Naming Your Characters – 4 Quick and Dirty Tips

This article is by Terrie Quincey.

namelessNaming your characters is often step one in the writing process. Don’t let it hold you back. Create names using these quick tips so you can move on with your story.

1. Consider Ancestry

This is a useful tool to get the ball rolling. Does your character have an ancestry in your mind? You can look up a list of names from that background and see if any seem like what you’re looking for.

If nothing else, this is a good way to narrow your options if you’re struggling. This can be true of characters that come from a distinct ethnic background.Continue Reading

How to Woo the Writer’s Muse

The Muses
The Muses

This Valentine’s Day, I find myself feeling lonely.  My wife and kids are in the next room, playing and having breakfast, while I sit at my computer, wishing that somebody was here with me who hasn’t been around for quite some time.

My muse has left me.  Again.

In the Mythic Scribes forums, I hear terrible things said about my muse.  She’s fickle.  She’s flaky.  She’s prone to flights of fancy, to leading men on, to ditching at a moment’s notice.  And all of these things are true.  She’ll have me smiling one moment, and then leave me cursing and confused and feeling trapped as she runs out the door.  And I never know what to think of the fun we had together.  Was it real?  Or should I forget about it?Continue Reading

Magical Creatures for Magical Worlds: The Phoenix

PhoenixThe phoenix; the firebird. It’s a popular mythic creature for fantasy – beautiful, unnatural and filled with symbolism.

In fantasy, the phoenix is a large bird, usually with red and gold feathers, which is associated with fire and regenerates itself by burning up into ash and being reborn from those ashes. It has been written by big name authors like C S Lewis, Terry Pratchett and J K Rowling, appears in games and TV shows, and is used by cities and sports clubs as a mascot.

But where did the myth come from, and what is the phoenix really all about?Continue Reading

Pilfering Your Novel Graveyard

graveyard“Finish what you start” is some of the best advice one can give a burgeoning writer.

However, what happens when you absolutely can’t finish something? It’s not Writer’s Block nor Creative ADD. You’ve reached critical mass. No matter how long you edit, send off for critiques, and outline, it’s just not coming together.

Writing can be like making a soufflé: if it’s imploded, sure, you can still eat it, but do you want to serve it to others? So what do you do when the recipe is screwed and you have a burnt dessert?

Scrape off the blackened parts and salvage it, right?

Maybe.Continue Reading

Setting Stories in My Own Backyard

TuskersThis article is by Duncan McGeary.

I’ve never subscribed to the notion that one must “write about what you know.”

I mean, what do I know about a wild pig apocalypses?  Or vampires who evolve?  Or Donner Party werewolves?  Or Bigfoot and gold miners?

This stuff is spun out of my imagination, and even when I research, I like to have the basics correct while I allow my ingenuity to create the rest.

But I see no reason why I can’t set my stories in places I know, as much as possible.Continue Reading

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