7 Keys to Creating Bloodcurdling Monsters

How to Create MonstersScience fiction, fantasy and horror stories are full of monsters. But one of the toughest jobs a writer has is coming up with creatures that are new and interesting.

When I sat down to write my urban fantasy novel A Kiss Before Doomsday, I knew that the bad guys would be undead creatures. But today’s readers have seen countless undead foes. How do you put a brand-new spin on such an old idea?

The Secret to Making Monsters

The secret to creating compelling monsters can be found in the word itself. MONSTER makes a useful acronym:

  • M is for Mind
  • O is for Origin
  • N is for Need
  • S is for Sketch
  • T is for Take On
  • E is for Eat
  • R is for Relationships

To create a truly unique, complex monster, look carefully at each of these aspects, then ask yourself questions and write down the answers. By the time you finish, you’ll have a monster that’s not only frightening, it’s also fascinating.
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6 Easy Steps to Planning Out Your Novel

Even if you hate the idea of writing an outline or synopsis, you can still figure out a plan to help you finish your novel fast, avoid major revisions, and beat writer’s block forever.

It’s surprisingly easy. Here’s how to do it.

First, turn off your computer and set aside your notebook. For this exercise, you going to need a pack of index cards. Regular old 3 x 5 cards will work just fine.

Wait — index cards? Really?

Yes. It may sound clunky, but writing on small cards actually makes it easier to plan out your story.

With cards, you can throw away or rearrange your ideas instantly. Plus, small cards force you to focus your thoughts. When you only have a few square inches to work with, you need to be succinct, and that boosts your creativity.

Here’s what to do:

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Urban fantasy author L.R. Braden has a new book out–and a line of chainmail jewelry, too

L.R. Braden, Daydreamer & Storyteller

Note from Laurence: I’m always excited to showcase the work of other up-and-coming urban fantasy authors. L.R. Braden also happens to be a Colorado author like me. That’s an added bonus for local readers.

And she has degrees in both English literature and metalsmithing, so naturally she splits her time between writing and making chainmail jewelry

We had the chance to chat at the ever-popular MileHiCon this year in between book signings. She agreed to share a peek behind the scenes of her latest book, Faerie Forged, which just came out over the weekend. Check it out!

LM: For those who haven’t checked out the Magicsmith series yet, can you talk a little bit about it?

Braden: The Magicsmith series is set in a world where humans and fae have been at war and now live in an uneasy truce, but there are factions on both sides who’d like to see a return to war. My protagonist, Alex Blackwood, believes she’s 100% human until a faerie knight shows up to tell her different. During her ensuing hunt for a serial killer, infiltration of a vampire lair, and debut at Fae Court, she slowly finds her place in the world–smack dab between the warring sides.

LM: What makes Faerie Forged different from other books in the genre?

Braden: The fact that the humans and fae in my world have already been through one war and are on the brink of another is pretty unique. That conflict sets the stage for some interesting plot twists and character development as people fight either to preserve the peace or push toward a second war as the series unfolds.

LM: Did the finished book come out the way you planned, or did you have to edit anything out?

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3 Secrets to Writing Vivid Settings

3 Secrets to Writing Vivid SettingsThere are three elements that make up every story: people, problems, and places.

To form a good story, those elements need to be in balance, because each one affects the others.

That’s why you need to put as much effort into the places in your story—your setting—as you do for your characters and your plot.

Here are the three best ways to make that effort pay off, so that your setting comes alive. Continue reading

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5 Books That Will Inspire You to Be a Writer

The Pulp JungleAre you planning to write a book in 2020?

Want some writing inspiration and wisdom from authors who have written dozens or even hundreds of stories and books?

Check out my list of the five most inspiring books about writing over at Civilian Reader.

P.S. Do you love free stuff . . . like books, for instance? Want a chance to win one? Get my author newsletter.

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My Funny (and Totally True) Ghost Story

Fresh FictionThe fine folks over at Fresh Fiction asked me to write a little bit about ghosts. (Because, you know, there are ghostly bad guys in my new book, Forever and a Doomsday.)

So I got to talk a little bit about the Stanley Hotel, haunted Cheesman Park here in Denver, and — best of all — the funniest ghost story I’ve ever heard.

It’s actually a true story. I know, because it happened to me.

Check it out on Fresh Fiction.

P.S. Don’t miss out on my next book giveaway! Hear about it first in my author newsletter.

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The Secret to Writing Fascinating Villains

The Secret to Writing Fascinating VillainsWhat makes a villain fascinating?

It’s not just about scaring the pants off the reader.

The most terrifying thing a villain can do in a story isn’t killing the hero or blowing up the world — it’s making their twisted viewpoint seem morally right, and making the hero seem wrong.

Because if the villain’s outlook starts to make sense, and the hero seems to have things backwards, then for just a moment, the reader has to wonder: Have I been rooting for the wrong side all along?

In my Dru Jasper urban fantasy series, every book sees the heroes (all with strange and unique magic powers) fighting to defend the world from a looming apocalypse. The latest book, Forever and a Doomsday, squares them off against the worst threat they’ve ever faced: a horde of wraiths, the dispossessed souls of sorcerers, who can walk through walls and kill with a mere touch.

How do you fight something like that? Continue reading

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9 Surprising Things I Love about Writing (and One Thing I Hate)

Nerds That GeekTrue story: When I was 17, I met an African storyteller.

He traveled to distant parts of the world, collecting oral stories and writing them down for posterity. He was my first real-life writing teacher.

His feedback helped me get started as a writer. Within a couple of years, I had sold my first magazine article. I’ve been writing ever since.

I got a chance to talk about that experience (and a bunch of other sometimes-funny, sometimes-humbling stuff) on the ever-excellent Nerds That Geek website. Check it out.

P.S. Want a chance to win one of my new books for free? Get my author newsletter.

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Making Fascinating Monsters on The Bibliosanctum

The BibliosanctumHow do writers create fascinating monsters?

For me, it’s a many-layered process that involves thinking about where a monster came from, what it’s after, how it thinks, and what happens when it encounters the heroes.

I actually got the chance to dive deep into the monster-creation process and explain how to do it step-by-step, thanks to the marvelous Mogsy over at Bibliosanctum, the super-fabulous speculative fiction blog.

You can read my guest post here.

P.S. You can also get access to your own monster-making workbook when you get my author newsletter.

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Why Writers Should NEVER Carry a Notebook

Why Writers Should NEVER Carry a NotebookBefore I became a published author, I used to carry around a writing notebook in my back pocket.

You know the kind I’m talking about: the little black book that tells the world you’re a Serious Writer.

But that little notebook is a big mistake, I eventually learned.

Here are three reasons why you should ditch it, and what you need to keep in your pocket instead. Continue reading

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