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How To Describe A Character: 14 Questions To Ask Yourself

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

Science Fiction Vs Fantasy: A Speculative Fiction Comparison

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

Nikki Logan: Women’s Prize Discoveries Competition Shortlistee

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

How To Write A Cookbook That Captivates Your Readers

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

How To Write Fantasy: A Guide To Enthralling Your Readers

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

How To Write A Comic Book In 10 Easy Steps

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

Joe Bedford on Writing as a Sustainable Lifestyle

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

What Makes A Good Story? 12 Things To Remember

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

Lyrical Style In Writing: How To Craft Compelling Prose

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

How To End A Story Perfectly

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

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

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

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

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

What Is A Premise In Writing? Start Your Story Strong

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

Suspense Definition- Literature: Tips For Writing Suspense

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

Types Of Irony In Literature: With Tips And Examples

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

Line Editing: How To Do It And What It Is

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

Pacing In Writing: Engage Your Readers With Every Page

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

Popular Types Of Fantasy Characters

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

Sensitivity Readers: Who They Are And What They Do

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

How To Write A Mystery That Grips Your Readers

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

Creative Writing Exercises To Enhance Your Writing

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

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

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

How To Write A Graphic Novel: A Complete Guide

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

Writing Science Fiction: Top Tips From A Sci-Fi Bestseller

Where do you start when it comes to writing a science fiction novel? Perhaps you\'ve written other genres, but just had a lightning bolt of a story idea that is definitely more of a sci fi novel. Or you\'re thinking about dipping your toes into the genre but you’re not sure where to start. You may even be an existing science fiction writer who\'s hit a wall and needs some tips. In this guide to writing a compelling sci fi story, I\'ll be helping you with everything you need to know about science fiction writing. We’ll take a look at definitions, investigate subgenres, give you an overview on how to consider approaching science fiction, some tips to make things easier, and even offer a few reading recommendations. Let’s blast off! What Is Science Fiction? You could debate the line between science fiction and fantasy for ages. I actually did just that in college, when I took Philosophy of Science Fiction. Every time the class thought they’d settled on an answer, the professor would ask a question that would topple our logic like Jenga blocks. It was great. When I lecture on science fiction now, I tend to use the useful shorthand by John Clute (author of the Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction), who calls it an “argued departure from reality,” while fantasy is more of an “unargued departure from reality.” In science fiction, you tend to explain what that departure from our reality is in terms of technology, whereas magic in fantasy tends to be more unknowable. But there are multiple examples that could throw that definition out (Dune and Star Wars have plenty of unargued elements to them, for example). Many others have offered up definitions, from the very academic (Darko Suvin: “a literary genre whose necessary and sufficient conditions are the presence and interaction of estrangement and cognition, and whose main formal device is an imaginative framework alternative to the author\'s empirical environment”), or through the lens of industry (Hugo Gernsback: “a charming romance intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision.”). One of the most straightforward ones is by Norman Spinrad: “Science fiction is anything published as science fiction.” Sci Fi Genre And What It Means Science fiction, like any genre, is also not a monolith. There are many subgenres, and it’s useful for you to know where your story might fit in the marketplace. The biggest delineation is between hard science fiction and soft science fiction: Hard science fiction: This type of science fiction relies heavily on science fact, making sure to explain many of the intricacies to the reader and making it a key part of the plot. The science is usually already established as fact or based on current firm theories of how the universe works (for example, working from our current knowledge of black holes or space travel). Examples: The Martian by Andy Weir, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, The Expanse by James S.A. Corey, Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress. Soft science fiction: This type of science fiction has less focus on the technical aspects and focuses more on the societal, historical, or psychological effects of technology. The technology might not be as deeply explained or less theoretically possible (time travel, faster than the speed of light travel, etc). Examples: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series. But like the definitions between science fiction and fantasy, this is a false binary. There are plenty of science fiction books that blend the two, and many are more “soft boiled” science fiction. Even the same authors can move around on the spectrum. This brings us to subgenres. Science Fiction Subgenres Going into detail about these would make this article too long, so this is a list. Feel free to research any of these in more depth if you think this is an area you already write or would like to try writing: DystopianUtopianArtificial intelligenceFirst contactMilitary science fictionParallel universes/the multiverseSpace operaSpace westernSpace horrorSteampunkSolarpunkSilkpunkBiopunkCyberpunkPortal fantasyAfrofuturismAlternate historyAlien invasionEcofictionFeminist science fictionMundane science fictionRecursive science fictionSlipstreamScience fantasy...and many more. The good news is that, when in doubt, you can always use “speculative fiction” as a catchall, but narrowing down your subgenre will likely make it easier to pitch to agents, editors, or sell to an audience. For example, Analog science fiction magazine prefers harder science fiction, so a very soft science fiction story is less likely to be picked up by them. How To Write Science Fiction Now that I’ve set up the definitions and given you a peek at science fiction’s many subgenres, how should you actually go about writing it? You can do these steps in any order that works for you: this is simply how I approach writing SF. To make it more concrete, I’ll use a couple of examples from my own science fiction novel Goldilocks (a near future space thriller), because I know my own writing process best and why I made certain decisions. Step 1: Think About Your Concept And The What If Question All science fiction writers know that SF especially lends itself well to high concepts and catchy hooks. This through-line will help keep many elements cohesive, and also make it easier to pitch. You can try framing it as a what if question? Examples: What if aliens came not to destroy us, but to save us from ourselves?What if an artificial intelligence gained sentience and disagreed with its programmer’s directions?What if climate catastrophe meant everyone had to live underwater for the next 100 years? For Goldilocks, it was “What if five women stole a spaceship to travel from a dying, increasingly patriarchal Earth to the exosolar planet that is humanity’s last hope?” Step 2: Decide On Your Subgenre Often, that \'what if\' question will point to one of the earlier mentioned subgenres. If not, you might need to skip this step for now and come back to it after you have a firmer handle on the plot and world. For Goldilocks, I knew it needed to be set in space. As a pitch, it was The Martian meets The Handmaid’s Tale, which meant a blend of hard and soft science fiction. I knew there would be no aliens, but I wanted the space travel science to be as accurate as possible. So the area of the market became obvious early on: feminist science fiction, set in space, with elements of thriller for the plot engine. Step 3: Create A Character I find that this method works best: I usually start with a character and then build the world around them by asking myself lots of questions. What job is your main character going to have?Why are they the person at the centre of this story?How do they instigate change in this world?How would they speak? What’s their background and story?How will they change as the story progresses? These are general questions I ask of any character in any genre. I decided to make my main character a botanist, in charge of growing the food on the spaceship. I felt more confident in researching this area of science compared to engineering or medicine since I don’t have a science background myself. I also realised early on that growth and nature vs. nurture are major themes in the book, so this tied in nicely as well. Step 4: Create A World Or Universe And Begin Necessary Research If you’re doing a far future space opera that spans multiple planets, then you’ll be creating many worlds. If you’re going a few years into the future of Earth, then you’ll be asking yourself what changed and what factors fed into it. Worldbuilding is an exercise in cause and effect. If this, then that. If I tug this thread of a web, what vibrations will move into other areas? I knew that my future Earth was going to be very sexist, especially in America. I started thinking through basically my nightmare scenario. I wanted it to be a bit less obvious than some other feminist dystopian novels—something that happens so gradually, that you don’t even realise you\'re a frog in a pot until you’re already cooked. Step 5: Start Building The Plot And Deciding On Structure Throughout your pre-writing work, you’ll likely have already seen some necessary plot points starting to fall into place. You can then begin to weave these together and figure out how you’ll lay it all out on the page. We have plenty of useful information on plot and structure to help you in this area. Or, if you’re not a pre-planner, then you can skip this step and simply start writing with your concept, character, and world in mind and see what happens. Writing Science Fiction: Additional Tips Here are some other things you can keep in mind as you create your science fiction novels: 1. Make Your World Believable, No Matter What Amazing SF Trappings You Include Readers want to be transported to another world and have it feel like actual people live there, that there was a long history before the book began, and that the world will continue turning once we’ve finished the last page. Becky Chambers does a great job of this by considering the different languages and customs of her various alien races, even if some of them look very fantastical: lizard people, sentient llama-like people, giant froggy-type aliens that move around in carts, etc. Taboos and social behaviours are also clearly detailed. When a world feels real, then the reader will suspend disbelief in some of those more out-there elements you include. 2. Consider What Your Characters Know And How To Balance Exposition If your character is an astronomer, then they’ll be able to explain and understand the meteoroid heading towards Earth. If they are an elementary school art teacher, they might need someone to explain it to them or to do some research themselves. One of the main challenges of science fiction and fantasy is weaving in that exposition so seamlessly that the reader doesn’t quite realise how carefully the world is being constructed around them on the page. Linden A. Lewis does this well in The First Sister, which is centred around a priestess of a sisterhood who travels with soldiers of Earth and Mars and has no bodily autonomy. 3. Do Your Research Even if you’re writing something relatively soft or toeing the line of science fantasy, you’ll likely still need to do some research around the tech or futuristic idea you’re investigating. Do initial research yourself, to narrow down your focus. There is SO MUCH information at your fingertips. YouTube, podcasts (I recommend NASA’s Houston We Have a Podcast if you’re writing space stuff), pop science fiction articles, academic articles not behind a paywall if you’re not able to access certain databases, social media threads or videos (check out Swapna Krishna’s TikTok for more cool space/tech stuff). Wikipedia can be a great starting point and then you can follow the linked sources at the bottom. Sometimes, though, even all the research can make it hard to answer a specific problem. In my experience, if you politely ask an expert a short, pointed question, they’re often happy to answer a science fiction writer. They’re excited that their expertise can be shared in a different medium and potentially reach different audiences. For Goldilocks, I was able to interview the former head of life sciences at the Johnston Space Center, a doctor studying the effects of microgravity on the human body, experts in infectious diseases, a professor of space law, astrophysicists, and many more. Some I found through friends in my existing network, but others I emailed cold. I made sure to try and use as little of their time as possible by doing the initial legwork myself, making the question as narrow as possible. Make sure to thank them in the acknowledgements if your story is published!   4. You Don’t Have To Put In ALL The Research You Did Yes, we know it’s a very cool fact that the enormous dust cloud at the centre of the Milky Way would taste like raspberries and smell like rum if you were able to smell or taste in space without instantly dying, but does that fact actually add anything to your narrative, or are you just wanting to show off the research you did? Everything you include should in some way advance the characterisation, plot, or world of your story as you go along. Too many random tangents and asides that don’t actually serve the story may frustrate the reader. 5. Don’t Hit The Reader Over The Head Too Obviously With The Message One of the big benefits of science fiction is that you are often giving some sort of prophetic vision: beware, if we don’t change our ways, we might end up like this. Or: how would humanity react to a certain event? Yet no matter how futuristic your story is, you’re still writing to a contemporary audience and usually commenting on something that’s important to us today: climate change, rising bigotry and xenophobia, the threats to democracy, the costs of war or unregulated capitalism. Ultimately, a lot of science fiction asks us: what does it mean to be human? Yet if you’re too didactic or preachy in the message, then it can come off as sanctimonious. It often needs to be subtle or filtered through a couple of characters who all have different opinions on whatever theme you’re investigating. Let the reader come to their own conclusions, and it will be more satisfying. Frequently Asked Questions What Makes Good Sci Fi? A good sci fi novel or movie asks a \'what if\' question (usually centred around science and technology) and answers it in a realistic yet captivating way. For a science fiction book to be engaging it has to feel like those events could, or may, happen in the future. Who Wrote The First Science Fiction Novel? Mary Shelley\'s Frankenstein (1818) helped define the science fiction novel and genre as a whole, making it one of the oldest famed literary works of its kind. What Is The Difference Between Science Fiction And Fantasy? In science fiction, the author explains the departure from our reality in terms of science and technology, whereas magic in fantasy tends to be more unknowable. Although both genres are often set in worlds that do not exist, sci fi is based on the human ability to invent and grow technologically whereas fantasy can have magic systems that exist inexplicably. You\'re Now Ready To Write A Science Fiction Book It’s beneficial for authors to explore the foundations of science fiction to help them write it. There are occasionally authors who write science fiction but don’t read it, and sometimes it is obvious. There’s an existing conversation that has been going on all the way back to Frankenstein or The Blazing World. Read the classics, read some contemporary authors. Read science fiction from various countries or in translation. Check out the winners and those shortlisted for the Hugo or Nebula awards. Read the short stories in magazines like Apex or Beneath Ceaseless Skies. And then go forth and make up your own worlds and universes. The stars are limitless! 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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

Writing An Autobiography: A How-To Guide With Key Tips

I’ve always felt that writing is an intimate activity; neither the writer nor the reader misses the inner workings of the writer’s mind. More so is the case with writing an autobiography. You’ll not only delve into the nitty-gritty of your thoughts but also critique your own life in the process of penning it down.   Sounds a tad uncomfortable, doesn’t it? And yet, it is this very genre of non-fiction that has one of the strongest readerships. Besides, no matter the discomfort you put yourself through whilst writing it, the minute your autobiography reaches the reader, it takes on the task of inspiring others.  There’s a tendency to believe that a biography, and more so an autobiography, is meant to be written by only a subject who’s a stellar performer in their career and highly popular for it. This is far from true. Sure, such a person could have a great ability to inspire their fans and readers, but even an ordinary person is capable of it.   You see, it’s in how you tell your life’s story that the inspiration lies, not necessarily in the popularity of it. Famous or not, every one of us deals with hardships in life and does one thing or another to overcome them. And therein, lies the narrative for every gripping autobiography...  In this article, I’ll help you understand what an autobiography is; go through the differences between biography, autobiography and memoir; provide some autobiography examples; tell you what to include in an autobiography; highlight the things that make for a compelling autobiography; and tell you how you can research your own life (yes, you read that right) to make your autobiography as authentic and balanced as possible.  What Is An Autobiography?  When thinking about the meaning of the word autobiography, it can be helpful to compare the subgenre with others which it\'s confused for (biography and memoir). So, in this section, I\'ll highlight the nuances of each genre/subgenre. Autobiography Definition An autobiography is a non-fictitious story by a person about their own life. It’s a subgenre of the larger genre of biography.   Let\'s look at biographies in more detail. Biography  A biography is typically written by a writer who’s highly knowledgeable about an individual and their life. They might be written post-humously (sometimes, the individual could still be alive), and may or may not be authorised (given express permission by the individual or their family).   Take, for instance, the award-winning Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by author Sally Bedel Smith. This book does the behemoth task of showing the reader what it meant for a young woman – Queen Elizabeth II – to take on the monumental task of being a monarch and do so successfully for decades. This book is certainly a magisterial biography. Though it doesn’t explicitly mention whether or not it is authorised, it certainly seems like it was, because the writer met the Queen on various occasions during the course of her research. So, if watching The Crown on Netflix has left you thirsting for more, you need only read this biography.  Another highly compelling biography is Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs. Openly authorised, this book is a testament to not only its visionary of a subject, Steve Jobs, but also life in the digital era that we live in. In over forty interviews with Jobs himself, and more than a hundred interviews with his friends, family, colleagues and competitors, Isaacson chronicles Jobs’ rollercoaster life as a creative entrepreneur. Jobs was known to irk his friends and foes alike with his brutal honesty and this is reflected in his biography too. He holds nothing back and neither does anyone that talks about him, making this book one of the sincerest biographies ever written.  Autobiography  An autobiography, however, is written by the subject themselves. The writer looks back on their life, putting all major events from their birth up until the time they complete the book under the microscope. They explore their past with the wisdom-filled lenses of their present. Needless to say, the authenticity of such a story is arguably higher than in a biography. I mean, who better to write your life’s story than you! Here are some great examples of autobiographies.  One of the most-read autobiographies of all time is perhaps Nelson Mandela’s A Long Walk To Freedom. The book details the story of the man who spent twenty-seven years in prison for marching against South African apartheid and then went on to become the president of a free country. It’s not only the narration of a revolutionary man (which in and of itself is significant), but also a story of triumph over racism and colonialism.   Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar’s Playing It My Way was a stellar record breaker with a pre-order of 1,500,000 copies of the autobiography, easily overtaking even Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs! The man was a legend on the cricket pitch and it’s no wonder fans want to read about what his life is really like, directly from the horse’s mouth. Suffice to say, Tendulkar’s penmanship matched pace with his batsmanship; his innings began even before the match did!  I’m one of those people who’s rather reluctant to watch a movie unless they’re certain it’s an inspiring, or at the very least a positive, one. One such movie that’s an all-time favourite of mine is The Pursuit Of Happyness starring Will Smith (who incidentally happened to publish his own autobiography Will earlier this year). The movie is an adaptation of Chris Gardner’s own autobiography by the same name. We’ve read many a story of single mothers struggling to make ends meet. But Gardner’s is that of a single father’s rags-to-riches story, which also shows him doing his best to be a good father to his son. For someone who grew up without a father, Chris’ own parenting is both heart-warming and inspiring, even keeping his overnight rags-to-riches story aside.  Where there’s a woman of colour who runs a Fortune 50 company, there shall be an autobiography of her. Ex-CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi’s My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future isn’t simply a story of her life but also a critique of the lack of work-life balance that society so readily accepts. Somewhat cut-and-dry, this autobiography makes the reader picture a rather ditch-feelings-be-formidable Indra Nooyi. But, perhaps, that’s exactly what it took her to get where she did.   What’s common amongst all these autobiographies is that they are highly inspirational, some with a big message for society in general. Where there’s talk of autobiographies, Anne Frank’s Diary Of A Young Girl is never far behind. The epistolary by the teenager lays bare her experiences as a Jew during World War II. The progression of her diary shows the maturing girl’s growing difficulty in maintaining self-awareness, a direct reflection of the impact of the Nazi regime. However, though the book falls under the umbrella genre of biographies, it’s more accurately a memoir.  Memoir  A memoir is another subgenre that’s all about a real person’s story written by the subject themselves, making them autobiographical. It is a long non-fiction narrative of the writer’s memory of their own life. Memoirs are often known – and read – for their exquisite literary quality.  We had a memoir as part of the curriculum for my bachelor’s degree in English Literature. I recall a week during that semester when our whole class was really glum. When one of our professors asked us what was wrong, we all sighed collectively and told her we were reading Elie Weisel’s Night.   Imagine that. A whole class of students were deeply saddened by the subject of a memoir, some even on the verge of tears, as we explained to the professor why we were all low. Elie Wiesel sure knows how to translate his pain into poignancy for the pages.   The memoir (it also falls under another subgenre called faction) is heartbreaking to readers as it details the harrowing experiences that the writer lived through and perhaps relived as he wrote it. Night is a haunting rendition of Elie Wiesel’s experience of the Holocaust as a teenager. This event in history marks the failure of humanity, and to intimately feel a survivor’s account of this horror is a grieving experience. This, right here, is what memoirs are capable of.   A memoir and an autobiography are similar on these counts – they’re both about real people and the real lives they lead. One way in which they differ is in their goal – memoirs are written to move the reader, to connect with them by way of emotive storytelling, while autobiographies are generally meant to inspire the reader, through a detailed exploration of who the writer really is. This is how they function primarily, even though both memoir and autobiography could potentially move and inspire just the same.   Sometimes, autobiographies might be marketed as memoirs and this can be quite confusing. Even experts make the mistake of using ‘autobiography’ and ‘memoir’ as synonyms. A key difference is that autobiographies record the subject’s life from birth to present time, chronologically, whilst memoirs may go back and forth in time and often cover smaller time spans. Autobiographies place importance on facts and history, whilst memoirs lean heavily on emotional experience. This also means that autobiographies are more general in terms of the topics they cover, even though certain events may be highlighted more than others. On the other hand, Memoirs can be thematic with a singular event or experience or emotion taking the forefront.   How To Write An Autobiography  If you’re excited to write your life’s story, then you’re in the right place. Here are the steps to writing an autobiography:  Do Your Research  Yes, it’s your own story. You might even assume that you’re the foremost expert on the topic of you. But think again. You might be surprised by how much you don’t know about your past, by simply going through family photos, and talking to your family and relatives about your childhood. They could give you several anecdotes that could brighten up your autobiography. Even talking to your ex-employers and bosses about the great and not-so-great things about your time in their company could give you a whole new perspective about yourself that you can then share with your readers.  Create An Outline  Writing an autobiography might seem like a mammoth task, especially if you’re not clear on what your narrative is. Are you telling your rags-to-riches story? Are you looking at the work-life balance battle you lead throughout? Or are you depicting your struggle against the societal restrictions placed upon you? If you have the narrative clear in your mind, then the outline is simply about listing all the various events of your life and seeing what aspects of them fit your narrative. Jot these aspects down; they’ll be the key points in your chapter breaks. Voila! You have your narrative, outline, and key points per chapter.  Write The Draft  Once you start writing your autobiography, try to get through it as quickly as possible. Aim for progress, not perfection, at this stage. The thing is, you’re bound to second-guess your own perspective the more you dwell on it, simply because everything seems important. After all, it is your life you’re writing about. However, this is exactly what could keep you stuck. Instead, move through it at a good pace, and later, when you edit it, you can slow down and decide what works and what doesn’t.   Give It Time Before Editing It  I never edit my writing soon after I’m done. To have a fresh outlook on my own writing, I need some time and distance from it. So, I give it at least two days, when it’s a small piece. But for an autobiography, I’d suggest giving it much longer; perhaps a month or two. Completing the manuscript in itself could take you months, if not years, and tire you out at the end of it. Take a long break, maybe even a vacation, where you work on something else completely. That way, when you return to edit your autobiography, you’ll have a renewed eye for error and detail. After this, maybe give it another two weeks before you fact-check and proofread. Once this is done, you’re ready to send it off to an agent.  Write A Book Proposal  Another thing to consider is that most agents will want a book proposal from you when you query them. Of course, before you do that you need to know which non-fiction agents to reach out to and what they are looking for. Be prepared for rejections; you knew this was never going to be easy. Do not take the rejection to be a personal critique of your life. Just keep pitching your book to agents until the right one picks it up.   Tips For Writing An Autobiography  Apart from the obvious – write in the first person – if you’re considering giving autobiography writing a go, then, you’ll need to bear in mind the following:  What Gives The Full Picture? An autobiography compulsorily covers the subject’s whole life until the point they are done writing it. This means you’ll need to cover your childhood, upbringing, education (or lack of it), adolescence, career, relationships, lifestyle and more. So, knowing what to include in your autobiography can be tricky. Of course, you can’t place equal importance on each of these. If you’re a fitness expert, then it makes sense to spend more time on your lifestyle section than any other. Still, it’s important to let your readers know everything that shaped you into who you are today. So, whilst the emphasis might be on you as a fitness expert, the reader will also want to know how you handled life as a parent, child, employee, friend and more. They’ll want the full picture, the complete you.  How Much Is Too Much?  The best autobiographies provide as much information as a reader might crave about the subject, yet know when to stop. Keeping the reader – who doesn’t know you – in mind is crucial at every turn. The things you think are very important to you, might not be very interesting for the reader. Yes, this is your story, but once your story reaches the reader, it’s their review that decides how impactful it really is.  What Ties It All Together?  Life is messy; it’s hard to sort through the clutter and find the thread that ties it all together. But this, you must do, for your autobiography. Even though it will contain various aspects of your life, they need to have a common narrative. At the end of the day, it’s a book. It is a story. So, you’re going to have to write it like one. Here are some examples of narratives: transformations throughout life, lessons you learnt from every stage or area of life, you versus your public persona, you versus the society. These narratives don’t have to be combative, just problematic enough for any human to relate with.  How Balanced Is It?  By its very nature, an autobiography is revealing. It can unfurl the good, the bad, and even the ugly. How elegantly each of these is handled can make or break the autobiography. Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs does this with a flair unmatched by most other books of the biography genre; the extensive research he did makes for a balanced view. Despite the candid voices, none of it reads like a smear campaign. You can take a leaf out of his book and apply it to your own autobiographical writing. If you can research your own life, by way of getting varied perspectives from friends, family, and even foes, then, you might have a nuanced approach to the storytelling of your own life.  Frequently Asked Questions How Do You Write An Autobiographical Story? There are lots of things to include when you\'re writing an autobiography. Autobiographical stories cover an entire lifetime, pay close attention to detail, are often written in chronological order, and have a clear narrative. They also have balanced characters and are well researched and fact checked. What Is The Purpose Of Autobiographical Writing? Autobiographical writing is generally written with the aim of depicting an important experience, topic, or challenge in the writer\'s life. Beyond this, the aim tends to be much more personal, and dependent upon the subject of the book. Writers may hope to entertain, educate, or inspire their readers, or showcase a different perspective. How Long Is An Autobiography? There aren\'t any specific rules when it comes to the length, or word count, of an autobiography, but they tend to be between 250-450 pages long. Autobiographies written by people who are well known and already have an audience tend to be longer, as their readers are more likely to commit to the text and take the time to read a lengthier tome. Autobiographical Writing  Writing an autobiography is a highly intimate affair; it’s bound to bring back certain uncomfortable memories, perhaps even trauma. If at any point, you feel it’s getting too heavy to handle, put the project on hold, seek out a therapist and come back to your book once you feel it’s safe to do so. Let your therapist know that this is in fact the reason you’re there – to be able to write your book from a safe space.  You may want to consider not talking about your book with loved ones until you’ve completed the first draft. Then, let them know that your book might include them and not all of it might be easy to digest. They might not like it, but in the end, this is your story and you get to tell it from your point of view. If you ensure to focus on your own journey in the book, rather than blame others, then this shouldn’t be an issue. If someone still feels uncomfortable with the contents of your book, know that there isn’t much you can do about it. It’s their job to deal with their own feelings. Don’t let them guilt trip you.  Try not to worry too much about the repercussions of writing your life’s story before you even begin. Remember why you’re writing this in the first place – your life is inspirational and there are readers who’d love to read about you. With that in sight, just get started and complete your autobiography.  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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

