September 2022 – Jericho Writers
Jericho Writers
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Best of Both Worlds: Peter Gibbons’ Success in Traditional and Self-Publishing

Peter Gibbons taught himself everything there is to know about writing and self-publishing, using our Manuscript Assessment service to refine his work. His Viking Blood and Blade books became Amazon Bestsellers and received numerous Kindle All-Star Awards. More recently, his self-published book King of War was shortlisted for the Kindle Storyteller Literary Award 2022.  And if that wasn\'t enough, Peter\'s first traditionally published book is out with Boldwood Books in October 2022. We caught up with him to find out about his journey into self-publishing, and how to harness your self-motivation to get your book finished. JW: Tell us a bit about your background as a writer. When did you start writing, and how did you find the process once you’d started?  I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child, but had never done anything about it. I am a huge fan of historical fiction and fantasy novels, as well as historical non-fiction books. Writing was something I felt I had the skills and imagination to be good at, but life got in the way and I had never actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). In my day job I head up a global sales function for a large insurance company, and I’m married with three kids - so free time is at a premium. Those elements can be, however, excuses not to write. Here’s something I figured out by training and running the Dublin Marathon six years ago: there is time in everyone’s day if you want something badly enough. During the Covid lockdowns, I gave up physical training and decided to use that time to try and write a book. So, I just sat down and wrote it. I got up at 5.45am each day and wrote for an hour and a half each morning. The words poured out, and I wrote very much in the “pantser” style. Eventually the word count was huge and the story was finished. I\'d written a Viking Historical Fiction novel, which it turned out I didn’t want to share or show to anyone – that’s something I’m sure will resonate with many first-time writers.    There is time in everyone’s day if you want something badly enough. JW: What prompted you to have your manuscript professionally assessed?   My first draft manuscript was an odyssey of multiple points of view, sprawling journeys, and battles. I feared that, although I had accomplished my goal, what I had written was not very good. That’s when I came across the various tools and services available via Jericho Writers. On the website, I found blogs on plot structure, character development, and advice on POV characters. I had no knowledge or experience of any of these important elements, and so I worried that my precious manuscript was, in fact, a bit rubbish. So I invested in the Jericho Writers Manuscript Assessment service. I had been heavily consuming all the info available on the website, and the assessment seemed like the best next logical step to get an honest review of my work by a professional. The feedback came back, and it was candid, challenging, and amazing.  I needed to ditch at least one POV character, learn about story structure, cut around one-third of the story, and the novel started in the wrong place. I acted on the advice, and have never looked back.  The assessment seemed like the best next logical step to get an honest review of my work by a professional. JW: Why did you decide to self-publish your work? In what ways has it been the best route for you? After working through three further drafts, I submitted the manuscript to a couple of agents but received no replies. I did that mainly because I was completely unaware that self-publishing existed. Once I discovered that, and understood its power and opportunity, I decided to self-publish what became Viking Blood and Blade, my debut novel. . I realised that with self-publishing I could be the master of my own destiny: I wanted to be a writer, and I didn’t have to wait for approval or acceptance from any industry gatekeepers. I could just do it. And so, I set about learning everything I could about the key elements of self-publishing and building up a playbook that would drive my novel to success. I realised that with self-publishing I could be the master of my own destiny: I wanted to be a writer, and I didn’t have to wait for approval or acceptance from any industry gatekeepers. JW: How did you find the initial steps of self-publishing (building a mailing list, getting reviews, etc.)? Do you have any advice for authors embarking on these first steps?  Advice on how to put together the elements required for a successful self-published book is available on the Jericho Writers website, and elsewhere online. I set a target number of reviews I wanted to get within the first month, set up a pre-order and a free offer, and then engaged with book promotion sites. I also worked at setting up a simple website using Wordpress with a mailing list and call to action. All of these things were new to me, but actually getting each element up and running was fairly intuitive.  My advice to authors starting out is to make sure you do the basics, and do it in a simple way that you can then build upon. You need a good book, a strong cover, solid metadata, a website, and a mailing list capture service.  JW: Once you’ve started to build some success in self-publishing, what’s the best way to hold on to it? How can you make it sustainable?  This one is simple - keep on writing, release more books in a series, engage with your audience and learn how to master Amazon/Facebook ads.  So for any new or aspiring writers out there, I would say that your reach is within your grasp. Do allyou can to write your best book, follow the advice and get the basics right - invest some time inyourself and your ambitions. Good luck! About Peter Peter Gibbons is an Insurance Professional and author of the highly acclaimed Viking Blood and Blade trilogy. His new Saxon Warrior series is set around the 900 AD Viking invasion during the reign of King Athelred the Unready. The first title of the new series, Warrior and Protector, will be published in October 2022 by Boldwood Books. Peter originates from Warrington and now lives with his family in County Kildare. Get Viking Blood and Blade on Amazon. Get Warrior and Protector on Amazon.

Speculative Fiction: Depicting Imaginative Realms

For many of us, books and reading provide a means of both leisure and pleasure- a way to escape the everyday and into the world of literature. This is no truer than in speculative fiction. A collection of genres that puts the ‘creative’ in creative writing, the imaginative nature of speculative fiction sets our minds free to envision worlds, people and cultures different from our own. It’s the broad-mindedness that results from such thinking that makes speculative fiction so truly special.   In this article, we’ll cover:   What is speculative fiction (and what isn’t)?  The history of speculative fiction  Subgenres of speculative fiction  Examples of speculative fiction  How to write speculative fiction  Top tips for speculative fiction writing  Frequently asked questions (FAQs)  So, just what is speculative fiction, and how can you depict imaginative realms in your own stories?   What Is Speculative Fiction?  Speculative fiction is an umbrella term, or ‘super-genre’, for genre fiction about things that don’t exist in our world. It asks questions, and often the question is, ‘what if?’. Contemporary speculative fiction has subgenres like science fiction (sci-fi), fantasy, dystopian fiction and more.   Historically, speculative fiction has been a nebulous literary term. We’ll look at why in ‘The History Of Speculative Fiction’ below, but for now, it’s a term that’s evolved since its inception, progressing alongside the novels it aims to describe. Even today, there’s still debate about what is considered speculative fiction.   For example, Margaret Atwood states that ‘speculative fiction is a way of dealing with possibilities that are inherent in our society now, but which have not yet been fully enacted’. Atwood, with speculative fiction successes like The Handmaid’s Tale, is certainly an authority; and yet at the same time, we must acknowledge that such definitions limit speculative fiction to ideas overtly grounded in real-world context. As a result, this omits secondary-world stories like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (despite its setting being ‘Middle-earth’), which fantasy fans might argue firmly belongs in the realm of the speculative.   This is where definitions of speculative fiction diverge, and it comes down to a question of emphasis. Revisiting our definition above, if your focus is on ‘things that don’t exist in our world’, then like Atwood, you may prefer the challenges of a narrower definition. If, however, your focus is ‘things that don’t exist in our world’, then it’s likely your interests sit at the broader end of the speculative spectrum.   When it comes to a term that’s as fluid and eclectic as speculative fiction is, perhaps a better question to ask is: what isn’t speculative fiction?   What Is Not Speculative Fiction?  Speculative fiction represents concepts that err outside the bounds of our real world in some way, whether great or small. So, what doesn’t speculative fiction cover? Here are three examples:   Historical fiction where the only speculative element is a fictional character that doesn’t affect chronicled events.  Horror fiction with fictional antagonists that aren’t paranormal in nature — think serial killers as opposed to vampires, werewolves, zombies etc.   ‘Mundane science fiction’, a sci-fi subgenre founded by Geoff Ryman and the Clarion West Class of 2004, which limits its scope to Earth-based worlds, no aliens or interstellar travel, and only pre-existing or plausible technology. This is akin to hard science fiction, which focuses on technical accuracy.   If you’re into sci-fi, Ryman and co.’s ‘Mundane Manifesto’ is brilliant (case in point: calling the genre’s tropes a “bonfire of the stupidities”). Definitely recommended reading.   The topic of sci-fi is an excellent segue back into the history of speculative fiction, so let’s take a brief look at that now.   The History Of Speculative Fiction   The idea behind speculative fiction — to ask ‘what if?’, and remark on a world that may have been, that is or that could be — is one that goes back to the classics.   A well-cited example is Medea, a tragedy by ancient Greek playwright Euripides, who explored the sorceress Medea murdering her own children for revenge — whereas in versions of the legend, she was not directly responsible. Euripides used speculation to write an alternate history.   A less famous example is the cleverly-titled novella A True Story, a fiction work by Lucian of Samosata in the second century. Similar to Euripides, Lucian was an ancient Greek writer, but one who speculated on fantastical space travel and war, not to mention aliens. Lucian became the first writer of his time to openly pen fiction (and satirical fiction at that, given the title vs. topics).   Another example is Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night\'s Dream, which unites the Greek hero Theseus of Athens, the Amazonian Queen Hippolyta, and King Oberon and Queen Titania of the Fairies alongside other characters. Nowadays, the play is known as speculative fiction, despite the phrase not existing then.   Bonus example: I’m going to add one more here, simply because it’s amazing. Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World is a speculative work from 1666 about a utopian society, accessible through a portal in the North Pole. Utter genius.   The term ‘speculative fiction’ was eventually coined by author Robert Heinlein in 1941 and publicised in his 1947 essay, On the Writing of Speculative Fiction. Heinlein, a science fiction writer, argued that unlike the pulp sci-fi of his time, speculative fiction focused on human-centred reactions to posed scientific or technological problems, and deserved the artistic merit of literary fiction. Sci-fi’s close association with speculative fiction is largely thanks to Heinlein.   As successful authors like Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Guin weighed in on such delineations (Le Guin has argued for abandoning genres altogether), speculative fiction expanded into particular genres like fantasy, dystopian fiction and more. Today, speculative fiction’s family of subgenres make it a broad literary term in keeping with the evolution of its stories. It’s to these subgenres that we’ll turn next.   Subgenres Of Speculative Fiction  Science Fiction  Given sci-fi’s relationship to speculative fiction, it’s a good subgenre to start with. Science fiction with speculative elements uses advanced technology like interstellar travel, which can lead to encounters with extraterrestrials. It employs tropes like teleportation, parallel worlds or alternate universes, time travel and even magic; space operas, as a subset of sci-fi stories, are particularly grand in scale. Such speculative leaps are precisely what mundane sci-fi opposes, as they’re deemed too unlikely to ever happen in the real world.   Fantasy Fiction  Fantasy is a purely speculative genre of fiction, where concepts are fantastical because of the inclusion of magical powers, mythical creatures etc. Like sci-fi, fantasy exists on a spectrum from low fantasy based in the real world, to high or epic fantasy (eg. ‘sword and sorcery’ fantasy) set in alternate or secondary worlds. Fantasy fiction also includes many subgenres like dark fantasy, fables, fairy tales, urban fantasy and magical realism.   Science Fiction Fantasy   As you might guess, sci-fi fantasy is a blend of science fiction and fantasy stories, wherein the sci-fi also has fantasy elements such as magic and myth.   Superhero Fiction  While we’re still thinking about sci-fi, consider superhero fiction like DC’s alien superhero Superman, or Marvel’s many superheroes eg. the Avengers. While tales about beings with superhuman powers fighting evil supervillains could easily be categorised as fantasy or paranormal, superhero stories have become a behemoth in their own right — just look at the world’s devoted comic-based fandoms.   Paranormal Fiction  Similar to superhero fiction, paranormal fiction could also be classed as fantasy, but the sheer volume of topics and titles has culminated in its own recognised genre. Paranormal fiction tells of secret phenomena that generally defy science and the natural world, involving creatures from fables, folklore, fairy tales and pop culture eg. vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches. It can also include psychic abilities like levitation and telepathy. This particular genre has many subgenres, such as paranormal romance, which has produced multiple international bestsellers, particularly in the young adult (YA) category.   Supernatural Fiction  Like the paranormal genre, supernatural fiction also eludes scientific explanation, focusing on death and the afterlife — with heavenly deities like gods/goddesses and angels, as well as resurrection, reincarnation and the soul. Subgenres include supernatural horror and thrillers; ghost, gothic and weird fiction; and anything else of a spiritual nature that morphs into the macabre.   Utopian Fiction  Utopian fiction centres on the concept of an ideal world, and the potential impact of human beings on these seemingly perfect civilisations.   Dystopian Fiction  Conversely, dystopian novels depict governments and societies, often totalitarian, where people’s suffering is as rampant as the injustice at its core. Such speculative literature often sets stories in places not normally equated with bleak future states.   Apocalyptic Fiction  Apocalyptic fiction involves disasters that end in large-scale population death and destruction. Stories involve catastrophic events like meteorological disasters, nuclear wars or pandemic diseases, centring on characters fighting to survive.   Post-Apocalyptic Fiction  If the apocalyptic genre is ‘before’, then post-apocalyptic fiction is the ‘after’ of these monumentally devastating events. Any characters that survived must now learn to endure the consequences of the apocalypse, which can range from a nuclear holocaust to societal breakdown, and may include paranormal aspects.   Alternate History Fiction  As we saw in Euripides’ Medea, alternate history fiction provides a fork in the road to explore historical events and their potential for lives unled.   Examples Of Speculative Fiction  The Expanse Series By James S. A. Corey  This hard sci-fi modern classic, starting with the first novel Leviathan Wakes, speculates about humans colonising the solar system without interstellar travel eg. Mars and the Asteroid Belt beyond it — but with Earth and Mars in conflict.   A Song Of Ice And Fire Series By George R. R. Martin  We’ve already mentioned Tolkien, so let’s look at Martin’s epic fantasy works, also known as the TV adaptation Game of Thrones. You can’t get more speculative than situating this fictional ‘War of the Roses’ alongside dragons, sorcery and ice zombies.   Dune Series By Frank Herbert  An older classic and fantastical space opera, the titular first novel and its series are a sci-fi fantasy of grandeur. Unlike The Expanse, Dune does have interstellar travel, as well as magic, alien sandworms, a prophecy and the mystical Spice Melange.   Warbringer By Leigh Bardugo  YA fantasy bestseller Bardugo picks up the mantle of depicting Wonder Woman in a comic novelisation of Diana’s origin story. Prior to becoming the superheroine we all know and love, the novel sees her befriend a descendant of Helen of Troy.   The Vampire Chronicles Series By Anne Rice  Before the TV series hits our screens, revisit Rice’s fully-realised paranormal world of vampire mythology in the series’ first novel Interview With The Vampire, which is not only a cultural phenomenon but also a masterwork of the genre.   The Call Of Cthulhu And Other Weird Stories By H. P. Lovecraft  Lovecraft’s supernatural The Call of Cthulhu is one of his best-known stories, and features a kraken-like creature with wings — complete with a cult of worshippers — and the power to drive people insane through subconscious control.   Gulliver\'s Travels By Jonathan Swift  A stinging satire of adventure travel that helped birth the novel format, Swift’s protagonist journeys to far-flung locales where he meets philosophers, scientists, mages, immortals, and intellectually superior horses ruling over humans.  1984 By George Orwell  You could well argue there’s no more relevant dystopian tale than Orwell’s 1984 — and we’re 38 years on from that fateful year. Yet here we are, still grappling with the same totalitarian fears; the unfortunate hallmark of a truly well-crafted tale.   World War Z By Max Brooks  Given the last example, it’s not surprising we’ve made it to the zombie apocalypse; though Brooks’ novel is simultaneously post-apocalyptic, with its 10-year span that begins with rumours of a new pandemic from China (sound familiar?).   The Stand By Stephen King  Following on from a zombie pandemic, let’s get a little more real with fiction master King’s actual pandemic novel, a post-apocalyptic tale of an influenza-based plague that (wait for it) kills 99.4% of the population. Cue civilisation imploding.   The Man In The High Castle By Philip K. Dick  Finally, we end on an alternate history classic, with Dick speculating, ‘what if Germany had won World War II?’. The answer to this question sets the novel in an America where New York is Nazi territory and Japan rules over California.   How To Write Speculative Fiction  Now that we’re clear on what speculative fiction is (and what it isn’t), how do you go about creating these world-bending stories for yourself?   Here are our 5 steps to writing speculative fiction:   1. Form Your Idea  Your first step is to identify an idea for a story. Speculative fiction deals in ‘what if’s, so let’s start there. Here’s an example you may already be familiar with.  Margaret Atwood’s idea for The Handmaid’s Tale came from a conversation with a friend in the 1980s about feminism and women being outside the home, and those who wanted to reverse the trend. Atwood wondered what it would take to do that, and in answering her question, the world of Gilead and its handmaids was born.   Whether you subscribe to Atwood’s definition of speculative fiction or not, mining current events, society, culture, and the latest research for good ideas to build a concept from will grant you many an interesting ‘what if’ to ponder.   2. Do Your Research  Despite the fantastical nature of speculative fiction, if your story is in any way based on the real world, it’s likely you’ll need to do some research, such as when writing sci-fi stories inspired by science or technology. Not all science fiction will need this as a prerequisite, but grounding such stories with real things tends to strengthen them.   There’s also a point to be made here about sensitivity. If you’re broaching topics that involve those in a minority, potentially triggering subjects or cultural taboos, it’s important to do your due diligence as a professional in the writing community. And that means doing your research and crafting authentic portrayals.   3. Build Your World  If you’re like me, this is the fun part. World-building, particularly in fantasy, looks top-down at the world you’re creating — from the realm’s geography, to its people and civilisations. This also includes society, politics, the economy and technology; which in turn means defining warfare, and what magic or myths to include.   That said, your world-building doesn’t need to be complex. The key is consistency, and rules with discernable stakes (which also aid your central conflict). Within the realm of the speculative, as in fantasy or dystopias, defining your magical systems or the rules your society is based on will help readers navigate your story.   For more on world-building, see our ‘Top Tips For Speculative Fiction Writing’ below in the section following this one.  4. Outline Your Story  So, you’ve got an idea, and you’ve done your research and world-building. Great! Now comes your story outline. This can be as simple or as granular as you like, depending on whether you’re a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’ when it comes to planning. Either way, the reason for outlining in speculative fiction is to clarify your world and its consequences for your characters, and then build your arc.   Think about the idea you’ve come up with and how it impacts your main character. Are they high or low on the food chain of the world you’ve developed? Where do you want them to end up, and how? What are the main problems that they’ll face? Asking yourself these questions will help you plan your story’s outline. Need help? Check out our article on plot points.   5. Write!  For the plotters amongst us, your research, world-building and outline should equip you with more than enough to get started. For the pantsers, this will be where you finally dispense with all the planning and just write. So, what are you waiting for?   Pro tip: Some people recommend writing first thing in the morning or late at night — essentially, when our thoughts are more free-flowing — for creative effect.   Top Tips For Speculative Fiction Writing  What if you really want to try your hand at speculative fiction- but you just can’t seem to make the words happen? We’ve got you covered.   Here are 3 more tips and tricks for writing speculative fiction stories:  1. Brainstorm   This is where you try and think of as many ideas as possible without judging them, then tease out the golden thread of a story. You don’t need to do it all in one sitting, but your goal is to look for new and unexpected combinations and connections.   One way to do this is by thinking about conversations eg. like Margaret Atwood, or eavesdropping on new ones in cafes, on public transport, at the park, anywhere; all for the sake of potential inspiration, and to get you asking questions that can lead to intriguing tangents, and eventually stories.   Here’s my own method: handwrite your brain dump of ideas, if you can, as there’s something about physically jotting them down; it probably facilitates the next step. Then, go do something else- ideally, something manual like cleaning, exercising, showering, or driving (Spielberg gets his best ideas on the road). And finally… wait. When your mind is quiet, like when meditating or on the verge of falling asleep, that’s when your best ideas will strike.   Or, why not use one of our sci-fi writing prompts or our fantasy prompts as a jumping-off point? 2. Research Building Your World  If going directly from researching to world-building is too much of a jump, don’t worry. The internet has a plethora of resources to help you build your world.   Brandon Sanderson, author of bestselling fantasy and sci-fi stories like the Mistborn series, has entire YouTube playlists devoted to his writing process. As part of his 2020 creative writing lectures at US Brigham Young University, check out his world-building part one and part two videos.   Another writer of bestselling speculative fiction eg. the Broken Earth trilogy, N.K. Jemisin is a fantasy and sci-fi author with superb educational content; her website hosts a great presentation from one of her webinars.   World Anvil is a resource I’ve been recommended on Twitter more times than I can count for world-building, whether for writing fiction or D&D-style RPGs (that’s ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ and role-playing games, for you non-nerds). A word of warning: get ready for more links than you can poke a sword at.   Why not check out our articles on world-building or have a look at our upcoming events or courses that will help you get started? 3. Read, Read, Read   This is a wonderful tip, particularly if speculative fiction is new to you (and if you’re a bookworm, all the better): immerse yourself in the greats. Writing isn’t just rewriting, as they say- it’s reading, and reading speculative classics, modern or otherwise, can give you the hit of inspiration you need to think outside the box. So, jump back to the ‘Examples Of Speculative Fiction’ above, and add them to your to-be-read (TBR) list for a heady dose of speculation. Frequently Asked Questions  What Is Speculative Fiction?  Speculative fiction refers to genre-based fiction with concepts grounded in things that don’t exist in the world as we know it. An umbrella term, it includes genres like fantasy, dystopian and science fiction (which it was originally associated with), and covers imaginative stories of conjecture that ask questions, particularly ‘what if?’. Speculative fiction has evolved since its twentieth-century inception to become the creative ‘super-genre’ it’s known as today.   What Is The Main Purpose Of Speculative Fiction?  The purpose of speculative fiction is, unsurprisingly, to speculate: to think, to guess,  and to ask questions (eg. ‘what if?’) of the world we live in, its history and its future. Speculative fiction then explores the answers to these questions through stories of varying imaginative degrees. Like reading more generally, speculative fiction can be a form of entertainment and escape. Where it differs from literary fiction is perhaps in its attempt to not only illuminate the human condition, but also challenge our own world views and understanding of them- with the goal of deeper personal insight.   What Is The Difference Between Science Fiction And Speculative Fiction?  Science fiction (sci-fi) is a genre within the ‘super-genre’ of speculative fiction, and tells stories about science and technology with outer space as a frequent theme. ‘Speculative fiction’ as a term has been strongly connected with science fiction since its inception and popularisation by Robert Heinlein in 1941 and 1947, who was himself a science fiction author. Heinlein argued that speculative fiction was a subset of sci-fi more slanted towards literary fiction, unlike the formulaic pulp sci-fi of his day. Today, speculative fiction has expanded to include genres like fantasy and more.   Is Magical Realism Speculative Fiction?  Magical realism, as a subgenre of fantasy fiction, can be classified, like fantasy and science fiction, under the broad ‘supergenre’ of speculative fiction. Magical realism can be speculative as the fantastical elements of such fictional worlds exist beyond the realm of our own. This, however, does depend on your definition of speculative fiction being less strict than author Margaret Atwood’s, which leans into real-world societal scenarios that have not yet come to pass (such as in her speculative novel and bestseller The Handmaid’s Tale).   Writing Speculative Fiction Stories As you’ve seen throughout this article, speculative fiction is a broad literary term. But more importantly, speculative fiction isn’t just an assortment of other genres- it’s a way of telling visionary stories that excite and inspire us as engaged readers, in a world that sometimes fails to. Speculative fiction highlights the awe of exploring other realms and other ideas, and in doing so, reflects something back to us: the limitless potential of the human imagination.   And, happily, that’s something we don’t need to speculate about.  

