Writing Tips 2

So, when you’re writing a story, a lot of little different things need to be taken into account to make it work.  These are some of the important things that will affect how and what you write.  These are best done at the planning stage, or before you truly begin to put your story together.  It’ll make things easier to have it all organised before you start writing.  And remember, anything can be fixed in editing.

History :
An important part of bringing your story together and making it look and feel authentic is the history. So, you have to decide when your story is going to be set. If you’re setting it in the future, you have to create and entire history between the present day (for your reader) and the present day of your story. You can’t just say that aliens invaded in the year 2020 and not explain what impact that had. But you also don’t want to pour it into the one paragraph or chapter like it’s unimportant. The history of a novel is important and it can be trickled into the story a bit at a time, especially if parts are supposed to be secret, or well known facts to your characters. Again, authenticity counts. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a novel about giant tarantulas or army soldiers who are robots, if you don’t make it authentic, your reader won’t believe it. Believability will sell the story.

History 2 :
When it comes to history, you also have to decide what language you’re using – e.g. 90s slang, Victorian genteel speak or a made up language like that of Tolkien, or a future dialect. Clothes, personalities, morals etc all count here, where it needs to be real. You can’t have a Victorian, wearing jeans and shouting ‘Yo dude.’ to anyone, unless you’ve sent someone back in time from the 80s to the Victorian era and want to do it on purpose. You need to research and investigate the real history of the past time you are going back to. Even if you’re in the present day, a little snippet of what’s going on in the world can make a difference to the believability of a story. My crime series does this, it slips in the recession, the oil spill in the sea, President Obama’s victory and the looting of the Cairo museum. All mentioned in passing or as important indicators of the mess or the good going on in the world in relation to the characters.

Audience :
The intended audience of a story is very important. If you’re writing for kids, you want to minimise if not eliminate swearing, violence and sex unless it is integral to the story, e.g. acting out, gangs, troublemakers etc. If you’re writing for adults, you can be more liberal with what and how you write. But as well as censorship, you also need to think about the age group in terms of what they know. You can reference Bobby Brown’s music all you like, but is a 12 year old going to have any clue who you’re talking about? You can write about the fall of the Berlin wall in as much detail as you want, but is a pre-teen going to have any idea if what you’re writing is accurate, or even care? I’m not saying only to write what people want to read or what people already know, but take your audience into account. A 12-14 year old is more likely to be reading Harry Potter than War and Peace, unless you’re writing about a child genius like Matilda.

Accents :
Do you want to write in an accent? This may sound like a stupid question, but it’s not. It can help with authenticity or you can decide not to write with an accent to make your work more accessible and easily readable. It’s really a preference thing. If you’re not sure, read a few story or books for both sides. Do you want everyone to know that your character is Irish or Scottish by the slang and spelling of their words? Do you want to portray a Southern Belle in your writing? Check out the Caster Chronicles for an example of the Southern accent, it’s very well done, suspiciously missing a lot of ‘g’s but it works. You feel like you’re in the South, surrounded by locals. (On a personal note, I don’t like to use accents in my work. I’m Scottish and use a lot of Scottish slang without even thinking about it. Most Americans…most everyone, have no idea what I’m talking about. Watch Brave for an idea of what I mean.)

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