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Characters
3 Common Problems Writers Must Avoid to Craft Realistic Parents

3 Common Problems Writers Must Avoid to Craft Realistic Parents

Distracted, diabolical, or dead is the standard for most fictional parents. If they don’t perish in a horrific accident (thus giving the protagonist an excuse to dress in black for eternity), they masquerade as the physical embodiment of evil, dismissing and restricting their children for baseless reasons until rebellion almost seems justified.

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How to Write Characters Who Are Smarter Than You

How to Write Characters Who Are Smarter Than You

As writers, we habitually draw from our own experiences to develop and relate to the characters in our stories. If our protagonist needs to learn bravery, we reflect on moments when we managed to overcome fear. If we’re writing romance, we look to our own relationships and the couples around us for examples of how lovestruck men and women might behave. But if one of our characters is supposed to have an IQ that’s much higher than ours, we run into a challenge. Where can we pull inspiration from?

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6 Tips for Writing Grief Realistically

6 Tips for Writing Grief Realistically

“The hero sobbed piteously over the corpse of her mentor, swearing to avenge him. After an hour of weeping, she wiped her eyes and returned to saving the world, setting her sadness aside until needed again at his gravesite.” One of my biggest complaints with fiction is how writers handle grief. While slightly exaggerated, the scene I’ve just described is similar to ones I’ve read in many published books. Grief is often treated in a farcical and clichéd manner as if it isn’t a struggle.

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How to Make Readers Fall in Love with a Romantic Relationship

How to Make Readers Fall in Love with a Romantic Relationship

Have you ever loved a relationship more than the characters in it? Sure, Mr. and Mrs. Right were likable on their own, but their dynamic was so compelling that both of them dying would have been less agonizing than one of them surviving. You hope that the pairing in your own story will be equally captivating, but you’re nervous. You’ve gagged when a star-crossed guy and girl spent pages drooling over each other. What if your readers respond negatively too?

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3 Methods Writers of Any Genre Can Use to Craft a Captivating Love Story

3 Methods Writers of Any Genre Can Use to Craft a Captivating Love Story

Everyone has experienced love in one form or another, so including romance lends more believability and relatability to the characters. It can offer readers a reprieve from intense and dark scenes, as well as reinforce the theme through how two flawed human beings interact. Even if romance isn’t central to the plot, a past of unrequited love, heartache, or loss can deepen your protagonist by either positively or negatively impacting how she handles situations in the present.

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3 Ways Fanfiction Helped Me Grow as a Writer

3 Ways Fanfiction Helped Me Grow as a Writer

For writers, especially “serious” writers, fanfiction can feel like the elephant in the room. Everyone is aware of it, and many of us have tiptoed into it. Yet, because of the stigma that clings to it, we avoid talking about it. The genre (if it can even be classified as one) has no gatekeepers or editors, and readers often use it to extend stories they love—usually with an odd or disturbing twist. You could fill a library with all of the erotica and overdramatic depictions of the worst tropes (consider yourself warned). Several popular mainstream books-turned-films began as fanfiction, including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Jane Austen’s delightful novel repackaged with zombies and zombie fighters) and Fifty Shades of Gray (a smutty mutation of Twilight minus the vampires).

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A Reliable Test to Determine Whether Your Novel Glorifies Evil

A Reliable Test to Determine Whether Your Novel Glorifies Evil

For the first six years of my writing life, I didn’t know how to find the exact spot where a story sinks into a bottomless pit of darkness. Nobody around me could agree on which kinds of content deserved an R rating, and I wasn’t sure what my own stance should be. Half of the Christian community claimed that any book containing foul language or violence overexposed audiences to sin. To younger me, this made sense. But the other half of the Christian community cheered over gruesome battles and roguish characters, and they defended those inclusions with the shield and sword of realism. To older me, this seemed like a more progressive approach.

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How to Authentically Write Religious Characters without Resorting to Stereotypes

How to Authentically Write Religious Characters without Resorting to Stereotypes

In cheap secular entertainment, the value of faith is chronically underestimated and mischaracterized as either irrational belief without evidence or arbitrary adherence to a set of dogmas. On the other side of the spectrum, Christian novels and films sometimes flaunt a cleaned-up, Sunday-best version of faith that, to be fair, is not much of an improvement on mainstream media’s interpretation—which only exacerbates the problem.

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