S E T T I N G (Image source)
The setting consists of these elements, which you ought to describe through the course of the story. It is up to you, however, to decide how necessary it is to do so and why.
- Which element is more important right now? Why? The most common answer is because it plays an impact on the story, so you should give it a higher priority in that particular moment. Overall we should get a feeling however brief of each or most of them.
- Why are settings important at all? Because the story is happening somewhere. Even if it’s happening in a void or in the middle of a nothingness, you could describe it. It helps making your story more memorable and your writing more vivid.
- How much should you describe? Again, there isn’t a rule. It is up to you. You’d not spend a page describing a room that plays no interesting or important part in the story, would you? If you do it, you’ll make the readers believe it is more important than it actually is, or bore them out. During the first draft you can spend as much as you want pointing out details of the environment and the space but know that during revision, they could and will get cut out if they’re not relevant whatsoever.
- The relationship between world-building and the settings: they’re directly related. If you’re creating a new world you’ll have to work through a lot of describing, and that has to do with—you guessed it—the environment. The space, time and temperature. All of these have to do with the world you’re creating if they’re different from what we normally see or if they’re not.
- Let’s say it, describing things is oftentimes quite fun and a great way to practice vocabulary and your use of metaphors and similes to show and not tell in a powerful way.
The following links provide great advice on both settings and world building and I recommend checking them out.
- Common Setting Failures
- The Senses and World Building
- Fantasy World Building Questions
- Tips on Revealing Setting
- The Rules of Quick and Dirty World Building
- The Description Pyramid
- Physical Descriptions Put Readers Into Place
- Location, Location, Location
- Creating Your Own World
People sometimes send me Asks wanting writing advice. I suck at it. I don’t really know how I do the writing, or how one should do the writing, or what one should do to get better at the writing. All I can ever think to say is “write a lot of stuff and you will get better at the writing.” Which is true, but hardly a bolt from the sky.
Well, as it turns out, I do have one piece of Legit Writing Advice, and I am going to share it with you, right now. If you were in any of my writing workshop groups at a con, you’ve heard this advice already.
Warning: you’re going to fucking hate it. But if you do it, you will thank me.
If you have a piece of fiction you’re serious about, something you might want to actually shop around, or just something you really are into and want to make it as good as you can…do NOT edit it.
Repeat. DO NOT EDIT.
As in, print out the whole fucking thing and re-enter it, every word (or use two screens). Retype the whole thing. Recreate it from the ground up using your first draft as a template. Start with a blank page and re-enter every. single. word.
I hear you screaming. OH MY GOD THAT’S INSANE.
Yes. Yes, it is.
It is also the most powerful thing you will ever do for a piece of fiction that you are serious about.
Now, let’s get real. I don’t do this for most things. I don’t do it for my fanfiction. But if it’s something original, something I might like to get to a professional level - I do it. You absolutely COULD do it for fanfiction. It’s just up to you and how much time you want to sink into a piece.
You can edit, sure. But you WILL NOT get down to the level of change that needs to happen in a second draft. You will let things slide. Your eyes will miss things. You will say “eh, good enough.”
The first time I did this, on someone else’s advice, I was dubious. Within two pages, I was saying WHY HAVE I NOT BEEN DOING THIS ALL THE TIME. I was amazed at how much change was happening. By the time I got to the end, I had an entirely different novel than the one I’d started with. When you’re already re-entering every single word, it’s easy to make deep changes. You’ll reformat sentences, you’ll switch phrases around, you’ll massage your word choice. You’ll discover whole paragraphs that don’t need to be there at all because they became redundant. You’ll find dialogue exchanges that need reimagining. Whole plot points will suddenly be different, whole story arcs will reveal their flaws and get re-drawn.
You cannot get down to the fundamental level of change that’s required just by editing an existing document. You have to rebuild it if you really want your story to evolve. You will be AMAZED at the difference it will make.
