Feature Friday: Using Writing to Fight or Flame Hate
Feature Friday / July 8, 2016

I’ve grown quite nervous over the last few days. Apparently you humans are off killing each other and it has something to do with the color of your skin (although mentioning that it has anything to do with skin color– or claiming that is doesn’t– is cause for more heated debate). Since my skin has a multitude of colors, I’m a bit concerned that some of this hatred may spill over. However, even outside my own concerns, I’m concerned about this country I’m currently hiding in.  There’s so much anger and hate. Worse, everyone is using their words to make it worse. Writers, like it or not, have a responsibility with words in the same way that a doctor has responsibility with healing. We could use our words to hurt. We can use them to fan the flames until we rival Chicago after Old Lady Leary or Pompeii after the volcano blew. I’ve seen many examples of flame fanning lately. Tweets that call out a group of people for their color, occupation, or just being associated with other people who said something. Facebook posts that use ugly names for anyone who doesn’t believe in the exact content of the post….

Feature Friday: I Need a Hero/ Villain/ Sidekick.

There’s been some discussion going about my social media regarding villains. I don’t write villains. I’ve never written a villain (no, not even Ellie the Evil Queen is a villain). Here’s why: a good villain isn’t a villain; they are the foil to your hero. A good villain, in another book, might be your hero. I also don’t write sidekicks. Sidekicks have their own story going on. That story is every bit as important as the heroes story. Just don’t tell the hero. Sidekicks tend to be a lot lower on the ego scale than heroes. Take a look at your WIP. If you’re writing a romance, you may not have a villain, but you’ll still have a foil to your main character. Look carefully at your villain/antagonist, love interest(s), and sidekicks. Do they have a backstory? It doesn’t need to be in the story, but you need to know a little bit about them. Do you know their personality type or motivations? If Myers-Briggs is too much, do a simple zodiac bit or a character archetype. Then do a little twist so the character isn’t just a stock character. (I hate stock characters.) If you’ve ever played at tabletop gaming,…

Feature Friday: Time to Commit

I can tell you all sorts of secrets for getting your book written. Once you have it written, I can give you all sorts of tips for getting it to market. However, until you’ve actually committed yourself to doing it, it’s not going to happen. “Well, of course I’m committed. I keep reading your lousy blog for advice, don’t I?” That just means you’re committed to learning how to do it. You haven’t committed to doing it. “Okay, semantic-laden Figment, how do I commit to doing it?” Set a deadline. I’ve heard all the excuses (really). Don’t bring me your excuses. I’ve used them myself and probably made them funnier (because, well, I’m funny). There are no excuses. You can work to a deadline, even if you’re a creative. You can write a full-length novel, even if you’re the busiest person ever. The only reasons you can’t finish a book by your self-imposed deadline are either that you were too ambitious or you quit. We don’t do quitters. You can modify your deadline if life happens or you can suck it up for a little while and pretend you don’t have a choice, but you don’t quit. Clear? Now, let’s…

Feature Friday: Writing the First Chapter

There are some who find the last chapter to be the most difficult. There are a few who struggle through the middle. For most, however, the first chapter is the hardest to get out there. There’s good reason for this. The first chapter is what draws, drags, or defers. Either it is so clever that the reader must read; it is acceptable enough that the reader chooses to read; or it is so bad that the reader refuses to read. But no pressure. Really. See, the nice things about first chapters (and first lines) is that you have the most time to get them right. You have the entire time you’re writing the book through the editing process through just before publication. That’s a lot of time. (Longer for some, say, whose last name is Martin, than some others.) “I don’t edit while I’m writing.”  Very smart of you. Really. Just try this with me for one work, though. Edit that first chapter. Here’s why: if your first chapter does what it should (set up the story), then you have an easier task ahead of you. Instead of dragging the story uphill to get to the first plot point, your…