November 2022 – Jericho Writers
Jericho Writers
167-169 Great Portland street, 5th Floor, London, W1W 5PF
UK: +44 (0)330 043 0150
US: +1 (646) 974 9060

Our Articles

Story Timelines: How To Structure Your Narrative

Time is such an enigmatic concept in a story. A lifetime could last only a paragraph, and a week an entire book! A timeline is every writer’s mind map. How we use a timeline helps us make sense of both time (in the story) and the story itself.  In this article, we\'ll define the term story timeline, and provide our best tips to help you create timelines that serve your story well.  What Is A Story Timeline?  A story timeline is essentially the arrangement of important events that occur in a story. Every story has a beginning, middle, and end, but they don’t necessarily need to be told in that order. We can choose the sequence of significant events that best grips the reader.  The arrangement of a timeline essentially occurs in three steps. Beats, stories, and plots. A beat is a single event, as yet unconnected to the other events in the book. A story is a collection of multiple beats presented in order. A plot is the context that conveys why the beats belong together in the story, sequentially, if not chronologically.   How To Structure Your Story Timeline  Structuring your story timeline essentially gives you a sequential framework. There are four types of story timeline – linear, fractured, framed and real-time.    Linear Story Timeline  When story events are presented in the order they occur in, they create a linear story timeline. The story can contain a few flashbacks to provide some backstory, but the primary narrative is chronological. The Harry Potter series by J K Rowling works with such a linear story timeline, with a few flashbacks that act as supporting information to the main story.   Fractured Story Timeline  When a non-linear timeline story is told with frequent back and forth between the past, present and/or future, it’s called a fractured timeline story. The beats of the story are not in the sequence they occur in. Think the movie Memento. The ending of the movie is presented in colour at the beginning of the film, and the beginning of the movie is presented in black and white towards the ending of the film, with the complete story merging in the middle to make sense. This fractured story timeline helps the audience experience the protagonist, Leonard’s, memory loss.  Framed Story Timeline  When a story has one major flashback, with the narrator walking others through it, it’s called a framed story timeline. It’s a story within a story. Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is a classic example of such a narrative with the he-said-she-said nature of it adding to the gothic quality of the story arc.   Real-Time Story Timeline  A linear story with no breaks in terms of flashbacks or flashforwards can still be compelling. In fact, a real-time story is exciting because time in the story moves exactly as it does for the reader. Take Scottish author Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series, for instance. The characters in his novel age with the publication dates. Inspector Rebus, who is said to have been born in 1947, retires at 60 years of age in the 2007 novel Exit Music.  How To Create Your Story Timeline  Creating a story timeline can help keep your story free of plot holes and give you a sense of direction whilst writing. Here’s how you can create your story timeline:  Age matters: Decide on the age of your characters and how old they’ll be when the story begins and ends. Knowing what portion of your character\'s life you want to include is key whether you\'re writing one novel, the first story in a series with separate timelines, or a multiple timeline narrative. Set it up: Zero in on a primary location for the beginning, middle and ending acts, unless, of course, it remains the same throughout. The setting of your story will induce the mood for both you and your readers.   Inciting event: Knowing at which point in the three-act structure you want the inciting event to take place will help determine the overarching narrative flow.  Character’s goals: What is the goal of your main character(s) and why? This not only dictates each character arc, but also the plot’s narrative arcs.    Resolution: What is the event that your main characters are headed towards? The primary goal/obstacle is the whole point of your book, so deciding when and how to bring the resolution about is imperative.  How To Write A Multiple Timeline Story  When a story has two or more periods of time coming together, it’s called a multiple timeline story. Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a good example of a narrative with more than one timeline.   If you’d like to attempt a story with two timelines or more, here’s how you can do it:  Decide on your primary timeline. It should ideally take precedence over the additional timelines you\'ve planned for. An 80/20, or at least a 70/30 split is a good idea. This will keep your reader focused on what’s important.   Be clear about the story for each timeline. Your reader shouldn’t greatly prefer one timeline over the other. This is even more important if you’re writing a 50/50 split multiple timeline story.  Map out the beats of the different timelines separately and sequentially. This way, you won’t mess up or mix up plots, and you can then connect the dots between, and/or converge, your beats.  When and how do you want the multiple timelines to converge? Knowing your transition point is crucial when crafting the story arcs for multiple timelines. Look for the beats and characters that have the maximum impact in your story; those are the ones that lend well to the transition point.  Top Tips For Creating A Story Timeline  Here are some top tips for creating your own story timeline: Knowing which type of story timeline is the right one for you is crucial. The type of plot/overall narrative arc you’re aiming for will help you decide this.  Make sure you have your three-act plot structure ready. This will help you flesh out your story.   If you have multiple point-of-view narration, create a timeline for each character and ensure they fit in neatly for your transition point.  Frequently Asked Questions  How Do You Write A Timeline Story?  To write a timeline story you need a clear three-act structure which includes details about your protagonist\'s age, your setting(s), and your key plot points.   What Are Time Markers In A Story?  A timeline is constructed based on the time markers of the story. Some of the time markers are the character’s age, the setting (e.g. season, time of day), duration of the story, and the three-act structure which dictates the story\'s shape.  Creating Story Timelines The past, present, and future don’t always come in chronological order when you\'re weaving a tale. But they don’t have to get muddled up in our minds; they can be structured sequentially, if not chronologically. Many writers find that creating a story timeline helps keep their plots clear, their character arcs solid, and their narrative structures strong. No matter what writing stage you\'re in, having clarity on your story timeline will help you stay on top of the game.  

Tension In Writing: How To Grip Your Readers

We all dream of that day we read a review that says, “I couldn’t put this book down”. We want our readers to be eager to turn the pages; but how do we achieve that?   By using tension. That’s how.  Tension is not an easy technique to learn as a new writer, but it is essential for a long and fulfilling writing career. In this article, I will explain what tension is, why it is important to a story, and how to create it on the pages of your next work in progress.   What Is Tension? Tension building is a phrase used in creative writing circles when discussing the conflict that is explored in the novel by the main characters.   It is essential to know that to create tension, you must first give your readers something to be afraid for; but be aware, being afraid of something is not the same as being afraid for something.   Being afraid of something is to fear something that may harm you; being afraid for something means to be worried that it might be harmed in some way. The it being something your character cares deeply for, or desires.  Think of this in the context of your novel. You want your reader to be worried that something could get in the way of what your character truly desires. You want readers to be fearful that something will get in the way of the protagonist\'s ultimate happiness.   Tension Vs Suspense Although many will see these two terms as being interchangeable, they often work hand in hand, but they are not the same.   Tension happens as your reader anticipates conflict (that thing that is stopping your character getting what they really want) impacting the thing your protagonist desires the most.   Suspense grows steadily throughout the course of a novel while the conflict remains unresolved.   You can’t have tension, or even suspense, without a central conflict.   Why Is Tension Important In A Story? We now know that conflict (that thing stopping your character getting what they want) leads to tension (that thing that makes us care about the character resolving the conflict) which in turn leads to suspense (as we keep that resolution of the conflict from them).   This results in your reader feeling a compulsive need to keep turning the pages.   Tension is also about tapping into the emotion of your character and creating a presumed emotional impact if they don’t get what they truly desire. You are creating an emotional connection between your protagonist and your reader, encouraging emotional investment.  So, why is tension important? Essentially, without it, you will have a dull book that your reader does not feel emotionally invested in or compelled to finish.  Which Genres Rely on Tension? I don’t believe there is a single genre that does not use and embrace tension.   Thrillers, mystery, suspense and even horror are easy to identify as those that rely on strong tension on the page, but the truth is, you can (and should) create and build tension in any genre.   Take romance for example, and Romeo and Juliet. The tension in that story is created by telling the reader that it matters little how much the pair love each other, as their love is forbidden. Shakespeare created a central conflict so strong that it in turn created tension on the page for the reader.   How To Create Tension In Writing There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to building tension on the page – but there are 8 simple steps you can follow to make sure you have your reader begging for just one more page before bed.  Character Led Conflict To create tension in your novel, first your readers need to care about the protagonist. It\'s essential that you have well developed characters that your readers find themselves rooting for. You need to find the one thing your character wants the most in life.  Then, find a way to keep it from them.   The key here is to make sure this is specific to this character. To their life. It must be something that will emotionally affect them if they don’t achieve it; but here is the kicker, your reader needs to care too.   Your reader needs to want your character to achieve their goal as much as they do. So, dig deep and find out what they really want, and just what they are prepared to do to get it.     Conflicting Characters With Opposing Goals The best way to keep something from your character, is to create someone (or something) to keep them from their goal. Your reader wants to see your character\'s personality develop as they fight to achieve their goal, so put someone in their path with opposing goals or give them something to fight against. This rising conflict will increase tension and keep the reader engaged. If you want your reader to be a page turning cheerleader, give they something to cheer for.  Raise The Stakes – Then Raise Them Again! What does your character stand to lose if they don’t achieve their goal? How will it change them, affect them, harm them? How close can you get them to their goal before taking it away again?   You want your reader to want to jump into the book and fight for your protagonist.   For narrative suspense and tension, you want your character to try and fail multiple times. Many authors use the rule of three, although it’s not a ‘rule’. In essence, have your character fail twice, each time raising the stakes, before they eventually succeed.     Pacing Is Key Pace is key, pace is King!   Creating tension and suspense does not mean that every single chapter needs to be fast moving.   Fast paced chapters, urgent, sharp and to the point, will create forward momentum and a sense of urgency; but slower paced chapters can be gentle, giving your character a chance to reflect on what they want and why.   Slower paced chapters can also be packed with the emotion you need to get your reader to care. Play with pace; it can make or break a successful novel.  Create Curiosity In Your Reader One of the best ways to create and sustain tension as your story progresses is to keep your reader asking questions and engaged at all times. It’s essential to keep your reader curious, so have them asking enough questions in those quiet moments to keep them turning the pages.   Internal And External Conflict Internal conflict is just as important to tension as external conflict. Although we mention creating something or someone to keep your main character from their goal a lot, often the most difficult conflict to overcome is the one in your own head.   How is your character stopping themselves from getting what they want? Fighting external sources is a great way to create fast paced chapters, but those quiet moments are when the internal struggle of your character will show itself. What do they need to change within themselves to achieve happiness?    Master The Sub Plot Sub plots are your friends! Embrace them.   You don’t want your characters to live in a one-dimensional world. External factors and other people’s lives will affect your characters journey. How can you use the sub plot(s) to raise the stakes? Tension coming from multiple sources will create a sense that the world is closing in, adding to a sense of urgency and emotion on the page. You can even add a plot twist or two to keep the reader interested. The Ticking Time Bomb  From some of the earliest books we read as readers, to some of the most successful novels ever published, we see authors using the ‘ticking time bombs’ to add tension.   Take Cinderella for example; there was literally a clock ticking down to her reveal. Another more contemporary example might be that of Dan Brown in his Robert Langdon books; working against the clock to solve the mystery before anyone else is hurt.   Introducing a time limit/deadline injects your story with stress - having your characters work against the clock (either towards an actual or an imposed deadline) will force your protagonist to make snap decisions, heightening anxiety and conflict.  Top Tips For Creating Tension Now, we know what tension is, we know the difference between tension and suspense, and we know that conflict is key; but how exactly do you implement that in written form?  Use All Your Senses Your characters should be fully formed, well rounded people, so don’t forget that they have more than one sense. Don’t just see; touch, taste, hear, and smell your surroundings. Immerse your character and you will immerse the reader. Have them feel ‘that icy breath’ on their neck, or the ‘quickening of my heart, a stampede through the African plains of my chest’. Don’t just tell them how to feel, make them feel it.  Use Short Sentences Play with sentence length, structure, and cadence. Placing short sentences together will force a quickened pace of reading. Use the cadence of your sentences to emphasise sudden events, or wistful moments. If you want the reader to feel a quick heartbeat, try mimicking the rhythm of a heartbeat with the words on the page.   Consider Your Language Think about the words you use and when. Use panic heavy conjunctions to emphasise pace and speed. Panic conjunctions such as ‘suddenly’ are often overused, but you could try ‘abruptly’, or ‘unexpectedly’ or even ‘without warning’.   If you want the reader to see, feel and hear your character, make sure the language matches the action.  Use Your Surroundings The weather can be, and is often, used to help create tension, suspense, and emotion on the page. Pathetic fallacy is where we attribute emotions or feelings to weather patterns.   For example, ‘the flowers danced in the breeze’ - now we know that flowers don’t dance, but this description allows the reader to know that this scene is a serene one.   Whereas, with ‘the wind whispered its secrets through the trees’ - we know that wind doesn’t whisper, but this sense of foreboding creates tension on the page.   Frequently Asked Questions How Do Writers Create Tension And Suspense?  There is no hard and fast rule– but there are 8 simple steps you can follow to make sure you are creating tension and suspense.  Create character led conflict   Characters with opposing goals   Raise the stakes   Perfect your pacing  Create curiosity   Balance internal and external conflict  Master the sub plot   Consider a ticking timebomb  How Do You Create Tension On The Page And In Dialogue? Here are some of mytop tips for increasing tension on the page and in dialogue: Be clever with your use of short sentences, sentence structure and cadence  Use all your senses  Consider your language carefully - try using panic conjunctions and pathetic fallacy  Use interruptions during dialogue  Narrate tense moments in between dialogue  What Are The Four Types Of Tension?  Tension in fiction can generally be grouped into one of these four categories:  Tension of the task  Tension of relationships  Tension of surprise  Tension of mystery  What Is The Difference Between Tension And Suspense?   Tension happens as your reader anticipates conflict - that thing that is stopping your character getting what they really want - impacting the thing your protagonist desires the most.   Suspense grows steadily throughout course of a novel while the conflict remains unresolved.   Creating Tension Mastering the skill of tension requires practise, but once mastered, you will have a loyal following of readers always eager to come back and read more. It’s all about balance, nuance and detail. Give your reader just enough time to breathe before you set them off running again, and always give them something to run towards.  

