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 [...]

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It’s a boy thing…

Lucienne DiverLucienne Diver

There was a minor kerfluffle on Twitter, blogs (like here on The Mary Sue), and elsewhere yesterday because a children’s shirt of The Guardians of the Galaxy included every major character but the female, Gamora. The explanation given by the company, “It’s a boy’s shirt.” As usual when something gets me all worked up, I have so many initial responses that they sort of bottle-neck up and I have trouble getting the words out.

But let me try.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no! (*sung operatically as Queen might do*)

It’s a boy’s shirt. Really?

Now, I know that I’m here to talk about writing. Or maybe my new release—actually two of them in a series featuring a kick-ass female who can, literally, stop men in their tracks. Or stop women. Her power isn’t particular. AND HERE’S MY THING—there are people who will never pick up these books because [...]

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Carol Berg: Making It Personal, Making It Real


Hi all!

Epic fantasies are big stories, not just in the number of books it takes to tell the whole thing, but in the complexity, scope, and scale of events. They are grand adventures that dabble about those fascinating borderlines between nature, magic, myth, and the divine. But if the adventure gets too grand, the events too large scale, the cast too large, readers can get left back on the ground and feel detached from the story. The reading experience can become more like reading mythology than reading a human story. As a reader I like to experience epic events through the very personal lens of vivid, compelling characters. It keeps me connected. It makes it feel real.

What do I mean by a personal lens? In all my stories I use an intimate point of view, that is, we experience the events of the story through one or more [...]

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It’s Raining Deadlines — Jim C. Hines


Faith Hunter was kind enough to invite me to do a guest post for Magical Words back in January of this year. We agreed I’d contribute a post for early August, to coincide with the release of Codex Born. And then I did something that makes me Hulk out and smash my desk: I forgot about the commitment I’d made, and missed my deadline.

I emailed her to apologize. Fortunately, Faith is both kind and forgiving. As a fellow author, I think she understands that no matter how hard we try, sometimes life gets in the way. She commented in her email to me, “For instance, today, I have to get groceries, go to the vet and the dry-cleaners, show up for a doctor’s apt, and, oh yeah. Write a couple thousand words.”

Sometimes things slip through the cracks. Sometimes we blow it.

This wasn’t much of an issue when [...]

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Carol Berg: Explorations


Hi all and thanks to the Magical Words crew for having me in this month! It’s been a while since I debuted a new series – 2010, it would have been. Dust and Light, released just this week, opens my newest, the two-book Novels of Sanctuary. This is my fifth series, and no, it definitely doesn’t get any easier to send it out into the world. But I’m taking a deep breath and typing away.

The Sanctuary novels mark a couple of firsts for me. The first first? Each of my previous four series and my standalone, Song of the Beast, take place in a different world. The mountains and deserts of the Derzhi Empire for Transformation and the other books of the Rai-kirah. The dragon-ravaged kingdoms of the Seven Gods in Song of the Beast. The dual worlds of the mundane Four Realms and magical Avonar for the Bridge [...]

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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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You Know What They Say About Assumptions…

Lucienne DiverLucienne Diver

I debated the opening of this post about a zillion times. Do I start by asking whether you know how many assumptions you make in a day? It’s a silly question. Of course you don’t. Without even thinking about it, you assume your orange juice will taste like oranges, that your coffee or tea will taste as it always has…unless you’ve that day forgotten the sugar…that the sky will be blue or some variation thereof… The point is that we make countless assumptions on a daily basis, based on our experiences and expectations.

Novelists do the same. I’m rereading my second novel now (VAMPED, the first in my series by the same name) because the rights have reverted, and I’m going to be bringing out a new digital edition. And you know what…I felt so deeply the connection between my two main characters, I expected the readers to feel it [...]

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