A to Z for writers

  • A IS FOR AUTHOR – that’s you! If using a pen name, note copyright differences may apply.
  • B is for back story – not too much and not in large chunks.
  • C is for characters – fiction’s life blood. What are their dreams and hopes? Favourite food, music and clothes?
  • D is for development – whether you are a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser,’ the plot needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end – eventually.
  • E is for ego – not to be confused with confidence. Remember to ‘Kill your darlings’ and accept critique if you want to improve your writing.
  • F is for fiction- if you didn’t like your boss, disguise him properly before including him as Bad Guy.
  • G is for goal – what does the protagonist want?
  • H is for hate – another great plot motivation but leaven the mixture or the plot will be too dense to wade through
  • I is for irrelevant – details or characters that contribute nothing.
  • J is for jealousy or justice – both are useful starting or finishing points for a story.
  • K is for knowledge – the self-knowledge the protagonist should gain by the end of the story.
  • L is for loose ends – don’t leave any dangling.
  • M is for moving the story on – in every scene.
  • N is for normal – if you are writing a fantasy take time developing what is ‘normal’ for the characters. Show them going about their daily life so the reader understands their world.
  • O is for orientation. Give the reader signposts so they aren’t floundering to understand.
  • P is for pace – don’t rush things but don’t spin out a scene until it sends readers to sleep
  • Q is for Queer (LGBTI+) characters – give them space to be who they are.
  • R is for rambling – scenes or speeches with no obvious point or end.
  • S is for ‘show not tell’. (You knew that one).
  • T is for Tokenism – a perfunctory effort at including a character from a minority group.
  • U is for undercover or underground – a popular plot element in many thrillers and war stories. It won’t be disappearing any time soon. Put your characters in mortal danger!
  • V is for Voice -Find your own. It’s in there.
  • W is for weather – don’t start your story with a dark and stormy night or any other sort of weather (unless the title is The Tornado).
  • X is for the unknown – the twist in the tail and tale. In a crime story or mystery, the more the merrier.
  • Y is for YA, quite separate from children’s books and adult. Fast changing market. Try https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/ to see if you’re writing what’s hot.
  • Z is for zebra or zealot or any distinctive character adding spice to the story.

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