June 2022 – Jericho Writers
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Types Of Irony In Literature: With Tips And Examples

If, like me, you’re of a certain vintage, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of ‘irony’ are lyrics from Alanis Morrisette’s song ‘Ironic’. Irony is when there’s rain on your wedding day, right? Well, no. The situations described in Morrisette’s song are actually all simply unfortunate. Which is, in itself, somewhat ironic for a song called ‘Ironic’ (don’t you think?). In this article, we’ll have a look at the five main types of irony in literature, along with examples for each. What Is Irony In Literature? So why isn’t rain on your wedding day ironic? It might not be what you’d hoped for, but it lacks the sense of reversal often at the heart of irony; as comedian Ed Byrne commented, it would only be ironic if you were getting married to a weatherman. Irony is also commonly confused with sarcasm, and, although there is some crossover between the two, there are two key differences. The first is that sarcasm can only be used to describe speech; whilst events and situations can be ironic, they cannot be sarcastic. The word ‘sarcasm’ is derived from the Greek for ‘cutting flesh’, and this brings us to our second difference: sarcasm is cutting and is intended to wound. So, whilst you can say something ironically by saying the opposite of what you mean, you are only being sarcastic if you are trying to hurt, insult or belittle someone by doing so. In our writing, we can make use of irony as a literary device for a number of reasons: To build tensionCreate humourElicit sympathy for our charactersGive our story a satisfying twistTie various elements to a central theme or moralCharacter development (either the hero or other characters) What Are The Different Types Of Irony? Let\'s look at the five different types of irony, each of which can be used as a literary device... Verbal Irony Definition When a character says the opposite of what they are really thinking, they are using verbal irony. When I step outside into pouring rain and state, ‘What a lovely day!’ I am being ironic, because that’s not what I actually mean. (What I actually mean is that I live in Glasgow.) The contrast between what is said and our understanding of the underlying sentiment is often used for humour. For example, in The Simpsons, when Bart tells Homer, ‘I respect you as much as I ever have or ever will,’ we of course understand that Bart means that he has a very low level of regard for his father. In your own writing, then, consider how a character’s dialogue, or even inner monologue, can be used to humorous effect. Maybe we want a lighthearted scene. We might want to build a sense of a character’s joviality, black humour, or dourness. Whatever the reason, verbal irony can be a powerful tool in developing characterisation and mood in your writing. Dramatic Irony Example And Definition Dramatic irony is when the audience or readers know something that the characters do not. We find this type of irony throughout the plays of William Shakespeare. Think of the prologue from Romeo and Juliet, for example: From forth the fatal loins of these two foesA pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;Whose misadventured piteous overthrowsDo with their death bury their parents’ strife.Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare We know from the beginning that the lovers will die at their own hands. Dramatic irony is employed to keep the audience or reader on the edge of their seats, aware of the danger hurtling towards the blithely unaware characters. Inevitability is a key element of dramatic irony: at some point, the characters will learn what the audience already knows. In ancient Greek drama, this moment was known as ‘anagnorisis’, and it is intimately tied up with the conventions of tragedy: that the hero’s downfall is caused by their fatal flaw. The audience knows ahead of time what the character’s fatal flaw or crucial mistake is, while the character themselves only realises it too late. And this is the great power of dramatic irony – rather than acting as a ‘spoiler’ and ruining a big reveal, it engages readers further as they wait in agony for the moment a character’s world comes crashing down around them. The inevitability of dramatic irony lends tension to even the quieter moments of a story and helps it build towards a thrilling climax. Situational Irony Definition Situational irony occurs when the opposite of what you’d expect to happen happens. Remember how rain on your wedding day is ironic – if you’re getting married to a weatherman? That’s situational irony. Another example might be if an ambulance, racing to help an injured person, instead struck and further injured that person. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, features a sailor who is stuck on a ship that is going nowhere, and is slowly dying of thirst; the irony is that there is ‘Water, water everywhere/Nor any drop to drink.’ Tragic irony indeed. In this example, situational irony adds to our understanding of the character’s desperation and gives us a sense of the bitterness of his situation. If you want your readers to gasp at the unfairness of your character’s situation, or see the bittersweetness or humour in a moment when the outcome they expected was reversed or subverted, then situational irony is an effective way to achieve this. Cosmic Irony Definition Cosmic irony is closely related to situational irony. Going further than simply subverting an expectation, cosmic irony is when it seems as though the universe itself is against your characters. We often see cosmic irony in stories where the gods seem to have control of a character’s fate, and have fun at their expense. In Antigone, a play by Sophocles, we see cosmic irony in the antagonist, Creon’s, fate. Creon angers the gods when he decrees that the body of Antigone’s disgraced brother is not to be buried. Creon’s pride leads to the cosmic irony of the punishment the gods give him: because he did not respect the rituals of death, he ultimately suffers the death of all who are close to him. Here, cosmic irony is used by Sophocles for a number of reasons: to explore the human condition, and to emphasise the theme of fate versus free will. If you want to create a character whose inescapable fate is so monumental and devastating that it will leave your readers in awe and despair, cosmic irony is the way to go. Socratic Irony Definition Socratic irony derives from the teaching method of Greek philosopher Socrates, who used questioning to prompt a student to work logically through their ideas. This brings us to Socratic irony, where a character feigns ignorance in order to uncover hidden truths. The most famous example of this literary technique is perhaps the TV detective Columbo, whose entire persona is an example of Socratic irony. Presenting a humble appearance, the detective would trick ne’er do wells by leading them to reveal a seemingly insignificant, yet crucial detail. His catchphrase ‘One more thing’, is a masterclass in Socratic irony, as he pretends to remember to enquire about a small matter when his targets are most unguarded. This type of irony works especially well in the crime genre, and intersects with dramatic irony: the reader will realise when a character has stepped into a trap laid by the questioner, though the character themselves will only realise too late. It’s also a powerful tool to drive up the tension in courtroom dramas – think of the well known ‘You can’t handle the truth’ scene in the film A Few Good Men. The great thing about Socratic irony is that it can be used to create completely opposite effects. On the one hand, if you want to build up to a stunning climax, you can use Socratic irony to show a gradually more tense interaction that becomes an explosive confrontation when one side realises what they’ve let slip. However, if you want to show your readers a character who quietly and deftly draws their oblivious opponent into a net of their own making, you can use Socratic irony for this as well. How To Use Irony In Your Writing Although irony is a highly effective tool, one thing to keep in mind when using it is that it relies entirely on the reader’s ability to recognise that it’s there in the first place. You need to read between the lines to see irony, because it hinges on the reader noticing the difference between how things appear and what the real truth is, or what is expected as opposed to what actually happens. Points Of View And Irony If you want to use any of the various types of irony discussed, some possibilities include using an omniscient point of view, flashbacks, or foreshadowing. These approaches all allow the readers to have access to information that characters themselves may not have, or set up expectations that you can then play with. As with all writing techniques, irony works best if employed for a clear purpose. What do you want to achieve with your use of irony? Does it align with your overall theme or message?Does it develop your readers’ understanding of the character?Does it add an additional element to your climax or your ending? The purposes of irony are as varied as the examples you’ll find, perhaps in some of your favourite books or films. In fact, looking for examples in your favourite stories can be an excellent way to develop your own understanding of how to write irony, or they can serve as inspiration! Frequently Asked Questions What Are The Five Main Types Of Irony? The five main types of irony are verbal, dramatic, situational, cosmic and Socratic. Verbal irony is when you say the opposite of what you mean.Dramatic irony is when the audience or reader knows something that the characters don’t.Situational irony is when the opposite of what is expected happens, often to humorous effect.Cosmic irony is when the outcome of a character’s actions seem to be controlled by fate, the universe, or the gods.Socratic irony is when a character’s feigned ignorance enables the truth to come out. What Are Three Dramatic Irony Examples? The manipulative and scheming Iago is repeatedly described in Shakespeare’s Othello as ‘honest’.In Shrek, when Shrek thinks Fiona can’t possibly love him because he’s an ogre, unaware that Fiona is cursed to become an ogre each night.In the movie Parasite, when the Parks return home from their trip, unaware that the Kims are hiding in the house. There is further dramatic irony when the Kims later discover that there is another person secretly hidden in the house. What Is Situational Irony In Literature? In literature, situational irony is when the outcome you’d expect does not happen, and your expectation is subverted or reversed in some manner. For example, in Roald Dahl’s, Lamb to the Slaughter, Mary kills her husband by hitting him with a frozen leg of lamb. She then cooks the lamb and feeds it to the police officers who arrive to ask her some questions. The police unwittingly destroying evidence is situational irony, as is the fact that Mary is not, as she first seems, the ‘lamb’ of the title – her husband is. Writing Irony Irony creates additional depth and meaning to your work, and connects you to a rich literary tradition which goes back literally thousands of years. If you want your readers to be painfully aware of the predicament your character is in, or to gasp at the intricacy of your plotting, or laugh out loud at absurdity, irony is all its forms will help.

