Charles Dickens could get away with starting a story with the birth of his protagonist. J.D. Salinger chose not to start there and called it ‘all that David Copperfield kind of crap’. Now before I am lynched, let me say that I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens, but David Copperfield was published in 1917. Catcher in the Rye, although very advanced for its time, was published in 1945. Today we don’t write like either of these two authors.
This is 2014. What do we do?
- In The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins tells us simply that it is the day of the reaping. She doesn’t explain it or tell us what it means.
- In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green jumps in by telling us seventeen-year-old Hazel is depressed because she has cancer. She is in a support group almost before we hit page two.
- In Room by Emma Donoghue, Jack wakes up on his fifth birthday. He is in Bed and switches on Lamp and has an interesting conversation with Ma. We know something is up and weird, but Emma strings us along. She tells us nothing.
- In The Good Luck of Right Now, Matthew Quick writes about Bartholomew Neil who is clearing out his deceased mother’s underwear drawer and finds a form letter from Richard Gere. The death of his mother and his one-sided correspondence with Mr Gere takes us on a journey that is at once sad, sweet and enchanting.
Now, this is not a post about inciting moments although each one is a brilliant example of a moment of action and change. This is in fact a post about character biographies.
Imagine if I started my post with: To begin my post with the beginning of my post, I record that I wrote (as I have been informed and believe) on a Sunday night at eight o’clock while everyone else was watching the Sunday night movie. (I ain’t no Dickens, that’s for sure.)
How do great modern authors create characters so complete that I am interested in them even though I only met them a page ago?
Read more here
theowlsperch said: There was a post you put up within the past couple of days in which you say that heterosexual writers can write stories about LGBT+ characters, as long as it wasn't the stereotype and they knew about the issues they face. Are there any books or articles you would recommend to such authors so that they can avoid misrepresentation?
There really is no one stop shopping for this. There is no one article or book called “How to not write shitty queer characters for dummies”. Authors need to dig in and do A LOT of research.
Tumblr is a great resource. Writing about… lets just pick bisexual trans men? Some of them have tumblrs so follow 20 or 30 or 50 of them. Fill your dash with their voices.
Writing about a particular time period? There are lots of queer history books out there from working class lesbian bars to biographies of famous and powerful people. You will have to hit those books.
Writing about a particular place? Find queer people who live there. Talk to them IRL or online. Ask them what their lives are like.
Make sure you seek out voices of queer people of color. Queer media often excludes their POV so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that queer issues present the same for people of all races.
Read novels and stories written by queer people. Notice how different it seems when we talk about ourselves vs when others talk about us.
Read queer news sites and not just the big ones like The Advocate. You can follow tons of queer sites on facebook and tumblr so they will deliver content right to you. On tumblr I’m a big fan of projectqueer because they post news that is actually for all of us, not just cis white gay and lesbians.
You need to be willing to dig in deep and to do so independently. You should also bring your draft to queer people you know and ask them for honest feedback once your piece is done.
What it all boils down to is that you need to be willing to give this the time and respect we deserve. It’s not easy. If it were, everyone would already be doing it.
speaking as a queer person and as an author who writes outside my own experience, you can also literally just ask
people want representation and want to help people who care about getting it right. if you put out a request, you will find that people come out of the woodwork to volunteer their time and knowledge. so ask!
but remember to be humble and respectful and thankful for their time and effort, to listen to what they have to say, to read carefully any links or resources they give you, to take their critique gracefully, etc.
but seriously. people are sooo helpful if you put yourself out there!
Also, lots of people in marginalized groups, including the umbrella, have written blog posts specifically aimed at “my top five pet peeves about the way characters in my group get written” or “five things not to do when writing characters in my group/five things we really need that are underrepresented or not represented at all.” Google or tag-surfing can find some of them; they won’t all agree with each other, so read as many as you can find.
Yes! (Also link these for my illumination/gratification pls?)
I usually just google for the specific trait I’m writing at the time — like, if I wanted to know how not to write a Muslim woman, I’d look for blog posts by Muslim women specifically on that topic — but after writing that reply this morning I realized I’d never done one of my own for bi characters. So here it is.
Megan Gedris also put together a really great article on writing gay characters a while ago. It’s worth a read.
"Oh captain, my captain."
DPS and a list of beautiful words? Oh yes.
think about these things when you’re making a fictional place; even a developed city has its roots in how easy it was to settle in the first place!
- this site has additional info, diagrams, worksheets, and models, as well as information on things like coasts, volcanoes, and populations
- look at real life sources for climates. Consider the way that your continent(s) lay in relation to their equator, and the weather and types of flora and fauna and peoples that adapted to it.
- think about pangea. If you have multiple continents, do they fit together like a jigsaw?
- when in doubt, look at the natural world around you and think about what would change if something was drastically different. Look at the reactions between parts of our world and change them.
- play civilization games and think about the things that go into making decisions there
felt like doing a tutorial thingy (what should I call these??) again! I think I’ll make a tag for these in case I do more. This time I’m gonna talk a little about how angles affect how clothing falls aaaand stuff. here we go…
Given: The first drawing of these three is how the clothing naturally wants to fall, how it is made to be shaped. Or, whichever pose you could take that will give the garment the least amount of creases.
- I’ll actually talk about the green first; this is a representation of the hip box, which itself is a representation/simplification of your whole pelvis area. You see how your legs and hip box oppose angles here. in almost all poses except standing straight, your hip box and legs will create a bent angle, which affects how clothes fall.
