Posts Tagged With: Writers Resources

My Favourite Place for Names

A while back I wrote about names. I offered some stories and strategies I use for coming up with names. What I didn’t talk about, however, was how sometimes names just won’t come. Everything you try doesn’t sound right. Or you aren’t sure where to start looking when it comes to names for people from different cultures. Or maybe it’s not a person you need to name, it’s a place. What do you do then?

Find yourself a name generator.

I have a personal favourite for this task that I wish to share. Fantasy Name Generators was a website I came across while bored browsing the web. The Fantasy Name Generator is an endless source of naming delight. Their random generators touch all corners of your writing needs, from fictional people in a modern setting, to fantasy worlds, and the realm of fanfiction.

Under the ‘Real Names’ section, seekers will find three columns listing generators by ethnicity. The names range from modern to archaic to ancient in some cultures. Within, you can select whether you want a male or female name, as the family names generated are the same for both, you can easily go through dozens of names before finding one that you think fits.

Some warning here though. As some cultures use different writing systems from us and have different naming conventions, it is always best to do some follow-up research on a name. Make sure you have the western spelling right, and maybe ask someone from that culture if the name looks right.

Under the Fantasy Names tab, you get a strange and assorted list. Anything from Amazons to serial killers to vampires to wizards can have their name generated here. You get goblin names like Plyz or Slivak. Detective names like Norah Sharpe or Dan Maxwell. Superhero names like Venombite, or Doctor Smooth Vulture.

Okay, that last one was a bit silly. Some of them are.

The Pop Culture section is a fanfiction writer’s dream. While it’s not as extensive, it does focus on the bigger names: Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Star Wars and such. Great if you’re trying to name that minor original character from your Avatar: The Last Airbender story. Or if you just can’t decide what to name your next World of Warcraft character.

But for some, naming a character is easy. It’s the places around them—the cityies and cafes the parks and mountains—that stump the writer-to-be. Your protagonist could have a date at The Royal Junction or buy their morning brew from Big Boulder Coffee or spend their nights with friends at Club Embassy. Information is exchanged during a foggy night at Sunnyside Memorial Park. The possibilities here are endless.

But that’s not where it ends. Need a title for that catchy tune the bard is always singing? They have a Song Name generator. They’ve got Guild Names and Spell Names and Afterlife Names and Currency Names. Within their “Other” section, you’ll find all sorts of miscellaneous names you never knew you needed!

But this site offers more than just names. Stuck on an idea for your next short story? It offers plot descriptions and prompts. Need an actual idea for a city? It won’t only give you a name, it will give you some history and attractions for you to use as a springboard when you develop your world. The descriptions can be tweaked of course, to better fit your story.

The Fantasy Name Generator is easily one of my favourite resources for names. Here’s hoping it may become one of yours.

Categories: On Writing, research findings, stuff i like | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How NOT to Keep your Audience Reading

Your whole goal when writing, be you a poet or a short story scrivener or a novelist, is to keep your audience’s attention to the very last word. To have them so absorbed in what you ha e written that they absolutely need to finish that next page, and then the page after that, and then the page after that even though they should really be getting to bed because they have an early meeting tomorrow. There are many drafts to go through to reach this point, and every person is different so your writing won’t be for everyone.

Here are some things that have made me just give up on a book.

Endless Description– This is sometimes more of a skip offence for me. Details are great. They paint a picture, help immerse the reader’s senses, provide places to hide exposition and foreshadowing. But if I have read two pages describing the drop on dew on a blade of grass in the courtyard, I’m going to get bored very fast. I may not put your writing down if the story and characters interest me enough, but I will skip things over. I’ll put the writing down if I start to lose the plot trying to wade through metaphors and purple prose.

Boring Characters– If I’m supposed to follow these people around for the entirety of your story, as a writer, you need to give me something to invest in. If your characters are bland at best and loathsome at worst, I won’t want to read about them. Nothing is worse than your audience feeling apathy for your characters, and having despicable ones will not keep attention much longer.

The only greater sin is giving me really good minor characters, but forcing me to read about the terrible ones.

Confusing Plot/Boring Plot– It’s important to keep your plot organized, but also have it be exciting. If I have no idea what’s going on and can’t keep up with all the subplots infesting your primary plot, I will get tired of trying and give up. If I’m spending the entire time waiting for something exciting to happen, I’ll just get tired. The dreams I have while taking a nap will probably be way more entertaining.

