How To Be A Fantasy Character 101

Today we’ll be studying the basics of what it takes to be a full-fledged fantasy fiction character. Note-taking is encouraged.

Step 1: Wear the appropriate attire

In this class, we provide you with a starter kit which includes pre-muddied boots and a cloak carefully hand-torn by our specialists. We also recommend you complete your outfit with your own choice of shirts, pants, and hoods. Our wardrobe selections include Colors Of the Forest, A Hunter’s Garb, and Dusty Road Wanderer.

Step 2: Grow out your hair

Most of our past graduates adapt to the standard shoulder-length hair, which we recommend for its versatility. It’s long enough to catch the breeze while you sit majestically on your wilderness rock of choice, and it’s short enough to whip around just right in situations where dancing, spinning around in surprise, or hand-to-hand combat are required.

Step 3: Make sure you have adequate eye color

You’ll have to purchase your own contact lenses, but our prices are economical so you won’t have to use the last non-specified-currency coins from the pouch on your belt. As with our clothes department, our contact lens counter features an array of color choices. These include, but aren’t limited to, Emerald Green, Pools-of-Water Blue, Rich Mahogany Brown, and As-Black-as-Ebony Black. Each base color also comes with palette variations ranging from Deep to Sparkling.

Step 4: Invest in some recommended accessories

Now that you’ve completed your basic outfit and your rugged-yet-charming and/or graceful-yet-fierce appearances, we can move on to completing your look with some accessories. Should you plan on spending time adventuring outdoors, please consider our selection of flasks, weightless cooking supplies, hand-carved staffs, and lethal daggers. If you prefer to stay in town, however, you may be interested in our stealth-friendly tool belts, lock picks, just-quiet-enough grappling hooks, and lethal daggers. Not into adventuring? No problem! In the next aisle, you’ll find our embroidered handkerchiefs, leather-bound books, this-belonged-to-my-mother necklaces, and lethal daggers.

Step 5: Formulate a dietary plan

Now you look the part! Let’s get to work on your lifestyle changes. I see you’ve brought water and vegetables, but don’t worry, we won’t be needing those. There’s a Local Healer booth set up in the back; talk to any of our soothing female staff members and she’ll set you up with a new nutrition plan based on bread, cheese, mysterious chunky tavern-stew, and plenty of ale and mead. With our dietary plan, dehydration is a thing of the past!

Step 6: Learn the necessary survival skills

We know you want to start questing as soon as possible, so we’ve condensed our survival skill syllabus into a two-day crash course where you’ll learn to wield a sword, shoot a bow, ride a horse, and set rabbit traps from our team of bearded experts. However, if you present us with your certified Chosen One and/or Hero of Destiny I.D., you can take a brief placement test and skip the course altogether.

Step 7: Purchase an animal companion

Of course, all our students want horses, and we’re glad to provide you with a fine spirited stallion, or, alternatively, a stubborn-yet-loveable mare that’s too old to travel fast but fits your budget just right. However, please remember that most horse names have already been registered, and our last graduating student had to settle for Thunder_Stripes20387. We advise you consider our other available companion animals before making a hasty horse decision. We offer battle tigers and tamed wolves for our real gutsy adventurers, or, should you prefer the more cute-and-comical variant, we have injured birds of prey and a randomized forest rodent. Now, what color would you like your horse?

Step 8: Select a surviving family member

Unfortunately, our program doesn’t allow students to graduate so long as all their relatives are alive and well, so we’ll have to ask you to choose up to a maximum of three extended family members to move ahead with. For the sake of convenience, we recommend limiting yourself to siblings, wise and loving grandmothers, and/or shady aunts and uncles. When you’ve made your selection, please sign the Emotional Consequences Waiver form, which you collected at the start of the class.

Step 9: Reserve a room at the tavern/inn of your convenience

When you pass this class you’ll be enrolled in our extended learning abroad program, so make sure you choose a tavern that matches your preferences. This is the second form we gave you, the one on the faded parchment nailed to the door. Slots fill up quickly, so make sure you get your name on there right away so you don’t miss out on the isolated table in the corner, the one with the dim candle. You can still brood and ignore the noisy patrons from other tables, but it’s just not as fulfilling! We want you to have the most mysterious experience possible.

