August 2022 – Jericho Writers
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What Is A Central Conflict? Crafting A Propulsive Narrative

According to storytelling legend Robert McKee, ‘nothing moves forward in a story except through conflict’. Yet conflict is something we tend to avoid in everyday life — so it can feel strange to subject our beloved characters to the strife that comes with dramatic conflict, especially for new writers. The good news? Your discomfort isn’t for nothing. In fact, a central conflict is the first and foremost ingredient in writing compelling stories. The aim of this guide is to show you how to include it in your writing.   In this article, we’ll cover:  The definition of the term \'central conflict\' The different types of central conflict: internal, external, and the various subcategories Our tips and tricks for creating a central conflict  Frequently asked questions So, what is a central conflict, and how do you use it to craft a propulsive narrative in your stories?   What Is Central Conflict?   Central conflict is when a main character’s strongest desire is met by an equally strong internal or external obstacle.   The best way I’ve seen this explained is in Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver (who as you might guess, is all about getting stories moving, fast). Cleaver states, ‘to create conflict, the kind that’s needed to move story, you must have two elements — a want and an obstacle’. In other words:   Want + Obstacle = CONFLICT  Simple, right? However, there is one condition. The character’s ‘want’ and ‘obstacle’ both have to be strong, so strong that they’ll fight tooth and nail to beat each other. If either the want or the obstacle is weak or unbalanced, the conflict will be too, and the driving force of the story will suffer.   Apply this idea to any classic story, and you get the central conflict definition above. But why is central conflict so important?  What Is The Purpose Of Central Conflict?  The purpose of central conflict is two-fold. At a micro level, your main conflict is the problem your character is trying to solve, starting with the story’s inciting incident and resulting in their actions (or inaction). So, conflict in a story guides your plot. Zooming out to a macro level, your character’s actions in the face of their want and obstacle are what drive the narrative. It’s why your main character should own the central conflict: because they’re in the driver’s seat of your narrative, and as readers, we view your story’s progression through them.   Why does this matter? Well, Cleaver’s got a nifty equation for that too:  Conflict + Action + Resolution = STORY  A major central conflict is one of the core elements of successful storytelling. Conflict forces characters to act, and these actions show us who they are, what they value, and how they think — particularly in adverse situations. Without conflict, nothing happens, and we get bored. There are no stakes, no reason for readers to invest their time or emotions, and no payoff. Without conflict, we disengage. So, we need the push-and-pull of a main character propelled into action against a staunchly opposed force. It’s what gets and keeps us reading.   The Different Types Of Central Conflict   Central conflict can be divided into two categories: internal and external conflicts. External conflict is when a main character is set against another character, society, technology, nature, or even powers like fate or supernatural forces. In contrast, internal conflict is usually a form of self-conflict, which sees a character in opposition with themselves.   Internal Conflict  Character Vs. Self  When the central conflict of a story is between the main character and themselves, it’s often with their own mind (eg. a moral conflict), or specific to mental health (trauma, addiction etc). Internal conflict is often used to shape the narrative of a literary or dramatic character in novels where the focus is on character development over plot. In the case of speculative fiction, these internal conflicts can even be within sub-genres like werewolf tales, where characters may fight against their full-moon affliction. There\'s often one main internal conflict in a story, which is generally only resolved at the very end. Examples:  A classic example of character vs. self as a central conflict is Hamlet, where the play’s titular protagonist wrestles with deciding whether to fulfil his dead father’s wish and kill his murderous uncle.   Another is Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo, where Nikolai is the charming king with a demon inside, and Zoya is his beautiful but bitter army general, wrestling with childhood trauma as a young woman. This is a good example of dual points of view wherein characters’ internal conflicts contrast.   External Conflict  Character Vs. Character  The character vs. character central conflict is a tale as old as every tale ever; it’s why we love hero underdogs and love to hate dastardly villains. In many cases, this acts as the story\'s central conflict. And while this conflict is routinely depicted as the fight between good and evil, it’s also used to depict opposing forces in everything from romantic dramas, to soap operas, and crime thrillers (think the textbook serial-killer antagonist). Examples:  Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora is a character vs. character conflict where master thief Locke swears vengeance on the gang boss who murdered his childhood friends.  In the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, the protagonist, Celeana/Aelin faces off against four villains. This gives the seven-book series the room to pursue each conflict, with other characters also layering their own.   Character Vs. Society  An obvious example of this central conflict is a character working against a dystopian government or institution eg. the law, but it can also include pressure from societal norms and traditions, or alternatively, taboos. The protagonist in these scenarios is usually an outsider; a rebel who sits apart from the collective, resisting society’s demands to uphold the status quo — sometimes violently.   Examples:  A classic example is 1984 by George Orwell, where Winston’s job is to rewrite history in a chillingly-envisioned London, under the control of the totalitarian government, The Party.   Brandon Sanderson’s The Final Empire is another epic fantasy. Here, the Skaa live in misery as slaves under the thousand-year-old Lord Ruler’s empire, until a rebel escapes his prison and starts a revolution.   Character Vs. Technology  In a character vs. technology central conflict, the enemy is science and progress, or the pursuit of it eg. inventions (like robots or artificial intelligence) evolving beyond human control. These stories entertain philosophical questions of morality, humanity and consciousness, and religion, with scientists often accused of ‘playing God’. As technology continues to advance, such tales can feel topical, even cautionary.   Examples:  In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the primary theme of creation is told through Dr. Frankenstein, where character vs. technology is his conflict; this is in contrast with the major central conflict for the monster (character vs. society).   I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is an influential collection of short stories within this conflict, and also science fiction. He defines the Three Laws of Robotics that protect humans, and then pushes them to their limits.   Character Vs. Nature  When your character’s battle is with the environment, weather or wildlife, it’s a nature conflict. In the past, this was often centred on the sea or deserted islands, with the challenge of survival against an untamed, unbeatable force. For a main character struggling alone, you can also layer external and internal conflict.  Examples:  In terms of classics, you can’t go past Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, where Ahab’s obsession with the whale that claimed his leg drives him to set sail to hunt the animal down, at all costs.   Another sci-fi example is The Martian by Andy Weir, which sees astronaut Mark stranded alone on Mars, struggling to survive until Earth’s next mission touches down on the red planet.   Character Vs. Fate  Character vs. fate is a well-trodden central conflict, beloved in Greek myth with stories of characters, deities and prophecies. As a conflict, it’s effective at exploring determinism vs. free will for protagonists on seemingly pre-ordained paths. Can they escape their fortune? Will they try? Or will they just wait for fate to claim them, like in the old Greek tragedies? These questions captivate us still.   Examples:  The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan is a high fantasy example of character vs. fate, where Moiraine searches for the prophesied Dragon Reborn, humanity’s weapon against the Dark One.   The concept (and conflict) in Kristin Cashore’s ‘Graceling’ is that Katsa is born with a killing Grace — a rare, exceptional skill — and must rebel against the king exploiting her fate for a deadly advantage.   Character Vs. Supernatural   A favourite for writers of speculative fiction, the supernatural conflict is all about the unknown (or partially known). This is where stereotypical ideas of ghosts, witches, vampires, werewolves, zombies, gods (and demons), superheroes, and aliens come out to play in the arena of the strange or inexplicable.   Examples:  Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne is a feminist retelling of the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, also adding gods and demigods to the plot.   The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey is set in a world where humanity has colonised the solar system. And while there are lots of different conflicts, Captain Jim Holden’s is with a mind-bending alien.   How To Create A Central Conflict For Your Story  If you’re already writing, perhaps one of the above main conflicts stands out clearly. But if you haven’t started yet, think about the nugget of an idea you want to pursue. Is it a character, a plot type, or a setting? Going back to want + obstacle, what is the obstacle to a potential main character’s desire that sounds like one of the central conflicts? Go with the most explosive want + obstacle for surefire conflict.   Here are 6 more tips and tricks for creating a central conflict:  Big Obstacles Make For Big Stakes It’s not just about your main character achieving their desire. It’s also about their opposition — the obstacle — doggedly persisting. What’s at stake if your character doesn’t get what they want? Ideally, the opposition winning, with extreme consequences.   Align (Or Misalign) The Conflict With Your Protagonist’s Wants Say your central conflict is your character vs. fate. What if they don’t believe in destiny, actively seeking to act against it? This layer of character vs. self will add tension and weight to their decisions, and make your story more interesting.   Vary Your Characters’ Attitudes Towards The Conflict Your secondary characters won’t always align with your protagonist on how to solve your major conflict. In fact, they may argue about courses of action or even take matters into their own hands ie. layering character vs. character conflict.   Things Have To Keep Getting Worse An excellent way to do this is by staggering your conflict’s development throughout your plot points. If you’re using something like Christopher Booker’s ‘The Seven Basic Plots’, it’s easy, as each plot has a framework for ratcheting up the tension as you progress.   Your Central Conflict Must Be Worthy Of Your Themes This is about not minimising conflict — because when you finally know what your story is about, your conflict will need to be complex enough to carry the themes you’re addressing. Make your central conflict strong, and make it difficult.   Don’t Just Layer Conflict, Layer Obstacles Take a cue from real life: there’s often more than one obstacle to achieving something; smaller, less important obstacles, but obstacles all the same. So, brainstorm what else could stop your main character from getting what they want, and add these in, too.  Frequently Asked Questions  What Is An Example Of Central Conflict?  An example of central conflict is Brandon Sanderson’s The Final Empire (and the rest of the books in Mistborn Era One). The ‘character vs. society’ conflict in this epic fantasy sees the Skaa living in misery as slaves under the thousand-year-old Lord Ruler and his evil ministries, until a Skaa rebel named Kelsier escapes the empire’s prison and starts a revolution.   How Do You Identify A Central Conflict?  To identify a central conflict in a story, ask yourself what the main character’s biggest challenge is: what do they overcome by the end of the story? If the answer is themselves, the central conflict is internal (character vs. self). Otherwise, it’s external (character vs. character, society, technology, nature, fate or supernatural).   What Is A Central Conflict And Climax?  A central conflict and climax refers to a story’s inciting incident, its central conflict that advances the plot’s points, and how the story’s climax is resolved. Here, the central conflict is defined as when a main character’s strongest desire is met by an equally strong internal or external obstacle.   Crafting Central Conflicts As you’ve learnt throughout this guide, central conflict really is the first and foremost ingredient to writing captivating stories. So, ensure that what your character wants and the obstacle to obtaining it are strong, balanced, and directly opposed for a central conflict that hooks readers until your very last page.  

