Have you ever seen pictures of a Hollywood back lot? The buildings look amazingly real, but they’re really just false fronts. There’s no “there” there. Likewise, a scene in a novel may have all the elements that make it appear “real,” but can be as flat as a Hollywood edifice. Events happen, characters say and do things, but the scene doesn’t come alive. So what’s wrong? Likely, the writer has made one or more of these mistakes:
The latest genre in my series of first chapter dissections is Fantasy. As with the other books I’ve analysed, I will attempt to work out how a debut novelist managed to create an opening to his story that successfully pulls readers in.
When I told people at ConCarolinas that I'd gone from writing 2k to 10k per day, I got a huge response. Everyone wanted to know how I'd done it, and I finally got so sick of telling the same story over and over again that I decided to write it down here.
So, once and for all, here's the story of how I went from writing 500 words an hour to over 1500, and (hopefully) how you can too:
One of the first things we learn about point of view (POV) is that if you're supposed to be telling the story (or that section of the story) from a certain character's viewpoint, you can only say what that character could know or think.
Not so. Let me introduce you to the Unlimited Limited POV. (Don't Google it - I made it up.)
A problem I’ve been coming across a lot recently when reading and critiquing on various writing workshops is the writer using his knowledge of future story events to guide present ones.
This is a fairly simple thing to fix, the problem is more in trying to convince the writer they are in fact doing this. It’s one of those things where if the person isn’t aware they’re doing it, proving it to them can be very difficult. They just can't see it.
Gene Fowler said it best: "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." The life of a writer is often fraught with struggle to find the best way to transfer ideas to paper, which is one of the reasons so few people are able to do it with any real success. But if you’re an aspiring writer, whether you’re still a college student or you’ve been out of school for years, it’s never too late to take a chance on your passion. These speeches and presentations from TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) offer words of wisdom from authors and others that are invaluable to those looking to make their mark with the written word. Don’t be afraid of the blank page; embrace it.
There are only two things your character can do at any given point in a story. He can either act. Or he can react. Those are the only choices. Within those two choices, the variables are endless, of course. But it’s vital that the author understand the differences between the two, so he can identify which course is preferable at key moments in the story. So let’s take a closer look at how these two pistons chug along in sync, taking turns powering the story forward.
As I have said in previous posts, there is no story without the antagonist. Period. The story IS the antagonist’s agenda. No Buffalo Bill, no Silence of the Lambs. No Darth Vader, and Skywalker doesn’t have a Death Star to destroy. If Joker was a choir boy, Batman’s life would have no meaning.
Why is the antagonist so important? No antagonist and no story. I think most craft books make a critical error. They assume us noobs know more than we do. Most new writers don’t understand the antagonist the way they need to. We have some hazy basics from high school or college English and then we try to go pro. Then it takes years of trial, error, rejection and therapy to see any success. Um, yeah. Bad plan. The antagonist is critical, and is often one of the most troublesome concepts to master.
Slice if life stories can be a lot harder to pull off than your typical plot-driven novel, because character growth isn't all that exciting in and of itself. It's the results of that growth, the struggle for that growth that intrigue us. Not a lot of stuff happens during "growth" like it does with a protag trying to solve an external problem. But there are ways to make these internal stories just as gripping as their action-packed counterparts.
You only have to spend a few minutes in the blogosphere to know there's a whole mountain of writing advice you could suffocate under. You could spend your whole life reading it. Perhaps you should. You'll certainly find some value there – you'll also find some nonsense. You'll even find the most blindingly insightful advice that just doesn't apply to you, your muse or your writing - and it may take you six novels following it before you realise that's the case. But amongst all that stuff there's five things the writing experts will never tell you – because if they did you might stop listening. Here they are:
When I edit my work, my vision of the story remains the same. I may eliminate entire chapters, rewrite complete scenes, change every sentence in the book, but the structure remains. I have a stack of edits sitting beside me: pages full of marks and squiggles and notes to “tighten” or “rephrase” or simply “fix.” Edits are often about wordsmithery. I pour myself into a world of sound and rhythm and presentation. Editing is a delicious way to spend time if you love words.
Acquisition editors at major publishing houses are hot to find the next big thing, especially that elusive debut author whose manuscript both inspires their personal devotion and appears to have the necessary commercial appeal. Forward looking editors also see exciting new opportunities for authors coming down the pike, books that are interactive, “books that are more than books.”
Writing advice: It can be all at once inspiring and contradictory, uplifting and off-putting, insightful and superficial. There are successful writers who impart wisdom freely and willingly, and then there are literary icons who claim to have none to dispense at all. As for the rest of us, we just can’t seem to help but look to our fellow writers who’ve achieved so much and wonder: What’s their secret?
In a composition there are a variety of techniques that can be utilized to explore the piece. One of the most dynamic means of guiding the audience through a piece is through the use of leading lines.
Leading lines are one of the top rules of visual composition and are used to great effect to guide the viewer's perspective through the piece, drawing attention to focal points and creating narrative rhythm. These lines are also can be used singularly or with additional supporting lines.
There are three distinct phases of the writing process when a developmental editor can make a big difference in the outcome of your book: In the planning stage, while you’re writing, and once you’re done.