When is it OK to open your novel with “telling?”

Over on Facebook, I got some pushback to last week’s article “The difference between Storytelling and Dramatization.” One Facebook commenter noted that the “before” examples given in show vs. tell articles like mine are “often deliberately and obviously poor by any standards.” She’s talking about examples like the one I …

Use Narrative Summary Appropriately

Last time, I said Inappropriate Narrative Summary was one of the main “telling” problems I see in manuscripts. Sometimes summary is appropriate. When your hero has to make a long journey, but the journey itself isn’t what’s important to the story, you could put “he traveled across the Atlantic that …

Use an engaging narrative voice

Whether the narrative is written from the POV of a character or a narrator, it must be engaging. Narrative is everything in the novel that’s not dialogue or interior monologue. So it’s a big chunk of the work, and it must grab the reader. That’s why I caution against Generic …

Voice in fiction is different

A fiction writer has a personality, a style, that carries across books. But the voice in a particular piece of writing may differ from others by the same author depending on the point of view. Which is why I have two different items on my checklist. The appropriate one for …

What voice is and why an author needs one

In the writing business, we often speak of a writer’s voice. This is a complex topic, but it’s simpler for nonfiction writers. Your voice is your personality on paper. Writers are often told “write as you speak,” but that is an oversimplification. What we mean when we say that is …

Give characters distinct voices

Editors talk a lot about voice, and it’s a tricky thing to get a handle on. For one thing, there is an authorial voice; that is, each particular author has their own writing style that comes through regardless of the setting or topic of each novel. I prefer to think …

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