Search Results for: subtext

do you need a prologue header

Do You Need a Prologue? One Way to Tell

Do you need a prologue? This question confronts authors in every story they write. Unfortunately, in large part because authors don’t always understand the true function of prologues (and epilogues), the answer often results in unnecessary padding. So can how can you tell when you need a prologue in your story? And when don’t you need […]

Why Writers Must Resist the Urge to Explain

Because it’s so important readers get what you’re trying to say in your stories, it can be tempting to explain things point blank at every juncture. Avoiding confusion is vital. However, when you fail to master subtlety, you not only rob your stories of added power and depth, you also risk frustrating readers with patronizing […]

Is Backstory Sinking Your Book?

Backstory is often misunderstood, mostly because it has gained something of a bad reputation through misuse. It’s important you neither underestimate this crucial storytelling technique, nor allow it to overwhelm your main story. Backstory, as its name implies, is intended to stay in back of the main story. It’s never the point of the story, […]

3 (Brief) Benefits of Writing With Brevity

Ernest Hemingway is famed for his sparse prose. Love his style or hate it, the man knew how to say what needed saying in the fewest words possible. In reading his World War I tragedy A Farewell to Arms, I was able to study the three main benefits of writing with brevity. The 3 Main […]

Here’s the Right Way to Use Symbolism in Your Story

The right way to use symbolism in stories is more difficult to learn than you might think. In large part, this is because well-done symbols should be almost invisible within the framework of the story. Those that aren’t invisible often feel heavy-handed or even clichéd (such as the inevitable use of the American flag as a […]

4 Ways to Make Readers Instantly Loathe Your Character Descriptions

4 Ways to Make Readers Instantly Loathe Your Character Descriptions

Fiction once began with the face, with the act of observation of the faces of others. Does it still? It’s arguable. I can imagine a skeptic wondering what difference it makes whether writers describe faces or not. Does anything of importance really hang in the balance? Who cares? Does it make any difference to the […]

The Best Writing Advice From 10 of the Best Writing Teachers

The Best Writing Advice From 10 of the Best Writing Teachers

I spent the better part of last year, re-reading my “writing library.” The wisdom packed into those bookcase shelves is too wonderful for me to horde, so today I’d like to share the best writing advice from ten of the best writing teachers in my library. 1. The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter “To make […]

3 reasons you shouldnt be writing for money

3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Writing for Money

Why do we write? Is it for the fame and the fortune? The respect of family and friends and peers? The goal of making a positive impact on the world? Or is it because of that soul-deep gnawing of creativity that refuses to let us go? Although all of these factors undoubtedly come into play […]

What Do People Think of You When Reading Your Book?

What Do People Think of You When Reading Your Book?

In her wonderful book 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley, commented that “readers don’t care what the author thinks.” She meant, of course, that readers don’t want the author to intrude himself and his own beliefs upon the story. Indeed, isn’t one of the cardinal rules of fiction that the author […]

the all-important link between theme and character progression

The All-Important Link Between Theme and Character Progression

Theme is a slippery concept. The prevailing wisdom among writers is that if you apply any deliberate force to your theme, you’ll end up with a heavy-handed Aesop’s fable. On the other hand, a story without a theme is shallow escapism at best and an unrealistic flop at worst. Theme is arguably the single most […]