Writing Tips #6 (The Power Of Foreshadowing)

Here comes the last and the most vital part to embellish your stories! With the power of foreshadowing, a writer can achieve that one thing they have took all the efforts for— Reader’s Interest. Before we begin, these are the previous tips to keep in mind before you plan to start your story.
#1 – Word Count and Story Length

#2 – Choosing the genre/ Conceptualizing the story
#3 – Sequencing the Plot
#4 – Character Development
#5 – First Person/ Second Person/ Third Person Narrative
#6 – The Power of Foreshadowing


Foreshadowing can be used in many different ways to generate interest & make the reader second guess the proceedings of the story. Here we would elaborate the different types of textbook foreshadowing and learn how to use them for our benefit.

The Wall (Concrete Foreshadowing)

As the name suggests, while using this type of foreshadowing you(as a writer) would explicitly warn the reader about the future. Personally, I like to call it the silence before the storm. It is mostly done when you want readers to be aware of something and thus give subtle hints about it. These hints, nevertheless, if left unused in the future, leads to forming plot holes. Thus disappointing the readers and losing trust from your narration skills.

A simple example:
If your characters are going to enter a fight which hasn’t yet started and you mention a weapon lying somewhere or hung on a wall, then it’s a clue for your readers to apprehend the fact that it’ll be used in the fight.

Prophecies (Fortune Foreshadowing)

This foreshadowing isn’t always in the form of a prophecy, but a way to predict the future in an unclear and unintelligible way. The predictions are commonly done to confuse the reader but usually turn true by the end of a story. The prophecies are mostly linked with the fate of the characters or system taken under consideration. These predictions explicitly giveaway the future to the reader but it’s never completely apprehended by them. Use it wisely and the readers would stick to your story by the end to see what happens.

A simple example:
If a prophecy is mentioned where the protagonist defeats an undefeatable antagonist, readers would be intrigued to see how it happens.

Flashback/ Flashforward (Evocative Foreshadowing)

At times when there are scenes which do not fit in the current happenings of the storyline, you would traditionally use a flashback/flash-forward to nudge readers with a clue that would have a prominent significance in the present timeline. Flashbacks and Flashforwards should be brief and relevant. Sometimes, they reveal the traits of a character.

A simple example:
In Robert Langdon’s series, author Dan Brown uses Flashback to reveal Robert Langdon’s fear of closed spaces (claustrophobia). Without the flashback, Robert’s claustrophobia would had been less significant and many important scenes would prove puzzling to the British author’s readers.

The Red Herring (False Foreshadowing)

Fallacy is the main factor of this foreshadowing. This type of foreshadowing is mostly used in detective mysteries. When you use this foreshadowing, you would raise suspicion in the mind of a reader towards something or someone that is far away from the actual culprit. It is one of the best ways to surprise a reader, since it makes them believe in things aren’t true but seem to be. When the curtains of fallacy are revealed, every false scene used by you should fall in place with the truth. Meaning that readers should believe that they never saw the hidden side of the whole situation and not that they were fooled by you.

A simple example:
A detective may suspect one of the characters to the culprit due to some facts that come up during the investigation. At times, in the end it maybe discovered that someone else other than that character is the culprit. Now, if you fail to make reason why the detective believed the wrong character was the culprit your readers would lose faith in the intelligence of the detective.


That brings us to the end of the Writing Tips series. If you’ve been keeping up with all of the parts, I’d really appreciate if you had your own tips for me or if these tips proved helpful to you. After all, the world is round and we all learn something or the other from each other. Thank you.


©The Honest Fabler
©Image Source- Google Images

Writing Tips #5(First Person/ Second Person/ Third Person Narrative)

“Welcome again, my people.” He sang his cliché intro with full enthusiasm, hoping his words would lighten up the day of his readers. “This is technically the first new write-up on the website,” There he goes again with his new website. “So Kudos and let’s begin!”