Writing Goals: Examples And Tips For Getting Started

If you\'re a writer who wants to move on to the next stage of your writing journey, there\'s no better time to set a writing goal than right now. Don\'t wait to make new year\'s resolutions, or until you reach a certain age, or when you have free time (you never will) - NOW is the time to set smart goals and progress with your writing journey. But where do you start? In this article, I\'ll demonstrate how to get a goal-setting process in place and how to create measurable goals, and I will provide you with a few examples of how each one can be achieved. Are you ready to become a better writer? Time to work towards that finish line! Why Writers Need A Writing Goal When writing a book, very few writers have the luxury of both time and a regular income to support them while they pen their bestselling novels. Most of us have to juggle a day job, childcare, and other constraints that get in the way of creativity and butt-in-seat writing. This is why we all need an actionable goal to strive for. It doesn\'t matter whether you enjoy writing poetry for fun, are looking to enter your short stories into a competition or two, or whether your ultimate aim is to be a full-time novelist, writer, or journalist - if you want to write, you need to get those words down on paper. But life isn\'t always that easy. Creativity can\'t be easily switched on and off... but, like anything, you CAN train yourself to be more productive. Different Types Of Writing Goals Every writer has a goal. For some of us, it\'s simply to get back to the book we put in the metaphorical drawer a year ago, for others it\'s to write five-hundred words a day or to get an agent. Whatever your writing dreams, no matter how big or small, every writing goal is achieved via small steps- smaller goals- that all lead to your final big dream. Let\'s take a look at four different types of writing goals. Long-Term Goals Many writers aim towards having a writing career. That can look very different for every person; from becoming a full-time, self-published author, to getting a great traditional book deal, or (like me) doing a bit of both alongside freelance and corporate writing. In order to complete a writing project, the first thing you need to do is establish all the manageable steps you need to achieve in order to reach your end goal. Larger goals, for example writing two books a year, can\'t be achieved overnight. But smaller ones, such as writing 2,000 words a day, can be done quite easily. See below for a 10-step guide to achieve just that! Motivation Related Goals Perhaps it\'s not getting words on paper, or monetary success, that you are aiming for. For many writers, their goals revolve around finding the focus and ideas they need to better their writing. Ideas don\'t come to everyone out of the blue; many people have to actively take the time and make the effort to think up their next great idea. Others may be experiencing writer\'s block or imposter syndrome and struggling to get back into the flow of writing again. Setting a goal of coming up with ideas, plotting, and planning is just as important as getting the words on paper. Time-Bound Goals For other writers, it\'s not writing skills or ideas that are getting in the way of achieving their goals - it\'s simply finding the time to make a dent in their manuscript. Writing within a tight time frame can put a lot of pressure on writers, especially those signed to a multi-book deal with agents and editors awaiting their next piece of work. In this guide, we will also be looking at how to manage your time and make enough space in your week to reach your goals. Specific Writing Goals Or perhaps you have a very specific writing goal. Regardless of your writing process, many writers have writing goals outside of their planned books that they wish to also fulfil. Perhaps it\'s to write their first screenplay, win an award, write more short stories, or simply achieve a better work/life/writing balance. Whatever your writing goal is, the following steps should help you understand where you are heading and how to get there in a manageable way. 10-Point Step-By-Step Process For Setting Writing Goals Anything is achievable if you plan for it! I have written thirteen novels and four manga stories in the last eight years, all while freelancing part-time, emigrating, and raising two children. And the only way I managed to get anything done was by setting goals. But setting a writing goal isn\'t simply telling yourself you will write a novel in the next six months. That is a big goal (and, for most, unrealistic). The secret is to set smaller goals, ones that are easier to achieve, and bit by bit reach your main goal. For example, in August 2021 I promised myself I was going to finish a new book, find an agent, and get a decent book deal. All of which I managed to do. But, much like setting any other goals in life, I had to approach them in a methodical way. Here\'s my 10-point step-by-step process: 1. Decide What Your Overall Goal Is What\'s your big goal? To have a finished manuscript? To find an agent? Or to have a career in writing full-time? Spend time thinking about this, because no matter how large your ambitions it\'s important to know in which direction you are heading. 2. Set Realistic Goals Next... be realistic. It\'s okay to have a lofty goal, as long as you don\'t beat yourself up when you don\'t achieve it overnight. The secret to success, any success, is setting smart goals. In this case, start with how long it will take you to plot your novel. Then set time aside to write it (I wrote mine quickly during NaNoWriMo - a free initiative that helps writers meet their word count and get their first draft completed in a month). You may decide to write 1,000 words a day, spend two hours an evening planning your book, or write every Saturday. Whatever you decide, make sure it\'s achievable and fits in with your life. 3. Find A System The next step is to keep track of your small steps (that will eventually lead to bigger steps). I like to use a notebook, others create charts or graphs in a bullet journal, an Excel spreadsheet, or download an App that will keep track of their day-by-day progress. 4. Pace Yourself This part is important. Steady wins the race! Big goals are great, but going too fast too quickly increases your chances of burning out or losing interest. Ensure your goal is a measurable goal, ie. aim for the same thing regularly (words written, time spent, agents approached) and take it step-by-step. To do that it helps to... 5. Be Accountable Personally, I love to go on Twitter and start an accountability thread. I also tell my other author friends that I plan to finish the first draft of my latest book by so-and-so date. I\'m sure no one really cares - but feeling as if people have expectations of me really spurs me on. Likewise, when I co-write with other authors, we keep one another accountable. If I tell my co-author I will have 2,000 words with her tomorrow, I won\'t let her down. So, see what (and who) keeps you on your toes! 6. Reward Yourself Each Step Of The Way Set a daily goal... and a weekly reward. Perhaps you colour in a square for every 1,000 words written and when you hit certain milestones you buy yourself a gift. Or you buy a box of chocolates but you can only eat one every 5,000 words. Or, as I do, simply bask in all the applause on Twitter as you announce that you have hit your weekly word count. 7. Don\'t Lose Hope All your goals are achievable as long as they are realistic and you stick to them, but often that steady pace can feel like you aren\'t getting anywhere. Much like when trying to stick to a healthy eating regime or training for a marathon, just because you miss a day of writing doesn\'t mean you should pack the whole lot in. Be kind to yourself! Create goals that are manageable, and if circumstances change then adjust your writing goals so they are easier to meet. 8. Eyes On Your Own Page In a world where we are bombarded with news of successful authors, or even our own peers announcing good news on social media, it\'s too easy to convince ourselves it will never be us. Believe me, there are enough writing opportunities out there for anyone and everyone who has the skills, passion and perseverance! So don\'t worry about what other writers are doing, what they are achieving, and what they are shouting about. Keep your eyes on your own paper - you only have yourself to compete with! 9. Be Proud Reaching the end of a chapter may not big a big achievement for one author, yet it may be a huge pat on the back for another. So be proud of yourself, no matter what goal you set yourself. When you get to the end of that first draft, even if it\'s really rough, you should celebrate. When you land an agent, get a book deal, or simply complete a writing course and better your craft - take a moment to look back and take note of how far you have come. Because with every goal met you are heading in the right direction! 10. Set A New Goal And finally, once you have achieved your goal, set other goals. Yep, more goals. New goals! Look at the specific goal you started with- your big dream- then treat each smart goal you set as a stepping stone to the final big one. With each step forward, with each goal you meet, you are getting closer and closer to the big one! 3 Things You Need To Meet Your Writing Goals A Support Network It\'s nigh on impossible to achieve anything in life without a support network; especially being an author. Writing can be a lonely and frustrating business. Unlike other jobs, you are rarely in an office, rarely working as a team, and your hard work (and even perceived success) is rarely reflected in your earning potential. The only way to keep going without losing hope is to have people around you who are in the same boat as you. There are many writing communities online and in person. Here\'s a list of ways to find other writers who are also trying to meet their writing goals: Join a Facebook writing group Join a local writing group Get active on the #writingcommunity Twitter hashtag Share your work on Wattpad and other free platforms Attend writing festivals Join writing communities (such as Jericho Writers\' Townhouse) Subscribe to writing magazines and take part in competitions Be Realistic To reach your writing goals you also need to have a strong grasp of reality. If you\'ve never written a novel before, you\'re unlikely to write a great first draft in three months (like an established author may do). And that\'s okay. If you have four children and work full time you\'re less likely to find the time and energy to write every day. You\'re still doing great. If you are mentally or physically struggling, you will have some days where you can\'t hit your word count. Not a problem. Also, the publishing industry is highly subjective and not a meritocracy. It doesn\'t matter how good you are, how hard you try, and how much you really want to be a published author - if agents and publishers don\'t think your book is what the public wants right now it won\'t get snapped up. Likewise, even published authors have no control over what publishing advance they get, how many copies of their books are sold, or whether their readers even like their books. All you can focus on are the words and how good they are! So remain pragmatic and, before setting your goals, be honest with yourself as to how many words you can really manage in a day or a week, and don\'t feel like a failure if it takes longer than planned. Patience & Kindness To be a writer that stays the course you need to be kind to yourself, which also means being patient. Believe me, as someone who has regular breakdowns and is currently in her second year of keeping a publishing secret, you really need to learn to go with the flow. So whether you are starting out as a writer and feel like your first writing project is going too slowly, or you\'re an established author trying to set new goals, be patient and give yourself a break. You deserve no less. Frequently Asked Questions What Are Some Smart Goals For Writing? The secret to setting effective writing goals is to decide what matters to you. Are you simply looking to finish your story? Or do you need to motivate yourself? The smartest way to set your goals is to evaluate what your current life looks like and see where you can fit in more writing. There\'s no point telling yourself that you must write 3,000 words a day if you work all day and study all night because you will forfeit rest and that will be counterproductive. So... Look at your life and see what will be manageable and when. Block time off per day (or week) to write/plan/plot/query/network (whatever you need to do) and stick to it. Let others in your life know what you are doing so they can support you. Reward yourself when you hit your milestones. Be flexible and kind to yourself if you don\'t reach them. How Do You Write Good Goals And Objectives? Keywords: Choose a verb like \'increase, decrease, maintain\' to help you set an overall goal. Such as \'increase my daily word count from 1,000 to 1,500 per day\'. Process: Create a system that works for you - whether that\'s a chart you fill in, a notebook you keep notes of your progress in, or an app that charts your success. Target: Specify the exact steps you need to take to achieve your goals. Deadline: Set a date for your goals so that you have something to strive for (and something to celebrate when you achieve it). And Finally... Keep going! Setting goals can be exhausting, and addictive, but ultimately they get you to where you need to be. It may take a year, it may take ten, it may take a lifetime... but while you are hitting small deadlines and achievable goals you are forever moving forward. And it\'s that constant forward momentum that brings hope, opportunity and - eventually - success!

