Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Giving your story that extra zest

Tell Me a Story - Advice 

AJ, how can I make my story more interesting to others. I've asked a couple of friends to read it, and they both glazed over afterwards. I know they didn't think much of it, but they made the right 'noises' just so I wasn't upset.

Look at books by successful authors to see how they did it and why you found it interesting. You really should delve into each of your characters until they become 'real' to you. Develop them so they exist as people in your mind, know everything about them, all their faults and highlights, their likes and dislikes, their favourite music, food, films etc.

Unless YOU feel your character's problems are real, no one else will.
Before you start to write, rehearse the story in your mind until you're in the correct mood. Feel the emotions you want to generate in the story, be at 'one' with your characters and the problems they're facing. Have empathy.

You must also make sure you have a central problem running throughout the story, one that can't be resolved until the very last few pages of the last chapter of the book. Make the problem one that is of paramount importance to the central person, something that affects them if it cannot be resolved. Intertwine this major problem with with minor problems that are resolved within a few chapters.

Hope you found this of value.... and keep writing.

Looking for a good read? Try:-

Past Sins - Contemporary fiction

An interview with author, Ken Preston

  • Ken, how long have you been a writer?

Hmm. How long have I been alive - almost 44 years, so whilst I cannot honestly say I’ve been writing for 44 years it sometimes feels like it.I’ve written stories from a very young age, and have always been a passionate reader. Yet my first experience of reading was a disaster.

  • Why was that?

Well, at my junior school, my teacher labelled me a failure because I couldn't read. After a visit to the school to complain, my dad took me to the library and borrowed Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and the Biggles books, (basically his childhood favourites) and we read them together. He taught me to read by sharing his pleasure in reading.

  • And so a future author was born! Wow, some introduction to the world of literature. So how many books have you written?

Not many, Anthony, but if you were to ask me how many books I have started and then abandoned the number would be much higher! I have three completed manuscripts and one almost complete, which I’m planning on finishing soon. Two of them will never see the light of day.

  • Why is that?

Mainly because they’re not very good, but do I regret writing them, spending all that time and effort creating two novels that will never be published? No, I don’t. They were both valuable experiences, and taught me a great deal about the process. Writing a novel, like all things in life, needs to be learned, and you can only learn by doing.

  • I think most newbies don’t understand that, Ken. They seem to think all they have to do is sit at a computer and out it comes. They don’t know the hidden years that go into ‘overnight success’.

My third completed manuscript was “Caxton Tempest at the End of the World”, which is now published and available in Europe, America, Australia and Japan! My next book will be “The Devil and Edward Teach”, hopefully available towards the end of the year.

  • So what prompted you to write your latest book?

Well, “Caxton Tempest at the End of the World”, came about because I’d completed two downbeat novels and wanted to write something more exciting. I'm interested in Victorian literature and the supernatural, so a novel combining those two elements seemed natural. I started by making a list of everything I wanted to include: Foggy Victorian streets, gas lamps, street urchins, a Fagin style bully, a Sherlockian main character, secret societies, tunnels, vampires, demons, etc. How I ended up with a female cowboy and an ass-kicking Chinese martial arts master, I will never know!

It may sound a little odd to start with a list of elements to include in a novel, rather than an idea itself, but the idea soon followed.

  • So is it aimed mainly at men, women or children?

If you can read, it’s aimed at you!!! I set out to attract a young adult audience, but a lot of adults have read it and told me how much they enjoyed it. And if you read the reviews on you will see my female readership very much love Denver McCade. So I guess it's aimed at everyone, but only if you enjoy the plot elements I listed before. You know, Foggy Victorian streets, etc, etc…

  • And where can we purchase it?

Any online bookstore, such as Amazon, etc, and ordered from all good bookshops.

  • Have you any other work in the pipeline, Ken?

Yes, I’m hoping to publish “The Devil and Edward Teach” soon. This is a pirate adventure, again aimed at the young adult audience but hopefully with crossover appeal to adults.

  • Would you like to give a brief outline of “Caxton Tempest at the End of the World”?

Well, orphan, Jim Kerrigan and his young brother, George, live by their wits on the streets. After stumbling across a mutilated corpse, Jim finds himself thrust into the dangerous world of Caxton Tempest. With new friends, Denver McCade and Johnny Chen, Jim must fight for his life against a killer intent on opening up the gates of Hell. Other forces of evil are gathering, and Tempest finds he needs the help of an unlikely ally if he is to defeat them…

  • Do you have a website for further information?

I certainly do, Anthony. My web is You can read the first 3 chapters for free, find deleted chapters, excerpts from my journal, and a couple of short stories. I have also published different versions of the front cover charting its evolution from initial idea to finished illustration. Plus there are links to my blog and other stuff too.

  • Ken. Thanks for the insight. I’m sure everyone will be grateful for it, and good luck with your sales.

To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
20 Things You Should Know About How To Format A Book
Mastering Conflict In Your Story Characters

An interview with author, Michael Raymond

  • I’d like to introduce you to author, Michael Raymond. Hi Mike, would you like to tell us how long you've been writing?

Hi Anthony. Well, as a courseware developer, for 15 yrs. For fun, since 2005.

  • So how many books have you written?

Just the one so far, it’s called "We The People”. It’s a Science Fiction adventure.

  • And what prompted you to write it?

I suppose reading an article about dirty bombs and terrorists put the idea into my head.

  • So is your book aimed mainly at men, women or children?

Well Anthony, it’s really aimed at men and women who enjoy 'what-if' stories.

  • I’m intrigued, Mike! Let’s give it a plug, where can people buy your book?

It’s available at

  • And have you any other work in the pipeline?

I have Anthony, I'm working on a short ebook for writers and formulating the sequel to “We The People”.

  • You’re quite a busy bee then. Would you like to give us a very brief outline of, “We The People”? I’m sure everyone is curious.

Well, dozens of cities worldwide are destroyed by nuclear bombs. A group calling themselves 'The People' claim responsibility and demand that all militaries disarm and disband.

The hero is a CIA operative who is trying to find the terrorists in a hurry. The governments of the world are starting to comply.Instead of terrorists, he discovers a covert operation by aliens to prepare the world for invasion.

It isn't enough to find and destroy them because he must also learn about the invasion and about the new type of nuclear weapons used in the attacks.

  • Wow! Great stuff. I hope people are taking note. Do you have a Web address for the readers? I find most like to have a contact place to read up about authors and books.

I do, it’s

  • Now then, Mike, I understand you’re doing something rather special with this book. Would you like to explain?

Thanks for mentioning it, Anthony. All royalties for this book are being donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. I’ve started a project called READ for Cancer - that encourages my readers to donate to local Cancer fundraisers and circulate the book. Details can be found on the web site.

  • Mike, that’s a wonderful gesture. Readers, take note and support this guy. What a great thing to do. You deserve every success. I wish you all the best.
To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better
20 Things You Should Know About How To Format A Book
Mastering Conflict In Your Story Characters