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Is it more important to be kind, or honest?


What makes your antagonist dangerous?


What challenges (physical, psychological, emotional, etc) does your antagonist create for your protagonist?

aokamineko inquired:

Hello, I've been silently following you guys for a while now (you're amazingly helpful!) and I have a question. When is the best time to have a character admit his/her romantic feelings for another. I'm trying to avoid the cliche of a character blurting it out in the middle of a hugely climactic scene, but my mind keeps grinding to a halt. Help?

Hello friend! Good to hear from you.

The answer is: There is no best time.

In terms of storytelling, there are certainly good and bad times and ways. If the admission doesn’t suit the pace, or it feels out of character, it will be jarring and strange to the audience. The cliche of blurting feelings in the middle of a climactic scene is a cliche because it heaps drama on top of drama on top of emotion- which is really great and dramatic if you can do it right, but it’s been done and poorly done so often that it’s not as fresh anymore.

So, instead, let’s think about your characters, and what seems in character for them. I don’t know your plot, but you should be able to figure out when the admission would feel right.

- Why hasn’t your character said anything yet? Are they afraid of being rejected? Maybe they’ve already been rejected, and are respecting their friend by not bringing it up again. They could be bad with feelings, and uncomfortable with their crush. Their crush could be happy with someone else. Maybe the situation is complicated, and there are other factors that make the situation more difficult. (Are they cool with me being ace? Are they cool with me being a boy?) It’s possible that the person in question hasn’t been told, but is perfectly aware that their friend has a crush on them, and will eventually get fed up and call them out about it so that they can be happy (I’m slightly fond of that one).
It doesn’t seem like admitting feelings would be so hard, but it frequently takes a lot of courage to do so.

- What method or words would your character likely use for a confession of love? I will tell all of y’all that being as direct and straightforward as possible is the best course of action, but your characters don’t always know that. Some people might spew poetry under pressure, but frequently, love confessions are rather awkwardly worded, a bit fumbling, maybe not perfect. You know how your character speaks, stick to it! Don’t make them say something beautiful but totally unlike them. Additionally- are they an in-person type? Will they leave a letter? Cryptogram? It’s up to them and you.

I hope that helped some! Again, think about your characters, and their relationship, and what feels right for them. You’ll figure it out!


Anonymous inquired:

I have a fantasy world that is made from scratch and I have a few questions: if guns exist, then how do I balance them to make them fair against, say, swords and maces? And how does one go about describing weapons that are more exotic, such as a buugeng, a katar or wind and fire wheels, which probably aren't very well-known? And how does one write battle scenes for characters who wield such weapons?

For the most part, I’m gonna tell you to ask our friends at howtofightwrite ( They’re pretty and smart, trust them.

Some ideas for trying to even out guns to (somewhere vaguely approaching) the level of swords and maces in a fantasy setting:
- Guns are still very low tech, and therefore can’t consistently hit the broad side of a barn. They’re accurate at about point blank, so you have to wait til the person with the sword is within sword distance to fight.
- Again with the low tech: Reloading takes FOREVER, and the guns are single shot. If the first shot misses, sword or mace can charge and strike.
- Guns are prohibitively expensive. Only very rich people can purchase them. They like to lord it over the sword-ers.
- The guns are made very cheaply and badly, and break constantly, always at the worst moment.
-Ammunition is, for some reason, hard to come by. Or maybe it’s bad. Maybe some of your fantasy characters are werewolves, and you know how badly silver bullets affect aim.
-There is an intense social stigma around carrying guns, and people hate gun-weilders so fiercely that it’s going to make more danger than protection for you.
-Some characters can’t wield guns. Maybe there are fae who have a thing against cold iron. Maybe some characters are under a geas to never fire one. The guns that exist could be physical impractical for some species.
-Some characters aren’t affected by bullets. Because of magic. “No projectile weapon can kill me!” “I am not a projectile weapon! I was from my smith untimely ripped!” Eh heh.
-Magic messes with guns, like humidity and that one sniper rifle. Going somewhere where the magic is strong will affect the gun in… interesting ways.
-Guerrilla warfare and traps are a fun way to mess with people that have guns (or really anything) that want to mess up your shit.

In a straight shoot out, or a pitched battle, by our logic and laws of nature, my money will always be on the guns. However, your world doesn’t have to work with our logic or nature! So who knows- just give me a reason to believe that that swordsman and that gunman are on even ground, and there’s a good chance I’ll bite, for fantasy.
Logically, the best thing to do would be to walk around with a sword and a gun or two, because who’s to say that you can’t have both?

Goooood luck!

Learning the Essentials of Plotting Your Novel


I get a lot of questions about plotting, so I figured I’d write up some tips on getting started. Learning how to plot your novel can be difficult, but it’s really all about knowing what your characters want and how they’re going to get it or attempt to get it. A character with motivations and goals will help focus your plot and get you to figure out where it needs to go. Here are a few essentials when it comes to plotting your novel:

Create a plot skeleton

It helps to first jot down the key elements of the story you want to tell. Creating a plot skeleton means getting down to the bare bones of your story. What’s most important? What scenes are essential to your story? Once you figure out those key scenes and have some semblance of a beginning, middle, and an end, you’ll see your story start to come together.

