Make the Impossible Look Real

In his book, Writing the Break Out Novel, Donald Maass states: “take that which is improbable and make it look possible: better still, make the impossible look real.”

As I’m currently working my way through the first draft of my third novel, I’ve come to realise that my story scope is too small. My main plot events are commonplace and my dramatic moments nothing out of the ordinary.

It’s not something I’m worried about at this stage. I shall forge on until I’ve a complete first draft, then set to work correcting the problem when I re-write. I’ll need to really think about those moments when my protagonist finds himself in danger, as they need to be both extreme and believable.

To help, I got out my highlighter pen and marked any sentences in Donald Maass’ book which I thought may help. I found this one particularly useful:

Continue reading

How To Write a Page-Turner in One Easy Lesson

Ever read a book you just couldn’t put down? Want to write one? A key element of the ‘page-turner’ novel is the build up of a strong sense of tension and suspense. But how, as writers, can we achieve this in our own work? Continue reading

How to Keep Your Reader Turning Those Pages

I was fortunate to be asked to assist with a lecture at Salford University earlier this year, with the wonderful Gill James, and was very impressed with the standard of writing craft being taught. I’m sure Gill won’t mind if I share a little of what we all learned on the subject of Pace; or, How to Keep Your Reader Turning those Pages. Continue reading

Setting the Pace – Increasing Dramatic Tension

I’ve been thinking recently about making the most of the dramatic moments in my stories. It’s easy to get carried away in the flurry of  writing, speeding from one action to the next, but before you know it the scene is over, and you’re left feeling dissatisfied. Below is an example of a ‘rushed’ moment. It’s at the point in my novel, Wolf Soul, where Maria is about to kill the wolf.

Bending down, Maria picked up the sabre. She turned, confused, towards the sounds of commotion. The wolf was at its victim’s throat, heedless of any danger. Blindly Maria thrust the blade towards the beast.

It does the job, but is over so quick the reader might almost miss it.

I read somewhere (and I wish I could remember where, but alas I can’t) that the way to extend dramatic tension in a scene is Continue reading

How to Add Tension to an Opening Scene – Alan Gibbons Reveals All

I can hardly express how happy I am to welcome Alan Gibbons to the blog today. When I read his novel, The Edge, I was really impressed at how the opening scenes give a sense of tense violence, even though there is no overt violent action shown. So when I got the chance to ask Alan to write a guest post, I was thrilled when he revealed how he achieved it. But enough of my babbling. I’ll hand you over to Alan. Continue reading

Cutting Trolls to Size with Katherine Langrish

I’m delighted today to welcome the lovely Katherine Langrish to the blog, who has kindly offered to share some insights about how she tackles the tricky subject of narrative pacing.

Pacing your Narrative: Speeding Up and Going Slow Continue reading

Tricks to Engage your Readers from Janet Foxley

I’m delighted to welcome Janet Foxley to the blog, who has some great tips on getting the most out of your story’s opening lines.

TAKING THE PLUNGE

We all know how important the beginning of a book is. If it starts too slowly, the browsing book-buyer will put it back on the shelf; but much worse, as far as would-be published authors are concerned, the weary slush pile reader will stuff it into the stamped addressed envelope enclosed.

Some people advise you to introduce your protagonist and engage the reader’s sympathy for him by the end of the first chapter; others say by the end of the first page; still others say by the end of the first sentence.

So how do you plunge into your story really quickly, without getting bogged down in back story or description? How do you introduce a character the reader is going to care about, and set up a narrative that is going to keep him turning the pages, in just one sentence? Continue reading