write advice

How Many Main Characters?

Anonymous asked: “How many main characters can I have in a story?”

The answer is that you can really have as many as you want. One will probably be more rightly the main character than the others just for amount of time on the page and all of that. Essentially, the plot will revolve around one central conflict that the main character at some point must confront. I don’t see why there only has to be one main character. 

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anonymous asked:

Is it realistic to have a bladed weapon that operates sort of like a double ended light saber? As in you press a button or lever in the center of the hilt and blades come out of either end? Furthermore, could you see a bladed weapon fight club as something that may exist (it doesn't have to be legal and definitely probably wouldn't be)

On the first part? Not really.

You’ll see collapsing knives that are designed for push button deployment, out the front of the grip. But, for a full sword? No, or at least not with modern technology. Wear and abuse from normal use would quickly wreck the mechanical components. To say nothing of the blood and gore getting forced into the mechanism when you collapsed it after use.

So, again, limited to modern technology, it would be theoretically possible, but they’d have an incredibly short lifespan (maybe only single use), and be extremely annoying to clean and care for (if not outright impossible).

If you’re talking about some kind of hypothetical future tech, then, it will probably be an option some day. Self cleaning tolerances, and a mechanical stability that can’t be achieved with modern materials may make this viable. Though, at that point, this would probably be more of a novelty than a practical combat tool.

Double bladed weapons do exist. Well, I should say, double bladed knives exist, I have one somewhere. It’s awkward, difficult to hold, and I’ve still got a scar on my index finger from the first time I picked it up. These are a novelty. You buy one because you think it looks cool, not because you intend to use it.

There are a few examples of weapons that are designed to be double ended, mostly polearms, which would sometimes include functional spikes on the reverse end. It’s also not unheard of for a sword to have a sharpened, spiked pommel. That said, mounting an entire reverse blade onto a sword is something you’d usually only seriously consider if you’re either a Sith or Klingon.

On the second part, about fight clubs, “No, never; except they did.”

The basic idea of a fight club where people who don’t know what they’re doing wander in and start beating the ever living snot out of one another? Yeah, that can happen. I’ve actually been out on a farm in the middle of the night, dueling friends with plastic bokken because it seemed like fun at the time. It’s not exactly what you’ve got in mind, but that’s possible.

Thing is, there’s a huge difference between dueling with a high impact plastic katana, where screwing up means you’ve got new bruise on your knuckles, and screwing around with a live blade, where a mistake means critical injuries and death.

Organized, underground dueling also has some real world history. The only examples I’ve run across came out of 19th century military academies. I assume the reasoning is roughly the same as why I was on that Indiana farmyard in the middle of the night, it seemed like fun at the time.

Of course, in the case of military academies, we’re talking about students who’d actually been trained to use their blades, so it’s not exactly a fight club. Still stupid and dangerous, but they (kind of) knew what they were doing.

So, my first impulse on this subject is wrong. I’d say, “no one can possibly be that stupid,” except of course, I have been exactly that stupid. I also knew a couple idiots that decided to fight each other with a fire axe and cheap katana in their living room, without ever considering that, maybe, this was a horrifically bad idea. Tragically, they both survived unharmed.

As for a full on fight club? Not so much. When you have people who don’t know what they’re doing throwing punches, the potential risk of injury is, somewhat, limited. Untrained combatants are not a huge threat to one another. They can get some good shots in, and can make it hurt, but actually messing someone else up requires concepts like power generation and a vague idea of where to connect. Without them, it’s just guys flailing impotently at each other.

Blades are inherently dangerous. You don’t need to know how to put together an effective defense, or understand how to generate force, driving four pounds of steel into some poor schmuck doesn’t require training. Training does help; it teaches you how to put up a defense, and how to circumvent your opponent’s, but it’s not necessary for accidental death and dismemberment.

The fundamental problem with a bladed fight club is that the participants need to survive. They need to be in a condition where they can fight again next week. Getting carved up by a stray blow will put a damper on that. To say nothing of a stray death.

In Fight Club, the titular club was an expression of violent catharsis. For random guys who’ve never experienced real violence, it was an escape that presented the illusion of danger, without putting the participants in actual jeopardy. This kept the attrition rate fairly low, and allowed the group to grow. For something like this, that is absolutely critical.

