How Ideas Become Stories

Hello Fiction Lovers!

This week I thought I’d share with you a post that I saw on Fantasy Faction. As you’ve probably guessed it’s about how to turn ideas that you’ve brainstormed into stories with developed plots and characters. The approach the author of the post uses is explained using an example of a floating city and it was very interesting, at least to me, to see that idea develop a lot just within the article. It could also be fun to brainstorm how many other ways that particular idea could have gone after you read the post as well. All in all, I really recommend reading How Ideas Become Stories on Fantasy Faction even if you are more of a reader than a writer. It can be interesting to think about what might of been the core idea that prompted your favorite stories or what could be missing from stories that you didn’t like as much.

Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to comment about how you develop ideas into stories or anything else related to the topic. I hope you all have a good week!

 

Creating a Fantasy Race

Hello Fiction Lovers!

This week I thought I’d share a post by one of my favorite websites, Fantasy-Faction. The post is about creating a fantasy race and it breaks doing so into five areas: physical characteristics, point of view, civilization, interaction, and purpose. I believe it does a good job to help create unique and fleshed out races which can be helpful if you want to have more than the standard races (humans, elves, dwarves, etc.) in your story. It can also be helpful if you want to think about the standard races in a new way. So I hope you all also find it interesting and beneficial.

Here’s a link to the post: Creating a Fantasy Race

Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to post your thoughts on this topic in the comments below. I hope you all have a great week!

Worst Villains

Hello Fiction Lovers!

First of all I’d like to apologize for posting late this week and I thought I’d share a fun, helpful video by one of my favorite vloggers, Jenna Moreci. In the video she’ll talk about her top 10 villain pet peeves and what makes them so terrible. To mention some of the villains that she talks about and that I definitely agree with her opinion about are: the cartoon villain, villain who doesn’t really do anything, chatty villain, femme fatale, and the bad guy who sucks at being the bad guy.

Here’s the link: 10 Worst Villain Pet Peeves

I hope you all enjoy the video and let me know if you have any questions!

Limits Make a Character Interesting

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Lately, what I’ve been reading seem to have many a character that are Mary Sues–or in other words, a character that can do whatever they want when they want to do it. Mary Sues, to me, are basically walking, talking deus ex machinas. And about as disappointing, because as a reader you expect the characters to struggle in order to achieve their goals and with both of those there is no struggle. They take the impact and thus the meaning out of the story, and most often this is most obvious at the story’s climax. As I’m sure you know and have experienced the climax of a story is when all the tension and questions about what will happen in the story comes to a head and you get to see that tension and those questions get resolved. Often times when you look back on a well written climax it seems as if there was no other way for it to be written–everything in the story was leading up to and hinting at it happening just as it did. Often there is no build up to a deus ex machina. So when a writer takes the easy way out of by implementing deus ex machina–either by using a Mary Sue or some event–the reader often feels cheated and/or disappointed. Please don’t make your readers feel that way.

There is really only one key thing you need to remember to help make sure they don’t feel that way: limits make characters (and stories) interesting. When I talk to other readers and writers the things they seem to remember most about their favorite characters is what they couldn’t do instead of what they could do. Granted, people also seem to remember and the love the moments best when those characters found ways around or overcame their limits, but there is a difference between that and simply bypassing limits or not having any limits in the first place. The former includes struggle and the later does not. The former is defined by the limits the characters face and the later focuses on results. Results are well and good, but depth and how believable the journey was to get those results are also important. Mary Sues and other deus ex machina take away that chance to build depth and believability which is why they so often leave readers feeling disappointed/cheated.

I understand that you can write yourself into a corner, but when that happens just take a step back and try to find the thing that is making a solution impossible without using a godlike character or a random event. Then rewrite that thing so that a solution is still difficult, but no longer impossible. It’ll probably take some editing, but doing so is worth keeping the story believable and interesting and true to the parameters (limits) it’s already established. I also understand that writing a Mary Sue can be tempting. I’ve definitely written one before and it can be fun to have a character who is all powerful, but in the end I found out that the story and the character were a lot more interesting when I gave them limits/weaknesses. I had to come up with creative solutions to problems instead of making it as if they never happened, and that created tension and interest in what was going to happen next.