Line Editing: How To Do It And What It Is

To create a truly great piece of work, there are many aspects of the craft of writing to take into consideration. Learning the skill of copyediting and line editing is one of them. There are many different stages of the editing process and when traditionally published you will work with a copy editor, line editors, proofreaders and even sensitivity readers. So, I\'m afraid, it\'s not as simple as checking your work just the once! In this article, I will be explaining what line editing is, how to line edit effectively, and the differences between line editing vs copy editing. Unless you have worked as an editor, understanding the different stages of editing and why they\'re important can feel like a minefield. With so many editing terms floating around it’s hard to know what you need to implement, or when you need the help of a professional editor. So let us start with the line editing process. What Is Line Editing? One of the most common questions I\'m asked as an editor is “what is line editing?” Starting the editing process can be incredibly intimidating, especially when you have no idea what it requires. Firstly we need to break down the terminology of editing services: In most areas of writing, be that fiction, non-fiction or even article writing, there are five major types of editing. Developmental Editing Structural Editing Copy Editing Line Editing Mechanical Editing/Proofreading Most of these editing terms are fairly easy to understand, but the two that get confused more than most are copy editing vs line editing. Line editing, in its most simple definition, deals with the editing for purposes of flow, style and readability of the manuscript. It\'s literally looking at your manuscript line by line. Contrary to what many believe, line editing does not include grammar, spelling or punctuation errors. Don’t get me wrong, you will be looking so closely at your sentence structures that these will most likely become glaringly obvious, but you don’t need to worry about picking up on all typos during this sweep of your manuscript. There\'s a reason why proofreading is left until the very end! Instead, when line editing (either by you or a professional line editor, if you are working with an editor via your publisher or one you have hired) will look at your word usage, the overall readability, the flow and prose. Clunky sentences will be polished, run-on sentences will be tweaked, and all those words you were not sure really fit will be interchanged for shiny new ones. This is where you truly polish that diamond. Line Editing Vs Copy Editing If line editing focuses on flow, creative content, and writing style, what is the difference between a line edit and a copy edit? A copy edit is much more technical. It\'s the editing process where you focus on editing text looking for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors as well as consistency and continuity in regards to name spellings, location spelling and so on. Proofreading your writing at the very end will also pick up on any stray typos that may have occurred during the editing process. Copy editing is mechanical and looks at the standard and expected edits, your line edit is much more subjective. It’s about polishing for beauty rather than polishing for performance. Line Editing Vs Developmental Editing Developmental Editing is an editing process that happens earlier in the writing journey, focussing on the big picture; pacing, structure, continuity, and character development. This is a stage of editing where you make sure your character arcs are tight, the relationships on the page make sense, and where those who enjoy working to ‘beats’ will ensure they are hitting the beats at the right points in the novel. There\'s no point focussing on what words work best and where, if your chronology and plot are all out of place. So story first, then word choice. How To Line Edit My first piece of advice in this section might seem a little left field but bear with me. With each wave of edits, try using a different medium. This is one piece of advice, given by my favourite writing mentor (Alison May) and it has stuck with me ever since. If you normally read on a laptop, print out your pages and do this edit on hard copy. Or, send it to your Kindle or iPad. Or better yet, read it backwards! At this stage, you already know that your book is developmentally sound having completed your developmental edit. So read a page at a time… but from the back of your book. This will force you to look at each line and paragraph individually without getting sucked into the story once more. Getting Started When doing a line edit, the best thing to do is first make a list of all the areas you should be focusing on: Dialogue Can your dialogue be tighter? Does it read naturally? Can you cut some of those ‘extra’ words to make it read/sound more convincing? Action Check your action on the page. This is extremely helpful when it comes to sex scenes, for instance. Do you have too many arms in the scene, (trust me this is entirely possible!) or do the transitions in the action make sense? Run-On Sentences Could those sentences be shortened to pack a bigger punch? Does the cadence of the sentence pull you through the scene or stop you short? Extraneous Or Overused Words EVERYONE has a tick. A word they overuse in every manuscript. Use the ‘find’ function to discover how many times you lean on it (top tip, you can nearly always delete \'just\' and many \'that\'s\'). Repetition Check for repetition. When writing your first draft you often don’t notice it. Have you told your reader the same thing in four different ways to make sure they get your point? Try to remember your reader is more intelligent than you give them credit for; you only need to tell them something once. Line Editing Tips If you are choosing to do your line edits yourself, here are a few ideas to help you complete this editing process as painlessly as possible. Try: Editing/reading in a different format (even if that means simply changing the font style and colour to trick your brain into thinking it’s reading something new). Give yourself space between your last edit and your copy edit. Set aside your manuscript for a few days, a week or two if you can cope. Your brain needs time to breathe before you read those words again so it can see them with fresh eyes. Try reading your work out loud. How do those words sound when they hit the air? Or better yet, get someone to read it to you. (Microsoft word now offers a read-out-loud function.) Sometimes the emphasis someone else puts on certain words will make you realise that sentence doesn’t quite work as well as you\'d intended. Ask for help! There are many professional editors out there that do this for a living and would be more than happy to assist. If you feel overwhelmed then ask for help. Writing may be a solitary job, but it doesn’t mean we have to struggle alone. Equally, There Are A Few Things You Should Try Not To Do: A thesaurus can often be your best friend… but don’t overuse it. Sometimes simple works best, and if you have to look up a ‘better word’ in a thesaurus, maybe it’s not the word that’s wrong. Look at what it is you are actually trying to say. Don’t over analyse. Trust yourself and your reader. Remember the repetition comment – your reader is often more intelligent than you give them credit for. Trust that your writing is strong enough to get your point across without over-explanation.   As you can see, the process of editing can be broken down into smaller pieces. It makes the whole idea of that scary edit feel much less daunting. Remember, you can’t eat an elephant whole… you need to take it in small bitesize chunks, so embrace the different stages. Breaking down the writing process into small and very deliberate steps will also give you the distance you need to edit your manuscript with less emotional attachment and from a much more clinical point of view. Frequently Asked Questions What Is Line Editing In Writing? Line editing is a stage in the editing process where you focus solely on the flow, style, and readability of the manuscript. This does not include grammar, spelling or punctuation errors. What Does Line Editing Look Like? Put very simply, a line edit looks like a lot of red-pen on the page. It is a stage of the edit where you look at every paragraph of your novel and make sure that it moves the story forward, and that the tone and voice are consistent. At the end of this edit, you will have a manuscript that feels rounded and almost complete. Do I Need To Employ A Professional Editor/Professional Line Editor? Hiring a developmental editor/editing services can be incredibly helpful to those who feel they need an extra set of eyes to ensure the flow of the story, but by the time you get to the line edit, most writers feel more than comfortable enough to tackle it themselves. Get Your Red Pen Out! Now you know how it\'s time to get editing. I hope you have found this article helpful, and that you\'ve learned what it takes to get your manuscript sparkling. The editing process needn\'t be painful. In fact, if done right, it can be a lot of fun!

Pacing In Writing: Engage Your Readers With Every Page

Have you ever wondered how great fiction writing always manages to keep you hooked on every page and leave you wanting more? Or how the best films will leave you gripped, often keenly waiting for the next piece of action to develop? How a story unfolds isn’t something that magically happens. This comes about from great pacing and it\'s a skill that needs to be carefully developed in order to entice your readers and ensure they want to keep reading. Truly successful authors are experts at using different paces and have total control over their story pacing and the direction the plot will take you in. In this guide, we will explore what pacing is and why it\'s so important to good writing. We will also help you to master the pacing in your story to strengthen your work and ensure that your readers are left satisfied. So to begin, let’s explore what pacing is. What Is Pacing? Pacing refers to the rhythm of the entire story and how the chain of events fall into place. It\'s not necessarily the speed at which the story is told or the chapter length, but more how fast or slow the story is moving for the reader. Rather like a wonderfully composed piece of music, pacing differs. A great story should have moments of climax and slower, steadier points. How a story unfolds is something readers are conscious of, without always knowing why. Authors can use different tools to slow or speed up their pacing depending on what effect they are looking to achieve. For example, in a high-impact thriller, a writer might be looking to ensure that the story is fast moving, to push the story forward. That action is paramount for the main storyline, so descriptive passages and lengthy paragraphs are limited. However, in a slow-burning romance, for instance, the author might want to slow down the action and increase intrigue, changing the sentence structure to something more flowery and adding lengthy sentences. Now let’s consider why pacing is so important. Why Is Pacing Important? A story\'s pacing is a vital part of its appeal. It ensures the story moves at the correct speed and keeps your reader engaged and invested. Without effective pacing a book can suffer from sluggish, slow-moving sections – or, alternatively, can be blistering fast and not give your reader time to connect with characters or have the opportunity to envisage the world you are building. Rather like a great piece of music, or a satisfying film – a story must hit those highs and lows at the right time and leave you feeling completely satisfied once you have completed the journey. Keeping your reader invested is vital; you want them to keep turning pages. Pacing helps build tension and atmosphere and should take your reader in the direction you wish them to go in, moving with the ebb and flow of your story. Correct pacing ensures action can be driven forward at key scenes and slowed down again, for more retrospective moments or sections which focus on character development. If the readers get bored or can\'t keep up, they will be thrown out of the action and you don\'t want that. Well-constructed pace will help to ensure you keep them on that journey with you. Readers also want to feel satisfied by pacing, much like they feel when they consume other creative works. Most would struggle and feel quite exhausted by an onslaught of successive, quick action. Readers appreciate quiet, softer moments too – a chance to catch their breath and gather their thoughts. You may want to go slow when there\'s a lot of information you need your readers to absorb, plus the areas of intensity will have more impact. Now that we have understood why pacing is so important, let’s focus on how you achieve a well-paced story. How To Master Pacing In Your Writing Pacing can be used in many ways to strengthen your story. For example, paragraph length, word choice, and how you structure sentences will all affect pace. If you want to break up a long passage of exposition, a short piece of dialogue can be an effective way of changing the pace. Alternatively, you may have a very dialogue-heavy scene that is fast-moving, and the addition of exposition (even a line or two) will slow the action down and temporarily take the reader away from it. You may want to consider adding action scenes to a point of the text that has become quite slow-moving and static. Or, on the flip side, you may wish to consider writing some introspective pieces in an area where there has been lots of pace and movement in order to change the direction. Examples Of Pacing In Writing Let\'s take a look at how sentence structure and length can affect pace, and examine the other literary techniques you can use to create drama in your novel or short story. Short Sentences Author Ruth Ware is an expert at using pace in her novels. Here is an example of action being added to change pace. This section is from The Lying Game, very early on in chapter one. We have already been introduced briefly to the main character, who has received an intriguing text message. The initial writing is introspective and written at a calmer pace, lulling us into a false sense of security. Then suddenly, as the character reads the message, the pace picks up: I need you.I don’t need to ask what that means – because I just know, just as I know who sent it, even though it’s from a number I don’t recognise.KateKate Atagon.Just the sound of her name brings her back to me in a vivid rush – the smell of her soap, the freckles across the bridge of her nose, cinnamon against olive.Kate.FatimaTheaAnd me.The Lying Game by Ruth Ware The use of short, sharp sentences here really helps to drive the pace and tension and we can also effectively feel the characters heightened emotions through the use of the descriptive words and staccato structure. It’s clear that things are moving at speed and the reader will immediately want to know more. Longer Sentences In the beautifully crafted My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young, we can see lots of examples of introspective writing being used effectively to slow pace. This is done to great effect throughout the book and allows us to learn about the character and setting. Here\'s an example: It was all he wanted now. All he ever wanted. Alone with Nadine. The very words gave him a frisson. Why should it be impossible? Surely in this big new twentieth century he could find a way to make it possible. After all, his mother would have thought it impossible for him even to have known a girl like Nadine… Things change. You can make things change. And the Waveneys weren’t like normal upper-class people. They were half-French and well travelled and open minded. They had noisy parties and played charades and hugged each other, and Mrs Waveney had told him that champagne glasses were modelled on the Empress Jospehine’s breast…My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young Through the use of this type of descriptive writing, the author is slowing the pace down a little whilst also giving the reader a chance to find out more about the character and the world they live in before the tension and pace build up later in the narrative. Longer sentences are usually used here, and the scenes are more descriptive and detailed, delivered at a more leisurely pace. Cliff Hangers Another very effective way to increase pace is to introduce a cliffhanger to your text, giving it an intriguing or abrupt end. This will immediately pick up the pace of the novel, as it builds mystery and tension. An example of a great cliffhanger is in The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell. Towards the end of chapter two, we are given a wonderful piece of intrigue when Sophie, who has just moved into a school cottage beside the woods, discovers a sign nailed to a fence. She turns to put the latch on the gate as she leaves the back garden and as she does so her eye is caught by something nailed to the wooden fence.A piece of cardboard, a flap torn from a box by the looks of it.Scrawled on it in marker and with an arrow pointing down to the earth, are the words, \'Dig Here.’The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell This cliffhanger immediately increases the pace as the reader wants to know what happens next, but Jewell expertly uses a shift in pace by changing the direction of the narrative in the next chapter.  This is an extremely effective way of building intrigue and moving the story along at speed. Tips For Crafting A Well-Paced Story As mentioned before it\'s important to have both slower-paced scenes and fast-paced ones, to match your plot points and enhance the reader experience. Here are various tips to help you on your journey towards mastering pacing. Vary Sentence Length This is one of the quickest and easiest things you can do to increase the pace. Sharp, shorter sentences immediately move the action on quicker. Shorter paragraphs make us read faster and add to the suspense. Using the \'show, don\'t tell\' approach (which suggests using a limited amount of exposition) is really helpful when writing using a fast pace. Longer paragraphs with detailed descriptions do the reverse; they keep readers relaxed and give them time to catch their breath before the next bit of action. (Be careful not to go too far in this direction, or you\'ll end up writing purple prose.) Change Direction To Shape Pace As outlined in the Lisa Jewell example, a great way to manipulate pace is to change the direction of your narrative. For example, if you have written a fast-moving action scene that has ended on a cliff-hanger, you might want your next scene to focus on some quieter action, or more introspective work in order to build intrigue. Your readers will keep reading, eager to know what happens next. Add A Breather Many writers imagine that a well-paced novel must remain fast-paced throughout, but that is not the case. Slower scenes are very important as they develop character and setting. Breathers (long paragraphs with descriptive words) are great to slip into your writing after a period of fast action. They allow your characters and readers a chance to gather their thoughts and take in what has just occurred. It also means the fast-paced scenes will have more impact. Read Out Loud This is a great tip you can try when you\'re writing anyway. By reading your work out loud, you can actually hear how it sounds. Is it moving at the right pace? Does it feel slow and sluggish? Can you feel the right momentum as you read? If you are out of breath reading it then your readers will be too, which is perfect if it\'s an adventure novel and your characters are also out of breath! But if that\'s not what you\'re aiming for, you may need to adjust your sentences a little. Use Introspection To Develop Character You should always be considering your character development alongside plot and pace, so remember to show what your characters are thinking. Introspection is a great tool to use to slow down pace, and it also helps showcase character motivation and character drive and creates empathy for your characters. All of these things will help your readers connect to the writing. Reveal Information Selectively If you reveal all the exciting and enticing twists and turns too soon, the pace will soon drop and feel frustrating to the reader. Consider the use of cliff-hangers to build intrigue, or perhaps change direction or slow the pace after a moment of revelation to leave the reader keen to find out more. Use Backstory Or Sub Plots This can help you take your story in a different direction entirely and in doing so changes the pace. However, you should only consider using this device if it will help the development of the story overall, not just as a tool to control the pace. Plan Your Novel - The Rise And Fall To have great pacing you often need great planning, even if it’s a simple rough outline of where the rise and the fall of the novel will be. With such an outline, you can help shape your writing into a more workable draft. Read Some Great Examples Read! The best way to experience pacing is to seek other examples and see how authors do it. Pick up one of your favourite thrillers and notice the pacing. How does the author keep you gripped? Where are the high points and how do they introduce their slower moments? How can this help you to shape your own writing? Frequently Asked Questions How Is Pacing Used In A Story? Pacing is used as a mechanism to control the rhythm and speed at which a story is being told. It is also a way of ensuring you have control over how details and events are revealed. Pacing can be used to show fast-moving action and points of tension, but can also deliver slower, more introspective moments which helps with character interaction and scene setting. What Is Good Pacing? Good pacing allows the writing to move in ebbs and flows. Pacing in your writing should not be too fast throughout, leaving the reader without a chance to pause for breath. Yet nor should it be too slow or sluggish, boring your readers and not moving the plot forward. Well-considered and well-constructed pacing will leave the reader feeling satisfied and engaged. Poorly constructed pacing will leave the story disjointed and unbalanced. What Is An Example Of Pacing In Literature? The Therapist by B A Paris is an example of an exciting story that moves at pace to keep the reader engaged. There are lots of fast-moving action scenes, various dialogue-heavy chapters and a short snappy narrative. The end result is a fast-paced novel, encouraging readers to turn to the next page. Perfect Pacing As you have now learned, pacing is extremely important when writing any kind of fiction. It\'s a key component that will keep your reader stay engaged and invested in your writing. Rather like tides, your words should ebb and flow – taking the reader on a journey and leaving them feeling at times breathless, and at other times calm and immersed in your story. Pacing is a skill that comes with time, but like most things, gets better with practice. Now you know all there is to know about pacing, you have no excuse to slow down. Open up that document and start writing!

