Thursday, 30 May 2013

When To Let The Reader Into The Character's Head

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Direct narrative is when you have the reader experience a scene through a character. Doing what they do, feeling what they feel.

Indirect narrative is when the reader is told what just happened without getting a blow by blow report.

In most cases you’re going to write in direct narrative as much as possible. It’s more immediate and engaging, and makes it easier for the reader to connect with the character. First person narrative in particular is mainly written in this mode.

But there are times when you don’t want to live through every second of a story. Knowing when it is beneficial to the story to live through every moment, and when it’s just padding things out unnecessarily isn’t always obvious. Fortunately there’s a rule of thumb that can help make it clear which way to go.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Don't Go Full Cinders

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The Cinderella story is an archetypal narrative structure that can be found in many books, both by established and aspiring writers.

A put upon person, treated unfairly and cruelly through no fault of their own, overcomes their unjust circumstances to win great rewards and happiness.

It’s an appealing format because it creates a sympathetic underdog who triumphs against adversity; the kind of struggle we’d all like to think we could battle and win.

But there are two problems with the Cinderella story that make her an awkward fit for the modern world.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Inciting Incident(s)

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The inciting incident is the thing that happens somewhere in the first part of a story that changes things for the main character and puts them on the path to adventure (or romance, or tragedy, or whatever).

It’s a pretty well understood element in fiction, and even writers who aren’t aware of it will naturally work it into the story.

However, what isn’t always as obvious is that a story has more than one inciting incident. A lot more.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Things A Scene Needs

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Each character in a scene needs a goal. Obviously the main character’s goal is the most important, but every character should be aiming for something, and those goals should be acted on and in doing so affect one another.

This doesn’t just refer to the protagonist/antagonist relationship, it should be true of all characters in a scene.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Content Of Your Character

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There’s no point having a story by the end of which the reader will know who your main character is and what he’s about.

You may think that the purpose of the story is to reveal this and that’s it’s intriguing for the reader not to be too sure where a character’s loyalties lie. That would be wrong.

Did you have a good idea of what kind of person Harry was before he got to Hogwart’s? Did you have a reasonable idea about Katniss before she got to the games?

The initial part of a story is to tell the reader the character’s values and beliefs. Once things kick off, then it’s time to test those values and beliefs.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Synopsis Support Pt 2

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A synopsis for a novel comes in two different forms.

The first is a very dry, play-by play outline of what happens without any frills or attempts to impress the reader.

The other is more of a selling document intended to get the reader to read the full manuscript.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Synopsis Support

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Here’s what I want you to do: take your novel of 300 or so pages and rewrite it as a 500 word flash fiction piece, keeping all the major events and give me the same tone and the same pacing.

This is what it feels like for most of us when faced with having to do the synopsis.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Your Book In One Sentence Pt 2

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The recent post I did (HERE) on condensing your story into a line or two received some interesting feedback so this follow-up post will take a deeper look at the techniques involved in summing up the story into  something short, easy to understand and yet interesting. And the pitfalls along the way.

Bear in mind the idea isn’t to come up with a beautifully crafted slogan that makes people want to rush out and buy the book on the strength of the logline alone. Your job isn’t to invent bubblegum that tastes like a three course meal. If people want to experience those flavours they should just eat a three course meal.

This will be more about telling somebody what the story's about, whether they be an agent or your mother.
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