What Is New Adult Fiction? All You Need To Know

Despite having been branded as an ‘emerging’ market for the last ten years, new adult fiction remains shrouded in heated debate. Whilst it has acquired cult status among readers and authors alike, there are a great many publishers who are reluctant to acknowledge it as an established category. The question is -why?  To answer this question for you, I will define new adult fiction, include some examples, and suggest tips for writing it. Most importantly, I will explain how you might want to tackle these controversies in your submissions.  What Is New Adult Fiction?    New adult fiction books (NA) are narratives that explore the transition from late adolescence to early adulthood. They\'re considered the next step after young adult fiction and they\'re typically aimed towards readers aged 18-25. It\'s less a genre and more a subcategory of either YA or adult fiction. The protagonists in NA titles, much like their demographic, are new to “adulting” and don’t yet feel like functional adults. The topics frequently explored in these stories are:   Moving away from home for the first time  Starting higher education  Deeper exploration of sexual experiences, identity and gender  Establishing careers  Figuring out relationships – familial, platonic and romantic NA helps maturing readers, who are new to adulthood, find their footing… at least this is what many believe it\'s for. Naturally, there\'s some speculation.  The Controversy Of New Adult Fiction When NA first came onto the scene in around 2009 – thanks to a competition run by St Martin Press - the response was essentially YA fiction but notched up a gear. This included the sexual content. It wasn’t long until the new adult genre was characterised as thinly veiled erotica that took place at university. This in itself is no bad thing; people can read and write what they want. The hitch is that the refrain that NA titles are just YA romance novels with more sex still plagues the category today and this has made it hard to market and sensibly shelve in bookshops. Deirdre Power, an assistant editor at Usborne, said ‘while there’s a really valid reason for children’s books to be divided into age categories, you can’t generally say the same for adult fiction.’ Once eighteen, readers are simply trusted to make their own decisions. In fact, the popularity of Sally Rooney’s Normal People, featuring university aged characters, demonstrates that adult readers are not typically dissuaded from reading titles with younger protagonists. They may be dissuaded, however, if a book\'s marketed for a specific age range. This means positioning a book away from a mass of readers who would have otherwise bought it. This is why NA can be vague as a marketing ploy. After all, does anyone ever really feel like an adult?   However, new adult books have not gone away, and the sexual content they sometimes contain is becoming less of a concern. Laura Bennett at the Liverpool Literary Agency said ‘in my experience, I’ve found that publishers are trying to be more sex positive. I think Tik Tok has a huge part to play in this.’ As a result, she’s found that publishers are increasingly asking for titles with “crossover potential” … which is essentially jargon for new adult. Laura speculated that the perpetual grey area could be attributed to a wider issue with age ranges in the YA market. ‘YA has become such a huge bracket. Is it 12-18yr olds or is it 16-18yr olds? Children are always going to read older than they are. But equally, I wouldn’t want my 10yr old reading upper YA because it’s in the 12+ section’. If there was consistent delineation, it would help with marketing and shelving. ‘We have to nurture mature readers, while still protecting younger readers. There needs to be that balance. If you insert new adult into the opposite end of that scale, it gives us the opportunity to say “Yes, this is for older readers, but it is still fairly safe”’. This begs the question though… what actually sets YA and NA apart?  New Adult Vs Young Adult Fiction Young adult fiction titles are books written for readers aged 13 - 18. With teenaged protagonists, they explore the challenges of adolescence or coming of age. New Adult Fiction differs in 5 key areas:   Target audience – NA’s target audience is both older and broader. It\'s targeted at 18-25 year olds, though many believe it\'s 18-30.   Word count – Whereas YA is usually around 60,000 words, NA titles can be anything up to 120,000. NA authors can get into politics, themes and worldbuilding a lot more.  Content – NA titles can provide more detail with their ‘adult’ content. This includes more swearing, violence, sex and drugs.   Voice – NA protagonists have a different set of priorities and concerns than their younger counterparts. They\'re older but not on an equal footing with adults that possess well-established careers, families, and lifestyles.  Themes  - NA focuses on three areas of identity: romance, career and worldview. There are more mature themes with more complexity than in YA. YA often focuses on the external, whereas NA focuses on the internal.  Examples Of New Adult Titles A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas – After killing a faerie, 19-year-old Feyre is held hostage. This popular Beauty and the Beast adaptation is darker, sexier and grittier than YA.  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – When identical twins Cath and Wren head to college, they must each find their place, dealing with independence and social anxiety. Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour – 22-year-old Darren ditches his job as a barista and becomes a salesman who\'ll do anything to get ahead. This explores the challenges of racism in the workforce, establishing a first career and balancing life.  The Incendiaries by R O Kwon – Will starts at Edwards College and turns his back on religion, then he and his friend get involved with a cult. This explores worldview, grief and self-identity.  Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan – 22-year-old Ava moves to Hong Kong and strikes a relationship with British banker Julian. Things get complicated, however, when she meets Edith. If We Were Villains by M L Rio - Seven young actors study Shakespeare at an elite college, until one of them is found dead. This is a dark ‘campus novel’ exploring morality and social identity. Tips For Writing New Adult Fiction Audience The biggest mistake NA authors make is oversimplifying things by writing too young for an adult audience and too graphically for YA. Be clear about who you\'re writing for and ensure your protagonist embodies this in both mindset and maturity – the rest will fall into place.   Themes The circumstances of your story should sync with your character. Your themes need to feel reflective of where they are in life.  Genre Given publishers’ hesitancy acknowledging the term ‘new adult’ you may want to consider using other buzz words in your query letter. I\'d recommend using the phrase ‘XX with crossover appeal’. If the setting\'s firmly academic, then you may want to label your title as a ‘campus novel’.  Frequently Asked Questions What Is The Difference Between New Adult And Adult Fiction? The new adult category is considered a subsection of adult fiction. New adult readers are typically aged 18-25 and adult fiction is aimed at anyone over the age of 18.  What Is The Difference Between Young Adult And New Adult Fiction?  YA fiction titles are written for young adults/readers aged 13 - 18, with similarly aged protagonists, and they explore the challenges of coming of age. New adult titles are aimed at 18–25-year-olds, and have older protagonists facing the new demands of legal agency and responsibility.  Writing NA Fiction The increase in ‘crossover appeal’ on editors’ wish lists speaks for itself. New adult is far more than sexy romance. It\'s a robust category that offers authors the chance to tackle important topics that are pertinent to early adulthood. Not unlike the readers these books aim to represent, the NA market is in a period of transition. The question of when it can go from ‘emerging’ to ‘emerged’, feels almost synonymous with, ‘when do humans go from ‘adulting’ to fully-grown adult?’ The fact is, no one knows, but it seems somewhat inevitable.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles, take a look at our blog page.

