What 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
True 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.
How 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.
Categories: Dru Jasper, For Writers, how to write a book, how to write a novel
Tags: aspiring writers, behind the scenes, fantasy, for writers, horror, how to get published, how to write a book, how to write a novel, monsters, science fiction, Writing Tips
Before 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
When considering who gives out the best writing advice in the world, the first name that pops up might not be Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But a decade ago, Schwarzenegger presented his “6 Rules of Success” in a now-famous commencement speech at the University of Southern California.
And these rules just might hold the key to your success as a writer.
Has your writing fallen into a black hole?
Has your pacing dropped to a crawl, or your suspense become a snore?
Do you just feel stuck?
You might be sabotaging your own writing without even knowing it.
But don’t panic. Here’s how to avoid the four most perilous pitfalls of writing.
When a character in your story speaks a foreign language, should you write it out in that language, or in English?
How can you make the dialogue sound exotic without confusing the reader?
These are tricky questions.
Foreign languages can lend your characters and locations a more exotic flair, and even increase the dramatic tension in a scene.
But before you start sprinkling a certain je ne sais quoi into your prose, understand that you have four options.
The Pomodoro Technique is deceptively simple.
Set a timer for half an hour or so, ignore all distractions, and focus on your work.
On the surface, it seems far too simple to be effective.
But it does work. Amazingly well.
In fact, I can pinpoint the exact moment my novel-writing career took off a few years ago. It happened right after I adopted the Pomodoro Technique.
Once I started using a timer, eliminating distractions, and tracking my results, everything changed. Continue reading
Theme seems to be one of those angst-triggering bogeymen that writers constantly wrestle with. But when you examine it closely, there’s really nothing complicated about it. Theme is simply the lesson the main character learns over the course of the story.
(Or, in the case of a tragic ending, the lesson they failed to learn.)
Every story, from the silliest comedy to the deepest work of literature, delivers a moral message on some level. It basically says “life is like this.”
Think about some of the most famous movie quotes of all time:
“There’s no place like home.”
“Greed is good.”
“Use the Force, Luke.”
All of those quotes point directly toward the theme of the story. Continue reading
Have you ever sat down to write, and found that everything you wrote seemed terrible?
Every writer has felt that way, at one time or another.
Here’s the uncomfortable truth about those critical thoughts: they can actually help you become a better writer.
But only if you know how to recognize those thoughts for what they are, and then train yourself to have them at the right time.
There are two sides to your creative process.
The creative side of your writing process helps you get the rough draft down on paper.
The critical side, on the other hand, helps you revise and polish the final draft.
In order to be write, you actually need both of these very different thought patterns in your head. You just can’t have them at exactly the same time. Continue reading