Delilah S Dawson: Sorry, I Blew Up Savannah!

Bad news, y’all: This November, a freak hurricane will tear through Savannah, Georgia, destroying the amusement park and flooding the cemeteries and generally beating down an historical gem that even General Sherman admired too much to damage.

Even worse news: Hurricane Josephine isn’t just a meteorological phenomenon. She’s a demon. A mean one. Who sometimes takes the form of a monster albino alligator and makes people do horrible things.

At least, that’s the premise of Servants of the Storm, my YA Southern Gothic Horror now available online and in bookstores. What started as an obsession with pictures of Six Flags New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina became a paean to friendship, a love song to my husband’s home town, and a great reason to take a horse-drawn carriage tour with my favorite Savannah pirate, should you want to see Dovey’s neighborhood before Josephine makes a big ol’ mess.

I’m from […]

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Delilah Dawson: Paying It Forward

There are many rewards to being a writer, although most of them aren’t the six figure deals and Tom Hiddleston movies we all dream about. I didn’t write my first book until I was 32, and one of the first things I did was hop on Twitter and start meeting other people treading the same path. I found agents, editors, bloggers, famous novelists, and other people following their literary aspirations, people just like me. Little did I know that I had stumbled into one of the most thoughtful, generous, supportive communities on the internet.

The best writers, to me, are not only amazing storytellers but also relatable and generous teachers. They understand that wherever you are, there’s someone else who wants to be there, and you’re uniquely qualified to help them get there. From big-name authors who blurb debuts (thanks, Nancy Holder and Cherie Priest!) or offer blog space to […]

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Delilah Dawson: You Are Not Your Characters. Repeat: YOU ARE NOT YOUR CHARACTERS.

A confession: There’s a reason the villains of my first two books weren’t human. Looking back, I realize that I was terrified of writing a bad person who did bad things and said worse things, a person who might be somehow connected to (gulp!) me.

Writing an evil god? Sure.

Writing a sociopathic goblin rat? Easy.

But as soon as I described my antagonist as a human being, I worried that readers would look too deeply into the choices I’d made. If he had a mustache, did I hate men with mustaches? If she was overweight, was I making a statement about body types? If the antagonist was of a different race, did it mean I was racist? But there were no evil goblin rats to pick a fight with me or criticize my writing, and so that felt safe.

Delilah Dawson: You Are Not Your Characters. Repeat: YOU ARE NOT YOUR CHARACTERS.

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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Plotting: How to Pants – Delilah S Dawson

That’s right, y’all: I plot by the seat of my pants. In this case, Batgirl fleece pants. And you can, too! But not in my Batgirl fleece pants. You’ll have to get your own.

We all know what plotting is, right? Just search Magical Words for “plot”, and you have all the keys to greatness. But perhaps you don’t know the other half of the writer coin: PANTSING. It means that when you start writing, you don’t always know where you’re going to end up. For me, pantsing is a lot like a college road trip: you know where you’re starting out, you have a general idea of where you want to end up, and lots of really weird stuff that you couldn’t possibly anticipate will happen in between.

In some ways, pantsing is the equivalent of starting too early. You have an idea. You have characters. […]

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Character: On Retrofitting, or It Ain’t Over Until the Twitchy Werewolf Grins

Delilah S. Dawson is the author of the steampunk paranormal romance Blud series from Pocket including three books, three e-novellas, and a short story in the Carniepunk anthology. Her first YA, a creepy paranormal about demons and Savannah called Servants of the Storm, is out in 2014. Find her online at and on Twitter, @DelilahSDawson.

I’ll admit it: for a long time, writing strong characters was one of my weaknesses. The idea of a world would take hold, but my protagonist was a cardboard cut-out, an anyperson, a stand-in for the reader’s perspective. I was too scared to let the lead character make the wrong decision or say something that I didn’t believe. I’m pretty sure that’s why two of my books went on submission but didn’t sell, and I learned a valuable lesson:

Character trumps plot.

But […]

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