What Is An Epigraph? All You Need To Know

As a reader, perhaps you have enjoyed the use of epigraphs before, but never quite understood why an author has chosen to use them. Or maybe as a writer, you have considered using epigraphs, but have resisted because you are not sure about how best to implement them.  In this article, we will include an epigraph definition, look at some epigraph examples, and provide some tips on using epigraphs effectively. Hopefully by the end of this guide, you\'ll be able to use epigraphs to improve your writing and make it stand out from the rest.  So, to begin, let’s discuss what the word epigraph actually means. What Is An Epigraph?   In short, an epigraph is a short (typically fictional) quotation, saying, or poem that is used as an extract in an author’s book in order to gently guide the reader into the story\'s world. Some authors will use a one-off epigraph at the start of the book, just after the title page, and others will include an epigraph at the very beginning of each chapter heading. In other examples, authors used epigraphs at the end of their books as part of, or solely as, an epilogue. Epigraphs are contained in quotation marks and it\'s vital that they are attributed to the correct person. In some instances, an epigraph will be a simple one-line quote or saying and in other examples it could be several lines of poetry or prose from a literary work. It is totally down to the writers’ discretion how many lines, or how many epigraphs they decide to use.  So now that we understand what an epigraph is, it’s important to establish its purpose in writing and why you might consider using one (or many of them) in your book.  What Is The Purpose Of An Epigraph?   The purpose of an epigraph is to help set the tone, themes, and subjects that will later materialise in the story. An epigraph can help the reader gain a sense of what is to come and help an author to establish context very early on in the book. Epigraphs are often thought-provoking and they create intrigue and interest at the beginning of a text/chapter. They\'re also used to foreshadow mood /an exciting event, or make a satirical statement. To fully appreciate the purpose and effectiveness of literary epigraphs, it is useful to consider some published examples. Below are some examples of texts that have used epigraphs successfully.  Examples Of Epigraphs   To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee  Lawyers, I suppose, were children once. This is possibly one of the most famous examples of an epigraph being used to create intrigue and establish the context for the complex and emotional story that would later unfold. It is wonderfully simple yet extremely clever.  Life After Life By Kate Atkinson  What if we had the chance to it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Edward Beresford – Todd  Atkinson uses three epigraphs at the beginning of this novel, but what makes this quote unusual is that it is actually made by one of the main characters of the book.   It is also a wonderfully apt quote, perfect to set up the main theme of the novel, which is reliving a life - and by using a quote from a character, we can appreciate his importance in the story. Watership Down By Richard Adams  CHORUS: Why do you cry out thus, unless at some vision of horror?  CASSANDRA: The house reeks of death and dripping blood  CHORUS: How so? ‘Tis but the odor of the altar sacrifice CASSANDRA: The stench is like a breath from the tomb. Aeschylus, Agamemnan  Watership Down is an excellent example of epigraphs being used at the beginning of each chapter - and this quote from chapter one really sets the theme for the reader. By using continuous quotes and extracts throughout the novel, Adams is able to hint at the terror and threat that is awaiting his characters and can continue to create a sense of intrigue and danger throughout the book.   The Circle By Dave Eggers  There wasn’t any limit, no boundary at all, to future. And it would be so a man wouldn’t have room to store his happiness. East of Eden by John Steinbeck By using this quote at the beginning of his novel, Eggers is able to set the theme of his futuristic and utopian setting. This quote helps to pose a question with the reader, hinting that perhaps the safe and happy world that is being presented, isn’t all it seems.  The Double Life of Daisy Hemmings By Joanna Nadin  Is insincerity such a terrible thing? I think not. It is merely a method by which we can multiply our personalities. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Again, this quote is thought-provoking and helps to set up the main theme of book, which is people changing. It is extremely apt and sets the context for the story that unfolds perfectly.  How To Use An Epigraph In Your Book   In this section, we are going to explore how best to use and decide on your own epigraph for your book.   Consider using texts, extracts and quotes that have themes that best overlap with yours.   Ensure that you have permission to use the text/quotes or extracts. Remember, copyright restrictions may be in place (this is usually the author\'s lifetime, plus seventy years) but it is always best to check with the writer’s estate or agency to be sure.  Consider whether you want to foreshadow an event or mood and if so, try to use an epigraph that can help with this.  You might want to use an epigraph to develop or hint at a character development, in which case you need to find one that best fits those needs. Take time to read through examples and consider how epigraphs might best suit your work. Could a small quote at the beginning set up the scene? Or would continuous epigraphs at each chapter help shape the theme and build intrigue throughout the novel? Decide what best suits you.  It’s important to remember that most authors are drawn to quotes and texts instinctively and just ‘know’ that they belong in the novel. It makes sense that a piece of writing that has influenced you, or a poem that means a lot to you, will also connect to the story you have written. If your gut instinct feels that it\'s right, it often is! Just ensure you are allowed to use it!  Let’s now consider some frequently asked questions regarding the use of epigraphs.  Frequently Asked Questions  What Is An Example Of An Epigraph?  An epigraph is a short quotation, saying, or poem that is used in novels. These (often fictional) quotations can either be included at the start of the book or at the beginning of each chapter. An example is the epigraph, “lawyers, I suppose, were children once”, used in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Why Are Epigraphs Used?  An epigraph helps to set the theme, tone or the subject that will materialise later in the story. It can foreshadow what will come and build intrigue and suspense.  Where Should I Use An Epigraph?  This is a totally personal preference. Many authors prefer to have their epigraphs at the beginning of the novel. Others will use epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter, some at the end of a novel.   You need to choose the method that feels right for you and fits with your book.  How Long Should An Epigraph Be?  There are no wrong or right answers here. However, it is often suggested that epigraphs which consist of a short phrase or a few lines are best for creating intrigue and holding the reader’s interest.  What Copyright Considerations Do I Need To Consider When Using Epigraphs?  You need to check that you have legal permission to use any text, quotes, or extracts. Remember copyright restrictions are often in place (usually the author\'s lifetime, plus seventy years) unless the text is in the public domain. If you\'re unsure about the copyright, check with the writer\'s estate or agency.  Choosing An Epigraph Throughout this guide we have explored epigraphs in much detail and considered their use and how they can be most effective in writing. There is little doubt that for many writers, epigraphs are a great way of setting the theme and tone of a novel and helping a reader get a sense of what might be unveiled later in the book.  The key thing to remember, is that the use of epigraphs is a totally personal one. Take time to explore quotes and extracts that might work for your text. Ensure that you have the correct permissions. Consider whether your epigraph is having the effect you want it to have.  But most of all, have fun with it and follow your heart. Epigraphs are often selected because they connect to the author in some way and because of this, they will connect to the reader. The most effective epigraphs are the ones that aren’t forced but feel like they belong to the writing.  Good luck! 

What Is The Falling Action Of A Story? A Complete Guide

When I think of falling action, I think of all of the scenes in Gladiator that come after Maximus Decimus finally has his revenge on the new emperor (warning Gladiator spoilers ahead!)  Maximus stabbing the emperor is the undoubtable climax- his long sought revenged is finally reached. Many important things happen after this; we still see his inevitable demise and a number of important scenes follow; yet these scenes are no longer part of the story\'s climax. The scenes that follow, despite being dramatic in their own right, are slower and more satisfying, they lead us to the conclusion of the story. The main climactic moment has already occurred, which means that all of those scenes that follow are part of the falling action.   A story\'s falling action is the action that occurs immediately after the big climax has taken place and the action shifts towards resolution instead of escalation. The action is now no longer rising, instead it is now falling and taking us (the viewer/reader) onwards to the end of the journey. In short, it is everything that comes after the important questions have been answered.   In this guide you will learn how to better identify falling action and how to write it. Once you read this article you will be able to define falling action, understand the role it plays in story structure, and know the difference between falling action and rising action. Let’s dive in!   What Is Falling Action?  Falling action in a story is, simply put, the action that comes immediately after the important climax has taken place. Note that some films or books might seem to have multiple climaxes (like in the Lord of the Rings finale where they seem to come one after the other.) However, there is usually one important main climax, which the rising action has been leading towards. Keep in mind, though, that exciting things can still happen after the climax (like the volcano erupting in Lord of The Rings) and those scenes are still part of the falling action. All falling action leads to the story\'s resolution and the tying up of loose ends of the plot.   How Does Falling Action Fit In With Freytag’s Pyramid?   It’s hard to talk about falling action without talking about German author Gustav Freytag, who, through the illustration of his (Freytag’s) pyramid, argued that all stories can be reduced to one basic plot structure which consists of five stages: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and dénouement.   Let’s break these down.   1. Exposition The story starts with exposition, which breaks down the information the reader will need in order to understand the story best. Who is this story about? Who is the main character? Who is the antagonist? What is their world like? What are their key relationships? What are the stakes? What is the time period? What are all the relevant details? Once this is all established and the reader is invested, the inciting incident typically occurs in the story, which then moves things on to the rising action.  2. Rising Action When the rising action hits, the plot usually quickens and starts to (as the name suggests) rise towards the climax. The tension in rising action will typically grow from scene to scene as plot developments lead us through the story and upwards to the grand climax. No matter how complex or unique a story is, it\'s likely to have rising action.   3. Climax The climax is arguably the most important part of the story, though each part of Freytag’s pyramid is significant in its own way. A climax will tackle the story\'s central conflict, answer its main question, and will serve as the main turning point for the story. Typically, it’s when the hero reaches their destination, or when they finally confront the villain. As the pyramid/plot diagram suggests it is the peak of the story - the action will no longer rise, and the stakes will not get higher from here. Once the story reaches the climax, the action will head towards resolution in the form of falling action.   4. Falling Action As discussed throughout the article, falling action refers to all the scenes/plot points that come after the climax and lead to a resolution and the final “after” snapshot.  (Refer back to the first heading for a more detailed falling action definition.) Few stories skip falling action completely, but if you\'re writing a series of books, especially if they\'re in a genre which is rife with major conflict and plot twists, you may decide to leave some loose ends. In this case, it might be that your protagonist gets closer to solving the obstacles presented by the story\'s main conflict, which gives readers some satisfaction, but a few unanswered questions remain. This means your readers will have some closure, but will also be eager to read the next instalment of your series. 5. Dénouement Dénouement is often confused with falling action and to be honest it’s easy to confuse the two. Dénouement is the very last bit of the story which shows the final resolution. It’s not so much the unthreading of plot lines that the falling action is but rather dénouement is the final say on how everything has been resolved. In Lord Of The Rings, it would be showing Frodo happily back in the Shire. Dénouement can also involve a tragic resolution too where things don\'t work out as well as your protagonist had hoped. Dénouement hints at what’s to come, and show us how everything has changed for the main character and secondary characters and it leads us to the story\'s end. The Difference Between Falling Action And Rising Action  The key difference between rising and falling action is that rising action follows an upward trajectory where it escalates in intensity in order to reach the climax. Falling action should, like its namesake, follow a downward trajectory and aim to give the viewer/reader relief from the climax.   Let\'s explore the importance of falling action. Why Is Falling Action Important?   Falling action is important because if you ended a story on a climax there would be no emotional relief for the reader/viewer. The story, whether sad or happy, would have no satisfying end or closure. You’ve spent all this time getting your reader excited and invested; you cannot then just leave them at the peak.   The main reasons to include falling action in literature are as follows:   Ties up loose ends, especially in relation to the main conflict Falling action serves the reader\'s curiosity, giving them satisfaction and closure  It provides extra time for a closing statement of themes and the core message   Wraps up side-storylines, or the stories of multiple characters   It gives the story time to wind down so you can head towards your closing image with purpose and intent  Examples Of Falling Action   Falling action can take many forms (in terms of style, format, genre etc). Here are five falling action examples from literature and film:   The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins In The Hunger Games, the falling action is everything that comes after Katniss wins the games. The main plot has been addressed and the action moves towards the resolution. Dénouement would be the scene that shows her life long after the Hunger Games have ended.  Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone By J K Rowling In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the falling action happens once Harry faces Voldemort. The time after that spent in the infirmary, and the house cup and all that follows is falling action.  Titanic In the film Titanic, the climax would be the Titanic sinking and Jack and Rose being stranded. Once Jack passes and Rose decides to use her last morsel of energy to get the whistle, the falling action begins. Dénouement would be the very final scene when the old lady drops the necklace into the ocean.   A Christmas Carol By Charles Dickens In A Christmas Carol, the falling action occurs after Scrooge wakes up and realises that he is still alive, and it is still Christmas, and that there\'s still time to change his trajectory. Everything that comes after this with him fixing all his wrongs is part of the falling action.   Matilda By Roald Dahl In Matilda, the climax occurs when Miss Trunchbull is vanquished. Matilda skipping grades and Miss Honey’s life returning to normal is the falling action. Miss Honey becoming Matilda’s new guardian once her family has left for Spain could be considered dénouement, as it shows us Matilda’s new normal, and what her life is likely to look for the foreseeable future.  How To Write Falling Action   The three steps to writing falling action are as follows:   Identify all of the loose ends you would like to wrap up, arrange them in order of importance and in a descending pattern, (i.e. the action should be calmer and not rising.)   Consider the pace of the overall story in order to decide how your falling action should fit and how much room it will occupy on the page. Tip: make a checklist of the storylines /plot points/ jokes you would like to see wrapped up and tidied, and then check things off once you have included them in the falling action.   Loosely plan out your story structure so that you know roughly what the falling actionwill entail.   Once you know which beats you want your falling action to hit and in which order, and once you are clear on which plot points should be concluded, then you can draft the falling action just as you would any other section of your book or screenplay.   Frequently Asked Questions   Let’s address some of the most asked questions when it comes to falling action.  What Is A Falling Action?   Falling action is everything that takes place immediately after the climax. The purpose of falling action is to bring the story from climax to a resolution. It is one of the key elements in any story which will usually include an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement.   How Do You Identify A Falling Action?   In order to identify falling action try asking yourself the main plot point of the story, then identify when that plotline is resolved (i.e. when the hero finally confronts the villain), once you are able to identify the climax you can identify the falling action. Remember the falling action will usually revolve around resolution and de-escalation of the previous action, and will follow a downward spiral.    What Is The Difference Between Dénouement And Falling Action?   Dénouement is the final part of a story which usually shows you a glimpse into the main character\'s new normal. Like in the case of Matilda, dénouement often gives the viewer a snapshot of what’s in store for the MC in the future (Matilda will now happily live with Miss Honey).  Dénouement is usually much shorter than the falling action. It’s often a commentary on the future of the world in the book as well, similar to an epilogue, a dénouement will explain where the world you\'ve created, and your story\'s characters, will go from here.  Falling Action It’s very important for writers to focus on their falling action and to really flesh it out in the perfect way for their narrative. It isn’t something to be overlooked or skipped. When keeping in mind falling action, you can refer to Freytag’s pyramid and try to visualise the way you first expose your story and the important details. Then imagine the line going upwards with your rising action and try to pair that with emotions- first the reader is intrigued with your exposition and details of the story, then they should be excited and nervous with your rising action, the climax should hit hard and heavy and be the peak of the storyline, then the reader should feel a sort of detangling of threads with the falling action. Falling action should bring with it a sense of closure and relief.  

