Why You Should Write Unrealistic Fiction

One of the perennial questions on the internet is “how do I write for the opposite gender?” After that, you usually get the whole argument about who can (and can’t) capture the true essence and mystique of a specific gender. Then, the whole argument of “realism” is brought up.

Therein lies the core issue. Realism.

Writing fiction has nothing to do with being realistic. Authors are creators carefully crafting characters and scenes and stories to reach their readership. You don’t have to justify or impress anyone else other than yourself and your target audience.

why you should write unrealistic fiction

Realism doesn’t matter in writing – but here’s what does: author convictions, story plausibility, reader expectations, and genre conventions.

Author Convictions

You are writing this story. It is your story. You gotta live with it and at the end of the day, you’re selling it, either to an agent, a publishing company, or directly to readers. Ultimately, you have to be satisfied with how it turns out. Know your Push, your essential motivation, and use it to keep going.

Story Plausibility

This is where story structure and writing craft come in. Get your problem and solution sorted out, make sure your story follows an outline (either by plotting, or by self-editing after you finish pantsing), strengthen your characterization, and go over your whole manuscript multiple times. Bring in beta readers (preferably at least three for varied opinions), use a critique group, hire an editor, and try to fill in every plot hole and issue you can. Master those fundamentals of fiction as much as you can.

Genre Conventions

Now the concepts of realism and ‘proper story technique’ are turned upside down. You see, genre conventions are the general structures and expectations of specific genres. Is it realistic for people in novels to be incredibly attractive? Nope, but in certain kinds of genre romance, they both better be knockouts. Is it realistic for all of those urban fantasy men to be devil-may-care, gritty masters of snark or all of those urban fantasy females to wear tight leather and love swords? Nope, but it often goes with the territory.

You can of course thwart genre conventions, but depending on which ones you choose to overturn, beware that it could turn off readers, no matter how good your writing craft. Also, ‘telling’? That’s a bonus in some genres (and some authors are really good at it). What about the dreaded ‘purple prose’? Well, some high fantasy goes over the moon for all the lush over-descriptions, whereas some fast-paced adventure novels drop bits of description as if they are precious, rare diamonds. The key is to know the conventions of your genre and have confidence in how to keep them (or break them smartly).

Reader Expectations

Reader expectations are often tied into genre conventions. This is a good thing, because you’ll know how to deliver what your readers want, be it thrilling cliffhanger endings for suspense or happy ever afters for romance. To know reader expectations, haunt book reviews, book blogs, and book club discussion areas. Also, grab a second round of beta readers to give purely reader-response.

The good thing is that readers often expect different things than authors. They want to be entertained, pleased, surprised, comforted, thrilled, mesmerized, shocked, and/or anything else that is considered part of the deal. Depending on the market area, they may overlook typos, spelling, or grammar errors, but they can be far less forgiving if you fail one of the expectations (couple doesn’t get together, plot twists don’t twist, etc).

Marketing tip – make sure your book cover, blurb, and overall presentation hit the targets for your genre and reader expectations. Otherwise, you could be attracting the wrong kinds of readers and that does not lead to good reviews (consider how frustrated suspense readers would be to get a sappy romance, or how annoyed high fantasy fans would be to get a stripped-down action-suspense plot). Granted, you could still get negative reviews for other reasons, but don’t let off-target marketing be one of them!

So go ahead–write unrealistic fiction! Make your characters strong, potent, memorable. Make your stories incredible. Improbably probable. Weave your plots well and reach into the hearts of your readers. Revise, tweak, resubmit, refresh to get things just right.

And enjoy every minute of it.

What are your favorite genres? What are some genre conventions? Do you keep them or turn them upside down?

6 Tips for a Memorable Author Tagline

A tagline gives more information about you and about your purpose in a short, bite-size phrase that can easily sink into your reader’s minds.

Like you, I’m busy. I usually give a website maybe five to ten seconds to prove its worth before I move on. It’s nothing personal, but life’s short .

Taglines are a great way to hook the interest of busy readers and web-surfers–as long as that tagline is purposeful, snappy, and connects with your core message.

There are plenty of helpful articles with examples of taglines, but I’m going to pull out my English language know-how to clue you into one secret about taglines and then break it down.

It’s all about poetry.

What? Yeah, poetry. That stuff you had to learn in high school (or didn’t learn, because you were zoning out). Love it or hate it, poetry focuses on the rhythms, beats, and patterns of language, and that makes it an asset when it comes turning out a good phrase.

