Monday, 28 July 2014

Don't Overstuff Your Verbs: Unpack

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There are time when it’s obvious an adverb is unnecessary. 

He ran quickly to the phone. It’s redundant to have quickly in there, running already implies speed, so you should cut it out. He ran to the phone. 

Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to use an adverb (no, really , it is). An adverb is a modifier, and if you’re modifying the verb in an unexpected way that changes the meaning of the verb it can be a useful tool. Examples: 

She smiled sadly.
His arm was partially severed.
He whispered loudly. 

But most times the adverb is modifying the verb in a way that there is already another word for. Examples:

Monday, 21 July 2014

Build a Story, but Leave the Door Open

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People tell stories every day and it is fairly easy to tell the difference between something worth listening to and something that is just small talk. It is a natural ability we all have, to know when something that happened is going to be of interest to others.

Do you want to know why the guy at work locked himself in an office and refused to come out until the police came and broke the door down? Or do you want to know what I had for lunch? You don't know the answer to either, but one is more of an unusual occurrence than the other, and that's what draws our attention.

When writing a story it is just the same, although often it may not feel like it.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Your Book In One Sentence

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I'm taking a break for the summer, but in the meantime I'll be reposting some of my old articles you might have missed. Here's one from last April.
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When someone asks you what your book is about, it can be a very difficult thing to sum up in a line or two.

Even after you’ve finished it, capturing the essence in a way that does it justice can be more frustrating than writing it in the first place. I usually end up rambling like I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Not only would it be very handy in social situations, but also professionally. A clear concise way to tell people about the book in a way that lets them know what it’s about, but also hooks their interest in some way.

So how do you do that?

Monday, 7 July 2014

Making Characters Face Their Demons

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In real life people have many different problems to deal with. In fiction, characters tend to have the one problem. They struggle to deal with it but it’s always there, affecting them and the story you’ve put them in.

This is necessary for fiction, otherwise things would be too vague and woolly. We need the cop to be an alcoholic, the kid to be scared of going to school, the woman to be obsessed with getting married, and so on. It doesn’t really matter if their issue is one we’ve seen before (like the ones I’ve just mentioned), because it isn’t the actual problem that people are interested in, it’s how it’s dealt with.

Which means you have to show it being dealt with.
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