I’m reading some great novel submissions to Pulp Literature Press these days, and reflecting upon excellence in storytelling.
Indicators of Excellence
- build upon structural understandings and storytelling gifts, the way GRR Martin sets up his huge cast of characters in triangles.
- develop central and supporting characters that are true to themselves. Robert Ludlum brings his acting experience to the creation of villains who believe in their own struggles.
- create settings that ground us in imagined worlds, whether fantastic or mundane. For example, in Emma Donoghue’s novel Room, four walls are a child’s universe.
Further Marks of Excellence
These gifted storytellers also
- develop worlds through philosophical and insider knowledge, the way Robert Heinlein employs both his background in engineering and work in philosophy and values, good and evil.
- transform character through hard decisions and sacrifice. LOTR. Say no more.
- gift us with moments of intense beauty and personal resonance, that remind us what our character is struggling to maintain and create. For, what would Narnia be without its many moments of intense beauty, to remind us why these children raise swords against their enemies?
It seems a lot of excellence to bear in mind. Still, we do exactly that every day in our work. All these skills come to us hot from the furnace of intense interest in our craft, alongside our love of books we’ve read, affection for our own characters, even the baddies, and a desire to be the best storyteller we can be. We do all this for our readers, so that they too will look up from our books, the way we look up from others’, to say I’ll be there in a minute, I just have to finish this chapter.
I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career. Cheers Mel
If you enjoy reading Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, get her pocket-sized writing guide, The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume, here. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires you through 30 days of hints and help with narrative structure.