WRITING CANADIAN URBAN FICTION A GUIDE FOR CREATING URBAN FICTION NOVELS & SHORT STORIES THEME, STYLE AND TONE Urban ficton is classified by its emphasis on city living, utilizing clear cultural references, location-specific vernacular and phrasing, and themes that reflect niche lifestyles. A common focus is street life: social circumstances of the innercity and the interpersonal relationships of those who exist in the highlighted urban area. Cultural elements are crucial, whether it’s Toronto, Winnipeg, or Halifax: the setting will determine the realities. Write your urban fiction project with a clear point of view, with concrete observations from a particular moment in time, and keep the style of writing true to the culture being represented. Ensure that the tone is representative of the environment and the authenticities of the characters.
When communicating the environment of an urban setting, be sure to include the most significant traits of the surroundings: street names, landmarks, neighbourhoods, notable businesses, and specific characteristics of the places that make your narrative uniquely “urban” and deliberately Canadian. Use as many of the senses as possible in your descriptions: how does the location sound (i.e. music), what are the common aromas (i.e. foods), how do the pedestrians look (i.e. ethnicity), or what is the texture of the landscape (i.e. concrete)? Describe your story’s location in a way that makes readers feel like they are there with the character, and in a manner they will recognize it if they do visit one day.
Ensure that your characters are authentic in speech, in action, and that their activities are in alignment with their beliefs, cultural values, and surroundings. You will need to convey the purpose of your character through this select moment in time, remembering to avoid unnecessary cultural stereotypes and clichés, yet still modelling your fictional characters after the natural mannerisms, traits, and habits of the individuals in the setting you are describing. Your reader should empathize with the circumstances of the main character, so make them believable. The supporting characters and antagonists are living forces that work against your main protagonist: position them deliberately. (c) 2018 by Kya Publishing
PLOT AND NARRATIVE ARC
Traditional models of plot development involve an introduction/inciting incident, the building scenes, the climax, and the resolution. While adhering to this outline, be creative with how you tell your story and communicate your messages. The most important thing to remember when writing is that YOU are in control of the story, the events, and the outcome, so be true to yourself and the development of your characters along the way. When developing the rising action, try to make it thoughtful in message and use a sequence of events that will convey your point concisely. Include cultural elements in your narrative arc to create a story that is purposeful, enlightening, and true to the urban fiction genre. Ensure that your actions and plot points are believable, and always remember that authenticity is key!
While traditional urban fiction is known for having street-level conflicts often involving gangs, criminal activity, or interpersonal struggles, remember that your conflict can be as big...or as small as you desire. Most importantly, be sure to keep it genuinely Canadian in tone, in scope, and in history. Your conflict can be internal, or a conflict of values or development with one of more of your characters. You do not need a dramatic overthe-top incident to make your story appealing. Let the conflict be reflective of the message you are telling, the characters you are portraying, and the overall theme that you are presenting. Whether it’s conflict with self, against family, the police or other institutions, or just with another individual, it can be as powerful as you need it to be. The conflict is what changes the direction of the story and brings the plot to a climax—keep it specific and keep it relevant. A decision should be made here that drives the narrative; the main character should be faced with choices that clearly determine the next steps.
DENOUEMENT AND CONCLUSION
Your reader desires a solution to the issues, conversations, relationships, and events that take place in your story. During the denouement, tie up all loose ends that will complete this particular episode of the character’s life. This snapshot in time for your character should be confirmed with a change in awareness in the conclusion. Urban fiction is known for covering controversial topics and non-traditional lifestyles. While your story may not solve greater systemic issues or social incidences, it can definitely finalize relationships, independent growth, and specific scenarios. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR WOULD LIKE ADDITIONAL RESOURCES, PLEASE CONTACT US AT SERVICES@KYAPUBLISHING.COM OR VISIT WWW.KYAPUBLISHING.COM
(c) 2018 by Kya Publishing
Kya Publishing's Guide for Creating Urban Fiction Novels & Short Stories (2018)