Foreshadowing. What makes you read on? #4

Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 in On Writing

This is the final post in this series, created as a lead in the launch of The Jerusalem Puzzle ebook on Monday Dec 3rd.  We have had: A sense of adventure. What makes you read on? #1 Action opening alternatives. What makes you read on? #2 A sense of mystery. What makes you read on? #3 and now this final post in the series. Foreshadowing, for me, comes in two forms. The first is the simple, “something different was about to happen” phrase inserted in the text, which makes the reader wonder what is about to happen. I recommend doing this only very occasionally. I think I use this explicit form of foreshadowing only twice in The Jerusalem Puzzle. The reason you can’t use it very often is that readers get tired of such things very easily. Explicit foreshadowing loses its appeal very quickly. The second type of foreshadowing is a general foreshadowing brought about by the plot. For instance, if the main character is going  to Jerusalem to investigate the disappearance of someone he knows, then the reader will naturally anticipate what will happen next. This subtle foreshadowing is useful because it uses the reader’s imagination. It’s not just plot driven novels that use subtle foreshadowing, literary novels use it too. When any change or event is anticipated in the text you are using foreshadowing. Inspiring anticipation is a critical aspect of writing compelling fiction in my opinion. Anticipation is, for me, one of the greatest pleasures of being alive. Looking forward to Christmas, a holiday, a big game, a night out, a family event, an election, are what keeps many of us going through the hum drum nature of everyday life. If you can inspire anticipation in your writing, by hinting at what is to come, you will have cracked a powerful technique to make people read on. And I use make deliberately. I hope you have enjoyed this series. If you would like to order The Jerusalem Puzzle please click one of the links to the right. Next week  I will post about the secrets revealed in The Jerusalem Puzzle. Thanks for coming...

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Not the winner, but a big thank you!

Posted by on Nov 23, 2012 in On Writing

I attended the Irish Book Awards last night. Tana won in my category, and I had an amazing night. The senior people from Harper Collins were so encouraging all the way through. And I met one of my idols, the venerable Edna O’Brien. Here is a pic from my view point at the Harper Collins table. The winner of the children’s book award, Oliver Jeffers, is on the far side of the table to me. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who voted for me and everyone who has bought my books, and all my publishers around the world and all my readers everywhere for helping me get this far. With your help I am doing what I have always wanted to do, tell stories. That is what is important to me. The next big thing on this site is the launch of the ebook for The Jerusalem Puzzle on December the 3rd. I will also be creating some new blog posts. I hope you will find them interesting. I am just so happy to be read all over the world now in so many languages. Thank you all for your help and...

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News on book awards & The Jerusalem Puzzle

Posted by on Nov 21, 2012 in On Writing

The excitement is mounting in the run up to the Irish Book Awards on Thursday night. I will post the result as soon as I can. I don’t expect to win the Crime category for The Istanbul Puzzle. But we will enjoy the gala dinner with dinner suits, black tie and long dresses and authors glaring at each other and others getting drunk! In other news The Jerusalem Puzzle has broken though the 1,000 rank barrier on, which means preorders are going well. If you haven’t ordered your ebook for Dec 3 yet here are the links. , first then then iTunes. I am sure it will be out at the same time on Nook, Kobo and other ebook service: and and wish me luck for Thurs night and thank you to all who voted for The Istanbul...

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A sense of mystery. What makes you read on? #3

Posted by on Nov 18, 2012 in On Writing

  I will tell you a little-known secret about why people read on. The secret concerns the way our brains operate. It will help you pull your readers forward through your story. As a writer, it is vitally important that you know this. The second secret is . . . wait, there’s someone at the door. I hope it’s not that guy who was waving a gun at me when I cut in front of him a few minutes ago. He looked like one mean mother. Wait . . . what the! The third secret of creating a sense of mystery is . . . hold on, I could finish this, but I think there are three people outside now. And one of them is around the back. And there’s another one upstairs! What the hell is that buzzing noise? Is that a chainsaw? Maybe two! The fourth secret of mystery is easy to guess. It goes back a long way. You know, I was always afraid of one thing. When I was a child it wasn’t men in masks that worried me. It was something more ancient, more hard wired inside me, more evil. Something I couldn’t escape. Do you know what it is? If you want to know the fifth mystery you will have to wait until the next time we get back to this subject. To summarise, the five techniques for creating a sense of mystery in your writing, as used above, are: * Foreshadowing and keeping people waiting for an answer. * Putting your character in danger. * Increasing the danger. * Shifting the fear to something different, something older or more personal * The cliff hanger. These techniques must not be over-used, but if you use them well, in a new and unique way, you will drive your readers to read on. And that’s what we want, isn’t it, for readers to read our stories? I wonder would you mind telling us, through a comment below, which other mystery techniques writers use, as this list isn’t intended to be complete, just a good starting point for a conversation?...