To put it succinctly: people tend to put more stock into something they worked for rather than something that was handed to them, and that goes for solutions to problems in stories as well.

Thank you for reading and feel free to post your thoughts on this topic in the comments. Please let me know if you have any questions and I hope you all have a great week!

Proper Character Motivation

Hello Fiction Lovers!

So this week I’m going to share a guest blog post that another writer wrote specifically for my blog. James Bee seems like a pretty cool person and you can check out his bio at the bottom of this post. As you’ve probably guessed the blog post is going to be about character motivation and why it’s important. So without further ado here you go:

On the Importance of Proper Character Motivation

Guest blog post by James Bee

Characters are the driving motivation behind the majority of novels. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule but on the whole I think it holds true. Most plots centre around them and the actions that they take. The readers spends the whole book seeing things through their eyes, reading about what they do and the effects that those actions have.

Thus character’s motivations and how they drive them to interact with the plot and the world around them are extremely important for the writer to get right. Making sure your character’s motivations make sense and are logical is vital. Otherwise their actions won’t make sense and everything will fall apart around them. This is something that I struggled with early in the novel I’m currently writing. I knew how the plot would unfold and how the characters would fit into it, but I didn’t know why. And until I knew that, it was impossible to get my head around the book.

Motivations drives action which drives the plot. Characters must have good reasons for doing what they do, or at least logical ones. Their actions must follow from their motivations. Always ask yourself why is a character doing something? Do they have a good reason? These reasons can come from anywhere, backstory, desires, belief systems, they just have to be logical and compelling.

If not, then you can run the risk of breaking the immersion for the reader or having the book start to unravel. Nothing is more frustrating as a reader than when character’s you’ve become invested in start making decisions or doing things that don’t make any sense or aren’t consistent. It can completely ruin the enjoyment of a novel. Therefore, making sure that your character’s motivations are in order is of the utmost importance!

Writer Bio: James Bee is a novelist and blogger working out of Vancouver, Canada. He’s the author of two fantasy novels with more on the way! You can follow him on twitter @jameslikesbooks or follow him on his blog at https://jamesreads.blog/!

Please feel free to post your ideas on this topic in the comments and let me know if you have any questions! I  hope you all have a great week!

Writing Women Characters as Human Beings

Guest Blog by Kate Elliott (Found on Tor.com)

Source: https://www.tor.com/2015/03/04/writing-women-characters-as-human-beings/

Hello Fiction Lovers!

So I’ve been reading more writing advice posts and I came across this one that I thought made some really good points. I think that it won’t only help writers write better female characters, but more well rounded characters overall. It can also help if you feel like you’ve been stuck writing cliches or stereotypes. One thing that she made me realize is that even though I have multiple women characters I don’t often have them talk to each other because they are part of different subplots. And that’s something I should fix because they are all in a single manor and would talk to each other more often than I’m have them do so. She also makes a good point about preconceptions and how there is a difference between choosing to make a character more of a stereotype or two-dimensional, and simply doing so without realizing it.

I strongly encourage you to click on the above link even if you have the most well-rounded female characters because it can help you view writing in a new way and help with other parts of writing as well. Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to share your thoughts on this topic as well!

Active Characters

Hello Fiction Lovers!

First of all, I want to apologize for getting this out late. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about this week and I took so long debating it that Monday was over before I got to writing it. That said, lately I’ve thinking about active characters and so I finally decided that I should write about them.

In my experience, readers a very partial to active characters over passive characters. I think this is because we would rather see someone working toward something instead something being done to someone. The latter can be frustrating, especially when it happens over and over again, which is never a terrible fun emotion to feel. The frustration with the character can lead to frustration with the book/story and can cause a reader to stop reading–something no writer wants, and most likely the reader isn’t satisfied with having to put a book down either. That isn’t to say that a character can’t be passive, just that they shouldn’t be passive all the time. When a character, especially a main character, is passive continuously it raises the question of what they are contributing to the story, why they are there, because it feels like they can be replaced with any other passive person and the story would be the same. So, when you’re writing make sure that you give reasons/let the characters take actions to show why they are the ones that must be in this particular story.

