December 2021 – Jericho Writers
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How To Come Up With A Great Book Title

It’s no secret that coming up with a great book title can make or break a book. But how can you choose the best book title for your work?   This guide will not only show you how to write a book title, but it will also advise you on how to come up with your own title ideas for your next project in any genre.   Why Are Book Titles Important? Have you ever bought a book purely because of its title? I know I have. And plenty of other readers have, too.   Books such as A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson have become instant bestsellers thanks to their clever, intriguing titles. In the case of this example, the title not only tells a reader what genre it is (crime), but also sets up a series of questions that the reader will want to read on to answer. How can a ‘good’ girl be involved in a murder?   Word of mouth equates for a huge proportion of books that have achieved a runaway success. If a title is memorable, it’s more likely to stick in the forefront of a reader’s mind when they’re speaking to friends. To use our previous example, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, uses alliteration to great effect, and uses many of the same words in subsequent titles in the series to create a clear and memorable link.   On the other hand, a bad title can be forgettable. Take Stranger from Within for example – have you heard of that? Chances are you haven’t as this title was later changed to Lord of the Flies (William Golding), which is far more intriguing and memorable.  So – what is it that makes a book title great?  What Makes A Good Book Title? Authors with an established track record can afford to take risks with their book titles. But for new and emerging authors, it’s worth sticking to these tried-and-tested rules:   * Be Unique  That’s not to say that you can’t call your book a name shared by something else, but it will help your title be easier to find by readers if it’s unique.   * Be Memorable   As readers, we can come across hundreds of books every day. Be clever with your use of words to create a title that will stick in a reader’s mind.   * Spark Interest  You can do this by generating a question for the reader, or by clearly signposting what the book is about from the title. For example, The Man who Died Twice by Richard Osman.   * Grab Attention In a bookshop or online, this is mainly the job of the cover. But what about when the book is being spoken about in a conversation, or on the radio? Choose a book title with impact, for example, Tall Bones by Anna Bailey.   These rules sound simple, but they can be difficult to get right. There are lots of other factors that might turn a reader off, even if your title conforms to all these rules.   How Long Should Your Title Be? One of the things that concern a writer when choosing the title of their book is its length.   How Does It Look On The Cover?  Titles must be long enough to be clear, unique and intriguing, but short enough to be memorable (and fit on the cover nicely). Most popular book titles are four words long, but a surprising 10% of the Amazon top 100 at the time of writing include titles over eighteen words.   Of course, this will vary according to genre (subject-led non-fiction can stand a longer, more specific title), and also Amazon metadata (including subtitles with keywords can help a book become more searchable). But as a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to be keeping your title in that magic space between too short, and too long.   Language & Clarity  You should also pay close attention to the use of language in your title. With such a small space to pack an impact, every word you choose has to be pulling its weight.   To help, try to avoid jargon and technical terms in your title that might be hard for the average reader to remember. You should aim to provoke an emotional response and provide clarity, whilst trying to avoid making your reader angry or hurt with the use of derogatory language.    Relevance  It’s also useful to keep the title themed around your book, so that readers can easily associate it with your story long after reading. In the same way, using common genre structures found in the genre you’re writing can help with this.   For example, thriller titles tend to be short, using emotive language: The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides.  Romantic comedies can stand to be a little longer and can often include a name, such as Lucy in the Sky by Paige Toon.   So how can you use these tips to come up with your own book title?  How To Come Up With Book Title Ideas Before sitting down to come up with your own title, I recommend making a note of the advice above, so you can keep it in mind. In particular, it’s important that your ideas maintain clarity, relevance, and stay within your genre.   To help with this, the first step to creating a book title is to look at books similar to yours. Make a note of:   The number of words in the title.  Emotive words (what emotions do they conjure?)   Any questions they pose (do they make you want to read on to answer them?)   Anything else interesting about the title, such as the use of character names.   This step is important, as you’ll want to ensure your title communicates what your reader is to expect from your book, as well as being unique.   Get brainstorming!  I like brainstorming on paper or on a whiteboard, but you can do it anywhere, at any time. For each of the following headings, spend fifteen to twenty minutes thinking of possible titles relating to your specific book:   Who the book is aboutThis can be a name, or a description of the character in some way. For example, The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.   What the book is aboutThink carefully about the themes and motifs you’ve used in your book. Looking at your synopsis can be a useful reminder here. For example, Normal People by Sally Rooney.   Where the story takes placeThis can be interior settings, as well as exterior. Where in this world or the next is the book set? If there’s a journey, can this be used? For example, The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.   When the story takes placeThink dates, as well as seasons, days and time. You can also use important past or future events as a title. For example, A Week in December, Sebastian Faulks.   Research  When you have some keywords, try mixing them around to create something unique and interesting. Alliteration can be your friend here, as we saw in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. You can also employ one of the following devices with your keywords to make it unique:   Find a synonymIs there another, lesser-used word that packs a bigger punch?   Subvert expectationsTwist the meaning of your phrase to assign a new meaning to it, for example, Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng.    Tell a mini-storyFind the hook of your story and tell it in a small space, such as The House with Chicken Legs, by Sophie Anderson.  Focus on your USP (Unique Selling Point)Is there something about your story that sets it apart from the rest? Perhaps it’s that it’s a true story, or perhaps something as simple as a character name. If it’s good, use it in your title! For example, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.    Try other titles on for sizeIs there a title you particularly like? Try mixing that with some of the words you’ve come up with – sometimes this can help you stumble across your own unique version, which contains all the elements of a title you love.   Look at what’s trendingIt’s no coincidence that, like with any product, there are trends with book titles. You may have noticed in certain genres, that once a book has had great success, other similar titles start to pop up. How many thrillers can you name with the word ‘Girl’ in the title? How many fantasy YA books do you know with the word ‘wicked’ in the title, or using the standard ‘A _ of _ and _’ combination?   Pick out phrases  Another trick is to read through your book, specifically looking for phrases that might make a good title. Some of my favourite book titles are ones that are almost small poems in themselves, such as On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. Reading your manuscript on an e-reader can sometimes help you spot these.   If you’re still finding it difficult, then try an automatic word or title generator. Then, it’s just the simple matter of choosing the right title for you…  How To Choose A Book Title The best book title for your book will be one that conforms to all the rules we’ve outlined here, including that it’s clear, memorable, relevant, and unique. It will also be the one you feel most excited about and are most likely to remember yourself.   Try one or two on for size in conversation. Does it roll off the tongue? What was the reaction?  You may also find that other people can be useful – ask friends who have read the book for their thoughts and include other people in your process. In particular, agents and editors often bring their own thoughts to a title before publication, so be prepared to change it for the market if you’re planning on traditional publishing.   For those who are self-publishing, using social media or reader focus groups can be a great way of testing a title before going forward with it. You may even find that the most popular title is the one you’d least expect.   Whatever title you come up with, your primary goal is to make readers want to read your book and remember it long after they’ve finished reading. Spend time studying book titles, mind-mapping ideas relevant to your themes and then choose the title that you feel most excited by.   For more information on other important book metadata, including book covers, choosing your author name, and that all-important pitch, take a look at our vast library of free articles on our blog. More than ready to get the ball rolling with agents, but just need a little push? Or perhaps you’ve had a few rejections but aren’t sure why? Our Agent Submission Pack Review gives you detailed professional advice on how to perfect your submission and increase your chances of securing an agent.