It’s better if the third person shuts up, now! I’m sorry for the delay, it won’t be happening anymore. Yep, even you can’t trust that. Never mind him.

As we’ve been discussing lately about the basic skills of writing a story, today we’ll move forward to the way one colors the canvas of their story. A quick look on our progress:

#1 – Word Count and Story Length
#2 – Choosing the genre/ Conceptualizing the story
#3 – Sequencing the Plot
#4 – Character Development
#5 – First Person/ Second Person/ Third Person Narrative
#6 – The Power of Foreshadowing


Most commonly known types of narration are:

  1. First Person Narrative
  2. Second Person Narrative
  3. Third Person Narrative

There’s nothing new to add in them, other than some insights to each type. An important question would be discussed in the latter part of the post.

First Person Narrative

In a first person narrative, the narrator uses the pronoun “I”. He/She is a character in the story, although their involvement in the story may be a subject of question. Thus, it is divided into further types:

Major/Minor Character

A first person narrator who is a part of the active story helps the reader relate to it from that particular character’s point of view.

Major Character:

The kind of narrative where the main protagonist or the antagonist narrates the story, makes the reader well acquainted with the character’s personality, hence he/she becomes a key element of the story. If you opt to choose this kind of narrative, you’ll have to forget your instincts as a person and dive into the mind of the character since it is them, who’s speaking and not you.

Example- Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan.
Verdict – Use only if your story revolves around a specific set of characters and not the remaining world.

Minor Character:

This character can stand anywhere in the hierarchy from the major character’s best friend to a janitor who’s overlooking the story taking place in an office or anywhere else where he/she works. The character may not be of any importance in the active story, but they become important for the reader since they are the eyes of the reader. The one thing you need to remember when using this narrative is that you should try to mix judgement of the character while narrating, just to add a pinch of originality to it.

Example- Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Verdict – Use when you want to make the reader relate to the story, deeply. And not prioritize the character narrating it.

Second Person Narrative

The thing about second person narratives is that it divulges the reader so much into it, that it technically seems as if the reader is being dragged. (A personal observation.) This happens mostly because it uses the word “You” forcing the reader to be a participant of the story and doing things they might not wish to. So, honestly I have no unbiased view on this type. My apologies.

Third Person Narrative

When it comes to showing off your skills as a narrator, there’s no better option than a third person narrative. Here, the writer is the person narrating the story which makes it an opportunity to be your best self. It is, naturally, divided into two parts as well.

Character Oriented

In this narrative the narrator(you) knows only as much the characters of the story have discovered and can portray only their thoughts and feelings. To the maximum extent, they can describe scenarios and settings such as day and night.

Example- Harry Potter by J.K Rowling.
Verdict – An optimized way to keep the reader well updated with the characters and flaunting your skills as a writer/narrator.

World Oriented

These narrators can be aptly termed as Gods. They know everything that is happening in a story and will let the reader know it. The best part about this narrative, is that since the reader knows everything prior to the characters his anticipation to know their reaction increases.

Example- Unwind by Neal Shusterman.
Verdict – An optimized way to keep the reader well updated with the characters and flaunting your skills as a writer/narrator.

Greatest Question: In what tense does the story take place?

Another question we all come across is “What should be the tense of the story?”, to be honest it depends on how we Sequence the Plot

That’s it for today, writers! I’m glad you invested your time in reading this article. If it turns out helpful, then be sure to comeback next week to learn the power of foreshadowing.


© The Honest Fabler

©Image source- Google Images

Writing tips #4(Character Development)

Greetings fellow bloggers & readers!

