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The Mysterious Protagonist

Anonymous asked: “How do I create a main character? I have so many side characters and a decent plot. I like them better with a bit of mystery. I want my main to be interesting enough to not be the plain, boring, ‘chosen one’ stereotype. Help?”

Who ever said your protagonist can’t be mysterious? I’ve read novels where I don’t even get to learn the protagonist’s name or others that I go along thinking I know a lot about this character only for them to flip a switch and show I know nothing about them at all. 

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Where is my 50k atomic blonde sequel feat. Delphine the poet living her best non-spy life, traveling widely and getting rawed by her girlfriend in every city in the world??

Coldflash - “Hung Up on a Hangover” (Rated T)

Barry misses drinking, but he doesn’t miss getting drunk. He misses the taste, the buzz … and he hopes his boyfriend can help him recapture some of that. (642 words)

A/N: Written for an anon request to do a speed writing exercise featuring Coldflash. Seeing as I haven’t written them in a while and I’ve been missing them, this seemed like a good way to jumpstart a few of my other fics. Tell me what you think. :)

Read on AO3.

“So, babe … whatcha doin’?” Len asks, watching in curious amusement as Barry puts several bags from BevMo on the kitchen table and starts removing bottles of craft beers one by one.

“I did a little shopping.” Barry empties one complete bag, tosses its carcass to the floor, and starts in on the next.

“I can see that.” Len counts the bottles as Barry lines them up – a solid dozen so far, and he’s still going. “Are we hosting a Bar Mitvah? Or are you throwing a frat party and you haven’t gotten around to telling me yet? Because I’m up for either one.” Len picks up an amber bottle of a local brew he’s never heard of and contemplates the picture of a church on the label. “They’re both good ways to score some quick cash.”

Barry shakes his head, but he lets Len’s comment lie. Leave it to Len to view a thirteen-year-old boy’s birthday party as a paycheck. “I miss … drinking,” Barry admits sheepishly.

“Well, then, you’re gonna have to ring Dr. Snow and have her mix you up one of those super potent cocktails because, I hate to break it to you, none of these are gonna have any effect …” Len eyes the bottles on the table, their numbers growing before his eyes “… even if you did buy out the whole store.”

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Writing Series #8: How do you stay invested?

What I hear most often from writers switching from short fiction to novels is: how do you stay invested for the long haul? How do you care about the same story for the time it takes to finish an entire book?

As someone who began with novel writing and never really mastered the art of the short story, I’ve always had the opposite question (how do you keep it to a minimum? how do you condense your ideas into just a few pages). But this doesn’t mean I’ve never had that age old book commitment problem. Even the best stories can drift away from us, and even the most dedicated writers will experience the occasional hiccup in their writing schedule. Too much time away–whether it be a busy schedule, a new child, an illness, or just general lack of inspiration–it can make coming back to the book after a writing drought seem impossible. You sit down in front of your story, see these words so old you hardly remember writing them in the first place, and think, how can I possibly keep going? 

Coming back to an old story can feel a lot like a high school reunion: bumping into people you once knew so well but who have now become strangers, and now you hardly know to strike up a conversation. But just like a reunion, you have two choices: runaway and give up on the relationship for good, or force the smalltalk until you break into something real. If you’re lucky, by the end of the night, you can be laughing and having a great time, saying it’s like things “never changed at all” before you’re through. A book is the same way. 

Just as we bring up “the good ‘ol times” in conversations, it’s important to revisit what made you write the book in the first place. Some things that have helped me have included: 

  • Taking notes of my character’s planned emotional and physical arcs over the course of the book. This way if I lose investment or take too much time away and begin to lose that connection to their emotional state, I can return to my notes and see where I wanted them to be and start to understand their state of mind again and their purpose in my story. 
  • Take notes of your planned plot or, if you’re not a structured planner, some things you hope to happen in the story or directions you might like it to go. This will be your road map later if you get lost along the way. 
  • Make a playlist (or other art form, if you’re a painter, poet, etc.) that reminds you of your story. Listening to these songs later can help you to revisit the mindset you were in while writing and spark that creativity. 
  • Go back and reread some of your older, already written chapters. This can help you to remember what the tone of the story was and how the dialogue was sounding. If you don’t and take a long break in the story, there’s a large chance that your story will end up disjointed with two separate narrative styles and tones that will be jarring for the readers (and yourself as you read it back later). This can also trigger the memory of how it felt to write this story last time and to hopefully help you to continue writing it again. 
  • Practice writing a scene with your character(s) that won’t make it into the book. Jumping right back into the novel can seem daunting at times, so it may help to open a new document and write a random event just for practice on regaining and writing your character. Other useful exercises might include an interview, biography, or sample social media account for your character if applicable. 
  • Just keep writing. Sometimes you have to write something terrible to break through to something good. But don’t worry. The delete button exists for a reason, and the editing process will be a lifesaver down the line. 

