AWC podcast mention

Austrailian Writers’ Centre mentions The Manuscript Shredder in recent podcast

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Bonus post!

It’s always a plesant surprise when I see someone has linked to one of my articles, but I was completely floored when the Austrain Writers’ Centre referenced my scene goals article in their most recent podcast The Three Types of Editing You Need.

I know you’ll want to listen to the whole podcast, but my article is mentioned starting in minute 24.

Listen on iTunes

Happy Writing!

Writing a Killer First Page

 

Nothing brings a writer more agony than writing the first page of their novel. There are plenty of articles listing what not to do on the first page, but what writers really need is a list of “dos”

What a first page must do

1. Start the story

This might seem like a facepalm piece of advice, but I’ve seen enough manuscripts to know that too many writers do not start their stories on the first page. They use it to world-build, or describe their characters, or backstory dump, pretty much anything except get the plot rolling.

How do we start the story?

Identify your story’s inciting incident. (Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place.) Now work backward. Map out the specific list of events that leads your character to that moment. In this case, we see Katniss in her daily struggles to feed her family. The entire purpose of the exposition is to show how Katniss feels responsible for Prim, and she is willing to risk her life for her sister.

How far back should I go?

Only go back as far as the reader needs to understand the inciting incident. For some stories that might only be a few minutes. In the case of the Hunger Games, Collins only went back to the morning of the Reaping. Why? Because this was the only day that was different. Going back further wouldn’t add anything to the story.

2. Introduce the world/setting

Wait, didn’t you just say not to?
Introducing the setting does not mean sitting at a table describing it. It means showing your characters interacting with the setting and showing how the setting affects your characters.

For example,

The pantry was empty. It looked full, but there was nothing in those boxes. A couple of noodles, a bit of cereal, not enough to make a meal so no one ate them, but no one would throw them out either. So they just sat there day after day turning into dust. Like everything else in this house. Grandma’s flower couch, my uncle’s recliner, that still reeked of cigarettes, the wobbly table mom picked up in a thrift shop.

It’s a good description, but it doesn’t move the story forward. Instead, show the setting’s effect on the character.

The pantry was empty. It looked full, but there was nothing in those boxes. A couple of noodles, a bit of cereal, not enough to make a meal so no one ate them, but no one would throw them out either.
My stomach growled. For some reason, it’s the only thing around here that never learned to give up. Maybe I can get a dollar out of Mom’s purse. She’s always got a few stashed back for cigarettes.

In the second example, we aren’t just told about her poverty, we see its effect on the character. Now the setting provides motivation for action, propelling the story forward.

3. Hook the reader

Hooking the reader is nothing more than raising a question. There must be something on the first page that propels the reader to learn more.

Hooks can come in several forms.

  1. An interesting world/premise- This is difficult to accomplish, make sure you have something truly unique. Pride, and Prejudice, and Zombies is a good example.
  2. A compelling mystery- Mysteries, thrillers, cop procedurals, and sometimes horror novels use this hook.
  3. Emotional hook- A powerful emotional connection formed between the character and the reader.
  4. Conflict*

Conflict gets a star because it will be present in all the other hooks.

There’s some debate about whether the conflict must begin on page 1 or even line 1. I’ve heard both, and there are plenty of examples where either is true.

Before I elaborate on this question, I need to distinguish between conflict (a problem a character faces in a story) and Conflict (the main obstacle in a novel)

Does the story’s main Conflict need to appear on page 1?

No.

There can be hints. It can be in the background or foreshadowed. All these are fine, but it is not necessary to have the story’s main Conflict appear on page 1. While some stories can begin this way, there are plenty of novels where tripping over the villain on the first page simply wouldn’t work.

Rules for conflict on page 1fist-page

Yes! There must be a conflict on page 1. Some people will say from the opening line, but I give writers till the end of the first paragraph, (assuming the first three sentences work together as a whole.)

This conflict must be:

Relatable

Your readers must be able to understand the problem without any explanation. If you’re not sure, consult Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. No matter what your setting is, people will understand conflicts from this list: hunger, shelter, safety, group identity, etc. If a reader can’t understand a conflict, she cannot empathize with the character.

