I have finally started university!
Or, well, I've had my first week, meaning we were only introduced to the subjects - but we're getting there!
So what can I teach from this first week?
You need a strong opening:
You must hold your reader from the very beginning and for this, you need a character, a place and action - not necessarily explosions and stuff; even if the character is just thinking, something is happening.
Always show, don't tell:
It's widely known, but still difficult for new writers. It tends to become like a summary of events in which the story gets completed too fast. So pace the story carefully so that the reader gets involved along with your central character. Provide details to slow the pace but also to set the scene and to invite your reader into the world you've created. Just remember - too much detail is not necessary. Readers like to use their own imagination. It is up to you where to draw that line.
Point of view:
You need to decide from whose point of view you'll tell the story - and then stick with it! Imagine that you are your central character, get inside the head of him/her and report from his/her point of view. Alternative viewpoints can be presented through dialogue with other characters.
The term Synecdoche means "a part to represent the whole", so when deciding on a character, come up with that person's special characteristic (maybe a whiny voice or filthy fingernails) and use that to develop the character. Characters are the essence of any story - the plot depends upon what your characters do and how they respond to the world around them. Build your characters; give them backgrounds, childhood memories, relatives, friends, interests, a birthday, education... anything to make you know your character better. You don't have to give these details in the story, but that YOU know them is important to create believable characters. Once you get deeper into the story, you'll find your characters have their own will, their own life, and that's where the story really begins.
It all depends on what your characters say and how they say it. People don't speak to each other in complete, grammatical sentences. It will sound strange, stilted... Have one character interrupt another, or maybe even complete each other's sentences, if to create intimacy between them. There is no fixed rule. Read it aloud - if it sounds stilted, try to think of how you or someone else talks and write that down. Don't think grammatically when it comes to dialogue. If one character has a dialect, let that show. There's no right or wrong, whatever your computer spelling-system says.
Sense of place:
Your fictional world must seem real, and it needs to seem real quickly. You need details and imagery to make your descriptions credible, to really invite the reader into the world. Make use of a character's personal memories and attachments; maybe a yellow shoe, a postbox in a corner, a pot of lively flowers - anything to make you seem to know your world inside and out.
Organise your ideas into chapters, where you have one important event in each. It could be a good idea to leave a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter to make the reader want to come back for more. Revealing mysteries is a good way of keeping the reader interested; make subplots go along the main story and reveal secrets and twists to enrich the story before the climax. Write yourself a chapter-by-chapter synopsis to give focus, and even if it needs to be rewritten after your novel is done, it doesn't matter - you can write it again.
That was just a small summary of what we're doing. Whenever we get deeper into the subject, I'll reveal exercises and more detail to these things. It was more of a refresher.
Keep updated for more tips!
I look forward to hearing from you! Any comment is welcome! ;)