The Writing Newbie

Writing is an adventure. Enjoy the journey and write the way you love!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Plot Lines

A plot line is really just the sequence of events that occur in a story. Basically your plot line is a really short version of your story, which tells the most important events in your story. It’s the main line that your entire novel is about.

A lot of writers get an idea that just pops up in their heads. Then they nurture that idea and let it shimmer in their heads until they have a good idea what it’s about. Then they start thinking up the plot line and the major events that will happen with the character. Once they have everything thought out and in order, they start writing a first draft. It’s a really handy way to reduce the moments of being stuck.

Other writers (me included) just have a vague idea, or simply a character or a scene in their heads and start writing from there and see where it goes. They don’t have a plot line and must think of one while they are writing. If you like to work this way the plot line will probably gradually reveal itself to you. But if you get stuck all the time, perhaps it’s best if you think ahead just a little bit, so that you can keep writing!

When writing long stories (novels) it can be very difficult to maintain an interesting plot line. It’s also very easy to cram in too much, or have long periods where nothing happens. You often lose track of everything that happens. What can help you is to write your plot line down. Just experiment a bit and find a way that works for you (for instance a time line, memo’s, a large white sheet of paper on which you scribble all events, a summary of what your book will be like, etc.).

In order to keep your plot line strong you have to make sure that enough things happen, but not too much so that the reader doesn’t lose track of all the events happening. If your writer number one, who plans everything out before hand, make sure that enough interesting things happen, but keep them to a minimum. Once you start writing you’ll probably add more things as you go along. If you’re writer number two, keep the main story line in mind, or start thinking about one once you’re some way in your book. If you don’t lose track of it, your reader probably won’t either.

Always make sure that you re-read your story several times and cut out anything that doesn’t really contribute to the story or slows it down. Removing the clutter keeps your story line fresh and strong.

The basic most used story line goes like this:

Introduction—the reader gets to know the character, the setting of the story and some basic background information. Here the reader “falls in love” with the character and starts to care about him/her.
Rising action—something happens that throws the live of the main character off track. An event or opportunity occurs and it sets the story in motion. The main character will become involved in a struggle for something, you´ll get to know his objective and the problems that stand in his way.
The climax—this is often the best, most exciting part of your story. It’s usually pretty short but here the character meets head on with all his problems. It often reveals the missing links in the story and the secrets are revealed. It’s the part where Cinderella looses her glass slipper and the clock strikes twelve.
Falling action—this is often the result of the climax. The most exciting part has happened, the things the character had to face have been faced, and the action slows down. Slowly everything is getting solved.
The conclusion—loose ends are tied together and the story comes to an end. It’s the conclusion of the story, the happily ever after.

Forget everything I just told you.

Well don’t really forget it, but don’t dwell on it. Not every story has to be like this. You can have a story with two climaxes or no real introduction (but just weave it into the story) you can experiment around a bit with your story. Keep it interesting and original! If you really get stuck though, this basic plot line can be a fall back that can support your storyline.

If you really worry about whether or not you have an original plot line, just write down the main events. Make a short summery of your story. Now you have your plot line in front of you. Read it. Read it again but now with every event that occurs think: “Did I think of this myself? Can I have been influenced by other books? Do I really like it? Have I read it a million times before?”
If you answer those questions you can probably tell if it’s original or not. If all your events seem to be unoriginal that doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem. It could be that the events separate aren’t really that original. But together they make a fantastic, original story.

Remember that a lot of things have been done before. It doesn’t have to be 100% original. It’s alright to write a story about a young boy going to wizard school. It’s alright to have a story about a vampire falling in love with a human girl. Just make sure the boy doesn’t have a lightning scar and the vampire doesn’t sparkle in the sun.

With other words; make it your own. Make it original. Think up your own wizardry lessons, make up your own vampire rules. And create your own story line.
I hope this helps you out a bit! If you have other opinions or questions about this please leave them in the comments!

This was a request from Broken Angel. I hope it helped you out and I hope you liked it! Everyone thanks for reading! Please leave comments! And any requests or questions are very welcome!
Have a nice summer everyone!