Excessive Profanity– A good curse in dialogue is fine. A well-placed curse can even put emphasis on a crisis or make your audience laugh. However, dialogue is usually where curses should be limited. You don’t need to curse excessively in your narration, even if you’ve gone first person. A little emphasis is fine, but when every few sentences contains a curse, I don’t feel like I’m reading a professionally written piece. I feel like I’m reading the minutes of a fourteen year old boy’s Xbox session.

Cliches Galore– If I can guess everything that’s likely to happen in your story based solely on a summary and come out with a 90% accuracy rating, you’ve got a problem. Readers like to be surprised and to see new things. Predictability can leave your readers bored. We’re along to watch the struggle, not roll our eyes at obvious solutions or static characters and settings.

Preaching – There’s a difference between delivering a lesson and using a character as a mouthpiece to voice your opinions loudly and as if they are correct. Proper lessons are taught through character development and subplots (and even the actual plot, depending on your story). If I feel like I’m listening to an aggressive sermon, telling me about how this is bad and if you do it you are bad, I will stop listening.

General Discomfort– I once stopped reading a book with an interest plot, good form, and pretty good characters. My reason? Several scenes involving minor characters came off as exceedingly racist. Was this intentional on the author’s part? I have no idea, but writers, make sure you really look what you’re writing. You don’t want to alienate your audience with unintentional prejudice.

And if your prejudice is intentional? Then you deserve to lose readership.

Too many combinations of these will also result in a loss of interest, but for some people only certain combinations will do it. You could be fine with bland characters as long as the story is good. You might enjoy a cliche storm that you need not think too much about.

But as a general note, trying to avoid these issues will be the first step in keeping your readers engaged.

Categories: musings, On Writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Story Mapping…With Actual Maps!

Open up your average fantasy book and you’re likely to find a map on the very first page. This map can be simple or detailed, display an entire city or several neighbouring countries or even a whole continent. They give the reader an idea of where a character is in relation to other places. They show us how the setting is laid out. They present the protagonist’s home, hangouts, and places he or she prefers to avoid.

They’re also great tools for when you’re writing.

Your setting is an absolutely massive part of your novel and, like everything else, it needs to be kept organized. You can’t have your protagonist know the location of a place in relation to his home in one book, and then have it be in a completely different location by the next book (unless the owners changed locations or someone moved, of course). But consistency is important, and it’s nice for readers to have something visual to reference.

So, I highly recommend making your own setting map.

“Make a map?” You might be saying, “But I know nothing of cartography!”

Don’t worry. This map doesn’t need every street marked out or every town listed (it can if you want, but it’s not necessary). For example, the map of Camorr in Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora is simplistic. As Camorr is a city-state made up of various islets, only those locations are labeled with names like “Shade’s Hill” or “The Shifting Market.” Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon goes even simpler, showing us the shape of a continent, a few boundaries between kingdoms, and the locations of three or four major cities.

Say your map is of the city where all the story (or most of it) takes place. You might choose only to label the districts. It’s simple, but if your character lives in “Merchant Quarter” and needs to get to the “Freedocks,” a glance at a map will give an idea of where your character is going, how long of a trip it might be, and even the type of area they’re going from and headed to. The Freedocks might be located near the Temple District, and thus be busy, but respectable. Or they could border Murder Row, and be a place to avoid after dark.

You could go a step further and add in key locations. The protagonist’s home, place of work, and usual drinking hole could all be dotted in. Major landmarks could be labelled. Drawing a map might also help you learn a few things about your character. A character with financial stability would probably live in a nice location, like an apartment near a mall or an area with nice shops, cafes, restaurants, or markets. If your character is poor, how far do they travel for work? Chances are a maid from the slums who works in a manor has quite the commute.

For larger maps, you need not add every town and village in the kingdom, but you could add those the heroes pass through so the reader can trace their path. Label areas the heroes may venture into, like forests or lakes or fortresses. It will help you make sure your characters are headed south and don’t start going east because you forgot where the wizard’s tower was.

You can make your map on poster board or just scribble designs in your notebook. Add as many details as you want or as few. Maps are great references, and you’ll find you characters navigating their surroundings much easier because of them.

Categories: musings, On Writing, Story Setting | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where The Thousand Words Come In

I love world-building. Of all the things that will suck me into a book and force me to buy all of the author’s works, the world is one of them. Our world is full of detail and amazing locations and wondrous sights. It’s only fair that the worlds of fiction—whether set in the real world or a fantasy one—be just as detailed.


