Tag Archives: Writing Techniques

Must Have Writing Tools for Story Outlining

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Tools and Templates for Your Story Outline

As a writer, I am a planner. I am a huge fan of outlining a story or book and find the process extremely enjoyable.

Brainstorming

Planning your book with a story outline is a great way to break it down into small writing goals, each with a focused idea.

What I love about brainstorming an outline: I can think up an idea, break it down into major scenes, and get an overall feel for the story I’m wanting to write. I can follow a general story arch and make sure that my major scenes are occurring where they need to. It’s a fun exercise that allows me to see the whole story idea come together before a word of it is actually written.


Tools

Scrivener is the number one tool writers use to write their books. It has great options for storyboarding/outlining. It formats your book for uploading to your publisher. Go check out everything this program has to offer. Honestly, if you don’t have Scrivener, I strongly suggest you make the investment. Below is my affiliate link.

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)

If you have Scrivener, another great tool you may want to try is Scapple. Scapple is an easy-to-use tool for getting ideas down as quickly as possible and making connections between them. It isn’t exactly mind-mapping software—it’s more like a freeform text editor that allows you to make notes anywhere on the page and to connect them using straight dotted lines or arrows. If you’ve ever scribbled down ideas all over a piece of paper and drawn lines between related thoughts, then you already know what Scapple does. Plus, you can drag your notes right into Scrivener.


What’s Great About Outlining

  • Outlining breaks down your story idea into small enough segments that you can write about them in one sitting.
  • You can focus on one scene at a time and know where the story is heading so you can really dive into the scene with confidence.
  • You can add details concerning character development to the story arc. I actually add to my outline, about a paragraph on what’s going on in each scene, or what needs to happen, and what’s changing or coming to light with the characters.
  • You can set a milestone goal for each scene and reward yourself each time you’ve finished one. Rewarding yourself along the way will make you more apt to continue with a writing routine.

Books

Here are some great books I recommend if you’re looking to learn more about outlining.

41rtj4w2zzl-_sy346_ Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

by K.M. Weiland

 

 


Templates

For those of you who are wanting to get started right away, here are some templates that you can post up as references to help you as you work through your outline. Although there are several different plot themes you could use and many different methods of outlining, in these templates you’ll find a basic outlining method that works well for most works of fiction. However, I highly recommend reading one or more of the books above before you begin.

*Right-click on the template to save to your computer and print. Images should print as 8.5 x 11 inch or you can choose your own printing options if you’d like them smaller.

Step One: Some basics to consider before you start your outline.

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Step Two: Some pre-outline questions that will help you get started.

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Step Three: A layout of a basic story structure for reference.

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Step Four: A story outline template with the story structure highlighted where it should appear within the story arc.

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For an eye-catching book cover design

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Essential Advice for Your First Draft

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The first draft does not have to be a painful experience. From what I understand, the key to getting the story down is to stay at it, moving forward to the finish.

We are all guilty of it. We’ve all, at the very least, glanced back at what we’ve written. It’s all so very tempting just to hear how our story is playing out up to that point. However, the best advice in this instance is to hold yourself back from any proofreading or editing of what you’ve written until the story has been laid down entirely. Get the writing of the first draft complete, no matter how rough or unruly. Only when you’ve finished that draft should you revisit what you’ve written.

Pausing to look back on what you’ve written before finishing that first draft can get you stuck in that section of the story. The reasons why could be endless…

  • It could or should be worded better.
  • It doesn’t flow appropriately.
  • The characters aren’t strong enough.
  • The scene should be reworked.

All of the above are jobs to be tackled in your upcoming rounds of edits.

By stopping to read what you’ve written you will get sucked into the temptation to edit and most likely lose your forward momentum with the draft. Here is where your headaches begin and your situation could possibly result in an unfinished story.

You can get so caught up in fixing what you’ve already written that you simply lose your passion that you had for the story in the first place.

If you can hold yourself back ’til that draft is complete, you can give yourself the opportunity to step away from the story for a couple of weeks. Come back to it for your first round of reading and edits with a fresh perspective, a new set of eyes. You should have a clear understanding of the layout and direction of the story at this point, which will strengthen your story arch throughout the editing process.

