Read that headline again. Can you spot the mistake?
Okay, it’s not a mistake, per se, but it’s something that newer writers do all the time, and professional writers don’t.
At least, you don’t see it in published work very often, because editors cut it out like a malignant growth.
This is my fucking bane.
Whether it’s a family member, a relative, a friend or even an enemy that your character lost, that certain person is still important in your character’s life, and losing that person probably has quite an impact on your character. Below are a few pointers to keep in mind…
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. ~Stephen King
This is the best writing advice anyone ever gave me and let’s be honest it’s awesome to be able to curl up on the couch with a good book and call it working. Reading teaches you about writing. Good books give you something to aspire to, bad books teach you what to avoid.
I try to read a book a week for review. (We post our reviews for Writers Write on The Bluestocking Review.) Reading for review is different to reading for fun. It makes me pay attention to things I’d usually overlook because reading like a writer is different to reading like a reader.
When I read for review I take note of the following:
- Genre: Is it a genre I enjoy? I don’t think it’s fair to the author if I read a genre I don’t like. I read across many genres so this isn’t the biggest issue. But does it hold true to its promise? Did it entertain me, scare me, or let me fall in love again?
- Viewpoint: I prefer books written in the 1st person, but only if the writer can pull it off. A trend at the moment is to have two alternating first person accounts. Very few authors can do this. It annoys me when the two characters sound the same. I do enjoy good 2nd and 3rd person accounts as well.
- Characters: Are they well developed? Are they believable?
- Dialogue: I adore dialogue. The more the better, but is it well written? Does it convey character and advance the story? I will put a book down if it lacks dialogue.
- Setting: How does the author convey this? Does he portray a sense of space by letting his character interact with the setting or does he bore me to death with paragraphs of description?
- Description: Coma inducing or a feast for my senses? I hate blocks of description. I prefer it when it is woven into a story.
- Pace: Did it start at an incredible pace only to run out at steam in the middle? Did it take forever to get going? Was it too fast overall or too slow?
- Plot: Does the story work? Is it believable? Is it good? Was it unexpected or predictable?
- Did I like the book or not? I allocate a mark out of 5. (See our scoring criteria.)
Once I have taken all of that into account I write a review of 150 words. I write one paragraph outlining the plot and one paragraph about my opinion. There is no point in writing a 1000-word book review. Be honest, those are the ones you don’t read on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t necessarily touch on every point but I highlight the parts that impressed or disappointed me.
I learn from every book I read. If I find something I enjoy I examine it and see if I can apply the techniques to my writing. If I find something that irritates me I’ll work through my manuscripts to see if I have made the same mistake.
Book reviews are also something you can mention in a query letter. An editor could read them and will be able to see if you know what you are talking about when it comes to writing. Anyhow, it’s a great exercise. Perhaps you could try writing a review for your own book?
by Mia Botha for Writers Write
I’ve gotten this question a few times before so here are all the answers from followers that contributed to those questions:
- EVE online
- Sims Social
- Mabinogi Character Simulator
- Doll Divine
- Azaleas Dolls
So I was in the middle of writing the one blog post to rule them all and then suddenly…the power goes out in my neighborhood.
I was calm.
So lately I’ve been pondering on what it means to be a writer. Not necessarily what qualifies as being a writer, but more about the state of being a writer. I’ll explain.
When I write, I write mostly for myself. It is a very selfish hobby (if it is your hobby). You write because you love writing and it’s more of a self-therapy than anything else. I’ve always been a believer that for some writers, writing is therapeutic to some degree.
And yet, I’ve recently decided to make writing my life’s work (and by recently, I mean this same year). In other words, writing and authoring books and stories will be my career choice. But here is where I often hit a roadblock.
I think about all the other professions out there that I could have chosen—all of them respectable and constructive. All of them contributing to society in some way or another. I could have been a doctor, or a lawyer or an engineer, or computer scientist, or an accountant, etc. I could have been any one of those and yet I found my calling with the written word.
So, what is the state of being a writer? What do writers bring to the table? What do I contribute to the world?
I’ve decided that my place in life is to write fiction, mostly fantasy and science fiction. Fiction, boiled down, entertains. Entertainment is a good, worthy ambition. There are many who become entertainers in their lives, standing and pleasing the crowds. Perhaps that’s what writers are as well: entertainers who hide behind the pages of a book.