Popular Types Of Fantasy Characters

Sitting down to read or write a fantasy book feels a little like finding yourself in ‘The Wood Between Worlds’ in C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew. Endless doors and avenues surround you, each one filled with its own rich cast of heroes, villains, creatures, and monsters. At least, that has always been my experience of the genre. Like Polly and Diggory in the first instalment of The Chronicles of Narnia, fantasy literature has constantly offered me a gateway to a whole new world of imaginative possibility. It can be exciting, absolutely, but it goes without saying that that endlessness can also make the process of writing your own fantasy novel quite daunting.   One of the best things to bear in mind when you do feel a little lost in your fantasy world is that a fantasy novel has, at its heart, a set of conventions. Although it is the job of the writer to ensure that their fantasy story does not become too predictable or formulaic, being able to break down and understand the tropes that make up your favourite stories can help make the process of writing your own fantasy books a lot more manageable.  In this article, I’ll be examining one of the most important fantasy literature conventions: the fantasy character. Within this, I will be exploring the ten most popular types of fantasy characters, their importance to the story, as well as some notable examples, in order to show you exactly how having a good grasp of character can strengthen your fantasy writing.  Fantasy Archetypes  Although the word ‘fantasy’ frequently conjures up ideas of complex worldbuilding and intricate magic systems, it is the stories’ characters which are, ultimately, the lifeblood of every good fantasy novel. Dealing as it does with faraway lands and high-risk stakes, fantasy characters have, in many ways, a more integral role within the story than most other literary genres; we cannot necessarily relate to the fantasy setting, so we must be able to relate to the characters that exist within them.   After all, we can only come to believe in the story if we recognise something of ourselves or those around us within its characters. Without that, the power of the central conflict is lost on us. If we don’t engage with, or even understand, the story’s characters, then we cease to care about what happens to them. As anyone who has ever stayed up crying about the fictional fate of their favourite fantasy character will tell you, a story’s power and resonance are only as strong as the reader\'s emotional attachment to its characters.   And how do we achieve that emotional connection? By ensuring that our characters are fully fleshed out, three-dimensional characters, with their own motivations, flaws and emotions. In that way, even if we cannot relate to their abilities or their otherworldliness, chances are that we can share in the motivations and emotions which drive them. By understanding the role that your characters play within the wider story, this process of developing compelling characters will become less difficult. Just as every story is different, so is every character. But characters tend to fall within certain groups/categories (each with their own tropes) that are important to consider in your own fantasy writing. Types Of Fantasy Characters Fantasy stories are rife with memorable characters of all kinds. Here is a list of ten of the most common types of fantasy characters.  1. The Hero  Understandably, the most important character in every fantasy story is its main hero. This is our main character, the one whose perspective we chiefly follow, and the figure whose primary role is to resolve the conflict that is driving the action of the story. Although fantasy heroes can look, sound, and act very differently from one another, it is helpful to think of them as the kind of engine driver of the story.   For theorists like Joseph Campbell, who outlined the narrative archetype of The Hero’s Journey, the fantasy story structure can be boiled down to these basic elements: the hero goes on an adventure, learns a lesson with newfound knowledge, and then returns home transformed. Whilst not all fantasy stories stick exclusively to this idea, this archetype is useful in illustrating how integral the hero is to the story’s structure: if we don’t root for them and their mission, then the story falls flat on its face.  Although the hero is committed to resolving the story’s conflict, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case that they choose the role that they have been given: some might relish their role as a hero in the traditional warrior sense, whilst others might find themselves an altogether more reluctant protagonist.   However, it doesn’t have to be the case that the hero acts as the story’s moral epicentre. Whilst crafting a hero who is understandable and, by extension, sympathetic, is crucial, a fantasy hero is by no means bound to a strict ethical code of conduct. In many ways, the tension and intrigue within the story come from how the hero is forced to confront a darker, more questionable side to their character.  Examples: Celaena Sardothien/Aelin Galathynius (the Throne of Glass series), Paige Mahoney (the Bone Season series), Kvothe (The Kingkiller Chronicles), Vin (the Mistborn series), and Alina Starkov (the Grisha trilogy).  2. The Villain  Wherever there is a fantasy hero, there is, of course, a fantasy villain. This is the person who, often, is causing the main story’s conflict; they are the story’s primary antagonistic force and it is their desires and ambitions that the fantasy hero needs to confront. It doesn’t always have to be on the same scale but, frequently, the fulfilment of the villain’s goals spells danger not only to the hero’s life but, potentially, to the fantasy world at large.   Although the villain’s ambitions are undoubtedly immoral, one thing to keep in mind when it comes to crafting a compelling villain is that pure evil is not, in itself, enough of an excuse. In many ways, suggesting that the villain acts the way that they do, or even desires world domination ‘just because they are evil’ risks the story’s credibility.   As mentioned above, if we are to believe in the story and its stakes, we have to understand what is motivating every character involved. Rather than suggest that your fantasy villains are programmed to be inherently bad, show that their goal is tied to a deeper, emotional want. By giving them some kind of origin story, which explains their current conduct, you add a depth and complexity which heightens our emotional investment in the story.  Examples: Davy Jones (Pirates of the Caribbean), Cersei Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire series), Eli Cardale (Vicious), The Darkling (the Grisha trilogy), The Jackal (the Red Rising trilogy).  3. The Mentor  Named in honour of the figure of the self-same name who guides the young Telemachus in Homer’s The Odyssey, the mentor is the figure who, as the title suggests, helps support our hero through the story’s trials and tribulations. More often or not, they are the figure with the most knowledge of what is going on in the wider context of the story and, as such, have the practical, hard-won wisdom needed to help the hero progress. Often this relationship of dependency and trust means that the hero and the mentor share a uniquely special relationship, one that resembles an almost parental bond.   Unfortunately, by virtue of how much the mentor knows, it is almost always necessary for the mentor and the hero to part ways. After all, where would the fun be if the conflict was resolved too quickly or easily? Unless the mentor has a desire to be difficult for the sake of it, this will often mean that the mentor has to be taken out of the main story somehow, leaving the hero free to apply the lessons they have learnt from their time with them. Although this can sometimes mean being incapacitated elsewhere, commonly this will culminate in the mentor being killed off. Ultimately, their role is to provide the hero with the tools necessary to solve the conflict, but it is not always the case that they will be there to see the resolution come about.  Examples: Brom (Eragon), Magnus Bane (the Mortal Instruments series), Obi Wan Kenobi (Star Wars), Chiron (the Percy Jackson series), and Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings).  4. The Sidekick  Although not necessarily the driving force of the story in the same way fantasy heroes or fantasy villains are, fantasy sidekicks are an essential element in creating a believable story. Much like the mentor, they offer a crucial source of support to the hero; since they are not necessarily figures with the same kind of knowledge or skills, this support is more often emotional than practical. Their relationship with the hero is integral—they are true friends, with a bond forged out of years of trust and commitment, and it is, consequently, this connection which enables the sidekick to see the good in our fantasy hero, and to offer them the self-belief they need to move forwards.   Whilst the sidekick can sometimes resent their role as the lesser shining star to our hero’s supernova, it is their relatability and, frankly, their relative ordinariness which gives them their narrative power. They are the ones we recognise as being most like ourselves: on a meta level, it is the reader who, like the sidekick, is mentally rooting for the hero and, thus, it is the sidekick who acts as our mouthpiece when they give our hero a necessary pep talk.   Examples: Grover Underwood (the Percy Jackson series), Samwell Tarly (A Song of Ice and Fire series), Samwise Gamgee (The Lord of the Rings), Rose Tyler (Doctor Who), Wayne (the Mistborn series).  5. The Love Interest  Much like fantasy villains, the love interest can be a challenging character to get right. Given the fact that their relationship with the main character is chiefly romantic, it is easy for their character to be reduced entirely to this relationship. As such, the risk with writing the love interest is that we do not see them beyond their romantic role, or give them enough of an individual character arc or set of external motivations and desires to make them well fleshed out.   If you get the love interest right, however, their presence is an integral way of humanising the story’s conflict, by reminding us of the many relationships that are being put in jeopardy by the antagonistic forces that be. As already mentioned, if we don’t believe in the emotional stakes of the story, we don’t feel the full force of the story’s resolution.  Examples: Cardan Greenbriar (the Folk of the Air trilogy), Annabeth Chase (the Percy Jackson series), Rowan Whitethorn (the Throne of Glass series), Queen Sabran (The Priory of the Orange Tree), and Rhysand (A Court of Thorns & Roses series).  6. The Alternative Hero  Just one glimpse at the size of the latest Brandon Sanderson or George R.R. Martin book will tell you one very basic thing about fantasy books; they are weighty tomes overrun with a vast tapestry of characters. Given how the main fantasy archetypes only run to a handful of those characters, it makes sense for there to be some additional backup forces to help out our key players. With the stakes being as high as they are—and let’s be honest there is nothing more intense as a potential apocalypse—it would make sense for our hero to have some extra helping hands. Cue, the alternative hero.  To help understand their role, and more particularly, how they are distinguished from the sidekick or the mentor, it is best to think of the alternative hero in the mould of Tolkien’s character Aragorn: like Gandalf and Sam, he supports and believes in Frodo and his ability to save the day, but unlike the other two he assists chiefly by concentrating on what he can do, from his end, to tackle the conflict. Essentially, he empowers the main hero by providing as clear a path forward as he can towards that longed-for resolution.   Examples: Simon Lewis (the Mortal Instruments series), Tane (The Priory of the Orange Tree), Helene (An Ember in the Ashes series), Roran (The Inheritance Cycle), and Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia).  7. The Secondary Villain  Much like our backup heroes who give ‘team good’ their additional power, our villains would be nowhere near as intimidating or threatening were it not for those secondary villains propping them up. This secondary villain fundamentally operates as our main villain’s henchman; they are not so much the brains behind the operation, as the brawn, the one who carries out the dirty work in pursuit of the villain’s ultimate goal.   What makes the secondary villain so interesting is the very fact that their involvement with the main villain is less out of a genuine, emotional commitment and more a result of circumstance or compulsion. They are not necessarily bad because they want to be, or because they believe in the merits of the villain’s plan, but rather they feel they must follow along. Sometimes, they might even register the consequences of their actions, or experience inner turmoil for the damage they have caused. As with any character, it is this tension and nuance which adds emotional complexity and interest.  Examples: Luke Castellan (the Percy Jackson series), Grace Blackthorn (The Last Hours trilogy), Niclays (The Priory of the Orange Tree), Tamlin (A Court of Thorns and Roses series), Theon Greyjoy (A Song of Ice and Fire series).  8. The Magical Aide  What is the beauty of fantasy books, after all, if not for all the many wonderful supernatural entities that you can find within them? Whether they be fauns or griffins, vampires or fae, our magical characters are what give fantasy books a special kind of excitement and interest. They function as a sign of how extraordinary- literally- our fantasy worlds are and it is their existence which differentiates fantasy novels from the standard fictional book. In other words, they make our fiction fantastical.  Given how often magic and the supernatural can be misused in fantasy, the involvement of friendly magical creatures can help demonstrate the way that the fantastical or the magical are, inherently, neutral. As it is not so much magic or the supernatural that is wrong as the people who use those forces for evil.  Examples: Mr Tumnus (The Chronicles of Narnia), Toothless (How to Train Your Dragon), Kilgarrah, the Great Dragon (Merlin), Buckbeak (the Harry Potter series), Saphira (The Inheritance Cycle).  9. The Monster  As with the balance of villain and hero, the good magical creatures must have their opposite in a fantasy story. Enter the monster. Now, unlike the villain, this antagonistic force doesn’t have to have anything recognisably human about them: in all honesty, it is the essential inhumanity of our favourite fantasy monsters which makes them so terrifying and effective. In contrast to near enough every other figure in a fantasy novel, monsters need very little motivation and drive other than a primal urge to commit mayhem and pain. They are not the driving force behind the conflict, but they are the ones who see this conflict as a beneficial opportunity. As such, they cannot be reasoned with or deterred—in the vast majority of fantasy writing, it is unlikely that they can even be redeemed.  Examples: The demons (The Shadowhunter Chronicles), Shelob (The Lord of the Rings), The Chitauri (The Avengers), the Army of the Night King (Game of Thrones), and the walking dead (The Walking Dead).  10. The Rival/Foil  The rival is a character that is easy to confuse with figures like the secondary villain, or even the alternative hero. These are the characters that act as a foil to our main character and it is their proximity, or even their similarity to our main character, which gives them their enigmatic power.   Think of the term ‘rival’ less as an indication of how antagonistic they are in the wider context of the story, and more about the ways in which they operate as a balancing force to your central hero. More often than not, these characters have personalities which clash, or which cause them to resent each other, but, as it becomes apparent as the story goes on, there is more that unites these characters than divides them. Whether it is the fact that they share a similar backstory, a similar set of skills or even the same love interest, the rival reads like a character that, in a different story, might well have been our central character. And it is their presence in the story which forces the main character to prove their heroism and individuality: if there is a potentially more plausible hero out there, then our main hero has to justify why it is their story, and not the foil’s.  Examples: Neville Longbottom (the Harry Potter series), Sir Lancelot (Merlin), Han Solo (Star Wars), Robb Stark (Game of Thrones), Lysandra (Throne of Glass).  Frequently Asked Questions  What Types Of Characters Are In Fantasy?  Although this list is by no means exhaustive, there are chiefly ten main character types that can be found within fantasy stories: the hero, the villain, the mentor, the sidekick, the love interest, the alternative hero, the secondary villain, the magical aide, the monster, and the rival/foil. Whilst there is scope to play around with the role that each plays within the story, each of these figures are important characters who have some kind of involvement with the wider conflict and it is partially their relationship to this central action which shapes their conduct and perspective.  What Are Three Characteristics Of Fantasy?  By definition, fantasy is a genre that typically features three things: magical or supernatural forces and entities, a plot or world-building system which concerns a central quest or a set of adventures, and a cast of complex, well-developed fantasy characters.  How Do I Make A Fantasy Character?  To create a fantasy character, focus in on the characteristics that will make them comprehensible to your reader. The easiest way to do this is to remember that characters drive the plot and that what primarily drives everyone’s actions is a goal; zero in on what every character wants at the end of the story and why. That gives your character their motivations and, depending on the nature of those goals or the methods they go about trying to achieve them, their flaws.   Creating Fantasy Characters Although the beauty of fantasy is often in how it offers us the chance to explore an exciting, new world and magic system, it is worth remembering how important character is to grounding your story. Whether it be a paranormal, urban fantasy partially set in the real world, a fantastical fairy tale, or an epic fantasy set in a completely unfamiliar one, compelling characters provide a vital bridge in your story between us, the reader, and your fantasy setting.   Given how tied up we can often be with plotting and worldbuilding, it is understandable to feel slightly stumped when it comes to generating ideas for your fantasy characters. (Here are some fantasy prompts which may help you get started.) By providing a basic overview of the main iconic character types, a list of well-known examples and their importance to the wider story, this guide aims to show you how you can use these fantasy roles as building blocks for creating your own cast of memorable characters.  