UK Literary Agents For Fantasy Fiction

Have you just finished your novel and are ready to begin your search for an agent? Well, you’ve come to the right place.  WANT TO JUMP STRAIGHT TO THE AGENT LIST? CLICK HERE  Fantasy Fiction Over the years fantasy fiction has become one of the cornerstones of the book market. This competitive genre is brimming with big-selling fantasy novels. You only need to look at the fantasy fiction shelf in your local bookstore or the best seller list on Amazon to see authors like China Mieville, Neil Gaiman, and Iain Banks lining the charts.   Although fantasy has always been a popular genre, the nature of the genre means that we will continue to see new and fresh story ideas published. Think YA fantasy series A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas or Neil Gaiman’s short story piece Fragile Things to name a few. Its flexibility means that authors can continually explore their characters and the world they have created to the extremes. No book idea is the same.   To make sure your fantasy novel stands out from the slushpile try reading this article on world-building. You’ll also find this article on how to write a fantasy novel useful, too.   In a demanding, and often saturated, market there are still plenty of agents looking for the next big fantasy novel or series. Before querying your shortlist, make sure your opening chapters are perfect and your submission pack is tailored to your chosen agent. With such a popular genre the standard for submissions will be high, so don’t waste your opportunity.  AgentMatch And How To Use It There are plenty of fantasy-loving agents, but you won\'t want to approach them all. The best way to develop and refine your own shortlist of UK agents for fantasy is to visit AgentMatch, our literary agent database, and use the search tools on the left to make your selection.  With AgentMatch you can select by genre (e.g. fantasy), country, the agent’s level of experience, their appetite for new clients, and much more. You can even save your search results and come back to them, allowing you to work through them one by one, at your own pace. Each profile has been researched thoroughly including what agents like to read in their spare time, information on their most recent deals, manuscript wishlists, submission requirements, and exclusive interviews.  You can sign-up for a 7-day free trial which will give you a good feel for the data and functionality. Or join us as a premium member and get unlimited access to AgentMatch.  UK Agents For Fantasy  To get you started we’ve selected a list of 20 UK agents looking for fantasy:  [am_show_agents id=26] More Resources   We’re here to help you at every step in your writing and querying process. Check out our favourite blogs that can assist you in putting together your query letter and synopsis, and if you want valuable, personal feedback on your writing you can book a fifteen-minute One-to-One with an agent of your choice. Premium members can also get a free query letter review from our lovely Writers Support team!    Happy searching, and good luck on your querying journey!   

Gothic Literature: A Guide To All Things Eerie

From a young age, I gravitated towards anything that might spook or scare me, finding a thrill in the fear and the curling of toes, drawn always to the dark and the gothic. I am still the same today, and people have been fascinated with these fictional worlds filled with ghosts - where usually your imagination alone can be your worst enemy - for hundreds of years. There is psychology behind this, but we won’t go into that here. Instead, let’s celebrate the genre that sets hearts racing, that makes characters out of eerie settings and that lets you explore that space beyond reality.   Our love of the gothic must surely come from the exploration of unknown worlds, dark places and the supernatural; all those things that are usually out of reach for us but that we can leave safely behind once we close the pages. It’s a genre that has reinvented itself many times over the centuries and birthed numerous sub-genres, and which still to this day attracts readers of all ages.   In this guide, we will discuss all things gothic literature, its inner workings and its influence on our wider cultures, taking a look at key tropes, themes and motifs. And if you aspire to be a gothic writer yourself, this guide will show you everything you need to know about gothic fiction and its essential ingredients.  What Is Gothic Literature? There are many definitions of what gothic literature is, but all state that it is a story of fear and terror with emotional extremes and dark themes. It has regularly been used as a literary device to highlight social issues and injustices, which is possibly one reason for its enduring popularity.   Gothic literature rose from the Romantic period of the eighteenth century and you can trace its roots to the architecture of medieval Europe, with buildings that were full of intricate details and cavernous spaces, and ornate decoration that gave us gargoyles and grotesque waterspouts - foreboding spaces that looked like they had a story to tell. Romanticism was characterised by emotion and individualism, nature and the glorification of medieval times. Gothicism embraced these elements, too, but it focused more on the darker side of humanity, particularly evil, sin and purgatory.   The root of gothic literature is widely attributed to Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto in 1765 - he even put the word ‘gothic’ in the subtitle of the second edition. But what did that word mean to him all those years ago? It meant ‘barbarous’ and ‘deriving from the Middle Ages’, not words we might associate with it now, but from his novel trick, he spawned an entirely new genre. One which included the supernatural, the classic gothic tropes of doors closing and floorboards squeaking, and most importantly a frightening old building.  This is the heart of gothic fiction - the things that lurk in the corners both in reality and in the mind. But it was the gothic stories of vulnerability and conflict that were relatable to society, and so gothic literature flourished.  Let’s take a closer look at the elements that make up gothic fiction.  Key Elements Of Gothic Literature Place  Probably the most important part of the gothic novel is the setting. Most will think instantly of castles and gloomy houses, of heaths and moors, of isolated, dark corners of the world. Many gothic novels contain a haunted house or building, but in reality, the house comes to represent more than just bricks and mortar. It is a mirror of the mind, of compartmentalising, of locking away the truths of a life, before the lies and deceit come back to haunt our characters.   Physically, too, the setting typical of gothic literature is hidden, pulling our characters further from society and further from help, leaving them to the elements of the Earth and the evil that might be seeking them.   Think of Jonathan Harker becoming trapped in Count Dracula’s castle, or the secrets of Manderley in Rebecca, or the brooding, sweeping moors of Wuthering Heights. The place becomes a character, influencing our protagonist from the first page.  The Supernatural  Can we call gothic fiction gothic without a ghost or two? Or at least the threat of a ghost? Sometimes, simply, it is all in the mind, but this is where gothic literature stands apart from all other genres - your imagination does the work for you. What might be there is often far scarier than reality. But what gothic literature does so well is present us with a world of doubt, particularly about the supernatural and spiritual. It presents the possibility of things beyond reason and breaks down the limits of our everyday lives.  Ghosts bring with them a demand, a curse or a plea. Out of their proper time and place, they disrupt our sense of what is present and what is past, but more about this later.  Atmosphere  Gothic literature is dripping in atmosphere, probably more so than any other genre. Place, as mentioned above, plays a big part in the setting of the atmosphere, but it goes much deeper than that. Atmosphere comes from the writer’s tone and use of language, from the implied, from the internal and external conflicts, from the characters themselves, and from the building of suspense and mystery.  Often, too, the atmosphere created is claustrophobic. Settings are small, with little opportunity to escape.  Secret Places  Gothic literature is full of secret places - rooms, entire wings, attics. Places that are out of bounds for the protagonist and which, like a child drawn to a jar of sweets, call out for them to go there against all better judgement. What if Belle hadn’t gone to the forbidden west wing and found the rose in Beauty and the Beast? And let’s not forget the secret places in our characters’ minds. They are often places that a reader won’t want to go to either.  Damsels  When we look at the classic gothic novels, a damsel in distress is usually a central part, and this plays into the regular gothic theme of an imbalance of power - women were seen as weaker and often victims of violent acts.   In an opposite way, women are also often portrayed as evil, possessed characters in contrast to their perceived motherly qualities.  Time  Time plays a key part in gothic fiction. There is a preoccupation with glorifying the past. It is typical for there to be elements of the past clashing with the present, bringing with it threat, terror and truth. But it isn’t simply a case of the past catching up with the characters. The past will invariably be accompanied by the uncanny - something frighteningly unfamiliar. The past literally deranges the present.   Terror Vs Horror  There is a clear difference between a reader who enjoys being terrorised and a reader who enjoys being horrified, and here lies the difference between gothic fiction and horror fiction. Ann Radcliffe, a pioneering gothic writer from the late eighteenth century said that terror merely suggests horrific things rather than showing them. Terror is concerned with the psychological experience of being full of fear and dread and thus recognising human limits. She said:  Terror and Horror are so far opposite, that the first expands the soul and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life; the other contracts, freezes and nearly annihilates them. Ann Radcliffe There is a subtlety to gothic stories that allows the mind to wander, a mere hint or suggestion is often enough for us to believe.   Melodrama  Gothic fiction is dramatic because the stakes are high. Characters are usually troubled, with bad things happening to them and around them. Expect much swooning, fainting and screaming. They often, also, have troubled minds.  Burdened Male Protagonist  The men in classic gothic literature are usually wealthy, entitled, and hold a lot of power. Or they may be burdened by a mad wife they need to hide away, or required to marry somebody they don’t love. They represent the best and worst of society and often must face the demon within them in their search for peace. A perfect example of the burdened male protagonist is Maxim from Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.  Death  When we think about gothic stories, death is usually a central part of it. Deaths in the past, the threat of imminent death of the protagonist or wider characters, the death of a way of life, even. Let’s look at the opening of Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward:  I like to think I know what death is. I like to think it’s something I could look at straight. When Pop tell me he need my help and I see that black knife slid into the belt of his pants, I follow Pop out the house, try to keep my back straight, my shoulders even as a hanger; that’s how Pop walks. I try to look like this is normal and boring so Pop will think I’ve earned these thirteen years, so Pop will know I’m ready to pull what needs to be pulled, separate innards from muscle, organs from cavities. I want Pop to know I can get bloody. Today is my birthday. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward Those two opening lines set the tone of this novel perfectly. Death is the theme of this beautifully devastating Southern Gothic novel, and that is something that is made clear from the start. I don’t think it is possible to have gothic without death.  Key Tropes In Gothic Fiction Gothic fiction has a set of tropes that are seen over and over again. These are devices used in every novel that the reader will recognise instantly. Here are some of the main ones:   Lights The flickering of lights points to something otherworldly in control. Or a light in an abandoned place tells you something is there that shouldn’t be.   Weather Nothing says gothic more than inclement weather. A good thunderstorm suggests impending doom, high winds are disorienting for our characters and imply godly forces are in play. Typically, classic English gothic texts take place on windy, barren and isolated moors, but by contrast, the sub-genre novels of the Southern Gothic are set in heat-sweltered southern US states, using the dusty, dry environments to show isolation in a different way. These are places that are hard to endure.  Noises Things that go bump in the night. There is always a noise that might draw your character from their bed in the dead of night to investigate. And, of course, you know that is the last thing they should be doing.   Laughter There is truly nothing spookier than hearing a child laugh from somewhere deep in the heart of a gloomy, abandoned house. It is a definite sign that something bad has happened there and you should likely run the other way.  Animals Savage nature- crows, ravens, and wolves have all been vilified in gothic fiction, used as symbols to impress the coming darkness.  Imprisoned Characters There is nothing more gothic-esque than an imprisoned character. Think of Mr Rochester’s wife locked away in the attic in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, or of Paul Sheldon in Stephen King’s Misery being held captive by a crazed fan.  Key Themes In Gothic Literature What I love more than anything about gothic fiction are the themes that are tackled. A ghost story is never simply a ghost story, a story of madness is never simply a description of insanity. Gothic writers want to convey their message through the story and the underlying meaning of the story - the theme. And the themes of gothic literature draw attention to the very dark side of humanity. Here are some of the main themes of Gothicism:  Appearance vs Reality  Doppelganger/Duality of humanity  Isolation and seclusion  Challenging gender roles  Imbalance of power  Corruption of innocence  Place  Romance  Injustice  Searching for the truth  Gothic Fiction Motifs Motifs are recurring symbolic references that a writer uses to convey an idea. Gothic fiction is full of them, and writers use them repeatedly throughout their novels to reinforce the point they are trying to make. Here are some of the main gothic motifs:  Dreams, nightmares and visions  Mistaken Identity  Omens and prophecies  Light vs darkness  Secrets  Madness  The Uncanny  Examples Of Gothic Tales Some of the greatest stories have been spawned by the gothic genre. Let’s look at the most popular classic gothic novels.  The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole is considered the first gothic novel, written in 1764. Set in a haunted castle, the novel combines Walpole’s love of medieval and terror.  The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, written in 1794, combines the typical gothic tropes with the author’s love of gothic romance. There’s a crumbling castle, a villainous man, supernatural happenings and a persecuted heroine. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is a story known the world over. Here we have the archetypal mad scientist and his monstrous creation. The novel centres around Victor’s isolation from society as he delves deeper and deeper into his studies and experiments, losing sight of his responsibilities through his determination to achieve something memorable.  In The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, the setting in the gothic Notre Dame Cathedral is a full homage to gothic architecture. The classic gothic novel tackles the medieval sin of lust and presents it as natural, at the same time challenging our perception of beauty and what it means to judge people on appearances.   The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe is considered by some to be the start of the Southern Gothic sub-genre. It has the personified house (“There I could see reflected in the water a clear picture of the dead trees, and of the house and its empty eye-like windows.”), the madness, the typical gothic tropes listed above. But at the heart of this story is decline - the house is split between crumbling walls and perfection, which mirrors the well-being of the characters, the individual, the Usher bloodline, the familial and the collective South.  Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte hits all the right gothic notes - an eerie, gloomy setting, with the potential of ghosts intervening in the present. Again, this classic tale combines Romanticism with Gothicism.  The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is the ultimate gothic story concerning the duality of human nature.   Although not always thought to be a true gothic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde contains the symbol of the devil, devil pacts, and the motif of an ever-changing painting, representing the change in Dorian as his character ages. Dorian’s terror lies in his need to stay forever young and maintain his youthful beauty - a need that takes him down a murderous path.  Dracula by Bram Stoker is probably one of the best-known examples of vampire fiction. But as with all good gothic tales, the themes are what elevate it from simply a blood-sucking story. It draws a picture of Victorian society and the need to lock away people deemed mad or insane, especially the more regularly afflicted women. Isolation and madness are closely linked in this novel, as is the Christian belief of freeing your soul for heaven, which is prominent in many of the works of early gothic writers. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is a true ghost story with all the gothic elements you would expect - ambiguity about the presence of ghosts, external views vs internal feelings, perception vs reality, and secrets in all the characters.  Now let’s take a closer look at some important contemporary gothic novels from the last hundred years.  Rebecca By Daphne Du Maurier Rebecca is probably one of the best novels ever written (bold statement, I know!) and is a perfect example of contemporary gothic. The novel takes us to Manderley, an imposing home on the isolated Devon coast where the unnamed narrator takes over the role of Mistress of the house. But lurking in every corner is the memory of her husband’s dead wife, Rebecca. Again, the past impacts the present, but the novel really is a masterclass of gothic literature. It addresses themes of isolation, which is such a common thread through the genre, and imprisonment, both literal and of the mind. But the novel particularly excels at linking these themes with place. Manderley is a character in itself which imprints its shackles on the narrator’s mind, sending her to the brink of insanity (helped along nicely by the trickery of Mrs Danvers, of course). Du Maurier creates an atmosphere of threat (a key gothic element mentioned above) as the narrator arrives at Manderley:  …on either side of us was a wall of colour, blood-red, reaching far above our heads. We were amongst the rhododendrons. There was something bewildering, even shocking, about the suddenness of their discovery. The woods had not prepared me for them. They startled me with their crimson faces, massed one upon the other in incredible profusion, showing no leaf, no twig, nothing but the slaughterous red, luscious and fantastic, unlike any rhododendron plant I had seen before….And these were monsters, rearing to the sky, massed like a battalion, too beautiful I thought, too powerful; they were not plants at all. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier Can you see how Du Maurier personifies the rhododendrons, creating something threatening from something usually natural and beautiful? This sets up how Manderley will control the protagonist.   Power and control is another theme of Rebecca, but it is rarely physical power that is shown, but rather knowledge wielded over those who are less informed. How can you ever take control if you know nothing of what has come before and those around you know everything? The power will always be with them, regardless of their social status. And this plays into the feelings of isolation and imprisonment for the narrator.  The Haunting Of Hill House By Shirley Jackson No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson Please, do come in…. or maybe not? This is the opening of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and here we have the master at work again. A perfect haunted house novel that hits all the right gothic notes.   Beloved By Toni Morrison  I couldn’t write an article about gothic fiction without including Toni Morrison’s Beloved. This is a pure southern gothic novel that forces readers to face the long-lasting, damaging impact of slavery. It doesn’t shy away from brutality, and has all the elements of gothic fiction that you would expect - death, a haunted house, a ghost, and a past impacting on the present.   124 was spiteful. Full of baby’s venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children. For years each put up with the spite in his own way, but by 1873 Sethe and her daughter Denver were its only victims. The grandmother, Baby Suggs, was dead, and the sons, Howard and Buglar, had run away by the time they were thirteen years old - as soon as merely looking in a mirror shattered it (that was the signal for Buglar); as soon as two tiny handprints appeared in the cake (that was it for Howard). Neither boy waited to see more. Beloved by Toni Morrison The Woman In Black By Susan Hill  There is a deep, creeping sense of dread in The Woman in Black, which Susan Hill conjures so well with her atmospheric writing. Eel Marsh House is a typical gothic building, claustrophobic, spooky and isolated, and Hill uses all the classic gothic tropes that readers of the genre would expect to great effect.   So I thought that night, as I laid my head on the soft pillow and fell eventually into a restless, shadowy sleep, across which figures came and went, troubling me, so that once or twice I half-woke myself, as I cried out or spoke a few incoherent words, I sweated, I turned and turned about, trying to free myself from the nightmares, to escape from my own semi-conscious sense of dread and foreboding, and all the time, piercing through the surface of my dreams, came the terrified whinnying of the pony and the crying and calling of that child over and over, while I stood, helpless in the mist, my feet held fast, my body pulled back, and while behind me, though I could not see, only sense her dark presence, hovered the woman. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill The Last House On Needless Street By Catriona Ward This very recent novel (2021) crosses many genres in my opinion. It is a psychological thriller with moments of pure horror, but it also ticks many of the gothic notes, too. There’s a house, for a start, and this house is boarded up and very creepy. There are bad things that happen there. There’s a cat narrator requiring readers to suspend their disbelief. There are grotesque happenings. But more importantly, there is a past that plays into the present, and that is at the heart of every gothic story.   The past is close tonight. The membrane of time bulges and strains. I hear Mommy in the kitchen, talking to the Chihuahua lady. Mommy’s telling her about the thing with the mouse. That was where all this started. I stop up my ears and turn the TV up, but I can still hear her voice. I remember everything about the thing with the mouse, which is unusual. My memory is Swiss cheese, in general. The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward I can’t say much more about this novel because I wouldn’t want to ruin the brilliance of it - but please do read it.  Gothic novels are as popular now as they have ever been, so let’s discuss why that might be.  The Gothic Genre’s Prevailing Popularity The gothic genre has gone through many revamps and spawned many sub-genres over the centuries, such as Southern Gothic and psychological gothic horror, but it is still as popular today as it ever was. We, as inquisitive humans, want to explore the possibility of the ‘other’, the unknown that brings us fear, and literature is a great way to do that. But Gothicism also shines a light on the injustices of society, which again is a huge draw for readers. There is real depth to the storytelling that goes far deeper than simply the hauntings of a ghost or the blood-sucking of vampires.   Gothicism can be seen across the world, accessible to all cultures, all with their own histories to retell through the uncanny. A whole fashion exists around the world of the undead, and let’s not forget the other forms in which the gothic is celebrated - film and television, poetry, art, music, and computer games. I don’t see gothic literature going anywhere and I’m excited to see how it transforms itself as societies shift around the world.  But put simply, I think we will always have an obsession and interest in the past, and that is why I think Gothicism will endure as it shines its light in all the dark corners of humanity.  Frequently Asked Questions What Are The Five Main Elements Of Gothic Literature? Gothic novels all have a few major elements in common:   A dark and gloomy setting, such as a castle or house  A threatening atmosphere  Supernatural elements, such as a ghost, or the idea of one  Terror that plays with your perception of reality  Death  What Is Considered Gothic Literature? Gothic stories are those that fill readers with terror. They will follow a set of gothic tropes employed to spook and haunt both characters and readers, and they will invariably be set in haunted houses or castles, or in isolated places full of foreboding.   Why Is It Called Gothic Literature? Gothic literature derives from the gothic architecture of medieval times, based on a love and admiration of that period of time.  What Makes A Good Gothic Story? A good gothic story will have a gloomy setting, lots of atmosphere, supernatural elements, and a sense of terror. It will play with the readers\' idea of reality and the bounds of humanity, it will terrorise and spook, it will clash the past and the present, and it will challenge a reader’s understanding of society.  Writing Gothic Fiction Gothic literature has a long and rich history and has had a huge bearing on wider culture across the centuries. As gothic writers, it is important to understand this history, to know what has come before and therefore what readers might expect from us as we pen our own gothic stories. But, of course, to know the rules is to also know how to effectively break and invert them. Let’s keep telling these dark and twisted stories so that in centuries to come the art of Gothicism is still very much alive, unlike the ghosts that might grace those pages.

