowledge of tenses, the result will be dreadful. Get the tense right, however, and everything falls into place. This begs the essential question. How do I know which tense to use? Whatever the tense, there are advantages and disadvantages. Most novels are written in past tense. It’s the easiest and most expressive tense to work with, but there are novels written in present tense, too, which is less expressive and more difficult to get to grips

Too Much v. Too Little Description – Part 2

Continuing a look at too much versus too little description, in part 2 we’ll look at how writers should actively strike a balance between the two so that the resulting novel doesn’t have too much and doesn’t end up with too little. In Part 1 we looked at why too much or too little can become negatives, but also how they can work for the writer in some aspects, i.e. having less description in action scenes in order to keep the pace, and more description in longer, tense, atmospheric or emotional scenes etc, which enhances the reading enjoyment. Where description is concerned, it really is a matter of balance. Lacing the Narrative Description isn’t just about describing the obvious in manageable chunks – sometimes description is about subtlety and dropping hints. Many writers lace their scenes with description by blending dialogue and description or with character actions and description. For example, here’s simple dialogue and description: ‘Nearly there...’ He hauled the