How To Create Imaginary Creatures For Your Fantasy Novel

Your character is sprinting down a dark tunnel, footsteps crashing against the hard stone and echoing all around. The tunnel opens wide, a ledge rapidly approaches – this is the lair! Your character slides to a stop and sees… what? Something awe-inspiring? Something terrifying? Perhaps both?  All readers, and indeed writers, love nothing more than seeing fresh and exciting fantasy beasts and mythical beings in their books. The presence of unique, creative monsters and imaginary races emboldens any fantasy, sci-fi, gothic or horror story. Their presence brings a book’s setting to life, inspiring questions of how they came to be, and how the inhabitants of that world interact with them - or not.   Imaginary literary creatures also massively inform a story’s plot and even enhance character, whilst being wonderful vehicles for symbolism and allegory.  So, as a writer, how do you get your monster right?   What Are Fantasy Creatures? Fantasy creatures are nothing new. Monsters made from our imagination have been around as long as the humans who created them.  When it comes to inspiration, the greatest place to start is in the past and studying the legends that have inspired many an iconic story and influenced human civilisations. Every country in the world has its own myths and legends, and in turn, its own fantastical beasts.  Take the Twelve Labours of Heracles from Ancient Greece. They are rife with legendary beasts based on very real creatures from our world, such as the Nemean Lion. What makes the Nemean Lion mythical is the small but important detail that its golden fur is impenetrable, so it could not be killed by conventional means. This elevates the labour of the hero by heightening the stakes and presenting a unique challenge for them to overcome.  Another of the monsters, the Hydra, has inspired many terrifying literary monsters. A highly venomous snake-like beast with many heads, it seems imposing enough upon first glance, but when we realise that its heads grow back after being cut off – then it becomes a true terror (anyone spot the similarities between the Hydra and Hagrid’s three-headed dog, Fluffy, in the Harry Potter series?).  Moving away from Greece, we find all sorts of mythical creatures in the infamous Chinese tale Journey to the West. Not only are there dragons, demon kings and ogres, but also a jade rabbit spirit, great white turtle and, above all, the protagonist is the cheeky, troublemaking Monkey King, Sun Wukong.  Norse mythology has frost giants, a giant wolf, undead Draugar, dwarves, elves and even the Mare – a monster that would give people bad dreams by sitting on them in their sleep (I wonder which Norseman’s sleep paralysis conjured that up!).   In Norse myth especially, the design of the creatures was directly used to inform their society and beliefs. Back then townsfolk would wear metal rings around their arms depicting Jormungandr, the great snake that represented the circle of life by biting its own tail. They would swear oaths to their gods, believing they would be protected. In those times, the creatures they created weren’t myths, but real monsters and deities that delivered cautionary tales.  There are mythical creatures in every culture – and all of them are exceptional in their own way. They are often reminiscent of terrifying or intriguing creatures in our real-world or derived from their mythical precursors. And almost all of these fantastical creatures have wound their way into unforgettable fantasy settings, both in our much-loved classics and modern storytelling.  But do these monsters make a difference? In short, yes.  Benefits Of Using Unique Fantasy Creatures In Your Novel As we excitedly plunge into the vibrant ocean of fantasy creatures, we should take a step back and try to understand what they bring to our stories.  Often a character’s interaction with a fantasy creature will form part of the plot. If we take the earlier example of the Hydra and Nemean Lion, Heracles daubs his arrows in the Hydra’s venomous blood and wears the impenetrable hide of the lion as a cloak. As you can imagine, both concepts have been used in numerous fantasy stories since.  A great deal of exploration of the human soul can be done with monster stories too. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, we get an insight into love, abandonment and discrimination through the lens of a horrifying creature. The monster, as it’s known in the tale, receives its own chapters demonstrating how it thinks and feels. Shelley’s work was a remarkable forerunner for stories using fantasy creatures as a lens of symbolism and theme, such as Octavia E. Butler’s Fledgling.  The existence of a unique fantasy creature, in turn, makes your story unique too. This extends to mythical races such as elves and orcs. Take Lord of the Rings as an example. Would Tolkien’s famous world have had half the cultural impact were it only filled with squabbling human races?  Even in a more grounded fantasy setting, such as George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (the series that conjured A Game of Thrones) - if we were to remove Targaryen Dragons and White Walkers, would it be the same?  So many mythical creatures have become iconic to the point where their world-building has become canon. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, krakens, and probably a dozen more you’re cursing me for not mentioning.  The truth of the matter is that what makes a fantasy tale stand above the crowd is the strength of its creatures, and how they are used. An unforgettable fantasy world is built of many bricks, but it is the consistency and uniqueness of its creatures that glues those bricks together.  So how do we bring originality to our own creatures?   How To Create Unique Fantasy Creatures As all writers know, creating something truly unique is a near-impossible task. But don’t be disheartened, as it doesn’t take much to mould something that already exists into something new and gruesome.   Let’s take a look at six ways of doing that:  1. Combine More Than One Magical Element  Let us take the story of the Nemean Lion mentioned earlier. The story uses a very real creature (a lion) but adds the small tweak of its golden fur being impenetrable.   We can do the same thing. What if we take a boar, but say its tusks can conjure lightning? If we want whimsy, what if a character has to catch a quite ordinary-looking mouse, but this mouse weighs as much as an elephant?  In a similar vein, many mythical creatures are mashups of two real creatures. The Chimera was depicted as a fire-breathing lion, with the head of a goat protruding from its back, and a venomous snake as its tail. What if we gave the horn of a rhino to a horse? What if we gave sharks wings? You get the picture… 2. Make Them Human  The term ‘uncanny valley’ (the relationship between the human-like appearance of a robotic object and the emotional response it evokes) is a wonderful tool to use when trying to understand what makes something scary. Taking something into that uncanny valley – that halfway point between familiar and unnatural – plays on some of the deepest shared human fears.  When a werewolf is turned by a full moon, we can’t help but remember who they were as a human. Vampires are so tantalising but unnerving because they can present themselves as humans, but they kill in such a gruesome way. Creatures like Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT tap into that uncanny valley all the time. As would a human who crawls like a spider, or a woman who glides instead of walks, or a child with buttons for eyes (thank you, Neil Gaiman). 3. Give Your Monsters Motivation  Or better yet, an origin story.  Fantasy creatures and monsters are often the villains of a novel, so why not give them depth and complexity? It could be argued supervillains like The Joker, from Batman, or Thanos, from The Avengers, are monsters in their own rights.   Both have penetrated the modern zeitgeist thanks to their detailed backstory and purposeful (or anarchic) motivations. It’s often not enough to make your scary creature bad, if you give them a good enough reason it heightens the stakes and creates discomfort in your readers as they start to question their own morals (perhaps even the monster within themselves).  4. Give Them A Home Where does your monster live? In its own world? In ours? Or maybe both? Ask yourself what’s scarier, or a bigger challenge, for your characters.  Trans-dimensional monsters are cropping up more and more often in books, TV and film, providing great inspiration for writers. In the Netflix show, Stranger Things, the Demogorgon monster moves between a rural 80s US town and a mouldy mirrored world known as the ‘Upside Down’.  Having contrasting locations (much like foil characters) not only brings style to the story, but also provides parameters and boundaries for your creature. How the creature interacts with our own world will influence the plot, how it behaves, and ultimately how the hero will defeat it.  5. Ask Yourself If The Creature Is Even Needed (Or If You’re Just Having Fun) Is your creature simply another barrier in your hero’s quest? Are they an integral part of that world? Are they crucial to the plot? Perhaps they’re only there to deliver a message to your reader (or even character).  Whatever their purpose, how and why you have created this fantastical being will change the attributes you give it and how/where it’s featured in your story. We all love a great monster, but a monster for a monster’s sake doesn’t make for a great story. In fact, it may do the opposite, and detract your reader so much from the main plot they stop caring about your hero altogether. 6. Use Nature To Inspire You As the old adage goes, ‘fact can be scarier than fiction’. You don’t have to look far in the world of animals, plants and unusual habitats, to find inspiration. Mermaids have strong ties to manatees, vampires were inspired by bats, and even something as simple as Jaws, a shark that looks like a shark and acts like a shark but is just really big and really mean, was enough to make an entire generation scared of the water.   Fascinating creatures exist all over our natural world, especially in the depths of the ocean or in uninhabitable rainforests. So get searching and add some of nature’s wonders to your own monsters.  Our Monster Checklist Once you have come up with your fantastical concept, take a look at our checklist to ensure your creature is consistent within your world and story.  Here are some things to consider:  What are its strengths and weaknesses? Vital in any potential confrontation with a creature, we must know what makes it a threat, what makes it special and what might bring it low. Your hero has to overcome it after all.  What does it look like? Consider how many limbs it has, its facial structure, if it has skin or fur, its colouring and textures. A big one for me is eyes – missing eyes can be uncanny, beady eyes feels insectoid, large eyes feels cute (perhaps as a trap).  How large is the creature?  A seemingly inane question, but an important one. If the world is filled with enormous titans, what is their food source? If there isn’t one, are they going extinct? Or, if a creature is tiny, how does it overcome larger foe? Does it exist in a swarm?  How intelligent is the creature? In some stories dragons are devastating monsters that never speak a word and sleep on their treasure horde. In others, they talk and even participate in society. Has your creature learned to avoid mortal society? Or have they learned to infiltrate it…or rule it?  How old is the creature? This works both for individual creatures and for a species. If a creature lives for millennia, how has it changed? What has it lived through? If a species has existed for only a few centuries, why? Did they have precursors they evolved from?  Are they hunted? Particularly for dangerous creatures, are the societies around them large and advanced enough to undertake hunts to cull them? If yes, why has this particular creature survived?  How does it interact with other creatures in the story? Is it adversarial to your protagonist but buddies with everyone else? Does it forge a bond with your protagonist only? Maybe it’s not a scary monster but a kind and helpful one?  Name? With some fantastical creatures the name can come first, but it’s always important to consider why it has the name it does. Did it claim its own name, or did others give it the name? Does it have different names in different cultures? Fantasy Generators If you want a jumping-off point for creating a fantasy creature, don’t be afraid to use an online fantasy creatures generator.  A few good ones include:  For generating names, story concepts, plot obstacles – it has a little bit of everything!  A direct fantast creatures generator.  For generating ideas and briefs for creatures.  For help with fantasy creatures names’.  Another option for fantasy creatures\' names. But do remember, when using these generators, you don’t have to stick to the ideas they give you!  Often the best way to use a fantasy creatures generator is to cherry-pick what you like and drop what you don’t. If you’re generating a name and like the suffix but not the main body of the word, keep the suffix and either come up with the rest yourself, or combine it with a body you like elsewhere in the generated list. Likewise with creature skills, weaknesses, looks and so on.  Conclusion Fantasy creatures have become truly iconic over the years. Having such a rich depth of reference points at our fingertips (from classic books and modern movies, to disturbing works of art and the internet) only makes our jobs as authors more fun.   Never has so much inspiration for such creatures been so accessible, across all cultures. And never before has such strong support existed for adventurous authors wanting to carve their own take on old monsters, as well as feature their own culture and legends into their own work.   So, when creating your fantastical monsters, remember that the sky is the limit. And for some truly horrifying creatures… there’s no limit at all as to how far you can go to make sure we never forget them.

