5 hours ago   •   245 notes   •   VIA characterandwritinghelp   •   SOURCE vikingessa



by Brian Klems

A character who unknowingly carries a bomb around as if it were an ordinary package is bound to work up great suspense in the audience. —Alfred Hitchcock

Suspense happens when a scene becomes charged with anticipation. It’s the possibility of what might happen that keeps the reader on the edge of her chair.

Think of the classic suspense scene in the Alfred Hitchcock movie Suspicion. The Joan Fontaine character believes that her charming, wastrel husband, played by Cary Grant, is an embezzler and a murderer who is now out to poison her.

—by Hallie Ephron, author of Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel

There’s a long shot as Grant mounts the stairs, and then the camera focuses on the nightly glass of milk he carries up to her. Everyone in the audience is wondering: Is it poisoned? To heighten the threat and foreboding, Hitchcock had a light bulb placed inside the glass to give it an eerie glow.

To create suspense, your job is to do the literary equivalent of what Hitchcock did by putting that light bulb in the milk: Build dramatic tension by making the ordinary seem menacing.

The writer’s tools for achieving this are sensory detail and the slowing down of time.

1. Turn up the Sensory Detail.

By focusing on the right sensory detail, you can heighten the sense of potential menace in everyday objects.

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13 hours ago   •   1,016 notes   •   VIA thewritingcafe   •   SOURCE freelancewriterbarbie

How to Be a Happy Writer


Every writer is different, but there’s a few basic, well proven, tactics to keep the person who creates world happy in their own. 

Write for yourself.  Write the story you want to write, the way you want to write it, because in the end, you’re the one doing all the work! If you can’t enjoy the process, then it’s work. Not the fun work, the kind of work you have to go visit a bar afterwards to get rid of the dread. Believe it or not, your story will have little remnants of your psyche when you’re done; and if you didn’t like the story or enjoy the writing of it, it will show. So in the end, if you’re not writing the story you want to write and enjoying it as you go, then readers won’t either! Then what’s the point?

Don’t be afraid to write as freely as you please.While you’re writing that story you know will never sell, just because you like it, make sure not to restrict yourself to certain subjects or certain scenes. Would your friend gasp if they saw you writing Vampires? Or Romance? Or Vampire Romance? If it’s something you want to write, then write it freely and without guilt, to the full capacity of your desire and then sit back and decide if you want others to see it.

Keep your Mind Palace (mental writing place) sacred. Don’t go letting everyone in! It’s tempting, especially if you’re surrounded by supportive writers and readers who are always excited to see more of your stuff. But when everyone is in your headspace, there’s no room for you. You’ll end up trampling the advice to ‘Write for yourself’, because it’s hard not to be influenced by people who have a hand on your agenda.

You need to write with the door closed, so it’s only you who gets to see the writing process and make the calls. Then, once you’re finished, fling open the door and let all the enthusiastic others in to enjoy the profit. You’ll want to share, you’ll want to include others, but it’s desperately important to value the privacy of your own writing headspace. When they’re others inside, it changes how you look at things. You end up looking through their eyes and through your own.

Write often: If this is something you love, if this is something you thrive on, then you need to keep in contact with it. Those first few words may be hard, but it’s like reworking the muscles after a break. It’s only the first few moments, and then it will open up and you’ll feel that connection that you came for to begin with; that fulfillment of words on a page or a world suddenly tangible. The longer breaks you take or the more you avoid it, the harder it will be to start again. Keep in constant practice with it – for an hour a day or ten minutes – and the craft will come easily to you, and you’ll have the strongest connection. It’ll eliminate those sudden declines in quality and you’ll feel more centered with the world.

Read often. Just as important as writing often is to read often. You’re looking at the finished products of your craft and it both gives you field tips on how to write your own but encouragement that it can be done. Read broadly over all genres and all writing styles, to see what new things could inspire you and what horrible mistakes to avoid yourself. Read deeply; take the time to study the words or slip yourself into the character’s voice and absorb it in. Absorb what was good about it and add it to your own; while taking note of what was done bad and improve upon it. Let yourself get whisked away by the story, the voice, the character and then find out how they did it so you can do it yourself; even better.

