July 2022 – Jericho Writers
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How To Write A Comic Book In 10 Easy Steps

Many authors began their love of storytelling by reading comics as children. Everything from The Beano and Marvel comics, to manga and graphic novels, all play a part in enriching the minds of the young and the young-at-heart. And the best thing about comic books is that you don\'t have to stop reading them once you grow up (in fact, many are written specifically for adults) but you can have a go at writing your own! I began my fiction writing career as a fantasy author, yet some of the best fun I\'ve had in my career has been seeing my characters come to life in a fantasy YA manga story I wrote for Big Bang! Manga. The process was eye-opening, and working with a talented team of illustrators and editors meant that it truly was a collaborative project. In this article, I will be discussing how to write a comic book, everything you need to know before you start writing, and the best way to get your comic book published. What Is A Comic Book? A comic book is a story told using a series of illustrated pictures and panel descriptions. Unlike a novel, it includes very little writing, with most of the story presented in pictorial form as a series of sequential images. Comic books can be about absolutely anything, the most popular genres include: HorrorParanormalFantasySci-fiTraditional superhero genre (such as Marvel or DC comics)RomanceEroticaHistorical The joy of comic books and graphic novels is that many have been turned into TV series and movies. Some of the most famous include: The Marvel franchise (Captain America, Black Panther, Spider Man, Incredible Hulk)DC Comics (Batman, The Joker, Birds of Prey, The Flash)The Walking DeadLuciferSandmanHeartstopperThe Boys They can also be turned into video games and even novels. How Is A Comic Book Different To Manga And Graphic Novels? Although manga, comic books and graphic novels are all stories told in pictorial form with minimal writing, there are some points of differentiation. Manga literally means \'comic book\' in Japanese. Unlike the US comics where many are designed and drawn in the Marvel style and printed in colour, manga is printed in black and white and drawn in a distinct Japanese style. It\'s also worth noting that manga is not the same thing as anime. Although both are equally important to Japanese culture and entertainment, manga refers only to Japanese comics, and anime refers to Japanese animation. Although many manga stories are turned into anime. Graphic novels, on the other hand, can be illustrated in any style but are most commonly just the one story (unlike comics and manga that can include more than one story serialisation per edition). They are usually bound too, like a book, as opposed to stapled/stitched like a magazine. Do You Need To Illustrate Your Own Comics? The quick answer to this is no. Many talented illustrators choose to also write their own comics, but if you are a great artist but not confident about your writing - or one of many comic book writers who struggle to draw - you\'ll be pleased to hear that most comics are created as a collaborative project. A comic book team can consist of anything between one to six people: Writer: They come up with the initial story idea, the plot and characters, character arcs, and write the dialogue and story captions. Artist: Brings the characters and writer\'s words/worlds to life. Sometimes many different illustrators can share this role... Penciller: Specialises in drawing the outlines of the character and their creation. Inker: They create the style of the comic, giving it its distinct look. Colourist: They add the colour. Letterist: Create the lettering for the dialogue, captions and sound effects. Sometimes one artist specialises in just the backgrounds and another in the characters. This all depends on how much budget the comic book creator has and how important the series is. Editor: Usually the one who commissions the writer and artist, the person with the bigger vision for the story/series, who understands the audience best, and checks for inconsistencies and continuity issues. How Many Pages And Panels Does A Comic Book Have? An entire comic book can have between 32 to 48 pages, although the number of pages can vary as long as the pages are in multiples of four (for printing reasons, as they are folded down the middle). Although some comics may be made up of more than one story running concurrently, so the comic itself may be made up of 48 pages but that part of the story may only need to be 16 pages. Each page is made up of panels that contain images depicting the story. Some pages may only have one picture, some may contain up to nine. The average is five and it\'s best to vary it as you don\'t want to crowd the page with too many images or bore the reader with repetition. Where Do You Start? When I first started writing comics I had no idea where to start - all I knew was that my editor loved my story idea and was confident that it would make a great magical fantasy story for teens. I learned so much on my journey which I will be sharing with you all. In this easy 10-step guide, I\'ll be explaining all the different things you need to consider before you start writing - from coming up with ideas, to getting your comic book out in the world. 1. Learn The Language You can\'t start writing a comic book without understanding the terminology - especially if you\'ll be working with an experienced illustrator and editor. Here are a list of words that may crop up as you discuss your comic book with your team so that you\'re all on the same page. Panel A panel is the space in which the picture (and dialogue) sits. A comic writer can request panels of any shape or size as long as it fits on a page: square, round, triangular, narrow vertical, shallow horizontal, diagonal, etc. In many cases, the writer will suggest what must happen on that page and the illustrator will decide what kind of panels will work best. This may vary depending on the style and genre of the comic book. Here\'s a list of the different types of panels you may have in your comic: An inset is a panel contained within a larger panel.A bleed panel is when the artwork comes out of the frame, or “bleeds” off the edge of the page. This may be on one side or more and is often used for dramatic or ironic effect.A full-page panel is called a splash and takes up a full page - whether within a panel or bleeding out of the panel. These are normally for big scenes that either need to make a large impact or include a lot of detail.A giant splash panel covering two facing pages is called a double-page spread. Like the one above it is often used to really wow the readers. Borders are lines (sometimes heavy and black, sometimes thinner) that surround the panel. If it\'s a square panel it may look like a box. Sometimes the art can pop outside panel borders for a hint of drama. You can even have images with no borders and they still count as one panel. Sometimes you may get an awkward panel, one that is different from the others or doesn\'t quite fit in a space. It\'s down to the illustrator to understand how much room they have to work with and interpret your story visually. Lettering Lettering refers to any text on the comic\'s page. Most lettering is either used for: Dialogue (what the characters are saying)Captions (the author explaining what is happening, ie \'ten minutes later\')Sound effects (BAM! WHOOSH! CRASH! etc) You can also express how a character is speaking by the way the letters are drawn. Bold lettering emphasises certain words, and large letters in dialogue represent shouting (and, likewise, small dialogue lettering can mean the characters are whispering). Dialogue and caption lettering are traditionally all uppercase, although nowadays artists vary the way lettering is used and it can be less formulaic, with some creators using both upper and lowercase. Display lettering includes sound effects and text that\'s not inside a speech bubble or caption (ie license plates, a text message on a phone, road names etc.). Lettering and the placement of speech bubbles is crucial to the design of a comic book page. Speech Bubbles/Word Balloons A speech bubble or word balloon is normally a round shape containing dialogue, usually with a tail that points to the speaker. Bubbles without a tail often represent “voice-over” or off-panel dialogue. Much like panels, speech bubbles are drawn in various shapes, the most common being ovoid. Different shapes can be used to denote different characters or moods. Although don\'t confuse your readers by mixing up the bubble/balloon shapes too much. Best to stick to one style that represents what you are trying to convey and be consistent. Thought Balloon These are similar to speech bubbles except they represent what a character is thinking. Thought bubbles are almost always cloud-like in style with a \'tail\' that looks like trails of bubbles. Don\'t be tempted to have panel after panel of internal dialogue as comic books rely on action to keep the readers turning the pages. Caption This is a narration tool to move the story along (ie “Earlier that day...”), or off-panel dialogue. Captions are normally in rectangular borders, but they can also be borderless or floating letters. Sound Effects (SFX) Comic books are famous for their dramatic sound effects represented by stylised lettering (think retro Batman and his KAPOW! fight scenes). Most sound effects are floating letters and are incorporated into the imagery. As I mentioned with the captions and thought bubbles, the overuse of sound effects is distracting. Only use them for specific sounds, such as large sounds like explosions and punches, or small sounds like a creepy door creaking shut or the sound of someone panting. Borders Borders are the lines that surround panels, speech and thought bubbles, and captions. Various styles and line weights can be used to reflect different effects or moods. If the illustrator wants to depict anger or panic they may use a rough or jagged border; likewise thin, wavy borders represent weakness or spookiness; you can have “electric” speech marks and tails to show someone is speaking on the radio, TV, or telephone; and flashbacks can be shown by using rounded panel corners or uneven borders. Gutter The gutter is the space, usually white, between and around the panels. Some artists may use colour between the panels to denote a certain mood or flashback. 2. Get A Team Together Now you know what you are talking about, it\'s time to get your team together. If you are working with a comic book editor they may have already matched you with an artist, if not it\'s time to do some research. Before you attack that blank page look at other comic books in the genre in which you want to write and see who the artist is. Or check out the portfolio of illustrators on social media. Many illustrators would be excited and flattered that you have picked them to work with you, but remember they expect to be paid a fair fee and they may also ask about your credentials and story ideas before they choose to work with you. 3. Come Up With Great Story Ideas This leads me on to the most important aspect of writing a comic book; the big idea. If you don\'t have an original concept, then it\'s going to be a lot harder to sell your work! Remember that readers expect the same thing from a comic script that they do from a traditional book, movie, or play. A comic book story structure is normally based on the traditional three-act structure - a clear beginning, middle, and end. Your audience will also expect a subplot, character development; precise, carefully considered dialogue and narration; and a theme (especially if you choose to create a superhero comic). Think about a plot outline based on the genre you are writing. Look at what people enjoy, but keep your story original too. Readers expect certain archetypes and tropes depending on the genre. The superhero normally wins and defeats evil, the wise sage teaches the young hero, and the boy gets the girl (or gets the boy, or simply learns to love himself). Sometimes it\'s fun to twist up archetypes and tropes. Look at what The Boys did to the general depiction of the superhero genre. 4. Think Visually (And Long Term) It is absolutely vital that your story is visual. Visual storytelling means that your story can be told with as few words as possible. A traditional book could easily centre around the thoughts of someone pontificating on their couch all day, but that would make a very boring comic (and the artist wouldn\'t want to draw hundreds of identical panels all day). So think about what the characters do, what the world you are building looks like, the expressions on the characters\' faces, and how you transition from scene to scene. 5. Develop The Characters Talking of character development, it\'s really important you know your main character inside out. When I was writing my manga I wrote an entire backstory about each character (including secondary characters) so that when it came to briefing the artist they really got a feel for what they looked like. Think about the character arc too. Your main character should be very different at the beginning of the story than they are at the end (think Spider Man going from weedy school kid to fighting crime). 6. Write The Script Pages Next, you need to write the script. A complete script consists of a story layout per page, broken down by panels. The artist may decide how many panels they need, but as a writer, it\'s good to bear in mind where the dialogue goes, where captions go, and which panels can be just images. You may also want to add notes for the artist (such as \'the woods get darker with each step\' etc). 7. Make Dialogue Realistic Writing a comic book script isn\'t as easy as you may think. Dialogue is so sparse that it\'s really really important you are succinct, precise and realistic as possible. Remember that many things can be conveyed simply by facial expressions, actions or a quick caption. 8. Brief The Illustrator If you are creating the artwork for your own comic book then you can skip this stage, but for those of us who don\'t draw (or, in my case, DO draw but not in the style required) you will be working with a comic book artist. Artists need to be totally in sync with the writer so that whatever images live inside the storyteller\'s head come to life on the page thanks to the artist. So make sure to send them sample script pages before you start, along with a very clear idea of what you are looking for. When I wrote my manga, set in a London council estate, I sent the Indonesian artist lots of reference photos (and had to explain that Big Ben would not be visible in the background). I also created mood boards per character, found photos of how I imagined them to look, and went back and forth with the editor and artist until the characters matched what I saw in my head. 9. Review Panel Descriptions It will take many drafts of the comic to get it right, and most writers work with their editor until each page is perfect before the artist begins to draw. The lettering is usually left until last so that once the images are in place the writer can tweak the dialogue to fit the frame. 10. Get Your Work Out There When everyone is happy with the comic, you\'re done. Hurray! Except now you have to find your readers. If you are commissioned by an editor then you\'re good to go, but if you are an independent creator it\'s time to think about distribution. Who Publishes Comic Books? Very few comic book publishers accept unsolicited submissions. Make a list of comic book and graphic novel publishers who publish work similar to yours, or research authors and publishers that would make great comparisons for your work. Although Marvel and DC are at the top of most comic book creator\'s dream list, it is very rare for first-timers to get picked up by the big guys. So approach independent and smaller presses and work your way up.Before you submit samples of your work to publishing houses, ensure you first read their submission guidelines. Visit their website and see if they accept unsolicited submissions, (meaning you send them the work even if they haven\'t requested it or you don\'t have an agent). If you need an agent then research which are on the lookout for work like yours. In both cases, remember to make your covering letter short and professional and to include artistic samples along with the story. Do It Yourself Many comic book creators have had success starting out on their own. Alice Oseman crowdfunded her Heartstopper online webcomic, it was bought out by top publisher Hatchette and turned into a graphic novel, and has gone on to be a huge hit on Netflix. Why not start your own free webcomic to build your readership base, offering each instalment via a newsletter? Or use your webcomic to expand on the stories or characters in the book, enticing viewers to buy the \"real thing\" (a comic book you can print and distribute yourself via your website or sites such as Etsy or Amazon). Frequently Asked Questions How Much Money Does A Comic Book Writer Make? Like any kind of writing job, payment can vary. If you are self-publishing your comic book you may not receive anything until your series picks up and you create a decent following. The median salary of comic book writers and artists is $36,500-$42,000. Although many earn per page or receive an advance per comic/project. Needless to say the more proficient and successful you are, the more you can earn. So keep going! How Many Pages Should A Comic Book Be? The number of pages in a comic book can vary from 32-48, although each story within the comic may be as short as 16, and a graphic novel may be longer. It\'s important to remember that manga and comic book pages must always be divisible by four because of the way they are printed, folded and stitched. Make A Splash In The Comic Book World! Now you know all you need to create your first comic book, it\'s time to put pen to paper and get your team together. But it\'s important to remember that most comic book creators started off right at the bottom; very few people land their first comic book writing gig at DC or Marvel. So focus on getting to know the industry, building your audience, and writing/creating as many stories as you can. Who knows? Your idea may one day not only be someone\'s favourite comic book series but may also be their favourite TV series too!

