The "mandatory" first rule of writing is that everything is as mandatory as it is optional. Writers learn the rules so they can break the rules. Writers keep to traditions because they can further them in untraditional ways. Whether debating whether to write a prologue or rely on a character discovering a documented past, there are no "correct answers." The same applies to titling chapters versus leaving them numbered. Nowadays there are factors that will end up answering thi
In the spirit of the holidays, the need to buy a meaningful gift for the writer in your family is a must. I posted an accompanying blog post that offers a gift guide for writers (posted here [X]) that covered more unique tools. A list of books on writing deserves its own post, and I'm going to include the best of the best that I've added to my shelf. Writing Monsters: How to Craft Believably Terrifying Creatures by Philip Athans Athan's reference on writing monsters earns it'
We all know how crucial accuracy is when it comes to any historical drama. Whether this drama comes from a book or movie, accuracy is key to feeling immersed in the period selected by the medium. Writing in historical fiction or fantasy requires a lot of detail when it comes to world-building. This detail can range from what technology is available to your characters to what diseases affect the general population. Somewhere in that range, the type of clothing your characters
Have you ever spent time at your desk talking out your latest scene in your book rather than writing it? As an auditory learner, I've always vocalized my latest idea for my book whenever I felt stuck. Talking out my problem and finding the solution out loud was continuously productive. Only, the immediate problem I faced was that I failed to write any of the words I spoke down. All those inspired thoughts, and most would never make it to the page. The ideas had been great eno
Summer is almost over, and autumn is on its way, which means NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. For any novelist, the turn of the season increases the desire to meet writing goals and challenge creativity further than before. Writing boot camps have become a trend to undergo through September and October to both prepare for NaNoWriMo and make a lot more progress on the project they'll be working on in November. Though boot camp is becoming increasingly popular, many writers get d
Not too long ago, I attended a writing class that focused on the interesting subject matter of "secrets and lies" as narrative devices. So inspired by the super-informative class, I figured I'd shared the wisdom I collected in this next post while at the same time gathering my thoughts on the matter. Without further adieu, let's explore the secrets and lies our characters face in our stories. Rather than merely defining the words by way of a dictionary, let's take the route o
Oh prequels, you’re quickly becoming my bad habit when it comes to my writing. You’re becoming that heart-skipping surprise when my favorite authors come out with the next book that takes place before book one. It’s that "Ah-hah!" moment when you pick up a prequel and realize; there’s more to the story than what you already know. There’s a secret in the past that will help our heroes save the present. What could it be? Prequels are also another topic of debate amongst myself
It should come as no surprise at this point that I'm riding the novel writing train with all of these posts about character arcs, character alignment, etc. These topics tend to come to mind when you're writing a novel, and I can't help but toss out a story premise worksheet I've put to use before. At some point, every writer has gotten to the stage of generating characters that will need to be fleshed out. Not only is the development of characters with depth vital to a proje
I've been working on some additional characters lately and found myself perusing the character alignment system. I poked through the many alignments and realized I wanted to frame them out in a blog post. Considering how often I have to refresh myself on which is which whenever I make a new character, maybe it'll serve me better to write each out and finally have them memorized. Before we do that, however, as we all know, I have a love for defining things, so let's start with
It's happened, the giddiness of sitting at the table with the rest of your critique group has gotten stale. You begin to notice the once extensive list of notes you scribbled on the back of your copy now has shrunken down to a chicken-scratch list of grammar advice and non-plot related typos. You try to hold on to that optimism that it's all in your head but can't seem to fight off the nagging feeling that things have changed somehow. You're becoming more critical of the crit
Here we are at the end of this little series of blog posts about the Three-Act Structure. Here is just one more friendly reminder that my points in the list may be titled differently than your study of the formula because my teaching came from a screenwriter rather than a novelist, terms will differ but their purpose will not. So thankfully we've found ourselves at the end of this little formula and only have the end of both this formula and the story to focus on. Act III is
Onto part two of this exploration of the three-act structure and, as the title suggests, less rambling about the mixed feelings writers have towards it. Less is the key word here. This act is the bulk of the three-act structure formula that has the most sections to fill because it is a breakdown of the longest part of your story. This second part of the formula also occasionally proves to be the trickiest as there is minor confusion regarding sections of this Act on two count
So here's an interesting topic that came up while chatting with a couple of fellow writers: The Three Act Structure. What got me thinking about this topic (enough to write a few blog posts about it--only because it's a long one), was how we couldn't entirely agree on whether to use such a structure or not in our writing and to what degree. I know, artists not agreeing on something? Shocking. To start off right, this is not about there being "a right way to use the three act s
I remember taking my first creative writing class in my junior year of high school. I was thrilled every day to go to this class to learn how to write creatively--it was especially exciting since creative writing was always the first class of the day. The lessons were still a blast because one day we worked on fractured fairy tales, the next we tried our hand at poetry and the day after that we practiced our prologuing skills. The day came that I'd grown my character creation
As I'm writing my fantasy novel, I've come across some bits of good advice from my fellow writers on what taboos to break when world-building to avoid the inevitable cliché's that make us stumble in later drafts.
It's important to note that the advice I've received is not "avoid the clichés all together" or "avoid writing this certain way or else it won't sell," but make sure to make concepts, familiar or otherwise, entirely your own. As ever, I'm not blogging to tell y
When I first started planning my novel series, I had a solid plan. I had the graphs, the outlines, you name it. I had a very clear idea of what this story was going to be from beginning to end. I knew what the characters were going to do and when, the formula I'd written, and re-written, had everything mapped. I had it all figured out. Then I started writing.
One of the things I love about writing, in general, is that no matter how much time you spend preparing and rese
It's an interesting question I was asked recently, and no, it was not asked with sarcastic intention. The intention behind the person who asked me this question was to challenge me to think, is my main character someone my audience is going to want to root for? The question really got me thinking. As I contemplated the question, someone else who was part of this conversation answered, "I think my character definitely is. They're a people pleaser who is an upstanding member of
It's happened again, I've worked several days on a chapter full of riveting dialogue between my main character and her love interest. Lovely! Only...several paragraphs in, I've come to realize that they are not doing anything. Oops! Looks like I got a little carried away with practicing dialogue that I forgot to progress the story. Well no big deal, I'll just have an event take place and...uh oh I'm editing the exact same lines. How long have I been doing that? Ok, that's ok.
Maybe this is just me, but every year after NaNoWriMo I get a little burned out from typing 50k in one month. In those first two weeks of December, I pump out a bit more progress because there's that last little gust after November's second wind of writing before my brain begins to beg me for a break. Then the holidays come, and I take that much-needed break through the rest of December, all while scribbling a semblance of an outline in my journal because the writing never st
Next week literally starts off October and I couldn't be more prone to biting at my nails at the thought of November being around the corner. Thankfully, just as the year before and the year before that, there's a system I've developed to get me ready for November. That being said, the most important thing is to not let the nerves of getting ready for NaNowRimo get to you. There are three main things I focus on getting under control before November rolls around: a plan, a rea