Keep musing even when you’re not writing. Let the stories and the characters stay in your head. Some of the best plotting is done when you’re away from the story, so don’t push away the talking of the characters or the forming of new plots just because you’re not close to a pen. It’s better to have had the idea and lost it, than to have not had it at all. Whatever you focus on will grow, so let the story continue to churn and boil in your head all the time; and in the process, it will develop into something much richer. You’re a writer, this is what you do. And often times you’ll never feel as centered in the world as when you have a story in your head.

Take time to draw from inspiration. Go ahead and spare that extra time looking through pictures that inspire you or certain lines that spark a story in your mind. Collect things around you that encourage writing and cultivate your Mind Palace; such as certain music that reminds you of a character, a picture so powerful that it tells the story all at once, or a line of dialogue that you want to follow. Have inspiration at hand, and then muse on it when you’re not writing, so it can grow.

In the end, just put your hands to the keys and let it lead you.

Happy writing!

1 day ago   •   2,762 notes   •   VIA thewritingcafe   •   SOURCE philip-the-nickel

Types of Humor: The 5 “S”s


Slapstick: physical humor, as in humor found from physical stimuli or physical reactions. Ex: farts, sex, AFV, pie to the face, Three Stooges.

Sarcastic: double-entente humor, as in humor based off of the ironic difference between literal and intended meaning. Ex: Bert and Ernie, Squidward, 9th Doctor, Sam Winchester

Subtle: dry or deadpan humor, as in humor which is found by an unaffected delivery of emotional or radical subject material. Ex: Mikasa, Jeff Dunham, Sheldon, Phil Coulson, Castiel

Satirical: ridiculing humor, as in humor which seeks to mock faults in the status quos or belief systems. Ex: Deadpool, SNL, Monty Python, Springtime with Hitler

Sardonic: dark humor, as in humor which plays off of tragic events to create a grim irony. Ex: Cruel Irony, “Laugh to keep from crying”,  Shakespeare, Olaf the Snowman

-Now, keep in mind that people can have one or many of these types of humors, and often can appreciate one or many types of humor. Its good to give a character some funny aspects to them, and hopefully this little cheat sheet will help you decide what kind of aspects that might be.-

1 day ago   •   145 notes   •   VIA the-apples-were-monitored   •   SOURCE directorsnarrative

All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn’t your pet — it’s your kid. It grows up and talks back to you.

 - Joss Whedon (via directorsnarrative)
1 day ago   •   238 notes   •   VIA thewritingcafe   •   SOURCE thewritingcafe

New Project: Brainstorming/Critique Groups? 


A follower of mine recently asked a question about websites that allow people to brainstorm with each other. I couldn’t think of any and I couldn’t find any either, so I got an idea.

If you would like me to sort you in a group with others, based on your preferences, as a…

1 day ago   •   88 notes   •   VIA yeahwriters   •   SOURCE yeahwriters


YEAH WRITERS. A fellow yeah writer has PUBLISHED A NOVEL.

Jason R Jimenez wrote an awesome article for the very first issue of The Yeah Write Review Issue 01 (“Creating Nonlinear Narratives”, page 20) and now he wrote a whole book.

Check out The Wolves here!

1 day ago   •   429 notes   •   VIA characterandwritinghelp   •   SOURCE writersfriend

Eight Tips to Bring Your Setting to Life


by Anne Marble

Description is something that gets in the way of many authors. Why? Well, because it’s so darn hard to write. And no wonder. If you’re not careful, descriptive sequences can become static, even dull. Writing action and dialogue is so much more fun. On top of that, description incorporates so many elements. It doesn’t just cover describing the setting — it also involves descriptions of the characters’ clothes and appearance, the “props” your characters use, the weather, and so forth.

If you’re not very accomplished at writing description, then sometimes you might want to avoid writing it. But then, you can wind up with stories where people wander vague hallways or buildings, and readers don’t get a sense of time or place from your story. A story without enough description is missing something. People who read a story that’s lacking in description might ask “Where does this take place? Are there buildings around them?” I must admit that often happens when people look at my early drafts.

At the same time, some writers err in the other direction, including too much description. They fall in love with their setting and can’t help tell the readers about it. And tell and tell. This can impede the flow of the narrative. Imagine readers skimming your book in the store. If they see pages and pages describing the castle grounds, or the chic hotel, they will probably put it down and pick up someone else’s book instead.