I have a private blog, sadly neglected as it is, devoted entirely to images. Photographs of faraway cities, elaborate costumes, artist’s renderings of worlds both real and imagined grace its pages. Some of you may have something similar. A Pintrest account maybe. Or a simple file folder devoted to anything that inspires you.

I find having a resource like this to be immensely useful. For all our imagination, we writers sometimes fall short on how to describe something. We know the villain lives in an imposing citadel, but what kind of imposing citadel? Are there spikes and polished black stone, or living gargoyles and slick grey walls? Say your character has to go to Turkey to discover the next big clue. But you’ve never been to a Turkish market before, and certainly can’t afford to travel! Luckily, many before you have and they took a lot of pictures.

I find having an image in front of me helps determine my word choice. Even if I’m only basing my setting off of an image, it’s a sturdy canvas that I can add my own flourishes to. Yes, it’s a picture of a hidden beach inside the cavern, but it’s not the only thing I’m seeing. I’m also seeing the sirens lying in wait, or the smugglers who stash their goods in holes hidden by runic magic carved into the stone.

References help because they force you to think about how you would describe the scene to give someone the best impression possible. Without a good reference point, a writer risks falling back on vague phrasing or descriptors they’ve read a hundred times before, which may or may not reflect the place they’re trying to represent. Vague or overused descriptions don’t add to world building, they take from it.

But an image can’t be the entirety of the description. To help build a world, the writer must engage the reader’s other senses as well. Your research will help there. Knowing what’s being sold in the market will help you determine the smells. Knowing how the market environment is will help you better write interactions between characters (with some of your researched wildlife as background music). Talk to people who have been to these countries influencing your fiction, whether they were just visiting or lived there for a time. Even if your city or country is fictional, talking to someone from the area you’re basing your writing on will help you better understand the atmosphere and culture, and therefore help you better write it.

Know specific smells or noteworthy sounds. “Spices” doesn’t tell me much about your world in the way that “cinnamon and cardamom in round glass jars” does. “Bird calls” don’t give the same imagined resonance as “the shriek of long-necked buzzards.”

Whether your story takes places in the far future, the distant past, today, or in worlds that do not exist, A little thought, solid research, and some inspirational artwork can bring your prose a long way.

Categories: musings, On Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Setting Tips: The Circus

What is it about the circus?

What makes young people want to run away and join one? What makes it an ideal setting for the strange and wondrous? The bright colours and cheerful music? The daredevil acts? The nomadic lifestyle? On a more fantastic spectrum, is it that the magic could be real? Could it be that there’s something perverse about this place of amazement?

But a circus is more than jugglers, tightrope walkers, and beast tamers. Here are some things to consider for your circus setting.

Does your Circus have a theme? You can choose your basic, three-ring circus, but it’s good for narrative, world building, and business if there’s something unique about your circus. It can be something as simple as a colour-scheme—The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern uses a purely black-and-white one—or the theme can encompass every aspect of their show, from colour choices to performances. Your theme can be virtually anything. It can revolve around things like monsters, or you can have a floral theme, or focus on fire-based acts and appearances. There’s no actual limit as to what you can do with a circus.

Who inhabits your Circus? What you choose as a theme and the kind of world you’ve created will effect who makes up the circus. A vampire-themed circus is more likely to have a large population of actual vampires working for them (though there doesn’t need to be). Are the lower ranks made up of runaways and drug addicts? Are the clowns just guys in suits or unrepentant monsters? The type of story you’re trying to tell will determine if the people who make up the circus are just ordinary folks or something more.

The Staff? What are the big, headlining acts in the show? Who does them? Do they have understudies in case of injury or illness? What about the other jobs? A circus is more than just the beast tamer, the trapeze artist, and the ring master. Who performs in the sideshows? Who wanders around in colourful costumes, handing out balloons? You can’t forget the non-performing jobs either. Someone has to work the games, rides (if there are any) and concession. Someone had to repair costumes. Someone has to help with make-up. They need people to cook, clean, and repair. Not every member of your circus is going to be a full-on performer.

How’s your Circus doing? The success of a circus will determine how the performers are living. Are they world renowned with wealthy patrons? Then they’ve probably got well-maintained set-ups and gear, everyone gets paid on time, and they’re more than accepting of new members. A circus that’s struggling, or on the verge of closing, probably has sickly animals, only a few decently maintained attractions, under paid workers, and are likely to do anything to avoid having extra mouths to feed, whether those mouth are coming from outside or inside the circus. The financial status of a circus can tell the reader a lot about the situations that could potentially be encountered.

