Info Dumps

The release of background information is one of the biggest things a writer (of any genre) has to struggle with. Too much, too soon, can create what is called an “info dump”. You’ve all seen them: a big, giant paragraph (or more!) of information that is probably important, but it’s boring.As a reader, too often I find myself skimming over …

Naming Woes

One of the questions I come across the most on writing forums is ‘How do you name your characters?’ Naming¬†can be especially challenging when writing fantasy and science-fiction, because often you’re creating names for a society or culture that doesn’t actually exist. There are a lot of name generators around the web (which can occasionally spit out something suitable), but …

Describing Characters

There are a few things that really make me groan and roll my eyes when reading a novel. One of them is the “creation story”. I’ve been reading fantasy since my age was in the single digits, and if I read “In the beginning…” one more time, I think I really might just shoot myself. Or, at the very least, …

More on Characterization

I’ve heard writing fiction described as “socially acceptable schizophrenia”. As writers, we attempt to create entire people out of whole cloth–each of them separate, unique individuals. This can be quite a feat, and here are a few tricks I’ve learned that help me keep my multiple personalities separate. 1. Give your characters a theme song. The human brain loves to …

Developing vivid characters…

Sometimes it can be difficult to create a vivid, memorable characters who are all individuals in their own right. A cast of characters that comes from a single brain is going to feature the writer’s own personal preferences and bias–and this repetition can easily make each character seem very much like the last. We often look at characters in a …

Skill vs. Talent

Recently, on the FWO forums, the subject of talent came up–and how much it matters versus skill. This is all generalization, of course… but I think that for the majority of writers, a large part of writing is acquiring skill sets–language, grammar, how to structure a story, and (perhaps most important) your own creative process. In my experience, just learning …