Be Kind to Your Critters

Be Nice to Your Readers Don’t make loveable anybody you’re planning to kill off in the first few pages. A reader won’t trust you anymore, and a reader has to be able to trust you in order to suspend disbelief. And to read the rest of the story. Along the same lines, try not to kill off the family pet unless you’re dealing with a really despicable antagonist. The term “bunny boiler” has come into use on Inter­net dating sitesRead more

Don’t Stalk Your Characters

Let’s ensure that our major characters live out their own lives while we observe, read their minds, and record. However … we must not: follow their every single move; look in the mirror with them; go to the toilet with them (unless it’s to see something unfortunate like blood in the urine or crabs in the pubic hair); go shopping with them — unless it’s to purchase a gun, rat poison, the wrong flowers (or flowers on the wrong day).Read more

Describe through Action

Actions Show Character and/or Motivation From Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them: Because we know everything about our character, we know why he does what he does. The reader won’t care a whit that Bill was frightened by a dog when he was three years old because that would get in the way of the story. But we (as the  writer) know that when Roger chases Bill out of the restaurant and Bill jumps that fence, and there’sRead more

Describe without Details

Place We may describe a scene or a background to develop an atmosphere, a feel for the scene we are writing, but we must maintain restraint. Pages and pages on the colour of trees and long winding roads, etc., are no longer de rigueur in novels — except in literature class. Let us eschew the hell out of doing this, even for gothic novels. Marcel St-Amand, author of the Lemon Ultra action-adventure series, is a master at providing just enoughRead more

Using Backstory without Using It

The importance of backstory cannot be overemphasized. It’s a real joy when we create a character that comes alive and starts going her own way, thinking on her own, and making decisions. When it happens, we can pat ourselves on the back. What is backstory? It’s everything we (author) know about our character that never makes it into the final product. Because? It has nothing to do with the current story. Why bother with it then? The more backstory weRead more

An Opinion for EVERY Character

EVERY character has an attitude. An author MUST show this through Action and Dialogue. Or Action Alone, never dialogue alone. Why? Mere chatter is not an attitude. We need to throw some body language into it. Every character has an opinion about what’s going on. Even the bystanders. Let the reader see it. Perhaps … A smarmy look from an Extra (or equivalent) in a crowd. The stereotype is the gum-snapping, confrontational waitress with a hand on one hip (let’sRead more

No Loose Threads

Bread crumbs. Loose threads. = Food? Clothing? Food, water, shelter, clothing, “love”: the necessities of life. These necessities keep our story characters alive, too. Not only must we weave threads of stories and substories throughout our works (generally, only one story per short story though), but we must clothe our characters as well with those threads of story and substory. (I’ll cover more about clothing characters in my next post: “An Opinion for EVERY Character”.) Threads are important. (But notRead more

Leaving Bread Crumbs

The other day, while working on Refuge in l’Acadie (the second book in my Kesk8a series), my Muse suggested an interesting twist. I said to myself (I think I even said it out loud!): “Ooh yes! Like. Like.” This meant I had to go back into the story and tuck a bread crumb in early and I did this with great delight. (I thank the Goddess of Cyberspace for inspiring the computer. It makes it so much easier to addRead more

Too Many Cooks

Too Many Cooks in Our Stories The first book I wrote had dozens and dozens of characters. Several Protagonists, for one thing. I had one main Antagonist in the “person” of The Watcher — the character who precedes the Elder God — but he had brought along with him many, many Soul Eaters from Outer Darkness who were his Sidekicks (for want of a better term) and my Protagonists had their own troubles with their own Antagonists and Sidekicks andRead more

Conflict is Required

Why is conflict necessary? Without conflict, there’s no story; without story, our efforts are merely lovely words strung together to form lovely sentences. Conflict creates action and result. Action and result create change. In some cases, a character might resolve not to change his convictions. Is this a positive thing for a story? It depends. Give Larry Larva in the above cartoon a reason to want to change and he may give it a try. Depends on the stakes. DependsRead more