How to tell great stories, courtesy of the Japanese rugby team

How to Tell Great Stories (Courtesy of the Japanese Rugby Team)

Yesterday I saw the best story of the year. It was better than any film, novel, or TV series I’ve seen in the last 12 months. And it all took place on the rugby pitch. In case you’re not aware, there’s a small, little tournament known as the Rugby World Cup going on at the moment. And yesterday, in what has been called the biggest upset in the World Cup’s history, Japan beat South Africa, 34-32.  I could not have written a better story if I tried (Actually, I have tried, and you can read the first chapter here). I was sat on edge of my seat, screaming at the telly like a Banshee overdosed on caffeine. Supporters in the …

Chess board, with pieces at the ready

Why Your Story Needs More Fight

Most of us will put a lot of effort into avoiding it. We’ll go out of our way to stay out of it. Yet, if your characters do the same, your story is going to be flatter than a pancake that’s been flattened by a flattering steam roller. In Holland. It’s time to get in a fight. We’ve taken a look at motivation in a previous post, and how it’s vital for your main characters. But motivation is only half the story. Motivation is the beginning. Its evil twin, the ying to its yang, the Bonnie to its Clyde, is conflict. While motivation will intrigue readers, it’s the conflict that keeps them turning the pages. Conflict is the story. I …

Old letters, hand written

This One’s For The Mind Readers

I admit that most of the time when I blog, I write to the void, throwing out words without much thought as to who’s reading them the other side. I bash away at the keyboard, trying to put my ideas and thoughts into words and then publishing them on the web for the world to see. Except most of the time, the world doesn’t see it. Out of the 7 or so billion people on this planet, a negligible number see these words. Every so often, a friend will say they enjoyed what they read on my blog, and it always takes me back. ‘Woah, someone actually reads this? A real breathing person?’ This is quickly followed by a moment of panic …

Who I Am & Why I’m Here

As part of my goal to grow my author platform and blog, I recently signed up for this Blogging 101 course, designed for helping new bloggers get a head start. While I’ve already been blogging regularly for a few months I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve my blog, and figured this would be as good start. The course started today, and the first assignment has gone live; write a post about who I am and why I’m here. It’s a good question, especially bearing in mind my previous post about how important defined motivations are for fictional characters. If it’s important for made up people, how much more important is it for me, a living and breathing soul? So, allow me to introduce myself. My …

Sunrise over the ocean

Reflections and Aspirations

As the sun sets on December, it’s inevitable that thoughts turn to the year that’s gone, as well as the one that’s to come. It’s a great opportunity for reflection, a chance to take account of what’s taken place. A time to analyse what went well, and what can be improved. Reflections A few days ago, I finally completed the first draft for ‘Pain & Gain,’ my Nanowrimo project for 2014. I completed the 50,000 words in the month, but I knew the story needed more. So I carried on, and the first draft finally came in at 67,782 words. I’ll be honest, I’m really excited with this story. I love spending time with the characters (both the good and …

A cat looks at a mouse

What Every Character Needs

Have you ever read a story and thought it was lacking something? Written a first draft and felt it meandered hopelessly? I know I have, on both counts. Sometimes, whether I’m reading or writing, I find stories that just don’t fit, don’t ring true. Even deep believable characters and an intriguing plot in place may not be enough. To solve this there is one essential element that every character needs for a story that satisfies the reader. I’m nearing the climax of my current WIP (working title ‘Pain & Gain’), and I just wrote a scene where one of the characters ask my protagonist why he’s carrying on. I’m not sure whether the question was really directed to the protagonist or to me, …

What comes after Nanowrimo?

As I write this it’s November 30th, and there are no doubt many people who are furiously typing in a last ditch attempt to hit the 50k word count. Not everyone who signs up for Nanowrimo manages to cross the finish line within the 30 days, while others achieve word counts high enough to make your head spin. But for all participants, the questions the same. What comes after Nanowrimo? Well, in the spirit of those classic ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books, let’s find out. It’s just gone midnight, and Nanowrimo is officially over. You look down at your desk. If you failed to hit 50,000 words, go to Paragraph 1. If you wrote more than 50,000 words, go to …

A compass on a map

The First Week of NaNoWriMo

Today marks the seventh day of NaNoWriMo! Words have been written, curses have been shouted, and laptops have been hurled at small kittens. With seven days behind me, I thought now would be a good time to consider how the first week has gone, and how I plan to face the next three weeks, hopefully without endangering any other mammals. Pre-Production Pays Off First of all, I’ve found the planning process for this years NaNoWriMo has really helped me out. I prepared far more than I have for any previous NaNoWriMo, and so far it has been worth every second. Knowing my characters means I get to write them in all their glory, rather than discovering them from scratch as …

Photo of the starting line on a race track

Ready, Set, Write

I’m enjoying my last few moments of October before the insanity of November and Nanowrimo descends. One of my recent posts was about preparing for Nanowrimo, and thankfully I’ve practiced what I preach and have prepared more than ever for this years writing. My 1,738 word synopsis has been written, characters have been cast and profiled, and locations have been scouted. Using Scrivener, I’ve broken down the story into 20 chapters with brief descriptions, and I’m currently adding more details. I already know that the story is more than likely to change as the month goes on (it’s already changed from the time I wrote the synopsis to the the time I finished the character profiles), but that’s okay. Now …

A view of the city's skyline

Location, Location, Location

It’s a well known saying that there are three things that matter in property: Location, location, location. Whilst this may be true for property, is it possible it’s also true for stories? When considering what makes a good story, characters and plot are at the top of everyone’s list, but location seems to rarely get a mention. It’s true, it’s essential for a good story to have characters that you care about and a plot that holds your interest from start to finish. However, I think it’s worth a little time to consider just how important location can be as well. Home Is Where The Heart Is First of all, it’s worth noting how synonymous certain locations are with their stories. Gotham City 221B …