Where are all the readers at?

A few years ago I was in a communications program and working at a bookstore. I look back on those years with a strange mixture of shame and fondness. Mostly, I don’t like how I acted, the person I was trying to be, but it was a wonderful time for creativity and learning. In all areas of my life, I was surrounded by brilliant, crazy comedians and detailed, thoughtful planners and wild-eyed, metaphor-obsessed writers and stunning, infectious performers. It was a great time to get inspired, to create, and to get help. It’s those things  – the productivity and the creative support – I miss.

So here I am, five years later (five years?!), in need of a beta reader for my very, very rough first draft, and without a cocoon of creative types to throw it at. Where’d they all go? Look. Not to generalize, but… I’m friends with a lot of accountants now, and while they are all individuals with their own quirks and interests, fantasy doesn’t seem to run strong in any of them. The rest of my closest friends right now — the people I’d feel comfortable asking a favour from — are either non-confrontational (and thus useless for providing criticism) or not readers. Shoot.

The best person I can think of is the person who inspired me to write the story… and I really don’t want her to read it until it’s good.

Maybe I should give the accountants a chance.

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Tricia’s List of Bad Guy Motivations

I’m on my first draft re-write, and as the rules governing the story universe shift, so does the “why” of my villain. Keeping these in mind:

The Plotless

Earlier this year I went to LTUE (Life, the Universe, and Everything—a symposium for science fiction and fantasy writers). While there I listened to a presentation on creating effective villains. One thing in particular that I learned was that bad guys can’t be bad just for the sake of being bad. In other words, every story needs a villain (whether tangible or not) and that villain needs to be three dimensional. He needs a back story. He needs motivation. He cannot be doing bad things just because you need a bad character. He needs to be driven. And as is mentioned several times in the Writing Excuses podcast, the villain needs to be the hero of his own story.

And even if you never explain the back story, the complexity of your characters will come through in your writing. Because the more you know about them, the more it shows.

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