What Is Pathos In Literature? A Complete Guide

Have you ever felt a lump in your throat as you watched a charity advert depicting suffering animals? Stayed up a little later to finish a book, heart racing as you willed the protagonist to succeed against the odds? Felt inspired by a speech calling for justice and change? Then you have experienced pathos – writing that creates an emotional response.   In this guide, you’ll learn about the origins of our understanding of pathos, read our pathos definition, see how it relates to persuasive writing, and discover how pathos is used to evoke emotion in literature.   What Is Pathos? Pathos is language that appeals to our feelings, causing strong emotional responses.   You will come across pathos every day, particularly in advertisements. That billboard showing a beach holiday paradise, inspiring longing and envy? The series that you just have to watch one more episode of, because you are so invested in the characters? Any time our emotions are engaged, we are experiencing pathos.   The word ‘pathos’ itself comes from the Greek for ‘experience’, or ‘suffering’. Aristotle, a Greek philosopher who lived in 384-322 BCE, wrote about the power of pathos in Rhetoric, which was about the art of persuasion. Aristotle defined pathos as language which can draw emotions and affect people’s judgement, and is, therefore, a powerful method of persuasion, along with ethos and logos.   How Does Pathos Relate To Ethos And Logos? Pathos is just one rhetorical appeal. The other two aspects of rhetoric are ethos (credibility) and logos (logic). Ideally, all three are used to make a strong and persuasive argument.   Ethos is important because it must be present for you to trust the speaker. To persuade, the audience must be convinced of the speaker’s authority or knowledge, and believe that what they are saying is reliable. Ethos can be achieved in a number of ways – by setting out credentials, by explaining their personal experience with the topic via a personal anecdote, and even by the way the speaker presents themselves. An audience’s perception of the morality and personal history of the speaker impacts ethos – we are unlikely to find a serial adulterer reliable on the topic of the importance of marriage and faithfulness, for example.   Logos, meanwhile, is the use of logic to persuade. Including facts, statistics, and logical argument is to use logos. These provide evidence to support points that seem objective and unarguable (though we all know that facts and evidence can be presented in ways that serve a particular point of view).   Aristotle’s Rhetoric demonstrated the need for pathos to work alongside logos and ethos to build an argument. Let’s look at exactly how we might do this.   How Is Pathos Used To Build An Argument? Strong emotional responses make an audience personally invested in a topic, and therefore more susceptible to persuasion. Ideally, rhetoric should employ pathos, ethos and logos in tandem. Facts and statistics presented dryly from a speaker you don’t trust will do little to persuade an audience, as will an appeal to emotion without anything to back it up. Let’s look at some successful examples of pathos in persuasive writing.   In The News/Articles Louise Tickle’s article on accommodation for care leavers in The Guardian evokes our feelings in its eye-catching headline: ‘We are failing children in care – and they are dying in our streets’. This headline works on a number of levels – the protectiveness that the word ‘children’ inspires, the sympathy created by the word ‘failing’, and the appalled horror when we read the word ‘dying’. More subtly, the use of the pronoun ‘our’ means we feel some personal responsibility and perhaps even guilt when considering how these vulnerable young people are being treated. This pathos example is an effective one, as the headline drives a desire for change in the reader, who may go on to support policies or initiatives that would create that change.  In Leanna First-Arai’s article ‘Young Workers are Bridging the Climate and Labour Movements’, published in Teen Vogue, we can see the interplay of creating negative, then positive pathos. At first, the reader feels sympathy and dismay: “Young people have grown up in a chilling environment for labour, with their working lives preceded by decades of union disintegration.” Then, however, First-Arai builds hope and a sense of anticipation for a brighter future: “In the past few years, though, young people have reinvigorated the strike tactic in creative new ways.” Aristotle made the point that pathos is particularly effective when emotions are paired: sadness then happiness, despair then hope. Taking the reader on a moving emotional journey creates a strong connection and adds to the effectiveness of the piece’s persuasive force.  In Politics And Activism Political speeches also make use of pathos to persuade. MP Mhairi Black’s speech to the UK Parliament in May of 2022 makes use of pathos to create a chilling effect: “But most terrifying of all […] is that this government literally want to get rid of the Human Rights Act. And that begs the question, for who do they think rights have gone too far? Do you know how scary it is to sit at home and wonder if it’s you? Is it your rights that are up for grabs?” Often, political speeches contextualise an issue that might feel remote or abstract, by making it personal and drawing on the audience\'s emotions. As we see here, the use of rhetorical questions and the personal pronoun ‘you’ brings the issue home, encouraging a listener to reflect on how they might feel in that situation.  Poet and activist Lynae Vanee’s speech on climate injustice is a rallying call to indignant anger and a desire for change: “Calling communities riddled with convenience stores, gas stations, with only maybe a Walmart or Kroger ‘ghetto’ and actually they\'re just food deserts […] that\'s why it\'s called climate injustice and that\'s why this fight is not just about saving the trees.” Vanee’s use of pathos prompts a desire in listeners to effect change, a powerful tool in political speechmaking.   How Is Pathos Used In Writing?  Pathos is not only used in persuasive writing. A primary aim of creative writing of all types is to provoke emotion in a reader or audience. We can find pathos in screenplays, novels, short stories, and poetry. Let’s look at a few examples.   Akwaeke Emezi’s novel Freshwater creates pathos memorably in an early scene where Ada fails to keep her younger cousin safe: “Añuli looked left, then broke free and darted, small, six, across the road.” The focus on how small and young Añuli is brings home her vulnerability to the reader, adding impact to our fear and worry.   Pathos is used by Kirstin Innes in her novel Scabby Queen to add resonance to the title itself. A character explains the card game of the same name: “The queen goes round and round, and the object is to get rid of her – pass her on to the next one as quickly as you can.” The reader becomes aware that the central character, Clio, is the ‘scabby queen’ as her various relationships disintegrate, lending further poignancy to her situation.   At the conclusion of Vanessa Kisuule’s poem Hollow, the reader is left with a mix of emotions, and a sense of changing perspectives. Inspired by the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston, the poem ends:  But as you landed a piece of you fell off broke away and inside nothing but air. This whole timeYou were hollow. Hollow by Vanessa Kisuule A quiet and understated conclusion, the lines nevertheless leave a lasting impact – perhaps reflectiveness, maybe the bittersweet satisfaction of an overdue change.   Kimiko Hahn’s poem The Dream of a Lacquer Box explores the complexity of her connection to Japanese culture as she dreams about what might be inside her mother’s lacquer box. The list of objects that could be inside, followed by questions (“am I wishing for Mother? searching for Sister?/Just hoping to give something Japanese to my daughters?”) allows the reader to relate to Hahn’s feelings, and empathise with her desire to belong.   In Bong Joon-ho’s film Parasite, the audience sympathises strongly with the Kim family when they are forced to hide under a coffee table so as not to reveal their presence in the Parks’ house. While there, the Parks discuss how badly they think Kim Ki-taek – the Parks’ chauffeur – smells. A close up on Ki-taek’s face engages the audience’s sympathy, as does the small, dark space he is in, representing metaphorically to the audience how trapped Ki-taek is in this stratified society.   Pathos is also used to create a sense of joy and triumph. At the end of the British film Pride, busloads of Welsh miners turn up unexpectedly in support of a pride march. The triumphant music and surprise and happiness on the characters’ faces add to a sense of joy and delight for the audience, emphasised by the text onscreen confirming that this was a real historical event.   Pathos Examples From Literature In literature, writers use pathos to help readers connect more deeply to characters, so that the writing resonates more strongly, and so that the themes and ideas being explored are meaningful and impactful. Here’s some further examples of how pathos is used effectively in books.   A Tale For The Time Being By Ruth Ozeki The predicament of Nao, a bullied Japanese schoolgirl, is made all the more distressing with the author’s use of metaphor: “The minute he turned his back, they would start to move in. Have you ever seen those nature documentaries where they show a pack of wild hyenas moving in to kill a wildebeest or a baby gazelle?” Likening Nao to a helpless animal surrounded by predators communicates powerfully to the reader just how vicious the bullying is, and heightens our sense of empathy for her.   Lanny By Max Porter In this short novel, Lanny’s dad is woken up suddenly and becomes convinced there’s an intruder in his house: “I have no actual defensive power, I am not brave, I do not fight, have never fought, I work in asset management and only fight in subtle ways on Microsoft Outlook. I’m terrified.” Here, Porter effectively weaves humour with fear as he describes the ridiculous, yet scary, situation.   The Song Of Achilles By Madeline Miller Appropriately for a novel inspired by Greek mythology, Miller’s The Song of Achilles has pathos in spades. The ending, where lovers Achilles and Patroclus are reunited in death, is a particularly effective example: “In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills out in a flood, like a hundred golden urns pouring out the sun.” The reader’s eyes are sure to be pouring out tears here, as the cathartic climax creates a bittersweet sense of loss, relief, and joy.   Tips For Using Pathos In Your Own Writing  Using the examples above, we can see that there are several ways to use pathos in your own writing.    Use emotive word choice and techniques like metaphors and similes to evoke feelings. Think of the bullied Nao being likened to prey in Ruth Ozeki’s The Tale for the Time Being.  You can use pathos to help readers better understand and sympathise with an anti-hero. Consider Killmonger’s backstory of loss and abandonment in the film Black Panther, which allows the audience to understand what drives him.  Creating pathos is like conducting an orchestra. Tweak your language here and there to create a variety of emotional responses in your audience, before building to a crescendo.   Frequently Asked Questions What Type Of Literary Device Is Pathos? Pathos is the use of language to create an emotional response in readers. It is also one of the three key components of rhetoric, or the art of persuasion, the others being ethos (credibility) and logos (logic).   What Are Examples Of Pathos? Some examples of pathos are: An advert for a rescue charity which shows images of dogs looking alone and uncared for is an example of pathos, as it makes us feel sympathy and a desire to help.  A film with a triumphant ending where the hero wins against the odds is another example – the audience feels a happy, satisfied joy.  A story which puts a character in a dangerous situation engages our sense of worry and fear, using the reader’s connection to the character to create pathos.  What Is A Simple Definition Of Pathos? Pathos is the appeal to emotion. It can be created in writing, speech and in visual media. The aim is to persuade an audience through an emotional appeal, or to evoke emotion in response to a piece of writing or art.   Pathos In Writing If you want to grab your readers by the feels, pathos is the way to go. Using language to create sympathy, despair, and fear; or laughter, joy, and triumph, will add impact to your writing and leave a lasting impression on your reader.   Remember that bringing your readers through a variety of feelings adds to the overall impact – just as in rhetoric, pathos is nothing without logos and ethos; in storytelling, one-note emotional appeals will quickly lose their resonance. Use pathos to take your readers through a spectrum of human emotion – remember that the root of the word ‘pathos’ is ‘experience’.  

Rebecca King’s Debut Children’s Fantasy Series, Published with Hachette

When she began her writing career in journalism, debut author Rebecca King never thought she\'d end up as a published children\'s author. After learning everything there is to know about writing and attending our Summer Festival, Rebecca was all set for authorial success. Her debut children\'s fantasy book, Ember Shadows and the Fates of Mount Never, was published in August 2022 by Hachette Children\'s Group. We had the pleasure of chatting with her about the publishing process and the most important things a children\'s author should bear in mind. JW: Hi Rebecca! You began your writing career with a degree in Journalism, and worked for a short time as a journalist. What prompted the transition into fiction?   I loved working as a reporter and spent three years at a newspaper after university. But after a while, I had a feeling that things weren’t quite right, and I was desperate to take off and go travelling. I’ve always been an avid reader and I loved the idea of writing a book, but never knew where to start. Time spent traveling meant I was on trains, boats and planes a lot and with all that time, I thought I may as well give it a go and see what happened. To begin with, getting published felt like a bit of a ridiculous wish. After a while, it became something I desperately wanted to work towards, and knowing that drove a lot of my future decisions.   JW: What kinds of resources did you find useful whilst you were writing? I’m a bit of a course addict and I love to research, so once I decided to write fiction, I looked for every single tool I could find! I started off by taking the Curtis Brown Course in Writing for Children, then did the Faber Academy course, and eventually got myself onto an MA in Creative Writing. But I have to say, so much of what I found useful came from reading in my genre, as well as from books such as Save the Cat. I listen to lots of podcasts such as The Honest Authors podcast, How Do You Write, Writer’s Routine, and Joined Up Writing. Another great resource is One Stop for Writers, created by the genius minds behind The Emotion Thesaurus.   To begin with, getting published felt like a bit of a ridiculous wish. After a while, it became something I desperately wanted to work towards, and knowing that drove a lot of my future decisions. One of the things I recommend the most is Jericho Writers, as it gives you a bit of everything – community, expertise, webinars… and plenty more. If you can’t afford to join all year round or have other commitments, I recommend signing up for the Summer Festival of Writing. It’s jam-packed with workshops, Q&As, interviews and panels. The variety is so rich as well, and there’s something for everyone in each event. Even if it’s a workshop outside of your genre, I guarantee there will be something motivational or inspirational hidden within. Jericho also checked over my cover letter before I sent it out to agents, and this was such a confidence-booster – just what was needed before getting prepared for the inevitable rejection experience!  One of the things I recommend the most is Jericho Writers, as it gives you a bit of everything – community, expertise, webinars… and plenty more. JW: You received three offers of representation at around the same time. How did you choose your agent?   I should start by saying that this was the third book I had submitted to agents, and I got a LOT of rejections. But yes, I was very lucky to get three offers from three incredible agents. I chose to go with Kate Shaw from The Shaw Agency for so many reasons, not least because her enthusiasm for my book was infectious. She’s exactly the kind of person you want championing your book, fighting your corner, and the person I wanted to be on the phone delivering both the good and bad news. As soon as I spoke with her, I knew there was no way I could say no to her. It still feels like such a privilege to be part of her author list among some of my favourite writers.   JW: Your book was published in August 2022 with Hachette – which is so exciting! What has the process of working with a large traditional publisher been like? Have there been any surprises?   It has been SO exciting! I think exciting is my most over-used word at the moment, and for that I feel very fortunate!   There have been plenty of pleasant surprises along the way. The first was discovering how much I love editing! I had been prepared for the worst, thinking that my editor might rip my book apart or make changes I couldn’t agree with, but I’ve been so lucky to have an incredible editor who just gets the book, and every suggestion she makes feels natural and logical. She really made Ember the best book it could be, and it continues to be so much fun working with her. I’m always learning from her notes and feel so fortunate to be working with her.   Ember Shadows and the Fates of Mount Never, Rebecca King Another surprise was how many pinch-me-moments there have been along the way. As writers, we are so focused on that goal of finding an agent and getting a deal, I think we tend to lose sight of all the small victories that come with it. Moments like meeting your editor, going into the publisher’s office for the first time, learning that it’s going to be an audiobook… all these things were just dreams at one point, so it’s important to celebrate each and every one.   JW: What’s your best tip for writers working on children’s and middle-grade fiction? What are the most important elements to get right? Something I’m still learning is how important it is to consider what your writing is saying. When I began writing, I was adamant that my books would be simply adventures - they were just for fun and I didn’t want to force a lesson into the excitement.   For me, it’s not about being didactic or bashing the reader over the head with a moral. It’s about showing characters grow and change naturally through their experiences. I’ve quickly learnt how naïve that was! We all subconsciously imbue our work with our own values, morals, and opinions. Our writing is shaped by our opinions and experiences. Not only that, but a reader is experiencing your story through their own lens, shaped by their perspectives, opinions, and values. Each person can take something different from your story, and so, we have a responsibility as writers to really consider what message we want to get across.   For me, it’s not about being didactic or bashing the reader over the head with a moral. It’s about showing characters grow and change naturally through their experiences. I think we all want to continue growing and learning in life, so it’s important that we show our characters doing the same. Like us, our characters won’t get it right every time, so if we can imbue our work with positive messages and lessons of growth, there’s a chance our readers might be inspired to continue growing with them.   About Rebecca Rebecca was born in Wolverhampton, but spent her childhood in a tiny village called Sound in Cheshire. She studied Journalism at the University of Portsmouth, and has worked as a reporter and a primary school teacher, including three years teaching in China. She now lives in Bratislava, Slovakia, with her partner and her Chinese rescue dog, Mushu. Buy Ember Shadows and the Fates of Mount Never

