Throughout a story, a writer has to increase and slow the pace to gain the maximum effect. You achieve it through a combination of emotive vocabulary and the length of sentences and words.

As a rule, short words and sentences denote:
• anger
• urgency
• fear
• pain

Longer words and sentences denote:
• romance
• contentment
• relaxation
• confidence

You can also use longer sentences to help build tension.


Bad fantasy & Sci-Fi usually includes only (or way too many) stereotypes. Think plucky space princesses, evil witches, or wizards with long grey beards.


- She is quiet as a mouse
- Life is like a race. The one who keeps running wins the race and the one who stops to catch a breath loses
- Just as a sword is the weapon of a warrior, a pen is the weapon of a writer
- How a doctor diagnoses diseases is like how a detective investigates crimes
- Just as a caterpillar comes out of its cocoon, so we must come out of our comfort zone

Jilly Cooper, Desert Island Discs, July 2016

Hint 2

Any time that something funny happens write it down.

Laws of Fantasy & Sci-Fi

Bad fantasy & Sci-Fi usually includes only (or way too many) stereotypes. Think plucky space princesses, evil witches, or wizards with long grey beards.

First Law – Stories are about people.

Read the full post from the writers group meeting here.

Jilly Cooper, Desert Island Discs, July 2016

Hint 1

Keep a diary.

Otherwise you won’t remember ideas and details.
When you are 25, you quickly forget what it is like to be 24. The memory is very false.

There is one book that changed the way we thought about writing...

Stephen King on Writing

A rare glimpse from a hugely successful writer on life in the industry with helpful advice along the way.

Buy Now!


A process of transferring information or meaning from one subject to another. Analogies are used in many areas: Law, logic, mathematics, science, etc.

In writing we use analogies as a figure of speech. Metaphors and similes are tools used to draw an analogy.

Below is an analogy drawn by a simile:
- Structure of an atom is like a solar system. Nucleus is the sun and electrons are the planets revolving around their sun
Same analogy now drawn by a metaphor:
- An atom is a solar system. Nucleus, the sun, with its planets, the electrons, revolving around it.


Place and emotion

We had a great session on using analogies, metaphors and similes to bring settings to life. Here is how Paula Hawkins goes about it towards the end of her thriller, ‘The Girl on the Train’:

‘The beach is deserted, and it’s so cold I have to clench my jaw to stop my teeth chattering. I walk quickly along the shingle, past the beach huts, so pretty in daylight but now sinister, each one of them a hiding place. When the wind picks up they come alive, their wooden boards creaking against each other, and under the sound of the sea there are murmurs of movement: someone or something coming closer. I turn back, I start to run.’
Frighteningly good, even if not strictly allegory, metaphor or simile.

Science Fiction vs. Fantasy

Science Fiction is a story that might one day be possible. Modern day impossibles are allowed, but they should be set in the realm of future possibility.


Fantasy is about the impossible. Not just impossible things now, but things that are impossible now and in the future. In fantasy, anything is possible! In good fantasy although anything is possible there are still a set of rules that bind the characters and their actions.

When there is doubt about whether it is impossible the genre is Science Fiction.


A figure of speech that refers to one thing by mentioning another. Whereas a simile compares two items (often using as and like), a metaphor equates them.

- All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances […]
- The world is a vampire, sent to drain,
Secret destroyers, hold you up to the flames […]
- You’re the wind beneath my wings
- Cold feet
- Broken heart
- Black sheep of the family
- A bad apple

Types of metaphors

• A Dead Metaphor: Using physical action as a method of understanding
- to grasp a concept
- to gather what you’ve understood
• Allegory: An extended metaphor wherein a story illustrates an important attribute of the subject.
• Parable: An extended metaphor narrated as an anecdote illustrating and teaching such as in Aesop's fables, or Jesus' teaching method as told in the Bible.
• Pun: Similar to a standard metaphor, a pun alludes to another term. However, the main difference is that a pun is a frivolous allusion between two different things whereas a metaphor is a purposeful allusion between two different things.
• And many more


Jilly Cooper, Desert Island Discs, July 2016

Hint 3

Remember the five senses

What do things feel like? What do they look like? What do they smell like?

It lifts the prose.