The best taglines are poetry. Here are some examples of how to put this into practice.

6 Tips for a Memorable Author Tagline

1.) Alliteration – Start each word (or at least a significant amount of words) with the same letter. My tagline for fiction? Monsters, Misfits, and Mushy Stuff. Ronie Kendig’s tagline? Rapid-Fire Fiction. Pam Halter has a great one with Fairies, Fantasy, and Faith. Alliteration sticks in the brain and creates a great starting point for your brand.

2.) Rhyming – Look at Katie Morford’s Create. Explore. Illuminate. She uses the One Word. method, but also sneaks in a rhyme between her first and third words. The second “buffer” word and the fact that all three of her words directly relate to her mission statement makes this tagline a home run.

3.) Syllables – Let’s go back to Monsters, Misfits, and Mushy Stuff. The first three primary words all start with “m”, all have two syllables, and all have the same stress pattern: MONsters, MISfits, MUSHy Stuff. This is getting a little more technical, but makes for a satisfying mouthful.

4.) Repetition – Repeating the same stress pattern, syllable pattern, or beginning word is a key aspect in many effective taglines. Just don’t do it too much or it can get sing-songy in a bad way.

5.) Short and PunchyWrite Inside Out used to be Building Stories From the Inside Out. I slimmed it down because it was too long to get through. Although I’ll never say a long tagline is out of the question, in general shorter is better.

6.) One Word. or Two Words. or even Three Words. – For my press, Uncommon Universes Press (note the alliteration?) our tagline is Be New. Be Bold. Be Uncommon. This encapsulates UUP’s emphasis on speculative fiction that is unorthodox, creative, and owns its unique vision on the world.

Ultimately, you can have all of the above and still not have a great tagline. Why? Because taglines are more than just clever poetry tricks. You know you have a good tagline when you can explain how it directly relates to your fiction and only your fiction.

Anyone can just throw together a few epic sounding creative words: Dream. Live. Believe. or Soft Words for Strong Matters (see there? Contrasting elements between soft and strong). But if that clever little phrase doesn’t really encapsulate what makes you, your mission, and your Push (motivation/angle) unique, then it might as well not be there. Better a less-clever tagline that resonates with your writing than a word gem that doesn’t really mean anything.

However, if you can nail down a great tagline, then you have one more expression of your authentic self and vision to reach readers and allow them to see into your world. And that is priceless.

A good tagline invites your reader into your passion, your purpose, and your perspective as an author.

My tagline is Write Inside Out, because I honestly believe inside every person is a great writer–and I want to coach and equip you every step of the way. Taglines are one of my favorite things to problem-solve, and I would love to help coach you through yours. We figure out your Push, your audience, your genre needs, and go from there on an exciting journey to awesomeness! Tagline coaching is $15/half hour or $30/hour over video chat, and you get a follow-up email with session notes, suggestions, and encouragement.

Show-off time! What’s your tagline? Respond in the comments!

5 Basics of Authentic Book Marketing

Marketing. Love it or hate it, it’s how your work gets into the hands of more readers. There are a lot of great marketing books, blog posts, articles, webinars, Facebook groups, and email newsletters to help you sell books and reach readers. I’m not one to reinvent the wheel, but I am a college-educated people-nerd (communications, intercultural studies, ESL), experienced teacher, and a pragmatist who loves doing things better in less time.

So here are some basics to authentic book marketing for encouragement, edification, and enlightenment (alliteration rocks).

5 Basics 0f Book Marketing

1.) Know Your Push.

Your Push is what motivates you to write–what pushes you along, no matter how you’re feeling or what’s going on in your life. You have to be confident of your motivation and your goals before you launch. Does authentic book marketing mean you put everything out there all the time? Nope. But it’s still helpful for you to know it so you can make wise decisions.

Years ago, I had a publisher request a manuscript for a contemporary romance. During final edits before submissions, I started having issues because I couldn’t picture myself selling a contemporary romance. I rarely even read contemporary romance, except out of occasional curiosity (nothing personal, just lacking in dragons or vampires). I’m a speculative fiction, dyed-hair, monsters-and-misfits kinda gal. While the story had misfit characters, that lack of speculative element was a deal-breaker for me in terms of putting the book out there.

When you’re considering your writing goals, have fun imagining where you’d like to see it published and marketed, and who you’d like to be reading your work. Make sure that lines up with your own Push and that you can see yourself going into those areas.

