Archive for the ‘STRUCTURE’ Category

Ah, sidekicks. Sam, Ron, Sancho Panza… the list goes on and on. I always kind of figured that a sidekick (loosely defined) was a way to give readers/viewers an “easy way into” the story. Like: for years, millions of youngsters have figured it would be just great to be Robin, so that you could get […]


Today’s device…. the POV character commenting on another character’s unusual remark. Probably the most common way of using this is for the POV character to “explain away” the secondary character’s odd remark by making a philosophical claim. In Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, Mandela the POV character’s fellow soldier is wounded. A medic’s reaction is in quotes; […]


If you’re like me, you’ve been irritated in the past by flashback scenes with unclear beginnings and endings… or worse, flashbacks that seem at first to have happened last week, but in fact happened 5000 years ago in the age of the Legendary Hero. Any time you use a flashback in fiction, you also introduce […]


The rules of timekeeping are supposed to be simple in fiction. Choose a tense when you start writing, and stick to that tense throughout — whether it’s past, present, or (god help us) future. Sometimes, though, cutting to the present tense in your past tense story can create some unusual & noteworthy effects.Today at SpecTechnique […]


The “Time Ratio” of an Action Scene or, J.G. Ballard vs Gu Long: FIGHT! On Friday at SpecTechnique we looked at Gu Long’s action writing and saw how he brought us into the POV of the spectators, forcing the reader to reconstruct Li Xun Huan’s impossibly fast dagger throw from the clues on the page. […]


Flip the Story

14Mar12

Yesterday at SpecTechnique we looked at cases when a cliche is deformed or expanded. When you’re going into a deformed cliche, you think you’ve seen this line before. Then when the cliche flips around on you, you’re taken by surprise. This is a technique writers can use to breach their readers’ defenses. Today we’re leaving […]