So. I feel like I should give my readers (if there are any of you; I wouldn’t know, nobody ever comments) more than just glimpses of my everyday life.
So here are some writing tips and such-like.
Keeping Characters Active
1. Does the hero ever do anything the other characters couldn’t, simply because s/he is the hero?
Or, in other words, do you ever write a scene purely for the hero to do something that they didn’t even need to be there for? Something that gave the hero themselves no character development at all?
If the answer is yes, you might want to try writing the scene without the hero. Both the scene and your hero will likely be better off for it.
2. Can you write [pick a character] out of the book?
In other words, how hard would it be for you to write out that person- do they ever actually do anything, or do they stand on the sidelines and watch others act?
If it’s fairly simple to erase the character from the story, then- while this may sound harsh- you might want to do just that.
If you prefer to keep the character, you might consider rewriting other scenes you’ve already written, in order to keep the character doing things.
Magic can be a bit of a tricky subject, and there are people who’ve written far better essays on this topic than I could. Brandon Sanderson comes to mind.
However, one thing I can say is that Magic needs to be believable. That may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s true. That doesn’t mean it has to be believable in our world; just that it needs to follow its’ own laws and have predictable effects.
A given magic system might function off the principles of chaos, but it should comply to its’ internal laws just as well as a system that is based on order. Even if a character can’t predict the effect of a spell by the words or gestures or plants or glyphs or whatever used to cast it, it should at least be possible for them to do so.
Now, you don’t need to write out the rules in your story- in fact, it often works better if you let the reader (and, sometimes, the characters) figure the rules out for themselves. However, if you do write out the rules… keep a few back. That will let you do unexpected things with your magic system when necessary, but things that nonetheless follow the laws. It willmake your magic systems more believable, and a lot more fun to read.
Whatever you call them, your world might include a multitude of sentients beyond humans. Whether the setting is sci-fi or fantasy- either way, you want some believability, right?
In fantasy, there are a few ‘stock’ peoples- Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Half-elves, Orks. Some people add subraces (night elves, bright elves, light elves, wood elves, blood elves, etcetera etcetera ad nauseum). And, while there are still a lot of avenues that can be explored with these ‘traditional’ races… I’m going to leave them alone for a bit and dig farther back.
Landvaettir. Ever hear of them? They’re Old Norse nature spirits, protectors of the land. Their territory could range from as small as a certain boulder, to a chunk of the country. Try looking them up- you might get some ideas.
The Faeries? Think of Victorian-era tales, with a dash of older legends. Are your Fae the Elvish type? Perhaps amoral, aloof beings, who have little understanding of mortals? Or perhaps you go the Eastern route, and your Fai are Kitsune, Tengu, and Kappas.
And then, of course, you can make up your own.
Catfolk? Maybe a bit overdone, but there’s potential- it’s all in the depiction. Perhaos their ears are at the sides of the head, instead of the top?
How about a race that seems like humans, but has small antlers, like branches jutting from their foreheads? What might you do with them?
A dark-skinned race with golden eyes and feathers for hair?
A small, gnomelike people… with four arms?
Whatever your races are, be certain to think about their place in the world. They don’t just exist; they have a history, and their interactions, among themselves and other peoples, have shaped the path of their world.
Phew. A little longer than I’d planned… anyway, I hope I gave you some good ideas.