Joe Bedford on Writing as a Sustainable Lifestyle

We were fortunate enough to have author Joe Bedford turn to us for help with his debut novel, through a developmental edit with Sam Jordison. That same novel was longlisted for the Grindstone Novel Prize in 2020, and has been picked up by Parthian Books for publication in June 2023. JW: Tell us a little bit about your history as a writer – when did you start writing, and how did you begin developing your career in the early stages? Like all writers, my journey began as a reader. I grew up reading C.S. Lewis and Brian Jacques and plagiarising their distant worlds and talking animals in stories of my own. I wrote awful poetry and pretentious song lyrics as a teenager, and continued both when I started university. After that I moved to London to be ‘a writer’ and have written continuously since then, though it has taken me ten years for my writing to become anything like an authentic expression of how I think and feel. So much of my work over the years was about how I want to think, how I want to appear, that I look at some of my early stories and novels and wonder how on earth my friends and family read them without bursting out laughing. But that is all part of the process, not just of writing seriously but of living seriously, which is living honestly with oneself, I think. JW: You started your career as a published author with short stories in magazines and competitions, before querying for your first novel. What made you begin submitting your work to writing competitions, and what have been the benefits of that approach? I came to writing competitions after a few years of publishing short stories in magazines, mainly to attempt to add awards to my publication history. What I found was a community of writers who are hugely motivated and massively supportive of each other. Submitting to competitions has connected me with organisers and judges, with writers who have similar goals to myself, and with uniquely talented people working in a huge variety of styles and forms. After a couple of years of submitting widely, I began to connect with people who would also regularly appear on shortlists and longlists – writers who are not all aiming for success in longer fiction but are masters of the flash, short fiction, and hybrid forms. The competition circuit holds a wealth of talent and enthusiasm, as well as a willingness to reach out and connect as a network of support. Aside from the more widely-broadcast names like the Bridport Prize, I always enjoy submitting to Leicester Writes Short Story Prize, the Bournemouth Writing Prize and the Hastings LitFest short story competition among others. What I found was a community of writers who are hugely motivated and massively supportive of each other. Submitting to competitions has connected me with organisers and judges, with writers who have similar goals to myself, and with uniquely talented people working in a huge variety of styles and forms. JW: What are the main advantages of having a professional developmental assessment, and how did it help you get your book to where it is now? I feel like one of the hardest calls creative practitioners have to make is knowing when a piece is finished. For writers wanting to publish, that point comes when you’re able to say honestly to yourself: this is ready to send out. But in my experience, it’s impossible to know when this is true without outside input. Before bringing my manuscript to Jericho Writers, I felt as though my work was approaching completion – my structure was working, my character arcs were tidy and the prose itself felt clean. Yet despite this, feedback from the few people who read my later drafts was the same: something is missing. That’s when I decided to undertake a developmental edit with Jericho Writers, to work out what that missing piece was and to ask for guidance in overcoming that final obstacle. In the end, that process involved changing a fundamental aspect of the story, but after I did that, suddenly everything else fell into place. It was like stepping back from a Magic Eye puzzle and finally seeing the true shape behind the fuzz. Yet despite this, feedback from the few people who read my later drafts was the same: something is missing. That’s when I decided to undertake a developmental edit with Jericho Writers, to work out what that missing piece was and to ask for guidance in overcoming that final obstacle. JW: You received an offer on your debut novel from indie publisher Parthian Books (due to publish in 2023). What have been the benefits, so far, of working with an independent publisher? There are many ways to publish, all involving a mix of what writers want from their work, what publishers are feasibly able to do with their work, and how their readership might finally receive that work. The differences between mainstream publishing, independent publishing and self-publishing (as well as the various hybrid forms that intersect with each) are well-documented, and in the past I’ve considered all of these options for my work. For this novel, I selected only a small number of agents and independent publishers to query, and all of these were people whose work I knew and trusted. Parthian Books are a publisher whose books I had already read and admired, so querying them didn’t feel like a job application. When they then engaged with my work I felt as though I was being read carefully, passionately and respectfully – not just as someone with a lucrative product (though this is also important) but as a writer with something valuable to say. Since signing with Parthian, that feeling has been with me every step of the way. JW: Have there been any surprises or unexpected obstacles on your writing journey so far? As I think most writers will recognise, obstacles might be the defining feature of the writing journey – especially the journey from practice to publication. When I was twenty-one I met the author David Peace and asked him at what age he was first published. He told me he was thirty. I told him I would be published in my twenties. I don’t remember him rolling his eyes but he probably should have done. At that age I was so convinced I was ‘a writer’ that I foresaw no barriers between myself and the recognition I craved. But being ‘a writer’ is not enough; in fact, it is not always even helpful. For me, the greatest unexpected obstacle was that idea within myself: that I am ‘a writer’, a clever person, who should write cleverly and be celebrated for it. It was only when I realised that readers are more interested in honest emotions and engaging characters that my writing began to achieve any resonance at all. Before that, it was only ego, bluffing and the satisfaction of an elegant sentence. Though many writers have made a career out of that too. Being ‘a writer’ is not enough; in fact, it is not always even helpful. JW: Do you have any advice for people looking to make their writing into a sustainable source of income? Get support. Turning writing into a sustainable lifestyle practice (at least one that affords you enough time to write without being overburdened financially) is about seeking help. There are dozens of writers’ organisations, charities, bursaries, scholarships and residencies out there to apply to. I am currently writing fiction full-time as part of a funded PhD studentship, which I was awarded because I spent time putting together a careful application, and because I had done the groundwork to get me there. Write when you can, where you can, and send it out as much as you feel able to. Pursue courses and training if you can afford to, and look out for free low-income places if you can’t – there are plenty out there. Connect with other writers by emailing them, even just to tell them you enjoyed their work, or by attending readings, workshops and open mics if you’re able to. Most importantly, work hard on your craft so that they when you do pursue funding, you have something that people will look at and say: yes, this person is dedicated, this person is serious about writing. And have the confidence to know that this is what you want, and that you have something meaningful to give. About Joe Joe Bedford is a writer from Doncaster, UK. His short stories have been published widely, including in Litro, Structo and MIR Online, and have been placed in numerous national awards. His debut novel A Bad Decade for Good People, which underwent a development edit with Galley Beggar Press founder Sam Jordison via Jericho Writers, will be published by Parthian Books in Summer 2023. For more details see joebedford.co.uk. \'Parthian picks up Bedford\'s state of the nation debut\', The Bookseller Photo credits: Deborah Thwaites

