Category: Writing Fiction

Plotting Fiction: Outline or Improvise?

June 11, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Getting from an initial idea to a completed story seems like a mysterious process for the novice writer. Let’s demystify it a bit.

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Plotting Fiction: Putting the MICE Ratio to Work

May 7, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

The first step to solving any problem is diagnosing it. That begins with figuring out what kind of story you’re writing, which may not be the kind you intended. But it’s difficult, in the heat of creation, to analyze your own work. You can’t tell the size and shape of the forest when you’re lost among the trees. You need perspective.

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Plotting Fiction: The MICE Ratio

April 7, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

When a single thematic element predominates in a story, it suggests a particular narrative structure. When the ratio is more balanced, things can get tricky.

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Plotting Fiction: The Event Story

March 20, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

The event story is similar to the character story in that both deal with disruptions to the status quo. A character story hinges on the protagonist’s desire to change their position in the world. In an event story, the world itself is changing. The established order—for good or bad—is under threat. The story ends with the reassertion of the old order, or the establishment of some new order.

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Plotting Fiction: The Character Story

February 23, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Your internal state evolves with your external circumstances. Big life events can have a profound effect on the person you are—that is, on your character. When that job works out, anxiety gives way to a new sense of belonging; romantic disappointment resolves into resignation, and then into compassion.

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Plotting Fiction: The Idea Story

January 30, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

he idea story builds suspense by withholding information. The resolution comes when the hidden information is revealed. The action often follows the process of uncovering the hidden knowledge. It is the natural structure, then, for mystery stories that begin when a crime occurs and climax when the detective reveals who did it and how and for certain subgenres of hard SF, where a scientific problem presents itself and the heroes work toward a solution or explanation.

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Plotting Fiction: The Milieu Story

January 6, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Exactly what sort of payoff you need to deliver will be determined by the kind of story you’re telling. Over the next months, we’ll look in greater detail at the four story types laid out in my previous blog post. Today, we’ll consider the milieu story: what it is, where it starts, and how it ends.

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Plotting Fiction: Beginnings and Endings

November 18, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

A story demands resolution. The promise of a solution to a mystery, or generally an answer to a question, is what keeps audience turning pages. There are few things more frustrating than an ending that comes too soon or too late.

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Plotting Fiction: Get Your Facts Straight, Part 2

October 15, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

There’s an old adage in journalism: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” If you’re writing fiction, you needn’t go that far; the details of your characters’ lives and relationships need only be internally consistent. But you are ultimately responsible for vouchsafing every aspect of your story’s world—its historical, political, natural, and technological environment—that you have not invented from whole cloth.

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Plotting Fiction: Get Your Facts Straight, Part 1

September 16, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Inaccuracies creep in when we are in the heat of creation. We take shortcuts because we don’t want to break the spell. We’re writing a suspenseful scene; our killer needs to immobilize the prey. What’s a fast-acting sedative? A quick Google search throws up a name. We write it in and move on. We can always fill in the details later, we think. And then, well, frequently we don’t.

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Plotting Fiction: Keeping Track of Time, Part 2

August 26, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Reconciling objective and subjective chronology might seem simpler in fiction: after all, the author controls both the clock and the perceptions of the characters. But our everyday inaccuracy in estimating the passage of time carries over to our writing.

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Plotting Fiction: Keeping Track of Time, Pt 1

August 3, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Our heroes live in a world, and despite all their antics, life goes on for everyone else. The sun rises and sets, the shops open and close. Keeping track of time means reconciling the activities of our characters with the big picture of our settings.

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Plotting Fiction: Keeping Your Story Straight

June 30, 2020 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Keeping your story straight is mostly a matter of holding yourself accountable.

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Third-Person POV on Other Characters

July 19, 2019 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

We live our lives behind one set of eyes, but we can tell a lot about what the people around us are feeling and thinking even when they don’t say a word.

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Guide to Olde English

January 22, 2019 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

“Olde English” is all made up, but the individual words themselves did exist in general conversation, and they do come with grammar rules.

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How to Write Stock Characters: Good Villains

May 12, 2018 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

The audience must believe a villain would actually behave that way, which means understanding and even identifying with the villain’s motivations.

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The Optional Comma

May 1, 2018 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

The optional comma can go or not go somewhere depending on what you think works best. It sounds great, but actually, it’s grammar’s version of giving you enough rope to hang yourself.

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Mistakes New Fiction Writers Make: Dialogue

April 28, 2018 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Using terms like "uttered," "exclaimed," or "interjected" can pull your reader out of the flow of your narrative and make them focus more on the words than on what you’re conveying with those words. And let’s not even get started on "ejaculated," the biggest dialogue-tag offender of all time!

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How to Write Stock Characters: The Likeable Superman

February 16, 2018 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

World Building: How to Cut Down on Exposition

January 22, 2018 by ProofreadingPal in Writing Fiction

Creating a world for your story, whether based on the real world or not, involves a series of challenges, especially when it comes to not smothering your reader in exposition. Here's a straight-forward approach to the dreaded "exposition dump."

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