Finding The Motivation To Write: Top Tips From Successful Authors

I\'ve been staring at a blank page for ten minutes now, which is ironic as I\'m a writer who gets paid to write and at this moment I\'m meant to be writing about how to get motivated. But that\'s OK, because losing writing motivation is something that happens to everyone. Why? Because creativity can\'t be switched on and off like a tap. So how do you find the motivation to write? In this article, I will be discussing the many ways to motivate yourself to write a book; from setting goals and having a writing routine, to tricking yourself and rewarding yourself. I will also discuss how to avoid distractions, find ideas, and what techniques have helped top writers reach success. Motivation To Write (And Why We Need It) Many people think the hardest part about writing a book is coming up with the idea. It\'s not. The hardest part about writing a book is having to sit down and write, then, upon seeing what you\'ve written, resist the urge to throw your laptop into the nearest body of water, reach for a giant bar of chocolate, and give up. So how do you find your motivation to keep going? Muses, Inspiration, And Ideas Let\'s start with the magic, that mysterious spark that gets us jumping out of bed at 3am eager to tell our story. Sometimes, we can\'t get motivated because we are bored. Bored with our story, our idea, or the monotony of sitting in front of a laptop all day trying to reach our word count. If that\'s the case, then it\'s time to find some inspiration. Getting motivated to write can often simply be a matter of finding something more interesting to write about. So here\'s my list of ways to get your creative juices flowing. Writing Prompts When I teach writing to teens I like to play a game where they have to pick three prompts from a lucky dip jar - a genre, a scenario, and a random object. Write as many of these as you want (or even better, ask a friend so it\'s a surprise) and pick one from each category. It\'s impossible not to feel inspired to write a fun short story when you pick a combo such as: Rom ComYou are stuck in a lift with someone acting peculiarRubber duck What would your story be about? Or, try our writing prompts for fantasy, horror, thrillers, romance, poetry, and Christmas stories. Find A Muse (Or A Squad) Writing motivation is often as elusive as finding inspiration, but having the right people around you can kick-start you into action. Whereas a muse (perhaps the object of your affection) may inspire you to write beautiful poetry or the deep lyrics to a new song - a muse who gets you motivated is just as helpful. In my case, I surround myself with lots of author friends. No one understands a writer like another writer, and they know why it\'s important to stay motivated. I have writer friends on Facebook groups, WhatsApp groups, or friends I call. Not only are they a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board for moaning, but they are also the ones who will cheer me on and keep me going. Being part of a writer gang means they can also brainstorm your next work in progress with you, or help with plot holes (after all, it\'s always easier to come up with plot ideas for someone else\'s story). Join our free Jericho Writers Community to find like-minded writers! How To Persevere When You Feel Like Giving Up Some call it writer\'s block, others call it imposter\'s syndrome or simply running out of steam. Whatever has ground you to a halt, the first thing to do when you feel like giving up is ask yourself why you feel this way. Have you really run out of ideas? (If so, see the inspiration section above.) Are you really a crap writer (I doubt that), or have you simply lost faith in yourself? Losing confidence is part of every writer\'s writing journey, Stop Making Excuses If you go to a writer\'s house and every room is spotless, then you know they\'re avoiding writing their book. Us writers are exceptionally good at making excuses as to why we don\'t have the time to finish the next chapter. So next time you find yourself procrastinating... Get Out Of Your Own Way Yep. You may be lacking in motivation because you are standing in your own way. Ignore those miserable voices in your head and don\'t read any negative reviews of past work. Stay surrounded by positive people and remember why you write in the first place. Prove Them Wrong And if that doesn\'t work...there\'s always good old-fashioned spite! We all have that one person in our lives who told us we would never make a success of our writing. Perhaps it was a teacher, a parent, a friend, or a work colleague. So if you are still struggling to find the impetus to keep going with your writing then I strongly suggest you think about this person and imagine their face when you\'re sitting in Barnes & Noble, or Waterstones, ready to sign your book. Is there anything sweeter than looking someone in the eye and saying \'see? I told you I could do it?\' Be petty and reach your goals! The Importance Of Habit And Routine If you\'re serious about writing, you need to take it seriously. That means carving out time in your day to write, the same as you would any other job or commitment. Find A Writing Space Firstly, you need a comfortable place in which to write. You won\'t feel motivated if you\'re balancing your laptop on your lap while your flatmates talk over your head or your dog runs circles around you. It doesn\'t matter whether your writing space is a big fancy office or a corner of the kitchen table. Allocate a nice spot, somewhere where you can preferably be left alone that isn\'t surrounded by things that will distract you, and make it your own. Reduce Distractions You need to focus. That may mean seeking silence, getting out of the house, or putting on headphones and playing your favourite music. My biggest downfall is Twitter. So when I need to do nothing but write I turn off all WiFi, put my phone on airplane mode, and tell myself I can\'t get up until the work is done. One top tip that author Angie Thomas once shared (on Twitter, of course) is to unplug your laptop and write until it needs charging. Then as your computer charges, you get to as well! Set Aside Time To Write Your Book Professional writers, and authors who have found success, treat writing like a full time job -because for many it is! That means they get up every morning and they write every single day. If you\'re just starting out it\'s fine to write simply when you feel like writing, but if you have a deadline to meet it\'s important to set goals and stick to them. Set Goals Your goal doesn\'t have to be anything too unrealistic. Perhaps it\'s to write 300 words a day, or complete a chapter per week, or set a date to get an outline in place. The only way to reach the end of your book is to get that word count up - so bit by bit will still get you there. And the best part? Reward Yourself! Some writers like to buy themselves a fancy box of chocolates and they only get to choose one when they reach the end of each chapter. Or perhaps plan a fun day out to spend with those you love the week after your book deadline. Be Kind To Yourself But, on the flip-side, it\'s also important to take a break now and then... If you get up in the morning and can\'t face the day, I guarantee you will not produce good writing. So if you don\'t feel like writing - don\'t. Watch a movie, flick through Pinterest, or go for a walk. It may feel like a break but it may inspire you too. Do What the Professionals Do I took to Twitter to ask professional authors of every genre what motivates them to keep writing. They shared how they find the motivation to write: Emma Cooper, Up Lit Women\'s Fiction Author Of The Songs of Us I set work hours and treat it like an office job and open the document, even when I want to watch Netflix instead. I break the day up into manageable sections. Isabelle May, Foodie Rom Com Author Of The Cocktail Bar Cake in all its glorious forms! Nothing like a reward at the end of each chapter. It may sound basic, but going for a walk often clears your head. Emma Claire Wilson, Author Of Emotional Thrillers And Editor Of The Glass House If I am lacking motivation I ask myself \'does my brain need a break for a day?\' Forcing it can result in awful words which leads to frustration and even less motivation. For motivation I have a few writing exercises I go to, pick one out of my jar at random, and write something totally new to find my love of the spontaneous words again. Emma Jackson, Rom Com Author Of Summer in the City Having writing buddies to do sprints with, or make accountability goals with, really helps. Also I have a really geeky habit of breaking down my word counts into a spreadsheet and then doing 20-30 min sessions, updating it and seeing how it chips away at the big goal. Sophie Flynn, Thriller Author Of All My Lies I set a 20 min timer on my phone then switch everything else off during that time and write/edit - telling myself I can stop after 20 mins. By then I\'m usually in the right headspace and keep going. But it takes the pressure off! Non Pratt, YA Author Of Giant Days Honestly, for me, writing is only worth doing if I want to - but that’s because it’s no longer my actual job. When it was my job I reminded myself you can’t tell the bits I wrote under duress from those I wrote with joy and got on with it. You edit them anyway. M. K. Lobb, YA Fantasy Author Of Seven Faceless Saints I make a list of all the scenes I’m excited for and write toward them. If the book starts to drag, I know I need to re-plot to get the excitement back. Meera Shah, Thriller Author Of Her Short sharp bursts - it\'s all I have time for anyway. If it isn\'t working, take a break. And if it really isn\'t working, return to it another day! Erin Fulmer, Fantasy Author Of Cambion\'s Blood Routine helps. I write from 7-9 most nights. I use word sprints and sometimes a focus app to block browser access. I also have an elaborate spreadsheet that tracks progress relative to my self-imposed deadlines. Basically, anything to convince my mind that writing is an urgent task. Bethany Clift, Women\'s Fiction Author Of Last One At The Party I don\'t wait for inspiration, I just write. This is my job so I write every day - sometimes 400 words, sometimes 4,000, but I always do something. Also, I believe writing is a muscle - to keep it in shape you have to use it, develop it, feed it. So I do. Elizabeth J Hobbes, Fantasy Romance Author Of Daughter of the Sea I simply remind myself that if I don\'t get on with writing this book I will have to go back to working full time! Lia Louis, Rom Com Author Of The Key to My Heart Knowing exactly what bit I have to write helps me on the days I don’t want to! Throwing my phone in the bin* helps too. (*a nice safe drawer) A J West, Eerie Historical Author Of The Spirit Engineer What motivates me is a desire to escape this world to somewhere more wonderful in my own imagination. Kelly Andrew, YA Fantasy Author Of The Whispering Dark I let myself play around with the scenes I’m most excited to write and then that makes me eager to build to those moments organically in order to really tighten the beats. Leni Morgan, Self-Published Author Of How a Good Geek Survived The Zombie Apocalypse I find having several books on the go good motivation. When I get stuck/fed up with one, I move on to another. Plus rereading it to familiarise myself with the characters helps me unstick myself too. Lauren North, Thriller Author Of Safe at Home I set myself small targets like \'just write 250 words & then you can do what you like\'. By which point I\'m into the writing and ploughing ahead. I try to think about the buzz I felt at the idea. Frequently Asked Questions What Motivates A Writer To Write? For some it\'s to simply share their stories, for others it may be to hold their book one day or to prove to themselves they could do it. Find what motivates you, and use that energy to keep following your dreams. What Do You Do When You Lose Your Motivation To Write? Every writer loses writing motivation at some point. The best thing to do is not panic: Take a breakGet inspired by news stories, images, past life events, or talking to peopleDo some writing promptsGather other writers around you and brainstorm ideasStart a new project How Do You Get Over Writing Anxiety? Imposter syndrome is a part of the writing process every author encounters. Like most artists, writers are rarely happy with their work, but that doesn\'t mean it\'s not good. The easiest thing to do is: Avoid negative reviews (and people)Keep learning and bettering your craftAsk beta readers to guide youRemember the only part of the writing process you can control is writing the first draft of your novel. So focus on that and bettering it with each revision.Write your book anyway...you can always edit after! Let\'s Goooooo! I hope this article has got you out of your writing slump and raring to go. there\'s no right or wrong when it comes to writing goals and penning a novel; the only way you can fail is by giving up altogether! 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 or join our free writer’s community. 

Book Translation Rights: Everything You Need To Know

Many authors dream of seeing their books in print and on shelves in leading bookstores across the country. However, your book’s circulation, and your dream, don’t need to be limited by national boundaries or language itself! Translation is a great way to reach wider markets in different countries and will help you to diversify your revenue stream for your novel. If you\'d like to publish in another language, read on to learn more about this little known process. In this article, I\'m going to walk you through the path to achieving translation and figuring out international rights. I\'ll define foreign rights, explain why foreign rights agents are important, and detail how foreign rights and translation work. To help give you expert advice, I\'ve chatted with foreign rights agents Thérèse Cohen and Lucy Barry who both have an intimate understanding of the world of translation. What Are Foreign Rights? The first step to understanding translation is to learn more about the rights that you own as an author. Foreign rights dictate where you can distribute your manuscript and which languages it can be translated and sold in. The main rights you\'ll have to concern yourself with are translation rights and territorial rights. Rights are sold in both languages and territories, so translation rights deal with the language your book can be published in and territorial rights are associated with the markets where your book is sold. Thérèse explains territorial rights using the example of publishing a book in France or the UK. The most straightforward deal might be selling French language rights in France, or English rights in the UK, but you might also have English readers in the US or readers reading in French in Belgium. To help ensure that your book might reach a wider audience around the world, you can sell your world rights to publishers. This means that your book can be distributed anywhere in the world with no restrictions. However, it might benefit you more to break up your rights into territories to increase your profit. For example, if you\'re working with an English publishing house in the UK, you can sell them UK publishing rights to distribute the book throughout the country. This then gives you the opportunity to approach publishers in the US to sell the North American rights, which will then allow then to re-publish your book and distribute it in the US and Canada. This is the reason you might see different covers and publishers for the same book in the US versus the UK. It’s always interesting to browse the internet to find different cover variants in other languages or countries! Alternatively, your publisher might insist on world English rights, which will then give them the ability to sell your book all across the English speaking world, such as in the UK, North America, and Australia. This leaves you with the ability to negotiate translation rights for international markets. Selling foreign rights is something that you negotiate with your agent and will be incorporated into your publishing contract. If you\'d like to achieve translation in a foreign language, you\'ll have to sell translation rights to foreign publishers. You can do this on your own, or with the help of your domestic publisher. These rights determine which languages a publisher might publish your book in and gives them the exclusive right to distribute it in that language. You\'ll have to negotiate territorial rights alongside this to ensure that your book can be sold in the appropriate markets. Foreign rights might seem tricky, but with an agent by your side, you\'ll have no problem understanding the complexities of translation publishing. Why Are Foreign Rights Agents Important? If getting your book published in English sounds hard, you might think that publication in another language is even harder! You’re right to assume that it’s challenging, but there are specific industry members who are here to make it easy – rights agents. Rights agents work with authors to find international publishers to translate, print, and market their books. These agents are looking to maximise sales across different countries and have an understanding of what types of books work well in other markets. These agents have in-depth knowledge of the international publishing landscape. They’re also looking out for your interests by working to negotiate the best possible advances and royalties. All agents have knowledge of rights, but foreign rights agents are more experienced in selling foreign rights. Most agencies will have rights agents working for them, so it\'s in your best interest to consider finding agent representation in order to achieve translation into other languages. What Do Foreign Rights Agents Do? Lucy Barry describes the role of a rights agent as someone who works to ensure that their clients\' international publishing experience is as smooth as possible. She explains that, \'Rights agents work to place their authors’ titles with international publishers all around the world. Normally, rights agents focus on selling into certain markets, where they have specialist knowledge and longstanding relationships with international publishers.\' Foreign rights agents try to keep in constant contact with editors around the world and meet with them regularly to understand the tastes and trends of different international markets. The agent will work to negotiate the best publishing deal for their authors as well as the advance and royalty rates across all formats. Once the deal is completed, foreign rights agents also handle international press requests, author visits for promotional tours, and translator queries. Considering all the work that rights agents do, it\'s highly worth working alongside them. These agents are experienced in achieving translation from the English language to a new language and even any foreign original language into English. They network with publishing houses and editors at international book fairs, which gives them a strong idea of the tastes of a foreign publisher and whether they\'d be interested in translating your book. Having someone on your side who knows how to sell foreign rights is a huge help. How Do I Find A Foreign Rights Agent? Most foreign rights agents are experienced with rights, so you’ll query agents as you would normally. However, it’s important to communicate early on with your agent that you’re interested in translation. This way, the agent will know that you’re interested in maintaining translation rights for a deal outside your country. UK agencies will often have rights departments that will help query international publishers for a potential translation rights sale. You can get started on your hunt for an agent using our AgentMatch database. This will allow you to search a massive list of all the agents in the US and UK by genre in order to find the best agent for your book. Keep an eye out for agents with international experience or those who are associated with established agencies. Which Rights Do I Keep? It’s highly advisable to get a foreign rights agent who can help assist you with this decision making! Agents will be able to give you advice on whether or not to sell your translation rights to a publisher. Sometimes the publisher can go on to sell translation rights to publishers in different countries, and having an experienced agent by your side to help negotiate royalties is always helpful. If you’re going at it alone, this is a conversation you should have with your publisher. If they give you the option to retain translation rights, you can query international publishers about taking your book on. However, it’s recommended to wait until your book achieves English publication first. If you don\'t have a foreign rights agent, Lucy recommends trying to hold on to translation rights so that you can exploit these separately from the original deal. When you do receive an offer from a publisher, it may be worth reaching out to an agent, who could advise you. She explains that \'without an agent, it is important to be realistic about the international potential of your book. Many publishers have in house rights teams who will have the international connections to sell your book around the world.\' How Do I Know If My Book Will Sell In Other Countries? It’s always tricky to predict a book’s success, and selling in a foreign market definitely complicates this even further. The good news is that rights agents are communicating with co-agents and foreign editors all the time. This gives them insight into what different markets are reading and whether an international publisher might want to take on your book. When asked about selling into different territories, Thérèse stated that \'Readers are much more uniform in what they read, especially in Europe, now than in the past, but there are still some big differences between what does and doesn’t sell in fiction and non-fiction, and we have to be mindful of that.\' Lucy helped to clarify how agents can get a better idea of what books work in other markets. She explains that \'in certain territories, rights agents will often work with a co-agent to place the book in a market. Co-agents are frequently relied upon in the Asian markets and often in Eastern European territories where they work on the ground and speak the local language, this enables us to find the very best publisher and agree the best deal for our clients all over the world.\' Since co-agents and editors speak the language of the country that they’re in, they’ll be able to evaluate your book’s sales potential in foreign markets and work with your agent on a sale. International book fairs allow the international publishing world to mingle and can often result in lifelong partnerships between agents, editors, and publishers from different countries. Certain books sell better in translation, but genre popularity differs from market to market. Children\'s picture books are famously popular in translation, so if you\'re a children\'s author this is a route that it might be beneficial to consider pursuing. Foreign Publishers And How They Work Foreign publishers will work alongside you to help select translators and market your book in their country. The process doesn\'t differ much from that of your domestic publisher aside from the fact that they are producing a new translation of your work. There will be some differences in the royalties you receive as well as your advance, but this differs from publisher to publisher. One of the biggest questions you might have as an author is how translators are selected. Lucy explains that \'Publishers normally have long standing relationships with reliable translators who have experience translating manuscripts in a specific genre or field. Certain authors may have a dedicated translator in each territory, and others may have been translated by many different translators. As an author, you can always discuss this with your rights agent or international publisher, who will be able to explain why they recommend a particular translator and send information on the books they have previously translated.\' It can be a little worrying to see your book move from its original language to one you might not understand, but it\'s worth noting that translators are contractually obligated to accurately translate your work. The publisher might also re-design your book to fit the tastes of foreign markets. This might include creating a new cover, changing your title, or updating illustrations. Sometimes titles might even differ across English speaking countries. For example, Leila Slimani\'s popular novel Lullaby was re-named as The Perfect Nanny to better suit American audiences. What If I\'m Already Published? If you\'re already traditionally published, you\'re off to a good start as you\'ve already set your roots down in the English language publishing scene. To move towards translation, Lucy Barry recommends closely reading your contract with the original publisher. If your book has been sold in a world all language deal, the publisher owns the translation rights and should be exploring ways to exploit these rights. If it’s a world English language deal, the publisher will have the right to publish around the world in English and may sell the rights to a UK or US publisher on your behalf, but translation rights will be controlled by you. It\'s worth having a conversation with your publisher about your contract and your options. Translation Rights When You\'re Self-Published Those who aren\'t with a traditional publisher might wonder if it\'s possible to publish a work in translation if you\'re self-published. The answer here is yes! However, as with traditional publication, you’ll want to find a foreign rights agent to represent you first. You can query agents internationally or work to find a co-agent that has partnered with a UK agency. Alternatively, you might be able to strike out on your own and query foreign publishers directly. Just be sure to defend your query with comparison titles and your self-published sales figures, and do some research on your genre\'s popularity in international markets. If you\'re looking to query a publisher on your own, you might want to consider finding your own translator to translate a sample of your book. However, this isn\'t always required since many publishers read in English. When querying a publisher directly, be sure to follow their guidelines for submission carefully, as if you were querying an agent. What Do I Do If I Want My Book To Be Translated Into English? Your first step to achieving English translation is to contact your publisher to determine who holds translation rights. From there, you can consider translating a sample of your book into English. As I mentioned above, translation into English isn’t always necessary, but it can help agents who only speak English get a taste of your book! From there you can query agents in your home country or in the US and UK. There are plenty of agents who specialise in translation, so it’s important to research thoroughly when querying. Once you\'ve found an agent, they\'ll begin work on finding you a publisher or a translator to sell your foreign rights to. Some publishers prefer that a book is translated in full before it is submitted and others prefer a sample. In some cases, your publisher might have their own translators that they prefer to use. If you aren\'t published, you may want to start by querying publishers and agents in your country. Alternatively, you can branch out and query agents in the US and UK after translating a sample of your manuscript. What Can A Translator Do? Increasingly, we\'re starting to see translators get involved with some of the tasks originally assigned to agents. If you\'re writing in a language other than English and can\'t find an agent to help you sell foreign rights, you might decide to turn to a translator. It\'s worth doing some research to identify UK or US translators who specialise in literary translation out of your native language. These literary translators often have a good understanding of the US and UK market for translation and might be able to work alongside you to help you find an agent or query publishers on your behalf. What Is The Market For Books Translated Out Of English? It\'s worth knowing that more books are translated out of English than into it, so it can be quite difficult to achieve translation in the US or UK. That being said, there are a number of publishers dedicated to publishing translated writing and sales of works in translation continue to grow. Some academic publishers are also working to create their own translated fiction lists. As the market for translation grows, so do your opportunities. In fact, a recent Man Booker study has found that sales for translated literary fiction have increased, with authors like Haruki Murakami, Elena Ferrante, and Karl Ove Knausgaard contributing to the rise in sales. If you\'re interested, below are some great US and UK publishers who have extensive translation lists to check out: Comma PressPushkin PressFitcarraldo EditionsGrantaTwo Lines PressOpen Letter PressGreywolf PressEuropa EditionsOneworld Publications If you\'re an English speaker and you\'re hoping to start reading more in translation, you might be interested in having a look at the Booker International Prize winners. This is a great way to get started on reading translation, as the prize seeks to highlight some of the best books written in languages other than English. Translation can help diversify your reading list and expose you to some excellent authors. Get Your Rights Right Many of the steps to achieving publication in another language are made much easier by having an agent. While finding a foreign rights agent can be challenging, it\'s certainly worth the effort. We recommend using our AgentMatch database to get started on your search. Seeing your book published in another language is extremely rewarding, and while the process might be long and time-consuming, selling foreign rights is a great way to increase your market reach and earn more from a single manuscript. Thérèse encourages writers \'to enjoy the bonus that is having a translation deal (getting a copy of your book in a different language will never get old!)\', but to not let it stress you out or put additional pressure on you. If your book sells, it sells, and that’s brilliant, but if it doesn’t, that’s fine too. Don’t try to change what you write or the way you write to suit a different market, if you’re doing well selling in your home market, that is what ultimately matters the most.\' Frequently Asked Questions Who Owns The Translation Of A Book? Translated works are incredibly valuable texts, but in terms of who owns a book\'s translation, it can vary. Sometimes, the translator holds the copyright for the translation and the original author holds the copyright for the original text. Other times, the translator does not own the copyright for their translation, and the publisher or original author does instead, though many people feel that translators should have more- or all- of the ownership of their translations. However, a translator can claim copyright ownership of the translated version of a book they have translated from a piece that is in the public domain. Do I Need Permission To Translate A Book? You cannot translate a book without the author\'s permission, as they are the copyright holder for the text. In order to translate a book, written permission from the author is often required, or, if the copyright is held by the publisher, you need to contact them instead. Are Book Translations Copyrighted? Book translations are copyrighted, but the copyright is not always held by the translators themselves. Translators have the same rights over their work as authors, which means they are entitled to both the copyright of their translations and proper acknowledgement of their work. However, translators are often asked to cede copyright by some of the bigger publishers, as translation is seen as costly and risky, so they don\'t always hold the copyright to their own translations. Do Book Translators Get Royalties? Translators are entitled to both copyright and royalties, though whether they maintain the copyright, and receive a fair proportion of the royalties depends on individual circumstances. Some of the big publishers don\'t provide translators with a fair amount of royalties, though translated works are generally produced by indie publishers who tend to have more equitable practice in terms of ensuring translators have both the copyright and sufficient royalties. 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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