Let us imagine a situation where I’d greet each one of you by your own names. Wouldn’t that make you more likely to read my posts with much more enthusiasm? Indeed, it’s true because our names are something we all love to be addressed with & names, in general, are what our minds remember the best.
This brings me to the second most important element of our recipe— Characters!
Before we begin here is the list we are following:
#1 – Word Count and Story Length
#2 – Choosing the genre/ Conceptualizing the story
#3 – Sequencing the Plot
#4 – Character Development
#5 – First Person/ Second Person/ Third Person Narrative
#6 – The Power of Foreshadowing


How many of you have heard about the great detective, Sherlock Holmes? Or the famous secret agent James Bond?
Now, if you haven’t read about them you may not know what their story is or how they are as individuals but you can surely guess that Sherlock Holmes is a complex man + a smarty pants while James Bond is a handsome gentleman.

When it comes to developing a character you need to think of a person. An imaginary friend, to be precise. And like every unique friend of yours, the character you develop needs to have the uniqueness AND yet stay within the bonds of realism.

The main aspects of character development:

  • Emotional vulnerabilities
  • Physical attributes
  • Attitude towards peers
  • Character’s angels [Strengths]
  • Character’s demons
  • Backstory
  • Name

These are not noted in any particular order of importance since every aspect is very important & can be given attention to arbitrarily.

Emotional Vulnerabilities

A person who doesn’t have emotions is never a person who’s alive. A character may choose not to showcase his emotions to others but that shouldn’t lead to a false image that the character completely lack emotions. When writers make a character who doesn’t have any emotional conscience, the readers get frustrated as there are no insights; no reasoning for that particular character to be the way he/she is. An emotional vulnerability may vary by its intensity, but there is always something or someone that a person cares for so deep that it concerns their happiness and well being.

Physical Attributes

Note: Mostly necessary for long stories.

A reader cannot picture a person without knowing how they look, how tall their body frame is or what remarkable features they possess. And since the eyes of a writer are the eyes of a reader, the writer needs to describe the appearance of character.
These descriptions not only help to picture the character, but also leaves a particular impression about them. For example, broad shoulders of a character portray a sense of confidence in them, oftenly associated with bravery.

Attitude Towards Peers

Don’t judge a man by his friends. Remember that the friends of Judah were impeccable.

-Ernest Hemingway

Judging a character by the type of people he stay with might lead to confusing and varied outcomes. But the way a character, him/herself, feels towards his/her peers is what sets everything straight. The peers are mostly the character’s entourage, the people our characters spend their time with. The attitude of a character towards their entourage is a reflection of how that character feels towards their own choices.

Character’s Angels [Strengths]

Always remember characters are writer’s imaginary friends. And the way some of our friends can help us in lifting heavy grocery bags or some might give us a warm feeling of comfort when we’re low while some may help us in maths homework, even our characters need to have such varying strengths. A character may be physically weak but their mind could still be a beast and thus they could make the craziest plans.(Evil or for the greater Good.)

Character’s Demons

People make mistakes. All the time. If our characters become the perfectionists who never commit a mistake, the amount of disappointment and suspense to the outcome of an event decrease drastically in the mind of a reader. The demons of a character never make them flawed, instead they make the character more realistic. The demons of a character are what make the character- humans.

BackStory

This is the foundation of developing a character. A character that is currently a doctor could have been once a homeless abandoned child, nobody knows. Feed to the curiosity of a reader, for the reader appreciates a mind boggling little details that we add in a character.

Name

As I said, initially, a name is what defines your character. The name makes the first impression on the reader and later the character.(Not always applicable for all characters.) However, having a catchy name for a character is not more important than matching the name of a character to their personality.

Bonus tip:

A writer doesn’t always pay more attention to the development of a lead character and ignore the rest, rather they pay attention to each and every character equally and make sure there are not holes. So, whenever you have an idea of a character, no matter how stupid, jot it down. For who knows where you might need a clown or a psychopath or a savior in disguise of a best friend.
PS— This bonus tip helps a lot.

How do you think will you describe your character? As the writer, or the character themself or as a person who’s along the characters? Yep, you got me right. I’m talking about the type of narration. Stay tuned next week, to get an idea of what type of narration would suit the best.


