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.Keeping_Readers_Grounded_in_Strange_Worlds

Focus on Humanity

If your story involves shifting fifth dimensions, alternate-dimension non-humanoids that feed off of human emotions, and an evil shadow which distorts time, it may run the risk of being too kooky. The best way to curb its nutcase behavior and mold it into something worth reading is to fixate on the most relatable part of your story: the characters. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brandon Miller
Raised on C.S. Lewis and matured (to whatever extent) on Tolkien, Brandon Miller is a huge fan of Christian speculative fiction. His favorite stories artfully bend the physical reality to reveal spiritual realities which apply to all realms, kingdoms, districts and solar systems (including our own.)
When not writing fiction Brandon spends his time tending his blog The Woodland Quill, sportsing, or just struggling through that last-year-of-high-school/first-year-of-college which is really neither but is definitely both.

Five Ways to Create Nail-Biting Internal Conflict

What do character, theme, and tension have in common? They are all results of genuine internal conflict in a story.

What is internal conflict? As opposed to external conflict which involves characters battling antagonists, internal conflict ensues when a character wars against himself. Or, perhaps more usefully, it can be summed up as the process of making difficult decisions. Of course, not all decisions are interesting, nor will all interesting decisions generate tension or develop characters, but some will.5_Ways_to_Create_Nail-Biting_Internal_Conflict

The Five Steps to Internal Conflict

I’ll pull an old writer’s adage out of the playbook and parade it around for a moment: show, don’t tell. Most writing students have repeatedly heard this mantra in their journey, and they’re going to hear it many more times. I don’t want to go off on a tangent and start expounding the importance of “show, don’t tell,” because that subject could (and has) filled many books. But I need to mention it because it’s the groundwork for the five-step strategy I’ll be describing. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brandon Miller
Raised on C.S. Lewis and matured (to whatever extent) on Tolkien, Brandon Miller is a huge fan of Christian speculative fiction. His favorite stories artfully bend the physical reality to reveal spiritual realities which apply to all realms, kingdoms, districts and solar systems (including our own.)
When not writing fiction Brandon spends his time tending his blog The Woodland Quill, sportsing, or just struggling through that last-year-of-high-school/first-year-of-college which is really neither but is definitely both.

How to Manipulate Your Antagonist’s Goals to Enhance Suspense

Your character wants something. But someone else in his world, perhaps a friend or a random stranger, wants the opposite. These incompatible goals define them as the protagonist and antagonist. They both can’t succeed, so when their desires clash, behold! You have the perfect recipe for conflict.How_to_Manipulate_Your_Antagonist_s_Goals_to_Enhance_Suspense

Conflict ensues when a character is faced with an obstacle to overcome. Your antagonist’s ambitions often interfere with your protagonist’s and vice versa. This drives the main conflict more than any other goal. Therefore, it is no surprise that the secret to intensifying suspense is born when the knowledge of the villain’s mission is manipulated.

When creating suspense, the nature of the antagonist’s goal doesn’t matter as long as it is contrary to the hero’s. Tension will result when you withhold aspects of the villain’s goal from your protagonist and, in turn, the audience. The antagonist’s objective becomes a mystery, taunting readers with information just beyond their reach. Below are three methods to increase this tension. [Read more…]

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Gabrielle Pollack currently resides with her family and many cats amidst a small wood she wishes was Narnia. Her interests are varied, and when she isn’t writing or studying, she enjoys karate, archery, introverting, and hanging out on the Kingdom Pen forum. She relishes the cool wind that rushes in before a thunderstorm, the scent of fresh rain, black clouds, and in summary, all things storm. As a lighthearted INFP, she loves horses, spring, strawberries, and sitting on the roof of her house.
She fell in love with stories many years ago and immersed herself in epic books like The Kingdom Series and The Peleg Chronicles, living the adventures and loving the characters. It took her a while to realize she could write epic stories herself, but once she did, she was a lost cause. She never quite recovered her sanity and often rants about good storytelling to innocent bystanders. Gabrielle has written two books since, and has a plethora of other ideas swirling inside her brain, waiting to turn into people and worlds. She desires to glorify God through her books, short stories, and blog, and looks forward to learning more about her trade.

10 Romance Cliches to Boycott

Romance. Generally, a genre I choose to steer clear of. Always. Which can occasionally put me in an awkward situation. Being a girl and all. I am just more of an action girl. It has always been my favorite. But I hear the word ‘romance’ and wince.  I have nothing against those who love writing romance fiction; it is simply not my strong point. (Believe me, I tried. Don’t ask about it. It was ugly.)romaticclichespost

Besides all this, I do appreciate some romance fiction; properly executed, I really love it. My favorite romance author is Francine Rivers. She is fantastic with the unexpected. I never know what direction the story is going to take, she keeps me guessing the whole time. I highly recommend her Mark of the Lion series.

Part of the reason I dislike a lot of romance is because of the way many writers handle it. So, I have compiled a little list of clichés and pitfalls in romance fiction. A lot of these I learned from experience when I attempted a romance.

1. Perfect guy falls for boring girl

The biggest cliche of all romance fiction. I am guilty of using this method in one of my stories. The nobody girl, struggling in life, not confident with her body, meets the hot, handsome, and successful guy who magically has interest in her over tons of other hot girls. Practically everyone has had this idea roll through their head while considering romance in a story. It’s pretty typical. Awfully typical. This ties in with my next point.

2. The perfect guy

This one is the worst. It is all over the place. The guy has the absolute perfect body, great career path, and is fantastic at everything. But then, sometimes you have the counterpart, which can be equally annoying. [Read more…]