Immediate

The conflict must be right in front of the character. Your character can’t be sitting in a coffee shop thinking about her problem. It needs to be right there in the same room with her. She needs to be actively struggling against it. If you find your character sitting and thinking about the problem that happened last week, switch to that scene and show that event.

Compelling

Writing a compelling conflict is nothing more than presenting the first two points in an interesting way. If you’ve succeeded in the first two points, the reader will naturally want to know if the character overcomes the obstacle. Even the most mundane conflicts can become interesting if the character is sympathetic. We make the character sympathetic by showing the character struggle.

Now improve the conflict by adding the consequences of failure.

All conflicts must have stakes (consequences for failure). Pay attention to the balance between the two. Stakes that are too extreme or not strong enough are not compelling. Again, make sure the stakes are clear and relatable to the audience.

Part of the character’s journey

Whatever the conflict is on the first page, it must be the first stepping stone on the character’s journey. The consequences of whatever choices the character makes on the first page need to lead into the next conflict.

This is called “Yes, but, or no, and” style plotting. If you use another plotting method, you can use this as a test to make sure all your elements tie together.

How it works:

At the end of a scene (or scene/sequel unit) ask: Was the conflict solved?

Answer the question:
Yes, but…The solution caused another problem

Or

No, and…this is how things got worse.

Using this simple device will help you make sure your conflict chain remains unbroken through the entire novel.

The first page is the most important page in your story

The first page is the introduction to your entire novel. It is the gateway that will either hook a reader or turn them away. Writing a compelling first page can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. By following these steps, you can create an opening that will draw your reader into the story, and guarantee they will turn the page.

Further reading: (Not affiliate, I genuinely recommend these books.)

Give Your Scenes a Purpose with Scene Goals- author toolbox

Don’t leave your readers wondering, “Why are we here?”

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

Use scene goals to keep your chapters off the chopping block

As an editor, I’ve seen first chapters that try to create an entire world, spill a character’s life story, introduce an entire cast complete with grocery list description, or rant about a social/political issue. What they seem to almost never do is start the story. A character sitting in a coffee shop thinking thoughts is not a plot. (yes, it’s almost always a coffee shop) You need scene goals.

Scene goals give your characters a reason to exist

Question 1: What does he/she want/need?

A character must want something at the beginning of the scene.

But wait? It’s the beginning of the story, she doesn’t have a problem yet.

Unless she sprung up wholly formed from the ground right before page one, we can assume your character already has a life, and every life has problems. If you don’t know what these problems are, then you need to work on your character’s backstory. Let’s consider our friend at the coffee shop. Rather than describe the setting around her, we need to give her a goal: her desire to eat her danish in peace.

What stands in his/her way?

This is the conflict. Stories must start with a conflict, right on page one, preferably in the first paragraph. This does not have to be the main conflict. It can also be implied.

For example, in the novel Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, her opening line. “I’ve read many more books than you,” only hints at the main conflict, but it’s there. Yoon knows many people who will read her book will likely be avid readers, it sets up a conflict between the MC and the reader.

The statement makes a challenge, and just like on the playground, the reader’s initial instinct would be to say, “No way.” It also challenges the reader to investigate further to see if this statement is actually true.

Let’s move back to our coffee shop example. Something needs to prevent our heroine from enjoying that danish in peace.

The chatty best friend with some kind of man trouble? (yawn) Dig a little deeper.
Are the Avengers fighting outside? (better)

How do we reveal that conflict?

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Since the juxtaposition is pretty extreme, this sets a comedic tone. She could be pausing during her conversation to accommodate explosions, or struggling to spread the butter when the table shakes from the giant robot clomping down the street. Keep the focus on how the circumstances are affecting your main character, and how the main character is working to overcome that obstacle.

Now add emotion

How is the conflict affecting the character’s emotions? Is she annoyed by the Avengers? How do these emotions motivate her to react and respond? What do they drive your character to do? This is the beginning of your character arc. How a character responds to a motivation is the basis of their character. Emotion is the first reaction to any motivation. Make sure you do not ignore this essential element.

Where are we going?