Keep writing!

Xx LordKiwii

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Prologues and Epilogues

At one point while writing a story, you’ll have to decide whether you want a prologue or an epilogue in your story, or perhaps even both. There is no rule saying that you need to use them, a lot of books don’t have them. But with certain stories they might come in handy, to fill that space where something was missing.


A prologue is a short text that you put before the first chapter in your story. It could set the setting for the story, give us some history, or even another (short) story that is somehow connected to main story and will be clear later on. But not every book has a prologue because not every story needs one. First you should decide whether your story needs a prologue or not.

A prologue is used for several things as I said before. Most often writers use prologues to explain to the reader several things in the background often in a scene that takes place before the first chapter. So it’s really just chapter zero. But this way you don’t have to slow your first chapter down with all sorts of detail or flashbacks and you can just keep the story going without having to explain too much.

Other times writers use prologues to hook the reader and make them want to read more. A lot of people read the prologue of a book when they’re wondering if they should buy it. If it manages to get them hooked they’ll probably end up getting it, which of course is good for the writer!

When you’re writing a prologue always question yourself if it’s really necessary. You need to consider if you can’t just use the prologue as your first chapter, or wind it thought your story making it clear to them in one of the first chapters. Never put a prologue in front of a book that isn’t necessary. You should also keep in mind that people often read the prologue first, so if you want to put a lot of history and detail in it, by all means don’t make it boring! No matter how exciting the first chapter may be, if the prologue is boring a lot of people probably won’t read on. A wonderful example is the prologue in Lord of the Rings the Fellowship of the Ring. It is great and all with lots of details about Hobbiton and hobbits themselves ... but boring as hell. (To be honest it’s actually a foreword and not a prologue, but still).

A prologue is also used for introducing characters, or where the main character stands (is he good, evil etc) or even a glimpse of something that is to come or a character that will come into the book, so that the reader looks forward to reading that. And lots, lots more.

If you’re not sure whether your story needs a prologue or not, see if the beginning of the story is exciting enough and will hook the reader. If not and you can’t make it exciting, then you probably need a prologue. Or if you think you should really give some background information for the reader to really understand the story, and you can’t just put it in the story without slowing it down, then you probably need a prologue as well.

When writing one just make sure that it doesn't get too long (people want to get to the actual story) and make sure that it makes sense and is exciting.


An epilogue comes after the last chapter, when the story is actually finished. Often it tells the reader what happened to the characters after the “happily ever after”. However just as with prologues, not every story needs an epilogue.

It could be that you finished your story perfectly and beautifully and you don’t want to change it—or actually I should say you can’t change it because changing it would ruin the story. However this way it doesn’t really say what happens to your characters and leaves a more or less open ending, or perhaps you have more ideas about what happens to them years later and you want to share them with your readers. These are excellent things to put into epilogues.

Again you should ask to yourself if you really need an epilogue. Can’t you just end the story at the end of the last chapter? Or do you feel that there is too much missing, that there are still too many questions left unanswered, or that the story doesn’t feels finished if you don’t know whether they really end up married or not? Sometimes a story ends and it’s just over. Of course you can always wonder what will happen next in their lives, but an epilogue isn’t meant to be another book, it’s meant to be a short text that brings closure to the story.

If too many things are still uncertain you might want to consider rewriting your story again and putting some answers in it. An epilogue shouldn’t just state dry facts. It should be written like the rest of the story and be exciting or pleasant
to read and bring a good end to the book. The hard part about epilogues is that you shouldn’t tell too much (or it will become too long, and a little mystery is never bad) but also not too little, or it will be useless. Besides that you have to write two endings, and writing an ending to a story is often one of the hardest parts.

For both the prologue and the epilogue goes that you should only use them when you really feel you need them, and your story isn’t complete without them. And you should keep in mind that they really shouldn’t be longer than about four pages (my personal opinion).

