Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Writing Tip O'Day #57

Getty Ambau shares the secrets of The Art of Storytelling. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone.

1. Write from your heart NOT from your head.

2. Show NOT tell. The sun is shining--is telling. A glint of light coming off of a broken glass--is showing.

3. Identify with the characters in your story--go with them through the emotional and mental journey you are putting them through.

4. Don’t treat your characters like robots--they should be a living and breathing group, with all the frailties, vanities, attitudes and emotions all humans possess.

5. Choose all the qualities you admire in someone you know for the lead character--you need to make him/her likeable if the readers are going to love him/her and continue reading the story. Chose all the worst attributes or qualities of a person you know and give them to the bad person (antagonist) of your novel.

6. Involve as many of the senses as you can in your storytelling.

7. Open your chapters with a visual element to draw the reader right there in the place you are describing.

8. Write as if you are telling the story to a friend sitting next to you.

9. Write simply. Using big words is not only unnecessary but could also distract the readers and impede their progress.

10. Don't use cliches or tautologies. The first is a tired language, and the latter can be redundant.

11. Make sure your characters are distinguishable from each other but also memorable.

12. Challenge your reader to think, reflect and time-travel.

Author Getty Ambau’s website can be found at gettyambau.com

Dixon says: This is an excellent list, but I take some exception with #5. Many times I've heard the old saw that the protagonist must be someone the reader can admire and relate to; however, I've read some marvelous stories with a downright despicable protagonist. THE BROTHERHOOD by John Grisham comes to mind - there's not an admirable character anywhere between the covers.

Also, I think it's more interesting when the protagonist has some flaws and the antagonist has at least one positive characteristic. For example, I once read a crime novel in which the antagonist, a contract killer, is struggling to find a nursing home for his aged, demented mother, even while trying to kill off the protagonist. Awwww, he's a nice boy who loves his Mommy...

1 comment:

  1. Dixon, I agree to your take on #5. My advice was general here. Of course, even those despicable characters should some redeeming qualities. I my novel, DESTA, the big brother is a very cruel, vindictive young man but he has a tender side also which we see him showering his affection to his kid goat. Character flaws are necessary in a protagonist for him or her to be memorable.