Sci Fi Writing Prompts: 105 Inspirational Ideas

So, you want to write a sci fi novel but don\'t know where to start... If you\'re a huge sci fi fan who has read all the books and watched all the movies, it may well feel like every idea has already been written. It hasn\'t! The joy of being a writer is that YOU are writing the story, which means even the most unoriginal trope can be made unique and original because you have given it your own special twist. But you still need an idea. In this article, I will be sharing tips on where to find sci-inspiration, and giving you 110 sci-fi ideas to use as a starting point for your own science fiction story. Yes, 110 FREE ideas! What Is Sci Fi? Many people mistake sci fi for fantasy, which is understandable. Both are full of things that don\'t yet exist in real life. The simplest way to define sci fi is to remember that although it is about something outside of our known reality - ie life on another planet or living among cyborgs - most sci fi stories are based on existing concepts; science and technology. Fantasy, on the other hand, is completely made up and often uses inexplicable concepts such as magic. Although, you can mix sci fi with other genres. Star Wars, for instance, is set in space but also includes a magical system - so it\'s often described as sci fi fantasy. And you can have dystopian sci fi which shows our real world in the future and how our actions have caused it to change for the worse. Science Fiction Story Ideas When it comes to finding inspiration for your sci fi stories, ideas can be found absolutely anywhere. Here are just a few places where you can start looking: Old newspaper articles Current news Scientific developments Science and history museums and exhibitions Environmental concerns Animal and plant life (the more you know about mushrooms, for instance, the more you realise you wish you didn\'t know) Space travel Planets and the solar system Science Fiction Writing Prompts If that\'s not enough to get your imagination going, I\'ve put together some one-line prompts for your writing. These ideas are categorised by themes, and feel free to add your own twist or mix them up. The joy of writing sci fi is that there are no limits, so take your sci fi story to places no one has ever gone before. To infinity and beyond! Let\'s start with alien races and all the fun that theme can bring... Alien Prompts Aliens aren\'t scary, in fact they are already living in our house. We just have to find them. An alien planet looks to earth to save it. When it comes to ask for help it divides human kind between those who want to save them - and those who want to kill them. A woman keeps seeing visions of an alien world. She thinks she\'s going crazy, until she realises they are memories and she\'s not human. Every galaxy is destroyed and planet Earth becomes the prize that five alien races are fighting over. A man with no womb finds himself pregnant. Is it a miracle? Or has he been implanted with an alien child? A young girl has a special ability - she can communicate with other planets. But can she be trusted to tell scientists the truth? An alien invasion is imminent and humans must come together to protect our planet. Can they put their differences aside forever and unite? Archeologists discover an old relic buried deep in the desert. It\'s an alien ship. The pyramids are not what we thought they were - hieroglyphics are in fact an alien language, changing the course of history as we know it. Scientists have been keeping a big secret; they have an alien in captivity that can reverse death. Who will it bring back first? A planet called Earth has been discovered. Is it worth investigating? Or are humans best left to destroy themselves? Environmental Disasters Prompts The planet is getting hotter and some humans have evolved to withstand extreme temperatures. But how long until the world completely burns itself out? Global warming melts all the ice caps and half the planet is about to drown. Will humanity survive the destruction or learn to adapt to a watery world? After a giant nuclear war humans have been living in the earth\'s core for five hundred years. It\'s safe to go back up now, but how has the planet changed in that time? And what creatures are awaiting them? Humans have cut down that last tree and are manufacturing oxygen in factories. But then the factories are destroyed. Is humanity about to take its last breath? Animals and fish refuse to be eaten by humans anymore and begin to fight back. We\'ve been burying our waste for too long and now huge sink holes are appearing all over the world - some large enough to destroy entire cities! Water is about to run out on Earth and the race is on to find another alternative... or another planet. Volcanoes which have been dormant for centuries have started erupting, and, as if the lava and smoke they produce aren\'t devastating enough, the creatures they\'ve been concealing rise with them. Outer Space Prompts Crew members of a spaceship sent to explore a new planet discover that it\'s exactly like earth. Except for one fundamental difference. A distant planet is discovered that has oxygen and water, the only problem is that it also has monsters. A space station full of scientists trying to save the planet is under attack by its own government which is benefitting financially from the destruction of the human race. A spaceship travelling at light speed finds itself in a parallel universe where Earth is very different indeed. A space pirate finds himself aboard a ship containing the one thing that may save humanity. Science And Technology Prompts It\'s 3000 AD and humans survive solely on genetically modified food. Then one family learns to grow their first real tomato putting them in danger from the government, the media, and those who will do anything to get their hands on it. Thanks to artificial intelligence, there are no human cops left. Yet the AI police force become sentient and realise they are the bad guys. Some humans have started to grow wings and others have begun to breathe underwater. What is happening? A scientist discovers a way for us to read the minds of dogs - and it turns out they weren\'t man\'s best friend after all! A scientist clones his ex-girlfriend after she breaks up with him, leading to a series of hilarious but unfortunate events. A hundred years after the invention of human flight, things start to go very wrong. Time Travel Prompts A time traveller from the year 2998 tries to warn those living in 1998 of what will happen if they continue to treat the planet badly. Do they listen? A Sliding Doors-type movie where we see the world in two ways. What if we had the ability to swap lives with someone? Memories, bodies and souls? Would you do it? Two people living in parallel universes fall in love. Except one is suffering from a serious mental illness. Is this real? A teenage girl\'s boyfriend goes missing. 15 years later she becomes a scientist and invents a way to go back in time and look for him. A time traveller who has had a family with a woman from one hundred years ago must discover a way to bring them back to the future. Dystopian Sci Fi Prompts A woman never knew she has a twin sister - or that both of them were created in a lab. They set out to discover more people like them. The last human being on Earth hasn\'t seen another human in 12 years. But then he sees smoke coming out of the chimney of a hut in the woods. A group of women escape prison, only to find themselves in a world made up of only men. No one has died in sixteen years. How is the world going to survive if no one\'s life can end? A man tries to find his best friend in the aftermath of a nuclear war. But he doesn\'t realise that the man is out to kill him. One woman fights to protect her child in a world where every baby is brought up in a farm and trained to work for an evil government. A fight is on to find the last survivors of Europe after the entire continent was destroyed. The world is either ocean or desert, but one man and his gang believe they can find the lost city of Londonburgh - their only hope for survival. Combine Well-Loved Sci Fi Stories With One Another Agents, editors and film producers love to ask writers for a \'comp\' - a comparison title to position your own work against. So why not start with a well-loved comp or two when coming up with your idea? Some of the most unlikely parings can make for the best ideas! Alien and Children of Men: After years of no babies being born on Earth, a woman is finally pregnant. But it\'s not human. The Invisible Man and Men In Black: Special forces are sent out to find the invisible people living amongst us. Independence Day and Attack the Block: Aliens are going to attack the Houses of Parliament, but only London\'s street gangs can save them. Planet of the Apes and The Abyss: Creatures from beneath the sea have evolved and have taken over the human race. Ghost Busters and Donnie Darko: Humans are being haunted by the ghosts of people who are yet to die, visiting them from the future. Godzilla and The Hunger Games: A group of children must fight for survival in a dystopian world full of giant monsters. Frankenstein and Predator: A scientist creates a monster made up of all the bodies of notorious murderers - but the monster escapes! Who is hunting who? The Fly and E.T: An alien hides in the basement of a family\'s house. Except it\'s not an alien - it\'s their scientist father after an experiment went wrong. Will he be able to tell them before they kill him? Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Robocop: A group of kids try to rescue aliens but it all backfires when it turns out they\'re here from the future to arrest those who are about to commit a crime. Jurassic Park and Back to the Future: A young man invents a time machine to mend his love life and discovers he\'s gone back 5 million years instead of five! Don\'t Look Up and Alien. Experts warn the world that we are about to come under attack... but no one listens until it\'s too late. The Faculty and The Thing: A group of science students on a school trip to Alaska discover an alien presence, only to realise it\'s been with them all along. Romeo and Juliet and I-Robot. When a teenager falls in love with a cyborg, it creates a deadly battle between man and machine. Science Fiction Fantasy Ideas A secret society of scientists and mathematicians invent magic. But how long can they keep it a secret? A scientist creates the world\'s first flying unicorn, leading to an entire cast of fairytale creatures coming to life. A wormhole leads a group of astronauts to a world full of magic. A company starts to manufacture wands that can make any wish come true. The world is about to look very different! Sci Fi Horror Prompts A small town is invaded by what they believe are ants - until the tiny things start to grow into terrifying monsters. An old lady on vacation takes a rare plant cutting from a holy site. After tending to it, the plant turns out to be something a lot scarier. A family move into a haunted house and, one by one, they meet a gruesome death. Will the odd neighbour fix his ghost-hunting machine in time? In this town nothing can be trusted - not people, not animals, and especially not household appliances. A group of teenage girls discover a cave on a school trip. Inside that cave is a ship. Inside that ship is the answer to the salvation of the human race. Kid Lit Sci Fi Ideas Scientists realise they were wrong about gravity - and now all the children are floating away. Two children compete to win top prize at the science fair, unaware they have invented something that will change the world. A plague is sweeping through the world that only affects those over the age of 18. It\'s down to the children to save the human race. Two teenagers in love are separated when, thanks to global warming, their country is split in two and slowly crumbling into the sea. Will they ever find one another again? Eric can control electricity - and it\'s not as much fun as he thought it would be. A boy and his friend are told not to touch his scientist father\'s new invention. But they do - leading to one very big disaster. Other Fun Science Fiction Ideas Write a story based on sci-fi-sounding songs: The Killers – “Spaceman” Blondie – “Rapture” Flight of the Conchords – “The Humans Are Dead/Robots” Elton John – “Rocket Man” David Bowie – “Starman” Think about a time in your own life, and give it a sci fi twist. ie What if, that time you found a stray dog... it was really a creature from out of space? Look at old family photos. What would make them out of this world? What if the inventions of the past had turned out a little differently? How would that look today? Look at myths and legends and give them a scientific twist. How do they look now? As yourself... What If? What if: Animals could talk? The sun disappeared? The moon was really a portal to another world? Plants wanted to eat us? Scientists were wrong about how our bodies work? The Bible was actually written by aliens? All the countries in the world merged together? All world leaders were aliens? Schools became dystopian training camps? Everyone developed a superpower when they turned 50? Babies went straight from a year old to 21? Humans could fly? Animals swapped abilities? Your parents were really robots? Your pet was an alien? Fish decided to grow legs? Robots and aliens united to wipe out the human race? Time To Get Writing! After reading through all these ideas, you should now be inspired enough to go where no one has ever dared to tread before! I hope you have found these 105 sci fi writing prompts and ideas useful for writing your next novel or short story. And remember, you don\'t have to pick just one - why not combine two or three prompts and see where they take you? Good luck with your next sci fi project. May the force be with you and the odds be forever in your favour!

Canadian Literary Agents: A Complete List

So, you\'ve finished your manuscript, edited it, re-written it, edited again, proofread, sent it out to beta readers, and now you\'re ready for the next step: finding an agent. As we all know, finding an agent isn\'t as easy as it sounds. It\'s time consuming, riddled with rejections, can be anxiety inducing, and, sometimes, exhilarating. But before making that step and sending out submissions you first need to identify who to send your submission to. In this article we\'ll give some background info on the agenting market in Canada and, most importantly, give you a list of all Canadian Literary Agents. READY TO GET STARTED? JUMP STRAIGHT TO THE LIST OF ALL CANADIAN AGENTS HERE List of all Canadian Literary Agents How Do You Get A Literary Agent In Canada? The Canadian literary agent market is a similar set up to their US and UK counterparts. There are significantly fewer Canadian based agents than in the US, for example, but there’s still plenty of choice when it comes to working on your shortlist. The general rule for submitting to a Canadian agent is to send through a full submission pack, this includes: A query letter - keep this concise, introduce yourself and your book, include some comparable titles, and finally hook them with a dazzling elevator pitch. Synopsis - make sure you synopsis is easy to follow. If in doubt, ask someone who hasn\'t read your chapters to read it for you. Sample chapters - possibly the most crucial part of your submission pack. Make sure your opening chapters grab the reader from the first line by asking beta readers to give you honest feedback. Be extra particular when it comes to proofreading the first three chapters and catch any spelling or grammar errors. When it comes to submissions, each agency (and agent) will have their own list of requirements. These can vary between agencies and agents though, so be sure to check each agency website to ensure you’re sending the right things and submitting to the right place (e.g. via email, or using Query Manager) before hitting \"send\". The good news is that Canadian agencies are open to submissions from international authors (including the UK and the US) not just Canadian based authors. In a recent interview with Sam Hiyate, CEO of The Rights Factory, we chatted with him about the publishing industry as a whole and in particular the Canadian territory. Make sure to check out his interview for some insights into the Canadian market. How Do I Know Which Canadian Literary Agent To Approach? Finding the right agent can be an all-encompassing task, and as writers ourselves we know just how difficult this process is. With that said, we\'ve broken the process down to four easy steps: Step 1: Find A List Of All The Canadian Literary Agents You can find a complete list of Canadian Literary Agents looking for new and debut authors by scrolling down on this article (or click here to get there even faster!). Or, better yet, use AgentMatch (our database of literary agents) to whittle down your list by searching on genre, location, and client list status (i.e. whether they\'re open to submissions). Canadian agents tend to accept submissions from international authors, so don\'t be concerned about finding an agent nearby With email or zoom, you will still maintain a great relationship with them from wherever you\'re based. Step 2: Identify The Agents That Want You Submitting to agents is time consuming, so don\'t spend time contacting agents that aren’t interested in your genre or style of writing. Focus your energy on submitting to agents who: Are open to submissions in your genre Welcome submissions from new writers via their slushpile (aka accepting unsolicited applications/submissions) After doing this you’ll have the beginnings of your longlist. Next, you need to whittle it down even further… Step 3: Identify The Agents That You Want The author-agent relationship is a key foundation to your writing career, so make sure you choose someone you feel comfortable working with. Someone who can be both your biggest cheerleader and your most honest critic. So, take your longlist and pick out 12 agents you think could be a good match for you and your writing. This will become your shortlist. Do they represent some of your favourite authors in your genres? Or maybe they represent a favourite author in a different genre. Or they don’t represent a particular favourite writer of yours, but they have commented admiringly on that author. You have particular reason to like or admire the agent’s literary agency. They share a passion of yours. They made a comment in a blog / on YouTube / at our Festival of Writing / or anywhere else . . . and for whatever reason that comment struck a chord in you. Step 4: Get Submitting Now you have your shortlist, it\'s time to circulate your submission pack. Keep track of the responses you receive. If you’re receiving lots of rejections then that suggests your work isn’t quite there yet. If you’re getting requests to see the full manuscript then you know you’re on the right track. So follow the advice on preparing your submission pack set out above and see how you get on! And don’t forget, you can always get your submission pack reviewed by a professional editor if you think you need some detailed advice and feedback on your opening chapters. Check out Harry Bingham\'s 45 tips to getting a literary agent for more advice. A Complete List Of All Canadian Literary Agents As promised, here’s a complete list of all Canadian literary agents. You can also access this list plus detailed profile summaries and exclusive interviews with agents on AgentMatch. Sign up to the Free Trial to get started on your submission journey. [am_show_agents id=39] Good luck on your querying journey!

Australian Literary Agents: A Complete List

Congratulations! If you\'re reading this article then that means you\'ve finished writing your manuscript and you\'re ready to take over the literary world. Step 1? Get an agent. \"Get an agent\" sounds easy, right? We all know that finding and securing a literary agent is a tricky and time consuming process. There will be plenty of rejections, some requests for full manuscripts, constant refreshing of your inbox, and counting down the hours until you can send a follow-up email that won\'t make you seem needy. But before you get to this stage, you need to work out who you should query - and that\'s where we can help. We\'ve done the research for you and collated a list of every single Australian literary agent. So all you need to do is make a cuppa and get reading to find your perfect match. JUMP STRAIGHT IN AND GET YOUR COMPLETE LIST OF AUSTRALIAN AGENTS HERE. How Do You Get A Literary Agent In Australia? The Australian Literary agencies and agents market is small (but growing!). We’ve included a complete list of them below and on AgentMatch. They operate very similarly to the UK and US markets: requesting a full submission pack from each querying author. Since the number of Australian agents is quite low, it means that they tend to receive a high volume of submissions. You only get one chance to impress an agent, so keep your submission as competitive as possible and follow these four steps: Keep your query letter concise and clear by introducing yourself and your book, providing some comparable titles, and then hooking them with your elevator pitch. Make sure your synopsis is clean and easy to follow. Dazzle them with a writing sample that demands they request more (our advice? Send your manuscript to a trusted beta reader and ask for their honest opinion. Feedback on something as small as \"this dialogue felt clunky\" or \"I didn\'t understand how they got from A to B\" will be invaluable before your manuscript goes on submission.) Be sure to check specific submission requirements on the agent\'s website before submitting. Agents often open and close their submission list multiple times throughout the year, or they may remain closed to unsolicited submissions, and require invitation to submit your work to them. From our research, there seems to be a consensus among the Australian agencies that they will only accept submissions from authors who are a resident of either Australia or New Zealand, which is good news for our Australian and New Zealand based authors! You can read up on Literary Agents - who they are and what they do - here. Are you getting rejections? Then read up on this, it\'ll help see you through the next steps. How Do I Know Which Australian Literary Agent To Approach? Finding the right agent can feel overwhelming, and as writers ourselves we know just how difficult this process can be, so we advise you to break it down into steps. Step 1: Find A List Of All Australian Literary Agents You can find a complete list of Australian Literary Agents looking for new and debut authors by scrolling down on this article (or click here to get there even faster!). Or, better yet, use AgentMatch our database of every literary agent to whittle down your list by searching on genre, location, and whether they\'re open to submissions. Generally, Australian agents will only take on Australian or New Zealand based authors. Don\'t get too worried about finding ones near to where you live though, with email and zoom, you will still maintain a great relationship with them from wherever you are in the country. Step 2: Identify The Agents That Want You Don\'t waste your time contacting agents that aren\'t interested in your genre or style of writing. Focus your energy on submitting to agents who: Are open to submissions in your genre Welcome submissions from new writers via their slushpile (aka accepting unsolicited applications/submissions) After doing this you\'ll have the beginnings of your longlist. Next, you need to whittle it down even further... Step 3: Identify The Agents That You Want Authors sometimes make the mistake of thinking they have to settle for any agent that likes their work, but that\'s just not the case. The author-agent relationship is a key foundation to your writing career, so make sure you choose someone you feel comfortable working with. So, take your longlist and pick out 12 agents you think could be a good match for you and your writing: Maybe they represent some of your favourite authors in your genres. Or they represent a favourite author in a different genre. Or they don’t represent a particular favourite writer of yours, but they have commented admiringly on that author. You have particular reason to like or admire the agent’s literary agency. They share a passion of yours. They made a comment in a blog / on YouTube / at our Festival of Writing / or anywhere else . . . and for whatever reason that comment struck a chord in you. Step 4: Get Submitting Now you have your shortlist, send out your submission package. Keep track of the responses and gauge their interest. If you\'re receiving lots of rejections then that suggests you work isn\'t quite there yet. If you\'re getting requests to see the full manuscript then you know you\'re on the right track. So follow the steps we set out above and see how you get on! And don\'t forget, you can always get your submission pack reviewed by a professional editor if you think you need some detailed advice and feedback on your opening chapters. A Complete List Of All Australian Literary Agents As promised, here\'s a complete list of all Australian literary agents. You can also access the list plus detailed profile summaries and exclusive interviews with agents on AgentMatch. Sign up to the Free Trial to get started on your submission journey. [am_show_agents id=38] As ever, please get in touch if you have any questions - we\'d love to hear from you! Otherwise, good luck and happy querying.

