Outlines and Writer’s Block

Left to my own devices, I tend to be a by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort of writer. More often than not, this gets me into trouble–not only do I end up meandering all over the place, it’s hard to finish things, and it makes writer’s block a true dead end. When I stalled out on my current novel project, I read a book …

Villains

For me, villains are the most difficult characters to write. I find that I have to spend alot more time developing their character and carefully editing their dialogue than I do any of my other characters, hero/heroine included. It’s difficult to nail down a convincing “evil”. The world is filled with cardboard villain cutouts.. people who want to take over …

The Great Escape

A subject that came up between writing friends… how do you deal with the “escape scene”? Imprisonment of some sort is a much loved staple of the classic adventure story. So what makes a “good” escape, and what makes a “bad” one? How much detail, as a writer, should you go into when putting an escape into the story? Lets …

When Characters Meet

Meeting new people can be awkward. It’s as simple as that. While writing fiction, sometimes we’re faced with the dilemma of introducing very different people under unusual circumstances. Some time ago, I had a conversation with a friend who needed to do just that–but was drawing a blank on how to go about it. Here’s what we came up with:

Information through Scenes

I don’t care what they’ve told you–you can’t show everything. Some things you need to tell. Exposition is necessary, especially for spec-fic writers who can’t rely on their readers to already be familiar with the story’s setting. The trouble for me comes when I’m trying to figure out what information is necessary, and how to communicate it without breaking the …

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 …

Lying Fallow – On Seasons and Creativity

Growing up, I lived in a little fishing town in Alaska. Season is a very important thing in Alaska, perhaps the most important thing. It is present in everything we do, because in any part of that wild, often unforgiving country, there are times when simply surviving in the face of the omnipresent forces of nature is all we can …

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 …