What Makes A Good Story? 12 Things To Remember

Writing a compelling story, whether it\'s a novel or a short story, can be hard work. As an author, I\'ve had the pleasure of judging a number of writing competitions, and I have always known by the very first page if a story is going to be good or not. How? Because the writer has combined that wonderful mix of intrigue, character, voice and theme right from the onset. In this article, I will be highlighting the twelve key elements that make a great story, helping you turn your tale into something that will stay in the minds of readers for years to come. How Can You Write The Best Story Possible? Sadly, with a world full of books vying for the attention of readers it\'s not enough to simply be a good writer. There are many excellent writers out there, yet not all of them find success with their books. If you want to catch the attention of a literary agent, editor, competition judge, or (and especially) your readers, you need to know how to write a story that will really grab everyone\'s attention. When I first started writing fiction I learned things the hard way. I used to think that writing a good book simply meant having the right story ideas - but it\'s a lot more than that. Good writers know that a great book needs to enthral its readers in a way that feels completely incidental, but is actually strategically planned and plotted. So before you start writing your bestseller, take a look at this checklist of twelve things your story should contain. 1. The Pitch Personally, I like to start with a great story pitch well before I start plotting my book. If you can sum up your story in just one line, then it will be a lot easier to sell to agents and editors in the future. Here\'s an example. \"When a young man named Pi survives a shipwreck that kills both his parents, he finds himself stranded at sea on a life raft, along with a collection of wild animals... including a vicious tiger.\" Did you recognise my description of The Life of Pi? In one sentence you are summing up not only what the book is about, but also the reasons why a reader will be compelled to find out what happens next. If you can\'t do this with your book, then you will find getting the attention of an agent a lot more difficult. 2. The Hook A great hook is what makes people keep reading beyond the first line. Not every story needs to begin with a kick-ass sentence, but you only have one chance to make a good first impression so it helps to pull your readers in by page one. Once you have your story idea think about how and where you will begin your book. Here\'s an interesting example: \"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.\" The first line of Orwell\'s novel, 1984, instantly tells you that it\'s set in a world and time we are not familiar with. You\'re instantly asking yourself \'what is that all about\'? 3. Strong Voice Ensuring your novel has a strong voice doesn\'t mean that it necessarily has to be written in the first person, as this can be achieved in third person too. It simply means that the narrative is so beguiling or striking that the reader instantly understands your main character (or the one whose point of view they are experiencing) and is intrigued to find out more. Let\'s take a look at how Irvine Welsh achieves this in his bestselling book, Trainspotting:\"Ma room is bare and uncarpeted.  There’s a mattress in the middle ay the flair with a sleeping–bag oan it, an electric–bar fire, and a black and white telly oan a small wooden chair.  Ah’ve goat three brown plastic buckets, half–filled wi a mixture ay disinfectant and water for ma shite, puke and pish. \" Not only does he write in the Scottish dialect, but this first person description of the character\'s bedroom tells you all you need to know about him, his life, and the themes of the book. 4. Memorable Characters Talking of characters, your main character needs to be a hero the reader is rooting for. They may be (should be) flawed, realistic, and hopeful, have a goal, face challenges, and their interaction with every other single character in the novel should be for a reason. Give them quirks, unique features or personalities, a memorable backstory, and a reason for being who they are and doing what they\'re doing. Don\'t be tempted to make your MC perfect. No human is perfect. Make them relatable and make sure they learn something by the end of the book. 5. Insightful Theme What is the core message of your story? If you don\'t know, then there\'s a chance it may fall flat. I\'m not saying every book has to be didactic or preachy; this isn\'t about teaching people lessons, it\'s about that one word that encompasses a story. For instance, The Life of Pi is about survival. And 1984 is about rebelling against a fascist regime. When choosing a theme it helps to draw inspiration from our own lives, so write your own story. Not literally, I\'m not talking about memoirs. But if you are passionate about something, whether it\'s working-class lives or saving the planet, centre your work around that theme. You will write it a lot better than something you have no personal experience of. Remember you want people talking about your book one day, so it helps to give them a discussion piece. 6. Know Your Genre This is very important as agents, editors and readers want to know what they are getting. It\'s okay to mix your genres (ie fantasy romance or historical horror) but the more precise you make it the easier it will be to attract readers. 7. Interesting Plot Well, this one is obvious. You may tick off all the above but if nothing interesting happens in your book then no one is going to enjoy it. The hardest part of the writing process is coming up with an idea that is original yet will also appeal to readers of similar books. If you\'re inspired by other novels in your genre look at how they keep your interest, including the twists and turns the story takes that make it so memorable. 8. Great World Building World building isn\'t reserved solely for the fantasy genre. Whether your book takes place in the future, in the scorching desert, or on Middle Earth, how you describe the backdrop to your story makes a huge difference. Let\'s take Harry Potter, for example. What people love about J K Rowling\'s world building is the details - from the decor of Hogwarts, to the description of Ron Weasley\'s home, to the Ministry of Magic building. They also love how it\'s all interwoven into the real world, including magic happenings in everyday places like King\'s Cross station and the centre of London. It\'s that magic that not only captured the imagination of children and adults alike, but also turned it into the biggest book franchise the world has ever seen. 9. Realistic Dialogue There is nothing worse than reading a great story and then coming across unrealistic dialogue. It\'s jarring. How your characters speak has to describe them, their surroundings, the genre you are writing in, and how they\'re feeling at that moment. Ensure that what your characters are saying is: Relevant Concise Appropriate Matches their personalities Either moves the plot along or gives the reader an insight into that person\'s character 10. Good Structure And Pacing Have you ever read a book and thought it was confusing or boring? That will be because of two things- structure and pacing. Story Structure The very least a story needs is a beginning, a middle, and an end. I like to work to the Save The Cat beats, which means sticking to the usual three act structure but breaking them down into 15 beats. This includes: Act 1: Opening Image Theme Stated Setup Catalyst Debate Break Into Act 2 B Story Fun and Games Midpoint Bad Guys Close In All is Lost Dark Night of the Soul Break Into Act 3 Finale Final Image This may sound prescriptive but it can be applied to everything from Austen to Tolkein, Blyton to Brown. But there are many ways to structure a story, so see what works best for you. Pacing It\'s very tempting, as a writer, to info dump everything you want the reader to know right at the beginning of the story. Don\'t do that. Remember, that even if the book is a thriller, no reader wants to be exhausted the whole way through. So... much like running a race... pace yourself. Build up to the climax, then give your readers a lull, then raise the stakes again, then lead them into a false sense of security. It\'s all the ups and downs that make the ride so much more enjoyable. 11. Conflict And Tension Talking of ups and downs, rising action is key to a great story. Without conflict and tension, there\'s no reason for your readers to keep reading. If a hero goes on an adventure and everything goes swimmingly and they achieve their goal, well... it may be nice for the MC, but it\'s very boring to read. Make sure that you make your main character suffer. Not so much that they totally give up - but nearly. Then, when they get to the end... 12. A Fantastic Ending ... give them a happy ending. Or not. A great ending means that the reader is satisfied, even though it may not be all that happy for your hero. Include an extra twist, maybe a nice surprise, but most of all make sure there\'s hope. Not only must your hero learn their lesson but the reader must come away feeling like the story is complete and they have no further questions. Frequently Asked Questions What Are The Three Things That Make A Good Story? The three main things that make a good story are the hook, characters, and the voice. Hook - start your story in a way that will hook your readers and keep them interested. Characters - make sure they are interesting and that (although most probably flawed) your readers will root for them until the end. Voice - ensure your style of writing is fresh and matches the genre of the book. What Are The 4 P\'s Of Storytelling? The four P\'s of storytelling are people, place, plot, and purpose. People - Who are the characters in your book and why are they there? Place - Where is your book set and how can you bring it to life? Plot - What happens in your book and why should we care? Purpose - What theme or message are you trying to convey? Why did you write this book? That\'s A Wrap If you reached the end of this article feeling invigorated and eager to write your best book ever, then hurray! Good luck to you. And if you have run through my checklist and feel a little worried that your current manuscript doesn\'t include all of these things, then I have great news for you. The best thing about writing a book is that you can keep editing it until it shines. So take what you have, go deep with your characters, wider with your story, and really hook your readers from the very beginning. Have fun making your good story even greater!