Types Of Novels: A Guide To Fiction And Its Categories

Writing your first novel can be a slightly daunting task. There are a million reference books out there, with advice on how to plot, how to develop characters, and even how to edit… But, before you even consider these points, the first thing you need to think about is what kind of book you want to write. Maybe, even before this, you need to ask yourself, what kind of novels are out there?  In this article, I hope to clarify for you, what different types of books are out there, so you can decide what area of the fiction world you want to focus on.   Do you want to write romantic epistolary novels? Or maybe you\'re more interested in horror novels, or speculative fiction? There are so many areas of prose fiction that writers can explore, but understanding the different types of novels that are out there first, is fundamental.   What Is A Novel? This might seem like the most basic question, but it is so important to understand what a novel is before you attempt to write one for the first time.   A novel, by definition, is a work of fiction. Generally, fiction novels sit between 50,000 and 120,000 words depending on the genre.  Novels can be broadly split into 3 main categories, with sub-categories in each to drill down into taste. Those three categories are genre fiction, literary fiction, and mainstream fiction.   What Is Genre Fiction? Genre fiction (also often referred to as popular fiction), unlike literary fiction, describes fiction that is written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre. Most writers agree that there are nine main subgenres within genre fiction. These include horror, mystery/crime, romance, science fiction, thriller/suspense, westerns, historical, young adult, and fantasy. Although there are many more subcategories, most genre fiction will fit into one of these categories.  Examples Of Genre Fiction To make it even easier to spot and define genre fiction, I have listed examples below of a few recognisable novels in each genre.   Horror Fiction Examples Horror Fiction Definition: The main focus of horror novels is to create feelings of fear, dread, terror and sometimes repulsion in its audience. Novels in this genre should leave readers feeling these specific emotions.   Examples: It by Stephen King  Dracula by Bram Stoker  Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris  Mystery/Crime Fiction Examples Mystery/Crime Fiction Definition: Mystery, crime, and murder mystery fiction novels are works of fiction that use narratives that centre on criminal acts, the investigation by either amateur or professional experts, and the resolution of that crime or mystery.   Examples: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney  Dream Town by David Baldacci  The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves  Romance Fiction Examples  Romance Definition: Romance fiction generally refers to novels that primarily focus on the relationship and romantic love between two, or more, people. A romance novel will typically have a ‘Happy Ever After’ or, at the very least, an emotionally satisfying ending.  Examples: The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks  The Time Traveller\'s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger  Me Before You by JoJo Moyes  Science Fiction Examples Sci-Fi Definition: Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imaginative or futuristic concepts. Science fiction novels will, more often than not, deal with ideas of advanced technology, scientific advancement, space exploration or time travel to mention just a few.   Examples: War of the Worlds by H.G.Wells  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne  The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins  Thriller/Suspense Fiction Examples Thriller/Suspense Definition: Thriller and suspense genres are often linked and both are genres that follow similar rules. In general, these novel genres use fast-paced plots to affect the readers, and situations that evoke emotions such as anxiety, surprise, excitement and anticipation. These genres of fiction are entirely dependent on the emotion you leave the reader with, rather than the structure you use to tell the story. Suspense and thriller novels tend to be stories that rely heavily on plot and plot twists.   Examples: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins  Verity by Colleen Hoover  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn  Western Fiction Examples Western Fiction Definition: Western fiction is a genre of literature set in the American “Old West” frontier and is generally set in the 19th or early 20th century. This area of fiction is plot-driven and will generally combine aspects of crime, redemption and justice.   Examples: The Revenant by Michael Punke  No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy  The Son by Philip Meyer  Historical Fiction Examples Historical Fiction Definition: Historical novels are set in another time and place, either real (they\'re often based on historical events) or imagined, but during a culturally recognisable time. Generally, most writers of historical novels will leap back at least fifty years to take their readers outside of the events they are currently experiencing and use setting to make readers feel they are living in another time and place. Research is key and setting is vital in this genre.   Examples: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak  Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel  The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier  Young Adult Fiction Examples YA Definition: Young adult fiction is a genre of literature written primarily for audiences between the ages of 12 and 18. However, although these novels are written to target adolescents, more than half of YA readers are adults. Novels in this genre tend to be written from the viewpoint of young people, generally tend to be fast-paced, and cover a wide area of subjects that young adults might be facing.   Examples: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green  One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus  Fantasy Fiction Examples Fantasy Definition: Fantasy fiction is a genre categorised in general by its inclusion of magical elements. It is a genre of speculative fiction that typically includes fictional universes, and most fantasy novels are inspired by mythology, folklore, or traditions. Setting and deep characterisation are vital in this genre.  Examples: A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin  The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett  The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien  What Is Literary Fiction? Literary fiction, unlike genre fiction, is fiction that puts an emphasis on style, character and theme over plot. Although the definition of literary fiction can change and warp year on year, there are some fundamental aspects that remain the same. Works of fiction that are classed as literary fiction generally contain the following:  Character (rather than plot) driven  Exploration of deeper themes  Exploration of social, political, or emotional situations  Potential ambiguous ending/not necessarily a ‘Happy Ever After’  No strict adherence to a structured plot  No strict adherence to standard formatting or prose style  Examples Of Literary Fiction Below, you can find three separate examples of literary fiction:  The Goldfinch By Donna Tart Theo Decker is the son of a devoted mother and a reckless, absent father. He survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. He is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend.   The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive, sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.  This novel, published in 2013, won the Pulitzer Prize and was described by Stephen King as being ‘a smartly written novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind.’ It is character driven and delves into difficult topics.  The House Of Fortune By Jessie Burton The House of Fortune is the long-awaited sequel to Jessie Burton’s bestseller The Miniaturist. It has been described as a glorious, sweeping story of fate and ambition, secrets and dreams, and one young woman’s determination to rule her own destiny.  Just like her debut, The Miniaturist, this fabulous sequel is beautifully crafted, the characters, their lives and the settings leap from the page and drive the book forward. It’s a perfect example of exquisitely written literary fiction.   Maps Of Our Spectacular Bodies By Maddie Mortimer When a sudden diagnosis upends Lia’s world, the boundaries between her past and her present begin to collapse. Deeply buried secrets stir awake. As the voice prowling in Lia takes hold of her story, and the landscape around becomes indistinguishable from the one within, Lia and her family are faced with some of the hardest questions of all: how can we move on from the events that have shaped us, when our bodies harbour everything? And what does it mean to die with grace, when you’re simply not ready to let go?  This entrancing novel is moving, heartbreaking and beautiful all at once. The language, formatting, and subjects discussed not only make this a stunning example of literary fiction, but are also the reasons this debut has been longlisted for this year\'s Booker Prize. What Is Mainstream Fiction? Much like literary fiction, mainstream fiction consists of novels that can’t be easily identified into a specific genre. Unlike genre fiction, which clearly sets out what you can expect from the novel, mainstream fiction can, and often does, cross book genres.   Unlike genre fiction, mainstream fiction can be slightly harder to sell, doesn’t always have a clear audience and is generally sold on the back of author recognition and a dedicated audience.   Mainstream fiction generally follows a linear structure, more often than not has a happy ending (or at least a satisfying one), and readers don’t have to work hard to understand the story. Like literary fiction, mainstream fiction delves deeper into characterisation and may touch on philosophical issues, but unlike literary fiction, it does still focus heavily on plot and story.   Examples Of Mainstream Fiction It can be hard to tell the difference between mainstream fiction and literary fiction, but below you can see some examples of the most popular mainstream fiction on the market.  Big Little Lies By Liane Moriarty Big Little Lies is a novel that explores complex relationships, difficult topics and sensitive issues, wrapped up in a story that could be described as a crime, thriller, psychological thriller or even domestic thriller. It is a complex story that relies heavily on characterisation, but plot and story are integral. It is the perfect example of mainstream fiction and those who are already a fan of Moriarty’s work instantly know what to expect from this author\'s books. They may not fit neatly in one genre, but they hit all expectations and leave the reader satisfied at the end.   The Lovely Bones By Alice Seabold Again, this novel is intense in its exploration of grief; it\'s complex in its characterisation and explores themes that set this book apart. The plot of the book isn’t complex, but it is complete and the reader is left satisfied, but the genre of the book is not instantly clear. It sweeps between genres and picks up readers in multiple guises.   Other authors who fit well into the mainstream fiction category are Maeve Binchy, John Irving, Dan Brown, Ian McEwan and Nora Roberts.  Frequently Asked Questions What Are The 9 Types Of Fiction?   Within fiction, there are many different subcategories that can help determine story type and therefore the audience these novels are marketed to.   These subcategories are:  Science fiction  Mystery/crime fiction  Historical fiction  Thriller/suspense fiction  Young adult fiction  Romance fiction  Horror fiction  Fantasy fiction Western fiction  What Is The Most Popular Novel Genre? Well, that is one of the most difficult questions to answer – why? Because depending on who you talk to, and which data sets you look at, you may discover a different answer.   During the pandemic, we saw a surge in reading and a change in reading habits. Depending on the state of the world, readers reach for different stimuli.   Romance, both contemporary and historical, are always incredibly popular and for many years, romance fiction has not dropped out of the top five bestselling genres. However, crime and thriller books are forever competing for the top spots, with the likes of Lee Child, Gillian Flynn, and Colleen Hoover topping the charts consistently.   Fiction Genres As you can see, there are so many areas of the writing world that you can indulge in, and so many subgenres of fiction to explore. With so many different types of novels out there, all you have to do is decide which one fits your style the most and then dive right in. Always remember, there is no wrong way to write, and no right genre to start with… all you need to focus on, is getting those words onto the page and out into the world. 

What Is Urban Fantasy? How To Recognise And Write It

In short, urban fantasy does what it says on the tin; it’s a genre of literature where fantasy is set against what can be considered an urban backdrop or a fantasy story that is set in a city or suburb. Note that I’ve said “what can be considered,” meaning the fantasy doesn’t have to be set in New York or Chicago (existing cities) for it to be considered urban, it can be set in a made-up place as long as it fits an urban description. Often, like in the case of Gotham City, you will see fantastical places mirroring, or inspired by, real-life urban settings. In this guide, you will learn what the urban fantasy genre is, how to recognise the urban fantasy genre, and discover our top tips for writing it. We will cover how urban fantasy stories rose to popularity and the difference between urban fantasy and other fantasy sub-genres such as paranormal romance. What Is Urban Fantasy?  (This Time With Feeling) Simply put, urban fantasy is fantasy set in a city or modern residential setting, but more often than not the urban setting becomes another character and provides a gritty nature/aesthetic to the story that readers of urban fantasy have come to love and seek out. Think about it, what would the Sookie Stackhouse (Trueblood) novels or TV series be like if they weren’t set against Louisiana backwater towns? Would Buffy have the same vibe if she lived in a woodsy fantasy world, or if it was set in medieval times? Would Percy Jackson be the same popular series if Percy simply ventured to Olympus rather than the Greek Gods existing in, and interacting with, modern-day America (which is the best part of the series)? Urban fantasy has a kind of asphalt colouration to it and the name of the genre speaks more to the aesthetic of the story than anything else. The backdrop aesthetic in an urban fantasy is really important, and the look and feel of the setting often play a key role in the story; the setting in urban fantasy is an important character. For this reason, the urban setting needs to be very well developed. What Is The Difference Between Urban Fantasy And Paranormal Romance?  Many books today fit neatly in both the urban fantasy sub-genre AND the paranormal romance category and there is a great deal of overlap between both genres, especially in the self-publishing sector. With that said the two genres are not mutually exclusive, they just happen to overlap. Paranormal romance is a genre that combines fantastical characters such as vampires, werewolves, shifters, faeries, goblins, and witches, and puts romance at the front and centre of the storyline. It is important to remember that urban fantasy and paranormal romance are not synonymous; one focuses on romance and the other is set against an urban backdrop but does not require romance. There are just as many urban fantasy novels with romance as there are without. Both options are valid and it is up to you to decide whether romance will play an integral part in your story.   Key Elements Of Urban Fantasy  There are common elements that you will see in urban fantasy novels, however, it’s important to know your book can still fit in the genre without these elements as long as it\'s set against the backdrop of an urban setting which then plays a significant part in the story. Common elements of the genre include:   A dark aesthetic (very rarely bright and sunny aesthetic)  Derelict cityscapes (not countryside/ house on the prairie settings)  Magic, fantastical, or sci-fi elements  Poverty or a disadvantaged class  Thriller-like vibes (crimes being solved, mysteries)  Combat (think Divergent or The Hunger Games)  City problems (rats, undergrounds, clashes with local bodies of authority)  Paranormal creatures  Dystopian elements   Urban clothing (leather, heavy-duty clothes, uniforms)  Fantastical and supernatural elements   Romance subplots   A character living in two worlds (the normal urban world and the fantastical underlayer world that they are aware of)  Examples Of Urban Fantasy Here are a few examples of some YA and adult urban fantasy novels:   Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch  Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman  American Gods by Neil Gaiman  Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor  House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J Maas  City of Bones by Cassandra Clare  Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan  Vampire Academy by Richelle Meade  Wicked Lovely by Mellissa Maar  Crave by Tracy Wolf  The Alex Craft series by Kalayna Price   The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs   The Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter  Urban Fantasy And YA As you can see, YA fiction is heavily present on the list. That’s because YA books very often intersect with urban fantasy as urban fantasy is very popular amongst teen readers; hence some of the most recognisable urban fantasy titles are also in the YA genre.  Often urban fantasy explores the idea, ‘what if X fantastical beings lived among us?’ The blend of taking a character who is used to their modern world (one that we the reader also recognise) and showing them a side of their world they were not aware of, is very popular in the genre.  Books Which Aren\'t Examples Of Urban Fantasy And here are a few famous books that might be considered urban fantasy but aren’t:  The Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling  The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis  The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien  These books do not have the key elements of the urban fantasy sub-genre. Of course, these classics are heavy in fantasy however they lack the integral urban setting to qualify for the urban fantasy genre, despite featuring cities at times. Harry Potter, though from the urban world, spends very little time in it and most of the books take place entirely in the magical world. Though some people would probably argue that Harry Potter does spend some time in the urban world, it’s too little to put the book in the urban fantasy genre.   Tips For Writing Urban Fantasy There are many ways to write urban fantasy books but here are some tips:   Turn The Setting Into A Character In the books I co-write (Blood Web Chronicles by Caedis Knight) the cities the books are based in play a huge role; in Vampires of Moscow and Witches of Barcelona the urban backdrops function as important characters. Meaning the books would just not be the same without those cities. The urban backdrop in urban fantasy stories cannot be static, it has to be a living breathing thing. For example, if your fantasy is set in New York, but there are only a handful of mentions of the city, then you are not serving the genre justice. Use the city on every level possible- atmosphere, characterisation, plot development.   Make sure to research your setting (if it’s a real city) and use good descriptions to characterise it. Make sure your chosen setting is constantly serving the story. Maybe ask yourself the question, how does this setting push the story further? How does it aid the main character’s development? How does the city stand in the way of the characters\' goals? If your main character grew up in this city, how did it shape them? Think about how important Sunnydale is in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and how its position on the Hellmouth plays a large role in Buffy’s life and her development as the main character. Buffy’s entire life- who she dates, who she becomes, her traumas and triumphs, are defined by Sunnydale and the Hellmouth.   Recognise And Utilise Fantasy Tropes When adding paranormal or fantastical creatures ask yourself how they interact with the setting. How does the setting serve them? Where do they hide? How does (or doesn’t) the city provide for them? Where do they hang out? How does this setting characterise and shape their lives?  Think about the tropes in the fantasy books you\'ve read, and adjust them to make them your own. A helpful tip is to print a map of the city or draw one (quality doesn’t matter here) and decide where in the city your different factions or paranormal groups prefer to dwell and why. You can use Google Maps to save locations and create an entire real-life map of where your characters (and villains) spend their time. This could help you with your writing and as a bonus be shared with your readers down the line.   Read A Lot Of Urban Fantasy For Inspiration Urban fantasy is an ever-growing genre that has been amassing popularity quickly in recent years. Because urban fantasy lovers tend to read widely in the genre, it’s a good idea to read (and research) a number of urban fantasies so that you know you are getting it right. More importantly, you will get inspired when it comes to designing your own urban setting.   Create Pinterest Boards With Urban Aesthetics What does the dingy New York bar where your werewolves hang out look like? What does your city hall look like? Where are you drawing inspiration for your urban tunnels or derelict factories?  Design The Elements That Go Hand In Hand With Your Urban Setting What do people eat in this city? What do people wear? You might get caught up in your fantasy plot and forget to truly colour the urban backdrop. When I think about fantasy set in New Orleans I instantly think about the food. Currently, in our Caedis Knight series we are writing about werewolves in Berlin, and though Berlin is a slightly derelict gloomy city perfect for urban fantasy, we have been careful to include all the colourful food- Pink Berliner Weise beers, the world’s best kebabs, fresh Baklava from the Neukoln district- all to add colour and warmth to the story. It’s important to remember that cities are not just architecture- they are food, music, events, crime, nature and a million other things you must include in your book. Similarly, if you are writing urban fantasy that\'s dystopian and your setting is truly all doom and gloom, explore that! Explore what people eat in this impoverished society and how they survive; dig deep into the darkness of this setting and how that relates to the characters.   Frequently Asked Questions   What Are Some Examples Of Urban Fantasy?  Some examples of popular urban fantasy include American Gods by Neil Gaiman, the Shadowhunter series by Cassandra Clare, and the Southern Vampire Stories (Sookie Stackhouse novels) by Charlaine Harris.  What Is The Difference Between Fantasy And Urban Fantasy?  Urban fantasy is a sub-genre in which the fantasy plotline plays out against an urban backdrop and the urban setting plays an important role. All urban fantasy sits in the fantasy genre but not all fantasy is urban.   What Are The Elements Of Urban Fantasy?  Elements of urban fantasy include a dark noir feel, the city as a character, mysteries and crime solving, combat, romantic sub-plots, derelict settings, fantastical characters and paranormal characters. They also often involve a character with a foot in both worlds.  Writing Urban Fantasy It is very beneficial for authors to explore the sub-genre of urban fantasy as it’s a genre that keeps rising in popularity. Not to be confused with paranormal romance, urban fantasy has earned its place as one of the highest-selling sub-genres in fantasy and one of the most lucrative indie sub-genres on Amazon. It’s a great genre to consider if you are passionate about fantastical plots and characters but wish to set your story against a gritty urban modern backdrop. Most importantly, be prepared to treat your chosen urban setting as an important character in your plot. 