First drafts don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be written.

What helps you to get your first draft complete?


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How To Get Back To Writing Fast

 

By M.R. Goodhew

If you are a writer then you probably feel compelled to write, as if somehow, something in your life has gone missing when you avoid the task of writing.

Calling yourself a writer gives your personality a certain distinguished and eccentric flair. It’s a rewarding thing to wear the title of Writer!

  • You have a creative mind that has the ability to play like movie in the heads of your readers.
  • You have toiled endlessly for what might seem like forever to bring your ideas together.
  • You work at your writing until it drives you to what can surely seem like the lands-end of your mind.
  • You bleed your thoughts and rework them until you are almost certain you have got it right, that it has come alive, that it’s heart is beating.

It is work, it is hard, it is humbling, sometimes humiliating, but the payoff is priceless when those eyes that are not yours begin to witness your creation.

It’s not about the money or the fame, or lack thereof, it’s about the beautiful thing you brought to life within a separate mind. It is a life experience you have delivered, you are a creator.

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How to Get Yourself Back To Writing!

I think the most important thing for a writer to do is carve out a section of time every day that they will commit to writing. If your not writing then your skipping work. Have you not shown up for your business of writing when you should have? There are plenty of things that can get in the way of writing, but the one thing you must do every day as a writer is write, PERIOD.

If you are feeling uninspired or timid at thought of getting started, you can use the following techniques to get some words, any words, down on paper….or into your computer. These ideas work for me when I’m really not wanting or feeling capable of getting the words out. They are my tried and true methods of getting to the business of writing.

Where to Write

Before you even get started writing you need to pick a place that suits you. Be it your most comfortable chair or the front porch, choose a place that you will return to at least once a day to work on your writing. Picking the right spot will aid your writing, but failing to do so will only keep you procrastinating. If your office isn’t built yet, then pick somewhere else to write until it is. The inability to make a decision and take action will only keep you in the same situation your in.

This place should comfortably accommodate all of the tools you use for writing, such as:

  1. You
  2. Laptop
  3. Computer
  4. Pencils
  5. Pens
  6. Paper
  7. Note-cards
  8. Notebook
  9. Journal

Create a Schedule

Make the time to write! Put aside, at the very least, thirty minutes of your time that you will use to focus on honing your writing skills or producing your next book.

You can’t keep making excuses why you cannot write, if your that sort of person, which you don’t have to be. In order to be successful at your craft you must practice it religiously. It is your job to set aside this time each day that you will devote to writing something, anything.

Get out your pencil and your calendar and sit down and think about what would be the best time of day for you to commit to the task of writing, and then reserve it. Usually the best time would be in the morning before you get ready for work, on your lunch break, or before you go to bed. The reasons why these times are typically the best are because they are when you can most likely find some alone time. If you have to start getting up an hour earlier, or going to bed an hour later, then so be it, that is your lot-in-life if you hope to be productive and successful as a writer.

Make it clear to those you live with that this is your private time and you are not to be interrupted. This is an acceptable boundary that should be respected without any problems. They can live without the stereo or TV for thirty minutes to an hour and find something to do that won’t interfere with your writing.

Show Up

Here you are, it’s 4:30 in the morning and you’ve managed to get your weary ass out of bed, cobwebs in your eyes, and your writing utensils are at the ready! Good job! Great in fact! Here you are, you’ve accomplished the hardest part, showing up!

Showing up every day is what it takes to improve your style and flow. It only takes 21 days to create a habit, so if you can show up for your writing every day for three weeks, you will have created a successful writing habit.

What to Write

Here can be the tricky part. The first day you begin your writing journey, you can start out by writing down your ideas for what to write about tomorrow. This is an initial key to success that creates a domino effect with your writing schedule. By planning a day ahead, you always ensure that you have something to write about when you show up at your scheduled time to write. When you’re done writing, write down your plan for your next session.

So now you have a plan to plan for the following session but still aren’t sure what to write about. Check out the next section which covers writing inspiration and contains valuable tips on what to write about.

