Some suggestions on how a conversation operates in actual life:
When actual people say things, they look for a response. On the other hand, when they hear things, real people don’t always answer.
For example, someone will say something like, “Oh, it’s a beautiful day, today!” and then wait for the other person to return. Ordinarily, the other person says, “Yeah, it’s gorgeous, right?” But sometimes the other person doesn’t say anything at all. They grunt or roll their eyes or stare out of the window.
People learn how to do this as teens, and it’s a beautiful way to show underlying tension.
But, this isn’t fundamentally the end of the conversation, because actual people talk when no one is listening. Even when people don’t reply; real people keep talking a lot anyway.
This behaviour is an exceptional way to show annoyance if your character’s addressing someone, or insecurity if they can’t stand the sound of silence. It can even show some social clumsiness if they can’t pick up on some social signals.
On the opposite side, there are times when someone doesn’t talk at all. Sometimes, real people are too mad or too nervous or too moody or too much of a youngster to speak.
Don’t make your characters talk if they don’t want it!
I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
Deadlines are meant to induce stress. I know none of us wants more stress in our lives (do you?), but most writers I know struggle with two things: discipline and focus. A reasonable deadline helps with both.
A little bit of stress focuses me on completing a task. A definite deadline can keep your bottom in the chair and your fingers on the keys much better than “inspiration,” that fickle muse, ever could.
How do you set valid deadlines, so they don’t just whoosh by as they did for Douglas Adams?
As I have found by completing more of my first draft in a month and a half than the previous year, you fix a penalty for not achieving a word count. I do dislike word counts as they become a target and I am an underwriter, so I usually fall short of any desired word count and add fluff words just to pan things out and use words.
Having put all that into consideration, I would recomend that you set up deadlines and don’t make a self-reminder or self-incrimination act to reprimand yourself for missing it. What you need is someone else to carry out the forfeit. Money is usually the best way to do this. Give someone £100 and have weekly deadlines, say Fridays so that you submit work every Friday and if you miss more than two Fridays they get to keep the £100.
It works fine for myself.
At the end of the day, the characters are the most critical part of your story. They’re the ones with which your readers empathise; they’re the ones your readers will finish the book to follow. Some people have told me to write backstories and investigate every detail of their lifestyle so I can use them in a way that is consistent.
Here’s my simple principle: whatever makes it into the window frame of your story has to either impact your characters somehow or at least impact a role in a way that will grab your reader’s attention.
Build up your new world. Play and have fun. Go crazy with them. Then when it comes to your story, just make sure that the parts are seen through the window frame matter to the characters. It’s not who the characters are at the beginning, it’s what they do within the timeframe of your story. Their actions are what people see of them. A personality whom is merely upset and looks downwards is very different from a character that stands tall and slaps the face of the other actor that said something nasty.
I enjoy this part. I do have a folder with pictures of people I found on the web. It’s like getting to know a good friend. Once you have your primary characters, give them an A4 sheet of paper each. Write down everything about them. I have a questionnaire on their details.
Their name, appearance, personality, relationships, friends, motivations, the past, present, goals, significant events in their lives, where they live, their religion, culture, family, etc.
Just get to know them. You do need back stories of what happened to them before the time of your novel. I love doing that with the characters I create, and I get to know them very well.
These are the characters that are important to your story, but not as important as your primary characters. Write up about a paragraph for each of them. This is to give you an idea of their attitude, personality, back story and motives, as I also have photos of these people.
These are the characters that only appear once or twice and are never heard from again. Now, although they are tertiary characters, all of them are still significant, and you should stay in touch with what happened before the story. Note down all of their names on a piece of paper and their purpose, so you don’t forget them. Again, I keep photos and outlines of every character in Scrivener.
So, I’ve always loved the spy or crime genre.
I prefer reading mostly fiction.
That’s fine but, I didn’t spend much time reading non-fiction subjects outside my personal comfort zone.
Now, reading an easy book is okay for somebody whose career doesn’t involve moving around words and ideas, but it’s poison for the new and want-to-be author.
Here’s the truth of the situation:
When becoming an author, then reading and research on the subject area is part of your role.