How To Write Murder Mystery Stories: Top Tips

Do you love murder mysteries? Do you want to write your own but don\'t know where to start?  Well, you\'ve come to the right place!  In this article, you will learn how to write compelling murder mystery stories that move the plot forward and keep your readers guessing until the end. We\'ll discuss structure, key moments, character development, and setting.  Whether you\'re a beginner or a seasoned pro, read on for all the tips and tricks you need to create an edge-of-your-seat murder mystery!  What Is A Murder Mystery?  A murder mystery is a fast-paced story in which a killing is committed, and the characters must solve the mystery by uncovering clues and identifying the culprit. The murder mystery genre includes elements of suspense and detective work, making it a popular choice for readers who enjoy puzzles and trying to piece together all the clues.  While the plot of a murder mystery can be complex, the basic premise is reasonably simple: someone has been killed, and it is up to the main characters to find out who did it.  How Are Murder Mysteries Different from General Mystery Stories?  There are many types of mystery stories, from classic whodunits to modern thrillers. But what sets murder mysteries apart from other types of mystery stories?  For one thing, murder mysteries usually involve much higher stakes. After all, the victim in a murder mystery is already dead, so there\'s very little chance of a happy resolution.  In addition, they tend to be darker and more violent than other mystery genres. They often explore the dark side of human nature and the motivations behind why someone would kill another person.  Finally, good murder mysteries typically have a larger cast of characters than other types of mystery stories. This is because each character usually has something to hide, and the murderer is often someone who was least expected.  These elements combine to create a unique and addictive genre that will keep readers guessing and turning pages!  Next, let\'s look at the critical aspects of a murder mystery novel.  The Key Elements Of A Murder Mystery  1. Start With A Strong Hook To Capture Your Reader\'s Attention  In any good murder mystery, the crime that sets the story in motion needs to be compelling enough to hook the reader from the very first page. After all, once somebody has been murdered, it\'s up to the private detective (and the reader) to put together the pieces of who did it and why.  A strong hook will keep readers engaged as they try to solve the puzzle along with the detective. To be effective, a hook should be mysterious and intriguing, making the reader want to find out more. It should also introduce the key players in the story so that readers have a sense of who they\'re rooting for (or against!).  2. The Protagonist Should Be Someone The Reader Can Sympathise With And Root For  In any good murder mystery, the protagonist should be someone with whom the reader can empathise. After all, it\'s hard to get invested in a story if you don\'t care about the main character!  A sympathetic protagonist gives the reader someone to identify with as they try to solve the mystery. They also provide a human element to the story, making it more relatable and realistic. Of course, this doesn\'t mean that the protagonist has to be perfect. In fact, many of the best murder mysteries feature protagonists with flaws and secrets of their own!  3. Create Believable, Complex Characters For The Supporting Cast  The murder victim is only the beginning. Creating a web of complex and believable characters for the rest of the supporting cast is essential to keep readers engaged. Each character should have unique motivations, secrets, and skills that come into play as the story unfolds.  Furthermore, the relationships between these characters should be rich and multi-layered, providing clues and red herrings for the reader to follow.  4. Include A Plot Twist That The Reader Won\'t See Coming  A murder mystery is only as good as its plot twist. The best plot twists are entirely unexpected but still make perfect sense retrospectively.  An excellent way to achieve this is to plant false clues throughout the story that point the reader in the wrong direction. This will make the true killer\'s identity all the more surprising when it is finally revealed.  5. There Should Be Plenty Of Red Herrings To Keep The Reader Guessing Until The Very End  A murder mystery is not a true mystery if the reader can figure out who did it long before the end of the book.  A key element in writing a successful murder mystery is to include a red herring - a false clue that points the reader in the wrong direction. These can take many forms, from physical evidence that appears to incriminate a character but is later revealed to be planted, to eyewitnesses who give conflicting testimony.  6. The Ending Should Be Satisfying  A vital element of murder mystery books is that the ending should be satisfying, with all loose ends tied up neatly. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, but generally, a well-written mystery should provide closure for its readers.  You can achieve this by providing a credible explanation for all of the clues that have been left throughout the story. This not only allows readers to see how everything fits together but also leaves them feeling satisfied that they were able to solve the mystery themselves.  Another way to create a satisfying ending is by ensuring that all of the characters get what they deserve. This means that justice is served and that everyone who played a role in the story gets their comeuppance.  Different Forms Of Murder Mysteries  Murder mystery stories are a popular genre that can be written as novels, short stories, screenplays, stage plays, or even television shows. While each type of story has distinct benefits, they all share one common goal: to keep the audience guessing about whodunnit! Let\'s take a closer look at the different murder mystery forms.  Murder Mystery Novels  The novel form of a murder mystery allows for more significant character development and a more complex plot than a short story or a screenplay, allowing the reader to delve into all the nuances of each character and their motives.  Murder Mystery Short Stories  A short story is a more concise, focused way of telling a story, with fewer characters and fewer distractions from the central mystery, while centred on the inner workings of a specific character\'s mind.  Murder Mystery Screenplays  A screenplay can be an excellent format for a murder mystery, allowing the author to control the pacing and tension of the story. Typically, a script for a film is best suited to fast-paced action and suspense, with an emphasis on characters and visuals. So, a murder mystery script exemplifies the strengths of the subgenre and the screenplay format simultaneously. Murder Mystery Stage Plays  A stage play is primarily dialogue-driven, which is an excellent format for a story based on a central character interviewing others to determine the culprit.  Murder Mystery TV Shows  Serialised television has always been popular for telling murder mysteries, with shows such as CSI and Law & Order, as it allows for complex plotlines and character development in a short time frame.   Murder Mystery Examples  Knives Out By Rian Johnson (Movie)  This offbeat film, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, follows the investigation into the death of a renowned crime novelist and every shocking twist and intriguing turn keeps you guessing until the end.  And Then There Were None By Agatha Christie (Novel, Movie, Stage Play)  One of the most famous murder mystery novels ever written, this story follows a group of strangers who are invited to an isolated island off the coast of England. Once there, after they are accused of various crimes and murders, they are picked off one by one by an unknown killer. As the body count mounts, the survivors realise that there is no way off the island and that they must find the killer before it\'s too late.  Columbo (TV Show)  If you\'re a fan of detective shows, you\'ve probably seen at least one episode of Columbo. The iconic series starred Peter Falk as a wily police detective who was always one step ahead of the killer. Unlike standard whodunnits, each episode began with the audience knowing who the murderer was, but seeing Columbo piece the clues together was always a delight.  Gone Girl By Gillian Flynn (Novel, Movie)  One of the most popular murder mystery novels in recent years, Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and Amy Dunne, a married couple whose relationship is on the rocks. When Amy goes missing, Nick becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. As the police investigation unfolds, dark secrets about their marriage are revealed, and it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems.  Hound Of The Baskervilles By Arthur Conan Doyle (Novel, Movie)  This classic story revolves around the investigation of a series of murders committed on the desolate moors of Devonshire. Sherlock Holmes is hired to solve the case, and he quickly realises that the culprit is a large, ferocious hound that has been terrorising the local villagers at the bidding of its secretive master. In the end, Holmes is able to put an end to the murders and uncover the culprit.  Mystery At Rogues\' Roost By Ellery Queen (Short Story)  Rogues\' Roost is a remote and isolated inn, the perfect setting for a murder mystery. When Ellery Queen arrives, he finds that the innkeeper has been killed and the other guests are all suspects. As Ellery begins to investigate, he quickly realises that each of the guests has something to hide. The question is, who is the murderer? Ellery soon discovers that the answer lies in a hidden room at Rogues\' Roost, a room that holds the key to a decades-old mystery.  How To Write A Murder Mystery  Step 1: Determine Your Setting & Main Character  The first step is to determine when, where, and who. Will your story take place in a small town or a big city? On a beach or in the mountains? Is it a period piece or contemporary?  Once you\'ve decided on the location, it\'s time to introduce your main character. Is she a famous detective or an amateur sleuth? A hard-boiled private investigator or an inquisitive novice? By understanding your protagonist\'s motivations and backstory, you\'ll be better equipped to write a compelling mystery.  Step 2: Who Is The Victim? What Is The Murder Or Crime Committed?  Is your victim innocent or guilty of misdeeds? Are they a good person or are they thoroughly nasty? How you paint the victim will reflect in how they\'re viewed by others, including your readers.  Once you\'ve chosen your victim, it\'s time to get into the nitty-gritty of the crime itself. Where did it take place? When? How was the body found? These are all essential details that will help to set the scene. You should also consider what kind of weapon was used and whether any evidence was left at the crime scene.  Step 3: Create A List Of Potential Suspects, Along With Their Motives, Opportunities, And Alibis  The best murder mystery stories always have a large cast of potential suspects. After all, part of the fun is trying to figure out who did it! So, once you\'ve decided on your victim and your crime, it\'s time to start brainstorming a list of possible killers. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you create your list of suspects:  Each suspect should have a motive for killing the victim. What would they stand to gain by the victim\'s death?  Each suspect should have an opportunity to commit the crime. Where were they when the crime took place? Do they have access to the murder weapon?  Each suspect should have some kind of connection to the victim. How do they know each other? What is their relationship like?  Each suspect should have a seemingly valid alibi for where they were when the crime was committed. Think of each character\'s backstory and what they might have been doing at the time.  Always make sure to think about what clues and red herrings you want to include in your story when you are thinking about your suspects!  Step 4: Create A Unique Twist On The Actual Murder  This is where you take the basic concept of the murder and make it your own. It\'s essential to come up with something that will surprise your readers and keep them guessing until the big reveal.  One way to do this is to change the motives for the murder. Maybe the victim was killed for insurance money, or maybe there was a love triangle gone wrong.  You can also change the way the murder is carried out. Instead of a bullet to the head, maybe the victim is poisoned or drowned.  Whatever you choose, make sure to include a feeling of improbability or impossibility to the crime. This increases the mystery and engagement!  Step 5: Create A Timeline Of Events  The last step to writing a murder mystery is to create a timeline of events. This may seem daunting, but it\'s not as difficult as it sounds. Here are a few tips:  Start by brainstorming a list of all the events that take place in your story, no matter how big or small. Little details matter! Once you have your list, arrange the events in chronological order. If you\'re unsure about the order, that\'s okay - you can always go back and adjust as needed.  Next, flesh out each event with more details. What happened? Who was involved? Where did it take place? When did it happen? Why did it happen? Answering these questions will help you create a more detailed and believable timeline.  Finally, don\'t forget to include clues and red herrings to help keep your story suspenseful and unpredictable!  Tips For Writing A Murder Mystery  Plan out your ending before you write your story.  Ensure that everyone in the story is a potential suspect (the main character included!).  Set your murder mystery story in an exciting or unique location that adds detail to your narrative.  Frequently Asked Questions  How Do You Outline A Murder Mystery?  When outlining a murder mystery, it is essential to start with the basics: who was killed, where did the murder take place, and who are the possible suspects? Once you have these crucial elements in place, you can begin to flesh out the story. For example, what was the victim\'s relationship with the suspects? What was the motive for the murder? What evidence is there that points to a specific suspect?  How Many Suspects Should You Have In A Mystery Novel?  In a mystery novel, the number of suspects is important. Too few suspects, and the reader may feel that the answer is obvious. Too many suspects, on the other hand, can make the ending feel contrived. The key is to find the right balance. Ultimately, the story\'s plot will determine the number of suspects. However, as a general rule, having at least three suspects is advisable. This will give the reader enough options to consider without making the mystery too convoluted.  Murder Mystery Writing If you\'re excited to try your hand at writing murder mystery stories, start with a great hook that will capture your reader\'s attention. Once you have them hooked, include plenty of plot twists and red herrings to keep them guessing until the very end. And don\'t forget to create relatable characters that your readers will love (or love to hate!).  With these tips in mind, you\'re ready to write murder mysteries that will keep your readers glued to the page. Ready, set, solve! 