How bad is bad description? Think of bad description as being like that teacher who droned on and on and put the class to sleep. Good description is more like the teacher who got students involved by using anecdotes and making the class interactive. You don’t want the descriptive passages in your story to put your readers to sleep, do you?

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2 days ago   •   510 notes   •   VIA characterandwritinghelp   •   SOURCE writing-questions-answered

Guide: How to Give Your Story a Purpose


2 days ago   •   375 notes   •   VIA thewritingcafe   •   SOURCE screenandscripts

The Mechanics of Screenwriting: What comes before?  


We’ve all been in the situation where we’re bursting with this fantastic idea for a TV series or a Hollywood blockbuster, and you just know it’s going to be big. You have all of the characters ready and waiting to explode on the page, and you have your setting, your ideal…

3 days ago   •   675 notes   •   VIA thewritingcafe   •   SOURCE thewritingcafe

When Doing Research


Writers are encouraged to write characters who are unlike themselves, but this requires research. Writers need to know about the cultures they are writing about, the illnesses they are writing about, the sexualities they are writing about, they need to know about the stereotypes, the misinterpretations, everything if they want it to be realistic and good.

But there is a barrier with researching on the internet. You can find articles on a certain type of cancer, but you might only be able to find a few paragraphs of someone’s experience with that cancer. You might want to set your story in Germany without being from there, but you’re not going to find everything you need to know on the internet either.

So what do you do?

A great option is to read memoirs. Look around on good reads to find summaries, reviews, and lists full of memoirs of the same subject. Read about first-hand experiences.

Is your story set in the past? Look up historical documents. Look up old newspapers, magazines, memoirs written at that time, letters, diaries, articles in journals, employee evaluations from a 1940s factory during WWII. Trust me, this stuff is out there. You just have to look for it. Make sure it was created during the time period that your story is set.

Sometimes you’re writing about our time period and you need information on another culture or another religion. Historical documents are scarce because they’re not public and they’re still being made, and it can be expensive to buy memoirs if you can’t find a free copy.

This is where you can turn to real people, but there are some guidelines you should follow when approaching others for information:

  1. Make sure they are willing to share. Don’t go on some random person’s personal blog because you see in their picture that they fit the culture or demographic you are writing about. Blogs that are theme/information blogs are the ones that are safer to approach. If you do end up on someone’s personal blog, ask them if you can ask a question about that topic before you do it.
  2. Make sure they come from the right background. If you need information on Galway, a person who was born and raised in Dublin probably won’t be able to give you adequate and authentic information. If you need information on everyday life in Japan, a Japanese person born and raised in the US won’t be able to give you adequate and authentic information.
  3. Be nice. Don’t go into someone’s ask box and say, “I need information on your life.” Maybe tell them that you’re writing a story and that you’re trying to do as much research as you can. Be polite and respectful. You’re asking people to share their experiences with a stranger and sometimes the information you’re looking for can be a sensitive topic.
  4. Don’t expect the answer you want. If you were expecting a huge post with a read more and everything filled with all the information you ever wanted to know about getting confirmed in the Catholic faith or moving to a new country while having to learn a new language and in actuality you only got a few paragraphs, don’t get mad at the person. Most people don’t know every detail about their own culture and everyone has different experiences, or maybe they just don’t have much to say because they’re not sure what you’re looking for.
  5. Don’t take one answer as law. One person does not speak for all. People within one group view their group in different ways and have different opinions on how things should be defined or handled. People view the world differently and experience things in varying degrees. Ask more than one person. Ask many people.
  6. Don’t replicate one person’s experience for your story. Don’t ask someone about their experience with something and then use that exact experience for you character. Not only is this rude and insensitive to the person who was willing to share with you, but it’s lazy writing. This is why you need more accounts of what you’re writing about. You need to look at everything you’ve gathered and use some critical thinking.
  7. Don’t get mad if they don’t answer or if they refuse to answer. Some people have experienced some sensitive topics. They may be willing to share their experience, but only to a certain extent. If they refuse to answer your question for personal reasons, please be respectful.