Lyrical Style In Writing: How To Craft Compelling Prose

What kind of writing style do I have? Do I even have one?   At some point or the other in your own writing life, you will have found yourself gazing off into the space, a far-off look on your face, wondering if you’ll ever write like Ernest Hemingway or Anne Lamott.   You wouldn’t be the first, and you won’t be the last.   Developing a writing style comes with much practice and that could take years. But playing around with style and experimenting with it only takes a few hours. If you ask me, one of the best ways to try and develop a writing style is to have fun with it.   Enter lyrical style.   Nope, you don’t need to be a songwriter or lyricist to do that. Nope, you don’t need to write lyric poetry either. All you need is your writing spirit, and of course, your ability to have fun. Think of it as a creative writing exercise.  In this article, I’ll take you through what lyrical style in prose writing is all about, detail some simple ways of using it in your writing, and provide some great examples of lyrical style in prose writing.  What Is Lyrical Style In Writing?  Good prose writing comes in various shapes, sizes, and styles. When prose is written in an evocative, poetic, and rhythmic manner, it is known as lyrical style. As a style, it\'s often thought of in regard to lyric poetry, but it can be utilised in many types of writing. It often has a beat to it, or a tongue-twister quality, or at least a descriptive poesy to evoke a certain emotion in the reader.   It’s why we can still recall several verses from Shakespeare’s sonnets and Keats’ odes, if not the full poems. For prose to have the same impact it requires the author to hone that craft with a sense of joy and expertise in equal measure. If you can recall, word-for-word, a specific line or a few lines or an entire paragraph from a book, then, chances are it was the lyrical style that stuck with you.  Examples Of Lyrical Style  A key element in this style of writing is harnessing beat, structure and length from words, phrases and sentences. This is done by consciously deciding the rhythm, cadence, and length of the sentences. There’s a chance rhythm might vary depending on your own dialect of English, especially if your mother tongue or commonly spoken language is not English, as rhythm depends on how stressed syllables are used (which varies with how English is spoken).   Rhythm  Rhythm is common in lyric poems (and poetry in general), of course. But it\'s quite rare in prose. When authors do manage to pull it off, they pull it off with such flair that you’re bound to remember their lines for ages to come. Contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t have to be a romance novel you’re writing to use lyrical style to great effect. Ernest Hemingway does this to elaborate on the setting for his novel A Farewell To Arms – the roar of World War I in an otherwise idyllic Italian village:   The plain was rich with crops; there were many orchards of fruit trees and beyond the plain the mountains were brown and bare. There was fighting in the mountains and at night we could see the flashes from the artillery. In the dark it was like summer lightning, but the nights were cool and there was not the feeling of a storm coming.  A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway This is arguably the simplest use of rhythm and pacing without resorting to ornate language. The rhythm, in fact, adds to the dread the reader feels for the dwellers of the village. And if you were to rearrange the lines into verses, they’d read much like lyric poetry:   The plain was rich with crops;   there were many orchards of fruit trees  and beyond the plain the mountains were brown and bare.  There was fighting in the mountains  and at night we could see the flashes from the artillery.  In the dark it was like summer lightning,  but the nights were cool  and there was not the feeling of a storm coming.  A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway Cadence  Cadence is how words are grouped together – as standalone phrases or joined by conjunctions and accentuated by punctuations. If there’s one author who does this with flair, it’s Anne Lamott. In her New York Times bestseller Bird By Bird, she writes:  Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott Two things stand out here, right away. One: how Lamott uses cadence to evoke a certain emotion in the reader. Two: how that usage amplifies the meaning of her prose. The first sentence is short, giving the reader that sense of isolation. The second sentence conveys the expansiveness she’s talking about, by way of using the conjunction ‘and’ twice, and the colon. The double ‘and’ expands the sentence, while the colon opens up a gateway for something phenomenal – feeding the soul. In this instance, Lamott has essentially garnered expansiveness from her use of lyrical style in prose writing. What makes this sweeter is that the prose is all about writing itself and what it’s capable of evoking in us!  Length Of Sentence  Sentence length is, of course, in reference to the number of words you choose to put before a full-stop.  Believe it or not, Barack Obama, former President of the USA is quite the prolific writer himself and uses lyrical prose to great effect in his memoir A Promised Land. As can be expected, politics is a prominent theme in the book, and yet, where he intends to move the reader, he capitalises on the length of sentences (particularly long sentences) as the carrier of that impact. In describing a trip to The Great Wall Of China, he writes:  The day was cold, the wind cutting, the sun a dim watermark on the gray sky, and no one said much as we trudged up the steep stone ramparts that snaked along the mountain’s spine. A Promised Land by Barack Obama If that isn’t a lengthy sentence, then I don’t know what is. The only thing as lengthy as that sentence is perhaps how time seemed to drag for Obama on that trip! The sombre weather, the grim locale and the silence between Obama and his co-travellers all add to what must have been one long hike up the mountain.   Repetition Of Sounds  The length of the sentence is not the only thing adding style to Obama’s prose, though. I’d be surprised if you didn’t notice the repeating sounds of ‘d’, ‘t’, and ‘s’. It actually helps add that touch of witty sense of humour we know Obama to have. This leads us to the next aspect of lyrical style – sounds.   When it comes to the repetition of sounds, there are three poetic devices – assonance (or repeated vowel sounds in multiple words), consonance (or repeated consonant sounds in multiple words), and alliteration (or repeated consonant sounds at the beginning of multiple words).  Repeating consonants and vowels in a verse or even a whole stanza isn’t a new thing for poets and repetition is particularly prominent in lyric poetry. If anything, it’s expected. When writers of prose do it, however, it’s often a conscious move. Using poetic techniques/devices like assonance, consonance, and alliteration can bring beauty to prose. In fact, the inherent beat they create is highly effective in drawing readers’ attention to a particular piece of description, adding a bit of theatrics to the ordinary.   Take this extract for instance:  He looked exactly as much as usual—all pink and silver as to skin and hair, all straightness and starch as to figure and dress—the man in the world least connected with anything unpleasant. The Wings Of Dove by Henry James This is a line from American-born British author Henry James’ novel The Wings Of Dove. I, for one, am carried away by how ‘as much as usual’ maintains a kind of tempo with ‘with anything unpleasant’, and ‘skin and hair’ with ‘figure and dress’. The innate rhythm is obvious, just as the character’s “properness” is evident from his dressing sense. James’ use of assonance here, with varying ‘a’ sound, makes the reader picture a prim – perhaps even prude – person.    How To Use Lyrical Style In Your Writing  It sure is fun to incorporate lyrical style into your own writing; it makes writing almost musical and creates sentences that resemble song lyrics. Bear in mind though, that the lyrical quality doesn’t come from sounds alone. The visual you create using this technique is just as important; if anything, the sounds are meant to aid you in amplifying the visual. So, don’t lose sight of the sacred rule – show, don’t tell.   If you use alliteration and consonance but end up telling the reader what to feel, then, then all the poetic and lyrical quality would be futile. Don’t tell the reader Mr. Numpty felt foolish. Show the reader how Mr. Numpty found a feather on his stroll, thought it lucky, and took it for a sign, until he looked further ahead to see several flocks of birds.   As invigorating as it might be to play with lyrical prose writing, be cautious of making it too purple. Purple prose is basically writing which is so excessively ornate that it takes the reader away from the story and fixates them on the ornate description. It is essentially an overdose of adjectives, adverbs, metaphors and poetic devices that take away an intelligent reader’s joy in experiencing the story. Imagine asking someone for direction and that person instantly bursts into a mode of singing the direction. The singing might be great, but it might not let you gather the directions you need. You’d be lost between the keys and notes!   Here’s a popular example of purple prose, an extract from the 1830 novel Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton:  It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.  Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton Why tell us that it was a dark and stormy night, when the rest of the description shows just that? Why say violent gust of wind, when gust already conveys how violent the wind must have been? Why say fiercely agitating, when agitating by itself does the job? And why, oh why, do we need to be told that the scene is set in London; I mean, why else was this scene written anyway!  Now, let’s look at lyrical writing with metaphors that could easily have turned purple but didn’t, because the author knew where to pull the reigns. Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi is a young adult fiction debut; and yet, the restraint Menon shows in this writing is commendable:   His eyes reminded her of old apothecary bottles, deep brown, when the sunlight hit them and turned them almost amber. Dimple loved vintage things. She followed a bunch of vintage photography accounts on Instagram, and old apothecary bottles were a favorite subject.  When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon Do you see the difference between purple prose and lyrical writing? On a scale of Ernest Hemingway to Edward Bulwer-Lytton, you want to fall closer to the former, where lyrical prose is concerned. Less purple, more lavender. In essence, grandiose, flowery, and sugary are all fine, and might even be necessary when the scene or setting calls for it, but redundancy is not.   Descriptions of nature are a common pitfall for purple prose; we writers tend to get carried away by the majesty of the landscape and the opportunity to use sensory language. Sometimes, it’s the character’s grand introduction that becomes entwined with purple prose. Nearly every writer, especially in the beginning of their career is bound to write purple prose, and even think it reads great. But that’s absolutely okay; it’s a learning curve, almost a rite of passage. If your prose is purple at the drafting stage, then let it be purple. At the stage of editing, though, make sure to rewrite and adjust the tint to a softer hue. Let your writing breathe. Top Tips For Writing Lyrically  Weigh the importance of the passage before deciding on its rhythm, cadence, length of sentences and repetitive sounds.   Think of how you want to use different punctuation to evoke different emotions in the reader.  Don’t overdo alliteration, consonance and assonance, unless you’re aiming to sound silly on purpose.   Purple or lavender, at the draft stage, make sure not to take yourself too seriously. Have fun with lyrical writing and let your words flow.  At the editing stage, ensure you read your work with the hawk eyes of an editor. Weed out the redundancies, hysterics and melodrama.  Read James McCreet’s column ‘Under The Microscope’ in Writing magazine every month. He dissects 300 words for style and also suggests rewrites.  Read contemporary poems, if you don’t already. Our modern poets have a great flair for pulling off lyrical style, without overdosing the reader on beauty. You could also look at lyric poetry in particular for some inspiration. Benefits Of Lyrical Style In Prose  No writer uses lyrical style exclusively throughout their story. That would be an overkill, turning the writing purple. The idea behind using lyrical style in prose is to try and spruce up your own writing, all the while having a bit of fun. Lyrical prose writing is simply one of the many tools in a writer’s kit of creativity.   Here are some of the ways in which you can benefit from trying lyrical prose in your writing:  If your writing has a hard quality, then you might want to occasionally change it up with a bit of lyrical style where the text allows it.  When a character is not easily likeable, but you’d like your reader to stick up for them, you could ease the reader in, using lyrical prose to introduce that character.  Lyrical writing works very well when you want to use irony in your story. It adds a layer of emphasis on the subtle humour you’re trying to pull off.  Frequently Asked Questions How Do You Write Prose Beautifully?  If you’d like to write evocative prose, then learn to view every sentence as a story, in and of itself. And yet, you can’t let it take the reader away from your actual story. Knowing how to let your writing breathe is just as important. It’s a balance, one that you can learn to maintain through rigorous rounds of self-editing.   What Is Lyrical Writing?  When prose comes with rhythm, cadence, repetition of sounds and conscious sentence lengths, it makes for lyrical writing. Cadence is my personal favourite, a lyrical writing technique I’m practising consciously. I love how sentence structuring and punctuations can play a major role in evoking the emotion the text itself attempts.     What Is Purple Prose?  Purple is known as a colour of royalty, and as its name suggests, purple prose is the excessively grandiose or ornate quality of descriptive writing. It is often ridden with an overdose of metaphors, redundant adjectives and adverbs, and verbosity. It tends to remove the reader from the story, and instead indulge them in the extravagant beauty of the language itself. 

