Everyone wants to write a story that grabs its readers and doesn’t let them go until it’s over. Stories they’ll read before they fall asleep, when ‘ten more minutes’ turns into ‘two more hours’; stories that make them trip over their feet and walk into walls; great, suspenseful stories that make your heart pound. That’s what you want to bring to life. But how?
A great way is to approach it build tension with every page. Tension in every story, regardless of genre or subject, should crackle off the page. It makes conflict believable, and it adds some weight to your dramatic arch. Grab something you’ve written, or throw together a story, because this is an editing exercise. Let’s get started.
Break out a notebook and get ready to slash and hack. Here are the keys to editing in tension for a dynamic plot progression:
I think you need to take a step back from your writing and imagine it as a moving rhythm. If you’re trying to build tension, ellipses are your enemy. Tension lives in a fast pace. Short, choppy sentences speed up the heart. They force you into motion with the narrative. Ellipses… slow down your story telling. Used often, they detach the reader from the weight of a situation and force them to look at it from the outside.
Don’t overuse your ellipses; save them for special occasions. Otherwise, when building tension, move from longer sentences to shorter ones and use as few distracting punctuation marks as possible.
We do now. Here are a few of the best/most interesting character development sheets we could find around the internet. Use them to answer questions as you develop and create your new characters.
Massively Open Online Courses are the new vogue way to take control of your education and your career, and it’s the best thing. Higher education should be a right, but many of us can’t afford or can’t even access modern college courses. Anyone with conviction and a few extra hours a week can get themselves a college education from some of the best teachers in the world. You can even put finished courses on your resume. Just a few colleges that offer free online courses: MIT, Boston University, Dartmouth, Cornell, University of Tokyo, Harvard, Yale University, and the University of Geneva - and that’s barely scratching the surface.
Those are some of the most funded, most prestigiously staffed universities in the world. The education offered by them, for free, is at your fingers. Just because the world might hold degrees and the brick and mortar institutions of modern universities as a reward for the already privileged or the lucky doesn’t mean you don’t have the resources to learn. Throwing the exposition away, here are my favorite courses for writers available this fall semester:
The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours: Epic and Lyrictaught by Harvard’s Professor Gregory Nagy. Course on heroic story structure that walks you through the ancient Greek heroes and stories that set up the future of western literature. Breaks down the Epic and Lyric forms.
The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours: Signs of the Hero in Epic and Iconography Part two of the course above, this time moving to the influence of visual heroic iconography.
Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World taught by Professor Eric Rabkin. Genre course that explores the two major fiction forms as a reflection of human society. Covers a lot of pop culture favorites.
Unbinding Prometheus taught by Eric Alan Weinstein through Open Learning. The class, starting in November, will explore the meaning of Percy Shelley’s work and the impact the man (who believed writing could free mankind from their shackles) has had on the world he left behind.
The Divine Comedy: Dante’s Journey to Freedom taught by many Georgetown professors, including Dante and Derrida: Face to Face author Frank Ambrosio. It looks frankly awesome, talking about the modern reader and Alighieri’s work, and the first sentence of the class description speaks for itself: Students will question for themselves the meaning of human freedom, responsibility and identity by reading and responding to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.
Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative taught by Vanderbilt University’s
Laura Ingalls Wilder: Exploring Her Work & Writing Life taught by Missouri State’s Pamela Smith Hill, an Ingalls Wilder scholar. Wilder’s Little House series has informed our perceptions of her era in North American history, but there’s more than meets the eye in her stories. Just like Shakespeare, there are more than a few controversies around authorship, and a lot to talk about in this course.
How Writers Write Fiction taught by University of Iowa's professor (and author of Things of the Hidden God) Christopher Merrill. The course presents a curated collection of short, intimate talks created by fifty authors of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and plays that you can’t catch anywhere else. Features weekly writing assignments.