How To Typeset Your Novel: A Step By Step Guide

You’ve completed your manuscript and perhaps published it already as an e-book. Now it’s time to create your print edition, and you’ve got a few nagging questions: Can a writer typeset their own novel? What is the definition of typesetting? And how do you typeset a book, anyway?  In this article, we’ll explain the basics of DIY typesetting, give you some tips to achieve a professional look, and advise you when DIY is (and isn’t) a good idea.   Let’s get to it!  What Is Typesetting? Typesetting a book is the process of transforming a manuscript—an abstract stream of words with no physical form—into a layout, a digital file with a specific dimensions and page count that will be exactly reproduced by a print or print-on-demand service.  Typesetting isn’t about converting file formats or adding aesthetic elements, though both of those things do happen. It’s primarily about readability—making careful design choices to ensure that your readers can enjoy your novel without eye strain, fatigue, distraction, or errors.  Typesetting at a professional level takes years of experience, but thanks to technology (and this article), you can achieve “good enough” typesetting for your novel with a little care and thoughtfulness.  The Difference Between Typesetting And Typography You may have also heard the term “typography”. This refers to the broader craft and study of type – something graphic designers are much more interested in than self-published writers.   Typography includes not only the aesthetics involved with setting type, but also the design of the font itself, pairing fonts of different families, the arrangement of the font on the page and how they interact with other design elements including images, margins and white space.  As much as typography is fascinating and fun – for the purpose of typesetting your novel, all you need to focus on is getting your book looking as professional as possible!  How Does Typesetting Work? The days of arranging metal sorts in a frame for printing are long past. In the digital era, professional typesetting is done using specialized software like Adobe InDesign (or any of several less-known, less-expensive alternatives).  Word processing software (such as Microsoft Word) has made basic typesetting available to everyone but lacks important professional-level features. Because of this, typesetting a complex layout in Word, such as a textbook or recipe book, would be asking for a serious headache—hire a professional for those books.  However, when it comes to novels, which are composed almost entirely of body paragraphs, the DIY option is viable.  How To Prepare Your Manuscript For Typesetting You need a clean manuscript if you want to typeset your novel successfully. Use this checklist to get ready:  If you have change tracking on, accept all changes and turn off change tracking now. (If you want to preserve those tracked changes, save a separate copy of your manuscript.)  Resolve and delete all comments.  Delete excess whitespace—search your manuscript for tab characters (often represented as t in search-and-replace), double newlines (nn), and three or more spaces. If any matches are found, replace them with the appropriate layout option, such as page breaks, tables, or paragraph styles.  Make sure all of your front matter and back matter is present and complete.  Save your clean manuscript before moving on. If you’re typesetting in the same program you wrote in, create a second copy to be the typeset version.  DIY Typesetting 101 You can use a word processor, specialised writing software, or professional layout software to typeset your novel. Regardless of which one you choose; the rules below apply just the same.  If your software comes with templates, feel free to try them—they might save you time. But make sure you review the results carefully. Many templates, especially those bundled with word processors, omit or violate some of the best practices of typesetting.  Ground Rules: Consistency And Simplicity You want your reader focused on the story. To avoid distracting them, you want a layout that is consistent (does things the same way each time) and simple (doesn’t vary more than necessary).  To help you be consistent, use the paragraph styles feature of your software. This feature lets you define a certain look and rules for a paragraph: which font it should use, how much space should come before and after, whether it should allow hyphens, and so on. Every element in your book should be formatted by applying a paragraph style—never by hand.  As for simplicity, remember that the purpose of a change in appearance is to signal a change in meaning. Don’t vary the appearance of text any more than is necessary to accomplish this goal. One good rule of thumb is that you need only two fonts to typeset a novel: one for the body text, and one for the chapter headings. Everything else can be accomplished through italics, white space, and font size.  How To Typeset Your Page Make sure you know your trim size (page dimensions) and set them correctly in your software.  Set your page margins before you begin and keep them consistent on every page. Make your bottom margin the same as the top, or a little larger. Make your inside margins larger than your outside margins—the binding process will “eat up” some of the page. If you’d like your body text to appear centred left-to-right, your inside margin may need to be as much as 0.5” larger than the outside margin.  Novels are not reference books, so page numbering should not be prominent. Use an unobtrusive font like a light sans-serif or a smaller size of the body font. Two styles are common: centred at the bottom of each page or aligned to the outside at the top of each page.  Running heads are optional and should be placed at the top of the page and centred. (Typically, the left page will show the book title and the right page the author’s name.)  Be sure to leave sufficient space between your running heads, page numbers, and the body text. The reader should never accidentally find themselves reading the running head. How To Typeset Paragraphs Once your page layout is set, your next priority is getting your paragraph style right. Take a look at your favourite novels and note how they have been laid out. Here are a number of best practices you should use:  Use a serif font, not a sans-serif or novelty font. Avoid any font labelled “display”. (These are designed for use at large sizes and will not read clearly as body text.)  Use a font size of 10-12 points.  Confirm that your lines are 45-90 characters wide. You can test this by typing the alphabet repeatedly until you fill up a line—anything between two and three alphabets per line is okay. If your line length is too long, increase the font size, or if you’re already at 12-point, increase your left and right margins. If your line length is too short, take the opposite steps.  Paragraphs should be justified, not left-aligned. Don’t turn off hyphenation.  The first sentence of each paragraph should be indented by the width of a few letters. Make the indent large enough that your eye naturally jumps to the start of each new paragraph, and not much larger than that.  However, don’t indent the first paragraph in a chapter, the first paragraph after a scene break, and the first paragraph after any “block” element (such as a quoted letter or poem). To deal with these exceptions, you can set up a separate paragraph style. (Or, if your software supports it, use a conditional rule.)  Don’t add any extra space before or after paragraphs. Every line on the page should be the same distance apart.  Leading (called “line spacing” in word processors) is essential to readability. The common default of “single spacing”, which is often 115%, is too tight. “Double spacing” is much too loose. Set a value of around 130% but be aware that some word processors don’t display these values correctly. As a point of reference, you can compare your layout against a hardcover novel, which will usually have comfortable leading.  This might seem like a lot of typesetting rules just for a humble paragraph. But when you consider that 99% of your reader’s time is spent reading paragraphs, it’s easy to see why getting them right is important.  How To Typeset Scene Changes Here there are two options: insert a blank line (and remember to not indent the following paragraph) or insert a small symbol or decorative design.  How To Typeset Chapter Headings Chapter headings should stand out from body paragraphs. There are many ways to achieve this, all of which are equally valid.  The most elaborate chapter headings will begin a new page, take up as much as half the height, include some graphic design elements, and set the chapter number and/or title in a large font that may be ornate or stylised.  The most minimal chapter headings consist of nothing more than some vertical separation from the previous paragraph, with the heading itself in a bold or larger font.  If your book includes scene breaks, chapter headings should be more prominent than scene breaks.  How To Typeset Front Matter (Prelims) Here your job is easy: copy another book. Front matter varies from book to book, so look through a few and pick one that contains the same elements as yours.  Copyright pages typically use a small font; dedications are centered on their own page, about a third of the way down; half-titles are usually understated and always less elaborate than the title page.  Your title page is special and deserves some extra attention. Again, you’ll do well to look at other books. One common approach is to use the same lettering as your front cover, but with any background scene removed. However, other books use an entirely different design for the title page.  