What’s the roster? Just like determining who does what, it is important to know what the big spectacles are. Your main players need names, though they need not all be main characters. Make sure the characters can fit their occupations (someone with stage-fright will not make a good ringleader). Determine what sideshows are offered. Fire breathers? Jugglers? Puppeteers? Is there a Freak Show? Is it a historically-based Freak Show, displaying people with deformities or other physical traits differing from the so-called norm? Or is the Freak Show full of actual freakish or mythological beings?

What the heck is up with your Circus? Are we looking at an average, real life circus, more observing the lives of its members than anything? Or is your circus in some way fantastic? Is the magic real? Is the circus haunted or manned by supernatural creatures? Is the circus kidnapping children for unknown purposes? Are they a front for a soul-stealing doomsday operation? Really, there’s nothing like taking something meant to bring joy and putting a dark twist on it.

Remember to research. Research is always important. There’s a lot to the circus. Research what kind of training performers do. Determine what goes into running a circus. Know terms. Know how some of the acts work, even if magic is involved.

I wish you all luck on your circus adventures!

Categories: On Writing, Story Setting | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dealing with The Red String

Nothing intrigues a reader quite like romance. In fact, romance is a key thing for so many people, that the internet has a term for them: Shippers. Shipping—short for “Relationshipping”—is a fan-based practice of supporting a specific couple in a piece of media, whether said couple is officially together or not. Platonic relationships may not exist to the dedicated shipper, and every glance could mean a potential hookup.

So, what are some key things you, as a writer, should know when you’re looking to create some love interests?

Who is the Love Interest? When I say “who,” I don’t mean in a sense of “Is she the girl who sits in front of him in class,” or “Is he the cute barista at her favourite coffee shop?” I want to know who the love interest is as a person. While flat love interests still exist, sadly, they are of little interest to your audience. The love interest is a person in the same way your protagonist is. What’s this person like in a general sense? What are they like under duress? What makes them happy? Sad? Angry? Do they have hobbies? What are their goals and dreams? Do they like dogs?

There needs to be more to a love interest than just the protagonist’s attraction to them. When a love interest is just as fleshed out as the protagonist, it makes them a more interesting character, and thus the relationship itself is more interesting to readers.

Why is the Protagonist Attracted to the Love Interest? There are a lot of factors that cause attraction between two people: appearance, intelligence, sense of humour, etc. What attracts your protagonist to the love interest can say a lot about their character. Attraction solely based on how good-looking the other person is going to be regarded as shallow unless balanced out by other factors. While a lot of shipping happens based on how “cute” character A would look with character B, your writing demands more. Physical attraction is only part of the package. Maybe your protagonist likes the guy at the coffee shop because she shares the same love of puns. Maybe your protagonist likes his classmate because she’s so passionate when she talks about architecture.

This and tip #1 are especially important to consider when writing interracial couples. There’s a pretty sordid history of ethnic fetishes, usually based around unfair and untrue stereotypes. Yes, your white protagonist can have a Japanese love interest, but he needs to love her for reasons that have nothing to do with her being Japanese. Obviously, he’ll think she’s pretty, but she needs other factors to attract him, like sharing his passion for poetry or being an engaging conversationalist.

What Interests do They Share? Obviously your characters will have to have some likes and dislikes in common. You probably aren’t going to want to date someone who doesn’t share at least some of your interests. Whether it’s hobbies, a similar taste in movies, a love of culinary experiences, a couple needs some common grounds for activities.

They aren’t going to have entirely common interests though. This is where part of their couple’s exploration comes in. Part of being with someone is being willing to do stuff they like, even if you aren’t too fond of it yourself. Your outdoorsy protagonist might have to indulge his girlfriend’s love of video games by going to a convention, while she’ll have to try camping for a weekend. Through this, each member of the pair can get outside of their comfort zone, and discover new things to enjoy (or tolerate for the sake of love).

Where is There Conflict? Not everything is sunshine and roses and puppies when it comes to being in a relationship. Couples fight. Everyone has annoying habits that drive their significant other insane. What would your couple fight about? What might your protagonist find annoying about her girlfriend?  How well do they tolerate the things they don’t like? Do they discuss it, or do they try to ignore the issue?

How Long Have They Been Together? A newly established couple is going to act very different from a couple whose been together for a few years, and that couple is going to be different from a couple whose been together for decades. The length of time they’ve been together determines a lot of things. Their maturity levels, for one, or what they might fight about. A high school couple is more likely to fight and break-up over something petty than a couple that’s been together for several years. Older couples are more likely to argue about money than younger couples. Older couples also have better grasps on dealing with their significant other’s annoying habits.