- The red/blue is the skirt (obvs), the red specifically is the ellipses of the top and bottom openings of the skirt. This skirt is very stiff material for the sake of this example, so notice how the two ellipses always match eachother. the top ellipse is where the skirt is actually attached to the body, so it’s the boss; the bottom ellipse will more or less do exactly what the top one does.
- here’s where the fact that the legs and hip box are at different angles becomes important. The top of the skirt is attached to the hip box, but the bottom ellipse is in the realm of the legs. The orange lampshade shape diagram there is a simplification of this. It is very much like if you were to tilt a lampshade. The side you are bending towards will hug the body and create creases. The side you are bending away from will fall off the body in a straight line.
It even works with pants, though as the bottom ellipse(s) gets farther away from the top there’s more room for the garment to get distorted by gravity, perspective, and bent knees and such. But with this last example you can really see how the side touching the legs really hugs the body underneath, whereas the other side hangs off of it in a straighter, crease-less line.
Dresses are a little different because their top ellipse is attached to your torso/ribcage mass rather than the hip box.
Much of the time you get the same result as with a skirt. However if the hip box and ribcage mass are opposed sideways rather than forward or backward, it becomes a little tougher:
You can see in the third drawing how a shirt and a skirt together would fall in opposite ways if your body is bent sideways. If the shirt is long, just like I mentioned above about the long pants, there is more distortion of this effect.
I’ll take what I said above, “The side you are bending away from will fall off the body in a straight line”, and add a bit to the end: “… until it hits something.” In the fourth drawing above, the garment is falling off the body in a straight line on the right side. If you lengthen the garment:
The straight side continues down as normal until it hits the leg and becomes the body-hugging side. in response to that, the body-hugging side from farther up becomes the straight side when it falls off the hip.
Aaand with that I think I’ll stop lol. I hope that wasn’t hard to understand. It’s easy to do yourself, just wear a skirt or some loose pajama pants and take hula poses in the mirror lol.
For all of you who have been longing for ME to make a tutorial about clothes, I truly recommend you to read this post. Since it covers the area in clothing that many other tutorials never mention, clothing is more than just “drawing folds and wrinkles”, it’s about knowing how the design and the behavior of our bodies affect it.
Read this. Please. It’s so easy explained.
rebloging for future reffs
Ever wondered what they called anal sex in the 16th century, or cunnilingus during World War II?
Ever wonder what sex was called in the 1600s, how you might ask for a blowjob during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, or how your great-grandfather might have asked for anal sex?
Following up on his research which gave us 2,600 words for genitalia throughout the ages, slang lexicographer Jonathon Green has given us three amazing new resources, describing what sexual intercourse, oral and anal, and sexual secretions and contraceptives have been called at various points over the last 700 years.
I’m going to be more careful about announcing I need to go clean up the kitchen.
This is going to be very helpful for people writing smutty Captain America fanfics.
two kinds of people
10 facts about the woods that most writers are getting wrong.
It’s hard to put a number on how many books I’ve read that feature characters in the woods. Sometimes they’re fleeing, sometimes chasing, sometimes just looking for something to eat.
As someone who spends a lot of time in the woods, I should tell you that most authors get it wrong. Here are ten realities about the woods that every writer should know.
ive been asked a few times how i draw back-views, especially for character sheets so i wanted to share a little trick I learned a while back that’s really really helpful especially if you’re used to drawing things from the front and need help getting the proportions right from the back view.
You don’t ALWAYS have to do this the way that I do; The only reason I put effort into the front view is because this is going to be a character sheet and I need the front view to be fleshed out.
But alternatively; Just sketch out a sillhouette, then fill it in on a higher layer.
Sorry if someones already done this before im just answering a frequently asked question ;w;
Your blurb will be an important part of your marketing. It is vital to get a reader’s attention. To write a good blurb, you have to make it short. Cut out sub-plots. Add tension to make it dramatic. Try not to mention more than two character’s names, and promise your audience a read they won’t forget.
I’ve come up with this easy acronym to help you create a blurb. I call it SCOPE. Follow these five steps and see if it works for you.
- Setting: All stories involve characters who are in a certain setting at a certain time.
- Conflict: A good story places these characters in a situation where they have to act or react. A good way to start this part of your blurb is with the words: But, However, Until
- Objective: What do your characters need to do?
- Possible Solution: Offer the reader hope here. Show them how the protagonist can overcome. Give them a reason to pick up the book. Use the word ‘If’ here.
- Emotional Promise: Tell them how the book will make them feel. This sets the mood for your reader.
I saw The Edge of Tomorrow today, and I decided to write a blurb using this formula.
- London. The near future. Aliens have invaded Earth and colonised Europe. Major William Cage is a PR expert for the US Army which is working with the British to prevent the invaders from crossing the English Channel. Battle after battle is lost until an unexpected victory gives humanity hope.
- But the enemy is invincible. A planned push into Europe fails and Cage finds himself in a war he has no way to fight, and he dies. However, he wakes up, rebooted back a day every time he dies.
- He lives through hellish day after day, until he finds another soldier, Sergeant Rita Vrataski, who understands what he can do to fight the enemy. Cage and Vrataski have to take the fight to the aliens, learning more after each repeated encounter.
- If they succeed, they will destroy the enemy, and save Earth.
- This thrilling action-packed science fiction war story will show you how heroes are made and wars can be won. Against the odds.
SCOPE will work for any blurb. Why don’t you try it?
© Amanda Patterson