Christina Henry–Plot and the Protag

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I’ve written seven books in the BLACK WINGS series and one stand-alone novel (the forthcoming ALICE, August 2015) and I’m pretty sure I can’t tell you a single useful thing about how I plotted any of them. I know, this sounds a lot like what I said about writing character last week. The trouble is that I just don’t spend that much time thinking in a concrete way about the plots of my books. I don’t have a nice neat formal method.

This is what I do: I start writing the book. And then I see what happens next.

All my books begin with the protagonist, and I tend to let the protagonist dictate the action that follows. I don’t write an outline, summary or synopsis of any kind. I just let the book unfold as I write it chronologically.

I do have a general idea of where the [...]

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Christina Henry — Talking to Characters

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I wish I had some really interesting, profound statement to make about the process of creating characters in fiction. I’ve read lots of well-written and well-considered pieces about finding out who your characters are and their motivations and how all those things can make your story better and more interesting.

I’d genuinely like to write one of those pieces for you. I’d like to tell you that I did this writing exercise or that I carefully craft each character and have background histories for all them even if all of that information doesn’t make it into the story.

Unfortunately, my writing process might kindly be termed “intuitive” and less kindly be called “half-assed”.

Take Madeline Black. The heroine of my BLACK WINGS series just appeared in my head one day. Well, I probably shouldn’t say “appeared”. That implies that I saw her, and I didn’t see her. I heard her. [...]

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Sentence Structure — the Musical Soundtrack to our Writing

Faith HunterFaith Hunter

We talked a bit about sentence structure at one of the Cons this year, discussing how important it is to know the various ways to string words together. Sentence structure is one of the most important tools in the writer’s tool box. In fact, sentence structure is the background music to the movie of our book. It sets pace, rhythm, and voice. It also contributes to the character and narrative voice. It can’t be over emphasized. But it is almost always under emphasized.

Let me illustrate.

The info I (the writer) want to convey to the audience (the readers) in the opening of a short story is:

Jane Yellowrock has a Harley named Bitsa. Jane is riding Bitsa to a meeting withLeo Pellissier (her boss, a vampire, who bit her once). Jane is in a hurry, driving through NOLA past Jackson Square. It is raining and humid and the city [...]

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On Outlining and Not

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

I can’t decide if I’m late or early on this post. The main problem is that I’m on the road with the family and time has become . . . fluid.

I want to talk to you about plotting. When I first started writing, I would create an outline. It wasn’t a really in-depth outline. It usually covered the beginning, the major plot points, and the ending. One thing to remember about plot is that it’s a causal sequence of events. Causal is important, because in my plotting, I’d know why a character did something and how that ended up creating the next plot point, and so on. So when plotting, I’d start with the characters and the world, and I’d stir up some trouble, and think how they dealt with that, and what that caused, and so on. I usually would have some sort of main event or problem [...]

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Jennifer Estep — Plotting While Wearing Pants

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Oh, plotting. You and I aren’t the best of friends. More like casual acquaintances, if that.

When many folks talk about writing, they often talk about two kinds of writers—plotters and pansters. Now, plotters are just what the name implies. These are the folks who plot out their books, which can include everything from doing a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the book to detailed character outlines to creating storyboards of the various scenes/chapters.

And then there are pansters, or people who don’t do a lot of plotting. I am one of those folks.

Usually, when I’m thinking about an idea for a book, I’ll think about my heroine first—her personality, her strengths and weaknesses, her magic and how she can use it to defeat the bad guys. Then, I’ll think about the three big turning points of the story:

1) The first chapter that opens the book. I often think of [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — Character: Taking Control

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SHATTERING THE LEY: Character: Taking Control

Welcome to my second guest post here at Magical Words! Thanks again for having me, guys.

I’d like to focus on characters, now that the main promo push is over. (You did run out and buy SHATTERING THE LEY, right?) As I said in the previous post, when I described the setting for LEY, having a great idea or setting isn’t enough for a story. The world of LEY had been simmering inside my head for quite a while, but it’s necessary to take that cool idea and make it come alive with the intervention of some cool characters. For this world, I knew that one of the main characters would have to be someone who could manipulate the ley lines that powered the city. If that’s the central element that makes my world different, I needed someone who would be working intimately [...]

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Jennifer Estep — The Writing Life

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Hello! First of all, I want to say thanks to Faith Hunter for inviting me to guest blog on the site this month. Thanks so much, Faith!

So I thought I would start off things by introducing myself. My name is Jennifer Estep, and I’m the New York Times bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. I’m also the author of the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington and the Bigtime paranormal romance series.

All put together, I’ve written more than 20 books, along with many short stories and novellas. Today, I’m going to talk a little about my writing life.

Whenever I tell someone that I’m a writer, they usually ask me a lot of questions about writing and books and publishing. But one of the most memorable comments I ever got was this one: “Oh, you just sit in your [...]

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