How To Typeset Back Matter Your goal here is simply to let the reader know the main story is over. Some simple options to try: eliminate running heads and/or page numbers in the back matter, use a smaller body font size, or use a different body font. As with the front matter, you can look at other books for inspiration.  Advanced Wrangling Following the typesetting rules above will give you a “semi-professional” result. If you want to take things a step further (you masochist!), you’ll need to do some advanced wrangling.  This work can get finnicky very quickly, so save a copy of your layout before you proceed.  Starting at the front of your book, go page-by-page, finding and resolving any of the following problems:  Word stacks: the same word appearing multiple times directly above/below itself.  Widows and orphans: the first or last line of a paragraph appearing on a page by itself.  Hyphens at the end of a page or the last line of a paragraph.  Short words alone on the last line of a paragraph.  Rivers: spaces between words that appear roughly above one another on several consecutive lines, forming a meandering white space.  Scene breaks that appear as the very first or last thing on a page.  These are smaller distractions, but still noticeable to your reader. All of them are related to where words fall within a paragraph or on a page, and all of them are solved by adjusting the position of words, using tricks such as:  Making a small edit (you’re the author, so you’re allowed)  Joining or splitting paragraphs  Adjusting the font width of a paragraph, but never more than a couple of percentage points  Adjusting the line spacing of a spread (two facing pages)—again, never more than a few percentage points  If you choose to dive into advanced wrangling, always do this step last, and always work strictly front-to-back, because any change to your layout will disturb some or all of the pages that follow it.  Don’t force yourself to address every problem if it’s beyond your skill level, available time, or patience. Every correction is an improvement, so if you attempt this step at all, give yourself a pat on your back for your dedication to your readers. And if you want some help with your mansucript, try our copy-editing service. Conclusion We hope this guide has helped you gain a better understanding of how to typeset your novel. After all, it would be a shame to write a fantastic story and make it hard to read. So take your time, follow each step by step suggestion, and remember Jericho Writers is with you every word of the way!

Rosalind Tate On The Self-Publishing Revolution

Rosalind Tate, author of The Shorten Chronicles, is no stranger to the complicated world of self-publishing. She believes the seismic changes in publishing amount to a revolution — one that can only help independently published authors. In this interview, Rosalind tells us why she turned to the world of self-pub for more control and agency. She offers some practical insight into picking up the many skills required - the road can be daunting, but well worth the rewards. JW: What made you decide to self-publish your book?  RT: At the Jericho Writers Festival of Writing in September 2018, I stumbled into a self-publishing workshop and assumed it was about vanity publishing: an author paying a publisher to publish their book. But I quickly realised this wasn’t about vanity. This was a revolution!  I’m not usually a fan of revolutions — they tend to be bloody, and don’t end well — but this one has freed authors to publish what they want, when they want, and enabled many independent authors (“indies”) to make a full-time living.  I learned facts in that workshop that made my jaw drop. I can’t remember the figures from 2018, so here are the most recent:  A traditionally published author receives around 10% of royalties on print books. That’s what’s left after the agent and publisher have taken their cut.  Indie authors publishing an eBook on Amazon (indies earn most of their income from eBooks) receive 60- 70%.  But, like all stats, it’s not quite that simple, and money wasn’t as important a factor as control. Control of my brand, of my intellectual property, of my business. And my business is to help as many readers as possible fall in love with the Shorten Chronicles!  I quickly realised this wasn’t about vanity. This was a revolution! However, there are downsides to going indie.  To persuade Amazon’s bots to beaver away and market your book, and to have any visibility (and sales), you need to pay to advertise. You might not recoup your business set-up costs until you publish your second or third book.  An indie author has to want to learn all aspects of this business. It took me 18 months to learn the basics, and though the curve levelled out after that, I’m still learning. Fortunately, before you publish, you can easily research every step through Jericho Writers and other reputable sites.  So, who are the authors who might prefer to take the traditionally published route?  Authors who aren’t aware that publishing has changed beyond recognition in the last decade (and it’s unlikely a prospective agent and/or publisher will enlighten them).  Literary fiction authors. This type of novel can be hard to sell on Amazon and other online platforms – eBook readers prefer easier genres: steamy or sweet romance, science fiction, crime etc.  Authors who can’t/don’t wish to spend time learning non-writing skills.  Someone who isn’t interested in writing as a career. I have a friend who wrote an exposé on her ex-employer. She had no desire to ever write another book, so it was simpler and less time-consuming to pay a reputable small publisher.  Money wasn’t as important a factor as control. Control of my brand, of my intellectual property, of my business. JW: Self-publishing involves a huge range of skills – how did you set about learning them?  RT: Jericho Writers was a crucial resource. Here, I found my forever editor, binge-watched marketing videos, and took the self-editing course, which I can’t recommend highly enough.  In 2020, I completed Mark Dawson’s comprehensive 101 course, and I also followed wise indies like David Gaughran, Joanna Penn and Dave Chesson, watched their free videos online and subscribed to their free newsletters.  I am not a technical person, but luckily there are sites out there that make what used to be challenging tasks easy. For example:  Formatting eBooks and print books (  Keeping a record of daily earnings and expenses (  Emailing hundreds or thousands of readers (  Putting a professional blurb onto your book page ( ) and a host of other useful tips (  JW: What’s your favourite thing about self-publishing? RT: Other indie authors! They’re a really supportive community. For example, a highly successful author helped me improve my first blurb. Just because she could.  But my most favourite thing is direct contact with my readers. Just after I published, a reader emailed to thank me, saying how my novel had made her forget the pandemic during her time off (she’s a doctor). I was speechless.  JW: What has it been like committing to writing a series as a self-published author? Is the experience different to what you might expect with a traditional publishing deal?  RT: I don’t have to produce each book to a rigid external deadline, but my boss is a crazy workaholic (that’s me, of course) and she wants to publish a book a year, each better than the last... But seriously, if I miss a self-imposed deadline, that’s okay. Of course, I can’t not finish the series and I do feel that pressure. I’ve promised my readers!  When you publish, be kind to yourself. JW: Do you have any advice for writers considering the self-publishing route? RT: If you’re itching to publish and see what happens... DON’T, until you’ve completed the three crucial tasks below.  A competent novel with minimum typos. If you’re on a budget, wait until you can afford to pay a professional editor. You want your book to be as good as it can be. Confession: I had an embarrassing number of structural edits for my first novel, and two copyedits for the first one and the second.  Mailing list. Once you’ve finished your book (yay!), write a short story or novella, preferably adding to and in the same world/characters as your novel. You’re going to give that much shorter story away to entice readers onto your mailing list.  But why?  Because your mailing list is yours, not controlled by Amazon or Facebook or any third party. The discerning readers who’ve entrusted you with their email are key to your whole writing career. You can check out how I encourage readers to sign up with my free story on my website. Cover. Research what kind of story your book is: sweet romance, police procedural, space opera etc. Look at the top twenty books in your lowest sub-genre on Amazon. For example:  Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Teen & Young Adult eBooks » Teen & Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy eBooks » Teen & Young Adult Fantasy eBooks » Teen & Young Adult Historical Fantasy eBooks  Your cover should ‘fit in’ with books of the same sub-genre. Then, if you can, pay a professional to design the cover.  When you publish, be kind to yourself. It takes time to garner reviews, build up a mailing list, write more novels, and earn enough to give up the day job.  And on the way, enjoy the journey to publication.  If you\'d like some help with your writing, try our copy-editing service. Good luck!  About Rosalind Rosalind Tate lives in Gloucestershire, England, and holidays on the Cornish coast. She served in the British military, then worked as a journalist and a lawyer. She has grown up children, a tolerant husband and two utterly gorgeous dogs. Visit Rosalind\'s website. Buy \'The Shorten Chronicles\' on on

What Are Descriptive Adjectives?

