Show, Don't TellShow, Don't Tell
(And Other Do & Do-Nots)
(Okay, so there arent really any other Do or Do Nots because Ive covered a lot of them already and there will be more to come in the other tutorials.)
Im sure youve heard/read this before and now youre reading it again: Show, dont tell.
What this means, of course, is that when writing your story, you need to give detailed description on what is happening.
For instance, lets say Milan has graduated and been given control of her very first team of archaeologists. Theyve been researching where to find a lost civilization thats as famous as Atlantis and is as wealthy in knowledge to them as Atlantis purportedly is to us.
The site had been completely destroyed by the thoughtless actions of the Technicist, a solar system-sized group of people who believed all areas should be brought up to current levels of technology supposedly just so everyone could have better lives
Character Flaws - EmotionalEmotional flaws are an integral part of making your character likeable to your readers. Believe me when I say, the more perfect your character is, the more your readers are going to be turned off by him or her and the more likely they will be to drop the book and never read it or another one by you again.Character Flaws - Emotional7 years ago in Writing More Like This
The reason is: they won't be able to identify with the character. No one in this world is perfect. If you make a perfect character, your readers are going to feel inferior to that character and hate him/her. They're not going to like the fact that s/he is always right, always wins, always knows everything, always says the right thing, etc., etc.
A character should always have at least two flaws. Especially a main character. This way, your reader can watch them grow and grow with them. If you have a series, I would choose 5 flaws so once your character defeats one flaw, they can start working on the next, just like in real life. Choose one flaw to be the maj
Coming Up With the StoryComing Up With the StoryComing Up With the Story7 years ago in Writing More Like This
Once again, this step is combining all of the knowledge we have gathered about our character so far. Some of you may already have a story idea, even. Perhaps you created your character based upon the story idea you came up with.
Either way, if you want to be a writer, it's obvious you need a story.
The majority of authors outline their stories so that they can remember vital details. It also helps them from straying from the main track of the story and can serve as motivation or a muse to help you in times of writer's block. Oftentimes, if you don't know what to write next, it helps to look at your outline and go: Oh yeah, I was going to have that happen, so I can lead up to this, by having this and that happen.
Every story has a beginning, middle and an end. Even series have a beginning, middle and end. To-Be-Continueds have endings. An ending to the story does not necessarily mean the entire plot has been brought to a close. It just means
Getting to Know Your CharacterGetting to know your character(The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)Getting to Know Your Character7 years ago in Writing More Like This
As mentioned in the filled-out character sheet, the first best way to get to know your character is to write down everything you can about them in a character sheet.
This includes, but is not limited to, their personal history (whether it will appear in the story or not), the names of their family members, their physical looks, their personality, and so on and so forth.
The second best way is to write about them. Put them into all sorts of little-bit situations so you know how theyd react to something. For instance, my Character Milan is an in-training scientist. We know, from the character sheet, that she carries weapons and has very little association with her mothers side of the family and the only people she knows about on her mothers side of the family are her grandmother Rant and her grandfather, Maren. Shes adventurous and loves anything that has to deal with the distant past.
Writing The StoryWriting The StoryWriting The Story7 years ago in Writing More Like This
(How Does That Go Again?)
Detail is always an important factor when writing your story. For instance, if we have Milan digging out an ancient vehicle, were not going to simply say: Milan was digging up an ancient vehicle.
Readers like to know what things look like. The more detailed the description, the better the mental image. However, you dont want to make it so long its boring. You want the detail to be short, but effective. This means you need to use as few words as possible to give an exact description of what people are looking out. Sometimes, this requires a bit of research.
Theres that word again. Yes, research. And its probably going to keep popping up. Dont forget that, if youre writing a science fiction novel on an archaeologist, people who know stuff about archaeology arent going to be dumb to the archaeological terms. Give the name of the tool your character is using to work with and your readers will know w
ResearchResearchResearch7 years ago in Writing More Like This
As has been mentioned in a couple previous tutorials, researching what you're writing about is extremely important. Vital, even.
If you're going to be writing a science fiction book with time travel and/or space travel, I'd read some books on relativity, as well as take some physics classes. Study what research has gone in to time travel as well and what they've discovered. Don't just write it off the top of your head. A lot of readers with scientific backgrounds prefer realism when it comes to seeing stuff about time travel in novels. Stuff that has been proven or theorized about.
Also, the hyperdrive for space travel is a very real idea. It's not just something that Star Trek/Star Wars have done. They took these from real theories. Study the information about this.
If you're doing a novel containing multiple universes/dimensional travel, you need to do as much research on that was possible.
Same for fantasy. If you're writing about merfolk, r
Choosing Your GenreChoosing Your GenreChoosing Your Genre7 years ago in Writing More Like This
(It's More Than Just Fantasy)
The first most important thing about choosing what genre you want to write in is deciding which genre you like the most. As we all know, the two main categories of genres are: Fiction and Non-Fiction. Inside those two are multiple choices of sub-genres which you can write in; autobiography, biography, fantasy fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, romance, mystery, thriller, comedy, horror, adventure, etc.
After you have chosen which genre you are going to write in (which you most-likely already have), the next important step is to research it.
Yes, you need to research it.
I'll say it again; RESEARCH!
You may think you know everything there is to know about your genre, but I can guarantee you, if you are unpublished and new to writing, you know maybe 15% of all you need to know about your genre. Less, if you are not a reader.
When writing in your genre, it is important to
1. Know what other authors ou
Personalities and AppearancesPersonalities and Their Outer AppearancesPersonalities and Appearances7 years ago in Writing More Like This
NEW WAYS TO TALK ABOUT CHILDREN
by Kathie Spitzley
Bobby is so hyper. He is all over the place. Its no wonder I cant teach him anything!
How many times have you heard teachers or associates making negative comments about children or other adults? They seem to infer that by describing the child it should be obvious why the situation would seem unworkable. Sometimes a childs qualities are only a problem because we chose to see them that way. In fact, what seems to be Bobbys problem is often Bobbys strength. High energy level may someday carry him to completion on a complex task or be what fuels his championship swimming ability. It is fun and helpful to think of positive sides of qualities that are often assumed to be problems in children. Read the list of problems on the left
Research: How to do ItResearch: How to do It6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Weve already discussed where to do your research, so now were going to learn how to go about using those tools. Like everything else we do in life, theres a process to it, and once youve learned the steps, finding the information becomes a bit easier (admittedly, some of the harder queries will never get easier).
What do you Need to Know?
Knowing what it is that youre trying to research seems sort of obvious, but there are times when you wont have the first clue about what youre looking for. These are mostly situations when you already have your story plotted out, and now you need fact to work around your outline.
The situation: A group of police characters is out in the sprawling farmlands of the West Country in the middle of the night. After a brief struggle, one of them is shot. The character that has done the shooting and his accomplice flee. The remaining uninjured character dials
Punchlines and Pay-OffsPunchlines and Pay-Offs6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Set-Up and Punchline: Using Narrative to Tell a Joke
"Three blokes go into a pub. Something happens, and the outcome's hilarious!"
-- Bill Bailey
That's the basic recipe for any joke, isn't it? Set the scene, add a verb or two, and everyone laughs. But there's a problem with jokes, and it goes something rather like this:
"Three blokes go into a pub, and the whole scene unfolds into a tedious inevitability." -- Bill Bailey (again)
The formula to telling a joke is a bit more complex than just the basic recipe. The recipe is what you need to tell the joke; milk, eggs, flour, shortening, baking powder, saffron. But if you just look at the recipe, you don't really know what's going to happen. Are we baking a cake? Biscuits? Some sort of rock-hard bread that'll keep in the pantry for two million years? We don't know!