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Get Your Writing Noticed: Advanced social media for writers – what works and what doesn’t?

Posted by on Nov 16, 2012 in On Writing

. This is the last in a series of seven posts.  The previous post on using emotion in your writing is here. The question of what works and what doesn’t in terms of social media for writers is complicated by two key factors; each of us will have a unique social media experience based on our own situation and personal preferences, and each of us brings our own baggage to the social media table. Luddites will deny that social media has any relevance to writing. Social media lovers will say it will change everything for writers and writing. I fall in the middle somewhere. Here is what I can tell you that has worked for me, and what disappoints me: * Social media helped me win a global publishing contract with Harper Collins and my first novel is being translated into 9 other languages, partly because I had a presence on social media, (Twitter, a blog, YouTube). I also had a good novel, but the publisher was interested in the fact that I had a following too. This may be unfair, but for me it wasn’t. I’ve been on the other end of unfairness too often in my life to complain about it when I get a break. * Social media has helped me get through the day. I work at a desk in a small house in a bleak suburb. My social media friends make me smile, make me look at the world outside my little corner, and make me feel connected. Rubbish this if you want. But don’t try and take my social media away. I need it. * My sales are good for my first novel, The Istanbul Puzzle, the novel has continued to sell nine months after publication and the presales of my new novel, The Jerusalem Puzzle, are surprisingly good too (order it on the right). Yes, you have to have a good novel to sell, but social media allows me to get the word out, to tell people it’s been edited within an inch of it’s life and it’s available . * Not everything I have done on social media has been a success. I am on Pinterest, Foursquare, Empire Avenue, Sulia, Tumblr, Instagram and a lot of other sites. Their impact has been limited. Much of my time spent exploring the outer reaches of the social media universe has been wasted. The truly most important things I do are my two blogs, this one and, my Twitter profile and my Facebook page, because they generate a lot of interaction with readers all around the world. I got 400 hits on my two blogs yesterday. It’s not James Bond, but for me, someone who got only a hundred hits in his first month with a blog, it’s good. So if you are a writer these are the things I recommend, stick to the main sites, develop...

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Action opening alternatives. What makes you read on? #2

Posted by on Nov 10, 2012 in On Writing

“I opened the door. The woman standing outside in the rain had a small black gun in her hand. It gleamed. She smiled, then put the gun to her forehead. I put my hand out to grab it.” (1) This is an action opening to a short story. I know not everyone likes a story to start with action, but many people do. The action mightn’t be about a gun though, It could be about something else: “I opened the door. The woman standing outside in the rain had an envelope in her hand. It was wet. She smiled, held the envelope out. I put my hand out to grab it.” (2) This opening has almost as much impact as the gun opening in my opinion, but the impact is psychological now. Let’s try another way to get action into an opening: “I opened the door. The woman standing outside in the rain was dripping from every extremity. She smiled. “I’ve been looking for you,” she said. I had no idea who she was.” (3) This third opening isn’t about giving something physical, but it is about a possible moment of real change in someone’s life. What about a fourth type of action: “I opened the door. The woman standing outside in the rain was naked. Her eyes were wide. Her hands covered herself. “Please, I need to hide,” she said. Her voice quivered as she spoke.” (4) This one had an emotional impact, I hope. What about this final one: “I opened the door. The woman standing there laughed. The rain bounced off her. ‘If you abuse another female character in a story, I’m going to come and get you,” she said” (5) This is more of an experimental meta-fictional type opening. I wonder would you mind picking which opening you prefer? If you leave a brief comment below and come back late December, to give plenty of time for some responses, or simply sign up for updates above right, the most popular opening will have a short story created around it. Please also comment below on using action as an opening technique. This is the second in a series of four posts in the run up to the launch of The Jerusalem Puzzle on ebook December 3rd and in paperback in many countries January...

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