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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

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

How To Track Your Character’s Emotional State

Tracking your character’s emotional state is an essential part of continuity when it comes to your character’s arc. When your character experiences emotions, you need to make sure you carry the ramifications of that with them into the subsequent scenes.

By - JJBarnes

How To Write Time-Locks

A “time-lock” is best to use in your story when you’ve established who your Protagonist and Antagonist are, you’ve pitted them against each other, but your story lacks pressure and haste. You want to ramp up the tension and manipulate the circumstances surrounding your characters so the story is more exciting. A time-lock gives your story energy, and is what tells your audience and your characters, that you’re headed for a climax.

By - JJBarnes

How To Find Your Plot

On Instagram we were asked a question by @Books_To_Life, who wanted to know what you can do if you start writing your story, and you have some good characters and a good concept, but you don’t have a plot yet. How do you turn a collection of scenes and characters interacting into an actual story?

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

The Lie Your Protagonist Believes

The lie your Protagonist believes takes your character at the start of your story where they will believe something about the world, and follows them through the course of the story as they learn the truth.

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.