2.) Play to Your Strengths.

Some people do better in text. Some people do better in podcasts. Some people shine in videos. Some can do more than one thing–which is great if you have the time! The goal is to find out where you shine and focusing on that area.

Love pics? Instagram might be your thing. Master of the witty one-liner–or just too succinct for your own good? Twitter might be your spot. Enjoy connecting across a broad array of people and hopping in and out of groups? Try Facebook. LOVE talking? Try podcasts or YouTube videos.

While I think everyone should give a shot at in-person sales and appearances (because nothing connects better than actually meeting with others) and email newsletters appear to be with us forever (and for good reason, if only to allow you step outside of Twitter and Facebook algorithms), everything else is up for grabs. Research, find out where your readers are, and go for it. See what works for you–and don’t be afraid to try something new!

3.) Get Your Name Out There.

As much as possible, put your name out there–or at least the name you write under. Make the Amazon Author Central page, make the Goodreads author page, make an author website (even if it’s just a basic landing page and some links to other places), etc. Anywhere that you can make a static, leave-it-and-forget-it author page, do it. Yes, ideally you’ll want to be active in these places, but even if you can’t be, put your name out there with links to where people can find you. Be available online and on Google if people type in your name (or pen name).

4.) Do What You Can. 

Preferably, focus on a few areas and invest in them. If you’re an indie, you’re a one-person creative machine, so chances are, there will be days when you can’t get on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to post. That’s fine. The worse thing you can do is beat yourself up over it. Just be as consistent as you can and relax about the rest.

Now thankfully you can set up posts in advance using Buffer or Hootsuite, but if you’re crazy busy, those time-savers still require you to sit down and spend precious minutes and/or hours organizing the posts–plus, you’ll want to get online sometime to engage with others and maybe put up something spontaneous in response to a current event or new development in your writing.

Authentic book marketing means acknowledging that you can’t be everywhere or everything all the time. And that’s okay.

5.) Make Your Product Good (Enough).  

Whether you’re indie publishing, going through a small press, signing with one of the large traditional presses, or something in-between, it’s important to have a good story, solid editing, and a good book cover that meets the conventions of your genre and readership.

But it won’t be perfect. Your ebook or print copy might have typos, because even at publishing houses, people aren’t perfect. Your cover may not look the way you imagined it (because you’re on a budget, because of poor communication, or because it’s literally impossible to transfer the most glorious image from your head onto a cover image–yet).

Authentic book marketing isn’t about perfection. It’s about doing the best you can, where you are, with the tools you have and the passion inside you, and always seeking to improve.

I’m always looking to level up as well, so post in the comments with your favorite marketing books, gurus, and articles!

And if you’re looking for free, personalized, one-on-one feedback on your book marketing ventures, sign up for a free 30 minute video coaching session! Lots of getting to know how your brain works, what pushes you, and fresh ideas on your future, plus notes and encouragement to give you a jumpstart.

Three Easy Ways the MBTI Enhances Characters

3 Easy Ways to Use

Here’s my confession: I’m a complete people nerd. I highly enjoy studying and learning about individuals, groups, mindsets, worldviews, cultures, and everything else that makes up the human race. One of the main reasons I got into writing was the opportunity to make more friends (literally, haha) and try out different scenarios to see how people can get along with each other (or not. Often not. Conflict is story, after all).

As part of this, one of my favorite methods for characterization is the Meyers-Briggs Typology Indicator (MBTI). This personality test divides people into one of sixteen possible types according to cognitive processing types. In other words, it categorizes people according to how they take in and process about the world around them, rather than just “introverted” or “extroverted.”

The actual MBTI theory can get complicated, and like most personality tests, there are naysayers. It also gets problematic when you try to categorize real life people, because shockingly we’re all the sum of our life experiences, beliefs, upbringing, physical limitations, and so much more than just the way we think. Using one single personality test to try and categorize the complexity of humanity is naturally going to have a few problem spots.

All that being said? MBTI profiles can be mighty handy for sorting out fictional characters. Unlike people in real life, fictional characters have to make logical, cohesive sense and characters within a story need to be sufficiently distinct from each other, while still having understandable reasons for their relationships (whether positive, negative, or apathetic). Using MBTI can give you a framework as a writer for basic “boxes” to put your characters in, which allows for consistency in characterization and gives you helpful ideas for weaknesses where they can grow (aka, character arcs).

