That One Thing

I’ll give you the TLDR of this post up front:

The best way to make a believable character is to have them do one thing, and then have them do that one thing over and over again.

That’s it. Now you know. Thanks for stopping by.

Okay, so maybe a bit more exploration of this idea is worth our time. The thing about stories is that they are simultaneously more complicated and more simple than most people think. This isn’t unique to writing. Part of getting good at anything is realizing that many of the mysterious elements aren’t all that mysterious while understanding that a lot of the elements people never really think about are the hard bits.

When it comes to characterization there’s plenty of advice about how to make memorable, distinct characters. A lot of it is good, but it often creates the impression that characterization is difficult.… Read the rest “That One Thing”

More Blood Tomorrow

Garg stood on the balcony of his great fortress, formerly the great fortress of a human king, and surveyed his kingdom below. His hordes milled about, taking care of tasks.

There were so many fucking tasks.

Things to be built. Things to be maintained. Farming and transportation and logistics. Running a kingdom was a huge pain in the ass.

Running a horde had been easier. He’d bark an order at someone, and they’d either get it done or he’d chop something off. After enough failures and enough lost parts, he’d just find someone else to yell at. Eventually, things got done.

Kingdoms were more complex. Taking the things the humans had built was easy. Keeping them from falling over was hard. It’d taken a decade for his people to figure it out. A lot of things had fallen over or caught fire.… Read the rest “More Blood Tomorrow”

That @#$ing Chapter

Every story has That @#$ing Chapter that you know has to be there, but just isn’t working. Even when an author outlines, it’s inevitable to realize that a scene or plot point you need just isn’t coming together properly. But the story needs That @#$ing Chapter! The plot can’t progress without it. The characters will lose all their momentum. Without it, everything grinds to a halt.

I don’t generally outline my stories. The term plotting or pantsing (as in by-the-seat-of-your-pants) is bandied about readily in the writing community, but I think it’s a false dichotomy. Most writers don’t sit on one end or the other, but rather, move along a spectrum of the two extremes. I can’t speak for all writers–nor would I want to–but the story is made in the edit for the most part. It doesn’t matter how well you outlined or plotted or improvised your way through the first draft, the edit is where everything starts making sense.… Read the rest “That @#$ing Chapter”