Once you have a solid scene, complete with character motivation and conflict, we need to know how this scene relates to the overall plot. In other words, how does this scene get your character to their ultimate goal? For this, you need to have an outline, plot board, or even a summary of plot points. For discovery writers, this can be done after the first draft is finished.

Planning your scene- a template

What does this scene need to accomplish?

Beginning: What does my character want/need at the beginning of this scene?

Key elements

  1. Motivation: character’s need
  2. Conflict: what stands in the way?
  3. Stakes: what will happen if the character fails?

Body: Show character working toward this goal and struggling against the obstacle. Make sure the MC’s actions are consistent with her character arc.

Results: What changes? Possible outcomes:

Possible outcomes: Is the conflict resolved, or unresolved?

If the conflict is resolved, propel the reader forward by increasing tension.

Increase tension in a resolved conflict:

  1. Are new conflicts introduced? If so, how?
  2. Did solution create more problems? If so how?

If the conflict is unresolved, raise the stakes by adding complicating factors

  1. Has the situation gotten worse? If so how?
  2. Have the consequences gotten worse? If so how?

This will force your MC to regroup and formulate a new plan.

Dark moment/new question

The secret to getting readers to turn the page is ending your chapters with a compelling question or an “Oh crap!” reveal. This does not mean every chapter should end on a cliff hanger. (You will annoy your readers.)

If the scene’s purpose is formulating the plan, leave the reader with a sense of tension about the upcoming mission. If your scene’s purpose if increasing the stakes, drop the critical information close to the end of the scene.

In these scenarios, the reader will be asking, “What will happen next?” This will help propel your reader into the next chapter.

Make a plan for your scene, or your scene will fail

Planning your scenes with specific goals will help ensure each scene is an effective part of your story. Scene goals will give your characters a purpose and keep your story from wandering. They will increase tension, raise the stakes, and propel your readers to the very last page.

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.

Eliminating overused words

Overused words will ruin your prose

Every writer has words or phrases that habitually show up in their work. Like a verbal tick, writers insert them without even thinking. They become fillers when we need something in the space, or a crutch when we’re not sure what the character should really be doing. They badger the reader by constantly drawing attention to themselves forcing the reader to examine the box, rather than the story inside. Don’t let overused words ruin your prose.

Identifying an overused wordrepetitive-phrases-pin

I recently finished a book by a well-known author, published with one of the big five, everything we all want to be, and I noticed something strange: the people in this book smiled.

a lot.

They smiled for deception. They smiled sarcastically. They smiled to calm their nerves. They smiled when they wanted to gloat over a victory. They smiled for just about every emotion, except happiness. And just like that mole on the end grandpa’s nose, once I noticed it, I couldn’t stop.

I’m not sure if I noticed it because it was used in such a peculiar way, or because I listened to the book rather than read it. (If you haven’t listened to your WIP read aloud, I highly recommend it. Nothing will point out bad writing faster than having it blared out your laptop’s tinny speaker by that lady who answers the phone for your credit card.)

After noticing this peculiarity, ever time I heard the word smiles, it was like being smacked in the head. It yanked me right out of the story and doused in a mad dose of the giggles. So then I started thinking about it. This person is a well-known author, light years ahead of me, was I just imagining this thing? I had to know.

The Kindle app has the ability to count the specific instances of a word in an MS. I typed “smile” into the find bar. Result: 153. Spread out across a 400-page novel that meant someone smiles on average every two and a half pages, which for some words would not even be noticeable. But these instances weren’t spread evenly through the book. They clustered together appearing as many as four times on a page. Nearly every time two characters interacted, they smiled at each other at some point during the conversation. The smile had become a crutch: a habitual word choice inserted without thought.

Word crutches are something most writers have.

Word crutches appear in places where the inner ear senses something is off in the prose. Either a beat is needed between lines of dialogue, a paragraph is too short, or a non-POV character needs a moment to think about something. These crutches bog down an manuscript and make it feel repetitive, or in the case of this particular book, paint an absurd picture where despite pints of blood and gore everyone is perpetually grinning.

Finding Crutches:

More often than not a good CP will find your crutches. However, they will likely not become apparent until well into the MS. So if you’re only passing out your MS in chunks, you’re missing an important opportunity.

