Insights of the Writes Q&A: Story Style

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for joining me for the first Q&A session of Insights of the Writes. And a big, big thank you to everyone who submitted their writing-related questions, I had a blast reading them and couldn’t be more excited to provide you all my little writing insights!! But before we begin, a quick announcement!

I will keep the form open until February 14th, so if you would like me to answer your writing-related questions, please consider sending them to me through the form—or even in the comments below!! I would love to hear from you, your participation is a huge part of this blog series, and I am truly grateful for your support! 💞

With Insights of the Writes, I define Story Style as how an author tells a story. What do I mean by this? Well, different books call for different ways to tell them. An author’s usage of narrative devices can even help distinguish their body of work from other writers and stand out to readers. Examples of a story style include usage of prologues, nonlinear storytelling, flashbacks, red herrings, and a story within a story!

So…you asked and I answered! Here are 4 wonderful questions asked through the form about story style, and my 4 writing insights. Enjoy!!

First off, we have a question from Lindsey!!

How do you write a fantasy?

Splendid question! First of all, there is really no right way to write a fantasy, but there are key elements to consider. I would start with building a solid world, establishing your cast of characters, and weaving your character’s backstory with their status in the world to create a plot. Your character will need a motivation, strengths, flaws, and there must be a reason we root for them. Establishing your character’s place in the world will elevate these character essentials and drive the plot forwards.

Ask yourself: what was your last favorite fantasy book? What was the main character seeking and why? The why is usually directly linked to their backstory, what keeps them going through the toughest times is their motivation, what keeps us invested is the reason we root for them, and what makes the plot fascinating is how the character’s flaws create obstacles for themselves.

This seems very daunting, but don’t worry!! This is a very general structure, and more about this will definitely be covered in future Insights of the Writes posts!!

Next, we have a question from Cari @ All Creatures Great and Small:

I would like to know more about the mystery writing style as well as adding adventure elements, as well as keeping your reader’s interest.

Awesome question! I’ve tried my hand at mysteries before, but I think it takes time and experience to build a unique style for them. I personally believe that a strong mystery will establish the case your characters are trying to solve early on, drop clues and foreshadow future events in a subtle manner throughout the book, intentionally mislead the reader in such a way that the realizations found there will play a crucial role in understanding the true mystery, and resolve in a logical conclusion.

Whew let’s break this down, shall we? 😅

A mystery should set the tone right off the bat, through setting and characters, before establishing the mystery as soon as possible. Especially if the mystery is not a subplot, but the big main plot, something should happen—fast. Otherwise, we risk losing our readers’ interest, and that’s a big no-no.

Each scene of a mystery should include a little clue or foreshadow here or there so readers can form unconscious inklings of ideas of what will unfold next. But before they can get any big ideas about what will truly happen, the author can use red herrings to keep the ending a surprise. Yet I think red herrings can be even more powerful than a mere distraction if the goose chase leads to an unexpected surprise that will help with the actual solution.

Finally, mysteries are infamous for their plot twists, but outlandish ones that leave the readers figuratively dangling off the edge of a cliff is a big no-no for the ending. The ending can be ambiguous and open to interpretation, but it should not feel like a let down to readers. The best plot twists are celebrated because of how the author left subtle clues throughout the narrative hinting at them, so the readers aren’t totally caught off guard.

Now, we have a question from Introverted Thoughts @ Random Specific Thoughts!!

I’m excited for a story within a story and narration by multiple characters!

Wonderful questions! I find that the narrative device of a story within a story works best when a main character’s world’s well known legend or myth becomes a guide and a source of a solution for them in their present time. It’s a very interesting strategy that can give the main story and world more depth, and allow the reader an even more intimate feeling of escapism.

If I were to use this method, I would alternate chapters between the present time and the mythical time, and bring out the elements that parallel each other most, whether it be the antagonists in each time having similar motivations or the protagonists having similar flaws that they are to overcome, etc. This will allow readers to draw connections much easier and tremble with anticipation for what is to come!

Multiple point of views (or POVs) are always fun as well! Usually, two or more characters will alternate chapters. I find that using multiple POVs works best when 1) having two or more of them allows the reader two or more sides of the big conflict in their world, 2) each POV’s role or status in their world is essential to a few, but not all, of the plot’s demands, and 3) highlight how several characters’ developments are affected by one another.

I’ve been exploring with multiple POVs for a while, and I believe that giving each POV a unique perspective, voice, mannerisms, and way of thinking is essential to helping your reader ground themselves with the characters and understand them equally without feeling too torn between the mindsets of one character or the other. Multiple POVs should not isolate each other, but complement each other. A popular way of doing this is advancing a plot in such a way that the POVs meet each other and discover they need to work together towards an ultimate goal. Sometimes, popular = effective, right? 😂

Finally, we have a question from Millay @ Millay’s Musings!!

I’ve read many books where the flashbacks were sort of…wonky…shall we say. How do you think a successful flashback comes about?

Excellent question! Haha flashbacks can definitely seem wonky if they are not done correctly. To me though, flashbacks serve the character and plot best when they are sparsely interwoven throughout the narrative, and highlight only specific, specific moments of their life before we meet them that will come into play later on. Something has to provoke the character into recalling the flashback. And while flashbacks can be in very vivid detail, I personally think it works better when it’s sudden, and uses few key words, because it can then better convey the character’s true thoughts and emotions and allow for more interpretation on the reader’s part into how the flashback will affect the later story.

Detail of a used mechanical clock with hypnotic quadrant, very flexible concept

How could a flashback affect the later story though? Well, think of it this way. We all have memories of choices we made, decisions with multiple paths, that either turned out great or didn’t end as well as we thought. But that affected our future decision making—it helps us choose more easily the path that will lead to a reward and the path that will lead to unsatisfaction. The same with flashbacks and the future story. A character’s experience in that flashback could be the driving factor in the future decisions they make, but without that flashback, we might not have the context for that character’s choice, especially if it seems contrary to their character.

What can I say? The subconscious reveals curious things, my friends 👀

And…that’s a wrap!

Thank you Lindsey, Cari, Introverted Thoughts, and Millay for your questions, I hope my insights were helpful to you and everyone else reading this!! Remember, if you want to participate in the Q&A sessions, drop them in the comments below or submit the form by Feb. 14!! I look forward to your questions!!

18 Comments

    1. Aw thank you!! “Wonky” was Millay’s wording haha but it’s so true!! Prolonged flashbacks can be confusing, but in the case of a huge revelation, they can be done really well!! Thank you for stopping by ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ahh, your insights are so brilliantly expressed! Thanks so much for answering my question! I loved your take on multiple POVs too! My current WIP incorporates that and flashbacks too, so this post came at the best time!
    I agree that the different perspectives need to complement each other, it makes for a beautiful reading experience then.
    “We need to understand the conflict thoroughly through each kitten’s eyes, guys!!”😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. EEP you are too kind!! Of course, I loved your question and it was my pleasure to answer!! So happy you found this post helpful, your WIP sounds so fascinating, I NEED TO KNOW MORE!! Complementary POVs are some of the best 😁 HAHA I was in the mood for kitten humor!!

      Liked by 1 person

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