Skip to main content

Posts

A Box Has Two Sides

No, that title is not the beginning of a really bad joke (although it easily could be ^-^), it's the way you need to think of your stories. In plain language, that means you don't have to worry about using a stock plot such as Boy meets Girl, Boy falls for Girl, Boy and Girl start dating, Boy and Girl have a misunderstanding, Boy and Girl reconcile and ride off into the sunset. If you think about it, that is the basic plot-line of almost every RomCom on the market. The reason is that people like clich├ęs. They like being able to predict how the story is going to end. Which is why you always know what you're going to get when you go to the movies or the bookstore and walk into a specific genre section. In fact, you can break almost every genre down into one, basic plot:  Science-Fiction/Fantasy There's a Big Bad who is oppressing the people. An unlikely Hero rises from the ashes, gathers a group of friends, confronts the Big Bad and loses, regroups, receives training fr…
Recent posts

Finding Your Voice

There are few things worse than picking up a book and trying to muddle your way through a boring/unlikable narrator. You could have the greatest story in the world, but it will all be for naught if your reader is trying to figure out why we're following Judith Day around because she's so bland, boring, and/or annoying.
A lot of new writers think that only First Person stories have an actual narrative voice. It's in First Person that you're trapped inside the character's mind and have to conform to their view of life and reality, so the person talking had better be very interesting. The problem is, it isn't just First Person narratives that have a voice. ALL points of view are written in voice, either by the voice of the character or by the voice of the omniscient narrator, there is always, always, ALWAYS a voice.
In a Third Person story, especially in a very distant or omniscient third, the narrative voice is a reflection of the writer. It gives us the impression…

Rules of the World

Every well-constructed World runs on rules. The mark of a truly great World is when your reader doesn't necessarily realize what those rules are. Everything has to be planned out before you ever start writing so that, if you want to write about something, you don't have to make up slap-dash rules on the fly. Now this doesn't mean that you have to write a 300-page appendix and attach it to the last book in your trilogy so that people know the History of your World and how the people evolved from mindless Neanderthals to a booming metropolis; odds are your readers won't care (not every writer can be Tolkien). But if you don't need to write a history book then what do you need? 
1) Write the History: Yes, yes that's completely contrary to what I just said, BUT what I'm talking about is more than just several textbooks filled with dates or dots on a map. History is what defines a culture. If you have a large world with multiple cultures then that's fine, b…

First Readers

A huge part of writing is finding someone impartial to read your work before anyone else sees it. That person needs to be your biggest critic because anything that gets passed them (a poorly constructed sentence, a whiny unlikable hero, a misspelled word) will go out to your second, third and etc. readers as well. First Readers are the people that tell you where your prose doesn't make sense, what needs more description (or less description as is sometimes the case), what needs to be clarified or expanded upon and when you have some well-beloved sentence/paragraph/etc. that is supremely unnecessary and really just needs to be cut.
No one ever just finds a perfect First Reader so it is your job to guide them into being what you need them to be. The first few times they read through a new manuscript make sure you double space and then print it out so the Reader can write comments or draw circles or stars or whatever else they might need to do to draw your attention. Train them to loo…

Character History

So in case you haven't already noticed, I'm doing a very quick, very brief overview of the main points of story creation. Once I've hit most, if not all, of the highs, I'll then proceed to give more in-depth analysis according to my own experience. Please to do not take anything I say as "law", I'm still learning myself. I can, however, present the theories that I have established in my years as an undergrad and graduate student in accordance to what does and doesn't work.
And now, Character.
After World Building, the characters you create are the most important part of the story. You could have the world's most generic and over-used plot, but with good, strong, and engaging characters almost no one will notice, and those that do won't care. The best way to accomplish this is to create characters that people can relate to while still keeping them unique. So how do you start? With the obvious.
The first thing anyone notices about another human bei…

Become a World Builder

World Building is the root of every good story. You might have the greatest characters in the world, the best plot ever conceived, and the freshest, most riveting writing style known to man, but if your world doesn't make sense then, I promise, no one is going to care. 
Now a lot of people may think that World Building only applies to science fiction or fantasy, genres in which the characters live on a completely different planet or time period and have laser guns or magic or starships or dragons (or all of the above!), but that isn't true. World Building is just more obvious in those settings. Believe it or not, it is actually more difficult to build a believable story taking place in 1929 New York City than a high fantasy taking place in a magical world called Sedalia (at least, it is for me). I'll explain why. 
Let's say that Sedalia is a world where a person's magic is determined by the state of their hair. Long hair of good quality would produce better magic tha…

In the Beginning

Writing doesn't begin with the writing, it begins with the idea. Before you can write about Susie Stalino and her Casino Boys you have to figure out who Susie Stalino is. How old is she? What color is her hair? Who is her favorite singer/dancer/writer/etc.? Is she open and happy or quiet and reserved? What made her that way? And what about her Casino Boys? Are they actually boys or are they men? How many of them are there? Why is Susie the leader and the boys are just "her Casino Boys"?
So you decide that Susie is a bottle-blonde with curly hair that used to work as a chorus girl in Las Vegas before she was accused of embezzling money. Even though she was innocent, Johnny Bottle needed a patsy and poor Susie was it. When Susie can't return the money she didn't steel, James "the Smokes" Dennison kills her husband and two kids and burns their house to the ground. On her path to revenge, Susie meets up with three street urchins that she takes in and teach…