Poetry: What It Is, and How to Understand It taught by George Washington University’s Margaret Soltan. A class in modern poetry, the whys and hows, and a cultural learning class we’d recommend for anyone trying to broaden their artistic perspective.
EXTRA CREDIT: Important and interesting classes I would recommended.
Understanding Violence taught by Professors Deb Houry and Pamela Scully. Covers elements of biology, sociology, and psychology. You’ll study the biological and psychological causes of violence, and how violence is reported and portrayed in the media. Seems like an excellent research course for action writers.
Social Entrepeneurship taught by Professors Kai Hockerts, Kristjan Jespersen, Ester Barinaga, Anirudh Agrawal, Sudhanshu Rai, and Robert Austin. Doesn’t just talk about how to use social media for your own benefit — the course is meant to break down how to use social media and community engagement for global change.
— Audrey Erin Redpath (@audreyredpath)
Clearly, there’s more to the lack of diversity in children’s books than whether or not POC are creating and publishing them. Could it be that some lack the motivation to seek out the books that are already there? That’s what René Saldaña, Jr., is asking. Now, I am, too.
Mind you, I’m not saying that we don’t need more books by people of color, because we most certainly do. The numbers show that we are woefully off the mark in producing diverse books in numbers commensurate with the proportion of our ever-increasingly diverse population. But that said, I am suggesting that we, perhaps, look at the issue a little more closely, that we ask a few more uncomfortable, but necessary, questions.
Friends and foes (and writer’s woes), we’re working on a few larger projects. One of them is really exciting, but we need to know who’d be interested.
We want to put together an Anthology of Writing and Artwork. Meaning, we want to take the poems, stories, and comics that people send us and make them available in print and as an ebook. That way, we can give the new and young writers who ask us for advice what might be their first chance to get published — and they can share it (in whichever form) with whoever they want!
The book would feature your writing and comics, mixed in with articles about writing skills and interviews with writers and creators we think you’ll appreciate.
So here’s what we need to know: are our followers interested? We know you like contests, but do you want your short fiction or poem to be published by us and shared with other writers learning just like you? Tell us with a like (and a signal boost) or a message if you’re interested either in submitting to a CH anthology, or reading one. We want to know!
I think labels are what we make of them, and that the NA category (while maybe influenced by marketing) isn’t any different. While New Adult books will naturally have more sexual content overall than Young Adult, sexual content has been a staple of many coming of age novels for a long time.
That doesn’t mean all YA novels feature sex, so I don’t think it should mean all NA novels have to feature it either. Becoming and living as an adult is about much more than that, and I think people looking into the genre will appreciate quality stories with or without it.
NA fiction, or New Adult fiction, is a bridge genre that is targeted at (and features protagonists who are) people between 18-25. Sometimes the age range is pushed further, but that’s the general rule.
“The Transition from child to adult doesn’t happen overnight—just ask as anyone who is or has been (or is a parent to) a teenager. But the transition from teen to adult doesn’t happen overnight either. There’s a period of time where adulthood feels like a new pair of shoes. The expectations of independence and self-sufficiency are still new, still being broken in. New Adults are the people who have just begun to walk in those shoes; New Adult fiction is about their blisters and aches.” — Kristan Hoffman
So while Young Adult fiction focuses on that coming of age, when you first start to define who you are and establish yourself in the world, New Adult follows what happens after that. Generally, NA is still grouped into either Adult or YA, but it’s useful as a category on its own.
Got something you wanna know? Ask away
"We’re looking for good, solid fiction. We specialize in the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genres. We will consider other genres, such as humor or general interest, provided that the work possesses an original, "quirky" slant in the Northern Exposure, Ally McBeal vein." [x]
Allegory publishes triannually, and their genre(s) are Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. They’re looking for clever writing (with a twist), and they aren’t into gimmicky writing, gratuitous sex/violence, or pop culture pull ins. They pay a flat $15 for each piece, and they publish submissions for the next issue (meaning they don’t pre-pay.) Check out their submission guidelines here.
See more of The Writing Market: on the blog.