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5 Steps to Write Thrilling Historical Fiction for Teens

Today’s guest post is by author Phyllis Still.

Have you discovered an intriguing character or story from history? You believe it would make a great historical fiction novel for teens, but the amount of research, organization, and development needed to complete the project gives you the hives. Why?

Perhaps, because I began my writing journey delving into the depths of an intriguing family story, I can help writers understand a hidden truth about historical fiction. It differs from other genres in the story world only.

How so?

The story location, past events, and even some characters are a mouse click away. A lot less work in my mind. All that is needed once the research is complete is for the author to weave in extraordinary and inspirational plots with emotionally relatable protagonists. Readers will believe the story is true, no matter the genre. Continue Reading…

Using Dialogue in Scenes to Reveal Character

Dialogue is perhaps the best tool in the writer’s toolbox. Through it, writers can reveal things about character and plot, set up and amplify conflict and stakes, create mystery and microtension, and so much more—and this is why it merits a lot of attention.

Yes, dialogue always serves more than one purpose—more than merely conveying information. Fiction writers should want to learn skills and methods to help them pack dialogue with as much punch as possible.

Dialogue is also extremely difficult to do well. It has to be condensed and distilled to be effective. Great dialogue in fiction is hardly realistic or exact; it infers more than it states. In essence, it’s stylized for effect.

That’s why you can’t merely listen to people’s conversations and copy them down verbatim and use them in your scenes. Much of conversation is boring, repetitive, rambling, and full of extraneous words that clutter.

Use Dialogue to Reveal Character

What I want to talk about for a bit is the way dialogue can replace character description and create an impression without the narrative “telling” that is so often maligned (and usually for good reason).

When we both listen and watch someone speak, we pick up a lot of information that is inferred by the listener. With characters, not only can other characters infer and react to what the speaker is saying and what their body language is conveying (those can be and are often two wildly different things), the reader infers as well. Continue Reading…

The Nuances of Deep POV – Part 4

Deep POV is truly all about voice. I pointed out in a previous post that there is a difference between the author’s writing style and each character’s voice. Voice isn’t just how a character speaks out loud—nor is it about their “inner voice” as they think specific thoughts. It’s every line of the scene.

I really want to drive this home because too many beginning writers—well, seasoned ones too—write every scene with the same style and vocabulary. In real life, hardly anyone talks like anyone else, and, while I can’t read minds, I’m guessing that no one thinks in the same manner as you—the way you form sentences and paragraphs, move from one thought to another.

There are certainly novels—many in the literary genre—that are written in a stylized narrator voice. We know there is a storyteller, whether we are told who that person is or not. That storytelling voice pervades the entire work, as expected.

Diane Setterfield’s Once upon a River is a magical tale told by such a storyteller. The opening lines set this up:

There was once an inn that sat peacefully on the bank of the Thames at Radcot, a day’s walk from the source. There were a great many inns along the upper reaches of the Thames at the time of this story and you could get drunk in all of them, but beyond the usual ale and cider each one had some particular pleasure to offer.

But with most commercial fiction, each scene’s “voice” is dictated by the POV character, and so the entire scene, experienced by the character, is conveyed by and through that character. Continue Reading…

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