©The Honest Fabler

©Cover credits- Google Images

Writing Tips #3(Sequencing the Plot)

Warm regards, wonderful readers and amazing writers! You have now reached that step of your recipe, where the tastemaker is added to the dish. Without this, your stories would be nothing but meaningless collection of words. Still wondering what I’m talking about? It’s the plot of your story! If you start writing a story without a plot, then I’m pretty sure you’ll keep coming across writer’s blocks after every scene. Before we begin, the steps of beginning our story are still unchanged:

#1 – Word Count and Story Length
#2 – Choosing the genre/ Conceptualizing the story
#3 – Sequencing the Plot
#4 – Character Development
#5 – First Person/ Second Person/ Third Person Narrative
#6 – The Power of Foreshadowing

By now, if you’ve followed the previous parts then you’re pretty acquainted with the wants of your story and know what genre you would write in. Pat your back, you’ve earned it.

As you move further to the story’s plot, you should know how necessary is it to have a plot. A plot is what will give direction to your story and most importantly help in reasoning every sentence mentioned in it. The reasoning is a mandatory part, however, it can be kept a secret and be used to keep the reader’s curious using the mystical charm of foreshadowing.(More about it when we ice the cake.)

Now, our main concerns are not :

  1. Writing a Plot— since it varies from every individual writer to another.
  2. Deciding what chronological order a story would follow— since there are numerous ways to do it and again it depends on the writer and his story.

“So, what are you even talking about?”

I, my friends, am talking about sequencing the heat/the action/the happenings/the thrill/ the suspense of the whole story. The course of action in a story should gradually reach to a peak and then begin its downfall as it reaches the climax.  A story which doesn’t have ups and downs would never leave a mark on the reader. Thus here are the 4 main coordinates of a storyline.

wp-1490195363828.jpg
A poorly drawn sketch by myself.
1. Beginning / Start of a Conflict / Introduction

A beginning as shown in the sketch, doesn’t have to be a boring situation where nothing interesting happens. In fact, it has to be interesting enough to keep the readers intrigued. But in comparison to the rest of the storyline, it has to ascend the peak of interest and thus it has to be intriguing but not the highest intriguing point. A beginning or an introduction as it is called can be taking place at any moment in the actual timeline of the story, since the main motive of it is only to acquaint the readers with a conflict that will be focusing the main plot of the story.

2. Middle / Peak

The most happening part of your story is going to be the peak of activity. It could be  a situation where [In a mystery] readers will start getting clues enough to try solving a mystery on their own or [In a War based story] one battalion is about to conquer another or— well, you get the general idea. After this point, the storyline again starts to settle. Thus this is commonly associated with the middle of the story.

3. Climax

The climax is always the most intense part of anything, so why isn’t it at the end or at the peak? The reason for not keeping it at the very end is that it will leave the readers wondering what happens after it or with an unsatisfied feeling of being left at a cliffhanger. Cliffhangers are recommended only if you plan to write another extension to the story. And the reason for it to not be the peak point is that gradually decreasing the heat to an end is better than directly dropping from a high climax to a steep end. Nobody likes falling on their faces, do they?

4.End / Conclusion

Started a conflict in the beginning, remember? In the end, no matter what places your story has went throughout, it has to come back to a point and turn static. The end has to be a pavilion to closed ends. The threads that you’ve pulled out have to rest and should be taken care of. If there are questions unanswered they would rise to plot holes. And plot holes are what we have to be aware of. (BE EXTRA AWARE!) So, whenever you reach to the end of your story, check all the questions that you’ve planted in the mind of the reader and cross check if they are all answered. A story with an incomplete end is only accepted by readers if they are expecting another sequel to the story.

Once you set your plot straight you are ready to focus on the attributes of your characters and developing strong personalities. Stay tuned next week to learn about the basics of developing a character.


