How to create awesome character names

I already wrote another post on character names. But I felt it wasn’t as complete as it could have been. So here is a sort of part two. Some authors don’t even start writing if they don’t know the name of their characters. Others write a full first draft or even more using working names. Then they finally come up with a name that is the natural result of their staying with the story for such a long time. The name reveals itself, we could say. Now, probably names aren’t among the most important aspects of a great novel–but many great…

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20 signs you are a writer

Maybe it’s Neil Gaiman’s statement that particularly resonates with you–“As far as I’m concerned, the entire reason for becoming a writer is not having to get up in the morning.” Or maybe you feel more in line with Dorothy Parker’s take–“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” In any case, shedding light on your desire to become a writer and what you’re actually doing to…

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Use gamification to increase your daily word count

Some years ago, after I repeatedly found myself still playing at five o’clock in the morning, I had to wipe Skirim off my hard drive. And when the deinstallation program asked me if I wanted to keep my saved games I immediately clicked no. To prevent second thoughts from taking shape into my mind and persuade me the saved games were just harmless files. That I could keep them and be safe nonetheless. To this day, the same happens whenever I play chess. The game is so complex and compelling, and I find it so intriguing, I can’t just play…

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How to kill your protagonist… and survive

Writers enjoy a notable perk. When they write they’re like little gods. In their novels they can play with their characters’ lives. And indeed it’s a well known rule of thumbs the one suggesting that you throw at your protagonist all you can, to make their life as miserable as possible. However, it’s also well known that great power carries with it great responsibility. As a result, the simple fact you can do whatever you want doesn’t necessarily entail you should do it. For example, you can stuff your story with Deus ex machina devices. In this way any hole in…

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Why do writers write. Or rather, why do I write?

Money. We all know it can’t buy happiness. But, as Groucho Marx said, “it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.” And that’s something. Or not? In any case, on one thing we can all agree. If someone wants to become filthy rich and do that real fast, writing is not the way to go. Indeed, this should be immediately apparent if we stop a second and think about the time and effort even a single book requires. Besides, according to the Nielsen Book research for 2015 only a very small number of books (500) sold on average more…

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Original horror story prompts

In a previous post–Seeds of creativity–I said ideas are never a big problem for writers and creative people in general. But given that each one of us is unique in her way of thinking and looking at the world, in her way of understanding how things work, and in pretty much everything else, from time to time this uniqueness can also feel a bit suffocating. In fact, we tend to come up with ideas that feel like Xeroxed copies of previous ones we already wrote about. For example, if you are someone who feels strongly about hierarchies and power in corporate America…

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How do you get creative writing ideas?

Write a new post or perish trying. Today I feel like perishing. I want to write interesting things about creative writing and the creative process, but all I can think of are boxes full of sand. Boxes full of sand? And what are they for? That’s a good question. And the answer is I don’t know for sure. But I have the strong feeling they are like ideas. I mean on those rare occasions they are delivered, so to speak, right to my door. Perfectly formed new ideas. They look like a gift from heaven. But are they really such…

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Micro-tension – the secret ingredient of great fiction

There are many books devoted to creative writing. So many that if an aspiring author decided to read them all before ever putting pen to paper, he would die and be reborn a disturbingly high number of times before he could actually write a single word. Maybe–just maybe–if you firmly believe in reincarnation this is not necessarily a big deal. But for all other aspiring writers it undoubtedly is. Luckily, though creative writing is a complex and extremely nuanced subject, it also offers a notable perk. That’s to say you can try any technique, any style, any suggestion without having…

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Famous writers’ quotes about writing

Quotes are interesting. Quotes are fashionable. Famous writers’ quotes about writing are even cooler. But quotes are also prone to misinterpretation. Especially because they are often used without appropriate context. This may look like a minor detail. But it’s not. In fact, for example, if you know about writing techniques and what it means to tell the truth in creative writing, you can have decidedly different takes on the following Mark Twain’s quote than you would if you hadn’t any special interest about writing. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything–Mark Twain In one case you…

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