Being a Better Writer’s Summer of Cliche Writing Advice: Show the Monster Last

Welcome back readers, to another installment of Being a Better Writer‘s Summer of Cliche Writing Advice. This time, flu-free.

Okay, that may not make much sense if you missed last weeks post. Last week’s was a bit light because I was battling the flu, and it was all I could do to get a basic, simple post up and then go take a nap. Ah well. But it got done! And so, this week, we continue with the Summer of Cliche Writing Advice but now with cognitive abilities back at full strength!

Okay, so if you’ve just stumbled across Unusual Things, you might be wondering what this post is. So, a bit of quick background. Being a Better Writer is a weekly feature that’s fairly self-explanatory: Each week it takes a look at some facet of writing and talks about it, from character development to pacing to genre, with the goal of doing exactly what its title claims and helping those who read it improve their writing skill.

The Summer of Cliche Writing Advice, then, is a special summer feature this year talking about all those bits of easily repeated, cliche advice that seem to follow authors like moths around a light. Little bits of advice like “Show don’t tell” or “Nothing new under the sun,” those phrases that authors new and old hear constantly spouted by a well-meaning public.

But … here’s the thing. A lot of short, easy to recall phrases tend to be oversimplified versions of the originals, to the degree that quite often they’re not as nuanced as the originals, or in some cases have taken on entirely different meanings altogether in the process of being stripped down. Which means a lot of this advice directed at authors? Well, it’s befallen the same fate. Some of it is useful … and some of it can be useful or even flat out harmful, the original phrase so far removed from the short, easy to remember version that its meaning has gone a very wrong direction.

Hence, this series, where we take a look that these phrases and short bits of advice and see what really makes them tick. Are they useful? Good? Bad? What do the really mean?

So, with that in mind, let’s get to it and take a look at this week’s bit of cliche advice:

Show the monster last.

Continue reading

Being a Better Writer: Escalating Tension

All right, so this topic has been on the list for a while, and it’s high time it gets crossed off. Which means … I’ve got to talk about it. Time to see how much knowledge I can impart! So here goes!

So, before on this site (several times in fact, if memory serves) we’ve spoken about the three act structure, or the rise and fall of action, or pacing … Like I said, if memory serves, this topic has come up quite a bit. Anyway, with that, the classic plot timeline has come into play. You know the one. Rising and falling action, a climax, all that jazz? Hang on, I made one at one point. Take a look.

Yup. That thing. Like I said, we’ve talked about it before. And we’ve touched on key points, such as the falling tension, the climax, the resolution, the stinger, or even the various parts. But one part of that timeline that I don’t believe has ever been talked about on this blog is the moments of rising tension.

Continue reading