Telling a joke is the same thing. Just having the set up, verbs, and payoff without knowing how much of each, or if you should use the verbal equivalent to
Character Sheet Filled OutCharacter Sheet Filled OutCharacter Sheet Filled Out7 years ago in Writing More Like This
I know this looks daunting. However, this is one of the best ways to help you remember
specific traits about your character, how to keep them in character (by their personality) and will help you get to know your character like a friend, besides a ton of other things.
So, let's give the character a name. Best way to figure out a name is to decide if you want your character to be a male or female. We'll go with a female.
Next, to choose her name, we need to know...is she an adventurous woman, or is she a more stay at home motherly type? I'm going to make mine adventurous because my story is going to be an adventure story based in the sci-fi genre in the distant future.
Now that we know those facts about the character, we can give her a name. Since she's adventurous, she is definitely going to be outdoors a lot. So she'll need a good, strong name, preferably one that is a unisex name (a name that
How To Write a Novel a MonthHow To Write a Novel a Month6 years ago in Writing More Like This
So you want to write a novel in a month? Well its not impossible. Many great authors have done it, and you can too. Its hard at some points and might make you want to give up, but don't. It will be worth it to be able to tell your friends and family "I wrote a novel."
You are all probably familiar with Nanowrimo, right? If not, its a month where thousands of people try write a book within that time limit, but national writers month is not the only month where this can happen. However, if you are using November a a date to start, here is a quick guide to get ready:
Research, Research, Research!
So you know what time period you want to write in? Then research like crazy! Research clothes, vehicles, horses, weapons, anything and everything that could or might end up in your story. This way you can write confidently/help yourself fall better into the story. Trying to research is a quick way to end up surfing the web, so get all your research done
Writing Tips - MechanicsWriting Tips - Mechanics6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Tips and Tricks for Writing Fluidly
No, were not fixing up your brothers car. Mechanics are the little technical bits in your writing; punctuation, spacing, spelling, capitalisation, et cetera. Well start there.
Different languages have different rules for what should be capitalised. If you speak English, youd capitalise I and leave your dog lowercase. You may find it interesting that German is a bit backwards. If youre German, youd capitalise Hund and leave ich lowercase. Why am I telling you this? Because its simple little things like this that have the potential to give your reader the wrong impression of you. If they think that English is not your first language, they may structure a critique differently than if they knew that you were born and raised in New York.
So, when do you capitalise something?
° At the beginnings of sentences.
The dog is in the park.<
Ultimate Story ProfileGeneral Info:Ultimate Story Profile5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Genre (epic, fantasy, historical, romantic, action, adventure, comedy, horror, drama, etc):
Theme (meaning or dominant idea behind the story):
Synopsis (the story summed up into one or two sentences, with or without ending):
General Story Overview:
The Three Acts:
Act 1 (orientation and first problem):
Act 2 (struggling to solve problem):
Act 3 (climax and ending):
The Hero's Journey (skip this if not familiar with hero's journey):
The Ordinary World:
The Call to Adventure:
Refusal of the Call (for the reluctant hero):
Mentor (the wise old man or woman):
Crossing the First Threshold:
Tests, Allies and Enemies:
Approach to the Inmost Cave:
The Road Back:
A Short Guide to BrainstormingA Short Guide to Brainstorming7 years ago in Writing More Like This
Got nothing to write? Stuck in the middle of a story? Just getting your mind wrapped around a new idea? Asking yourself, "Where do I go from here?"
Here is the two-step guide to story development. It works every time, 100% guaranteed.
Ask yourself this simple question: "What if?"
Staring at a blank page? Ask "What if . . . ?"
Stuck in the middle of a story? Ask "What if . . . ?"
Don't know how to end your story? Ask "What if . . . ?"
Don't think your story is going in quite the right direction? Ask "What if . . .?"
Ask yourself this second simple question: "Why?"
What if aliens invaded our planet?
What if the antagonist is obsessed with redheaded women?