What Is Historical Fiction? A Complete Guide

Have you always wanted to write a historical novel but wondered what that specific literary genre includes? Perhaps you\'re looking for inspiration to create your historical characters? In this guide to historical fiction, I will be discussing what the term means, the various sub-genres of historical fiction, plus top writing tips from successful historical fiction authors, and a summary of all the places you can find inspiration for your own novel. First thing\'s first... What Is Historical Fiction? The historical fiction genre is fiction set during a historical time period. Although some of the events that take place in the book may be based on real events, with a story set against a historically accurate setting - the book is generally populated by fictional characters and is therefore categorised as a work of fiction. Historical fiction includes any books set in the past. That means your book can take place during the ice age, the American Civil War, World War II, or even 1970. A rule of thumb is that if a novel is set more than 50 years in the past it\'s classified as \'historical\'. Although the setting and descriptions of that time should remain historically accurate, the fictional elements can include the events that take place and (most certainly) the characters. Who Is Historical Fiction Written For? Everyone and anyone! Historical fiction caters for adults and children of every age and gender. Because it\'s not pure fiction - elements of it must remain historically accurate - authors are able to adapt it for every age. For instance, you can write a historical fiction book about World War II that caters to all types of audiences: Children: The Skylark\'s War by Hilary McKay and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr Young adults/teens: The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell and Once by Morris Gleitzman Adults looking for historical satire: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Adults wanting poignancy: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and The Night Watch by Sarah Waters The beauty of historically fictional stories is that you can take any historical period and add your own concept, and depending on the audience and their needs, each book can be totally different. What Historical Fiction Is Not Just because historical fiction includes a historical era, do not get it confused with biographical novels, books that were contemporary in their time but are now classics, or non-fiction books written about a certain time in history. When considering writing historical fiction, first ask yourself whether you will be adding fictional elements or keeping it all facts. Why Write Historical Fiction? When it comes to creative writing, and penning your own historical fiction novel, it\'s important to understand exactly who you are writing for and what you want to say. Some people choose to write historical novels because they are interested in specific historical events or eras and want to explore them further through their fiction. Others enjoy the challenge of combining the real past with fictional characters. Alternatively, if you don\'t wish to set your entire book in the past you can write a variety of speculative fiction and have books that time hop (ie time travel novels) or ones that include dual storylines or flashbacks. Different Historical Fiction Genres There are many different types of historical fiction books. Below is a list of some of the most popular along with examples of novels from that sub-genre. As I mentioned above, you don\'t have to stick to just one specific genre in order to inject a little history into your novel - mix them up! Why not write historical romantic adventures, or historical science fiction with LGBT themes? It\'s important that historical fiction is written by as many people from different backgrounds as possible. To understand our future we must understand our past, and to do so effectively we need to hear everyone\'s voices and see the world through the eyes of everyone who came before us.Let\'s look at some sub-genres: Historical Romance Example: The Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn This is by far the most popular genre of all historical fiction. Whether your hero is falling in love with Regency aristocracy, or a Victorian orphan, many readers enjoy being transported to a time in history where lovers, and love, looked very different. Biographical Historical Fiction Example: Angela\'s Ashes by Frank McCourt Not all biographies have to read like boring history textbooks. Many biographical authors take a real historical figure, or a time in their own life, and weave stories amongst the facts. You have to be careful not to re-write someone\'s history, but if you are basing your memoirs on your own life or real family members it\'s okay (with their permission) to add a few fictional twists and turns to make the story more compelling. Historical Fantasy/Science Fiction Example: Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon Historical fantasy and science fiction is a genre that combines fantasy set against the backdrop of a real time, and/or place, in history. It\'s a fun way to add a sprinkle of magic to real historical events and places of interest. Perhaps you want to have dragons fighting alongside Romans in the arena; or write about Cleopatra having magical powers; or have a character who has the ability to jump from century to century. Playing with history this way through fiction can be very rewarding and opens up countless possibilities. Historical Mysteries Example: A Plague on Both Your Houses (Matthew Bartholomew series) by Susanna Gregory  Everyone loves a whodunit - but setting your mystery against the backdrop of a historical time or place adds an extra level of fun and intrigue. Historical Horror Example: The Spirit Engineer by A J West This genre is one of my favourites because there\'s nothing creepier than adding an extra layer of dread to a time in history that was already difficult. In C J Cooke\'s Gothic The Ghost Woods, the author tackles the difficult topic of mother and baby homes and adoption in 1950s and \'60s Britain - set in an eerie mansion beside a haunted forest. Historical Adventures Example: The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty When writing historical fiction there are so many events and settings that lend themselves well to action. Whether you are writing about a battle, a quest, or an exploration, you can pick from real events that you embellish, or create your own adventure set in a time period that interests you. LGBT And Diverse Historical Fiction Example: The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave Diversity of every kind has always been part of history. Some readers are surprised when they come across a historical fiction novel where the hero isn\'t white or the love isn\'t heteronormative - but history proves that this was not rare and deserves to be seen and celebrated. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters is the perfect example of a successful queer historical fiction debut. Set in England during the 1890s, it tells the story of a young woman who falls in love with a male impersonator. When writing diverse historical fiction remember that the characters and the plot must, as always, take centre stage - with the theme and historical setting woven through. Children\'s Historical Fiction Example: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr The best way to educate children of all ages on history and the way we lived a long time ago is through the joy of storytelling. From The Book Thief to Last of his Name, any time in history can be brought alive for children through storybooks. 5 Elements Needed For Writing Historical Fiction When planning your fictional historical novel there are five important aspects that you need to be aware of before you start writing. 1. Pick A Time Period You can\'t write a historical fiction novel without first choosing a time in history (or more than one time). Historical context is vital for all historical fiction stories as without accuracy you may as well call the novel a fantasy inspired by a certain era. Choose a time in our historical past that resonated with you, and that excites you, as you will be doing a lot of research. If it bores you, then your writing will also bore the reader. Choose a time period that makes you hungry for more! 2. Choose A Historically Accurate Setting Many places are considered historical - others are merely old. Whether you are inspired by a certain castle, monument, natural area or even a place that no longer exists, adding a backdrop that people are familiar with in your book can really ground a reader. Your historical novel only works if the setting and the time period work side by side, and suit the sub-genre. For instance, a Regency romance set in a grand English stately home works really well. Whereas an Egyptian adventure story set in Finland may be a little harder to pull off! 3. Base It On A Historic Event Once you have your chosen period in time and your setting, you\'re free to create your characters and plot. But before that, some writers like to centre their novels around certain historic events. The most important aspect of this is that the historical facts you feature in your book must accurately reflect what really happened at that event. If you\'re writing historical fantasy then it\'s okay to twist things up, but if you intend for your fictional events to be accurate then it\'s very important that you do your research - which means reading as much as you can on the subject and watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, and talking to experts in that era. 4. Create Memorable Main Characters It goes without saying that every memorable book is full of memorable characters. Although you may wish to base some of your characters on real historical figures, the fact you are writing fiction means you are free to create your own characters. It\'s very important that your characters speak, dress and behave appropriately for that time period - but equally, never forget that their sensibilities, emotions, and interactions with others won\'t be too different to how we all still act today. When creating characters also remember that class, social standing and rank were a lot more defined back in the day. Ensure that, before writing your characters, you are familiar with what was (and wasn\'t) acceptable in that time, the foibles and interests of that time period, and create a storyline that fits that era. 5. Make Sure You Know Your Genre Lastly, make sure you know who you are writing for. You may well want to write a historical novel about the Crimean War - but the tone, language, and plot will change dramatically depending on whether you are writing it for a child or an adult, or whether it\'s a romance, adventure or mystery. Top Tips For Writing Historical Fiction The only difference between writing historical fiction and any other genre is that research is key. Getting your historical sources right can be the difference between a good book and a great one. To represent true history, a writer must ensure they know the epoch in which their book is set inside out. They also must enjoy what they are writing about, because they will have to fully immerse themselves in that world for a long time. Let\'s take a look at some other tips top historical fiction authors shared with me for this article: Historical Fiction Authors Share Their Writing Secrets I find it useful to write a plan for my stories, because it guides me to the research I\'ll need. Having to stop and research while writing can really hamper your feel for the flow and plot. Not researching can undermine your work, so getting started early really helps. A J West, author of The Spirit Engineer Always remember that people are people no matter what century they\'re in. For my debut, I made the mistake of thinking I needed to be an expert in the subject matter to the extent that my story was almost overwhelmed by research. The research needs to complement the character\'s storyline. Please don\'t do what I did and go off on a tangent about 17th-century table looms because a character mentioned it in passing! Stacey Thomas, author of The Revels I find reading contemporary fiction written during the time period more helpful than academic texts. Partly for getting dialogue right, but also just a sense of how people used their time and their priorities in life. Mathew West, author of The House Of Footsteps My biggest tip is to only write what you’re absolutely passionate about. Readers can feel that in their bones, and will buy into your story because of your informed enthusiasm. Jacquie Roberts, author of the Quintus Valerius Roman Britain mystery novels I think it’s important to consider what you’re writing. Is it so deeply immersed in the period that you want it to present as if it could have been written by a contemporary author, or is it more modern, or even subversive of the norms of the period? That will affect style. Rosie Andrew, author of The Leviathan For me, I try to really enjoy going down those rabbit holes, exploring details about food, clothes, events that may or may not be relevant. But don\'t be afraid to never actually use any of it in the writing. It\'s still a wonderful way of immersing oneself in the period. Lucy Ashe, 2023 debut novelist The story is the important thing whenever it\'s set, so try not to get bogged down in details. As in all fiction, you want to present great characters with great problems, the historical is just another tool to help you do that. Lizzie Page, author of The Orphanage It’s important to find a way in, to root yourself into the story. My first novel, Rebecca’s Choice, was set in the house my grandparents lived in, where I played as a kid, a house I loved. I took it back to the 1890s and threw research and imagination into the mix. Heidi Gallacher, author of Rebecca\'s Choice 5 Popular Historical Fiction Tropes Like with most genres of books, readers of historical fiction enjoy certain tropes in their stories. Here are five of the most common tropes you may want to include in your own work. 1. Book\'s Titular Hero Returns Much like the parable of the prodigal son, many historical fiction novels love to feature the hero returning home. Perhaps they have been away at war, or on a voyage, or have returned to the family home with a new bride. How have they changed? What secrets are they hiding? What has changed in their absence? 2. Young Woman Determined Many books set in the past enjoy showing women in a time where they had very little autonomy, and having them take back some of that power. Whether that may be a poor widower getting revenge, an orphan girl marrying into a rich family, or a woman out to prove herself against men or a higher class. 3. Wrong Woman This is another popular trope. Perhaps the \'wrong woman\' is a gentleman bringing home a new bride that is about to shake things up for his family. Or perhaps a woman is mistaken for someone she is not. 4. Rags To Riches Much like the story of Aladdin, everyone loves a tale where a person with nothing rises to a higher rank and makes a success of their life. 5. Feuding Families Shakespeare started it with Romeo and Juliet, and now this trope can be found in most genres. Featuring feuding families works really well in the historical fiction genre because there were many times in the past when class put pressure on established and successful families to dominate society. Where To Find Inspiration Are you currently writing historical fiction? You will be surprised how easy it is to find inspiration for your historical stories in the current day. Movies & TV There is no shortage of costume dramas on television and in movies (old and new) that will help you with both plot ideas and research. From the hair, fashion and make-up of the leading ladies, to the historical events that shape the lives of your characters, you can have a lot of fun taking notes while watching your favourite period dramas (not to mention it\'s a great excuse to sit and watch TV all day)! It\'s also useful to make a note of how they spoke back then and the mannerisms of the characters, to help shape your own characters. Real Events There\'s nothing like true events from historical times to make you realise truth can be stranger than fiction. Many authors base their historical fiction novels on an event or a character that once existed, and then filled in the gaps. Whether you are exploring difficult times such as the slave trade or The Great Depression, or more wondrous and niche events such as the invention of the hot air balloon, or the Victorian obsession with seances, there\'s a lot of information to be found online, in libraries and history books. Basing your book on real-life events can be easier in a way, as you have a solid platform from which to launch. But it also means you must be very careful and accurate with your research to ensure you get all the facts right (unless you are writing historical fantasy - in which case you can bend the truth at your whim). Historical Setting Use your book as the perfect excuse to travel. When I was writing Son of Secrets (the second book of my fantasy series) I visited the fabulous Fiesole in Tuscany, Italy. My series is full of past life flashbacks, and I wanted to feature one life set in Roman times. Visiting the setting of my novel was so much more evocative than simply Googling as I got to see not just the sights and history (I visited lots of museums) but experience the smells, the sounds and the general awe of the place. Visiting a place in the past made writing my scenes a lot easier and much more poignant. Museums If you are writing about a specific time in history, museums and working museums (where people are dressed up as characters from that era) can really help. Whether you are researching ancient kings of Egypt at the British Museum, or Jane Austen\'s own house museum in Hampshire, not only will you be inspired by the artefacts and information on display, but you also have access to experts who will be more than happy to talk about their favourite subjects Galleries Likewise, art gives us a unique glimpse into a far-off time. Whether you are at an art gallery for story inspiration or to research fashion and setting, it\'s a great place to soak up the style of a bygone era. In the final book of my fantasy trilogy, Children of Shadows, I was inspired by the painting Primavera - I spent some time imagining the lives of two of the models Botticelli used for the painting and featured them as characters in my book. The beauty of writing historical fiction is that you\'re free to introduce any character you wish, as long as the way you paint that period in time remains accurate. Old Books Visit your local library and read as many books as you can - not just books about the era that interests you but those written during that time. Seeing things from the point of view of an author (what was seen as important, thrilling, scandalous, or story-worthy back then) will give you a glimpse into how you too should approach your story. And remember historical novels are not always set in Europe or America. Contemporary western literature dates back hundreds of years and can be a great source of inspiration, but likewise, there are many other works from all around the world that may inspire you. Interview Someone Who Was There If you are writing historical fiction set in the past seventy years, why not interview someone who actually lived back then? A real person\'s life experience will enable you to re-live historical events through the eyes of someone who was actually there. Likewise, you can watch interviews on YouTube. I recently watched a 1990s interview of a woman who had survived the Titanic. It was fascinating to hear someone who was really there recount the horror of that fateful night. Family History A fiction writer will always draw inspiration from the people in their own lives - whether they mean to or not. A flick through an old family photo album or a chat with your great aunt may well uncover some great ideas for your next novel. Sometimes family members have old relics and antiques that they will want to show you, or outfits from decades ago. Most of these items will probably come with their own story attached. You may even discover some family secrets you never knew about! Likewise, signing up for sites like can help you trace your family tree, enabling you to see photos and documents from long-forgotten relatives. So go and speak to the eldest person in your family and ask them questions. You never know what you may walk away with! The Author\'s Imagination Many authors pluck ideas out of thin air, using the \'what if?\' method of brainstorming. It\'s a very easy technique. All you have to do is think of a situation and ask \'what if?\' Although this is popular for those writing contemporary genre, you can use modern-day scenarios to inspire your historical fiction too. For instance, you may be sitting on a train and see a woman accidentally pick up the wrong piece of luggage and ask yourself \'what if two characters in my book did that... except it\'s 1899 and they are on the Orient Express... and one is a spy?\' Frequently Asked Questions What Is Historical Fiction? Historical fiction is a genre of novel whereby the author is inspired by a real historical event or period in history and uses that as the backdrop of their book. Unlike historical non-fiction, where the book will be a factual account of a person or era in history, historical fiction is simply set in that time or inspired by something that happened in the past - the author is free to twist and change it at their will. What Is A Historical Fiction Example? Historical fiction can include more than one sub-genre. An example may be a historical romance series such as Bridgerton, set in the Regency era (which has gone on to be a top-grossing Netflix production), it can also include historical fantasy such as Outlander (also a big TV hit) or something a little more serious. What Are 3 Characteristics Of Historical Fiction? 1. Historical Accuracy It\'s very important that authors of historical fiction do their research. Unless you are writing fantasy and have purposely misrepresented a certain time period, your book will lose credibility if you do not portray that era accurately. 2. Authenticity Be authentic. It really helps to have a genuine love of a certain time in history if you choose to write about it. 3. Sensitivity An author must be sensitive when writing historical fiction; especially if they are focusing on diverse characters or contentious issues. For this reason, I would strongly recommend all writers (especially those writing historical fiction) use sensitivity readers and consult experts from that era. As a writer, you don\'t want your book to lose credibility because you are either insensitive or inaccurate. In Summary Historical fiction is a fun, fascinating and varied genre, covering many different themes and styles - for every age and reader. I hope you have found my guide to writing historical fiction both interesting and informative, and I hope your books will one day make it into an article just like this one!