If you start arming the participants, it would only take watching one guy getting opened up, and spraying blood all over the place before you might think, “maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.” When you start hemorrhaging members like this, it becomes impossible to keep the numbers up, and the club would die off quickly; figuratively or literally.


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anonymous asked:

Do you have any advice on how to write a grieving character? Thank you!!


Grieving isn’t pretty. It isn’t always dramatic, either – while some people certainly do go home and throw their favorite vase against the wall, some people retreat into themselves and become emotionally unresponsive (that’s what I do). Violence or anger is more likely to occur if the death is sudden – so is retreating into an emotional shell, really, because it’s often a result of shock. But both can occur outside of a sudden death – cancer isn’t always sudden, but many people still become angry when their loved one is diagnosed with or dies because of it. Basically, if the death feels unfair in any way – if it’s sudden, or if it feels like it happened too early, such as in the case of cancer or of some sort of cardiac disaster (a heart attack, a stroke, etc) – it’s more likely to provoke anger or shock, depending on your character’s temperament and attachment to the dying/dead character.

That was just a general disclaimer. Now, onto the meat of grieving!

Firstly, grieving can begin before the person is technically dead – you don’t have to wait for the person to go flatline and physically stop breathing for your other characters to feel a sense of loss. If your character suffered a medical disaster or an accident that rendered them comatose, or if your character is obviously fighting a losing battle (again, terminal cancer comes to mind), your other characters could start grieving them even though they’re still breathing and their heart is still beating. However, the likelihood is that your characters won’t be able to really start working through the five stages of grief until your character actually does physically die, because rarely does death really hit home until it has occurred.

Speaking of the five stages of grief, those are important! They’re as follows:

  • Denial/Isolation: your characters can’t believe your dead character is really dead. This is a defense mechanism of sorts for your mind – a way to delay at least some of the pain, and give yourself time to process what’s happened (although that processing happens subconsciously, because on the surface you’re denying that anything’s happened at all). If the dead character fought a long battle with an illness before death, this stage may be expedited by the fact that your characters had time to process the character’s dying as it was happening. If the death was sudden in any way, this stage may be prolonged, because it will be harder to comprehend something that happened so quickly, and shock will be more likely to occur.
  • Anger: the pain your characters were masking in the denial stage starts to come to the surface, and as a response to the pain, your characters get angry (just as many other vulnerable emotions, such as fear, are expressed as anger – anger is a tough emotion, as opposed to fear and grief, so most people subconsciously opt for anger because it makes them feel less vulnerable). They may feel they’ve been robbed of your dead character’s companionship. Their anger may manifest itself in many different ways: isolation, irritability, or self-destructive behavior, to name a few. Their anger may also direct itself at various places: the medical professionals who failed to save your dead character’s life, God for taking your dead character, even the dead character him/herself, if they could in any way be responsible for their own death (if they were driving intoxicated, if they never ate healthily and suffered a heart attack, etc.).
  • Bargaining: before death, this stage may manifest itself as “please God, just let them live and I’ll tithe my ten percent and go to church every Sunday”, or “please, [Dying character’s name], just hold on and get better and we’ll [do that thing the dying character has always wanted to do]”. (Keep in mind that most people have an astounding impulse to be religious during a time of crisis, whether they’ve been religious in the past or not.) After death, this stage may manifest itself in the “could’ve-should’ve-would’ve” philosophy: “if only we’d taken them to the doctor sooner”, “I should’ve made him stay home”, “I knew there was something wrong with him!”, and so on. This stage is generally an attempt to regain control of the situation – your characters feel like they’re taking some kind of action by offering a proposition, or by placing blame.
  • Depression: there are two types of depression associated with grief. In the first (which is almost more similar to anxiety) your characters worry more about others: what if I haven’t been there for people when they needed me, how are we going to pay for the funeral/burial services, and so on. Basically it deals more with the practical aspects of the character’s death. The second type is more introspective – your characters may retreat into themselves and analyze old memories of your dead character, and their feelings on everything that’s happened. This type is private, and your characters probably won’t share much about their thoughts if they experience it.
  • Acceptance: this stage is marked by withdrawal and calm – it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from depression. It’s not a stage of joyous frolicking and exclaiming, “It’s okay! I understand everything about [Dead Character’s] death!”. Your characters may still not understand the purpose of your dead character’s death, but understanding and acceptance are not synonyms, nor are they mutually inclusive. The important thing about this stage is that your characters can make peace with the death, and can move on.

