Converting Passive to Active:
Make sure the subject of your sentence is the perpetrator of the action, not the recipient.
You can watch out for to-be verbs (was, am, are, etc.) As they can often indicate the use of passive voice, though this isn’t always the case!
My world is set in what would be BC in our world – around 300 BC, give or take. But how do I make that clear without having real life cultures that existed at that time? I want the readers to know we’re not in your typical middle ages setting, but even further back in time, but can only come up with no technology/inventions that were made later.
There is quite a difference between the tech of, say, Ancient Greece or China and the Middle Ages (5th-15th century AD). What you’re going to want to do is pick out a few elements of the Middle Ages that people heavily associate with that time and leave it out, even if it would technically fit. In the same way, focus on elements of ancient times, the Iron Age, that people really associate with that time period and play those up, while also implementing your own things.
If you try and figure out the rules about creative writing, you’re going to find that established authors and editors often disagree about nuances of the craft. There are, of course, some hard-and-fast rules about punctuation and grammar, but so many rules vary from genre to genre, generation to generation, audience to audience. Sometimes there are rules that boil down, simply, to consistency.
So you might even say that you have your own set of writing rules. Each and every author’s rules are slightly unique. That unique set of “rules” is part of what makes up your author’s voice.
So when are the appropriate times to break those rules, your own rules? They happen, don’t they? In my last post, I gave a list of filler words and overused words that you can consider cutting out of your writing to help sharpen it. But everything–even mediocre vocabulary, poor grammar, and repetitive structure–has a place in writing.
So, so many works I’ve read could be vastly improved with tightening and shaving of superfluous words. Wordiness is an easy stumbling block, as we’re used to how we talk. We’re used to how others (long ago) wrote. But times change, my friend, and so do expectations of the writer. We don’t get paid by the word in fiction. So show your smarts and say as much as you can with as much power as you can in as few words as possible.
Developing the technology of your world
When you set out to write speculative fiction, many times you’ll be writing within a world very different from our own. Whether your story is set in ancient times or the far future, your people will still have a set understanding of science and, thus, a certain level of technology.
In order for your readers to feel oriented within your fictional world, it’s important for you to establish what kind of technology they can expect to find within your book. Any deviation from what is “normal” will need to be clarified and used consistently. If your world is mostly medieval but they’ve discovered radio communications, that needs to be made clear and it needs to make sense…otherwise the random radio in the middle of the stone, torch-lit castle will be very jarring.
Using prophecies in fantasy without making eyes roll
Good ol’ stand-bys, ubiquitous fantasy tropes, are difficult to avoid. And sometimes we don’t want to avoid them. Goddammit, sometimes you just need a good, solid prophecy to write the story your want to write.
“It’s not my fault all these other people before me have written prophecies, too!” you say.
And you’d be right. Unfortunately, they did. So us modern-day writers have to live with the it. So what do you do when you want or need to use a well-worn trope?
Know the trope. Make it your own.
I’ve talked about it to many, many writers on an individual basis. Now, it’s time I share it with the world.
Using all-caps in your fiction should be a complete and utter last resort.
When to use all-caps:
- When using an acronym such as ASPCA, or FBI.
- When a character or narrator is screaming and your narrative is not strong enough to convey that volume otherwise.
When not to use all-caps: