Archive for July 14th, 2008

Jul 14 2008

Don’t Start Sentences with Empty Interjections

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

When an interjection like “well” starts a sentence, it’s usually wasted space.  If you start sentences with any of these common offenders, double-check to make sure that they actually contribute something to the sentence.  Otherwise, please remove them.

  1. Well
  2. You know
  3. Oh
  4. Like
  5. Umm
  6. OK
  7. I mean
  8. Seriously
  9. Basically
  10. Yeah

4 responses so far

Jul 14 2008

Writing Tip of the Day: Avoid Looking Backwards

Don’t have your characters spend too much time musing about events that have already happened in the story.

When characters are preoccupied with something that’s already happened, the author has probably lost track of where the story is going. You can give your story forward momentum by drawing our attention to what’s just around the corner. If someone tried to kill the protagonist yesterday, we will care more about what the assassins are planning for tomorrow than what the character thinks about the attack today.

If you are interested in building on what has already happened in the story, it will probably be more effective to try to have your characters investigate the mystery. But an investigation is very different than just musing with your friends and confidantes. An investigation will add evidence, either by looking for clues or trying to get witnesses to talk. Investigations are superior to musing because the search for information adds more to the story than just talking about what has already happened. (There’s also more potential for conflict, particularly if someone’s trying to sabotage the search).

Here are a few common scenarios that frequently lead to characters musing about the past.

  1. Musing about the death of a loved one, particularly one that  sacrificed himself to save the protagonist.
  2. Romantic failures.
  3. “Why me!?!”

5 responses so far

Jul 14 2008

An Exercise to Help Write Better Settings

The Associated Press describes a California town that is so xenophobic that it has a vigilante “Border Patrol” tear down all the road signs that might help motorists find it. What a delightfully gruesome detail. Would you like a writing assignment? Write a detail that describes a fundamental flaw of a place or character. The more flavor, the better.

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