Tag Archive - novel tips

How Writers Can Bring Setting to Life through Personification

Today’s post is by Becca Puglisi.

Settings can be tricky for authors. In our desire to firmly ground readers in the scene, we often write too much, adding way more details than are necessary. We also tend to write our settings in somewhat bald terms, keeping them simple so readers can easily envision the time and place.

The problem with these approaches is they result in descriptions that are flat and boring—even when the places themselves are not.

This common area of difficulty is one of the reasons Angela and I decided to tackle settings in our latest books. To be most effective, setting descriptions should be concise and economical, conveying just what’s necessary in a way that brings the scene to life.

Figurative language can often help with this. Similes, metaphors, symbols, and personification can succinctly express the heart of a setting with an economy of words and in a way that appeals to readers. Continue Reading…

Did the Classic Authors Use Story Structure?

Today’s guest post is by K. M. Weiland. Katie has a terrific blog called Helping Writers Become Authors, and provides mountains of great novel-writing instruction. I have been blessed to get to know Katie and highly recommend her as a writing teacher. Her new writing craft book, Structuring Your Novel, has just been released, and I encourage all serious novel writers to add this to their collection of great instructional books. And don’t forget to also grab her book Outlining Your Novel.

Here’s an interesting question for you: When was story structure invented?

I think many of us tend to believe structure is a recent development. After all, the likes Jane Austen and Charles Dickens could hardly hop by Amazon to buy the latest writing how-to book or zoom over to Writer’s Digest Workshops for an online class. The whole notion of learning how to write fiction seems to be a relatively modern invention. And structure, more than almost any part of storytelling, would seem to be something that must be learned. Continue Reading…

A Peek inside the Envelope

Sol Stein, the famous editor, author, and writing instructor, has a very short chapter in his classic book Stein on Writing that he calls “Creating the Envelope.” As I looked through my numerous books on writing craft, I drifted toward his book (which happens a lot), and was reminded again of the best advice to give writers regarding setting details.

I spoke last time of exploring your character’s feelings and responses to setting, to make setting personal and dynamic in your novel, as well as to give it heart. There’s nothing more boring in a novel than a paragraph of dry narrative to describe each new place your character finds himself in (well, it’s up there with trite dialog). But this week I want to talk about boiling down the essence of a locale or setting in a scene, and Stein’s “envelope” really is the best way to do it. Continue Reading…

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