Using MBTI as one aspect of your character creation process can also encourage you to be more complex in your character portrayals. Going back to the “extrovert vs. introvert” issue, here’s an example:

Extrovert: “this character likes to go out and is talkative around people. They don’t like to be alone.”
Introvert: “this other character generally doesn’t like to go out and very quiet around people. They need to be alone.”

Writer: I’ll have Character A and Character B contrast by having Character A go out and be social and Character B want to be alone. This way, I’ll have an extroverted character and an introverted character and tada! You’ve got a conflict.

Problem: I’ve known plenty of extroverts who get really tired around people and need to be alone to recharge. This isn’t necessarily an extrovert-issue. If you’re around people you don’t get along with or have a hard time understanding, you can get tired. Conversely, I’ve known introverts who light up the room around their friends or trusted colleagues. Going for this blunt introvert vs. extrovert division is pretty limiting in terms of your characterization and isn’t fair to the complexity of people.

Solution: one category of cognitive functions in MBTI is HOW you think and process. Introversion and extroversion aren’t just two categories; they can define multiple ways that people view the world. For instance, people who are Introverted Thinkers (Ti) go inside their own minds to figure out things, whereas people who are Extroverted Thinkers (Te) need to process externally (usually verbally). If someone uses Ti, even if they’re classified as an extrovert, they could appear more introverted because they have to go inside their heads to sort out life. If someone uses Te, even though they’re classified as an introvert, they could appear more extroverted because they have to get their thoughts out of their heads to understand them.

Writer: I’ll have Character A and Character B conflict by making both of them extroverts, but Character A has Ti and Character B has Te. So even though they should get along because they’re both extroverts, there will be friction over Character B (Te) wanting to talk out their thoughts after a party when Character A (Ti) just wants left alone to process. And I’ll have Character A (Ti) unintentionally keep something from Character B (Te), because Character A already sorted the issue out in their head and so considers conversation about it redundant.

Yes, this makes things a little more complicated to deal with. But great characters are complicated AND by going a little deeper, I was able to introduce a new kind of character dynamic that has unique contrasts, even with two extroverts (by the way, the Ti vs. Te? That’s me and my husband and yes, I do forget to tell him things sometimes 😉 ).

For more thoughts on cognitive typing, check out these websites:
Thought Catalog
8 Cognitive Processes
Simple Terms (Kinda–Depends on Definition of “Simple”)

Okay, mini-lecture over. Let’s move onto:

Three Easy Ways the MBTI Enhances Characters

1.) DO try to take the MBTI test as your characters. Do a little acting to get into the heads of your characters! Go to an MBTI online personality test and try to answer the questions as your characters. Even if the resulting profile isn’t one you agree with, the act of having to get into your characters’ heads is a worthwhile character development exercise.

DON’T merely accept the result that you get as your character. Remember, it’s still ultimately you at the helm (hopefully), so there will be some biases. Read through your profile test result, and if it doesn’t seem to match with your gut or your character notes, check out some of the other profiles to see if you can find a better match. Remember, the goal of this is to help you–don’t feel like you have to go for something that doesn’t fit.

2.) DO make a list of your characters’ MBTI types. Add it to your character profiles, right alongside physical appearance, skills, any special abilities, favorite color, etc. Your characters’ MBTI personality type is another potential facet to explore (and feel free to add other personality test results as well).

DON’T use this list to limit how your characters interact. With a little Google searching, you’ll find all kinds of “recommended” friendship pairings and relationship pairings through the MBTI system. Those can be helpful starting points, but allow your characters to develop their own natural affinities as well–and don’t be deterred if a pairing or friendship isn’t “recommended.” It’s your story and even MBTI creator Isabel Myers wasn’t married to her “ideal type”–and they had a great relationship.

3.) DO use MBTI as part of a starting place for your characterization. Often, a character will just show up in my head and start talking. After a while of getting to know them, I’ll start trying to figure out their type as a natural part of character development. Other times, I might deliberately go into a story aiming to try out a certain pairing or type, sometimes based off of a perceived challenge (it’s dangerous to tell me something can’t work). So if it works for you, go ahead and add MBTI type to your character growth process.