The Rule Of Three In Writing: Our Guide

The ‘rule of three’ is as familiar to you and I as fairy tales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, or genies who grant three wishes, or sayings like ‘good things come in threes’. It’s a rule we use all the time in everyday life. But what makes three such a magic number? And when it comes to fiction, how can we use the rule of three in writing?   In this article, we’ll cover:   What is the rule of three in writing?  Examples of the rule of three, and what it looks like in practice  Our tips and tricks for the rule of three as a writing principle  Frequently asked questions  So, what is the rule of three, and how do you use it to engage readers in your own writing?   What Is The Rule Of Three?  The ‘rule of three’ in writing is based on groups of three items being more memorable, emotionally resonant, and persuasive than simply one or two.   In literature, the scope is broad: from having the word ‘three’ in a novel’s title, to three characters’ points of view (POVs), or even just using a three-act plot structure. We’ll delve into these later, so stay tuned. But for now, why is the number three so established when it comes to storytelling?   To answer this question, I dug out my psychology textbooks and went trawling through the scientific research, as the overall consensus online is that three is the smallest grouping for pattern recognition in the human brain. Frustratingly, there’s not a lot of research to back this statement up.   What I did find was an excellent resource, The Rule of Three (or Four), and Pairs by Professor Dominic Cheetham, who expressed the same frustration and used his paper to explore the rule of three in writing (citing Ursula LeGuin, no less).   Cheetham’s takeaways on the rule of three in literature:   Repetition is an established memory aid.  Repetition can be used to signify importance, as in emotional intensity (and therefore significance).  Repetition is core to persuasion, especially the number three.    Cheetham posited that three reasons are more convincing than one; this is supported by a two-part study from Shu & Carlson (2014), who found that three claims were the ticket to consumer persuasion.   Cheetham went on to summarise that ‘the rule of three is not just a rule of three or four things together, but a rule of sequential repetition … in a clear and meaningful order’.   i.e. there is semantic progression, which can become more complex, or even humorous, once a pair primes us for a third list item.   So, there’s a little background on why the rule of three is used in literature, and in life more generally. Next, we’ll take a look at some examples.   General Examples Of The Rule Of Three  Our love of triads has led to great case studies on the rule of three in action. Let’s start with real-world examples.   Marketing  ‘I’m Lovin It’ McDonald’s 2003 slogan has just three words but has lasted for 19 years (the fast-food brand’s previous record was four years).   Did anyone else not know this jingle is a Justin Timberlake song?   \'Just Do It’ Another example of the power of three-word advertising slogans, Nike’s motto was inspired by the last words of a death row prisoner, and that resonance carried.   Public Service  ‘Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.’ The UK government’s slogan from the COVID-19 lockdowns went for shock-factor with its implications.  ‘The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.’ The English common law oath is a judicial convention spanning the Western world.   Religion  The Fates: The Ancient Greek Moirai or Fates (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos) were said to spin the threads of birth, life, death, and ultimately, destiny.   The Holy Trinity: In Christianity, this is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (one God in three persons), invoked during the ritual of baptism.  The Three Wise Men who travelled to see the baby Jesus are another example of three figures in the Christian faith.   Proverbs  ‘Omne trium perfectum’ ‘Everything that comes in threes is perfect’ is a long-standing Latin declaration for the rule of three.   ‘Mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru’ ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ is based on the Japanese pictorial maxim of the Three Wise Monkeys.   Phrases  ‘Ready, set, go’: This shorter, more effective version of ‘On your marks, get set, go’ shows the power of brevity (and three words).   ‘Blah, blah, blah’: For an even simpler example of a three-word phrase, this triple-single idiom has roots in a similar expression from the 1800s.   Examples Of The Rule Of Three In Writing  We’ve looked at general examples — now it’s time to examine some modern and classic examples of the rule of three in writing and the creative industries.   Fables And Fairy Tales  Circling back to Goldilocks and the Three Bears, this British fairy tale has more threes than you can poke three sticks at: three chairs, three bowls of porridge, three beds, and the eponymous three bears (who then go through the same chairs / porridge / beds shtick as Goldilocks, only to discover a pint-sized intruder in their midst). As you can tell, repetition here is key.   With slightly less repetition, the fable The Three Little Pigsincludes not only the three pigs, but also three houses built from increasingly hardy ingredients which they use to finally outsmart the Big Bad Wolf.   For a Norwegian example, De tre Bukkene Bruse or Three Billy Goats Gruff is another well-known fairy tale that employs three goats, each bigger than the last, to trick a hungry bridge-blocking troll. Literature  The category we’ve all been waiting for! And for our first example, you can’t go past Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol. Here, the original Grinch, Ebenezer Scrooge, is visited by ​​three spirits: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. In terms of the rule of three in fiction writing, this story has the trifecta of repetition for memorability, big feelings, and of course, a dose of ghostly persuasion.   Les Trois Mousquetaires orThe Three Musketeers by French author Alexandre Dumas, which gets points for having the number three in its title, follows d\'Artagnan and his three swashbuckling heroes as they duel their way through Paris and London — for honour, naturally.   A less obvious example of the rule of three at work is by another Frenchman Jules Verne in his Around the World in Eighty Days. After travelling to India, Phineas Fogg’s group is a party of three; and when he returns to London, he’s hit with three final ordeals. The clincher? Fogg wins the book’s titular bet with three minutes to go.   Plays  In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, three witches (‘wayward sisters’) visit the Scottish General Macbeth with the prophecy that he will become king. As we know, this leads Macbeth down his dark, ambitious path, with tragic consequences. Unlike Dickens’ ghosts, the three witches spell trouble and temptation for Macbeth, their fateful words finally guiding his (stabbing) hand.   A scarily meta example is one by the master of murder mystery tales herself, Agatha Christie, aptly called Rule of Three. This triple bill of one-act plays includes Afternoon at the Seaside, The Rats and The Patient.  Not to make this about Shakespeare again, but if we’re talking plays, an oft-quoted line is his ‘Friends, romans, countrymen, lend me your ears’ from another well-known tragedy, Julius Caesar.   Film  Arguably the world’s most famous trilogy, the creator of the Star Wars films,George Lucas upped the ante by planning prequel and sequel trilogies for a total of nine films in the space opera. This opened up the three-act structure to a new, epic scale of storytelling — not to mention intellectual property.   The romantic comedy When Harry Met Sallyis a cult 80s film with a flair for the rule of three. The pair meet three times before becoming friends, and after the final New Year\'s Eve party, where — ***SPOILER ALERT*** — Harry declares his love for Sally and they kiss, they get married three months later.   Credit to Reddit for reminding me that each key character in Signs has an identifying trait or issue that rears its head three times before the end.  Television  The rule of three or ‘threefold law’ in modern-day witchcraft was front and centre in Charmed, with three key characters (even when Shannon Doherty exited the show in season three): the three Halliwell sisters, who used their magical \'power of three\' to fight supernatural baddies.   I’m including Schitt’s Creek in this list because: a.) it’s brilliant; b.) Moira Rose’s iconic ‘Sunrise Bay’ triple-slap is funnier than the Three Stooges’; and c.) there is even an episode called ‘The Throuple’, where David, Stevie, and Jake take their accidental dating triangle to its comical conclusion.   For anyone who watched The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’s season one finale, the three Elven rings are another recent example.    How To Use The Rule Of Three  So, now we know why three is such a magic number: because it’s effective. But how do we use the rule of three in writing?   Here are three examples of how to use the rule of three:   Three-Act Structure  The simplest way to utilise the rule of three is with a three-act structure, which is a fancy way of saying your story should have a beginning to set things up, a middle for the confrontation of your central conflict, and an end where things are resolved. If you want to get technical, the three acts are as follows:  The first act begins with exposition (setting the scene), an inciting incident for the protagonist, and a turning point into act two.   Next comes the rising action, which leads into the story’s midpoint, as well as a turning point into act three; this is typically where the protagonist fails.   Finally, the last act follows with a pre-climax to build tension, before the actual climax, then denouement.   Example:   The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins has a compelling three-act structure: Katniss volunteers as tribute for the Hunger Games; the Games start; and Katniss wins and goes home (albeit to more potential danger).   Tip: A great way to weave complexity is to include three characters, who move through your acts together but with differing points of view. Which leads us to…   Three Point-Of-View Characters  Creating three characters who all experience the plot of your story in different ways, with differing opinions or agendas, can make for an exciting read. This is especially effective if each character gets a point of view (POV); adding a third character adds some nuance to a dual narrative. Example:   This was done incredibly well in Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, which follows the POVs of protagonist Zelie, and siblings Amari and Inan. Outside of the book’s fresh concept and stellar execution, what makes this interesting is that one of the POV characters is ***SPOILER ALERT*** gravely injured in the finale.   Tip: Want even more complexity? Simply add a love triangle (and therefore conflict) between your three point-of-view characters. Stylistic Patterns  Finally, for the craft-lovers in our midst, there are also many ways to style your prose to incorporate the rule of three in writing. Stylistic patterns like a tricolon, hendiatris, or even something as simple as alliteration can be beneficial for your word choice.   Tricolon: This is when three words of a similar length or form are used as a means of emphasis or inspiration, frequently in political speeches.   Here’s an example from Barack Obama: ‘Our generation\'s task is to make these words, these rights, these values — of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — real’.  Hendiatris: Taking the tricolon a step further, hendiatris uses three words to communicate a core idea, again in speechwriting or marketing.   One of the biggest quotes of all time is Julius Caesar’s ‘Veni, vidi, vici’ or ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’ in Latin, after triumphing over Pontius.   Alliteration: This is when words beginning with the same letter (or sound) are used in quick succession for aesthetic effect.  This often appears in lists or when three adjectives are used. ‘While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping’ from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven nails it.   Tip: Don’t overdo it. Literary devices like these can easily err into the dreaded flowery or purple prose if you’re not careful, so use them wisely.   Frequently Asked Questions  What Is The Rule Of Three In Persuasive Writing?  The rule of three in persuasive writing goes back to ancient times with Rhetoric by Aristotle, a three-book treatise on persuasion. According to the Greek philosopher, the ability to persuade relies on three factors in rhetoric: ethos, the speaker’s character and credibility; pathos, the listener’s emotional state; and logos, the actual argument when proving something is true.   What Does The Rule Of Three Do To The Reader?  The rule of three in writing is a successful literary technique because it makes stories memorable, emotionally impactful, and persuasive for readers. Grouping things in threes leverages the power of repetition to aid memory; denote emotional intensity or importance; and ease persuasion (research by Shu & Carlson (2014) found that three positive claims is the most effective for persuasion).   Where Does The Rule Of Three Come From?  The earliest known example of the rule of three in writing is Aristotle’s Rhetoric. The ancient Greek philosopher argued not only for three means of persuasion — ethos, pathos, and logos — but also for three genres of public speech, with such speeches involving a speaker, a topic, and a listener (sensing a pattern?). The best part — Rhetoric was a three-book discourse.   Writing Engaging, Compelling, Unforgettable Stories As you’ve learnt throughout this article, the rule of three isn’t just a rule of thumb — it’s a writing principle that can make your stories more memorable, emotionally resonant, and persuasive. Give the rule of three a try and let us know how it helped you in your own writing!  

