Write in the book you’re reading, I like to write down little ideas that pop to mind while reading or highlight quotes that I think are funny. It adds to the reading experience.
The sand drains,
Constant and fast,
Write reviews for books as you go, (this maybe obvious to everyone else but it wasn’t to me), but as ideas and feelings pop into your head write it down so when you come to write your book review you don’t forget anything.
What is a hero without its villain? Well nothing. A story needs a conflict and that conflict usually comes in the form of a moustache-twiddling, cloak wearing, masked man. But an antagonist can be anything, don’t feel it’s necessary to include a personification of your antagonist if it works well enough as something vaguer. But most of the time you will need your villains to even have heroes.
What makes an antagonist terrifying?
How to make a villain menacing is simple: Make them human.
Okay maybe it’s a bit more complicated than that.
No one is evil for evil’s sake, everyone has their reasons and needs. Your villains should be created with the same quality of care as your main characters.
No one just wants power or money, its what those things give the villain that make them go to such terrifying lengths to get them. And if you want to make an antagonist absolutely scary make sure they are completely fixed upon their convictions and why they need what they’re after, because that then makes it easier for the reader to understand that – oh yeah, they will murder everyone if the hero cannot stop them.
However, a villain can of course waver in their conviction, they can be torn between what they know to be right and what they want. I think this can help make a villain more relatable if you give them time to grow almost mirroring the hero. Show them doing, every day thing like having a family. Let them have a vulnerability or even show the world as the villain sees it, so the reader may be tempted to even side with them.
But this can make your villain less terrifying so its really up to you which route you want to go down: Terrifying with less internal conflict or internal conflict with less external conflict. Making the reader sympathise with the villain versus making them love to hate them.
Let them be a Villain
Do not fall into the trap of only saying what a villain does. A hero or group of good guys who constantly evade any sort of damage from the villain both dramatically reduces the stakes but also the threat level of an antagonist. Show the threat and let someone die. This helps so when the hero still fights against the villain, it shows both your main character’s strength but the also that the fear is still real because if the villain has done it once, they’ll do it again.
Without this, the audience will catch on and won’t fear the villain and like I said, there is no story without conflict so why would a book reader continue to read a book that isn’t a book.
A way of doing this is to escalate the villain’s crimes throughout the book, so start small and ramp it up throughout the book to stop the reader from becoming desensitized to them. The height of this should be just before the climax. This is where the villain wins, where the hero loses the most. Allow the villain to invade or win the competition or kill the hero’s brother, just to hammer home how badly not only the hero needs to win, but how badly the reader wants the hero to win.
Above all don’t be lazy, your villain isn’t a prop for the hero, it’s a character as much as the rest of them and should be created as such. Love how hateable they are! Good Luck Xx
I write about cats often;
Some people might say.
They might end up in cat tins.
He wiped the pale skin of her cheeks and the grimy brown hair that swept over them. He laid her to sleep in a bed of water and rock. She was at least clean where he was dirt red. He turned and let the rain wash the sins off his coat and flesh.
Never feel you need to write in full. When writing anything new, a new scene, a new story big or small, if you only have the vague building blocks in your head, at least get them down.
He looked up from where he’d been pretending to do some actual work.
“Hannah, erm…” she was standing awkwardly in the doorway to the classroom, her top dragged down slightly showing more cleavage than she probably wanted. He swiftly turned his gaze back to her face and resettled the glasses on his nose, “come in please.”
“Thanks,” she said shutting the door behind her.
She clapped her hands together once as she approached his desk.
“Lance, I need a favour. I’m supposed to be covering Bethany’s Spanish afterschool class but-” He already didn’t like where this was going.
He was the go to guy if someone needed a lesson covering. Having spent his teenage years horribly wimpy, preferring the company of orcs and elves to actual people, he’d grown up to become a rather meek thirty year old, just a doormat.
But Hannah was usually nice enough. She seemed to like him and one day he might even pluck up the courage to ask her out.