If you’re having trouble writing your prologue or epilogue, don’t worry about them before you’ve finished your story! First just make it and afterwards decide if you should even need one in the first place. (If you already know you want one when you start to write and it works at once, go for it!).

I hope this helped you all a little bit. If you really have trouble making it right you can always grab a few books and look at their prologues and epilogues. Figure out which work for you and which don’t, and try to understand why that is. Analyse them and try to learn from them. Perhaps it will help out your own writing.

This subject was requested by Chop-Chop. Thanks for your request and I hoped this helped you a bit! :) Good luck with your prologue! As always request and/or questions are very welcome!
Sorry this post got a little long ^^”

Keep writing!

Xx LordKiwii

Monday, June 14, 2010

Avoiding Clichés

Clichés are phrases that are, or were, used in everyday life too often. Everybody knows the sentence “Every cloud has a silver lining” or “It was made with my blood, sweat and tears.” Everybody knows those sentences. Everybody has heard them or read them or even used them from time to time. They are used so often that they come off as unoriginal. They are simply not wanted anymore.

The problem for writers is that clichés can sneak into your writing without you noticing very easily. It’s because they are so over-used that you’ll use them. Take what I’ve just written. I used “in everyday life” and “from time to time”. Those could also be called clichés. There is nothing wrong with using one or two clichés in your book, especially in a joking way or if you change the words a little bit to make it more your own. But still I would advise you to avoid clichés at all cost if you don’t have a good reason to use them.

To get rid of clichés you can do several things. First would be to take extra care when you’re writing and to try everything to keep them out. This however could really hinder your writing because you’d have to stop every so often and think of other words to use instead of a cliché. So my advice is to leave the clichés for what they are while you’re writing your first draft. Of course if you can easily think up some other words than a cliché while writing you’d better use those.

When you’ve finished your first draft, try to spot all the clichés while you’re re-writing. If you’re afraid you can’t spot all of them yourself, or if you have a hard time scrapping sentences even though they are cliché, because you’re fond of them; Let someone you trust mercilessly go at it with a red marker and underline all the cliché’s. Once you’ve found all of them change them into your own words.

I know that that sounds easier than it really is. (Cliché version: it’s not as easy as it sounds) It’s not easy changing something once you’ve written it. You grow attached to it and often writers fear that they’ll only ruin it once they try to re-write. Don’t be afraid. Just make sure you save a copy of your original draft and go at it. If you don’t like it you can always change it back that way.

To change a cliché into your own words means that you’ll have to think a little longer and harder about that sentence or piece in your story. It’s easier to simply use words and sentences you already know but the reader and your editor won’t appreciate it. So take that piece of writing and toy around with words until you’ve found something original and completely your own.

If for instance you have a scene in your story and you simply must, must, must use something that is horribly cliché (it doesn’t have to be a word or word-group, it can also be an event or a scene that is used countless times before) then you can always have one of your characters think or say laughingly: This is so cliché. That way it makes it alright.

I hope this helps anyone who was struggling with clichés or made people who didn’t know they were using clichés aware of the danger!
I was asked by Broken Angel to write about clichés. I hope this helped you and I’ll write about your other request later (or my post would become too long).
To everyone reading my blog so far, thank you! And requests and questions are always welcome!

Keep writing!

Xx LordKiwii

Friday, June 4, 2010

Super Powers

Alright let’s talk super powers. There aren’t many fantasy and science-fiction books left that don’t have any super powers in them. You could say that everything has been done before, as it is for a lot of things in fiction including whole story lines. But don’t worry about it too much! Just because it has been done once (or a million) times before doesn’t mean you can’t use it again! If it wasn’t acceptable to write about elves or trolls or dragons ever since they’ve been written down once before, we wouldn’t have books like Lord of the Rings, Narnia and Eragon.

Writers have to face at one point that almost everything they’ll write about has been done before. But that doesn’t matter! What matters is how you write, what your voice is, how you combine the certain elements that have already been used before. No two stories are alike, just like no two people are alike. And that’s exactly how it should be.