UK Literary Agents For Popular Science

So, you’re well on your way to completing your book on popular science, and have a cracking book proposal that you can’t wait to share with agents. Well, we’re here to help!  WANT TO JUMP STRAIGHT TO THE AGENT LIST? CLICK HERE  Popular Science Popular science is one of the most well-loved non-fiction genres, thanks to its exploration of big scientific topics in accessible ways for the mass readership. The idea that anyone could pick up your book and finish it having a better understanding of the topic you explore is so important.   Popular science literature can cover a variety of topics, from discussions of time, black holes, nature, psychology, the universe, climate change, analysis of data, medicine, and many many more. The breadth of possibility when it comes to popular science topics makes it an increasingly popular genre. They are made up of current and relevant topics that will interest the average reader and leave them with a new understanding when they finish the book.  Authors of popular science and psychology are more popular than ever. Stephen Hawking, Oliver Sacks and Michio Kaku, to name a few.  AgentMatch And How To Use It There are plenty of science-loving agents, but you won\'t want to approach them all. The best way to develop and refine your own shortlist of UK agents for popular science is to visit AgentMatch, our literary agent database, and use the search tools on the left to make your selection.  With AgentMatch you can select by genre (e.g. science), country, the agent’s level of experience, their appetite for new clients, and much more. You can even save your search results and come back to them, allowing you to work through them one by one, at your own pace. Each profile has been researched thoroughly including what agents like to read in their spare time, information on their most recent deals, manuscript wishlists, submission requirements, and exclusive interviews.  You can sign-up for a 7-day free trial which will give you a good feel for the data and functionality. Or join us as a premium member and get unlimited access to AgentMatch.  UK Agents For Popular Science  To get you started we’ve selected a list of 20 UK agents looking for popular science:  [am_show_agents id=10] More Resources   We’re here to help you at every step in your writing and querying process. Check out our favourite blogs that can assist you in putting together your query letter and synopsis, and if you want valuable, personal feedback on your writing you can book a fifteen-minute One-to-One with an agent of your choice. Premium members can also get a free query letter review from our lovely Writers Support team!    Happy searching, and good luck on your querying journey!   

Static Vs Dynamic Character: A Guide To Vivid Characterisation

A good story needs to be full of great characters. Understanding your characters and their role in your novel can make all the difference. One of the things to consider is whether your characters should be dynamic or static. In this article, I will be exploring the difference between a static character and a dynamic character, explaining how to use both in your story, and looking at some dynamic and static character examples. Understanding Static And Dynamic Characters A static character is one that doesn\'t change throughout the telling of the story, whereas dynamic characters are the opposite - they undergo significant internal and/or external changes. By the end of the story, dynamic characters are very different from how they were at the start. Another thing to remember about static and dynamic characters is that whichever one they are is no reflection on how well they are drawn on the page or their importance in the story. Unlike \'flat\' and \'rounded\' characters (ones that lack depth vs those that are better developed), static and dynamic characters should both be well developed in order to add balance and intrigue to your storytelling. Character Or Plot? Most books are either about normal people doing incredible things, or incredible people doing normal things. Very rarely will you find an engaging book that\'s about a normal person doing normal things. That\'s boring. That\'s the life we are all already living. Why do I mention this? Because when it comes to deciding whether your character is going to be static or dynamic, you need to ask yourself whether THEY are the point of the story, or if the focus is on the adventure they are about to embark on. Not every character, or protagonist, needs to change by the end of the story. If your book is centred around the lessons your hero learns along the way, then that normal character becomes an interesting character and we are drawn in by both the plot (action) and the MC\'s internal journey. But often an author will write static characters that don\'t change at all by the end. And that\'s also okay because the story was never about them per se, but about the adventure they were on and the world they inhabited within that story. Let\'s take a look at static characters in more detail, along with some examples... What Is A Static Character? As I mentioned previously, a static character and their traits do not change throughout the story. They don\'t grow as a person (start off scared and get braver by the end), they don\'t learn anything new (true love was right in front of them all along), and are not perceived differently by others (from a lowly no one to returning home a hero). Listen, your hero can still have a rollickingly great time - it just doesn\'t change them fundamentally in any great way. Things to remember about static characters: Not all static characters are flat characters. Not all static characters are boring. Not all characters lack a personality. Many static characters are well-developed, have a unique personality, add nuance to a story, provide a foil to the protagonist, and move the plot along... they just don\'t change from the beginning to the end, retaining the same personality throughout the story. Let\'s take a look at a static character example (or five): Examples Of Static Characters Here are examples of static characters and how they can still be interesting... Alice In Alice\'s Adventures In Wonderland When Alice falls down the rabbit hole, the reader\'s focus is solely on the completely bonkers world she has stumbled upon and its equally bonkers characters. Alice learns nothing about herself on her adventures, she is exactly the same girl at the end of the story as she was at the beginning, but the fun is had by joining her on the discovery of the crazy world she\'s trying to escape. James Bond When a character\'s traits do not change from the beginning to the end of a story, they are a static character. Now, no one would dare to call Bond static in any way - he is the very epitome of an action man. Yet his personality, the very essence of him, never ever changes throughout any of the books or movies. He doesn\'t start off a cold and sophisticated killer and womaniser and at the end of the story learn that, actually, he\'d prefer to get a normal job and settle down with a couple of kids. The joy of Bond is that, while he remains the same, his adventures do not. Same personality but a different setting, different baddie, different sexy woman. The formula doesn\'t change. Scar From The Lion King The ultimate evil antagonist, Scar\'s personality traits remain consistent to the very end. Based on Shakespeare\'s play, Hamlet, Scar is the conniving uncle who kills the king and drives the prince (the true heir to the throne) away. Much like Claudius in Hamlet, Scar never gets a redemption arc. He never learns his lesson, he is out and out evil throughout the story and at the end meets a gristly death at the hands of his nephew who returns to claim what is his. Yet Scar is far from a flat character. In the Disney movie he is bad to the point of camp, he is funny and feisty and well-rounded in every way. He simply never reaches a point of introspection. Sherlock Holmes Much like James Bond, Sherlock Holmes does not change in any of Doyle\'s four novels or 56 short stories. Holmes\' character remains extremely clever, obsessive, stubborn and perceptive. Each mystery changes, but Holmes does not get a big character arc. Disney Princesses Other static characters include many of the older Disney princesses. If you look at Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella they were very passive in their own stories. They started off pure and innocent, they were rescued by others, and they remained pure and innocent. No personal growth, sudden realisations, or change of personality occurs. With time Disney has given its leading ladies a lot more agency, and the princesses in Beauty and The Beast, Brave and Tangled, for instance, develop and discover things about themselves throughout their stories. What Is A Dynamic Character? The main character of a story is often dynamic. If the novel is centred around their journey, both literal and emotional, it stands to reason that the hero at the end of the story is going to be a very different person to the one at the beginning. A dynamic character undertakes a significant change - this may be a literal one (they may go from rich to poor, from ugly to beautiful), or an internal change (they may learn something about themselves, or realise something important). Dynamic Character Examples Here are some characters who experience significant changes throughout their story... Ebenezer Scrooge In Dickens\' A Christmas Carol 180 years after the first publication of Dickens\' didactic tale of greed and charity, the word Scrooge is still used to describe someone who is miserly and has little empathy for others. In A Christmas Carol our antihero, Ebenezer, undergoes a large transformation. Thanks to the visit of three ghosts on Christmas Eve showing him the error of his ways, this dynamic character goes from being a mean-spirited boss and uncle to poor Fred, to becoming a more giving person infused with generous Christmas spirit. Juliet In Shakespeare\'s Romeo And Juliet There are many static characters in Shakespeare\'s Romeo and Juliet (Juliet\'s nurse, Friar Laurence, Paris) but our hapless heroes are far from static - Juliet being the one who undergoes the largest change and the most dynamic of the story. At the beginning of the play, we see our leading lady being an obedient, good girl for her nurse and mother. Juliet cares deeply for her family and will do anything for them. Then along comes the irresistible catalyst, Romeo, the only boy she can\'t fall for as he\'s from the same family her own has been feuding with forever. By the end of the play we see Juliet rebel against her family, run away with the boy, secretly marry him, and even end up dying for him! John McClane In Die Hard Another example of a man who changes throughout a story is the protagonist of Die Hard - tough guy, John McClane. New York City policeman John McClane is visiting his estranged wife and two daughters on Christmas Eve (clearly a great time in stories for self-actualisation). A man who has always put his career before his family. His marriage is on the rocks, his wife has lost all respect for him, and his children hardly see him. But when he saves his wife from an attack by a terrorist at her Christmas office party he goes from bad guy to hero. By the end of the movie, the family are reunited and he realises what is really important. Katniss Everdeen In The Hunger Games In the same way Juliet changes from meek to rebellious, Katniss Everdeen goes from being a poor girl who volunteers to take part in a deathly survival game to save her sister - to becoming a rich and powerful hero who, during the course of the games, discovers her own strengths. At first, Katniss doubts her abilities and is used as a pawn in the Capitol\'s game, but as soon as she realises this she rises to become the leader of a rebellion that brings the Capitol to its knees. Dynamic indeed! Do We Need Both Dynamic And Static Characters In A Story? In short, you can\'t have every single character in your novel growing and changing - that would take away from the action and themes of your book. When deciding which character should be dynamic and which should be static, you must ask yourself what the role of each character in your story is. Minor characters don\'t have to be too rounded and definitely don\'t need a character arc (Katniss\' mother and sister stay static in the story) but those who play a bigger role (such as the hero herself, or her love interests) do need to grow and develop as the story progresses. Often a static character can be a great foil for a dynamic character. While the hero is developing and learning, their companion can remain steadfast and static. Often you can have a protagonist and deuteragonist that are both static, and that works very well too. Look at Jaskier and The Witcher. Although foils (one is fun and jaunty, the other tough and serious) neither of them change character throughout the story yet remain compelling and interesting. Likewise, you can have a cast full of dynamic characters, such as those in The Little Mermaid. Ariel, her father and her love interest, Eric, all learn a big lesson by the end of their journey (although, as usual, Ursula, the antagonist, does not). Importance Of Character Development There are no hard and fast rules as to whether your hero needs to be static or dynamic - just ensure whatever you choose works within your story. If your hero is going to be dynamic, then think about their character arc. Major characters often undergo a large transformation, so ensure you give them a backstory, a starting point, then ask yourself how the adventure/problem they must overcome is going to change them. Secondary characters are also important. Whether they are your hero\'s friends, companions, enemies, family or colleagues, it\'s not enough to have flat characters there simply to move the plot along. Ensure every character remains true to themselves and that they feel rounded and real. How To Write Interesting Characters What should you bear in mind when creating your hero? And how can you ensure they are interesting, whether static or dynamic? Static Characters: Make Them Rounded Even if your hero doesn\'t undergo any major changes, ensure that they have a personality. Give them a backstory, a reason for being how they are, and ensure that they remain true to themselves throughout. Give Them A Foil If your hero is serious, give them a fun sidekick. If your hero is erratic, give them a partner who is sensible. This not only helps highlight the hero\'s flaws or positive attributes, but also keeps the story fresh and entertaining. Focus On The Adventure If your hero is static (think Bond or Holmes) then ensure that their adventure is what the reader focuses on. Whether it\'s action-filled or fantastical, if the character remains static then the plot should carry all the intrigue. This works really well with a series. Dynamic Characters: Give Them A Problem To Solve Dynamic characters need to change, and for that to happen they need a problem or dilemma to overcome. Ensure that before the inciting incident your hero demonstrates the traits or flaws that they need to change by the end of the story (via them solving/overcoming the problem)... Make It Difficult For Them ...and don\'t make it easy for them. Like the characters in the Harry Potter series, each one of your dynamic characters should have a succinct personality that either helps or hinders their goal. And by the end of the book, they should have battled with them and developed beyond who they once were. Be Original Every one of your main characters (whether static or dynamic) should be a rounded character. Whether you are writing a series or a short story, ensure both main and side characters are interesting, relevant and original in some way. Give them unique quirks, tics, and tells that differentiate them from one another. Frequently Asked Questions What Is A Static Character? A static character is one that doesn\'t change from the start of the story through to the end. Although they may go on a fantastic adventure, their personality, situation and physical appearance will remain the same. What Is A Dynamic Character? A dynamic character is one who changes and evolves throughout the story. Often the protagonists of the novel, dynamic characters end the story as different people than they were at its beginning. What Are The 7 Types Of Characters? Protagonist - the main character of a story. The hero. Antagonist - the hero\'s rival. Love interest - the one the hero falls in love with. Confidant - the character that the hero confides in or is guided by. Deuteragonists -the character second in importance to the hero (ie Watson to Holmes, Robin to Batman). Tertiary characters - minor characters in a story who either help move the plot along, set a scene, or interact with the hero in some way. Foil - the opposite of the hero (often used to highlight the hero\'s specific character traits). For instance, this works well if the hero is dynamic and the sidekick is not. Get Into Character And that brings us to the end of my guide to static vs dynamic characters. As you begin writing your next story, have a think about whether your characters need to remain static or dynamic. Think about their arc, the plot, what you are trying to achieve and what is important to your story. And remember... whatever you choose to do, make sure your characters are rounded and engaging!

