Legit Tip #152

Death scenes are easy to write. However, they are incredibly difficult to write well. 

One of the most common mistakes writers make with death scenes is not understanding how to appropriately write the reactions of the other people involved in the situation. This happens to new writers and experienced writers alike. 

Among the more problematic depictions of death in fiction include copious amounts of weeping and wailing. The living fall across the bodies of the dead and shakes their fists at the heavens and scream, “WHY?!” The thing is, that may happen before or a little ways after the death has occurred, but is rarely something that happens in the moment. 

Death is, on the whole, a very quiet affair. When you know it’s coming, it’s all just a matter of waiting for it and watching as time ticks by. I know - I’ve been there. 

One of the things that a lot of writers miss out on is the strange sensation immediately following a death where you’re dealing with this tremendous impact and the world just keeps on moving all around you. There are tons of practical matters that need to be attended to on your end, and everybody else is just going about their daily business.

Anybody who is planning on writing a death scene at any point MUST watch these scene the episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer titled “The Body”. For that matter, if and when you can watch the entire episode. It’s one of the most brilliant depictions of death and the emotional fallout I’ve ever seen.


Now, sometimes death scenes occur in the heat of battle. Again, stopping everything to have your characters curse the heavens just doesn’t work. Even when your character DOES have that kind of emotional reaction to a death (for example, when Sirius Black dies and Harry flips out) remember that there are still practicalities to be attended to. The world doesn’t and can’t stop at that moment. Think about the final battle in Harry Potter for another example - mourning is something that occurred afterwards. 

In short, can the melodrama. Pay attention to the feeling of shock that occurs immediately following a death - something that is for the most part universal - and pay a lot more attention to the inward reaction rather than the outward reaction to make your death scenes more realistic.

To Be or Not To Be: In Defense of the Passive Voice

Recently, one of my critique partners asserted that any use of the verb to be formed the passive voice and deserved to be stamped out with as much vigor as possible. This got me to thinking about that misunderstood verb form and the use of passive voice in modern fiction.

All of my critique partners write in the past tense, so we were actually discussing the use of was and were. I maintained that using was in any sentence does not automatically make that sentence passive voice, and avoiding any use of it can make for a needlessly convoluted sentence structure.

The Passive Voice Defined

So if using the past tense of to be doesn’t automatically make a sentence passive voice, than what does? Section 5.119 of The Chicago Manual of Style’s 16th edition defines the difference between active voice and passive voice as follows:

Voice shows whether the subject acts (active voice) or is acted on (passive voice). A rule of thumb is that if you can complete the phrase with “by zombies” you’ve got passive voice.

Example: The car was driven … by zombies.


When I first started writing fiction many years ago, I took to heart the advice to avoid passive voice, but my prose sounded flat and my dialogue stilted. That made me realize there are times when you need the passive voice. Here are just a few examples:

1. The Action Is More Important Than the Actor

Example: She would be working on the other side of those mountains, where those two centuries-old dams were being pulled down (by zombies).

He was promoted (by zombies), but not necessarily because he deserved it.

In both examples, we don’t necessarily need to know who performed the action.

Keep Reading at Helping Writers Become Authors · Article by Marissa John

Legit Tip #151

Rules are made to be broken. 

That’s true in a lot of respects, but is especially true when it comes to writing. Of course, you do have to keep in mind that rules do exist for a very good reason, and 9 times out of 10 breaking them WILL make your writing weaker. So how do you judge if and when breaking the rules is necessary?

For me it comes down to one word: intent. If your reasoning comes down to one of these three things:

  • Because I can’t think of another way to do XYZ in my story
  • Because Stephen King/J. K. Rowling/[Insert Author Here] did it
  • Because that’s just the way I see it

…then you really need to take a step back and see if you can’t find another way to justify breaking the rule in question. Or else question whether it’s a rule you should be breaking, period.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Hello^^ I have an more anciant (sorry english isnt my mother tounge) egyptian Charakter and i'd like to ask if you could please post something like the thing for indian Charakters u recently posted? Thank you for thaking your time to read this.^-^

Hey! Here’s what I found:

Maybe writingwithcolor will be able to help you with more specific stuff!