Zahirra Dayal’s Success: Making Writing Competitions Work For You

From the moment we heard the opening of Zahirra Dayal\'s \'Invincible Jacarandas\' at the 2021 Friday Night Live, we knew it was something special. Now, Zahirra\'s making waves. She\'s signed with Katie Fulford at Bell Lomax Moreton and made the shortlist in multiple writing competitions. We caught up with her to find out what her writing life was like before Friday Night Live, and beyond it. JW: Hi Zahirra! Firstly, please tell us a bit about your background as a writer, and your journey to writing your first book.   ZD: My love affair with words began when I was very young. I spent hours reading Enid Blyton books which I borrowed from the city library in Harare – the capital city of Zimbabwe where I was born. I was never far away from pen and paper and filled pages of diaries with my thoughts and observations. It was only natural that I went on to study English Literature at university in South Africa. I nurtured the secret hope of writing a novel one day. After I graduated and moved to London in 2000, I enrolled in a part-time creative writing course with the Open University - but from that point onwards life seriously got in the way of my writing ambitions.  Fast forward 19 years and I was finally able to steal a few hours on the two afternoons that I finished work early to write in a café in Wimbledon. Those moments were the beginnings of the very messy zero draft of my novel. The entry point to my novel was a story I wrote for the Open University course, inspired by my intrepid grandmother, who moved to a new continent like many other Passenger Indians at the turn of the 19th Century. The story of the main protagonists, sisters Zaynah and Amira, came to me as I developed the story.     Many of my stories were accepted for publication and this gave me the confidence to keep going. Most importantly, I loved the actual writing process.  Then the lockdowns happened and while teaching online from home, I carved out more time and space to write. I joined the writing community on Twitter and started writing short stories which I submitted to literary journals. Many of my stories were accepted for publication and this gave me the confidence to keep going. Most importantly, I loved the actual writing process.  I knew that I still had lots to learn so I applied for every opportunity advertised on Twitter. I did a free short writing course with Spread The Word, but the real game-changer was when I won the bursary for the Jericho Writers Self-Edit Course. Every week we focussed on a different aspect of writing and had a chance to give and receive feedback on our weekly tasks. The tutors – Debi Alper and Emma Darwin -  were fantastic and the other writers were so supportive and insightful.  I joined the writing community on Twitter and started writing short stories which I submitted to literary journals. Many of my stories were accepted for publication and this gave me the confidence to keep going At first, I was terrified of having my work critiqued as I didn’t believe that what I had could be shaped into a novel. Enter Debi Alper! Debi was the first to show me my novel\'s USP: the exploration of timeless themes in the specific setting of Zimbabwe just after independence. Her belief in my writing has been the gold dust on my journey. It just takes that one person to show you to yourself. I continued to transform my zero draft into a first draft with my shiny new editing tools. After the Self-Edit course, we formed a WhatsApp group to stay in touch with each other and the other writers persuaded me to enter the opening of my novel into the Jericho Writers Friday Night Live competition at the Summer Festival of Writing, which I knew nothing about at the time. I did - and I won! One of the agents from the competition requested the full manuscript afterwards. I was elated, floating on a blissful cloud of joy. But in the end, the agent turned it down - which brought me crashing down to reality again. Her belief in my writing has been the gold dust on my journey. It just takes that one person to show you to yourself. I continued to transform my zero draft into a first draft with my shiny new editing tools. Clearly, it had all happened too fast; I was still heady from my FNL win and there was still a lot of work that needed to be done on my manuscript. Part of the FNL prize was a manuscript assessment and I asked if Debi Alper could do mine. Debi was honest in her feedback and - unsurprisingly - told me that it wasn’t ready for submission yet. I worked on my manuscript for the next few months and then in March 2022 started querying the first 10 agents on my long list of hopefuls. Within days I received full manuscript requests. I held my breath because it felt surreal and I was all too familiar with the pangs of rejection from that first time. Two weeks and six full requests later, I had one zoom call and one face-to-face lunch at a swanky café in London with two agents who both wanted me to sign with them.  JW: Writing can be quite isolating - how did you find a sense of community?   ZD: I have met so many writers through my networks on Twitter and that has made me feel so much less alone. It can feel like you are flailing in the dark sometimes as you type away in your little corner. After the Self-Edit course, The Murder Alibi Club was born and we commiserate the woes and celebrate the highs together. It’s a safe place where I know I will be understood. We also post resources that we come across and it’s just a lovely bunch of writerly people. I would never have got this far were it not for the creative people I’ve met along the way. There are so many people I could name here but they know who they are!  Two weeks and six full requests later, I had had one zoom call and one face-to-face lunch at a swanky café in London with two agents who both wanted me to sign with them.  JW: What kinds of resources did you find useful along the way? ZD: Last year was the first time I attended the Summer Festival of Writing and though it was online, I listened to most of the webinars and found them brilliant. They kept me motivated and I learnt so much from the industry experts and the guest authors. I loved that I was hearing from the authors whose books I was reading at the time.   JW: Do you have any advice for writers trying to get exposure before getting an agent? ZD: Apply to every writing competition you hear of! Each time I applied, I thought that nothing would come of it, but I have now been shortlisted for the Owned Voices Novel Award, longlisted for the Deborah Rogers Writing Award, and The Mslexia Novel Award. Even though I didn’t win, it has been great exposure for my novel and each time I received useful feedback on my manuscript. Being longlisted for the Deborah Rogers also meant that Matthew Turner at RCW agency gave me invaluable tips on pitching my novel and writing my query letter. Submitting short stories to journals is another great way of getting exposure and I created a writer’s website to showcase all my published short fiction and non-fiction (at www.zahirradayal.com.) JW: How did you choose your agent, and what has it been like working with them?   ZD: It was really hard to choose between the two agents that made offers. In some ways, having a choice, whilst being empowering, can also make things more difficult. Both agents loved the novel and were wonderful people who I felt I could work with. It was an agonising decision, but in the end I asked each of the agents to give me more details about the editorial work that needed to be done on my novel. I used this to inform my decision. I chose Katie Fulford, who was the first to read the full novel and get back to me. Katie also has a wealth of experience in publishing and is very familiar with the period I am writing about in Zimbabwe. She has been to Zimbabwe several times and we have the same vision for my novel Invincible Jacarandas.    JW: Finally, have you encountered any surprises in the process so far?  The biggest surprise for me has been how slow things can be and then at other times how fast. The mantra of the industry should be ‘hurry up and wait’. I was also surprised by how supportive the writing community really is. It amazes me that I have had so many conversations online with writers who I have never met face to face but feel like I know as we all experience the same highs and lows and really get it!  About Zahirra Zahirra is a Zimbabwean-born writer who lives in London. She is currently working on her debut novel set in post-independence Zimbabwe and is represented by Katie Fulford at Bell Lomax Moreton. She is the winner of the FNL 2021, shortlisted for the Owned Voices Novel Award and longlisted for the Deborah Rogers Writers Award and Mslexia Novel 2021.  Follow Zahirra on Twitter. Explore Zahirra\'s website.

How To Write Faster- And To A Higher Standard

Have you ever wondered how you could write faster? Perhaps you’ve spent ages rewriting the same sentence over and over again? Or maybe you are someone who struggles to begin a book or a project in the first place. You have an idea in your mind, rattling away inside of you, but you are reluctant to get it out on paper. Perhaps you don’t even know where to start? Or, like me, you’ve seen other writers churn out numerous articles, books and blog posts and wondered how they’ve managed to write them so quickly.  Don’t worry – we’ve all been there!  If that sounds like you, some fast writing exercises might help you put aside some of your worries and actually focus on getting the words on the page. I know I, and many other authors, benefit from writing fast first drafts that we can later refine, and it might well be that this process can work for you too.  Many famous books have been written at speed. On the Road by Jack Kerouac was allegedly written in an impressive three weeks and John Boyne has claimed that it took him roughly two and a half days to write the first draft of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.  Of course, in these cases, we are talking about drafts – but if you can get a fast draft down, the rest of your writing can develop quickly too.  In this article, we will discuss why writing quickly is useful and go through some tips to help you start writing faster today.  Are you ready to see how fast writing might just give you the kickstart you were looking for?  If so, sit back read on, and get ready to pick up that pen. The race is on so let’s not delay!   Why Writing Quickly Matters  There is certainly a great deal of value in writing faster, even if it’s just your first draft. Many authors and writers will attempt to get their initial drafts down quickly while the ideas are still fresh in their minds and while they are fully excited by the project. A lot of excitement in a new project is usually stacked at the beginning, so you need to tap into those feelings for as long as you can, and fast writing will really help you to achieve that aim.   Writing quickly really is about just getting those words down on the page – they don’t have to be structurally or grammatically perfect yet! The editing and refinement can come much later. Quick writing means you can simply have fun allowing your ideas to spill from your mind onto the page - and it is a great way to allow your creative juices to flow freely without too much interruption.   Also, by getting your words down on the page fast, you will help your brain remain engaged with your writing for as long as possible, and you will be able to stay in a flow state for longer. You will find you are less likely to lose focus or allow your mind to wander onto the next enticing project - or begin to worry if the project you are writing is even working. The faster and more productive you are at getting your words on the page – the more likely you will be able to have a finished project at the end of it that you can refine.  Regardless of the form you’re writing in, when you are writing faster you will hopefully reduce the occurrence of writers\' block, as you will be fully focused on getting words on the page. It’s fair to say that the faster you are writing, the less likely you are to be distracted or to have the time to pause and worry about what to add next. The fun of this exercise comes in the freewriting itself and letting the words flow. Yes, you may lose some content later and may have to make changes – but that comes at the next stage. For now, you need to simply enjoy the act of writing in its purest form.  I think it’s fair to say that we can appreciate that writing fast can be beneficial and a great way of writing in a free, expressive and limitless way, but how can we do it? Is it really that easy to remove the shackles and anxieties that you might be holding on to and simply allow yourself to write quickly and freely? In the next section, we will explore some tips and methods that will help you to write a book faster.  How To Write A Book Faster  Writing a book faster is not as daunting as it might sound – but it does require some commitment, determination and self-belief. You need to tell yourself that you can do this and make writing a priority even if it’s just for a short time each day. Writing in fast, sharp bursts is often a good method for writers who might fall victim to procrastination or dithering. This way of fast writing worked well for me when I was writing my debut YA novel Seven Days. At the time, I was working full time and raising two young children. An idea for a teenage story developed in my head and wouldn’t leave me. I was determined and energised to get the story on paper as quickly as I could. I set myself short periods of time where I made myself write and this forced me to write fast. The result was a first draft that was written in three months (quick for me!). Since then, I have always tried to write quickly and efficiently, often with self-imposed short deadlines to keep me motivated. This method doesn’t work for everyone, but it certainly did for me, and I would recommend that you give it a try. What is there to lose?  So, how can you become a fast writer? It might not be a skill that comes naturally to you, in which case some of these tips and methods may help you become a much quicker and more efficient writer and allow you to get that draft written at speed.  Write Daily  Try to set yourself a target to write something every day, either by hand or on a computer (whichever you feel most comfortable with). This could be a word count target, or it could be just a set amount of time – but by making yourself write a little bit each day, you will find that your project will develop much more quickly.  Set A Timer  This can be another useful tip, especially for those of us that work well under pressure or to tight deadlines. Set yourself a time limit. It doesn’t have to be long – perhaps 15 or 30 minutes - and then make yourself write nonstop within that period. Don’t stop to check back or edit your work. Simply keep writing and let the words flow as the time counts down. This can be an effective way of speed writing. Again, this method can be used for both writing by hand and typing.   Many people specifically like to use the Pomodoro technique, wherein you set a timer for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, and repeat this process. After four 25 minute writing sessions, you then take a longer break of 15 minutes or so and repeat the process again.  Write At A Time When You Are Most Focused  This is quite a useful tip, as it\'s true that most writers have a time when they are most productive. I know writers that wake up very early in the morning and are most productive then. Others may find that they can write faster and better in the evenings. It might be that, due to other demands, you have a limited choice of when you can write – but if you can, try to pick a time when you are not too tired or overwhelmed by other projects. Your words are likely to flow better, and have greater clarity, if your mind is clear and your body is relaxed.   Eliminate Environmental Distractions  Again, this can be a tricky one, depending on your circumstances – but if you can, try to remove those external distractions. Ensure the dog is walked before starting, so they can’t badger you while you’re writing, tell family members that you are working and cannot be disturbed, and try to reduce the noise and distractions around you. I know that many writers value the use of noise cancellation headphones for such work as this helps to block out background noise.  However, once again, all writers are different, and some people (like me) actually write better in noisier environments. So, it is also about finding out what suits you best.  Create An Outline To Work From  Some writers work much better if they have a plan or an outline to follow, and know roughly what each scene will entail. So if you\'re someone who likes structure, having that initial outline will help you write the first draft much more quickly. If you are a writer who tends to like planning out your ideas (rather than a panster who will just slam down whatever comes into their head) – it might be an idea to shape out your idea first. Consider drafting out a plan first to give you something to work from and allow your words to flow much faster.  Stay Away From The Internet!  This is an important tip. If you want to write fast and efficiently, you need to remove the lull of the phone and the internet during the time you are writing. Keep your phone away from your desk while you’re getting those words down and resist the temptation to hop onto the internet for a break. Searching houses or checking Facebook is not going to get those words down any faster!  Set Rewards  This is one that I personally do myself. If I’ve met my word count for the day, I will give myself a little reward. It might be as small as a biscuit, or half an hour watching my favourite (naff) TV show, but it helps my writing brain to know that there’s a reward at the end and I do end up writing faster because of it. Set A Word Count  This could be another daily target that you set yourself to get those words down on the page quickly. A common target is 1,000 words a day. Many authors will either work towards a daily word count, or will set themselves a certain amount of time to write in. Again, it will depend on the individual, as people have different preferences.  Make Sure You’re Comfortable  Ensure that your desktop is set up correctly and that you have the appropriate chair and desk. You won’t get many words down if your back is crying in pain - and you will thank me for this tip later!  Be Excited/Motivated  Try not to see your writing time as a chore or as work. Enjoy it! If you’re having fun and are relaxed it will show in your writing. It makes a big difference if you’re writing about a topic, or in a genre, which you care about and enjoy.  Don’t Stop To Edit/Read Back  This is an important tip when it comes to writing fast. You shouldn’t stop to edit or read back through your work. Writing at speed is all about getting those words down on the page; you can worry about refinement and detail later.  Research Later  The same can be said for research. This can be quite a time-consuming part of writing and although it is necessary – it is not essential at the speed writing point. You can go back and add the relevant research points later, but first, focus on getting your bare-boned structure down.   If it helps, you can always add notes- colour coded, in brackets, underlined etc- in your draft reminding you to go back and check certain details or add in some specific information.  Remember – It’s Not Meant To Be Perfect!  This can be a hard tip for perfectionists, or for those writers that are used to editing as they go, but if you want to try writing more quickly, it’s important to note that your first draft will probably end up quite rough and imperfect. This is fine, though, as you can then have fun refining it at the editing stage.  Use Other Devices (Tablet, Notebook, Whatever Works)  You might consider using other devices to speed write. Some people write faster by hand. Others prefer to use a tablet, whilst others will prefer to write straight onto a computer/laptop. Find what works for you and stick with it.   You could also use speech-to-text dictation and speak your writing aloud into your laptop. This works particularly well if you express yourself more coherently verbally than you do when writing, or if you’re a faster speaker than you are a typist.  Have Snacks!  This is a tip I’m happy to endorse. Quick snacks or drinks will help you avoid the temptation of trips to the kitchen!  How To Write Quickly As writers we must always appreciate our own strengths and weaknesses and for some individuals, the fast-writing method may not appeal, or even work. It takes some people longer to write a book than others, and there\'s nothing wrong with that. However, for many – this could be a very productive and motivating way to get words onto a page and to progress your writing onto the next level.  Remember that the key thing here is not to produce a polished and perfect draft – instead, you are looking to produce a working draft that can be edited and refined later.   Writing quickly can be a useful tool to learn, and can be especially handy if you are trying to squeeze your writing into an already packed schedule. But it\'s not purely about learning how to speed write. The key is to be disciplined and self-motivated and write under the conditions which most inspire you. The results will speak for themselves. Perhaps you will be the next John Boyne and produce a draft within a few days, or perhaps, more realistically, you will have a workable document in a much faster time than you thought was otherwise possible. Either way, you have nothing to lose by giving it a go – so get rid of those distractions and set that timer! Let’s see where your speedy words take you!  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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

From the stage to the page: Liz Webb’s debut thriller

As a former stand-up comic, voiceover actor, producer - and now, debut author - Liz Webb is no stranger to agility in her career. Her debut novel, \'The Daughter\' (Allison & Busby, May 2022) has garnered reviews from names like Jo Brand and Sophie Hannah. Here\'s how Jericho Writers member Liz navigated her path to becoming a published author, and some things she found useful along the way. JW: How did you find moving between career paths, and eventually moving into writing? LW: I’m both a lily-livered navel-gazer, and a massive control freak greedy for applause.  My career has taken me from stand-up comic to radio producer to psychological crime novelist.  With each job, I’ve needed to fake it till I make it.  In stand-up, I had to fake confidence with audiences and promoters.  With producing, I had to fake confidence with commissioners, writers, technicians and managers.  But with writing, I’ve had to fake the hardest kind of confidence: with myself.  Each time I write, I have to tune out my internal whingeing and keep going, even when I’m sure I’m writing drivel.  Because I know that if I write ANYTHING AT ALL, it may actually be good, or it could be made good.  But if I wait for some mythical future where I’m a 3D confident person (what an outlandish concept), then I won’t go through the process that enables me to write something that I do eventually have confidence in. To tweak a quote from the brilliant Michael Rosen:  I can’t go over it, I can’t go under it, I have to go through it. With writing, I’ve had to fake the hardest kind of confidence: with myself. With all the jobs I’ve done, I’ve used different versions of the same skills.  Stand-up was me telling my stories and controlling the room.  Producing was me telling other people’s stories and controlling a team of talent.  And now writing is me telling a made-up story and controlling myself.  I try to be disciplined and focussed (but often fail) and try to get better at wearing the many different hats one needs to wear to produce a book: idea-generator, plotter, writer, editor, diplomat, therapist, cheerleader, publicist, video presenter and social media promoter.  As I approach the publication of my first novel, my hat collection is expanding exponentially. JW: What kinds of resources helped you along the way? LW: In the summer of 2020, I had a very rough draft of my first novel: a Frankenstein-esque, stitched-together, suppurating thing.  It lacked a USP, a thorough plot, consistent characters, and any depth of theme.  I needed to redraft it multiple times, considering it from every angle.  With all the jobs I’ve done, I’ve used different versions of the same skills.  Stand-up was me telling my stories and controlling the room.  Producing was me telling other people’s stories and controlling a team of talent.  And now writing is me telling a made-up story and controlling myself. That summer, it was at the height of covid, and Jericho Writers ran an amazing online-only writing festival.  It was choc-o-block with videos, live ones and replays, covering everything I needed: plotting, voice, character, editing, pitching, etc.  I looked away from the enormous hill I had to climb and set myself specific tasks.  Each day, I would fasten on my blinkers, watch a video on a particular subject and deal with just that issue in my book.   As I got closer to a decent draft, I did four Jericho Writers one-to-one sessions with agents or book doctors, which resulted in requests for full manuscript reads, giving me confidence. That experience with my first book taught me to always focus on only the next specific task at hand.  It’s like I’m following the practical steps of piloting a plane: taking-off, cruising, course-correcting and then landing.  I try not to think about how unbelievable it is that planes can fly, about all the components needing to work together, or about crashing.  If I did, I would never get that plane from A to B. I still use the excellent resources of Jericho Writers.  There are too many great tutors to recommend, but ones that leap to mind are: Cesca Major, Philippa East, Debi Alper and Rebecca Horsfall.  Whenever I’m in writing freefall, I’ll watch a video and use it to focus my writing.  Yesterday I watched the wonderful Emma Cooper talking about ‘How to hit story beats\', which helped me decide the vital mid-point of my second novel. JW: Do you feel like an author? LW: I feel like an author in the way the fake heiress Anna Delvey felt like an heiress.  I can convince others (and occasionally myself) that I’m an author.  But deep down, I feel like a fraud and I’m just waiting to be caught out.  I’m wracked with self-doubt and imposter syndrome.  But so what!  It’s like I’m following the practical steps of piloting a plane: taking-off, cruising, course-correcting and then landing.  I try not to think about how unbelievable it is that planes can fly, about all the components needing to work together, or about crashing.  If I did, I would never get that plane from A to B. The trick is to write anyway.  When I’m immersed in writing, I can tune out my endless boring negativity.  I’m only too aware that I’ve got massive black spots in my writing skills.  But whoop-di-doo, so does everyone.  I focus on what I am good at (eg. voice, quirkiness and plotting), keep learning the things I can improve on (eg. over-writing and grammar) and just ignore the stuff I’ll always be rubbish at (ooh that would be telling).  I try to remind myself that I’ve worked really hard and should occasionally pat myself on the back. I was at the post office yesterday, posting my novel to a friend. ‘What’s in the parcel and what’s it worth?’ the postmaster asked me. ‘It’s just a book, it’s only worth a few pounds,’ I mumbled. I so wish I’d said: ‘It’s MY book, I wrote it – and the enormous cost of doing so is unquantifiable!’ JW: What has it been like working with your publisher? LW: It’s been great to be published by Allison & Busby, a highly-respected independent publisher.  I will always remember my first meeting with them, being so warmly welcomed at their Soho offices which were filled from floor to ceiling with pristine novels – it was like stepping into a film, in which I played the role of ‘novelist’.  They’ve always been super-enthusiastic about my book and supported me with editing, copy-editing and proof reading. I was quite a novice at social media and got useful advice about using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and (much to my teenage son’s amusement) TikTok.  They hired a brilliant external publicist, who helped me get blog tours, interviews and articles.  They’ve managed all the book production and promotion side of things, but they’ve welcomed discussion about title, front-cover and publicity, thus employing their considerable knowledge and experience, while indulging my megalomania. The self-imposed pressure is good IF I use it constructively to learn more, work harder and open up new possibilities. JW: Has the experience of writing your second novel been different to that of the first? Have you felt any pressure? LW: I feel a gargantuan pressure to write an even better second book and to get an even bigger financial and PR deal.  The self-imposed pressure is good IF I use it constructively to learn more, work harder and open up new possibilities.  But the imagined pressure that I conjure up from friends, agents and publishers is ridiculous.  I have to constantly remind myself that nobody outside of me really cares two hoots about what I do. Writing a second book should theoretically be easier as I’ve gained skills from writing my first one.  But as the achievement escalator I’m on reaches the top of any writing aim, as soon as I’ve blinked, I find myself back at the bottom of a new escalator.  Writing feels like juggling water, never like a solid skill that I’ve mastered, but as long as I keep writing then I’m progressing. Sometimes I kid myself that writing my first novel was easier than writing my second, because I knew less about the enormity of the job and the possibilities of failure.  But that’s such tosh. It’s so easy to look back with rose-tinted spectacles.  I once googled an ex-boyfriend I was remembering fondly and discovered that he was in prison!  That’s obviously the start of another novel – but the point is, wherever you are in the writing process, you are where you are and all you can do is keep on trying.   I will keep learning more, writing more and hopefully publishing more.   Because I want to cocoon myself in my private little world of writing.  And because I want massive world acclaim. About Liz Liz Webb originally trained as a classical ballet dancer but had to give up following a back injury. She then worked as a secretary at the British Library whilst going to night school at the City Lit to get into Oxford University at age 23. After graduating, she worked as a stationery shop manager, an art model, a cocktail waitress, stand-up comic, voice-over artist, script editor, and radio drama producer before becoming a novelist.   Liz was a stand-up comic for ten years performing at clubs across the UK and at festivals in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leicester and Cardiff. She also worked for fourteen years as a prolific radio drama producer for the BBC and independent radio production companies. Liz lives in North London with her husband, son and serial killer cat Freddie.  Follow Liz on Twitter @lizwebbauthor Visit Liz\'s website here.

How To Edit A Book: Your Guide To All Things Editing

If you Google the phrase “the best writing is rewriting” you’ll find no agreement about who said it first. Hemingway,  Robert Graves, and Truman Capote are just three of the famous candidates. But that doesn’t matter. What does count is the way this quote resonates. When it comes to the importance of book editing, there is near universal consensus. It’s an indispensable part of the writing process and it’s where much of the best work is done. This guide will help explain why editing is so important, how to edit effectively, and the ins and outs of editing a book for publishing  - whether that be with a traditional publisher or self-publishing.   Why Is Editing Important? Writing a book is one thing. Reading a book is something different. It’s manuscript editing that creates the bridge between those two processes. It’s in editing a book that you make sure you are actually saying what you want to say and saying it in the right way. It’s where you get to weigh your words, and make sure they all have the desired impact. It’s where you get to see and remove obstacles between those words and your readers. It’s where you get a chance to enable your book to become the best possible version of itself. It’s where you can turn a book from good to great.   Which all sounds wonderful. But let’s not pretend it’s always easy or straightforward. It’s also where you will make some of the most important and difficult decisions about your work. It is necessarily challenging, painstaking, time consuming and difficult.   Fortunately, there are things you can do to make this process easier and more effective. Let’s get to those now.  The Main Ways To Edit Your Book The first thing to know is that there is more than one way to edit a book. Here are some of the best methods: Editing With A Publisher Or Agent If you’re lucky enough to be picked up by an agent or traditional publisher, you will hopefully get input from a professional who will help get your book ready for the commercial market.  This is the gold standard, in many ways, when it comes to editing a book for publishing. It is a unique relationship because it’s between people who have a special stake in the work in question. However, it’s not the only way to produce results - and often quite a bit of editing goes into a book before it gets through to agents and publishers.   Beta Readers Sometimes a trusted friend or fellow writer can provide that second pair of eyes you need to help you see the things you are missing in your book - and also to give you that crucial insight into how it feels to read your book. It can be extremely helpful - although it can also get complicated and it’s important to find the mix of advice and support that works for you. (Try our guide for all the ins and outs of using beta readers, as well as some useful tips on how to approach the process.)   Editing With A Paid Industry Professional Many writers find it extremely helpful to hire an independent industry professional to give them a detailed and honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses in their work via organisations like ours (access our editorial services here). The advantages of getting this kind of insight into your work speak for themselves. It can be difficult to decide which editorial service to use, which is where our article about the different types of editing and how to choose between them comes in handy. This article also makes the crucial point that “the right time for editorial input is generally: as late as possible.” You’ll get the most out of an external editor after you have taken your book as far as you can yourself. It’s really important that before you bring someone else in, you make sure you know your book inside out and have taken it as far as you can. Make sure, in short, that you have done the crucial work of self-editing first.  The rest of this article will predominantly focus on this part of the process - but some tips will also apply to the other editing methods.  Self-Editing This - as the name suggests- is the part of the process that you can do for yourself. Let’s look at it in more detail now.  How To Edit Your Book The truth is that there’s no one way to edit your book. If I were to tell you that you can map out every part of the process and systematically tick off every aspect of editing a book by following a simple formula, I would be lying. In fact, the very best guide to how do edit your book is very often your book itself. Which is to say, you have to try to tailor the work you do according to the needs of your manuscript. You need to look carefully at what’s in front of you and take it from there. But there are still several important steps that you can and should follow to make sure you maximise the potential of your writing.   Take Time Away From Your Book The first thing to do is nothing. Set your book aside. Give yourself time away from the book so that you can come to it afresh and begin to be able to see the wood, as well as the trees. And perhaps even the path you will need to take through the forest… One of the key elements in editing a book is seeing it clearly. It’s hard to do that when you’re still in writing mode and still in the midst of all those thoughts that crowd around as you get down your first draft.  Format Your Manuscript This feels like a very basic step, but it’s important. When you present your book to agents and editors you want it to be as clear and clean looking as possible. And this is also a good part of that process of helping you to see your words anew. If you have them laid out regularly, in a new font, newly double-spaced and with page numbers your own read through of your work will be more productive - and you will hopefully see your words with different clarity.  Fix Your Spelling And Grammar Again, this is an important job for when it comes to presenting your book to other readers. You want them concentrating on what you want to say, rather than tripping over mistakes and falling into needless confusion. Reading through with an eye on spelling and grammar rather than all the other questions relating to how to edit a book will also again help you see and think about your work in a new way and spot things you might not otherwise have noticed.   Read Your Book I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t carry out this part of the process. It is clearly a key part of how to edit your novel - but before we get too scornful of those who don’t carry it out, I actually understand why so many writers are reticent here. Much as hearing the sound of your own voice can be painful, reading your words on the page can be discomforting. Once you get to the end of a draft it’s also hard not to feel exhausted - and like you already know your book inside out. But you’ll be surprised at just how many surprises your work can contain. And how different a book can feel when you actually sit and read it from front to back. So do it. Try to put yourself in the position of an editor or first reader encountering your work for the first time and think about the things that will jump out at them. Resist the urge to dig in too deep at this stage. Save the big rewrites for later -  although do make marks and comments and keep a list of things that jump out at you.   Attend To The Big Things: Voice, Structure, And Character There are several, important basic questions you can ask yourself when you’re approaching the challenge of how to edit a novel. Of course, editing books is an art rather than a science so these won’t apply universally, but even if they don’t, it may be useful to think about why they don’t matter in your work and what that means about what you should be doing.   Think About Voice There are certain questions you can ask yourself when thinking about your use of voice. Do I know what I want to say, and am I saying it in the most precise, clear and evocative way? Am I using my narrative voice as fully as I can, and have I captured other people’s accurately? Have I got the right voice for the story I’m telling?   Think About Character There are lots of things to consider in terms of your characters and how you\'ve shaped and developed them in your book. Here are some questions you can ask yourself: Are my characters well drawn and convincing both to me and my readers? Do these characters have weight in the world? Can I recognise them as soon as they enter a scene? What about characters\' voices, either in dialogue or when looking at the world from their point of view? Do my characters all have unique voices?   Think About Structure There are lots of questions you can ask yourself when you\'re editing/examining the structure of your book, too. Is my structure working properly, with a good beginning, middle and end? Does it all flow and add up to something? Is it told in the clearest way possible? Does the chronology make sense and is it easy to follow?    Get Down To The Nitty Gritty: Sentences When you\'re editing at the sentence level there are even more things to consider and questions you can ask yourself. Are the words and images I’m using fresh and vibrant? Have I avoided cliché? Am I engaging my readers’ senses of smell, touch, taste, sound and vision in the right way? Am I tagging every verb with an adverb, and every noun with an adjective? (It may be that many are superfluous, and that with a bit more confidence you can cut them out and trust that your writing is evocative enough to get the point across without them.) Does every word, sentence, paragraph, every bit of dialogue serve a purpose?   Check Your Dialogue Are you using prose to break up the dialogue with things like facial expressions, body language, incidental details, internal monologue and physical and emotional responses? Is that working? Are you using lots of emotive dialogue tags, eg gasped, roared, moaned, grumbled etc? Most of the time, you’ll find that it’s best to stick with s/he said which is almost invisible.   Read Another Article! Here’s a really useful alternative article on editing. It gets into the nitty gritty of line editing, increasing the force of your sentences, closing your chapter with resonance, and getting your rhythm right. It’s full of food for thought for when you’re really polishing and improving your work.   Print Out Your Book See how your work looks on paper. And then, that’s right, read it again. Editing a book is a slow, careful process. Sometimes it can be really helpful to have something tangible that you can feel and hold in your hands. And you can make it fun by experimenting with different highlighters and coloured pens, or physically cutting pages into sections and rearranging chapters or paragraphs. The Art Of Editing Before closing let me emphasise again that editing is more of an art than a science. The important things to do are to work with the manuscript you have and edit it according to its needs. Also always try to think of that reader you want to read your work. What do they know, want to know, need to know? What will amuse and entertain them? What will trip them up? What will keep them avidly reading until the end?   There are many different ways of answering those questions - and different ways of getting to the result you want. Self-editing will help you get a good bit of the way there - but do also keep an open mind about getting more help further down the line.   Finally, a bit more food for thought and a few articles that will also help you take your work further:  How to revise a first draft. How to make sense of proofreading marks. What is copyediting?  Developmental Editing: What It Is & Where To Get It. 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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