Sensitivity Readers: Who They Are And What They Do

\'Sensitivity reader\' is an often misunderstood term in the literary world, and something that many people are unsure whether they need. If you\'re not sure what a sensitivity read is, or what a sensitivity reader does, or you\'re conflicted about their role in publishing, then read on. In this guide we will be exploring: ●      sensitivity reading and the debates in favour and against this service ●      steps to deciding if it\'s right for you ●      and tips for finding and working with readers appropriate to your needs if you so choose What Is A Sensitivity Reader? A sensitivity reader is a professional who looks at unpublished manuscripts primarily through the lens of authenticity, cultural sensitivity and better representation of marginalised groups. This doesn\'t just mean race or disability, it may include topics such as eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, mental illness, gender transition, or chronic illness. The sensitivity readers, who all have first-hand experience with such challenges, then provide feedback to the author. Because of the nature of children\'s literature and the fact that many touch upon sensitive topics, sensitivity readers are often used to read middle grade fiction, young adult fiction, and other genres such as historical fiction and science fiction. Diverse books can traverse all genres, in fact, they should, so it\'s important that everyone from early readers to marginalised groups see themselves represented fairly and accurately in all books. They will likely be informed by any relevant lived experience details in the manuscript but will also be a match based on familiarity with the genre of the text. They can in some ways be considered a specialist subset of beta readers, in that they review your work and offer insight to strengthen the content of your writing. Their reflections are often informed by experiences of discrimination and rely on using emotional labour to communicate feedback on experiences relating to marginalisation. Thus sensitivity reading is considered a skilled service and should be treated as such. This is why it\'s important to pay your sensitivity readers, much like you would if you wanted to run your crime thriller past a legal professional or private investigator to check for authenticity. What Do Sensitivity Readers Do? A sensitivity reader essentially reads through an unpublished manuscript; this could be a full novel, an article, a series of short stories etc, that they have not actively engaged with as customers or readers themselves. They read with an editorial eye to provide constructive feedback framed by questions of mis-representation. Their feedback may be on descriptive terms, behaviours of characters, or descriptions of structures or the restrictions they live within. They are informed by experience with literature, perhaps as a reader, writer or editor, but also their lived experience, as well as shared experiences and discussions within their networks. These networks could be made up of friends, family and/or larger social/political groups. The ultimate intention of working with a sensitivity reader is to pursue accurate representations and an inclusive reader experience by creating characters for people who identify in similar ways to the character, and not just for people who might find that character interesting. Examples Of What A Sensitivity Reader Does Sensitivity readers can pick up on many things, such as strange descriptions of clothes, food, or hairstyles from a particular culture. So if, for example, you saw a hairstyle you liked and wanted to feature a character wearing it, a sensitivity reader could tell you the name of the hairstyle - how it\'s described and the actions a person wearing it may naturally undertake as part of your story. They might identify behaviours of a character that may be deemed unlikely when contextualised from a person in a marginalised group, e.g. women jogging at night with headphones on, mental health struggles being resolved overnight etc. Essentially details within a manuscript that might pull a reader out of their suspended disbelief (at best); or that a reader might find offensive or triggering (at worst). These sorts of details that contribute to a feeling of misrepresentation can derail an experience and become a fixation of readers- and those discussing a manuscript. The last thing an author wants is for their novel to be dismissed, not for the writing or themes, but because of inaccuracies with characters and cultures. So if in some instances, the details flagged are offensive and hurtful, perpetuating harmful stereotypes or platforming dangerous behaviours, then this work with a sensitivity reader could provide the author with an opportunity to make changes that can prevent the author from causing pain, and receiving criticism from readers after publication. That said, as with all feedback solicited for unpublished manuscripts, it is up to the author to decide what they will and will not incorporate into their final work. But it is worth noting that this step is growing in popularity as a way to support diversifying content in publishing while providing more authentic and sensitive representations. How To Decide If You Need A Sensitivity Reader Are you a writer who wants to craft a diverse world that\'s dynamic and engaging but features realities outside your lived experience? Is your work something you have constructed primarily through your imagination or observations without intimate insight through lived experience? If these imagined constructions are grounded in our world, with the privileges and prejudices faced by real people, describing the experiences of diverse characters from marginalised groups, you might want to consider working with a sensitivity reader. And if you\'re still not sure, ask yourself this: If you were writing about nuclear energy in any great detail, but have never studied science in your life, would you want to run a few things past a scientist first? You would? Great! Then that\'s no different to asking people from certain backgrounds and minorities to confirm that your depiction of them is accurate. What\'s The Difference Between A Sensitivity Reader And An Editor? So I hear you say, ‘provision of feedback on the quality of writing, that\'s what editors are for!’ and you would be right, but not all authors work with editors, and not all editors provide sensitivity reading. This is in part due to an editor\'s more general, rather than specialised, review of the work, and partly due to the lack of diverse representation in publishing. Some pushback against sensitivity readers is that this service can be seen as outsourcing diversity, as a bandaid to the larger issues with the sector workforce. Some are frustrated that editors from diverse backgrounds are being encouraged into more precarious work and required to use lived experiences of trauma and discrimination as part of their professional practice. While others celebrate this as a meaningful way to acknowledge and value knowledge gained through lived experiences and note that if the practice becomes more mainstream it will be integrated with more security into the publishing industry. For an author considering working with a sensitivity reader, it would be worth considering the feedback type your existing editor (if you have one, or beta readers if you go down this route) provides and if you believe they already offer this service. If not, a sensitivity reader could support you with a better representation of diverse characters. Sensitivity Readers vs Censorship For some authors, the idea of a sensitivity reader feels uncomfortably close to censorship, and for some readers, the use of sensitivity readers brings concerns about disguising harmful views held by authors through quick fixes. In both instances, this is a question of trust; trust from an author that a sensitivity reader will respect their work and only provide necessary and useful edits; and trust from readers that publishers won\'t facilitate the exploitation of marginalised stories by authors who clearly intend harm. Trust is not something that can be easily created, it requires nurturing. For authors, meet with your sensitivity reader and create good channels of communication, explaining what sort of feedback you are looking for (e.g. general tone, specific elements,  language review). Work towards a relationship of trust and mutual respect and select a reader that works for you and your style. And as an industry, we need to work to ensure that sensitivity readers are used ethically, in the pursuit of an inclusive industry and content that provides meaning for people regardless of their lived experiences. It\'s hard to know if you are on the right track when writing about marginalised experiences, even if you too share experiences of marginalisation of some sort. But if you are questioning your knowledge or ability to do a story justice - ask yourself whether you are the right person to tell this story, and seek help from someone who understands it better. Working With Sensitivity Readers: Tips If you’ve decided that sensitivity readers seem like a good idea, here are a few things to bear in mind: Pick Your Sensitivity Reader Well As with beta readers, find someone experienced in reading and editing manuscripts. Someone removed enough from you personally to provide honest feedback without the worry of social repercussions. Sometimes we can get beta testers who are friends and family to review our writing, but sensitivity reading asks the reader to provide concise and constructive criticism on topics that might cause you offence. So it is best to keep the professional and the personal separate in this case. Trust And Experience Are Key Work with someone whose experience and knowledge are as close to the identity of the person you are trying to represent as possible. For instance, a shared age range, gender, national and racial/ethnic identity - these intersections matter and change what might be perceived as authentic in each situation. E.g. an Afro-Caribbean man is unlikely to be able to provide intimate insight into the experiences of a teenage Nigerian girl, and certainly not as well as a Nigerian woman might.   Start Early Engage sensitivity readers as early as possible. A lot of headaches can be avoided if you run outlines and character descriptions past sensitivity readers before completing a full manuscript based on elements that may have crucial misunderstandings or misrepresentations within them. Start the conversation early and be open to adapting the foundations of the work, especially if the elements you seek clarity on and support with are central to your narrative. The More The Merrier You can work with multiple readers if you want more than one opinion, and if you want more assurances that you have done due diligence in your attempt to do a character justice and provide a fair representation of a complex experience. Be Prepared For Feedback Be prepared to have reactions to the edits and suggestions. Try not to perceive this as a personal criticism, judgement or accusation. Understand that the reader is responding to the manuscript with fresh eyes for a particular purpose. Take time for your emotional response and then decide which elements of the feedback you would like to incorporate into the final text. Remember that this process provides an opportunity to make changes, and is a means of seeking information and insight- but ultimately the author is the author and what you write needs to feel right to you. Frequently Asked Questions Below is a quick guide to some of the most asked questions about sensitivity readers: What Is A Sensitivity Reader? A sensitivity reader is a professional who looks at unpublished manuscripts primarily through the lens of authenticity, cultural sensitivity and better representation of marginalised groups. They then provide feedback to the author. They are often informed by their relevant lived experiences of discrimination and marginalisation, and so this is a specialised service and should be paid for. What Is A Beta Reader? A beta reader, like a sensitivity reader, is someone who provides constructive feedback on an unpublished manuscript; they focus on providing insight into the perspective of the average or target reader. Beta readers can be engaged at different levels of professionalism, and can include friends and family, whereas sensitivity readers should be engaged exclusively as a professional service to avoid emotional exploitation or interpersonal complications that can arise from providing constructive criticism around representations of marginalised identities.  Are Sensitivity Readers Necessary? They aren\'t necessary for everyone, but if you are worried about misrepresenting marginalised groups in your writing and want to write for people who are similar to the people you describe, it\'s important. You are not just writing about these people for others who find them interesting, but describing people whose lives you haven\'t lived; therefore you want readers who are like your characters to feel fairly represented. Is Sensitivity Reading About Censorship? Sensitivity readers provide feedback within the parameters of better representation of marginalised identities, but the feedback they provide is optional for the author and not a mandate. It is often a provider of insight, context and information that can be used to enrich the author\'s existing and future manuscripts.  Why allow misrepresentation or inaccuracies to taint your work when they can be easily checked at the beginning of your writing journey? Sensitivity Readers Are Useful For Every Writer Hopefully, you now have some deeper insight into sensitivity reading and can decide if it is a service that you might like to pursue. But whether or not you decide to use a sensitivity reader, it is good practice to consider the representations in your manuscripts and how these might be received by contemporary audiences. Working towards better representation doesn\'t mean getting rid of problematic and complicated characters, but it encourages this action to be intentional and to serve a narrative purpose without unintentionally replicating harmful stereotypes. Perhaps this is work that you can do by yourself, or with supportive resources. Perhaps your editors or beta readers will support this practice. But maybe this could be the job for a sensitivity reader.

