This was supposed to be a post about writing believable and effective dialogue, but it’s ended up being more about the various purposes dialogue can serve in a story. And very rambly. I promise when I’m actually writing a story I don’t ramble so much – or at least, it gets cut out in the redraft. But I think it’s slightly more acceptable in a blog, if it’s all mostly on-topic. That’s my excuse.
Anyway, I did delete the several paragraphs of introduction, so I’ll dive right in now. What purpose can dialogue serve?
It can be used to give exposition, tell the reader some information about the characters, the setting, or the backstory. A common writing tip I see is that slipping details into dialogue is better than just putting an infodump in the narrative, and it is. But for the first tip I will give here, I’ll say that it’s quite easy to fall into a trap of still doing an infodump, just in dialogue, which I’d say is worse, just because it’s hard to write it in a way that feels warranted and not clunky.
Another problem that can come up – and indeed double up with the infodumping – is characters telling eachother things they already know. That seems an obvious thing not to do, but I’ve certainly found myself tempted to have a character say something like “Remind me again what the plan is?”, or “So what’s the deal with that place again?”. I don’t think that’s automatically terrible, but you can only have so many forgetful characters before it starts to become a bit conspicuous. This is one reason why so many works have a newcomer character who doesn’t know a lot more – if anything – about the situation than the readers, and therefore needs a lot of things explaining to them.
Continue reading “Using Dialogue”
Antiheroes and villain protagonists obviously aren’t the same thing, but I think they can be somewhat similar to write in spirit, so I’m writing about them both here. With both you get to have your protagonist do things that a standard hero wouldn’t, and get away with it, because if readers know a protagonist isn’t supposed to be nice, or even good, they’ll generally be more forgiving of any questionable things they do. So antiheroes and villain protagonists are fun to write and, when well done, fun to read about.
So, first off, the difference, which is really right there in the words. An antihero is still a hero, no matter how unsavoury their methods or motives may be. Even if they cross the line and do something unforgivable, overall they are working towards something good. They may lose sight of it at some point, if they get caught up obsessing over revenge or something, but they start off at least with admirable aims.
A villain protagonist is a villain who happens to be the main character. They are doing something wrong, and even if the reader is kind of rooting for them, they are still painted as being clearly in the wrong. They may get redeemed at some point, they may end up teaming up with the heroes to defeat a worse villain, or even trying to stop their own plan. But they are still bad guys themselves.
Continue reading “Antiheroes and Villain Protagonists”
Time for another post of me rambling inanely about writing. As usual, I’m hesitant to give any definitive opinions about what does and doesn’t make for a good story start, so I’ll just do as I normally do and ramble through different ways you can open, and my thoughts on them. And as usual, I’m just some random person who’s not yet managed to get published, so my opinions are of no more value than anyone else’s, and less value than some people’s.
So, a pretty vital part of writing a story – or anything – is the beginning. If you don’t grab people at the start then they don’t have any reason to read on, and a promise of ‘it gets better’ won’t help very much. People can’t be expected to read something they don’t like in the hopes that they may eventually start liking it. They sometimes do; I’ve ended up liking some things that I initially had to force my way through. But I’ve also put books down because they didn’t catch my interest fast enough. Whether or not I keep on going depends on my mood and what else I happen to have on hand that I could be doing. And I don’t think any writer wants to rely on readers being in a charitable mood and having nothing else to do.
Continue reading “Beginning a Story”
This post is about a walk from Linton Falls to Hebden, along the river Wharfe.
Linton Falls are a bit away from the main body of Linton. Well, there’s an entire chunk of the village just completely separate from the rest of it, which is where the falls are. There’s a car park here, which is a handy starting point for the walk.
Starting with your back to the car park you go left along the road, until you reach a path going down on your right. This leads first to a little packhorse bridge, which you ignore if you want to cross the falls, but it is a nice little bridge, and I always feel a need to photograph it when I pass by that way. Anyway, you turn right and continue along until you reach the falls, which have a much bigger bridge going across.
Continue reading “Linton to Hebden”
Sometimes stories hinge on coincidences, and personally I think that’s fine. Sometimes. It depends on the size of the coincidences, the amount of them, and how they are used. I think you can get away with stretching plausibility a bit, but stretch it too far and readers just won’t buy it.
Now, some readers will likely be turned off by any coincidence being used to drive the plot along. But you can say that about a lot of things. You can’t please everyone; the aim is to try to keep a significant amount of readers happy. You want the majority of your readers not to get annoyed at you.
So, the size of the coincidences. I’ll give some examples of what I think is acceptable, and what might be pushing it a bit.
For one, let’s say you have two important characters just happening to bump into eachother at an opportune time. Why are these characters important? Do they have pre-existing links to one another, the villain, or any other important character, or does one or both of them only end up being important because of this meeting? If it’s the latter then it’s not even a coincidence, it’s just something that happens, if it’s the former, then it is. And I think that in many cases it could be an acceptable one. Could be. I’m going to be supremely unhelpful and point out that every story is different, and every writer has to make their own judgement call, taking the opinions of others they’ve let read the story into account.
Continue reading “Coincidences”
Should I tell you why I love you?
Well, I haven’t got a clue.
You’re selfish, cruel and vicious
There’s no love for me in you.
In fact, no love for anyone
Your heart must be made of ice
You do what you want, and let
Other people pay the price.
And it’s not like you can’t help it
This is how you choose to be
You’re blatantly a monster
And who knows that best but me?
Continue reading “Poetry – Should I Tell You?”
This post is about plot twists. A good plot twist can really elevate a story and make it truly memorable.
The emphasis is a good plot twist. What would I define as a good plot twist? Something that’s unexpected but not out of nowhere; on the first read you don’t see it coming, but on the reread you can spot the clues. Of course, even with a really good plot twist a discerning reader might see it coming, but if it was impossible to guess then you’d get the ‘out of nowhere’ problem. But if a reader is going to work it out, then it shouldn’t be easy for them.
I think one of the biggest things that causes badly done plot twists is that I think sometimes writers throw them in there because they feel they have to. You don’t want a story to be too predictable, but you don’t necessarily need a full on plot twist to achieve that. I think it depends on the kind of story it is, how long it goes on for. I couldn’t give any kind of specific thoughts of when a twist is and is not a good idea. I think most stories could work well with or without one, it’s just which way it would work better.
What this post is really going to be is me rambling about my thoughts on some popular plot twists until I run out of steam.
Continue reading “Plot Twists”