Chapters In A Book: How To Structure Them Well

Chapter structure may not sound like the sexiest topic, but it has a significant effect on whether readers enjoy your story. As you strive to become a better writer, examining different aspects of your writing, perhaps you’ve wondered: How long should my chapters be? How do I structure my chapters and make them flow?  In this guide, we’ll talk about why chapters exist, and we’ll look at how you can enhance your reader’s experience by carefully considering the context, pacing, content, openings, and titles of your book’s chapters.  To start off, let’s look at a question whose answer might seem obvious: what is a chapter?  What Is A Chapter? The most simple answer is that a chapter is simply a marked division of a book.  The origin of chapters is unknown, but they appear to have developed around or before 400 AD, alongside the concept of a table of contents. In many early examples, the front of the book would contain a numbered summary of each chapter. The reader could then find the corresponding number in the body of the book.  In reference books, chapters are still used in much the same way. They form part of an overall indexing and organising system that makes the book more useful as a store of information.  However, in novels and narrative non-fiction, book chapters serve a different purpose.  The rest of this guide focuses on chapters in novels and narrative non-fiction. To begin with, let’s clarify the difference between chapters and scenes.  How Chapters Work In this section, we\'ll look at how chapters work, how they differ from scenes, what they\'re for, and how chapter lengths are assigned. Chapters Vs. Scenes Chapters and scenes are related, as they are both parts of a book, but they are not the same thing:  A scene is a part of your narrative, where characters experience certain events in a particular time and place. A chapter is a division of your book, marked by a number or title.  In some novels, chapters contain one scene each.  More often, each chapter of a book will contain several related scenes. In this case, the scenes are usually divided from one another by whitespace, by a typographic ornament, or using a transition phrase in the text itself—but not by a number or title.  What Are Chapters For? Unlike a reference book, you typically read a novel from front to back, often across multiple sittings. Chapters in novels support this experience in two ways:  Chapters mark appropriate “pause points”. These are moments where the reader can safely put down the book and forget those short-term details we normally hold in our heads as we read, like which characters are present, who just spoke, and so on. (A scene break can also function as a pause point within a chapter.) Chapter divisions make the story more clear by creating a space when there’s a change in focus, such as a change in viewpoint or location, a jump in time, or a new type of action.  These two purposes often overlap.  Chapter Length There are no hard rules about length when writing chapters. In addition to being functional, chapters in a novel are part of an author’s storytelling style and can be used in a variety of ways. But here are some guidelines to consider:  There’s no specific maximum length for a chapter. If a chapter is too long, you’ll probably notice that the pacing is slow, or that the chapter contains too many unrelated scenes. However, a long chapter can be appropriate for a climactic scene, or a passage that’s meant to feel arduous. There’s also no specific minimum length for a chapter. Too many chapter breaks can annoy the reader, or come across as precious or grandiose. If a short chapter has the same focus as the chapter before or after, consider merging them and using a scene break instead. However, a short chapter can be appropriate when the action is quick (especially when switching between multiple viewpoints), or when emphasising a specific moment that you don’t want to clutter with details. (For more detailed advice about chapter lengths, see our guide How Long Should a Chapter Be?)Remember that chapters are not scenes, so not every scene break requires a new chapter. When you keep chapter lengths consistent throughout most of your book, you establish a rhythm. You can then break this rhythm at a key moment to create an effect.  Now that we know how chapters work in general, let’s talk about how to structure them.   How To Structure A Chapter The structure is an important part of how chapters are used, and it can be helpful to plan out your chapters and determine which type of structure works for you.  When To Plan Your Chapters If you like to plan ahead, or if you like to write from prompts with word counts, you’ll do best by planning your chapters in advance. However, if you find that type of planning too constricting, it’s fine to ignore chapter divisions while you write your first draft. When that draft is complete, you can use your revisions to consider where to insert chapter divisions.  (Now, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t plan at all. See our guide How to Plan a Novel for advice on planning the broad strokes before you write that first draft.) Structuring A Chapter: A Method For Everyone Here’s a method anyone can use to structure a chapter. If you like to plan ahead, use these steps while plotting your book. If you prefer to write organically, then organise and revise, use these steps as part of your revisions.  Either way, this method will help you think about how to write a chapter by grouping and linking scenes, and cue you to whether there might be scenes missing that you should add, or superfluous ones you should (re)move.  Keeping in mind that every chapter is both a self-contained experience and also part of the complete story, consider these questions:  What is the reader’s mindset coming into this chapter? How intense was the previous chapter? Do we want to increase, decrease, or maintain that intensity? What changed or what did the reader learn in the previous chapter? Do you want to elaborate on that immediately (consequences, added details, reactions), or do you want to switch focus (give the reader time to ponder or let their curiosity simmer)? What was the emotional tone of the previous chapter? Do you want to maintain or contrast that?  What should the reader’s mindset be as they enter the next chapter? How will you set that up? Do you want the reader’s mind clear or preoccupied when the next chapter begins? What emotional state do you want them in? Will the next chapter have its best impact if the reader enters it excited, demoralised, apprehensive, …? What does the next chapter focus on? Can you prime the reader’s interest by planting questions that the next chapter will address? Can you make the next chapter feel fresh by avoiding unnecessary references to what it will focus on (“topic fatigue”)? What job does the current chapter need to do? What does the reader need to learn, and how are you delivering that information? Which events need to happen on-stage, which ones off-stage, and which are flexible? If you have a multiple-viewpoint novel, which viewpoints are available to relay this chapter’s events? What length is appropriate for this chapter?  As you answer these questions, you’ll get a good idea of which scenes should be included in a chapter and how they should be presented in terms of viewpoint, tone, and focus.  (Note—if you’re not clear on the overall plot of your novel, you’ll need to get that straight first before you worry about making chapters flow smoothly. See our guide How to Plot a Novel for advice and tools for plotting.) Two Kinds Of Bad Chapters Pay special attention to fixing two types of bad chapters: chapters where nothing happens, and chapters where things happen but nobody cares. If you have a chapter that’s not working, try these questions:  What is the most important thing that happens? Is the chapter built to support that event, or does it contain distractions and superfluous material? Does this chapter exist solely to let you include a scene that you love? Can the story exist without this chapter? If so, try deleting it. Does this chapter exist solely to move characters to new locations or otherwise “get them ready” for future chapters? If so, always delete it. You don’t need to announce location changes to the reader, you can have them happen off-stage and refer back to them with a single sentence. (“Mary touched down at LAX just as furious as when she took off. She’d decided to fly out the moment she learned of Frank’s act of embezzlement.”) Is this chapter an infodump? If so, try to delete the entire chapter by diffusing your exposition into earlier chapters. At worst, you’ll tighten it up considerably.Does this chapter handle its events in a memorable way? If you have a chapter that is focused and does what it needs to plot-wise, but it just isn’t that interesting, that can be a cue to think up a set-piece or a more original way of handling the action of this chapter.  Sometimes, deeply probing a bad chapter will help you to uncover deeper problems in your story structure. (In other words, maybe the chapter is bad because there’s no good way to tell it.) If a chapter feels bad during your early revisions, be a bloodhound and follow the trail until you’re satisfied.   How To Start A Chapter Starting a chapter can be daunting in much the same way as starting a book. Luckily, some of the same advice applies.  Below is a process you can use for any genre. As before, use it as a planning tool or a reviewing tool, depending on your writing style. Starting A Chapter- Reader’s Attention Method Think of a well-planned tourist attraction: its entrance is carefully planned to focus and guide people to ensure their experience is enjoyable. The start of your chapter can accomplish the same thing using these steps: (1) tell the reader where they are, (2) get their attention, (3) put their focus where you need it, (4) lead them on from there.  To tell the reader where they are, use a chapter title, dateline, or opening sentence to provide them with a mental starting point. You might tell them whose viewpoint they’re in, or where the scene is set, or something that’s just happened. This is the equivalent of the tourist attraction’s “Welcome to …” sign.  To get their attention, don’t think “volume turned to 11” so much as “shiny object”. One technique is to force the reader to activate their mind’s eye by giving them a partial image. Another is to engage their analytical mind by creating an open question. Either way, you’re demanding that their mental resources be focused on the story—if half their brain is still on their grocery list, this will help them forget about it.  Now put their focus where you need it. Do you want the reader to watch a particular character’s movements? Speculating about someone’s intentions? Thinking about a particular problem or mystery? Use the image or open question from the previous step to bring their attention where you need it. For example, if you want their attention on a particular character, your opening image might be of something that character is touching, or of an article of that character’s clothing.  Now you’re ready to lead the reader onward. Let the natural action of your chapter begin to unfold.  Starting A Chapter—Example Let’s create an example for a crime thriller novel. We’ll say our protagonist has been captured, and we want to set up a tense conversation between him and his captor, followed by an exciting escape sequence. We might try this:  Mojave desert, Monday, 2pm The pocket-watch was ornate; Civil War most likely. Jesse watched it swing from the brown suit jacket as the barrel chest paced back and forth in front of him, the voice droning on. Gold. Some sort of flowers or vines engraved on it. Diamond stud. Roman numbers on the face. Jesse looked up. His neck was burning. He hadn’t been able to loosen his wrists at all. McCallum was looking somewhere out on the horizon. Talking about loyalty and betrayal. Jesse was too dehydrated to focus on the details. Then McCallum stopped talking, and Jesse realised he could hear the pocket-watch keeping time—a dutiful witness to his final minutes.   Here’s how we developed our chapter opening:  We tell the reader where they are using a dateline, a common device in thrillers. The phrase “Monday, 2pm” tells us how much time has passed since the previous chapter. The fact that it’s daytime gives us the start of a mental image of the desert.  Now we get the reader’s attention with an initially vague description of the pocket-watch and its owner. Ornate, but how? And why is the owner above Jesse’s eye level?  Now we give the reader answers paired with more questions, focusing them on Jesse’s predicament. They realise that Jesse is tied up, kneeling, dehydrated, and apparently in mortal danger. The reader can see that the immediate concern of this chapter will be Jesse’s desire to escape this situation and that McCallum wants a final confrontation.  Now we’re ready to lead the reader onward to the action of the chapter: words will be exchanged, Jesse will attempt to escape, and the reader will anticipate the outcome.  This is just one way we could have started this chapter. Using the same method, we might instead have started with Jesse waking up in a dark, cramped space; hearing snatches of muffled dialogue; then realising he’s in a car trunk when it’s opened and blinding light streams in. The method is a checklist—your creativity fills in the blanks.  Now that you have a method for writing a chapter opening, let’s look at one final detail: chapter titles.  How To Write Chapter Titles The first thing to keep in mind about chapter titles is that, unlike a great book title, they’re optional! Plenty of books do without them, so don’t feel obligated to include any if you don’t think it enhances your story. If you do want to include chapter titles, think about what job they’ll be doing; this will point you toward which format to use.  Chapter Title Ideas If you want to tease or foreshadow the events of the chapter, you can use your title to describe coming events in an abstract or concrete way. For example:  Chapter 7: In Which Bertie McLannister is Shot, But Survives  Chapter 13: The Showdown at the Mill  Chapter 21: An End to Suffering  If you just want a distinct title so your reader can tell chapters apart, you can pull the title from a memorable piece of dialogue or description. For example:  Chapter 34: I couldn’t forget you if I tried  Chapter 6: The temple, its battered walls defiant  If your novel jumps among multiple viewpoints, you can incorporate the viewpoint character’s name into the title. (Alternately, you can put the viewpoint character’s name in a dateline. This can be a better option if you plan to change viewpoints within the chapter as well.) For example:  Chapter 16: Lucy  Chapter 16: Lucy’s Story  Chapter 12: Jack Carter: The Showdown at the Mill  If time, timing, or location are particularly important, your title can incorporate a date or time. (Again, this information can also be given in a dateline.) For example:  Chapter 3: Mojave Desert, Monday, 2pm  Chapter 3: A dutiful witness—Monday, 2pm  These chapter title examples show some of the most common formats. Other possibilities exist—you can use any format that complements the experience you’re trying to create.  However, be sure to stay consistent. You shouldn’t vary the format of your chapter titles unless you have a good reason, such as two viewpoint characters with different ways of thinking—perhaps one is always acutely aware of the time, the other attuned to their mood.  Crafting Chapters Using chapters with purpose will make your book (and your writing process) more satisfying.  In this guide, I’ve given you some tools for thinking about the context, purpose, structure, opening, and titles of your chapters. When you’re ready for the next step, one of the best sounding boards for your ideas is speaking with other authors.  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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

What Is Intertextuality? A How-To Guide With Examples

Finding similarities between stories is a rather satisfying activity. Intertextuality just adds that extra layer of meaning and a dose of excitement when we can see similar patterns in two different stories.   But what exactly is intertextuality? You know how we are influenced by certain books we read or films and series we watch or songs we listen to? You know how that influence seeps into our writing, advertently or inadvertently? That’s intertextuality. This seemingly cunning literary trick requires understanding in a little more depth so that you can use it as a deliberate tool to your creative advantage.  Ever watched The Lion King and thought ‘Hmmm…Simba’s story is somewhat like Hamlet’s’? Both Hamlet’s and Simba’s fathers are killed by their brothers, Claudius and Scar, respectively. And both Hamlet and Simba seek revenge on their uncles and take back their kingdoms, after being visited by the ‘ghosts’ of their fathers reminding them of their duties.   If you missed that, I’ll take it you didn’t read or watch Hamlet, and you wouldn’t be the only one. You see, we can draw parallels and observe similarities only by comparison. If we’re not aware of the older story being recalled, we might not see the intertextuality at play. This applies to writing too. Even when it’s our own story, there’s a very good chance our writing has intertextual links to some other work we might have read or watched, even if we’re unaware of it.  In this article, we’ll define intertextuality, go through the different types and forms of intertextuality, look at some examples of intertextuality, and explore how intertextuality can be used in your writing.  What Is Intertextuality? Culturally, works of art, literature, and music all derive from one another, and this makes for a thriving web of creativity. These works we weave all share a few, if not many, common threads. When two or more bodies of work parallel one another or reflect themes and/or plotlines from one another, it’s called intertextuality. Often it can be inadvertent, but it can just as easily be a deliberate device. When done well, intertextuality becomes a great literary tool in the writer’s kit.  Types Of intertextuality  Latent intertextuality is when intertextuality is used inadvertently. When it is used consciously, it is referred to as deliberate intertextuality.   Latent Intertextuality  Most writings invariably have some element of intertextuality in them, as being influenced by some of the things we consume is inevitable. When I showed the prologue of my love story to my professor when I was on a creative writing course, he observed that it had a ‘Rudyard Kipling feel about it’. It was one of the best compliments I’d ever received.  In my story, I animated the sun as an onlooker and referred to it as ‘him’ to show the reader the sun’s glimpse into the life of my main character. This is a pretty common way to refer to the sun in all Indian languages; in fact, we gender a lot of inanimate objects in our native tongues and it seeps into our English too.   Rudyard Kipling’s works were heavily influenced by the times he lived in – British India – and his own works were a product of that era. So, he’d have been naturally influenced by the native land and language. So, what was common between my story and Kipling’s works was the native language influence that brought with it a “come, come see this land” kind of vibe, as well as the use of description. I wasn’t aware of this similarity until my professor saw it and mentioned it. Besides, like I mentioned before, latent intertextuality can be easily missed if you’re not aware of the text your own work parallels.  Deliberate Intertextuality  Choosing to use intertextuality as a deliberate literary device is a skill every writer would benefit from. One of my favourite novels of all time is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This work has perhaps some of the most exemplary usage of deliberate intertextuality. Throughout the book, there are various references to real events of the time this story is set in.   An obvious example of deliberate intertextuality is when Max, the Jewish man hiding in the Hubermanns’ basement paints over a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, to write his own story for the protagonist Liesel. This is not only the character’s attempt at rewriting the reality from his perspective, but also the author’s own attempt at having his voice heard by the reader, albeit through a character. This is a clever way for the writer to let his presence be felt by his reader, when the story allows it.   Different Forms Of Intertextuality  Many writers choose to explicitly base their contemporary works on a classic work and this is an obvious way to incorporate intertextuality. Writers can do this through translation, form, parody, allegory, retelling, fan fiction and prequels.   Translation And Form  No two languages are the same and they often come with cultural tints of their own. So, when we translate a work from one language to another, even with most of the story being the same, the two simply read different. Another way this can happen is through changing the form or genre of the original work. For instance, the 20th century Irish author James Joyce’s novel Ulysses makes use of both these kinds of intertextuality. It’s an English rendition of the ancient poet Homer’s Greek poem Odysseus.   Retellings  Retelling is a skill by which a good storyteller can spin a popular (but possibly outdated) story into a compelling tale of the current times. This tool is one of the ways in which Disney tries to stay relevant with the audience of today. Take, for instance, the movie Brave, whose protagonist is unlike any of the other Disney princesses – wild and messy; or Frozen, whose princess Elsa is the first to be coronated and to rule as queen, without having to marry a prince; or Maleficent, wherein princess Aurora’s curse is broken by ‘true love’s kiss’ from her adoptive mother rather than a prince. These fairytales take root from their tried-and-tested predecessors but spring forth with characters and plot-twists that are more suited to the modern times we live in.  Parodies When you take a plot, writer’s style or even an entire genre and exaggerate it for comical effect, it’s called a parody. The Shrek movies do exactly this with the entire genre of fairytales. They’ve turned the ‘happily ever after’ theme on its head. They are literally all about ‘ugly ever after’, with Fiona choosing to remain an ogress with Shrek, despite being given a second chance to be a ‘beautiful’ princess. Littered with several adult puns (“Although she (Snow White) lives with seven other men, she’s not easy”), exaggerations (Sleeping Beauty falling with a thud every other minute, even in an action sequence), and very literal use of deep songs (Live and let die at the Frog King’s funeral), these movies tickle the funny bones of adults and children alike.   Fan Fiction  Fan fiction is a genre more prevalent on the Internet than anywhere else. Works of fan fiction are directly related to rather popular texts, but they are written by a reader and not the original author of the popular text.   As ardent lovers of stories, I’d say we’re all familiar with the pain of a story coming to an end, especially if it’s a series of novels. Readers of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer felt this pain when the four-book series came to an end.   One of them took to writing a sequel to the series on the web – a raunchy piece depicting what the protagonists Bella Swan and Edward Cullen might be up to in their bedroom. The writer, under the penname ‘Snowqueens Icedragon’, then decided to change the protagonists’ names, rewrite the plot, and went on to self-publish it. What happened next was unprecedented – it went on to become a phenomenally bestselling trilogy of erotic fiction in its own right! We know this trilogy as the 50 Shades franchise, and its author as EL James.   Prequels  When a backstory to the main story is provided as a standalone, it’s called a prequel, just as a progressive instalment to the main story would be called a sequel. Similar to fan fiction, prequels have quite the flair to weave intertextuality seamlessly into a story.   One such elegantly handled prequel is the Disney movie Cruella, which serves as a precursor to the 1996 film 101 Dalmatians. In many ways, it attempts to humanise an evil villain who’s better known for her love of skinning puppies to make ‘fashionable’ coats.   Uses Of Intertextuality And Intertextuality Examples  Deliberate intertextuality serves a great many purposes for writers. Here are a few of them:  To Change The Form Of A Text  When in fifth grade, I had to study an abridged version of Ulysses by the 20th century Irish author James Joyce. What I didn’t know then was that my copy was a watered-down-meant-for-kids version of an epic novel, which was in itself a translation of the epic poem Odyssey by ancient Greek poet Homer.   Ulysses is a great example of deliberate intertextuality in literature, where translation and change in form create a whole new piece of work, despite being directly derived from another known text. Joyce has structured his novel similarly to the original poem. However, the duration of his storyline only runs for the course of a day following the hero Leopold Bloom’s realistic life in early 20th century Ireland, whereas the ancient poem narrates the hero Odysseus’ decade-long mythical journey back home from Troy to Ithaca.   To Redo Or Renew A Character  The very allegorical name and character – Cruella – renders itself beautifully to intertextuality. It calls into question how much notoriety classifies as ‘cruel’ because this puppy-skinning villain from 101 Dalmatians is surprisingly fond of dogs in the prequel and only plays the part of a supposed dalmatian-murderer, whilst still using her friends to get what she wants, all the while being mean to them. The backstory of Cruella really makes us wonder what pushed her to be the heartless being she is in 101 Dalmatians, and even gets us to sympathise with her throughout the movie.   To Keep A Story Alive   The similarities between Bella Swan of Twilight and Anastasia Steele of 50 Shades of Grey are uncanny. They’re both young, awkward, lip-biting brunettes, who’re sexually and romantically inexperienced. They both fall for handsome, young, rich men with dark secrets – Edward Cullen of Twilight is a vampire, and Christian Grey of 50 Shades is a sexual sadist. The women are ‘prey’, the experienced men their ‘predators’.   Yet, despite such heavily similar characters and themes, EL James\' 50 Shades manages to stand out as a whole new category from Twilight. While Twilight can be read as young adult and teenage fiction, 50 Shades has a solid place in the erotica hall of fame. Still, 50 Shades keeps the love story of Twilight alive in spirit.  To Rethink Endings  The movie Shrek, and the whole franchise, parodies the very concept of a fairytale. This example of deliberate intertextuality shows how an entire collection of stories, even canon, can be turned upside down to set a new precedent for what can be considered a ‘happy ending’. Shrek is an ogre, not a charming prince. He’s sent on an expedition to save Princess Fiona by Lord Farquaad, rather than Farquaad venturing on the quest himself. And even though marrying Shrek means she’d remain a ‘hideous’ ogress for the rest of her life, Fiona chooses this fate for love.  To Rewrite A Narrative   Retelling popular narratives is a great way to connect with newer audiences. You have no idea how happy watching the Disney movie Brave made me. The story is a subversion of several Disney fairytales. Merida, the protagonist, is nothing like other Disney princesses whom modern girls or women don’t have much in common with. She’s wild, outdoorsy, hates dressing up, and has no interest in princes.   This intertextuality example is one where the very narrative of a well-known genre – fairytale – changes dramatically. In fairytales, external situations lead the princesses to their dangerous fates. In Brave, Merida sets in motion a series of problems, all by herself, and (unlike other princesses waiting for their charming princes to rescue them) manages to fix them all by herself too. It’s a very empowering – and modern – notion that girls and women, and people in general, are the leaders of their own lives and that they can choose to rescue themselves.   How To Use Intertextuality In Your Writing  If your readers can recognise and understand intertextuality, then their reading experience becomes that much richer. It adds multiple layers of meaning, context, and depth, making it a culturally complex and enriching experience.  Here are some ways in which you can use intertextuality in your own writing:  If you’ve been struggling to get a new idea, why not try rewriting a really long novel, perhaps an epic, as flash fiction? Imagine a 100-word long Lord Of The Rings. How about converting a satirical essay into a limerick? Think Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal in an anapestic trimeter. If you have a particularly upright and moral character in your story, why not explore your character\'s darker side in a whole other book? This could work particularly well in the crime and thriller genre. But it could work just as well in a love story too if your protagonist has a prospective partner but that person has a flaw which wasn’t revealed initially.  Here’s how you could try your hand at fan fiction. We know how Death from The Book Thief collected not only souls but also stories. What if Death had also collected Heinrich Schliemann’s soul? He was the archeologist that introduced the swastika (then a Hindu symbol of hope and prosperity), to Germany. What if Death collected his story? How would he narrate it, connecting it to the events that occur in the timeline of The Book Thief? You could trace the de-evolution of the symbol from something interesting and hopeful into dark and terrorising. Let’s say you’re writing a romance. We all know how most romantic fiction follow the fall-in-love-fight-make-up-get-married routine. How would you change this? What does a happy ending look like for your lovers? How about a parody of errors? What if their march to the wedding is full of what’s normally considered nightmares? This could come in right after the climax, to serve as an anticlimax before the ending. It could actually punctuate the understanding your lovers have come to after the climax, right before you let them have their ‘happy’ ending. You could use this to show how ‘happy’ doesn’t necessarily mean that there\'s no pain or problems. Dark, brooding and stern men abound, in literature, whose hearts can only be opened up by bubbly girls or cheerful women. What if the man in your story is the bubbly, cheerful and emotive one, and the girl is the one who needs opening up? How would that go in your story? It’s certainly worth a try flipping this rather cliché of a character sketch of men.   Intertextuality: Top Tip   The key factors that decide what kind of deliberate intertextuality would suit your writing are how you’d like to connect with your reader and whether or not the reference to another work you make is relatable for your target reader. If your reader can’t understand, or even notice, your references, then intertextuality is a moot point, even if your own story is credible and complete in and of itself. This is especially the case in parodies.  The thing with intertextuality is that whether or not you’re aware of it, in all probability your writing already includes it. But if you can make it a deliberate tool in your craft, it can bring a whole new level of creativity to your writing and a complete other experience to your reader’s understanding.  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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