What if the good guy dies in the end?
What if the protagonist lies to his love interest instead of telling her the thing he desperately wants to get out?
Here's the point:
Absolutely anything is possible in the world o
Writing Tips - DescriptionWriting Tips - Description6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Description: Balancing Too Much and Not Enough
Theres an old adage about writing that says, show, dont tell. But what does that actually mean? Surely, were not expected to illustrate our stories, are we? Christ, I hope not. Some of mine are rather long.
No. What that means is that you should use your words to paint a visual picture for the reader. Talking heads are both boring and confusing, and should generally be avoided. If youre unfamiliar with the term, talking heads refers to the phenomenon where all, or most of story is carried out through the characters dialogue. You see it like mad in web and news paper comics, but it happens in prose as well.
The first, and arguably the most fun way to banish the talking heads is to make your characters act. This doesnt mean action, necessarily. The character can do any amount of going from place to place or thing to thing, but so what? Hes still not rea
Writing Engaging Dialogue1pen's Tips for Writing Engaging DialogueWriting Engaging Dialogue4 years ago in Writing More Like This
When I was a freshman in high school, my best friend and I were convinced that we were the funniest people on earth. In fact, we were so confident of this that we decided we would record our conversations, type them out, and make millions. Then something funny happened. We tried out our little idea and, one, we're not millionaires, not yet at least, and two, we didn't become millionaires overnight because the idea sucked.
We really weren't that interesting and neither are you.
Actual human conversation can be so dull as to render you comatose within minutes if you're not careful. Our own brains protect us from imminent boredom-comas by giving all of us a little raven in our heads who thinks about sparkly things and stealing chips in between actually paying attention to the people we are talking to or that are talking to us.
So how is it then that we willingly read page after p
Elements of StoryElements of Story7 years ago in Writing More Like This
Updated Mar. 18th 2009
The following is a self-discovered list of elements contained in an excellent story:
An interesting and intriguing main character, an individual with a unique past that has made him who he is at the time of the story. Be sure to explain the important aspects of this backstory where appropriate.
This main character must have a story goal: a mission to accomplish, a mystery to solve, his past to reconcile, a villain to overthrow, a treasure to find, a person to save, etc.
Along with this goal, the character must have an all-consuming desire that drives him to accomplish what he sets out to achieve. Love, revenge, money, justice, purpose, an identity crisis, etc.
Fear. This is the person or thing that has the power to stop him from accomplishing his goal. A threat.
An enemy. If another person, this enemy must be smart, strong, and resourceful with a goal directly opposing that of your main character, and he must have an equally strong desire to ful
Writing Tips - Grammar, pt 1Writing Tips - Grammar, pt 16 years ago in Writing More Like This
Part one: Parts of Speech
Now that you know how to use a comma and structure a quote, lets really get our hands dirty! Because all those commas and quotes and hard stops dont mean a thing if you have weak grammar. Grammar is huge. Theres a lot of it, so this will only be a blitz course, covering a lot in a small space. Hopefully, you already know most of it, though.
Parts of Speech
Thats right. Were doing sentence diagramming in this lesson. Youre going to need to know the difference between an adjective and an adverb later on, so this seems the logical place to start.
A sentence needs three things to make it a sentence. It needs a subject, a verb, and it needs to be a complete thought.
The subject is usually, but not always, a noun, a proper noun, or a pronoun.
Nouns: Nouns are something physical. Look to your left. What do you see? Thats a noun.
° Please pass me that book.
Proper Nouns: Proper nouns are exactly what
Character MotivationCharacter Motivation5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Everyone's heard that characters should have goals, something they want and must strive for, overcoming obstacles and antagonists in order to obtain. Because, well, a story is the record of your character's journey toward achieving a goal.
While all of this is true, I think a lot of writers lose sight of an even more important aspect of character. That is, motivation. Sure, you know what your character wants.