How To Describe A Character: 14 Questions To Ask Yourself

Having compelling characters in your novel can be the difference between a good story and a great one, igniting a reader\'s imagination with every turn of the page. Some of the most memorable fictional characters have lasted the test of time because of how the author described them. From Heathcliff to Fagin, from Scarlett O\'Hara to Matilda, the way these characters look, move, behave, and interact with others and their surroundings make them larger than life, leaving a lasting impression because they feel so real. In this article, we\'re going to look at the fourteen questions every writer should ask themselves when planning on describing their main characters. Use this guide as a checklist and learn how strong character descriptions can bring your book to life! How To Write Compelling Character Descriptions When it comes to writing character descriptions, many people instantly think of physical details. Yes, it\'s often important to show what your character is wearing or what colour their hair is, but real people are made up of more than just a police lineup description. To reveal character traits beyond a physical attribute you need to go deeper. When you understand your character\'s flaws, needs, fears, ambitions, childhood, and past and future goals, you can unearth a richer and more believable person. This involves looking at each non-visual medium as well as the surroundings of that character and how they influence them, their behaviour, and their persona. Why Are Character Descriptions Important? A professional writer knows that character description is incredibly important. Without character development, your story is just a plot that no one will care about. A reader connects not with the adventure, but with the person embarking on it. They\'re not invested in the love story but in the two people experiencing it. They don\'t care about how someone was murdered as much as who was murdered and who did it. When a reader empathises with a character, that story becomes so much more important. When a reader roots for the hero, or hates the villain, they will keep turning those pages. An author gets just one chance to make an impactful first impression, to include the right details to make their characters jump off the page - so make sure you make each character unique! Let\'s discover how you can do that by asking yourself the following questions... 14 Questions To Ask Yourself When You Describe Characters Here are the first fourteen questions any writer should ask themselves when developing their characters and describing them to readers. Feel free to add even more, but if you don\'t know the answer to any of these then your reader may struggle to imagine what each character is like. And remember, you can describe a character in many different and original ways, even if you completely leave out physical appearance - if a reader knows enough about them they will fill in the blanks. That\'s the magic of storytelling! 1. What Is Their Background? This question is very important. In Dickens\' Oliver Twist, an orphan boy joins a street gang of young London thieves. Dickens knew Oliver came from an affluent family originally, so ensured the boy\'s characteristics were gentle, a little meek, and his physical attributes fine and elegant. Dickens then provides the perfect foil character in Oliver\'s new pickpocketing friend, The Artful Dodger, who is described very differently. We know Dodger is from the rough streets of Victorian London by the way he talks, dresses, moves and behaves. This is a wonderful description of The Artful Dodger!He was a snub-nosed, flat-browed, common-faced boy enough; and as dirty a juvenile as one would wish to see; but he had about him all the airs and manners of a man. He was short of his age: with rather bow-legs, and little, sharp, ugly eyes. His hat was stuck on the top of his head so lightly, that it threatened to fall off every moment—and would have done so, very often, if the wearer had not had a knack of every now and then giving his head a sudden twitch, which brought it back to its old place again.Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens 2. Can You Include A Foil Character? When you have two characters, try and make them opposite to one another - these are called foil characters. Foil characters are very useful in literature as they enhance and highlight the main character\'s traits by showing the reader opposite ones. For instance, if you want to emphasise how mean a character is, then have them go shopping with someone who\'s overly generous. Likewise, show how quiet and insecure someone is by having them recoil in horror as their companion booms and shouts and draws attention to them. 3. How Old Are They? How a child sees the world is very different to how an adult does. In Roald Dahl\'s Matilda, the protagonist is a very young girl who is incredibly clever. She\'s everything a \'good\' child should be and very advanced for her age. We can see that through the way she dresses (with a red ribbon in her hair), her habits (she loves to read and go to the library alone), and her resourcefulness (she can\'t carry all the books by herself so takes a toy trolley to put them in). In contrast - once again, those helpful foil characters - her parents are everything a \'bad\' parent can be. They don\'t cook proper meals, insist their children eat in front of the TV, and barely pay any attention to them (and when they do it\'s to critique them); they continuously put looks and money above their children\'s educational needs. The age of a character not only determines how they dress and the way they speak, but it can also influence how they act. If you want to portray a child as being cruel, they may pull another child\'s hair or call them names. If you want to show an adult in the same way (like Matilda\'s nemesis, Mrs Trunchbull) you may show her not sharing her special chocolates and scaring the children who she\'s meant to be looking after. Likewise, those attributes may influence their physical descriptions. As Roald Dahl said himself in his book, The Twits: A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.The Twits by Roald Dahl 4. What Are Their Physical Features? Physical descriptions are the easiest way to paint a picture of a character - but they\'re also the least imaginative. For example, the physical characteristics of a character may be: Hair colour - brown hair, black hair, blonde hair etc.Eye colour - brown eyes, green eyes, blue eyes etc.Build - tall, short, slim, overweight, muscly, average build (whatever that means) etc. But, unless the eye colour is vital to the storyline (in my own book, The Path Keeper, Zac\'s eye colour plays a fundamental role in the entire trilogy), using up half a page to describe how they look is boring. When describing bodily features and other details, try to think of very specific characteristics such as perhaps a scar, the shape of their nose, chewed fingernails, or hair that has greying roots. Although stay away from stereotypes, especially when it comes to race, ethnicity, and other minorities. Likewise, don\'t have them staring into the mirror contemplating their looks so the reader knows what they look like. Men, take note, no woman ever thinks about the size or shape of their breasts! Let\'s take a look at Dickens again and his character in Hard Times, the boastful, self-important Mr. Bounderby. Here\'s a bad example of how he could be described, using just physical attributes: He was six foot two and weighed 250 pounds, with brown hair and dull blue eyes. His suit was made from rough tweed and his leather boots looked expensive. He worked in a bank and his laugh was very loud. Not very evocative. It sounds like you\'re giving the police a description of the man who ran off with all your money. This is how Dickens actually describes Mr Bounderby: He was a rich man: banker, merchant, manufacturer, and what not. A big, loud man, with a stare, and a metallic laugh. A man made out of coarse material, which seemed to have been stretched to make so much of him.Hard Times by Charles Dickens 5. What Are They Wearing? Clothes say a lot about a person. Not just in terms of whether they are dressed formally, casually or in a uniform, but also in how they wear their clothes. Do they have a button missing? Are their trousers ironed with a crease down the centre or are they crumpled? Are there clothes old and worn, or new and from designer brands? What about their shoes? Is a woman wearing heels to do something that would be better suited to trainers? Does a man wear his expensive suit accessorised with odd colourful socks? In Margaret Atwood’s Booker-winning novel The Blind Assassin, the narrator Iris begins the story thinking back to her sister Laura’s death. Laura’s troubled personality shines through in Atwood\'s descriptions of her clothing: I could picture the smooth oval of Laura’s face, her neatly pinned chignon, the dress she would have been wearing: a shirtwaist with a small rounded collar, in a sober colour – navy blue or steel grey or hospital-corridor green. Penitential colours – less like something she’d chosen to put on than like something she’d been locked up in.The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood 6. What Is Their Job? When it comes to showing, not telling, a job can really help describe a person (as in the case of the banker above). If a novel opens with a nurse tending to a sick child and then stopping to pet a cat on her way home, it\'s highly unlikely she\'s going to be cruel and uncaring. There\'s no need to say \'Kate was a very patient and kind woman who loved children and animals\' if you\'ve already demonstrated that by her profession and actions. Likewise, a gardener will enjoy being outdoors and a sailor will be comfortable out on the ocean. Or, to make things more interesting, you could have your gardener scared of worms and your sailor unable to swim! 7. What Makes Them Unique? A character\'s personality is determined by how they move and act, as well as how they look. Give them a quirky personality and some character traits people won\'t forget in a hurry. If I write about a woman who collects buttons, which she then leaves behind on the body of every man she murders, you will probably have a very distinct idea of what she looks like. In contrast, a woman who lives in a hut in the forest, breeds ferrets, and makes her own clothes, will look, move, sound, and behave very differently. 8. How Do They Move? Physical attributes determine how a character moves, and body language says a lot about a person. For instance, if a teen character is awkward with long legs and arms, they may lope, amble, or bump into things. If someone is young and healthy they may run everywhere. If they are older, or unwell, they may move slower or more deliberately. 9. How Are They Feeling? You can describe a character\'s face and body language, or you can tell the readers what they are thinking and feeling. Facial expressions are a great way to determine what that character is like. For instance, a man with creases around his eyes from smiling a lot, is going to be a very different character from one who has deep furrows on his forehead from being constantly angry. I don\'t recommend you focus on skin colour, but if the character is white then describing pale skin that\'s clammy at the touch may indicate they\'re unwell, or that they don\'t get out of the house much. 10. How Do They Interact With Their Surroundings? The people in your book don\'t live on a blank page; all characters inhabit a place - the setting of your book. How they interact with their surroundings says a lot about their character. If the book is set in the jungle, the character who is scared and over-reacting is going to be a very different type of person to the one who is fearless. Surprise your readers. Maybe the muscly man is scared, and the older lady wearing a floral dress is the one who fights off the killer snakes. Consider other sensory details. Does your character like the smell of flowers, or does it remind them of their abusive grandmother? Or do they prefer the scent of bleach because they have a cleaning addiction that stems from their sad childhood? What about the food they eat, the sounds they pick up, and the way they see the world? Be creative with how they react to the environment. 11. What Do Other People Think About Them? It\'s always fun to have a character perceive themselves one way, and then demonstrate how they\'re perceived by others. Write character descriptions that are contradictory. If you have an obnoxious character that\'s despised by everyone he works with, have him think he\'s the smartest, most helpful person in the office. If you have a child who doubts their ability at school, have them be the teacher\'s secret favourite. In Emily Brontë\'s, Wuthering Heights, the protagonist Heathcliff is a contradictory mix of wild ways and gentlemanly expectations. You can see that juxtaposition in the way the author describes him: But Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living. He is a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman, that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire.Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë 12. What Do They Think Of Those Around Them? I am yet to meet a more fascinating character than Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in the novel Perfume, by Patrick Süskind. His extreme olfactory powers mean that he experiences the world through his intense sense of smell. Everyone around him has a pungent, overbearing odour, while he himself has absolutely no scent at all. This in turn results in him hating all human beings. People left him alone. And that was all he wanted.Perfume by Patrick Süskind That line alone tells you everything you need to know about how others perceive him and how he perceives them. Think about how your characters view their friends, colleagues, family members, children and partners. 13. How Do They Behave? How a character treats others is extremely telling of their values and personality. In Joanna Harris\' book, Chocolat, the main character Vianne describes a customer in her shop as: His face is small, delicately featured. He is the kind of man who breaks biscuits in two and saves the other half for later.Chocolat by Joanna Harris No eye or hair color, no clothing or job description. None of that is needed. We know exactly what kind of man he is by the physical description of \'small\' and \'delicate\' and his precise actions. 14. Are They A Cliché? It\'s too easy, when describing a character, to have them fit a specific (and unoriginal) mold. Is your hero tall, dark and handsome? Is your teenager surly and distant? Is your old man cranky and bigoted? In Jonas Jonasson\'s book, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, the main character is not only full of adventure and hope - but he\'s 100 years old. And nothing like you would expect an old man to be! People could behave how they liked, but Allan considered that in general it was quite unnecessary to be grumpy if you had the chance not to.The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson Frequently Asked Questions How Do You Describe A Character\'s Appearance? When describing a character\'s appearance, only focus on the details which are relevant to the story. So if your character\'s going undercover and wearing a short blonde wig, it would be useful to know that their hair is usually long and brown, so their disguise is likely to be somewhat effective. Remember, your character\'s description goes beyond just what they look like. You can let your readers know a lot about a character by how they: TalkMoveDressActInteract with othersInteract with their surroundings As well as their backgrounds, their values, and how others see them. What Are Six Ways To Describe A Character? There are six key ways to describe a character: Physical appearanceHow they speakHow they moveHow they treat othersUnique tics and character traitsHow they interact with their surroundings Great Character Description Matters Good character description matters. Whether you are writing a novel, a short story, or even the blurb of your book - descriptive details in your writing will help your reader\'s imagination and bring your characters to life. I hope this article has given you inspiration for your characters and helped you imagine them beyond their dark hair and green eyes. The joy of being a writer is that once you have imagined your characters in depth, after that they should write the rest of the book for you. As author William Faulkner once said: It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.William Faulkner Have fun catching up with your book cast!