It will take time. It will seem like a huge, Herculean task. I’m not saying it’s easy. It isn’t. But it is absolutely revolutionary.
Try it. I promise, you will see what I mean.
*PSA: Tipsy!Lori wrote this post. In case you couldn’t tell.
- Make them unfair, especially if it’s towards the main characters. Bonus points if they know they’re being unfair and dismiss it.
- Make them a bigot.
- Give them a position of power.
- Do not give them a zany personality. Anything can be forgiven for a character with a wacky personality.
- Let them get their way at important points instead of having the main characters constantly triumph against them.
Umbridge fits most, if not all, of these points.
I wanted to double check that “The Cherry on Top” was a short novel or novella and I found this on uphillwriting.org. I think it’s very informative and hopefully you guys will find it useful!
Good friends, this list is wonderful, but it’s missing something!
800 words maximum
this is the most beautiful thing i’ve seen today.
HOWEVER, internet articles can actually go quite a bit longer—the first-page Google results are usually 2,000 words or more.
Ancient Rome was an Italic civilization that began on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants (roughly 20% of the world’s population) and covering 6.5 million square kilometers (2.5 million sq mi) during its height between the first and second centuries AD.
In its approximately 12 centuries of existence, Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy to a classical republic to an increasingly autocratic empire. Through conquest and assimilation, it came to dominate Southern and Western Europe, Asia Minor, North Africa, and parts of Northern and Eastern Europe, Rome was preponderant throughout the Mediterranean region and was one of the most powerful entities of the ancient world. It is often grouped into “Classical Antiquity” together with ancient Greece, and their similar cultures and societies are known as the Greco-Roman world. [x]
- Behind the Name: Ancient Roman Names
- Behind the Name: Roman Names
- List of Names of Ancient Romans
- Choosing a Roman Name
- 2000-NAMES.COM: Male Roman Names
- 2000-NAMES.COM: Female Roman Names
- Ted’s Roman Name Generator: Female Names
- Ted’s Roman Name Generator: Male Names
Society & Life
- HISTORY.COM - Ancient Rome
- What was Daily Life like in Rome?
- British Museum - Ancient Rome
- BBC - City of Rome
- Map of the Roman Empire
- National Geographic - 10 Facts about the Ancient Romans
- Daily Life in the Country
- Roman Life
- PBS - The Roman Empire - Life in Roman Times
- PBS - The Roman Empire - Women
- Women in Ancient Rome
- Status of Women in Ancient Rome
- Ancient History Encyclopedia - Women in the Roman World
- Ancient World - Women in Ancient Rome
- PBS - The Roman Empire - Family Life
- Family and Children in Ancient Rome
- Roman Family and the Exposure of Infants
- All About the Ancient Roman Family
- Roman Families
- Athy College - A Child in Ancient Rome
- Rome Exposed - Roman Children
- Ancient Roman Jobs
- Jobs in Ancient Rome
- Matrimonium: Types of Roman Marriage
- PBS - The Roman Empire - Weddings, Marriages & Divorce
- When were the Romans married?
- Marriage in Ancient Rome
- Roman Weddings
- Rome Exposed - Marriage, Customs and Roman Women
- Ancient Roman Weddings
- Roman Divorce - Could Women Divorce in Ancient Rome?
- Divorce in Ancient Rome
- Standard Roman Male Sexuality
- Non-Standard Roman Male Sexuality
- Ancient Roman Sex and Prostitution
- Gay Marriage and Homosexuality were part of Moral Landscape in Ancient Rome
- The 7 Weirdest Sex Stories of the Ancient World
- Psychology Today - Sexuality in Ancient Rome
- Household Sex in Ancient Rome
- Roman Houses
- Ancient Roman Homes
- Sample Plan of a Roman House
- Rome Exposed - Roman Houses
- Rome Exposed - Interior Decoration
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Roman Housing
- Ancient Rome Environment
- Discovery News - Climate Changes Linked to Fall of Roman Empire
- Roman Education
- Roman Schools
- Roman High Schools
- Education in Ancient Rome
- Rome Exposed - Education
- Schools in Ancient Rome
- BBC - Romans Religion
- Roman Slaves
- Ancient Rome - Roman Slaves
- Women and Slavery in Ancient Rome
- Rome Exposed - Slavery
- Day in the Life of a Slave
- The Role of Horses in Rome
- BBC - Religion & Ethics - Ancient Rome’s Maidens: Who were the Vestal Virgins?
