Articles from September 2009



The Real Risk When Making Twists

One of the biggest things I’ve found that destroys twists is someone seeing it coming. For many people, the answer to this is to try to avoid foreshadowing if at all possible (cheating!), or keep any foreshadowing so subtle that the only way to find it is after the fact. But in most of the [...]

Three Risks of Epic Scenes Planned Ahead

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t dream up complex scenes that they totally want to run because it would be seventeen kinds of awesome with a cherry on top. I’d never say that; those are beauty, and I think the pursuit of beauty is an important goal for a writer or a gamer. I do, [...]

Twists in the Toolkit

Like any other literary device, a twist is just one piece of a storyteller’s toolkit. On the other hand, it’s one of the most difficult to use properly, but one of the strongest if so used. A twist can bring forth intense reactions, make an otherwise commonplace story into something new and exciting, and build [...]

The Generic Villain on the Qualities of a Good Minion

Minions. They’re not a requirement for a villain like us, but darkness knows they’re useful. In fact, many of our kind depend on having a decent stable of minions to take care of the dirty work. But like any other sort of raw material, they come in a wide variety of qualities, some more suited [...]

Impractical Applications (A Lair of Its Own)

This week, the Generic Villain gives us our base article. You may have noticed the example in the post on innocuous dwellings, the description of one such place that goes beyond not-evil and starts looking like something you might see in a more benevolent sort of place or a good god’s temple. It shouldn’t surprise [...]

Mindset Exercise: Learning to See

I’ve known a lot of people who are good at action, can do big, sweeping fate-of-the-world stuff until the cows come home, and have characters who are never short of larger than life—but ask them for understated reactions or mundane situations and they can’t figure out what they’re supposed to do. It’s just not interesting [...]

Reality In Review: June-July 2008

One thing I’ve noticed about blogs is that they’re all in the moment. A post appears, is discussed for a little while, then vanishes into infinity; while some people do do archive trawls, it’s not as necessary for understanding the current material as archive-trawling a webcomic, and if a post is going to be necessary, [...]

Making an Orientation Interesting: Is It Really Possible?

Orientations. Most of us have probably been through at least one, for work, or school, or something else. They’re pretty much a fact of dealing with large organizations, after all. Bunch of people leading you around the system telling you things that were already in the manual, except that every now and then there’s something [...]

“Cloudy”: With a Chance of Sledgehammers

Sometimes, there are people who just don’t realize they’ve gotten a message across, so they pick up a sledgehammer and pound it in, again and again ad infinitum, nauseum, etc, even to the point of the defenestration of the offending book, DVD, video… you get the idea. Such was the case with ‘Cloudy with a [...]

Avoiding Evasion Behavior

So there’s a story to be written, or a game to be plotted, or a blog to post… you get the idea. Sure, you’ve got time, but this is important. Which explains why, the closer you get to deadline, the more enticing other stuff is—and the more expected of you the thing you’re “supposed” to [...]