Want to know more about books by Barbara V Evers, giraffe conservation and wildlife news, great books, as well as snippets from an author's life? This is the place for you!
Don't want to miss any posts or updates on Barbara's upcoming books and appearances? Subscribe to the Watcher Tribe newsletter! The link is available to the left side of your screen.
Reality vs Fiction: Writing To Genre
Courtesy of MorgueFile.com
“Hi,” Jane said.
“Hi. How are you?” John
“I’m fine.How are you?”
“Not bad.What’s new?”
Bleah! Not very interesting is it?
Writing fiction presents a confusing challenge to
writers:what’s the line between
realistic narrative and fiction?
The answer depends on the genre of your story, but the
general rule is if it doesn’t move the plot along, scratch it.
Do we have conversations like the one above?Yes.Several times a day.But it’s boring to read.We don’t care about this.Readers want to read something that grabs
them and puts them in the story.Rather
than take the time to include these introductory phrases, use the time to set the scene.With a good setting, readers will feel
present and assume the typical banal greetings have already occurred.
The same goes for this interchange:
“Is this the one you need, Mrs. Smith?”
“Oh please, call me Jane.”
Granted you might find a reason to include this in your story,
but make sure you have a very good reason.Otherwise, let your characters use first names if that’s where they are
Sounds simple, but this line becomes hazy as you write. You need to know what your genre expects.
I read a diverse list of genres, but my go-to
preference is fantasy.In urban fantasy,
the pace flies.The protagonist moves
from one conflict to the next with no more than a breath sometimes. It’s unreal
and impossible to imagine.It’s not
grounded in reality.Urban fantasy
abounds with supernatural characters. Readers expect this fast pace and
non-stop action.The story must clip
Epic fantasy, on the other hand, allows you to move at a
somewhat slower pace.It requires a lot
of world-building, and it can’t be written like a history lesson. World-building
must occur throughout the story, dropped in at times that make sense without
intruding on the reader’s experience. This takes time. But don’t forget, action
must occur to move the story forward.
Like urban fantasy, mysteries or thrillers move at a quick
pace.A criminal, usually a murderer, threatens people's safety.Something must be done
to locate and stop them.The
fast pace ramps up the tension. But let’s face it.How often does your average person run across
a dead body or crime within their social circle?Not too often, but readers come back for the
protagonist each time.So, we accept the
improbability of a non-law-enforcement individual tripping over these crime scenes,
but we expect it to fit the norm of the genre beyond that.
The fine line exists.To find it, go back to the books you love in your genre.What fits with reality?What doesn’t?Your answers will guide you to a better story. Then share your answers here.
In my last post, Character Development: the Johari Window , I introduced the Johari Window as a tool for developing your characters. It's important that your character not know everything about their situation. These unknowns can lead to an intriguing story and create possibilities for conflict within the story. How do you use the Johari Window? In this post, I thought I'd provide a simple example of the Johari Window with a character most people know: Harry Potter. Below, I have filled out the Johari Window as it might appear within the first few pages of book 1, Harry Potter and The Sorceror's Stone . The Johari Window based on Harry Potter and The Sorceror's Stone Three of the quadrants in this window reveal what Harry doesn't know about who he truly is and what happened to his parents. I could add a lot to the quadrants representing what he doesn't know, but I hope this gives you an idea on how a Johari Window might be used. What do you d
When you write about character's of different races, how do you describe their skin tone? If you've never thought about this, then consider this question: How do the authors you read described persons of color? A few months ago, I attended a webinar about writing diverse characters. The guest was Eliana West of Writers for Diversity . The information she shared felt fresh and valuable, especially related to describing a character's skin tone. I get really tired of seeing African-descended characters described in terms of the goods that drove, and still drive the slave trade--coffee, chocolate, brown sugar. There's some weird psychosocial baggage attached to that. -- N. K. Jemisin As this quote from author, N. K . Jemisin , indicates, historically, writers have described people of color using food-related descriptors. Many people of color find this offensive. This surprised me, at first, but she has a point, especially when you view it through the quote above. My fir
The question stunned me. I had never looked at The Hunger Games as a threat to our society, so the email asking why I, as a Christian, could promote a movie/book where children kill children caught me off guard. My friend admitted, she had not read the books or seen the movie, so her opinion was based on plot information found online, but all I could think is that's not really what The Hunger Games is about. It does not glorify children killing children. Sure, there is the arena - which is a large wilderness - where twenty-four children are launched into the game of kill or be killed, but that's only looking at this story from the surface. Even so, I realized my friend gave me a rare opportunity. Rather than blast me, she told me her concerns and asked if I could explain why many Christians support and rave about this story. I thanked her and asked for a few days to gather my thoughts. I even re-read the first book in the series with her concern foremost in my mind.