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suzannebowditch

Writer of historical fiction, blogger, mum, pet lover :)

Date

January 29, 2017

5 qualities of a brilliant story

Great tips here for writers 🙂

Nail Your Novel

3389004318_2e8d3200fb_zI write a lot of posts about problems with book drafts. But isn’t it just as important to look at the positive? If we listed the qualities of a brilliant read, what would they be? (Plus, I think we need a feelgood post.)

So, as I sit here on Sunday morning in London with an hour to get this post out of my head and into the grey matter of the blogosphere, this is the list I’ve come up with. I hope you’ll storm your brains and join in at the end.

Here goes.

Deft use of details

A writer needs to give a lot of details to evoke the setting, time period (if it’s not contemporary), distinguishing features of the characters, points about the weather. A skilful storyteller will smuggle a lot of these in as part of the action. A historical period might be evoked by showing a character…

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Short Story: Lunch

currumbin-beach
Currumbin Beach, Gold Coast

From her vantage point on the balcony of the restaurant she watched as the surfers chased the foamy surf. The midday sun beat down fiercely, endless white sands stretching out towards clear blue sea and skies. They looked like seals, determined to catch that elusive big wave. It was their life long mission, their reason for existing.

‘Is this seat taken?’ a voice spoke as a woman in a brightly patterned dress smiled down at her. Chelsea nodded; yes, taking in a whiff of gardenias from her perfume. She placed her bag on the empty chair and sighed with annoyance. Where was he? His tardiness was starting to annoy her.

She looked around the restaurant. It was starting to fill as the lunchtime rush rapidly approached. It was such a popular spot, built on a rocky outcrop on the shoreline, right next to Elephant Rock. Tourists and locals alike flocked to munch on succulent prawns washed down with light beer and a fabulous view.

Today was no exception.

Sipping her stilled water, her thoughts turned to her absent companion: Luke. They had known each other since high school, losing touch after graduation. Then she had bumped into him at a party, an informal school reunion. They’d barely spoken to each other over the Bunsen burners and dusty literature books, but ten years later things were different. They both loved the beach, fishing and boating on the water, late night classic movies and discovering new restaurants dotted along the coast.

It had been an exciting twelve months.

That’s why the last few weeks had been a bit of a mystery. Luke had started to look detached whilst on their dates, as if he wanted to be somewhere else. He barely listened to her and was constantly late, that was when he bothered to show up at all. There were always feeble excuses; car wouldn’t start, or the traffic was fierce on the highway. Just the other night he told her that his boss had wanted him to fetch supplies in the city, but she sensed that it was not the whole truth.

What was going on?

Someone burst into laughter at the table behind her. She turned her head slightly, glancing at a young family eating lunch with an older couple. Chelsea felt a pull at her heart strings, remembering her own idyllic childhood on the farm in New South Wales. She had chosen to live here, hadn’t she? It was not just because Luke had taken a position as manager of the construction firm? She loved her job in the kindergarten, and her surroundings were breathtaking. A seed of insecurity formed in her mind, a cloud hanging over her, spoiling the perfection of the afternoon. Everyone seemed to be relaxed and animated whilst she felt dark and broody, and alone.

She glanced at her watch. Luke was now a full half an hour late. Maybe this was her cue…did he want to finish with her?

Just then a voice shouted up from the beach. A figure stood by the sandy shore, and she recognised Luke’s muscular physique. He seemed to be knee deep in the water, the waves splashing over him as he waved his arms around frantically and pointed upwards.

The girl on the next table cried out, looking out at the blue horizon.

‘Look up at the plane in the sky. That’s so romantic!’

Chelsea tried to focus on what Luke was trying to say. The waves crashed onto the rocks behind him, making his words distorted. He was smiling, waving, pointing at the sky.

She grinned with delight, clapping her hands over her mouth as she read the banner. Luke ran up the restaurant steps towards her, as the families looked on. The aircraft droned past, trailing the banner behind it, flapping in the sea breezes.

Chelsea – I love you. Will you marry me? – Luke XXX

 

 

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