I’m sure many of you remember learning about adjectives at school. But can you remember what they are, as well as why we use them and when? And what is a descriptive adjective? Why is it important that we, as writers, use them? In the following guide, we’ll tell you exactly what descriptive adjectives are, the different types of descriptive adjectives, and how to use them effectively in your work. We’ll even provide you with a descriptive adjectives list to give you plenty of ideas for making your writing stronger. What Is A Descriptive Adjective? A descriptive adjective is one that modifies a noun by describing it. Let’s look at a couple of examples: The house was huge. Peter loved chewy sweets. The descriptive adjectives in these two sentences are huge and chewy. From the word huge, we now have an idea in our minds about the size of the house. We also know the type of sweets Peter likes from the word chewy.  Perhaps it’s all coming back to you now, and you’re remembering that adjectives are describing words. There are many different types of adjectives, but descriptive adjectives form the most comprehensive group. Here are a few examples of non-descriptive adjectives: Demonstrative Adjectives Where did you find this book? How much is that ring? These photos are clear. Distributive Adjectives Either tool will work. Neither tool was successful. Every shop is open. Quantitative Adjectives The sun was shining throughout the whole day. We need more resources.   I’ve eaten enough chips.   Possessive Adjective Those are your dogs. I want to eat my dinner. I like our car. Interrogative Adjectives Whose socks are those? What magazine are you buying? Which chair is broken? These examples differ to descriptive adjectives because no information is given about the noun that’s being modified. Taking the last example, we don’t know what colour the chair is, what material it’s made out of, if it’s a dining chair or one used for another purpose.    Types Of Descriptive Adjectives Various references highlight that there are thirteen different types of adjectives. Examples of some of them have been detailed above, but here’s the entire list: Attributive adjectives Comparative adjectives Compound adjectives Demonstrative adjectives Descriptive adjectives Distributive adjectives Interrogative adjectives Limiting adjectives Participial adjectives Predicate adjectives Possessive adjectives Proper adjectives Superlative adjectives In this article we’re going to focus on descriptive adjectives, and how they provide additional information about the associated noun by describing its characteristics or by altering it. This is especially useful in writing when we’re trying to create a picture in the reader’s mind. For example, if you’re writing a ghost story that takes place in a house, and you want the reader to feel goosebumps, you might describe the house as eerie: Sarah looked up at the eerie house. Or if you want to describe another type of house to create a contrasting feeling, you can use a different descriptive adjective. For example: Sarah saw the beautiful house. Both descriptive adjectives portray very different houses. Perhaps your story has a scene that takes place by the sea. See how these two descriptive adjectives once more bring contrasting images of the same noun to mind, just by using different descriptive adjectives: Peter walked into the freezing sea. Peter walked into the balmy sea. As you can see, descriptive adjectives can help to bring your writing to life. Descriptive adjectives can be placed into sub-categories, as follows. Comparative Descriptive Adjectives This type of descriptive adjective is used to compare one noun with another. They have comparative versions. For example: Calm and calmer Big and bigger Strong and stronger Dim and dimmer Tall and taller Pretty and prettier Thin and thinner Quicker and quicker Soft and softer Happy and happier Silly and sillier Some comparative descriptive adjectives use two syllables, generally the words ‘more’ or ‘less’, to form the comparative term. For example: More beautiful (or less beautiful) Less interesting (or more interesting) Less tired (or more tired) More clever (or less clever) Here are some examples of how to use comparative descriptive adjectives in a sentence: The new car is bigger than the old one The latest model is more expensive than similar models My new towels are softer than my other towels. This swimming pool is deeper than other swimming pools His phone was cheaper than his previous one. Some athletes can run faster than other athletes. This book is lighter than that book Her new television is heavier than her last one The old curtains were thicker than the new ones Their holiday was less expensive than similar holidays The table over there is stronger than this table The new boy is more difficult than the other boys Superlative Descriptive Adjectives Superlative descriptive adjectives are similar to comparative descriptive adjectives, but they relate to the highest/lowest level of comparison. For example: Coldest Quietest Shiniest Longest Curliest Brightest Let’s look at how these can be used in a sentence: The new car is the biggest I’ve ever owned. The latest model is the most expensive ever built. His cauliflower was the smallest in the produce show. This holiday is the cheapest I’ve ever had. She was the least famous person in the room. That tree is the tallest in the world. The horse was the slowest in the race. Her shopping bill was the least expensive one she’d ever had. The cake was the creamiest one in the shop. She was the oldest teacher in the school. He was the cleverest chess player in the club. She was the youngest entrant in the competition. It was the most wonderful experience he’d ever had. The test was the easiest one he’d ever taken. The coffee they sold was the strongest in the city.  Positive Descriptive Adjectives Positive descriptive adjectives describe a person, place, thing, idea, orexperience in a good, positive way. This type of adjective isn’t used for comparison. Here are a few examples of positive descriptive adjectives: Amazing Ambitious Amusing Becoming Blissful Bold Carefree Caring Charismatic Dazzled Deluxe Dynamic Enchanting Energetic Excited Fabulous Fearless Fun Glowing Graceful Generous Happy Heavenly Helpful Illustrious Inspirational Inspired Jolly Jovial Jubilant Keen Kind Knowingly Lavish Loyal Lucky Magical Memorable Miracle Neat Nice Noticeable Original Outgoing Outstanding Perfect Polite Positive Quaint Quick-witted Quiet Radiant Reliable Rich Safe Serene Super Tasty Thankful Trusting Ultimate Unique Uplifted Valiant Valuable Vibrant Warm Wise Worthy Xenial (hospitable) Xenodochial (friendly) Young Youthful Yummy Zany Zestful Zing Let’s put a few of these into practice: The boy was happy. Her test score was perfect. His room is neat. The town is quaint. Their pudding tastes heavenly. The holiday was magical. The nurse was kind. The coat is zany. The old man’s book was valuable. Her steak was tasty. The woman’s face is glowing. Examples Of Descriptive Adjectives We’re now going to give you a list of descriptive adjectives to use in your writing: Adorable Adventurous Agreeable Alive Aloof Amused Angry Annoying Anxious Arrogant Ashamed Attractive Auspicious Awful Bad Beautiful Beige Black Blue Blushing Bored Brave Bright Brown Bumpy Busy Calm Careful Cautious Charming Cheerful Clean Clear Comical Congenial Cordial Crazy Crooked Decayed Delicious Determined Dilapidated Distraught Dim Dizzy Drab Dreadful Droll Dull Elated Elderly Emaciated Embarrassed Enormous Enthusiastic Envious Exultant Fancy Fantastic Filthy Flat Fresh Friendly Fuzzy Ghastly Gigantic Glamorous Gleaming Greasy Green Glorious Gorgeous Grubby Grumpy Handsome Helpless High Hollow Homely Horrific Hot Icy Ideal Immense Irate Irritable Itchy Jealous Jittery Jocular Juicy Jumbo Jumpy Kind Knotty Knowledgeable Large Lazy Lethal Little Lively Lonely Low Ludicrous Magnificent Mammoth Massive Miniature Miniscule Minute Misty Modern Moody Muddy Mysterious Narrow Nasty Naughty Nervous Nonsensical Nutritious Obedient Oblivious Obnoxious Octagonal Odd Opulent Orange Outrageous Petite Plain Pleasant Poised Pompous Precious Proud Pungent Purple Quick Quiet Quizzical Rainy Rectangular Red Relieved Repulsive Ripe Robust Rotten Rough Round Salty Sarcastic Selfish Shaky Sharp Short Silky Silly Skinny Slimy Slippery Small Smarmy Smiling Smooth Smug Sparkling Stale Steep Sticky Strange Stunning Tan Tart Teak Tender Tense Terrible Thick Thoughtful Thoughtless Triangular Thrilled Tight Ugly Unbelievable Upset Unimaginable Unsightly Unusual Uptight Vast Vexed Victorious Vital Vivacious Vivid Wacky Wealthy Weary Wet Whopping Witty Wonderful Wobbly Wooden Worried Wretched Xenial Yellow Young Yummy Zany Zippy Compound Descriptive Adjectives Compound descriptive adjectives are where