Why "Start With the Action" Messes Up So Many Writers By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy If I took a poll for the most common writing advice, “start with the action” would make the list. Which it should, as it’s great advice. But it’s also like “show, don’t tell.” We know we ought to do it, but we don’t always know how, and those four words don’t help. This can be especially hard on new writers, because they can feel like they’re doing everything right and not getting anywhere with their writing. Maybe it’s the movie industry and all those summer blockbusters, but say “action scene” and most people are going to envision something Michael Bay-ish—car chases, fights, explosions, people in dire straits. Openings where the reader doesn’t care = bad. Thus the problem with this wonderful, yet often frustrating, advice. Let’s break down these four not-so-simple words and explore what “start with the action” really means. Simple version: Start with something happening—characters physically doing something to achieve a goal. Sounds crazy simple, right?
The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations is a descriptive list which was created by Georges Polti to categorize every dramatic situation that might occur in a story or performance. To do this Polti analyzed classical Greek texts, plus classical and contemporaneous French works. He also analyzed a handful of non-French authors. In his introduction, Polti claims to be continuing the work of Carlo Gozzi, who also identified 36 situations. Publication history “Gozzi maintained that there can be but thirty-six tragic situations. This list was published in a book of the same name, which contains extended explanations and examples. The list is popularized as an aid for writers, but it is also used by dramatists, storytellers and many others. The 36 situations Each situation is stated, then followed by the necessary elements for each situation and a brief description. See also References External links
CreateSpace Community: How to Write an Effective Book Description How to Write an Effective Book Description One of the most crucial elements to selling a book is also probably the most difficult element to create for authors. The book description is your lead in, your chance to hook a reader and get them to crack the cover and satisfy their curiosity. Even in an online environment, the book description can bridge the gap between having just another title among a sea of choices and a sellable book worth reading. The problem is that many authors have a hard time writing a good book description. The main reason it can prove so difficult is because they don't want to leave anything out. Elements of the Book Description As someone who has failed and triumphed over book descriptions, here is what I have learned through my personal series of trial and error. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Those are my five main points when it comes to writing a book description. Here's an example of a book description that I believe gets it right. You may also be interested in...
Overcoming the 10 Biggest Obstacles to Creating By Leo Babauta Every day I struggle with the resistance to writing, and every day I lose the struggle … but then I beat the struggle. I lose more often than I win, but I win every day. And that’s what matters. Because we can’t get rid of the resistance to create — whether that’s creating art, starting a business, or writing. The resistance will always come up … but we have to learn how to overcome it, to work with it. Do you face this resistance, and struggle with procrastination? Let’s talk about creating that habit, and how to overcome the obstacles that get in the way of the creation habit. Today I’ll share the main obstacles and what I do to overcome them. What stands in our way of the creation habit? Distractions. You’re doing this for a reason that should be as important as saving the life of a loved one, or it’s not worth doing. If it’s important, you have it in you. Help with the Creation Habit The program is free for a week, then $10 a month, and you get:
Guide for Writers: Latin Phrases It’s a matter of taste and style, but not long ago American writers attempted to demonstrate their credentials to the world by including Latin and French phrases within works. A dash of Latin was expected of the moderately educated throughout the Western world. annus mirabilis - wonderful year arbiter elegantiae - judge of the elegant; one who knows the good things in life bona fides - good faith; credentials carpe diem - sieze the day; enjoy the present casus belli - cause justifying a war caveat emptor - buyer beware cui bono? caeteris paribus - all things being equal de facto - of fact; it is de gustibus non est disputandum - no disputing tastes; there is no accounting for taste Dei gratia - by the grace of God Deo gratias - thanks to God Deo volente - God willing dis aliter visum - it seemed otherwise to the gods Dominus vobiscum - Lord be with you dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - sweet and seemly it is to die for one’s country ecce homo - behold man ex cathedra - with authority
How to layout a book in Microsoft Word This is a guide to formatting your book in Microsoft Word (2010)... I'll also be adding a video soon! Getting started Open a new document. Click “size”>> “More paper sizes” and set the document to 6”x9” (or your book size). Then set the margins and gutter. I set this one to 1" margins on the top and bottom (a bit too much on the top). Copy and paste your text into the document (or, if you’ve already been writing in Word, save the document as a new file (to be safe) and then start formatting. Setting Paragraphs Highlight some text and click on the "line options" tab. Make sure there's no space before or after the paragraph, and justified text. Then select the first paragraph of your book, click line spacing options again, but set the first line indent at 0.0. Chapter Pages Next, we’re going to separate all the chapters. So put the cursor before any of the text, go to “Page Layout” >> “Breaks” and “Next Page.” (I've changed the font to no-indent, black, and "Bebas Neue.") I’ll align right.
How to Flesh out a Country or Region in Your Fantasy RPG World Edit Article Edited by Zach Haffey, Maluniu, Glutted, Nicole Willson and 5 others Hello game master/fantasy author. Ad Steps 1Short Introductory Summary - Give a one or two paragraph overview of the region or country, highlighting something unique or unusual about it and where it is geographically in your world.Ad 2Life, Society and Culture - This section should detail the culture(s) of the people who populate the region. Tips And for other topics, your providing these details will inspire ideas for larger, overarching plot-lines and the workings of still other regions of your land. Warnings Creating a detailed campaign world from the ground up, even a country let alone a continent, is quite an undertaking.It is important that you do the geography and their respective biomes first before embarking on the making of the country's people, their infrastructure and their culture if you're up to making your country believable.