Internal Monologue Examples And Tips 

How do we convey the innermost thoughts, feelings and motives of our fictional characters to bring a story to life? One of the most effective ways to do this is through the use of internal (or inner) monologue.  An internal monologue is a key and useful feature in many styles of writing. It’s a method employed to give readers a greater insight into the main characters in novels, non-fiction, script writing and poetry. This specific narrative technique shows us how a character is feeling - often in relation to other characters and events within a story - and gives us a deeper understanding of their personality and motivations.  As writers we are constantly seeking to polish this aspect of our skillset to communicate more effectively with our audience, and for our writing to make more of an impact.   In this article you will learn how to write internal monologues, learn the definition of inner monologue, and read some interior monologue examples. By the end of this guide you will have all the tools you need to polish your narration - whatever its format and genre.  What Is An Internal Monologue? In literal terms, internal monologue is the result of specific cerebral function which causes us to ‘hear’ ourselves speak in our head, without physically talking or making sounds. This phenomenon is often also referred to as internal dialogue or our inner voice. It’s basically a stream of verbal consciousness that no one but the person thinking it can experience.  In fiction, inner dialogue is often written in italics so that it’s obvious the words aren’t being spoken aloud; rather that they are the thoughts and feelings of the character.   The exception to this rule is indirect internal dialogue (internal narrative written in the past tense). A stream of consciousness can often be a longer piece of internal monologue and so it may not always be written in italics, but its function will be obvious from the lack of quotation marks, and, perhaps, the use of thought tags.   This way, as readers, we have the true experience of ‘listening in’ on a verbal flurry taking place in somebody else’s head, although this literary encounter will often require acute concentration since such an outpouring of words doesn’t always make immediate sense, or follow a linear pattern.   A stream of consciousness is most effective in character-driven literary or genre fiction with a single point of view. It wouldn’t be impossible in other types of fiction, but it would be a challenge not to have a lot of head-hopping!  A classic internal monologue example (in real life) may be the way we deliberate a purchase in a shop:   I really shouldn’t buy that hardback book with the gold foil sprayed edges since I already have the ebook on my Kindle… On the other hand, it would look incredible on my coffee table and wow all my guests.   This excerpt of interior monologue reveals my own tendency to dither, and that I am easily lured into spontaneous credit card action when I find myself in a Waterstones store!   Similarly, when we want to share the innermost thoughts and feelings of our protagonist (for example) to evoke empathy from our readers, we might decide to breadcrumb facets of their past in and amongst dialogue and action.   You may have a character who, so far in your book, is very professional and cut-throat at work. But then, if you show their inner dialogue when passing a cute puppy in the street, the reader may suddenly warm to them and understand their plight of having to be a certain way at work.  This targeted piece of interior monologue can have a striking effect, helping your audience to gloss over something they might not normally agree with in terms of said character’s present behaviour or characteristics – because they can see the inner workings of their mind.   Powerful indeed…  How To Use Internal Monologues In Your Writing  When it comes to putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, interior monologue is used in two main ways - either as a soliloquy or a stream of consciousness.   The former would come into play, quite literally, when penning a play, so that a character can share their innermost thoughts and emotions aloud with the audience. If you tried that in a novel it may come across as a major info dump and pull your reader away from the action.  Alternatively, the latter concerns itself mainly with books - predominantly of the fiction genre. Once again, typically when we are writing novel-based fiction, we will either present internal narrative in italics (for the most part) or as a chain of thought, which may or may not be structured.  Let us explore some of the best ways to integrate internal monologue into our fiction. Here are 6 reasons why you may wish to add inner monologue in your writing:  1. To Shine A Light On Your Character’s Thoughts  The sharp contrast between dialogue and the powerful inner thoughts of a character can be shown extremely effectively when peppered sporadically and thoughtfully throughout a story, hooking us into the drama and mindset, making characters more 3D and relatable.  In the recent BookTok sensation, The Spanish Love Deception, author Elena Armas takes us inside the head of her female protagonist, Catalina, a lot of the time. Catalina is full of self-doubt throughout the rom-com on her slow burn journey to love with her quarry, Aaron Blackford:   Somehow, somewhere between slipping into my velvety fawn heels and the graceful, airy burgundy gown I was wearing, my head had started spinning questions. Important ones. Will I be able to find Aaron in the crowd? And also: Will he be okay? Will he get to the venue and find his seat? And the star of the show: Maybe I won’t see him until after the ceremony. What if I can’t find him?The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas We can see this works well in romance, but what about other genres?  In a crime novel, you might choose to accentuate your main character’s thoughts by employing a similar internal monologue, where the protagonist analyses the array of suspects without giving away her thought processes to said suspects.  In fantasy, you may have a wicked queen plotting her revenge on the princess. By employing dramatic irony via inner monologue, you can add a new layer of suspense because the reader knows what the queen is planning but the victim doesn’t.   2. To Reveal A Character’s Unique Point Of View  This is particularly constructive when we want to show the way a main character relates to both the characters who are in their midst in a specific scene, and those who are referred to by others.   Through internal monologue we get a true sense of relationship and dynamics, and emotions are laid bare. There’s a rawness and depth to this type of inner dialogue and often it can trigger our own emotions, evoking empathy with the protagonist, allowing us to truly feel as if we are walking in their shoes. Additionally, it’s a good way to breadcrumb a character’s traits and beliefs - as long as there’s not too much ‘telling’.  Roy Straitley, the curious Latin teacher in Joanne Harris’s psychological thriller, Gentlemen and Players, displays an inner narrative interspersed with random Latin phrases to dazzling effect. Harris translates these interior dialogue tidbits into English beneath the italics, and they give weight to our perception of her loveable but pernickety MC:  I have no intention of going gently into retirement. And as for your written warning, pone ubi sol non lucet. I’ll score my Century, or die in the attempt. One for the Honours Board.Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris Perhaps we have a character whose thought process straddles two or more languages? Inserting snippets of internal narrative in another language - ensuring we have had that piece of inner monologue checked by a native speaker, of course! - can really bring the point of view of a character to life.   But less is definitely more.  3. To Display Internal Conflict  When applied with precision and sensitivity, an inner monologue can be used to tug at the reader’s heartstrings, pulling them into the page so that they will root for a character who, until now, they may not have been feeling a whole lot of empathy towards.   Kenna Rowan, the female protagonist in Colleen Hoover’s contemporary romance, Reminders of Him, has recently finished serving time for manslaughter. Five years after her incarceration, she’s on a mission to be reunited with her young daughter who’s being raised by the parents of the man whose death she caused by drink driving:  “Do you think they’ll ever give me a chance?”Ledger doesn’t answer. He doesn’t shake his head or nod. He just completely ignores the question and gets in his truck and backs out of the parking lot. Leaving me without an answer is still an answer. I think about this the entire way home. When do I cut my losses? When do I accept that maybe my life won’t intersect with Diem’s?Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover When we work poignant inner monologue statements into our character’s mind, we can convey so much internal turmoil with very few words. It’s a simple but clever technique.  4. To Heighten A Reader’s Senses  All five of the senses can be triggered through the use of internal dialogue.  James Joyce is infamous for his use of stream of consciousness. In his novel Sirens he uses a flurry of words to great effect. As a reader we can practically hear the unique sounds of each observation. The cadence is mesmerising.  Bloom looped, unlooped, noded, disnoded.Bloom. Flood of warm jimjam lickitup secretness flowed to flow in music out, in desire, dark to lick flow, invading. Tipping her tepping her tapping her topping her. Tup. Pores to dilate dilating. Tup. The joy the feel the warm the. Tup. To pour o’er sluices pouring grushes. Flood, gush, flow, joygush, tupthrop. Now! Language of love.Sirens by James Joyce This is a very unique way of writing, and perhaps not something you will see a lot of in commercial fiction, but the clever way Joyce evokes the feeling and sound of water in this description.   If we are writing a work of fiction from one singular point of view, we can certainly employ the above technique, however, it is perhaps easier to use - and more commonly to be found - in poetry or scriptwriting.  5. To Divulge Self-Perception And Mentality Internal monologues can be used to help us gain a better understanding of a character’s state of mind. Thanks to the insertion of an inner monologue we, as readers, can finally see why they act the way they do.   In Hazel Prior’s novel, Away with the Penguins, we are given many glimpses of both set-in-her-ways, grumpy Veronica and laidback-to-the-point-of-being-horizontal Patrick’s self-perception and frame of mind. As grandma and grandson, this is an interesting and essential juxtaposition used with full effect to highlight their very different characters and backgrounds, helping readers find empathy for them both.   If the author had only run with one character’s smattering of inner dialogue, throughout the book, our impressions as readers would be very different. In this instance (as can occasionally be the case) the inner thoughts of both characters aren’t always italicised. This approach, however, is more common when using indirect internal dialogue and referencing the past.  Veronica:  I don’t deign to answer. Instead I examine myself in the gilt-edged mirror over the mantelpiece. The Veronica McCreedy who looks back at me is as unsightly as ever, despite the generously applied lipstick and eyebrow pencil.Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior Patrick: Grief’s a weird animal… It’s like this bungee-jump of emotions. You get jolted all over the place. It gives you this sick feeling in your stomach, makes you jittery and wobbly, plays havoc with your sleep patterns. I’m beginning to wish I had a spliff at hand.Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior If you are writing a novel with two (or multiple) contrasting points of view, getting inside the minds of your main characters and sharing their inner monologues is an essential move if you want our readers to warm to your colourful cast.  6. To Reveal Connections And Comparisons With Others  Another example of the effective use of stream of consciousness in inner narrative is when it is presented in the form of lists. This is a modernist approach to fiction and has been pulled off admirably by Markus Zusak in the literary masterpiece, The Book Thief.  Death is an actual character and a narrator in Zusak’s novel, intermittently categorising the elements of a scene. Death’s inner monologue is made clear to the reader with the use of different fonts. This seemingly random catalogue of concepts gives us a sneak peek of what is to come in the pages that follow:  PART TWO  the shoulder shrug featuring: a girl made of darkness – the joy of cigarettes – a town walker – some dead letters – hitler’s birthday –100 percent pure german sweat – the gates of thievery –and a book of fire The Book Thief by Markus Zusak As writers, we might like to experiment with this technique in a screenplay or script, where it can be used as an effective tool to set the scene as an internal monologue in the narrator’s (or indeed a character’s) head.  Putting Inner Monologue Into Practice  Compelling writing is full of internal monologues. The trick is to use it sparingly (or not, depending on your genre) and appropriately for maximum effect. If your book is written in the first person, this is a lot easier as the entire book is coming directly from the main character’s mouth (and head). But beware of too much inner chit chat if your story has many points of view, or you may run the risk of sending your reader on a wild head-hopping ride.  The more you play with inner dialogue and the more you practice using it, the more natural it will feel to include it in your narration and prose, and create a clear sense of your character\'s voice. It’s a chicken and an egg skillset: the wider you read and the more genres and authors you devour, the more you will spot its use and sense how it can be applied to your own unique work, and the more you will use it yourself.  So write your story with internal dialogue, try without it, and play about with tenses and points of view until your characters come to life. Are the readers inside their head yet? If so, then you’ve done your job!  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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

Parts Of A Book: Breaking It Down

You’ve written the book, all the words are on the page and you are finally happy with the end result. Now what?   How do you lay out a book for publication and what are the different parts of a book?  In this article, I will cover all the parts of a book (in order) you are expected to include, what their purpose is and how they should be laid out.   It doesn’t matter if you are self-publishing or being published traditionally, understanding the different parts of a book in order, how they function and why you need them is important. You may not have to take part in compiling each and every one, but even if you are being traditionally published (and it’s not be your job to compile all the different sections) understanding the contents of a book and all their functions is paramount to understanding the publishing journey as a whole.  What Are The Parts Of A Book? Even if you\'ve already polished your chapters to perfection, you still need to prepare various other parts of your book before publishing — namely, the front matter and the back matter.  Now, these terms are not going to be instantly recognisable to you unless you have worked in publishing, but don’t worry, there’s no need to feel intimidated. All books are broken down into three main categories, the front matter, the body and the back matter. These three sections can then be broken down further and I will attempt to make each of these sections as clear as possible. By the end of this article, you will know all the sections of a book in chronological order.  What Is The Front Matter Of A Book? In the simplest of terms, the front matter is a collection of pages at the very start of a book.   Although many readers tend to skip the pages that make up the front matter, this section contains the most important information about the author as well as the publisher.    For those who do read these pages, they are important – so it’s vital you get the details right, and that just as much importance is placed on these pages as any others.   If you are self-publishing, it is even more important to make sure these pages include the correct details. If you are being traditionally published, a few of these pages are taken care of for you, but it’s always important for the author themselves to understand how they work and check the details to ensure they are correct. After all, you’ve spent so much time getting the book right, why make a mistake at this stage?  Within the front matter of the book, you will find the following (in chronological order).   Now, remember we are not talking about the front covers or the back of the book here – these are all the parts INSIDE the book, and they almost always appear in the front matter: Frontispiece A frontispiece is a decorative illustration page that typically appears on the page facing the title page, on the left-hand side. In many books published in the 1800s, this page was often used to display an image of the author and a space for their signature but these days, many fiction writers (depending on genre) will use this area for a map of their ‘world’ or to illustrate an important moment or theme in the book. Or it’s left blank.  The Title Page The title page of a book will always appear in the front matter. This is the page that displays the full title of the book, as well as the author’s name, as they appear on the cover of the publication. This information determines how a book is cited in libraries and any additional references, so ensuring this information is correct is vital.   This is the place where most authors sign their books.  The title page may also include the name of the book publisher and date of publication.  The Copyright Page The copyright page is always found in the front matter and includes all the technical information about the copyright of the publication, as well as the edition and publication dates, legal notices, the ISBN and details of publisher and printer. This page is generally found on the reverse side of the title page in the front matter. The copyright page is sometimes referred to as the ‘colophon’.    The Dedication Page A dedication page can be added by authors who wish to dedicate their book to a person or persons of importance. It is typically found after the copyright page in the front matter. Although this is generally a one line or one sentence dedication, it is given its own page and focus towards the start of the book.  The Table Of Contents If an author chooses to include a table of contents (generally found in non-fiction), it will be found in the front matter of the book and should list all the major sections of the book that follow it, including chapters found within the body of the text and in the back matter.   The Introduction An introduction page is generally only found in non-fiction books. This is different to a preface found in fiction books. An introduction page (found in the front matter) explains the necessary information needed by the reader to understand the context of the book before they dive into the main body. In fiction, the preface is used in a more personal way – more of an introduction as to why the book has been written and the inspiration behind it. Often, it’s in the style of a ‘Dear reader’ letter and signed by the author at the bottom.  The Epigraph An epigraph is a quote or excerpt that often describes the subject matter of the book. This can be in the form of a poem, or an excerpt taken from another book or source, and will include a reference to the quote’s author. It is found in the front matter of the book and usually comes directly before the first chapter.   When including these it’s vital that you gain permission from the person you are quoting.  The Preface A preface is an introduction to the book, written by the author. It often details how and why the book came to life and will provide context for the edition in hand. If a book has many editions, the preface may include details about anything changed or added since the last publication.   The Forward A forward is an introduction to the book that is written by someone other than the author. This can be a friend, family member, scholar or peer.   The Prologue A prologue is a section found just before the body of the book, in the front matter. This section aims to set the stage for the book and often includes an intriguing hook that will be explained more fully with the body of the book. Generally, a prologue will tell an earlier story, but is connected to the main story.   A Note On Compiling The Front Matter Please remember that most of these sections are not compulsory (otherwise the poor reader would be sifting through many pages before they reached the story or book itself). In most cases the title page and copyright page will suffice. The rest are fun extras.  What Is The Body Of A Book? The body of the book does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s the main content of a book. For works of fiction, this is the story itself – the place where all the magic, mystery, love, death, and murder is explored. You may also find sub-sections such as chapters and parts.  For non-fiction, the body is where all your hard work and research is broken down into the chapters that you have already outlined in your contents page.   Sometimes there are also a few extras at the end of the main text:  The Epilogue The epilogue is a section found at the end of the body of the book (generally works of fiction) and is used to wrap up the story in a satisfying manner for the reader. If can be used to hint at something that may come in the next book or as a way to tie up the story with a neat little bow.   Postscript A postscript is a final and brief note that brings a book to an end. Unlike an epilogue, a postscript is very short, generally only one or two sentences. A postscript is generally used to tie up the loose ends of the story, but, unlike an epilogue, this can be unrelated to the main story in the body of the book.   Afterword This is generally found at the back of the body of the book (most commonly in non-fiction) and, in opposition to a foreword, will include any final notes the writer wishes to make.   In fiction this may be called ‘Notes from the author’ and can often be found in novels in which the author has tackled a difficult theme or wants to share how their own experiences influenced their story.  Conclusion A conclusion section is used in non-fiction and found at the end of the body of the work. It’s a section that sums up the main arguments of the book and includes a final thought or opinion.  What Is The Back Matter Of A Book? The back matter of a book, in opposition to the front matter, contains (surprise, surprise) all the information you will find at the back of the book.   In general, authors use this section to provide further context to their readers. It can include mentions of the authors social media accounts, other books published by the author, or even a note from the publisher themselves. These pages are often be referred to as the end matter.   Other sections you may find in the back matter can include:  Discussion Questions Many book club fiction novels include this list in the back matter. These pages will include thought-provoking questions about the book and its themes in the hopes of sparking debate and conversation about the novel.   Non-fiction and academic books also use these pages to pose questions about the topics or subjects covered.   Accolades And Acknowledgments Accolades or quotes from other authors can generally be found after the body of the book in the back matter. This is a chance for the author to include any positive quotes from other authors about the book, and the acknowledgments allow the author to thank all those who helped bring the book to life. Acknowledgements are generally found in the back matter, but accolades are sometimes included in the front matter, often on brightly coloured pages to draw the reader’s attention.  The acknowledgements section is a great place to look if you want to find out who that author’s agent or publisher is or want to see your own name in print after supporting a writer with their book!  Appendix An appendix (or appendices) is generally used by non-fiction writers to provide additional information for readers, including citations, references, research text or additional source information. An author will lean on the information in the appendix to offer more credibility to the arguments laid out in the book.   Glossary A glossary can be used by both fiction and non-fiction writers. This is a section in the back matter of the book where an author will explain any rare, specialised or unfamiliar words or terms.   Those writing in dialect, for example, may find this section helpful for their readers. Similarly, fantasy or historical fiction writers (among others) may use a glossary to help their readers understand specific terminology that may be new to them – or to translate any made-up words or phrases found in the book.   Bibliography Generally used by those writing non-fiction, a bibliography is a section where the author will cite any and all sources and resources used during the research for the book.  Index An index is not only beneficial for non-fiction writers, as a place to refer to sources, but they can also be useful for fiction books which have been re-published, as they may contain several reference points throughout. Any details of which will be expanded on in the index found in the back matter of the book.  Copyright/Colophon Although this section was traditionally located in the back matter of the book, it is more often found in the front matter these days. As stated before, the colophon is a very brief section that will generally include publisher and printer details as well as any copyright information and legal notes.  The Anatomy Of A Book  It’s not until you have finished writing your first book, that you realise just how much goes into the publishing side of writing.   Knowing what extra sections will appear/are needed in your book, and why they’re important, is imperative. Why? Because this is your book and publishing is your world now too. You should know how it works.   If you are self-publishing your book you need your work to stand alone as professional and complete. And if you are traditionally published, understanding why all of this is important allows you to proof and check these pages properly, ensuring you’re happy with every last word of your work. See here for tips on how to present your manuscript. If you\'re self-publishing, here\'s some advice on writing a good blurb. It also gives you the added advantage of knowing what you will be asked to provide, such as acknowledgements and a dedication. Nothing worse than having to rush a ‘thank you’ and forgetting someone!  So, now you know all the ins and outs of a book, it’s time to get that book planned and think about more than just the story. Come on, what are you waiting for. The magic won’t write itself…  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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Write An Immersive Setting

