author's advice

Adverbs aren’t evil; said isn’t dead
Please stop hitting the wall with your head

Active is grand but not always the best
Sometimes it’s passive that passes the test

Some write with style, others write plain
Let’s all agree that writing’s a pain

The ‘rules’ can be broken, twisted, or bent
All that matters is that you are content

Make your own story and write your own way
This has been a writer’s PSA

The 7 Elements of a SCENE

There are few things as soul-crushing in the writing process (at least to me) than getting a bunch of characters in a room with the intention of something happening, then the characters proceed to stand around and stare at each other.  

Or worse, look at you like this. 

My characters didn’t know why they were there. I didn’t know why they were there either. I had no clue what they were supposed to be doing, so I’d start throwing random instructions at them: “Fight, characters! You guys should fight now! Maybe fighting will make this event have a purpose!” Which inevitably resulted in characters going through the motions of battle for no apparent reason, like they had all lost their minds.

What was the problem? I didn’t know how to write a scene. I didn’t know what a scene was. I had a vague definition that it was something about changing scenery, or just “something happening”.

It’s not. And once I learned what a scene was, my characters got to stop pummeling each other, while wishing they could pummel me. 

So what is a scene? 

The definition of a scene is kind of like the definition of a story. Story is change, a massive change in the life of your main character. A scene is change too, but much smaller, and part of that huge story change. You couldn’t have the BIG change without these tiny changes. Thus, a scene is not switching scenery. It’s not flipping to a new Character’s POV. It’s one segment of change, which triggers the next change, which triggers the next, which gradually build into sequences, which build into Acts, which build into story. 

So what goes into a scene? How does it work?

1. Alternating Charges

If a scene opens positive, it will turn negative by the end. If it opens negative, it will end positive. Simple. 

2. Character Goals

Everybody in a scene wants something. If they don’t want anything, they shouldn’t be in the scene. And these characters, with their often opposing goals, are going to employ different tactics on each other to get what they want. Which creates …

3. Escalating Conflict

Conflict is created when one character wants one thing and another wants something else, right? So the characters in the scene are each pushing for something different, each new tactic increasing in determination. And what are these actions called?  

4. Beats

The beats of a scene are exchanges of action and reaction. One character does something, another character reacts. All exchanges (beats) are pushing the scene onward, building tension and conflict, until finally …

5. Turns & Revelations

The scene turns. The positive has changed to negative. Something has been discovered. The story has spun in a new direction.

6. Connection to Story Objective

Every scene must be connected to the BIG goal of the story, the main character is taking small actions to reach that big goal. If it isn’t obviously connected to this big plot, it won’t make sense. Your reader won’t know why the heck they’re reading the scene. Which brings us to … 

7. Logic & Necessity  

Every scene must be necessary. It must be able to be linked with the previous scene. “Because that happened in the previous scene, THIS must happen in this scene.”

So! To see how that all works, let’s break down a scene from Tangled. (Because I used it in the last post to map out how a premise works, and my little writer heart can’t resist symmetry.)

Which scene? The one right after this happens: 

Opening Charge: Positive. She’s realized everything. 

Rapunzel’s Goal: Rise up against her mother – finally. 

Gothel’s Goal: Regain control.

Escalating Conflict: They’re fighting over who controls Rapunzel, and this battle causes them to go from “mother and daughter” to “enemies”. The conflict builds nicely in this scene, causing the story turn.

Connection to Story Objective: Throughout the movie, the big thing Rapunzel wants is freedom, she wants her life to begin, she wants to have a new dream. This is the moment she figures out how to do that; it’s not escaping the tower, it’s escaping Gothel’s control over her.

So! Here’s the scene.

Beat 1

“Rapunzel? Rapunzel, what’s going on up there?”

Ignores her. Still processing the tremendous implications of this revelation. 

Beat 2

“Are you alright?" 

"I’m the lost princess.” (Dumbfounded. Almost whispering it to herself.)


Beat 3

“Oh, please speak up Rapunzel! You know how I hate the mumbling.” (Bullying.)

“I am the lost princess! Aren’t I?” (Fighting back. She will not be bullied anymore.)

Beat 4

Gothel stares, stunned. She’s rendered temporarily speechless, because her secret’s been revealed finally, and her victim is actually fighting against her.