©The Honest Fabler

©Cover credits- Google Images

Writing Tips #2(Choosing the genre)

Hello, once again, beautiful souls! As discussed every week we are going to proceed with the tips on fictional writing and the sequence remains the same:
#1 – Word Count and Story Length
#2 – Choosing the genre/ Conceptualizing the story
#3 – Sequencing the Plot
#4 – Character Development
#5 – First Person/ Second Person/ Third Person Narrative
#6 – The Power of Foreshadowing

Now, you must have a pretty good idea on how long your story should be, Kudos! But what good a story is without a particular genre? Today we’ll discuss the basics of choosing a genre for your story and conceptualizing it.

Choosing the Genre

Once you sit down to start a story, you shouldn’t start with the first chapter itself. But if you do, then don’t worry. You can always use it somewhere or the other. Even I did that initially, but it makes the foundation of the story shaky.
So, now when you sit down to start a story you ask yourself—

  • What do I want my story to portray?

When you have the answer to this very question, you should think on—

  • Will my desire to portray this particular thing be satisfied by this particular genre?

These two questions are the most natural hurdles you will face when starting your own story but these are the most vital ones.

Stop complicating things and help us figure it out, Ashutosh!

Alright, the first question— What do I want my story to portray? — is the easiest, since you are the one who knows the answer. Didn’t get what I mean?
What I mean to say is, you are the creator of the story. Which makes you omnipotent to answer any question related to your creation. Including, what your story should portray.

To make it simpler, let’s assume J.K Rowling has sat down for the first time and is thinking about starting a story. She answers the first question quite easily.(Obviously, this is just an illustration.)

“Oh, What do I want my story to portray?
Hmm, Yes! I want my story to reflect friendship, some magical things, my deepest fears, and having a school where friends turn into a family will be amazing. The good conquering the evil and making my readers relate themselves to the characters are a must, too. Let’s go!”

The next thing she does is wonder what genre would help her do this exact thing.

“Ah, this will be amazing if I made it a Science Fiction story. A school controlled by robots, and a robot apocalypse which is defeated by humans by their intelligence and strategies. But wait, what about magic? Oh yes, this story could be based in future and thus science has made man able to do magic. But then what about readers relating themselves to my characters? Obviously the future won’t be completely same to our current world. Bah! This is so much to do. I’ll drop the idea.”

Well, that isn’t what she did though, since she came back to her desk and thought harder.

“Okay, if I want magic in my story then how about making it a fantasy? And if I want to make my readers relate to the characters, then why shouldn’t I make the story based on the current period. Well, to add to their amusement I’ll completely base the story on a world that runs parallel to us! Yes, I’ll make my own world and I’ll connect it to the world of humans. How amazing would that be? Let’s get started with the Fantasy that has no bounds to stop my imagination! Yay!”

And friends, that’s how Harry Potter was born.(Just an illustration.)

It applies the same to other genres, for example: If you want your story to revolve around a crime you could make it a Murder/Crime Thriller and add other attributes to it. Which means, whatever genre you choose doesn’t mean that your story has everything based only in that genre. This brings me to the next point—

Conceptualizing the story

After deciding the main genre of the story, you’ve to decide what suitable sub-genres can be added. Sub-genres are the Moon to your Earth(main genre). An example of a sub-genre is adding a little bit of Romance/Love Story in a book that comes under the genre: Horror.

The one thing you should take care about, however, is that these sub-genres don’t over shadow your main genre. When you pluck out these genres and sub-genres from your mind, a perfect idea of what your story is would start to develop. But that’s not where you actually start to write, since your story doesn’t have a plot. Well, not yet!
More about developing a plot and sequencing it would be explain in next week’s tip: Sequencing the Plot.

Stay tuned!


©The Honest Fabler

©Cover Credits – Google Images

Writing tips #1(Word Count and Story Length)

Hello/Namaste amazing people!
I’ve seen a lot of bloggers write wonderful stories. A story that has perfect descriptions, great characters, balanced action scenes and every little ingredient that contributes to increase the standards of a story. But there’s this one thing that they forget. Guessed it, yet?