two words are used toform the description. The following are some examples of compound terms: All-inclusive Baby-faced Bad-tempered Brightly-lit Broken-hearted Bullet-proof Cold-blooded Cross-country Deeply-rooted Densely-populated English-speaking Fast-paced Four-sided Full-length Green-eyed Heavy-handed High-heeled High-spirited Ice-cold Kind-hearted Life-giving Long-lasting Long-winded Middle-aged Mouth-watering Narrow-minded Never-ending Next-door Old-fashioned Open-minded Part-time Red-blooded Self-centred Short-haired Short-tempered Sure-footed Ten-minute Thick-skinned Thought-provoking Tight-fisted Well-behaved Well-educated Well-known World-famous Yellow-striped Young-hearted Descriptive Adjective Rules And Best Practices We’ve given you lots of different examples of descriptive adjectives, but there are some rules to follow regarding their use. When you’re writing a sentence, it’s important that descriptive adjectives are used in the correct adjective order. Descriptive adjectives come after limiting adjectives (which define the noun rather than describing it. ‘Articles’ are examples of these - ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’). For example, we would write Sally ate a delicious cake. If we wrote Sally ate delicious a cake, it wouldn’t make sense. Here are some more examples: She wrote three long books (good) She wrote long three books (not good) Keith ordered some new furniture (good) Keith ordered new some furniture (not good) The cat jumped up a tall tree (good) The cat jumped up tall a tree (not good) From these examples, we can see how important correct adjective order is. If it isn’t written correctly, it’s confusing. It becomes even more difficult to understand when more than one descriptive adjective is used to describe the noun. Let’s look at a few examples: The English angry little man was hungry (not good) The little English angry man was hungry (still not good) The angry little Englishman was hungry (better) Steven was eating a sugary huge cream cake (not good) Steven was eating a cream huge sugary cake (still not good) Steven was eating a huge sugary cream cake (better) She was reading the non-fiction old, battered book (not good) She was reading the battered non-fiction old book (still not good) She was reading the old, battered non-fiction book (better).   Descriptive adjectives enhance our writing, but it’s very easy to overuse them. So think carefully about which descriptive adjectives to use to be the most effective. Using lots of descriptive adjectives to describe one noun isn’t always better. For example: The boy has a brilliant bright wide infectious smile. If you use too many descriptive adjectives, the word being described can become lost. Two descriptive adjectives in this instance would be enough: The boy has a wide infectious smile. In some cases, using one strong descriptive adjective can paint a picture in the reader’s mind more vividly than using two or three. We’ll look at a couple of examples: The girl opened her mouth and out came a loud high-pitched scream.   We can imagine what the scream would sound like, but using just one, more powerful descriptive adjective can make us almost hear it for ourselves: The girl opened her mouth and out came a piercing scream. Example two: The miserable cross teacher moaned at us. From this description, we know the teacher isn’t very happy. But we can swap one word for the two descriptive adjectives to create a more vivid image of the teacher and how they are feeling: The grouchy teacher moaned at us. Descriptive Adjectives In Literature Descriptive adjectives play a big part in our writing, but it’s important to understand them and their use – and understand how they can bring your work to life. Here are some examples of quotes by famous writers, who – by simply adding a few adjectives – fill our minds with vivid imagery!“...his voice was like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and the words were mocking”― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones “Kylpaitryc\'s eyes streamed tears as he coughed explosively on harsh, sinus-raping smoke.”― David Weber, At the Sign of Triumph“Even in its first faint traces, love could alter a landscape. It wrote unimagined stories and made the most beautiful, forbidding places.” —Anna-Marie McLemore, Wild Beauty “My sister, Mrs. Joe, with black hair and eyes, had such a prevailing redness of skin that I sometimes used to wonder whether it was possible she washed herself with a nutmeg-grater instead of soap. She was tall and bony, and almost always wore a coarse apron, fastened over her figure behind two loops, and having a square impregnable bib in front, that was stuck full of pins and needles.”—Charles Dickens, Great Expectations Conclusion We hope you have found this article useful, and now, whenever you’re looking for descriptive words to bring your writing to life, you have the perfect reference guide to turn to. Hopefully our descriptive adjectives examples will have inspired you and ignited your creative juices!

Symbology In Fiction: What It Is And How To Use It

What does ‘symbology in fiction’ mean? And how can you utilize literary symbols in your work and strengthen your storytelling?  If you’re ever lucky enough to travel to Bergen in Norway, (which, by the way, I would highly recommend) you’ll likely find yourself amongst brightly-coloured buildings packed tightly together as if bracing themselves against the wind and rain (the weather can get fairly atrocious). This is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf (Tyskebryggen).   The buildings are restaurants, studios, workshops, and boutique shops, but once they were merchant houses, many of which still have distinct symbols on them. Why symbols, you might ask? Because these buildings date back as far as the 14th century, to a time when many people couldn’t read, and the symbols made it easier to find which house or place of trade they were looking for.   Symbols have been used, one way or another, since the beginning of time - and that still remains when it comes to writing.  In this blog post I’ll further explore the use of symbols and symbolism in literature, as well as looking at how their uses benefit both readers and writers.  Symbology vs Symbolism The use of symbols in the example above is a fairly obvious one, for an equally obvious reason. But even today, supermarket chains, for example, have distinct branding or logos. These are used to distinguish themselves from competitors and are often in bright colours, sometimes even with a little picture.   My three-year-old pointed out to me the other day that the four yellow dashes above the bright green letter ‘A’ in ASDA look like the sun rising above a field. I must have seen that logo a hundred, maybe even a thousand times, and never noticed. Now I do. Is he right? Maybe. Does it matter? Not at all. What matters is that it’s a symbol we recognise and can distinguish from others.   More recently, the rainbow, a symbol of hope and promise, has become synonymous with the UK’s NHS and the nation’s support of all the hard work that is being done by healthcare workers during the pandemic. It’s also synonymous with the LBTQ+ community. Everybody knows that rainbows are positive and happy symbols.  A red rose symbolises love and romance; a four-leaf clover is supposed to bring us good luck; green means go, and red means stop. These are all examples of symbols that have become ingrained in our everyday existence.   But what does all of that have to do with writing? And what is the difference between symbology and symbolism?   To put it simply, here\'s our definitions of symbology and literary symbolism:  Symbology is the study and use of symbols, whereas symbolism is the representation of a concept through symbols. Let’s look at birds as an example. Doves, usually white in colour, are used to represent peace or love; artists make use of owls to symbolise wisdom, and ravens – with their black plumage, croaking call, and diet of carrion – are often associated with death, loss, ill omens and lost souls.   Types of Symbolism There are many different types of symbolism that we writers use in our work. Let’s look at a few of the most common ones. Simile As brave as a lion, as strong as an ox, as big as an elephant; these are all examples of similes, which is a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid. A lion is renowned for being brave and courageous, so making this direct comparison is a way in which to show meaning through a well-known symbol. Metaphor Whereas a simile compares two separate things, a metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denotes one kind of object or idea and is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them. For example, in Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Romeo says: “What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet, the sun!”  \'Romeo and Juliet’ by Shakespeare Juliet is not literally the sun and Romeo knows that Juliet is not literally the sun, but this demonstrates he compares her to the sun, thinks her what the sun symbolises: beauty, strength, awe, a life-giving force. Allegory The word allegory has a long history. The first evidence of its use in the English language is in the late 14th century and comes from the Latin word allegoria, which in turn is the latinisation of the Greek word ἀλληγορία (allegoría), meaning veiled language or figurative. That word comes from both ἄλλος (allos), meaning another, different and ἀγορεύω (agoreuo), which is to harangue, to speak in the assembly, which originates from ἀγορά (agora): assembly.   A modern definition is: a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.   George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where each animal is a representation of a different political faction, is an example of an allegory. Another is The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser (which symbolises the moral and spiritual journey of an individual through innumerable temptations of sins towards the ultimate attainment of glory and truth), or Aesop’s Fables (such as the tale of The Tortoise and the Hare, where the tortoise wins because he’s slow and steady). Archetype In its most basic definition, an archetype is a typical example of a person or thing. In literature, there are four main archetype options, each with many examples. I’ve listed a few below, but there are many more.   Character archetypes: The hero – the main character who often has a task/journey to complete. The Outcast – someone living on the outskirts of society, sometimes, but not always, for something that isn’t his/her fault.  Star-Crossed Lovers – lovers who are destined not to be together.   Situational archetypes: The Battle of Good and Evil – a battle in which good triumphs over evil.  The Hero’s Journey – the journey, physical or emotional, that the main character must complete.  Rags to Riches or vice versa – a character rises from a lower position in society to a better one, or vice versa.   Setting archetypes: The Garden – symbolises love and fertility. The River – water symbolises life and a river can show life’s journey or boundaries. The Small Town – a place where everyone knows everyone and generally depicts intolerance.   Symbolic Archetypes: Hourglass – the passing of time.  Heart – love. Square – stability.  Hyperbole Exaggeration can be used to reflect how someone feels. These are not statements or claims that are meant literally, but instead used to symbolise meaning. An examples of this could be ‘I’ve told that story a thousand times’ or ‘There’s enough food to feed an army’. The speaker hasn’t literally told the story a thousand times, but maybe feels she has. In the second example, whether it be a good thing or not, there’s a lot of food to be eaten.   There are many more types of symbolism in literature, such as allegory, archetype, personification and irony. Symbolism in Fiction Many writers make use of symbolism in their fiction to paint a brighter picture, or add depth or tension.   In The Scarlet Letter by Daniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne, a young woman in 17th Century Puritan Boston, Massachusetts, is punished for giving birth to a daughter as a result of adultery. She is made to stand on a scaffold for three hours, subjected to public humiliation, and made to wear the letter A for the rest of her life.  “They averred that the symbol was not mere scarlet cloth tinged in an earthly dyepot, but was red-hot with infernal fire, and could be seen glowing all alight whenever Hester Prynne walked abroad in the nighttime. And we must needs say it seared Hester’s bosom so deeply, that perhaps there was more truth in the rumor than our modern incredulity may be inclined to admit.” The Scarlet Letter by Daniel Hawthorne The letter ‘A’ initially means adultery and penance, but as the novel progresses it takes on different meanings for different people. For some, ultimately, after Hester spends a lot of time as a visitor in homes of pain and sorrow, the ‘A’ means Angel. Grief is the Thing with Feathers, by Max Porter, makes strong use of symbolism     “BOYS There’s a feather on my pillow.  Pillows are made of feathers, go to sleep. It’s a big, black feather. Come and sleep in my bed.  There’s a feather on your pillow too.  Let’s leave the feathers where they are and sleep on the floor.”Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter Many cultures believe feathers are a symbol of a connection to the spirit world. The black feathers that appear on the boys’ pillows signal the arrival of something ominous, in this case grief at the loss of their mother. The Crow, who leaves the feathers, is in fact a character within the story, helping both the boys and their dad through those initial dark days. Feathers are also said to represent strength and growth, and as they learn to manage their grief, the Crow moves on.   Nature plays a strong role in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, signifying a sense of freedom. “‘Is this a hint to me, Lizzy,’ said her father, ‘to send for the horses?’ ‘No, indeed. I do not wish to avoid the walk. The distance is nothing, when one has a motive; only three miles.’” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen The outdoors also plays a role in the relationship between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy as it is predominantly in these settings that they are able to move their relationship forward. Outdoor settings become a symbol of openness and understanding.   Other examples are the green light in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925) symbolising the protagonist’s quest for Daisy and the American Dream; the conch in The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a symbol of power; and the lake in Housekeeping, by Marilynn Robinson, is synonymous with loss and it is not until the main character, Ruth, crosses the lake on a bridge that she is able to start putting the depth of her loss behind her.   Why Use Symbolism? So, why do authors use symbolism in literature?   Whether it be a conscious or unconscious decision, the main impact of using symbolism in literature is to strengthen its meaning and make a bigger impact on the reader. For example, in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, using symbolism adds emotional resonance to the story. The mockingbird, which “don’t do one thing but . . . sing their hearts out for us”, as Miss Maudie explains to Scout, symbolises the innocent characters in the narrative and to kill them, like to kill the bird, would be a sin.    Another way in which symbolism works is providing a visual aid for the reader. In Captain Jesus, by Collette Snowdon, three brothers find a dead magpie in the garden. They hang it on the washing line and when it blows in the gentle breeze.  “‘[i]t’s like we brought it back to life,’ Gabe says.”   The conversation continues with John-Joe saying, “‘we’re not miracle workers, we can’t do a proper resurrection.” The scene, along with the dialogue, alerts the reader to the impending death knowing that no matter how harder they may wish it, they will not be able to bring the deceased back to life.    Using symbolism can help an author portray a complex concept. In the Booker-longlisted novel, An Island, Karen Jennings’ main character, seventy-year-old Samuel, lives in self-imposed exile on a tiny island off the coast of an unknown African country. The only people he sees are those who bring his supplies once a fortnight. One day a stranger washes up on the shore; a symbol of hope, redemption and reparation for Samuel. Looking Out for Symbolism in the Everyday Many readers, I’m sure, don’t pay much attention to the symbols or symbolism in literature. Not consciously, that is (more so if studying a text for school or discussing it in a book club). However, so much is ingrained in our everyday life, in our society and common beliefs, it’s hard not to take them in at all. And there will always be people looking for the hidden meanings between the words on the pages – whether you intended them to be there or not!  As writers, inserting symbols and considering symbolism in our writing is definitely something to pay close attention to. Like Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs to find their way home, making use of this literary device is providing images and objects, words and concepts, to help deepen our readers’ experience of our writing.   And once those words are printed on the page, carefully chosen words creating a million vibrant images for your readers, unlike in Grimm’s fairytales nothing can come along and gobble them up!

