Author: Brandon Miller

The One Person Who Can Keep You Motivated as a Writer (Hint: It’s Not Yourself)

Writing, historically speaking, is a lonely game. Novel writing is a lonely, demotivating game. A game of survival. The strongest, the smartest, the bravest … they all fail. Only those without Facebook accounts or internet access can ever pass the test. Or at least that’s how it seems. Writing is hard, and mustering motivation to do hard feats is harder. But one person can change that and keep you moving forward despite the trials. That person is not you. That would be too easy. That person is your friend. He has the power to shape you into a real...

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3 Qualities to Look for in a Writing Craft Book

Reading craft books is a quick and easy way to learn new tips and tricks to sharpen your skills. Most craft books are light reads, entertaining as well as educational. And hey, since we’re all writers, we’d better be readers, so occasionally inserting a craft book into your rotation shouldn’t be a hard stunt. A craft book can either cover a wide range of topics or delve deeply into one. The subject could be characters, plot devices, grammar, or even publishing. Craft books can help writers advance their mastery and are valuable tools in the hands of a young...

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How to Craft Bittersweet Endings that Don’t Turn Off Readers

Fairy-tale happily-ever-afters are fun. Contrary to popular belief, they can even be deep, meaningful, and effective. But they aren’t the only kind of ending you should have in your toolbox. Depending on the story you’re writing, a fairy-tale ending might seem contrived, inauthentic, or cheap. If your novel tackles complex themes and foreshadows some cruel twist of fate, you’ll need to incorporate that into your ending. If your ending doesn’t carry the same tension, foreshadowing, and voice as the rest of your novel, it will feel incongruous. Just because your ending can’t be cheerful doesn’t mean it must be...

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Three Reasons to Make Your Villain Sympathetic (and Two Dangers to Avoid)

A villain rounds out your story’s conflict by opposing the hero’s every move. But, like heroes, villains are busy people, and they have more purposes than wreaking havoc. You’ve probably heard that they need to be “sympathetic” and “relatable.” Maybe the source you visited helped you concoct such a villain, or maybe (probably) it didn’t. How to create a sympathetic villain is commonly hashed out in the writer community. It’s a tricky concept to master, and a well-developed villain can make or break a story as much as a hero. In this article, I’d like to take a step...

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Keeping Readers Grounded in Strange Worlds

Have you ever worried that the fantasy world and story you are writing is too weird to be believable? Some fantasy stories are so far afield of reality that their authors have (valid) concerns that readers will be lost and skeptical of the world, causing them to miss the important aspects (characters, theme, emotions). Does this mean we can’t tell bizarre fantasy stories? No. But our stories need to be organized and handled correctly. Here are a few tips to make your fantasy world comprehensible, and even familiar, to readers. Focus on Humanity If your story involves shifting fifth...

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