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Creating a Strong Voice in Your Novel

We’re about to look at the last three pillars of novel construction in this year-long course. These last three—voice, writing style, and motifs—are important elements in a novel, but there are no specific “rules” governing them. No one can tell you what your writing style should be, for example, but there are some guidelines I can share with you that will help you make decisions about your writing style, or the kind of voice you give your character, or the kinds of motifs you may or may not want to inject into your story.

There are many other small components that make a novel great, such as attention to detail; creative use of metaphor or symbolism; and technical issues, such as sentence, paragraph, and scene length. All these things are mostly a matter of personal taste, although often formed and restricted in some way by genre. Continue Reading…

Creating Engaging Dialog by Using Subtext

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…

Dialog: Compressed and Essential

Dialog is the element that brings stories alive. Imagine reading an entire novel void of dialog. Trying to sustain a whole novel—or even a few consecutive scenes—without any dialog would be difficult, for that would mean your story would have to be conveyed by narrative and internal thoughts alone. So our ninth essential pillar of novel construction is all about dialog.

Writing great dialog is challenging. Browne and King, in their terrific book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, tell how some editors considering a manuscript for publication look first at the dialog. One (unnamed) editor is quoted as saying, “If the dialog doesn’t doesn’t work, the manuscript gets bounced. If it’s good, I start reading.” Continue Reading…

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