Being a writer is the most magical job you can have without actually being a witch.   As writers, we create worlds that have never existed. Skies that have only ever been pink in your imagination are now magically pink in the mind of someone you’ve never even met.   That, dear reader, is why setting is so important.   Without setting your characters can’t live and breathe on the page. Without setting your readers can’t engage in the world you’ve created for them. And that is why setting is one of the most important elements of storytelling.   In this article, I will teach you how to write the most enticing and appealing setting you have ever created. Because if you’ve created characters that will live in the hearts of your readers, then they deserve a world just as memorable in which to live themselves.   We will answer the question \'what is setting in literature?\', look at examples of authors who have perfected the art of grounding their readers into a story, and discover why setting is important in a story. Then, of course, we will look at how you can use all that knowledge to ensure you create the very best setting for your book.  Let us start by exploring what setting is.  What Is The Setting Of A Story? The setting of a story is where and when the story takes place. But in a lot of ways, it’s more complex than that.   Setting does not just include the immediate description of the room in which a chapter takes place. It encompasses so much more and can be broken down into three subcategories.   Three Main Settings In A Book The three main types of setting are temporal, environmental, and individual.  Temporal Setting: This describes the era in which the story takes place.   If you’re writing a historical fiction novel, for instance, it’s important the reader knows the setting is Victorian London – not contemporary London – from the very beginning.   Environmental Setting: This is where you explore the larger geographical area and surrounding locations.  Is your book set in India or France? Where the book is set geographically makes a big difference to everything – from who the characters are, the decisions they make, and the action that takes place.   Likewise, if they are in France, is it rural or a city? A story set in Paris is going to be very different to one to a story set in a rural mountain community in the Pyrenees.   Individual Setting: This is where you get down to the nitty-gritty, the specific location of the story and the details found there.   If the scene is set in someone’s house, what does it look like? What’s the décor like? The street? Can we tell who lives there by the contents?   In both fiction and non-fiction writing, creating a compelling setting is vital. It provides not only atmosphere and a backdrop for the story you are exploring, but it can also create a framework for you to explore themes in a much more visceral and engaging manner.   A book’s setting can also provide context about your characters’ social environment or pinpoint a time in history that provides extra context.  To explain this further, I’m going to use a few examples from different books and look at how the authors have used these three specific areas of setting to engage the reader.   Book Settings: Examples It’s impossible to explain the importance of a book’s setting without looking at writing examples and seeing how authors have brought a scene to life.   Temporal Setting: Examples As mentioned before, the temporal setting focuses the readers’ attention on the time in which the story is set.   It’s an important part of fiction, especially if you’re focusing on genres such as historical or saga. But even if you’re writing contemporary fiction, it’s always important to know when the book is set (for instance the world looked very different in April 2020 than, say, April 2019).   You need to place your reader where you need them to be, so they’re in the correct mindset required to empathise with the characters and the plot.   Below are two very different examples of the perfect use of temporal setting.  Sepulchre By Kate Mosse  Leonie returned her gaze to the Avenue de i’Opera. It stretched diagonally all the way down to the Palais du Louvre, a remnant of fragile monarchy when a nervous French king sought a safe and direct route to his evening’s entertainment. The lanterns twinkled in the dusk, and squares of warm light spilled out through the lighted windows of the cafes and bars. The gas jets spat and spluttered.Sepulchre by Kate Mosse The setting described here places us in a specific time and place. The author has used references to the surroundings that can only mean the characters inhabit a specific time in history. In this case, Paris in 1891.   As authors, it can be increasingly easy to use the ‘cheat’s’ way out, and simply add a date to the top of the page.   But by remembering the old ‘show don’t tell’ adage, and adding specific details to your passage, you can really place the reader at the heart of the story during a time you really need them to experience.   In contrast, take a look at how the next author tackles a sense of time and place in a more current day example.  Summerwater By Sarah Moss  The holiday park is asleep, curtains drawn, cars beaded with rain. The log cabins, she thinks again, are a stupid idea, borrowed from America or maybe Scandinavia but anyway somewhere it rains less than Scotland, when did you see wooden buildings anywhere in Britain? Turf, more like, up here, stone if you’ve got it, won’t rot. And they don’t look Nordic – not that she’s been but she’s seen the pictures – they look dated, an unappealing muddle of softening wooden walls and cheap plastic windows, the sort of garden shed you’ll have to take down sooner rather than later.Summerwater by Sarah Moss  This, in stark contrast to that of Mosse’s text, takes the reader to a rainy modern-day Britain. The description of materials, and use of language (even the stilted inner monologue) is much more contemporary.   We’ve looked at time and place, now let us discover environmental location.  Environmental Setting: Examples Environmental setting is one of the most commonly understood and easily achievable of the three most frequently used setting sub-categories.  By setting a book in a familiar location, the author can evoke a strong sense of place and can be relatively certain that the reader will feel a similar sense and understanding of the environment the character is experiencing.   A certain setting allows the author to develop characters further, because certain environmental factors will influence who they are and what they do. This helps readers recognise familiar surroundings and empathise with the characters.   Take, for example, the many romance books set in places like Cornwall.   When a reader picks up a book with Cornwall scenes on the cover, they instantly know to expect beach locations, cliffs, and seagulls soaring over the sea. They will be able to picture the location automatically, allowing the author to focus on the drama unfolding, rather than worrying about building an unfamiliar world from scratch.   But you don’t need to set a book in a real-life location to have the reader fully understand or appreciate the story.   You do, however, need to anchor them with something that feels familiar or understandable. Using physical factors such as a glittering sea, snowy mountain peaks, or a thick dark forest is enough to place the reader in that location without giving it a Google maps pin.   Amazing examples of how environmental setting can be used to reinforce themes and emotions can be found throughout literature, but J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is one of the finest.   And the contrast between Bilbo- the main character’s- home (The Shire) and the place he must reach (Mordor) is what drives this story of good and evil forward.  The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien  Tolkien described the Shire as a “small but beautiful, idyllic and fruitful land, beloved by its hobbit inhabitants.” With landscape including downland and woods like the English countryside, and far from the Sea (Hobbits are fearful of the Sea), it’s easy for the reader to imagine a land not dissimilar to their own, despite the characters being far from anything they recognise as human.   The Hobbit’s first paragraph is simply a description of where Bilbo is: In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.  Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbithole, and that means comfort. It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tubeshaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats - the hobbit was fond of visitors.The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien  This type of setting gives an author the perfect tools to express mood, theme and tone to a reader. The Shire (and the little houses in it) is created to show a sense of comfort, familiarity, home, stability. The setting mirrors its inhabitants.   Contrast this with the descriptions of Mordor: Mists curled and smoked from dark and noisome pools. The reek of them hung stifling in the still air. Far away, now almost due south, the mountain-walls of Mordor loomed, like a black bar of rugged clouds floating above a dangerous fog-bound sea.The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien  As soon as the author says “one does not simply walk into Mordor” the reader knows instantly, thanks to this visceral setting description, that the main character’s journey will be perilous. Leaving the comfort and greenery of home to face the darkness and fear of Mordor, will not be easy.   Ask yourself, if Tolkien had not described Mordor as such, would the reader have been as invested in Bilbo’s quest?   Individual Setting: Examples Individual settings are the specific places an author will chose to set their scenes. It’s the main location in which the reader will be immersed and where most of the action takes place.   These settings could range from a school common room, a house, or even a specific bench by a riverside.   Individual setting is where an author can have the most fun with detailed and sensory descriptions. Choosing a geographic location will build a framework, but the intricacies of each individual setting will paint each picture in all its glorious detail.   The splinters on the wood of the bench that pinch at her skin as she tries not to cry. The sound of the creaking floorboards as he creeps through the draughty abandoned house. The scent of the flowers as she runs hand in hand through the garden with her first love. The way the streetlights dance over the pavement as he stalks the streets looking for his next victim.  It’s these small details that add depth to your characters emotions as well as levity to the themes you are hoping to portray.   Take for example, the following quote:  The Mercies By Kirian Millwood Hargrave Beside the fire there’s a stack of white heather drying, cut and brought by her brother Erik from the low mountain on the mainland. Tomorrow, after, Mamma will give her three palmful for her pillow. She will wrench it apart, stuff it earth and all into the casing, the honey scent almost sickening after months of only the stale smell of sleep and unwashed hair.The Mercies by Kirian Millwood Hargrave This excerpt uses individual setting and description to evoke deeper understanding of the character and the life she lives. We know straight away this isn’t a businesswoman in modern day Manchester.   It doesn’t tell us where the house is geographically, but it describes enough about the immediate setting at hand for the reader to fully understand and appreciate the character’s struggles.   How To Write A Setting You now have all the components you need to be able to create a strong and effective sense of setting in your novel, but how do you take all those components and knit them together to create a natural backdrop for your story?   Just like everything in this creative world, this takes time and practise.   It also takes planning and plotting – and lots of creativity.   The best way to ensure you have effectively used setting in your novel is to sit down and ask yourself some fundamental questions.   How does the setting initially look?  What other senses does it evoke?  What does your character think of it?  How does it affect the character’s life?  How does it mirror their personality or predicament?  What aspects of the setting are important to mention, and which will take your reader away from the action?  All these concerns can be tackled by remembering two things:   Use all five senses No info dumps  Let’s explore these further…  Use All Five Senses We all live in the real world, and that means we experience it via the senses we have.  There are five senses, and most people use theirs to truly experience the world around them. As a writer you need to do the same.   Take a look at each of the different setting techniques and break them down by sense. Every single sense can help heighten an area of each setting structures.   Smell  Use sense of smell to boost your temporal setting, such as the smell of coal and smoke in the air in London during ‘The Great Smog’, putting your reader at the very heart of a specific time in history.   Hearing Use the sense of hearing to describe the sound of the owls in the trees and the rustling of the leaves and creaking branches as your character walks through the deep dark wood in the middle of the night, expanding the environmental setting.   Touch  Use your sense of touch to describe the smoothness of the rock in your protagonist’s hand as she rubs away at the precious gem her mum once gave her as a child, using individual setting to deepen the sense of emotion within your character.   Sight  Describe what the character can see as they step into the funfair. The bright lights, the merry go round, the gaudy colours, the crowds of people. This helps expand the environmental setting.  Taste  It’s always useful to use taste when describing a scene involving food, but what about enhancing the individual setting and describing something most people don’t normally put in their mouths?   Imagine the tang of the sea air on his lips as he arrives at his grandfather’s Cornish hut. The breeze tastes of salt, mossy rocks, and blood. A sentence like that is sure to heighten your reader’s curiosity!  Avoid Info Dumps And lastly, the biggest mistake any writer makes when it comes to getting their story’s setting right, is getting carried away and spending five pages describing the way the flowers grow around the entrance to a character’s cottage.  I know it’s fun, but please don’t do that (unless you have gone back in time two hundred years and your readers have magically grown a longer attention span).  Modern readers like action and momentum. We are used to television, to social media, to short, quick fixes. So, try not to dump all your description in one place as that will take your reader out of the story and action.   As you set your scene, remember we don’t need long winded paragraphs describing each and every aspect of the surroundings before we even hear the voice of our protagonist. Instead, we should be experiencing the surroundings naturally along with your characters.   If you want to make sure that everyone knows there are roses around the door, describe the smell as she looks for her keys. Maybe she picks one, or better yet the second character you introduce plucks a flower and hands it to her.   This technique ensures you are still painting a scene while also keeping the story moving forward.  Feel Your Way Through  As the famous saying goes, ‘my best piece of advice would be to never listen to advice’.   Why would I say that at the very end of an article full of advice? Simple, take everything you read with a pinch of salt and use your intuition as a writer. Listen to your gut.   You don’t have to use all five senses in every single paragraph. You don’t need to beat your reader over the head with a million descriptions to put them right in the middle of the action. Every page doesn’t need an entire paragraph full of setting descriptions.  Less is more.   Setting should feel so effortless that you have to specifically look for it.   It should emphasise the intricacies of your characters and themes without taking control of the book. It’s the highlight you add to a rich and considered plot. It’s the colour that makes your story pop. It should never be obvious.   Essentially, setting is your crowning glory. Make sure you treat it with respect. It should always be the silent shining star that guides your reader through the story - so subtle that you can’t quite place what it was that made that image in your mind so clear, but strong enough that it makes its mark.   Setting Matters If plot is what makes readers keep reading, and characters are what makes a book memorable, then setting is the cushion on which they both sit upon. Without the right setting your characters will fall and your action will wilt away.   Make sure your setting takes a simple story and coats it in the glaze that will make it shine, because it’s that polish which will make your book stand out from the rest of the books on the shelf.   Wherever that may be.   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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

How Long Is A Short Story, Novella, Or Novelette?

Do you prefer writing and finishing something quickly or taking a bit longer? Some writers prefer the scope of a novel and dislike the constraints of the short story, while others feel the opposite way. In between the two forms are the novelette and novella. It can be difficult to define an acceptable length for a short story, novella or novelette, so you may not know which category your story belongs in. Is it too long or too short? Why does it matter?  In this article, we’ll go through the lengths of short stories, novellas, and novelettes; compare the three forms; and note examples of short stories, novellas, and novelettes.  Word Counts For Short Stories, Novellas And Novelettes Short story: over 1,000 words, usually less than 10,000. Novelette: 7,500 to 19,000 words. Novella: 10,000 to 40,000 words.  As you can see there’s an overlap between a short story and a novelette. Also, between a novelette and a novella. We’ll examine these later in the article. Shorter stories can hold just as much power as longer pieces, and they too have meaning and resonance. The content is the most important thing. Success does not depend on the number of words, though word count may be important in certain circumstances.   Why Is Word Count Important?  Word count is a huge part of how short stories, novellas, and novelettes are separated and defined. So why is it so important? 1. Cost One consideration in terms of word count is the cost to the publisher. The longer the story the more time required to read and edit it. If printed, the length of the story also affects the outlay required. For an anthology consisting of works by different writers, it makes sense for the publisher to choose shorter pieces for inclusion. In that way not only do they appeal to more readers, but they also have space to include more writers, and thus more people are invested in the anthology’s success. An example is an anthology published by Christopher Fielden called 81 Words. The challenge was to write a story in exactly 81 words. It consists of 1000 stories by 1000 authors, with profits going to the Arkbound Foundation. All for a good cause. 2. Marketing  Publishers may also have difficulty marketing shorter fiction. Although it seems short story collections and novellas are gaining in popularity, the novel always seems to take precedence in terms of easier marketing and categories.   Just as novels are labelled in different genres and sub-genres, not all short stories are the same. The nature of the writing could have a bearing on the length.  Literary stories tend to be longer and more introspective. Other genres, such as horror or crime, may, or may not, be shorter and more action-packed.  3. Reader Fatigue It’s said that these days, with technology and our collective struggle with delayed gratification, concentration has diminished. In this regard, shorter stories are very accessible. Some stories can be read in minutes, making them the perfect read for those on the move. If stories are too long, the reader may become bored. Stories need to be engaging right from the start. With a novel, there is more space for preamble, but the short story, novella or novelette needs to get to the point. Faster.  4. Adaptability Shorter stories, with their limited scale and number of characters, are easier to adapt for the screen and may appeal more to film directors, according to Screencraft. It makes sense. Fewer scenes and settings, fewer actors required. Think Alan Bennett\'s Talking Heads. So, length and purpose are interrelated and we need to look closer at the definitions and word counts for short stories, novellas and novelettes.  How Long Is A Short Story?  A short story can be described as a story that can be read in one sitting, unlike a novel that may take days.   A short story will have a limited number of characters. With a short story, there’s no room for a complex plot. The narrative needs to be concise. Setting the scene in vast detail is a luxury kept for the novel. Economy is everything.  Some stories take one incident and examine it in detail. Others have a discernible beginning, middle and end. Often in a short story, the ending will reflect the beginning in some way. The character may have changed, gained some insight into their situation, or become involved in the action. Or, the story may have a nebulous ending, leaving much to the reader\'s imagination.  Some short stories are under 1,000 words. Often these are described as flash fiction.   The most famous short story is attributed to Ernest Hemingway, a master at crafting tales. You’ll probably have heard of it. For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.Ernest Hemingway Why is that acceptable as a short story when it’s only six words long? There’s no character development, no description of the setting, no plot and yet there’s a story there – the story behind the words which the reader can imagine. Beauvais talks about the ‘readerly gap’ in reference to picture books. I’d argue that leaving the ‘readerly gap’ is essential in any writing. Short story writing at its best excels in this. What is omitted is left to the imagination of the reader.   Most short stories seem to be between 1,500 words and 7,500 words long so about 3- 30 pages long (a typical printed page is somewhere between 250 and 450 words) depending on font and print formatting. Also, pages of dialogue may have fewer words, which affects length too.  In some cases, the reader judges the length of a story by the number of pages to estimate how long it will take to read. Often websites will give a reading time linked to their stories. A five-minute read is about average.   In terms of pages, looking at collections of short stories, these also vary in length from three to thirty pages. If you look at some of the great classic storytellers, they had a varied word count in their short stories.  Examples Of Short Story Lengths And Word Counts: Virginia Woolf’s A Haunted House is just over 700 words. About two or three pages. One of These Days by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is shy of 1,000 words. About three pages. Why Don’t you Dance by Raymond Carver is just over 1,600 words and an estimated five pages. Hearts and Minds by Jack Petrubi is less than 2,000 words. Six pages. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe is a similar length at just over 2,000 words. A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas is over 3000 words. This is often produced with illustrations as a child’s book, but printed pages would be about nine or ten pages long. A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury is about 4,300 words long and around fifteen pages. Award winning story The Edge of the Shoal by Cynan Jones is about 6,000 words and around twenty-five pages. Ernest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro is 11,000 words long and about thirty pages. To All Their Dues by Wendy Erskine is almost 11,000 words long. This could fit into the category of a novelette and is included in her story collection.  This would seem to indicate that length is not that important, but is that true? There will be times when the length of your story will have importance. If you are entering a competition where a word count is stipulated, for example.  How Long Is A Novella?  A novella is sometimes described as a short novel. The word derives from the Italian, meaning new. It usually has one character and one plotline. It will typically not be divided into chapters although there may be sub-divisions. For example, the aforementioned To All Their Dues by Wendy Erskine is sub-divided into three parts with three protagonists. This makes it more akin to a novelette.  Novellas tend to follow a linear structure with the main action centred on the protagonist’s development. This could be an inner conflict that is resolved or simply explored, rather than a series of events. Due to brevity, there isn\'t the scope for several sub-plots or settings although some elements of the novel may have some complexity.   The word count ranges from 10,000 to 40,000 words. It may contain between 100-200 pages. The usual length is over 17,500 words which enables more depth of character and plot development. Novellas are often published as part of a short story collection as a novella is difficult to publish except perhaps in terms of an e-book due to financial considerations explained previously.  Examples Of Novella Lengths And Word Counts:  Many of these are quite famous and have been made into films.  Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is 6,750 words and 107 pages Animal Farm by George Orwell is 36,000 words and 144 pages The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes is 40,750 words and 163 pages Seize the Day by Saul Bellow is 36,000 words and 144 pages The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is 28,000 words and 112 pages The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy is 32,000 words and 128 pages Train Dreams by Denis Johnson is 29,000 words and 116 pages The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is 40,000 words and 160 pages Coraline by Neil Gaiman is 44,000 words and 176 pages  As with the short story examples, these vary in length. The Julian Barnes novella tips the scales at over 40,000. Also regarded as a novella is Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, which is a hefty 52,000 words and 208 pages long.  How Long Is A Novelette?  If the novella is the younger sibling of the novel, then the novelette falls somewhere in between a short story and a novella.   With a word count of around 7,500-19,000 words, the novelette borders both the top end of a short story and the length usually acceptable for a novella. As with the short story and the novella, writers may be constricted in terms of the number of characters they can use and the amount of plot development they can include.   The plot will probably be linear and uncomplicated with few, or no, sub-plots. One or two characters will feature – not a cast of hundreds. It will have a defined focus and will be complete as a story. The novelette enables writers to give more flesh to the bones of their short story, though the writing still needs to be concise.  Examples Of Novelette Lengths And Word Counts:  The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafta is 11,500 words and 46 pages Death in Venice by Thomas Mann is 14,000 words and 56 pages The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is 13,500 words and 54 pages The Spectacles by Edgar Allan Poe is 9,200 words and 35 pages The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is 16,500 words and 65 pages   As you can see there are examples here that are widely regarded as novellas. Distinguishing between these forms can be difficult and confusing. This may mean you end up editing your story, to make it longer or shorter, depending on the market you’re trying to appeal to, and where you want to publish it.  Writing Shorter Stories It’s important as a writer to understand the different lengths and styles of these different types of writing.   It can be very difficult to distinguish between short stories, novellas and novelettes. As you can see from the examples, length is not everything. The essence of the narrative is what defines the form in many of these examples. The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett clearly defines what the story is about. At 96 pages long it falls somewhere between a novelette and a novella and yet a film was made based on the story. In a similar fashion, Daphne Du Maurier’s short story Don’t Look Now was also translated into film.   There are times when word count and length are of importance. The length may depend on the purpose of your work. If you’re writing for your own entertainment or building a short story collection you may have flexibility in the number of words. If your aim is publication, there could be restrictions or guidelines. For competitions, it is always best to adhere to the rules.   With any story, you need three ingredients: people, place, and purpose/plot. These parts make up the whole and examining them will help you to decide if your story is the right length, and whether it is a short story, or if it needs more scope by becoming a novella or novelette.  It all goes back to the basic question of ‘what sort of writer are you’? Some writers can’t conceive of writing anything under 2,000 words. Others write a perfect story in less than 200. Margaret Atwood and Roald Dahl excel in both forms. The latter is famous for his children’s books, but he was a master of the short story and wrote some very dark material.   The best way to decide is to read anthologies or collections of short stories which often contain novellas and novelettes. Contemporary writers such as Alice Munro, Neil Gamain, Helen Oyeyemi, Etgar Keret and Colin Barrett give a flavour of what is popular now. Some of the classics such as Guy du Maupassant and Ray Bradbury should also be included in your reading list.   So, how long is a short story, novella or novelette?   As long as it needs to be.   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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

What Is Foreshadowing In Literature? A How-To Guide

By the pricking of my thumbs / Something wicked this way comes…  Macbeth by William Shakespeare Foreshadowing is a tricky craft technique to master (I put it right up there with subtext in terms of difficulty level, personally), but it’s an incredibly useful thing to have in your toolbox. In this article, we’ll define foreshadowing, go through some tips and techniques to help you figure out how to best weave foreshadowing into your story, and look at some foreshadowing examples.  What Is Foreshadowing?  A short definition: Foreshadowing is hinting at revelations to come in the text, typically subtly enough that it enhances the entire reading experience to create a more cohesive whole. Often, foreshadowing is set up at the beginning, or at least somewhere within the first act, to provide the most satisfaction when said event comes to pass later in the story. There are two types of foreshadowing which act as different ways to consider implementing this literary technique; direct and indirect foreshadowing. Direct Foreshadowing This approach is more explicit or overt. The story itself points to something to come. If a person is found murdered at the start of the book, we’re going to expect that the murder might be solved by the end, for example, which is more of a genre promise if it’s a crime novel. Yet there can be ways to foreshadow the way that the person died or tease out a connection to the protagonist. Another example is if the narrator or a character says something to the effect of “if only I knew then what I know now, I would never have become tangled in what was to come.” We know something happened, but not the details. Those details are drip fed through the story.   Indirect Foreshadowing This approach is more subtle or covert. The clues are woven in through subtext, without expressly warning the reader in the same way. Yet they will still have a cumulative effect so that when said event comes to pass, it feels inevitable. This can be built up with symbolism, imagery, less obvious dialogue choices, setting, colour palettes, and more.  Let’s look in more detail at how foreshadowing works and explore some of its other uses.    Why Is Foreshadowing Important?   Readers don’t like to feel cheated. If a revelation comes out of nowhere, it risks turning off the reader or jerking them out of the story. Especially if you’re planning to have a midpoint twist or one near the climax, you want to set things up with clues. The overall aim of foreshadowing is to build suspense, tension, and intrigue so the reader keeps turning those pages. It can also help build empathy for characters, or tug at certain emotions. It’s one of those techniques that can function on multiple levels, which makes it very handy.   How To Use Foreshadowing In Your Writing   Foreshadowing is a great technique, but implementing it can be tricky. Direct and indirect foreshadowing often require different approaches, so lets go through them. How To Use Direct Foreshadowing  Prologues Yes, there’s often the debate of the merits of prologue vs. no prologue, but if it’s serving a purpose, such as foreshadowing, it can work really well. Often this prologue might be told from a different timeline, or a different character’s point of view. It creates a juxtaposition because the reader subconsciously starts looking for links or thematic echoes. A well-known one is Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. We find out Kvothe, the titular Kingkiller, is working in a remote inn, and eventually he is convinced to start telling his story of how he came to be there. The opening line is even a foreshadow to the foreshadow: “A Silence of Three Parts.” We read on to find out what each part of the silence is. The prologue to N.K. Jemsin’s The Fifth Season ends with the narrator telling the reader that this time it truly is the end of the world. With this book, you read on to find out whether or not that’s true. The goal of the prologue is to create a sense of atmosphere, sneak in some worldbuilding, and set up future events.   A Good Old-Fashioned Prophecy, Nursery Rhyme, Or Soothsayer   In fantasy, prophecy does a tidy job of foreshadowing, for, by their very nature, prophecies must be indirect enough that no one, not even the characters, know exactly how things will play out. Robin Hobb uses an old children’s rhyme in Assassin’s Quest (the third book of the Farseer trilogy), which I’m re-reading just now. It has 7 stanzas about the Six, Five, Four, Three, and Two Wisemen that came to Jhaampe-town (the capital of the Mountain Kingdom in this secondary world). The last two stanzas end like this:   One Wiseman came to Jhaampe-town. He set aside both Queen and Crown Did his task and fell asleep Gave his bones to the stones to keep. No wise men go to Jhaampe-town, To climb the hill and never come down. ‘Tis wiser far and much more brave To stay at home and face the grave. Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb This ends up making perfect sense once you read the rest of the novel. On a re-read, it’s satisfying as you see everything being hinted at quite clearly in retrospect.   While obviously this approach is common in fantasy, sometimes it will be woven into other genres. A character might visit a tarot reader in a contemporary or historical novel, for example, or they might meet a strange person on the street who says something cryptic and then wanders off. Dream sequences often help hint at foreshadowing too (though they can be difficult to pull off and have consequently become somewhat of a cliché).   Take Advantage Of Characters Who Know More  These characters can then tease out information, or tell another character something more openly, but they must have a reason for not telling them everything all at once. Having a trickster character works quite well. For example, in the Marvel films Loki appears in, he often teases the other characters with whatever his dastardly plan is that time.   How To Use Indirect Foreshadowing   Thematic And Imagery Cohesion  Choose themes or images that fit the emotional/plot elements you’re wanting to foreshadow. House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland uses a lot of imagery of decay and rot to foreshadow a particular revelation about certain characters, which I will leave vague to avoid spoilers. The two twin sisters also have identical half-moon scars at the base of their throats, which you know from the beginning, but you don’t find out how they got them until the end. Scars make you think of old wounds, of trying to heal but not being able to erase what happened because it’s still written as a reminder on your skin.   Pathetic Fallacy Pathetic fallacy is giving inanimate things or animals an attribution or echo of human feelings and responses. This can work very well for setting and atmosphere. A storm under a sullen sky. A scene where two characters have fallen in love, but they are surrounded by dejected weeping willows, hinting at the heartbreak to come. Use a light touch, however—too much and it might risk the prose becoming overly maudlin or purple.   Colour And Pattern  You can use things like colours and patterns to gradually ramp up your clues. Think of them as little breadcrumbs, you as the author are Hansel and Gretel, and the readers are the birds. Humans are primed to recognise patterns, even subconsciously. The film Reservoir Dogs has objects that are the colour orange, in particular a balloon. This ends up conveying something important about another character later on. Colour palettes can be a great way to hint at things. Say you often have a character wearing red, and they are later the murder victim or the murderer. Again, it needs to be done subtly, but it can be effective. Don’t underestimate the power of the pattern.   Tips For Using Foreshadowing   Now you know how to use foreshadowing in your writing. But how do you execute it well? Don’t Worry About Foreshadowing Too Much In The First Draft   It can be incredibly hard to set up foreshadowing perfectly when you yourself are still figuring out the overall shape of the story. Sometimes I will make notes to myself like ‘[add foreshadowing here in the next draft]’ to remind myself when I return to that section. I do lots of drafts and tend to layer in more each time, like adding detail to a painting. I’m currently writing an epic fantasy with prophecies, and I left the actual prophecies as placeholders until the second draft, when I knew what I was actually setting up. Trying to write them before I knew the plot ended up resulting in vague poetry, but nothing more.   When Plotting Or Re-plotting, Don’t Neglect The Reader Journey  Consider when in your story the reader should learn a certain piece of information, and how you might point to that without giving away the game. Should the reader be empathetic here? Or are they working more like a detective? Or both? You might want to plot that out as much as you do your story. Again, this might be easier at the second or third draft stage. Get Some Fresh Eyes Once you’ve written a cohesive draft, send it to a trusted friend to read. You can ask them to keep an eye out for foreshadowing in particular or ask them to comment in the margins what they think might happen in the plot so you can see if they are picking up on your clues. If your foreshadowing ends up working more like a red herring (more on that later) then you might need to do more work in your next round of editing.  Networks   Are you tapping into any existing cultural ideas or networks? If you’re writing a dark fairy tale retelling, for example, are you alluding to some well-known images from the stories we would recognise? A spinning wheel. Straw turning to gold. A rose that doesn’t wilt. Briars around a castle. A glass coffin. A red apple. All of those will point to potential things to come. Or, thinking about usual societal assumptions, having a crow or raven cawing at the crossroads will likely point at a sense of doom or foreboding. It’s a useful shorthand to save you from being too direct.   Things That Seem Like Foreshadowing But Aren’t (Maybe)  Lastly, remember there are things that seem like foreshadowing but aren’t, technically. A flashforward, for example, is a non-linear technique, where you show something about the end upfront at the beginning. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid both set up, right at the beginning, that at the end of the story, a fire will take place. You read on to find out the details of how this fire was set, what led up to it, and what the impact of the fire was. Yet the fire thematically also represents a lot: the simmering tensions of a family or neighbourhood that is all dry tinder just begging to burn. The flashforward is a useful technique which still generates suspense, but you could argue it’s not exactly foreshadowing because it’s revealing things quite explicitly.   A flashback will often reveal useful exposition or clarify something else you might have foreshadowed previously. Its purpose is to illuminate, or to provide a point of contrast to the main storyline or be in conversation with it. This is not the same as foreshadowing as, again, flashbacks are very explicit.  A red herring, likewise, is not foreshadowing. It’s you trying to misdirect the reader, rather than hint at what is to come. You’re planting false clues to try and bring them to a different assumption and then surprise them with the truth.   Some people argue that Chekov’s Gun is not foreshadowing, but I would say it’s a type of direct foreshadowing. If you haven’t heard the term before, Anton Chekhov once said, “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.” It’s the idea that everything set up in your story must have a pay off. At this point, the notion of it is so well known to readers, that they pick up on the foreshadowing. The gun on the wall in act one is implicitly announcing its importance. The way the showdown happens might not be as we expect, though, so in that way it might point more to a misdirection, or simply be setting up the plot rather than pointing to an event much further in the narrative. So, I’d say you could use Chekhov\'s Gun as foreshadowing, but it depends on the execution and your purpose.  In Short . . .   Foreshadowing is a great craft technique to consider for your story. It can add emotional resonance, generate suspense, deepen themes, symbols, and imagery, and help tie everything together in a satisfying way. It’s a more advanced technique, and it can be difficult to get the balance right. If you’re too heavy on the foreshadowing, it risks killing that suspense, being cheesy, or annoying the reader. But in the right amounts, it will help the reader flip through the pages and race to the end to see if their suspicions are correct or set up that tricky twist that will shock the reader until they realise, in retrospect, it was alluded to all along. And then the reader closes the book, knowing exactly how something wicked that way came. 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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