Keep in mind that while I’ve listed these stages in what is regarded as their general order, every person (and character) grieves differently – they may experience these emotions in a different order than that above. They may also go through one or several of the stages more than once, or cycle through the first four of them multiple times before reaching the fifth. Some characters may not even reach the fifth at all – depending on the circumstances of the death and the character’s attachment to your dead character, they may never fully accept your dead character’s death. The stages above are just a general framework for grieving.

Also, keep in mind that if your character’s death was tied in any way to traumatic incidents for your other characters, it may complicate the grieving process for those other characters, because the character’s death will be tied to other painful or triggering memories.

I hope this helps! If you need anything else, please feel free to ask. - @authors-haven

tinyhat99  asked:

ok so it depends what kinda DID we're talking abt like if its DID or OSDD and if its OSDD what type but if its strictly DID: prettyyyyy pretty please dont make one of their alters a ~dark version~of them because people do that all the time and it looks bad on us so basically.. like.. my advice is to look up what types of alters there are and go from there but PLEASE dont make your character w DID some type of killer its really bad


anonymous asked:

Can you talk about co-dependent relationships? I'm mostly interested in a romantic sense, but non-romantic might be interesting to explore too. Can co-dependency ever be healthy, or is it inherently unhealthy for both characters?


I’m not sure I would call a codependent relationship healthy, but if properly managed and the people involved are aware of it, it could still be a nontoxic relationship

However the type of people who get into codependent relationships often aren’t either willing or able to fully work through the issues involved.

In terms of nonromantic relationships, I’d guess that parent-child relationships are the most likely to experience it. The parent lives vicariously through the child, stunting their emotional development so that the child is forced to rely on the parent for emotional support


A codependent relationship is unhealthy at best and abusive at worst, in my opinion. It’s essentially a one-sided relationship where one person completely relies on another person for almost all their needs. These relationships involve helping and rescuing, with one person denying their needs to attend to another’s. The codependent (helper) is reliant on the other person’s distress. Helping them makes them feel needed and like they’re doing something right in a way. The other person (helpee??) relies on the codependent for support and undying love. A lot of people who “help” have been abused before, but not all.

I think codependency is usually the result of a very powerful/controlling person and very submissive/people-pleasing person getting together. My abusive mother held a relationship of codependency with me (I was the helper.) I also had a friendship where I held the helper role. The friendship seemed extremely close and perfect at the time, but it was actually very unhealthy and basically consisted of me enabling and taking a lot of abuse. Codependency does exist on a spectrum though. These relationships can change and improve with counseling. 


Thoughts on Point of View

Anonymous asked: “Do you know any tips on when you should change point of view, like the actions of characters? Sometimes I have trouble with who and what to direct the sentence to.”

I mostly recommend not changing the point of view all that often. While some writers can get away with it, it is a challenging technique and more often than not hinders more than helps a story. I know I get a lot of questions on point of view but really, it is probably one of those things I think least about. I, myself, don’t really favor one perspective over another, but I do recognize that it becomes a different book if it is written in First person instead of Third limited.

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sarcasm-can-kill-like-a-lot  asked:

Don't know if you can help, but I have a character that is attacked by someone with an axe. What is an object that could "stop" the axe? Like, the axe would not completely cut it but still be stuck in it while the first character holds it in front of himself? Thank you!

You mean, “like a shield?”

Really, any solid block of wood should be able to take the hit, and catch the blade. It doesn’t matter if it’s an actual shield, or a pine 2x4.

It’s probably worth remembering, most modern “wood” furniture is made from particle board, which is more like sawdust and glue. This stuff won’t stop an axe. But, antiques? Stuff that’s actually made from real wood? That will.