“Did I mumble, Mother? Or should I even call you that?” (Accusing. Drawing herself up taller. Looking down on Gothel and glaring. She’s seeing her clearly for the first time in her life.)

Beat 5

After a pause, thinking up a tactic. “Oh, Rapunzel, do you even hear yourself? How could you ask such a ridiculous question?” (Laughs. Ridicules. Attempts to make her feel childish, dumb, worthy of being mocked. Tactics which have always worked. She even begins to hug her.)


Rapunzel pushes her. “It was you! It was all you!” (Still accusing and angry, but pain is beginning to show. It’s almost like she’s giving her a chance to explain herself.)


Beat 6

“Everything I did was to protect you.” (And Gothel doesn’t say anything redeeming. She’s holier than thou, regal, bestowing kindness on an ungrateful, stupid child. Trying to control through guilt.)

Rapunzel rams her out of the way. 

Beat 7

“Rapunzel!” (Shouting. Now trying anger.)

“I’ve spent my entire life hiding from people who would use me for my power …” (Leaves her.)

Beat 8

"Rapunzel!” (Still trying the anger angle.)

“But I should have been hiding from you.” (Throwing the truth at her.)

Beat 9

“Where will you go? He won’t be there for you.” (She’s tried everything else. It’s time to attack her heart.)

“What did you do to him?” (Fear)

Beat 10

“That criminal is to be hanged for his crimes.” (She’s keeping up the disapproving mother act, but striking her right where it will hurt her most.)

“No.” (She’s stopped. Shrinking in on herself. Staring, horrified. And Gothel thinks she’s won.)

Beat 11

“Now, now.  It’s alright. Listen to me. All of this is as it should be.” She goes to pat Rapunzel’s head, a gesture symbolic of her superiority, her physical, mental, and emotional control over her victim.


Rapunzel grabs Gothel’s wrist. “No! You were wrong about the world. And you were wrong about me! And I will never let you use my hair again!" 

Beat 12

Gothel wrenches free, stumbling backwards in shock and anger, breaking the mirror in the process. 

Rapunzel walks away. She’s escaped Gothel emotionally now.

Beat 13

"You want me to be the bad guy? Fine. Now I’m the bad guy.” (Well, now emotional control is over. It’s time to start stabbing Rapunzel’s boyfriend.)

This action has no reaction, interestingly. It leaves us hanging, a cliffhanger created with only beats. 

Closing Charge: Negative. She’s now a full-fledged villain, the motherly persona shed, and she’s determined to get what she wants whatever the cost. 

Turn: It changed from positive to negative,  and now we’ve got a Flynn-stabbing witch to deal with.  

Revelation: She’s always been evil. She has always been the bad guy. The motherly act was just that, an act. 

Logic & Necessity: This scene fits with the previous scene, and the one that follows.     

Though I’ve seen these concepts in many books, the place I first learned about it (and the best resource for scene design in my opinion) is the book Story by Robert McKee. It’s helped me countless times, is one of my favorite books on storytelling, and I highly recommend it if you write anything.

I realize that these definitions were a little vague, so I’ll be explaining things more thoroughly in subsequent posts. 

anonymous asked:

Dear Duke, I have noticed something about my writing: I do not know how to conduct a dialogue. I do not know how to add an emotional "burden" to the discussion. It does not sound believable what I write. To me, it seems more like a lecture than a simple conversation. I just wanted to write engaging more with the emotional side of my characters than with the intellectual. How can I do it?

Hi! You’re in the right place because dialogue is actually my favorite thing to write and any book of mine you pick up will probably be like at least 40% people talking. Idk if this is because I did so much theatre or because I just can’t shut up, but it’s high time I did a real post about it, so:

Advice for Aspiring Authors: On Dialogue

  1. You need it so don’t resist it. Books that are just huge chunks of prose are exhausting, and if you never use dialogue you’re either (1) summarizing or (2) writing a really boring book, and either way the the result is the same. Your reader is going to be bored. Choosing the right scenic mode is important and sooner or later people are going to have to speak in the moment. 
  2. Don’t stress about speaker tags. Putting this at the top because a lot of new writers seem to get hung up on it. But I’ve already addressed this, so read this post here. Pro-tip? If you’re writing a conversation between two people or even three, you often don’t need speaker tags at all. I recently wrote a conversation that takes place over the phone which consists of about 25 lines exchanged and didn’t use a single speaker tag because it was, in all instances, obvious who was doing the talking. Later in the same MS I have a really chaotic hospital scene where like twelve people are yelling at the same time and interrupting each other and there are no speaker tags because idgaf if anybody knows who’s saying what. It should feel like chaos. (If you want a really great example of this, pick up a copy of William Faulkner’s Sanctuary and read the funeral scene.) Readers are smart. They’ll figure it out.
  3. Different people speak in different ways. Who a character is will often determine how they speak. For instance, Theodore von Wammelspout, Crown Prince of Prosenstatz, is probably going to have a very different dialect than Paw Paw O’Halloran, Louisiana shrimp fisherman. (If you want a better example of what I’m talking about, watch the movie Kingsman and pay attention to how and when Eggsy switches dialects, or read the prologue to The Taming of the Shrew and pay attention to the immediate tonal shift in Christopher Sly’s dialogue when he wakes up from a drunken stupor thinking he’s a lord.) Think about a character’s origins and upbringing and backstory when deciding how they talk.
  4. But stay away from writing dialect unless you really know what you’re doing. Don’t try to phonetically write a character’s accent or dialect unless you’re a linguist, because a lot of dropped consonants and deliberate misspellings can be really difficult to read, come out like you’re trying too hard, or even end up looking vaguely racist. If a character has an accent, find a way to tell us they have an accent and then spell all their dialogue correctly. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule–i.e, if a phonic misunderstanding is crucial to the story. But basically, unless you’re writing Trainspotting, don’t do this. What’s much better and much more effective is to describe how a character says something or what their voice sounds like. What’s the texture? The color? The temperature? A warm, rough, slow voice belongs to a different character than a cold, high, slick voice does. Or maybe the same character can switch from one to the other. Give your character’s voice the same attention you would give their body or their habits or anything else.
  5. It’s a character speaking, not the narrator. Each character should have their own voice, in the same way that each story will have a slightly different narrator, even if it’s a neutral third person narrator. Writing is all about voice and style, and part of the challenge is that you as the writer have to be a mockingbird and be able to speak in as many different voices as you have characters. It will take practice. It will require a lot of questions asked, such as “Who never says a bad word? Who swears like a sailor? Who talks in a constant, uninterrupted stream and who hardly says a word?” For an exercise, write out a plain uninteresting sentence like, “He was on his way home from the store when he got a flat tire,” the way the narrator would say it, and then rewrite it in every character’s voice. Because one character might say it just like that–”I was on my way home from the store and I got a flat tire”–and another might say, “You’re not going to fucking believe this. Okay, so I’m on my way home from the store, because we’re out of beer again, because Steve was supposed to go get more and he didn’t, the dickhead–and what happens? Well, obviously, because this worthless excuse of a city can’t be bothered to keep the roads clear, I drive right through a patch of broken glass and BANG! Blow a tire. Swear to God, I thought it was a gunshot, I nearly ran my car into a telephone pole.” If all your characters sound alike or sound like the narrator or (worse) sound like you, it’s time to stop and reevaluate. 
  6. Characters don’t speak for you. Look, unless you’re writing a really boring story it’s going to have a bunch of people in it with a bunch of different ideas and some of them should believe things that you don’t agree with or speak in a way you find objectionable. Characters are sometimes going to have to say things you find morally deplorable and they have to say them with conviction. I recently wrote a scene where my FMC’s boyfriend and her dad argue about what they’re going to do about her, like she’s not a grown-ass woman who can take care of herself. And they both say things that are utterly atrocious and that if I heard a man say in real life, I would probably punch him in the face. But that’s important. In fiction, you gotta tell it all and tell it like it is. Fiction isn’t true but it should be honest. Not every character can agree with you or with each other. (This is a big part of the reason that authorial intent is a flawed concept. An author who depicts something isn’t necessarily condoning or endorsing it.) You should be writing about difficult shit and writing about it from every vantage point and using dialogue to do that. You don’t need to agree with angelic equality crusader Nancy and homophobic Uncle Jeff equally but they need to be equally convincing. Write disagreements. Write arguments. Let characters fight and get pissed and tell each other to fuck off. It’s honest, and it’s interesting. Conflict is good.
  7. Incomplete sentences are your best friend. So are run-ons. That scene I mentioned that was 25 lines with no speaker tags? There’s also not a complete sentence in that whole exchange. We rarely speak in full correct sentences, even if we know perfectly well that what we’re saying isn’t grammatically perfect. So something like this: 
            “Seen my keys?”
            “In the basket.”
    Totally acceptable. People are lazy. They talk in fragments. Dialogue doesn’t have to be correct, because it often isn’t. Stick commas and dashes wherever the fuck you want to mimic the pattern of speech. Worry about what’s natural, not what’s correct. Sometimes what goes unsaid is just as interesting as what does get said. For instance, if Joe turns to Carol and starts to say, “Have you ever thought about–” and then never finishes the sentence, that’s going to keep a reader wondering. Has she ever thought about what? In much the same way, you can have a character ramble for an entire paragraph in an epic run-on sentence if that’s the way they talk, or if they’re distressed or upset and trying to get the words out. The last book I finished has a chapter at the end where one character literally talks without interruption for nine pages. And as insane as that sounds it’s actually totally necessary because she’s telling a story that’s important for the readers and the other characters to hear but it’s a hundred times better to hear it in her own voice, grammatical correctness be damned.
  8. Don’t try too hard to be eloquent. How many people do you know in real life who spout off perfectly articulate declarations of their feelings? Probably none. They ramble and stall and repeat themselves. Real-life conversations are not movie conversations. They’re not smooth. They’re not perfectly timed. A character just saying “Fuck me” because they have no idea what else to say is perfectly plausible (and also a great opportunity for comedy). Here’s an exercise if you’re having trouble: Make two columns on a page, and on one side write out what this character is trying to say (i.e, “I love you.” “I’ve been trying to tell you for years.” “But I’m afraid you don’t want me to.”) and on the other write out what they actually say (i.e., “I really hope you’ll stay.” “You know you’re always welcome to stay.” “I don’t want you to feel like you have to stay. Just that you can. If you want to.”) Sometimes the juxtaposition between what we’re trying to say and what actually comes out is so important. So don’t worry about perfect articulation or doing justice to the “emotional burden.” Worry about the intent and the impact and how those two things align–or don’t.
  9. Read it out loud. This is one of the most important things teachers in playwriting workshops will tell you to do. Read it out loud. If it feels awkward or unnatural, it probably is. Thus also to dialogue in prose fiction. Even better option? Get a couple of friends to read it for you. This will work wonders for helping you figure out what feels awkward.
  10. HAVE FUN WITH IT. When I say dialogue is far and away my favorite thing to write, I’m not kidding at all. You can learn so much about a character or how two characters interact by how they talk to each other. Do they tease, do they nag, do they finish each other’s sentences? Do they use slang, do they slur, do they talk about celebrities they’ve never met as if they’ve known them for years and they’re the best of friends? Let their personalities shine through, because when characters speak is the only time they’re not getting filtered through a narrator, even if that narrator is themselves. Dialogue provides some of the most poignant moments of characterization you’ll ever get. So play with it. Try the same line fifty different ways until it feels right. Let your characters speak for themselves.