Writing Styles: 14 Different Ways To Be A Writer

Are you looking to make a living out of writing? Or perhaps you\'re just starting out and want to practice various writing styles until you find the one that feels right for you. Making a living as a writer means being adaptable and able to write in different styles - whether creatively, for business, or for academic publications. In this article, I will be describing fourteen different writing styles, what they mean, and how to approach them. Why Must Writers Adopt Different Writing Styles? Every writer writes in a certain way; their style a little like a painter\'s technique - some of the best authors are recognisable by the tone, style and syntax of their work. But that doesn\'t mean all writers are limited to just writing books or resorting to just one writing style. If, like me, you are both a published author and a freelance writer, being able to adapt your writing style to fit with the publications you\'re writing for, the topics you\'re writing about, and your target audience, is key to getting plenty of work. Developing your writing skills is something all writers should aim to do. Even if you only wish to write novels for the rest of your life, being able to adapt your style of writing is a skill that will also strengthen your abilities as an author. Before we take a look at the fourteen different types of writing that you may need to learn as part of your writing career, let\'s start with the one thing you need to know before deciding on the style of writing required. What Is Your Objective? You can\'t know what style of writing is needed from you unless you know what the objective of the piece is. There are many different types of writing styles, each one catering to a different target audience and each one needing to do something different. Before you start writing, ask yourself what your objective is. Are you looking to: Inform Entertain Inspire Express your personal opinion State facts Share information Educate Expose Sell Review someone else\'s work Explain Investigate These are just a few different reasons as to why you may choose to write something, or why a certain piece may have been commissioned to you. Consider what you are trying to achieve before choosing your style. 14 Different Types Of Writing Styles Let\'s go deeper and look at fourteen very different writing styles that meet a variety of objectives. Narrative Writing Style Narrative writing is usually found in fictional work - namely novels and short stories - but you can also use a narrative writing style when writing non-fiction. Even if you are writing a blog post, when using the narrative style it should be structured using the usual story form, which means it must have a beginning, middle and an end. This style of writing takes readers on a journey, introduces them to a topic, delves into it, and then provides a conclusive ending. The piece should be engaging, creative and interesting to read, and can be written in the first person and include personal experiences. Each writer has their own writing style, so feel free to use the kinds of words that you feel comfortable with. It can be fun and informal, or more serious and formal. Things To Remember Ask yourself whether your piece of work needs to be presented as a story, or whether the reader is only after facts and you can communicate it in a simpler way. Remember, the narrative style of writing isn\'t limited to just fiction writing, it can include essays and articles, but is sometimes too informal for more academic or business publications. Descriptive Writing Descriptive writing is full of... description! Often combined with narrative writing, it can be used in fiction and poetry. For instance, if you were commissioned to write an article about tulips for a scientific magazine you would do well to research all facts on tulips, describe them from a scientific standpoint, and ensure your data is correct. But if you were writing a magazine article about your day at a tulip farm, or a scene from a book where your main characters are frolicking in a field of tulips, then you might prefer to use descriptive writing. Descriptive Writing Allows You To Use: Literary devices (metaphors, similes, allegories, archetypes etc) The five senses/sensory details Any tense you prefer Famous authors use descriptive writing in all their novels. Unlike a screenplay, where there\'s minimal need for narration and most of the story is based around dialogue, when writing a book or short story it\'s important to add as much description as possible. Persuasive Writing Persuasive writing is generally used in sales, marketing and advertising - although you might use it when trying to convince someone to work with you (such as in a query letter to an agent or a cover letter along with a job application). Convincing people to buy something, do something, or act a certain way through words alone is a very specific skill, which is why top ad agencies pay copywriters very well. Using A Persuasive Writing Style Means Applying The Following Approach: Write about what you know Understand your audience Hook their attention Research well Get your facts right Be empathetic Repeat yourself Use keywords Ask rhetorical questions (not too many) Creative Writing Creative writing generally refers to writing fiction - it\'s about creating characters, setting, and scenarios and bringing them to life. Although it\'s usually found in a novel or short story, creative writing styles can also be found in articles and even blog posts. An author\'s writing style is unique, and each one has a way of providing vivid descriptions of the human experience through their creatively descriptive writing style. They may choose flowery prose, they may keep it sharp and simple, or their stories may be unique and inventive in the way they are written. When choosing creative writing, consider the genre and study it well. Horror writers write very differently from erotic writers. And likewise, those who write for children approach their work very differently to authors who pen literary fiction. The beauty of creative writing is that there are no rules, so don\'t overthink it. Just be creative! Expository Writing Expository writing is a body of work that is either trying to explain, illuminate, educate or \'expose\' (which is where the word \'expository\' comes from). It may be an investigative piece by a journalist exposing a juicy story for a newspaper or magazine, or it may be a textbook or instruction manual explaining how something works. Even a blog post such as this one is expository writing because I\'m outlining all the different types of writing styles you can adopt and (I hope) you are learning along the way. The key to writing in an expository style is to keep things clear and succinct. Expository Writing Is Supported By Using: Diagrams Quotes or examples Bullet points Clear headers Images Subjective Writing Subjective writing is all about writing from your own point of view and sharing your opinion. Subjective writing is generally written in an individual\'s own voice and may discuss real life topics, often based on personal experiences. An example of this is a writer with their own column in a magazine or newspaper, a blogger, a reviewer, a non-fiction author writing a book about a topic they are knowledgeable in, or someone writing their memoirs. Although non-fiction work should feature accurate data and shouldn\'t include made-up facts or figures, with subjective writing the author is allowed to express their opinions freely. Review Writing A review writer focuses on the works of others (or products) and gives their subjective opinion on the topic they are covering. Critics and bloggers make a living from writing reviews which are widely read. In many cases, those reviews can make or break a movie/product/event, depending on the weight that the reviewer\'s words carry. To Be A Reviewer You Need To: Be knowledgeable about what you are writing Be credible Understand your audience Be prepared for reactions/backlash Back your findings with facts And (although your opinions are subjective) it always helps to be fair Anyone can review anything nowadays, so if you are passionate about something and want to practice your review writing, you can... Set up your own blog Create videos for social media Write reviews on pages such as Netgalley, Goodreads and Amazon Review books etc for recognised publications Poetic Writing Poetic writing isn\'t simply about writing poetry (although it does include that too). Writing poetically means creating a piece of work with emotional appeal. That may be a novel, a beautifully-written feature in a magazine, or even a piece of sales copy that really captures the hearts and imagination of your target audience. When considering whether to write your piece poetically, ask yourself what the objective of the work is. What Can Be Written Poetically: Poems Short stories Feature articles Novels Blogs Advertising copy What Can\'t Be Written Poetically: Academic papers Business papers Expository writing Scientific papers If you are really creative you may attempt to combine more than one style, such as writing a persuasive piece in a poetic fashion... but that, of course, is dependent on what you are selling and who you are selling it to. Formal Writing Unlike the other styles of writing above which give the writer the opportunity to express themselves creatively, use literary devices, and figurative language; the aim of formal writing is not to entertain or sweep the reader away with a compelling story but to outline facts and be accurate. You can find formal writing styles used in business publications and textbooks, non-fiction books, manuals and academic papers. Here are some examples of formal writing styles and how they differ from one another. Objective Writing Writing something objective means that you are unbiased - something a news journalist should strive to be. It is the very opposite of an opinion piece. With formal writing it is often important to be subjective because the focus of the work is on the subject and not on the point of view. An objective writer generally uses the third person (because they are not talking about their own experiences or what they think) and they stick to the facts. Examples Of Objective Writing May Include: News articles Press release Web copy Fact sheet Any type of report Academic papers Scientific, technical and business writing One exception may be in academic writing. Although the style is normally formal, if the student has been asked to give their review or opinion on something (such as their interpretation of Lady Macbeth\'s soliloquy) then the work will remain subjective. Technical Writing Technical writing is writing communication used in technical fields such as computer hardware and software. It can also include other technical industries such as: Architecture Engineering Aeronautics Robotics Finance Science Consumer electronics Medical Biotechnology Technical published works may include articles for technical or internal corporate publications and websites, reviews, consumer-facing literature or product information. To be a technical writer is really helps to understand both the industry you are writing for/about, as well as the audience. Technical writing is very... well, technical... so it\'s vital that all the information you share is factually correct. Scientific Writing Much like technical writing, if you wish to write for scientific journals and publications you really need to understand (and preferably be qualified in) what you are writing about. Scientific writing can centre around a number of topics; everything from robotics, AI and medicine, to historical scientific discoveries and climate change. Places That Feature Scientific Writing May Include: Scientific publications or websites News articles covering scientific discoveries Internal communication for the science industry Product descriptions or reviews Academic Writing For many of us, the first piece of writing we were ever asked to produce was an academic paper at school. Whether that includes an essay, a thesis, or a dissertation - scholarly writing takes a different type of skill from the other types of writing styles above. Writing academically involves a lot of research. Whether you set out to write an objective essay (ie if you are writing an essay on a time in history or a geographical location) or a subjective piece (ie your opinion on a piece of art, literature or music) it is still really important that you research and gather all the information required, use quotes and examples to back up your theories, and use citations/a bibliography to explain your findings. An academic essay should be written in three parts - somewhat like a narrative piece of writing. How To Structure An Essay Writing an essay is a little like writing an expository article (such as this one). Once you have collated your research and made notes, split your essay into three parts. 1. IntroductionThis is where you approach the topic and explain what you are going to do. You can even write \'In this essay I will...\' 2. Main CopyThis is the part of the essay where you address the question. Depending on the length of the essay you may want to split it in to 3-6 parts. Present each argument with clear references, citations and examples (always ensuring you address the initial question). 3. ConclusionThis is the last part of the essay where you include a shorter summary of what you have discovered, answer the initial question and make your final opinion/conclusion clear. Business Writing Writing for business is one of the more lucrative types of freelance writing as the corporate world tends to have bigger budgets for copywriters. Writing about business can be both objective and subjective, covering a large range of topics from economy and finance, to politics and business development. This can range from serious pieces in publications such as Time Magazine and the New York Times, to more personal articles on a business blog or website. Business writers also cater directly to consumers. They may write expository articles and How-To guides. There is also a large market for self help business books that assist readers with their business acumen or help them gain confidence in the corporate world. Once again, it\'s important when writing for business that you understand both the subject matter and the audience, as each industry varies greatly and the tone of what you write should do too. 6 Things To Consider Before Writing When you are commissioned to write a piece, there are a number of things you must know before you start. It goes without saying that the fee and deadline are important, especially if you are a freelancer, but if you are writing as part of your day job, you need to really understand the task you have been set. Here are 6 things to consider before writing: Word Count & Objective How many words is your piece? I knew, before writing this blog post, that the word count had to fall between 3,100-3,500 words. When you know what you have to work with, you can think about flow and pacing, and how to set out your article. If you are writing for online and the object of the piece is to attract traffic, then SEO and the layout are really important. Alternatively, if your goal is to persuade a brand\'s key demographic to buy something and you are only given a small word count, it\'s vital that you choose your words carefully and are as succinct as possible. This is especially important in advertising when the designers only have a small amount of space for your words. Unique Writing Styles Every writer has a unique writing style, and that may be why you\'re commissioned to write a certain piece. Ask yourself what the client/your boss is looking for and ensure your tone fits not only the topic and style of writing you are aiming for, but that it\'s in line with everything else that publication has released. Sentence Structure How you structure a sentence matters. If you are writing something creative or poetic, you can allow yourself to have long, descriptive prose. If you are writing something technical or expository, then it\'s a lot easier for the reader to see each sentence broken down into bullet points, with lots of headers. Word Choice As above, the style of writing you have chosen will determine the choice of words you use. Will you get technical, descriptive, creative or simple? That all depends on the... Audience It is impossible to write effective sales copy, a novel, or even a blog without knowing you who are talking to. If you are writing a thriller novel, you will use a completely different writing style than if you write romance. Likewise, if you are writing for a scientific journal it will sound very different than if you are writing toy reviews. Before I began planning this article I knew I was writing for adult writers. But this blog would have looked completely different if I were describing different writing styles to high school students. Publication/Platform Likewise, it\'s really important to know where your work is going to be published. All magazines and newspapers have a house style (even book publishers do). When you are commissioned to write for a publication they will send you a guide as to what your writing should sound like (as well as what they don\'t want). Always read other pieces of work in that publication to get an idea of your audience, their style and the tone required. Frequently Asked Questions What Are The 5 Main Styles Of Writing? Narrative - a piece of writing that has a start, beginning and end. Descriptive - prose that goes into detail and pulls the reader in. Persuasive - reserved for writers trying to sell products and services, or convince readers to do something or join somewhere. Expository - a style of writing that exposes something, illuminates, educates or reveals; this can include journalism, How-To guides, non-fiction and blogs such as this one. Creative - this normally applies to novels and short stories, although you can have non-fiction work that\'s creative, such as essays and memoirs. How Do I Identify My Writing Style? An author\'s writing style is defined by two things: Voice - this is how the piece of writing sounds, what makes it unique to that writer and their point of view. Tone - the tone is identified by the vibe the piece of writing conveys. Is it serious, humorous, eerie, or pompous, even? Get It Write Getting to write for a living is an honour, but getting it right is no easy feat. The key to success as an author and freelance writer is to be adaptable, to keep learning and to understand where your strengths lie. My one piece of advice to any writer starting out in this field is to focus on two to three types of writing. Perhaps you have a background in marketing, so are good at persuasive writing and expository writing, and are also an author. In which case stick to those three. Or perhaps you come from a technical and scientific background and have written a number of How-To non-fiction books. In which case specialise in the styles you are already familiar with. However and whatever you choose to write, I hope this article has been a useful reference guide and has inspired you to get your work out there. Happy writing!

UK Literary Agents For Memoir, True Story, And Autobiographies

Have you just finished your memoir and are ready to begin your search for an agent? Well, we’re here to help!  WANT TO JUMP STRAIGHT TO THE AGENT LIST? CLICK HERE  Memoirs And Autobiographies Unless you’re a celebrity, memoirs are a notoriously tricky market to conquer. Your memoir or autobiography needs to be remarkable. It needs to captivate your reader and should be a story that no one else will be able to tell. Think Edmund de Waal’s The Hare With Amber Eyes, Empire Antartica by Gavin Francis, or Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.   What all memoirs should have in common is non-fiction narratives, based on the author’s personal experiences. You’ll need to turn your memories into excellent prose by plotting the storyline, using scenes with action, dialogue and exchanges, and allowing the readers to get to see the people, or characters, develop as the storyline progresses.   Finding an agent for any author, but especially for new writers, can be challenging. You need to find an agent who not only likes your work, but you also need to feel like you can have a professional relationship with them. They’ll be your biggest cheerleader and your most honest critic.  Whatever your story, once you’ve polished your manuscript and your submission pack there’s sure to be an agent out there who can’t wait to read it. So, where to begin?    AgentMatch And How To Use It There are plenty of memoir-loving agents, but you won\'t want to approach them all. The best way to develop and refine your own shortlist of UK agents for memoirs is to visit AgentMatch, our literary agent database, and use the search tools on the left to make your selection.  With AgentMatch you can select by genre (e.g. memoir, true story, and autobiography), country, the agent’s level of experience, their appetite for new clients, and much more. You can even save your search results and come back to them, allowing you to work through them one by one, at your own pace. Each profile has been researched thoroughly including what agents like to read in their spare time, information on their most recent deals, manuscript wishlists, submission requirements, and exclusive interviews.  You can sign-up for a 7-day free trial which will give you a good feel for the data and functionality. Or join us as a premium member and get unlimited access to AgentMatch.  UK Agents For Memoir, True Story, And Autobiographies  To get you started we’ve selected a list of 20 UK agents looking for memoirs:  [am_show_agents id=34] More Resources   We’re here to help you at every step in your writing and querying process. Check out our favourite blogs that can assist you in putting together your query letter and synopsis, and if you want valuable, personal feedback on your writing you can book a fifteen-minute One-to-One with an agent of your choice. Premium members can also get a free query letter review from our lovely Writers Support team!    Happy searching, and good luck on your querying journey!   

