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JJ Barnes – Writing Advice

Free writing advice – writers supporting writers

By - JJBarnes

An Intro To Writing Sorkinian Dialogue

I’m going to be writing about the dialogue style of the writer Aaron Sorkin. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, he’s an American writer known for screenwriting TV shows such as The West Wing and The Newsroom, and films such as The Social Network and A Few Good Men. He also wrote stage adaptations such as To Kill A Mockingbird and A Few Good Men, which went to Broadway. Aaron Sorkin is an exceptional writer in all ways, and worth studying in general, but today I’m going to be focusing on the way he writes dialogue.

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By - JJBarnes

The Problem With Writing Coincidences

A coincidence in a story is an event that happens that has no foreshadowing and no intent, it wasn’t something the character looked for or is a consequence of previous action, it just happens to them and impacts them and they react to it. Coincidences can trigger an interesting story, or progress an existing story, but they have to be handled with care. Having too many coincidences in your story can make it weak, and it shows a lack of planning and intent. I’ll be writing about why coincidences are a problem, and how to avoid writing them.

By - JJBarnes

How To Write Distinct Characters

If you’re a new writer, it’s quite easy to fall into the trap of making all your characters be different versions of yourself. They might look different and have different goals, but their personalities blur into one another and their speech patterns are identical, so it ends up reading like you’re having conversations with yourself.

By - JJBarnes

How To Write Suspense

If you are writing a scary story, or a thriller or a mystery, suspense is one of the key things you need to make your story appealing to your audience. It will keep them excited and intrigued so they will want to stay with you and keep watching or reading to the end.

By - JJBarnes

How To Make An Unbelievable Story Believable

If you are writing in the fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, or sci-fi genres, you’re going to be writing scenarios for your characters that are, technically, unbelievable. In reality, people don’t believe that the White House is going to be blown up by aliens or that witches and wizards are being trained in magic in a big school, yet we are able to believe it in the story because of how it’s written.

By - JJBarnes

Making Sure You Don’t Have A Passive Protagonist

One of the first rules for your Protagonist is that they should want something, and ideally they should be wanting something they are actively in pursuit of. A passive Protagonist has things happening to them and around them, and they’re reacting to those things, rather than pursuing something themselves.

By - JJBarnes

How To Make Your Scenes Plot Relevant

My general advice with writing a story is that everything in your story, whether it’s a tiny moment, a whole scene, or a large section, it should be plot relevant. If it doesn’t add to your story, it doesn’t belong in your story. So, how do you tell if what you’ve written is plot relevant or not?

By - JJBarnes

How To Deal With Writer’s Block

If you’re a writer, you’re like to have experienced what is commonly referred to as “writer’s block.” This is where you cannot move forward with your story and any menial task, such as laundry or vacuuming, suddenly becomes much more appealing to you than actually putting words on the page because of how hard you’re finding it to write.

By - JJBarnes

Why You Should Know And Understand Your Genre

Your genre is the concept that your audience is going to buy into when they choose to read your book or watch your film. When you market your story, you’re marketing it to the audience that wants that concept, and then you have to follow through on the promise to deliver it. But you have to know what your genre is, what the rules are for that genre, and how to still be original within it.

By - JJBarnes

How To Write Narrative Triplets – Serenity Edition

A Narrative Triplet is where a concept or a theme is launched in the first use, established in the second, and then resolved in the third. It can make a good beginning, middle and end to your story, and makes the experience of reading it or watching it more satisfying for the audience.