Robert Pimm

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How to write gripping fiction: scenes, sequels and cliff-hangers

An experienced commissioning editor told me recently that one of two main reasons she rejected manuscripts was “no story”.  The other was “overwritten” – I’ll write about that another day.

How can you make sure your fiction has a strong story, that people will want to read?

To put it another way, how can you make sure your fiction has bite?

I recommend a simple technique, developed by an American writer, Dwight V Swain, using two elements called scenes and sequels.  Each is divided into two sub-elements.

‘How the hell do I apply these techniques to my writing?’

Swain said that to have a cracking good story you should start with a scene in which someone is trying to achieve a goal.  The sub-elements are:

(i) goalthe character is trying to achieve something;

(ii) conflictsomething prevents the character achieving that goal;

(iii) disasterthe quest to achieve the goal ends in catastrophe. (more…)

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