Scrivener also has a built in text analysis tool. Select a document. Project> text statistics. You can even organize the list by frequency.

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If you are working in Word, you can run your text through edit minion, or pro writing aid, which will also give you some other interesting nuggets, like passive sentences and cliché alerts.

Once you’ve analyzed your text and found a few candidates, do a “find” in your word processor (I used Word. If anyone knows how to make Scrivener display the number of matches without replacing the word, please let me know) Be sure to click the “find whole word” otherwise it will include all the instances where your word appears as part of another word e.g. “port” in “support” Although you may have to run the search twice to account for plurals or verb tense.

Let’s take a look at a few examples from my MS.

Ex. 1 Mouth.

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85 This is a maybe. This isn’t a romance, so this seems like an excessive use of a word that doesn’t come up much in daily conversation. I’m going to go back and make sure that it isn’t being used in the same way, or in some strange way that draws attention to itself.

Ex. 2 Eyes

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272 This one is definitely a problem. I noticed it originally in my first draft. My supposedly adult MC was constantly rolling her eyes, which made her come off as a snot-nosed tweenager. But it looks like my characters are still spending too much time staring at each other.

Another good one to search for is “look,” since this can indicate you have too much telling in your descriptions. Also, consider doing a was/is search to find passive sentences that could be rewritten in active voice.

But wait, I have 5000 “The’s.”

Little words that are used frequently in daily conversation get a free pass e.g. articles the, a, an, common pronouns, and even the dialogue tag said disappear on the page. And to some extent other frequently used words. The opposite is also true. The more unusual the word, the more your reader’s ear will pick it out. The same goes for words that evoke a strong reaction. How may times do you think your MC can use vomit before it begins to sound stale?

Can I just fix it with a thesaurus?

Probably not. Simply subbing one word for another will not fix an action that has become habitual in your manuscript. If I change half the “shifted his eyes” to “shifted his gaze,” it isn’t going to change the underlying problem that my characters are standing around staring at each other. The crutch word is just the symptom. If I fix the real problem: my characters need to be doing more, the crutch word will disappear on its own.

The next time you read through your MS look out for habitual phrases, actions, and overused words. Taking time to eliminate these from your prose will keep it feeling fresh through the entire story.

Opening Lines: Indie Tidbits Podcast

A rare bonus post to announce I was interviewed on the Indie Tidbits Podcast by Dawn Husted. You can listen to me talk about opening lines and cliche’ beginnings.

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1220229563

Most of the information came straight from the post Engaging Readers from the First Sentence, so you can scan that and literally listen to me read off the page. (Because I don’t trust myself to go off script.)

Enjoy

 

Hybrid Publisher or Vanty Press in disguise?

Simple steps to evaluate the value of a hybrid publisher

The traditional publishing model follows one rule: money always flows to the author. If the author pays for anything, they do not have a traditional publishing contract.

In the past, anything else was considered a vanity press, but with the rise of the indie publishing boom, the traditional/vanity press line has blurred.

Hybrid publishing has emerged as a middle ground, where the publisher/author relationship has changed from employer/employee to a true partnership. Both parties share in the risk of publishing a book, and as a result, share more equally in the profits. Those in hybrid publishing claim this model allows for great manuscripts that didn’t fit current market trends (and were therefore considered too risky) to be published. The model (which emphasizes digital distribution) also allowed for smaller sales numbers while maintaining profitability. Despite the noble philosophy, many so-called hybrid publishers are little more than vanity presses with a new name.

While the business models for these ventures varies, Jane Freidman describes them in four broad categories.

  • Editorially curated. While authors typically subsidize the costs of editing or publication, the publisher doesn’t accept every author who walks through the door. As a result of their selectivity, the publisher usually has better marketing and distribution. Examples include She Writes Press and Greenleaf Book Group.
  • Crowdfunding driven. Publishers such as Inkshares and Unbound require the author to raise a certain amount of money from their readership before they are granted a deal, which then closely adheres to a traditional publishing process.
  • Assisted self-publishing. Authors pay to publish, and there is little or no discernment in what types of authors are accepted.
  • Traditional publishers with a self-publishing arm. Some traditional publishers—usually small presses you haven’t heard of—may offer author services or assisted self-publishing.