To all the writers out there: how do you keep yourself focused and interested during the course of writing a novel? Do you have any tips for maintaining writing momentum?

Feel free to add to this post or submit your own advice to share with your fellow writers at ancwritingresources.tumblr.com

Don’t Doubt Your Writing

Anonymous asked: “Any advice for the crippling self-doubt with writing? I do short stories and I never think they’re good enough.”

Get ready for probably one of the worst pep-talks ever written. The first time I heard someone say (and not to me actually), “No one asked you to be a writer,” was probably the first time I realized I didn’t actually have to write. 

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Draco Malfoy and the Erratic Blender

After the incident with the toaster Draco was still wary of unknown kitchen appliances; wariness, however, hadn’t turned him away from learning and he had by now mastered most of the contraptions in their kitchen.

For one, he could now make the most perfect toasted bread. He also knew how to use the stove (easy enough as long as he thought about it in the line of: fire, cauldron, ingredient). He even perfected the use of the microwave. Well almost. He had not yet perfected his reaction to the obnoxiously loud ping!  that made him jump every single bloody time his back was turned. Ok, it sometimes made him spill his tea on his shirt too, but that wasn’t the point.

Today, unfortunately, was the day Draco Malfoy decided to use the blender. Harry never used it, because ‘only babies need their food in liquid form Malfoy’, but Draco watched Hermione use it once and it didn’t look too complicated, besides, the smoothie she had made with it was surprisingly tasty.

Draco prepared the fruit first; a banana, blueberries, strawberries… hmm that should do, right? He cut the fruit to manageable pieces, put it in the blender bowl, added some water, mounted the bowl onto the blender, plugged it in and–

Where was the lid?

Did one even need the lid? That surely wasn’t an essential part of the blender, right? Even cauldrons didn’t have lids and it’s not like smoothies exploded, he reasoned.

Draco apprehensively lifted his finger towards the ‘ON’ button. Here goes, he though when pressing firmly on it. A sudden roar came from the blender, then, before he could even react, he saw the contents surge upwards, upwards and out. Oh, shit. He saw a piece of banana flying towards his face when his eyes closed instinctively and he felt the sticky gooey pieces of fruit hit his face, his chest, his hair.

The lid, apparently, was a crucial part of the blender.

Draco’s eyes slowly opened, his nostrils flared and without even performing a cleaning charm on himself, he strode out of the kitchen and went to collect their owl sleeping quietly in his cage. Bloody fucking Potter and his bloody fucking kitchen shit, he will send him the worst fucking Howler he had ever received in his entire life and he will make damn sure he gets it right in the middle of the Auror offices.


Harry glanced at Bimbo, the kind but stupid looking owl that he and Draco had saved (from a pigeon attack) about a year ago. He was carrying an ominous red envelope that was already smoking at the edges. Uh-oh, Harry though. What had he done now? He swiftly took the envelope from Bimbo’s beak, rushed out of his cubicle and started sprinting towards the toilet. The whole department will not be privy to his embarrassment again.

Half way down the hall, the envelope exploded and the voice of an enraged and - what was even worse – extremely offended Draco Malfoy filled the Auror Department. ‘’YOU FUCKING WANKER! MY FACE IS COVERED IN STICKY GOO! IT’S IN MY FUCKING HAIR, POTTER. IN MY GORGEOUS FUCKING HAIR!’’ The voice roared and echoed around the level two. ‘’AND IT’S ALREADY BEGINNING TO DRY. IT’S CAKED TO MY FACE POTTER AND NEITHER YOU NOR YOUR SPITTING, EJACULATING TOY WILL EVER BE FORGIVEN.’’

Harry stood in the middle of the hallway, eyes wide, cheeks flaming, with the whole department’s worth of eyes staring at him. ‘’It’s not –‘’ he mumbled. ‘’It’s not what you think it is,’’ he whispered to no use as the whole department was consumed by mounting laughter.


Draco and the Offending Toaster is here

One day you are going to find someone who loves you more than you love life itself. And this person will make you realize why it never worked out with anyone else. 

