Setting (How to Write a Book)

SETTING THE SETTING: Start with a tight focus on one feature before zooming out to reveal characters or setting – or start with landscape, then close in on the character. If you’re in love with a place, that will come across. Distance from a place can help you to reimagine it. Consistency is one of the biggest challenges when writing about place. The humidity of Faulkner’s south; the moors of Wuthering Heights; the leafy lanes of John McGahern’s novels. Reading a story with an ingrained sense of setting is almost like walking its landscape. A novelist who can locate a reader in a very specific place can offer an immersive experience. Like all the components of a story – character, story, tone – it can be difficult to approach place separately. Just how important is setting? Paul Lynch, author of Red Sky in Morning and The Black Snow, offers a test. “Here’s a little thought experiment. Imagine your life, but while doing so, remove entirely where you are now. Tricky, isn’t it? You cannot exist out of context. Why would your characters be any different? In my own writing, I use a sense of place not just to locate the reader in the world I’m writing about, but also to alienate them from the real world they are in.” If place is so central to a story, writers can either stand at page one with a compass in hand or write their way into a landscape of their own imagination. For American writer Willy Vlautin, setting percolates in his mind before any other aspect of the book. “I always have the place in mind...

TRACELESS, by Joanne Clancy (#Giveaway #SampleSunday)

Head over to Goodreads for your chance to win a paperback copy of TRACELESS. This is an international giveaway. Click here to enter now! Praise for Traceless: If you like authors such as Gillian Flynn or Rachel Abbott then this is definitely a novel for you. This is a super fast paced thriller that keeps you guessing right to the end. Although it is nominally a missing persons book it actually turns more into a psychological thriller as the investigators try to unravel what really happened. The ending was definitely a surprise, you will never guess it. It marks the book out from others in the genre. ~ John Forrester, The Crime Scene I loved this book. If I had an award to hand out for “best hook in a novel,” Clancy would win the gold medal. The minute I started reading my eyeballs nearly popped out of my head. Traceless keeps the action moving along at a nice pace and crosses the finish line with the momentum of an Olympic sprinter. – Belinda, Every Free Chance Book Reviews   Adam Stoltz vanishes in the middle of the night. His girlfriend, Darcey Ackerman, is the last person to see him alive. Darcey escapes their mystery attacker, but the police doubt her story. An international manhunt and police investigation ensues, but Adam and the mystery man are traceless. Intrepid crime reporter, Gina Jones, believes that someone knows what really happened to Adam. However, she soon discovers that nothing is as it seems… Traceless. Some people should never be found.   Chapter 1 Darkness descended as the young couple drove towards...

Saturday Selection #1

Welcome to Saturday Selection – my weekly selection of interesting articles I’ve found on the web. To avoid spending too much time online procrastinating, when I should be writing (!), I save all the interesting posts I find around the web and read them on Saturday afternoon. So, I thought it might be helpful to share my finds in a new feature on my blog called “Saturday Selection”.   Without further ado, here are my top 10 finds for this week: 10 Tips to make your cozy mystery sell 2 Easy steps to greatly increase the chances of your tweets being read. Triberr Tips 21 Tips to enhance your social media presence Google Plus linky party How to run a Goodreads giveaway with maximal results Is your Amazon author page a dead end? How to stand out on social media Bookbub’s 15 Tips to help sell your ebook series Anatomy of a blog   Have you found any interesting links around the web this week? Let me know in the comments below!...

The Accident, by C.L. Taylor (#BookReview)

The Accident, by C. L. Taylor is one of those books that I would NOT recommend reading in the dark, alone., in the middle of the night … I was tucked  up under my duvet, glued to my Kindle at 3.30a.m., and I almost jumped out of my skin at every creak and sound of the night. At one stage, the bathroom window started to bang loudly, and my heart almost exploded! The Accident was a gripping read from start to finish. The author did a superb job of slowly building the tension, and demonstrating the frighteningly insidious hold, which a true psychopath can have over their victim. The story revolves around Charlotte Jackson, who is in a coma as a result of being hit by a bus. At first, it seems like an accident, but nothing about this book is quite what it seems. It was difficult to know who to trust. Was the mother crazy? Was the father a pervert? Was it a genuine accident? However, as the mother unravels, the real truth unravels with her. The mother has dark secrets from her past, which she has struggled for years to leave behind. However, she cannot confront the demons of the past until she faces the horror of the present, and both her past and present collide with horrifying consequences. I haven’t been gripped so much by a book since S.J. Watson’s “Before I go to Sleep” and Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl”. The Accident is an absolute must read!   Blurb: A gripping psychological thriller about the deadly secrets your children can keep … Sue Jackson has...

Structure (How to Write a Novel)

Earlier in this series, we discussed the idea of outlining, of sketching a rough trajectory for your story. Structure is a lynch-pin for some writers, something ancillary for others, and the book you write may not adhere to the classic structure outlined by German dramatist Gustav Freytag. Freytag’s pyramid is generally applied to plays, but is loosely applicable to other forms. For him, a story’s dramatic structure follows the line of exposition: introduction and background to a story or character rising action crisis (the main issue facing the character) falling action conclusion. As prescriptive as it may sound, many writers use it to hang their stories on. Jon McGregor, winner of the International Impac Dublin Literary Award for “Even the Dogs”, considers structure important, but more for specifics. “I do think about it when I’m putting a novel together, but more in terms of the actual nuts and bolts of the book – lengths of sections, sequences, images, themes. What I’m looking for is some kind of scaffolding, which will give me a way to get the damn thing written so I can actually start the real work. “In my first novel, “If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things”, the narrator, who is pregnant, narrates her sections in nine paragraphs of nine sentences each. In “Even the Dogs”, each chapter is framed around a stage in the removal of a body (discovery, carrying, waiting, dissection, cremation). These structures are almost always too faint in the finished book for the reader to notice, but they’re essential for my writing process.” Wyld style Both of Evie Wyld’s novels straddle different continents. Her...