How To Write A Mystery That Grips Your Readers

Discovering how to write a mystery novel needn\'t be a mystery. As a murder mystery and thriller writer myself, I have been hooked on mystery books ever since childhood when I read my first mystery novel, book one of The Secret Seven. Tucked under the blankets in bed, I would turn the pages at a rate of knots to discover who the dastardly crook was that stole a precious violin, or worse still, their precious dog, Scamper. It wasn’t long until I had read all fifteen books; each story pulling me in and keeping me hooked until the young amateur sleuths reached their conclusions. Over the years I graduated from Enid Blyton to other more grown-up mystery novels, realising that the basic rules for writing engaging mystery stories remained the same. Whether it’s Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, or Val McDermid, the secret has always been to keep mystery readers hooked until the final page. In this article, I will be sharing tips and tricks on how to create your own mystery story, as we explore the genre and the best-selling crime fiction that\'s captured the hearts and imaginations of mystery readers worldwide. What Is A Mystery Novel? In short, a mystery novel is a story that asks the question ‘who dunnit?’ and then spends the rest of the book answering that question, while introducing you to all kinds of characters and potential suspects. If you love having the opportunity to solve a riddle, what could be better than to be taken on a literary adventure with the promise that by the end you will be in on the secret, as you try to work it out along the way. Mystery Subgenres There are several subgenres that come under Mystery, here are just some of them... Cosy Mysteries These stories are a gentler form of crime book. Often a body is found with no gory descriptions or details and when the murder is witnessed it is quick and sanitised. They usually feature an amateur detective (or detectives), a confined setting (often somewhere rural), and characters who know one another. Examples: books by T L Huchu, Andrew Wilson, and Richard Osman. Hard Boiled Crime/Police Procedurals Unlike cosy crime, with this mystery genre, you\'re more likely to read all the gory details of the darkest crimes, from grisly murders to autopsies in the morgue. There may be no holding back when it comes to the crime either, whether quick or prolonged, you will relive it in much greater detail. With a police procedural, the story focuses on the investigation from the perspective of the diligent sleuths; often a flawed character who works outside of the confines of their job. Examples: the works of Lynda La Plante, MW Craven, and Karin Slaughter. Noir As a noir writer, you are focusing on shadows and hazy lights, mood and atmosphere. This isn\'t detective fiction. The focus is on the criminal in a concise story that follows the main character\'s descent into self-destruction. Examples: Tina Baker and Megan Abbott\'s books. Thrillers As fast-paced page turners, thrillers make you gasp and shake your head in awe at the unexpected twists and turns. Thriller writers love to take readers in the wrong direction, offering high stakes; all leading to a stunning conclusion. Thrillers are often psychological and dark, and sometimes even supernatural. Examples: books by James Patterson, Nadine Matheson, and Oyinkan Braithwaite. True Crime Fiction True crime books are extremely well researched and explore true crimes in factual detail. They can be an exploration into the mind of a killer or place more of an emphasis on the victims and their lives. In true crime mystery novels, a murder is usually involved, but it could be a crime of another sort, such as financial fraud or a disappearance. It’s anything that requires information to work out what has happened between the innocent person and the perpetrator. Examples: The Jigsaw Murders by Jeremy Craddock, and The Five – The Untold Lives of The Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold. How To Write A Good Mystery Before you start writing mysteries, there are five things you need to consider and get right. Decide On Your Sub-Genre In order to pitch to an agent, edit, distributor, or to simply get a mystery reader hooked, you need to know where your book fits in the mystery novel spectrum. There\'s no point calling your mystery story \'noire\' then having a 90 year old woman go on a quest with her bingo friends to help solve the mystery of all the missing cats in their quaint village. There\'s nothing dark about that! Research Your Setting If your mystery novel\'s setting is a small town where everyone knows each other, then speak to people who live there. Or, better yet, visit the place yourself and get an idea of the lay of the land. What are the buildings like? Is there a pub? A post office? Print out photographs and draw maps; know it all inside out. The more you know about the setting, the easier (and more fun), it is to write. Plus your readers will be able to picture the setting in their own minds better. Create Engaging Characters Convincing characters drive the plot. If you want readers to invest in your story, then writing fascinating characters that won\'t be forgotten in a hurry is essential. Character development is key; we need to see the hero of the story\'s own arc - not just solving the mystery but learning something about themselves. Your readers don’t have to like the characters, but they have to believe in them and care about what happens to them. Research By Reading A huge part of researching before you write any kind of novel is to read within your genre. Search out the best-selling mystery books and read them. They may not all be to your taste, but they will all help you understand exactly what’s needed to write a successful thriller, procedural, cosy, or hardboiled crime story. Edit Once you\'ve finished your first draft ask yourself ‘Is it ready to send to an agent?’ The answer will almost certainly be, ‘no!’ Ask someone impartial, who you trust, to read it. Or you can pay for a professional edit; if you do this, seek recommendations from other writers you trust or check out our editors at Jericho Writers. Never send out your manuscript until you have made it the best it can possibly be! Great Mystery Novels You Should Read Reading is part of your work as a writer. Some fear another author\'s style will somehow seep into their own work, or worse, the book will be so good it will make you feel like your own work isn\'t good enough. However, only by reading widely will you learn what makes a successful book, and I believe that can only impact your work positively. You will also need comparable titles when it comes to pitching your book to agents and publishers, so knowing the market beforehand is essential. Here are some great mysteries for you to try out (and I would urge you to read even those that aren’t in your sub-genre, as the basics are still relevant, and you might even find a new favourite!) And Then There Were None By Agatha Christie There’s no denying that the endurance of Agatha Christie’s books is a testament to the quality of her writing and stories. Voted as the favourite of her books in an online poll,  And Then There Were None sees ten guests, all with something hide, invited to an island off the Devon coast. One by one they die, each victim’s demise echoing the line of a child’s nursery rhyme that is played to them at night. Gone Girl By Gillian Flynn On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne’s wife, Amy, mysteriously disappears. Nick quickly becomes the prime suspect and must follow a string of clues in order to find out what has happened to his wife and to try and prove his innocence. But is he the wrong suspect? A deliciously tangled web of deceit and unreliable characters makes for a twisty and jaw-dropping story. The Silence of the Lambs By Thomas Harris When a senator\'s daughter goes missing, it is feared that she has become the latest victim of Buffalo Bill, a notorious serial killer. Clarice Starling, a young FBI recruit, is bought in to help find her using the help of the imprisoned violent killer Hannibal Lecture. Part thriller, part horror, and part police procedural, The Silence of the Lambs is a thrilling tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Plotting Vs Pantsing Do you plot your mystery novel? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants and make it up as you go along? Mystery books can be incredibly complex to plot, as you have to consider red herrings, false clues, specific details, and dead ends. Not to mention including a vast cast of convincing characters. Plotting is a vital part of the process of keeping track of events and making sure all loose ends are tied up. Strict plotters have a very clear idea of what is going to happen scene by scene, chapter by chapter. Pantsers, on the other hand, may have a vague idea of where the story is going, but on the whole, they just sit down in front of the laptop and let the characters do the talking, the story unfolding before them. They find tight plotting too constrictive. As a mystery author, you need to find the technique that works best for you. Here are some examples of successful mystery authors who have used either method, along with some tips to help you plan your own mystery novel. The Plotter Mystery Writer Mystery writer, Victoria Dowd, is renowned for her plotting. So much so that her novel, A Book of Murder, featured her plotting method on the front cover. Victoria’s son has also created a Lego village for her, so she can keep track of her character’s movements throughout the story! Agatha Christie is probably the most famous mystery writer of them all, and she tightly plotted her stories by beginning with the murder, the killer and the motive. Then moving on to suspects and their possible motives. Next, she would plot possible clues and red herrings to keep readers guessing. With so many characters and possible outcomes, it’s no surprise she chose this method. How many of us have read or watched her stories, feeling sure we know who ‘done it’ only to see them finished off before the climax of the story? The Pantser Mystery Writer Author of The Call of Cassandra Rose, Sophia Spiers says: I begin with a ‘What if?’ question, then I start to play around with the idea in my head. Maybe write a few notes down, but not much. I’m mostly working it out in my head. I write a very bad first ‘vomit’ draft, then print and read through, looking for plot holes and tightening as much as I can. Deleting and rewriting where needed. I recently tried to plot but got bored, it was disastrous! Sophia Spiers The same goes for author of Her, Meera Shah: I start with a character scenario then I write as if I’m her/him, chapter by chapter in chronological order. Just me and the computer. Meera Shah Jonathan Whitelaw, author of The Bingo Hall Detectives, starts with a rough outline and then heads straight to his computer, finding the excitement of not quite knowing where things might end up. Tina Baker, author of Call Me Mummy and Nasty Little Cuts, also keeps her ideas in her head, but for a few scribbles here and there, she just writes down the bare bones and builds with each draft. As you can see, there is no right or wrong way to write a mystery; just the way that works best for you. You may even find a mix of both methods works for you. Help With Planning Your Mystery Novel With so many intricate plot lines and dead ends to line up, whether you plot tightly or leave it to chance, it helps to have a rough idea of where you are heading. Here are a few handy hints and tools that can help you on your writing journey. Post-It Notes You’ve seen those walls on social media? A mass of yellow and pink squares to put the fear of God into any minimalist interior designer. Each scene broken down on a small sticky square and arranged in order of events. For the more visual writers, this is a great way to keep the series of events and characters at the forefront while writing. Apps And Writing Software Similarly, there are software packages that can also do this, keeping your walls free for family portraits and bookshelves (hopefully filled with lots of mystery books for you to read and research.) Scrivener is one such package commonly used by writers. White Boards Wipeable boards are a great tool for an ever-evolving plot and keeping track of the story. Character Photos/Profiles Character development is one of the most important parts of your story. If you don’t know exactly who your main character is, how is a reader supposed to care about them? Using people you know or TV/film stars, create a cast of characters that will help you move the story along. A section of mystery writer Victoria Dowd\'s plotting board Mystery Writing Advice Stuck For ideas? Read true crime in books and newspaper articles. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction! Of course, true crime is a mystery sub-genre in itself; today it is written in a much more exciting and narrative fashion creating the same effect as a novel. Pacing This is incredibly important in a mystery; you want to keep the reader turning the page and engaged. Keep the story concise and make every chapter count. Omit anything that doesn’t move the story forward towards the readers\' goal (finding out the who and why). Characters It cannot be stated enough that all classic mystery books are remembered for not just the twisty plot but the unforgettable characters too! So, know your characters inside out, what makes them tick, what scares them and what drives them. Once you do this work the entire book will be easier to write because they will tell you where the story is going. Don’t shoehorn characters into a plot, make sure they act in a way that’s consistent with their character. Know Your Suspects! Understand their connections to the crime, motivations and why it might just have been them (or not!). Keep the reader guessing throughout. Foreshadowing And Red Herrings Dripfeed clues throughout the book. Don’t put too many clues or foreshadowing too soon. Trust your reader to do some of the work and they will thank you for it. Sometimes it helps to write the entire novel, then work backwards adding in clues and dead ends! Frequently Asked Questions Is The Female Victim An Overdone Trope? It is true that historically women have borne the brunt of crime; fictional and in real life. As a result, many have grown weary of seeing themselves as the victims. I believe this is merely art reflecting life. Two women each week are killed in the UK, so to ignore this would be to ignore the reality. Until femicide becomes a problem of the past, these terrible crimes will always be of interest, and the why? a pertinent question. Should We Ignore The Perpetrator\'s Life And Focus On The Victim? I would say this is more relevant to true crime, where a welcome trend is now to discover the life of the victim and their history, rather than that of the perpetrator. In fiction, we are naturally interested in character, and whether we like them or not, that’s the goodies versus the baddies. Would The Silence of the Lambs be as interesting if we didn’t get to know the evil but enigmatic character Hannibal Lecture? I think not. Who is Ayoola in My Sister, the Serial Killer?and why does she do what she does? The mystery of an enigmatic character will move a story along, whether they are the victim or the perpetrator. I Don’t Like Gore And Murder, Can I Still Write Mystery? Of course! But you would be best suited to mystery, cosy style, or stories with less brutal crimes. Cosy crime doesn’t show the death in any detail, the story quickly moves to the amateur sleuth(s) and concentrates on the solving of the crime. Mystery Novel Writing Is No Mystery Mystery isn’t an easy genre, but for me, it’s one of the most satisfying to read and to write. Taking a complete puzzle and mixing it up in a way that creates an exciting and satisfying read is a thrill in itself. Now you know some of the subgenres and authors, dive into the genre in all its glory and forms. Learning how others write mystery novels will give you ideas and enthusiasm for your own story. Good luck and enjoy!

