How hope pulls a scene

Working with my critique partner recently, I learned how hope can make a scene irresistible. (This is not a writing advice post.)

I don’t do writing advice posts. Nope, nope, nope!

But occasionally I discover something about writing I want to share, and do so in a post. This is one such post.

Recently I’ve been working intensively with my new critique partner, both giving comments and suggested edits, and receiving and implementing them.

I’ve also been on a bit of a writing craft bender. I haven’t been counting, but I’ve probably read a good five craft books in the last few weeks. Not new ones, just some of my old favourites from the bookshelf.

All this means I’ve done a lot of cogitating about what makes a scene work, what’s different about the scenes that excite me or suck me in, and how I can implement this magic in more of my writing.

(I’ve also discovered I’m addicted to the words “something” and “filled” and the phrase “going to die”. You decide what that says about my WIP.)

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Questions to ask when designing a magic system, part 2

If you’re designing a magic system for a fantasy novel, here are some more questions you might want to ask.

My last post gave five questions you might find useful to ask when designing a magic system for a fantasy novel. Here are five more questions that should have been in that post but weren’t because it was getting long.

What is the downside or cost of magic and how long do any negative side-effects last?

If magic is free, life will be too easy for your protagonist. They might love you for it, but your readers won’t.

So magic must come at a cost.

Maybe magic is forbidden, and if a user is discovered she risks being dunked in boiling butter.

Perhaps the cost of magic is lifespan–each spell cast shortens the practitioner’s life by a month.

Or each spell cast means someone close to the spellcaster will randomly die in a horrible accident.

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Questions to ask when designing a magic system, part 1

If you want to design a magic system for a fantasy novel, these questions might help you. Or they might not. Either way, they’re free.

The title of this post might indicate this is going to be a writing advice post. It’s not! I promise.

A better title might be “The questions I found that I (tried to) answer in the recently-discovered document that explains the magic system in my current WIP”, but that’s a bit of a mouthful.

I almost definitely stole at least some of these questions from someone else’s writing advice blog post, but I’m afraid I did it so long ago I have no idea where I stole them from.

If they’re yours, I offer recompense in chocolate fish.

I’m not saying you must answer all or even any of these questions if you’re designing a magic system for a fantasy world. But if they’re helpful to you, you’re welcome.

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The value of fresh eyes on your draft

Recently I’ve had a lot of fresh eyes on my first chapter, and I was amazed at what my readers picked up on. Here’s why fresh eyes are so valuable.

This evening I finished the tenth draft of my WIP. It’s been a long time coming and the story still has a way to go, but it’s definite progress.

I have a story that runs from a beginning, stumbles through a middle, and finally reaches an end.* The number of characters who magically appear or vanish without a trace can now be counted on one hand, and I’m pretty sure no one who dies is suddenly walking around later on.

* Okay, this was also true of draft six (or was it seven?), but the plot works better this time.

The avian part of my world is still populated solely by owls, sparrows, and the occasional hawk, though.

What now? I hear you ask.

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A very serious blog post on traditional publishing

Kristine Kathryn Rusch argues knowledgeably and convincingly that authors should self-publish. I still don’t plan to. Here’s why.

I promised you a very serious blog post, and here it is.

I’m a long-time fan of Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s (though for some reason I can never remember her name).

She’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, but I admit I’ve never tried her fiction.

I’m a fan of her blog.

She writes about the publishing industry, but not regurgitated primers on how to get published or the latest gossip. She writes well-researched, detailed posts about the nitty gritty things you need to know if you want to make a living as a writer, such as licensing rights, contract clauses, and why you should avoid agents and traditional publishers like the coronavirus.

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