In Medias Res: Definition, Tips, And Examples

Want to start your novel off with a bang? Use in medias res to create a dynamic opening that grabs your reader and sets the table for exciting scenes in later chapters.  In this guide, we’ll define in medias res, look at some example openings that employ it, and discuss how you can use in medias res in your own writing.  Let’s get right into it!  What Is In Medias Res? In medias res is a Latin phrase meaning “in the middle of things”. In the context of writing and literature, it refers to a story that begins partway through its plot, with the missing events filled in later through dialogue, flashbacks, or other techniques. The opposite term is ab ovo or ab initio, which mean “from the egg” or “from the beginning”. A story that begins at the natural beginning of its plot—shortly before the inciting incident—is beginning ab initio.  In other words, in medias res is a decision you make about the order of telling your story; specifically, whether to start at the beginning or to start elsewhere.  (Like all literary terms, there’s a certain grey area here. The roots of almost every story reach back further than the opening chapter, to encompass the backstories of the characters involved. But generally, starting in medias res means that the inciting incident happens before your opening scene.)  It’s important not to confuse in medias res with the idea of excitement or action. Remember that the term refers to where you start telling the story, not how. (For example, imagine a mystery novel that opens with two rank-and-file police officers acidly criticising a murder investigation that has gone off the rails two weeks in, where the murder itself is the inciting incident of the plot. This would be in medias res.)  To expand our understanding of in medias res, let’s look at a few examples.  Examples Of In Medias Res Each of these openings uses in medias res to achieve different goals and to begin at a different point in the plot.  The Tell-Tale Heart By Edgar Allan Poe (Note: This is quite a short story. If you’re not already familiar with it, consider reading it before you continue, so you can appreciate the full impact of the in medias res opening.)  The Tell-Tale Heart opens with a dialogue between an anonymous narrator and another unnamed character. The narrator begins by insisting that they are sane, then immediately reveals that they have committed a murder for no clear reason:  It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture — a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees — very gradually — I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe The narrator goes on to tell the story of how they murdered the old man, concealed his body, and ultimately gave themselves up to the police. In other words, the entire plot has occurred before the opening of the story.  By beginning in medias res, Poe structures the story for the maximum dramatic impact.  Opening with the conversation between the narrator and the unknown listener creates the opportunity for the narrator to emphatically state that they are sane. This, followed immediately by a confession to a meaningless murder, sets us on edge.  Next, because the murder is a past event witnessed only by the narrator, we are forced to receive the story directly from them, which exposes us to their disturbed thought processes. Finally, this structure allows the story to end with the confession. This is the true dramatic climax of the story, and the moment which throws into question the extent of the narrator’s sanity.  Had the story been told in linear form, Poe could still have forced us to receive it from the narrator, and could still have concluded with the dramatic climax of the confession. But would the impact of the story be the same if it hadn’t opened with the narrator’s insistent claim to sanity? It’s that opening paragraph that creates the feelings of revulsion and anticipation that give the rest of the story its impact.  Rosewater By Tade Thompson I’m at the Integrity Bank job for forty minutes before the anxieties kick in. It’s how I usually start my day. This time it’s because of a wedding and a final exam, though not my wedding and not my exam. In my seat by the window I can see, but not hear, the city. This high above Rosewater everything seems orderly. Blocks, roads, streets, traffic curving sluggishly around the dome. Rosewater by Tade Thompson Rosewater opens with the narrator, Kaaro, at what could initially be mistaken for a normal job. In the paragraphs that follow, we learn that Kaaro’s anxiety over somebody else’s wedding is due to his abilities as a telepath. (Kaaro is employed by the bank as a security measure against “wild” telepaths who try to steal the personal data of customers.)  As we read further, we learn that the biodome, an alien structure that emerged in the centre of the city years prior, is the source of the telepathic powers possessed by some residents. Kaaro is one of only a few people who have entered the biodome; this history is central to Kaaro’s character arc and to the book’s plot.  By beginning in medias res, long after the dome’s arrival, Thompson creates a sense of mystery around the biodome, its arrival years beforehand, and Kaaro’s relationship to it. Had the story been told in a linear fashion, the dome, which has been accepted as a fact of life by the city’s residents, would feel equally mundane to the reader. Inverting the order of events allows the eventual revelations about the dome to have a dramatic impact.  Killing Floor By Lee Child I was arrested in Eno’s diner. At twelve o’clock. I was eating eggs and drinking coffee. A late breakfast, not lunch. I was wet and tired after a long walk in heavy rain. All the way from the highway to the edge of town. ...I saw the police cruisers pull into the gravel lot. They were moving fast and crunched to a stop. Light bars flashing and popping. Red and blue light in the raindrops on my window. Doors burst open, policemen jumped out. Two from each car, weapons ready. Two revolvers, two shotguns. This was heavy stuff. One revolver and one shotgun ran to the back. One of each rushed the door. Killing Floor by Lee Child Killing Floor opens with protagonist Jack Reacher being arrested at gunpoint in a small-town diner. Accepting the arrest with a strange calm, while also refusing to speak, Reacher is taken to the police station and interrogated. There, the reader learns that a murder has been committed and a suspect matching Reacher’s description was seen leaving the scene. The reader also learns (assuming that Reacher is a reliable narrator) that Reacher is definitely not the murderer.  By beginning in medias res, Lee Child accomplishes several things:  The arrest scene would be terrifying for a normal civilian, so Reacher’s calm reaction immediately establishes that he is trained in some way, without any explicit backstory whatsoever. The seriousness of the arrest immediately makes us curious about what has happened to upend this small town, and why Reacher is being treated as the prime suspect. Starting with the arrest allows Child to introduce his protagonist first. Given that the arrest is Reacher’s first contact with the events that have occurred, starting with any other scene would have meant introducing the victim, police, or other characters prior to Reacher.  Altogether, Child’s decision to begin in medias res is a strong one that serves both character and plot. It’s interesting to note that, despite the opening scene involving police, weapons, and an arrest, it still isn’t an action scene in the strict sense—no shots are fired, nobody fights, nobody chases anyone. This makes it an excellent example of the fact that increasing impact or excitement is not the same thing as simply adding physical peril. It’s the layering of the implications attached to the arrest that makes it compelling for the reader.  How To Use In Medias Res Now that you know what in medias res is, let\'s go through the many ways in which you can use it in your writing. When To Use In Medias Res When should you use in medias res in your stories?  Remember that in medias res means telling your story out of linear order—beginning anywhere other than the beginning. Here are some reasons you might want to do that:  To create a specific mood or mindset in the reader. (The Tell-Tale Heart does this by beginning with the narrator’s monologue about their sanity.) To begin with an exciting scene. (Many stories begin with the protagonist in peril, then reveal the events that led them there.) To create a sense of fate or anticipation for a future event. (For example, showing the reader how the protagonist will ultimately die, or showing the reader the outcome of some future event.) To create dramatic irony by giving the reader information from a future event, then returning to the chronological start with the protagonist or other characters unaware of what the reader knows. To create a sense of chaos or confusion by leaving out recent events that would otherwise be known to the reader. (Often used to strong effect in war and disaster stories, where the reader’s feelings are a substitute for the chaos or confusion the protagonist might feel in that moment.) To create a sense of mystery by withholding an explanation of an important event or situation. (Rosewater does this with Kaaro’s experience in the dome.) To remove an uninteresting section of the story’s timeline, by starting after that stretch, conveying prior events as a flashback, and omitting the period between. (Rosewater does this as well, with certain years of Kaaro’s life between his dome experience and the first chapter of the book.) To emphasise a particular character, theme, or question that you want foremost in the reader’s mind. (Killing Floor does this by centring Jack Reacher in its opening.)  By adjusting the order of re-telling, you can manipulate mood, information, focus, pacing, and other attributes of your story. However, in medias res isn’t a magic wand. You must use it purposefully if you want to achieve these effects.  Tips For Using In Medias Res How can you use in medias res purposefully?  First, make sure you’ve plotted your novel (or if you don’t plot, make sure you have most of a first draft written), so you have a good understanding of your story’s structure. (See how to chart your plot mountain or plot diagram, what is freytag’s pyramid, and write your novel with the snowflake method for additional help with plotting.)  Now take some time to think about whether you’re (A) solving a specific problem that would exist if you told the story in linear order, or (B) creating a specific effect by choosing to re-tell the story in a different order. If neither of those things apply, you don’t have a specific reason to use in medias res and will struggle to execute it effectively.  Finally, think about what other changes you might make to your story to support the effect you’re aiming for. What needs to be different about your other chapters to maximise the payoff from your in medias res opening? For example:  In The Tell-Tale Heart, Poe continues to build on the question of sanity that’s introduced in the opening paragraph, showing the reader additional examples of disturbed thinking by the narrator, continuing to build until the climax of the story. In Rosewater, Tade Thompson withholds the full knowledge of Kaaro’s dome experience until much later in the book, but tantalises the reader with hints and bits of information along the way, ensuring that curiosity about the dome never leaves the reader’s mind. In Killing Floor, Lee Child follows the arrest scene with an interrogation that amplifies the effects of the opening by further expanding our curiosity about the small town and showing us more of Jack Reacher’s calm intensity.  Resist the urge to flood the reader with exposition or backstory immediately after your opening scene, as if you’re trying to apologise or compensate for having dropped them into the middle of things. Commit to your decision to use in medias res and follow through purposefully in the chapters that follow, building on the effect you’ve created and delivering exposition and backstory gracefully. Alternate Techniques Sometimes, in medias res isn’t the right solution for the effect you want. Other related techniques you can try include:  Start with an action scene in a prologue—something which is exciting on its own, but will also have relevance to the later story. (For example, the action may set up a character to pursue revenge during the main story.) Omit certain information by having the protagonist unable to witness events because they’re unconscious, in the wrong location, distracted, blinded, or so on. You can then reveal that information later through dialogue with others who were present, recordings, forensic evidence, and other indirect techniques. Omit certain information by having a narrator who’s reluctant or unable to share it. Use a framing story to put the events of your main story in another person’s mouth, allowing them to re-tell it in their own style (but still in chronological order). Revise your existing opening to improve its pacing and excitement. If you believe you’re starting with the right scene, but it feels limp, try re-writing from a different viewpoint or with a different emphasis. Revise other parts of your plot to strengthen longer-term effects you’re trying to achieve. Remember, when concepting the opening of your novel, it never hurts to write several openings and compare their strengths, or to revise your opening multiple times. Using In Medias Res In this guide, we’ve seen a definition and examples of in medias res and talked about when and how to use it effectively. Hopefully, this has got you thinking about interesting ways to open your story. A great way to keep up that momentum is by bouncing your ideas off other authors.  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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

The Very Best Fantasy Tropes To Include In Your Writing

Fantasy tropes are some of the best literary tropes out there (except, perhaps, for romance). Whether you\'re writing a fantasy novel or screenplay, you may be tempted to include fantasy tropes in your work - but, likewise, you may also be nervous about using a plot device that\'s been used so many times it\'s no longer original. So how can you include fantasy tropes in your story, without boring your readers? In this article I\'m going to be talking about what a fantasy trope is, listing some of the best-loved common tropes (along with examples), and discussing the best way to incorporate fantasy tropes in your story. What Is A Trope? A trope is a scenario in any story (be it a book, movie or play) where characters react or interact in a way that is expected. Some may even go so far as to say that a genre book isn\'t a genre book without at least one or two well-loved tropes (at least!!). Genre plays a big part in which tropes are used in which stories. You can always mix up tropes (no one is stopping a rom-com writer from sending one character off on a quest and making another a fallen hero) but when it comes to expectations, certain genres have certain tropes. So, for instance, in horror, you may get an innocent person or object (child, doll, pet) that becomes possessed. And in romance, readers expect to see characters go from being enemies to lovers, or to have a happy ending. And in fantasy (which we will be focusing on in this article) readers expect to see characters go on a quest, discover they are the chosen one, or become the hero who uses a magic sword to fight a dark lord. So let\'s take a look at some of the most common tropes found in fantasy stories, listed in relation to popular categories found within the fantasy genre. Our Top Fantasy Tropes (And How To Make Them Unique) All common tropes in fantasy fiction share similar elements - in most cases, writers focus on worldbuilding (ie the magical world in which the story is set), characters (ie archetypes who possess certain attributes and qualities that people expect to find in their favourite fantasy fiction. ), or plot (ie some kind of great power struggle or attempt to save the world). In this list, I will highlight the most popular fantasy tropes, give an example, and then highlight how you can give these tried and tested tropes your very own stamp or twist. Let\'s start with tropes found in fantasy settings... Worldbuilding Tropes Medieval Europe It\'s incredibly common to see fantasy novels set in a time that closely resembles the King Arthur medieval period...although often mixed with fantasy elements. Imagine people living in villages with straw roofs and farmyard animals, except the local blacksmith makes magic swords! Or imagine a reluctant hero galloping off on his horse to fight the bad guys...who also happen to be trolls. Where to find it: When we imagine Medieval-style fantasy worlds we often think of George R. R. Martin\'s A Song of Ice and Fire series. But another fun example is The Witcher series on Netflix, inspired by the books written by Andrzej Sapkowski which were later adapted into a popular computer game. This is the perfect example of how one world and its story can be told in a number of ways! Magical Systems It\'s hard to find a fantasy world in fiction that doesn\'t have some kind of magic system. Whether that means that witches and wizards exist, there\'s just one character who can cast spells, or that the power can only be found in one mystical artefact, when considering worldbuilding and fantasy tropes it\'s important to think about the magic system of your made-up world. Who can do it? How does it work? And why? Where to find it: There are far too many magical systems in fantasy fiction to list here, so take a look at this article which highlights some of my favourite and original takes on magic! Fantastical Races And Creatures Surely you didn\'t think you could get this far without a Tolkien reference? Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Trolls, and of course HOBBITS - Tolkien always went above and beyond to create entire communities of other-worldly creatures in his books. He even went so far as to invent a language for them! So if you\'re going to write a fantasy book that doesn\'t take place in this world, you can\'t avoid using this trope. In fact, why not check out our article on how to create your own fantasy creatures? Where to find it: To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo is a great twist in The Little Mermaid, full of undersea monsters like you\'ve never seen before. Character Tropes Damsel In Distress This is one of the most common fantasy tropes found in older stories, myths and legends. Although times have changed and we find fewer and fewer stories full of defenceless women needing a big strong man or rich prince to come to their rescue, having someone who needs rescuing is always a great inciting incident. Especially if the hero\'s journey takes them not just to the trapped person but also helps them discover plenty about themselves along the way! Where to find it: Every fairytale is a fantasy book, and most of the older ones (think Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty) are full of damsels in distress. The Secret Heir This is slightly different to The Chosen One trope (where, like Harry Potter, the protagonist discovers they\'re the key to beating the evil force). A secret heir won\'t necessarily have any magical power, but they will most probably be the one who is destined to be the next ruler. And often that means the one people want to kill! This is a fun one to twist up as you can do ridiculous things, like have the pet cat be the secret heir because the prince was once turned into an animal, or have the servant be a secret heir because they were the king\'s hidden love child! Where to find it: Here\'s a great collection of books where women are battling over the throne instead of the usual secret prince. Villain All fantasy books have to have a villain - even though it\'s not always a monster or a man who is pure evil. In some cases, the villain can be the landscape, the curse, or the inner demon they are struggling to fight. Where to find it: Where won\'t you find a nasty villain in the fantasy genre? From Darth Vader and the Joker, to Lord Voldermort and Narnia\'s White Witch, we sometimes enjoy reading about the villains more than the good guys/girls/people. Dark Lord A dark lord is a villain, but not all villains are dark lords! The wonderful thing about someone who turns to the dark side is discovering their origin story, their backstory, and how they went from being a regular person to the one that everyone fears. Where to find it: The Darkling in Bardugo\'s Shadow and Bone series is my favourite dark lord. He\'s mysterious, enticing, powerful, and as bad as you know he really is...you can\'t help wanting to know more about him. As he famously says - \"Fine. Make me your villain.\" Plot Tropes Training Sequences This is where the protagonist has to do something heroic, but they aren\'t ready yet. So you know what they need to do? They need to train! Training sequences are not only fun to watch, but they are a great plot device to move time forward and to show how the hero is progressing. Sometimes it\'s used as a midpoint marker, just before the real action starts. It\'s also a lovely way to introduce another character trope - the mentor. This may be another main character that only comes into play in Act 2. Where to find it: The Hunger Games trilogy has a number of training scenes, which also prove as a great way to show Katniss\' character, as well as that of her rivals and those in power. In the same vein, Mulan also uses this trope to highlight her struggle of hiding that she\'s a woman fighting amongst big, burly men. The Quest A quest is when the characters are sent on a journey and a bad thing (or twenty) will happen. that quest can be as simple as crossing a river, or as complicated as crossing an entire kingdom in order to drop a ring into a fiery mountain. Where to find it: In the movie Love and Monsters, an asteroid has released chemicals that make small creatures into huge monsters (ie killer centipedes) and the main character has to find his ex-girlfriend at the next camp without getting killed. Highly entertaining. Good Guys Fighting Evil Heroes need to win - there are no two ways about it. Especially in a fantasy novel. In real life, there\'s a grey area when it comes to politics and what is fair because life isn\'t really that black and white - but it is in fantasy! Your readers need to root for someone, and they need to know who that someone is, so make sure that even if your hero has flaws, ultimately, we know who\'s wrong and who\'s right. Where to find it: V E Schwab does this really well in her Shades of Magic series, with the main character, Kell, fighting both external evil forces and the dark magic inside of himself. Dead Parents/Loved Ones It\'s a lot harder for a young protagonist to go on a big adventure, fight monsters and bad guys, and take unnecessary risks, if their parents or guardians are there to stop them. So what forces a child to grow up? What motivates someone to do wild things? How do you add trauma and grief to someone\'s backstory that will justify the decisions they go on to make? Kill off the ones they love. Where to find it: Neil Gaiman handled this trope really well with his novel The Graveyard Book about a young orphan who is raised in a cemetery by supernatural creatures. The Walking Dead is also really good at dealing with grief and loss in fantasy. How To Effectively Use Fantasy Tropes In Your Writing As you have seen, when it comes to common fantasy tropes and the genre in general, there\'s no right or wrong (just good and evil). The joy of writing fantasy is that you can create any world you want, and any characters you want, and as long as you stick to some of these expected fantasy tropes you can make it work. So what makes a good fantasy novel? And how can you give your readers what they expect, while not being predictable or trite? The secret lies in taking the very best from the books and movies people love - the most common tropes that people don\'t want to let go of - and considering the needs of the modern reader. Harry Potter and The Hobbit have had their time in the limelight...it\'s time to create fantastical worlds that reflect how society keeps changing and inspires new readers. With this in mind, it\'s no wonder we\'ve seen a rise in fantasy written for women by women, feminist fantasy, MG and YA fantasy, books written by diverse authors incorporating cultures that we don\'t see as often (ie not just European folklore), as well as more LGBT fantasy, and characters that embrace physical or mental challenges (ie not as a flaw but simply as something lots of people live with). So how can you take these tropes and make them work for you? Write What You Know Yes, I know you have never lived in a land where unicorns shoot fire out of their mouths or dragons are the size of sparrows, but that doesn\'t mean you can\'t bring a little authenticity from this world to your own. Even if your book is set in space or ten thousand years from now, readers still want to connect to your characters and the situations they find themselves in. So if you introduce a trope like, say, an innocent hero having to fight evil, try and remember what it felt like when you stood up to a bully as a child, or when you had to have a difficult conversation with your boss. Use Them Sparingly Just because you love certain fantasy tropes, that doesn\'t necessarily mean you should add them to your story. Writing is hard work; don\'t make your job harder by adding tropes to your story that have no place being there. Think of your plot and characters first, then see what works. Readers can tell when storylines have been forced to accommodate a scene that doesn\'t really add anything. (Here are some fantasy prompts to get you started.) Be Brave If you write fantasy the chances are you read and watch (or even play) a lot of it too. That means you may well feel like certain rules are set in stone - Orcs are bad, damsels need rescuing, and all heroes rise to the challenge and defeat evil at the end. But what if you went against the grain? What if you were brave and did something so unexpected, so uncomfortable, that everyone would remember your book forever? For instance - what if the evil dark lord rescued the sleeping beauty? What if Orcs were the good guys? And what if the hero not only lost his power but didn\'t care about winning? That, in itself, would make for an interesting premise. Writing makes you vulnerable, whatever the genre, not even magical worlds and elf-eating giants are big enough to hide behind when it comes to writing something from the heart. So be brave and take a risk, shake things up a little, because the stories that scare you the most to write are the ones worth telling! Step Into A Whole New World I hope you\'ve enjoyed this article and it has helped you on your own writing journey; your very own quest for the perfect fantasy tropes. Remember to look at both the real world around you, and deep inside yourself, and bring all of that emotion and experience to your fantasy books. Add the tropes that matter, twist them up, make them your own, and most of all have fun. Because if you aren\'t feeling what your character is feeling, if you don\'t want to save the world from more trite and predictable fantasy books, and if you\'re not bravely fighting good and evil for world domination in the fantasy genre (ok, just finishing your book is a good start) then what are you waiting for? Get going! There\'s a whole world of fantasy out there for you to conquer... 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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

Second Person Point Of View: When And How To Use It

Writing from a second person point of view isn’t very common - but it can be very effective.   Tutors, editors and fellow writers might all tell you to avoid it, dismissing the technique as difficult to pull off. But if you look closer, you will find a recent shift in this attitude. Writers are embracing the technique that allows you to play with your narrative and to get deep into your character’s psyche.   So let’s unpick this tricky point of view and I’ll show you how you can best use it in your own writing. I will explain what the second person point of view is in writing, when you might use it, how to use the technique to its greatest advantage, and provide some second person point of view examples.  What Is Second Person Point Of View? As writers, when we are setting out a plan for the masterpiece we are about to write, we have a little internal discussion with ourselves that usually starts with the question: Is this story going to be better told in first or third person? Rarely do we even consider writing in the second person, and this is probably because we are told to never use it. But as a literary technique in the right hands, it can be very powerful indeed.  So, what exactly is a second person point of view in literature? There are many definitions, but broadly it is the use of the second person pronoun, you, to refer to the protagonist or another character. For example, let’s take the novel that broke down the perception that the second person narrative was a bad thing - Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney:  You have friends that actually care about you and speak the language of the inner self. You have avoided them of late. Your soul is as dishevelled as your apartment, and until you can clean it up a little you don’t want to invite anyone inside.Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney A second person narrative asks the reader to become the character, as in the McInerney example above, or become the character the narrator is addressing. It is instantly intimate. There is an urgency about the second person point of view. And for the reader, this can feel totally immersive.   So now we know what the second person point of view is, let’s think about when you should use it.  When To Use Second Person Point Of View Second person narratives work by talking directly to your reader. The wonderful Kathy Fish says that writing in the second person is ‘the literary equivalent of making good eye contact.’ I couldn’t agree more!  Writing in the second person acts as a deep dive into the character and forges a link between the narrator and the reader, breaking down that so-called fourth wall.   And the strength of this point of view is its versatility not just in fiction, but in non-fiction and self-help books, for example. As a form, it is well-used in short stories and flash fiction, too, where you can be much more experimental with your writing.  One excellent example of this is Girl by Jamaica Kincaid (read the full piece here). At only 650 words or so, it is a long list from (presumably) a mother to her daughter on how to be a girl. With lines such as this - “this is how you smile to someone you don’t like too much; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely” - the prescribed list of rules and how-to\'s becomes personal. She could be talking to me. She could be talking to you. As a reader, I feel affronted by her and her assumption that she can tell me what to do and how to be. And there lies, I believe, the point of the story. I don’t think I would have had the same emotional reaction to this piece if it had been written in the third or even first person. This is the eye contact that Kathy Fish is talking about.  Let’s consider the differences between the other points of view that are on offer to you as a writer:  First-person uses the I pronoun. The story is being told through the eyes of the narrator. This can be limiting, though, as we only see the world through the eyes of the character whose head we are in. Third person uses the he/she/they pronouns. The reader observes the story. This is generally much more distant for the reader, especially when using an omniscient narrator, but you can play with this form much more by considering the psychic distance with which you write. Second Person Point Of View Examples I’ll now take a look at some books written from the second person point of view, each of which uses the technique in a different way.  The Night Circus By Erin Morgenstern Erin Morgenstern scatters her use of the second person throughout The Night Circus, which is mostly told in third person. The magical novel about two rival magicians flits back and forth through time and is told from the point of view of various different characters. But occasionally Morgenstern will place the reader themselves in her magical world with little vignettes such as this:  You are amongst them, of course. Your curiosity got the better of you, as curiosity is wont to do. You stand in the fading light, the scarf around your neck pulled up against the chilly evening breeze, waiting to see for yourself exactly what kind of circus only opens once the sun sets.The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern This is the first use of the second person narration in The Night Circus, and here she places you, the reader, at the door of this mystery circus that has suddenly appeared without warning. You want to know as much as the people that stand around you. The opening ends:  Some in the crowd smile knowingly, while others frown and look questioningly at their neighbors. A child near you tugs on her mother’s sleeve, begging to know what it says. ‘The Circus of Dreams,’ comes the reply. The girl smiles delightedly. Then the iron gates shudder and unlock, seemingly by their own volition. They swing outward, inviting the crowd inside. Now the circus is open. Now you may enter.The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern Do you feel the same as me? Do you want to walk through those magical gates and enter this magical world? Of course, you do! You have been invited.  Try looking for these small moments where you want to place the reader directly into the heart of the action. Morgenstern uses it sparingly. You can too.  The Push By Ashley Audrain Ashley Audrain uses the second person perspective really well in The Push. The novel is written as a long letter to the main character\'s ex-husband as she (Blythe), tries to pick apart the events of their life that led them to where they are now. The novel starts:   You slid your chair over and tapped my textbook with the end of your pencil and I stared at the page, hesitant to look up. ‘Hello?’ I had answered you like a phone call. This made you laugh. And so we sat there, giggling, two strangers in a school library, studying for the same elective subject. There must have been hundreds of students in the class - I had never seen you before. The curls in your hair fell over your eyes and you twirled them with your pencil. You had such a peculiar name.The Push by Ashley Audrain How intimate is this? Confessional, almost. Audrain puts you deep into Blythe’s memory, and what better way to understand a character? But in addition to depicting the deconstruction of their relationship, Blythe is calling on her ex-husband, Fox, to see their daughter the way she sees her. As a reader, we know Blythe isn’t addressing us, but by writing in the second person, she gives us the urgency that she herself feels. She is begging him and us. This is the urgency I mentioned above. We feel everything she feels deeply because she is talking directly to us through the use of ‘you’.   As a technique for a full novel, the second person POV can feel draining, but Audrain cleverly breaks it up with chapters about Blythe’s family history. These are written in third person and are a welcome relief from the deep perspective. If you have an unreliable narrator, like Blythe, consider letting the readers see inside their head like Audrain does.  You By Caroline Kepnes You by Caroline Kepnes is at the opposite end of the scale to The Night Circus. Kepnes uses the second person narrator for the entirety of the novel which takes you deep inside the mind of a stalker and murderer. The writer could have achieved this by using the closeness of the first person, but by writing this from a second person POV, Kepnes makes you feel like you are the object of his obsession. Let’s see how she achieves it:  You walk into the bookstore and keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn’t slam. You smile, embarrassed to be a nice girl, and your nails are bare and your V-neck sweater is beige, and it’s impossible to know if you are wearing a bra but I don’t think that you are.You by Caroline Kepnes Wow. This is a pretty immersive opening, don’t you think? Not only is the creepiness on another level, but you see straight into Joe’s mind as the narrator. He is making assumptions about the person he is watching; he is looking at parts of her body that he shouldn’t be looking at. He is looking at you. We instantly know that we are in the head of a dangerous person.   Kepnes gives you no respite from the head of Joe - she keeps you in his head all the way through. It’s a clever novel. She shows the narcissistic and psychopathic thoughts and behaviours of Joe, whilst trapping the reader in his claustrophobic world. And she shows you just how easy it might be for you to become a target. She even manages to secure sympathy for Joe, because to be so far in his head is to understand why he does what he does. And for you, the reader, that puts you in an uncomfortable place. I’m not sure this would have been achieved in any other point of view.  Committing a full novel to the second person perspective is a big deal. Here it works well because the character is so flawed. So, if you want to give your readers an uncomfortable ride, with the right character, this might be the way to go.  How To Write In Second Person Point Of View Writing in the second person definitely doesn’t work for everything, and you should think carefully before using it. But to help you figure out when and where it might work best for you, let’s look at ways you can explore it.  Key steps and tips:  Think about who your second person narration will be addressing. Is it the reader, and are you therefore are asking the reader to become your character? Or are you addressing a second character and thus you want to invite the reader into the psyche of the narrator? It’s a tricky concept to get your head around, so be very clear about this before you set out on this path.  Ask yourself what it is you want to achieve. Do you want to draw the reader into an uncomfortable place? Do you want the reader to be a part of the story? What will the second person voice achieve for your story, your characters and your readers\' experience?  Be sure that you have a character who is interesting enough that your readers want to be inside their head. Experiment - have a play around with your narrative. There may well be parts that become stronger and deeper in the second person.  Try writing some flash fiction and short stories to really perfect your second person voice. I believe this is the key to writing from this point of view. It takes practice. It takes real commitment and consistency in the same way that writing from the more conventional points of view does.   Second Person Point Of View As writers, we want to push boundaries. We want to set ourselves apart from everybody else. We want to create memorable and long-lasting characters that feel as real to us as the person you last shared a meal with. Using the second person point of view might be the way for you to achieve that. Be brave. Be bold. But always be sure that your story benefits from it.   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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Start A Story That Grips Your Readers