When it comes to shields, softwoods (like pine or yew) are preferable to hardwoods (like oak or apple). As I recall, this has something to do with the elasticity of softwoods (even very heavy softwoods like yew), in contrast to hardwoods. Hardwoods will break when sufficient force is applied, you can see this with toothpicks if you’re really inclined, while softwoods are more likely to deform, or in your case, entrap the axe head.

Really, this is one of those cases where the range of options isn’t short, and will depend heavily on where your character is fighting. If they’re in a wooded area, they’re probably better off using the trees as impromptu cover, to protect against axe strikes. In an industrial environment, piping or heavy equipment would be the better option.

It’s also worth remembering: so long as the attacker can keep a hold on their axe, they will be able to get it free. It may take a moment, but it’s very difficult to create a situation where you could tie it up indefinitely, simply by getting it stuck in something. Getting the weapon stuck is a good distraction, and opens the option for your character to retaliate, but it doesn’t eliminate the weapon. Your character will need something a lot more complex in mind than an 18th century writing desk getting in the way to achieve that.


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What is the Shipping Funnel?

(This is my very personally personal opinion, and you are welcome to disagree with my thoughts)

Shipping funnels are like black holes. Do you know how black holes work? They are extremely strong, dense gravitational objects that draw all matter and energy inward so that nothing, not even light can escape. Any light that passes near a black hole but isn’t drawn in is bent around it. Any matter that gets too close is sucked in forever, slowly swirling towards an inevitable fate.

Look, it’s not… that dark.

The shipping funnel is just something I see in stories where the penultimate, unavoidable end goal is the ship. And nothing, no person, no force, no plot will stop those two (or more) from getting together.

As soon as we enter the shipping funnel, we know from the very first sentence how, when and why these two will get together. Not just from the tags, but from the style and setup of the story. We know which characters will be orbiting helpers, which characters will be antagonists and how the story will play out and end.

And just like in a black hole, regular personalities and plot points seem to magically… bend around the idea of the OTP getting together as quickly and conveniently as possible.

Regularly nice characters become snarky and mean if inconvenient. Best friends become undying ship-helpers trying to get the OTP together. Any characters who have nothing to do with the OTP are conveniently forgotten, lost beyond the event horizon of the ship, and enemies? Well, they’d better lock those two up together when captured despite it making no sense.

A fic based around an OTP getting together isn’t bad. It’s the basis of most fanfiction. What kinda bugs me, again, personally, is when a fic is SO DETERMINED to set those two together that they either ignore basic existing plot structures, or make up very convenient ones to set up the OTP, even if those plot ideas and occurrences are unlikely in a non-ship setting.

It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that I find it kinda… boring. We know how the fic is going to end. They kiss. They end up together. When the setup and rising action of the fic are nothing but a narrow hallway of shoving the OTP together again and again it can come across like the fiction equivalent of clicking two barbie dolls together and going “Kiss! Kiss!”

Personally, in my personal, personal opinion, I need more mystery. I need more setup. I need more literary foreplay, if you will. If a side character to the OTP would normally be available to talk to or hang out with, make them available every once in awhile instead of always absent.

Have the characters in the OTP have regular lives outside of their fic-destined fate to fall in love. let your supporting characters have emotional arcs and plotlines that exist outside of your main character’s OTP life. Have a running sub-plot that we swing back to for interest. Let your characters grow and change and solve problems that have nothing to do with the love story at hand, and we help to lessen the massive gravitational pull of the ship funnel.

Writer’s tip #1: Avoiding “Authorism” Metaphors and References

Writer’s tip #2: Placing your characters in a scene with Google Images

unyvense  asked:

hi, would you have tips on how to write a love-hate relationship? most like hate that turns into love or something like that. also your blog has been so helpful to my writing, thank you very much and i hope you're having a nice day! 💕


Here’s one post with advice on love-hate relationships – it may help!

