Tag Archive - Steve Alcorn

How to Go Big in Your Fiction

Today’s post is by Steve Alcorn.

How do you make your story memorable long after the last page has been turned? How do you captivate your readers, and leave them with a powerful impression?


Writing big means going beyond mere words—it means creating images in your readers’ minds, a movie that will involve all their senses and keep them on the edge of their seats.

Let’s take a look at two of my favorite techniques for writing big.

The Power of Suggestion

A big part of memorability is vivid writing, and that’s mostly accomplished by simply showing rather than telling, which can be hard because vivid showing involves two almost opposite techniques:

  • Suggest rather than specify.
  • Be specific.

Wait! How can we do both?

Suggest rather than specify means you don’t need to tell us every little detail. Here’s an example from Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies:

Around the outskirts of the city, cut off from town by the black oval of the river, everything was in darkness. Everyone ugly was in bed by now.

Tally took off her interface ring and said, “Good night.”

“Sweet dreams, Tally,” said the room.

She chewed up a toothbrush pill, punched her pillows, and shoved an old portable heater—one that produced about as much warmth as a sleeping, Tally-size human being—under the covers.

Then she crawled out the window.

What a vivid mental picture we get of the city, the night, her room, her bed … and yet none of them were really described, were they? We saw them through Tally’s eyes. Westerfeld just suggested they were there and let us do the rest. Continue Reading…