How To End A Story Perfectly

‘After all, tomorrow is another day!’  These words concluded the popular Gone with the Wind. Endings can pack a lot of power. They can make or break novels and films. Some authors like to keep the door open for the reader’s interpretation while others like to tie a ribbon on everything. No matter what kind of ending you come up with, it should ultimately make sense.   In the article, I\'ll teach you how to end a story, give you some examples of story endings, and detail the different types of endings. Why Are Story Endings Important?  A lot of stock is put into writing an enticing beginning for your novel because that\'s what\'s going to convince a literary agent or publisher to look at your work, and more importantly, get a reader to keep reading your book. However, equally important, or sometimes more so, is being able to properly end your novel too.   In this past decade, the world has changed drastically. Social media apps are vying for people’s attention, and in the midst of this technology boom, it has become more important than ever to write books that are fast-paced, and logical in their endings. An ending that doesn’t make sense can easily frustrate a reader, sometimes enough to put them off the rest of the author’s works. Therefore, it has become of great importance for an ending to be satisfying. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending; a sad ending can be effective too. It just has to be an ending that leaves the reader with the sense that all the time they invested in the book was worth it. Let’s look at all the different ways in which you can end your own story. Types Of Endings Resolved Ending  Often known as one of the most popular and well-loved endings, the resolved ending basically leaves nothing behind and ties a bow on everything. We don’t need to wonder anymore about the fate of the characters as all of that\'s explained and all loose ends are tied up.   A good example of a resolved ending is Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. The Delaney family love each other dearly, but there are cracks in every family. When Joy Delaney goes missing, it throws the lives of her husband and four adult kids into disarray. Moriarty is known for her family-based suspense novels, and in this novel, it\'s made abundantly clear where Joy has been after she returns to her family. All the remaining plot threads are resolved with a nice happy ending for the reader.   However, having a resolved ending doesn’t necessarily mean a happy one. It could be a tragic ending, but if all the loose ends have been tied, then it’s a resolved one too. If you’re thinking of a resolved ending for your novel, then you’ll definitely need to make sure that you’ve answered all of the burning questions the reader might have.   Unresolved Ending  This kind of ending is usually very common when writing a trilogy or series. The door is usually left open for the reader to anticipate what might happen in the next part. These endings are also used to great effect by TV series as they need something to lure the viewer back for the next episode. An example of an unresolved ending is from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Although a lot of questions about the Triwizard Tournament and Harry Potter’s involvement in it are answered, the ending still raises more questions than ever. For example, what will happen now that Lord Voldemort’s back? That alone surpasses the idea of the tournament. If you’re planning to write a series, then an unresolved ending (which some may call a cliffhanger) would work really well for you. Ambiguous Ending  An ambiguous ending is very different from an unresolved one as it’s open to interpretation by the readers. They get to decide what might happen next in the characters’ lives. Although some closure is provided by the author, there is a small window left open. The film, Inception, probably contains one of the most famous ambiguous endings in recent times. In the film, all Cobb (Leonardo di Caprio) wants is to be with his kids in the real world. When he finally gets the chance to do just that, viewers are still left to interpret whether this is all actually happening in the real world or not.  Ambiguous endings can be interesting, but there\'s always the threat of frustrating your reader/viewer. It might be wise to explore the works of authors who have attempted these endings before trying it for yourself. If not done right, it may mean that the reader won\'t pick up your book again.   Unexpected/Surprising Ending A very popular type of ending for mystery and suspense novels is the surprising/unexpected ending. In this one, the reader\'s led to believe that the story is going in a certain direction, but at the last moment, there\'s a twist. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough is an excellent example of a novel with a twist you won’t see coming. Adele/Rob has been in love with David for a long time, but David\'s married to Louise. Through something called astral projection, Adele/Rob takes on Louise’s body while Louise is forced into Adele/Rob’s. The twist that follows is one that will shock readers.   Often a staple in crime/suspense novels, this ending is not as easy to achieve as it seems. If you’re planning to write a twist ending, then you must be sure that the twist doesn\'t come out of the blue. It has to be somewhat rooted in reality, and while it may not be expected, it shouldn’t be so unrealistic that it has nothing to do with the plot whatsoever. It must be believable or else it will just infuriate the reader.  Suspense Ending  Often mistaken for an unexpected ending, a suspense ending is something that does justice to the overall pace and plot of the novel, delivers on suspense, and makes the novel a satisfying read. A good example of this is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Documenting the lives of Amy and Nick Dunne, the novel became a major bestseller due to its compelling plot twists. Towards the end of the novel, it\'s clear that after staging a disappearance, Amy has returned to her husband, Nick, and is also pregnant, which forces Nick to stay with her.   Not every book can be like Gone Girl, but it is possible to maintain suspense and offer an ending that pays homage to the opening.   Tied Ending  A tied ending is when the story comes full circle i.e. it ends right where it started. It\'s often used to document a hero’s journey and show how they’ve reached where they are today because of the way things began for them. This is a commonly used ending in crime fiction today where the main character is shown to be involved in something in the present and then the story takes us into the past to show how it all came about. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood is a good example of this; we are introduced to Grace Marks who has been in prison for eight years, and that\'s when we delve into her past to see how she got to this point in time.   Readers are often interested in finding out what brought the character to this juncture in life. In many ways, Gone Girl could also be called a tied ending.   Expanded Ending   This type of ending is where there is an epilogue. The epilogue features a time far removed from the current story and explains what happens to the main characters during that time. An excellent and very popular example of an expanded ending would be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. In the epilogue, the story jumps several years to reveal the three protagonists all grown up as they help their respective children onto the Hogwarts Express.   If you’re writing a novel that doesn’t allow you to tie up all the threads immediately, then having an epilogue is generally a good idea. It offers the readers a good window into what happens to the characters and leaves them satisfied.   How To Write A Satisfying Ending Your novel’s opening might impress readers, but it\'s the ending of your novel that will make them your fans. One of the tricks to writing a good ending is to devote as much time to it (if not more) as you’ve devoted to the beginning. Here\'s how to end a story in a satisfying way:  Know Your Ending Before You Write It A lot of writers like to think that they will come up with an ending while they’re writing the book, but often enough, that\'s not the case. Instead of being stuck or coming up with an inferior ending, it\'s better to know how your story ends from the start. Just have an end goal in sight. It doesn’t matter if you head for it straight or take a convoluted path. The goal should be the same.   Try Different Endings Before You Zero In On The One You Want You’ll often find that a lot of films have alternate endings. That is precisely because it\'s good to have options. You don’t want to back yourself into a corner. Before you start writing your ending, experiment with different ideas that are floating in your head. If you like, you can actually write different endings before choosing the one you think works best.   Make Sure The Ending Is Believable We are sometimes so engrossed in creating the biggest twist possible that we ignore a very important thing… believability. Your ending doesn’t have to be a happy one. It just has to be a convincing one. If there’s a twist, it should be within the bounds of reason. If it\'s so outlandish that it has nothing to do with the main plot, the reader will feel cheated.   Emotions Matter A reader invests a great deal of time and effort into reading a novel. It goes without saying that they want to be satisfied after reading a book. Make it worth their while. Your ending is basically the main character’s story coming to an end, so the presence of emotions is necessary. It will heighten the overall experience for the reader.   Plenty Of Tension Just like emotions, tension is an essential component of a good ending. A novel generally follows a linear path with the tension reaching a crescendo as the novel ends. That is exactly what you should be doing. If the stakes are high, make them higher. Give your main character plenty of obstacles. That\'s how you’ll create a book that is truly ‘unputdownable’.   Make Sure The Hero Takes Centre Stage Sometimes, writers end up giving the spotlight to secondary characters whilst ending a book. That isn’t a wise option. No matter what happens, your main character should always take centre stage in the ending. The novel is essentially about them, so the ending should be about them too.   Make Sure You Resolve The Conflict Every book has a central conflict that needs to be resolved. For suspense novels, it might be the ultimate ‘secret’. For crime novels, it’s finding the ‘killer’. Therefore, it\'s essential that an ending resolves the overall conflict in the novel.   Have A Fresh Perspective Even if things are headed towards a predictable climax, you have the ability to use a fresh perspective. Give things a twist. Even if it’s the generic plot of boy meets girls and eventually, they get married, you can pack enough tension and suspense in it that the reader won’t quite know how the two people will end up together.   Create A Lasting Impression Think about the impression you want to leave on the reader. Is your book about creating lasting social change or is it about hope and the power of love? Figure it out and make sure you offer that in your ending.   Know When To End Sometimes, a writer can get so engrossed in writing their story’s ending that they forget how long the book has become. Although every book is unique, it\'s up to the writer to decide how much is too much. You don’t want to overdo things and dilute the overall experience.   It\'s pretty clear that a novel’s ending matters as much as its beginning, if not more. Often, it\'s the ending that lingers in the reader\'s mind and helps them decide whether they want to read other books by the author. If in doubt, having beta readers give you their honest opinion is an excellent idea. Frequently Asked Questions  How Do You End The Last Sentence Of A Story?  The last sentence of a book captures its essence and should send out a lasting message to the reader. For example, in Gone with the Wind, the final sentence is one of hope whereas, in some crime novels, the final sentence alludes to things that are yet to come. It\'s important to recognise the theme of your novel and the overall tone, and end it accordingly. The last sentence can often make or break a book.   What Makes A Good Ending?  A good ending is one that stays true to the overall theme of the novel and makes sense. It should satisfy the reader and offer the main character a chance to shine one last time. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending. It just has to be convincing so that the reader doesn’t feel cheated. A good ending has tension and excitement but also resolves the central conflict in the book. How Do You End A Book?  There are several ways to end a book and your decision to end your novel a certain way depends on various factors, like the kind of book you’re writing. Suggestions for how to end a story or book include:  A resolved ending  Unresolved ending   Ambiguous ending  Unexpected/surprise ending  Tied ending  Suspense ending  Expanded ending  Ultimately, the decision to end a book a certain way depends on the author, but it\'s always worth noting that readers don’t appreciate an ending that doesn’t make sense to them or just comes out of the blue.  

Plot Points: What They Are, And How To Use Them Well

Engaging your readers is probably your most important job as a writer. You could be telling the most original, heartbreaking or funny tale ever written, but if your reader isn’t engaged, they will cast your characters and their journey aside. Luckily we are able to break down storytelling into its simplest form - plot points - and once you have mastered these, everything else should fall neatly into place.  As writers, we know that every story needs a structure, and there are many variations of story structure out there, but it’s the plot points that will pull your readers in and keep them engaged until the final page.   This guide will talk you through the importance of plot points and how you can ensure your writing uses them well. I will walk you through the differences between each of them one at a time and show you how to use them.  So let’s get started!  What Is A Plot Point? A plot point is a moment in your story that impacts the character or the direction of the story in some way. It’s a major turning point. It’s a door that once your character has walked through, there is no going back. Plot points are what give your story momentum, moving the story forward and taking your reader with it.   A plot point is defined as ‘a particularly significant part of a plot of a work of fiction.’  Even if your novel is quiet or literary, don’t ignore the importance of your structure. A plot point can be used as a device to shock your reader, to send them in a direction they didn’t see coming, or it can be a gentle nudge. Either way, it must form part of your character arc.   The Importance Of Using And Identifying Plot Points I’m sure we’ve all read books that have felt a bit flat on the page or even a little disjointed. These are the ones you are likely to have put down and we don’t want that for your novel. By breaking your story down into its basic plot points you will be able to see where the action comes from; or doesn’t, in some cases. You want to ensure that what is happening in a particular part of the story is more interesting than what has come before it. This gives your story momentum.  Each plot point should bring more complication, more driving force, and get the reader invested in its resolution. And each plot point links your story, creating that narrative arc that is needed. A novel that is connected with events that happen as a result of what has come before is one that your readers will love. Unconnected events will put your readers off. But more importantly, events and major turning points in the story must all grow out of the character’s desire. This is where plot points differ from your overall plot.   So now we know what a plot point is, let’s dive a little deeper.  Plot Points Vs Plot Plot points are key moments in your story that relate specifically to your protagonist and their individual journey. The plot, on the other hand, refers to a series of events that connect together to make your overall story. The plot also encompasses multiple characters, themes and subplots.   Let’s have a look at an example of plot vs plot point. In Me Before You by JoJo Moyes we see the burgeoning relationship between Lou and Will - it is central to the plot. But the relationship itself is not a plot point. Instead, if we take the moment when Lou moves in with her boyfriend and she quickly realises that she doesn’t love him, this is a plot point. This is Lou walking through that metaphorical closed door and taking her journey in a different direction. It takes her closer to Will, which in turn will lead to her awakening and embracing the opportunities that life might bring. This is a perfect example of great plot point events linking together and creating a character arc.  Now let’s look closely at each plot point in turn.  The Key Plot Points In A Basic Story Structure There are so many versions of basic story structure out there, but most are just a variation of the following, and all hold the same principles at their heart. Using a standard three-act structure, here I will break down each element that your story requires to engage and propel your readers.   Hook The hook is something that is unique to your story, your story world, and your characters, and is usually made clear to the reader in the opening scenes. A hook must grab their attention and make them want to read on.   First Plot Point The first major plot point, also known as the inciting incident, is the moment that throws your character’s status quo into disarray. It’s a calling or a threat that takes them down a path they wouldn’t otherwise have taken, and so ahead lies a rocky road of uncertainty and discovery for your character.  First Pinch Point At this point in your plot, your character will likely face a decision as a result of the first plot point, usually in the form of a dilemma that they will react to. In most cases, your character will still be reacting to what is happening around them, but this plot point will lead you into act two where your character will learn more about themselves. It is also referred to as the awakening.  Midpoint This is one of the most crucial points for your character. The midpoint is where your character changes in such a way that there is no turning back for them. They stop reacting and start acting - they have agency. It is their moment of enlightenment.  Final Pinch Point Here, the stakes will be raised for your character as they respond to their newfound agency. Things likely won’t be going to plan for them but this pressure point will force them to form a new plan that will lead into your final act as we climb that insurmountable hill towards the climax. This is also known as their death experience, where they leave their old self behind.  Final Plot Point Also known as the ‘all is lost’ moment, the final plot point will show your character having tried and failed in their quest. But you couldn’t possibly leave your character there! This is their moment to transform. And so on we go into their final try - into the climax.  Resolution This is where you bring your story full circle - climax, realisation and resolution. Your character may have won, or they may have lost. But importantly, they will have changed and grown. To test this, simply ask yourself - if I took this character as they are now and put them back at the beginning of the story, would they do everything the same? You need the answer to that to be absolutely not!  Plot points, as shown above, are the catalyst for change in your character. And this is exactly what your readers are here for.  Plot Point Examples: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson I’m going to use one of my all-time favourite novels to demonstrate these key plot points in action. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson falls more into literary fiction where plot points can be harder to recognise, but let’s give it a go…  Hook Shirley Jackson is a bit of a master and she hooks you from paragraph one with this amazing opening:  My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.  We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson Are you hooked? We learn so much about this strange narrator in this paragraph and she leaves us with that killer, nonchalant final sentence. As readers, we need to know everything about this girl.    In the opening chapters, we learn that Merricat (Mary’s nickname) lives with her sister, Constance, and her sick Uncle Julian. The rest of Merricat’s family were poisoned and Constance was tried for their murders but found innocent. Everything about this story centres around the conflict in Merricat to keep herself and Constance hidden from the rest of the world. She wishes the locals dead and she would happily remain in the safety of their home and grounds for the rest of her life.   First Plot Point Two women visit the house for tea and suggest to Constance that she reenters the world.   This is the inciting incident. Constance is open to this idea and everything that Merricat is trying to preserve is threatened.   First Pinch Point Their cousin Charles arrives at the house and Constance lets him in.   Charles is a very real threat to Merricat and her world. Constance is drawn to him and he convinces her that she has done wrong by hiding the family away. Merricat asks him to leave, but he refuses.  Midpoint Merricat tips Charles’ smoking cigar into the trash can in his bedroom, setting the room on fire.  This is the moment Merricat acts rather than reacts.   Final Pinch Point When the fire is extinguished, the locals attack the house, breaking everything inside.   They surround the sisters and only stop their attack when it is announced that Uncle Julian has died. Merricat and Constance escape to the creek, where they finally acknowledge that Merricat poisoned their family. This is Merricat’s ‘all is lost’ moment. It looks like her actions have led to the destruction of the thing she is trying to preserve the most - her home and sanctuary.   Final Plot Point Merricat and Constance return to what is left of their home.   They board up their home, entombing themselves in its burnt shell. The locals, in their guilt and fear, bring food each day and leave it at their door.  Resolution The sisters are safe and happy in their home having rejected the outside world.  I am doing this novel a disservice by reducing the climax to one line because there is so much more nuance on the page, but ultimately Merricat has got what she wanted - she has isolated herself and Constance from the world. She no longer needs to leave home for groceries and face the abuse of the locals. She is alone with the sister she loves and who accepts her despite knowing what she has done. Her final line says it all:  ‘Oh Constance,’ I said, ‘we are so happy.’  How To Use Plot Points In Your Writing You will have read so many stories in your lifetime that it is likely you are already aware of how plot points are used, even if just subconsciously. All stories contain them, no matter how literary or experimental. But spotting them and understanding them is what will elevate your writing.  As mentioned earlier, the most important thing about plot points is the relevance they have to your main character. They must be linked to your character’s motivations and desires, their wants and needs, and their overall change. Spend time thinking about this before you write anything. Ask yourself these questions:  How will my protagonist change?   What are they like now and what will they be like at the end?  What will happen to my protagonist that will lead to that change?  What are the antagonistic forces they will face and overcome?  For a real deep dive into plot points and character arcs, I would definitely recommend Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc by Dara Marks.  Without being too formulaic - because who wants to zap creativity? - plot points can act as a great template on which to write. They are signposts on your writing journey. Figuring out your main plot points, and deciding when your plot points occur, at the outlining stage is definitely the easiest way. I’m a pantser, but I will always hold these key moments and turning points in my head (or write them down if I am feeling wild!) as I am drafting. As you\'re writing, having some idea of what your next plot point will be can be really helpful, as it gives you something to build towards and can lessen the amount of writer\'s block you experience. Frequently Asked Questions What Is A Plot Point In A Story? A plot point is a moment in your story that impacts your character or the direction of the story in some way. It links directly to your character arc, giving them conflict to overcome on their journey to enlightenment and change.  What Is A Plot Point Example? A plot point example from Jojo Moyes\' Me Before You, is when Lou moves in with her ‘safe’ boyfriend before realising that she doesn’t love him. This pushes her closer to Will who, in turn, shows her that life shouldn’t be ‘safe’ and that she should go out into the world and live it.  How Many Plot Points Are In A Story? The number of plot points in a story varies, but most agree that there are seven main plot points - hook, first plot point/inciting incident, first pinch point, midpoint, second pinch point, second plot point, and resolution.  Plot Point Crafting Plot points are key to engaging your readers. They are also key to achieving both narrative and character arcs. Think of each plot point as a bolt linking one part of your story to the next and you will take your readers on an unputdownable ride that they will strap themselves in for. 

