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In the beginning

The profoundness of the tenebrous tempestuousness felt like it had swaddled him.
Try writing a children’s book using those terms. Would it work? … I don’t think so!

Night time. That is when it gets dark. Are you afraid of the dark?
So how would that be as the open line to an adult novel?

So who are you writing for?

This is one of the first decisions you have to make, even before you start to consider the content. It is the foundation upon which your style of writing hangs. There is no use contriving a deep sinister plot full of innuendos and intrigue if you are writing for an eight-year-old. (Geniuses excepted).

A raunchy explicit sex-laden story with graphic depictions of mutilations and torture is hardly going to make a hit with the over seventies, or those who regularly read “The Peoples Friend” magazine. (Yea I Know. Speak for myself!)

AND whatever style you write in is likely to become the style you will be known for.
Authors get followings more for their style of writing, rather than for their titles.

So who are you writing for? Is it just your friends and family? Or are you looking a bigger audience?

I may take you a few short stories to get a feel for your particular style. You may have a favourite author or authors. What is there style? If you like it, chances are you may write in a similar style. Similar style. Don’t try and mimic someone else’s, it will be obviously fake. Let your way of expressing yourself come through.

What is my style? Well, I aim for young adults up. I have had teenagers read my work and enjoy it, just as much as a ninety-year-old. I don’t use profanities and don’t use explicit sex or violence. I don’t think you need “shock tactics” to make a story interesting.

Case in point: I enjoy Billy Connolly’s documentaries and travelogues. He is interesting and witty. I have also seen a number of his stage shows. He can be quite crude, but personally, it does not make him any funnier. To me, he is an excellent storyteller, but his stories are often better without the profanities. (My personal opinion only Billy).

So, are you going to write an epic?

How big is your story?

Micro-Fiction ———- up to 100 words
Flash Fiction ———– 100 – 1,000 words
Short Story ————- 1,000 – 7,500 words
Novelette ————— 7,500 – 20,000 words
Novella —————– 20,000 – 50,000 words
Novel ——————- 50,000 -110,000
Epics ——————– Over 110,000 words

This is the normally accepted word count list for stories.

For example “Kennard’s Valley” is 66,000 words, and is a novel.
“The Attic” and “Lost” are 1670 & 1500 words respectively.

Story length is not really important unless you are going to get it published. Publishers tend to prefer around a 75,000-word manuscript (approximately)

If you are self-publishing … up to you.

Who Are You Anyway?

  1. I leaned on a fence post and gazed down on the little village.
  2. The old woman watched as you leaned on the fence post and gazed down the valley.
  3. Gavin leaned on a fence post and gazed down on the little village.

All these are the same story, just from a different viewpoint. In all these though, you are the narrator; the storyteller.

No 1 is in the first person. You, the narrator, are also the main character. Lost is written in the 1st person. It uses pronouns like; I, We, Me, Us, Mine, Ours.

No 2 is written in the second person. This is a style I personally have not tried yet, but you as the narrator are putting the reader in the position of the main character. This uses words like; You, Your, Yours.

No 3 is in the third person. Probably the most common style, you as the narrator are telling a story as if reading to an audience. Kennard’s Valley is written in the 3rd person. Here we use pronouns such as; Him, Her, He, She, His, Hers.

No matter what you are writing these are three things you will need to work out before you start. Once you have embarked on your journey, these three will be very difficult to change without a major re-write.


Halve ewe chequed yaw spelling?

A Little Poem Regarding Computer Spell Checkers (I have no idea who by)

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

When I wrote Kennard’s Valley, I ran it through my spell checker and found heaps of mistakes. Then I had it read by three literary competent people, who then found heaps of grammatical errors. They still found a few spelling errors, though these were mainly UK/US variations. The interesting thing was that although all three found many of the same errors, each one found quite a number that the others had not.

Then I bought a grammar checking package. Guess what? It found even more. Interesting, Grammarly, a free online grammar checker also found very few spelling mistakes with the above.

I still know of one mistake in Kennard’s Valley, but I’m not telling you!

Is it really important? Well, that is now a debatable subject. I still think it is. However others I know will disagree. At one stage business letters had to conform to strict criteria, nowadays the “experts” are saying, “Write it as you say it.” Maybe I am just an old fuddy.


It was a dark and stormy night!

They are the famous words of Charles M Shultz wonderful character, Snoopy. As far as I can remember, Snoopy started every novel the same way, and I don’t think he ever got any further. But the phrase has been about from as far back as the early 1800’s.

There are rules to writing, break them at your peril! … Except

I am sure that Charles knows the rules to good writing, so why did he do it?
And what is wrong with it?

Let’s take the latter first. – It was a dark and stormy night.

There are not many stormy nights that I have experienced, that was not dark. This is called a tautology.

It can be a common mistake to over-emphasize a climatic event.
“An enormous dog of gigantic proportions launched its huge body … ” Yea yea, we get the picture. It was a big dog.

So Charles broke the rule just enough to make that line a classic.

I am breaking a rule in my sequel to Kennard’s Valley too.

When introducing a character into the story, you should do so not by giving an autobiography of the person in one hit. It breaks the flow of the story and can become quite distracting to the plot, and, in fact, be so boring as to make the reader put it back on the shelf. That’s not what you want. You want to keep up the pace, keep the reader interested enough to turn the next page and keep reading.

So you only bring forth relevant information about the character when it is necessary to do so throughout the story, and only if required.

What naughty thing am I doing? Guests are arriving at a party. As they arrive, each is introduced as a complete chapter on their life history. However, within each of those chapters, the rule is not broken. Why have I done it? you will have to read the book and see 🙂

Rules, really there are no rules, just guidelines. One of the marvellous things about writing is – You! You are in control, you make the story, you can do what you want.

But this blog is about Historical Writing. Click the link to go to the next blog.