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

Destiny: A Failed Storytelling Experience

Destiny“Wake up, Guardian!”

Everything’s a little fuzzy. You can almost feel your toes. It’s like you’ve been laying on a pile of rocks for years. Then Peter Dinklage beckons again.

“Wake up!”

“Huh?” you incoherently babble. “What are – where am – is that Tyrion Lannis..?”

“No time for that, Guardian.” He answers. “Here – pick up this conveniently placed M16. Now kill!”

“Wait, what are these things?” you ask as you aim down the sights. “Why do they have four arms? WHY ARE THEY SHOOTING AT ME?”Continue Reading

5 Ways Writing Fanfiction Can Help the Beginning Writer

This article is by Melissa Cornwell.

dragonflightAs a beginning writer who hasn’t written fiction in years, I ran into several problems as I began writing fantasy. I began one story (sort a memoir turned fantasy) and wrote 14,000 words….only to eventually get stuck.

Why did I get stuck?

I realized that my writing skills were not at the level I wanted or needed them to be. And I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know about the craft of writing until I actually began writing.Continue Reading

Help! I Accidentally Wrote a Novel

typingOkay, so the story wasn’t an accident, but its length was.

I searched for any way to pass lonely Wisconsin winter hours while my coworkers paced an empty showroom floor, waiting for clients who needed a vehicle badly enough to brave low temperatures and icy streets.

I hated all of it. In fact, I never meant to sell cars, either. While in school for auto body repair, I turned in an application to the body shop and they sold me the job on the showroom floor!

During slow times, I wrote. I scribbled notes on the backs of financing forms, filled pages of lined paper with a story, and even based my character off my predicament purely for inspiration—not as some sort of immature way to deal with my frustrating job. So what if a few salesmen wizards had a few bad things happen to them?Continue Reading

Producing Developed Worlds in Cross-Genre Fiction

american godsThis article is by Selah Janel.

There are a lot of reasons to write cross-genre books. While many stories thrive on rigid classification, many authors find that their potential readership increases by incorporating different genre elements.

Cross-genre fiction is a way to stretch boundaries and challenge yourself. In a world where these plots are embraced in television and movies, where titles like the Sookie Stackhouse books, Sandman, and American Vampire get shelf space with more traditional horror and fantasy, producing interesting cross-genre worlds is not only possible and acceptable, but a lot of fun.Continue Reading

Secondary Characters: An Important Tool in a Writer’s Toolkit

This article is by AE Jones.

Mind Sweeper coverOne of the hardest jobs for a writer is to pull a reader into their story. I mean, really, really suck them in until they think of the story as a world they can escape to and revel in for hours.

And how do writers do this successfully?

By creating characters that are relatable. Characters that we think of as our friend or our enemy.

Heroes and heroines are the lifeblood of the story. And in romance, the play between these two needs to be magnetic and evocative. Evocative in the sense of stirring emotions. As readers we want to cheer the couple on when they’re together and smack the snot out of them when they’re being obstinate fools.Continue Reading

Magical Creatures for Magical Worlds: The Minotaur

Minotaur as depicted in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Minotaur as depicted in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

If ever you are stuck for ideas, look to Greece.

In the ancient myths and legends of Greece, there are intriguing prophecies, clever generals, jealous deities, inventive punishments – and frightening beasties. Herodotus is a favourite of mine for such tales, but there’s plenty to draw from. The plays of Euripides and Sophocles, or for a more comedic bent, Aristophanes. The histories of Thucydides and Xenophon, the biographies of Plutarch.

But the best source for today’s topic is Apollodorus and his Library of Greek Mythology, in which is told the story of the Minotaur.Continue Reading

Where True Blood Went Wrong: A Cautionary Tale for Writers

TrueBlood-PosterI am a strong believer in the power of stories.  Because of that, I look up to storytellers.  So much so, that I’m doing something very painful right now.  I’m writing about something I no longer care about… True Blood.

Why am I doing this?

I’ve taken on the job of helping writers by showing them a fan’s perspective… particularly a fan who is not an active writer.  I’m writing about True Blood because I believe that it’s the best example of how a promising series can go downhill.Continue Reading

Writing What You Know When There’s No Way to “Know” It

This article is by Selah Janel.

magic bookIf there’s one piece of advice I’ve heard from the time I was in high school until now, it’s “write what you know.” This used to bug me as a teen because I felt that my life hadn’t even started yet, so how was I supposed to write anything interesting?

It also seems to directly contradict the entire reality of writing genre fiction. How can you write what you know if you can’t live in impossible worlds, use magic, or go up against fantastic creatures? There’s absolutely no way this advice can be applicable if you write fantasy or any fantasy subgenre, right?

You’d be surprised.Continue Reading

‘Soft’ Magic Systems Still Have a Place

This article is by Ashley Capes.

soft magicThe idea that magic in fiction might possess or need a ‘system’ was nonexistent to me when I first read my favourites as a boy in the early 1990s.

Magic was but a component to the awe and wonder within the stories. I didn’t need to know how magic worked, only that magic worked. I never questioned it and certainly wouldn’t have wanted to. Gandalf, for instance, simply wouldn’t have been the same figure of mystery and power if I knew the way his magic functioned.Continue Reading