Mood In Writing: What It Is And How To Create It

Readers often choose a book they want to read based on what \'mood\' they are in - and, in turn, how that book will make them feel. There are so many different ways a book can make you feel - you may want to read something that puts you in an eerie mood, a cheerful mood, whimsical mood, or a romantic mood. In this article, we will be looking at mood examples and how the right mood words can create emotional responses in your readers. I will explain the difference between mood and tone, and how to utilise both effectively to engage the reader and leave them feeling the exact emotion you intended. Discover how to become a better writer and get people\'s emotions evoked through your writing. What Is Mood? Mood refers to how a reader feels as a result of an author\'s tone used to evoke more than one mood. Mood and tone are sometimes confused. Tone in writing often refers to the author/protagonist\'s feelings and how they\'re expressed on the page, whereas mood is how the reader feels as the result of the tone used by the author to affect mood. For example, the tone an author has used may be described as ‘immersive’, ‘dark’, ‘compelling’. The tone of how the author portrays a character on the page helps you identify the mood of a book. But don’t get tone, or mood, confused with ‘author voice’. If you are writing a thriller, for instance, you want the reader to feel unnerved. Maybe you want them to feel mistrusting of your main character. For instance, if you were to start the book with \'it was a dark and stormy night\' and use short sentences, the mood (feeling for the reader) is immediately one of unease and apprehension. When writing your first draft make a note of how you want your reader to feel, then look at the different ways you can achieve that. Why Is Creating Mood Important? It doesn’t matter if you\'re writing a hilarious rom com, or a spooky gothic thriller, your end goal is the same - you are creating mood. But why is that important? Because if you can evoke emotion, your reader is more likely to remember your story long after they turn the final page. The reader experiences different moods in different genres, which is a huge part of their experience. Examples Of Mood In A Story The mood of a story is determined by using different words, imagery, and tone. Let\'s study different moods in writing with the following examples: Example One: Agatha Christie is one of my favourite authors because she truly makes me feel something. The others went upstairs, a slow unwilling procession. If this had been an old house, with creaking wood, and dark shadows, and heavily panelled walls, there might have been an eerie feeling. But this house was the essence of modernity. There were no dark corners – no possible sliding panels – it was flooded with electric light – everything was new and bright and shining. There was nothing hidden in this house, nothing concealed. It had no atmosphere about it. Somehow, that was the most frightening thing of all. They exchanged good-nights on the upper landing. Each of them went into his or her own room, and each of them automatically, almost without conscious thought, locked the door… And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie What Christie has done here is incredibly clever. Her setting and atmosphere deliberately do not match the mood she is creating. The modern, open and safe atmosphere of the house should be a non-threatening location; but readers are left feeling uneasy. Christie is deliberately creating a mood of unease by way of subverting expectations (but more on this later). The reader is left with a sense of foreboding and fear, despite the setting being typically welcoming. The clever placement of the characters automatically ‘locking the door’ makes the reader feel fear. Example Two: Alice in Wonderland is glorious in so many ways, but in this case, Carroll is also an expert when it comes to creating mood on the page. It’s done in such a subtle manner that as children, we can\'t immediately see why it makes us feel a certain way. \"It was much pleasanter at home,\" thought poor Alice, \"when one wasn\'t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn\'t gone down that rabbit-hole—and yet—and yet—it\'s rather curious, you know, this sort of life!\" Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Carroll uses whimsical settings and descriptions to create an extravagant world. We already know this world is fantastical, but what is it about the writing that evokes a feeling of childhood innocence and wonder in the reader? Take a look at this second example: She stretched herself up on tiptoe, and peeped over the edge of the mushroom, and her eyes immediately met those of a large caterpillar, that was sitting on the top with its arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah, and taking not the smallest notice of her or of anything else.Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll We know, from the description, that Alice could and should evoke a sense of danger; a new world she doesn’t recognise and a life she doesn’t know or understand. Instead, we are left feeling excited. Example Three: Trying to create a mood of sorrow, despair and grief on the page can be incredibly difficult. So, here’s how it went in God’s Heart: The six or seven or ten of us walked/wheeled in, grazed at a decrepit selection of cookies and lemonade, sat down in the Circle of Trust, and listened to Patrick recount for the thousandth time his depressingly miserable life story…The Fault in Our Stars by John Green This excerpt is the perfect example of how a few words can help create a deliberate mood on the page. The placement of ‘walked/wheeled’ evokes sadness within the reader. The use of the word ‘decrepit’, not describing the lives that inhabit the room, but the cookies, is so powerful. Even more so because these are descriptions through the eyes of a teenager. How To Establish Your Story’s Mood There are many ways to establish and create mood in fiction. For me, I follow the rule of four. SettingToneThemeLanguage Here\'s how you can establish mood. Using Setting The setting of a book and how you use all three different aspects of immersive setting can heavily influence the story’s mood. Be it that you juxtapose a calm setting to evoke a sense of fear or foreboding, or lean into a setting to expose emotions such as innocence or love. Setting can be your best friend. It’s also the perfect way to ‘show don’t tell’ and allow your reader to truly feel. Using Tone Mood and Tone are two different techniques and can easily be confused. However, once you have understood the difference, tweaking the tone in your writing can very quickly establish the mood of your novel. Using Themes Establishing a theme for your book is one of the fundamentals of plotting, but solidifying your theme will help describe the mood. If you are writing a coming-of-age novel, the overall mood of the book may be hopeful, romantic, innocent even. If you are writing about grief, the overall mood of the book will lean more towards the ‘sad’ end of the spectrum. Making sure you nail down your theme will go a long way to helping you ensure there is mood on the page. Using Language As you can see from the example with John Green, language matters. The words we use matter. We spend our lives trying to twist the same twenty-six letters into words that will elicit an emotional response, so the words we choose matter. Tips For Creating A Particular Mood Knowing how to create mood is one thing, but how do you go about doing that in practical terms? Mood Boards Creating a mood board during your planning and plotting stages will keep you on track. Use pictures, words and images that create a particular mood you want your readers to experience. Keep it close at hand and refer back to it throughout each draft. (Pinterest is great for this). Brainstorm Mood Related Words Draw a ‘spider diagram’ and put the mood you want your reader to experience at the centre. Explore all the words, emotions and settings you associate with that mood. Subvert Expectations Subverting expectations is a way to break the ‘traditional’ rules or expectations in writing to create something new and fresh. It might be easy to always go with the expected, but as writers, we hate the expected. So why not think about shaking things up a bit? Think outside the box. Instead of having your love story set in a romantic location, why not create a creepy mood, or flip that ghost story with a nod towards humour or a happy mood. Twist your narrative and create a scene that no one is expecting. Having a great plot, twists and shocks and even deep characterisation means nothing at all if you don’t leave the reader feeling something. Frequently Asked Questions What Are Moods In Literature? Mood in literature is when an author uses tone in their writing in such a way that it leaves the reader experiencing certain emotions at the end of the novel. What Is An Example Of Mood In Literature? One of the best ways to determine the mood of a piece is to ask yourself how it makes you feel as you read it. For example, do you want those reading your story to feel: Joyful                                  LonelyMelancholic                             OptimisticPanickedPeaceful                     PensivePessimistic                 Reflective                   Restless What Is Used To Identify Mood In Writing? Generally, tone, setting, theme and language, used together can help set the mood in fiction. A combination of these, used effectively, will help generate a strong sense of mood on the page. Feelings Matter All in all, how you write your story determines the feelings the person reading it will experience. You can evoke several moods all at once, or twist up each scene to take your readers through a rollercoaster of emotions. The mood created by your choice of words, sentence length, tone, syntax, juxtaposition, voice, and setting will make your work more memorable and enjoyable.

