richard harland's writing tips

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Story
 

 

Other Story Topics

 

2.Middles

3.Climax & After

4.Momentum

5. Pacing

 


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index

 

1. Beginnings

 

(ii) STARTING ON THE INSIDE


Starting inside a scene is very different to approaching it slowly from outside. There’s a special verbal knack to presenting it as the characters experience it.

In real life, if you’re describing a room in a house to someone who hasn’t been there, you say things like:

There’s a long table …
and a painting of a landscape …
and a green carpet …

Similarly with the 19th century novel:

A small village…
a family that …

Note the ‘a’s, indefinite articles—not ‘the’s.

You move to the definite article only after you’ve introduced these things:

There’s a long table and a vase of chrysanthemums on the table …

When you start a novel inside a scene, though, you use the rather than a, because the characters experience these things as already known and familiar. It’s a sort of pretence that the reader enters into.

She paced up and down on the green carpet …
the table was covered in dust, as usual …

This isn’t exactly a helpful tip—living and reading in the 21st century, any author will do it automatically. Interesting, though.

 

 

OTHER BEGINNINGS TOPICS

 

(i) THE FAST GRAB

(iii) WHERE TO OPEN?

(iv) FEEDING THROUGH A BACKSTORY

(v) REDUCING IN RETROSPECT

(vi) CALCULATED MYSTERY

(vii) UNFAMILIAR OTHERWORLDS

(viii) STARTING FROM A CORNER

(ix) FANTASY PROLOGUES

 
 

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Copyright note: all material on this website is (c) Richard Harland, 2009-10
 
 
Copyright note: all written material on this website is copyright
1997 - 2010 Richard Harland.