A Writing Study on Assassins, Flashbacks, and Emotions (A Guest Post & Giveaway by Fantasy Author Maria V. Snyder)


Oh, am I excited about our returning guest! Fantasy author Maria V. Snyder stopped by here 2 years ago for an interview on SHADOW STUDY, her fourth Study novel and the return of Yelena and Valek, her two most beloved characters. Today, the series ends with DAWN STUDY, and Maria was gracious enough to take time out of her schedule to write a guest post. So, let’s celebrate DAWN STUDY’s book birthday with a “study” of master spy-assassin Valek, his growth since SHADOW STUDY, and the challenges of writing from his perspective. 

When my first book, Poison Study, was published over (*cough*) eleven (*cough*) years ago, I had no idea I’d go on to write five more Study books and the spin-off Glass Series. Nine total books and four short stories! I’d also didn’t know that Valek would become my readers’ favorite character (according to an unscientific Facebook poll).

While planning Poison Study, I knew Valek would be Ixia’s Chief of Security and the Commander’s assassin. He’d be distant, cold, and good at killing people with all types of weapons – basically, a stereotypical bad ass.  After that, I didn’t really consider him to be more than an antagonist to my main protagonist, Yelena.  In fact, I thought if there would be a romance in the book, it would most likely be between Yelena and the Commander. Yeah, well, I’m not the best at planning books, and I tend to discover the true story as I write.

Continue reading

The Character Evolution Files, No. 13: Answers to Lingering Questions About the Journey Through the Character Arc


Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we look back on our Journey Through the Character Arc with File No. 13, which answers questions we might have and that readers have posed during the series.

Analyzing the components of character evolution is no easy task. So is using those components to craft a protagonist’s path of growth through an original story. Thanks to our recent Journey Through the Character Arc series, which focused on 10 stages for developing a positive arc, we’re now equipped with a step-by-step process and targeted questions that can help us develop such a path that’s logical and compelling. But have Files No. 3 through 12 answered all of our questions about character arcs? Probably not.

So, for File No. 13, we’ll explore some of those questions. For example, can the order of the 10 arc stages be rearranged? How closely should those stages align with a story’s plot structure, or with the percentage milestones or lengths recommended in each post? Plus, if you found each arc stage’s questionnaire beneficial, check out the final section for a special worksheet announcement! Continue reading

A Screenwriter Gets Schooled in Novel Writing (A Guest Post by Heather Jackson of WriteOnSisters)

Screenwriting Heather J banner

Today is the second half of a guest-post swap I’m doing with WriteOnSisters. My article on high fantasy vs epic fantasy is already live at WOS. Now, it’s one of the “Sister’s” turns to post here! Heather Jackson lives in Canada and writes YA novels as well as television and video game screenplays. In fact, she began with screenplays before tackling novel-writing. Here’s what Heather learned during that transition.

I started my writing career as a television screenwriter, but my first love has always been books. So, after screenwriting for what seemed like an eternity to my young self (though I’d only been making a living at it for five years), I decided it was time to write a novel. Being a “seasoned professional,” I estimated I could develop a book idea and write a first draft in one year. After all, I already knew how to craft great stories. Novels simply used more words to tell those stories, right?

Oh, the naiveté of inexperience. I soon learned that more differentiates novels and screenplays than the number of words.

But let’s start with the similarities. I wasn’t totally wrong; many screenwriting skills do transfer to the process of writing novels.

Continue reading

Chronicling The Craft: Draft #2 Revisions – 80% Complete

Chronicling The Craft banner

Revising for Deep Point of View, Plus Another Excerpt from The Keeper’s Curse

“Chronicling The Craft” is an article series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, starting with the first draft and now into revisions. Each article contains a progress update as well as writing / revising tips and excerpts from the updated draft. Today’s installment celebrates 80% completion of Draft #2 of THE KEEPER’S CURSE.

Well, this Chronicle is a bit overdue. XD I had hoped to post this when I reached the 70% percent mark for Draft #2. But between the December holidays, my 2-week blogging hiatus, and delays in drafting this post, we’re celebrating not 70% or 75%, but 80%. That’s not such a bad thing, though… because you know what it means, right?

Yes... I think I see it, too, Jack... :D

Yes… I think I see it, too, Jack… 😀

Yes. I’m on the home stretch. I’ve reached the point where I can safely say, “I’M ALMOST DONE – AGAIN!!” (*fistpumps*) Honestly, the thought of closing in on the finish sends thrills up and down my spine… Yet it’s also overwhelming, because it means I’ll need to start thinking about Draft #3 soon.

Wow. I think I just deflated my own balloon of happiness. Anyways…

Considering how close I am to the end, I think this will be the second-to-last Chronicle for this go-round. So, the next time you see a Chronicling The Craft post, Draft #2 will be FINISHED. 😀  In the meantime, let’s get to the 80% progress report, followed by Today’s Tip and a new excerpt for your feedback.
Continue reading

Chronicling The Craft: 30,000 Words

I vs. She: Which Point of View Fits Best?

Chapters In Progress: 9

Chapters Completed: 6

I have to admit, the 30,ooo-word milestone snuck up on me. Once I passed it, I did my little celebration dance – then I realized I hadn’t brainstormed possible topics for the next Chronicle. Oops! But after a get-together last night with friends, I have an idea now.

As always, I’ll start with which chapters I’ve worked on since the previous Chronicle: Continue reading