Work on a timeline

If you’re having trouble figuring out when you want things to happen, try working on a timeline. What event needs to happen first in order to lead into the next big event? Your story is going to have some ups and downs, so you need to make sure your story is paced well. You don’t want action, action, action without any rest for your readers. Learning to pace your novel well is an important skill to have as a writer. I suggest reading up on story arcs.

Focus on characters

Your characters will tell the story if you let them. Focusing on the wants and needs of all your characters will help build the plot for you. It’s sometimes as easy as that. Think about what your character wants and go from there. What journey will your character be in for? What does the antagonist want? How do they stand in the way of your protagonist? Think about how one action leads to the next.

Make sure your scenes connect

When telling a story you don’t want to keep saying “and then this happens”. Then you’re just stringing together events without thinking about how they build on each either. You need to think about the “but” in your story. Something like this helps; “Amy wanted to go the school dance, but her mother doesn’t want her to go.” This explains that Amy really wants to do something, but another person is standing in her way. You can begin to think about conflict and why Amy’s mother doesn’t want her to go. You can begin to piece together a story and connect the dots.

Flesh out your story

Once you have all the big scenes figured out, you can begin to add extra detail and flesh out your novel.  Spend more time thinking about your world and the specific details of your characters. Work on scenes that will help reveal the setting and all those character details. Figure out what interactions are necessary to give your readers important information. Each scene should work to push the story to its resolution.

Let your characters resolve their problems

It’s very important that you let your characters resolve their problems on their own. If you’re developing your characters along the way, the resolution should be a result of them finally gaining the power, knowledge, strength, etc., to fix things. I know not every story will be “resolved”, but if you want your protagonist to grow in some way they need to figure out their own problems instead of relying on other factors to get them through. A good plot shows how your characters learned to overcome their obstacles on their own.

-Kris Noel

5 Common Story Problems with Simple Fixes


Our stories are often plagued with these common story problems, but if we don’t know how to fix them, we’ll never improve our writing. It’s important that you remember you don’t need to scrap your novel if you keep having the same issues over and over again. Hopefully this list will help you pinpoint what’s going on and provide ways for you to improve your novel.

Problem: Unmotivated Characters

If you’re having trouble figuring out where your story should go next, the problem could be with unmotivated characters. Characters aren’t in your novel just so you can push them around every once in a while and make them do things. They need to develop over time and keep your story going in the right direction.


Work on your character’s wants, goals, and motivations. You need to figure out what’s driving your character if you want them to do anything. Where do they want to end up? What’s standing in their way? What’s their plan? Who will help them? Think about everything your character will need to do to resolve your novel. Focus on what they want and what motivates their actions and your characters will stop being dull and lifeless.

Problem: Boring First Chapters

A boring first chapter is dangerous because you want to captivate your audience right away. You don’t want to lose readers just because of this, but sometimes it happens.  You should give enough information to keep your readers interested, while also keeping them intrigued enough to figure out what happens next.


Putting emotion into your scenes from the beginning will not only help set the tone, but we’ll get an immediate understanding of your world. The best advice I can give is to construct a scene that helps us best understand your character. If they’re on the run, show us that they’re being chased. If they’re sad and lonely, construct a scene that lets us feel their isolation. You don’t necessarily need to open your book with action, but you do need to introduce the conflict. Think about what your character wants and go from there. Think of your first chapter as an introduction to an essay. You don’t go right into the points immediately, but you set us up for something good.

Problem: Plot Holes

Writers worry about forgetting to include important information in their novel that’s necessary to the plot. If you’re discovering that readers often point out plot holes in your story, maybe it’s time to reevaluate how you plan your novel.


Pre-planning or prewriting your novel often solves any plot hole problems. If you take the time to write out important scenes so you don’t forget them, your story will become stronger. However, if you’re not someone who likes to do so much planning, you can tackle plot holes during the editing phase. Take notes when you’re editing so that you can catch these plot holes and figure out where you can add necessary information. A plot hole does not always mean your novel needs loads of reworking, but it is something you need to take the time to fill in.

Problem: Poor Pacing

Poor pacing can ruin a novel, but luckily it’s something you can tackle head on before you even start writing your story. Good pacing helps add tension to your novel and helps you make sure there’s enough rising and falling action to keep your story interesting.


Planning out your novel ahead of time also helps solve pacing problems. You can create a timeline that helps you keep track and plan out when you want certain things to happen. Read up on story arcs and try to plan out your scenes accordingly. If you’re already done with your novel and you notice poor pacing, try rearranging scenes or spreading out the action.

Problem: Info-Dumping

A very common writing problem is info-dumping. This is when you tell your readers loads of information at a time without showing them anything important. Info-dumps usually occur in first chapters of novels, but they can happen anytime during the course of your story. Info- dumps can drag down your story and bore your readers.


Cut out long paragraphs where you explain what’s going on in your novel and show your readers instead. Avoid over explaining things that can be explained through action. Letting your audience figure things out instead is a much more satisfying reading experience and it lets your readers connect with your characters on a deeper level.

-Kris Noel


Your character’s friend has been very cranky lately. What’s going on?


Your character learns something that they’d rather not have known about their friend.

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