The Power of Symbolism

symbolsThis article is by Jacob Gralnick.

How do you convey an entire idea, feeling, or characteristic without saying a word?

The same way you can foreshadow a future event in subtle passing, and you can do that with a little nifty thing called symbolism.

Used correctly, and at the right time, symbolism can add meaning and depth to your writing on the subconscious level and propel a simple passage to one that rivals bestseller and Hollywood quality scenes.

The best part: it’s as simple as whittling.Continue Reading

Cover to Cover IV: Learning to Love Editing

editThis is the fourth entry in my Cover to Cover series which follows a story idea from inception until potential publication.

Several months back in my third entry, I talked about owning a first draft and how to get through it to the end. Well, in August of this year I finished my first draft. Allow me a moment to do a happy dance. I spent the next two months editing. I’ve made it publicly known to anyone that will listen how much I hate editing.

Something happened through the process though. I started to actually enjoy my editing sessions. “Love editing? I’d sooner feed myself to a chimera.” Maybe. But I’ll show you how I changed from an edit-hater to an edit-relisher.Continue Reading

Memorable Characters and Their Flaws

character masksEvery reader has a certain character whose name, when mentioned, elicits a reaction. Those heroes we cheered on, those antagonists we hated with a passion—we know their worlds and their likes and dislikes.

We understand and humanize them, and wish we could invite them over for pizza-and-poker night. Or we curse the gods that we can’t find a doorway into their worlds, so as to open a can of whoop-ass upon them.

But what is it about these particular characters that makes them unforgettable?Continue Reading

Medieval Blunt Weaponry – A Primer for Writers

morningstarYou can keep your Excaliburs, your Brisingrs, your Glamdrings, and, yes, your lightsabers. I need a weapon that’s going to put some hair on my chest, allow me to converse with bears, send a wet streak down my foe’s leg, and, well, practically speaking, take out that knight in full plate and chain.

Ladies and gentlemen, I require a mace for his face – a hammer for his yammer – a flail for his mail – mauls for his… You get the point.

Every hero nowadays has a big, glowing sword of some sort, and it is true that the sword has become a popular staple with the image of a knight-in-shining-armor. The same knight that your pro/antagonists might be struggling to defeat.Continue Reading

What Writers Can Learn From Soaping

This article is by A.L.S. Vossler.

dreamstime_xs_40257559Recently, I took up the hobby of soaping, which, as you might guess, is making soap. There are three ways of making soap: hand-milled, cold process, and hot process.

Hand-milled, which is also known as melt-and-pour, basically involves taking a soap base which someone else has already prepared, and modifying it by melting it, putting in your own additives such as colors and fragrances, and molding it. This process does not require working with lye. I’ve never actually tried this, because I prefer the idea of building my soap from the ground up, so to speak. If soaping were writing, melt-and-pour soap would be fan fiction.Continue Reading

Beta Readers: The Unsung Heroes of Literature

silhoutteThis article is by Julian Saheed.

There is a reason we all leave space for acknowledgments in the first few pages of our books.

Though our names appear on the front covers as the architects of the story, there are those who check to make sure the final product is what people want. Those whose eyes are red from reading, whose hands are tired from scribbling and whose contributions must never be taken lightly.

I speak of course of that most noble of vocations, the Beta Reader.Continue Reading

30 Ways to Resuscitate a Dying NaNoWriMo Novel

novelIf you’ve done National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) you know there sometimes comes a point when you think, “Why in the hell am I doing this?”

This is a normal feeling albeit a demoralizing one. You’ve been tap-tapping away when suddenly the juice runs out, the muse falls off her glittery pegasus, or writer’s block smashes you square in the face.

You need a pick-me-up, something to keep you moving along towards you goals, whether that be 50,000 words or some other suitably insane feat of writerly badassery. Even if you’re not doing NaNoWriMo, maybe you can find a nugget of wisdom buried underneath my sagely ramblings.Continue Reading

How to Balance Creativity with Story

balanceSurprising a reader requires that an author think differently from others.  As I mentioned in my previous article, being creative means finding new material to trigger ideas in your mind, or digging deeper for ideas in the material you have.  But when I showed my post to my wife, she referred to it as the “Darlings Workshop.”

That is, it’s what you use to create all the ideas you’re just going to have to cut later.

There can be a fine line between the creative choice and the bizarre choice, the clever idea and the idea that doesn’t fit, the solution that surprises readers and the one that yields eye rolls.  Continue Reading

NaNoWriMo: Four Weeks of Marathon Writing

NovemberI heard about nano (National Novel Writing Month) after a decade as an isolated writer. I was already a member of a writers’ forum and had for a year been a dedicated, daily writer.

But 50k words in a month? It still felt like a daunting task.

As November approaches, I’d like to share my experiences and encourage everyone on the fence to give nano a try.Continue Reading

How to Write Captivating Villains

This article is by Anne Marie Gazzolo.

Andy Serkis as Sméagol
Andy Serkis as Sméagol

There would be no Lord of the Rings without the title character and the galaxy far, far away would certainly be less dramatic without Darth Sidious.

But the most interesting villains are those who are more than just plain evil. Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi is more complex than he was in A New Hope. Sméagol-Gollum holds more fascination than Sauron.

For your own villain to have more dimension, there should be something if not lovable at least likable or pitiable that tugs at our heartstrings, keeps us guessing what will happen to him, and even hope for his redemption.Continue Reading