The most important thing an author can present in the beginning of any scene is a question that will hook readers into needing to know the answer. The second most important thing is making certain that question isn’t the wrong question.
You want reader’s asking concrete questions. Who stole the Statue of Liberty? How is Westley going to escape the Pit of Despair? Why did Cinderella order glass slippers a size too large?
You don’t want them asking the dreaded four-word question: What’s going on here? Or, worse, the end-of-the-line three-letter question: Huh?
Dialogue is a tough thing to write, and it's even harder to write well. Like with the other Band-Aids, I can't promise a quick fix will solve any larger problems an agent or editor may have with your work. What I can do is make you aware of the most common pitfalls I see when it comes to writing dialogue.
You know, I wish I could say the errors I see in books about police procedure and forensics are all mistakes, but they’re not...not all of them. Some of inaccuracies occur due to ill-informed editors who think they know it all because they’ve religiously watched CSI on TV since episode one hit the airwaves. Other mistakes occur because writers fall into the rut of “that’s the way it was done in so-and-so’s book,” therefore it must be right.
The editing process can be tedious at times. For me, this is a love/hate relationship. I sometimes despise it and sometimes I enjoy it. Here are some wonderful tips (reminders) when you're editing your work.
When the muse is striking, or even if it’s just sitting on your shoulder yawning, just write. Go with the flow and don’t pay much attention to what your hands are doing. Gather momentum and go. Let your mind be a baby and wander where it will.
This strikes me as the perfect time to make a list of my favorite top 10 books for writers. Books I believe, no aspiring writer should be without.
Ideally, read these when you haven’t really decided what sort of writer you’d like to be. Heck, you are not even sure if you want to become one, or you even can. (Skip to inspiration or memoirs section, my friend. Start with that one.)
If you’re limiting yourself to just naming a sound, you’re missing out on the richness that the sense of sound could bring to your fiction. You’re speaking to your reader in a monotone.
Next to sight, sound is the most commonly used sense in fiction, but three techniques can help you change the sounds you use from plain background noise into something that adds new depth to your stories.
There is nothing worse than reading a story where the author seems to have no sense of pace. Either the story moves far too slow or the movie races through the plot and the readers simply beg for a chance to breathe and take it all in.
Appropriate pacing is crucial for any story. As an author, you have to know when it is right to pick up the pace and keep things moving, and when it is appropriate to slow down.
Let's talk about some cases when this is done poorly.
A short series looking at how to approach revisions. Part 1: Avoiding the Accordion.
Once you have a complete first draft it isn’t always clear what to do next.
By a complete first draft I mean where you have a beginning, middle and end with no place markers you intend to fill in later. It may need a lot of work and even wholesale changes, but there are no gaps in the sequence of scenes.
At this point there will be some obvious technical changes you need to make. Clarify, cut, develop etc. but generally the story is there.
We are fascinated with death, as evidenced by the huge number of bestselling books, TV shows and films that center around it. But as writers, it’s not necessarily something we know too much about. If you’re interested in writing about death or crime, you’ll learn a lot from my interview today.
Often, in my editing of fiction, I see dialogue on the page, but with no indication of where the characters are, what they’re doing, what they’re seeing or sensing, and how they’re feeling. In order for your story and characters to come to life, your reader needs to be able see what the viewpoint character is seeing, hear what he’s hearing, and smell, taste or feel along with him.
The Decision Scene in a story usually follows the Realisation Scene – the subject of last week’s post. The Action Scene, in turn, is most often preceded by the Decision Scene, forming a realisation-decision-action structure. Although this structure varies greatly in stories – other material might intervene – the scenes are causally connected.
When you think of writing advice, it's probably not very likely that his is the first name to pop into your head. But when you read the ten chunks of wisdom that follow, that may change. Most of these quotes were originally about martial arts or life in general, but I think they have tremendous value for writers.
During the last two week challenge, I read Brandt Dodson's book, The Root of All Evil. A fabulous, fast pace whodunit. Before I reached the middle of the book, I knew what topic I would present in today's post: Chapter Lengths.
Take it or not, there is no way we can do without mistakes. This is because we are made of flesh and bones, the trademark of mortals. Most of us have made one mistake or the other in the past that we paid very dearly. We also learn one thing or the other from such mistake. The fact is that mistakes have their costs. There is no way we will not pay for a mistake no matter how insignificant the cost seems. The question that comes to mind goes thus; is mistake unfriendly at all times? Is it possible for something good to result from mistakes?
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