DON’T only define characters by their MBTI type. Like actual people, characters are more than their personality and processing style. Societal roles, gender roles (or lack thereof), upbringing, race (Fae, dragon, unicorn, Vulcan, cyborg, tentacled snow beast), culture, and a number of other factors can affect how a personality manifests. For instance, I’m currently doing a character study of a Fae royal who classifies as ENTJ: intelligent, commanding, protective, natural leader, total alpha male. BUT, he was raised in a pacifistic, simple life type of Fae commune which emphasized cooperation and group think over competition–and there is no way of getting promoted. This not only creates natural conflict, but it also affects his personality, since he’s telepathically linked to the group whole and is affected by them.

Bethany Jennings at The Simmering Mind has another great post on the benefits and pitfalls of the MBTI from a personal perspective.

Ahoy, #plothoppers! Are you familiar with MBTI? What types are some of your characters? What other personality tests do you use to figure out characters?

Free Content Outline/Revision Worksheet!

Free ContentRevisionWorksheetThere are a lot of revision checklists and guides out there. Just typing the words into a search engine will yield plenty of people with opinions about what you should and shouldn’t cut–and there are a ton of variables. Genre conventions, audience expectations, and use of voice are just a few items that can alter how you revise a story. Therefore, I don’t generally adhere to a certain revision checklist.

What I do adhere to is a content check. Out of everything you do for a manuscript, getting content locked down is the one area where your unique ability to tell a story shines through. A good proofreader can catch your typos. A good line editor can shred your grammar and sentence structure. A good content editor can pinpoint story issues.

But ultimately, you are the one who can best tell your own story. Your mind, your ideas, and your vision all matter and being able to sort out and fix content issues yourself (with the input of a crit group or beta readers) is a great way to ensure that your own voice comes through in the revision process.

Now, if you’re a plotter, you might have an intricate plotting chart that tells you exactly where you need to go. After you write, you’ll need to go back and see if that plotting actually did the job.

If you’re a pantser and have just free-formed a story, then doing a content check to make sure you have all the parts in working order is a smart move. What those parts constitute is again a bit fluid (since there are different story structure methods), but as part of the process, you need to find something that works for you and stick to it.

Naturally, as a writer, editor, and author coach, I do have my own methods of organization that I modify to suit the needs of a client or a story. And since I enjoy sharing and giving away freebies, I’ve attached one of my basic outlining worksheets at the bottom of this blog post and added it to my resources page. It’s in Word form, so feel free to use it, change it up, copy and paste it, or otherwise alter it to suit your needs. I certainly do!

And if you’re looking for someone to provide feedback, thoughts, or a solid sounding board on your work, whether it be motivation, drafting, world-building, or marketing, feel free to sign up for one of my author coaching consultations! They come with notes, customized content, lots of enthusiasm, and the first one is free with absolutely no strings attached.

Content Structure and Purpose Worksheet

FOCUS Your Writing in 2017

My word of the year: FOCUS.

Focusing is a funny thing for me. As someone who has sensory processing issues and who was once diagnosed with A.D.D., I’ve found that I actually focus better when I’m working on more than one project. The high pressure and constant stimulation of different activities keep me from losing interest.

At the end of last year, I decided to turn my multi-focused brain in my favor by splitting off into two brands: janeenippolito.com (fiction and book reviews) and writeinsideout.com (nonfiction writing help).

writeinsideout.com is now exclusively a place of writing and world-building help (and sometimes guest features) from someone who was extensively educated in ALL THE WRITING RULES and through years of experience as a writer and a teacher, knows which ones to break (which is most of them if you do it at the right time and in the right place).

As a part of that, my first series is

foundations-tofiction-writing-3

In other news, apparently voters are a fan of both bunnies AND camels, because “put a bunny or camel in every blog post” came in second place on my reader poll. I am a woman of my word, and so here folks, is your first Bunny of the New Year! 😀

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Meet Edgar the Plot Bunny! This wise lagomorph was rescued from a friend’s basement and he is eager to see the world and share all of the exciting plots he’s come up with over his years of solitude! Follow the exploits of Edgar at #EdgarthePlotBunny and #plothop for plot prompts, thoughts, ideas, and random!

What about you? Do you have a word for the year? What’s your current writing project? Please share in the comments!

6 Fundamental Questions to Refine First Draft World-Building

You’ve now finished your first draft–or you’re getting pretty close to it! Or maybe you’re right in the middle, deep in the trenches, excited that you finished NaNoWriMo or hit your personal deadlines, but with no idea that after fifty thousand words the novel would just. Keep. GOING. WHEN WILL IT EVER BE DONE?