What Is A Premise In Writing? Start Your Story Strong

A premise refers to the core structural elements of our story. In simpler terms: a summary of what our story is about. In this article, we will discover how to craft and distil our story’s premise so that we have a strong sense of its purpose and direction, allowing us to relay this to our readers. Constantly referring back to a good premise when we begin to pen our books is the key to creating the best story that we can, ensuring we stay true to the plot and our mission statement. It\'s an important part of the writing process. A focused and well-defined premise continues to deliver, opening many doors for us as writers once we have typed those magic words, THE END… What Is A Premise? The literary definition of a premise is the principle idea behind a work of fiction. It is the first impression statement that tells our potential audience - reader, blogger, agent, publisher, publicist, bookseller, librarian, influencer, or movie producer - what our story is trying to do. Getting it right is crucial if we want our book to be noticed and shouted about, especially in today’s highly competitive publishing industry where we are up against the clock - quite literally - now that platforms such as TikTok are encouraging us to think of those precious first seconds of audience exposure. As the saying goes, ‘you only get one chance to make a good first impression’. Premise In Fiction A solid premise should express the plot of your story in a one or two-sentence statement. A story premise is often shorter than an elevator pitch (or logline), albeit quite similar. Its job is to succinctly highlight the major story elements, which is why it can be done effectively in just a single sentence. Obviously being able to explain a story\'s essence in as few words as possible is a skill that requires honing. Luckily for us, there is much to learn from those who have crafted their premise before us, so let us zoom in on the core structure elements in the stories we are already familiar with. What Should A Premise Include? When writing fiction, a solid premise should include a number of important elements pertaining to story structure. To start with, we obviously need to divulge something majorly important about the main character so our readers have an immediate impression of them (and reaction to them - hopefully an empathetic one!). Typically, this will highlight their desires or needs. But we also need to let readers glean the protagonist’s objective. Then we need to tell our audience the primary obstacle or situation our characters are facing (the more extraordinary, the better) and finally, we need to impart the unique selling point of the story. Sometimes you can express the foundational idea in just a short sentence, other times it takes a few more words. All of which can sound a little overwhelming, so let’s read on to see how those who have trod the literary path before us have pulled their premises off: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory By Roald Dahl The premise: Charlie Bucket wins one of five golden tickets to tour a magical and mysterious chocolate factory run by eccentric candy maker, Willy Wonka. With the help of his diminutive co-workers, Wonka reveals the real reason for offering the lucky children the tour, after each of them shows their true colours. Immediately we are invested in the plot. This example of a premise tells us so much in so few words, painting the picture of a Technicolour roller coaster of a story - whether we are going to read the book or watch the film version. Yet those of us who are familiar with the story will also know its plot contains large bursts of action. If our own story is equally busy, it’s important that we pare down the bare essentials of its plot in a similar fashion so we can effectively communicate the premise. This may take a number of attempts but practice makes perfect. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine By Gail Honeyman The premise: Socially outcast Eleanor Oliphant is beguiled with a singer, and believes she is fated to be with them. In this concise example of a story premise, once again, we are told so much and the unique selling point of the plot really shines through, making us want to dive into the book immediately.  Similarly, we can play about with our own premise to see if our story’s hook works best in a one or two-sentence statement. Bridgerton, Season Two (Based On The Books By Julia Quinn) Now let’s look at Netflix and the popular second series of Bridgerton. The premise: The Duke (Anthony Bridgerton) finally comes of age and maturity, eager to find himself a suitable wife. During his courtship with Edwina, he finds himself at constant loggerheads with her older sister, Kate, whose interference threatens to make him lose his head and his heart. Inevitably, if we are writing a romance featuring a love triangle, we will need to mention both love interests in our premise. The sequence of events which takes Anthony from Edwina’s arms to Kate’s is complex but we don’t need to flesh the premise out with those details, lest we turn it into a plot… The Body By Bill Bryson      The premise: An exploration of the body, its functions, and its remarkable ability to heal itself. Non-fiction books require a strong premise too. Diverging from his customary travel fiction, Bill Bryson’s The Body literally ‘does what it says on the tin’. This is the kind of precision you are aiming for; a snappy, punchy premise that relays everything. Of course this depends on the complexity of your story, and the genre you write in, but when it can be achieved, it should be. The One By John Marrs The premise: What if science could eradicate the need for dating by setting people up with their perfect DNA match? Last but definitely not least, let’s look at the premise for John Marrs’ sci-fi psychological thriller, The One. Sometimes a premise can be a simple (and tantalising) question. Sometimes a premise doesn’t require you to mention the main character, particularly when if you write in certain futuristic genres, or if your book is bursting with personalities who all share an equal spot in the limelight. The One’s premise is as intriguing as it gets, appealing to an impressively wide audience, and it very cleverly achieves that just by asking ‘what if’?  ‘What if’ is a popular storytelling exercise technique to get the creative juices flowing and we can put it to good use when crafting our premise too. It’s definitely worth us posing the ‘what if’ question in relation to our premise when we first get that seed of an idea about our story. Writing is also about breaking the rules (once we have learnt them) so why not see if we can craft our book’s premise in the form of a question? It’s a powerful way for our story to be remembered, and in Marrs’ case, it led to a highly successful adaptation of his book via Netflix. How To Write A Perfect Premise As with mastering any writing skill, penning a solid premise takes practice - and then some. In fact, as per the premise examples above, often the best way to polish your technique is to learn from those who have done so before you by deconstructing the premise of their stories and labelling those different parts of the equation, looking at how everything fits together. Some basic rules will always apply, however: All Premises Should Begin With A Theme When we write about the things that interest us, we are already halfway there. Bringing your unique point of view to a story helps make your premise stand out from the crowd. Writing To Market On the other hand, there is much to be said about writing to market. It’s always good to consider the themes that are trending so you can figure out how you can take advantage of those popular tropes and weave them into your story’s premise. Keep It Simple You should also aim to explain your book’s premise in as few words as possible. Asking yourself questions about your story before you start to write your premise is also a really useful exercise. That way you can that you\'ve included all of the main details in your one or two-sentence story statement. Characters’ Motivations Should Be Plausible Even if you have an unlikable protagonist, their flaws should elicit a degree of empathy from readers. Often you can only hint at this in a one or two-sentence premise but with practice, it can be pulled off. Writing A Premise In One Sentence Whether you are writing a query letter, or sending your agent a summary of your latest book, being able to write a premise line is key. This sometimes means conveying the central idea in just one sentence - a little like an elevator pitch. If you can sell a story idea to an agent in one breath, then that means they too can sell it to an editor, who can hook distributors and media, who in turn will convince readers to buy it. Can Your Premise Sell Your Idea? Explaining a clear premise in a condensed way is also a good test for a writer as to whether an idea is viable or not. If you tell a friend what the book is about in one line and they want more...you already know you\'re on to a possible bestselling novel. And if they don\'t care...then why will anyone else? So How Can You Tell A Whole Story In Just A Single Sentence Summary? Let us look at the one-line summaries of some famous works of fiction and see if we can recognise them from just one sentence. These are all about children having a difficult time, yet each premise is completely different! (Answers at the end.) A Victorian orphan escapes the workhouse and joins a London street gang, learning how to steal from the rich; yet little does he know his long-lost family are one of those rich people. An Indian boy loses his family when their ship sinks, trapping him on a life raft with a medley of dangerous animals. A smart young girl, raised by uncaring parents, discovers she has magical powers which she uses to teach her tyrannical headmistress a lesson. An orphan, treated terribly by his aunt and uncle, discovers he\'s a wizard and that a magical school awaits him; but he\'s also the key to overcoming the wizarding world\'s most evil lord. A group of school boys are marooned on a deserted island with no adults to look after them; left to their own devices they prove humanity always resorts to brutality and violence. A diary of a Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis during WW2, showing us all that even during the hardest of times love is all that matters. A Black American girl learns the importance of speaking up when her best friend is unlawfully killed by the police. A teenage girl and boy, from warring families, fall in love; but instead of bringing everyone together, their relationship leads to a huge feud and eventually their death. (1. Oliver Twist, 2. Life of Pi, 3. Matilda, 4. Harry Potter, 5. Lord of the Flies, 6. Diary of Anne Frank, 7. The Hate U Give, 8. Romeo And Juliet.) Frequently Asked Questions How Do You Find The Premise Of A Story? One of the best ways to build your premise is to start with the seed of an idea. This might be a theme, plot, protagonist, setting or inciting incident. Once you have this you can begin to construct your story’s mission statement. Getting feedback from fellow writers and/or avid readers is a great way to know if you are on track, or if tweaking is needed. If you can impart your book’s message in one or two sentences and leave your readers wanting to dive straight into the story, you are pretty much there. But even at this point, you may like to experiment with a few different versions of your premise until you know you have drilled it down as succinctly as you possibly can. Does Premise Mean Summary? A premise can be described as a summary, but only insofar as it is a one or two sentence outline of the main narrative of the book. It should be short, hooky, and to the point. It is longer than an elevator pitch (or logline) but it still needs to effectively inform your readers so they know what they can expect from your title and genre. A successful premise will encourage a reader to guess at the plot almost immediately, lighting up their imagination before they have turned page one. What Is The Difference Between Premise And Plot? The premise deals exclusively with the concept of the book, whereas the plot tells us what happens in the book. The plot is far more detailed as it covers all the main events that make up the story. Whereas the premise will typically feature the main character and their objective, the main hurdle to be overcome, and the story’s USP. Knowing Your Story No matter where you are in your writing journey, a well-written premise can be a game-changer career-wise, particularly in the traditional publishing world where time is money, and agents and digital publishers are typically inundated with submissions. You can write an amazing story, and you can polish your manuscript until it gleams, but if you can’t capture the essence of your book in a short and powerful statement, the chances are your query will be missed. That’s how competitive the industry is. Similarly, a great premise helps us immensely as indies too. If we are working with the question style premise mentioned in an earlier paragraph, we can weave this into our blurb, creating an enticing opening to our online sales pitch. And you can better distil the essence of your story by using your premise when you talk about it in video or TikTok-style marketing, too, reeling viewers in within seconds - and hopefully keeping their attention long enough to buy your book. Mastering a solid premise then, is time extremely well-spent. Whilst there are never any guarantees in the book world, it will only increase your story’s chance of being spotted… and snapped up. However that acquisition may happen.

