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

Narrative elements

4 Basic Ingredients to Make Your Story More Complex (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

Should we follow writing rules

Writing Rules Explained: Should We Follow Writing Rules?

(Video transcript) Not a fortnight goes by that I don’t read the comments section of an article about writing and find a comment spurning writing rules and advice of any kind and it grinds my gears. “Rules stifle creativity!” they proclaim. “They make you write for editors and not for yourself! Writing is an art and … Read more

Avoid dreams in novels

4 Reasons You Should Avoid Writing Dreams in Novels

If you’re on a book editor’s website reading blog posts about writing then you’ve been in the writersphere long enough to have heard that editors and agents hate dreams in novels. Many people in the writing community tend to just parrot what they’ve heard others say so the reasons behind these remarks get lost and … Read more

How to develop a character

How to Develop a Character

(Video transcript) I don’t like character questionnaires and profiles because knowing things about someone is completely different to knowing someone and if you’re going to follow a character through a story you need to know who they are. Characters navigate the plot by making decisions and acting and it’s important to be able to anticipate … Read more

Dialogue habits killing your story

6 Dialogue Habits that are Killing Your Story

Dialogue can be tough to write, but it can tougher to read. Committing these 6 dialogue faux pas might be killing your story.  1. “Talking Head” syndrome What’s the problem? “Talking Head” syndrome is exactly what it sounds like: when you reduce your characters to nothing more than talking heads by not balancing dialogue with … Read more

How to turn an idea into a story

How to Turn an Idea into a Story

How to Turn an Idea into a Story (Video transcript) I often hear writers say, “I have an idea for a book, but I don’t know where to start.” That’s because an idea doesn’t equal a story. Ideas don’t tell us much about the story at all. Ideas often involve no characters, no conflict and … Read more

#FirstChapterFriday April

First Chapter Friday #1 (April 2016)

Ever since my post What Makes a Good First Chapter?, in which I compared the first chapter of five different novels, I’ve paid a lot more attention to first chapters. Every Friday I read the first chapter of a book I’ve never read before (thankfully, I never run out of those) and post about it on … Read more

Writing from more than one point of view part 2

6 Ways Using More Than One Point of View Can Enrich Your Novel (Part 2)

In this post, I’ll continue my defence of using more than one point of view in a story. In the last post I discussed using multiple points of view to develop and describe characters and to up the drama and tension. In this post, we move on to: 3. Expand the Story’s World and Scope I … Read more

Using more than one point of view can enrich your novel part 1

6 Ways Using More Than One Point of View Can Enrich Your Novel (Part 1)

It seems there’s a lot of hate out there for novels written from more than one point of view, so let me again defend something that’s apparently unpopular. One of the benefits of being a book editor is that you come to learn that no technique is inherently good or bad. Execution is key. So when … Read more