What Is The Turning Point Of A Story? Creating An Engaging Narrative

As readers, we want stories to keep us intrigued and excited. So as fiction writers, we often ask ourselves what makes a book unputdownable. The answer to that is ensuring your story is full of twists and turns - in other words, are there enough compelling turning points in your story to keep readers guessing and turning the pages? Every character in fiction reaches a decisive moment where they are forced to act - a crossroad which is destined to take the story in a new direction. But what is the best way to introduce those moments to your story and where do you place them? In this guide, I will be explaining what the turning point of a story is, with plenty of literary examples, and will outline a step-by-step process to help you incorporate turning points in your novel. What Is A Turning Point In A Novel? A turning point in a story is a moment in the plot when a character must make a decision that will change the course of the story. Every turn involves decisive change and either helps with character development or keeps the story moving. The choices the characters in your story make will change the direction of the plot and, in turn, their future. Sometimes that decision is theirs alone, and sometimes external factors or events may force their hand. Every turning point in a story - whether it\'s an obstacle, a choice or a decision - should be a point of no return. Case Study Before you start coming up with your own ideas, it helps to study well-known stories as examples. Let\'s focus on a fun classic. The Wizard of Oz is full of turning points. Dorothy is on a literal journey, after all, and that yellow brick road is full of twists, turns and crossroads. No matter how much a character tries, they mustn\'t be able to go backwards. After all, had Dorothy been able to return to Kansas as soon as she\'d landed in Oz, there would be no story! Meeting the Witch of the North, being given her ruby slippers, following the yellow brick road, meeting her new friends, having to steal the Wicked Witch of the East\'s broomstick, getting trapped in the castle, discovering that the wizard isn\'t real - these are all turning points in the story. Some of these moments create character development, some move the plot forward, and some add to the tension - but either way... there\'s no way back... so let\'s keep going. How Does The Turning Point Affect The Whole Story? If a turning point in your book doesn\'t effect the whole story, then it\'s not a turning point - it\'s just a choice. The first and major turning point in most books is the inciting incident; what some writers refer to as \'the call to adventure.\' If we return to Oz, we will see that Dorothy\'s main turning point is that she\'s been magically transported from her mundane life on a Kansas farm to the colourful and magical world of Oz. The original movie version makes that turning point incredibly helpful for viewers to spot as they literally turn her old black and white life into technicolour splendour. Arriving in a new world, having accidentally killed a witch with her house, and then agreeing to follow the yellow brick road in order to return home is the major turning point in the story. Without that there is no story. Much like in The Wizard of Oz, you need to ensure that the turning points in your novel affect the overall story. If, at any point, the character can make a different choice or the event has no effect on character arcs, then it\'s not a turning point. How Many Turning Points Are In A Novel? A traditional story has five turns, most of which move the action from one scene to another. First of all, let us look at the three-act structure and how a story has a beginning, middle and end (and how the turning points can help readers move from one to the other). Every Story Has Three Acts Act One In act one we meet the main character and the rest of the cast. We see what life was like before the inciting incident (ie what they have to lose or need to change). We then see the character presented with the first turning point - the crux of the story - the catalyst. In The Wizard of Oz, act one ends with Dorothy finding herself in the fantasy world of Oz. The tornado that got her there was an external driving force and a turning point. Straight away she wants to go home (who wouldn\'t?) and that\'s when she meets a good witch and is told about the yellow brick road. The choice to follow the yellow brick road is Dorothy\'s call to adventure, her literal first step on her journey to reach her goal. In any story, after some deliberation, the main character must choose to go forward with that decision and that takes them to act two. This takes you to a complete change of scene. Act Two Act two is when most of the action happens. This is the part full of adventure, trials and tribulations, the biggest obstacles, new characters, conflict, and lots of lessons learned. Within act two we should see turning points that confront the protagonist and help their character arc develop. In Dorothy\'s case, she meets the cowardly lion, the scarecrow with no brain, and the tin man with no heart. She has scary run-ins with the Wicked Witch of the West, and, when she finally reaches the Emerald City, discovers that the wizard is a fake. This is another turning point, which leads us to the next act... Act Three The final act is when all feels lost and the goal of the story is slipping through the protagonist\'s hands. Then the hero makes a decision which should be the culmination of all they have learned on their journey, helped by their self-realisation and a new-found strength. This is when Dorothy has to escape the witch and kill her, tells her friends they always had the courage, brains and compassion they were seeking, and realises she also had the power to go home all along. Now we can clearly see how a story has three acts, let\'s look at the five turning points within those acts (and remember this applies as much to novel writing as it does to screenplays and playwriting). Five Classic Turning Points: 1. The Inciting Incident This is the first plot point. Without this part, there would be no story. Dorothy lands in Oz, meets a good witch and takes the dead witch\'s red shoes. 2. A Goal This is the whole point of the story, the part when the hero decides what they want and what they must do to get it. Dorothy must follow the yellow brick road to the wizard in order to get home. 3. The Midpoint The hero goes from knowing what they want, to realising what they need. They may, and should, still waver and struggle a little, but we\'re heading towards the climax and all is going well. Dorothy has finally found the wizard! He tells her that to get home she must steal the Wicked Witch\'s broomstick. She heads for the castle... and gets captured. 4. The Dark Night Of The Soul This is where the bad guy gets the upper hand and our hero reaches rock bottom - when they (and the reader) think they will fail. The falling action. It\'s at this point that we reach the \'final push\' when the hero must dig deep and use all their strength, knowledge and resources gathered on their journey to take action. Dorothy sees a vision of her Aunt Em and finds the strength to get back home. 5. The Climax This is the final plot point which leads to the falling action and then the very end (the denouement). This is the part of the story where the turning point decides whether the hero wins or loses. Dorothy returns to the wizard, discovers the truth, and realises her ruby slippers could have gotten her home at any point. Without that last turning point, the story would not be complete. What Makes A Good Turning Point? Although the above is quite formulaic, the turning point can happen at any time in the story. The most important thing to remember is that the turning point changes everything - whether it literally changes the direction the hero is going in, provides a new perspective, reveals crucial information, or changes the trajectory of the story. Before we learn what a turning point should include, let\'s look at the type of turning points that exist. Here are five turning points that you may find in a good story. 5 Different Types Of Turning Points Every single one of these turning points either moves the plot forward, teaches the hero something, or develops their character arcs. And don\'t forget - there\'s no going back! Here are some examples... The Opportunity Most stories start with an opportunity (often the inciting incident) which leads to a turn in the story. Harry discovers he\'s a wizard and gets invited to wizard school.Frodo is tasked with taking the ring to Mordor, The Realisation The hero learns something, or they figure something out, which forces them to make a decision. Romeo falls in love with Juliet then realises she\'s a Capulet.Dorothy discovers that her shoes could have gotten her home all along. The Sacrifice The main character sacrifices themselves to achieve their goals or save someone they love. Katniss volunteers for The Hunger Games in place of her sister.Ariel gives up her voice to become human. The Leap Of Faith Our hero takes a gamble and hopes it pays off. Cinderella goes to the ball.Macbeth meets three witches and believes their predictions. The Choice The protagonist has an opportunity to change their situation. Aladdin rubs the lamp.Pi jumps into the lifeboat with all the wild animals. What A Turning Point Should Achieve Most stories include a number of major turning points which affect the rest of the story, keep the reader intrigued and drive the plot forward. But what are the rules to writing great turning points? What should they achieve? It Must Fit Into The Story All turning points should be relevant to the plot of the story. For example, the hero shouldn\'t choose to chase an elephant and ride into town on its back unless the elephant, and the town, are crucial to the storyline (even if it makes for a fun visual). The Character Should Be Challenged Don\'t make it easy for them. All main characters need to confront obstacles and face pinch points that will determine their future and move the story along. The Little Mermaid wouldn\'t be much of a story if she got her human legs but also kept her voice and was able to easily explain her situation to the prince. Changes The Course Of The Plot Every story needs conflict. That doesn\'t mean every story needs a battle or fight scene; the conflict can be emotional or spiritual, but the hero needs to find resistance. Which means every story turn must change the course of the action and move the plot forward. If Romeo hadn\'t agreed to go to the party, he wouldn\'t have met Juliet. If he hadn\'t killed her cousin, he wouldn\'t have been banished. If he\'d received the message from the priest he would have known she was faking death and he wouldn\'t have taken his own life. Keeps The Reader Hooked It\'s the sweet irony and frustration of twists and turns in a story that keeps the reader turning the pages and the viewer in their seat. The highest tension leads to decisions and choices that drive the plot forward and deepen the hero\'s experience. If a turning point doesn\'t lead to excitement of some kind, then the reader won\'t care... and nobody wants that! What\'s The Difference Between A Turning Point And A Plot Twist? One changes the course of a story (a turning point) and the other is a reveal/shock factor (a plot twist). Here are some examples from Romeo And Juliet... A turning point can be a plot twist: Romeo discovering Juliet is a Capulet. You can have a twist that isn\'t a turning point: Tybalt kills Mercutio. And a twist can lead to a turning point: Romeo gets his revenge, kills Tybalt, and is banished from Verona. See how you can combine the two and keep the pace of the story going, without having so many twists and turns that you exhaust the reader or lose credibility. What\'s The Difference Between A Turning Point And The Climax? A good turning point can be found at any point of the story, whereas the climax is only ever at the end. The climax itself doesn\'t have to be a turning point, often it\'s a natural conclusion, although you can have a turning point leading up to the climax that changes everything. As mentioned above, the \'will they won\'t they\' aspect of Romeo And Juliet keeps the audience guessing all the way through. The climax is Romeo learning that his love is dead and killing himself, with the added twist of Juliet waking up, seeing he\'s dead, and killing herself too. But the final turning point is that the grief felt by both the Montages and Capulets brings the warring family together in a way love never could. That\'s what makes this play not a love story, but a tragedy. 5 Tips For Writing Great Turning Points It Must Be Earned By The Character Don\'t make the turning point convenient for the plot. The hero must reach the point of no return through hard work, sacrifice and character building determination. Katniss has to be physically and mentally strong to beat her opponents in The Hunger Games. Her realisations are turning points, but she suffers a lot to reach them. It Develops The Character Arc A character doesn\'t grow and develop in just one scene. Their journey needs to be both physical and metaphorical. Ensure your turning points help the characters learn something about themselves - by the end of the story they should be a very different person to the character in chapter one. Frodo doesn\'t return to the Shire the same little Hobbit he was when he left the comfort of home with his best friend. Think Ahead Your turning point has to weave the story together, so it makes sense to plot and plan ahead. Ask yourself how your hero is going to get from one part of the story to the other. Give them a goal, send them on a journey, decide how they will achieve that goal - then add all the turning points that will decide the course of the story. Don\'t worry about the details at this point of plotting, simply ask yourself whether they need to make a choice, a sacrifice, learn something new, or realise something. Don\'t Force It Although each turning point should up the stakes and keep readers on the edge of their seats, never force a turning point into a scene if it doesn\'t fit. Great pacing means also having quiet moments in a story where nice things happen and everything is going to plan, as well as sections full of rising action, obstacles and decisions. As long as you know your character well and they have a goal, some of the turning points may evolve naturally as you write the novel. No Turning Back I\'ve said it once, and I shall say it again - there should be no way the character can return to the old status quo! Cinderella doesn\'t have the choice to have a quiet night in instead of going to the ball; her Fairy Godmother wouldn\'t have allowed it. Romeo has no choice but to leave Verona when he\'s banished. And Katniss can\'t change her mind about taking part in The Hunger Games. Your story can only go in one direction after each turning point... and that\'s onwards! Frequently Asked Questions What Is A Turning Point Example? A turning point in a story is a moment in time when something occurs that causes a shift or an irrevocable change in direction. In literature, that turning point may be a call to adventure, a choice they are given, a sacrifice they make, a realisation or a decision. What Is The Turning Point In A Scene? A turning point in a story can occur at any moment - whether that\'s within an act, a chapter, or a scene. In any story, the change from one scene to another is often caused by a change in direction (this can be seen visually on stage or in a movie). A great example of this is when Alice falls down the rabbit hole, the scene (and her surroundings) change dramatically. Or when Charlie wins the golden ticket and visits the chocolate factory - a completely different world to the one he was familiar with. Or when Romeo decides to join his friends at the Capulet party - again, the scene changes and so does the course of his life. In most of these cases it\'s a transitionary moment from act one to act two, but that scene change can occur at any point of the story with many other turning points ahead. What Is The First Turning Point? The first turning point is the inciting incident. This is the part of the story where the hero goes from living their normal existence to setting off on a quest/adventure/seeking a goal following a choice or external occurrence that forces them to step into a whole new world. This new world isn\'t always literal- unless you\'re writing fantasy- but it is generally outside of their comfort zone. It\'s this initial push, that first turning point, and gets the story going. Your Turn As novelists we are always striving to be better writers, because there is always something new to learn when it comes to structuring and planning a novel. So I hope this guide to turning points has been helpful. Next time you are reading a book, or watching a movie or play, see if you can spot each turning point. Are they all irreversible? Are they believable? Do they develop the character? Have they kept you glued to the page/your seat? If so, ask yourself how you can strengthen your own story and what journey you will take your character on. After all, without turning points your hero\'s journey is going to be one very long, straight, and boring road... and where\'s the fun in that?

