Monday, 27 October 2014

Romancing the Reader

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If you write a book what you would like is for the reader to fallen hopelessly in love with your characters and their adventures. Ideally they should be smitten the moment they read the title or catch a glimpse of the book cover.

As a reader, this has probably happened to you at some point. The thing you’re looking for and the thing you find intersect in a wonderful manner and you feel like the universe is tilting in your direction. Hurray!

However, forcing someone to fall in love at first sight is as impossible with books as it is in real life. It happens when it happens and, unless you’re a master hypnotist with no scruples, beyond the control of mere mortals.

But a love affair doesn’t always require an aligning of the stars and planets. Sometimes people take a little time to come around, sometimes they rush in and regret it later. And our relationships with books are no different.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Do Spoilers Spoil Stories?

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No one likes the surprise to be ruined, whether it’s a book, a movie or a birthday present. Even if the reveal isn’t all that great it’s still annoying if someone blurts it out before you get to see for yourself.

But the truth is finding the solution to the puzzle isn’t what makes a story work. The identity of the murderer isn’t the reason you feel satisfied when you turn the last page. Discovering the fate of the lovers isn’t going to transform a terrible book into a worthwhile one.

We often reread books and rewatch movies and enjoy them knowing full well what’s going to happen. In fact we often know how a story is going to end even the first time round. When you read book four of a seventeen book series, exactly how much danger do you think the hero can get into, seeing as he has at least another 13 adventures to endure?

But isn’t “what happens next?’ the driving force behind getting the reader to turn pages? And if it isn’t, why do spoilers annoy us so much when we can happily revisit stories for the umpteenth time? 

Monday, 13 October 2014

The Problems of First Person Narrative

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There are many articles about which is better when writing fiction, 1st or 3rd person. And most of the time they end up making quite generic points and then put the decision back in the hands of the writer without any real reason to choose one over the other.

The two main points tend to be: 1) Both can be made to work if handled appropriately (which, frankly, could be said about anything) and 2) 1st is trickier to get right than 3rd

Which is true, yet most first time writers are drawn to 1st person, while the majority of published books are written in 3rd. So why is it trickier to writer in first person? And how can you overcome these difficulties?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Different Rules for Different Writers

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Readers do not treat all writers the same. This may seem obvious but a reader does not approach the latest best-seller from a well-known author with the same mind-set as they would a writer who has no track record. This means well-known authors tend not to be held to the same standards as someone trying to get people to read novel number one.

Not that those standards are necessarily better or worse, they’re just not the same.

However, much of what we think of as good writing and good storytelling comes from the books we read. And most of these books are from the established authors we all know and admire.

But if they can write in a way that less experienced writers might not be able to get away with, is it worth using these authors as role models? And exactly what, if anything, can we learn from them?

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