That's the gist of motivation. What is the psychology and reasoning behind your character's goal? If your character is driven to make money, is his motivation greed? To pay off a debt? To support his family?
Motivation is your character's emotional connection with the reader. When the reader comes to understand why your character has set out to achieve his goal, they will understand your character in human terms, relate to him, and become invested in what happens to your character throughout the story.
Without a clear motivation, your character's goals don't mean much. So wha
Blank Character SheetBlank Character SheetBlank Character Sheet7 years ago in Writing More Like This
(Just For You)
Special Eye Traits:
Missing Body Parts:
Feelings towards Religion:
Feelings towards Politics:
Feelings towards Family:
Feelings towards Friends:
Likes About Self:
Dislikes About Self:
Types of Food Likes:
Types of Food Dislikes:
Writing Tips - LanguageWriting Tips - Language6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Accents, Foreign Languages, and Regional Dialects
There are times when your story may have one or more character speaking a different language, or with a different accent than the rest. There are many different ways a writer can go about presenting this to the reader, and before we go any further, I will concede that some of it is a matter of personal taste, and on this particular matter, you wont be able to please everybody. So, consider this bit not so much a lesson, but rather a series of guidelines.
Everyone has one. Even if you think that you dont, theres someone, somewhere in the world who would disagree with you. Some people may have a very faint trace of an accent, whereas with others, you can hardly make out what theyre trying to tell you. But how should you translate these simple speech patterns to text? Well, that depends, really.
Since Ive been listening to the audio books lately, and its the best example I can come up with, let
Writing Tips - DialogueWriting Tips - Dialogue6 years ago in Writing More Like This
If youre writing fiction, the dialogue is arguably one of the most important parts. And its the bit thats the easiest to mess up, if were strictly honest. And why not? Theres so much going on in that single sentence that any number of them can go wrong; voice, character, tone, point of view, punctuation. Well start with punctuation, because Ive already written that bit.
Go here. I was originally going to copy and paste that part of the lesson into this lesson, but then the thing wound up being ten pages long. So, read that, and then come back to this if you feel you might need help with the mechanical bits.
When to use Dialogue
Right. So, youve got a story all set up in your head (or on a piece of paper if youre inclined to pre-write), and its great. Your hero is blasting through space with a whole heap of misfits, and you
Punctuation BasicsPunctuation Basics8 years ago in Writing More Like This
Writing is like math. If you dont follow the right formula, you end up in a state of mass confusion. Synonymously, punctuation is like following a map. If you miss the street signs, youll end up completely lost. The following is a list of common English punctuation marks and their most basic functions. Contrary to popular belief, there are no exceptions to these rules. Breaking them has never been in style.
The most common English punctuation marks include the following:
. = period
? = question mark
! = exclamation point
, = comma
= quotation marks
; = semicolon
: = colon
- = hyphen
( ) = parentheses
. . . = ellipse
Wow, thats a lot of symbols! So, how do you use them as you write? Here's a quick and dirty list.
1) Every sentence must end in a period, question mark, or exclamation point.
2) A comma signifies a pause, distinguishes betw
How to Introduce a CharacterThe classical Movie Introduction Sometimes, you get a hero. Not over time, but right at the start this is your hero. He's confident, he's suave, and he always packs his shaving cream. Somehow he always manages to get that beard just right, despite the fact that you've never seen him trim. Everything about him is admirable, and you just wanna follow him like a little puppy dog because that's how AWESOME he is.How to Introduce a Character5 years ago in Writing More Like This
it might work, but you still shouldn't do it. It's one thing for movies, where you can simply follow someone's action across the screens. In books, you want the closeness that only seeing the character fall on their face time times just to get it right once will bring.
The stumbling introduction - sometimes, your character stumbles into the wrong thing at the wrong time. Or the right thing at the right time, perhaps, but if you want a good story you should probably make sure it ends up worse for them than it would have otherwise.
Oh, sure, things