Archives for fiction

8 Tips for Polishing Your Fiction

I always enjoy working on draft 2. Sure, draft 1 can be full of surprises, discovery and moments of brilliance (or least if feels like brilliance at the time) but it can also be quite a taxing task. Draft 2 is more like the second time you make a new recipe: you’ve worked out what works and what doesn’t and can’t wait to try it again, this time with fewer mistakes. That’s not to say that drafts 3 to 3,000 won’t have their moments of difficulty, but they exist to continuously refine what drafts 1 and 2 have established. Now,
Read More

Who’s up for a fight? [Writing real fight scenes]

Recently I have been chatting with a friend and fellow author about writing fight scenes in her novel. Unlike most writers, this is an area that doesn’t give me too many problems, or at least, not of the same kind that they experience. Let’s lay down a few antecedents: I have been trained in 26 different fighting systems, holding black belt degrees in 14 of these, and a host of weapons during a long and interesting life. But my knowledge is not just theoretical. Unfortunately, I have had to use those skills on occasion… and I’m still here, so they
Read More

I think I should warn you about something…

In my last article about Show and Tell (here), I briefly mentioned Foreshadowing. I have been inundated by five emails demanding I explain a little more about this useful writing tool. So here goes… Many eons ago, shortly after the dinosaurs died out, I decided to become a writer. Little did I know what the future held in store for me… That’s foreshadowing for you. What have I just done? I have created tension, expectancy in my readers – yes, I’ve manipulated their emotional response again and pressed the ‘Reader Engagement’ button. Now that’s just one way you can use
Read More

Let’s go to the Movies!

If you are new to this fiction writing business, chances are you will have heard a short phrase repeated frequently and cited as part of the MUST DO rules for authors. Yes, I’m talking about SHOW, DON’T TELL! If you are lucky, you have come across this gem of advice on a writer’s blog where they will have provided a few examples. Sometimes these examples are useful insights into how to put this into practice. On other occasions, however, the extracts only serve to confuse the matter even further because they are usually presented without any detailed explanation.   If
Read More

Character Building

Novels are often described as being either plot-driven or character-driven. This is something that may confuse the aspiring or new writer. Surely all plot-driven novels have characters, and character-driven novels have plots. Often I feel that this description is applied when the reviewer comes across a character that stands out (so the work is character-driven) or not (plot-driven). I think this is a somewhat short-sighted approach – I’ve yet to meet an author who doesn’t try to make their characters believable. So let’s take a look at why some succeed and others don’t. First off, despite all the effort that
Read More

New Series: The Classical Elements

If you’ve ever read any of my writing, you might already know that I love the idea of the four classical elements: fire, water, earth and air. They play a central role in the universe I created, and certain characters can use magic that’s tied to them. But they also carry a great symbolism as well. I think there are ways we writers can put the four classical elements to use. And I’m not just talking about modeling character archetypes based on the four elements, although that is a very common practice. The meanings behind each element can apply to
Read More

Thoughts from a Literary Contrarian

I enjoy the commonality and compatibility in my current relationship. (Wait. Current relationship makes it sound temporary. It’s not. Let me give that another go: I enjoy the commonality and compatibility with my love, my life, my soon to be wife. (Better). Anyway, we have this ritual of reading every night before sleep, if not also in blocks of time during the day. As authors, that ritual would be expected, but I’ve never been with another author before, so I’m going to notice these things. I like it. A lot. Digression Alert: I remember one night, I’m lying in bed
Read More

Organic Doesn’t Mean Clueless

This will illustrate, I hope, the power of dialogue. Even with no story, you can glean all the information you need from what two people are saying to each other. I used to go sit in public places like restaurants and coffee shops and just dictate what I was hearing into my iPhone or laptop. This is a real conversation I had on the phone with a friend… “I really wanted this to be organic this time. I didn’t want to force it. But I can’t figure out where her head is, I just know that I don’t like how
Read More

Voice: First & Third Person

One of the most difficult things to master for me (and many other writers) is VOICE. This challenge trudges through the morass of other subjects like past tense vs. present tense, or past perfect tense, flashbacks, omniscience. . . Which Person? In fiction, the overwhelming majority of books are written in Third-Person. There are cogent reasons for this. One pertinent reason is that when you use First-Person, you are restricted to only what your main character is privy too. So if you need some clandestine goings-on, this wouldn’t serve you. In First-Person, your main character has to be present all
Read More

Originality – a writing challenge?

Like most writers, I have a small cadre of faithful proof-readers who are willing to battle their way through a Second Draft of one of my thrillers, hunting down any typos, missing punctuation, and plot points that just don’t work. Often, as they see I do listen to them, they proffer comments about the book’s theme. When I sent out the draft of ‘the CULL’, I was surprised that several of their observations coincided. They were all along the lines of “Not another bloody vampire novel. There’re thousands of them out there already. Can’t you write something more original?” That
Read More