Author: Sierra

Three Mistakes to Avoid When Crafting Character Motivations

You did it. You’ve sketched out a great cast of protagonists, a detailed plot, and a genuinely scary villain (the last part was a cinch after an entire month of articles on the subject here at KP). You begin writing furiously while your excitement’s fresh, but after 10,000 words you exhaust more than half your plot ideas. Your beta readers confirm what you’ve begun to suspect: your characters are accomplishing goals without experiencing tension. The problem is likely that your protagonists’ motivations are too simplistic. To tell a compelling story, you must establish unique motivations for the protagonists that...

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Four Lessons Loki Can Teach You About Writing Villains

November heralds the approach of Thanksgiving, holiday-flavored Starbucks beverages, and (for loyal Marvel fans at least) the theatrical release of Thor: Ragnarok. Since Kingdom Pen’s topic for October is villains, it seemed appropriate to write a piece on Loki Laufeyson, one of the best-loved villians in modern films. Though Loki takes a backseat to his brother on the silver screen (a movie hasn’t been named after him yet, while Thor has three), his cult following is more expansive and active. Loki fanfiction nearly doubles that of Thor, and over 100,000 more pieces of artwork are tagged “Loki” on DeviantArt. His...

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How to Resist Writing Stereotypical Fantasy Races

A fine line separates inspiration and imitation, or so the saying goes. Writers struggle to define this boundary more than most artists—they are, after all, rearranging the same twenty-six letters in various patterns judged to be the most pleasing to the mind and ear. The number of plots guaranteed to captivate readers is also limited (falling in love, freeing the kingdom, solving the mystery). Since fantasy writers have immersed themselves in the worlds of their literary heroes from childhood, they cannot help subconsciously modeling their own stories off them. Thus, it is unsurprising that many books seem to be...

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Teaching Freedom

Arthur Blakeney hated September. He didn’t despise fall’s arrival, or his students’ return to his one-room schoolhouse, or even the picking of apples and pumpkins. He once welcomed all these changes and more, but now they evoked dread instead of pleasure. The annual Honor Ceremony fell smack in the middle of that awful month, and as the schoolmaster of Gribleyton, he was compelled to give a lesson on the reason for the occasion. And that was enough to make him avoid flipping his calendar long after August had passed. But every year September arrived despite Arthur and his students’...

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Should a Christian Ghostwrite?

Who do you suppose wrote this article? If you’re a loyal, observant reader of Kingdom Pen (as you should be) your answer will probably be: “Sierra Ret, obviously. It says so at the top.” But in the age of superfluous digital-content creation, a byline might not be as authentic as you expect. If I were a less ethical writer (and our editor-in-chief less picky about whom he hires), this article could be ghostwritten. Ghostwriting is typically defined as writing for another who is the presumed or credited author, and the practice has a long tradition. Presidential speeches, for instance....

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