Yes, it’s the most effective term of a fictional story. Its length and the word count.

Many a times what goes wrong is, one doesn’t know what length would be suitable for a particular story. The general word counts and types of stories are as follows:

1. Six-Word Story (One liners)

Clear enough, these stories have an exact length of six words. The only way to master these stories, is to pour every emotion and meaning in the 6 carefully chosen words. Since they’re so tiny they need to have a great impact, else it won’t mean a thing. Surprisingly, the first popular Six-word story was created when someone asked Ernest Hemingway to write a short story in six words. But his authorship over the piece is a little skeptical, nevertheless it is one fine piece that has gave rise to a whole new chapter in the book of literature.

220px-Classic_baby_shoes

For sale: baby shoes, never worn

Though this contains only 6 words, the amount of grief in it can make one cry. So, keeping the meaning of the words in mind try to write sentences that won’t require a backstory and could be understood by anyone without a context.

2. 140 Character Story (Twitterature)

Everyone who uses twitter is well aware of this character limit and of the marvellous wonders that people do within it. A little more flexible than 6 words, this type of story has everything packed in punches. Thus a character or two can be included in it, but of course the same rule applies to Twitterature as One Liners, no background should be required for one to understand what’s happening in the write-up.

A Pound of Gaudy Flesh

Jake picked up the sharp knife, fingered the golf ball sized cyst under his arm, and wished (not for the first time) he had health insurance.

3. Dribble (50 words) — Drabble (100 words)

This is the most challenging word count for any writer. To limit himself and tell a story is a tough job. And this limit certainly does the best in provoking the writer’s skills of brevity and ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas. The greatest “must have” in this kind of a story is:

  • at least a character. (or a narrator)
  • a setting of the scene.
  • some conflict that would concern the readers.
  • a long lasting moral that would ring a bell.

My attempt at drabble (56 words):

The Antiques Collector

4. Flash/Sudden Fiction(around 750 words)

Here comes my personal favorite! If you happen to be a reader of my Fables then you might know why this is my best suited category. This is the longest adventure that one can have in one go, without getting bored. Even extending this category to 1000 words would be fine, but be sure to keep it interesting and innovative. The general direction to keep in mind while writing a Flash/Sudden Fiction is:

  • maintain the relation throughout.
  • give brief but deep insight to the characters.
  • choose characters depending upon the scene.

My favorite Flash Fiction (696 words)

The Beggared Billionaire

5. Series Fiction/ Novel Writing

The last but not the least, comes a series! A very usual question that arises when your write-up has crossed the limit of 1000 words but the story hasn’t completed yet, then “WHAT DO WE DO?”
The answer is quite simple, break the story into parts. Depending on how the story progresses you can decide the length of the whole series yourself, but not forget the length on an individual part. If the story demands more than 20 parts(each part of 1000 words) then it’s wiser to convert it into a novel. Things to be aware of while writing a part of a series fiction:

  • every part should progress steadily, unless you reach the climax.(where the story can progress quicker)
  • use cliffhangers wisely. Too many would frustrate a reader while no cliffhangers would make the reader lose his interest.
  • post on fixed schedule (I’m a culprit, here.)

A completed Crime Thriller series on The Honest Fabler (4 parts)

Guilty as Charged

After thinking about it for a long time, I’ve finally decided to post tips on writing fictional stories. And give elaborated insights on each of it. Every week, I’ll be posting the following tips.
#1 – Word Count and Story Length
#2 – Choosing the genre/ Conceptualizing the story
#3 – Sequencing the Plot
#4 – Character Development
#5 – First Person/ Second Person/ Third Person Narrative
#6 – The Power of Foreshadowing


©The Honest Fabler
©Image credits- Google Images