Breaking the “Rules” with Intention: Writing Character Voice

If you try and figure out the rules about creative writing, you’re going to find that established authors and editors often disagree about nuances of the craft. There are, of course, some hard-and-fast rules about punctuation and grammar, but so many rules vary from genre to genre, generation to generation, audience to audience. Sometimes there are rules that boil down, simply, to consistency.

So you might even say that you have your own set of writing rules. Each and every author’s rules are slightly unique. That unique set of “rules” is part of what makes up your author’s voice.

So when are the appropriate times to break those rules, your own rules? They happen, don’t they? In my last post, I gave a list of filler words and overused words that you can consider cutting out of your writing to help sharpen it. But everything–even mediocre vocabulary, poor grammar, and repetitive structure–has a place in writing.

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Words and Phrases to Cut from Your Writing Right Now: The Definitive List

So, so many works I’ve read could be vastly improved with tightening and shaving of superfluous words. Wordiness is an easy stumbling block, as we’re used to how we talk. We’re used to how others (long ago) wrote. But times change, my friend, and so do expectations of the writer. We don’t get paid by the word in fiction. So show your smarts and say as much as you can with as much power as you can in as few words as possible.

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Brainstorming Series: Science & Technology

Developing the technology of your world

When you set out to write speculative fiction, many times you’ll be writing within a world very different from our own. Whether your story is set in ancient times or the far future, your people will still have a set understanding of science and, thus, a certain level of technology.

In order for your readers to feel oriented within your fictional world, it’s important for you to establish what kind of technology they can expect to find within your book. Any deviation from what is “normal” will need to be clarified and used consistently. If your world is mostly medieval but they’ve discovered radio communications, that needs to be made clear and it needs to make sense…otherwise the random radio in the middle of the stone, torch-lit castle will be very jarring.

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Writing Prophecies

Using prophecies in fantasy without making eyes roll

Good ol’ stand-bys, ubiquitous fantasy tropes, are difficult to avoid. And sometimes we don’t want to avoid them. Goddammit, sometimes you just need a good, solid prophecy to write the story your want to write.

“It’s not my fault all these other people before me have written prophecies, too!” you say.

And you’d be right. Unfortunately, they did. So us modern-day writers have to live with the it. So what do you do when you want or need to use a well-worn trope?

Know the trope. Make it your own.

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Emphasis in Writing

I’ve talked about it to many, many writers on an individual basis. Now, it’s time I share it with the world.

Using all-caps in your fiction should be a complete and utter last resort.

When to use all-caps:

  • When using an acronym such as ASPCA, or FBI.
  • When a character or narrator is screaming and your narrative is not strong enough to convey that volume otherwise.

When not to use all-caps:

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Creating Villains

blake-broacher asked:

How do I make a villain totally detestable and loathsome, I’ve no protagonist as the narrator is also a morally dark grey guy. Also all of my villains turn into anti heroes because of their grand ideas for the future bring a bit skewed in execution. Tips, ideas? Open for anything really.


First! As a quick note, when you use the word “protagonist,” you’re referring to your main character. It does not matter what their moral standing is, how they view themselves or how society views them. Your main character is your protagonist.

Tyler Durden is the chaotic evil protagonist of Fight Club, but that doesn’t make him a good guy. In fact, writing neutral or evil protagonists is pretty common and incredibly interesting!

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Controlling Biomes on your Planet

Anonymous asked:

Is it possible to have a planet without a certain kind of environment? Like a world without tundra or deserts?

In a word: Absolutely!

In many, many more words (and a picture):

You have several options here. The first and most obvious one is simply this: Do whatever the hell you want. If you want your world to have never seen snow, then go for it! No rainforests? Be my guest!

But since you’re asking about possibilities, I’m assuming you want something more scientific than that. And I’m always happy to oblige.

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Writing Chaotic Morality and Insanity

I’ve had several in-narrative encounters and also questions regarding crazy, mad, off-their-rocker characters lately. I’ve also written one of my own. So I thought I’d talk about it a little. The reasoning can be anywhere from, “I thought it sounded fun,” to “I wanted them to be virtually unpredictable,” to “My plot needs them!”

But no matter your reasoning, your character is still a character. And even if you have fun writing crazy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your reader will enjoy reading it if the character isn’t still fleshed out, three-dimensional, and motivated.

First, there is a difference between a chaotic character and an insane character. They can sometimes look the same on the outside though, so the differences really come out once you get into the character’s head. And when you’re writing them–especially if they’re a POV character–then you need to know what’s making them tick: their moral compass or their lack of sanity.

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