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Finding Inspiration

It can be difficult when you sit down to write to come up with ideas of what to write about or to get inspired to write at all. By pre-planning, like mentioned in the last section, you will always be prepared to write when you show up. No more finding yourself staring at a blank screen and daydreaming.

The following is a list of writing ideas that should be used together, rotating between each idea. Use a combination of all of these tips to keep your writing moving forward in a diversified manner. This will give you the right exercise in areas that will strengthen your writing all the way around.

Writing for Money – Short Stories

There are several magazines that pay $500 plus for your short stories. Here is a good opportunity to take one of your ideas and expand it to 5000 to 30,000 words and sell it to a magazine for some fast cash. Here is a link to 15 magazines that pay great money for your creativity:

So how do you go about writing a short story.

1. First, Write the Basic Story in One Sitting

The first step to writing a short story is to write the  version of the story that you would tell a friend. And when you write it, be sure to write it in one sitting. Just tell the story. Don’t think about it too much, don’t go off to do more research, don’t take a break. Just get the story written down.

2. Next, Find Your Protagonist

The protagonist is the character whose fate matters most to the story. Your protagonist isn’t necessarily the narrator, nor is she necessarily the “good guy” in the story. Instead, the protagonist is the person who makes the decisions that drive the story forward.

Your protagonist centers the story, drives the plot, and his or her fate gives the story its meaning. As you move forward in the writing process, it’s important to choose the right protagonist.

3. Write the Perfect First Line

Great first lines have the power to entice your reader enough that it would be unthinkable to set your story down. If you want to hook your reader, it starts with writing the perfect first line.

4. Break the Story Into a Scene List

Every story is composed of a set of scenes which take place in a specific place and time. A scene list keeps track of your scenes, helping you organize your story and add detail and life at each step.

Scene lists do two main things:

  • Provide structure to your story
  • Show you which parts need more work

You don’t have to follow your scene list exactly, but they definitely help you work through your story, especially if your writing over multiple sittings.

5. Research

Waiting until your story is well on its way, you can keep it from getting derailed by the research process, and by this point you’ll also be able to ask very specific questions about your story rather than following tangents wherever they take you.

6. Write/Edit/Write/Edit/Write/Edit

It’s time to get some serious writing done. Now that you know who your protagonist is, have the perfect first line, have created your scene list, and have done your research, it’s time to finally get this story written.

7. Publish!

Your story is not finished until it’s published. You can submit it to magazines, or publish it as an eBook, it’s your choice. But it’s important to grow your library in order to attract readers as well as publishers. Be sure to have your short story beta read by a few people so you can spot any flaws and make last minute changes. Here is where you can go to find beta-readers https://mundusmediaink.com/beta-readers/

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a terrific way to get some writing done. When you brainstorm, write down your ideas and create a layout with them.

Generating Ideas

Rather than wait for the big idea to hit – the theme of your novel, let’s say, or the plot of your story – you start by scratching for a small idea first. The idea could come from anywhere, really.  A painting. A random item. Or something that has happened to you.

A short story needs three steps.

1. Introduce the main character and the problem or challenge that they face. The problem or challenge must give your main character some conflict and a goal or it won’t be powerful or interesting enough for a story.

2. Escalate the problem by making you main character struggle.

3. End the story with the main character solving the problem, or coming to a new understanding because of it.

For a novel your steps will be more in depth.

Act 1. – What will be the beginning of your story.

This is the opening of the story condensed into a description that you can expand upon in the first quarter of the book. Each portion listed here should follow a story arch like a short story and many writer’s end their scenes and chapters with a cliffhanger, leaving you wanting to know more.

The first quarter of the book is split up into about three chapters, and then by at least three scenes in each chapter. Think of each of these sections as there own short story that leads to the next section and follow the main story arch with your ideas.

Chapter 1. – Your introduction

Scene 1. – Introduce the main character

Scene 2. – What are they on the brink of doing

Scene 3. – What external situation will require their attention

Chapter 2. – Introduce a problem or conflict.

Scene 1. – What is the goal of your protagonist?

