The essential three types of conflict in a story

In a story we often can find three types of conflict the protagonist has to delve with. These types of conflicts can be external, internal, and interpersonal. If your protagonist is riding a motorbike on a highway to chase a rapist on the run, that’s a pretty straightforward example of external conflict, or struggle. In fact, in this case the traffic, the high speed itself, the maneuvers the rapist may try to ram our protagonist’s bike off the road, are all external problems. Instead if your protagonist must come to terms with a traumatic episode of her life she’s been…

Continue reading

The most intriguing characteristics of a novel

Last week I wrote a post about the secret recipe for a bestseller. A recipe which, for a series of reasons, I don’t believe it can be found. Instead, in this post I’m going to list the features a book must possess to intrigue me. It’s not a secret recipe, far from it. It’s just me babbling about my likes and dislikes. A sort of case study on my reading habits. Unwilling heroes with a North Star Unwilling or reluctant heroes. You can call them like you wish. But for me this is how heroes should be to have a…

Continue reading

How to create awesome character names

I already wrote another post on character names. But I felt it wasn’t as complete as it could have been. So here is a sort of part two. Some authors don’t even start writing if they don’t know the name of their characters. Others write a full first draft or even more using working names. Then they finally come up with a name that is the natural result of their staying with the story for such a long time. The name reveals itself, we could say. Now, probably names aren’t among the most important aspects of a great novel–but many great…

Continue reading

How to kill your protagonist… and survive

Writers enjoy a notable perk. When they write they’re like little gods. In their novels they can play with their characters’ lives. And indeed it’s a well known rule of thumbs the one suggesting that you throw at your protagonist all you can, to make their life as miserable as possible. However, it’s also well known that great power carries with it great responsibility. As a result, the simple fact you can do whatever you want doesn’t necessarily entail you should do it. For example, you can stuff your story with Deus ex machina devices. In this way any hole in…

Continue reading

How to create suspense in your horror novels

Suspense is an important element in many genres. For sure, thrillers and mysteries need it just as horror novels do. But, if you give it some thought, you’ll see that suspense seeps also into many others genres. Maybe only for a scene or two, but it’s there nonetheless. So if you’re serious about writing, handling it effectively from the get go is as necessary as it is a thorough knowledge of grammar–even if you’re going to break some rules now and then. What is Suspense? According to the Online Oxford Dictionary, in literature suspense is a quality in a work of…

Continue reading

Reluctant heroes and literary tropes

Reading is an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s therefore only natural that scientists and philosophers have tried to explain why we read and why we draw such a deep pleasure from it. Some explanations make more sense than others. But in general it seems science still has to cover some distance before it can give us a complete and working explanation of why when our brain is on books it works the way it does. That said, while I appreciate knowing about the inner workings of my mind, I’m pretty sure one of the reasons I love reading is that when I…

Continue reading

Story development — the importance of a character’s name

Except for parents who are about to name their child, and therefore consider names incredibly important, in general we take first names for granted. You know what I mean. Joe is the mechanic. Edward the lawyer. Elise the soccer mum. Brenda the speech therapist. Names are just convenient labels to refer to people. Only occasionally names make us pause and think about what they might mean to their owners. And when this happens is usually because of some horrible name someone has been given. However, according to some psychologists names have a measurable effect on people. For example, names immediately…

Continue reading

Character tags – how to make your characters more memorable

I must admit it from the very start. Unless the physical description has some bearing on the story, I don’t particularly care about such things like the color of a character’s eyes, her complexion, her height or whatever else. I don’t care if the heroine has a shock of curly black hair or her head is instead as hairless as the ass of a two year infant. As a result, also when I write I tend to keep descriptions as short and functional as possible to the story I’m telling. I’m not alone in this. Les Edgerton, the author of Hooked,…

Continue reading

The unreliable narrator: definition and uses in literature

Literature offers writers and readers alike the opportunity to experiment with things that in real life usually lead to a series of unpleasant consequences. No, I’m not speaking of explosives wired to fast-ticking timers, of psychopaths on a killing spree, or of alien hordes devastating our already half devastated world–not necessarily at least. What I’m speaking of here has to do with the well known literary trope of the narrator, or rather, the unreliable narrator. This might look like a literary device of secondary importance, especially considering the gazillion super explosive things that authors can cook up in a book. However, the…

Continue reading