Good luck! Go forth and write great dialogue and have a blast doing it.

The 1 Thing Your Scenes MUST HAVE

Sully is a good representation of how I want people to react when enthralled by a story I’ve written:

But more often than not, I get a reaction more like this:

Or at least, I did. I couldn’t understand why my writing produced these less-than-stellar responses. I had meticulously worded every sentence. I’d made sure there were exciting parts. I had parceled out backstory, setting, and exposition so the reader could understand what the heck was going on. So why did eyes glaze over while reading my book? Why did MY eyes glaze over while reading my own work? 

The problem, I finally found out, was that my scenes didn’t turn. 

I was cramming all that exposition in right out of the gate, so the reader knew absolutely everything … which meant there wasn’t anything to find out. The scenes were just tiny chronicles where the main character set out to do something and accomplished it with flying colors. Nothing ever happened that surprised him. And consequently, nothing ever happened to surprise the reader.  

I wasn’t withholding information, and revealing it methodically. 

I wasn’t letting the story spin in new directions. It was always chugging along the straightforward track where I’d dropped my reader.

I wasn’t letting my scenes TURN.

To illustrate what I mean, here’s an example of a great scene with a great turn from a wonderful movie: Beauty and the Beast

*Opening music that makes me want to cry from how beautiful it is*

Beat 1:

“Once upon a time, in a faraway land a young prince lived in a shining castle…” (Action: Apparently the world takes action to make sure this prince lives a cushy existence.)

“Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was spoiled, selfish, and unkind.” (Reaction: And he acts like a brat anyway.)

Beat 2:

“But then, one winter’s night, and old beggar woman came to the castle and offered a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold.” (Action)

“Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift, and turned the old woman away.” (Reaction)

Beat 3:

“But she warned him, not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within.” (Action)

“And when he dismissed her again …” (Reaction)

Beat 4:

“The old woman’s ugliness melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress.” (Action)

“The prince tried to apologize …” (Reaction) 


Beat 5:

“But it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart. And as punishment, she transformed him into a hideous beast and placed a powerful spell on the castle, and all who lived there.” (Action)

“Ashamed of his monstrous form, the beast concealed himself inside his castle, with a magic mirror as his only window to the outside world.” (Reaction)

Beat 6:

“The rose she had offered was truly an enchanted rose, that would bloom until his 21st year. If he could learn to love another, and earn their love in return, by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time.” (Action)

“As the years passed, he fell into despair, and lost all hope.”  (Reaction)

“For who could ever learn to love a beast?”

Turn: The 6th beat is the turn. The story has spun in a new direction, the direction the WHOLE STORY will motor towards. 

Revelation: There’s the big one of the scene turn, but I love how every action and reaction in this prologue feels like a revelation. Each one feels like it could be a scene on it’s own, but it’s told in a just few words, with beautiful imagery. There’s no fluff in this, nothing unnecessary, everything is perfectly needed. (Sorry, I just really love this opening. I can remember sitting in my little wicker rocking chair when I was four watching this in awe. This movie is one of the reasons I’m story obsessed.)

NOW let’s remove all curiosity and surprise from this scene. 

We’ll take away the atmosphere of “all is not as it seems”, the “seeking and learning significant information” feeling, the sense that we’re climbing to something significant. Instead of withholding and revealing snippets of information, after gradual beat-by-beat escalation of curiosity, we’ll dump all information right away. We’ll take this beautiful scene, and make it distinctly not a scene by removing all traces of a turn.

So! The purpose of this “section” of story is to communicate necessary information. What info? The guy used to be a terrible prince. Someone cursed him to be a beast. His castle and the people who live there are also cursed. He’s got a rose that will bloom until he’s 21. He’s supposed to fall in love with someone and get that person to love him back.  Or he’s going to be a beast forevermore. So, let’s give it a whirl.

Let’s say it opens up on Lumiere and the Beast. They’re just hanging out in the West Wing, the Beast watching the rose sparkle, Lumiere extinguishing and reigniting his left candle/hand for something to do.

LUMIERE: “So Master, it’s been years since you were turned into a beast and the castle staff was turned into objects.”

BEAST: “Yup.”

L: “I wish you hadn’t have upset that enchantress, and been a bit kinder.”

B: “Me too. Don’t know how.”

L: “Now our only hope to return to our human forms, is if you fall in love and get that person to fall in love with you.”

B: *Noncommittal grunt*

L: “Better happen soon, before that last petal on the magical rose falls. When you turn 21, it’s going to fall. And if you haven’t learned to love by then, well, we’re stuck.”

B: “I’m aware." 

L: "Yup.”

B: “Yup.”

Well, that was extraordinarily awful. 

So what about these scenes is different? (Besides one being a work of art and the other being agony in text form.) 

– One withholds information and reveals it slowly, turning the story at the end. 

– One is just an info dump. 

So how can a turn be accomplished?  There are four types of turns: 

– Surprise

– Amplified Curiosity 

– New Insight

– Spin in New Direction

A SURPRISE turn is the difference between what the character expects and what actually happens, surprising them, surprising the reader/audience that is enthralled by your story. A CURIOSITY turn is when a new mystery is presented to the reader, increasing their drive to find out what happens next. An INSIGHT one is when a scene ends by solving a mystery, answering a question that the audience has been wondering about. And a SPIN is just that, a turn that jolts the story into a new unexpected direction.

And how do they work in a scene? 

The turn happens at the end. It’s the point of the scene. Everything’s leading to it. Think of it as the period punctuation mark on the end of the sentence that is your scene. But really your reader is anticipating that turn throughout the scene.
It’s this anticipation and “gradual illumination” that’s crucial to a story turn. This is the wonderful curious feeling that keeps us turning pages. That sense that “all is not as it seems, and if I keep reading I’ll find out the truth.” which is so intoxicating. And this is accomplished with beats, the exchanges of action and reaction, each acting like a escalation on a roller coaster, each increasing anticipation for the drop. 