Scene 2. – Introduce some conflict.

Scene 3. – What is preventing your protagonist from resolving the conflict?

Chapter 3. – Escalate the Problem.

Scene 1. – What is your protagonists internal conflict?

Scene 2. – Introduce your antagonist.

Scene 3. – Escalate the problem.

Act 2. – What will be the middle of your story.

This is where everything seems to go wrong for your protagonist. This is there time of learning, a time where they reach their lowest low. By the end of the act, the protagonist will have a clear vision of what they must do and the lessons learned to make them successful.

Chapter 4. – Your protagonist has discovered the conflict and begins to go on the defense.

Scene 1. – How will the protagonist approach the conflict defensively?

Scene 2. – What incident is occurring concerning the conflict?

Scene 3. – Your protagonist makes their first discovery about the conflict and it rocks their boat.

Chapter 5. – Introduce a problem or conflict.

Scene 1. – What is the goal of your protagonist?

Scene 2. – Introduce some conflict.

Scene 3. – What is preventing your protagonist from resolving the conflict?

Chapter 6. – Escalate the Problem.

Scene 1. – Enter the antagonist. What mischief are they up to?

Scene 2. – How does the protagonist react and defend against the antagonist

Scene 3. – Your protagonist suffers a devastating loss, failure, or lesson.

Act 3. – What will be the end of your story?

This is where your protagonist gains some courage and goes on the offense. They may have a plan but they begin to take action to resolve the conflict. This is where your final conflict will occur and then the climax of your story. And then finally the outcome and ending.

Chapter 7. – Your protagonist has discovered the conflict and begins to go on the offense.

Scene 1. – How will the protagonist approach the conflict offensively?

Scene 2. – What incident is occurring concerning the conflict?

Scene 3. – Your protagonist makes their next discovery about the conflict and will use it to their advantage. A small victory,.

Chapter 8. – The final battle

Scene 1. – What is the goal of your protagonist?

Scene 2. – Introduce some conflict.

Scene 3. – Escalate the conflict.

Chapter 9. – The climax.

Scene 1. – Here is the battle

Scene 2. – Here is the climax of the story

Scene 3. – Here is the end of the story

Writer’s Prompts

Writer’s prompts are a great way to get some creative writing down on paper. Writer’s prompts can be words, phrases, or visual aids. You should find a weekly prompt or two on your network and follow them to improve your writing skills and to come up with story ideas.

I offer a visual writing prompt every Wednesday that you can link to in the comments with the html address of your published prompt writing. So this is also a great way to network. There is also a tool where you can submit your writing to find out what famous writer you write like just for fun.

Writer’s prompts are inspiring when you participate with them and can make you feel like you are accomplishing a real achievement, which you are. When you respond to a writer’s prompt you are stretching your creativity as well as perfecting your skill as a writer.

Visual Aids

You can use visual aids around your house or find an image online that inspires you to write. Then sit down and map a short story to your idea inspired by your visual aid.

You Tube

By watching YouTube videos on subjects that interest you you may become inspired with a short story idea or an idea for a novel. Remember that your short stories only have to be as long as an article or blog post. You can always expand upon them later.

Blog Posts

Get inspired by your network. Read blog posts and comment on them. This is not just an opportunity to express your voice as a writer, but an opportunity to create a better rapport with the members of your network. Yes, accomplishing two goals in one!

Write your own blog post. You should be posting to your blog at least once a week, regularly in order to grow and keep your network. Do not use your writing session to do research. Unless it’s for the layout of an article that you will be writing down ideas for. Below are examples of how to layout your blog posts.

free templates for creating five different types of blog posts:

  • The How-To Post
  • The List-Based Post
  • The Curated Collection Post
  • The SlideShare Presentation Post
  • The News-jacking Post

How to Write a Blog Post: A Simple Formula to Follow

1. Understand your audience.

Before you start to write, have a clear understanding of your target audience. What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them?

2. Start with a topic and working title.

Before you even write anything, you need to pick a topic for your blog post. The topic can be pretty general to start with.