How do you start a story? For many authors, writing the opening to any story brings on a special kind of anxiety. Like a first date, the pressure to make a good impression can be nerve-wracking – after all, it’s the first couple of chapters that have to hook a prospective agent, editor or reader.   But it doesn’t have to be that scary —with a simple process, you can generate multiple opening ideas and be confident you’ve written one that’s solid.  In this guide, you’ll learn the process of starting a story and discover some strategies for getting into the right mindset. We’ll also review 30+ opening ideas and a list of do’s and don’ts to help guide your writing.   Let’s get started!  To Start Your Story Well, Know Your Story Well Imagine you’re at a party and you’re asked to introduce two people. Normally, you’d do that by sharing something about each of them that might spark a conversation.  But what if you barely know them? At best, you could recite their names and hope they take it from there. Awkward!  Story openings are like this. They need to spark interest and open a doorway to what comes next. To write a good opening, consider your story:  What’s it about? Do you have a good sense of who your protagonist is, the key challenge they face, the events that will unfold, and the themes woven throughout?  What will your reader’s experience be? What will your reader be feeling during the beginning, middle, and end of your story? Which aspects of your story will they welcome, and which will challenge them? How will they look back on your story, and what will stick in their mind?  It’s likely that you’ve already answered these questions for other purposes, such as writing your blurb or plotting your novel. Let’s talk about a specific process you can use to turn those answers into an outline for your opening scene.  How To Begin A Story Here’s a process you can use to generate an outline for your opening scene. (We’ll run through an example below.)  Confidently and clearly answer the questions “what is my story about?” (protagonist, conflict, plot, themes) and “what will my reader experience?” (feelings, resistances, lasting impressions).  Pick one element of your story’s content or experience that you feel is compelling.  Ask yourself how you might open a doorway onto that element for your reader. Think about two things: getting them thinking about the right things (focus) and making them eager to experience what’s to come (desire).  With focus and desire in mind, build a great scene outline. Here’s an example of the process in action:  Let’s say our story is a heist novel. Our protagonist is a reformed thief whose lover died tragically during his last heist. Realising the danger of his lifestyle to the people around him, he got out of the game, and hasn’t let himself get close to anyone since. But now an old mob debt has caught up to him, and his only chance to pay it off is to come out of retirement for one last score. He takes on a new apprentice, and as they prepare, he finds himself falling in love with her. The reader’s experience will revolve around the thrill of the big heist, the May-September romance, and the protagonist’s memorable final decision.  For this opening, let’s choose the romance as our focal element.  For our doorway (focus + desire), we want to get the reader thinking about relationships, and rooting for the protagonist to find love and happiness.  We decide that our opening will show the protagonist eating alone at a restaurant he used to frequent with his old lover. We’ll have him reminisce about their relationship and contemplate the pain of his loneliness. We’ll also convey his desire to live a decent life and never hurt anyone again. However, we’ll soon discover that our protagonist hasn’t chosen this location out of nostalgia. A mobster who demanded a meeting here shows up, intentionally late, and delivers an ultimatum: come out of retirement to pay your debts or face the consequences.  Not a bad starting point, right? Once we’d chosen romance as our focal element, the ideas came easily, because we’d taken the time to outline our story’s content and experiences.  The key is to work from the perspective of opening doors. If we’d been worrying about forcefully “grabbing” the reader, or focusing on a catchy opening sentence, there would be no process leading us to the restaurant scene.  Writing Multiple Openings Using this process, you can create outlines for multiple opening scenes in two ways.  First, you can pick the same element and create a different opening. For example, instead of sitting in a restaurant, we could have had our protagonist walking in a park, watching a young couple in love. The meeting with the mobster could have taken place on a park bench. Most of the protagonist’s thoughts could be the same, and the differences are primarily aesthetic—day versus night, outdoors versus indoors, and so on.  Or, you can pick a different element. For example, let’s say we’d picked the thrill of the heist as our key element. In that case, perhaps we might open with the protagonist sitting in his poorly-kept bachelor apartment, watching a TV documentary about a new casino being built. He notices a subtle flaw in its security design and realises this is his chance for one last big score. His mind immediately begins working and the reader is pulled into his planning.  Or, finally, you could start the story right in the thick of the action (often referred to as in median res) or even include a prologue.  When you know what your story is about, and when you think in terms of opening doors, writing multiple openings becomes easy.   I suggest you try creating concepts for two or three openings before you commit to one of them—you may be surprised how many good ideas shake themselves free from the tree.   How To Begin A Story: 30+ Story Opening Ideas Here are thirty-odd ways you can open doors to different elements of your story.  If you want to open a doorway to appreciate… You might focus your opening on… Novelty and new ideas A complication the reader wasn’t expecting; Your original setting or a unique character; A strange situation the reader wouldn’t have seen before. Immersive experiences A vivid environment with rich sensory cues (but remember to put a character in that environment); A single, strikingly-described image (choose one that has significance to your story, or that you can revisit or invert later) Action An in medias res action sequence (make sure it has stakes, but make sure it doesn’t sprawl or overshadow later action sequences); A briefing (formal or informal) that describes a potentially explosive situation. A compelling protagonist (If first-person) The protagonist’s distinctive voice—let them experience or relive something they can narrate in a way that’s distinctly “them”; A situation that showcases the protagonist’s talents, principles, or quirks; A situation that forces the protagonist to make a decision; A situation that lets your protagonist expound on something or share their insights and opinions. (Note: Your opening scene is not a “first date”. Let your protagonist’s flaws show as well or they won’t seem compelling.) Curiosity or mystery Letting the reader notice a contradiction without explaining it immediately; Leaving something crucial unsaid: pick one of the five W’s that your reader is most likely to ask, then don’t answer it, but play around the edges of answering; An event which has consequences or a conclusion that you hold back for now; Raising a question and giving the reader only part of the answer. Emotion Making the reader identify with a character who’s going through an emotional event; A situation that arouses your reader’s sympathies; Implicit questions centred on the reader, such as “what would you do?” or “can you blame her?”; An idea or concept presented with intensity or burning emotion; Narration that uses emotion and relationship vocabulary (this isn’t a substitute for making the reader feel an emotion, but can help to signal the focus of the story’s viewpoint). Big Ideas A mundane event with deeper causes or meaning that is then questioned; A character posing an intellectual or philosophical question. Romance A flirtation; A fantasy; An intriguing new interest entering the protagonist’s sphere; A complication coming up in a relationship; A previous relationship crashing and burning (leaving the protagonist available). An epic or sweeping story Anything other than focusing tightly on a single character and their immediate concerns; A setting or image that implies a much broader setting (for example, a monument commemorating a war or unification); A prologue that broadens the scope of your story; Showing how a location has changed over time. Masterful writing A place (or time, or worldview) for which you can display a deep understanding or appreciation to the reader; Making the reader laugh; A scene that showcases excellent pacing, tone, and atmosphere; Artful (but not purple) use of words and phrasing.  If in doubt, constrain yourself with these two rules:  Introduce your protagonist first; Start your story immediately before or immediately after the inciting incident (in most cases it helps to show the characters before the inciting incident so you have a better character arc at the end and the reader can see how far they have come).  It’s often okay to break these two rules, but it’s rarely wrong to follow them!  Writing Strategies For Starting Your Story Writing a good opening is about more than just the outline—it’s also about putting yourself in a position to write well. Here are some strategies you can use:  Putting Yourself In The Right Mindset Remember to define your opening in terms of how it opens doorways to the content and experience of your story. Don’t write your opening first or last. If you write it first, you won’t be warmed up to your characters and story; if you write it last you’ll put too much pressure on yourself. Write a rough beginning, but be prepared to go back and tighten it once you know your story and characters better. Many authors struggle with too much scene-setting in their openings. To combat this, pretend your opening is actually your second chapter. Write an extra chapter that comes before your opening, then write your opening. When both are done, throw away the extra chapter and pass your opening to a beta-reader. Ask them if anything confuses them, and only make additions to correct any confusion. (Using this method will help you see that much of your scene-setting is “insurance”, and not really necessary.) Here’s another trick: outline your first chapter, but don’t write it. Instead, challenge yourself to modify your second chapter to make it work as your opening. This isn’t always possible (especially if the two chapters have separate viewpoints), but by trying, you become aware of which parts of your opening chapter are truly essential. When reviewing your opening, try reading your back-cover blurb first, just like most of your readers will do. Does your opening feel redundant in that context? Are you re-using language from the blurb in a way that saps it of impact?  Controlling Detail And Sprawl All of the writing advice that applies to your other scenes applies to your opening as well—show don’t tell, write with a distinctive voice, avoid clichés, and so on. However, pacing, focus, and controlling the level of detail are especially important in your opening.   Keep the following advice in mind:  Use exposition carefully—keep it diffused. Don’t allow yourself detours in your opening. Know what the scene is about and execute it in a compact fashion. Detours are for middle chapters! Trust your reader to make common-sense assumptions. Don’t overload your opening with too many responsibilities. Focus on introducing one key element of your book in an interesting way, and let your subsequent chapters build from there. Action—things happening—doesn’t automatically hook a reader or make your opening strong. What matters is meaning; action is just a tool for creating meaning. In your opening, include action that builds meaning; cut action that doesn’t. Voice is key. Ensure the reader gets a taste of the main character(s), the tone of the book and the genre within the first three chapters.  Revising Your Opening If you believe your opening is important, it should receive its proper share of revision. Here are some revising tips:  Like any scene, the most important first step is simply to write something. Don’t put it off! Even a terrible opening is something you can analyse, improve, and compare against alternatives.  It’s never wrong to test a new opening. Challenge yourself to write at least two different openings and ask yourself what works well about each of them. Spend some time polishing your opening sentence.At the same time, don’t hyper-focus on your opening sentence or opening page. An intriguing first line is great, but no reader will put your book down just because the first paragraph is simple. Although do aim to make your entire first chapter one of your strongest, including its closing sentence, and link to your second chapter.  How Not To Begin A Story Here are a few common mistakes authors make when they begin a story:  Writing in a different voice, or with a different sensibility, than the rest of your novel. Trying to please everyone. Never be afraid of turning off readers who wouldn’t enjoy the rest of your story anyway. People-pleasing leads to bland openings and shows the reader you aren’t committed to your story concept. Giving away too much detail too soon. Spending time setting the stage in ways that aren’t yet meaningful to your reader. (Imagine your characters and locations are friends whose careers you’re trying to help—let them shine by introducing them at the moment when they can be most compelling!)  (For some more don’ts, read our guide to 7 novel-opening mistakes that make literary agents groan.) Starting Your Story Well In this guide, we’ve discussed the concept of opening doors for your reader, a process for generating scene outlines, ideas for starting your story, writing strategies, and some don’ts to avoid.  So what are you waiting for? Now that you know how, it’s time to start that book of yours!  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 or join our free writer\'s community. 

20 Powerful Romance Tropes (And How To Make Them Original)

If you love reading romance novels then you can\'t avoid a romantic trope. It\'s that part in the book when the two work colleagues who hate one another suddenly find themselves trapped in a lift together (forced proximity!). Or when two strangers brush fingers picking up the same fallen item (sexual tension!). Or when the heroine faints and the strong, silent type catches her (alpha hero!). In other words, the scene that makes you squeal \'yesss, I knew it!\' In this article, we\'re going to look at what a trope is, romance novel sub-genres, and managing reader expectations. Plus we\'ll also take a closer look at twenty of the most popular tropes and think about how to keep them fresh. What Is A Trope? A story trope, whether found in literature or films, is a totally expected situation between two characters that moves the action forward. Tropes can be found in almost any genre (from fantasy to historical fiction) - but it\'s the romance genre that\'s famed for providing the most sought-after scenarios. Different Romance Genres If you\'re considering writing your own love story, one of the first things you must decide is what sub-genre to choose from. In any love story, readers expect the main storyline to have two (or more) people falling in love and living happily ever after by the end. Although, the time in which the book is set, the setting, and the characters themselves also determine the book\'s sub-genre. Let\'s look closely at each sub-genre and how they\'re defined: Historical: This is when a book is set during a period previous to the current-day (yes, even the 1990\'s count as historical. Sorry, I don\'t make the rules).The Duke and I (Julia Quinn) Fantasy: When the setting is set in a different world to ours (this includes sci-fi, dystopia, and paranormal romance).The Princess Bride (S. Morgenstern) Rom-com: A romantic comedy is when the characters must face a series of amusing events before they finally get together.The Flatshare (Beth O\'Leary) Christmas: This is a relatively new category, but festive books have become so popular with readers lately that they have become a genre of their own.One Day in December (Josie Silver) Erotic: This is a love story where the plot revolves around the sex and not the other way around. It can include BDSM, kink, LGBT characters, and many of its own sub-genres.Fifty Shades of Grey (E. L. James) Young Adult: Romance books written for teenagers, often depicting first love and all the drama that can happen when two young people fall in love.The Sun Is Also A Star (Nicola Yoon) Religious/Spiritual: This category often includes Christian fiction, or \'clean\' fiction (ie very little sexual tension and no on-page sex), but can also include characters spiritually finding themselves...as well as one another.Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert) LGBTQ: Any romance novels depicting love between anyone who doesn\'t define themselves as straight. This can be combined with any of the above categories too, of course.Tipping the Velvet (Sarah Waters) Romance stories don\'t need to fit neatly into just one category, many fall into various sub-genres. For instance, Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) is a steamy, fantasy and historical romance. Whereas Red, White and Royal Blue (Casey McQuiston) is an LGBTQ rom-com YA novel, with the US president\'s son falling in love with a British prince. Why Do Tropes Matter To Romance Readers? It doesn\'t matter what particular trope features in a love story, the most popular romance tropes are the ones that bring a couple together and create tension and pace in the story. With each trope, a writer is pushing their characters together then ripping them apart again. This not only builds attraction and tension between the protagonists, but it heightens the stakes and keeps readers hooked. My one aim as a romance novelist (I\'ve written both paranormal romance and fantasy romance novels) is to keep my readers on the edge of their seats, wondering whether the main characters will get together - then making sure that by the end they do. That\'s all romance readers want; the pain and suffering of impossible love, followed by the sweet joy that love won after all. A happy ending gives us all hope. It makes us believe that we too can find love. It makes the world seem like a nicer place. This is what romance readers expect. Don\'t let them down! Top 20 Most Powerful Romance Tropes As Shakespeare once wrote, \'the course of true love never did run smooth.\' Which is why every romance writer ensures that their main character has to fight as hard as possible (be it an internal struggle or a literal battle with external forces) to be with their one true love. Soul mates who are destined to be together, suffer together - and the most entertaining way of ensuring that is to throw in a few tried and tested tropes to keep the pace and tension going. Here are my favourite twenty romance tropes, including examples from both books and movies: 1. The Cute Meet-Cute A meet-cute is when two lovers first meet. This needs to be memorable, and preferably it also needs to be cute. A classic example is one of them humiliating themselves in front of the other, or something happening that instantly turns them into enemies. Or you can be original and have a one night stand be the beginning of their love story, then make the couple work hard to turn instant attraction into true love. 2. Enemies to lovers There\'s a thin line between love and hate, which is why the Enemies to Lovers is one of the most popular tropes. Demonstrating bristling tension between your protagonists, and then showing readers how those initial feelings change over the course of the book, can create conflict, tension and a lot of romantic angst. For example, everyone loves a bad boy, but it\'s a lot more fun if the heroine falls for him after a long time of thinking that she hated him. Or perhaps, such as in a workplace romance, she\'s the mean boss and he\'s the nice guy who can\'t stand her. So many scenarios are available! 3. Forced Proximity Nothing gets my heart soaring as much as a scene in a book where the enemies to lovers couple book into a hotel and...THERE\'S ONLY ONE BED! Sarah J Mass does this beautifully in A Court of Mist and Fury. Or (I love this one) two people who have been refusing to acknowledge their feelings for one another have to quickly hide and find themselves locked IN A SMALL BROOM CUPBOARD! Excuse my basic tastes here, but this is the classic example of creating a physical and emotional connection between two characters who have allowed their heads to rule their hearts (and lower regions). But once they\'re touching, once their lips are inches apart, they can\'t fight it any longer. Swoon! 4. Destiny This may seem like a lazy trope but it\'s a classic. When two characters are thrown together by fate, who are they to argue? Star crossed lovers trying to live out their destiny? Yes, please! In my own book, The Path Keeper (N J Simmonds), Zac has been in love with Ella for over 2,000 years and hundreds of lifetimes. It\'s his fate to love her, yet in this lifetime she loves him back. The only problem is that he\'s an angel (don\'t you just hate it when that happens?). 5. Childhood sweethearts This romance trope is a favourite with YA books and less-steamy romance novels. No one forgets their first crush, or the potency and drama of first love, and it\'s this friends to lovers theme that makes the \'we are best friends, but now we\'re going to ruin everything for love\' storyline so compelling. Look at Elle in The Kissing Booth, she\'s about to ruin her friendship with her male friend, Lee, because she\'s fallen in love with his alpha brother, Noah (also her friend). What could possibly go wrong? 6. Forbidden Love From Romeo and Juliet, to Twilight, as soon as you tell someone (OK, a teenage girl in a lot of these cases) that she can\'t have someone - that certain someone becomes ten times more desirable. A forbidden love interest is key to this trope, and it\'s that one obstacle that will keep them apart and keep raising the stakes (excuse the vampire pun). And what happens when they finally do get together? Well, as Juliet and Bella will tell you, it\'s not pretty. 7. Impossible Love There\'s a fine line between impossible love and forbidden love. In forbidden love, the obstacles are normally societal or human (ie he\'s a prince and she\'s an ordinary person, or she\'s a Capulet and he\'s a Montague). But with impossible love, the obstacle can be something a lot more esoteric. In the aptly-named rom-com novel, Impossible (Sarah Lots), a couple fall in love over email - then discover they are in two different parallel universes! How on Earth are they ever going to find one another? 8. Second Chance Love Can someone find happiness a second time around? Whether their first blind date went badly and she\'s giving him a second chance, or (like in Nicholas Sparks\' The Notebook) they fell in love, separated for seven years, and then couldn\'t keep away from one another, second chances are the biggest \'will they, won\'t they\' risk. Another version of this is when a recently widowed or divorced character no longer trusts love...but they\'ve just met their perfect match. We believe in their love, but do they? 9. I Have A Secret Every story needs a surprise, and every character needs a secret. Whether they\'re hiding the news of a secret baby (like in Helen Fielding\'s Bridget Jones\' Baby where we don\'t know who the father really is) or whether they\'re pretending to be someone they\'re not (like Casanova who doesn\'t reveal his true identity until the end of the film) it\'s the suspense that draws readers - whether they\'re in on the secret or not! 10. The Bet This trope is where someone (usually an alpha hero) places a bet that he can get the unobtainable/prissy/ugly duckling girl. Then he falls for her - but not before she finds out, loses trust in him, and ironically breaks his heart in return. This trope was used widely in the 90s (think movies like Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, and She\'s All That) but, thankfully, with the rise of feminism in storytelling, it\'s now often presented in a less misogynistic way. 11. Fake Relationship This is one of my favourite tropes, not because it\'s original but because I enjoy seeing what will happen to the couple to make them realise that they\'re not faking their love after all! Whether they\'re involved in a marriage of convenience/arranged marriage, or it\'s simply a fake relationship in high school (such as the one in To all the boys I loved before by Jenny Han), the fun part is watching them realise what we, the readers, spotted from the very beginning. 12. Love Triangle Love triangles are corny and a little tired, but if written originally they can still add a lot of tension to love stories. In Outlander, for instance, the heroine is torn between loving her husband in 1945 and her lover in 1743 (now there\'s a quandary). 13. Opposites Attract I do love a sunshine and grump couple. There\'s nothing more appealing than when two completely different people, who would normally have nothing in common, become foil characters because their opposite attributes are exactly what the other needs. This trope can be made even more entertaining if you choose a difficult setting, such as marooning them on a desert island or situating them in the middle of the jungle. I especially love the \'high flying woman and rough and ready guy\' combo in the movies Crocodile Dundee or Romancing The Stone (and the recent modern twist to these movies, The Lost City). 14. Amnesia/Mistaken Identity In the 1987 rom-com movie Overboard (and the less amusing, gender-swapped remake of 2018) a rich woman on a yacht is rude to her handyman (opposites attract) and she refuses to pay him. When she falls overboard and loses her memory, as revenge he convinces her she\'s the mother of his children and makes her pay him back in hard labour. But it all backfires when...surprise surprise...he falls madly in love with her. But what if she finds out what he did? Highly immoral, yes, but also highly entertaining. 15. Instalove This trope gets a lot of bad press, but personally, I want to see an instant something between soul mates in the book I\'m reading. I don\'t care if that initial reaction is curiosity, desire, lust, friendship - no matter what people say, when you meet someone you want to have a relationship with there is often a spark. A pull. An \'oh no, I\'m not going to be able to fight this\' longing. And that instalove, the one the couple keep trying to ignore, is what makes the belated love epiphany at the end so much sweeter! 16. Fish Out Of Water This one is a lot of fun and works well in romcoms and YA. It is also perfectly paired with Opposites Attract and Enemies to Lovers (for the single reason that if you aren\'t familiar with your surroundings, the chances are the people there will be very different to you). One example is the series Virgin River (Robyn Carr). She\'s a strong-headed medical professional from the big city, he\'s a homely bar owner from a small close-knit town. She\'s widowed (Second Chance trope) and he has a shady past. Can they make it work? Of course they can (eventually)! 17. Stuck Together This trope is the perfect mix of the Forced Proximity and Enemies to Lovers tropes - but with the added tension of the fact that they can\'t escape one another. In The Hating Game (Sally Thorne), work colleagues are forced to share an office and find themselves competing for the same job. They\'re rivals, they hate one another, neither of them will give up...but then love gets in the way. 18. Just Friends Friends to Lovers is one of the most popular tropes because, well, who hasn\'t once had a crush on a friend? In the 2011 movie, Friends With Benefits, two friends who get on really well decide that instead of bothering with a romantic relationship - and all the stress that brings - they will keep things purely physical. Surely they can be just friends...with benefits...and not fall in love, right? Wrong. 19. It Was Right In Front Of You All Along! There\'s nothing more romantic (albeit frustrating to watch) than a belated love epiphany, with the main character realising right at the last minute that the one they love was there all along. In the movie Yesterday, a struggling musician, Jack, one day discovers that everyone has forgotten who The Beatles are; which means he becomes famous by pretending to write some of the world\'s most popular songs. But while he\'s sucked into his newfound stardom he doesn\'t realise tha