On the more positive side, older couples are bound to be a little looser with each other. While both parties in a new couple will be trying very hard to impress the other. Embarrassing bodily functions are something that mortifies a new couple, while an established couple might tease each other in the same situation. The length of time a couple has been together might determine how affectionate they are with each other, or the types of subjects their comfortable talking about.

These are but a few things to consider when writing couples. Obviously every couple is different, and a lot of changes boil down to the two individuals you’ve created.

Happy “shipping.”

Categories: On Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Character That Heals All Wounds

In recent days, I’ve been fiddling with some new characters, one of whom is a young man who utilizes healing magic. This got me thinking about your magical variety of doctors in the media, wielding light magic to stave of disease, close wounds, and even cheat death. There are many ways to work healing magic into a fantasy story.

            There are, of course, some limitations your healer must have, and this will probably vary depending on the type of healer they are, as well as their personality and what side of the conflict they’re meant to be on. Here are some ideas.

            The Standard RPG Healer—Any proper RPG that allows the player to choose different classes will have a variation on this character, though they can appear in fiction as well. Usually called a priest or a cleric, this person can heal allies with little to no side-effects on the caster or the surrounding environment. They’ve got flash heals for quick patch ups, longer running healing spells for fusing broken bones, spells that heal over time and quickly knit pesky wounds together as the fighters get them, and environmental healing spells that work on multiple allies at the same time.

            The RPG Healer’s limits are usually energy based. Games will represent this as a magic meter. This method will probably require a writer to create some form of energy system for the healer to follow, as it can be very easy to have the healer’s energy levels radically change if you’re not paying attention. For example, you can give yourself a “point system” and have each spell be worth a certain number of “points.” Say your healer can do 100 points worth of healing, with spells worth 5, 10, and 15 points. While you write them, you can determine which combination of spells they can use before running out of magical energy and needing a recharge (this can work for other classes of magic as well).

Another option can be based around the spells themselves. Maybe the healer can only flash heal ten times a day. Maybe certain spells require certain conditions. Another option I’ve seen is that a healer’s spells start to lose effectiveness over time when used on the same person repeatedly. One day they can easily patch a collapsed ribcage, but after a few weeks, they can barely close a knife wound on the same person.

            Since there’s little risk to this type of healer when they do their job, they’re generally pretty nice folks. They’ll aid adventurers in any way they can. They might charge for their services. At the worst, they’ll be jerks who charge way too much.

            The Empathic Healer—You’d hate to be this poor bastard. The Empathic Healer is pretty much what the name suggests: while they can heal you, they take your pain unto themselves. In this case, the healer is either transferring the injuries to themselves, or they simply feel the pain associated with it. They aren’t generally the type to get involved in conflicts where they’re constantly healing people, and may only use their powers in special, preferably non-fatal, cases.     

            The name also implies the limitations. The healer that heals through transference is basically an injured wreck with each treatment and can risk dying themselves if they aren’t careful. While the Empathic Healer who just feels the associated pain likely won’t bleed out on you, pain can be crippling. The healer will have to build up a high pain tolerance, but there’s still a risk even then, like going into shock or suffering a heart attack or something else extreme amounts of pain and stress can cause. As such, these guys will usually not use their powers for anything but serious wounds, and will likely know non-magical treatments for superficial wounds. This type of healer may also be unable to self-heal.  

            If a hero, this is usually the person who will sacrifice themselves to save the protagonist. If your Empathic Healer has more advanced skills, they can likely forgo transferring the wounds onto themselves and redirect them to someone else. Usually this is a villain tactic, but a hero could do this by essentially turning the enemy’s attacks right back at them. I mean, the guy who’s hit would still feel the pain of being hit (it’s not like a healer can deflect magic), but at least the monster bleeds out faster.   

            The Life Drainer—Something is fueling a healer’s magic and allowing them to heal. Typically, it can be sourced from whatever magical sources your world has, but sometimes that’s not enough. The magical sources are just a conduit. The healing itself comes from taking the vitality of other living things.

            A lot of the limitations of this one depends on what kind of person the healer is. You can take the “Pro-Life” route, having your healer sacrifice their own life energy to heal, resulting in a severely shortened life span, and maybe some biological failings the closer the healer gets to death. Some healers might refuse to use animals, while others are fine with it. Plants are usually a safe bet, but likely require a plentiful amount of them.

