Setting

In writing, one of the key elements to making a story great is determining where your story takes place. The location, the culture, and the people in that culture are key when figuring out what happens in your story.

The setting is, in a lot of ways, the most important thing in your story. In a lot of ways, it impacts your characters more than even the plot itself. Without setting, what is to determine how your characters feel about religion and politics? Setting can also define how the characters in question dress. Do they wear cloaks? A turban?

I say all of this because knowing where your story is set is an important thing for you to know even before you write the first word. If you’re setting your story in the real world, it’s key to figure out where. If it’s fantasy, do you have two parallel worlds set in the same place like Harry Potter, or do you have a single world set apart from our own like in Lord of the Rings? In both those cases, some world building is required, but in Harry Potter, some knowledge of the real world is also required.

When it comes to world building, you make everything up from the culture to the religion. But if you incorporate real world settings in the mix, research is mandatory.  The bottom line is that if you want a setting for your world, you need to know everything you can about that setting before you even type the first word.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

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Description for Non-Characters

In the real world, we see things. It could be anything: cars, houses, trees, the sun, the moon, birds in the sky, or dogs on the ground. For us writers, it is imperative to find a way to describe those things.

This is different than describing characters, since eye color/hair color and slightly less important features cannot be used to describe the thing. For example, a car is not a person. It has a color to its paint job, which is similar to eye/hair color, but it goes far deeper than that. What is the make and model of the car? What kind of tires are on the car? Are there dents on the frame?

You get what I’m saying? The point is, there are a lot of things to point out if you’re going to do your job properly. The most important thing to remember, however, is that there is a such thing as too much description. The car example may work if it’s from the POV of someone who knows about cars, but that same person may not be as savvy on the various sub-genres of fantasy fiction.

A book lover would know those things like the back of their hand, but a car salesman would go in and see books about magic, knights, wizards, and elves, while a book lover knows there’s a lot more to it than that.

In a nutshell, your POV character (or your narrator) will describe things to the reader as they know things. Always keep that in mind.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Something About Physical Description

It’s time for a confession: I suck as a blogger. I’ve been so stuck in working on a short story that I’ve lost all motivation on working on this blog. However, I hope to change that soon. But for today, I’m going to discuss a subject that every fiction writer needs to know about, and that is how to describe your characters.

Everyone has a unique look about them, so each of your characters should as well. Very rarely will you come into contact with two people who look exactly alike, even identical twins. With twins, one will likely wear their hair differently or not dress the same as the other, so of course it is key to give every single person in your story a unique look.

With my characters, I focus in on eye color and hair color, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Does the character have dimples? Freckles? How tall are they? How much do they weigh? All of these are important questions to ask when deciding how the character looks, but how do you get it across on the page? For me, it all depends on how the writing process goes. Sometimes I’ll imply things, while other times I show it in passing. Sometimes, I’ll dump a brief description and pencil in more info later.

One of my favorite ways of conveying description, however, is to give a character some movement that is somehow important to their physical features. Take the example that follows from my WIP:

“How far is it?” Jocelyn asked, combing her fingers through her curly red hair.

It’s easy to do, and you don’t have to dump the description on the reader. It’s a bit difficult when trying to introduce a lot of main characters at once, but it’s still my favorite of all. The best thing about it is, you can do this with the eyes and other physical features.

I hope this helps.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

 

Dialogue

Everyone has a unique voice, whether you be from Boston in the U.S. or Ireland in the U.K., but how can a writer use this fact to make dialogue that is unique from character to character? Well, there are lots of components to this, which will inevitably have to be covered in future posts,  but at its most basic level, dialogue stems from how people talk.

If you want to write realistic dialogue, it is important to note that there are three major components to speech: phenology, morphology, and syntax. Phenology is basically how people pronounce certain words, morphology is the choice of one word over another that basically means the same thing, and syntax is all about overall word choice.

For example, if someone says “worsher” as opposed to “washer,” you’ll know this is an example of phenology where they’re talking about a washing machine. Different people pronounce these words differently depending on their geography. Morphology works similarly in that you’ll say something different depending on where you live, except you’ll use a different word as opposed to the same word that’s pronounced differently. Fireflies are a good example of this. Where I live in the south, firefly is the accepted word, but in other places firebugs or lightning bugs are just as acceptable. Syntax is a little more complex, but it’s self-explanatory, so I won’t go any further on that.

The point is, we’re all going to talk differently, and it’s your job as a writer to convey that in how your characters talk. Geography is very important in the real world, because different kinds of people settle in different places, and therefore different accents and even dialects develop. If you want to create realistic dialogue, even in fantasy, these are all things to keep in mind.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Character Development: Supporting Characters

A few of my recent posts have centered around the idea of developing characters, so for today’s post I figured I’d finish it off with supporting characters. These are the characters that are neither protagonists or antagonists, but are just as vital to the story as a whole.

To develop supporting characters for your story, it is important to remember that they are the protagonist of their own story. Therefore, they need to have their own goals that are in some way different than what the protagonist wants. This will make them realistic in a lot of ways.

For example, take Snape from the Harry Potter books. His love for Lily Potter has caused Snape to risk his own life to help Harry and work for Dumbledore, which is something he would not be interested in if he wasn’t in love with Lily in the first place. The bottom line is, you need to give your supporting characters something that will help the protagonist. If they don’t, they’re nothing more than a second antagonist.

I think it goes without saying that the supporting cast doesn’t want the same thing as the protagonist for the same reasons, but it’s very important to give them some common goals.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Character Development: Antagonists

In a previous post, I wrote about how a protagonist operates in a story. This is very important, mainly because your story would be pointless without them, but one type of character that is equally important is the antagonist.

As its name suggests, the antagonist is the antithesis of the protagonist. Remember that your protagonist wants something, no matter how simple it may be. For argument’s sake, let’s say the protagonist wants a glass of water. Sounds kind of silly, you could say a story is all about that. Well, your antagonist wants something that conflicts with what the protagonist wants. Say they want that same glass of water to drink, or they want to use it to water a plant. In a nutshell that’s what an antagonist is.

The important thing to remember is that this is a very good way to create conflict in your story, which is important because without conflict, there is no story. So to create a good antagonist, give them character traits that conflict with the protagonist so the two–by their nature–want different things. If you can do that, you’ve got a good conflict.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Character Development: The Protagonist

When you look at your favorite stories, whether it be as grand as Harry Potter or as simple as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, those stories are lost without their characters. And of course, at the heart of it all, each of those stories has one character that stands out more than all the rest, otherwise known as the protagonist.

The protagonist is usually the good guy of the story, but not always. Sometimes they are the bad guy disguised as the book’s hero. Beyond anything else, however, they are the one the story focuses on the most, and at some point during the story, that character changes as a result of the story’s progression. This is a key trait among protagonists. If there isn’t something challenging them, your story will come off as boring to the reader.

It is important to note that, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, characters are people that have flaws and strengths. This makes them just like your average person. The point is, your main character should be relatable and your reader should be able to identify with them. If there is nothing to relate to, there is a big problem with your story. So, make them react to the story’s challenges appropriately. Only you will know how to do that, since you’re the character’s creator, so it is up to you to figure out how to do that best.

These are just a few tips, but I hope this helps.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017