Category Archives: Genres

What can you learn from fairy tales?

Fairy tales are probably the oldest stories you can read, and everyone knows at least one of them. Many of them were immortalized by Disney, and parents worldwide still put their kids to bed with them.

There are reasons for such success, and as a writer, you should pay attention to them. What can they teach you?

Strong beginning

“Once upon a time…” is the beginning of the great majority of fairy tales. It is strong and involved in magic. It makes you immediately prepared to listen to a magical adventure. It’s catchy! And that’s what you need in a story!

A strong beginning teases the reader and sets the tone for the story he is about to read. On the other hand, a bad beginning can be as drastic as your reader putting the book down immediately.

Characters don’t need to be exhaustively described.

The Prince is charming, and the Witch is evil, but do you get a really good description of them? No, and you don’t need it. Their qualities are enough to keep you dreaming and imagining. The emotional and psychological description is stronger than the physical one.

I do not mean to tell you not to describe your character. Simply don’t dump a lot of physical characteristics at once on your reader. Use the story progress to focus on those. And remember – show rather than tell!

Motive

Characters in fairy tales have clear motivations, and the reader knows them from the beginning. There are also clear consequences and motives for their actions.

Motivation and action – that’s what your story needs. An emotionally rich character is not enough, especially if your audience can’t understand them. You must set clear motivations and reasons for them to act the way they do. The audience wants actions and clear decisions based on happenings and personality.

Characters in fairy tales also evolve. The happenings have direct (and obvious) consequences on who they are, and they change due to them. Therefore, your characters also must develop. It is essential that the reader can see and understand their path.

The Dark Side

Fairy tale characters are not perfect, and these stories are not afraid of addressing their dark side – jealousy, envy, and rage. And they taught us that there are people like that! We all can, at some point, feel all those “not-so-good things” – it helps to relate with the characters.

When building your characters, keep that in mind. What are their insecurities and fears? How do they actually see other characters? What do they do when no one is looking? What do they hate? Even the sweet, innocent princess can have a dark side.

Universal Truths

Fairy tales usually focus on big themes, and there are moral lessons to take from them. Many focus on observations on the nature of humanity. Now, you don’t want to moralize your audience. Think of it differently. What do you want to tell with that story? What do you want your readers to think about after reading it? You need to know precisely what you want to transmit to your readers.

Setting

I mainly focused on the characters in this text, but the settings are also unique, aren’t they? Beautiful castles and palaces, or magical woods and little cottages that make us dream.

A unique setting can give a special atmosphere to your story and surprise the readers. When creating a story, take some time to decide where it takes place.

Fairy tales are a road map

Fairy tales are the most known type of story, and everyone reads them at some point. The reason for their success is hidden in the details. Studying these details can help you find some guidelines to improve your story, running towards success.

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Why write historical fiction? 3 reasons to get you started

There was a time when historical fiction was very trendy. That time has passed, but historical fiction readers are a faithful (and ruthless) audience. Do you like historical novels? Have you ever written one?

We live in a fantastic world. It is full of different places and people and many inspirational opportunities. So, why should you place your novel in the past? Why look for a completely different world?

1. Research is fun!

Writing historical fiction is challenging, especially if you don’t know much about history. Yet, what may seem like a challenge, is, in fact, the fun part of writing historical fiction!

Researching can be fun when you’re doing it for your story (and not because some teacher ordered you) and choosing what you want to know. The research can be inspiring by itself, and of course, you’ll learn a lot with low effort.

You can already have a story in your mind and research the time and place to make it accurate, or you can choose the time and see what ideas you get from your research. It’s totally up to you.

2. Mentally escape

Writing historical fiction can be quite absorbing, and that’s, sometimes, very welcome. You can use your imagination to the full, feel yourself in that place, imagine the smells, the sounds, and how every object you would touch feels like. Like time traveling, but inside your head.

Making your brain escape to another time and place can be therapeutic. You’re not thinking about your problems. Your characters have very different ones. You can even conclude that you’re a fortunate person by living in this century.

