Characters drive stories. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a romance novel or an action-packed thriller; the key to drawing readers into your narrative is developing interesting characters that grow with your story. What some writers fail to realize is interesting doesn’t always mean unique.
I know what you’re thinking – Blasphemy! Common is boring! True, but there’s a fine line between unique and not relatable. The important thing is finding the right balance between the two and constructing a character your readers want to know more about but also relate to. Continue reading “Why Your Protagonist Isn’t Special (And Shouldn’t Be)”
Good writing starts with well-crafted sentences. In the book The Art of Styling Sentences, Ann Longknife, Ph.D. and K.D. Sullivan provide 20 basic sentence structures to help writers improve their prose. The overall construction of your story is paramount, but at some point you have to get into the nuts and bolts of each scene, paragraph, sentence, and word, then sew them together into a cohesive thought.
Here’s a simple yet potent sentence structure to try out:
Continue reading “Try This Sentence Structure for Clean, Inspiring Prose”
Observation is the writer’s greatest weapon. Sometimes, observations need a little fine-tuning before they wander into your story. Dialogue – the way people talk to each other – is a perfect example of this. Yes, character conversations should flow, but they shouldn’t always read like normal speech. Finding this balance is the first step toward convincing dialogue between characters.
Here’s the first rule of writing dialogue:
Continue reading “The Golden Rule of Writing Dialogue”
The term “self-indulgent” is a cringe-worthy appraisal, but here’s the rub: writing is innately self-indulgent; it requires a certain level of excitement and theatrical flair.
An honest writer knows he is equal parts egomania and crippling self-doubt. The lines between engaging and self-indulgent writing are plentiful but difficult to identify. Descriptions – good or bad – are one of these lines.
Here are a few ways to anchor readers to the tangibles of your story without committing the reprehensible crime of oversharing:
Continue reading “Three Paths to Compelling Descriptions”
Every story needs clues, even if they aren’t mysteries. Picture this: You’re at the end of a good book, the plot is thick, and Bam! Out of nowhere, the author ties in a character or object from an earlier scene. Situations like this leave readers asking, “How did I not see that coming?” This is foreshadowing, and it’s an important part of your work in progress, whether you realize it or not. Continue reading “Mastering the Art of Effective Foreshadowing”
So you decide to write a novel. After all, it’s nothing like writing tedious research papers for a college class, right? Wrong. Writing a novel – or any story for that matter – involves research. The product is creative, hopefully more so than a college-level research project, but the process can feel a lot like homework.
Even surreal and fantasy stories require investigation. In fact, these genres often need more preparation a true-to-reality setting. In the end, the important thing is to do you research before you get started, and here’s why:
Continue reading “The Power of Research in Fiction Writing”
Consider the following villains: Darth Vader, Maleficent, Hannibal Lecter. What makes them so delightful to hate? These characters appeal to the audience for many reasons, which boil down to a simple fact. A convincing antagonist is much more than a roadblock to your protagonist’s goals; he/she is an integral member of your cast. In fact, your antagonist contributes as much to your story as your hero does.
Here are two methods to build a strong antagonist for your story:
Continue reading “Why Readers Should Like & Relate to Your Villain”
Flat, round, static, dynamic: these are all words describing character types in literature. But what do they mean? Flat and round characters easily compare and contrast with each other. In the simplest terms, a flat character exhibits one trait while a round character exudes many traits, even some that conflict with each other.
On the other hand, the terms “static” and “dynamic” refer to the character’s development. In short, a static character does not undergo any significant internal change during the story; a dynamic character evolves through conflict. Thus, you could write about a flat dynamic character, a round static character, etc.
Continue reading “How to Use Static and Dynamic Characters in Your Novel”
Have you ever started story and given up halfway through? Sadly, this is the common experience for many writers, especially when it comes to finishing a big project such as a novel.
There are many reasons to scrap a story after you’ve started writing. Maybe your premises wasn’t as interesting as you thought, or maybe your character lacked the motivation to make it to the finish line.
Here’s a simple way to bulletproof your writing process against this problem:
Continue reading “Writing from the Halfway Point of Your Novel”
If you’ve spent much time exploring books on story structure and fiction writing, you’ve probably run across the term “narrative distance.” As a concept, narrative distance is not hard to grasp. Finding the right narrative depth for your story can get tricky, though.
Continue reading “Give Me Some Space: Narrative Distance 101”