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Writing for Life

Mondays

Fact or Fiction? How Novelists Can Blend Factual Research with Creative Storytelling

man studying ground

Today’s guest post is by author Jack Woodville London, whose new book A Novel Approach, just released:

Readers who have some passing knowledge of literature might be startled when in reading The Three Musketeers they encounter a passage in which D’Artagnan refers to Gulliver’s Travels. The dilemma is that The Three Musketeers is set more than a hundred years before Jonathan Swift wrote about Gulliver. Alexandre Dumas got it wrong.

On the other hand, no one came nearer to getting it right than Patrick O’Brian. His seafaring novels highlight practices of gammoning and warping the futtocks, details that tend to overshadow the writing that brought such terms our way. The Three Musketeers is undeniably a classic; The Wine Dark Sea is the subject of much (unfair) criticism for burying a good story in unnecessary historical details. Continue Reading…

12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction

Wednesdays

Creating Engaging Dialog by Using Subtext

two men talking

We’ve been looking at the basic components to constructing great dialog in our fiction. As one of the twelve key pillars of novel construction, the strength of a novel hinges on dialog that is compressed and engaging. Which means every line of dialog should sing, and be helpful in advancing the plot and revealing character.

In this post we’re going to look at subtext. Just what is subtext? Subtext refers to the thoughts that the character is not saying—ideas that are being suggested but not actually voiced directly. They are below (sub) the text. Continue Reading…

Say What?

Fridays

Turning Verbs into Nouns May Be Bad for Your Writing

saywhat2

In the previous post on nominalizations, I talked about how nominalizations are formed and briefly touched on a general approach to remedying them. In this post, I’ll explain ways to identify and correct specific nominalizations, as well as point out some legitimate uses of nominalization.

Nominalization is a fancy word that means taking a part of speech such as a verb, adjective, or adverb and turning it into a noun—primarily at the head of a sentence. Doing this can lead to some weak sentence structure.

Watch out for nominalizations that follow a verb:

  • The auditors conducted an investigation into the embezzlement
  • Better: The auditors investigated the embezzlement

Continue Reading…

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