The old writing adage of “show, don’t tell” is good advice, but it can occasionally get writers in trouble. Good writers sometimes fall prey to hyperdetailing–giving excessive description without serving the story.
Guides for voice usually focus on diction and syntax as the main avenues to achieving voice, and it’s certainly true that messing with diction and syntax will get you some unique voice. But the true source of strong voice comes from a different source.
Causality governs story events. You want your story to feel authentic, believable, and seamless. You don’t want any of the events or reactions within the story to draw attention to themselves. They must be earned. This article examines common failures to earn story developments.
Is it better to format character thoughts with quote marks or italics? I say neither. No special formatting is necessary to signify character thinking. You just need some solid narration.
Flannery O’Connor says that sentimentality is a “distortion of sentiment.” That distortion can occur in one of two ways. Learn about those distortions and then avoid them through the 7 remedies presented here.
A story with momentum makes me want to know what’s going to happen next, and makes me care about the characters, objectives, conflicts, and action.
Kristen Roupenian’s “Cat Person” handles character interiority masterfully. Here are 10 tips we can glean from the story.
There is a distinction between author, narrator, and character.
The author creates the story.
The narrator tells the story.
The character lives the story.
These are three distinct entities, which exist on different planes.
Once the author becomes visible, the enchantment of the story dissolves. The author is the creator of a story, but the author should never be a part of the story. The author is the man behind the curtain. Reveal the man behind the curtain and the Wizard of Oz narrative dies. What sorts of things reveal the author? Here are 12.
External refers to what’s happening outside of characters’ minds. It’s the stuff that an observer could see. You could film it pretty easily. Internal refers to what’s going on inside a character’s head: feelings and thoughts. Prose storytelling regularly informs us of characters’ interiority in ways that, say, a screenplay cannot.