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How to Make Your Sentences More Descriptive

Today’s guest post is by Jordan Conrad.

The purpose of writing is to communicate information. This is true for writing of all types—for fiction and nonfiction, for creative and technical, for business and legal.

A work of fiction communicates information by telling a story, while an email to an employee communicates information in a much more direct way.

In either case, the author accomplishes the goal of information sharing by using descriptive language to convey detail.

Here is a passage that isn’t very descriptive:

  • Beth first met her spouse in California.

The sentence is fine grammatically, but it isn’t very interesting. What were they doing in California? How did they meet? Did they fall in love head over heels, or did their relationship grow over time as they got to know one another? Continue Reading…

How to Hook Readers and Reel Them into Your Scenes

We toss around the word hook when we talk about stories. What’s the hook? we ask. Sometimes we’re talking about the overall premise: what component to the story idea is unique, compelling, intriguing. Othertimes we’re talking about the first few lines of a novel (or first line) that is to be crafted in a way to grab readers and make them want to read more.

But that’s not all the hooks we need. We’re on the hook for coming up with great openings for every scene we write. Sure, novels don’t have a killer first-line hook for every scene, but we certainly want to open each scene strong.

That usually means ditching explanation and backstory and dull description of place and weather. Instead, a more effective way to hook readers into a scene is to consider these things:

  • The tone or mood you need to set that implies the POV character’s state of mind and emotion.
  • The situation you can insert your character into that is already underway in an interesting manner (in other words, don’t start scenes with your character waking up, then brushing his teeth, then getting dressed, for example).
  • Some element of mystery or microtension that creates curiosity.

Sure, a catchy first line or paragraph is helpful to hook readers, but you can’t always be that snappy with every scene opening, nor would it be a good idea. Continue Reading…

Evoking Emotions in Readers in a Masterful Way – Part 4

We’ve been looking at the way thoughts lead to emotions, and how getting into our characters’ thoughts can be a powerful tool to evoking emotion in our readers. Which is our prime objective as fiction writers.

Part of the natural behavior humans engage in is processing. Something happens, we process it. We do this every waking moment. I’ve written numerous posts on this much-overlooked natural behavior that our characters, as well, need to engage in.

At any given moment in your scene, a character is either acting, reacting, processing, making a new decision, or initiating a new action. This whole cycle could take place, at times, over a few seconds, or it could take hours. It depends.

On what? On what is happening. Fast-action scenes in high-octane thrillers might have characters going through this cycle repeatedly every few seconds. A killer runs through a crowd. The hero follows, sees the killer run into traffic, then reacts. Quickly, he decides to go around the block (after processing his choices and the best chance he has of catching the bad guy), then rushes off (new action).

At other times, those down times in a thriller, your character may be able to kick back and spend some minutes processing. Maybe even days mulling over a situation and trying to figure a way out or around (while lots of other action is continuing to play out in the novel). Continue Reading…