feather quill in a pot of ink

feather quill and parchment “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

– Jane Austen

Has there ever been a more iconic opening sentence in a novel? Jane Austen may not be every reader or writers cup of tea, but there’s still much that can be learned from her to help improve your own writing and understand the basics of storytelling.

Who was it that said people like to look at people? And where did the concept of humanising designs come from? We think that applies to writing as well as art and design, and Jane Austen had the knack of unveiling it in her novels. Of course, all novels have characters, protagonists, antagonists, and they all engage with other characters and settings, but there’s something about social situations, serendipities and gossip that can be irresistible. Perhaps it’s because when we read Austen, we get to be a wallflower in the ballroom and soak up all the interactions and try to connect the dots. So how does she do it?  Jane does it through:

keen observation

If you want to know more about the character you’re creating, try making them interact in a setting with lots of people, not just busy spaces, but packed and confined social spaces where they’re known. What do other characters think of your character? How does your character think of them? Does your character’s behaviour or dialogue change when talking to their family at home compared to at a wedding?

& dialogue

Use dialogue to drive the plot forward and reveal information as well as action and narration. When it comes to narration show don’t tell. When it comes to dialogue though,  it’s socially acceptable as readers to eavesdrop, so give your reader something irresistible to overhear.

We may not be able to offer you a one-on-one writing workshop with Jane Austen, but our ‘Introduction to writing’ course comes with all sorts of tips and techniques to keep the ideas progressing and support your unique style.

Check out the event by clicking here.

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