Writing tips: Your vs. You're

Your is possessive (your bag, your chair, your bedroom hijinks…), while you’re is a contraction of “you are” (you’re fantastic, you’re a queen, you’re Elphaba, you’re Idina).

One way to see if you’re using the right one is to expand the contraction “you are”

You’re crying makes sense when elongated into you are crying. But you’re green bags doesn’t make sense when elongated into “you are green bags” (unless it’s some serious magical mishap like in Harry Potter or something.)

Character Talents and Skills: Regeneration

Description: the ability to restore one’s physical condition to an optimal state, healing wounds and bodily damage at a cellular level.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: to achieve this ability, one would require an evolved level of mental control so that the healing progress could be triggered at will. Superior genes and intelligence would both be needed to direct the allocation of energy, ensuring that if necessary, calorie intake, stored fat and even muscle tissue could be refocused to repair tissue or organ damage. Being able to consume large quantities of high energy foods without getting sick and learning to sleep at will would both heighten one’s ability to regenerate and recover as needed.

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: focus, intelligence, determination, adaptability, gluttony, conservative, self-controlled

Required Resources and Training: While a large part of regeneration would have to be genetically imparted (unless it came about through taking a drug or some kind of nano technology), a great deal of concentration and study would be required to learn how to harness and focus healing, especially during times of high stress. Meditation and having a mentor who can lead one through exercises to boost one’s mental prowess would help one master this skill. Additionally, a deep understanding of the body, organ placement and how everything works in concert would be necessary to perform regeneration without over extending oneself and depleting energy stores beyond recovery. As well, a person with regenerative skills would have to have constant access to an energy source (food, sleep, a drug, etc.) to power one’s ability to regenerate.

Keep Reading at Writers Helping Writers · Article written by Angela Ackerman

anonymous asked:

Hi! I love the blog, and was wondering if you could help me. I'm writing two close friends, and one of them is ALL about platonic hand holding, hugs, cheek kisses, normalizing of the naked body, etc. They are both female and I'm worried about this coming off as queerbaiting. They do love each other, but feel philia and agape love rather than eros love for each other. IS this too much and/or what language do i use to express this?

I really have a problem with the frequency with which “queerbaiting” is thrown around as a criticism. I think its much more rare than a lot of critics would have us believe. 

 I’m not saying it doesn’t exist - it absolutely does - but simply showing intimate, platonic same-sex relationships =/= queerbaiting. 

This is especially problematic (to me) when queerbaiting accusations are made in instances of intimate, platonic male friendships. It troubles me that we spend so much time talking about gender roles and yet we can’t accept that men can have deep emotional connections with other men on a strictly platonic level. 

I absolutely get where the urge to criticize comes from, of course. There isn’t nearly enough queer representation in the media and that’s something that needs to be addressed. But that’s not something that should be done at the risk of creating a new cultural message that downplays the importance and intimacy of platonic relationships, regardless of an individual’s gender. 

As for your particular situation, I would just avoid a lot of icky “jokes” like the character’s hurriedly reassuring others they’re not in a relationship if others make that mistake. (Sherlock, I’m looking at you.) Avoid more “romantic” language if possible. Make it clear what aspects of one another they respect and admire. Even on a physical level, have them note/admire non-sensual/romantic things about the other.

Most importantly, have them be the ones to establish their intentions towards each other and their relationship within the narrative. Not in a jokey way, but in a way that is simple, honest, and true to their characters.

How to Write a Character Falling Out of Love

How to write a character falling in love is a topic that’s been explored a lot on writing blogs, so when I was recently asked how to write a character falling out of love I felt like it needed a full post. Thanks to natashawattswrites for the question!

A lot of us know what it feels like to be infatuated with someone and then look back on the event later in life and say to ourselves, “why did I ever like that person?” It can sometimes be easy to feel that way looking back on something, but when you’re in the moment it’s harder to explain. How to do you explain the process of falling out of love with someone? How can you let your readers know what your character is feeling? Hopefully these tips will help you.

