Blog Archives

Plot cannot be just one damned thing after another

John Mullan incorporated novels and TV series into a recent essay on plot. A good plot engages the reader by posing questions. The ideal plot hides its own structure in plain sight. Plot is often regarded as the domain of

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Posted in Wednesday Pontification, Writing

Inspirations: Umberto Eco Gives us a License to Thrill

More than 60 years after the first James Bond novel, 007 is still a cultural icon. Umberto Eco described the elements that made Ian Fleming’s novels so successful. Fleming’s novels combined a few narrative elements in various ways. Bond’s role

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Posted in Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification

Introducing Characters with George and Lennie

Characters must be introduced with very few details. In Of Mice and Men, of George and Lennie’s introduction tells us what is important without a word of description. Putting contrasting characters together brings out the salient points of their personalities.

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Posted in Wednesday Pontification, Writing

Fractal tension over the red line

Today’s pontification, Fractal Tension, is posted as a guest blog at The Red Line. It’s well worth a look around The Red Line, home of short stories from around the world. Many thanks to the Red Line crew for the

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Posted in Notification, Wednesday Pontification, Writing

Character v Plot: A False Dichotomy

Spend any time around writers’ groups and there are certain conversations you can’t avoid having. Topping the list are debates over genre definitions, discussion of the comparative merits of traditional and self-publishing, and mystification about how certain authors have become

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Posted in Story development, Wednesday Pontification, Writing


Once past the happy clappies of finishing a draft, it’s time for a reality check. Few publications worth bothering with have an acceptance rate above 5%. Most are considerably lower than that, as shown by the statistics on the Submissions

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Posted in Story development, Writing

Outline: the story skeleton

We’re getting very close to the first draft now. There’s one more thing to do and one more choice to make. The thing we need to do is to convert the chronology into an outline. As I said a few

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Posted in Story development, Writing

Integrate the characters with the chronology

We have the elements of the story. We know who the characters are and what is going to happen. The next step is to integrate the two. This needs yet another version if the chronology. It will differ from the

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Posted in Story development, Writing

The Story Tripod: Ideas to Framework

The first step is the hardest. Every writer I know is buzzing with ideas. Even the ones that haven’t written anything yet. Of all the writing difficulties I’ve ever heard aired, I don’t think ‘I haven’t got any ideas’ once.

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Posted in Story development, Writing
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