Science Fiction Vs Fantasy: A Speculative Fiction Comparison

Science fiction and fantasy are my go-to, both for reading and watching on television, but also when writing my own stories. I always thought I understood the difference between these genres, so imagine my surprise when my science fiction book was marketed by my publishers as fantasy.   In hindsight, this misunderstanding wasn’t surprising. Fantasy and science fiction as genres have considerable overlap. But understanding what makes these genres distinct will enable you to hone your writing to the right audience, enhancing reader enjoyment and helping at the marketing stage. So let’s explore the specific elements of both genres, what makes the genres different and the same, and why this understanding is so important.  What Is Science Fiction?  If you were anything like me as a kid and switched off during science lessons, then a quick Google will remind you that science is the study of the physical and natural world through experiments, observations, and measurement. So the science fiction genre is exactly as it sounds: fiction grown from scientific principles and theory. A weaving of storytelling with the laws of nature and physics.   Science fiction explores scenarios that are possible, at least with scientific advancement, making them all the more relatable and frightening. For someone science-adverse (like me,) it turns something stale into something wonderful and intriguing, binding science to emotions, humanity, the imagination, and ethical quandaries. I didn’t enjoy science as a student, but my rucksack was brimmed with science fiction novels by the likes of Asimov and Orwell.  The Key Elements Of Science Fiction  Science fiction tends to embrace advanced technology such as time travel or space travel, and/or a dystopian setting, where society embodies grave injustices or suffering. These science fiction elements allow readers to explore important, often scary, ethical or theoretical questions from the safety and comfort of their sofas. For example, will the ability to alter the past help or harm people? How can we spot the warning signs and stop our society from completely disregarding the rights of women? How can scientific development aid good and evil in this world and beyond?   Examples Of Science Fiction Stories  A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess   A novel set in a dystopian world where criminality can be influenced by behavioural principles. This story draws on the psychological theory of behaviourism, but also poses a broader ethical question: is freedom of choice more important than the prevention of evil? This story blew my sixteen-year-old mind.  Station 11 By Emily St. John Mandel  A brilliant novel about a terrifying new virus. Sound familiar? This novel was written pre-covid, demonstrating how science fiction can be so grounded in reality, that it often has a predictive quality.  The Secret Deep By Lindsay Galvin  A wonderful example of middle-grade science fiction, wherein the DNA of mermaid-type creatures is used to enable people to breathe underwater. Such a great book for making science interesting for children.  Starship Troopers By Robert A. Heinlein  This exciting novel is a great example of military science fiction, a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on weapons and war. This genre is particularly scary as technological advancements are moving so quickly, that some of these ideas may soon be a reality.  The Loneliest Girl In The Universe By Lauren James  This brilliant YA novel is not only set in space, a popular science fiction setting, but was apparently inspired by a question on special relativity from Lauren’s university physics course (for those who don’t know, special relativity is a theory explaining how speed affects mass, time and space.) It’s a lovely example of how science fiction is often birthed from real-world ‘what if… ?’ questions.  The Martian By Andy Weir  This novel follows an astronaut\'s struggle to survive on Mars. This is a great example of hard science fiction, a subgenre that embraces scientific accuracy.  What Is Fantasy?  Unlike science fiction, fantasy deals with the impossible. Think magic and the supernatural. As such, it’s firmly rooted in the imagination rather than in science and natural laws.   The Key Elements Of Fantasy  The main elements of fantasy are mythical creatures, magical worlds, and the supernatural. These elements are so distinct from the real world, that they allow the reader complete escapism from the mundane. They also fully engage the imagination, something that has been shown time and time again to improve children’s development. However, as adults, we tend to move away from imaginative play and fantasy worlds, and as we conform to society, so too can our dreams and creativity. Fantasy novels allow us to tap back into this freeing, fun, and creative state, where anything is possible. Extensive world-building is another vital element of the fantasy genre, and writers often create entirely new histories, languages, religions, and cultures. For my soon-to-be-published young adult fantasy novel, I devised a new religion and went as far as writing a handbook; a level of worldbuilding that isn’t unusual for fantasy writers.  World building makes the impossible believable and results in a deeply immersive experience for the writer, and ultimately, the reader. There’s a reason fantasy has some of the biggest fandoms like Twilight and Lord of The Rings. Not only do they inspire grown-up imaginative play, but the vastness of the imagined worlds encourages exploration through clubs, fanfiction, and fanart.   Examples Of Fantasy Stories  The Priory Of The Orange Tree By Samantha Shannon  This feminist reimagining of George and the dragon is a novel rich with world-building and mythical creatures. The original tale is from the 11th century, demonstrating the longevity of the fantasy genre, probably because our capacity to imagine and dream is a central part of our humanity that transcends time.  Pan’s Labyrinth This beautiful film shows how fantasy can be combined with real-life history. In this case, mythical creatures and magical quests are blended with the very real Spanish Civil War.  The Last Days Of Jack Sparks By Jason Arnopp  This clever novel follows an arrogant journalist to his death after he angers the devil during an exorcism. It falls into the fantasy genre because it deals with the supernatural, yet it also falls into several other genres including horror, thriller, and suspense.   Snowglobe By Amy Wilson  This beautiful story about a girl who can jump between worlds contained within snowglobes shows how fantasy fiction can help children explore big issues in a safe way. In this case; loss, coming of age, and the responsibility that accompanies power.  The Gilded Ones By Namina Forna  This thrilling young adult fantasy novel is about the persecution of supernatural creatures, specifically demons, by mankind. The story is told from the point of view of a demon, flipping the traditional idea that demons are evil on its head. It’s particularly original and immersive and explores themes of the \'other\' and of embracing difference.   Fantasy Vs Science Fiction   The main difference between fantasy and science fiction is that fantasy deals with the impossible, whereas science fiction deals with the possible. Fantasy features magic and monsters, the realm of the imagination, and science fiction is grounded in scientific principles. Both genres need internal consistency and logic, but in fantasy, the writer creates the rules, whereas, in science fiction, nature and physics dictate the rules.  In spite of these differences, significant overlap remains. Both science fiction and fantasy imagine worlds different from our own, and both deal with the hypothetical. Indeed, the similarities are so pronounced, it isn’t uncommon to blend both categories resulting in a genre known as science fantasy or fantasy science fiction. A great example of this is Star Wars. The setting is space, yet the force is magical.  Another key similarity is that the imagined elements of the external world heighten the internal conflicts and the goals of the protagonist. For example, in my fantasy novel, Antigua de Fortune of the High Seas, the main character must embrace her magical powers in order to heal the rift between magical sea creatures and mankind. At its core, her character arc is simple: you do you. But it wouldn’t be nearly so exciting if her self-discovery didn’t involve ocean magic.  Understanding these differences enables writers to tailor their books for specific audiences, therefore enhancing sales and reader enjoyment. This becomes especially important during marketing, ensuring your book reaches the target audience. Indeed, classification can be decided at the marketing stage, like in my debut novel, as the publisher considers which market is more buoyant or better suited to the story.  Frequently Asked Questions  How Are Fantasy And Science Fiction Similar?  Both fantasy and science fiction imagine worlds that are different from our own and deal with questions of ‘what if?’ As such, they both encourage the reader to keep an open mind – perhaps this is why both genres are particularly good at exploring broader ethical, philosophical, and emotional themes.  Both genres often blend existing history or culture with new and imagined elements, and also use the external elements of the genre, be that monsters or technology, to heighten the stakes and the internal conflict of the protagonist.  Can Science Fiction Also Be Fantasy?  Absolutely. Science fiction can have magical or supernatural elements. Think The Time Machine by H.G Wells, where the protagonist time travels to a fantasy land. Likewise, fantasy can include scientific elements, for example, The Avengers utilises advanced technology.   This blending of genres can be called science fantasy or fantasy science fiction. Sometimes the classification happens at the marketing stage, a decision informed by the popularity of a genre at the time of publication.  Can Science Fiction Have Magic?  Another resounding yes! Whilst you’re unlikely to find magic systems in hard science fiction, magic can exist in soft science fiction and other science fiction genres. Think Avatar, which is set in space, explores genetic engineering and contains elements of military science fiction, yet also contains a soul tree, central to the Na’vi’s spiritual belief system.  Also, supernatural powers can originate from science (think The X-Men by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee) and magic can arise from technology or affect technology, sometimes known as technomancy or technomagic. An example of this is The Last Days of Jack Sparks, by Jason Arnopp, where supernatural forces hijack social media.   Science Fiction Vs Fantasy: The Take Home  Both genres have huge merits. The plausibility of science fiction means the story falls closer to home, making the hypothetical all the scarier, whereas fantasy allows the reader to escape reality and tap back into a time when make-believe was encouraged.   Whilst it’s important to understand the differences and similarities between the genres, the most important thing is to write what works for your story and what sparks your own imagination.   Now that you understand the difference and similarities between these wonderful genres, you can unleash your creativity and let your imagination run wild. 

Nikki Logan: Women’s Prize Discoveries Competition Shortlistee

There are so many opportunities out there to get your work discovered - and creative writing competitions, in particular, are a brilliant way to hold yourself accountable. Jericho Writers member Nikki Logan is a great example of taking a chance that greatly pays off. With her very first creative writing venture having made it to the Women\'s Prize Discoveries Competition shortlist, we know she\'s on her way to big things. We caught up with her about how things have been since the competition, and what she found useful along the way. JW: Hi Nikki! So, tell us a little about your background as a writer. When did you start writing? I\'ve been a copywriter since 2009 and had articles published in regional magazines, newspapers and trade publications, but I didn’t start trying my hand at creative writing until about five years ago when I decided to write a novel inspired by my Grandad’s life story. Even though I was a writer, it was at that point I realised just how different copywriting is to creative writing and I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. During the first lockdown in 2020, I was furloughed and took the opportunity to hone my skills in storytelling. I had a four-year-old to entertain in and around the house and was pregnant with my second child at the time, so I started with a free and flexible eight-week course online, Start Writing Fiction, through The Open University. It gave me a first look at some of the techniques and skills needed to write fiction - but I knew I had so much more to learn. I researched online creative writing resources and came across Jericho Writers. Due to lockdown, they were hosting their Festival of Writing online from June until September for the first time, so I signed up. I learnt so much and there was a real sense of community, so I joined the Summer Festival in the following year, too, and then became a member. The Summer Festivals have helped me transform my creative writing, so much so that I’ve been able to make the opening of my novel strong enough to stand out from over 2,500 entries! JW: You were recently shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction’s Discoveries Competition – for your first creative writing project, no less! What was the process there? Did you know you would be entering the prize before you had finished your work? This is the second year the competition has taken place. I was aware of it last year, but wasn’t in a position to submit, so I made a note of this year’s deadline and worked towards it, more for accountability than anything else. The Discoveries competition is quite rare as it’s for unpublished women writers who are not required to have finished their novels. And it’s free! To enter you only need to have written 10,000 words of your opening, which you submit with a synopsis. I knew this was an achievable goal to help me progress my novel and actually wrote quite a bit more before the deadline. If I’m honest, I didn’t expect to get anywhere with it, knowing it was such a big competition and this was my first creative writing project that I’d not let anyone else cast their eyes on! I had no idea if what I’d submitted was any good. It’s also a development programme, not just a competition. Practical support is offered as part of the prize for longlisted and shortlisted entrants, which will be a brilliant help. The Summer Festivals have helped me transform my creative writing, so much so that I’ve been able to make the opening of my novel strong enough to stand out from over 2,500 entries! JW: How have things been since being shortlisted? It’s been such an incredible experience already. I was shocked when I found out I was on the longlist of 16 out of over 2500 entries. Then a couple of weeks later I was shortlisted down to six, and was named the Discoveries Scholar at the end of the competition. Since then, I’ve attended the hugely celebrated Women’s Prize for Fiction event held at Bedford Square Gardens, London, in June. This was amazing. I joined them for an evening of readings by the six shortlisted authors and then the next day for the ceremony, when Ruth Ozeki was announced the winner with her novel The Book of Form and Emptiness and gave the most inspiring and touching speech. I was also lucky enough to join an intimate in-person workshop with the wonderful Kate Mosse and JoJo Moyes, who imparted their wisdom on translating novels for screen and theatre. If I’m honest, I didn’t expect to get anywhere with it, knowing it was such a big competition and this was my first creative writing project that I’d not let anyone else cast their eyes on! I had no idea if what I’d submitted was any good. As a longlistee, I have just completed a brilliant two-week online Discoveries Writing Development Course held by Curtis Brown Creative (sponsors of the competition). I received such encouraging feedback and guidance from our tutor, author Charlotte Mendelson, as well as the other longlistees, who are an incredible group of talented writers and have already become such a friendly and supportive network to turn to. As a shortlistee, I have been invited to attend studio sessions with Audible (another sponsor of the competition). And as the Discoveries Scholar, I have been awarded a place on a three-month Curtis Brown Creative course to help me complete my novel, which I am so excited about! It’s all felt quite surreal. Since being shortlisted, I’ve even had literary agents approach me requesting my manuscript! JW: What kinds of resources shaped your writing to be what it is now? I\'ve signed up to various webinars and listened to podcasts with authors – I love The Honest Authors’ Podcast by Gillian McAllister and Holly Seddon. I’ve also carried out years of research on the topic and themes of my novel. It’s surprising how much my research has shaped my writing, even down to the much smaller storylines. It’s helped me add depth by really being able to “show” scenes, rather than “tell” so readers hopefully feel transported into the story. I do try not to refer back to research before I write a scene, though, as I have enough understanding and it helps the story come across more naturally. It’s all felt quite surreal. Since being shortlisted, I’ve even had literary agents approach me requesting my manuscript! Jericho Writers\' Summer Festival of Writing has been the greatest resource I have relied on. I still refer back to my notes on webinars like Debi Alpers’s expertise on voice and psychic distance and Rebecca Horsfall’s session on \'Show, Don’t Tell\'. I also enjoyed hearing tips from authors like Julie Cohen on plotting, Philippa East on getting a publishing deal, and Cesca Major, whose scene outline template I use religiously! It was exciting to join webinars with literary agents too, like Laura Williams, Liv Maidment and Juliet Mushens, who really helped demystify the steps to getting a novel published. Enter as many competitions as you can. If you succeed, they can be a great platform for exposure and endorsement and, if nothing else, they give you a deadline to progress your novel. What have you got to lose? JW: Do you have any advice for writers in the middle of their early projects? As someone who is still in the middle of an early project, I understand how isolating writing can be, especially when you’re putting in so many hours without knowing if what you’re producing is any good or not. I would definitely recommended joining writing groups and communities or even just finding one person in a similar position to you for encouragement, feedback and a bit of accountability. Don’t be afraid to put your work out there for critique. It’s daunting, but I have done this since entering the Discoveries competition and it’s been invaluable as well as made me even more excited about completing my novel! And finally, enter as many competitions as you can. If you succeed, they can be a great platform for exposure and endorsement and, if nothing else, they give you a deadline to progress your novel. What have you got to lose? About Nikki Nikki is a copywriter from Suffolk who is currently writing her first novel inspired by her grandfather’s experience as a post-war Caribbean migrant in Deep South USA and England.   The opening of the story was recently shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction Discoveries 2022 competition. She was also chosen from the shortlist of six as the Discoveries Scholar, winning a place on Curtis Brown Creative’s three-month Writing Your Novel course.   She is drawn to character-driven novels and believes fiction is a powerful tool to entertain as well as inform and influence social empathy, changing the way people see the world.   Follow Nikki on Twitter. 