Turns and revelation anticipation are rather magical when you think about it. They really are (as Robert McKee says) the substance of story. (Or they’re magical to me. I said I was obsessed. Blame this movie!) 

Now I’m going to go watch Beauty and the Beast again.

Attention, Writers! Electric Literature is hosting an Answer Time with Authors Guild President Roxana Robinson and Executive Director Mary Rasenberger.

Answer Time: Ask Us About the Writing Industry
Monday, November 14
Noon - 1PM EST (9 - 10AM PST)

Ask us here: http://electricliterature.tumblr.com/ask
Answers will be posted live on Electric Lit’s Tumblr: http://electricliterature.tumblr.com/tagged/answertime

Electric Lit has teamed up with the Authors Guild to launch their new Emerging Writer Membership. For the first time, writers who are just starting out in their careers can join the oldest and largest professional writers’ organization in the country. As part of this wonderful new opportunity, we’re answering your questions about the writing industry.

The Authors Guild’s mission is to support working writers and advocate for the rights of writers by supporting free speech, fair contracts, and copyright. Together, Roxana and Mary will answer your questions about the Authors Guild, how to build a writing career, and how to protect your interests as a writer.


In addition to being President of the Authors Guild, Roxana Robinson is the author of nine books: five novels, including Sparta and Cost; three collections of short stories; and the biography Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life.

Mary Rasenberger is the Executive Director of the Authors Guild. Prior to joining the Guild, Mary practiced law for over 25 years, specializing in media and copyright law, and served as senior policy advisor for the U.S. Copyright Office and program manager at the Library of Congress.    

Tips and Ideas for Writing Post-Apocolypse

Writing post-apocalypse/dystopian future can actually open a large range of possibilities and original ideas but there are some things we should try to keep in mind. The problem with this genre is that is a heavily research-based genre, it requires a lot of information so a lot of things can slip up or be forgotten.

Limits of the Body - This is something that seems to be largely forgotten unless in extreme situations. Yes, humans are tough, but they are also weak. We have that balance of nature within us. People can keep going whilst in a lot of pain, but something like a headache could knock them senseless. I knew someone who got shot in the leg and ran three miles because he thought he had been hit by the brick. The second he realised he had actually been shot and was safe to do so, he collapsed in pain. Quickly establish what your characters can and cannot do.

Children - Children are more robust than so many people give them credit for, they wouldn’t make it to adulthood otherwise. Children are emotionally stronger than they are physically but many children have a lot more endurance for their size than adults because they have to keep up with adults. Two good examples are The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

Hygiene - Namely with periods and stuff. It is hard work keeping the body clean, so personal hygiene will be poor but people tend to stop caring at a point when they realise how hard it is to maintain. A lot of people would revert to old fashioned methods of vagina health as well, so people would use reusable cloth or diva cups. The only book I know of that covers this is The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.

Simple Killers - More people died of the Spanish flu than in the First World War (source). It is surprising how often it is “little things” that kill people off. An emotional death does not have to be all that dramatic, no bloody death or major killer. Something as simple as a small cut that festered will kill someone if not treated correctly. An asthma attack, diabetes, things we see as treatable would make quick work of us without medical aid. Also most deaths are really simple and sudden.

World Limitations - What is this obsession with guns and everything happening in the summer and unlimited cans of food? No, let’s be honest, none of these are realistic. Guns will not last, can goods will be snatched up by the shop loads, most natural disasters will happen in spring or autumn. Remember to do the key thing, make your world real and people are more likely to believe it.

Take a Page - Who are most renowned for their post-apocalyptic stories? British pre-1950s authors. Why? Their worlds are real, the possibilities of what could happen in those worlds are real. Some where and still are scarily accurate, they looked at the current and possible state of things, creating a world too similar to our own. Great examples like 1984 by George Orwell, The Death of Grass by John Christopher, The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, Soylent Green and the Mad Max Series.

Writers block?

This is going to sound nuts. But, writers block is a bitch and the only way to get past it is to write. I follow a lot of prompt accounts and I suggest you do it too. If you can’t summon anything to say read these plots and just work out your writing muscles!

Remember to take a deep breath and trust your self. You can write shitty work and edit it later but you can’t edit nothing.