I, however, see it as more than just entertainment.
When someone asks me why I’m a writer, I sort of struggle for an answer. How should I describe why I do what I do? But recently, I’ve come to understand what a writer truly is and what it means to be one.
Writing is, by far, one of the single most educating experiences someone could ever have in their lifetime. Writing is about discovery. Writing is understanding the world around you and then understanding yourself. Writing is an exercise of the mind that increases the ability to problem-solve.
Writing is more than sitting on a chair for hours on end, making an endless rattling with the keyboard or scribbling pencil against paper. Writing is coming to know humanity on an individual scale and then trying to influence it with your thoughts and ideas.
Writing is never knowing who will end up with your words.
But there is one thing that writing is definitely NOT. One constant fact about writing that someone, somewhere, always seems to get wrong:
Writing is NOT useless.
To those who believe that writers do not contribute to society, I say this: Writing is hard work. Writing is understanding history, science, engineering, law, fashion, technology. Writing is hard work and one of the most worthwhile endeavors of this day and age—and certainly, for me, the most rewarding.
thefitwriter asked: I started a story when I was 12-13. I’m still working on it, 5 years later. It’s just the idea that is left, but I see there’s a lot I need to change that I wrote a couple of years ago, even parts of the plot. Do you think it would be better to start all over again?
Advice for both beginning and experienced writers!
Avoid problems created by these words or phrases:
- And also This is often redundant.
- And/or Outside of the legal world, most of the time this construction is used, it is neither necessary nor logical. Try using one word or the other.
- As to whether The single word …
Submitted by light-em-up-benzedrine
The link is for how multiple moons would affect a world, as the title says, but if you look around the site you can find a lot of other information that could help with sci-fi worlds and other fictional places.
- Use longstanding information sources, like National Geographic, Discovery, History, BBC, and PBS. They have a ton of information on their websites and sometimes their documentaries are on YouTube
- Use sites with .edu and .gov in their URLs
- If a site appears to be biased or has a reason to be biased, double-check the information before using it - or just stay away from biased sites altogether
- I also go to libraries or book stores occasionally
- Type your entire research term into the search box. Chances are it’s in there somewhere
- Go past the first page of results
- Don’t trust a website in Comic Sans
- Google intelligently
- Don’t trust pertinent Yahoo answers, but they can give you a starting off point for more research
- I also use stumbleupon to find sites - just type in your interest and you’ll find something useful
Good advice for everyone!
- Alternate World: A setting that is not our world, but may be similar. This includes “portal fantasies” in which characters find an alternative world through their own. An example would be The Chronicles of Narnia.
- Arabian: Fantasy that is based on the Middle East and North Africa.
- Arthurian: Set in Camelot and deals with Arthurian mythology and legends.
- Bangsian: Set in the afterlife or deals heavily with the afterlife. It most often deals with famous and historical people as characters. An example could be The Lovely Bones.
- Celtic: Fantasy that is based on the Celtic people, most often the Irish.
- Christian: This genre has Christian themes and elements.
- Classical: Based on Roman and Greek myths.
- Contemporary: This genre takes place in modern society in which paranormal and magical creatures live among us. An example would be the Harry Potter series.
- Dark: This genre combines fantasy and horror elements. The tone or feel of dark fantasy is often gloomy, bleak, and gothic.
- Epic: This genre is long and, as the name says, epic. Epic is similar to high fantasy, but has more importance, meaning, or depth. Epic fantasy is most often in a medieval setting.
- Gaslamp: Also known as gaslight, this genre has a Victorian or Edwardian setting.
- Gunpowder: Gunpowder crosses epic or high fantasy with “rifles and railroads”, but the technology remains realistic unlike the similar genre of steampunk.
- Heroic: Centers on one or more heroes who start out as humble, unlikely heroes thrown into a plot that challenges them.
- High: This is considered the “classic” fantasy genre. High fantasy contains the general fantasy elements and is set in a fictional world.
- Historical: The setting in this genre is any time period within our world that has fantasy elements added.
- Medieval: Set between ancient times and the industrial era. Often set in Europe and involves knights. (medieval references)
- Mythic: Fantasy involving or based on myths, folklore, and fairy tales.
- Portal: Involves a portal, doorway, or other entryway that leads the protagonist from the “normal world” to the “magical world”.
