Sensory details are not just something to be shoehorned into your description to make your writing sound more vivid. Sensory details are something that should be considered when creating your scenes and your story as a whole, because they are things for your reader to experience through your character, and your character doesn’t experience these senses as fleetingly as a line of text would suggest. If you’re not quite sure what this means, consider this:

Using All Five Senses in Your Story: Why You Should Do It, and How

Writing and storytelling are two sides of the same coin, and one usually needs to be skilled in both to create a great story. If your prose is not engaging, your story may not be enough to maintain your reader’s interest; therefore, those of us in the business of helping writers like to suggest that … Read more

Movies can teach us a lot about storytelling. What storytelling lessons does Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi have to offer?

1 Storytelling Lesson from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

“Only one? Really?” When I first started writing this post I had a few points about structure as well, but the more I tried to express these points, the more I realised they applied to the original trilogy as a whole. So yes, there’s only one lesson here, but more will be coming in a … Read more

Women have not always been portrayed well in fiction, with female characters often being relegated to little more than objects or plot devices. Real-life women grew tired of their fictional counterparts always being in in need of rescue or stuffed into refrigerators, and the Strong Female Character was born. But this trope can still be problematic.

4 Signs Your Strong Female Character Might Still be a Sexist Stereotype

Women have not always been portrayed well in fiction, with female characters often being relegated to little more than objects or plot devices. Real-life women grew tired of their fictional counterparts always being in in need of rescue or stuffed into refrigerators, and the Strong Female Character was born. The Strong Female Character archetype was well-intended. … Read more

Every Friday I read the first chapter of a book I've never read before to see what I can learn about writing great first chapters.

First Chapter Friday #12 (March 2017)

Don’t know what #FirstChapterFriday is? After a year of analysing first chapters and finding the same strengths and weaknesses over and over, I’ve decided to bring #FirstChapterFriday to an end. I’ve learnt a lot myself about the importance of first chapters; about the differences between a chapter that keeps readers reading, and one that turns them … Read more

The editing process begins with structural editing, which involves an editor giving you feedback regarding the way your story unfolds because an editor works on behalf of the reader. Since an alarming percentage of the writing population believes editors are irrelevant and unnecessary because writing is an art, let me explain why structure is important.

Writing Rules Explained: Give Your Story Structure

Video transcript Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, there should come a time when you revise your novel, and one of the first steps of revising your novel should involve giving it structure. I know writers seethe when they hear the word should, but honestly, what’s the point of perfecting your writing, or even … Read more

Every Friday I read the first chapter of a book I've never read before to see what I can learn about writing great first chapters.

First Chapter Friday #11 (February 2017)

Don’t know what #FirstChapterFriday is? Good Morning, Midnight, Lily Brooks-Dalton The good I liked the concept. The bad Everything else. Apart from odd transitions in places, the writing was fine. But almost the entire chapter consisted of info dumping about the character and what the setting looked like. I know his entire life, and that’s the last … Read more

Movies can teach us a lot about storytelling. What storytelling lessons can we learn from Star Wards Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

3 Storytelling Lessons from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

We’ve learnt some storytelling lessons from A New Hope. What can we learn from The Empire Strikes Back? 1. Meaningless events: boring, confusing, pace killers The Empire Strikes Back starts with Luke being attacked by a wampa. Starting with conflict is great, especially when it prompts other characters to set goals; however, this attack serves no real purpose. When Han … Read more

Passive voice is often seen as a sign of bad writing. But is it?

Writing Rules Explained: Don’t Use Passive Voice

I have a plug-in on my website that constantly tells me to rewrite my content because I use passive voice too much. If I were to import my content into an online text analyser, I’d get the same result. “Don’t use passive voice” is a rule that you can bet appears on probably just about … Read more

4 Basic Ingredients to Make Your Story More Complex (the critical narrative elements of a compelling story)

Every story has different requirements. Some don’t need much character development. Others don’t need tight plots. But for your story to be the most engaging and compelling it can be, it should comprise these basic narrative elements. 1. Character Reader-Character connection Characters are the reader’s entry point and anchor in the story: what hooks them … Read more

Every Friday I read the first chapter of a book I've never read before to see what I can learn about writing great first chapters.

First Chapter Friday #10 (January 2017)

Don’t know what #FirstChapterFriday is? Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo The good I liked the writing and the lack of info dumping, especially since this is fantasy and the reader needs to learn the context, world and premise. The first sentence was long, which I would normally complain about, but it was simple enough to … Read more