W is for what makes a great story?

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Confronted with a blank screen, poised to  tap away,  how to go about creating that great story. Perhaps one primary consideration is the theme.  Maybe the theme should  be a ghostly shadow within the confines of the story, not screaming at the reader, but there none the less.  It may make the reader think about their own lives, there might be a moral to be learned, but a writer should not take on the role of a preacher.

Then there has to be a plot, all the conflict or struggle that the main character or characters go through. The conflict should develop in intensity and excitement, reaching some kind of climax.  If you are writing a novel there may be a number of conflicts interspersed, but a short story will have only one principal conflict.

Moving onto story structure,  the story has to entice the reader, right from the first sentence.  Equally then ending has to round things off perfectly.  You may have your theme and an outline of the story, but how are you going to tell it… a writer needs to decide about writing the story either in “first person” or in “third person.”  Will you be using “he,” “she,” and “it”—so writing in third person means telling a story as if it’s all about other people., or will you be writing using “I”—so writing in first person means telling a story as if it happened to you.  If in your head you have a rough idea of the theme,  you will also know which tense you are going to use,  either “present tense” or “past tense.” Writing in past tense means writing as if the story already happened, which is typical  manner in which most stories are written. Writing in present tense means writing as if the story is happening right now.  Normally you can’t mix the  two.

An important consideration is the characters.  I like to “live” with characters in my head, before committing to write about them.  For me the name of the character, says a lot about the character, for example in my short stories, I have a character called “Bugeyes” and the story revolves around the fact that he is person who suffers intensely, due to his oversized eyes.  Lead characters should be someone readers can feel something in common with, or feel empathy. In my stories I love to create evil characters.  My characters are far from perfect have flaws, and idiosyncrasies.  Characters are interesting if they are not too one dimensional,  even evil characters have to have some kind of redeeming feature, or perhaps they have been victims themselves in one way or another.

Settings are also paramount. In my book there is quite a range of different settings,  some are set in America, for example my story “Opium” is set in America, post-civil war.

Then there is the question of language,  it has to really correspond with your story.

A writer will tend to use actions and speech to let readers know what’s happening. Shoing , rather than telling, using  direct more “real life” quotes like “Go away!” instead of indirect quotes like “She told him to go away.”

You don’t have to write over elaborately to write well. Don’t shy away from using simple words and simple sentences, so you words and sentences cut through easily.

I often spend a long time mulling over what is the best word to use, glued to a thesaurus. Each sentence and paragraph should resonate, I often spend a lot of time, writing and rewriting so as to get the optimum sentence. Some sentences or paragraph can be redundant. You can get carried away, lose sight of the story, or go off on tangents.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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R is for Roald Dahl and Rupert Thompson two outstanding writers.

 

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I read Roald Dahl’s Kiss Kiss, so many years ago, I can’t exactly remember when.  Whatever I was really struck by it. Maybe some of the concepts in this book seem a bit dated…but then it was published in 1960 and times were rather different then. Would you call your short story “Parson’s Pleasure” and the main character Cyril Boggis? If you don’t know this story it is about a shady antiques dealer, who takes advantage of naïve country types, and comes across a priceless Chippendale commode, which he acquires for twenty pounds with the intention of selling it for twenty thousand. What we can safely say about Roald Dahl’s stories is that there is a significant twist at the end of each story. It is this aspect that really influenced my short story writing.
With my own short stories, like Dahl, I try to include an unexpected twist at the end. With short stories, you face limits, you have create characters, that the reader will immediately identify with. You have to create strong dialogue. You have to create an opening sentence like no other, that grabs the reader’s attention. Some people believe that authors graduate from being short story writers into full novel writers, a kind of literary rite of passage…me…I really like this format of writing. My work might be much darker than Roald Dahl might have dared…but I really admire his work and “Kiss Kiss” for will always be very special to me.

Rupert Thompson.
I encountered this author while he was writing his first book “Dreams of Leaving”. I was an Art student at the time, my dream to become a famous painter…Rupert at the time was the boyfriend of an Art College friend and was a bit older than me. He came from a similar boarding education as me, but he and his brother, who I also got know, were of a rebellious nature. His sentences are always sharp, his observations equally cutting. More recently I read a book called “This Party’s Got to stop” which is not fictional, but based on the period when I was in contact with him…it is a moving account of when his father died. It is moving, witty but it has a real edge to it.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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This article is part of a blogging challenge,

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http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/sign-ups-for-2016-to-z-blogging.html

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When a writer needs to add a bit of romance or sex to their story!

love is blind

It seems the writing world is crammed full writers whose genre is romance. Romantic novels seem to be a money spinner, as are kinky sex books a la Fifty Shades of Grey. But what if your stories are not of this ilk, but romance and sex play a part in your stories? My stories are dark surreal short stories, that have elements of horror.

There are  some of my stories that contain sexual elements. One story even starts off with… Mercedes Shwartz had just had the most incredible orgasm, but her pleasure was still incomplete.

I would say if you are a horror writer, or a suspense writer, or whatever your genre, the sex parts in your stories, should not seem like they have been pasted in, to add a bit of spice to your story, but should be natural elements that enhance your stories. There has to be the same tension that pervades in the other elements in your stories. It has to be in keeping with the characters of the stories as well the moods.

In my story Cast from Hell, I created a character (previously a middle aged man) who has returned to earth from Hell, in the body of a woman. She becomes a predator, without any scruples, using men to own ends. I had to battle with my editor to make the parts that involved sex, in keeping with my style and how I imagined them. I got the impression my editor’s imagination was running wild at times and he was being far more explicit than I would have ventured, while moving away from the subtlety that is characteristic in other parts of my book.

http://francishpowellauthor.weebly.com/love-is-blind-blog-hop.html

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