- Quest: As the name suggests, the protagonist in this genre sets out on a quest. The protagonist most frequently searches for an object of importance and returns home with it.
- Sword and Sorcery: Pseudomedieval settings in which the characters use swords and engage in action-packed plots. Magic is also an element, as is romance.
- Urban: Has a modern or urban setting in which magic and paranormal creatures exist, often in secret.
- Wuxia: A genre in which the protagonist learns a martial art and follows a code. This genre is popular in Chinese speaking areas.
Word counts for fantasy are longer than other genres because of the need for world building. Even in fantasy that takes place in our world, there is a need for the introduction of the fantasy aspect.
Word counts for established authors with a fan base can run higher because publishers are willing to take a higher chance on those authors. First-time authors (who have little to no fan base) will most likely not publish a longer book through traditional publishing. Established authors may also have better luck with publishing a novel far shorter than that genre’s expected or desired word count, though first-time authors may achieve this as well.
A general rule of thumb for first-time authors is to stay under 100k and probably under 110k for fantasy.
Other exceptions to word count guidelines would be for short fiction (novellas, novelettes, short stories, etc.) and that one great author who shows up every few years with a perfect 200k manuscript.
But why are there word count guidelines? For young readers, it’s pretty obvious why books should be shorter. For other age groups, it comes down to the editor’s preference, shelf space in book stores, and the cost of publishing a book. The bigger the book, the more expensive it is to publish.
- General Fantasy: 75k - 110k
- Epic Fantasy: 90k - 120k
- Contemporary Fantasy: 90k - 120k
- Urban Fantasy: 80k - 100k
- Middle Grade: 45k - 70k
- YA: 75k - 120k (depending on sub-genre)
- Adult: 80k - 120k (depending on sub-genre)
A pseudo-European medieval setting is fine, but it’s overdone. And it’s always full of white men and white women in disguise as white men because around 85% (ignore my guess/exaggeration, I only put it there for emphasis) of fantasy writers seem to have trouble letting go of patriarchal societies.
Guys. It’s fantasy. You can do whatever you want. You can write a fantasy that takes place in a jungle. Or in a desert. Or in a prairie. The people can be extremely diverse in one region and less diverse in another. The cultures should differ. Different voices should be heard. Queer people exist. People of color exist. Not everyone has two arms or two legs or the ability to hear.
As for the fantasy elements, you also make up the rules. Don’t go searching around about how a certain magic spell is done, just make it up. Magic can be whatever color you want. It can be no color at all. You can use as much or as little magic as you want.
Keep track of what you put into your world and stick to the rules. There should be limits, laws, cultures, climates, disputes, and everything else that exists in our world. However, you don’t have to go over every subject when writing your story.
- Fantasy World Building Questionnaire
- Magical World Builder’s Guide
- Creating Fantasy and Science Fiction Worlds
- Creating Religions
- Quick and Dirty World Building
- World Building Links
- Fantasy World Building Questions
- The Seed of Government (2)
- Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy
- Fantasy Worlds and Race
- Water Geography
- Alternate Medieval Fantasy Story
- Writing Magic
- Types of Magic
- When Magic Goes Wrong
- Magic-Like Psychic Abilities
- Science and Magic
- Creative Uses of Magic
- Thoughts on Creating Magic Systems
- Defining the Sources, Effects, and Costs of Magic
- World Building Basics
- Mythology Master Post
- Fantasy Religions
- Setting the Fantastic in the Everyday World
- Making Histories
- Matching Your Money to Your World
- Building a Better Beast
- A Man in Beast’s Clothing
- Creating and Using Fictional Languages
- Creating a Language
- Creating Fictional Holidays
- Creating Holidays
- Weather and World Building 101
- Describing Fantastic Creatures
- Medieval Technology
- Music For Your Fantasy World
- A heterogeneous World
- Articles on World Building
- Grand List of Fantasy Cliches (most of this can be debated)
- Fantasy Cliches Discussion
- Ten Fantasy Cliches That Should Be Put to Rest
- Seven Fantasy Cliches That Need to Disappear
- Avoiding Fantasy Cliches 101
- Avoiding Fantasy Cliches
- Fantasy Cliches
- Fantasy Cliche Meter: The Bad Guys
- Fantasy Novelist’s Exam
- Mary Sue Race Test
Note: Species (like elves and dwarves) are not cliches. The way they are executed are cliches.