Showing posts from June, 2019

Working With Character Voice

Characters are an important element in any story. They have to be the perfect fit; the right personality and the right name etc., so that for the readers, the characters feel like real people. Every one of them is different, yet their stories and experiences are similar to our own. One thing that helps a story stand out isn’t just authorial voice – it’s character voice. Your characters are individuals with their own personalities, traits and flaws. They are their own people. They are not you. And they shouldn’t be anything like you. That’s where a lot of authors fall down. When they create their main characters, they often create them with themselves in mind, and too much of the writer’s personality creeps into their characters. That’s because it’s easier to write about us rather than go to all that trouble of characterising. While it’s not a bad thing to have some little snippets of our own personalities in our characters, remember that your protagonist isn’t you. The charac

Co-ordinating Conjunctions - Use Them to Your Advantage

There is a lot of mixed advice about using co-ordinating conjunctions such as ‘and’, but’, ‘or’, ‘so’, and ‘yet’ etc. Some people advise against their use in writing, while others advocate it. What advice should you follow? Which one is right? The simple truth is that there is absolutely nothing wrong using co-ordinating conjunctions to start a sentence. This writing myth may have evolved around rigid schoolteachers who taught children that such sentence constructions were not grammatically correct and thus perpetuated the idea that it’s wrong to use them. But it isn’t wrong. That’s because writing is all about balance rather than ‘right or wrongs’. For example, the general advice about adverbs is to cut down on their use and use nouns and verbs to strengthen your narrative. That doesn’t mean that every adverb must be eradicated. It just means to cut back on them to make the writing better . The same is true for adjective use or passive sentences etc. So there is no reason why

Creating a Sense of Time

One of the things I see when I edit other writers is the inability to control time. But what does that mean?   The notion of time in a novel is different to time in the real world. That’s because, in fiction, we can play around with time. We can jump from point to point in any moment in time – sometimes we can cover whole generations. We can move forward or back, we manipulate time, but it has to be done properly. Without the right attention, the inability to control time can cause problems with pace and the reader could become confused as to when time is supposed to have passed, and when it doesn’t. The biggest problem is the writer’s tendency to rush the narrative, which means the sense of time is also rushed.   For example, when one scene zips to the other without the slightest hint to the reader that three weeks have passed, then it blurs the transition of time and causes confusion. Has time actually passed?   Is it the next day?   Next week?   When exactly? This lack

Storytelling Techniques - Getting the Most From Short Stories

Short stories are not always easy, simply because of the way they are constructed.   There’s a lot to pack into something that may only be a few thousand words.   But the fundamental difference between a novel and a short story, other than the length, is that a short story only captures a brief moment in your main character’s life, rather than a set timeline of events.   That’s because novels can span years or even decades.   A short story simply doesn’t have the room to focus on these things. It can only capture a few days in the life of your protagonist. This makes it easier to condense a lot of the fictional elements into a short time frame.   The best short stories tend to have short time-spans – hours rather than days.   It keeps the story tight, concise and focused. The structure of the short story is important – it consists of a single premise, a coupe of characters, a strong theme and it takes place in a short time frame. By their very nature, they are contained, so the