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4 Steps to Create Perfect Plot Twists

Plot twists are all about the unexpected. So, the best tip for writing great twists is come up with unexpected plot developments.

The challenge for the writer is to craft twists that are both unexpected and believable. Ah, there’s the rub. How can your twists be believable if they’re unexpected?

Often, the trick is to set up hints, or foreshadowing, in earlier scenes, so that when the truth of the twist is discovered, your reader won’t get mad because they feel cheated or tricked. Having a new character show up at the climax to save the day for the hero will do just that. No setup, no believability (and no satisfaction on the reader’s part).

If your novel has twists at the start of the story, immediately misdirecting due to appearances, that’s fine . . . again, so long as it’s believable. We humans make assumptions and come to conclusions about events we experience, and it’s believable that we may misinterpret what we see and hear.

For example: your character is walking down the street of her city at dawn. Two men come running out of a bank, holding black briefcases. The bank alarm begins to clamor. She hears screaming from inside the bank, then an explosion. Not wanting to stick around, she runs . . . only to turn a corner, where she crashes into the two men . . .

Your reader might presume these men are bank robbers. And what transpires upon encountering them may also reinforce this belief when one points a gun at her and tells her to get lost and quick. Continue Reading…

5 Tips to Writing about Place in Fiction

Today’s guest post is by Yasmin Chopin.

I am often asked, ‘What is place writing?’ As a field of study, it is frequently linked with the more familiar genres of nature writing, memoir, travel writing, and autobiography. Place can be home, or somewhere you visit, or somewhere you’re traveling through.

Writing place in fiction is a skill worth developing. When place is an essential part of the story, it should be as authentic and whole as any protagonist. When place is more than a backdrop, it takes on a symbolic role that can be portrayed in a variety of ways, from the naming of place to its architecture and weather.

Writing place is most successful when the author has had personal experience of it. Then it can be adapted for the story, embroidered, and renamed under the creator’s pen.

Spend time on the page to accentuate difference. Sometimes it is difficult to find an entry point, so look for a detail in the big picture and expand from there. Treat places like personalities, learn to love them, see them clearly in your mind’s eye, dress them, give them conflicting characteristics, and put them through hell and back.

Maps have become familiar paratextual material; believability is enhanced by geography. As any fan of Thomas Hardy knows, a map can be a helpful device for the reader to keep track. In fact, Hardy drew his own as a way of managing his complicated plots. When he finished Return of the Native, he posted his sketch to the publisher and insisted it be included in the printed volume.

He was not the first to use cartographic drawings to sell a book, and I am not suggesting that you must practice illustration or that your characters should follow a map in their story, but if you develop place to a significant degree in your narrative, the reader might enjoy the opportunity to dive a bit deeper and dwell in the mystery of a graphic depiction. Continue Reading…

5 Characteristics of the Perfect Murder Mystery Hero

Today’s post is by screenwriter Neil Chase.

There are many important elements to a successful murder mystery, but the hero is arguably the most important.

This character needs to be someone that readers can root for and sympathize with. How to do that? Let’s take a look at the 5 most important characteristics of a murder mystery hero.

  1. The perfect murder mystery hero is brilliant (in a unique way)

When it comes to creating a great murder mystery protagonist, one quality is essential: intelligence. An intelligent hero is able to use their quick wit and sharp mind to piece together clues and solve the mystery. They see things others do not and connect the dots in unusual ways.

Here are a few tips for creating a brilliant murder mystery hero:

  • Give your hero a backstory that explains why they’re drawn to solving puzzles in general and murders specifically. Perhaps they witnessed a crime as a child or have personal experience with loss. This will help make them more relatable and sympathetic.
  • Make your hero’s intelligence apparent from the start. Before the case even starts, give us a taste of what they can do and how their mind is superior to those around them.
  • Once the case is on, they should be able to see through lies and spot clues that others would miss.
  • Give your hero plenty of obstacles to overcome. The more difficult the mystery, the more satisfying it will be for readers when your hero finally solves it.
  1. They are always willing to help solve the crime, even if it means putting their own life at risk

The perfect murder mystery hero is always willing to help solve the crime, even if it means putting their own life at risk. They are clever and resourceful, able to piece together seemingly disparate clues to uncover the killer’s identity, but they are also cool under pressure and maintain their composure in the face of danger in order to catch the culprit. Above all, they are driven by a strong sense of justice, determined to uncover the murderer no matter what the cost. Continue Reading…

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