Character Want vs Need

All journey’s start with the one basic concept: what does my protagonist want?

Is it true love? To defeat a force of great evil? Alternatively, is it world domination or revenge? Survival in a fight to the death, or to be recognised by their peers as a good human being. It doesn’t matter. What does matter, is that what your character wants isn’t what they need.

Confused? That’s okay. Your character is, too. But that’s what the story is all about discovering!

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The Heroine’s Journey Narrative Structure

Word Hunter

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I’ve recently finished a wonderful online course teaching one method for structuring a heroine’s journey. The problem with female characters – and male characters who are following an internal transition arc – is that I find they often don’t fit well in the typical Hero’s Journey. But there’s a secondary issue here – a heroine’s journey isn’t as clear-cut as I perhaps wanted it to be.

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Industry Standard Formatting

Are you a struggling writer? Have you sent off dozens of manuscripts to publishing houses and heard nothing back? Well, chances are there is a very simple mistake you are making, and this can be the difference between your work getting published or thrown in the bin.

I’m going to let you in on a little industry secret.

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Flashbacks

I was originally going to follow my Hero’s Journey article with the Heroine’s Journey. However, I’m currently working on Stephanie Walden’s manuscript, The Secret Dancer, and one of her prominent storytelling techniques is flashbacks.

Flashbacks seem to be one of those things people either love or hate. Problematic flashbacks include ones that:

  • Disrupt the flow of the narrative
  • Deflate story tension and pace
  • Are used for exposition (aka. Info Dumps)
  • Explain – or justify – character motivation.

These are just a few examples, but they are fairly prevalent.

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Currently Working on: The Secret Dancer

This month I start work on Stephanie Walden’s debut novel The Secret Dancer.

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The Secret Dancer – cover mock up

‘It was as if destiny brought them together on that night where it rained glass.’

Audrey is told by her father and brother that she cannot reveal to anyone that she is Jewish and that she must run away from home. But as soon as she is picked up by a Nazi general who is looking for a child to call his own, he suspects nothing of the lost girl. He sees her blonde hair and blue eyes, the Aryan traits and the ideal child. Audrey learns that her life will never be the same again after that one dark night.

Soon, Audrey learns that she must live a second life as the “model Citizen” of the time. She soon finds friendship through imagination, love through her passion of dance and reading, discrimination in the place she called home, and happiness in the people who care about her.

The Secret Dancer is a story about a young girl’s life through war, the cruel world she lived in, and the secrets she must keep safe. But not all secrets can be kept.

 

You can connect with Stephanie via  WordPress and Facebook, and follow the progress of this book here.

Vogler’s Hero’s Journey (3 Act Structure)

Whether readers/viewers know it or not, there is an unconscious expectation novels/films will fit a particular narrative structure. There are a number of narrative structures, and while you don’t need to rigidly follow every step, per say, it is important to understand these structures and why they work.

Vogler’s revision of the Hero’s Journey is the most well-known and will be the main example I use in the following article.

The Hero’s Journey follows a 3 Act structure (later, we will arbitrarily break this down into a page count measurement using the same rules for a 90 minute film script), and includes 12 stages:

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Manuscript Submission Form

If you would like to have your manuscript (or short story, script, fanfiction et al) edited, please complete the following submission form:

 

Personal Details:

Name:

Email:

Background relevant to this book:

Academic Qualifications:

Online Presence:

First language:

About the manuscript:

Suggested Title:

Word Count:

Genre:

Target Audience:

Standalone or series?

Describe manuscript in one paragraph (Under 250 words):

What book/show/movie is your manuscripts most similar to? (Give details of similar or comparable published works):

Please return this to:

email: amyrae2609@gmail.com

How to use Quotation Marks

Quotation Marks: Double or Single?

Quotation marks can be surprisingly tricky for some writers. You may have noticed certain books using either single (‘ ’) or double (“ ”) quotation marks, and don’t know which one to use for your own work. So which one is the right one?

Answer: Both.

Longer answer: Quotation marks are one of the many differences between American Standard and English Standard spelling and grammar.

American Standard tends to stick with double quotation marks, whereas English Standard uses single. It isn’t uncommon for books published with English Standard spelling to also use double quotation marks, but it is highly unlikely an American publishing house will use single quotation marks.

So which one should you use? If you’re looking to break into the American market, use double.

If you’re writing speculative fiction (Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror) then this is also a time to use double; if you’re writing literary fiction then use single. From what I have gathered, this seems to be an unspoken preference among publishing houses.

How do they work?

Hopefully you all know this by now. Quotation marks are used to enclose words intended as dialogue. Pretty obvious, I know. But here is where things get more technical and less obvious.

These examples may also be included in How to use Commas and How to Write Dialogue.

Say you want to have a character quoting someone else. This is where you get to use both.

“Chloe told me that ‘if you’re going to quote me, then at least have the decency to use a different style of quotation mark.'”

 

This second example is a very common mistake often seen with amateur writers.

“I thought you liked peaches.” said Chloe.

What is wrong with this sentence? Look closely.

“I thought you liked peaches,” said Chloe.

The dialogue tag (or, the verb and pronoun indicating who is delivering the dialogue) is part of the sentence. This means the full-stop must come at the end.

If you want to include a verb with your dialogue, be it a simple expression or an action, then use a full-stop:

Jimmy pulled a disgusted face. “No, they’re fuzzy and gross.”

“No, they’re fuzzy and gross.” Jimmy pushed the peaches away, disgusted.

In Layman’s terms — when you’re writing “said” then end your dialogue with a comma. If you’re using a verb (action, expression) then end your dialogue with a full-stop.

Editing Services

A lot of aspiring writers have the misconception that an editor’s job is to fix all the problems in someone’s work. The cold hard truth is that there is a lot more that goes into editing than some people assume.

Firstly, there is a variety of editing methods. Terminology may change from person-to-person, but the methods are always the same:

 

Development/Structure/Macro Editing

Generally, this area of editing is looking at the grand scheme of things. This will ask questions concerning your manuscript’s narrative structure, pacing, plot holes and continuity. Characters – their characterization and relatability – will also be looked at.

 

Line/Copy/Micro Editing

This looks at every individual line. Some may think of this as Proofreading, wherein issues with spelling and punctuation are amended. On a broader level, this ensures the writing is clear, consistent (with style, tense, and POV), and other minor issues.

 

Payment

As of February 2016, I will offer all the above services in a one package deal for $10 per 1000 words. Payments can be made through PayPal. If you are interested in my services, please email me at amyrae2609@gmail.com