My advice on this is basically, know your characters inside and out, so that you can define what makes their relationship love-hate and what kind of love-hate it is. Because there are a couple, that I can think of:

  • Romantic/Lustful: in this case, either the characters’ personalities clash and their bodies live in harmony (think along the lines of friends with benefits, except it’s really more like enemies with benefits), or they have great chemistry both physically and personality-wise, but can’t be in a relationship. The reasons for not being in a relationship could be anything from that they’ve tried a relationship in the past and it hasn’t worked out (and possibly things happened in their past attempt/attempts to cause them to dislike each other) to that another set of circumstances (they’re too far from each other, one has trust issues, etc) gets in the way and causes tension between them.
  • Unlikely Allies: in this case, it doesn’t always have something to do with romance – they could just dislike each other but be forced to work together. For example, two of my characters in my current project have lived in a boys’ home for years – one, however, has been one of the administrator’s pets, while the other has gotten into loads of trouble over the years and is generally regarded as a troublemaker. The troublemaker (Conrad) dislikes the pet (Nick), because Nick claims he’s not like the administrator’s other pets and wants to help people like Conrad, and Conrad thinks he’s lying through his teeth. (Also, Nick is gay, and Conrad is a firmly-established homophobe, although he tries to hold his peace about that.) However, Nick and Conrad have to work together to get my protagonist out of a bind, and they set their differences aside to get the job done. This isn’t so much “love-hate” as “hate-but-I’ll-temporarily-tolerate-you”, but I felt it was worth including.

(And keep in mind that either of the above could work both forwards and backwards – two people could start out as enemies with benefits and then find that they actually care for each other, and two unlikely allies could find out, through working together, that they work together well, or that their opinions of each other were too harsh. By the same token, two people could like each other as they start working together, but find that they actually hate each other or drive each other up the wall.)

As for hate to love, here’s a post about its various cliches and how to avoid them. I’ve written this type of relationship before as well, and let me say that there doesn’t need to be some huge explosion of an argument to start the relationship off – it could be something as simple as one not liking that the other is a little arrogant, or one getting irritated by the sound of the other constantly tapping their feet or drumming their fingers on the table. People meet each other and dislike each other from first sight all the time, and it’s not always because of some huge difference in morals or politics or any other kind of opinion – it could just be something one thinks they see in the other’s eyes, or that one has a limp handshake, or that one doesn’t like the way the other carries him/herself.

To transition to love, you need to peel back the layers on the surface of the two people involved – they saw and disliked what was on the surface, so you need to get rid of that and reveal what’s underneath to make them start getting closer to each other. Maybe Person A appeared arrogant, but that surface arrogance actually hides raging insecurity; maybe Person B seemed annoyingly optimistic, but they’re actually afraid of the future or hopeless. The entire premise of love-hate relationships, whether they start at love and transition to hate or start at hate and transition to love, is that whatever the two people saw on each other’s surfaces peels away to reveal the real meat of the people – their true colors, if you will. You can do whatever you wish with the characters’ relationship as long as it happens through delving deeper into your characters.

I hope this helps! If you need anything else, please feel free to ask. - @authors-haven

beyondthetemples  asked:

{{ DID info: Everyone experiences it differently. Dissociation is a very broad term, and not everyone is Completely Unaware of their "splits" (which has a lot more meanings colloquially, both reclaimed and in other communities whose members have DID, such as those with multiplicity systems and such). Stereotypical and media-indicated behaviors rarely exist, and are far more fictional than fact. Memory blanks during "identities" that come back when returned to those are common, but not dangerous.


wid0wsbite  asked:

Hello, I hope you're having a good day! My MC went into a catatonic state because of her PTSD, I want to know if there are ways to snap a person out of that state and if there are, what are they? Thank you in advance!

Yep. There’s a class of medication called Benzodiazepines that are incredibly effective at treating it - to the point that catatonia is barely an issue in clinical practice nowadays. See my post here.

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anonymous asked:

Hi Boo~ 🦄 im an aspiring writer. Do you have any resources for mythology? Thanks!

Hello Anon! Follow your dreams of being a writer and never give up honey, you’ll look back on your work, though if ever unifinished, with a beautiful smile later on when you’ve published 4 novels and 3 series.

Hmm well at the moment yur best bet is google unfortunately but here’s what I found based on my own stories (and the current greek god fic im writing aye):

I hope this helps in some way!!


Advice to anyone with dolls: don’t wrap them up with newspaper when moving them! The ink gets on them from when wrapped up or if the newspaper is just touching the other dolls that aren’t wrapped up from the moving of the moving truck or just the moving of your car.

