Magic Tricks

A magician never reveals her secrets…unless she’s trying to help others learn the craft.

Writing can be a difficult form of magic.  Here is some advice from me for mages-in-training:

  • Characters: Good characters come alive in your mind.  They are not flat archetypes but well-rounded, complicated people with strengths and flaws.  I find that the most compelling characters are those who change over the course of the story…for better or worse.  Also, you don’t write your story.  Your characters do.
  • Setting: To get better at writing settings, observe the world around you.  Engage all your senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch.  Think about how to translate the places you know into words.  It’s good to weave details about your setting into the action of the story if you can, rather than just dumping descriptions of the scenery that could distract readers from the action into a scene.
  • Plot: A great plot should pique a reader’s interest right away and keep them reading.  Start at an exciting part of the story.  Cause a problem!  Make strange things happen! Keep the reader asking questions, eager to know what happens next!  There should be symmetry to the structure of your story: a seed of the ending in the beginning, and vice versa.  Events should flow from each other as naturally as a river flows into the sea.
  • Inspiration: Inspiration is everywhere.  Seek it and you will find it.
  • Perseverance: The best writers don’t just write when a shiny new idea strikes their fancy.  They write when they’re tired and sad and they have to drag themselves to their desks.  Write as often as you can.  Read as often as you can.  Finish things.  Get feedback on your work.  Polish your stories and make them the best they can be.  Keep learning new things about the art and craft of writing, and keep at it!