Sensory Language Examples In Fiction

Adding sensory language to your writing is a lot easier than you may think, and it makes a huge difference to your work – be it a novel, poetry, or essays. But where do you start?  Think back to a recent personal experience that you remember well. As you bring it to mind, notice the sensory details you recall: the things you see and hear; maybe the physical feelings, for some people even tastes and smells.   Most of us are able to recreate our previous experiences in our mind’s eye and it’s these sensory memories that help us bring the event back to life. In just the same way, when we use sensory words in our fiction it helps our readers experience the world we’ve created by evoking their own senses.  In this guide I will explain what sensory language is, how to use it effectively in your storytelling, and provide some useful sensory language examples to get you started. What Is Sensory Language? Sensory language in literature refers to words and descriptions that relate to the five senses. A writer uses these descriptors to help the reader: See what is happening in their mind’s eye Imagine the way speech is delivered and the background sounds Understand the physical sensations of texture, touch and movement Evoke tastes and smells In short, sensory language helps our readers experience scenes, events, descriptions or settings in a richer way – to live through the senses. A story with sensory language evokes feelings in our readers and takes them on an emotional journey.  Sensory language is commonly used in creative writing - short fiction, poetry, plays and novels - to invoke mental images and engage readers. However, descriptors of the five senses are also commonly found in a range of texts:  Advertising and marketing copy – ‘Mouth-watering freshly baked cakes’ (rather than just ‘Cakes’) Newspaper/magazine articles and headlines – ‘Shock new probe as PM rips up plans’ (Rather than ‘Investigation as plans change’) Emails and business writing – ‘Hope you’re not rushed off your feet’ (vs ‘Hope you’re not too busy’)  ‘How to’ guides and course descriptions – ‘Wrestle those writing demons to the ground’ (vs ‘Be a more confident writer’) Blog posts titles – ‘Play to win and crush the opposition!’ (vs ‘Tips on how to be successful’)  Examples of Sensory Words To help develop a sensory vocabulary think about the different ways in which you experience the senses. Let’s take each sense in turn and look at contrasts to develop a list of sensory adjectives. Here are examples to get you started:  Visual – words relating to how we see things. They relate to things like colour, shape, size, angle, and appearance. How will you use them to paint a vivid picture? Brightness: Light/bright/shiny/sparkly or dark/dim/dull/tarnished Size: Large/enormous/immense/gigantic or tiny/small/miniature/little Colour density: Vivid/day-glo/fluorescent or pale/washed-out/sepia  Auditory – words relating to sounds and how we hear them. You can use these to make your writing shout loudly or whisper a quiet hint. Volume: Loud/deafening/booming or quiet/whispering/rustling Pitch: Shrill/high-pitched/falsetto/piercing or deep/low-pitched/baritone/bass Rhythm: Repetitive/metronome/regular or varying/intermittent/erratic Tactile – Words relating to how we experience touch or the feel of things through our skin. You might choose to soothe with a light touch or poke and cajole to action. Texture: Downy/soft/feathery or abrasive/coarse/rough Pressure: Light/gentle/delicate or heavy/harsh/dense Temperature: Burning/scalding/itching or freezing/icy/soothing Gustatory – words relating to taste. You might like writing which is crisp and lean or spiced up with crunchy descriptions. Sweet vs sour: sugary/saccharine/sickly or tart/unsweetened Flavoursome vs bland: meaty/umami/spicy/herby vs mild/bland/tasteless Texture: lean/crisp/crusty or oily/greasy/buttery Olfactory – words relating to how we experience smells. How about kicking up a stink or perfuming your text with sweet delicate imagery? Scent: Floral/aromatic/fragrant or odourless/neutral/unscented Strength: Stinky/pungent/over-powering or insipid/weak/airy Freshness: Musty/stale/decayed or paint-fresh/clean/hygienic There are two other types of sensory words we can use:  Kinaesthetic – words relating to how we move and our internal sensations. Maybe you’re edging into this or leaping in with both feet. Still/balanced/steady or fidgeting/precarious/wobbly Crawling/sliding/shuffling or jumping/running/rushing Fluttering/buzzing/churning or grounded/centred/soothing or stabbing/aching/sharp/tingling Emotional – words relating to our mood and the way we feel. Hopefully you feel curious and energised to have a go, even if a little uncertain! Confident/brave/assured or ill at ease/dubious/indecisive Depressed/low/down or happy/upbeat/jolly or edgy/anxious/restless Mellow/chilled/calm or agitated/energised/hyper The choice of sensory words impacts the reader’s perspective. Consider the contrast in the following three examples:  ‘The young woman is both intelligent and kind.’  This is a clear straightforward description but is lacking any colour as it doesn’t engage our senses.  ‘The woman is around twenty; her tongue cutting, her brain sharp, her heart hard.’  Here we have more of a sense of the woman; the choice of words paint her in a negative light.  ‘She\'s an old soul with young eyes, a vintage heart, and a beautiful mind.’ Nicole Lyons This quote from author and poet, Nicole Lyons, is a more poetic description. This time we have a positive impression of the woman.  How to Use Sensory Words in Your Writing Let’s take a simple scene and consider how we can enliven it with sensory language examples. Imagine a woman is about to enter a restaurant to meet a friend.   She’s outside the restaurant looking in through a glass panel in the door. What does she see? Tell us what type of establishment is it? What does the restaurant look like? How is it decorated? What fabrics, furnishing, wallpaper, colours? How many tables, diners and staff?  She steps forward into the room. Take us there so we experience what she hears. Is it noisy or quiet? Can she hear snatches of conversations, if so, what is said and how? What background noises can she hear?  She spots her friend across the room. What does she feel? What sensation does she feel inside and where does she feel it? What is her emotional reaction? How does she move as she walks across the room?   The two friends hug. Does she smell anything? Is her friend wearing perfume? What does the room smell of and does she like it or not? Can she smell the food served to other diners?  Seated at the table they eat their food. What does she taste? What are the flavours? What texture does the food have?   If we strip out all the sensory language, we have something akin to stage directions:   ‘A woman is about to enter a restaurant to meet her friend. She’s outside the restaurant looking in through a glass panel in the door. She steps forward into the room. She spots her friend across the room. The two friends hug. Seated at the table they eat their food.’    This would be described as ‘under written’: there is nothing to help us imagine the scene in our mind’s eye, all we have are a series of actions.  However, if we include every minute detail in our sensory language the passage becomes clogged. It becomes too busy and we long for something to happen. This is referred to as ‘overwritten’. The key is to help the reader to use sensory language to notice and experience what the character(s) would see, hear, feel etc.  This will depend on what you are trying to convey in the scene.   If the woman is anxious about the meeting she may focus on different things to if she is excited about seeing her friend again. For example, she may notice what people are wearing and feel underdressed or overdressed, which would heighten her anxiety; you may want to describe how she loathes the type of food on the menu, how the smells make her feel sick, and the churning in her stomach when she can’t see her friend in the crowded room.   However, if she is excited, her focus may only be on her friend. She may ignore the other people and the restaurant setting as she rushes across the room to join them.   Play around with the same scene by using different sensory examples to convey the character’s state of mind in each writing example, then note how it changes the story each time.  Examples of Sensory Writing A great way to learn about sensory imagery is to examine sensory language examples from literature. These first two are from Victorian literature.  ‘I heard the rain still beating continuously on the staircase window, and the wind howling in the grove behind the hall; I grew by degrees cold as a stone, and then my courage sank.’  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847) Bronte’s use of sound (beating continuously, howling), and temperature (cold as a stone) help us to feel the character’s dark emotional mood.   ‘Facing the window, in the chair of dignity, sat a man about forty years of age; of heavy frame, large features and a commanding voice; his general build being rather coarse and compact… When he indulged in an occasional loud laugh at some remark among the guests his mouth parted so far back as to show the rays of the chandelier a full score or more of the two-and-thirty sound white teeth that he obviously still could boast of.’ The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (1902)  Hardy’s description paints a vivid picture of the man and his character. His confidence and presence are clearly conveyed (heavy, large, commanding, loud) so we can both hear and see him in our mind’s eye.  Here are three modern examples of sensory writing which include simile and metaphor:  ‘…a helicopter bladed the sky in the hills outside Hebron. He had never seen a machine quite like it before. The soldiers, when they leapt out, looked to him like green insects, crouching and running up the hillside, fabulous with fear. His mother ran down from their home in the hillside caved, grabbed his sleeve, shooed him home along the rocky path.’  Apeirogon by Colum McCann (2020) McCann conveys the awe of the child as he watches the way the soldiers move up the hillside (like green insects, crouching and running, fabulous with fear). Then his mother’s urgency conveyed by the way she runs down, grabs and shoos him. We are there, feeling the tension of the mother and soldiers and the wonder of the child watching. ‘I lift the corners of the first sheet; dust and the smell of camphor the papers have absorbed over the years swirl up and taunt my nose.’  The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (2012) Eng uses the word ‘taunt’ in an unusual way to highlight the unpleasantness of the dust and camphor smells.  ‘…in my dreams I see Dharsi’s beautiful face and some other unknown one next to it. A frog, not transforming into a prince but shape-shifting into something frightening. The metallic taste of these dreams tinges my mornings like a flavor stirred into my coffee.’  What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera Munaweera gives her dreams a ‘metallic taste’ that lasts into the next day, the person lying next to Dharsi is seen as a shape-shifting frog. Her descriptions apply both sensory language and metaphor to rich effect.  Make Sense of Your Writing Look out for examples of good sensory language as you’re reading and consider where the author has focused the reader’s attention and how they’ve enriched their descriptions.    What impact does this have on your engagement with the text? What helps draw you into the passage and when is the sensory description too much ‘clutter’?   Notice the different styles in books you enjoy versus those you set aside. So settle down comfortably, wrap up warm, keep your eyes and ears open as you sniff out those examples and get a taste for what rings your bell, lights your fire, and gets your metaphorical taste buds tingling! 
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