“-I’ve got this date-” or maybe not, “-he can’t do tomorrow now so it would be great if you could-”
“I’ll cover it Hannah, it’s fine.”
She smiled. It was a nice smile, but a nice smile thinking about someone else.
“Thanks, I’ll make it up to you.”
“So what if she has a date? She’s not seeing him is she?”
Lance drank the rest of his wine and offered the glass back to Andrew to refill.
“Don’t know, probably. She wouldn’t be interested in me anyway.”
Andrew handed him back a full glass and he began to drink again.
“Nah fuck that mate, sometimes you just have to…” Andrew balled up his fist in a display of manliness that Lance could never pull off, “you know?”
He didn’t. Andrew and him had been in the same boat of awkward teens until Andrew had found a second home at the gym, his first being the flat they shared together. Overnight the chubby cheeks and double chin had gone, leaving him looking more like the kind of boys who would call him piggy when he walked home from school. Lance thought that was why he did it, some sort of revenge to just say: I can be just as good looking as you and still have room left over for a personality.
And he did look good, he had had a strong chin under all that fat which now had brown stubble growing around his smirking lips and across his stronger jawline and down-Lance was staring and quickly became very interested in his red wine, readjusting his glasses.
“Sometimes you just have to ask a girl if you wanna have sex.”
Lance scoffed, drinking the rest of his wine…again.
“I don’t think we’re allowed to anymore.”
“Well ask nicely like…oh I don’t know…”
“Do you think we could have sex sometime?”
Andrew snorted, “yeah that does sound stupid doesn’t it?”
Lance knew he could back down now, just laugh it off like some joke. He should have. But he was drunk and frustrated. And sometimes you just have to ask a guy if he wanted to have sex. So he kept looking straight at Andrew until he noticed.
“What?” Andrew said finally, his eyes flickering down to Lance’s lips.
‘This is a bad idea.’
“I said,” he started slowly, “do you think we could have sex sometime? Tonight-if you’re free?”
Andrew laughed breathily, “mate you better not be using me as a replacement for this girl.”
That wasn’t a no. Lance smiled and took off his glasses.
“I think it’s the other way around.”
Writing reviews of books doesn’t have to be something you post. Getting your thoughts down on what you liked and disliked can help you deconstruct the plot and help you improve in your own writing.
I will be the first to admit, I am an over-writer, as it stands my own book is standing at 160k when I’m meant to be aiming for 120k. So quite frankly I need this advice as much you might.
Taking out drifting plot lines
We’re all been there: in the middle night you get this great idea and you begin to plan it, storming to write it down. But in a couple of days the subplot becomes tangled amongst everything else and fizzles. It’s difficult sometimes to let go of ideas even half-finished ones, but they are the fools that drag your work down.
Get rid of unnecessary scenes
Your book is your baby, but you need to STEP BACK and look at your scenes in relation to your overall plot and ask yourself: is this necessary? Of course, you think it is, but ask yourself: why? And be honest with yourself, you’re not going to become a great writer if you delude yourself.
Cut down scenes
Maybe a scene is important, it contains pieces that are necessary to the plot. But is the rest of the scene just filler? This is when you may need to combine scenes, where one element is important and therefore can be moved anywhere, cutting down that word count.
Also, a scene as a whole maybe very important but does it drag between those important parts. If it doesn’t need to be that long; cut it.
Just tell for once
We’re always told to show don’t tell but showing takes time and honestly, we don’t always need a half page essay on the description of someone walking across a room. Being able to take out unnecessary flowery language when simple actions will do will take swathes of words off your manuscript.
This is a small one but an effective one: stop listing. Or at least stop making long lists of examples of food or colours or people, it isn’t necessary, and no one will miss it.
Get rid of redundancies
Now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty. Do you have descriptions that go on and on? Cut it. Do you find yourself describing the long trip from the kitchen to the living room? Cut it. Have sentences that do nothing but make the word count annoyingly large? Cut it!
Sometimes it’s really hard to cut down on those words, (I’m very aware of that) but you just need to keep going at it. Good Luck Xx