I have to gently use rubbing alcohol and a magic eraser to get it off of them. But you do have to be careful because with the magic eraser, it can take off the faceup or makeup if you apply pressure. You don’t have to apply pressure, you just have to rub constantly! I use the rubbing alcohol for light smudging and the magic eraser for heavy and dark smudging such as on BYBY Cleo where it was around her eye makeup. I use cotton pads with rubbing alcohol and I just use the magic eraser straight on the dolls. The rubbing alcohol shouldn’t take off the makeup if you are just rubbing off the ink. Do not apply pressure, just rub!

Lesson learned. So, please, share and reblog. Let other collectors know so that they don’t make my same mistake. If you are moving, use either bubble wrap or plain paper.

if you wanna write, just do it

you’re gonna be garbage at first.  write the garbage.  the closer you keep your wordcount to zero, the longer it’s gonna take you to learn how to stop writing garbage.

and it’s okay to write garbage.  everybody does it.  nobody’s a writing genius the first thousand words around.

honestly just assume you’re the only one who will ever care about a single word.  and then do it anyway. 

anonymous asked:

*Curtsies* Hi duke. I'm not sure how much you'd be able to help me but I figured I'd give it a shot bc I don't know who else to go to about it. I'm going to be majoring in English and I want a double major. I'm debating between Musical Theatre (downside: idk what I'd do with it) or Human Bio-an emphasis in Dietetics (English and that could go well together because you need to be a good writer for dietetics). But I want to be an author. Would also being a dietitian take up too much time for that?

*Curtsies* This is one of those questions I can’t answer for you. I have no idea how much time it takes to be a dietitian. But I will say: Don’t plan your life around being an author. Plan your life around what you want to do besides being an author, because that’s a very uncertain basket to put all your eggs in. Yes, if you want to be an author you have to treat it like a career, but the fact of the matter is you’re probably going to have to write a few books before anybody’s going to pay you for it, so you’re going to have to find a way to support yourself in the meantime and it’s good to try to find a job you like. Most authors keep other jobs even when they are getting paid to write, partly because writing often doesn’t pay enough to live on but also because if all you do life in write, what do you have to write about? You can definitely make time for writing and another career. Most people do. Dietitians publish books all the time–just take a wander back into the health section sometime. No, you don’t have to write books about dieting, but the point is that you don’t have to choose between that and writing. 

unto-the-rabbit-hole  asked:

*Deep Breath* Here goes nothing! So I love your writing style, and I've read just about everyone of your works! They're so beautifully written! Your fics make my day! So I have a question for you,well, maybe two, if you have time! I always have story ideas in my head and I'm such a big outliner! My questions to you are as follows: Do you research your fics, if so, how do you go about this? And what made you start writing fanfiction, because I find that so daunting, but I want to start!

Hi there! Thank you so much for reading my fics and for the kind words!! :)) Constant story ideas + outlines for days sounds very much like how I operate, haha! 

And good questions! I would say I tend to do research for the large majority of my fics, but the level of research and how I go about it varies depending on subject matter. If there’s no real unknown variables, then I just dive into writing. If something comes up along the way that I’m not sure about, I look it up. 

For instance, in canon-verse fics, my research generally tends to hover around making sure I’m keeping everything in line with the life a bunch of kids in Japan could expect to experience on a day-to-day basis. I’d suggest people research based on their level of familiarity with Japanese culture/social norms – things like honorifics, describing school/home life, university system, etc. I just spent a ton of time researching apartment hunting in Japan the other night. For any writing, I feel at least some level of light research should be standard practice for a piece about an experience the writer hasn’t lived themselves.

For AUs and other things built upon experiences I have no personal familiarity with, I usually do a ton of research both before and during the writing process. I like having some idea of what I’m putting down on paper, from the big overarching details to the little ones. So for my Tarzan-inspired fic, I did a bunch of research on rainforest and jungle environments, flora and fauna, climate, you name it. That was the macro. An example of micro research was figuring out what plants could be used to make a certain slippery substance (the palm oil) and how it could feasibly be made with limited supplies in the middle of the jungle. That was a fun and not tedious evening at all [sarcasm]! 