You must spend time reading outside of your comfort zone, reading the work of authors you admire and the books of authors you detest.
You must take notes, write down and learn to arrange your ideas before you start your book.
Once you start a novel, I just lept into it and was a pantser. I got to about 14,000 words and sat back and thought, “Oh, what happens next?”
Also, after writing just one sentence, I looked at it and edited away. It is so hard to read some text and find the grammatical or word errors and not correct the text.
Next week begins the 100 days course that should help me produce my first draft. The WritePractice is helping me.
My novel did start its way by pantsing. I got to about 14000 words and lost my way. It was at this time I sat back and thought I should outline, and do some research into the subject areas within my story.
Firstly I did a Creative writing course on Udemy and found out my English was fairly bad. That needed some work and practice. My comma splices were plentiful but that got corrected by sentence diagrams which I learned through the English Grammar Revolution.
As my intended protagonist was a private investigator; I did a foundation course on being a private investigator by Rockwell Private Investigators.
Being sure my P.I. was going to encounter dead bodies; I did a Forensic Science and Profiling course, that was very interesting and cheap as I got it from GroupOn.
While all this was going on, I researched what was favourable about Shakespeare and why his work is still popular after four hundred years. I came across the rhythm of English and the Iambic pentameter, that was used by William Shakespeare, the master of the Iam.
I also looked at memorable characters in movies and tv and why they were so accepted. For instance; Basil Fawlty, the worst, hateful owner of a hotel in history, but he was admired so much, why?
The word count is how long you want the finished manuscript. It’s always beneficial to have a rough guess of this, as it helps you outline and plan your story as a whole piece of work. Much of the time it ends up to the writer themselves and how long they envision the story being. However, there is a rough estimate for word count lengths of adult fiction stories:
– Short story: 500 – 10,000 words.
– Novella: 10,000 – 40,000 words
– Novel: 40,000 – over
– Adult Fiction (commercial and literary): 80,000 – 100,000 words
– Science and Fantasy Fiction: 90,000 – 150,000 words
– Romance: 50,000 – 100,000 words
– Historical Fiction: 70,000 – 100,000 words
– Crime/Mystery/Thriller/Horror Fiction: 70,000 – 90,000 words
– Young Adult Fiction: 50,000 – 80,000
– Non-Fiction: is different.
The Point Of View or POV is the view that your story comes from, and how you tell it. There are four main POV’s:
* First Person POV – This is a narration of one character’s view. Within the story, the text is not allowed to show anyone else’s thoughts or anything the narrator cannot see, hear, feel or smell. The narrator is always in every scene as they are telling the story. Things should always be told in the past tense.
* Second Person POV – This is instructions like; You say, “Blah, blah.” You have an idea of what the event is as you use your imagination by taking the instructions and feeling what it would be like if you, the reader were to do those things. It’s not good for long novels but is more suited to short stories.
* Third Person POV, limited – Third person limited point of view is a method of storytelling in which the storyteller or narrator knows only the thoughts, feelings and scenes of a single character, while other characters are presented externally. Third person limited presents a writer more independence than the first person, but less knowledge than third person omniscient.
* Third Person POV, omniscient – The third person omniscient point of view is a way of storytelling where the narrator knows the thoughts, feelings and senses of all of the characters in the story. This third person is not the same as the third-person limited, a point of voice that adheres strictly to one character’s perspective, it’s usually the protagonist.
1. A reader must have the same opportunity with the investigator for solving the crime. All the clues must be plainly stated and reported.
2. No deliberate tricks or dishonesty may be placed on a reader other than those performed legitimately by the perpetrator on the detective.
3. There must be no love engagement. The profession in hand is to bring a perpetrator to the bar of justice, but not to bring a lovelorn pair to their wedding
4. The detective themselves, or one of the official police investigators, should never turn out to be the offender. This is plain trickery, on a par with offering someone a penny for a ten-pound note. It’s false pretences.
5. The offender must be concluded by logical reasoning — not by accident or coincidence or unmotivated admission.
6. A detective novel must have a detective in it, and a detective is not a detective unless he or she detects. Their purpose is to collect clues that will ultimately lead to the person who did the dirty work in the first chapter being apprehended. If the detective does not reach their conclusions through an investigation of those clues, he has no more solved the problem than the pupil who gets their answer out of the back of the arithmetic textbook.