She also recommends running from the final category.

How to evaluate a hybrid publisher vanity-publisher-pinterest

Are they selective? At its essence, a hybrid publisher is a business partner. You should expect a business partner to evaluate a potential investment, which means your manuscript. A hybrid publisher that accepts all manuscripts is not a true publisher, they are a self-publishing assistant.

Once you have established whether the publisher is a true hybrid publisher or a self-publishing assistant, now you can begin to evaluate their services and whether they can really help your book succeed.

For a true hybrid publisher you need to know:

  • What is the editing process?
  • Do they have in-house editors, or do they publish the manuscript as is? No manuscript should be published without an editor
  • Do they do a print-run? If so, do they have the ability to get your book into a brick-and-mortar store? This means more than just having a catalog. Make sure they have actually gotten books on the shelf.
  • Does the publisher have a good reputation or loyal readership?
  • Do they have a large mailing list with active readers?
  • What is their marketing plan for your book?
  • Do they have experience with your genre/category? Blasting your book on Twitter isn’t going to generate sales. Book marketing is difficult. Make sure the marketing team is up to the task.

Look through their catalog. How many of these books have you seen in bookstores? Check their sales rankings on Amazon. If they don’t have sales, you will make more money without them.

Evaluating a self-publishing assistant

If you’d rather focus your time on writing and aren’t opposed to parting with some of your royalties, you may want to consider a self-publishing assistant. These companies are not true publishers, they take a writer’s manuscript and produce a professional looking e-book, ready to upload to Nook, Amazon, or the distribution service of your choice.

These can either be a-la-carte services or authors can choose a package.

In this case, you need to evaluate the quality of the product and gauge whether their service is worth the cost. For example, the publisher may charge $100 to turn your plain text document into an ebook, something you could easily do yourself in a program like Vellum for $30.

  • Before you sign with one of these companies evaluate the quality of their:
  • Editing: Read one of their books and look for mistakes.
  • Covers: Browse through their online catalog. Do the covers look professional? Do they use unique images, or are they all from the first page of Shutterstock?
  • Marketing: Do they have a comprehensive marketing plan? How high have their books been on the Amazon bestseller list? How many have made the top 1000?

Most importantly, could you get similar quality results if you hired freelance editors and designers? Is there something that this company offers that is more than one stop shopping convenience?

Self-publishing vs. Assisted Publishing: the math

Using the Amazon 70% royalties as a base, let’s do the math to see where the break even point is for the various models.

Hiring freelancers

These are average estimates. You could always pay more or less.

Developmental edit: $750
Line edit: $1000
Cover: $200
ebook conversion: $30

Add in some targeted ads, bookbub campaign, or other marketing, and you could easily spend $2000 or more.

Assuming you charge $3.99 ($2.80 royalty) for your book on Amazon, you will have to sell 715 books to break even. (Keep in mind the average e-book sells 250 copies over its lifetime.)

Hybrid publisher

She Writes Press” will give you the same basic package as above (copy editing and developmental edits are extra) with the additional benefits of a print run, distribution, and the proven ability to get books into brick and mortar stores for $4,900.

Before you choke, remember there are some tangible benefits to going with an established company. She Writes Press has an established readers community, (which is an important distribution channel) It also charges more per novel: $9.99 ($7 net royalty) which you receive 60% or $4.20.

At their royalty rate, you would have to sell 1167 books to make a profit. (This is only ebook sales. This does not include print books.) Considering “She Writes Press” has managed to place print books not only in brick and mortar bookstores like Barnes & Noble, and BAM! but even big box retailers like Target, it seems possible that this company is far more capable of turning a profit for your book than if you went alone.

A cursory investigation revealed their books perform better than the average self-published novel. However, their base price doesn’t include extras such as a developmental or line edits, which means you will have to sell far more books to break even.

Other concerns: While this press doesn’t require you use their editors, it does have a list they “recommend,” which creates a conflict of interest. They also charge a submission fee, which I find deplorable.

The only benefit to this press vs hiring freelancers seems to be the potential for better distribution, meaning the writer spends less time marketing. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee.