But honestly, these little details combined with the big ones are what I believe the foundations of worldbuilding rest upon, and it’s really important to do the legwork in order to fold them naturally into the story. Google is really your best friend, here, but always remember the internet is often wrong – so try to look up multiple sources! 

As to your second question, I’ve written fanfiction since I was really young (my first attempt was probably around age 11). The simplest answer is that I’ve always read a lot of fic, and it seemed just awesome, the idea that I could write about these characters and worlds I loved like I saw other people doing. Writing has been and probably always will be one of my favorite things in the world to do, so it was just natural I gravitated in that direction. That’s one of the main reasons I still write fic, but another big reason is the community found within fandoms, where I can do what I love, and talk to other people about the things I love.

I think writing fic can be a lot less daunting than writing original work (though by no means should that stop you from doing both, or focusing on your own stuff if you so choose). You can still write about whatever you can think of, barring a very forgiving set of parameters (characters – you just need to get the characters right, and you already love them, so that should come naturally). And when you write fic, one of the best things is having friends and a community to share it with, whether you can count the number of people in the fandom on one hand or you don’t even know who the people living next door to you are (like me with HQ!! fans outside the KageHina bubble, oops). 

I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum now (HQ is by far the largest fandom I’ve ever actively been involved with) and both are wonderful experiences. I’d definitely encourage you to give fic writing a try! 

Hope these answers helped! :)

The 9 Elements of a VILLAIN

If we’re being honest, one character is always the most fun to develop when you’re writing a new story. It must be the main character, right? The person you’re going to follow throughout the story, the one that means the most to you?

Nope. It’s the villain.

Villains are just FUN. You get to creep into the darkest corners of your writer brain and conjure up the most unashamedly detestable human being you possibly can. 

This is how we look when we begin creating a villain. 

But sometimes, it can be difficult to to make sure they’re fully believable humans. So here are the nine elements that have helped me out when developing these terrible people … 

1) Hero’s Shadow:

The relationship between the main character and the villain is the most important one in the story, because it is the source of all conflict. Without the villain causing trouble, the main character wouldn’t have the chance to be a hero. Without that trouble, the main character’s weaknesses wouldn’t be pressured, which means they couldn’t change. The villain is a condensed and magnified embodiment of the inner weakness that the hero is battling. They’re the SHADOW of hero, the example of what will happen if the main character goes down the wrong path. Both are facing the same problem in different ways. For example Darth Vader and Luke.  

2) Conflict Strategy:  

In the pursuit of stopping the hero from achieving their goal, the villain is going to attack them on 1) a personal relationship level 2) a societal level and 3) an inner level. They’re going to attack the people around them, they’re going to cause consequences for the community surrounding them, they’re going to get into their head and plague them. Because the hallmark of a villain is that they’re the person who’s perfectly suited to attack the hero’s greatest weakness. Villains should have a distinct set of tactics to destroy the main character, on at least two levels. 

3) Flaws: 

This one’s expected. Of course a villain has flaws, it’s in the job description. But flaws do not equate to ‘He kicks turtles every morning before breakfast’ or 'His favorite hobby is butterfly stomping’ or, more within the realm of possibility, “He wants to kill the hero”. These are evil actions, NOT flaws. A lot of villains, particularly in movies, will be given horrible things to do without any explanation for WHY they do them. And it’s pretty easy to give them reasons: just give them human weaknesses! That’s it. Whether the actions they take are as small as theft or as big as blowing up a planet, these actions stem from recognizable HUMAN FLAWS. So like a main character, a villain needs mental and moral flaws.  

Yup, even Maleficent has human flaws. And she’s a dragon part of the time. 

4) Counter Goal: 

All characters exist because they want something. And what do villains want? To get whatever the main character wants (for very different reasons), to stop them from reaching their goal, or another goal that directly conflicts with the hero’s goal. As long as that big tangible thing they want locks hero and villain in battle, you’re good. Think 101 Dalmatians: Cruella and the good guys are fighting over the puppies.  

