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Creative Writing Corner
Creative Writing Corner
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Welcome, fellow scribe, to lesson 3, where we delve into the secrets of crafting kick-ass characters.
No, I don’t claim to know all there is to know about this aspect of the art. I am, as ever, an eternal student, and thus I turn my attention to one of the greats, a master of every aspect of storytelling, creator of some of the most memorable characters of all time, Professor J.R.R. Tolkien.
In The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien drew a world so real I felt I could live there, so magical I desperately wanted to, and so compelling I didn’t feel I could ever leave. (I was right about that; I’ve never left Middle Earth, nor do I want to.) But what makes that world compelling isn’t the maps or the magic – it’s the characters that people his world, and the quests they undertake.
Sure, maybe good and evil are portrayed in black and white in Tolkien’s trilogy, but his characters – the ones we come to know and love (or love to hate) – all live in varying shades of gray. They forge who they become through the fires of the hard choices they must make. This is why we’re drawn to them, compelled to follow their stories, to root for them through victory and defeat.
For those who aren’t Tolkienites, I apply a similar analysis in shorthand to the first Star Wars movie. Then I finish it with a great character-building (heh) homework exercise for you, pulled right from Janet Burroway’s Imaginative Writing. So listen in!
Catch you next time, my friend. Write on!
Welcome to part 2 of my interview with Matthew Harrill, my favorite contemporary British author of books of blood and darkness. Listen in as he delves ever deeper into the writing process, showing us how to build mood and suspense and character and plot. It’ll give you shivers. You’ll love it.
(If you haven’t listened to part 1 yet, go do that now! We’ll wait.)
We also discuss fantasy greats Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, and Matt shares a lesson from his own mentor, David Farland (who also mentored Sanderson, as well as Twilight author Stephenie Meyer).
Once you’ve listened to this lesson, go do the homework assignment Matt and I give you. It’s all about opening hooks and closing hooks, and the more you practice it, the more compelling your fiction will be.
(Reminder: Matt is donating a portion of the proceeds of sales from The Eyes Have No Soul to type 1 diabetes research. So go buy it!)
If you’d like to hear more of Matt’s views on fiction, or more details on his books and the horror genre in general, check out my archived episodes with him from the Fun with Fiction podcast:
- FwF 16 – Interview with Matthew Harrill: What if Hell Froze Over?
- FwF 28: Matthew Harrill returns to Hell
That’s all for now, fellow scribes. Join me back here next time for a lovely lesson on creating killer characters. Peace!
My guest today is an old friend, a scary talented Amazon best-selling author from overseas, Mr. Matthew W Harrill!
Author of the ARC Chronicles trilogy, which begins with the award-winning Hellbounce, Matt has continued to grow and spread his wings as a writer. He’s just released his latest novel, The Eyes Have No Soul, a demonic thriller set in the ARC universe (but you don’t need to have read the others to start there!).
Listen to Matt tell us how he structures his stories, from his idea generation process to his character inspirations to his meticulous outlines. He’ll inspire you to build your own fictional world.
Then go pick up his books and see how it’s done! (In case you need extra incentive, Matt wrote this book as a tribute to a family struggle with Type 1 diabetes, and he’s donating a portion of the proceeds from The Eyes Have No Soul to diabetes research. So be a mensch and buy it already!)
And don’t forget to tune in to part 2 of this interview for the rest of Matt’s stellar advice, plus your homework assignment. See you then!
Check Matt’s work at matthewharrill.com.
Oh, and check out the time Matt interviewed me!
Before you listen here, check thyself before thou wreck thyself: Did you listen to lesson 1? Did you do the homework assignment???
If not, fear not, fellow scribe! Yours truly is here with lessons distilled from Matt Bird, Donald Maass, Charles Johnson, and Joyce Carol Oates on how to construct a powerful premise for a dynamite story.
What are the most crucial questions to ask at the beginning of the writing process? Find out here!
Then do your homework, and answer them.
Resources in this episode
“Where do you get your ideas?”
Yes, every writer hears the question. If you’re a writer now, you’ve no doubt heard it many times; if you’re just starting your journey, well, buckle up, buttercup, because you’re going to have to come up with some kind of response. And if your current response is something along the lines of “Umm... ideas?”, well then...
You’re in luck. In lesson 1 of the Creative Writing Corner podcast, I go into detail about how to build ideas from thin air. Using pointers from Neil Gaiman and Stephen King and Ray Bradbury as inspiration, I delve into dozens of idea holes digging for possibilities, and bring a great many of them into the bold light of day for your writing pleasure.
So get your idea, take it, and run with it. Do your homework assignment! It won’t take long, but it’ll be oh so worth it.
Welcome, fellow scribe!
This is the inaugural episode of Creative Writing Corner, a free podcast course wherein I pass on to you some story-crafting lessons I’ve learned over the years, in the hopes that we may all advance the craft and learn even more.
Yes, it’s another writing podcast. But this one is focused, 100%, on the quality of storytelling. It’s about getting your story told, told completely, and told well. It’s about how to write a novel, a screenplay, a comic book, in a way that brings your story to life, a way that makes your reader laugh and cry and shiver and beg for more. It’s about me talking to better writers than I am and picking their brains about how to improve myself.
Who am I, that you should listen to me about how to write? Fair question. I answer it here. The answer isn’t super-impressive, I’m afraid, but my credentials are legit. I hold a few degrees, I’ve published a number of books, and I teach writing for a living. I don’t know everything there is to know about the craft, but I know enough to teach and to learn.
Because it’s a learning process, isn’t it? The writing game. We never know it all. All we can do is grow.
In this episode I lay out what this course will be about, and what it can do for you. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.