Emotions In Writing: How To Make Your Readers Feel

When it comes to writing, people often focus on plot, character, and setting, but the emotional landscape you create in your story is important too. In this guide, you’re going to learn ten ways to convey emotions in your writing, so you can create unforgettable characters and delight your readers, immediately drawing them into your stories.   You’ll get a set of practical techniques to use, whatever kind of story you’re telling, many of which I didn’t know about when I wrote my first two novels. We’ll look at why characters are key when it comes to writing emotion and achieving emotional mastery, then I’ll answer three of the most frequently asked questions about emotions in writing.   Why Are Emotions Important In Writing? As story creators, we want readers to identify with our characters and immerse themselves in our story worlds, so they get hooked and keep reading. We do that using emotion. Emotion also helps readers gain understanding and perspective from different viewpoints, as well as providing an opportunity for them to escape from the ‘real world’ for a while.   There are three types of emotion in writing:   Emotion experienced by you, the writerEmotion experienced by the character  And an emotional response from the reader These are different things. For example, you might feel impatient to finish writing a scene, while your main character is in love, and you\'re aiming for the reader to feel suspicious. Or perhaps you’re in love with your characters, your point of view character feels guilty, and you want your reader to be desperate find out what happens next.  Consider your own emotions and whether they are ending up on the page. Here’s a fairly common example: a writer feels bored and therefore writes a scene where the characters are bored, which will bore her readers. I’m using a negative to make a point – so bear with me!  You can address how you are feeling by using Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, and by learning self-care for writers; both of which are outside the scope of this guide. Or see our article on writing and burnout for more self-care tips. There is a way of using your own emotional experiences to your advantage when writing emotions, using a theatrical technique called ‘emotion memory’ – more on that later.  Going back to the example of the bored writer writing a boring scene that bores the reader, the solution to this problem is to consider upfront what emotional effect you want to have on your reader, asking:  What do you want your reader to experience?   The best way to create an emotional response in your reader is to have them identify with your characters and fully immerse themselves in their world. If you’re telling any kind of story, whether you’re a playwright, a screenwriter, a memoirist or a novelist, the steps are the same:   Decide what you want the reader to experience. Get the reader to identify with your main characters.  Easier said than done, right? Keep reading!  Focus On Your Characters  We’ve established that, when conveying emotion in writing, the most crucial thing to consider is how to get readers to respond to your characters. Here’s one way to do that. I call it the C.A.S.E. method for short, which stands for contradictions, action, sympathy and empathy:  Well-rounded, authentic characters, just like all human beings, will have contradictions. Contradictions make characters seem real and therefore relatable. Readers like characters who take action, and who do something about the dilemma they’re in.   Initially, readers will sympathise with the main character, and want to know what happens next.  As the problems deepen, readers empathise with the character and wonder what they would do in the same situation. Empathy happens as a result of the first three.  Here’s an example from the psychological thriller Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister (2022):  The main character, Jen, feels guilty about not being a good mother, but at the same time, she’s prepared to do anything to help her son. (Contradiction)  Jen tries to solve the seemingly impossible problem she faces. (Action) We feel sorry for her because of what happens at the beginning of the book and as a result – I won’t give it away. (Sympathy)  We can stand in her shoes and see the world through her eyes because of the vivid detail McAllister uses and because of the compelling dilemma Jen faces. We wonder what we would do in a similar situation. (Empathy)  Character contradictions, action, sympathy and empathy work together. If one is missing, it feels like something is wrong! All four will affect your readers\' emotions and elicit a response in them, leading to emotional engagement – and they’ll want to keep reading.   How To Convey Emotion In Writing   So you know you need C.A.S.E., but also, in order for readers to engage, the emotions your characters experience must seem authentic. How do you do that? I’m glad you asked! Here are ten ways to convey emotion in your writing. You can use:  Observation from life Emotion memory The body  The whole message Emotional leakage Idioms Imagery Form Emotion encyclopaedias The objective correlative  1. Use Observations From Life During your day-to-day life, observe how you and others experience and exhibit emotions. What goes on in your body and mind and in your environment? What behaviours and words are associated with the emotion? If you work with other people, this technique is particularly useful. Take a breath, observe, and note down what happened later. Over time you’ll create a resource you can draw on when you’re writing. There are instances where it wouldn’t be appropriate to step back and observe in the moment, of course, but you can still make notes later. I’ve put observation first because it’s the most important.  2. Use Emotion Memory Emotion memory is a technique developed by the theatre director Stanislavski, where actors recall experiencing an emotion to enact it authentically on stage. It’s where method acting comes from! There’s a section on Stanislavski in Dramatic Techniques for Creative Writers by Jules Horne (2018) in case you want to follow this up. Here’s how to use emotion memory in your writing:  Recall a memory in as much detail as possible, using the senses.  Start small: use the memory of leaves falling from trees in a park or the hottest day in summer or your earliest memory of the festive season, for instance.  Don’t do this with troubling memories at first, and if you do want to explore more difficult or intense emotions, have someone around to talk to, plus the support of a writing group.  Now imagine you can connect to a character’s (made up) memories in a similar way. Use memory in your writing to convey the feelings that came up as you or your character remembered the past.  3. Use The Body Both observation from life and emotion memory will help with this one. Write about internal and external bodily sensations. When your character is angry, for example, where in their body do they feel it? If someone slaps them across the face, they might feel pain from the slap, and a hot sensation in the chest, or they may experience tunnel vision. Hint at these bodily experiences during the relevant scene.   For example, in the opening sequence of The Namesake – depicting the birth of the main character – Jhumpa Lahiri shows us Ashima’s emotions using:   Her contractions,  The people around her,  Her memories.   In fact, Lahiri uses observation from life, emotion memory, and the body both to show us how Ashima might be feeling as she goes into labour, and to evoke an emotional response in the reader. There’s only one paragraph where we’re told directly how she feels – ‘astonished’ and ‘terrified’ – and even that’s in the context of a recent memory. In other words, the opening of The Namesake is also a good example of communicating emotion using show not tell. You can read the opening via the ‘look inside’ feature on online bookstores.  4. Use The Whole Message   In his book Persuasion: The Art of Influencing People (2013), James Borg discusses research by sociolinguistics experts that shows:   “a [spoken] message could be classified as 55 per cent visual (non-verbal), 38 per cent vocal (such things as tone or voice, rhythm, inflection) and 7 per cent verbal (meaning the actual words used).” (p. 58)  Only 7% of spoken communication comes from the meaning of the words! When we hear people talk, we are all used to looking for clues from other sources. Your readers will do this too and will bring some of that experience to bear on your story. This means that using a character’s tone of voice and behaviour to show that they are angry or embarrassed – or even using body language instead of dialogue – will work much better than simply telling us about it.  5. Use ‘Emotional Leakage’   Related to the idea of using the ‘whole message’, James Borg also tells us that we communicate in intentional and unintentional ways. This is good news for fiction writers, because unintended ‘emotional leakage’ (body language, gestures, fleeting expressions) can give away how a character is feeling inside. For example, body language might undermine what a character is saying, showing us how they are truly feeling. Because we’re used to looking for the 93% of a message that isn’t verbal, we’ll attribute more meaning to body language than to the words a character speaks.   James Borg has also written another book, called Body Language (2008), where he explores this idea further.   We communicate through context, too: through personal circumstances, social status and presentation, through clothes, hair and personal grooming, for instance. In a story, if a character’s presentation is out of the ordinary for the situation, or conflicts with their supposed social status, this immediately causes intrigue.   For instance, when a character who looks as if he spent the night under a hedge turns up as the replacement vicar at a wedding service, the reader will wonder what’s going on and why. Your character\'s thoughts and contexts can usefully contradict other aspects of what they say and do, so you can use context and ‘emotional leakage’ together. For example, if a character turns up to her daughter’s wedding with two black-eyes and a hangover and tells everyone she’s fine, the reader will know that\'s not the case.   Agatha Christie frequently uses emotional leakage to indicate how her characters are really feeling, but also to trick us with misdirection and red herrings.   For instance, near the beginning of Sad Cypress (1940), Mrs Welman’s two nurses are talking over tea, and we get a scene involving mainly dialogue. We learn that “Nurse O’Brien pursed her lips and put her head on one side” and a few lines later “over their steaming cups the women drew a little closer together.”   A few paragraphs further on, we hear that Mrs Welman woke in the night asking for a photograph of Lewis, a handsome man who was not her husband. Christie tells us that “Nurse Hopkins had a long nose, and the end of it quivered a little with pleasurable emotion.”  The two nurses are acting as if they are proper while we know they are gossiping. What’s more, the reader is listening in, sharing in the gossip.   6. Use Idioms Used sparingly, idioms are a handy shortcut: readers will know what you mean. \'Her heart sank\', for example, lets us know the bodily sensation and the emotion in three words. More interestingly, you can play with idioms. Rewrite them. Invent your own. Write the opposite. However, don’t rely solely on idioms to convey emotion, and avoid using idioms repeatedly. Some emotional idioms are so well-worn they’ve become clichés: a ray of light representing hope, for instance. Generally, if it’s difficult to imagine it happening to you or in front of you, or if it doesn’t communicate what you want to say in enough depth, it’s probably a cliché, so is best avoided.   7. Use Imagery What is the emotion like when it happens to you or your character? Observation from life and emotion memory will help once again. For example, in my first novel I described a character feeling mortified by saying she ‘went cold slowly, like someone was pouring cold custard over [her] head.’ In the same novel, I described emotional pain which was ‘like a stone in the middle of [her] chest.’ In both of these examples, I was using an image to describe the bodily sensation experienced by the character, which would then (hopefully) convey the emotion to the reader without naming it.   Years after my second novel was published, I realised I was far too fond of using balloon images. For instance, ‘Alex felt as deflated as a popped balloon’, and ‘Mrs Brown’s face [hovered] in front of her like a balloon’, and ‘the words bursting out of her mouth like balloons.’   Unfortunately, when I want to convey emotions, I immediately think of cold custard, stones, and balloons, like I’ve invented my own personal clichés! So be aware that you may have to ‘murder your darlings’ if you grow too fond of particular images like I did. In my current work-in-progress, I’m having to edit for internal stones and balloon images – I managed to avoid the custard!  Ask yourself how deep you want to go: to convey deep emotion, use your own imagery. To avoid slowing the pace, use quick idioms, but do so sparingly.   8. Use Form   You don’t have to be writing concrete poetry or avant-garde fiction to use form to convey emotion. This simply means invoking an emotional reaction in your reader – usually to illustrate how a character is feeling – using the shape of the writing. You could create a fast pace and short clipped sentences to show anger, and give us poignancy and sadness using a slow pace and long sentences, for example.   At the beginning of Jośe Saramago\'s novel Blindness the dialogue isn’t punctuated, creating a sense of confusion after a character goes blind. Saramago replicates what it would be like to suddenly go blind – to hear voices but not know who is talking – so that the reader’s confusion matches the character’s.  9. Use Emotion Encyclopaedias I’ve left emotion encyclopaedias and resources until near the end of this list of techniques because you need to use at least a couple of the others in conjunction with them. However, doing some research is useful, especially if your POV character is experiencing things that you never have, and if they are very different to you.   You can find lists of emotions online. For example, google ‘emotion wheels’ or ‘feeling wheel’ and you’ll likely find a diagram you can download and put up on the wall in your writing space. You can use the emotions on the wheel to brainstorm how a character experiencing that emotion might behave or what body language they might display or what bodily sensations they might notice.   Emotion reference books for writers include: The Emotion Thesaurus by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman (2019), Body Beats to Build On: A Fiction Writer\'s Resource by April Gardner (2019) and Character Reactions from Head to Toe by Valerie Howard (2019).  10. Use An Objective Correlative The objective correlative, or what we called the OC where I used to teach, was made famous by T.S. Eliot. In fact, Eliot said the objective correlative was the only way to communicate an emotion to a reader, which is why I’ve left it till last. There’s no need to read up on literary the theory unless you want to; as readers and viewers we’re used to seeing this technique in action, especially in films.   It’s where a writer uses a thing – an object or a place or event (even the weather) – to invoke an emotional response in the reader, and therefore, in a story, to demonstrate how a character feels, without mentioning the emotion. Earlier I said that using a ray of sunlight to suggest hope is a bit of a cliché. It’s also an example of the OC. Watch a few Hollywood blockbusters and see if you can spot some more over-used examples of the objective correlative! They are often weather or nature-related.  Here’s another example. If I tell you that a character walked home in the rain, got soaked by a passing car, only to discover they were locked out of their house, you’ll probably assume they feel miserable. There’s nothing intrinsic about water or losing your keys that means you have to feel miserable. The OC works for two reasons, because the reader or viewer:  Puts themselves in the character’s shoes almost automatically – we ask how we would feel if the same thing happened to us. Assumes that you’re showing us this rain-soaked character for a reason, otherwise why would they be there? Elements of a story are supposed to communicate something – so we attribute meaning to them.  Notice how, for the OC to work, you have to use show rather than tell. In fact, the objective correlative is, at least partly, a formal way of saying ‘show don’t tell’. Conversely, if you’re not sure how to show instead of tell, then try the OC. Use a thing to represent an emotion.  Emotional Writing: Top Tips  Here are three top tips for conveying and evoking emotion in writing:  1.  If you try any of the above techniques, make it observation from life. Stepping back and observing the life around you will help more than anything else.   2. Remember that your emotional response, your readers’, and your characters’ are all different, but will have an impact on each other.   3. As with all things in writing, conveying emotion is about balance. Think about whether you want the pace to slow down or speed up, for example, when editing a scene.   Frequently Asked Questions In this section I’ll answer three of the most asked questions in relation to emotions in writing:   How do you show emotions in dialogue? What are emotional beats in writing? Why is emotion important in literature?  How Do You Show Emotions In Dialogue? When writing dialogue it’s often better to show your reader your character’s emotions by embedding small details and actions between the lines of speech. The scene from Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie that I mentioned earlier is an example of this. You’re also giving the reader the chance to visualise where the characters are in space. By the way, it’s usually better not to use adverbs after speech tags, which are a ‘tell’ rather than a ‘show.’   Embedding a lot of action and detail in dialogue slows the pace, so consider how fast you want the scene to move and vary the pace across the story as a whole.    Occasionally use the following during the dialogue to show us the emotion:  body language,  facial expressions,  interaction with the environment internal bodily sensations (quick ones, from the point of view character)   What Are Emotional Beats In Writing?  Embedding small details and actions between the lines of speech can be described as ‘adding emotional beats’ to your dialogue. That is, moments of pause where you show us your character\'s feelings and what they\'re experiencing, even when it’s only a raised eyebrow.   At a structural level, emotional beats are the moments when a character has an emotional response to an event, and it motivates them to take action. Emotional beats are, therefore, like the character taking a breath before continuing to solve the dilemma set up at the beginning of the story.   You’ll want a character to be doing something active during the emotional response. Being overcome by grief or realising they’re in love while working on the checkout at a supermarket or arranging flowers in a hospital, for example, works better than the same thing happening when they are lying in bed or watching TV.   Why Is Emotion Important In Literature? We turn to stories to entertain us and also to help us to make sense of the world. Emotions are important in literature because they help us to understand people better, enabling us to practise empathy and problem-solving through reading. In fact, researchers have proved that literature graduates are more empathetic! Deep emotions transport us into the world of the story, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves and escape our ‘real world’ problems for a while.   From a writing point of view, we can use emotions to draw readers into the story and keep them hooked. If your story lacks emotional impact, it’s likely you need to work on the characterisation and on ‘show not tell’. If you want to learn to evoke emotion, start there.   And Finally... I hope you have enjoyed this guide and that it will help you to develop the confidence to try different ways of expressing intense emotion through your writing. It’s such a thrill to hear a reader say that your work has affected them. Remember that characterisation and achieving an emotional impact on your reader are key to conveying emotion, so put aside some time to try out the ten techniques listed with this in mind.  Don’t forget – the emotional effect you want to achieve will come through redrafting. So keep going!  

Writing Techniques- How To Refine Your Story

One of the hardest things to gauge as writers is, perhaps, whether our writing is any good. Honestly, many published authors experience this too.   There is one thing we can do to ensure we keep improving though – refine our stories by using writing techniques.  In this article, we’ll go through different writing techniques, list writing technique examples, and note how we can use them to take our stories to a whole new level.  What Are Writing Techniques?  As authentic, racy, or tear-jerking as your plot might be, the storytelling comes down to every single sentence. The skilful execution of sentences and their syntax is called a writing technique. We can observe this skillfulness in the choice of tense for a scene or setting, point-of-view narrative, and other literary devices chosen by the writer.   Useful Writing Techniques To Enrich Your Work  Using writing techniques, consciously, makes our writing stronger. So, let’s look at some of the best techniques and writing styles we could adopt:   Playing With Time  Using time in certain ways can be very effective. It can involve literal time travel or just a travel in time, like a flash-forward or a flashback.   You could even use time to slow down a situation in the story, or speed it right up. This is often a well-handled technique in popular fiction. Take a look at this passage:  Hermione didn’t turn up for the next class and wasn’t seen all afternoon... Harry and Ron overheard Parvati Patil telling her friend Lavender that Hermione was crying in the girls’ bathroom and wanted to be left alone.  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling The passage of time here is not as important as the passage of that time in Hermione’s absence is. Time (a whole afternoon) has been squeezed in to drop in information that’s important later on in the story.   Point Of View Narratives  Every narrator is unreliable to some degree, because they’re human, even if fictional. Using POV narratives with multiple characters takes this human limitation to a whole other level. Naturally, it works very well in mysteries, thrillers, and crime fiction. Think The Da Vinci Code, Gone Girl, and The Girl On The Train.   Using various POV narratives is a good way to eliminate stagnation, especially if your plot is complex and your story is somewhat slow. George R R Martin does this in his mammoth fantasy novel series A Song Of Ice And Fire, popularly known as the Game Of Thrones television series.   Subversion Of Clichés  Every writer is bound to have fallen into the cliché sinkhole at one point or another – the mousy librarian, the girl in high heels, the good-looking chauvinist. Well, you know them. Nothing wrong with clichés, except sometimes they’re overdone and boring.   Lately though, one of the frontrunners in subverting clichés is Disney. In aiming to stay relevant for kids of the new generation, they’re now rich with a Cinderella who wants nothing but to design and sell dresses; a male fairy-godparent with an exquisite taste in fashion; Princess Merida (from the movie Brave) who runs wild, loves archery and couldn’t care less about princes; Princess Fiona who sacrifices her beauty to be with the love of her life – an ogre, Shrek; and Maleficent who becomes an adoptive mother (and true love) to Sleeping Beauty Aurora.   These subversions make for very satisfying stories retold for the current times. They add immense didactic value to a whole genre – fairytales. Comparative Descriptions  We’re all fond of metaphors and similes, aren’t we? But it can get tiring to read the same old Her eyes were blue as the seas or Her words cut him like a knife in descriptive writing. There’s a line from a debut novel When Dimple Met Rishi by author Sandhya Menon that has a descriptive writing style which is neither cliché nor purple: His eyes reminded her of old apothecary bottles, deep brown, when the sunlight hit them and turned them almost amber.  When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon There are other kinds of comparative descriptions too: personification (Look at that sad bungalow; no one lives in it); pathetic fallacy (Even the sun gave up soon that day and by the time he reached home the sky was well and truly blue);and anthropomorphism where the personification is very literal (Pinocchio, the wooden boy that came to life).   Lyrical Writing  One of the things we might not often think about when we write is how the text sounds. This is important in all kinds of writing, from persuasive writing to narrative writing. Those with a flair for lyrical writing are able to create compelling prose, using sounds to great effect.   Using assonance (repeated vowel sounds), consonance (repeated consonant sounds), and alliteration can easily draw the reader’s attention. Here’s a passage from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, where Rowling uses consonance and alliteration to draw the reader’s focus toward Professor Umbridge’s speech:   “The Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young witches and wizards to be of vital importance... There again, progress for progress\'s sake must be discouraged, for our tried and tested traditions often require no tinkering...” Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling Funnily enough, most characters don’t pay much attention to it, even though we as readers can see, clearly, that Umbridge (on behalf of the Ministry) intends to meddle with the school’s affairs. It’s a clever usage of lyrical quality in expository writing to foreshadow the plot development.   Irony  The above scene, where readers are privy to Professor Umbridge’s true intentions, yet the characters are not, is an instance of dramatic irony. Situational irony is another variation, where a character finds themselves in the exact opposite situation of what’s normal for, or expected of, them. There’s an episode in the popular 90s sitcom Friends, where Joey plays a neurosurgeon in a fictional television drama who then dies of brain damage.   Irony sure spices things up, be it for comedy or foreboding development, or in the above case, both.   Sensory Appeal  There’s a common tendency to describe a setting as the narrator sees it. Not including what they smell, hear, feel and taste can sometimes make the writing stale. All the text needs is a bit of varied sensory language. There’s a passage from the bestselling thriller Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn that captures the first kiss of the protagonist and her husband with a literal, kind of sickening, sweetness:  As we turn the corner, the local bakery is getting its powdered sugar delivered... we can see nothing but the shadows of the deliverymen in the white, sweet cloud... Nick pulls me close and smiles that smile again, and he takes a single lock of my hair between two fingers and runs them all the way to the end, tugging twice, like he’s ringing a bell. His eye­lashes are trimmed with powder, and before he leans in, he brushes the sugar from my lips so he can taste me. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn Flynn has made use of the senses of taste and touch, to turn a kiss into something ominous. This is further pronounced by Flynn’s use of kinesthetic imagery in the phrases “turn the corner” and “like he’s ringing a bell”.   Suffice it to say that making use of these writing techniques consciously can bring about great results. Now, let’s look into a few ways in which you can use these writing styles in your own stories to develop good prose.  Useful Writing Techniques To Enrich Your Work  Foreshadowing If you’d like to keep your reader hooked to your story, then, try foreshadowing to make the reader feel anxious for your character.  Multiple POVs  If your story is a family drama and rather slow, consider moving the plot along through multiple-character POV narrations. Subvert Clichés Why not try subverting the cliché of ‘happy endings’ in your romance? What if your protagonists decide that marriage is not for them, and instead explore how a platonic friendship is actually a better fit for them? The happy ending, then, is a healthy and mature friendship instead of the idealised marriage.  Try Something Unique Let’s say you’d like to write a story on environmental pollution. What if you anthropomorphised water and detailed its struggle with contamination of various kinds?  Experiment If your character is on the hunt for a killer, try sending them to a blues concert where the singer sings a song with alliteration in the lyrics, hiding clues. This can draw the reader’s attention while leaving your character clueless. That’s dramatic irony and lyrical writing in one go.  Use The Senses If you need to describe mundane information, try drawing the reader into the intimate sensory perceptions of your character. It is a sure-shot way to hold the reader’s attention.   Frequently Asked Questions  What Are The 7 Writing Techniques?  The seven writing techniques are: Playing with time Point-of-view narratives Subversion of clichés Comparative descriptions Lyrical writing Irony Sensory appeal  What Is Good Writing?  If you put some time between the first edit and the final one, you can pay more attention to the creative writing techniques used and see how well they serve your story. Conscious self-editing of these writing styles is perhaps the closest measure of good writing.  Writing Techniques Whether you\'re looking for ways to enliven your writing style, or are keen to develop your writing skills, I hope this article has been helpful. Experiment, have fun, and see what works for you!
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