One day, you will see all the cities you fell in love with through photographs and meet people who resemble the characters in your favorite novels. 

One day, your dreams will come true.

Writing Strong Emotions

@chemistreat asked: “How can one control and write the pure emotion of learning you aren’t who you think you are- in ethnicity, religion, race or otherwise? Something that makes a character rethink all of their traditions?”

When it comes to writing these moments of epiphany or emotional overload, it might feel like your writing in these scenes just can’t get to that level of emotion you hope to achieve. With some of these moments, the emotion might start to feel cheesy or just not enough, or it might be such a mess of different emotions, like anger, shock, disappointment, and betrayal that you don’t really know how to show it all. 

In either case, the big emotions are not easy, however there are a few techniques you can use to become better at putting them into words. 

1. Describe the setting after… This is one exercise that helps you write with emotion in a way that goes beyond what the protagonist may be able to directly express. Examples of this might include, describe a living room after an argument. Or describe a bride’s bedroom the morning before her wedding. These exercises force you to think of how emotion can shape the world of your novel beyond just the protagonist’s experiences. 

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You are Not Your Characters

Anonymous asked: “I find myself creating main characters that are similar to each other. The problem is I put them in a situation and write about how they deal with it based on how I would react, because I don’t really know another way. Do you have any tips on diversifying my characters?”

I think writers have a lot more in common with actors than you might think. Really, writers are more like their shy, introverted, and awkward cousin - I say that affectionately of course, I’m a writer, not an actress. 

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These opening and closing scenes are two of the most brilliantly written scenes in Gone Girl, at least to me. I really like the idea of these scenes. I think the main idea of starting and ending the film with these scenes is to show us how different Amy Dunne is, how extreme her change is, or I should say; how her husband and all the things happening throughout the whole movie can change her tremendously. We can see in the opening scene, just like how Gillian Flynn describes it, that Amy is giving a look of alarm. That probably means that Amy is under her husband’s control, that Amy might be frightened of her husband because her husband uses her for some inappropriate purposes which makes Amy sees her husband as some kind of threat.

Then look at the closing scene where Amy gives a very different facial expression and movement compared with what she gives in the opening scene. She gives her husband a haunting smile, which means that she has changed into a kind of psychotic woman who is now no longer under her husband’s control, in fact she is the one who’s controlling. She might be a threat for her husband now, and that happens because of her husband himself, because of what he did and has done to his wife, because he didn’t treat his wife well. In other words, he has created himself a villainous wife.

For the Record - DasWarSchonKaputt - Yuri!!! on Ice (Anime) [Archive of Our Own]
An Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works
By Organization for Transformative Works

Fandom: Yuri!!! On ICE
Pairing: Katsuki Yuuri/Victor Nikiforov
Word Count: 10k

by Viktor Nikiforov

 What it takes to craft an Olympic Champion, and what it takes to be one.

Or: Viktor Nikiforov, sports journalist and retired figure skater, interviews Olympic Champion Yuuri Katsuki for an exclusive piece.

first and foremost… yixing’s nose is the cultivation of years of genetics that started with a single speck of stardust… a true work of art that god crafted and sculpted and slaved over until it was perfect… kissed by angels and molded by destiny to steal my heart and senses his nose is my salvation and damnation all wrapped into one feature

Describing Character Appearances

Anonymous asked: “Do you have any tips on how to describe characters effectively? I always find myself dumping a paragraph on their appearance the moment they appear which often really halts the action.”

Even in great manuscripts, character descriptions can come off pretty clunky. Some writers will get pretty creative to minimize that aspect of it, but it’s usually there to some degree no matter what. Though character descriptions might bog down the writing to some extent, I know they’re necessary. As a reader, I would feel that something is missing if a character wasn’t adequately described. With that said, descriptions do not have to be long, just long enough to help the reader picture him or her. 

There are a few ways strategies to describing characters that can help avoid that long description dump at the first sight of a new character:

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Gold Dust Woman

As requested by a few of you, here’s a “jealous kiss” ficlet - Modern AU -Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album is an essential soundtrack to the end of this fic… (1980 words, M rated)

He has to set the pint glass back down on the bar before he crushes it in his grip, each breath he takes becoming measured in an effort to conjure an unaffected facade. It’s too slow tonight, amplifying every interaction, her laugh too loud from her end of the bar. Beyond frustrated with himself, he grabs a dishtowel and wipes at the polished wood before him in hopes that he can rub away this idiotic infatuation with the one woman he can never have. Emma Swan, the lithe blonde with the sharp tongue and impenetrable force field with whom he shares his Wednesday and Thursday night shifts. 