3. Write an intro (and make it captivating).

First, grab the reader’s attention. If you lose the reader in the first few paragraphs — or even sentences — of the introduction, they will stop reading even before they’ve given your post a fair shake. You can do this in a number of ways: tell a story or a joke, be empathetic, or grip the reader with an interesting fact or statistic.

Then describe the purpose of the post and explain how it will address a problem the reader may be having. This will give the reader a reason to keep reading and give them a connection to how it will help them improve their work/lives.

4. Organize your content.

Sometimes, blog posts can have an overwhelming amount of information for the reader and the writer. The trick is to organize the info so readers are not intimidated by the length or amount of content. The organization can take multiple forms, sections, lists, tips, whatever’s most appropriate. But it must be organized!

To complete this step, all you really need to do is outline your post. That way, before you start writing, you know which points you want to cover, and the best order in which to do it.

5. Write!

The next step — but not the last — is actually writing the content. Now that you have your outline/template, you’re ready to fill in the blanks. Use your outline as a guide and be sure to expand on all of your points as needed. Write about what you already know, and if necessary, do additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points.

6. Edit/proofread your post, and fix your formatting.

You’re not quite done yet, but you’re close! The editing process is an important part of blogging, don’t overlook it.

7. Insert a call-to-action (CTA) at the end.

At the end of every blog post, you should have a CTA that indicates what you want the reader to do next, subscribe to your blog, download an eBook, register for a webinar or event, read a related article, etc. Typically, you think about the CTA being beneficial for the marketer. Your visitors read your blog post, they click on the CTA, and eventually you generate a lead. But the CTA is also a valuable resource for the person reading your content, use your CTAs to offer more content similar to the subject of the post they just finished reading.

8. Optimize for on-page SEO.

After you finish writing, go back and optimize your post for search.

Don’t obsess over how many keywords to include. If there are opportunities to incorporate keywords you’re targeting, and it won’t impact reader experience, do it. If you can make your URL shorter and more keyword-friendly, go for it. But don’t cram keywords or shoot for some arbitrary keyword density, Google’s smarter than that!

9. Pick a catchy title.

Use good keyword phrases as titles that convince your audience they need to check out your blog post.

10. Publish

Character Sketches

You can use your writing session to do a character sketch of one of your characters.

CHARACTER SKETCH

Scenes

You can use your session to work out a scene from one of the layouts you’ve created above.

 

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Editing

Make time for editing, you can include this in your writing time you have allotted. Editing is by far the most crucial step for the writer. Taking your work and tearing it to shreds and rebuilding it into something more masterful is a skill that practice will reward.

Take the time to do at least three rounds of edits on any piece of writing you will want to share. Be sure not to edit until you have completed the first draft, because getting that first draft down and done is essential to moving forward, and stopping to edit will ruin your flow and can sometimes stop you from ever finishing the piece.

Finally…

If you incorporate the ideas above, you will never run out of things to write.

What do you do to find inspiration?

 

 

Powerful Writing Techniques

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By

Take a moment, close your eyes, and recall a story that truly engaged you as a reader – one whose world and characters became completely real for you. Got one?

Now, take off your reader hat and don your analytical writer hat to think about what makes that story so captivating. What writing techniques did the author use to bring the story to life? Was it the wrenching appeal to your emotions, the vivid and brutal action scenes, or the high stakes facing a character? Mastering these and other storytelling methods is the key to writing your own engaging tale.

Just as a lion is the product of all the zebras it has eaten, a writer is the product of all the books he or she has read. Reading the works of skilled writers is a fabulous way to hone your craft and learn how to effectively employ the writing tactics that help you create your own captivating story.

Here are five great examples of writing techniques that bring the story to life for readers, as demonstrated by five accomplished writers.

1. Invoke multiple senses

When you experience a situation, you pick up more than just its sights. By describing sounds, scents, tastes and sensations, you’ll immerse readers in your story’s world.

The following scene from Saladin Ahmed’s “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” does a wonderful job of pulling the reader into the story by using senses other than sight.

Her voice is more beautiful than any woman’s. And there is the powerful smell of jasmine and clove. A nightingale sings perfumed words at me while my mind’s eye burns with horrors that would make the Almighty turn away.

