Show And Tell

Firstly, this post has to begin with an apology of sorts, because I haven’t been updating this like I meant to. I’ve been working on my book (Mage) which has only seven chapters left and is taking up a lot of my time because I’m ready to finish it. I’ve also been reminded that school somehow manages to take up time before it even starts. Sometimes finding the time to write is a challenge – I’m positive if you feel like you don’t have the time to write, you’re not alone. Adults are always complaining about working around their family’s schedules and their jobs, and as a teenager I’ve found school to be the number one thing that makes writing a struggle. So congratulations to you if you’ve found time to write despite all of this. Keep it up. 

I wanted to talk about something that is probably one of the first things you’ve ever heard if you’re a writer. Show, don’t tell.  It took me a while to actually start to put this advice to use. It seems like simple advice, but I’ve found it’s something easier said than done. Eliminate the word feel from your writing. This goes especially for a first person POV. 

Instead of having your character say s/he feels dizzy, have them reach out for the wall (or other nearby object) to steady them. Instead of telling the reader your character feels nervous, have them bite their nails or mess with their hair (probably a girl for that one) or keep them glancing at the clock. As the lovely quote from Anton Chekhov says, Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.  Make an effort in your writing to eliminate words that might distance your characters from your reader.

Try to describe feelings. Everyone knows how they feel when they’re angry, but show your reader that your character is angry by describing them. Don’t forget that people respond to different emotions differently. Stress might make one character quiet, while another can’t stop talking or even breaks into tears. 

What is one of your favourite descriptive passages in a novel/short story?

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the Villain

The protagonist of any story doesn’t matter very much unless you have a stunning rival for them to go up against.

Its arguable that everyone loves the villain just as much as they love the MC. But they want a realistic villain, which means as the author there are several things you need to figure out.

There’s some clamor for the evil, cackling villain who will kill anyone to get what s/he wants. I’ve certainly come across some creepy villains in the books I’ve read, but in my opinion, the best villains are the ones you can almost relate to. They’re the ones who have a logic behind their madness – a very twisted, maniacal logic, but a reason that makes some degree of sense nonetheless.

This is why it’s so important to know the villain’s back story. Understand what went wrong in their life to make them the villain. I really love the saying that everyone villain is just the victim whose story hasn’t been told because I think its very true. So give your villain something the readers can sympathize with. Understanding your villain’s back story also helps you to understand his goal. It’s the reason behind why s/he’s so awful.

Even the villain needs a weakness. Often the hero/ine discovers the villains flaw in the last, crucial moments of the book. If your villain has a weakness, it means they have some degree of morality. Is there someone they care about? Is there something they wont do no matter what? Give your readers something to relate with. Give your villain both good and bad qualities. 

After all of this, after building up sympathy, this is where you still need to have your villain do something despicable. Something I really love is when the author manages to get the reader to believe the villain might make the right decision, and then turn back on that and remind you that this is the villain. Make the readers themselves question how they ever managed to fall in love with the villain. It’s much easier said than done.

Think about some villains in literature/films. What are the qualities that simultaneously made you love/hate them?
I have to bring up what is possibly my favourite villain. Loki, in any of the Marvel movies. It’s a largely known fact that there are a lot of people that actually watch the movie for Loki, not Thor. We’ve fallen in love with his back story, and he still manages to remind us time and time again that he isn’t a good person. So why do we still want to believe he is? I absolutely love Loki’s character. It has the continuous struggle between good and bad in one person.

-Aivee