Showing posts from March, 2019

Keep Dialogue on the Right Path

Dialogue is one of the easiest things to write with fiction.   If it’s realistic and pertinent to the story and set out properly, it shouldn’t give authors too much trouble. Many difficulties arise with dialogue because writers are not always sure how to set it out or punctuate it correctly, but that’s to do with formatting rather than anything technical. It’s when writers don’t pay attention to it that other problems occur. Dialogue has a number of important functions - it is there to impart necessary information, reveal characters and to move the story forward. It must always relate to the plot. When that doesn’t occur, dialogue can have the opposite affect – it doesn’t provide the reader with any information, it doesn’t move the story forward and doesn’t reveal characterisation. This slows the pace, distracts the reader and can prove boring. How does this happen? Expositional dialogue – or sometimes called an idiot lecture – is when one character explains to another char

Make Narrative Pertinent

Authors make some very common mistakes when they’re writing their stories.   They write a lot of narrative, but they also write a lot of irrelevant narrative. Narrative, together with description and dialogue, is there to help tell the story – in sizeable, informative chunks that pushes the story along. Narrative is the telling part of the writing, while description is the showing. Writers use both indirect and direct exposition, but when they use unnecessary or irrelevant narrative, this has the opposite effect to what the writer wants – it doesn’t move the story forward, it doesn’t impart new information and doesn’t contain any story revelations to enhance the plot. The key word here is relevance . Things like subplot, themes and flashbacks should all be relevant to the present story. Narrative is no different; it must be pertinent – it needs to relate to the story arc. If it doesn’t, rework it until it does, or get rid of it. Narrative that has no place in the story wil

Dealing With Facts in Fiction

Fictional stories are just that – works of imagination and fantasy. Characters, situations, places and events are all made up. But even the most imaginative novels sometimes have to incorporate a sense of realism, and that means authors have to deal with facts. Facts in fiction may not seem a crucial component, but many authors omit even the basic facts. While this won’t affect the story, it will affect the reader’s enjoyment of it, because a sense of realism helps the reader to immerse themselves, it adds layers to the story. Getting to grips with facts – and what to include in your story – can be a minefield. Don’t include too many that it reads like a technical brochure, but conversely, don’t leave any facts out that the reader won’t be half as convinced as they would if you’d dropped in a few real snippets. There are a number of ways to approach how you use facts in storytelling. Often, writers use real places as their setting, but then everything else within the story is

Getting Into Your Character's Mindset

One important factor for creating really good characterisation is for writers to try to get into their character’s mindset. Part of creating characters that the reader will connect with and feel emotional towards is to make them so believable that they seem entirely real. And to do that, writers must feel and think like their characters – figuratively speaking they have to climb into their character’s heads and become these people. The more you truly understand your characters, the better your characterisation. It’s not just about knowing what their hair colour is or when and where they were born, but it’s how they are with other characters that the readers look for. What would the protagonist say, or do in any given situation?   How would he or she act or react to people and the developing situations around them? What drives them? What do they want? Getting into your character’s head isn’t as complicated as it sounds. On the whole, writing largely depends on what we know and

Plot Structure v. Plot Points – What’s the difference?

The plot is the crux of your story – what it’s about, what it will involve and the characters it will affect over any given period of time.   It’s the sequence of events that tells the story. Plot structure and plot points are different, however; they do different things. Plot Structure The way the story connects together and is laid out, the way it moves from point A to point B and so on, is plot structure.   It’s a basic framework for how the characters, chapters, key scenes, themes, conflict and subplots will work.   It also encapsulates the beginning, the middle and the end of the story. The structure is down to the writer how they construct it – what they want included, what they don’t and how they want it. There is no right or wrong way to structure plots (some keep it simple, others use complex diagrams and charts or mapping), as longs as the story that forms from it is logical. All plots follow the same pattern – an exciting beginning, escalating action, drama and