Creative Writing Exercises To Enhance Your Writing

No matter how many books you have written, or how many Sunday Times Best-selling novels you produce, you will never stop learning how to write. Never. The writing process is also an ongoing learning process. During my entire writing journey so far, the one piece of advice that has always stuck is; ‘Never ever stop learning your craft. Never think you know it all, be ready and willing to be surprised.’ But how do you continue to learn without going on constant courses or going back to education? What do you have to do to improve your writing skills and become a better writer? In this article, I\'m going to highlight just ONE of the skills I embrace regularly to help me learn and grow as a writer; I start every writing day with a creative writing exercise. I will also explain why and how creative writing exercises can benefit your writing and even give a few examples of the fun writing activities that have helped me over the years. So let\'s get started. What Are Creative Writing Exercises? Essentially, creative writing exercises are short bursts of creative writing, generally improvisational, that get the creative juices flowing. They can range from consciousness writing, to penning short stories or prose in poetry forms to practice writing. The medium, length, and content are not important, all that matters is unlocking your creativity, inspiring story ideas, and increasing confidence. Why Are Writing Prompts And Exercises Helpful? How often have you sat in front of a blank piece of paper, knowing you need to get the words down...but can\'t? You can hear all the voices, you know all the plot, and you have even worked out the story beats, but the words won\'t come. Well, you’re not alone. This happens to every writer at some point or other. Luckily, there\'s no need to panic, because to get back into the flow again all you have to do is rummage around in your writer toolbox and find the right key to unlock the right door. And that key is to have a go at some writing exercises and story prompts! The creative writing exercises I\'m about to suggest don’t ever need to be seen by a single soul, they never have to find their way into your final draft (but if they do, that’s a happy bonus), and they don’t even need to make sense or follow the same voice or genre of what you are writing. The entire point of creative writing exercises is to spark ideas in your mind, leading to a flood of words on the page. What Makes A Good Creative Writing Exercise? Writing prompts and exercises shouldn’t take long. In fact, the beauty of them is that they quickly become part of your working day. They can be something you do first thing in the morning - like brushing your teeth or having a shower. Or how you spend your evenings once the daily chores are done. Think of them as the warm-up before a run. A good warm-up will get your muscles moving and ready for the race, but you don’t spend three hours warming up before you run a one-hour race, do you? The very best writing exercises should be: FunShortEasy to complete If you find yourself spending hours on a writing exercise, ask yourself whether you are perhaps using it as an excuse to not work on the project that you need to get back to. And if you are, ask yourself whether perhaps you should be starting a new project that you actually enjoy doing. So let\'s get started. Let\'s take a look at my top ten writing exercises and prompts that never fail to get me out of my writing rut! Creative Writing Exercises To Try Today It’s important to remember that you don’t only have to use creative writing exercises when you are ‘blocked’. If you’re in-between projects and just want to keep those muscles active, then why not play around with brand new characters and entirely new ideas? You never know, some of these creative writing exercises may even inspire your next novel. The best thing about writing exercises is that there are no rules, they are simply a chance to let your brain free fall and see what comes out the other side. I spoke to many fellow authors about their own favourite tips and writing prompts before writing this article. I was inundated with responses, with many of them sharing tips on what they do when they feel stuck, how they get to know their main characters, and general good practise techniques to become a better writer. I\'ve sifted through the hundreds of examples I was given, and put together my own personal top ten writing exercises for you to try… 1: Interview Your Main Character Helps with: Finding the hidden secrets of your protagonist Have one of your smaller ‘bit-part’ characters interview your main character. Answer all questions from the point of view of your main character but.. and this is important… answer honestly! Don’t answer how you as the author want your character to respond, instead, put yourself in your main character\'s position and answer how they would in that very moment. If your cheating husband character is being interviewed by his mother-in-law, how would he speak to her? Would be he honest? Would he be evasive? What does this tell you about his character? What does it tell you about their relationship? For those who write character sheets, take a look at the questions you asked yourself back in the planning stages and ask questions based on an answer you already know about their past. How would your character reply in the moment and what does that tell you about them? Or, go one step further, and try the same thing but in a different genre or tense. Write it in the third person, as if you are a spectator telling a person\'s story; again in the first person as if you are the interviewer meeting your main character for the first time; and then again from the protagonist\'s point of view! 2: Show Don’t Tell Helps with: Honing your craft A great exercise that a fellow author highlighted was a classic ‘show don’t tell’ exercise used by many writing courses around the globe. Write a scene about a very drunk person, without once mentioning that the character is drunk. Using all the senses, see how effectively you can work those \'show don’t tell\' muscles. Think about setting, descriptive language, and what opening lines work best. Or perhaps write about your dream house or dream holiday, but without mentioning where they are. See if the reader can guess by your description. These can be written as flash fiction, a short story or even just a short paragraph. 3: Brain Dump/Free Writing Helps with: Banishing the mental load/using mental load to find inspiration Set a timer for three minutes and simply write in a stream of consciousness - no rules, no story beats, no planning, and no post-it notes. Maybe you\'ll start by writing that shopping list that\'s been bothering you and find it meanders its way into a diary entry by a frustrated maid. Or you may start writing your own diary entry and find it merges into the mindset of your main character. The purpose of free writing is to allow your brain to find the path that it is ready and willing to travel down. Sometimes, writing down whatever random words come to you and banishing all other noise helps you find the ideas that are ready to reveal themselves. 4: Pin The Tail On The Donkey Helps with: Finding Inspiration Ok, not literally, this isn\'t a game for a children\'s party. I am not telling you to draw and cut out a donkey’s tail and blindly roam around the room with a pin in hand! Instead, close your eyes and pick a random book from your bookshelf. Don’t cheat and pick an easy one… truly let fate guide you here. Close your eyes again and flick the pages, pick a random page and a random sentence and start from there. That\'s your writing prompt for the day - now begin writing. What does that sentence spark in you? What ideas does it give you? Can you write a story based on that sentence as an opening line? (If you\'re looking for more prompts to use as a jumping off point, try our writing prompts for thrillers, fantasy, romance, horror, poetry, and Christmas stories.) 5: Postcard Lottery (Part 1) Helps with: Pushing Boundaries and stepping out of your comfort zone While on a recent writing retreat, one of the exercises we did really sparked amazing new ideas for future stories. The exercise is split into two parts. The first part of this was the Postcard Lottery. Our host had a tall stack of postcards collected from all over; art galleries, museums, local cinemas; some of the most random images you can imagine. We all took a postcard without looking, set a time for 10 minutes, and used the image as inspiration. (If you don’t have a stack of postcards, you can use online random image generators such as https://randomwordgenerator.com/picture.php.) 6: Postcard Lottery (Part 2) Helps with: Pushing Boundaries and stepping out of your comfort zone Following on from the task above, now it was time to take another postcard. But in addition to that new postcard, we were asked to rummage in the bowl filled with slips of paper on which different genres had been written. This is great for getting any creative writer totally out of their comfort zone! Suddenly, rom-com writers holding an image of a pretty wildflower were having to imagine that picture as the basis for a murderous thriller story. And horror writers, holding an image of a skull, were having to use it as inspiration for a middle-grade comedy. If you embrace the randomness and push away all expectations of what you should be writing, it can be quite enlightening and a lot of fun! 7: Have A Break, Have A KitKat Helps with: Developing those ‘senses’ on the page One of the best creative exercises you can do is to sit down quietly and eat something. Seriously! Grab yourself a snack from the kitchen, sit down at your desk, and eat your food mindfully. As you do, write about the snack you\'re eating, making sure to use all your senses. The texture and the memories that it may evoke. The smells around you. Can you make your readers\' mouths water? Or even better, make a reader cry and turn them off a food item for life?  8: Play Therapist Helps with: Using personal blockers to push through writer\'s block This one is great for creative writers who are struggling with writer\'s block due to personal issues. Use your pain, your confusion, or your anger in real life to help you flex those writing muscles for good. Take the last argument you had with your partner or a falling out with a family member as a basis, then re-write the story. Either talk to a therapist on the page about the fight and write responses from both sides (always illuminating, because they are not always going to take your side, forcing you to see events from another point of view) or have the argument with that person over again in a way you would have preferred to resolve it. 9: Flip The Narrative Helps with: Pushing past writer\'s block and developing deeper characterisation This exercise is great if you are in the middle of a new draft, but don’t feel like you have a grip on your characters yet. Take a scene you have already written and flip the narrative. Have the entire scene written from another person’s point of view. It often helps to stand in another person\'s shoes to gather a new perspective. How would they see the same scene played out through their eyes? What does that tell you about the scene that you didn’t know before? What does it highlight that you weren’t previously aware of? This exercise is incredibly helpful if you\'re struggling to get past a plot hole, or grappling with character motivation.   10: It’s All About The Words Helps with: Understanding the importance of dialogue There are two very different ways you can tackle this exercise, depending on the type of writer you are. You can either: Write a scene entirely in dialogue, but only showing one side of the conversation. So, either have the other character on the other side of a phone call that the reader can’t ‘hear’, or have the other side of the conversation redacted, but in a way that the reader can still 100% understand the entire scene having only read one side of the story.Write an entire scene between two characters communicating entirely wordlessly, through nothing but gestures. Again, you can write this is in the third person or from the point of view of one of the characters. See how long they can ‘speak’ without speaking. Have the characters understood each other by the end of the scene? Or has a terrible miscommunication occurred? Dialogue can be a sticky area for many writers. Either you really love dialogue and struggle to write description, or it\'s the opposite and you love your characters talking to one another but struggle with descriptive writing or moving the plot along. Either way, pushing past the norm and learning how to use that weakness as a strength can bring about lots of new ideas and plot twists. Other Forms Of Writing Although the above exercises are great for getting your creative juices flowing, they are not the only way you can get your writer brain cells working. Sometimes, you need to take a break from what you are used to writing and try something different. Try stepping away from creative writing and trying your hand at different forms of writing, such as non-fiction. Write A Blog Post If you have a blog, write a blog post about something entirely unrelated to your current project. Or, better yet, approach a magazine or someone with a blog and offer to write an article for them. You can choose any subject you like, you can even write about bettering your writing skills, as I am doing right now. Write A Book Review There\'s nothing writers love more than reading a good book. And there\'s nothing authors appreciate more than receiving a great review about their book. So why not get on Goodreads, Netgalley, Amazon, or even your own social media channels, and write a book review. Having to think about story structure, plot, characterisation and the language other writers have used may even help you with the writing of your own novel! Write A Poem Reacquaint yourself with your inner teenager and write an emotional poem about heartbreak, anger, or how unfair the world is. Reflect on your childhood, or process something you\'re currently experiencing. Make it as cheesy, vulnerable, or as dark as you want; after all, no one ever needs to read it. The fun is knowing you can write it! Write Non-Fiction Write something based on facts. Something you know about. Perhaps a ‘step by step’ guide, or a document all about something you know inside out. Embrace your inner ‘Mastermind’ and be an expert about something for a while on paper. Or grab a random object, whatever is closest to your left hand side right now, and write about it in great detail. It doesn’t matter what it is, it only matters that writing all those words will get your happy writing gears turning. Plus you never know what inspiration it may spark. Frequently Asked Questions What Is The Purpose Of Creative Writing Exercises? Creative writing exercises have many purposes, it simply depends on where you are on your writing journey. Creative writing exercises can be used to help you explore your craft and try a new way of writing.They can help you overcome writer\'s block.Ten minutes of writing prompts can help inspire writers with new ideas, or even new genres.Fun writing exercises can help you find the love and passion for your writing project again.Creative writing prompts can help you with character development, enabling you to push deeper with your characters and really explore motivation, themes, and plot. Writing exercises - whether contemplating the first word of your novel or attempting to write a short scene - can be whatever you need them to be. No matter whether this is the first time you have ever tried to write a story, or if you are already the author of a bestselling book. Can Writing Exercises And Writing Prompts Make Me A Better Writer? Fiction writing exercises can and do help hone your craft and teach you new skills to add to your author toolbox. Daily writing exercises help to keep your brain cells supple and creative and can get you over the fear of the blank page. After all, if you have done free writing for twenty minutes, there will already be words on the page – then all you have to do is slip back into the world you are creating and take it from there. So, the question should really be, what do you need from your writing exercise to make your own work stand out? How Can I Improve My Writing Skills? There is no simple answer to this. The only answer I have ever found helpful is… keep writing! How many times have you heard the quote “it takes 10,000 hours to become a expert in something” – that means you need to write. A lot. For many, many hours. But choosing or working with writing exercises that push you out of your comfort zone will help shape your writing and give it more depth. Use free and easy writing exercises to start your daily dose of writing and you will find your creativity blossom much quicker. What Are The Main Examples Of Creative Writing? Creative writing isn\'t just about writing a fiction novel; there are many ways in which you can express yourself creatively. Even if all you do is keep a daily journal, you are still practising the art of descriptive writing. And, therefore, writing exercises don’t just benefit fiction writers either. No matter what genre you write, or style of writing you prefer, there will always be a writing exercise to suit your needs, you just need to find those that work for you. Be brave and try as many ways of writing as possible. If you are a fiction writer, try writing some poetry.If you generally write long fiction, challenge yourself with a short story.Do you write film or TV scripts? Maybe you could try your hand at songwriting. There are so many different examples of creative writing, but each have one thing in common… they are creative… so be creative with how you learn your craft, and you will find so much inspiration lurking around the corner. Time To Get Writing I hope this article has inspired you to polish your creative writing skills and think outside the box a little. When it comes to storytelling, and getting those words down on paper, the best thing you can do is keep writing. The doesn\'t mean churning out a chapter or two of your novel every day, it doesn\'t even mean working on your book every day; it simply means taking ten minutes a day to speed write, or try some writing prompts, fill in your daily journal, or work on a particular scene. And the beauty of writing like this is that even if what you have written is never read by anyone else, and it never appears in your work, you have taken another step towards becoming a better writer than you were yesterday. And that is what being a great writer is all about!