- Encyclopedia Britannica - Vestal Virgins (Roam Religion)
- Ancient History Encyclopedia - Vestal Virgin
- Roman Gods
- Roman Funerals
- Roman Economy
- The Economy of the Roman World
- The Roman Art of Counting
- Roman Currency
- Ancient Roman Economy
- Ancient History Encyclopedia - Roman Coinage
- Ancient Coins for Education - What Things Cost in Ancient Rome
- Money and Prices in the Early Roman Empire [PDF]
- Roman Coins
- Roman Weights and Measures
Entertainment & Food
- Roman Food
- Ancient Roman Food
- Roman Silverware and Dishes
- Breakfast in Ancient Rome
- The Aeneid - Lunch and Siesta
- The Evening Meal
- Food for Rich Romans
- Rome Exposed - Roman Food
- Rome Exposed - Meals of the Day
- Which Were the Popular Roman Wines?
- What Did the Ancient Roman People Eat at Meals?
- Poor Romans Food around the Mediterranean Sea
- Internet History Sourcebooks - Saturnalia Convivia, III.13: The Bill of Fare of a Great Roman Banquet
- Eight Ancient Roman Recipes from around the Roman Table
- PBS - NOVA - Ancient Roman Recipes
- Reclining and Dining (and Drinking) in Ancient Rome
- Roman Kitchens
- Roman Entertainment
- Roman Music
- Ancient History Encyclopedia - Athletics, Leisure, and Entertainment in Ancient Rome
- Entertainment - Spectacles
- The Forum
- Toys, Games, and Pets in Ancient Rome
- Roman Games
- Roman Gladiators
- HISTORY.COM - 10 Things You May Not Know About Roman Gladiators
- Ancient History Encyclopedia - Female Gladiators in Ancient Rome
- Roman Circuses
- Rome Exposed - Circuses and Races
- British Museum - Chariot-Racing in Ancient Rome
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Roman Games: Playing with Animals
- Roman Sports
- Roman Art
- Art & Architecture in Ancient Rome
- Roman Pottery
- Roman Theatre, Pantomime
- Rome Exposed - Theatres and Plays
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Theater and Amphitheater in the Roman World
- Scholastic - Ancient Roman Art and Architecture
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Roman Painting
- Roman Holidays & Festivals
- Roman Festivals
- Roman Literature
Hygiene, Health & Medicine
- Roman Medicine
- Kentucky Educational Television - Doctors
- Medicine in Ancient Rome
- Roman Medicine
- Roman History Center - Roman Medicine
- Kentucky Educational Television - Roman Medicine
- Kentucky Educational Television - Surgery
- University of Virginia - Surgical Instruments from Ancient Rome
- Roman Hospitals
- Cesarean Section in Ancient Rome
- Birth Control in Antiquity
- Indiana University - Midwives and Maternity Care in the Roman World
- Hollins University - Midwives and Birth in Ancient Rome
- Kentucky Educational Television - Drugs
- BBC - Malaria and the Fall of Rome
- Medicine of Ancient Rome
- Smallpox in Ancient Rome
- Kentucky Educational Television - Diseases in Ancient Rome
- Ancient History Encyclopedia - Disease and Death in the Ancient City of Rome
- The History of Shaving
- Roman Bathhouse Drains Found To Contain Jewelry, Scalpel, Teeth
- Rome Exposed - Games, Exercise and Baths
- Roman Baths
- Roman Baths and Hygiene in Ancient Rome
- The Roman Baths
- Role of Social Bathing in Classical Rome
- Roman Aqueducts
- PBS - NOVA - Watering Ancient Rome
- Roman Sewage
- What Romans Used for Toilet Paper
- BBC - How did Romans go to the Toilet?