How To Write A Cookbook That Captivates Your Readers

Do you dream of seeing your own cookbook on the shelf?   If so, this article is for you. From key considerations before you start, to exploring different kinds of cookbooks and knowing what to expect from the creative process, this guide can help you bring those recipes to the page. So put on your apron and let’s get started!  Things To Consider Before Creating Your Cookbook What Is Your Concept?  If you met someone for the first time and they asked about your cookbook project, could you describe it in less than two sentences? If not, it’s time to refine your concept. You’ll need it to stand out in the crowded cookbook market with a clear unique selling point. Whether you’re the next star of vegan baking or want to share the healthy Mexican recipes your dad taught you, you will need to hone your idea before you go any further. It needs to be memorable, authentic and true to you and your style of cooking.  Who Is Your Audience?   It is so important to have a core readership in mind. Perhaps you already have an online community via social media or a blog – if so, try to understand who they are and how they respond to your posts and recipes. Do they love quick, simple midweek meals, or blow-out complicated dishes for impressing friends? Many of the most successful cookbook authors engage with their audience from the earliest stages, involving them as they create a book concept, asking them questions and generally building excitement and buzz with a ready pool of potential readers.   If you don’t have an online following, it’s still helpful to consider who you are writing for. Is it likely to be a self-purchase or a gift? Perhaps your writing reflects contemporary concerns such as budget, health, or sustainability, in which case, how might your book make a difference? Do you love writing about the stories behind food, as much as the food itself? Food brings us together, and the best cookbooks offer the same sense of connection you get from sharing a meal.  Once you have your reader in mind, you can return to them whenever you’re making decisions. So, for instance, before you add that micro-herb to your garnish or start describing an elaborate way to chop up an avocado, ask yourself: will this appeal to my reader? Maybe it will, and that’s fine too, but keep checking back. Find Your Tribe  Building a community with other food writers can help you share ideas and create a supportive environment for planning and publishing a cookbook. From Twitter to FoodTok to Instagram, there are so many like-minded cooks sharing ideas, bringing up the next generation of writers, forging partnerships, and organising food pop-ups and supper clubs. It’s a vibrant, inspiring place to be, and super exciting if you are just starting out. Get involved and bounce ideas around and it will help you get a broader sense of what you want to do. Plus you have a ready group of cheerleaders when the book comes out, and some of them may even help you when it comes to the recipe testing process. Knowing The Market  Many of us have favourite cookbooks with scribbled notes and splattered pages. Do you look at other books on the market, too? Try reading consumer reviews on Amazon and other retailer websites. Take frequent trips to bookshops to see what is already out there and figure out how your book might stand out. Flick through pages of the books to see what you like and don’t like. Get a sense of the different book formats (hardback and paperback, size and number of pages). Compare how books are structured. Do you like an illustrated approach or a photographic one? Consider how many photographs should be included and if the food looks aspirational or easy to achieve. It’s also worth looking out for the smaller details like icons and tip boxes. What elements would you bring together for your dream cookbook? All of these factors can help you decide on the type of cookbook you’d like to write, whether that’s with the backing of a publisher or as a solo venture.  Popular Types Of Cookbooks  Traditionally Published Cookbooks This is often seen to be the dream scenario for cookbook writers. Although it depends on the size of the company, there are huge benefits to working with a publisher’s expert team: from editorial guidance to design and photography, and from sales and commercial channels to marketing and PR support. If you want to explore this option, create a list of publishers that already publish books in similar areas, ranging from those with the largest to smallest lists. This is a very competitive route to publication, because cookbooks are the most expensive kind of books for publishers to create and print. Many writers feel the benefit of working with literary agents to navigate the early stages and their relationship with a publisher. Editors are often happy to look at proposals directly from authors (especially at smaller publishers), so both routes are open to you.  Self-Published Cookbooks Increasingly, writers self-publish cookbooks, either by setting up an e-book that’s downloadable from their website or working with a small printer to print and bind small print runs of physical books. Self-publishing has the advantage of being a faster process, so you can bring your book to market quickly, plus it is a great way to build demand and engage with your community. However, it can be an expensive and time-consuming process, and you won’t have the expertise and commercial benefits touched on above, so just keep this in mind as you plan. It might be worth considering crowd-funding – especially if your book is responding to a real need. Many writers begin by self-publishing their books and make the switch. The authors Shaun and Craig McAnuff started with a self-published cookbook that they sold through their channels, to huge success, before they went on to publish the bestselling Natural Flava with Bloomsbury.   Examples Of Cookbooks  To give you an idea of the broad spectrum of cookbooks on the market, I’ve selected five cookbooks that are all very different but have been very successful in their space.  The Roasting Tin – Rukmini Iyer (Square Peg, 2017): With its vibrant design, compact size and deliciously simple food, the bestselling The Roasting Tin (and subsequent spin-offs) is a fantastic example of how a totally fresh concept can captivate readers.    Ottolenghi Simple – Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury Press, 2018): Simple brings together richly flavoured, easy and inventive recipes from bestselling author and chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Thanks to the simple and fast methods, this book reached a wider audience than previous books as it appeals to both adventurous and less confident cooks around the world.   Pinch of Nom – Kate and Kay Allinson (Bluebird, 2019): The fastest-selling cookbook of all time, this phenomenon comes from the team behind the huge online community of the same name. Packed with full-flavoured, home-style recipes that also happen to be slimming-friendly, Pinch of Nom has become the go-to cookbook for millions.  Midnight Chicken – Ella Risbridger (Bloomsbury 2019): This illustrated cookbook breaks convention, by charting the redemptive power of cooking during difficult periods of life. Part memoir and part cookbook, this is a deeply personal, beautiful read as well as a collection of creative and achievable home recipes.  Made in India – Meera Sodha (Fig Tree, 2014): The best cookbooks take you on a journey in the kitchen. With Meera Sodha’s debut cookbook, she brings the home cooking from her Indian family home in London to a broader audience – with easy methods, fresh flavours, story-telling and an incredible, bold design.   How To Write A Cookbook Step By Step  These are the key steps to take when writing a cookbook. 1. Choose Your Concept  As mentioned above, owning your concept is a vital stage of the process. Think about what your concept is and what makes it really fresh and different. Test it with friends and family. Keep it punchy, fresh and authentic to you.  Once you have this completely planned out, think about title ideas. You don’t have to land on the final title straight away, as it might percolate as you write. You’ll also need a clear subtitle or strapline to help explain what the book is and its unique selling point. Make sure there isn’t another title with the same name on the market.  2. Plan Your Structure  There are lots of ways to organise cookbooks. Don’t be afraid to think creatively, providing the book is still user-friendly and clearly signposted. How do your readers like to cook? This might be led by your concept. For instance, if your book is about speedy cooking, perhaps you could organise it into ’10 minute’, ’20 minute’ and ’30 minute’ chapters. Or is it best to lead with the method of cooking or main ingredient? Consider your audience and what will grab their attention.  Now start populating your list, balancing the number of recipes in different chapters. This might change and develop during the writing stage, but creating a list like this upfront will help you to avoid repeating ingredients and give you the skeleton to work from. At this stage don’t worry if your recipe titles aren’t the best, as they can be refined and checked as you go through the process.  Don’t forget to plan for the other chapters too – your introduction, key ingredients list, and favourite kit, if appropriate. Perhaps you want to write about what has inspired your love of cooking, or a family member or place that is special to you. Adding your personality and your story makes it feel impactful.  3. Create A Proposal  If you have decided to self-publish, you may wish to skip this step and move straight to developing your book, although the process is still likely to be worthwhile. Putting together a book proposal (a visual document introducing you and the concept) is key if you want to approach a publisher. If you get an agent, they will help you to put this together.  So, what should it contain? Start with your concept and structure. Include a detailed biography, detailing any experience and social stats if relevant. Why are you the person to write this, and why now? It is advantageous to have an awareness of the market and the books you\'ll be competing with, and also how your book could be marketed and promoted. Do you have any partnerships or existing relationships to boost its profile? If you have no idea about this, don’t worry, but it could make you stand out.  Consider when you want to publish. How long do you need to write? Do you need to coincide with a particular season – Veganuary, or the perfect gift for Mother’s Day?  Include several complete versions of your own recipes in the proposal, so readers can get a sense of your writing. Choose your recipes carefully so they show your potential and varied repertoire. An optional extra is to include designed-up recipe pages featuring images. It could help editors quickly visualise your project.  Most importantly of all: do not forget to proofread your proposal, and ideally, ask another person or two to read it before you send it anywhere.  4. Write Your Recipes  Some writers like to record voice notes as they cook, and then write up the recipe afterwards. Or they split their time by spending one complete day cooking and taking brief notes, followed by a day of writing recipes in more detail and editing at their desk. Having an organised process and writing everything up quickly while things are fresh in your mind can help you capture important aspects you discovered as you were cooking.  If you can, list all the ingredients in the order they appear. Do you need to consider the correct measurements for your readers, for instance, metric or imperial, or cups? Do you need a piece of special equipment, such as a blender, that it would be good for readers to know about before they start? Do you want to list prep and cook timing? Consider the cost of ingredients, and how much is used.  Recipes need to be clear and precise, without assuming knowledge that might put off less confident cooks. Do you think your reader will understand the word ‘sauté’? Is there another way to describe it? Also, think about ways to make the recipes accessible and achievable. Could you suggest ingredient swaps or additional options to change things up? Are there tips that will make trickier techniques easier to understand? Don’t forget the details: oven temperatures, size of tins etc.   It’s also really useful to include serving, storing, and freezing advice, if appropriate. Think about the features you love when cooking yourself. Never steal recipes from other sources or people – this must be your own work, consisting of your own recipes, from the perspective of copyright laws as well as ethics. The nature of cooking is that many recipes are passed from one person to another and adapted along the way, so always consider whether you should credit anyone. Do you want to mention friends, chefs or other food cultures that have introduced you to ideas or influenced the recipes in your list? If one of your recipes is inspired by Thai flavours, for instance, but you’re not from the culture yourself, make sure you mention the authentic dish and explain how you’ve made it your own. Respect food traditions. Food writer Mallika Basu has helped to put together insightful cultural appropriation guidelines for the Guild of Food Writers website, so I urge you to take a look here.    5. Test Your Recipes  Test, test and test again. Ask friends to test, and maybe point them in the direction of specific feedback – for instance, ask your recipe testers to focus on whether it works within the time suggested or tastes good. You could even allocate one element for each recipe tester to pay the most attention to. This is so important with all recipes, as when you’re writing yourself it is too easy to skip over a step by accident or leave out an ingredient. Don’t only pick your foodie friends, but also ask people who never cook and you’ll get the most interesting feedback from your recipe testing. This is especially important with baking recipes, which have so many variables. No one likes to invest time in a recipe that doesn’t work, so remember to take this stage seriously.  6. Edit The Text  If you’re working with an expert editor, they will fine-tune and sense-check your recipes with you, and if you are self-publishing, you should consider paying a cookery editor to check your text if you can. A good copyeditor will put together a style guide for your book, like a checklist that avoids inconsistencies or any confusion. They will ask the fiddly questions you might not have thought of, like: is it black or white mustard seeds you’re using here? What level of heat should your hob be on? How finely should you chop the onion?   7. Finalise The Design   Now, this is when the fun can begin – bringing your book to life! Depending on your publisher, there might be the opportunity to be collaborative in the design of your book. Decisions will be made as to whether it should be black and white or full colour, with illustrations and/or photographs. Many of us assume that a cookbook should have images, but some of the biggest global successes have featured black-and-white line drawings (see Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan). As well as the inside design, the cover design is so important in grabbing attention and positioning your book in the market. Should you be on the cover, or does your audience need to see the food? These decisions are a real balancing act between budget, vision, commerciality, and market.   If a photoshoot goes ahead, perhaps you will be photographing the recipes yourself, but there are amazing food photographers working with publishers who specialise in making the food look the best it can be. These people will work with a whole team including a food stylist, prop stylist and art director.   8. Proofread And Index  Proofreading is an incredibly important stage, as it’s the last opportunity to check for mistakes, typos, and to make sure everything is correct in the design before you get your cookbook published. Publishers will organise this for writers, but if you’re self-publishing, try to get a professional proofreader to do the job.  Do you need an index? It may be that you decide a recipe list at the front of the book is enough, but the most user-friendly cookbooks include a detailed index so that readers can easily find the page numbers for a recipe by ingredient, cooking technique, key words, and more.    9. Announce Your Book  The timing of your book announcement should be carefully thought through. It’s not necessarily the best idea to publish as soon as you can – for instance, if it’s a book of barbecue recipes, time it with late spring or early summer. Think about your commitments too, because you don’t want to publish just before a two-week holiday or a period when you’ll be really busy with other work. If you have an online community, it’s a good idea to announce a few months early to give them a chance to pre-order and get excited about the book. Perhaps you want to do an ‘unboxing’ video, where you share a video of you seeing your finished book for the first time. If you’re working with a publisher, they should help you put together a strategic plan for your announcement.  And don\'t forget to take some time to celebrate your achievement! Celebrate in whichever way suits you. Have a party, spend a cosy night in, or, for a nice change, order a takeaway instead of being the one who does the cooking! Frequently Asked Questions How Do I Write My First Cookbook?  Choose your concept carefully, start with a detailed plan and immerse yourself in the cookbook market. Think carefully about the structure and layout. Keep your audience in mind at every stage. Involve other people in your project if you can – whether that’s by bouncing ideas, recipe testing, checking and editing recipes or giving you their honest feedback.   Can Anyone Write A Cookbook?  Yes! Nothing is stopping you. You don’t need to be a trained chef or have worked in the food industry, as successful home cooks and cookery writers Jack Monroe, Nigella Lawson, and Nigel Slater have proved. You just need a lot of passion for food and a great concept that resonates with a readership. And in a competitive market, you need to inject something fresh and new.  How Do You Structure A Cookbook?  Most cookbooks include around four or five recipe chapters, but this is very much an individual approach. You can choose how to structure your cookbook best according to your concept and readership. If you can, try to spread out the recipes evenly through the chapters so you don’t end up with a super short or long chapter. As long as the recipes are clearly signposted and easy to follow, the rest is up to you.   How Many Recipes Should Be In A Cookbook?  The standard expectation is that a cookbook should have between 70 and 100 recipes, but larger compendiums have at least 200. Think carefully about how many you want to include. You might want to save some back for cookbook number two!  Creating A Cookbook  Hopefully, this guide has given you the inspiration and tools to start writing your own cookbook. Feel free to express your style of cooking, and let your voice shine through. The best cookbooks are as much about the people and stories behind the food as the recipes themselves.  