How To Write A Thriller: Step By Terrifying Step

Suspense, action, and darkness are three crucial elements of a gripping thriller. This guide will take you through the various types of thrillers out there, from psychological to political, and give you some top tips to create your own edge-of-the-seat whirlwind thriller novel.   What Is A Thriller? Thriller novels are generally plot-driven narratives, with complex, morally grey characters, featuring suspense, action, and an exploration of the dark side of human nature. Good thrillers are pacy and tight, leading the reader through a twisty plot and building to a breakneck speed.   What Is the Difference Between Thrillers, Mysteries and Suspense Fiction?  There are many crossover elements between thrillers, mysteries and suspense fiction. Things they are likely to all have in common include:  A focus on building tension  A fast pace  A plot revolving around crime  However, there are key differences as well. While mystery novels use a central question or investigation to move the plot forward, paying off with a reveal at the end of whodunnit, the thriller genre may not hide who the villains and antagonists are; they may even be a central focus of the plot.   A suspense novel may have a similar focus, but it is driven by character rather than action. Many, or even most, thrillers will have chases, surprise attacks, and a race against time… while suspense novels are often ‘quieter’ and focused on the interior experience of the characters.    That’s not to say that thrillers cannot have shocking revelations or complex characters! Let’s have a look at the different types of thrillers below.  Types Of Thrillers Psychological Thriller Along with action adventure and crime, psychological thrillers are one of the most well-recognised thriller subgenres. Psychological thrillers are focused on the inner lives of characters who find themselves drawn into dangerous and threatening situations, either through chance or through a personality flaw or obsession.   Her, Mira V. Shah’s upcoming domestic suspense debut, perfectly encapsulates the approach of having an obsession spiral out of control, which is so often taken in psychological thrillers. Rani’s obsession with her neighbour Natalie’s apparently perfect life escalates until both women’s lives are inextricably intertwined, and Rani has discovered that Natalie’s life might not be quite as idyllic as it seems. The tension and conflict that the two face provides the kind of gripping narrative that thrillers do so well, as the novel builds towards its inescapable conclusion.   Supernatural Thriller Supernatural thrillers are having a bit of a heyday recently, popularly revived as they have been by the Duffer Brothers’ wildly successful Netflix series, Stranger Things.   Drawing heavily on classic supernatural thrillers by writers such as Stephen King, Stranger Things fits well in this subgenre with its evocation of fear, tension and dread. Supernatural thrillers often contain elements of other genres, such as science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and the gothic. Threats in supernatural thrillers are often unknowable creatures, who cannot be reasoned with or understood from a human perspective, resulting in situations where the dread is turned up to 11 as the main characters battle forces that they can barely comprehend.   Political Thriller The essential ingredient of a political thriller is high stakes and plot twists. Many lives are at risk. High-level political figures are personally threatened. Often the protagonist is alone or becomes so – stripped of support, they must survive and defeat the antagonist(s) based on their wits and guts.  Stacey Abrams, best known for her political career in the United States, has also written a number of books under the pseudonym Selena Montgomery. Her most recent book, however, a political thriller titled While Justice Sleeps, is her first work of fiction published under her own name. The story follows law clerk Avery, who is plunged into a world of intrigue and conspiracies after her boss, a high-level judge, slips into a coma and leaves her in charge of his affairs. The stakes couldn’t be higher as the trail takes Avery all the way to the top, with elements of mystery and suspense coming in as she discovers the truth behind one of the judge’s most high-profile cases.   Action-Adventure Thriller Like political thrillers, action-adventure thrillers are high-paced, high-stakes, and high drama. Expect plenty of action set pieces, like chases, fights, and explosions (and more, averted at the last possible moment).   An example of this type of thriller is The Ninja Daughter, by Tori Eldridge. Lily Wong is a Chinese-Norwegian woman whose purpose in life is to defend abused women and children. The novel is full of thrills and action, including fight and chase scenes, with a central mystery that builds to an explosive climax. Cleverly riffing on the noir genre, Eldridge gives us a modern twist on the ‘femme fatale’ character, and this action thriller is full of excitement and tension.   Crime Thriller A crime thriller is a subset of the crime genre, and, along with the typical elements of a focus on crime and the subsequent investigation, has the exciting elements of a thriller, with conflict and tension fuelling the pace of the narrative. Legal thrillers are also part of the crime thriller subgenre, and they emphasise courtroom proceedings and the legal aspects of crime. Girl Zero, A. A. Dhand’s gritty and at times bleak crime thriller, utilises the central investigative element by having his main character, D. I. Harry Virdee, hunt for the murderer of his niece. The thriller element is brought in with the pacing, as Harry and his gangster brother have to race against time to stop a child trafficking gang.   Investigative Thriller Although this type of thriller may seem very similar to crime thrillers, the key difference is that the character leading the investigation is not from a traditional investigative background. While a crime thriller will typically have a protagonist who is a police officer, or attached to the police in some manner, an investigative thriller will likely have someone pursuing the truth from a more unconventional angle.   Dark Pines is the first of Will Dean’s Tuva Moodyson series, about a Deaf journalist in a small Swedish town who is drawn into a decades-old mystery when two hunters are found, murdered in a manner similar to an unsolved case from long ago. There is plenty of tension as Tuva grapples with the various conflicting loyalties of the villagers, as well as her desire to write the story of her career and break free from the life she feels trapped by.   Spy Thriller Twists and turns are the name of the game in spy thrillers, where the central character is often at the centre of a web of lies, deceit and cover-ups at the highest levels. Expect plenty of thrilling chase scenes, explosive conflicts, and death-defying escapes in this type of thriller, as well as continual surprises as motivations and loyalties are uncovered.   One of John Le Carré’s best-known spy thrillers is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, his 1974 novel starring his recurring character George Smiley. Smiley’s job in this book is to uncover a Soviet double agent within the British intelligence service. The trail leads him through twists and turns, through which almost no one can be trusted completely. There is plenty of elegantly executed suspense in Le Carré’s work, and a complex plot that is set against the background of a waning empire, nicely dovetailing with his ageing protagonist. Both provide additional tension as the plot is eventually untangled and the secrets Smiley has been chasing are exposed.   Historical Thriller Historical settings might be as far back as medieval times, as in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, or as recently as a few decades ago, like the TV series Life on Mars. These settings are often excellent for increasing tension, as modern sleuthing methods like CCTV and digital databases are non-existent, and characters may have to battle against limiting social roles as well.   A recent excellent historical novel is The Confessions of Frannie Langton, by Sara Collins. There are many thriller elements to this historical narrative, as the central character is on trial for a crime she cannot remember committing. As the child of an enslaved woman and her enslaver, Frannie is in a difficult social position. Although she is educated, she is also subject to the limitations and prejudices of racism, which impact how likely it is that her story will be believed. The historical setting of Collins’ novel allows her to delve into the dark side of humanity, as we also expect from thrillers. How To Write A Thriller So, how do you go about writing a good thriller? Looking at all the different types above, we can see that there are some commonalities among them that thriller writers should know.  1. Start With A Moment Of Change  Let us join your character at a moment of change in their life: whether that be a dramatic, explosive one (they’re hanging off a building! They’re chasing a suspect! They’ve been betrayed!) or a quiet, interior one (they’ve realised they’ve been mistaken about a small but crucial detail about their job/loved one/life), a character’s life is most interesting when it takes a turn.   2. Know What’s At Stake  It’s important early on that your readers know why your character’s goal is so important to them. If your character is working to uncover the truth about a murder, what is their personal connection to it? It simply being their job to investigate it isn’t quite enough. Perhaps it has some personal resonance with them due to a past experience, or there is a family or community connection. Perhaps they need to prove themselves in some way. Maybe there is a time pressure – thrillers often feature characters who have to race against time to solve something. Whatever the stakes are, make them personal in some way to your character.   3. Ensure We Care About The Characters  Some stakes are very high and quite abstract – saving a building/city/country. Giving the character a loved one who is also personally at risk in some way helps to make this threat immediate and personal and contextualises the larger threat. Equally, your character must be vulnerable in some way. As exciting as it is to read about a dapper hero skilfully knocking out bad guys, it becomes dull if there is no sense of personal danger to the character. Giving them something they love that is at risk is a good way to make them vulnerable, and ensure that the reader cares about them, too.  4. Gradually Increase The Suspense  Continually amp up the tension by gradually increasing the threat that the character faces. These threats can also be made more daunting if your character has few resources to work with – taking these away over the course of the narrative will enable you to ratchet up that edge-of-your-seat feeling that you want your readers to have! Keep your readers guessing. 5. Make Limitations Work For You  Whether it be something intrinsic to the setting, such as a lack of modern policing technology; something external to the character, such as social attitudes or previous attributes being withdrawn (think of those ‘you’ve gone too far, hand in your gun and your badge’ scenes); or something that rises from the characterisation itself, such as physical injuries or psychological states, limitations are key to stacking the odds against your protagonist.  6. Build Up To The Climax  Stacking the odds even higher is an excellent way to build to a climax. Your character should encounter ever-more daunting challenges, and be gradually stripped of help and resources until they are faced with overcoming something that seems insurmountable. Your reader won’t be able to put your story down!  7. Ensure The Ending Is Satisfying   A satisfying ending might come from a crime being solved - the perpetrators brought to justice. Or it might be a disaster averted, the day saved, the love interest suitably impressed. It might also be a situation where justice is not served, and the outcome isn\'t entirely what the character wanted. The satisfaction then comes from character development and the emotional arc of the protagonist, who has gone through trials and come out changed in some way. Although they might not have won the war, a personal victory will leave your reader satisfied with the journey.   Thriller Writing Tips These are our top tips for writing thrillers. Plot Twists. All should not be as it first seems: perhaps friends are not to be trusted, and rivals become allies. Perhaps your character’s understanding of the world is radically changed in some way with the discovery of key information.   All Is Lost. At some point, your character should be faced with their dark night of the soul – it will seem as though their goal will never be met, their resources are gone, and their life has changed for the worse. Bringing your character back from their personal abyss makes the ending that much more satisfying.   Play With Expectations. Much of the fun of a thriller is the unexpected elements of the plot. Embrace this by playing with your readers’ expectations. It might sound far-fetched for the hero of a spy thriller to be a Scottish granny, but Christopher Brookmyre made it happen in All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye!  Frequently Asked Questions What Are The Key Elements Of A Thriller? Suspense, action and darkness are key elements in a thriller. Your readers expect thrills, tension, conflict, and an exploration of the darker side of human nature.  What Is The Structure Of A Thriller? A gripping thriller follows the classic three-act structure. In the first act, the character is introduced, and the plot is set up. The second act adds complications, and the character suffers failures but also gets closer to their goal. The third act is the final showdown – the character is faced with defeating someone or something, and they may or may not be victorious in the way they originally imagined.   What Makes A Thriller successful? Thrillers do just that – thrill. Readers want to be gripped, enthralled, fascinated, and horrified; they want to root for the success of the protagonist against all the odds. They want exciting events, overwhelming opposition, and a narrative that draws to a satisfying conclusion.   Writing Thrillers As we have seen in the various types of thrillers we’ve looked at, there are many thriller elements in lots of different types of narratives. Even if you’re not setting out to write a traditional thriller, you can still utilise a lot of the genre\'s elements in domestic suspense, historical fiction, and crime writing. Including the key thriller elements of suspense, action and darkness will add another dimension to any story, and provide your readers with a popular narrative style that will keep them gripped until the last page.  

