Antagonizing Antagonists

Purpose. Almost every antagonist has a purpose.

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Are they trying the “take over the world” tactic? What got them to this point? Evil isn’t born from the black; it’s molded and crafted by life’s doing. If you’re writing a classic villain – give them the unique back story to give them epic purpose.

If your story is that of the everyday, then where is the bad guy? Are they standing right next to the main character? Are they in the cubicle next door? Are they after the same goal as the protagonist? The opposition is what gives the antagonist in this scenario purpose.

Here’s another one: your character is going against the government, or any large institution, “1984”-style. Why did this entity grow to be the way it is Why is the protagonist going against it? There shouldn’t be a “pure evil” motive because that means there’s someone behind the whole thing. It starts to blend in with other potential antagonist. Don’t confuse yourself! But there’s always…you guessed it…purpose behind the institution.

A new favorite and trend we see in writing is the internal antagonist. This mostly revolves around characteristics of the character and being held back by these traits. For the first time throughout this piece, purpose is stripped from the “antagonist” and comes to fruition out of some event or comes to light. These become more realistic because it may be an accurate portrayal of life itself.

So…take to the books and get writing your perfect, purposeful antagonist. Alright, we’re done using the ‘p’ word.

Jumping Through Time

A story can include one of two things: flashbacks or skipping to the future. We don’t think recommending the two is a great idea but if executed cohesively…sure! Why not! Let’s discuss.

Sometimes, writing flashbacks can help a story flesh itself out. Readers understand the plot better, the character better, ANYTHING! But what happens when a flashback becomes more than a flash back? Meaning, what happens when a brief moment takes up a whole chapter? Is that acceptable? There isn’t any reason why it shouldn’t be acceptable – other than not being written properly. Make sure flashbacks are quick and easy. They’re meant to be memories triggered by people or items or occurrences surrounding the character or plot. Here’s an idea: it doesn’t necessarily have to be written in the perspective where the character is brought back to a moment in time…but rather, induces a feeling, an image flashed in the character’s thoughts. Something like that.

Skipping ahead in time is also a way to get the story moving along. Readers don’t need all filler details and a story doesn’t deserve that either! A few months can pass in the story in a matter of words, as long as the reader is caught up with the characters and ongoings in their world, what else is needed? Questions should never be left unanswered, too. If they are, there better be good reason for it. Did something happen prior to the time hop that wasn’t resolved during the time not mentioned? Well, it better come full circle because then the reader will not be happy (they’ll scream, “PLOT HOLE, PLOT HOLE!” and write a whole review about how the plot hole ruined the story for them.)

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So, now that we’ve lectured about time and the relationship it has with your story – let’s build a time machine and have some fun!

The Bubble Has Burst

We’re talking about the creative bubble bursting. If it has, this may be a bad sign. PSA: this is not okay.

In the situation where your creativity has run dry, we have a few kind words to send your way. Take a step away from your computer, notebooks, or brainstorming station. It’s time for you to recharge your creative energy in hopes of coming back with a bang.

Creative spurts or waves…they come and go. That doesn’t mean you have to exhaust your brain and learn to hate what you once loved.

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Fighting Game For Writers!

We are big advocates for demolishing writer’s block. We’ve talked about a variety of methods, websites, and apps to use against a writer’s worst nightmare. Here is a new one for you: Fighter’s Block.

So, after playing around with the online app for a few levels, I can officially declare this as a fun way to defeat writer’s block. There’s only a select amount of characters you can choose from and there’s only one enemy unlocked but there are little details in the structure and immersion of the game which makes it worthwhile.

Let’s break it down!

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Cute pixel sprites go up against each other in a game that challenges you to write, write, write before your character’s health reaches zero. You start off by choosing your hero (you can choose between Red or Karen, Quin is locked until you reach level 11) and your word goal for that particular level. Once you click fight, the battle has begun.

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You’ll notice the health bar of your character slowly (or quickly) diminishing if you’re not typing. As you write, the character’s health is regenerated and the enemy’s lowers.

To add more flair to your experience, you can customize your fighting background and writing difficulty to challenge yourself. The theme can be changed to different color schemes that can better your playing/writing experience. With the opponent you can easily change its speed and attack which works against you as you’re writing.

Your writing space can also be customized. From font to the display of your text box, this game is perfect for any writer looking for new ways to get back into the swing of things.

Why Three Is NOT A Crowd!

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It’s common in the writing community to have more than one pair of eyes editing your work. Some editors catch certain details, whether it’s proofing, copy editing, structural editing, or developmental edits. But what if you haven’t gotten too far into your writing career and you don’t have a team behind you quite yet? We have another option and idea for you: A WRITING GROUP.

Sounds very old school, maybe something you thought only existed on TV or in slice-of-life movies, but they’re very real and sometimes very necessary in a writer’s career. You’ll get the similar appeal from an editing team towards your writing, but a tad bit nicer and less cut-dry. A group will provide the outside perspective you need to help tie up the loose ends you may have missed. If your group (or partner) chooses meet-up times, it’ll boost your accountability with your writing and improve your relationship with your ability to write. Last but not least, you’ll get unconditional support from your peers, which you might need on those days you aren’t feeling confident.