Here are a few ways to write a character falling out of love:

They will become less interested in the other person

One big way to show that your character is falling out of love is that they start to lose interest in what the other person likes or does. Maybe they find that they like to be alone more often. Where they were once excited to hang out with other person, now they never have the urge to.

They might feel annoyed

Focus on your character’s emotions toward the other person. They might snap at their partner easily. They might get annoyed by things they say. These will all help reveal that they might not feel the same anymore.

There was an event that changed their feelings

A great way to have a character fall out of love is to write in a scene that would explain their changing feelings. Maybe they were cheated on. Maybe they’re suspicious. Maybe they just don’t feel like they connect on the same level.

They might hate the thought of being alone with the other person

One major clue that your feelings have changed for another person is if you hate the thought of having to hang out with them. This might seem like a no-brainer, but we often make excuses for these emotions like “I have a headache” or “I’m just grumpy today”—instead of figuring out why it’s happening so often

They find interest in another person

Another good way to show that your character wants to move on is if they start to become interested in someone else. This might reflect what they’re missing in their current relationship or partnership.

They feel guilty

Sometimes when people fall out of love, they feel extremely guilty about their changing feelings. They might feel like they need to give it another shot or something is wrong with how they’re feeling. Have your character analyze these feelings and try to come to terms with their relationship.

They might be afraid to lose comfort

Many people stay in a relationship that’s not quite working out because they’re afraid of being alone and losing the comfort they have in their current situation. Obviously this isn’t true for all relationships, especially abusive situations, but it can be a major factor for your character. Maybe they’re afraid to move on or they feel like they’re making a mistake.

They might feel relief when it’s all over

A character falling out of love won’t be a completely negative experience. Sometimes ridding ourselves of relationships that aren’t working is a huge relief. Consider these feelings when writing your character. They might be happy to move on and admit that they’re no longer in love (or maybe they weren’t ever in love).

-Kris Noel

How to Use a Semicolon

No matter if you’re self-publishing or looking to publish with a press, if you can’t use grammar correctly, you’re not going to get very far. A  couple typos or misused punctuation can ruin your chances with agents, publishers, and readers.

Semicolons are one of those punctuation marks that most people don’t know how to use, so in order to help you, I’m going to give you a quick rundown on how these weird things work.

Semicolons have 3 uses:

  • separate two closely-related complete sentences
  • clarify lengthy, obnoxious sentences
  • clarify post-colon lists

Okay, so this sounds really scary, but let’s do some fun examples. I’m even going to use Harry Potter examples, so get pumped.

Separate Two Closely-Related Complete Sentences

Harry Potter is the Boy Who Lived; he plays Quidditch.

So that above? That is not the proper use of a semicolon. While there’s a complete sentence on either side of the semicolon, the subject matter is not closely-related enough to use a semicolon. So let’s change it.

Harry Potter is the Boy Who Lived; he lived in a cupboard under the stairs.

This is much more appropriate. There’s a kind of mirroring in the sentences, and that makes it a much more appropriate use.

Clarify Lengthy, Obnoxious Sentences

Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, lived beneath the stairs while his abusive aunt and uncle lived in relative luxury, Hermione, girl genius, lived with her supportive Muggle parents, and Ron Weasley, poor and Pureblood, lived in the Wizarding World with his loving parents and half-dozen siblings, as well as a gnome-infested garden.

That’s hard to look at, isn’t it? And even harder to read. When you have long complex sentences like this, you have two options: use semicolons or make separate sentences.

If you decide to use a semicolon, here’s what it would look like:

Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, lived beneath the stairs while his abusive aunt and uncle lived in relative luxury; Hermione, girl genius, lived with her supportive Muggle parents; and Ron Weasley, poor and Pureblood, lived in the Wizarding World with his loving parents and half-dozen siblings, as well as a gnome-infested garden.

This is much easier to read. The semicolons act like miniature barriers to show where the separate pieces of information exist. However, it’s probably best to avoid this in your writing. Readers are turned off by very long sentences such as the above, and if it’s difficult to read or understand, then they’re going to be pulled out of your story.

