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Author: JJBarnes

I'm author, writer, screenwriter and filmmaker. I've always been passionate about stories, both on the page and on the screen, and now I'm lucky enough that I've been able to turn that passion into a career. Myfirst novel, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit was the first release from Siren stories and launched the Siren Stories Universe (the SSU). Now there are multiple stories, on page and screen, all connected and exploring the world I first began to develop all those years ago. Find all my books here. Hollowhood, the first independent film from myself and my writing partner, Jonathan McKinney, is currently in post-production. Making my own film has been an incredible experience and only affirmed my love of all things to do with film. From the camera to the costumes, I will always love everything about being on set. As well as releasing my own stories, I'm hoping to spread love and passion for the art of story telling to others, by guiding you through different aspect of writing. I do a series of Writing Advice videos for adults, and a Creative Writing For Kids series, both on YouTube. I'm also releasing regular Writing Advice blog posts explaining different writing techniques and advice for how to get the most out of your writing experience. Other than writing, my life is mostly spent with my partner, Jonathan McKinney, our three children, Rose, Ezekiel and Buffy, and our extremely foolish Springer Spaniel, Molly. I love reading books, watching TV, and falling asleep during movies. When Jon comes to bed he usually finds me face down with my face on a book, or hiding under the duvet waiting for him to protect me because I've got myself in a dither reading a ghost story.

Writing Gender Stereotypes

I’ve written before about how powerful fiction is, and how we can use our stories to do good in the world. Today I’m writing specifically about how we can use our stories to fight the problem of oppressive, and regressive, gender stereotypes.

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What Is A Good Prose To Dialogue Ratio?

If your book is too dialogue heavy, it can read like a script. You don’t get to know the environment your characters are in, or connect with their interiority in a way that you can relate to their emotions. However, if your book is too prose heavy, it can make it hard to get to know the characters because so much of how we ground ourselves in our characters is in how they communicate with each other. So, it’s important to strike a good prose to dialogue ratio.

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Writing Info Dumps

Sometimes as part of your story, you’ll have information that needs to be delivered in order for the story to make sense. This could be rules of magical lore within your Universe, details of a quest your character goes on, world building about the environment they live in if you’re writing in high fantasy or sci fi, or politics of the time such as a war they’ve been engaged in or who is in charge. But, ultimately, either your audience, or both your character and your audience, need information to be delivered to them in order for you to tell your story.

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Do We Have A Responsibility To Tackle Social Issues In Our Writing?

Stories are powerful, and I truly believe that stories have the power to change the world. With stories we can explore social issues such as racism, domestic violence, sexism and more, in a way that’s accessible and interesting, whilst exploring multiple opinions and experiences through the eyes of different characters.

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Should You Write For Your Audience Or Yourself?

Assuming you’re writing commercial fiction designed to sell, rather than just a personal project never intended to be read by anyone else, should you be focusing your energy on writing for yourself, or writing for your audience? Neither is technically wrong, so whether you’re choosing to write what makes you happy or to make your readers happy, you’re not necessarily doing the wrong thing, but their are arguments to support both approaches.

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How To Write Plot Twists

A plot twist is a sudden change in your story that your audience don’t see coming, such as a reveal that one of the goodies is actually a baddie. Your plot twist can be written in a way that pulls your audience into your story and makes them want more because it’s a really unexpected moment that’s exciting to read, or it can boot them out. And you never want to boot your audience out.

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Writing Character Deaths And Resurrection

The resurrection of characters that have died can be a dramatic game changer that enhances your story, however, if used too easily and without careful construction, it can have the opposite effect. Your audience can be left feeling like all the tension has been sapped away because if characters die it doesn’t really mean anything.

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Writing Enemies To Lovers/Friends

Characters that start out as enemies, and through the course of the story turn into friends or lovers is quite a popular trope, and because it’s popular it’s used a lot. It can work really well, and satisfy your audience in a specific way, or it can just feel predictable and dull, depending on how you use it.

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Story Tellers and Cancel Culture

The concept of “cancelling” a human being has recently become very popular. You can be “cancelled” for all kinds of reasons, but usually it’s because you’ve expressed an opinion that is considered unsavoury, such as racism or homophobia. Sometimes it’s just because you follow somebody on Twitter who is deemed unsavoury. Perhaps you liked a tweet about something completely unrelated to the opinion that got someone “cancelled.” The variety of ways you can get “cancelled” is vast.

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Writing A Cliffhanger To Start A Series

If you are planning a series of books or films, then you need to write the first one in a way that will encourage your audience to come back for the second installment, and excite them to read further adventures with those characters. One way of doing that is with a cliffhanger, so you leave part of your story untold and end it at a point of tension that the audience hopes to be resolved next time. However, there are negative consequences to that decision.

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