3. You can go wild

It all depends on how accurate you want to be to the historical period. Yet, in general, things are very different from nowadays. Some things wouldn’t make sense now, but you could make them happen in a past time with little scientific knowledge.

Sometimes, the characters look too naive, and your audience may say, “No one would believe that.” Well, if it needs some scientific knowledge, and your story happened in 1203… they would.

The research work

The reason to write historical fiction is different from a fantasy novel. You want to go somewhere else and create many stories that would not be possible in your time, but you want them to be realistic.

You want people to relate what they read with their knowledge about that specific time. It would be a nightmare if your readers called you a liar, right?

So, you should be careful with your research. Cross data, look at different places, and try to be as loyal as possible to the time you choose.

Don’t limit yourself to the most obvious places to research. Try to connect with historical societies and meet people online interested in the time you’re exploring. They’ll know everything about it!

Also, don’t limit yourself to descriptions and textbooks. Go to see some art. You don’t need to go physically into a museum (but it would be perfect if you could). You can look online. Observe the surroundings, the objects in the paintings and draws, and the people’s clothes and hairstyles. All these details will help you to build your narrative and enrich your novel.

Choosing the material

Good research will give you tons of information, and no matter how interesting it may be, not all of it it’s relevant to your story. Yet, even if you don’t use it directly in the story, it will always be a good reference for you. Every piece of information helps you visualize your story’s world more vividly.

Focus on the political and social organization of society, including religion. Be aware of this society’s clothing, transportation, house style, and medical knowledge (remedies, common diseases, etc.). Every single detail will make your story more realistic.

History doesn’t need to be boring

Many people relate historical books with the History class we all had at school. That can be enough for you to drop the idea of writing a historical novel.

Yet, let me tell you that it is pretty different. Your novel is not about history but about the story. It is not a list of facts and dates but emotions and relationships.

Books for Children: a writing challenge, with very specific rules

Would you like to write a children’s book? Most writers have their own favorite genre, and that reveals in their stories. Yet, sometimes, you want to do something different.

Writing for adults and children are two distinct things and demand different skills.

When you think about children’s books, you probably picture beautiful drawings, full of color and sweet characters. It may scare you right away, but you need to remember that you’re the writer, not the illustrator.

Planning a children’s book

Now that we are clear about the pictures let’s talk about the actual writing. You might think that it is hard, that you have a lot of competition, which is true. There are thousands of people writing cute little stories and trying their luck with the publishers. So, how can your work stand out from the others? Knowing the structure and avoiding the most usual mistakes.

Make it short

When writing a children’s book, like in any other genre, you need to be aware of its structure and respect it. In this case, there is a very specific one – a very short story (around 550 words, never more than 1000), 32 pages, 24 to 28 of the actual story, with a couple of sentences per page.

Sounds easy now? Not quite. You still need to be very careful with some points. Let’s begin with the story itself. Your small readers are very demanding and specific in what they like (and the publishers know that). Your story must have a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Characters

The characters are very important too. Don’t think that children are easier to content.

They spot all the inconsistencies and don’t let it go. To be good, a character has to be strong and, to some point, realistic. Do you want to write about a flying tiger? Think about how the fact that the tiger can fly would impact other parts of his life. The kids will do it.

Illustrations

As I mentioned before, you need to focus on writing. Write a good short story, with good characters.

The publisher will probably want to hire the illustrator. So, unless you’re a very talented artist, avoid sending the illustrations with the story. Best case scenario, you’ll talk about that later. Yet, while writing, keep in mind that each page will have an illustration. The text should be easy to illustrate.

Look around

Writing a beautiful story for children can seem easy, as soon as you know all the rules, but that’s not quite true.

If you want to be a children’s author, you must follow the market development. Have you read one of these books lately? I’m sure they are very different from the ones from your own childhood. Children’s books changed a lot in the last few decades, and you need to be aware of these changes to be an author.

Face your challenge professionally. Research and find the market rules and tendencies. Children are a very difficult audience, and publishers know that. You need to stand out.