            A good Life Drainer will try to use their abilities to cause the least amount of damage possible, only resorting in using their own life force if the situation is dire and there’s no other life source available (though, some of their party members may all be willing to sacrifice a little bit of time to save someone). An evil life drainer will purposefully drain the lives of others, usually to heal themselves.

            The Reversal Healer—Okay, so this one technically doesn’t use healing magic, but time magic can be very flexible, so I’ll add this one as well. The idea behind this one is not that the wound is healed so much as the damaged is reversed to a time before it was damaged. This type of magic is the one that can usually reverse death as well.

            Time magic is usually more varied in its limitations. Your caster might not be able to reverse time by more than a few minutes, so taking too long to get to the injured character may make any attempts at healing pointless. Maybe healing someone screws with destiny and now the gang has to fix it. Time magic is tricky like that.

            I would say that if someone is willing to risk screwing up space-time to heal someone, they’re probably a good person. Crazy, but good at heart.

            Those are just some of the types of healers I’ve had experience with in fiction. Does an author/artist of yours have a unique type of healer? Feel free to share!    

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To the Poor Souls Who Read My Rough Drafts

Every writer needs a good Beta reader.

There’s no such thing as a story that’s perfect from the start. Every story has little dents or gaping holes and bad grammar and sentences that only make sense to the person who wrote them. While we writers are expected to know how to identify these things and edit as we go, we can’t be expected to catch all of our mistakes. So, we ask our parents and friends to look at our stuff and tell us what they think.

Sometimes they fix our spelling and point out really huge details that make no sense.

Other times, they tell us they love it and it is the best thing ever and are totally useless in helping us improve.

I think it’s generally advised to find a Beta reader in someone you don’t know, so they won’t feel the need to hold back their critiques. To me, that’s a bit of bullshit. You can get friends to look into your stuff. Just make sure they’re the right friends.

As a student of professional writing, I spent a lot of time interacting with other aspiring writers. We’ve learned about the critique sandwich. You offer a compliment to the reader, then a critique, and then another compliment. We always went farther than that: overall impressions, what we liked, what we didn’t like, favourite lines, lines that need improving, suggestions. Workshops with the Professional Writing program were the best.

Several of us remain in contact even though our big workshopping class, Publishing Prose, has ended. I trust these people to read my work. While our group has dwindled, I do have a group I can regularly count on to review my work.

I love these guys because they get so sucked in and involved in my story. I can rely on them to tell me when something really doesn’t work, and then make me laugh in the very next comment.

As I was struggling with the second draft of my second book, I asked my friend Sharayah to look at a few chapters. She did, telling me that she didn’t get a good sense of who my protagonist was and felt he was acting contrary to the character I was implying he was (polite, but always seeking to go unnoticed). Further down the chapter, she also called another character a “werewolf-prostitute.” Because of her, I got into seriously thinking about my characters, and am now looking at changing the entire setting of the story.

Aaron usually gets my chapters once during our workshops, and then possibly again if there’s some big thing I had to re-write. He isn’t afraid to tell me when something just doesn’t work and always has some form of suggestion to offer. Other times, he whips out these random facts that he thinks might fit into my world, some obscure historical detail I would have never thought of. It makes me question whether or not he’s one of those guys who spends hours looking up weird, obscure facts on the internet.

And sometimes he does stuff like this:

He was the only person who had trouble following some parts of my tenth chapter. I sent him my edits to look at. This was at the end of the chapter.

This was at the end of a chapter I had edited, and asked him to look at.

Finally, there’s Grace. My Alpha-Beta, if you will. She’s reading the first draft of my novel so that I can edit it before sending it out to the workshop group for mass critique. She’s super involved in the story, and that makes me unbelievably happy. She points out my logistical fallacies, sentence structure mess-ups, and questions about character consistency. She asks the questions I neglected while writing. She makes me think on things.

And then she posts comments like these (note: all from the same chapter):




D’awww. I love it when she calls him that.



Stuff like that. Granted, I do the same thing to her. Between stating that I don’t think certain aspects of her story are clear, or that her child protagonists probably wouldn’t really love the orphan matron who beat them, I constantly tell one of her characters to “Go fuck [himself]” because I hate him just that much.

Is all this text screaming professional? Probably not. But as long as I’m improving from it, who cares?

What about you? Do you have someone you trust to critique your work?

Categories: On Writing, This is my life | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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