Step 10: Wait for your first quest

To complete the learning abroad program and receive your traditional written-in-the-ancient-language diploma, you’ll need to complete a quest. You’ll find a list of available quests towards the end of your syllabus, but you’ll need to wait for us to send our certified suspicious stranger to your designated location before embarking on the quest. If you head out on your own beforehand, the chances of encountering your assigned quest companions will be slim, and you will likely fail the final exam: our carefully curated sequence of incrementally-dangerous challenges which you cannot complete without courage, friendship, and at least one potential love interest.


We hope you’ve found our class instructional and inspiring. We look forward to seeing each of our students fulfill their destiny.

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The Writer’s Life According to The Princess Bride

NaNoWriMo is over! Congratulations if you won (I did!), and congratulations if you did your best but didn’t quite make it, because you still got a lot done. In celebration, let’s take a look at the writer’s life according to everyone’s favorite cult classic, The Princess Bride.

1
When you walk into a bookstore with your family.
2
November 30th at midnight.
3
When the muscle character tries to get a little chatty.
9
When someone hands you a gift card for books.

 

4
When you’re not sure why your book hasn’t earned you six figures yet.
5
When your editor suggests ‘cutting this whole scene.’
6
Sometimes your protagonist gets a little whiney…
7
When you leave for the weekend and won’t be writing.
8
When you see people winning NaNoWriMo and it’s not even the middle of November.

It’s December 1st, so rest up and enjoy the start of the month! I’ll be giving my draft some well-earned space for a few days. Then it’s back to the writing grind. In the meantime, have a great day! (Hey!)

The Writer’s Life According to Donald Trump

The following is intended for entertainment purposes only. Thank you, and come again soon. 


1
What you look like when you listen to music while writing in public.
8
When you meet your daily word quota in one sitting.
2
When someone criticizes your story idea.
9
When your NaNoWriMo characters are hyped to fight the villain but it’s still October.
3
When you kill off a fan-favorite character.
4
When you get a good review.
5
When you buckle down to start editing.
7
When you try to write before coffee.
6
That one scene that you spent days writing, only to delete it during edits.
10
When someone points out a cliche in your story.

Have a good day, everyone!

7 Types of Writing Days

Disciplined productivity days

Inspiration is for the weak. You get up early, set a goal, and achieve it. Interruptions, discomfort, or fatigue aren’t roadblocks – they’re hurdles, and you’re trained enough to clear them with ease and keep on writing.

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Panicked productivity days

Keyword: deadlines. You thought you’d have plenty of time. You were wrong…again. Dang it, Youtube! Time to sit down in a frenzy and churn out words like there’s no tomorrow. Which, for you, is pretty much the case.

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Chaotic cosmic intervention days

The universe has a grudge against you today. Anything that could go wrong does go wrong. The powers that be hurl everything your way: interruptions and distractions knock on your door (sometimes literally) on a rush-hour schedule. You really wanted to get work done, but life has other plans, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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Benefic cosmic intervention days

The universe has blessed you today. You had your doubts when you got up in the morning, but all the pieces fall into place quite nicely. Your tea doesn’t spill, no one interrupts you all morning, and your characters pull through once again. You cross your fingers and hope for the same tomorrow.

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“This muse is on fire!” days

You didn’t think it was possible for words to come out of your fingertips so fast. Distractions don’t even tempt you today, and if someone’s banging on your door, you won’t hear them over the sound of your muse, who sings inspiration at the top of her lungs. If all days were like today, you wouldn’t even need discipline! If only…

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Canned vegetable days

In which your brain takes on the form of the titular preserved greens, and becomes cold, lumpy, and impossible to crack open. Your word count and your energy levels are about the same: zero. And it’s not even lunchtime yet.

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“It’s going to be a long night” days

The causes of this day type are varied: inspiration, fatigue, procrastination, or deadlines can all be blamed at one time or another. Regardless, one truth remains anchored in your mind: it is indeed going to be a very late night. You go make tea. Lots of tea.

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I hope today is a good day for you. Even if it’s not, remember that tomorrow will be better (probably…maybe).

 

The Writer’s Dictionary: An Alphabetical Sample

Amwriting (v): a hashtag commonly used on social media to indicate when a writer is most distracted.

Book (n): the physical manifestation of the writer’s soul. Not to be confused with horcrux.

