Max Avalon is proud to present “Catalogue Phantasma” by Frances Pauli, available on Amazon for only $0.99, so get your copy and enjoy this great fantasy read now!
Max Avalon’s newest short, “Of Dogs and Vomit,” is available now on Amazon.
Pick up your copy and support author Kevin Bennett today!
As a form of artistic expression, writing can be incredibly powerful. It has the ability to change minds, to break down barriers, and to transport readers to entirely new and wonderful places. In order to harness these powers, writers have a few principles to keep in mind. One of the phrases that occasionally come to mind as editors read submissions is this: “Show, don’t tell.” What do we mean by this?
Many people outside of the field of writing view it as saying exactly what is going on in written form. They write reports and memos, send emails to coworkers, and type out conversational texts to friends. To those of us within the field, writing is so much more than simple communication; it is truly an art form. This is no exception in action-adventure fiction. Crafting one’s work in the right way can and does captivate audiences of readers beyond imagination. Simply put, readers long for authors to describe events, reactions, senses, and every other element of their books in place of merely stating what happens.
Take, for example, the following sentence:
“I was so mad that I couldn’t stand to look at them anymore.”
How could it be transformed in such a way as to show readers what’s going on instead of telling them? Something along these lines might work a bit better:
“Burning anger coursed through me as I slammed the door between us.”
Many different phrases exist with the same or similar meanings—it’s one of the many beauties of written expression and its ability to be manipulated in countless ways. The point of the “show, don’t tell” exercise is to put your readers in the scene you’re writing. Make them feel, more than read, the torrent of chaotic emotions steamrolling your character. Open their eyes to the view from your character’s eyes. Force them to inhale the scents assaulting your character’s nostrils, make their skin prickle against the breeze dancing through your character’s hair, and let them hear the chirp of the crickets in the late afternoon haze.
Are you having trouble describing something? Take a minute. Close your eyes and imagine the scene as you want it to happen. Ignoring everything else, start writing down your observations. What stands out to you? What does the view look like? What can you smell or hear? Lose yourself for a moment to the experience—and then write it down. If you can experience it, then your readers will have a better time experiencing it and will appreciate it all the more.
“Show, don’t tell” is often uttered in this industry. But, carefully crafted sentences and phrases can put your readers in the places of your characters, and the utterance can be avoided altogether. If you’re not sure that you’ve accomplished a “show,” try reading it to someone who will listen and give you an honest response. Better yet, let them read it for themselves. It will pay off in the end; your editors will thank you for it, and so will your readers.
The staff at Max Avalon eagerly awaits your short story submissions. We look forward to experiencing your story through the eyes of your characters.
The staff of Max Avalon wishes you a happy Valentine’s Day!
We will be out of the office Friday, February 14, through Monday, February 17, Presidents’ Day. While submissions are still welcomed, responses and other business will resume as usual on Tuesday, February 18.
Have a wonderful weekend full of delightful reading and time spent with loved ones as we all celebrate Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day together.
While you’re here, remember to check out our latest releases, all available on Amazon now. Just head over to “Books by Max” and browse away!
It’s a jungle out there – and that’s exactly what Karma finds when she escapes from the hospital in search of her boyfriend and his family. When the streets belong to the wolves and the few remainders of humanity have forgotten what it means to be human, how long can a girl survive with only a glass knife for protection and the hope of salvation for guidance?
Walk through the end of days with Karma; check out “Messages” by John Biggs on Amazon today.
Clarence Clayton dreams of someday escaping his hometown and heading for the bright future of a college education. To achieve his dream, he works for his illegal rum runner uncle deep in the marshy bogs haunted by the legendary blood thirsty Leeds Devil. Can Clarence escape the law when men start showing up dead in the bogs? More importantly, can he survive an encounter with the Leeds Devil itself?
Nick Korolev’s “Demon Rum 1932″ is available now on Amazon.
Theme is one of the tricky issues in writing. What is theme? The Collins English Dictionary (http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/theme) defines theme as “a unifying idea, image, or motif, repeated or developed throughout a work.” It is the essence of what you write, the point you are trying to get across to your readers.
Many aspiring authors simply forgo this literary element. They want to write a story, one in which they can focus on the characters and the action without any great thought involving a deeper meaning. While this may work for some, having a theme in mind as you write will provide a compass to guide you in the process. It is the reason behind the plot, the words written between the lines.
