Okay, everyone knows that great works of literature have important themes. “Red Badge of Courage,” “Les Miserables,” “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” You know the ones. But what about your Space Opera?
“It’s just fiction,” you protest. “It’s entertainment. People don’t want to be preached at. Why should I bother my readers with a theme?” Well, you’ve got the preaching part right, but no matter how focused on entertainment a story may be… Continue reading “Where’s the Theme in Your Book?”
One of the questions we ask authors who participate in our book brief feature is: “Does your book have any underlying theme, message, or moral?” The reason I ask that question is because I want to know what you want your readers thinking about when they have finished the book. I want to know if it is meant to prompt some kind of introspection or an examination of issues.
Some authors struggle with that question. Some will say the book is just intended as pure entertainment. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I think Milton Berle said that. He may have stolen it from Freud. Continue reading “Subtext”
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” H P Lovecraft
Since we first gathered around campfires we have told stories to elicit emotion and one of the most basic emotions is fear. Writing great horror is about invoking that fear in the reader, it can be done in much the same way as you would elicit other emotions in any story. The elements you need to create that feeling of horror include characters, plot, setting, point of view conflict and theme. Continue reading “The Essentials of Writing Great Horror”
[This article is part of a series by author Lin Robinson on the subject of so-called “rules” of writing. You can find the other articles here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.]
In this series I have mostly dealt with negative “rules” — adjurations to avoid the use of various parts of English speech that are perfectly useful.
In this final article I’d like to switch to debunking several “positive” kinds of “rules”: concepts which are urged, even pressed onto writers as necessary, but which I’d suggest you drop not just from you tool kit, but from your vocabulary.
The Myth Of “The Protagonist” — One of the most repeated and most utterly useless concepts for writers is “protagonist”. It’s a word that does absolutely nothing for you, and can mess you up. Perhaps you’ve seen newbies wailing, “Can I have more than one protagonist?” (And in screenplay circles, sometimes get answers like “OK, if it’s a ‘buddy movie'”, or “OK if it’s an ‘ensemble’ movie”, otherwise no. How about love stories. Do you really have to make one of the pair the main show and the other one subsidiary? How about a story of two rivals? But they’ll tell you that you have to because that’s the way it is and who are you to argue with Aristotle? Continue reading “Breaking the “Rules” Part 5 by Lin Robinson“