How To Write Fantasy: A Guide To Enthralling Your Readers

Everyone loves a great fantasy story; from classics such as The Hobbit, Alice\'s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Lion, The Witch, And the Wardrobe, to recent bestsellers such as Her Majesty\'s Royal Coven, Nevernight, and Cinderella Is Dead, there\'s something for everyone. I\'m the author of six fantasy books and have been writing this genre for over eight years. There\'s nothing I love more than bringing the impossible to life! Although writing fantasy can be so much fun, for first-time fantasy writers it can also be a little overwhelming. So in this article, I will be sharing my top tips as to what makes a great fantasy book, and what to avoid. I will also be explaining how to write fantasy plots, craft characters, and build your fantastical worlds. Before we start, let\'s talk genre... What Is The Fantasy Genre? Fantasy fiction, in short, is fiction that centres around the impossible. That can include everything from talking animals, time travel, parallel universes, mythical beasts, and of course a compelling fantasy world full of magic. Fantasy novels and sci-fi are often confused with one another as both genres involve things that don\'t exist in the modern world. The easiest way to differentiate the two is to remember that sci-fi tends to revolve around science and the environment (including dystopian end-of-the-world storylines, aliens, adventures in space, and anything involving technology), whereas fantasy is magical. Good old-fashioned magic that has no grounding in science. Fantasy Subgenres Fantasy is a very broad term that describes all fantastical literature, but as you can imagine there\'s a big difference between a book set in an imaginary world full of elves and dragons, and a book set in today\'s world but with characters that happen to be able to do magic. This is why, with such a vast array of fantasy books available, the genre is split up into many subgenres (all of which apply to children\'s books, middle grade and young adult categories). High/ Epic Fantasy Low Fantasy Portal Fantasy Urban Fantasy / Contemporary Fantasy Paranormal / Paranormal Romance Fantasy Romance Superhero fantasy Sword and Sorcery / Heroic Fantasy Medieval Fantasy / Arthurian Fantasy Historical Fantasy Comic Fantasy Science Fantasy Grimdark Fantasy Gothic Fantasy / Dark Fantasy The New Weird Speculative Fiction Horror / The Gothic Fairy Tales / Fables/ Fairy Tale Retellings Dystopian Fiction Magical Realism Let us look in more detail at the three fantasy subgenres - epic fantasy, paranormal, and Gothic. High/Epic Fantasy According to The A to Z of Fantasy Literature,  \"high fantasy\" was coined by Lloyd Alexander in 1971 and was further developed by Kenneth J. Zahorski and Robert H. Boyer, who stated that \"high fantasy consists entirely of fiction set in secondary worlds, while the \'low fantasy\' with which it is immediately contrasted consists of fiction set in the primary world.\" In other words, high fantasy novels contain very few things you may expect to find in the modern world. Instead of guns and cars, the bad guy may use magic and a flying monster to kill on the move. Instead of living in houses, the characters may live in holes in the ground, caves, or tree structures. Instead of being human, the book cast may be made up of elves, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical beasts (or creatures the author has made up themselves). Because of the limitless possibilities in regards to what these worlds can contain, not to mention the world-building and backstories required to make them come to life, many high/epic fantasy novels are part of a fantasy series and they often contain an extremely high word count. Examples Of Epic Fantasy Novels A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis Eragon by Christopher Paolini Strange The Dreamer byLaini Taylor The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas Paranormal / Supernatural Fantasy Paranormal fantasy includes supernatural elements. Instead of dragons and elves, you may have vampires, zombies, witches, werewolves, ghosts and any other creature that uses magic or defies death. Normally these creatures persecute humans, and they can often live in the modern world. Other times the paranormal elements may be combined with genres such as romance, history, horror, and urban fantasy. In my series, The Path Keeper (N J Simmonds), I have angels living amongst us. And in my co-written, paranormal romance novel Vampires of Moscow (Caedis Knight), our protagonist is a truth-seeking witch and undercover journalist investigating crimes in Russia\'s paranormal hidden world. Examples Of Paranormal Fantasy Novels The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman A Song Below Water byBethany C. Morrow Pet Sematary by Stephen King Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead City of Bones by Cassandra Clare The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion Gothic Fantasy The term \'gothic\' in fiction is generally applied to fantasy and horror. With fantasy, the \'fear and haunting\' aspect is connected to something supernatural and not of this world. Whereas with horror, it doesn\'t have to have a paranormal element to it, the eeriness may simply be attributed to the protagonist\'s psychological fears or another human. For instance, the gothic novels Rebecca and Wuthering Heights are categorised as such due to the characters feeling haunted and the setting being so remote. But nothing fantastical is at play. Generally, gothic fantasy books are set somewhere creepy; a forest, an old mansion, a deserted manor house, or a windswept, secluded location. Gothic fantasy either involves magic and/or supernatural beings - think witches, vampires, or even a portal to another world. Many gothic classics have been retold by contemporary writers and given a fantastical twist (this is very popular in YA). An example of this is Within These Wicked Walls(Lauren Blackwood) - an Ethiopian retelling of Jane Eyre. Examples Of Gothic Fantasy Novels Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern Dracula by Bram Stoker Gallant by V E Schwab Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo The Lighthouse Witches by C J Cooke Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Fantasy Writing Styles If you are about to start writing your first fantasy novel you may well be a little intimidated by the task ahead of you. With so many fantastic fantastical novels gracing the bookshelves, it\'s hard to choose what kind of voice and style you would like to give to your work. Luckily, like with most books, your fantasy writing style can vary. There are no set rules as to how to write a fantasy novel. Let\'s take a look at some of the different ways you can approach your story. You Can Be Wise And Poetic “Stories have changed, my dear boy,” the man in the grey suit says, his voice almost imperceptibly sad. “There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case. There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficult to recognize for what they are. And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep overlapping and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where any of them may lead. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey.” The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern You Can Be Witty And Satirical Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying \'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH\', the paint wouldn\'t even have time to dry. Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett You Can Write From Multiple Points Of View (George R R Martin writes from 9 points of view in A Game of Thrones, and many more as the series progresses) \"I don\'t even know who my mother was,\" Jon said. \"Some woman, no doubt. Most of them are.\" He favored Jon with a rueful grin. \"Remember this, boy. All dwarfs may be bastards, yet not all bastards need be dwarfs.\" And with that he turned and sauntered back into the feast, whistling a tune. When he opened the door, the light from within threw his shadow clear across the yard, and for just a moment Tyrion Lannister stood tall as a king. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin You Can Go Back And Forth Through Time Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting. Why has he gone where I cannot follow? The Time Traveler\'s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger The Only Limit Is Your Imagination If anything, fantasy allows you even more creative ways to write your story as there are no limitations in terms of what is realistic. As long as your book makes sense within the parameters of your own world lore, your own rules, then you are free to be as expressive as you like. You want to write your story from the the point of view of a dragon? Go for it. You want to tell the story in three different ways, as it plays out across three different parallel universes? Why not? You want to include weather that doesn\'t even exist? Eat your heart out! Let\'s take a look at some of the fun things famous fantasy writers have done to make their work memorable and unique: J R R Tolkien created a whole new language in Lord of the Rings. Terry Pratchett had Death talking in capital letters and desperate for a vacation in Mort. Dhonielle Clayton created tiny mini pets, like elephants, that were small enough to fit in teacups in The Belles. Lewis Carroll featured a giant caterpillar smoking a hookah in Alice\'s Adventures in Wonderland. Stephanie Meyer didn\'t keep her vampires out of the sun for fear of death in Twilight, but instead made them sparkle. How Many Words Is A Fantasy Novel? The answer to this is, \'a lot more words than most genres.\' Writing fantasy means creating creatures, worlds, names, words and magical elements that don\'t already exist in reality, not to mention conducting a ton of research. For that reason alone, this genre takes a lot longer to write and tends to be a lot chunkier. Word Counts Of Famous Fantasy Novels Here are a few examples of fantasy word counts: Harry Potter and The Philosopher\'s Stone - 77,000 Storm Front - 84,000 A Song Below Water - 101,000 The Raven Boys - 113,000 Graceling - 114,000 Six of Crows - 137,000 Eragon - 156,000 The Magicians - 157,000 Eye of the Word - 310,000 And these are just standalone fantasy books (middle grade and YA books being somewhat fewer words than adult fantasy or epic fantasy). A series can be a lot longer! What Do Agents And Editors Look For? My own trilogy included 116,000 words for The Path Keeper, 125,000 for Son of Secrets, and a whopping 148,000 words for Children of Shadows. It\'s normal for book-length to grow as the series does. Although do note that most agents and editors aren\'t interested in looking at a fantasy novel that exceeds 120,000 words. So if this is your first book, try and keep the word count as low as possible. 100,000 is a good number. 5 Things That Make A Great Fantasy Novel With so much to consider when it comes to penning your fantasy story, the number one thing you need to do is grab your reader\'s attention. But fantasy readers have expectations, and there are five crucial things they all expect the fantasy novel to contain. 1. Magic Systems This is such an important element because you can\'t have a fantasy story with no magic. From middle grade series, like Harry Potter, to the science fantasy, such as Star Wars, every well-loved fantasy story includes some kind of magic. So think carefully as to how yours works. The good news is that you don\'t have to stick to any preconceived ideas of what magic is. Your characters don\'t have to use wands. Maybe they are able to steal magic from others, or they\'re on a quest to find it, or it arrives in a gift-wrapped box on their birthday. Maybe the magic is passed down through generations, or it only works for a day, or perhaps everyone in their community has a different ability. Whatever you choose to do, the most important part of creating a magic system is that you are consistent and those reading your novel have a clear idea of how the magic works. 2. World Building A fantasy novel is generally set in either a fictional universe or it\'s full of magical elements intertwined in real life. I could write an entire article about fantasy world-building - but for now, I\'ll stick to the basics. When creating an imaginary world it\'s fundamentally important to know everything about it. Changes are you won\'t use 90% of your information, but to know it means your story will be more believable. It doesn\'t matter if your world is another planet, somewhere like Middle Earth, or our own world but with hidden supernatural portals - a believable world is what will keep readers hooked. Connect with all five senses, think about who lives there, how that world functions, how your characters interact with it, and how to tie it into the story. 3. Complex Cast Of Characters Whether your book features humans, supernatural entities, or mythical creatures, a good fantasy novel needs believable characters that readers can empathise with. No one is going to relate to a blue-skinned werewolf who eats worms - but perhaps they will if that werewolf is trying to protect its young or has been rejected by a love interest. So whatever your cast of characters looks like, make sure you add a little humanity to them so your readers still root for them. 4. The Quest No fantasy novel is complete without the hero\'s journey; your main character needs a challenge, a quest, a problem... because your book is about them trying to solve it. It\'s as easy (and as complicated) as that. Character development is key to all stories, but never more so than in this genre. So think about the character\'s arc. Who they are before they set out on their mission should be very different to who they are when the quest has been fulfilled. When writing a series, it always helps to know what will happen in the last book so that everything you are working towards comes together at the end. Every book has a beginning, middle, and end - and the entire series should too. This means you may need one overarching theme for the series, with each book focusing on individual battles/quests/challenges ultimately leading to your character reaching their final goal. 5. Nemesis - Good Vs Evil Every fantasy story needs a baddie or someone/something to rebel against and fear. That may be the government or king, it may be a physical monster, or perhaps even Satan himself. A nemesis is a great foil character too. Their evil attributes should highlight the hero\'s worthy attributes. Your main character should still be flawed, no one is perfect, but ultimately good must overcome evil. 5 Things That Make A Fantasy Novel Bad Many a novice writer makes the fundamental mistake of coming up with a great idea and jumping straight into the deep end of their book. Fantasy stories need planning, research, and lots of time. The deeper you go, the stronger the story. Here are some common mistakes. 1. Lack Of Consistency When writing fantasy it\'s a lot harder to write freely without having an end goal. By all means, you can do that when you\'re still at the exploration stage, but there are so many fantastical elements to keep track of (where your book is set, magical elements, character building, myths, monsters) that it\'s too easy to confuse yourself. When you confuse yourself, you confuse the reader. Or worse, they get bored and stop reading! So make extensive notes about how your magic works, list key names and places, draw pictures and maps, create mood boards, and ensure you are consistent throughout. 2. Too Many / Not Enough Tropes There are no consistent rules in writing, but readers of certain genres do expect to see the tropes they love. If your fantasy story doesn\'t have enough tropes, readers will be left disappointed. Likewise, if your fantasy characters are predictable and the book reads like a long list of unoriginal scenarios, that\'s just boring. Try and get the balance right! Popular Fantasy Tropes Damsel In Distress The Secret Heir Mistaken Identity Nemesis Dead Parents/Loved Ones. Dark Lord Training Sequences The Quest Good vs Evil Magic! Mix it up and play about with tropes. Perhaps the damsel in distress rescues herself, or the monster is the good guy and the wise sage is not on the hero\'s side, or the hero IS the Dark Lord. 3. No Visuals Fantasy readers love to be thrown into a magical world they\'ve never encountered before - but sometimes it\'s hard to imagine it. This is why fan art is so popular in this genre. A good fantasy book needs a great cover designer (this goes for self-publishing as well as traditional) and if possible a map of your kingdom(s). Even if the diagrams and pictures are just on your author website. Many great books include visuals that look like medieval maps - personally, I love them even more if the sea includes giant squid! 4. Prejudice Fantasy authors are often influenced by the classics, but a lot of prejudice can be found in older books that readers (quite rightly) don\'t want to read today. This is where beta readers and sensitivity readers come in. Be careful when explaining characteristics and skin colour, even having the bad guy wearing black and the good guy wearing white can be problematic. Also be careful about cultural appropriation in terms of setting, characteristics, customs, and attributes. 5. Bad Pacing A good fantasy story needs to keep you hooked from the beginning to the very end. That means your pacing needs to be right. Fantasy stories need to show the following, in this order: Set the scene (What is the hero\'s life like? What does they have to lose?) Show the inciting incident (What is the challenge they have been set?) Step into another world (Sometimes literally, sometimes in terms of a new experience or journey) Introduce new characters (Companion, nemesis, wise sage etc) Face challenges and obstacles... (Training, battles, monsters) ...interspersed with calmer moments (Introspection, dialogue, romance scenes, false hope) Lose it all (Someone dies, the hero fails, they no longer want to carry on) Find courage (Draw from what they have learned on their journey, help from unexpected places) Achieve their goal (Beat the baddie, find the treasure, rescue their love, save the world) Return home a changed person (Here we must see how the hero has changed and also mirror the opening scene) If you dwell too long on any of these scenes or rush past any crucial steps, the story will lose its flow. No one wants to read a battle scene that lasts for 5 chapters or read 300 pages building up to a kiss that never happens. So consider pacing when plotting your novel and ensure everything happens at exactly the right time, for exactly the right amount of time. Frequently Asked Questions What Are The 5 Elements Of Fantasy? Magic System World Building Complex Characters The Quest Good vs Evil How Do You Write A Fantasy Character? Fantasy characters need to be larger than life, which means you can really go to town and be inventive. Give characters creative/unusual names. Give them interesting skills or powers. Make sure they are all different to one another (what characteristics do they have that make them unique?) Ensure that by the end of the book they have changed/learned a lesson. Don\'t be cliche or prejudiced when describing culture, physical features, and customs. If they are not human, ensure they still have some humanity to them so readers can empathise and relate. Make your hero likeable - even if they are flawed. We need to want them to win! What Is A Fantasy Example? The dictionary definition of \'fantasy\' is: The creative imagination; unrestrained fancy. To imagine; visualise. An unnatural or bizarre mental image; illusion; phantasm. In other words, fantastical literature involves any type of person, magic, or world that couldn\'t/doesn\'t exist in our own known reality; magical powers, monsters and creatures from your own imagination, everyday things/people/animals doing things they don\'t normally do (growing, talking, floating) and worlds that are unlike our own. When writing fantasy, the possibilities are endless! Time To Get Writing If you have managed to get to the end of this very long article then congratulations, you are now ready to tackle your fantasy novel or short stories like a pro. I hope you found it useful. Good luck and have fun - a whole new magical world of novel writing awaits you!
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