Names — character names or the names of people in real life — are a big deal. Parents-to-be pore over baby name books for months looking for that “perfect” name. Even naming a pet can take time. You want the name to be perfect, to mean something, to be unique but not too “weird.”
Naming a character, especially in a longer piece of writing, can be just as agonizing and is definitely just as important.
Do you love a good cliffhanger? Most readers do. Whether they entail a twist that hits us like a tidal wave or employ a more subtle revelation, cliffhangers keep readers eagerly turning the pages—even if we’re not all entirely sure of a cliffhanger’s meaning.
But what is the definition of cliffhanger? And how can we, as writers, master the use of cliffhangers to write a book that holds readers all the way to the very end?
In this article, we’ll dig deep into what a real cliffhanger is, what it does, and how you can create consistently potent cliffhangers in your own writing.
In July 2011, I accomplished what was at the time the third best thing I’d ever done in my life (after marrying my wife and writing my first book): I started a blog to share what I was learning about the writing craft.
It was called The Write Practice. My goal was to create a place where people could become better writers, finish their books, get published, and accomplish their writing goals.
Since then, over twenty-nine million people have visited The Write Practice. It has grown from just me working out of a coffee shop to a team of over twenty employees, contractors, and contributors.
Together we’ve helped over 7,000 people write books, get published, and accomplish their writing goals.
Without the White Witch, Aslan is just a recluse lion. Without Moriarty, Sherlock is just a know-it-all in a weird hat. Without the Joker, Batman is just a rich dude with anger issues and too much time on his hands.
Our villains make our heroes. Without them, our heroes can’t shine. That’s why it’s important to give our villains scenes where they can wow us with their quirks and scare us with their ferocity.
If you’re interested in getting your book traditionally published, it’s crucial that you sign with a literary agent who loves your story and has a vision for your career. To do this means you need to write the single most important page you’ll ever write outside of your book: a query letter.
No pressure, right?
If the thought of writing a query letter freaks you out or confuses you, hit the pause button and breathe for a second. You are not alone.
Here’s the good news: there is a method that will help you get an agent to say, “Sounds great! Send me more.”
It’s called the three-paragraph method.
And it will teach you exactly what literary agents want to see in their query letter inbox.
Honestly, throughout most of high school and college, I was a mediocre essay writer. Every once in a while, I would write a really good essay, but mostly I skated by with B’s and A-minuses. I know personally how boring writing an essay can be, and also, how hard it can be to write a good one.
However, toward the end of my time as a student, I made a breakthrough. I figured out how to not only write a great essay, I learned how to have fun while doing it.
Have you ever felt cheated when reading a book? Like the author held back information that would have enhanced your reading experience? Or neglected to include all the relevant details that would have allowed you to solve the mystery? Did the sequence of events in the story feel…off?
Think about this:
What if J.K. Rowling neglected to have Hagrid tell Harry about his parents’ deaths until the end of The Sorcerer’s Stone?
What if the writers of Die Hard had let Hans Gruber discover Holly was John McClane’s wife right up front?
What if Suzanne Collins had forgotten to alert readers to a rule change allowing tributes from the same district to win as a team in The Hunger Games?
Leaving out these vital pieces of information—or putting them in the wrong place—would have robbed these stories of a full measure of suspense. This would have dulled the impact of their final scenes.
As a writer, you never want readers to feel cheated or disappointed by your book. But how can you make sure you include all the relevant pieces of the puzzle, in the right order, to sustain suspense and satisfy your reader?
Are you struggling to write? Read on for my best writing hacks to get you writing now.
There’s no getting around it. Writing is hard. Whether you’re writing your first book, crafting an essay for school, blogging, or just writing for fun, there are so many things against you.
First is the time itself. What you could say in five minutes takes a huge amount of time to write into coherent, grammatically sound sentences.
Then there are the distractions: social media, video games, endless sudoku puzzles (my personal kryptonite).
Finally, and perhaps worst of all, there is writer’s block, which can vary from a general aversion to writing to crippling self-doubt and an inability to put any words on a page, let alone something good.
Yes, writing is hard. So hard it’s amazing people write at all, some for fun no less!
The good news is that if you’re having a hard time writing, you’re not alone. Even great writers struggle with distraction and writer’s block. To be honest, I struggle too. I’ve written 15 books and still struggle on a daily basis to write.
At the same time, writing can be amazing, inspiring, fulfilling, even life changing. If you’re struggling to write, in this article I’m going to share all the writing tips to help you get focused that I know. Hopefully at least one of these tricks will get your creativity thrumming, get the words moving, and help you finally get to writing.
So grab a cup of coffee, open up a blank page, and get ready to write.
When we read books, books with characters we love, we can learn how to write our own characters by studying what details the writers included. There are so many details about your characters you could include in a character description, but which ones do you need?
Let’s look at the advice Stephen King gives in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft about good description and see if applies to Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games and Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.