Inspiration

Six Subversive Heroes for Stand Out Stories

subversive-witch

Today’s popular stories pick most of their heroes from the same narrow group of people, reinforcing destructive stereotypes and stripping characters of interesting variation. But storytellers get a silver lining: we have an easy opportunity to make our heroes stand apart by subverting convention. To get started, take some worthy people who … read more »

Seven Scenarios That Provide Immediate Conflict

The airship Hindenburg, on fire at the stern.

Hooking readers is the first job of any story, and to do that you need conflict. But where does that conflict come from? Writers often spend the first part of their story exploring the setting, looking for the cracks where conflict can be found. Because nothing … read more »

Six Ways Guns Change a Fantasy Setting

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We’re all looking for ways to make our fantasy setting stand out. One great way to do that is with an iron tube packed with explosives and a round ball of lead. I’m talking about guns, of course. Despite being a major force in human … read more »

Ten Ways to Generate Story Ideas

Derivative of how an idea starts by Lissachoa and Magic tree4 by pan.li75. Available under CC SA 3.0.

When storytellers are asked where their ideas come from, many don’t know how to answer. Idea generation is a personal process that relies on the subconscious mind. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to harness your imagination. It’s just a matter of discovering … read more »

Five Innovative Horror Stories to Read

Just reach in there. It'll be fine.

Hark, for it is the night on which we don our most terrifying garb and roam the streets in search of victims – I mean candy. We all love horror stories, especially on Halloween, but after a while they get stale. You can only watch … read more »

Five Dualities That Can Replace Good and Evil

In the 100, Clarke discovers their enemy has every reason to be angry.

Let’s face it, fights between pure good and absolute evil are getting old. Black and white morality doesn’t lend itself to nuanced characters, and it rarely feels realistic anymore. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have epic battles that determine the fate of the world. … read more »

Five Symbolic Motifs for Mystical Characters

mystical

Symbolism creates another realm of meaning to explore. The following symbolic motifs feature ways we re-imagine our natural world, making them wonderful for bestowing ancient mysticism on your characters or simply adding playfulness to your story. Read more »

Designing Aliens From an Alternate Earth

Avatar's Pandora, complete with flying blue beasties and pretty forest waterfall.

From the little green men of Mars to the rubber foreheads of Star Trek, aliens persist as a tried-and-true staple of science fiction. Though the concept of alien life isn’t unrealistic, scifi representations are almost always implausible. We’ve recently deduced that Earth-like planets should number … read more »

Eight Natural Phenomena to Use in Your Stories

distant_Gamma-ray_burst

If you’ve ever stared at a blank page trying to come up with a first sentence, then you know how useful it can be to have something to jump-start your story, a kernel around which the narrative can form. That spark can be a plot hook, or it can be something just outside your door. Read more »