Monday, 27 August 2012

Resist Giving Characters A Helping Hand

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It is tempting, especially at the beginning of a story, to have things happen in a way that is convenient, just to get the ball rolling. A new guy starts at work and our heroine likes the look of him. Later that evening she’s in the supermarket doing a little shopping and who should be buying olives at the deli counter but that guy from work...

Obviously that scenario is perfectly plausible. We run into friends or work colleagues all the time. You can be visiting a foreign city, walk round a corner and bump into someone you went to school with and haven’t seen in years.

But the temptation for a writer to lend a hand, to put their character in the right place at the right time, makes it harder to get to know the character. You are in fact delaying the start of the story.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Good Story Requires Incomplete Exposition

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Exposition is where you explain things to the reader in the text. It’s a necessary part of storytelling to help the reader understand what’s going on in a story, especially when it comes to stuff the reader won’t automatically know. The MC might work for a government department and the reader needs to know what the department does, so you have to find a way to get that info to them. When handled badly it can read very clunky.

But there is also another expositional technique that gives the reader information in a very high impact and emotional manner. This is where you reveal something that the reader is able to convert into an understanding of the situation without you having to explain it.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Chapter One: The Devotion of Suspect X

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This is a continuation of my series of first chapter dissections where I analyse the opening chapter of a successful novel to find out what makes it work, how the author hooked the reader, which rules were followed, and which were broken to good effect.

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino is a mystery novel of the classic 'genius' detective type. If you'd like to read the first few pages for yourself you can do so here.

The book opens as follows:

Monday, 6 August 2012

After The First Draft: Part 3

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A short series looking at how to approach revisions. Part 3: Seeds need water, water needs seeds.

So far we’ve looked at tweaking the start and end (where information tends to bunch up), and making sure characters have identifiable story-world reasons for what they’re doing.

Another element worth looking at early on is establishing the tone. Not the overall tone of the story, I’m talking about the tone of each scene. The specific tone I’m talking about is one that indicates this will be a story worth reading.
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