If fear did not hold your tongue, you would ask what I am. Men have called my people by many names—ghoul, demon. Does a word matter so very much? What I am, learned one, is Abdel Jameela’s wife.

For long moments I don’t speak. If I don’t speak, this nightmare will end. I will wake in Baghdad, or Beit Zujaaj. But I don’t wake.

She speaks again, and I cover my ears, though the sound is beauty itself.

The words you hear come not from my mouth, and you do not hear them with your ears. I ask you to listen with your mind and your heart. We will die, my husband and I, if you will not lend us your skill. Have you, learned one, never needed to be something other that what you are?

Cinnamon scent and the sound of an oasis wind come to me.

2. Create intriguing, complex characters

Readers want characters with whom they can sympathize (Harry Potter) or revile (Tywin Lannister) – or both. They want to get to know the characters and learn more about their experiences in the story.

In the following excerpt from “The Children of the Shark God,” Peter S. Beagle introduces us to the protagonist quickly, but in a way that makes us care about what happens to her.

Mirali’s parents were already aging when she was born, and had long since given up the hope of ever having a child — indeed, her name meant “the long-desired one.” Her father had been crippled when the mast of his boat snapped during a storm and crushed his leg, falling on him, and if it had not been for their daughter the old couple’s lives would have been hard indeed. Mirali could not go out with the fishing fleet herself, of course — as she greatly wished to do, having loved the sea from her earliest memory — but she did every kind of work for any number of island families, whether cleaning houses, marketing, minding young children, or even assisting the midwife when a birthing was difficult or there were simply too many babies coming at the same time. She was equally known as a seamstress, and also as a cook for special feasts; nor was there anyone who could mend a pandanus-leaf thatching as quickly as she, though this is generally man’s work. No drop of rain ever penetrated any pandanus roof that came under Mirali’s hands.

Nor did she complain of her labors, for she was very proud of being able to care for her mother and father as a son would have done. Because of this, she was much admired and respected in the village, and young men came courting just as though she were a great beauty. Which she was not, being small and somewhat square-made, with straight brows — considered unlucky by most — and hips that gave no promise of a large family. But she had kind eyes, deep-set under those regrettable brows, and hair as black and thick as that of any woman on the island. Many, indeed, envied her; but of that Mirali knew nothing. She had no time for envy herself, nor for young men, either.

As authors, we must give readers insight into what makes our protagonists tick. What motivates them? What are their aspirations? In this passage, we learn that Mirali, while not conventionally beautiful, is a kind soul who works hard for her parents and is appreciated by her community. And the key? We quickly start to become invested in what happens to her.

3. Evoke strong emotions

In this scene from “Frost Child” by Gillian Philip, it takes the reader a moment to realize what the child witch is feeding her newly-tamed water horse — and that moment allows the strong emotion of horror to set in.

“He’s very beautiful,” I smiled. “Make sure he’s fully tame before you bring him near the dun.”

“Of course I will. Thank you, Griogair!” She bent her head to the kelpie again, crooning, and reached for her pouch, drawing out a small chunk of meat. The creature shifted its head to take it delicately from her hand, gulping it down before taking her second offering. She stroked it as she fed it, caressing its cheekbone, its neck, its gills.

I don’t know why the first shiver of cold certainty rippled across my skin; perhaps it was her contentment, the utter obliteration of her grief; perhaps it was the realisation that she and her little bow had graduated to bigger game. The chunks of flesh she fed it were torn from something far larger than a pigeon, and as the kelpie nickered, peeling back its upper lip to sniff for more treats, I saw tiny threads of woven fabric caught on its canine teeth.

By revealing a previously undetected detail that helps readers understand the implications, the author causes them to wince and recoil — and wonder what happens next. Of course, we have many emotion-evoking arrows in our writing quivers — humor, love, determination, anger, and so on. These strong emotions keep the reader engrossed in the story and curious about the characters’ futures.