25 Things You Should Know About Character Previous iterations of the “25 Things” series: 25 Things Every Writer Should Know 25 Things You Should Know About Storytelling And now… Here you’ll find the many things I believe — at this moment! — about characters: 1. Without character, you have nothing. 2. A great character can be the line between narrative life and story death. 3. Don’t believe that all those other aspects are separate from the character. 4. The audience will do anything to spend time with a great character. 5. It is critical to know what a character wants from the start. 6. It doesn’t matter if we “like” your character, or in the parlance of junior high whether we even “like-like” your character. 7. It is critical to smack the audience in the crotchal region with an undeniable reason to give a fuck. 8. You must prove this thesis: “This character is worth the audience’s time.” 9. Don’t let the character be a dingleberry stuck to the ass of a toad as he floats downriver on a bumpy log. 10. 11. 12. 13. The law of threes.
25 Things To Know About Writing The First Chapter Of Your Novel 1. Every Book A Hook (And The First Chapter’s The Bait) A reader walks into a bookstore. Spies an interesting book. 2. Bring the reader to the story as late you possibly can — we’re talking just before the flight leaves, just before the doors to the club are about to close, just before the shit’s gonna go down. 3. A great first line is the collateral that grants the author a line of intellectual credit from the reader. 4. I’ve been to multiple Christopher Moore book talks, and each time he reveals something interesting about storytelling (and, occasionally, whale penises). 5. If I get to the end of the first chapter and I don’t get a feel for your main character — if she and I are not connected via some gooey invisible psychic tether — I’m out. 6. I want the character to talk. 7. Yeast thrives on sugar. 8. The reader will only keep reading if you provide them with an 8 oz porterhouse steak and — *checks notes* — oh. 9. 10. First impressions matter. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 19. 20.
Character Trait Chart Character Trait Chart and Personality Components It can sometimes be helpful to make a Trait Chart for each character. To use this chart, print it out and make a copy for each of your characters. Full name - a character's name is very important. Besides the character's official name, we also need to know what he is called (and, perhaps, what he prefers to be called). Date of Birth/Age - we should carefully consider assigning our character a birthday. Address - this can be as detailed or as vague as you wish, but it should answer a few questions: does the character live in a large city, the suburbs, a small town or deep in the country? Height - this doesn't need to be specific. Weight/Body Build - again, we don't really need to know a character's exact weight, only if he or she is stocky, slender or "had a figure that . . ." Hair - keep in mind the character's ethnic background in assigning hair and eye color. Health - does your character have any health problems or weaknesses? Questions?
Character Trait Cheat Sheet - Kris Noel In order to create a relatable character, you must think about them as having several layers. Knowing and choosing character traits is important because you don’t want them to be one dimensional. It’s all not as simple as saying “this person is mean” or “this person is kind”. Think about the people you know in real life. They all have some sort of defining trait that makes them different from everyone else. I’ve listed some examples of character types: Adventurer: high levels of energy, bold, dominant, competitive, fickle, leader. Bossy: confident, competitive, stubborn, close minded, serious, lacks shame or guilt, wants a high status. Creator: artistic, observant, persistent, sensitive, introverted, becomes easily absorbed, enthusiastic, likes his or her own company. Extrovert: outgoing, talkative, not easily intimidated, expressive, enjoys being with others, seeks social situations. -Kris Noel My book My goodreads
Charts and Diagrams Drawn by Famous Authors Being the literary nerds that we are over here, we’re obsessed with everything about our favorite authors, and particularly the little scraps of writerly intention — things that give us a view into an author’s thought process and planning technique, or even just a peek at the way they see and order the world. Plus, we like to see that authors work out their thoughts with forced attempts at organization and scribbled-out ideas just like the rest of us. Writers often use plot charts to organize the threads of complicated stories, but they’ve also been known to crank out diagrams of the travels of other people’s characters, chart-style teaching tools, and even hand-drawn maps. Jack Kerouac.
Fiction Writing Mistakes Take advantage of our Instructor of the Month deal and get all of James Scott Bell’s bestselling books on writing (and more) for one heavily discounted price. Order Now >> The best fiction writers write like they’re in love—and edit like they’re in charge. First drafting should be a wild and wonderful ride, full of discovery, dreams and promises. But at some point you have to settle down and make the book really work. Having reviewed hundreds of manuscripts over the years, I’ve identified the five mistakes that most regularly turn up. 1. Chief among the most common problems, in first chapters especially, are scenes presenting characters who are perfectly happy in their ordinary worlds. But readers actually engage with plot via trouble, threat, change or challenge. Seconds before our truck slams into the tree, I remember the first time I tried to save a life. Or it can be something quieter, a single item that is off kilter, as in the opening of Sarah Pekkanen’s The Opposite of Me: 2. 3. 4.