Although the 20Books conferences are very largely about indie publishing in terms of presentation, marketing, and what’s working best at the time, there are also some sessions on timeless subjects, such as crafting excellent narrative. This presentation was given by MARC STIEGLER, who is a trad published author, but hey, the principles are the same, whatever your publication route.
You’ll probably know a lot of this (I know I did), but there’s always that little gem you’ve not thought of before, and, of course, one of the purposes of sharing, is to pass on knowledge to writers at an earlier stage of their career.
These are brief notes on items that caught my attention.
- Narrative should be concise and punchy, unless you are crafting literary fiction.
- Use the least number of words to get an idea over
Example: HE LIFTED HIS HEAD AND TIPPED THE CUP BACK, ALLOWING HIM TO TAKE IN A MOUTHFUL OF THE BEAUTIFUL, HOT NECTAR.
Or: HE SAVORED A MOUTHFUL OF THE HOT NECTAR.
- Always check for, and remove, redundant words, e.g. HE NODDED
- Consider that you may wish to produce an audio book – think how the words/phrases/sentences sound
- Fewer words is good for the cost of producing an audio book
- More words is better for KU pay outs, but avoid being wordy just to bump up your word count – you may lose readers this way
- Every scene must have a purpose
- Start with a bang
- Raise (or release) tension, and/or humour
- End with a punchline: laugh, cry, question, or cheer – lure the reader forward
The Integrated Narrative
UNRAVELLING THE KNOT:
- First describe character via action/setting – what they are doing, carrying, wearing, how they interact with others or their surroundings etc. (this pays benefits over and over, as character appears again and again)
- Then setting – this informs the action, where it takes place, what sort of action is possible (good for at least one whole scene, often more)
- Then action – use the characters and setting to drive the narrative (one unique sequence)
The oft quoted, ‘show, don’t tell’, endows richer story weaving, and has the bonus of adding words (great for KU!)
NOTES ON CHARACTERS:
Getting characters to sound individual is not just a function of accents or catch words – USE introductory actions before speech so readers can impose their own voice onto the character now they know who it is.
And there you have it.
Please feel free to add anything you want to supplement my quick run through of a vast topic.