Storytelling

How to Make Your Villain Threatening

If your big bad doesn’t feel threatening, your story will lose its power. Unfortunately, making an intimidating antagonist isn’t as simple as replicating Dracula or Darth Vader and putting them in the path of the main character. But with a little thought, you can make … read more »

How to Use Undead in Your Stories

Undead creatures aren’t limited to shamblers and neck-biters. They come with a wide range of options, and each has its own strengths. A little thought and planning will help you choose the best creatures for your story and help set your undead antagonists apart from … read more »

Creating a Fresh Vampire Antagonist

Living in spooky castles or just next door, vampires provide excellent antagonists for speculative fiction. They’re humanity’s predatory reflection, something that looks like us and yet isn’t. Unfortunately, they’re also overplayed. Vampires are so common in fiction that the novelty has worn off. Even when … read more »

Is Backstory Necessary?

We received this question from Ruth Huish: Often I read a book and they spend so much time focusing on the subplot that I just want to say, “Get over it! I want to hear about the time-sensitive plot at hand.” And usually that plot … read more »

Why & How to Kill a Hero

Unless you’re writing a slasher,* killing an important protagonist is a tough decision that can have a profound effect on your story. For most works, it will have both benefits and drawbacks. Understanding the dynamics of character death can help you avoid pitfalls and select … read more »

Pulling Your Hero Into the Magical Realm

Recently Emma asked us: My story is an urban fiction one where the main character believes that magic and fairies are only mythical creations. Then one day she is told that she is one of few people who do in fact have inhuman abilities (this … read more »

Five Traits of a Winning Concept

While plot and character are essential to stories, many works become popular because they have a great concept, like an evil and seductive gold ring or an encyclopedia for hitchhiking the galaxy. What makes a great concept? Ask yourself if your idea has these five … read more »

Six More Character Archetypes to Ditch

Bad characters abound in our media, threatening to overwhelm our bastions of good storytelling. Or at least that’s how it can seem when you turn on the TV or flip through a random book. Many of these characters come from flawed archetypes that writers use … read more »

Five Symbolic Motifs for Mystical Characters

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 »