- Clothing & Hair Styles
- Roman Hairstyles
- Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings - Hairstyles in the Arts of Greek and Roman Antiquity
- Smithsonian - This Woman Is a Hair-Style Archaeologist - Recreates the Hairstyles of Ancient Roman
- Ancient Roman Clothing
- Roman Makeup
- Roman Make-up
- Women’s Fashion in Ancient Rome
- Rome Exposed - Clothing of Women and Girls
- Rome Exposed - Clothing of Men and Boys
- Pictures of Ancient Roman Clothing
- Colors of Roman Clothing
- Roman Trousers and Breeches
- Roman Children Clothing
- Roman Soldiers Clothing
- Roman Wedding Clothing
- Roman Slaves Clothing
- Vestal Virgins Clothing
- Roman Emperor Clothing
- Roman Cloaks
- Roman Fashion
- Roman Jewelry
- Roman Jewelry - Antique Jewelry University
- National Geographic - Ancient Roman Glass Jewelry
- Shoes - Ancient Roman Sandals and Other Footwear
- Roman Cloaks - Roman Cloaks and Other Outerwear
- Smithsonian - Purple Dye Was Made from Snails
- Smithsonian - Children’s Shoes Were a Status Symbol
- Roman Shoes
- Gladiator Sandals
- Roman Sandals and Boots
- Fashion Encyclopedia - Makeup
- Fashion Encyclopedia - Roman Footwear
- Roman Helmets
- Roman Hats
- Roman Crowns and Wreaths
- Kinship Terms - Terms of Roman Relationship in Families
- Discovery - How Have the Ancient Romans influenced Modern-day Language?
- An Introduction to the Development of the Greek Alphabet
- Michael C. Carlos Museum - Roman Writing
- Glossary of Roman Terms
Justice & Crime
This is a great, unique little tool I found by browsing for writing resources. It’s name speaks for itself: it’s a synonym finder.
The site is clean cut, has soothing colors, and to-the point results for any word you look up.
For example, when I look up the word “romance,” I get this:
Synonyms: romance, romanticism
Definition: an exciting and mysterious quality (as of a heroic time or adventure)
Definition: an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone
Usage: the quality of mercy is not strained—Shakespeare”
I had no idea what a “hypernym” is. Apparently it’s a word with a more general meaning that a more specific word fall under. Like, color is a hypernym for green.
On the right corner there’s a button to make graphs! So you can trace each synonym from it’s root word, and see how far the other synonyms connect in comparison to others.
I really like it, so I’m going to definitely bookmark it on my writing tools list.
A step away from the more common “limited” viewpoint, omniscience places the narrator in a position of all-knowing and all-seeing power. The narration can easily jump from MC Martha to Love Interest Lucy to George the Cashier, within the same chapter and often without page breaks. As readers, we can effectively see things from the point of best perspective or the point of best action, even if the best perspective is a bird flying overhead or Generic Soldier #1. Not every character will get a complete arc, but each head you get inside should still have a distinctive personality. It’s a hard line to balance, since you’ve got the narrative voice on top of a unique character voice. It’s not difficult to give a unique voice to your main characters, but not every generic onlooker should sound the same, either.
The perspective allows you to follow the action. If Martha gets knocked out, instead of time jumping to when she wakes up, you can shift into Lucy’s head for a bit. You’re not even limited to the main characters—you can easily get into the villain’s head and let us know what they have planned. This can, however, make it hard to give a good plot twist. This will usually shift your story’s focus to not be on the twist itself, but how they deal with the results.