A step beyond that: you’ll find friends. Friends who will love and support you (and your writing career but let’s get back to the sentiments), to push you in the right direction.

Tread Lightly

Recently, we’ve been seeing the writing community discuss the anxieties pertaining to writing minority characters. A lot of authors and writers tread these waters lightly. At the end of the day, when one person writes a race that isn’t their own, it can easily be turned against them. We want to remind that: it is possible to write another race. You shouldn’t feel discouraged!

Don’t ever forget: people are diverse. Not only in skin color but in personal experience. Not one experience will ever be the same. Your character’s bio should have the “deep and complex” experience which helps them grow throughout the duration of the plot. This can easily be influenced by location, demographic, how their family dynamic is built…all those details. Every writer knows this but here’s a friendly reminder…do your research.

One of the biggest concerns is encouraging stereotypes. For anyone, stereotypes in books alter the reality of how we see other races. Take the jokes and heavily controversial bits that you’ve heard out of your writing. Instead, apply the research you’ve done to your racially-diverse characters.

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Keep in mind: you’re not going to please everyone. People will not like your character because it doesn’t reflect their exact life experience. People won’t like the textbook relation of your character to the audience. Your character is your character; they’re an extension of you and your work. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

 

The Three-Headed Hound

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“Multi-headed hellhound that guards the entrance to the underworld.”

Basic Facts:

  • Prevents the dead from leaving the Underworld.
  • We know the Cerberus as a three-headed dog, but most early depictions show the Cerberus as a regular-sized dog with one to two heads.
  • Described to have a serpent for a tail, snakes protruding from parts of its body, and mostly a hound.
  • Cerberus was rumored to have surfaced on Earth but returned by its own will to the Underworld to serve Hades.
  • Cerberus’ name derived from the Greek word “creoboros,” which translates to “flesh-devouring.

A Magical Monday

It’s always fun to do research, especially when writing. So, this Monday, we wanted to do some basic research for you on one of our favorite subjects in the fantasy-world: magic & magic-users.

Since there are so many different classes of magic, we decided to look at titles some of your characters might hold in your story.


  • Wizard: source of magic comes from books, learning, and practices.
  • Warlock: name translates loosely to “truce-breaker” and supposedly gets their power from a higher power (usually seen as an ‘evil’ entity.)
  • Sorcerer: power comes from within; “sors” Latin for “oracular response.”
  • Magician: in the paranormal or fantasy sense, magic is used for ceremonial purposes.
  • Witch: the female “wizard,” essentially.
  • Mage: magic-user but of an academic source.
  • Conjuror: magic used in the creation of objects.
  • Enchanter: magic is used to enhance items or charm people.

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You’re Watching The Morning News

It’s important to find your muse and stick with it. Keeping the other creative stories at bay could be hard but worth shutting up until your current piece is complete. But what happens if your muse just so happens to be the news.

You know what I mean: writing a fictional story around a political mishap, or some celebrity scandal or even a cool invention that made its debut on the morning news but triggered your creative gears and now you can’t stop piecing together how it came to be.

Let’s talk about why it might be down your alley to talk about the trends in our society.

People read the news and are consumed by it. Good, bad, whatever it may be. This is what people will always turn to. If you’re in the writing gig and have a general interest in recreating the last scandal that popped up on your phone or TV, we say do it.

Some of the most recent best-sellers included work about politics, magical realism, plain ol’ literary realism/naturalism…but not a nonfiction story.

No, stay away from that unless you’re in a situation where you like the research your conducting.

To put it into perspective, when the Royal Wedding came around…twice…there was a huge influx in sales for stories about princesses and fictional retellings of how the couples came to be.

Think about that the next time you’re tuned into the six o’clock news.

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From Us To You

We have been talking about a lot of world-building lately. We see it as a very vital part of writing, especially when it comes to creating your own world. The detail behind your creation should resonate with your reader, and describe a place they will be sucked into. Some of our authors at HRM gave us a look into their ways of building and we thought it would be nice to share with a writer who hasn’t quite gotten the grasp of piecing together their fictional world.


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Krista Walsh:

I have my system (basically pages and pages of journal entries attempting to consider every element of the society as it goes across books), but a streamlined version would probably be a bit more coherent. 😉

Pippa Dacosta:

I have a notebook for each novel/series and write all of my little world intricacies down. Most of the world-building I layer in after the first draft. Touch, sights, social differences, currency, sayings, speech patterns, etc. I try and make the world-building almost unnoticeable.

JR Rasmussen:

I use a single Scrivener project for a whole series, so all my notes are in there. Before I start writing, I gather up enough to make me feel like I know the place well enough to live in it for a few books, and then add/revise as I go along. Everything from the magic system to what they eat. Also maps. So many maps.