Back to the super powers. If you want to add inhuman powers to your story first you have to think about why your character has them? Here are a few suggestions:

Inhuman nature:
The character has the super powers because he is of a different race than us normal mortals. For instance a wizard, alien, elf, faerie etc.
Power giving object: The character possesses something that grants him to have these super powers such as a costume, wand, ring, necklace, magic shoes etc.
Mutation: The character transforms for some reason for instance something in his DNA gone mad, or evolution.
Freak accident: By some sort of accident the character gets his superpowers. Think radioactive fluids, bite from a werewolf, getting hit by a meteorite, radioactive spiders etc.

Now that you have decided how your character got his super powers, it’s time to decide what kind of powers he’s going to have. Can he convince anyone of the most absurd things simply because of his voice? Does he have power boosts which allow him to jump really far and high? Can he read thoughts? Can he control earth?

Mostly you’ll have to decide if the powers will be physical, mentally or naturally based. Physical can be anything from super eyesight to outrageous strength or invisibility. Mentally-based abilities are used by simply using one’s mind and will. For instance empathy, moving objects with your mind, chocking someone by simply thinking it. That sort of thing. With naturally based powers think about controlling earth, air, lightning and other forces of nature. Or of course you could decide that your character knows how to use all these kinds of powers. Just remember that if the hero in your story has super powers the villains must have as well! If the hero is stronger than the villain there isn’t much of a story now is there? The hero will win within seconds. The other way around is however possible . It makes it more difficult for a hero to defeat the bad guy if the bad guy has such a big advantage.

When you think about some typical bad guys, you realize that most of them have something big, something evil and powerful to their advantage against the main character. Take any bad guy and see what advantages he has over the main character. Take a few books and compare the baddies. You’ll see that the advantages that they have most likely look alike. A lot of time it will be wealth and power including a big army at their disposal. In a lot of books they will also have superpowers that assures their control of the kingdom/country/world/ galaxy etc.

Now I think that a lot of you worry all the time that your writing is affected by books you read and that it looks too much like a book or movie that already exists. First, you probably are influenced by a book you’ve read or a movie you’ve seen. But don’t worry that’s not a bad thing! That book probably got you interested in the subject. It created a small window for you to look inside of a world full of stories about the same genre. For instance I write about fantasy and I’m certain that I’ve been influenced by the books I’ve read. That doesn’t mean that I copy exactly what they write. It meant that they got me into fantasy. Through those books I learned about dragons, elves, adventures, love, magic, sadness, true heroism and lots more. They inspire you and you want to write something just as good and perhaps a little bit better. My point is as long as you use something thinking of it on your own—and not copying it with full knowledge of doing that—and if you use it in your own way and use it to fit your story, there is nothing wrong with it. There are thousands of books about dragons out there still they are all read and loved by readers… now why would there be a reason why your book can’t fit right in there?

I wrote this post because of a comment where someone was afraid that the powers would look too much like those in Star Wars. First let me tell you that those powers have probably been used in fiction tons of times before Star Wars and tons of times after Star Wars. When you read back your story you think “This looks too much like Star Wars” because you are probably into that and have seen the movies and/or read the books. Another person might read your story and think “This seems way too much like Charmed.” Because they’ve never seen Star Wars and are big Charmed fans. In other words there will always be people saying “It is just like....” often mentioning a book or movie you’ve never heard about before.

Take Telekinesis for instance, the ability to move things with your mind. Here is a really short list of some people who can do that:
Darth Vader (Star Wars)
Jean Grey (X-men)
Maxima (DC comics superman titles)
Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter)
the Fallen (Transformers)
Andros (Power Rangers)

And the list goes on and on. And that’s just with one ability! So don’t worry too much about if it has been done before and if it looks too much like something else. Just enjoy writing it and if it turns out 100% like something else... well then you can always go back and change it a little bit so it goes back to 98% and then you’re fine.

Please comment to tell me what you think and/or suggest something for my next post it’s always appreciated! You can also follow me on Twitter now. I don’t think I ever say anything interesting on there but it could be fun!

Keep writing!

Xx LordKiwii