What Is The Dénouement Of A Story? Your Guide (With Tips)

The word \'dénouement\' is a borrowed word that came to the English language via the French word denoue. Its literal Latin meaning is to ‘untie the knot’. This is why we now use it as a literary term to refer to the conclusion of a novel. In this article, I will explain the definition and purpose of literature dénouement, demonstrate how to confidently use dénouement to improve your storytelling and story structure, as well as illustrate examples of dénouement in well-known stories. What Is A Dénouement In Literature? The dénouement of a story (whether it\'s a book, play or movie) is a literary device that involves the tying up of all the loose ends, the ironing out of the plot, and the final resolution that should leave your audience feeling satisfied. As writers, the narrative of our work should have a story arc and take readers through the five stages of development; exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement. Dénouement occurs at the very end and it needs to help readers understand the bigger picture and how all of the subplots and events have led to its creation. This is true for all genres and forms of storytelling. But why can\'t we simply leave our readers guessing, instead of finishing on a high note? Let\'s find out... What Is The Purpose Of Dénouement In Literature? Simply put, stories demand conflict. Conflict, in turn, leads to a climax which then demands dénouement in the final scene to give the audience a sense of closure. You can\'t get to the exciting point then leave readers guessing! It is also the part where we discover the moral of a story, or we learn the lesson. Human beings love to see good beat evil. This is why dénouement is particularly important when it comes to children’s books (where everyone \'lived happily ever after\'). Of course, this doesn’t mean every single novel has to have a fully-formed dénouement in its final pages. If the book is part of a series, the final chapter may wrap up the book\'s side storyline, but there may be a cliffhanger for the bigger story thread in order to entice readers to the next book. Although some standalone books break the writing rules and shun dénouement completely. The critically acclaimed Tangerine by Christine Mangan is testament to that. Whilst in the film world, Jordan Belfort remains an unsavoury idol in the award-winning The Wolf of Wall Street. Not all stories can have the typical Happily Ever After (we will see more examples of that later on), but authors should strive to offer, if not a conclusive finale, at least a glimmer of hope! Is An Epilogue The Same As Dénouement? It’s tempting to think that epilogue is just another word for dénouement. It\'s not. An epilogue is an optional section that a writer may choose to add to their story - or not - to show how characters are faring after the main storyline has finished (think of the Harry Potter series when we see the kids as adults at the very end). Therefore, the criteria of an epilogue doesn’t extend itself to restoring immediate order and giving readers a sense of finality - it\'s simply an add-on, an optional glimpse into the future. Examples Of Dénouement In Literature Let’s take a look at some dénouement examples in action (beware, spoilers abound!): Romeo And Juliet (William Shakespeare) William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet highlights the importance and impact of employing dénouement as a technique for closure. Instead of offering a happy ending, the double suicide of the main characters means this particular dénouement teachers the audience a lesson - that it was their death, not their love, that healed the family feud. William Shakespeare was a master of dénouement, ensuring that every last scene in his plays culminated in a dramatic (and conclusive) finale! Like Water For Chocolate (Laura Esquivel) Like Water For Chocolate’s finale offers readers a hugely rewarding dénouement. Firstly, Tita’s efforts are a literal breakthrough for the next generation in her family. The battle for her niece pays off and Esperanza can now marry whoever she chooses without being duty-bound to care for her mother - just as Tita had to for so many precious years of her life. However, Rosaura’s death also creates a new beginning for Tita herself. Now that Pedro is a widower, finally they no longer need to hide their love for one another and they can be together. The Queen’s Gambit (Walter Tevis) The popular Netflix series (and book adaptation) could not have left us with a greater celebration of accomplishment on behalf of its genius chess-playing protagonist. Beth’s life challenges up until the point of dénouement have been enormous. But despite everything her life has thrown at her, she overcomes every one of her hurdles to finally defeat her greatest chess rival, bringing her story to a highly satisfying conclusion.       Other Literary Work With Satisfactory Dénouement Moby Dick (Herman Melville) The sea rolled in and everyone died... except our narrator, Ishmael. Killing everyone off is one way to finish a story, worked for Shakespeare too! The Great Gatsby (Scott Fitzgerald) After the climax of Myrtle\'s accidental death, leading to Gatsby\'s murder, the narrator (Nick Carraway) decides to leave Long Island high society and return to the Midwest. The Catcher In The Rye (J. D. Salinger) In the final scene, Holden Caulfield calmly watches Phoebe riding a carousel, a sweet childhood moment of innocence, and Holden resolves to worry less about adulthood and the future. How To Use Dénouement In Your Story We all have unique storytelling voices and naturally this extends to the manner in which we deliver our dénouement. There\'s the light dénouement (yay, everyone survives and is happy) and the dark dénouement (oh, they all die). The best way to learn about what endings work best is to read books and watch movies as much as possible, in all genres, and look out for each example of a dénouement. Ask yourself why certain endings fill you with the feel-good factor and leave you satisfied... and why others don\'t. Some stories don\'t suit a happy ending, and that\'s fine; it\'s important your dénouement makes sense in the context of the whole story. Here Are Five Basic Rules To Follow: Dénouement should tie up every single loose end in such a way that a quick tug won’t make everything unravel again! Readers should not be left with a single niggle. Dénouement should allow key characters the chance to reflect realistically on their story, whilst taking into account whether their reactions feel warranted. Dénouement should be plausible and believable (even if you write fantasy, the book should be wrapped up in a way that makes sense). Dénouement should complete the aforementioned story arc and work in harmony with the previous components of it: exposition, rising action, climax, and falling action. Dénouement should link effortlessly with the main themes of your novel. Frequently Asked Questions What Is The Difference Between Resolution And Dénouement? These two literary terms may seem interchangeable at first but they are significantly different. A resolution can happen at any time in the story, and will typically play out in the form of a character solving a major problem. A dénouement, on the other hand, is what takes place at the end of a story and answers all remaining questions the reader may have. What Is Included In The Dénouement? The dénouement of a story is at the author’s discretion, but it is definitely the point at which the bad guys should be revealed (and hopefully brought to justice), the hero rewarded, secrets unearthed, and loose ends tied up. Writers take readers on a journey of escapism, so that journey needs to have a satisfyingly plausible ending. How Long Is A Dénouement? As the last structural element of a novel, the dénouement should wrap everything up as quickly and neatly as possible in one or two scenes. That said, it will depend on how many characters and subplots require disentanglement. One way to work around this is to try not to leave too many loose ends until those last few pages. How Do You Write A Dénouement? When it comes to writing a book, plotting the dénouement is always a smart move (even if you prefer to make it up as you go along). Leave your readers happy or shocked, but a vague fade to black will not cut it! Refer back to the key points made in this article and make sure you have added each element to your manuscript. Some writers like to work backwards, starting with the ending then ensuring they add all the foreshadowing and hints that will make the last scene (and possibly big twist) plausible and satisfying. The End I hope this article has given you a conclusive summary of what to do in the final part of your story. It may be tempting to cut corners when you\'re on the verge of typing THE END, but it\'s vital to be just as diligent with your dénouement as you are with your opening chapter. Because your final words, and that final scene, will stay with your readers forever.