Creativity (n): a nutrient absorbed from caffeine.

Dialogue (v): to argue with one’s characters.

Editor (n): a medieval torture device.

Fan (n): 1. a device used to blow papers off a desk; 2. one who habitually smells books.

Grammar (n): a semi-transparent layer of red ink applied to a manuscript.

Heroism (n): a disease contracted upon excessive exposure to destiny.

Inciting [event] (n): the first character death.

Jail (n): the result of online search history.

Kill (v): 1. to take out frustration on a character; 2. to display power and authority over one or more character(s), a common intimidation strategy.

Love (n): 1. a three-sided geometrical shape; 2. a one-sided geometrical shape.

Mentor (n): a disposable cutout figure commonly found in cereal boxes.

Notebook (n): a detachable extension of the brain.

One (n): the hardest page.

Publisher (n): an elusive deity associated with Traditionalism.

Query (v): 1. to beg; 2. to believe in Santa Claus.

Research (n): a pseudo-productive variant of procrastination.

Subplot (n): an excuse to make two incompatible characters kiss.

Typo (n): a bacteria most visible five minutes after publication.

Uninterrupted (adj): a spiritual state of being only achieved in the afterlife.

Verbosity (n): a description of weather or scenery.

Write (v): 1. to convert sleep deprivation into ink squiggles; 2. to cry.

X (n): a red symbol applied by editors to express hopelessness.

Yarn (n): a tool invented to lure cats off keyboards.

Zebra (n): a placeholder noun commonly used in alphabetical blog posts.

 

 

 

101 Lies Writers Tell

They won’t all apply to you, but I guarantee some of them will. (I thought it would be really hard to come up with 101 entries, but once I got the ball rolling…well, let’s just say the list didn’t take long.)