5) Surface Motivations:  

Why is it that villains always have a team of followers? Because villains never outright state their true motivations. They always have a cover story, and that cover will paint them as righteous. Villains want to look like the good guy. So their real Hidden Motivations are defended by twisting perceptions of Good & Evil, by portraying evil acts in a positive light, by indulging their followers selfish emotions and desire to feel like “one of the good guys. " 

Take Gothel for example: she’s a loving mother who wants to protect her daughter from all the world’s darkness. (Sure you do, Flynn stabber.)  

Surface Motivations never stand up to logical scrutiny and a functioning moral compass, but giving your bad guy a compelling argument against your good side always makes things more interesting, which brings us to …

6) Counter Statement:

The main character needs to learn some kind of truth that will enable them to fix their lives, overcome their weaknesses, banish their ghosts. It’s whatever statement about "how to live a better life” you want to prove with your story. Your villain has other ideas. They don’t agree with that statement, have other beliefs about living life well, and represent an argument against it. For example, Voldemort: “there is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it." 

Although your argument isn’t very convincing, Voldy. I mean, you’re living in the back of some guy’s head.

7) Characterization: 

This is everything on the surface of the villain. The way they speak, the way they look, the way they act, their role in life, their status and power. This is the facade they project for the world to see, a calculated effort to control how they are perceived. This is closely connected to that surface want, because that surface is what they wish people to believe about them. Over time, the reader and the other characters are going to be able to see through this mask and see what it conceals. My favorite Disney example of this is Mother Gothel: on the surface she’s this bubbly mom who loves Rapunzel and wants to protect her from the harshness of the world. 

You can think of this as the text … 

8) Hidden Motivation: 

And this is the subtext. That surface motivation they want the world to believe is a mask concealing their true motivation, which is always rooted in their flaws,  selfishness, and skewed beliefs. 

9) Ghosts, Justification, Self-Obsession: 

These three are closely related, so they get counted together.
Like main characters, villains have GHOSTS: events from their backstories that knocked their worldviews out of alignment, that marked the beginning of their weaknesses, that haunt them still. Because these happened, the originally benign person allowed themselves to turn into someone who could occupy the job of "villain” in a story. Usually, these events are genuine misfortunes and are worthy of sympathy, just like the ghosts of a main character. Think of Voldemort growing up in an orphanage talking to snakes.

BUT! When it comes to ghosts, the major difference between a hero and a villain is HOW THEY DEAL with these unpleasant past events. Both have suffered, but react to suffering in very different ways. A villain will be consumed by these events, obsessed with the real (or imagined) persecution or disadvantage they’ve endured, convinced that all personal responsibility is nullified by their status of injured party. Past tragedies become a talisman that grants immunity from decency. 

This scene from A Series of Unfortunate Events sums it up.  An adult makes an excuse for a terrible person by saying he had a terrible childhood. And Klaus replies: 

Yes, maybe they’ve both lived through tragedy. But THE KIDS aren’t hurting others because of it. 

Because villains, who are constantly victimizing heroes, are completely convinced that THEY are the true victims here. No matter what they do, no matter what they are, they blame everything on that ghost, whether it was another person, society, or circumstances. And later they blame the hero, who they see as the REAL villain. For example, Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame:  

“It’s not my fault, I’m not to blame”

So! WHY are villains like this?

SELF-OBSESSION! Yup, villains spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about themselves and their plights and their plots. Think of any villain and it’s not hard to see the inherent narcissism behind everything they do. Like willingness to take action is the nonnegotiable trait of a main character, self-obsession is the trait that all villains seem to share. 

So! Developing villains in this way has worked out for me so far. If it looks like it might be helpful for you, give it a try.

And in the spirit of creating someone to torment our main characters and ruin their lives, here’s one more maniacal laugh for the road:



I encourage you. 

You fanfic writers, whether or not you write 100K of epic smut or 150 words of adorable fluff. 

I want you to keep writing, no matter how many comments, likes, kudos or subscribers you get. 

Write what makes you happy. Share what makes you gleeful. Make friends with your work and don’t be afraid to write boldly. 

Comment on what you love, rec it, reblog it–make sure the writer knows that it made you happy. You might just make their day. 

And to all of you who reblog with love in the tags, who like it and shout at me on messenger. Thank you. Seriously. I write for those moments. <3

Just remember, that we got this. Okay? So keep writing!