7. There frankly must be a corpse in a detective novel. No lesser crime than murder will suffice. A couple of hundred pages is far too much bother for a crime other than a murder, or a few. After all, the reader’s task and investment of energy must be rewarded.
8. The puzzle of the crime must be solved by naturalistic means. Such methods for learning the truth as slate-writing, ouija-boards, mind-reading, spiritualistic seances, crystal-gazing, and the like, are taboo. The reader has a chance when matching his wits with a typical detective, but if they must compete with the world of ghosts and go chasing around metaphysics, they are surely defeated.
9. There must be only one detective — that is, but one protagonist.
10. The offender must turn out to be a person who has acted a more or less prominent part in the story (antagonist) that is, a character with whom the reader is familiar and in whom they take an interest.
11. The butler or servant should not be made by the author as the culprit. This is begging the question; it is a too easy solution. The culprit must be a decidedly worth-while person — one that would not ordinarily come under suspicion.
12. There must only be but one offender, no matter how many murders are perpetrated.
Some quick helping points that can improve the very next piece you write.
1. Know your reader, and this means more than knowing a few demographics (how old they are, their average income, etc.). To know your readers means you understand their fears, frustrations, and aspirations. Writing from the reader’s perspective will dramatically change the way you write.
2. Know your objective.
3. The pieces you write like blog posts, press release, video script, or anything else, need have only one aim. I can call this objective the Most Desired Result, or “MDR.” Knowing your MDR forces you to write with crystal-clear focus.
4. Use short words; you don’t need a thesaurus.
5. To convince, you must be clear to understand. Utilising short words is one of the best ways to make your meaning clear. So, don’t show off how many big words you can use.
6. Use short sentences. Your thoughts come across more clearly in short sentences. A bonus is that short sentences prevent you from confusing your readers.
7. Use short paragraphs.
8. Let’s imagine you come to a webpage filled with a large block of text. There are no paragraph breaks. Are you likely to read it? Most people would say no. Make your writing skimmable, scannable, and scrollable. Use short paragraphs.
9. Use active language.
10. Active language is powerful and interesting. In contrast, passive language is tedious. How do you identify which is which? In an active sentence, the subject is performing the acting: “Bill fixes cars.” But in a passive sentence, the target of the action becomes the subject of the sentence. For instance, instead of saying, “Bill fixes cars,” I might say, “The cars are fixed by Bill.”
Passive language presents your idea inadequately. It does feel “backwards.” Also, it is more difficult for many readers to understand. Write with power. Use active language.
11. Write recklessly, re-write ruthlessly.
12. When you eventually write your first draft, it’s okay if it’s appalling. In other words, write carelessly. After you have your first draft on a document (or in memory), filled with strength and power, you can clean up any “messes” you might’ve made. Be ruthless when you edit and re-write.
What is Fiction?
Fiction is lies; the writer is writing about characters that have never existed and scenarios in a novel that never happened. Reality usually is utterly dull. To make it more interesting, you have to complicate it, and complicate it some more. Occasionally, the reality becomes complicated and hectic, almost as complex as fiction. I’m sure many of us have been through those situations.
Telling Better Lies
Fiction novels are based on reality and then made more complex with exciting characters. You find an interesting scenario in real life and think that it can be made into a novel or a few scenes in a novel. The first thing you do is ask yourself, “How can I make this outrageous?”
As a new writer, you’re thinking, “But, I need to make it believable to keep the suspension of disbelief. This means that you hover too close to reality and being dull. If anything else, reading about a wealthy landowner who has ghosts that suck blood in their house probably won’t be boring. The idea is to set your fictional world, in the beginning, then your reader will be less in reality.
Star Wars, although a movie, started off showing a reasonably sized spaceship being pursued by a massive great big one. Going onboard the smaller ship, there was robots and laser beam fighting. After the first scene was complete, we had been taken to a space travel capable race and introduced to two main characters. From then on the characters were developed and exciting problems were included to outrageous standards.