How To Write A Graphic Novel: A Complete Guide

Writing a graphic novel looks fun, right? Right. And it\'s a lot easier than writing traditional novels, right? Wrong. Graphic novels hold a special place in the hearts of many writers, and it stands to reason that many are inspired to write their own as adults. They hold a kind of magic. Think back to when you were a child, cracking open your first graphic novel from your school’s book fair or from the library. Perhaps you learned to read from it. At the time, it never really occurred to you that the graphic novel you held in your small hands had a creative team behind it, usually a writer, artist, colourist, letterer and editor. As far as you knew, your favourite graphic book sprung up fully formed from the ether. Now, we know better. Creating a graphic novel is a collaborative process. They have teams behind them, and among the most important of that team is the writer. Perhaps you have a visual sense and a strong imagination, but little artistic ability, yet you’d still like to try your hand at writing a graphic novel yourself. Then you’re in the “write” place! (Dad joke.) In this article, you will learn what a graphic novel is, what the key elements or building blocks of one are, how to create a graphic novel, discover some of my favourite graphic novels (ie the best examples in the entire comics industry), and read some final tips and tricks to help you improve your graphic novel projects and comic strips.  Firstly, let\'s look at what a graphic novel is. What Is A Graphic Novel? Before we get into the nuts and bolts, let me define what exactly I think a graphic novel is. Don’t worry, I’m not going to quote Webster’s. There are some that differentiate a graphic novel as an original, squarebound or hardbound story in comic book form, from a trade paperback or collected edition, which is a reprinted edition of several comic books packaged together. To me, though, if a comic or illustrated story is in book form rather than floppy form, and contains mainly sequential art, it’s a graphic novel. A graphic novel as a longer-format comic book is not a genre, or type of story, but rather a medium, or a vessel for telling stories in sequential art form. Within that form, there are numerous types of stories that can be told inside a graphic novel.  When many people think of graphic novels they instantly imagine that a) they\'re all for children, and that b) they are all superhero stories. That isn\'t the case at all. Like all types of books, graphic novels permit a writer to tell any type of story - the difference being that the complex characters and compelling storyline are expressed not just in words, but in pictures too. So what types of graphic novels are out there? Types Of Graphic Novels  Most of the industry divides graphic novels into three age groups: Middle grade (ages 8 to 12) Young adult (ages 12 to 18) Adult (18+). Within those age groups, you can further subdivide by genre: Nonfiction: Biography Autobiography History True crime How-to Fiction: Slice of everyday life Romance YA (ie teen stories) Superhero Science fiction and fantasy Horror Mystery and suspense Erotica Adventure In short, whatever stories you can find in a book you can find in a graphic novel - the only difference is, like a comic book, a graphic novel story will be accompanied by illustrations. So what other types of illustrated stories can you find? The other two forms of illustrated stories are manga and comic books. Let\'s look at them in more detail. What Is Manga? Manga, the Japanese word for comics, are graphic novels that originate in Japan and can fall under any of these genres just like Western graphic novels. Similarly, graphic novels that originate from South Korea are called manhwa, and so on. How Do Comic Books Differ To Graphic Novels? Although the graphic novel format is somewhat similar to that of manga comics, and they both involve comic book artists and a similar writing process, the main difference is that graphic novels are book length stories. And, although manga, comics and graphic novels all use pictures to narrate a story, comics are usually serialised narratives that are published regularly (sometimes as part of a collection of other stories). The key characteristic of a graphic novel, on the other hand, is that it contains an entire story and reads like a full-length book. They are usually bound like a book too, and not floppy like a magazine. What Are The Key Elements Of A Graphic Novel? We’ve established what a graphic novel is (and how it differs from comic books, manga and other types of magazines and picture books). So what elements are contained within the vast majority of graphic novels? Art and illustrations are drawn sequentially in order to tell a narrative story. Word balloons, which are round dialogue bubbles with tails that denote who is speaking and contain lettering. These balloons may look like a cloud to represent a thought or be jagged to represent shouting. Captions, or square boxes with lettering that describe a scene or provide internal monologue. Sound effects, or large stylised lettering that represents a written sound, or onomatopoeia. But writing a graphic novel involves more than simply creating a graphic storyboard and filling in the blanks. Creative writing plays a vital role in telling a good story, with writers developing characters and plots before the illustrations are drawn. Although the illustrators bring the stories to life, it\'s the writers who brief the artists on character descriptions, and character development, they imagine the detailed backstories and build the world that the artist will eventually interpret. They also need to think about narrative that moves the story forward without using too many words (the less space you use up on the page with words, the better). That\'s a lot of collaboration and a lot of people working on one story idea. So, where do you start? Here’s how writing a graphic novel as part of a creative team allows you to assemble all those pieces into a cohesive whole. How To Create A Graphic Novel All graphic novels, like everything in life, begin with an idea. Your graphic story is about telling your readers something, usually in a standard storytelling three act structure (beginning, middle and end). Your characters and your world are introduced The characters want something Roadblocks are placed in their way They succeed or don’t succeed by the end They are changed by their personal journeys A great story arc, inner conflict, good narrative, detailed world...all these things are important, as they would be in text based novels, the difference is you have to make that story fit into a comic book script format. A Comic Book Script Graphic novels are written in a method similar to, but distinct, from a screenplay. This is called a comic book script. Writers plot their stories via narration boxes. There are numerous approaches to creating a comic book script. The comic book writer Fred Van Lente has the gold standard on his website available as a downloadable template; many of the best writers in the industry have followed or adapted this template for their own use. A script goes page by page and describes for the artist, colourist and letterer exactly what is happening in order. Scripts can be written in full-script form, which is broken down by panel with all captions and dialogue and is as specific as possible without doing the artist’s job for them. Scripts can also be done plot-first, or “Marvel style,” which was common in the 1960s through the 1980s and is much less common today, though still in use. In this approach, a few paragraphs of plot are written out, with or without dialogue. The artist interprets this plot into a full-length story, and then the writer goes back and adds the dialogue. Whichever approach is taken, after the art comes back, often a writer will rewrite the dialogue depending on how much space the artist has provided in the panels. Also, during the drawing process, the artist will sometimes add or delete panels from the script for better narrative flow, and rewriting dialogue to fit this new layout is key. Sometimes, a writer will provide panel layouts for the artist, which refers to the order and size of panels within a page. The Thumb Book is a great method for sketching out specific layouts for an artist to follow. The Creative Team Other than writing a script, you’ll need to find additional members of your creative team in order to complete the graphic novel. Don\'t cut corners! Each member of the team is important and should be professional and treated so. As a writer, you are likely the originator of the graphic novel’s concept and may handle business affairs associated with it; however, it is best practice to be legal co-creators of the work with the artist, as the visual interpretation is just as important as the writing. Publishing When seeking a publisher for a graphic novel, it\'s not necessary that the entire graphic novel be completed upfront. Instead, the creators will put together a submission package, which can include a summary of the work, a chapter-by-chapter outline, a list of characters, a sample script, biographies of the creative team, and several pages of completed sample art. Graphic novel creators can use this package and either seek a literary agent, who will submit to publishers on their behalf in exchange for a percentage of income, or submit to publishers directly. Graphic novel creators can also self-publish, which involves paying to print, market and distribute the graphic novel themselves. Self-publishers may choose to only release the graphic novel digitally, or include a print edition also. Funds for self-publishing can be raised through crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or funded with personal money. Graphic Novel Examples To really understand this type of storytelling it\'s important to read graphic novels - and lots of them! There are many graphic novels created by masters of the form that must be studied intensely by aspiring graphic novelists. Learn well from these examples, go forth and do likewise. Here are just a few examples; there are many more not listed: A Contract with God, by Will EisnerConsidered the first graphic novel, this masterwork from the creator of The Spirit involves poor Jewish residents of a New York City tenement. The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller and Klaus JansonThe story that birthed the grim-and-gritty era in superhero comics and offered a morally ambiguous, older Batman. Daredevil: Born Again, by Miller and David MazzucchelliThe other legendary work written by Miller and the best portrayal of Daredevil before or since. Maus, by Art SpiegelmanA non-fiction, Pulitzer-prize biography of both the author and his father, a Holocaust survivor. In a twist, the characters are anthropomorphised animals. A Map to the Sun, by Sloane LeongA stellar recent graphic novel about the five players of a struggling girls’ basketball team, this work is known for its dazzling pastels. The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman and various artistsA long-form work by the legendary fantasy writer working with some of the best artists in the business and about the Endless, a family of mythological beings. Heartstopper, by Alice OsemanThis began as a webcomic, then a million-selling graphic novel series, then a TV show, about young gay love in a British high-school setting. Ghost World, by Daniel ClowesPossibly the most 90s story on this list, this story of two best friends and their dysfunctional, co-dependent relationship was turned into a movie. All-Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank QuitelyGrant Morrison understands Superman more than almost anyone, and that’s never more apparent than in this standalone work featuring an idealised, optimistic version of the character. Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave GibbonsThis famously deconstructionist series takes superheroes apart and puts them back together with a satirical, critical lens. March, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate PowellPossibly the best autobiographical comic ever written, about the late congressman John Lewis and his struggles for civil rights. Check, Please!, by Ngozi UkazuAn extremely endearing and funny story about a Canadian college hockey team and one of its stars, who is in love with another player and is really good at baking. Chainsaw Man, by Tatsuki FujimotoOne of many masterful manga, this is a deeply funny, violent and satirical story about a down-on-his luck loser who becomes a great demon fighter after fusing with his dog, complete with built-in chainsaw head. Tips For Writing A Graphic Novel When creating your first graphic novel, here are some things to keep in mind. Study The Experts Read some of the graphic novels above. Seek out their comic scripts online and study those, too. Try to see the structure behind the comics, including panels per page, the amount and flow of dialogue, and rising and falling action. Think Visually Nobody wants to read page after page of talking heads. When characters are talking, put something in their hands, have them pace around the room, show them making coffee at the same time. Start Small And Go Big You may have an epic, 12-volume series in your head set in a giant world, but focus on a few characters and a simple narrative told well within that world. One good example in the film world: Mad Max Fury Road has extremely detailed world building behind it, but the movie revolves around a single chase scene and the characters being chased and doing the chasing. Boil your story down to its essence. Keep It Real You may have a childhood dream to write for Marvel or DC, but create graphic novels for their own sake. Write for yourself. Tell stories that are meaningful to you, not as a stepping stone to writing superheroes. Marvel or DC may come calling eventually, or they may not, but that should never be the end goal. How To Find Inspiration If you’re struggling to come up with the basic idea for your first graphic novel, carry around a pad of paper and a pen, or make use of the voice memo feature of your mobile. Experience the world around you and ideas will come to you. Watching a movie in a theatre can trigger a new way to tell a similar story in your head without copying. Even watching a bad movie or reading a terrible novel can be inspiring, as it can spur you to want to make something better and put it out into the world as penance for something so bad daring to exist. They say that every written work is really about the author, and that’s never more true than graphic novels. Even when writing a biography of someone else, that graphic novel will still end up being highly personal. Don’t be afraid to put aspects of your own personality into the characters, even if there is no one character that’s exactly you. Frequently Asked Questions What Is The Format Of A Graphic Novel? A graphic novel isn\'t a genre but a format. They differ from text novels in that they use sequential artwork to help tell a complete story. Unlike comics and manga, they are normally a single story bound in a book format. How Long Does It Take To Write A Graphic Novel? Like any type of book, the writing process and creativity involved in writing a graphic novel can vary from creator to creator. Because it\'s a collaborative process, the time to produce a graphic novel - from idea to printed copy - can take anything between one to three years. How Many Pages Is A Graphic Novel? Graphic novels tend to be longer than manga and comic books, with stories ranging from anywhere between forty-eight pages all the way to five hundred! Now It’s Time To Create Your Own Graphic Novel I hope you’ve been empowered by this article to go out and make a graphic novel of your own. You now know what a graphic novel is, what makes one work and how to go about writing a graphic novel. Plus you now have a reading list of some of the best examples in the business. So download yourself a script template and turn your ideas into reality. Go and create that graphic novel that you\'d always wished existed!
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