Writing Adages Explained

Writing Adages Explained: ‘Characters Are What They Do’

Lots of writers – novelists and screenwriters – believe the way a character SPEAKS literally says a lot about them. As a result, they’ll spend ages obsessing over their dialogue in the mistaken thought that accent or a way of talking will differentiate them. It’s not hard to see why, either: everyone has favourite novel, movie and TV quotes, after all. However, characters are known and celebrated not for what they SAY in stories, but for their actions in those stories: – Do we remember Ripley for making rousing speeches about never giving up … Or for busting into a nest… Read More »Writing Adages Explained: ‘Characters Are What They Do’

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Writing Adages Explained: ‘Hit The Ground Running’

Remember, we live in a visual and demanding age. Audiences are more media literate than they’ve EVER been and readers are more sophisticated. They simply will not wait for a story to start. But what does this mean? Well, every writer – novelist or screenwriter – HAS to hit the ground running. In other words, character AND story has to be introduced hand-in-hand. If your draft smells of set up as I call it – ie: “HERE are my characters, I am introducing you to them … and five pages in, the story begins!!” – we don’t like it. So if… Read More »Writing Adages Explained: ‘Hit The Ground Running’

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Writing Adages Explained: ‘Start Late, Finish Early’

This is the thing. A helluva lot of drafts – novels or screenplays – have chapters, scenes or even just plot beats that go on FAR TOO LONG. Yet the notion of a *perfect* story keeps us wanting more. Asking ourselves as writers what we want the reader or viewer to get OUT of the individual scene, plus HOW it relates to the overall narrative, helps us stay on track and ensure we can cut the flab from our structure. So, remember: Keywords: ON POINT.

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Writing Adages Explained: ‘Show, Don’t Tell’

“Show, Don’t Tell” gets a bad rap as far as writing advice goes because it’s become a “catch all” for just about anything a feedback-giver feels is “bad” prose or scene description. As a result, this note can end up being frustrating, rather than illuminating. However, at its heart, it IS good stuff. It basically describes the sensation in the reader of feeling “placed away” from the events in the story. This is not dramatic, because the writer is not INVOLVING us *in* the story. Instead, it ends up feeling a bit, “And then … And then … And then… Read More »Writing Adages Explained: ‘Show, Don’t Tell’

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Writing Adages Explained: ‘Write What You Know’

Probably the most talked about writing adage of all time is, “Write what you know.” The phrase often causes confusion amongst writers. After all, if we ONLY wrote what we *literally* know, there would be no science fiction or fantasy, plus all Crime and Horror novelists and screenwriters would *need* to be serial killers! And that’s just for starters. However, thinking about it metaphorically may produce disatisfying results, too. The notion that one HAS to be a woman (or vice versa), to write from the female perspective seems bizarre. As I am fond of reminding the Bang2writers, B2W has seen NO… Read More »Writing Adages Explained: ‘Write What You Know’

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