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Action That Evokes Emotion in Your Readers

Have you ever read a passage in a novel that made you cry? Stirred up indignation? Real terror? I am often moved by passages I read in both fiction and nonfiction. Masterful writers can wrench emotional reaction from me even with random passages.

We’re told to get readers to bond with our protagonist within the first couple of pages, something few writers can do well. Yes, we might get readers interested in our characters and even riveted by their personalities and actions in the opening scenes, but do we truly care for them? Depending on your genre and story, you might not want readers to care for your protagonist all that much (at the start).

As we grow attached to characters throughout the reading of a great novel, we care more about them. And that makes it easier for emotion to be evoked in us. All along the way, a writer must carefully manipulate readers’ emotion, in a deliberate fashion, to try to get them to feel what he wants them to feel. Continue Reading…

The Challenges of Believability in Writing Science Fiction

Today’s guest post is by William R. Leibowitz.

 It’s not called “science” and it’s not called “fiction.” It’s called “science fiction,” and that means that if an author is going to successfully wade into those waters, it requires a balancing act.

Readers of science fiction are generally sophisticated. Reading science fiction isn’t easy reading. A reader needs to think and to concentrate. Science fiction places demands on a reader. That’s why it’s not the most popular genre—romance novels are. You don’t have to think or concentrate when you read a romance novel. But you do when you read science fiction. And science-fiction readers have real standards that they’ve developed by reading the great writers who developed the genre—and also by seeing countless good quality science-fiction movies and television programs.

So, when sitting down to write a work of science fiction, the writer has to rise to the standard. Bad quality science fiction is painfully obvious even to the casual reader. If a work of science fiction is to be believable and engrossing, the science in it must be plausible—and the science must be understandable to the reader. Continue Reading…

Scene Mastery – An Essential Skill for Novelists

Scenes are the backbone and heart of novels. There are many types of scenes and many ways to write them. Genre is the biggest concern because in order to write the perfect scenes for your story, you need to know who you are writing to.

Too often writers sit down and pull a scene out of their heads. They don’t spend much time planning the purpose of the scene. This speaks to a bigger issue: lack of overall plotting. If you don’t understand novel structure and what the key turning points are, you will find it challenging to write the kinds of scenes needed.

Certain types of scenes are found in different sections of a novel. Setup scenes are focused on setting up character and premise. Scenes near the climax are about high stakes and high energy.

I’ve written a lot of blog posts and book chapters on scenes, and if you aren’t a scene master, be sure to dig into these (and other) resources. Continue Reading…