In any case, it’s a great time to relax, sit back, and do a world-building integration check-up. This can be a welcome break from the daily word count grind and a fun way to celebrate your awesome creativity. All the while, you’ll figure out how to use elements like setting, superpowers, and space ships to make your story stand out from the crowd.

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Question 1 ~ What World-Building Elements are You Excited About?

When you start writing speculative fiction, you go into the story with these crazy fun ideas. This is where you tackle all the coolest “what-ifs” in your story and get thrilled about them all over again. Maybe it’s a tribe of shape shifting armadillos! Or maybe you have the best take on cytoplasmic alien invaders. Whatever it is, recognize those world-building elements that make you care about your story, because those will be the ones that fuel your passion all through the months of rewrites and editing and…more rewrites and editing. In the end, your goal is to actually get this thing published, so make sure you hang on to cool things that will keep you motivated all the way up until your author interviews!

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Question 2 ~ What World-Building Elements Got Lost In the Shuffle?

So, you thought the vampire slugs were a fun throwaway, but they just ended up, well, thrown away. Or you really wanted to do something with those five extra moons surrounding the planet, but they’re still orbiting and you have no idea why they even need to be there or why you spent an entire chapter on them. This happens. No worries! Maybe you have a plot hole later on that they could fill and all you have to do is connect the dots. Maybe you need to drop back to your pool of sciency advisors (or Google + Something More Trustworthy Than Google) and figure out if those moons have a place. Worse comes to worse, you now have extra ideas to toss in your idea box and bring out in a later story. Because I really want to know about those vampire slugs. *Googles* Wow, someone actually used vampire slugs! We live in a wondrous world, folks.

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Question 3 ~ What World-Building Elements are Crucial to Your Narrative?

Before you start tossing things on the cutting room floor, considering what elements are necessary to your narrative. Sometimes when we get into revision mode, we can forget how everything works together. Take away that opening surprise attack with ghosts because you decided you wanted werewolves instead can drastically change how that entire scene works. While your switch-out might not be as dramatic as werewolves and ghosts, any kind of world-building shift can have trickle down effects that alter the foundations of your story–and your audience’s ability to suspend disbelief. Figure out soon what world-building elements need to stay if at all possible.

Question 4 ~ What World-Building Elements Are Crucial to Your Characterization?

This ties into the narrative question. You need to identify key world-building pieces that are fundamental to characterization. While I’m all about making characters who have depth and layers separate from abilities, part of what makes speculative fiction fun is that the unique speculative parts of the characters are necessary to who they are. I may or may not have snipped ‘unnecessary’ superpowers from a character at one point — and then realized that those abilities were the only thing giving her the security to actually act and be a protagonist. Without them, she suddenly lacked a ton of motivation. Whoops! First off, I needed to fill out her characterization more, and second, I gave her back the powers in a way that enhanced the story line.

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Question 5 ~ What World-Building Elements Make WOW Moments?

You know those moments. The ones that make you go “HAH, that was GREAT” or rub your hands together gleefully or grin at the computer. The ones that send tingles up your spine. Keep those scenes. You need them. Yes, revising and editing is all about cutting the fluff, but you’re writing speculative fiction and your readers like. Cool. Stuff. It’s one of the main things we bring up in word-of-mouth recommendations. So while you might not need all twenty epic battle scenes or awesome wizard duels, go through and geek out over your most exciting, scariest, and/or most thrilling moments and make sure they don’t go anywhere. Unless you plan on replacing them with even better scenes.

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Question 6 ~ What World-Building Elements Need More Muchness?

This one will take another set of eyes, so wait until you’re chill with sending things out to your inner circle of beta readers. You’ve got to steel yourself and ask the dreaded question: what isn’t enough? What isn’t cool enough, clever enough, integrated enough, or explained enough? The upside is you get much-needed feedback and the joy of having other people appreciate your stuff. The downside is your ego takes a bruising as your readers go through your creative mind and heart and ask all kinds of silly questions, like: “how do the lightning blasts come out of trees underwater?” or “Wouldn’t those five moons affect the planet’s gravitational pull and climates?” or “I don’t know why you need eight kinds of dragon species. Are they going to be used at all?” All that common sense can be a cold shower on the creativity, which is why you might need to take a break from your story for a bit before critiques. Also, remember that sometimes critiques aren’t saying to get rid of the element – they’re just a challenge from your beta reader or editor to make it work better and prove its awesomeness. Although occasionally, you might just need to toss something back into the idea box.

What about you? Any other world-building checks you do? Share one of your world-building WOW moments!