Making Magic Systems Better, Lesson 3

The High Price of Magic Everything in life carries a price. It’s a law so universally understood that we feel it in our bones. Yet when we deal with fiction, some writers forget to consider the high price of magic and magic systems. The renowned author Nancy Kress has pointed out that a defining moment […]

Making Magic Systems Better, Lesson 2

View previous lesson In the last lesson, I pointed out that most magic systems tend to be rather stale, that they don’t create a sense of wonder. We typically only encounter a strong sense of wonder when we come upon something new. In fact, wonder comes when we find ourselves in a strange situation and […]

Making Better Magic Systems, Lesson 1

making better magic systems lesson 1

The most popular books and movies of all time all have one thing in common: They transport audiences better than other books and movies in their genre. Usually, as in films like Avatar or books like Lord of the Rings or Dune, the tale transports you into another time and place. But the tale also transports its audience emotionally. In short, whatever emotion […]

Appealing to the Senses, Part 3

appeal to the senses writing book

Click here for part 1 and here for part 2. For the last couple of articles I’ve been talking about how to make your story come alive by appealing to the reader’s senses, by “showing, not telling.” I pointed out that the human body has several different ways of sensing and reacting to the world. We’re […]

Creating Likeable Protagonists

Developing a Story's Protagonist

In Hollywood, it is said that “There are only two ways to make a likeable character.” Here are those two ways to help you with creating likable protagonists, plus a few more.

How to Start Off a Story

The first scene can be anything—a funny incident that introduces one of your protagonists, or perhaps an argument that leaves your reader shocked.  Maybe you’ll write a scene that will leave your reader admiring your protagonist and cheering for her, or perhaps you’ll introduce your tale with a gruesome murder that will leave the reader horrified but burning with intrigue. 

10 Tips for Bringing a Scene to Life (2020 update)

Years ago, I wrote an article on bringing a scene to life—and then I did an exercise based upon my own article.  Here are the bare bones of that article. These are techniques and 10 “Tips for Bringing a Scene to Life”   1. Use “Resonators” Especially at the beginning of a tale, use “resonators” […]

How to Start a Novel

When starting to write a novel, you should keep in mind:
A good opening should promise the reader a powerful emotional impact if he or she reads on.

David Farland Writing Tip: Writing Dystopias

A lot of people are wondering why dystopias are so popular. They haven’t realized that they’ve always been popular. In his book Writing the Blockbuster Novel, the superstar agent Albert Zuckerman points out that if you want a book to go huge, you should transport a reader to a place that he wants to be. […]

How to Develop a Fictional Character: 7 Tips a Best-Selling Author

Of all the topics on how to write, I suspect more books have been written on how to create solid characters than on anything else. So there are a lot of great resources out there on how to create characters, and I can’t even touch on every topic that I would like in the space […]