Planning your Story Beginnings and Endings

Beginnings and Endings are tied together, or they should be. The best authors look at where their story begins and where it ends. If they are not linked, they go back and change something. In the beginning, the opening scenes make promises to the reader about the story. The author must pay attention to those promises and fulfil them. Read more...

Pen Name, Nom de Plume, Pseudonym…Why use a Pen Name and How to Choose One?

Why do you use a pen name? I get this question all the time. New writers ask this all the time too. I’ll tell you my story, but first let’s talk about the reasons a writer might choose to use a pen name. Then we’ll talk about how to choose one right for you. Why use a pen name? There are many reasons to have a pen name. Each reason is unique to the person. My reason is not one I’ve heard about from any other person. More on that in a bit.

Conflict and Character

Conflict is determined by your main character or your main character is determined by your conflict. Sometimes you get the character first and sometimes the conflict comes to you first. Either way, one will determine the other. In order to create an arc for your character you can find a conflict that plays off one of their weaknesses or flaws. For example, you have a character whose weakness is extreme shyness you can put them in a position to overcome that shyness OR you can put them in a situation where they learn to turn this into an advantage and use their strengths to overcome the obstacle. Read more...

Author Study: Genevieve Cogman, Writing in 3rd Person

I found this beautiful book called The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. That began this whole fascination with stories about books and libraries. Irene is the main character, and she works for The Library–a place between alternate versions of Earth. There are numerous versions of Earth, most of which contain the usual famous authors throughout time, but sometimes in some versions of Earth, writers like Shakespeare, for example, writes an extra play. These works unique to that world are very valuable, as you might imagine. Irene’s job as a Librarian for The Library is to collect these unique books, which strengthens the Libraries ties to that version of Earth. But it is never as simple as a smash and grab. No. There are Dragons and Fae which get in her way. All the while, the mortal humans are none the wiser. Cogman tells the stories quite well. I just finished book 5. Normally, I don’t read past book 1 or maybe 2 of a series. I tire of series books easily. Cogman is the exception and has captured my heart with her stories. And I want to learn how she does it! more...

Book Review: The Fallen Hero

WARNING! Spoilers for Book 1 Ahead! If you haven’t read book one, you want to do that first. You have been warned! Katie Zhao is a great storyteller, but in the beginning of this novel, I felt very strong echoes from the beginning of the first book. Faryn is living with people that resent her. She is called on a quest. She has to go with the person who hates her the most. Exactly like book one. I was a bit disappointed by that. BUT …if you loved book one and want more of the same, then awesome, this is the book for you! She delivers on that! I can’t help but wonder if she created this echo for a reason which we might understand in book 3.

Archetypes Part 2.5 of 2: The Archetypes

I didn’t anticipate I’d have so much to say about each archetype, so now I give you… Part 2.5 of 2 The Archetypes Continued Warrior/ Hero As you might imagine the warrior is a person who is good at battle and fighting. Prime examples of this in LOTR are Gimli, Legolas, Boramir, and more. They are expert fighters, (and if you watch the movies…beyond reason when fighting the Warg). Eowyn, “I am no man!” But if you think outside the normal boring box, you might also consider characters like Eowyn. She fought in the end and defeated the Witch-King of Angmar, speaking the best line ever written!

Part 2 of 2: The Archetypes

There is a blurry line between archetype and stock characters which is why some say there are 14 archetypes and others say 99 or 133. I would say the difference is how common this type of character is in stories. For example the Jester can be the Protagonist or the Antagonist or even a side character so you can find some form of a jester in almost every story. On the other hand, not all stories have a gentle giant character. Let’s begin: The Leader This is often the protagonist, but they might not start that way. If you are familiar with the Hero’s Journey, then you know that often the protagonist starts in the status quo. They are living a life that’s probably kind of dull. They frequently long for something better. Or maybe they are happy with their life and something comes along and takes that away. Read more...

Using Archetypes Effectively in Your Writing

First, the definition of Archetype: a very typical example of a certain person or thing. (Oxford Dictionary) It derives from the Greek prefix, arcke, which means primitive and the root, topos, which means a model. So ‘a primitive model.’ So it is like the rough sketch of a character. Archetype sounds a lot like stereotype and I think the two words often get confused, so many think an archetype is a bad thing. The stereotype definition is: a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. (Oxford Dictionary) The definitions are very similar, but the difference is the oversimplification and generalization. Plus, stereotypes are often offensive or demeaning in nature. For example, all boys love sports and girls love dolls. Today people love to stereotype millennials as spoiled, whiny, entitled brats. The good news is that it seems many writers love to turn stereotypes on their heads and push people out of those preconceived notions. As writers, we have immense power to influence how people think and what to highlight about our society. “With great power comes great responsibility” (Uncle Ben, Spiderman) So choose wisely what and how you write. Done right, an archetype is a good starting place. The problem comes when a writer doesn’t add layers. Those layers of personality add depth and prevent the oversimplification of the character. Read more...

9 Fiction Writing Brainstorm Techniques

Do you ever fear that you will run out of ideas? I am not one who has a million ideas jostling for paper time. I have a number of unfinished short stories that could use my attention. But I'm not busting at the seams full of ideas... yet when it comes time to write, I don't usually have too much trouble coming up with a story. You might be like me, or you might be the kind of writer brimming full of ideas. Both are okay. Both come with their own set of problems. Often people full of ideas have trouble focusing on one story. They will often have stacks and stacks of unfinished stories. We'll talk about that another day. Today I want to focus on idea generation and brainstorming. Often my best ideas don't come while I'm at my desk; they come in the shower or in the car. If you are curious about why, check out this article. In pre-pandemic days I used to drive to work for 40 minutes with traffic, which gave me a lot of time to think. Exercise is a good idea generator, unless like me, you are allergic to exercise.