Quick-Tip Tuesday: The Power of Secrets

I’ve just started teaching an online course with the Odyssey writing program, and it should surprise no one here that the course is on “Point of View: The Intersection of Character and Plot.” As most of you know, point of view is kind of an obsession for me. I think it lies at the heart of all storytelling. You can do a Magical Words search of “Coe, point of view,” and you’ll get enough hits to keep you reading for hours . . .

In talking about point of view, I also can’t help but talk about character and the process I use to develop the characters I use, primary and secondary, in my own work.

One of the things I like to do when coming up with a character’s history and/or life circumstances, is give that person a secret of some sort. Any secret at all will do. It […]

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Delilah S Dawson: How To Plot A Character-Driven Story, or Why Harry Potter Should Probably Be A Complete D-bag


No. You didn’t. Because even though Neville could’ve been the Chosen One, Voldemort decided it was Harry instead and set about killing off his parents and giving him a scar.

It all comes down to choices. Your choice, as the god and writer. And the choices your characters make.

First of all, let’s determine if your story is character-driven. Consider your main character. Does that story revolve around who they are, specifically, in such a way that it wouldn’t exist without them? Are their history, back story, and skills integral to every mile marker of the story? Could you replace them with another passerby and have the same end result? Could you have the same story if you made Neville the hero?

If you can’t replace your protagonist with a […]

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Creative Intersections: Worldbuilding and Plot

Today, I continue my series of Creative Intersection posts with a discussion of plot and worldbuilding (You can find the first Creative Intersections post here, and the second one here). Many of you asked for posts that would tie plot to pretty much anything, and as I begin work on the third Thieftaker book, City of Shades, I am still thinking a lot about worldbuilding and research, so this seemed a natural combination. Sort of.

Sometimes, the intersections I discuss in these posts will be fairly obvious. The last one I did — plot and character — is a good example of this. Tying together story arc and character arc is a fairly intuitive thing to do. As our narratives develop, so do our characters, and since so much of our plotting revolves around our characters’ emotional journeys, the relationship just makes sense.

As it turns out, this week’s […]

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On Writing: Character Dynamics

We talk about character a lot here at Magical Words. And I mean A LOT. I’ve written about the ABCs of character, befriending characters, character development, creating minor characters, and character descriptions. Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about characters we love and hate. That’s half a dozen character posts, and those are just from me.

There’s a reason for this, of course. Character, as any professional fiction writer will tell you, is the key to good storytelling. A story with poorly drawn characters is simply doomed to fail; a story with weak plotting or worldbuilding can often be rescued, at least partially, by stellar character work. Character development is an author’s bread and butter.

The problem with all of the stuff I’ve written about character is that it fails to take the next step, and that’s what I want to write about today. This may seem so […]

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On Writing: Characters to Love, Characters to Hate

I’ve been asked quite often why I never went back to write more books in my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. There are several reasons — I had other things I wanted to write, I had completed the story I set out to tell, I felt that I outgrew the worldbuilding — but probably the main reason is that I got bored with my lead characters, Jaryd and Alayna. They were both so . . . nice (and I say that with as much of a sneer as I can manage) that after a while I just wanted to slap them both. They were virtuous and kind, generous and wise beyond their years. Their faults were superficial, their magical powers the stuff of future legend. They were, in short, just the sort of people I would wind up hating in real life. By the end of the series, they seemed […]

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You Should Write About Zombies!

Zombies are hot these days. Whether they’re the moaning, shambling kind from Night of the Living Dead, the fast-moving Rage types or the Walking Dead zombies that fall a little in between, people think zombies are cool. There are zombie walks at cons and classes on doing zombie makeup. For three years in a row there was an online zombie blogalypse called Blog Like It’s The End Of The World, in which everyone wrote entries to their blogs on a designated day as if the zombie apocalypse was occurring. There’s even a zombie marathon (and let me tell you, if I lived closer, I would SO join in. As a zombie, naturally – I can’t run well enough for a road race. I shamble much more effectively.) And, of course, there are zombie novels… World War Z, Feed, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and […]

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