When you feel yourself getting back in the zone begin working on your main project. What I do is find a way to take the prompt and use the characters from my novel and put them in that situation. It allows me to work through the block but still work with my main work.

Or

Just write your main work anyway. I mean that sounds odd too but it seems to work a lot for me. Just think about the situation and just write words even if they’re bad.

Put on your favorite song, hum the hell out of it and put your attention on writing only. Get yourself a drink and put yourself in that place. You know the one.

The place that’s untouchable by reality. The one that only you can reach. Lock yourself there until you’ve overcome this episode of self doubt. Which is really all that writers block is. Your skill is still there. I promise. You just have to overcome the fear. Remember why you started writing in the first place.

Best of luck with your writing and I sincerely hope this helps.

So I just saw someone say you shouldn’t tell an author if there was something in their fic that didn’t make sense to you because that’s the way the author wants and it’s like,

That’s not really how it works.

It’s next to impossible to get a beta. It’s even more impossible to get a beta who is above or at your level and is willing to actually help you rewrite things instead of just saying ‘yeah that looks good! You just missed a comma here!’ So authors aren’t necessarily posting things as-is because that’s how they want it, but because when you read your own story fifteen times you just begin to fail to see the errors. Authors also tend to forget they know things the audience doesn’t and leave out things they should have included, and the same for authors who feel they have to overexplain.

I mean if you’re just writing for funsies and because you have two minutes to rub together, by all means. Say you don’t really want anything remarked on. But if you plan to be a writer or plan on continuing to write in general, any criticism is very rare and ignoring it isn’t going to teach you anything.

I just want one person to fight for me. To make me feel like I’m worth never letting go. I need someone to fight for me so selflessly and passionately; so much so, I can feel it through the universe. I want someone to hold on tight to me, because they know I’m worth it, the way I know I’m worth it.
—  Treka L. House
Five Reasons Why Writers Need Friends Who Write

Regardless of the popular idea that all writers are introverted hermits who spend their lifetime talking only to fictional people, writing can be a very social activity. Here are five reasons why every writer needs friends who write. 

1) Writers Understand Your Strange Problems

Dishes not done? Haven’t slept properly in a week because you’ve been agonizing over a plot problem? Have skipped several meals because you forgot to eat while you were writing? Have eaten entire contents of fridge because you were writing? Your writer friends will be able to understand why you’re losing sleep over fictional people. What’s even better than the fact that they will understand these problems, is that they’ll save the sage advice and hand you a bag of chips for your next keyboard marathon. 

2) Writers Understand Criticism 

Most writers have felt left down by comments from readers, whether that reader was a stranger or a best friend. Writers understand that when you ask someone what they think of something you wrote, and ask for advice on where it can be improved that they don’t really mean “Please tell me it’s perfect and flawless and the best thing you’ve ever read” 

Writers know that when a writer asks for an opinion, they want YOUR opinion. They want to know what you think. The don’t want to hear what you assume they want to hear. They want the truth, in a nice way. They also understand how to point out an issue in your story without making you feel like you wrote the biggest pile of crap on the planet. They might even have suggestions on how to fix it. 

3) Inspiration 

I don’t mean “hey, Jim is writing a book about space aliens invading Earth, I’m going to write a book about that same thing.” I mean, writers who write motivate you to write. There’s nothing more motivating than hearing what great fun your friends are having writing their books. 

4) Writing is Hard 

Writing is hard. Don’t suffer alone. Find others who are suffering and commiserate together. There is unity in hardship. 

In all seriousness, writing is hard. Anything worth doing is hard sometimes. Your writer friends are there to remind you to never give up. Even if they don’t like the genre you write in, most of the time they’ll read what you’ve written because they like you and want to support you. Writer friends also understand the fragility of the writer’s ego. They’ll be there to encourage you when you need it. 

5) Writers Don’t Have To Be Hermits 

Writers don’t have to be introverted hermits that suck at social interaction. Does this describe me? You bet. But it doesn’t have to. I’ve made friends with local writers. I recently attended a birthday party for a local writer friend’s offspring and who did I hang out with? Two mutual writer friends. I got to be social without feeling awkward. I got to talk to friends whom I share interests with. I got to jack my kids up on sugar, then write through the crash. 

Remember, just because you’re alone at your keyboard, it doesn’t have to mean that you are always alone.