4. Use rich character voice

The voice chosen by the author has a profound impact in how readers interpret the story and view the characters. In the following excerpt from “The Adventures of Lightning Merriemouse-Jones” by Nancy and Belle Holder, the voice and sentence length quickly convey the time period and lighter tone of this comic horror story.

To begin at the beginning:

That would be instructive, but rather dull; and so we will tell you, Gentle Reader, that the intrepid Miss Merriemouse-Jones was born in 1880, a wee pup to parents who had no idea that she was destined for greatness. Protective and loving, they encouraged her to find her happiness in the environs of home — running the squeaky wheel in the nursery cage, gnawing upon whatever might sharpen her pearlescent teeth, and wrinkling her tiny pink nose most adorably when vexed.

During her girlhood, Lightning was seldom vexed. She lived agreeably in her parents’ well-appointed and fashionable abode, a hole in the wall located in the chamber of the human daughter of the house, one Maria Louisa Summerfield, whose mother was a tempestuous Spanish painter of some repute, and whose father owned a bank.

The longer sentences, combined with the choice of words like “environs,” “pearlescent,” “vexed,” “abode,” and “repute,” place the reader in a Victorian setting even without the reference to 1880. The narrator’s voice also clearly sets a tone of felicity and humor.

Just as the narrator has a distinct voice, characters should have their own unique voices to help readers distinguish one from another and to convey aspects of their personalities. Voice is a terrific tool to help readers get to know and appreciate your characters.

5. Pull the reader into the action

Of course, interesting characters and engaging dialog are important, but writing gripping action scenes is a skill all its own. Jim Butcher has mastered this skill, as shown in this excerpt from “Even Hand”:

The fomor’s creatures exploded into the hallway on a storm of frenzied roars. I couldn’t make out many details. They seemed to have been put together on the chassis of a gorilla. Their heads were squashed, ugly-looking things, with wide-gaping mouths full of shark-like teeth. The sounds they made were deep, with a frenzied edge of madness, and they piled into the corridor in a wave of massive muscle.

“Steady,” I murmured.

The creatures lurched as they moved, like cheap toys that had not been assembled properly, but they were fast, for all of that. More and more of them flooded into the hallway, and their charge was gaining mass and momentum.

“Steady,” I murmured.

Hendricks grunted. There were no words in it, but he meant, I know.

The wave of fomorian beings got close enough that I could see the patches of mold clumping their fur, and tendrils of mildew growing upon their exposed skin.

“Fire,” I said.

Hendricks and I opened up.

The new military AA-12 automatic shotguns are not the hunting weapons I first handled in my patriotically delusional youth. They are fully automatic weapons with large circular drums that rather resembled the old Tommy guns made iconic by my business predecessors in Chicago.

One pulls the trigger and shell after shell slams through the weapon. A steel target hit by bursts from an AA-12 very rapidly comes to resemble a screen door.

And we had two of them.

The slaughter was indescribable. It swept like a great broom down that hallway, tearing and shredding flesh, splattering blood on the walls and painting them most of the way to the ceiling. Behind me, Gard stood ready with a heavy-caliber big-game rifle, calmly gunning down any creature that seemed to be reluctant to die before it could reach our defensive point. We piled the bodies so deep that the corpses formed a barrier to our weapons.

A well-written action scene thrusts the reader smack into the middle of the story. It’s another way to evoke emotion and empathy for characters.

Though the protagonist in this story is actually a crime lord — not a character many of us would normally root for — you’re on his side, aren’t you? The writer’s skillful action writing has you imagining yourself behind the defensive barrier, wielding a shotgun, and praying the torrent of lead will prevent the demonic onslaught from reaching you.

Readers want to be taken on a journey to another place and time, with characters they care about and whose company they enjoy. Help your readers feel like they have a stake in your story’s outcome by using these writing techniques to bring your characters and settings to life.


If you enjoyed these excerpts, find the full stories in the new dark fantasy anthology “Beyond the Pale”

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As a writer, which books or authors do you read specifically to learn from their techniques and writing skills?

Book Cover Design

Source: http://thewritelife.com/5-powerful-writing-techniques/

Images:  (c) Can Stock Photo