Upmarket Fiction: Everything You Need To Know

Upmarket fiction combines the best aspects of literary fiction and commercial fiction; is sellable and successful; attracts an intelligent, loyal readership; and agents and commissioning editors love it. Does all this sound too good to be true? And what on earth does ‘upmarket fiction’ mean? Read on to find out.   In this article, I’ll explore what upmarket fiction is all about, and what agents and editors mean when they use the term. I’ll look at the differences and similarities between upmarket fiction, commercial fiction, and literary fiction, and I’ll give you several examples – without spoilers – so you can explore the category for yourself. Then you’ll get a set of practical steps to use if you want to write and sell upmarket fiction. What Is Upmarket Fiction? There are a number of categories used by agents and commissioning editors that describe the types of novels they are hoping to discover or aiming to sell, resulting in some rather general terms that can be confusing to writers, especially beginners.   These terms aren’t genres as such but are more to do with 1) the book’s readership; 2) the way language and/or storytelling are handled; and 3) how well they think a book will sell, based on others of the same type that have already been published. You might find the term ‘book club fiction’ on the manuscript wish list of a literary agent you\'re interested in querying, for example, which (at least on the face of it) describes the type of audience they hope will be attracted to the book, rather than its tropes, themes and ideas. These terms include:  Commercial fiction (relates to selling potential)  Literary fiction (relates to the use of language)  Women’s fiction (relates to potential audience)  Agents and editors sometimes use other categories, to do with how a book makes the reader feel. For example:  Up lit fiction, which is heart-warming, and emphasises empathy  Misery memoir, a rather derogatory term for unhappy life stories  When you first set out to write a novel, these terms are probably too broad to be useful, but they can be helpful when you come to redrafting or when you want to sell your book and need to describe it to others. Personally, I find this a relief to know!  Upmarket fiction is one such category. In fact, it’s a hybrid term. As you may have guessed from the introduction, upmarket fiction refers to a combination of commercial and literary fiction; it is strongly plotted but the language is also carefully crafted. It may include complex plotting, such as multiple viewpoints.   Upmarket fiction often appeals to readers who are in book clubs, which is why it\'s sometimes used interchangeably with the term book club fiction. Sometimes, but not always, upmarket fiction involves family dynamics or family secrets, using family and its shifting meanings as a framework for storytelling and as one of the main themes. Many examples involve life and death or mortality as a theme, too, possibly because – in order to create a strong plot – writers of upmarket fiction sometimes use crime to structure the story.   As upmarket fiction is more of a category than it is a genre, it can be broken down even further using terms like upmarket women\'s fiction and upmarket historical fiction. This can help readers and writers alike find the niche areas in which they want to surround themselves/write about. So, let’s compare upmarket fiction to both commercial fiction and literary fiction, to clarify what it is and how to write it.   Upmarket Fiction Vs Commercial Fiction Underpinning the categories I mentioned above are various assumptions – or a sort of tacit knowledge – about how a book will be written. For example, there’s an assumption that commercial fiction will have a strong hook and gripping plot and therefore will sell well. Commercial fiction is generally also genre fiction of some kind. It might be a romance, thriller, crime, sci fi, or fantasy, for instance, or a well-established subgenre or combination of genres, and will conform to genre tropes and expectations.  Commercial fiction is often found in supermarkets and airports as well as in bookshops. These books are likely to be real page-turners: the sort of novel you just have to keep reading to get to the end. Writers of commercial fiction achieve this in six main ways:  A strong – and clearly articulated – premise or hook. You could sum it up in a sentence or two, like an elevator pitch or a tagline for a Hollywood movie.  High-stakes – the consequences of the plot are life and death for the main characters, or, worse, the whole world/universe will be destroyed.   Cutting away from the action at exactly the moment the main character is in the most danger.  Introducing cleverly foreshadowed twists that the reader didn’t see coming.  Using ‘traditional’ genre expectations and conventions that the reader will recognise.   Economic use of language, keeping chapters short, with no room for beautifully crafted prose or for complex characters.   Upmarket fiction is considered to sell well precisely because it contains many of these elements of commercial fiction. In fact, upmarket fiction could be described as a kind of commercial fiction.   Upmarket fiction could include any or all of the facets above, apart from number 6. Upmarket fiction does employ beautifully crafted prose and complex characters, but they mustn’t get in the way of the page-turner plotting. The craft, the characterisation and the strong plot are intricately interwoven.  Upmarket novels must include numbers 1 and 2 – the strong premise and the high stakes – although the stakes might be more nuanced than life and death. They might relate to a metaphorical death: social death, or the death of one kind of life and the beginning of another, for example. Upmarket books may be less likely to include number 5 – or to stick to recognisable genre conventions – than other kinds of commercial fiction; in fact, they may well include cross-genre or multi-genre storytelling or play with the various fiction genres available.  Upmarket Fiction Vs Literary Fiction Literary fiction focuses on the beauty of language, on its literary heritage, and on complex characterisation. It might win prizes, but will have a smaller audience, and therefore it doesn\'t sell as well as commercial or genre fiction. You’ll likely only see literary novels in supermarkets or airports if they\'ve won a big prize.   Literary fiction explores themes and ideas that are bigger than the book itself, and that may have occupied writers, artists and philosophers for centuries, such as appearance and reality; loss; mortality; free will; criminality; identity; and war and peace. This is the biggest difference between literary and commercial fiction, as the latter doesn\'t delve into such themes. In terms of big themes, the two categories are polar opposites.   In literary fiction, the plot is not as important as the craft, the characters and the themes I mention above. We might be mesmerised by the language or caught up in the ideas, but we’re not reading to find out what happens next. Writers of literary fiction achieve this in six main ways:  Viewing the craft and process of writing as an art form – how long it takes to write doesn’t matter.    Using evocative imagery and carefully considered language.  Showing the influence of other (probably canonical) writers.  Creating thoughtful and thought-provoking, sometimes ponderous, characters.   Exploring big (sometimes called ‘universal’) themes. Making the reader think.  Letting the interaction of the characters create the plot, without needing a strong page-turning hook.  Upmarket fiction might do any or all of these with a few caveats, apart from number 6; these books need a strong plot as we said above. Arguably it does matter how long upmarket fiction takes to write, because, as it\'s a type of/is similar to commercial fiction, agents and editors might well expect the writer to produce a book every one to two years. (Try our article on how to write faster if you\'re looking for some guidance in this area.) Therefore, the language can’t be so considered and the characters so ponderous that it slows the pace. A varied pace will keep readers engaged.   If we created a chart and used it to list the key facets of commercial fiction and literary fiction, we could tick off which of those features would also be common in upmarket fiction. In fact, if you’re serious about writing and selling it, you might want to create a chart like that for yourself. You could then use your chart to discover examples of novels that fall into the upmarket category, such as those I’ve argued for below, remembering that they’ll always have a clear premise, strong plot, and well-crafted prose.   Examples Of Upmarket Fiction In this section, I\'ll take five examples that fit the description of ‘upmarket fiction’ and explain why they fit into this category.  The Children Of Men By P.D. James This near-future dystopian novel is based on the premise that humans are now infertile and face extinction, causing society to fracture. Although it probably predates the use of the term by publishing professionals (it was published in 1992), I’ve included The Children of Men because the novel has the strong premise and high stakes of commercial fiction and uses recognisable genre conventions, showing the influence of other writers in the genre, such as H.G. Wells and Aldous Huxley.  The characters are complex, and James uses the story to rewrite ideas about family and parenthood and to explore other ‘universal’ themes, such as hope and despair, and death and survival, making us think, but not to the extent that characterisation and theme get in the way of the plotting.   