Friday, November 15, 2013

Foreshadow your ending throughout your story:
Be careful not to completely surprise your reader with drastic, unheralded, unexplained twists and turns in your story. Most readers expect and enjoy plot twists but they must not be overly drastic.

Few serious readers want to know the end of your story too soon, but most like to be able to guess at a possible ending. Readers enjoy trying to figure out your plot as they read. It gives most of them great satisfaction when they can decide your ending is close to the one they expected.

If your hero or heroine turns into the villain at the end of your story be sure to give the reader a few subtle hints in the beginning and scatter increasing obvious ones throughout your story. Make the change in the character’s role seem inevitable and therefore acceptable to your reader.

Telling your story in scenes:
Each scene you write must contain a clear PURPOSE, an episode of CONFLICT, and a final RESOLUTION. The resolution must offer a connection to the next scene.

Think of each scene as a step on a staircase—another step advancing your characters and your reader forward to the resolution of the central conflict of your story.

It might also help you to think of each scene as a short play—making certain each play has a beginning, middle and an ending. Take care to construct an ending that includes a clear connection to the next scene.

Re-read your work carefully; assuring yourself as you read that every scene you create is critical to your story in some way. A scene may do no more than move your characters from place to place, but make certain the movement is necessary to the story. If a scene is unnecessary—if your reader ever decides your words are only filler—you may lose your reader.

Develop your characters personalities and values:
Use action and dialogue to help a reader get to know your characters. SHOW your characters taking appropriate action—reveal their thoughts.

If the character is evil, show him or her committing an evil act, do not simply tell your reader about it—make it happen in front of his or her eyes. If you want a character to be admired, let your reader see your character taking an admirable action.

Again, every reader comes to your story with an image or stereotype of the characters you write about. It is up to you to give enough description of each character’s uniqueness to modify your reader’s stereotype or image so your characters can seem new and real and their lives worth reading about.

Keep physical description of your characters sketchy, but make sure to give your reader enough to picture them clearly, even your minor characters.

It is not necessary to fully describe your characters physical attributes. Use oblique references to their height and hair color. Possibly offer a comment about the way the character’s clothing fits or how the color matches her eyes.

Notwithstanding a sketchy description, reviewers and other readers often describe my heroes as “handsome.” One can only assume they fill in my scanty written description with their own preferences.

Include everything you need to make the conclusion of your story work:
If your character is going to need a handgun, a knife, a computer or a newspaper to get out of a pivotal scene in your story—make certain he or she owns the object or acquires it early in your story.

Your reader will laugh at you, or perhaps throw your book away if, in the middle of a big scene, your heroine suddenly finds – leaning handily against a nearby fence post – the bicycle she desperately needs to escape the villain.

Do not make a big deal of an inanimate object or a character trait if that object or character trait is not going to be necessary to your story later: 

This rule is simple—deliver what you promise your reader. If you describe your character’s horse or dog as a killer—the animal must kill or try to kill someone before the end of the story.

If you describe one of your characters, perhaps your villain’s lawyer or girl friend, as having shifty eyes, you have planted the idea of that character’s shiftiness in your reader’s thoughts. You must have this character do something your reader understands as shifty before the end of the story or he or she will feel disappointed, or worse, cheated.

Never promise your reader something is going to happen in the story and then forget it. 

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