Showing posts from October, 2017

What Should Come First – Plot Or Characters?

Writing is an art form; there’s no set pattern, there’s no uniform way something must be done and no specific brush strokes to do, which is why this question causes confusion among writers who are unsure of themselves when it comes to putting a story together. Convention would have us believe that plot must come first, especially as the story idea almost always comes first. But sometimes the writer has a specific character in mind – usually a strong character who wants to be heard, whose personality is that strong and the story is often constructed around the character, rather than constructing characters around a story idea. Plot First Approach This is a little more complex in structure than the character first approach. Authors who have a strong story idea will work on it to expand the themes and the story arc, together with subplots and different scenarios. They ensure that it is mapped from start to finish. They know what will happen, the kind of obstacles the main characte

Which is More Dynamic - Narrative or Dialogue?

It’s a question that’s often asked. Which is more dynamic – narrative or dialogue?   And if there is a difference, should you use one more than the other? Dynamic storytelling means the story has varied pace and can move forward at the right moments – something that’s lively and active. There are two elements that do this – narrative and dialogue. But what about description? Unfortunately it doesn’t move the story along – its role is to describe scenes to the reader. Narrative and dialogue, however, do move the story forward. We think of narrative as simple explanation, with no real importance. It’s snippets of information to prop up the story, which may explain why it isn’t often thought of as dynamic. The smaller those informative bites are, the better. Readers pay more attention to small amounts of information rather large chunks of it. These smaller packages of narrative help move the story along to a degree, but not nearly enough as dialogue would. Dialogue, on the other h

Sequence of Writing - In Order or Not?

This is a common question that most writers ask. Does it really matter what order you write your novel? What works and what doesn’t work? The answer is simple – there is no right or wrong. There’s no rule that says we have to write a story in order. Both approaches work. It depends on the kind of writer you are. It’s down to the writer how they want to write their novel, but it’s also down to the writer to bring it all together to make it work effectively so the reader will enjoy the story. There are advantages and disadvantages to each one. It’s up to the writer to work with the method that works for them. Linear Writing Writing the story in sequence is known as linear writing. In other words, it’s written chronologically, in order as the reader reads it, chapter by chapter, from first chapter to last. This tends to be how plotters and planners like to write. They plan each chapter, they do chapter outlines and story arcs and they follow the story as they write. This keeps

When Do You Know It’s The Right Time To Edit?

What seems a straightforward question doesn’t always mean there’s a straightforward answer. Even when a writer has completed a story, it’s not always clear when he or she should edit. That’s because a lot of writers will simply go back and tinker with various chapters, which means the writing process carries on without any definitive break or proper editing. This is common with new writers. They write, then go back a few chapters and change things, then carry on writing, and then they go back and change things again and so on, in a perpetual cycle, so nothing constructive gets done. Other writers reach the end, but then immediately start thinking about the unresolved issue in chapter 14. Or there’s a subplot that they forgot to address. Or they should have added something in that all important action scene between the hero and the villain.   Immediately they go back to add and change things. And because they change things in the proceeding chapters, they then find they have to

Repetition – When to Use It and When to Avoid It

This is a subject that provides contradictory advice for writers, with the general consensus that writers should avoid repetition, but it doesn’t always say what kind of repetition to avoid, since it can actually be used effectively in narrative and can make a difference to the tone of the writing. Generally speaking, the kind of repetition writers should avoid is the non-rhetorical kind, one that often makes the sentence structures awkward and shows that the writer isn’t focused on the words they’re using. The repetition could be certain words, phrases or even ideas. This is the kind of negative repetition that writers use without actually realising. Positive repetition, on the other hand, is a rhetorical tool used for effective narrative delivery, emphasis, emotional or dramatic effect, narrative depth or for amplification. Negative Repetition Every writer does it. That’s how common it is. While in the throes of writing, we don’t often realise we’ve repeated certain word