The Time Traveller’s Wife By Audrey Niffenegger This is both a love story and a time-travelling sci-fi adventure. It’s a kind of upmarket science fiction romance. The unpredictable time-jumping of Clare’s husband Henry gives the novel a clear framework, that both disrupts and re-establishes the narrative cohesion. In an innovative way, time travelling also provides the premise and the resolution, meaning the writer can continue to play with storytelling conventions. As with other examples, Niffenegger treats both family and mortality as important themes but also works them into the plot.   Everything I Never Told You By Celeste Ng This is a murder mystery as well as a family drama. When sixteen-year-old Lydia dies, her mother Marilyn wants someone to be held to account, and along the way, Ng explores themes such as race, prejudice, identity and the meaning of family.  The novel is pacy like a thriller but includes striking characters and complex plotting.  It’s a good example of upmarket fiction, because the use of language is evocative, moving and at times sensual, which is why I’ve included it here. For instance:  “All through the second lecture, Marilyn remembered the smell of his skin – clean and sharp, like the air after a rainstorm – and the feel of his hands at her waist, and even her palms grew warm.” (p. 38)  The Immortalists By Chloe Benjamin In this book, a psychic claims to be able to predict the day you’ll die. The novel tells the story of four New Yorkers after they visit the psychic as children. Again taking family as a theme, Benjamin uses multiple viewpoints, and the book reads like literary fiction, but the premise is so strong that we have to keep turning the pages.  The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle By Stuart Turton This book was described in a Guardian review as ‘a gift to the marketing department’ and that neatly sums up why upmarket fiction is so sought-after! Turton’s debut is multi-genre, and– like literary fiction– plays tribute to other writers of murder mysteries, such as Agatha Christie. Reminiscent of Groundhog Day and Cluedo, Turton gives us well-written characters and the novel is tightly plotted; in fact, the same review described the ‘mind-boggling complexity’ of its plot.  These are some examples that I think fit the description of upmarket fiction. They all feature a strong premise that would certainly be ‘a gift to the marketing department.’  How To Write Upmarket Fiction   Here are some key practical steps to consider when writing upmarket fiction.   1. Start With You Start with what you love to read, in terms of genre and subject matter, and with what intrigues you so much that you are willing to spend a year or more writing about it. Starting with the aim of writing upmarket fiction is too broad to be useful – starting with yourself is much more likely to yield promising results.   2. Become A Plotting Ninja Learn to plot. There are lots of guides to narrative structure out there, some of which are made especially for beginners. I’ve written one myself! They might seem formulaic– and they are before you bring your own specificity to them– but they will help you to shape your ideas. To cite just three examples: Nigel Watts’ Teach Yourself Writing a Novel will give you the essentials; Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat Writes a Novel is helpful when establishing the link between character and story; and Harry Bingham’s How to Write a Novel has a whole section on different kinds of plots and also contains advice on marketing your book from the get-go.   3. Plan Like An Expert You don’t have to plan in advance if you hate the idea. Plan as you go along if you like or after you have written the first draft. But to make the readers turn the pages, the plot has to work, therefore you need to plan at some point! If you’re wondering how to plan a novel, check out our step-by-step planning guide for more. 4. Cross Those Genres Consider combining two or more genres (like historical romance, for instance) but make sure they\'re genres you love to read and are interested in. Get specific by thinking in terms of subgenres. Audrey Niffenegger uses a particular kind of sci-fi – time travel – to make her plot work, for example. Remember that you can play around with genre when writing upmarket fiction, but this is also about what you love to read and write, not what you think you should write! It will be easier to play around with it if you love what you’re doing. Have fun with it.   5. Create Complex Characters Work on character development. Spend time with your main and secondary characters, so they feel like well-rounded human beings with quirks and contradictions. Write in the first person as your characters regularly even if you don’t plan to use the results in the finished novel– it helps you to get to know them.   6. Consider Using Multiple Viewpoints Got more than one compelling character? Good! Consider using dual or multiple viewpoints to tell your story. Read examples of stories told this way before you start writing. Try a spot of ‘method writing’. That is, write as if you were each of your main characters, telling the reader about the same event. If you’re stuck, use an existing story as a prompt. For example, write about the day we found a body in the lake, or the day we visited a fortune teller, or the day we found out I was pregnant (when the whole of humanity was supposedly infertile), or the day we realised I could time travel.  7. Answer These Questions To Nail Your Themes Decide which themes you will explore in advance, by considering which ‘universal’ ideas fascinate you the most. Not sure what to use? Answer these questions. What deep conversations have you been drawn into recently? Which nonfiction books and documentaries fascinate you? Which big life experiences have taught you the most?   8. Twisted Family Values Anyone? Consider using family dynamics and family secrets as part of your plot and as a way of connecting characters in the story. You don’t necessarily have to use this plotting device/theme when writing upmarket fiction, but it does seem to be a fairly common trope.  9. Death Makes For High Stakes Themes of death, dying and mortality also come up a lot in upmarket fiction and while this isn’t compulsory, it will automatically provide a way to ‘raise the stakes’; something you must do to draw the reader in.   10. Use Your Senses When You Make Your Tea/Coffee  Work on your writing style. In particular, practise sensory writing. For example, try this: stop regularly during the day – perhaps every time you have a cup of tea or coffee. Using all the senses available to you, observe the world around you and write quick descriptions based on each one.   Tips For Writing Upmarket Fiction Here are some quick tips for writing upmarket fiction:  Read plenty of examples of upmarket fiction to get a sense of the balance between literary fiction-type language and commercial fiction-type plotting.  Create a strong premise: can you sum the book up in a couple of sentences? Practise doing this with examples of upmarket fiction first. You don’t have to do it in advance.   Once you have the premise, use it to write a blurb. Both of these will help you to sell the book to others and to clarify your ideas for yourself.  Frequently Asked Questions  In this section, I’ll address and answer some of the most asked questions in relation to upmarket fiction.    What Are Examples Of Upmarket Fiction? Some examples of upmarket titles include Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi, Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, and The Lovely Bones by Alice Seabold.   What Is The Difference Between Literary And Upmarket Fiction? Literary fiction is preoccupied with the use of language, the craft of writing and situating itself amongst other literary works. It also involves the investigation of so-called ‘universal’ themes. Upmarket fiction uses evocative language and thought-provoking themes but is tightly plotted with a strong premise and so is considered more ‘sellable’ than literary fiction.  How Many Words Should An Upmarket Novel Be? It’s difficult to give a precise number as full-length novels can range from around 70,000 words to 120,000 or longer – 250,000 to 350,000 would be considered very long – but there is no hard and fast rule.   That said, commercial fiction tends to be on the shorter side, literary fiction could be long or short, and upmarket fiction tends to be in the middle of the range, at around 90 – 120,000 words long.   To get a sense of the sheer range of differing lengths, take a look at our article on novel word counts. Why Are Agents Interested In Upmarket Fiction? Upmarket fiction gives agents the best of both, or all, worlds. This category of novel attracts committed, loyal readers and is likely to be favoured by book groups, so upmarket fiction is usually considered book club fiction too. It’s well-plotted and well-crafted, meaning readers get drawn in.   All of that means that upmarket fiction sells well, and often converts well on the screen. In fact, almost all of the examples of upmarket fiction I’ve given in this post have been optioned for TV or film or adapted for the stage. In other words, it has commercial appeal.   Upmarket Fiction It’s so valuable for writers to explore the nuances of upmarket fiction, both in terms of reading it and writing it. It teaches us a lot about the perception of what sells well and what doesn’t and demonstrates what many agents and editors are looking for: a strong premise; complex characters; well-plotted, page-turner stories; and beautifully crafted prose.   I hope you enjoyed this article and will try some of these key practical steps. Let me know how you get on! 
Page 1 of 1