Author: Sierra

3 Writing Habits that Hurt Your Health

Your writing career can literally kill you. No, I’m not talking about starving to death or freezing in the winter, as some of your dubious relatives might have predicted will be your fate as a “poor” writer. Or your mother’s warning that you’ll expire from vitamin D deficiency if you never go outside. I’m referring to the act of sitting down to write, most likely at your computer. An increasing number of studies show how detrimental desk jobs can be to our health. You may not be chugging alcohol or smoking death sticks while writing like Ernest Hemingway, but...

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How to Create a Seriously Satisfying Ending

“The first page sells this book. The last page sells your next book.” This simple yet helpful saying encapsulates the most significant characteristic of endings: they determine the final state you leave readers in. What state do you want that to be? If it’s a stand-alone story or the conclusion of your series, you likely have contentment in mind. After all, satisfied readers buy more books. But is it possible to pull off a positive finale without readers rolling their eyes and dismissing your story as another generic and unrealistic happy ending? Let’s look at how to subvert your audience’s...

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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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