Monday, September 12, 2011

Writing Tip ABCs, Part 5, M-O

The Writing Tip ABCs Series continues this week with the letters M, N, O.

We might as well get right to it!


Characters must be highly MOTIVATED. Stakes should be high--life or death or at least a state at which life would be greatly changed in a negative way if the hero is unsuccessful in meeting his goals. If the protagonist's motivation isn't high enough, readers won't care what happens to him. In the movie "Firewall" Harrison Ford's family is held hostage while he must rob his own bank. Stakes are high--both his family's lives and his business are at extreme risk.

Writers sometimes choose words with double MEANINGS to add a special flavor to a phrase or sentence. Take a look at this sentence: Annmarie suddenly realized her stock broker, the man who'd just let her in on a lucrative new venture, had an office on the ground floor of the high rise.

METAPHORS enhance literature by making it more powerful in some way. Example: The sunset was a collage of purple, red, yellow, blue and green.


The NEMESIS in every story must be a strong challenger to the protagonist. Think Lex Luther vs Superman but also consider the mild mannered trustee in "Rain Man" who was Charlie Babbit's (Tom Cruse) nemesis. Luther knew how to zap Superman physically, and the trustee had all the legal power over the money which Charlie wanted so badly.

Keeping NOTES on characters, events, important facts (and minor facts too) as you write helps an author maintain continuity in her book.

A character's NAME can say a lot about him/her. Consider an Old West sheriff named Matt versus one named Percy.


The "point of view" character in a scene tries to meet an OBJECTIVE. His antagonist in the scene has his own objective. Watching these two opposites collide makes the scene compelling for the reader.

Though readers will expect a "happily ever after" OUTCOME for most novels, a prudent writer will enhance the HEA with something better than the reader expects.

Be sure to include the OLFACTORY system in your writing. The sense of smell is potent. Using a familiar odor or aroma can make an object, event, location, even a character more real. Tell me, don't these words conjure up some vivid images or pleasant or unpleasant associations? fresh-baked apple cinnamon pie, steaming chilli, a dead skunk on the highway.

For more Writing Tip ABCs go to my Twitter page at:

Have a great week!


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author

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