Suspense Definition- Literature: Tips For Writing Suspense

“This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.” Oscar Wilde’s words demonstrate exactly what is so captivating about suspense in literature: the agonisingly delicious experience of being on the edge of your seat while reading a thriller, hardly breathing as you tear through the pages to find out what happens next. And what will happen next? Well, when you read on you’ll find out how to create suspense in such a way that your readers won’t be able to put your story down until the very end. In this article, we will explore various types of suspense that you’ll find in literature, and discuss the different ways you can create it, along with studying lots of great examples of suspense. What Is Suspense In Literature? Suspense is all about who knows what. As the author, you can withhold information from the reader, releasing it bit by bit to build towards a climactic moment of revelation. Or, writers can give the reader information that your character doesn’t have, ensuring that the reader is nail-bitingly aware of the potential dangers and pitfalls the character can’t see. All this creates suspense. As we shall see, suspense in literature can be found in a wide variety of fiction genres, from horror to romance. Let\'s take a look at how to build tension in other forms. Narrative/Long Term Suspense Narrative suspense, also known as long term suspense, is drawn out over an entire story. Think of Agatha Christie murder mystery novels, or courtroom dramas where the outcome of the trial is only revealed at the end. Long term suspense stories often have a subplot with suspense at its heart as well, which runs alongside and complements the main plot. In Alex Reeve’s Victorian London-set The House on Half Moon Street, protagonist Leo Stanhope investigates the murder of his love, Maria. Various leads are established and lead on to other clues and complications, drawing the investigation into darker and more dangerous territory. Alongside that plot thread, suspense is also created with the subplot of Leo’s hidden background as Charlotte, the daughter of a respectable reverend. As he closes in on the truth about what happened to Maria, the life he has created for himself as Leo is also imperilled. Having these two longterm threads running throughout the narrative ensures that suspense is created and interest sustained across the course of an entire novel. The moments between investigative set-pieces, showing us Leo’s life as a trans man in the 1880s, keep the suspense going as the readers develop their understanding of the personal cost the investigation has for him. In your own suspense novel (or even movie), consider how you might use a subplot to supplement the main story. This approach adds depth to your story, and ensures your readers are gripped throughout as they don\'t know what is going to happen. Short Term Suspense Short term suspense is suspense that\'s created for brief moments or episodes in a story that otherwise does not rely on suspense throughout. Although all stories have suspense in some sense, short term suspense is for stories without the propelling tension that characterises long term suspense stories. Short term suspense is often created through conflict between characters. A conversation or confrontation explodes over the course of a scene, though of course it may have been instigated earlier – and have ramifications for the characters and plot long after. In Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age, where Black babysitter Emira is accused of kidnapping the white child she’s employed to look after during a trip to the supermarket, the confrontation (escalated when a passer-by films it on his phone) is over by the end of the first chapter, but its after-effects are felt throughout the rest of the novel. To create a suspenseful moment in your own writing, you can make use of short, dramatic events. Think about how these brief moments can be used to propel your plot forward or to develop your characters. And remember – even a quick event can have a long shadow. Mysterious Suspense Mysterious suspense can be found in murder mysteries and thriller novels, where a key detail is kept until close to the end. This type of suspense often has a plot twist, where a surprising ending is, on reflection, inevitable once you look back at the trail the writer has cunningly laid. In River Solomon’s sci-fi novel An Unkindness of Ghosts, the main character, Aster, works to uncover the mystery of her dead mother’s journals, which initially seem to be nonsensical ravings. As Aster learns more about the HSS Matilda, a space vessel on which she and generations before her have been enslaved, the mystery of her mother’s journals leads her to make an earth-shattering discovery about the ship itself. Words and notations in the journal which originally seem to mean little, come to have vast significance later on. When writing your own mysteries, there\'s a delicate balancing act to ensure you have planted clues throughout that lead towards the final revelation, without making those elements so obvious that your readers can work out the mystery before you want them to. Horrific Suspense Imagine a character creeping through a darkened hallway. Behind them, a shadow moves. Is it a person? Then a noise from ahead. A footstep? That’s horrific suspense. Closely related to short term suspense, horrific suspense is when your reader or audience is waiting for something terrible to happen. As the name suggests, it’s most often found in horror stories, though thrillers may have it as well. The key is setting up an expectation that something awful will happen. Some of the best examples of horrific suspense play with this expectation. The first episode of the TV series The Walking Dead does this to great effect. Rick has just woken up from a coma in a deserted hospital. Trying to find a way out, Rick finds a stairwell – but it’s completely black. Of course, we immediately assume that the dark contains the ‘walking dead’ (zombies). The next couple of minutes show Rick inching downstairs, helped only by a tiny pool of light from some matches. At every moment, the audience expects Rick to be attacked – especially when the matches keep going out and the periods of complete darkness get longer, accompanied only by Rick’s panicked breathing. But ultimately, the climax of the scene isn’t a vicious attack: Rick finds a door and bursts into the sunlight (and the audience breathes for the first time in a while). When writing horrific suspense, remember that you are setting up and either fulfilling or subverting an expectation. As in the ‘Walking Dead’ example, nothing has to actually happen for it to be horrific – but the reader should expect it to, leaving them following the character’s actions with dread. Romantic/Comedic Suspense Romantic and comedic suspense are similar because they\'re both lighter in tone than the examples we’ve discussed so far. With romantic suspense, the reader or audience is primarily invested in the will-they-won’t-they drama – think of Ross and Rachel from the series Friends, for example. In this type, suspense is often created by misunderstandings, miscommunications, and obstacles that work to make the characters’ relationship seem impossible.  Akwaeke Emezi’s romance novel You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty, throws some significant obstacles in the way of the main character Feyi, a young widow and artist who has begun to open herself up to love again. However, the person she is most drawn to is not the person she’s begun a relationship with, Nasir, but his father, Alim, who understands her grief in a way that Nasir cannot. With comedic suspense, the key is inevitability. The reader or audience should have a clear expectation of what hilarious consequence is going to ensue, and seeing it develop only heightens the humour. This can be achieved either with dramatic irony, when the audience knows something the character doesn’t, or with an expectation that arises logically out of the situation. In the courtroom scene of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, the tension of the trial is broken with the comedic suspense of Bassanio and Gratiano’s pronouncements that they would both rather their wives were dead than their friend Antonio. Unlike the audience, they are unaware that their wives are right there in the courtroom, in disguise as lawyers, and are clearly unimpressed with their statements. Now that we know the different types of suspense, let’s have a look at ways we can create them. How To Write Suspenseful Stories To create suspenseful stories, you can employ a variety of techniques, such as foreshadowing, flashbacks, red herrings, obstacles, and pace. Foreshadowing Foreshadowing is when you drop hints in your suspense story about something before it arises. In Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind, Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books to keep: ‘Page after page I let the spell of the story and its world take me over’. Here, Zafón foreshadows later events where the book, and the mystery behind it, do indeed take over Daniel’s life. Flashbacks Flashbacks are used to show a reader something that occurs before the main action of a story. In Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, flashbacks are used to reveal the backstory of Mia Wright, including the shocking secret she’s been hiding from her daughter. Suspense is added with the additional understanding that an insight into the past benefits the reader. Red Herring Red herrings are false or misleading clues that you can lay for your reader to conceal the truth from them. You want a red herring to be a logical assumption that nevertheless turns out to be false, while it is obvious in hindsight that the real truth was hinted at all along. Obstacles Obstacles are key to ensuring your story has effective suspense. In Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, we follow Zhu Chongba, the assumed male identity of a peasant girl who rises in power and influence to claim her destiny. In addition to the trials of someone moving up a rigid class structure, there are the extra challenges of Zhu concealing her identity from the people around her. Pacing Pace is the speed at which a narrative appears to be moving. You can create an agonisingly slow pace that draws out the tension to the breaking point, or a fast pace that puts the reader on the edge of their seat with breakneck action. Paragraph and sentence length are one of the most effective ways to achieve this: longer sentences for a slow pace; shorter, sharper sentences for a fast pace. Creating Suspense: Top Tips To use suspense well, take a look at the following ideas. Time Limit This can be short term, like a countdown on an explosive; or longer term: for instance, if the character knows they are sick, and wants to complete a task before their impending death, like the villainous Von Rumpel in Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Point Of View One way to tell your story is from the point of view of an omniscient narrator, who knows everything and can impart information to the reader that the characters do not know. You can also use third person limited – your narrator is external to the story, but the reader mostly only knows what the character does. Or first person, where the reader inhabits the mind of your character(s) entirely. These points of view allow you to make different choices about when to retain or reveal information. Cliffhangers It’s not for nothing that the Latin root of ‘suspense’ is from the word ‘suspensus’: suspended, hovering, doubtful. Ending a chapter at a dramatic moment without revealing the outcome guarantees that your reader will be desperate to turn the page and read on. Characters You can build all the suspense you like, but if the reader doesn’t care about your character then it’s all for nothing. That doesn’t mean your character has to be blandly perfect; but we must be invested in them, care about their journey, and be waiting to see what happens to them. Giving your character a vulnerability is one way to ensure your readers care about them; another is giving your character something to care about themselves. (That is why John Wick has a puppy.) Raise The Stakes The aforementioned She Who Became the Sun does this wonderfully. At first, peasant Zhu Chongba has little to lose if her concealed identity is uncovered. By the time that she has risen to commanding armies, with hundreds of people who rely on and respect her, the stakes have been raised to unbelievable levels – which means the suspense has been, as well. Frequently Asked Questions What Is An Example Of Suspense? An example of suspense is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, where we follow a father desperately trying to keep his child alive in a dangerous and dying world. Their challenges – finding food, staying warm, evading capture – become increasingly terrifying and insurmountable, and readers are constantly on edge as they wonder how it is possible to for the two to stay alive (and retain their humanity) in such a world. How Would You Describe Suspense? Suspense is that nail-biting, edge of your seat, holding your breath feeling that comes when you are waiting for something to happen, or waiting to find out what will happen. It is achieved through the controlled release of information by the writer. What Literary Techniques Create Suspense? Suspense can be created with these literary devices: Dramatic irony (the reader knows something the character doesn’t) Pace (fast or slow action) Foreshadowing (hints about what is to come) Flashbacks (moments from the past interspersed in the present-day narrative) Point of view (how the story is told, such as first person – from a character’s viewpoint – or third person – from a narrative voice external to the story) Build Suspense And Meet Reader Expectations Whether you want to include a plot twist, raise tension, hide answers, or keep your reader up past their bedtime, suspense is a highly effective tool in your writer’s kitbag. Remember the key is control of information: as the writer, you have all the answers – but you can choose when to reveal those to your characters, and to your readers.
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