The narrator might foreshadow upcoming events, either of importance or not. It adds a level of dramatic irony (where you know more than the characters). And really, be careful just to hint. The narrator might already know how things end, but you don’t want to give things away if it’s important.
Often the narrator has its own voice. Many times when I see 3rd person omniscient narrators, they use their all-seeing powers to pop into the heads of random characters as an opportunity for comic relief. They might make fun of characters, or offer their own opinions on the events. The characters have no idea that this all-seeing narrator is following their thoughts and actions, so again, dramatic irony.
The perspective allows characters to inspect each other, which makes relationships and possible relationships less suspenseful. Instead of being stuck in Martha’s head the entire time, wondering if Lucy likes her or not, the narrator can very easily switch to Lucy and give an insight about her feelings towards Martha. 3rd person omniscient is very common in romance novels for this reason. It ups the tension knowing they both like each other, but neither will admit it. The tension comes in their personal struggle to act or not act on their desires.
Examples of sentences you might read in third person omniscient:
A woman across the street saw the teenager disappear into the wormhole, but paused only a minute. She blinked. A trick of the eyes, she decided. Besides, she was already late for work.
Grug the goblin scurried away to do his master’s command, pleased that his expertise would finally be recognized. He’d get a promotion for this—all he had to do was kill some overrated girl with a sword. But Grug had a lot to learn about girls with swords.
Genres typically told in this tense:
- High Fantasy, especially when there is an emphasis on fight scenes. Each fighter can react and size up the other’s movements, and appreciate each other’s skills. (The Legend of Drizzt series by RA Salvatore)
- Romance. Like stated before, there’s tension in knowing what each side wants, and then knowing why they won’t act on it. Plus, romances generally cater towards a female audience. This POV allows readers into the more familiar woman’s perspective as well as the man’s romantic thoughts towards her. You can read all the romantic things your man never says out loud, but still thinks about!
- Anything can be told in this POV, but make sure there’s a reason for it. Since the default storytelling mode is 3rd person limited, there should be purpose in straying from that.
If you want to write in this perspective, read plenty of books written in it. Here are a handful of book recommendations in 3rd person omniscient to get your started: Downsiders by Neal Shusterman, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, The Legend of Drizzt series by RA Salvatore. The first two link to book reviews with a creative writing analysis, both of which talk more about the narrative voice and ways to successfully implement a 3rd person omniscient narrative.
I’m outlining my novel for the tenth time, and my head is going soft from repeated bashing against the wall. It’s one of those times when I should have listened to my own advice about three months ago, but whatever. We live to learn. Or something. Also I am here so that you don’t screw up the way I do.
Make it as bad for your characters as you can. Show no mercy
I fell into the trap of feeling sorry for my characters. It sounds ridiculous since they are most certainly not real people. Yet again, I’ve made their life too easy, too pleasant, too smooth.
So if something is going right for them, think of ways you can make it more complicated. Not necessarily world-endingly so, but every chapter should contain something for them to worry about.
Conflict from multiple sides, more layers
Say your character has to find someone. That goal clashes with that of your bad guy. So far so standard. But the interesting bits are in between.
Maybe they have to break laws along the way, meaning the police will be upset at them, their significant other, their parents. Additionally, someone else you didn’t know about might also be looking for the missing person. They might be forced to bribe, steal, lie, hurt others in the process, do things outside of their comfort zone.
There’s also the distinction between internal and external conflict. In this case the external conflict are the people and obstacles in her way of finding the person, the internal conflict her grappling with morality, how far she is willing to go in order to save the person.
Don’t overdo it
I know what I said in the beginning. There’s a reason for not kicking them all the time, something needs to go right for them after all or else they’ll come across as inept or impossibly unlucky. Because there is a difference between your guys having a bad day and having the universe declare them their favorite chew toy.
If you want to throw questions my way, the askbox is always open.