Craft

It’s my duty to lie.

There’s an enormous difference between being a story writer and being a regular person. As a person, it’s your duty to stay on a straight and even keel, not to break down blubbering in the streets, not to pull rude drivers from their cars, not to swing from the branches of trees. But as a …

A characters dark moment

  What is a Dark Moment? It’s a particular event in the backstory of your lead character. It’s not a happy event. It’s a terrible event. It’s not necessarily the worst thing that ever happened to your character, but it’s something that has bent your character’s life and is bending it now as your story opens. …

Character Creation Part Deux

This post, I want us to go deeper into Character Creation. A lot deeper. I’d like to talk about how you develop each character’s voice. Voice is one of those things that are hard to define but easy to see. There’s a big difference between Scarlett O’Hara’s voice and the godfather’s. Just listen to them talk …

Character creation.

Plot’s good, but it’s not the whole story. The reason the plot matters is because it matters to the characters. Readers read because of the characters. If you replaced your characters with unfeeling robots, your readers probably wouldn’t care about your story. So how do you design your characters? I recommend starting small. Here are six questions …

The second layer of plot

Last post we talked about the first layer of plot for your novel—your one-sentence summary. The purpose of a one-sentence summary is to break the ice. To separate people who are in your target audience from people who aren’t. To give your target audience an opportunity to say, “Tell me more!” So let’s say you’re at a …

The foundation of your story: Plot

Plot is a complex beast. A novel has at least six layers of plot. This month, we’ll look at the outermost layer—the one-sentence summary. Why write a one-sentence summary? Because your one-sentence summary is a powerful sales tool. If you’re traditionally published, you need to sell your story seven times: You have to sell it to your …

Trust in the Magic

There’s a bit of magic that happens to all writers at one time or another. You sit down to start writing and the words aren’t coming. You keep at it for a bit, and the words still aren’t coming. You press on and on, and the words still aren’t coming. And at some point, the words start coming. The …

World building and populating that world.

World-building is extremely important in three categories of fiction: science fiction fantasy historical fiction It can also be important in other categories, but world-building is most strongly associated with the above. Going Deep or Going Wide World-building is a large topic with many aspects. We’ll focus on people groups, but keep in mind that it’s not the …

Taboos and world creation

I’ve been talking about world-building in the last several issues of this e-zine. World-building is a big topic, and I’ve now discussed social networks,  people groups, and the economy of your story world. This month, I’ll talk about taboos. In a sense, taboos are the opposite of values. I define values by the following template statement: …