Avoiding Repetitive Sentence Openings In First Person Narration

2013 Artwork Repetition Sketch

One of the problems I’ve noticed when I’m writing “Liminal Rites” is that, especially on days when I’m not feeling too inspired, I can easily end up starting quite a few sentences in a repetitive way (usually with “I” or “It”).

This is annoying for me, as a writer, and it is probably annoying for you too. Strangely, I don’t have this problem with non-fiction articles, but when I got back into writing longer pieces of fiction again, it seems to have re-appeared.

This problem seems to be more of an issue with first-person narration than third person narration, but I thought that I’d list a few of the techniques I’ve used to either prevent it or to at least make it less obvious in case anyone else has the same issue with their fiction.

This is still something I’m working out at the moment, so this list isn’t really a very long or comprehensive list, but I hope that it is useful nonetheless.

1) Come up with a few stock phrases: Yes, this just covers up the problem slightly – but one way to make repetitive sentence openings less obvious is to come up with lots of “stock phrases” for beginning your sentences when you aren’t feeling inspired.

For example, in “Liminal Rites”, I sometimes have a habit of starting sentences with things like “Finally, I….”, “Rosie turned to me and said…”, “I just…”, “She just..” etc…

Whilst coming up with a few stock sentence openings to rely on is still repetitive – if you have a lot of them, then your readers probably aren’t going to notice that much (unless you mention it in a blog article..) or mind too much. Or at least it will be less annoying than just having one or two repetitive ways to open a sentence.

2) Describe things: Start your next paragraph or sentence with a description of something or somewhere. Provided that your description is relevant to the story, keeps the story moving and doesn’t interrupt the flow of the narrative – then adding a well-placed description can be a great way of avoiding repetitive sentence openings.

3) Sometimes it’s ok: If you’re writing a story from a first-person perspective, then you are probably going to use the word “I” a lot anyway. It is part of the format. So, don’t worry if you start a reasonable number of sentences with “I”. But if more than about half (at most) of your sentences start with “I”, then it might be an idea to try something else.

4) Use dialogue: This is a great way to break up some repetitive narration – after all, most people don’t start every sentence in the same way when they are talking.

However, if like me, dialogue isn’t one of your strengths – then this can be a slightly difficult way of getting around repetitive sentence openings. Even so, adding dialogue is still a technique which worth trying.

5) Take a break and chill out: Sometimes using repetitive sentence openings is just a sign that you’re not really feeling that energetic or enthusiastic. If that is the case, then just take a break from your story (either to do something else creative, something relaxing or whatever etc..) until you’re feeling more enthusiastic about it again.

If you’re writing your story on a schedule (eg: if it’s an episodic story), then creating a chapter buffer is an absolutely essential thing to do, so that you can take a break when you aren’t feeling inspired.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

How To Draw An Audio Cassette

Well, I’m still in a slightly retro mood, so I thought that for today’s instalment of my “How To Draw” series, I’d show you how to draw an audio cassette.

Although this guide didn’t turn out quite as well as I hoped it would, it will still hopefully give you a general impression of how to draw an audio cassette.

This image is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

This image is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

New E-Book :) – “Your First Webcomic”

Your First Webcomic Cover

Well, I am very proud to announce that my latest e-book “Your First Webcomic” is available on Smashwords. You can also view a free sample of the first quarter of the book on the Smashwords site too.

“Your First Webcomic” is a collection of seven re-edited articles from this blog about writing and designing webcomics.

Although this guide is text-only (since I’m not sure whether some e-book reading devices can display large images), it will give you a lot of pointers about getting started, quality vs quantity, characters, backgrounds, comedy, B&W vs. Colour art and panel layout.

Oh, if anyone is curious, the comic on the cover is one of my webcomics called “Damania“. Although it wasn’t my first webcomic (and I only add to it occasionally these days), it’s probably my favourite one of my webcomics.

Today’s Art (27th July 2013)

Well, I’m quite proud of today’s drawings, although “Jade Cabin” ended up being less detailed than I originally expected.

Interestingly, “The Censors” was drawn pretty much spontaneously after I suddenly had the perfect idea for a drawing which summed up the conformist mindset behind censorship.

