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The Future Bookshelf Blog

‘It is not your job to be a textbook but to tell a story’

To quote Dr. Seuss, when it comes to fiction, there’s just no telling all the places you’ll go. Setting and atmosphere can often be the abiding memory one has of a book. For me, I […]

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‘Settings can determine your characters’ chances of happiness and success’

The importance of settings to believable characters  from Developing Characters by Irving Weinman   Settings as sources of character are particularly significant when the setting is historical. One way of understanding what’s involved is to […]

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‘Descriptions set the scene, creating emotions in the audience’

Making the most of settings, décor and locations  from Complete Screenwriting Course by Charles Harris   Descriptions set the scene, creating emotions in the audience – or failing to. Don’t always accept the first location […]

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‘Make it a time and place you can easily imagine’

In choosing the time and place in which to set your novel, it’s worth considering which concrete details are going to be interesting or unusual to describe. Try to evoke the senses in descriptions of […]

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‘As I build the characters, they build the place’

How do you build a world? I imagine a kind of woods that the characters enter and try to navigate. The woods can be a prairie landscape or the Ottawa Valley or New York City […]

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‘Plot is the story of someone who wants or needs something’

The role of needs in plot construction from Your Writing Coach by Jurgen Wolff   A common observation about plot is that it’s the story of someone who wants or needs something and his or […]

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‘A novel will end up asserting or exemplifying whatever it damn well pleases’

Should writers know their ending from the beginning? There are thankfully so very few shoulds in novel writing. And this just doesn’t feel like one of them.  A novel will end up asserting or exemplifying […]

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‘Faithful storytelling, competent narrative, even perfect grammar are no use unless we want to know what happens and keep turning the page’

  The importance of plot – it’s how you tell it   There’s a lot written about story v. plot v. narrative – you’re all bright people, you can disappear down the Google rabbit hole […]

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‘Respect your reader’s intelligence and whatever you do, don’t be boring’

  What makes a good plot twist? And how do you build up to it? How many clues should you give the reader? There is no perfect plot formula. I cannot tell you the number […]

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How Do I Plot My Novel?

A twist can turn a plot – and a story – on its head. This month we’d like you to insert a twist in a popular fable or fairy tale and tell us what happens […]

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‘When the main planks of your structure are in place, it’s time to look at the smaller timbers’

Subplots and adding texture to your story from Complete Screenwriting Course by Charles Harris   With the main planks of the structure in place, it’s time to look at the smaller timbers. Without any subplots, […]

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‘There are plots which you’ve been reading or watching unfold for your whole life’

  Since the beginning of the Western storytelling tradition, stories have had plots. Your job is to invite your reader on an emotional ride. By choosing a plot, you are giving them clues about what […]

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