There are two reasons why I think some writers have trouble writing active characters: they think they are writing active characters but their characters are reacting instead of acting, and they place their characters in confining places/situations so it seems like there is nothing for their characters to do. To solve the first problem, I would ask yourself if something happens and then your characters act, because that is an example of reacting and reacting is more passive. Let your characters make a plan and act on it to move the plot forward instead. Reaction can be fine, especially when characters are caught off-guard but please don’t use it for every plot point. As for the second problem, remember that every action doesn’t have to be some huge story altering thing. Maybe your character just wants a piece of cheese or to make friends with the prisoner in the next cell over. If they are stuck in a cell or some other place where they can’t move around much let them make a plan to escape or to minimize the danger/discomfort they are in, and then let them act on that plan.

I hope that this was helpful and please let me know if you have any questions! Feel free to post your thoughts on active characters in the comments and I hope you all have a good week!

A Way to Keep Writing

Hello Fiction Lovers!

For those of you who are writers like me I thought it would be good to share how I battle writer’s block every week. I think of myself as a fairly busy person, especially during the school year, between classes, a part-time job, clubs, studying, and keeping in contact with friends and family as well as having this blog. There would be a lot of times when I would use that busyness as an excuse not to write because I was too tired, should interact with people, eat regular meals–in short, do  actual things, things that would garner immediate results. But writing is an actual thing and does garner actual results such as being closer to finishing the manuscript I’m working on. I just had to accept the fact that I needed to put the effort in to do the thing I loved doing, even when it was difficult and writer’s block was staring me in the face.

So I started writing story sections and sending them out every week to friends and family who would be willing to read them. Most people say not to share what you are currently writing with others but, for me, doing so gave me the kick I needed to start writing regularly. I knew I had to send something out every week because they were expecting to receive a story section. There was no room for excuses: either I sent one out or I didn’t. An added bonus was that for those readers who have the time and are willing I also get feedback as I’m writing which helps me know what I need to work on as I write (another thing I know people advise against, but it means instead of having to edit and overhaul something once I finish the whole manuscript I can do it right then and keep having it fixed). Now I aim for at least 2,000 words a week and send out questions about each section for those readers who want to answer. They aren’t really beta readers but I have found their advice does help as well as simply being accountable to send out the story section. Since I’ve started doing this I think I’ve only missed sending out the story sections twice in almost a year.

If following the traditional advice hasn’t been working for you feel free to try this out or do something completely different. One thing that doing the story sections has reminded me of is that while the traditional advice can be helpful, it doesn’t work for everyone, and if it doesn’t work for you, you don’t have to follow it. They aren’t rules, only guidelines.

Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to comment below. If anyone would like to receive the story sections let me know and I can get it arranged. I hope you all have a good week and thanks for reading!

Conflicting Emotions

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Lately, I’ve been reading the Last Herald-Mage series by Mercedes Lackey (whose interesting books I would recommend by the way) and her writing and characters have reminded me that characters–like real-life people–can have conflicting emotions. Sometimes when I’m writing I’m so focused on what the character is supposed to feel or how they are going to react that I find I forget that they can conflicting emotions. Having conflicting emotions can make them feel more like actual people and tie in other parts of the story to the scene you’re writing. No scene or dialogue is in a vacuum which means the emotions driving that scene or dialogue can’t be located in one either. People feel lots of different things at once about different things and more than likely they will feel those things at the same time.

Having conflicting emotions can also help with character development and motivation. It can help the reader know what is more important to the character based on what they are having conflicting feels about and what emotion they end up acting upon. A character who really wants a book but won’t go get it because they are afraid of the adult standing near it, and a character who really wants a book but doesn’t get it because they are worried about their financial situation are two very different people. The result is the same, but emotional impact and knowledge of the character is very different. Also, if the reader is told the character wants a book but doesn’t end up getting one without another emotional reason as to why the scene feels unfinished, lackluster, or confusing.

You don’t have to use conflicting emotions all the time but making use of them can make your story feel more cohesive and flow better. It can also break up the monotony of a character only being driven by one emotion–something that becomes unrealistic quickly and that becomes boring. Conflicting emotions can also point to internal vs external conflicts and pressures in the story.

I hope this post helped and let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to post your thoughts or anything you think I missed in the comments. I hope you all have a good week!