As always, these three drawings are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"The Old Temple" By C. A. Brown

“The Old Temple” By C. A. Brown

"The Censors" By C. A. Brown

“The Censors” By C. A. Brown

"Jade Cabin" By C. A. Brown

“Jade Cabin” By C. A. Brown

Review: “Final Doom” (Computer Game)

Ever since I first bought a battered second-hand copy of this game on CD (yep, the original version – it even had a proper-size box too) when I was about 16/17, “Final Doom” has been my favourite “Doom” game. It can also be found on the excellent “Doom – Collector’s Edition” CD too. If you like FPS games in any way, then “Final Doom” is an absolute must for your game collection.

And, since I was playing “Final Doom” during my review of the “Brutal Doom” mod, I thought that it was about time to review it in it’s own right.

Basically “Final Doom” is a stand-alone add-on (back in the days before add-ons were called “DLC”) for “Doom II” which includes two 32-level episodes called “The Plutonia Experiment” (by the Casali brothers) and “TNT Evilution” (by Team TNT).

Although there are no new weapons or enemies – “Final Doom” doesn’t really need these in order to …dare I say it?… Improve on what is already an absolutely perfect game.

One of the first things I will say is that you should probably play “Doom II” before you play “Final Doom” – this is mainly to familiarise yourself with the weapons and enemies you will encounter in “Final Doom”. It’s also a good way to practice playing “Doom” in a game with a difficulty curve designed for new players.

This is important because “Final Doom” doesn’t have a difficulty curve of any kind – “The Plutonia Experiment” starts with a challengingly difficult level and just gets harder and harder. However, “TNT Evilution” starts with a vaguely easy level (which is slightly modelled on the opening levels of the first two “Doom” games) before getting much more difficult.

Yes, this is a game for experienced “Doom” players and it is even better for this. Almost every level is like one of the more difficult levels from later in “Doom II”, so it has a lot more gameplay time (and value for money) than any other “Doom” game purely on account of this.

In addition to this, because each of the two episodes is the same length as “Doom 2” – even down to the two secret levels. So, it’s basically two games for the price of one.

Although the four secret levels in “Final Doom” are just fairly ordinary levels and don’t really come close to the sheer coolness of the “Wolfenstein 3D”-themed secret levels in “Doom 2” which end with the harshly cynical death of Commander Keen (another wonderful piece of childhood nostalgia). Unless, of course, you’re playing “Doom II” in Germany – in which case, there aren’t any “Wolfenstein 3D”-themed secret levels for obvious reasons.

I’ve talked a lot about the level design of this game before, but it is basically the main strength of “Final Doom” – there are a huge variety of amazing non-linear levels, with some rather innovative touches. For example, one of the levels in “TNT Evilution” (level 4, “Wormhole”) initially looks like a very short level and you can even finish it early too. However, if you explore even more – you can find an “evil” copy of the area which you’ve already explored earlier in the level.

My favourite level, if I had to choose one, is probably “Odyssey Of Noises” from “The Plutonia Experiment” (level 29) – which is basically an entire city of small buildings which is absolutely crammed with enemies. I have many fond memories of trying to finish this level when I was 17 whilst listening to “South Of Heaven” by Slayer and various songs from Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” album.

Seriously, “Final Doom” (like any classic “Doom” game) is a game which is best enjoyed when listening to classic 80s and 90s heavy metal music.

All in all, this is a game which no FPS gamer should be without. Yes, it’s old. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, you should play “Doom 2” first. But, if you miss this game, then you’re missing out.

All in all, if I had to give “Final Doom” a rating out of five, it would probably get a six.

How To Draw A Lava Lamp

Well, for today’s instalment in my “How To Draw” series, I thought that I’d show you how to draw a lava lamp, since they look wonderfully retro and can easily work quite well as a background detail in drawings and/or comics. Plus, they’re really easy to draw too…

This image is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

This image is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

Today’s Art (26th July 2013)

Well, I was kind of in the mood for fantasy art, metal art and horror art today and I’m really proud of how today’s drawings turned out.