1. I don’t need to write this down.

2. No one will notice this plot hole.

3. I’ll remember that idea in the morning.

4. I can get through this chapter without coffee.

5. I’m a decent proofreader.

6. My friend’s a decent proofreader.

7. That was the last typo.

8. I can write while I watch.

9. Just a quick five-minute Twitter break.

10. No, I don’t actually have a crush on my character.

11. This rewrite should only take an hour or two.

12. I’ll save my snack for when I finish the chapter.

13. Yes, I take a break every hour.

14. That two-star review didn’t bother me.

15. I’m going to write every day this month.

16. I really didn’t enjoy writing the villain’s death scene.

17. Sales aren’t important to me.

18. Yes, you can be in my next book.

19. No, those aren’t tear stains on the page.

20. One red pen should be enough.

21. There’s no way I’ll lose this sticky note.

22. My second draft probably won’t need that much work.

23. I’m super flexible. Interrupt me anytime.

24. Of course I don’t get jealous of other authors’ success!

25. I don’t even pay attention to my follower count.

26. My debut is a bestseller. Didn’t you read my Twitter bio?

27. I’ll only need to print one copy.

28. This Sims character looks great on the cover.

29. I can skip the proof copy.

30. Decaf is fine.

31. Sure, you can read my first draft.

32. My characters don’t mean that much to me.

33. What sketchy Google searches?

34. Parties? Yeah, I can skip writing this weekend.

35. No, I’m not writing down that random couple’s conversation.

36. I’ve never researched assassination methods.

37. No, for real. I #amwriting.

38. I’m just wearing earphones for style. Feel free to talk to me.

39. It doesn’t bother me when crappy books become bestsellers.

40. I don’t daydream what my book would look like as a film.

41. My protagonist has nothing to do with me at all.

42. I value your opinion about what I should write next.

43. This chapter offends you? Let me get rid of that for you.

44. No writing snacks today.

45. My draft will be done by the end of the month, no sweat.

46. I’ve never cried with my protagonist.

47. All my Pinterest boards are public. I don’t keep secrets.

48. Your DM convinced me to buy your book.

49. My work space is always in Instagram condition.

50. I never struggle with self-doubt.

51. Microsoft Word fonts look great on book covers!

52. Sleep trumps writing.

53. I always evaluate writerly quotes before I share them.

54. The world really needs more vampire stories.

55. Shirtless, six-pack dude on the cover? A mark of quality literature for sure.

56. Shampoo commercial babe on the cover? A mark of quality literature for sure.

57. My fantasy book title needs the word ‘Chronicles’ in it somewhere.

58. Every person on earth must love my book or else.

59. I have to get each scene right on the first try.

60. No, I don’t leaf through books just to smell the pages.

61. Writing a book is easy. Anyone can do it.

62. Someone didn’t like my book. I guess I failed as an author.

63. My characters always obey me.

64. Writing is just a hobby. I don’t take it that seriously.

65. My characters must all be gorgeous or no one will like them.

66. Needs more prophecy.

67. Keep spamming your buy links. I’ll probably give in eventually.

68. You have a second cousin who also writes? Of course I’ll email him right away.

69. Anyone could be a bestseller if they just had more time to write.

70. No, I don’t collect rejection letters.

71. The fact that ‘erotica’ exists as a genre doesn’t make me gag.

72. Of course I always follow my own writing advice.

73. I only get on Youtube for research purposes.

74. You self-publish ten books a year? You must be so gifted.

75. No, I’ve never used Jelly Beans as motivation.

76. It’s safe to leave the house without a notebook.

77. It’s safe to leave the house without pens.

78. It’s safe to leave the house.

79. Talk out loud to my characters? Nope.

80. The thousands of writerly advice blog posts I see each day really shape the way I write.

81. That book cover you made with MS Paint looks great.

82. No, I wouldn’t rather live in my story world.

83. I don’t go to coffee shops. I guess I’m not the real deal.

84. I don’t use the latest Mac. I guess I’m not the real deal.

85. Yes, cat. You may sit on my laptop.

86. I regularly take days off.

87. Sure, I can leave this scene half finished. I won’t lose my train of thought.

88. My character’s eye color is always consistent in first drafts.

89. No, none of my character names have real meaning.

90. Needs more love triangle.

91. 99c is a fair price for all the work I put into this book.

92. I don’t need to write today.

93. Noise is fine.

94. I got my opening line right on the first try.

95. I got my opening line right on the second try.

96. I got my opening line right on the fiftieth try.

97. I’m satisfied with my opening line.

98. I read every single free ebook I download.

99. Romance based on physical attraction alone is healthy for readers, right?

100. I’ve never wanted to change my name to something more ‘authorish’.

101. It’s hard to make money as a writer? You’re the first person to warn me about that.

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There’s a confession booth in the back. Feel free to visit.

 

 

 

What If My Published Book Isn’t Good Enough?

I’m going to think out loud a bit here.

If you could sit down with an author you admire or enjoy reading and could only ask them one question, what would it be? I know what I would ask.

“What do you do when your first published book doesn’t match the quality of your second or third?”

It’s no secret that writers are constantly learning and improving their craft. Their voice develops, their skills are sharpened, and they find little by little what truly works for them.

I self-published my first novel, Little One, in the summer of 2015. It wasn’t the first novel I had written, but at the time it was the best, and I felt I was finally ready to take it all the way.

Now, a year and two months later, I’m eyeing potential release dates for my second book, Where The Woods Grow Wild. It’s not a sequel to Little One, nor does it have anything in common in terms of tone or content.

Not only that, but the closer I get to publishing Where The Woods Grow Wild, the more I feel Little One just isn’t that great. Besides a slew of technical problems during its first weeks of life, I’ve improved so much as a writer in the last year that I’ve come pretty close to unpublishing Little One for good. I don’t want it to misrepresent me.

I’m also ridiculously pessimistic.

On the flipside, I’m probably being too critical of myself. Little One isn’t bad. It’s accumulated nearly 1000 downloads in 12 months (granted, most of those are free grabs), and it averages 4.7 stars on Amazon and 4.45 on Goodreads (and that’s after Amazon obliterated most reviews by friends and family). I’m frequently humbled by the glowing feedback I receive.

And yet, I know Little One could have been better. A lot better. I also know Where The Woods Grow Wild will be better.

Part of me wants to unpublish Little One and treat Where The Woods Grow Wild like a debut novel. Gotta put my best foot forward, right? Another part of me knows I should be proud of Little One regardless of its flaws and move on. After all, everyone improves over time. I never expected Little One to be my masterpiece.

Have those of you with published work ever felt this way before? If so, what conclusions have you come to? Give a brother some pointers here.