Inthis passage, we learn that Mirali, while not conventionally beautiful, is a kind soul who works hard for her parents and is appreciated by her community.
We quickly start to become invested in what happens to her. The creature shifted its head to take it delicately from her hand, gulping it down before taking her second offering. She stroked it as she fed it, caressing its cheekbone, its neck, its gills. The chunks of flesh she fed it were torn from something far larger than a pigeon, and as the kelpie nickered, peeling back its upper lip to sniff for more treats, I saw tiny threads of woven fabric caught on its canine teeth.
By revealing a previously undetected detail that helps readers understand the implications, the author causes them to wince and recoil — and wonder what happens next. Of course, we have many emotion-evoking arrows in our writing quivers — humor, love, determination, anger, and so on.
The voice chosen by the author has a profound impact in how readers interpret the story and view the characters. That would be instructive, but rather dull; and so we will tell you, Gentle Reader, that the intrepid Miss Merriemouse-Jones was born in , a wee pup to parents who had no idea that she was destined for greatness.
Protective and loving, they encouraged her to find her happiness in the environs of home — running the squeaky wheel in the nursery cage, gnawing upon whatever might sharpen her pearlescent teeth, and wrinkling her tiny pink nose most adorably when vexed. During her girlhood, Lightning was seldom vexed. Just as the narrator has a distinct voice, characters should have their own unique voices to help readers distinguish one from another and to convey aspects of their personalities.
V oice is a terrific tool to help readers get to know and appreciate your characters. Of course, interesting characters and engaging dialog are important, but writing gripping action scenes is a skill all its own. They seemed to have been put together on the chassis of a gorilla.
Their heads were squashed, ugly-looking things, with wide-gaping mouths full of shark-like teeth. The sounds they made were deep, with a frenzied edge of madness, and they piled into the corridor in a wave of massive muscle. The creatures lurched as they moved, like cheap toys that had not been assembled properly, but they were fast, for all of that.
More and more of them flooded into the hallway, and their charge was gaining mass and momentum. There were no words in it, but he meant, I know. The wave of fomorian beings got close enough that I could see the patches of mold clumping their fur, and tendrils of mildew growing upon their exposed skin.
The new military AA automatic shotguns are not the hunting weapons I first handled in my patriotically delusional youth. They are fully automatic weapons with large circular drums that rather resembled the old Tommy guns made iconic by my business predecessors in Chicago.
One pulls the trigger and shell after shell slams through the weapon. A steel target hit by bursts from an AA very rapidly comes to resemble a screen door.
The slaughter was indescribable. It swept like a great broom down that hallway, tearing and shredding flesh, splattering blood on the walls and painting them most of the way to the ceiling. Behind me, Gard stood ready with a heavy-caliber big-game rifle, calmly gunning down any creature that seemed to be reluctant to die before it could reach our defensive point. We piled the bodies so deep that the corpses formed a barrier to our weapons.
A well-written action scene thrusts the reader smack into the middle of the story. Readers want to be taken on a journey to another place and time, with characters they care about and whose company they enjoy. If you enjoyed these excerpts, find the full stories in the new dark fantasy anthology Beyond the Pale.
As a writer, which books or authors do you read specifically to learn from their techniques and writing skills? Henry writes sci-fi and fantasy books for kids. I always read first as a reader for enjoyment, then sometimes a second time as student.
Studying their craft — Stephen King, J. Thanks for your spot-on insights, and so well-presented! I have always enjoyed writing. As a kid, I won several writing contests. I would love to resume my writing habit, and your blog is being very helpful so far.
Thank you for such a wonderful write up. I love it so much. This will help me in my research as I plan to share it with others. Thank you for sharing your insight with us! Enjoyed the post, Henry. No matter how many decades I write, I never tire of studying craft. I especially like it when writers include excerpts as you did. The one you chose from Peter S. Thanks a ton Henry PS: Invoke multiple senses When you experience a situation, you pick up more than just its sights.
Cinnamon scent and the sound of an oasis wind come to me. Create intriguing, complex characters Readers want characters with whom they can sympathize Harry Potter or revile Tywin Lannister — or both. Use rich character voice The voice chosen by the author has a profound impact in how readers interpret the story and view the characters. To begin at the beginning: Pull the reader into the action Of course, interesting characters and engaging dialog are important, but writing gripping action scenes is a skill all its own.
Hendricks and I opened up. The Nigerian playwright and poet Wole Soyinka, who won the Nobel for Literature in , describes his reading habits and how reading influenced his writing in an interview:. There is a great deal of intercommunication in the world. A lot of people tend to forget that. As long as I find the means of expression, a form of communication which does not alienate my immediate readership and I do not deliberately cram my work with foreign references to a point where the work is indigestible — these are faults which should never be permitted by any serious writer.
And reading diverse books will enrich your own writing. When asked about the difference between journalism and writing fiction , Marquez answered thus:. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work.
A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it. This last sentence is key: Of all the writing tips from authors, the advice John Steinbeck gave remains some of the best. Lose track of the pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised. Focus on the task at hand instead.
Write just one page today: Then write another page tomorrow continue this approach and your daily page count will likely increase as you gain momentum. The Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, who published over 30 novels, plays and essays, received the Nobel in In an interview with the Paris Review , Vargas gives advice on how to keep coming up with writing ideas:. Inspiration for me comes from a regular effort.
Keep a writing schedule and be as disciplined as you can about keeping your writing appointments with yourself. This will help ensure a steady stream of story ideas. The great Canadian-American author Saul Bellow, who published 14 novels and novellas and won the Nobel for writing in , beautifully described the intimacy between the writer and the reader:.
You hear a voice or, more significantly, an individual tone under the words … It is more musical than verbal, and it is the characteristic signature of a person, of a soul. Such a writer has power over distraction and fragmentation, and out of distressing unrest, even from the edge of chaos, he [or she] can bring unity and carry us into a state of intransitive attention. People hunger for this. As Bellows and Popova suggest, write to connect with readers.
20 Writing Tips from Fiction Authors. Writing success boils down to hard work, imagination and passion—and then some more hard work. iUniverse Publishing fires up your creative spirit with 20 writing tips from 12 bestselling fiction authors.
In this lesson, we will examine various types of narrative techniques in writing, as well as examples of the literary techniques relevant to style.
Writing is easy: All you have to do is start writing, finish writing, and make sure it's good. But here's some vastly more useful wisdom and advice from people who seriously know what the hell. In a persuasive writing style, the author tries to change the reader's mind on a certain topic or issue. Writers present facts supporting their opinions and try to convince the reader to join in their beliefs.