As usual, these three drawings are released udner a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"The Mysterious Tower" By C. A. Brown

“The Mysterious Tower” By C. A. Brown

"Another Monster" By C. A. Brown

“Another Monster” By C. A. Brown

"Twilight Coast" By C. A. Brown

“Twilight Coast” By C. A. Brown

Drawing 3D Scenery For Beginners

2013 Artwork 3D Scenery Sketch

One of the most important and basic things to learn when you’re just starting to learn how to draw is how to draw 3D scenery. This was originally going to be part of my “How To Draw” series, but I thought that it merited a longer article, since it’s a fairly essential part of drawing and the basic principles of it are fairly easy to learn.

I’m not quite sure exactly when I learnt how to draw 3D scenery but it happened fairly early on in my evolution as an artist – yet, almost all of my very early drawings have completely 2D backgrounds. So, I’m not sure where I picked this skill up, but it’s important to learn for most types of art. If you’re new to drawing, then don’t worry – the basic principles of it are very easy to learn.

Try practicing all of these techniques on their own before combining them into a single drawing:

1) 3D Shapes

Firstly, it is important to learn how to draw basic 3D shapes (cubes, cuboids pyramids etc…) since most types of 3D art rely on these basic shapes. I’ll include a small illustration of how to draw some of these shapes:

If you're drawing a solid (non-transparent) object, then don't draw the dotted lines.

If you’re drawing a solid (non-transparent) object, then don’t draw the dotted lines.

Now look at a photograph of somewhere and see if you can find things which can be reduced to these basic 3D shapes as well as slightly more irregular 3D shapes (which are usually drawn using the same basic principles as more simple 3D shapes). If you look at it carefully, you’ll start to get a basic impression of how to draw 3D scenery.

Likewise, if you want to draw the floor or the ground, it can be drawn (in it’s most basic way) using one or two lines – kind of like the top of some of the 3D shapes earlier in this article.

The top line is the most important of the two lines (you can leave out the bottom line if you want to).

The top line is the most important of the two lines (you can leave out the bottom line if you want to).

2) Perspective

At it’s most basic – things get smaller and narrower the further they are away from the front of the drawing. This is something to remember if you want to draw something in front of something else – the closer anything is to the front of the drawing, the bigger it should be.

As for things getting narrower, this isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Basically, many pictures featuring a landscape can be divided into four invisible triangles (by drawing an “X” over your drawing in pencil) – any sides of anything in your drawings which are facing the edges of these invisible trianges should run parallel to these lines. Things closer to the middle of the drawing should also be smaller too.

2013 3D backgrounds figure 2

3) Curve Lines

For anything which is curved/cylindrical, you can show that it is curved by adding either a few thin curved lines or (if it is facing a light source) by making the centre of the object lighter than the edges of it. It’s that simple.

2013 3D backgrounds figure 3

4) Shadows

Drawing these properly takes a lot of practice (I’m still learning) – but, in general, they appear on the exact opposite side of an object to any light sources. The shape of the shadows can vary depending on the position of the light source, the shape of the object etc… The best way to work out how to use shadows is to look at other drawings and photographs as a reference.

2013 3d backgrounds figure 4

Generally, if the light source is above the object, then the shadow should be shorter than the object is. However, if the light source is at the same height as the object, then the shadow should be longer than the object.

If you’re not sure, just get a torch and a small object of a similar shape as the thing you’re drawing and see what the shadows look like.

I hope that this short (and rather basic) guide was useful to you 🙂 Just remember to keep practicing and experimenting.

Today’s Art ( 25th July 2013)

Wow! I’m extremely proud of today’s drawings. I kind of felt like drawing some gothic and sci-fi art and this turned out really well (although the background to “Takeoff” was originally going to be more detailed).

I’ve also decided to give the inverted colour effects a rest for a while too (since I pretty much used them in every drawing I made for the past couple of days).

As usual, these three drawings are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"A Brief Silence" By C. A. Brown

“A Brief Silence” By C. A. Brown

"New Processes" By C. A. Brown

“New Processes” By C. A. Brown

"Takeoff" By C. A. Brown

“Takeoff” By C. A. Brown