He’s half in love with her. Well, maybe more than half. 

The tiny hairs along the back of his neck rise and he knows she’s approaching, his own body defying his minutes-old mental edict to relax. 

“Hey, can I steal your Goldschläger? I’m all out.” 

Not trusting himself to look at her at the moment, he nods and continues to wipe at the nonexistent water rings on the wood with his rag. 

“What’s mine is yours love, you know that.” 

Cringing at the seriousness tinging the ends of his attempted flirtation, he closes his eyes in wait for her inevitable retort. 

“Everything okay with you?” 

He forces himself to look over his shoulder, too curious to see if her expression matches what sounds like honest concern in her voice. She’s regarding him with an unexpected softness and he forces a smile to curve his lips. 

“Aye, just tired, Swan,” he lies, hoping she won’t press him any further.

Her eyes narrow and then shift to his hand still moving the rag absently over the bar. 

“Right…well, I’ll just…” 

He watches as she slides behind him to grab the gold flecked cinnamon liqueur on the shelf, her short tank top lifting to reveal a strip of vanilla cream colored skin he longs to know the taste of on his tongue. The confines of his jeans feel suddenly too tight at that errant thought of his many fantasies and he snaps his head back forward, mentally shaking himself at his complete lack of control. 

“Hey Killian, you keep rubbing at that same spot, you’re gonna take the polish off.” 

Heat burns the tips of his ears at being caught, but he still manages to conjure up a salacious comeback. 

“Swan, sometimes it takes a lot of rubbing to really…get into it.”

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Writing Series #7: Am I Copying?

We all know that plagiarism is wrong. If you’ve written at all, you’ll have it engrained in your head that copying is theft and stealing creative works is one of the worst things you could do in the writing world (no matter how much we wish we could have written that one book, you know, the really really good one). But what about accidental copying?

Every writer I’ve ever met has at some point said to me, “I really like this story, but I think it’s already been done” or “I just finished my book and found out there was one published last year that’s the exact same thing” or “I started reading this book, and I think I accidentally stole its plot.” I know I’ve been there, staring at my favorite books and wondering if I was just a bit too influenced by them, if our plots are a bit too similar, if our writing styles mesh too well. 

But then we have the well-repeated Mark Twain quote: “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” And this just might be the most important quote a writer–or any artist–can ever see. 

Plagiarism is stealing fully formed concepts (or words, or sentences, or pages). Plagiarism is taking the full design. Plagiarism is writing a story about an orphan boy in glasses with a lightning bolt on his head who goes to a wizarding school and defeats the evil wizard who killed his parents with the aid of his redheaded best friend. Plagiarism is not writing a story about a wizard. It’s not even writing about a wizaring school. Harry Potter doesn’t own wizarding schools anymore than it owns orphans. Yes, it has been done before. Yes, it can be done again. 

General concepts are not owned. Magic, teenagers with terminal illness, vampires, werewolves, “quirky love stories”–all these things can be done again. Just make sure there’s a reason for it, make sure that your version is different than the last one, that you’ve “turned the kaleidoscope” so to speak, and are giving to the world a story that only you could write: a brand new take on what’s been done again and again and again. 

And this is a question we should  be asking ourselves no matter what: is what I’m writing important? Is it a story that needs to be told, and one that only I can tell? It doesn’t have to be earth shattering, doesn’t have to be an instant classic. Important can just mean “it will make the right people smile at the right time” or it can mean giving representation to a lifestyle that isn’t often seen. It can mean different things to different people, but it should mean something to you. When you’re off trying to sell this story, agents are going to ask just that: why are you the author to make this story a reality? Why could you and only you write this story? 

But by all means, be inspired by what you read and watch. Media is meant to be absorbed and used, to be a springboard into new media. 

To all the writers out there: how do you determine the uniqueness of your story? How are you influenced by the stories you read and how do the play into what you write? 

Feel free to add to this post or submit your own advice to share with your fellow writers at ancwritingresources.tumblr.com

On Describing Characters

Anonymous asked: “I’ve been writing in first person for my novel, but I’ve found I’m not sure how to describe the main character’s appearance.”

First person in particular can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to describing appearances. I think all the way around the trick of describing the way they look while looking into a mirror is a little tired and often hard to make it feel believable. The method I find most helpful is describing by comparison. 

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