You may even have multiple themes. Some examples include the stereotypical “good triumphs over evil,” which may be used in such a way as to combat the stereotype; “love can withstand anything,” which inspires readers to believe in love in the face of difficulty; or “blood is thicker than water,” in which family ties are tested and remain true. These are more relational than others, but they give you an idea of what an overarching theme may look like.
If we look back at some of William Shakespeare’s works, we see that he had his favorite themes. He used love, human madness, tragedy, and death as his themes time and time again. These themes still hold purpose for us today, for we all face a bit of each in our daily lives.
The question we have for you, then, is this: what is your theme?
Do you have more than one? Do you have one at all? This may be a good idea for you to consider as you sit down to write. What do you want to get across to your readers? Is your story simply a story, or is there something more to it? This is a great opportunity for you to do some research. What theme or themes are most important to you? Take a look into your own past: what were your favorite books or movies? Do they have a common theme? Is there something that spoke to you from deep within the scripts? Take a look at the commonalities and contemplate whether you’d like to include something similar into your own work. Make it your own and lace it into your story.
How do you use theme?
We said earlier that theme is the writing between the lines. Well, you can’t actually write tiny sentences regarding your theme between the lines of your story—not literally, anyway. So, how are you going to infuse your book with the theme or themes you’ve chosen to use?
You can use your plot, your characters’ interactions, and your dialogue; all of these are tools for you to implement in your ongoing quest of writing. If your theme is death, how does your character deal with the death of someone close to him? Does death follow him, haunting him as he loses loved one after loved one? Can he overcome the loss? Maybe your theme is love. Is love all your character can think about, or is it something he or she is trying to avoid? Using war as an example theme, does war wage between countries in your book? Between characters? Maybe war wages within your character’s mind, as separate parts of the character battle against each other.
Whichever theme you choose and how you entwine it into your work is up to you. Keep it in mind and let it guide your pen, as well as your ideas, as you continue along in your writing journey. You’ll soon see how the rest will fall into place, leaving you with a completed project you can be proud of.
Meet Ravi, a lonely young boy with a deep love for his grandfather and the escape of a fascinating book. Growing up, he eagerly awaited afternoons spent with the wise old man, absorbing wild stories of jungles rife with thrilling adventures and terrifying animals. What will happen when Ravi decides to set off on an adventure to meet the creatures of his grandfather’s stories for himself?
Aksel has traveled the universe seeking refuge from a vastly powerful being, leaving the death and destruction of countless planets in her wake; can two citizens of Earth, one of the last remaining planets, help save her—and deliver earth from annihilation?
Max Avalon is proud to present “Absolute Tenacity” by K. J. Russell—now available for sale on Amazon!
In reviewing manuscripts, the editors here at Max Avalon have noticed that many stories, though they may have imaginative and original ideas at base, are lacking in crucial elements of tension.
Tension is, at its simplest, friction. Friction between two opposing elements:
- the protagonist and the antagonist
- what is happening and what the protagonist expects
- what is happening and what the reader expects
- what the reader knows and the character doesn’t
In a short story, the most common (and the most poignant) kind of tension comes from the friction between what the main character wants and what is stopping him or her from getting it.What the protagonist wants tells us what is at stake, and it dictates his or her actions. Does the protagonist want or need love? Acceptance? Safety? What hurdles make getting this thing difficult, or impossible?
Consider your favorite short stories, and where the primary tension stems from. Here are a few examples from classics you may be familiar with:
- “A Hunger Artist,” by Franz Kafka. Tension: Will the hunger artist reach his goal, which has spiritual implications?
- The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka. Tension: Will Gregor be returned to humanity? And will his family return his love?
- “To Build a Fire,” by Jack London. Tension: Will the man (and his dog) survive?
- “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” by Ambrose Bierce. Tension: Will Peyton Farquhar, who’s survived a hanging, make it home to his family?
Usually, the climax occurs when the tension is released—either by coming to a resolution or by having it determined that there will be no resolution (for example, the protagonist wants to change, but then we realize he will never change).
When writing (and especially when revising), always double-check your tension by asking yourself these questions:
- Is it clear what the basic motivation of your character is? His or her desires and fears?
- Can you state the single dominant question that leads the story?
- What obstacles do your protagonist face, and are they believable?
- Where are the main points of friction in your story? Are there too many, or not enough?
- If there are subplots, do they detract too much from the main tension? Do they have their own tensions?
- Does every scene contribute to the tension in some way? (It should!)
Tension is truly the heart of any story—it is what makes a story compelling. Without knowing what is at stake, readers cannot become invested.