Clarify Post-Colon Lists

This is very similar to the one above, but let’s look at an example:

There are three main characters in Harry Potter: Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, Hermione Granger, girl genius, and Ron Weasley, poor and Pureblood.

Like the sentence from the last section, this isn’t very clear, is it? Some semicolons will make that better, though:

There are three main characters in Harry Potter: Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived; Hermione Granger, girl genius; and Ron Weasley, poor and Pureblood.

This clarifies which details go with which character and makes it easier to read. You probably won’t use this very often in creative writing, but it’s still good to know.

Last Tip on Semicolons: Use them sparingly. A semicolon is not as commonplace as a period or a comma. Its appearance is a signal to readers that what you’re about to say is very important. Reserve semicolons for these important comparisons and try not to use more than a handful.

anonymous asked:

follow up on the bi question, the MC was male yes, haha. MC dates girls initially because it's easier to do so, but eventually realizes the other guy was worth the effort. The guy he ends up with is gay but super closeted (even to himself; due to parents, upbringing, lifestyle) and I'm working out how to have the other guy gradually realize his attraction to the MC while trying not to outwardly freak out. It's a fun write! c: ... While I'm here though, any other tips on this situation?

Hey, cool story either way, right?! 

I think what you NEED to do that’s important (and that a lot of LGBT romances unfortunately miss the mark on) is for this story to have an open, clear, honest dialogue about your characters and what they are feeling - for themselves as well as for one another.

The biggest thing I would advise you to do is not to fall into the trap of writing it as a “love conquers all” situation. This guy NEEDS to come to terms with his sexuality and gain confidence in himself before he can be an open and honest partner to your MC. 

I think it may be really beneficial to have your MC be a part of that process of self-discovery. And not because he may be into him but because he genuinely wants to help him come to term with his feelings and to feel better about himself. 

Be prepared to write discussions between the two about what it means to accept yourself and your identity as a gay individual. Realize how important it is to understand the self-esteem and value issues that queer individuals face and to have your character deal with those problems. (Things like realizing you’re going to be ostracized by parts of the community, that you’re going to be “othered” whether you want to or not, that you are quite literally taking on a new identity - again, whether you like it or not.)

Honestly, from my perspective it’s better to let him freak out a little bit because … well … he’s going to. For LGBT individuals the support of others in the community - romantic involvement or not - is crucial to the process of coming to terms with your identity and coming out. That needs to be a big part of your narrative.

When is it “Cheap” to Kill Off a Main Character?

Is it ever okay to kill your protagonist? Sure! I can’t guarantee that your audience will be happy about it, but I hope you at least try to make sure it’s justified. Make your audience understand that it’s necessary to your story.

Here are the wrong reasons to kill off your main character:

To shock your readers

Killing a character for the sake of shocking your audience is never a good idea. You’ll just piss them off.

You’re unsure about your ending

If you don’t know what to do next, the answer isn’t to upset your readers. Take some time to figure out if killing off your main is the right way to go OR plan a more appropriate ending.

You never liked your protagonist

If you don’t like your protagonist, why should your readers? Killing them off will not suddenly make them more likeable. Focusing on figuring out why you’re unhappy with your character.

You want to make it emotional

Your readers won’t care about your protagonist unless you give them a reason to. Death does not always equal an emotional response, unless it’s done the right way. You have to get your readers to care first and figure out if the death will make your audience feel cheated.

You’re not sure what they want

If your character has no needs or motivation, you might not be sure what to do next. This could mean there’s a significant problem with your story, so work on fixing that first. Killing off characters shouldn’t be your first attempt at fixing your story.

You want to be different

You might think that killing off your main character will make your story different, but without good reason you’ll just frustrate everyone. Also, it’s important that this death reflects the tone of your story, so the plot should lead up to it.

-Kris Noel

reminder for writers: female characters don’t necessarily have to

  • distinctly be feminine (or masculine)
  • physically fight to be considered badass
  • be super spies or warriors
  • use their sexuality/appeal as a form of power
  • be good at hiding their feelings
  • kill men while wearing slaying makeup

to be considered a good strong character