Becoming An Expert (The Writer’s Way)

How many times have you heard “write what you know”? It’s good advice – to a point. Because if everyone only wrote what they knew, we’d have no space odysseys, no dragons, no magical words, no elves or dwarves or krakens… and we’d be poorer for it.

So where does one draw the line between what you “should” write and what you can write? I’d say there isn’t a line, and if you’ve been limiting yourself, STOP! If you can make your readers want to enter the world you’ve written, no matter how unrealistic or crazy, then you’ve still succeeded in writing something good (i.e. interesting). You don’t need to be an expert in fighting to write a fight scene, or on trains to write about your characters taking a train ride. Same goes for flying on the back of a dinosaur, or piloting a ship through outer space – if you can make it interesting and immersive for your readers, only a few are going to nitpick the details. ♦  Continue reading

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My Favorite Villain: Making the Bad Guy

“We often find the hero and villain have the same goal, but are using different methods to reach it.”

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That quote was used in a panel of writers talking about anti-heroes and villains at the annual North Texas Teen Book Festival. All the authors had one thing in common: they’d written tales with the villain – an anti-hero – as the protagonist. They explored the reasons why they had chosen to write stories from the “bad guy’s” point of view, and went over their favorite villains and anti-heroes.

I have two favorite “villains” about whom the above quote happens to be true. One is from a book series, and one is from an anime. *spoilers ahead!* Not every villain has to share a goal or vision with the hero, but oftentimes adding comedic (or tragic) irony to the conflict in your story causes it to have greater depth and complexity.

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Nothing like my World: Dual POV Prompt

Pen Friends ~ We would like to try something new ~ a dual POV Prompt! Here’s how to do it…

First choose the world from one of these two pictures, then write 250 words from these two POVs below:

 

POV 1: “It was nothing like my world…” (*You are a visitor to this world. Everything is new. Show us what you see, hear, taste, touch, feel, how it contrasts with your world, who you meet, etc…)

POV 2: “This is my world…” (*You grew up in this world. You are very familiar with its geography, culture. You know what kids do growing up, what dangers lurk, what sounds there are, etc. Show us your world.)

Send your prompts to thespinningpen@gmail.com — we want to read and post them!

How I Overcame Writer’s Block with the Nerd World

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I have to confess something to you… two weeks ago I took the plunge and played Dungeons and Dragons for the first time. Yes, the roll-the-dice, choose your warlock/dwarven/halfing adventure that Dan Harmon termed the “fantasy game [people play] to escape their awkward lives.” Promising, eh?

My high school self would be baffled (“I thought I was supposed to be cool by 24!” she would lament) and honestly, my 3 month ago self would be pretty confused too. But since then, I’ve discovered something. Let me lead you into the dark realm of the nerd where brilliant writing resources have been hiding for decades…

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Know Yourself: How Many Worlds Do You Live In?

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Writing fantasy is fun. Why else would so many people do it? Why would so many read it? There’s more than a monetary investment when a reader picks up a fantasy novel. They are taking on faith that the world the writer has created is going to engage them and spark their imagination. As an author, you have to think through more than loving your own world and story – it has to be easily comprehended by a reader so that they don’t get fed up and abandon the attempt to enter into your written world.

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What Writing Specialty Do You Have to Be Thankful For?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving lets take a few moments to be thankful for all of the blessings we have. When it comes to writing what do you have to be thankful for?

Take inventory of your writing

Good story boils down to these four factors: plot, character, setting and craft.

While there are countless other elements that make up the intricacies of a good book, these are the backbone of a good story.

Odds are, you already know what you’re good at. If not, ask your friends or writing community—anyone who’s read your work. Or you can take this quiz to find out. What’s your specialty?

Are you…

The World Builder

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Advanced World Building Tips

world-building-101If you’re anything like me, then you’ll know that the closer you get to a story the harder it is to objectively question it. You’ve spent so much time there and it works so well in your brain that it’s hard to take that mental step back and look for problems.

I’ve already talked about the importance of stress testing a world (see my first article on world building) but we haven’t covered the best ways to start questioning your world and finding the breaking points. Continue reading