As some of you know, my day job is book cover design and illustration. I started my cover work several years ago, after many years of graphic and web design. The title of this post is, admittedly, a little click-baity… but one thing I’ve learned in my years of cover design is that authors are absolutely terrible recognizing what will make a good cover/blurb for their story.
We all know what it’s like to read a story that feels, well… fake. Every page gets a eyeroll, each plot point feels fabricated, and every line of dialogue feels wooden and artificial. Any book in any genre can suffer from this, but oddly, it doesn’t have a lot to do with the actual subject matter. I’ve read biographies of actual people that have earned some major side-eye from me, and fantasy novels that felt deeply, intimately real, with worlds that seemed to exist beyond the boundaries of the story itself.
So, how is that possible?
The first draft is as bad as the book is ever going to be.
– Robin Stevens
In my first post on The Hero’s Journey, I talked about why this story structure can often result in rote, formulaic stories–but also why, if you understand the dramatic intent behind each step, they can add strength and impact to your stories, whatever you’re writing. Read more
The Hero’s Journey gets a pretty bad rap for producing rote and formulaic stories, but it can still be an incredibly powerful tool for creating compelling fiction. The key is understanding the why of each of the journey’s elements. Why do we need to establish an Ordinary World? Why does the hero need to Refuse the Call? What’s the purpose of a Black Moment, and how does it increase the impact of the eventual resolution?
[Fairy tales] make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water.
– GK Chesterton
Q: When writing action scenes, do you focus on details or summarize?
If you’re a writer studying craft, you may come across the term “weak words”, specifically in the context of not using them.
Weak words are words that are lazy, or vague–the low-hanging fruit in your vocabulary. Don’t simply choose a word; choose the right word. Read more
The biggest competition isn’t between you and another writer. It’s between you and the writer you were yesterday.
One of the biggest decisions you have to make before you begin writing a story is through whose eyes are you going to tell the story–otherwise known as a Point of View. If you’re new to the idea of POV, click here for a good primer.
For those writers who invent their characters first, and then build their stories around those characters, choosing the POV is an easier task. But what if the story came first, or you have multiple POV characters? How do you know which is the most effective POV to tell this part of the story? Read more