Know what you are paying for

When evaluating your hybrid publishing options, make sure you know what you are paying for. Get everything in writing, and verify claims with actual success stories. Look through a potential publisher’s catalog, contact authors who have worked with them and get their feedback.

Finally, make sure the services you are paying for are better quality than you could have found with a freelancer. There is no need to pay extra for having the convenience of subpar workmanship all under one roof.

The publishing world is more competitive than ever, and there are plenty of people who are willing to part aspiring writers from their money. Do your research and protect yourself from scam artists.

Creating the Perfect Villian-Author Toolbox

Tips for creating the perfect villain

I’m in love with one of my characters. He’s powerful, driven, and disciplined. He knows exactly what he wants and is willing to make the effort to get it. Whatever it takes. He has risked his position, his influence, his wealth, and even his life for his ideals. He’s not afraid to be unpopular, or even despised because he knows he is working toward something greater, something that will save so many lives. And though many would question his tactics, to him, the ends justify the means. He is deeply devoted to his task, and still more so, to the woman he loves, and the son he is not allowed to acknowledge. He is my perfect creation.

He is my villain.

One of the major pitfalls I see in novice writers is the dead-dull villain. The black coat in the thriller, the overbearing father in the YA, or, from my genre, the dark wizard who does nothing in the book except to sit in a black tower and think evil thoughts.

I recently read a novel whose villain had a vile mind-reading power. Poised as a child psychologist, he delved into the minds of his victims/patients during their therapy sessions. This predation on children by a person in a position of trust sent my spine into an eel-ish coil. I was hooked. Let’s take down this A-hole. How could anyone do this to a child? My mind flew through possibilities. It takes 7-10 years to become a licensed Psychologist. Whatever this guy is up to, he’s devoted a 1/3 of his life to getting it. I needed to know

Turns out he was just evil. I was devastated. All that preparation amounted to nothing.

What a waste.

Beware of cardboard villainsvillain-pinterest

Stock villains are not only cliché, they are dull. They add nothing to the story. Seventy-five years ago villains were expected to be the embodiment of evil. They were separate, other. A war had a clear purpose: defeat the Nazi snake with a single villain at its head. Literature from the time reflected this ideal, but today’s worldview is different. People no longer accept the simplistic reasoning: he just chooses to be bad.

The modern villain must have a fully realized backstory. The writer must know the process by which the villain came to hold his beliefs. She must know what the villain wants, and how far he is willing to go to get it. His motivations must be clear and logical (even if it isn’t the logic you would follow). Villains can no longer be the black cape and the handlebar mustache. Villains must be fully realized characters.

What to do instead?

Treat your villain equally to your MC.

Your villain is half your story. Without Voldemort, Harry Potter’s just another kid with a crappy home life starting a new school. Give your villain the respect he deserves. Start by making a character sketch. If you’ve never done this there are dozens of examples online. Scrivener has one built in. Find something that works for you. This is where you can give him mannerisms, as well as physical descriptors. Find something to make him memorable.

Write your villain’s backstory.

Even if it never makes it into your MS, knowing more about your villain will allow you to breathe some life into him. Delve deep here. Make sure you understand his motivations. Once the motivations are established, make sure they are balanced with the effort the villain is making to accomplish his goals. If your villain is angry at your MC for breaking his toy when they were kids, he won’t spend the next 30 years perfecting a serum to give himself mutant powers so that he can take over the world and exile the MC to the moon. Make sure the motivation and the effort are in balance.

What influenced him to develop his particular set of beliefs?

Villains hold mistaken views. They believe something that isn’t true, but the journey to that belief must be realistic. Why does your villain think sending his brother to the moon will make him happy? Perhaps while he was developing his serum he had to watch your MC continue to get all the attention, fame, fortune, all while listening to your MC be an obnoxious braggart? Sending him to the moon might not be so unreasonable.

How does your villain reinforce these beliefs?

People tend to seek out like-minded people or choose to emphasize experiences that reinforce their worldview. Is he surrounded by lackeys, or is he a loner? Does he attend a weekly antagonists anonymous meeting? What do the people around him want? How do they benefit from his mistaken belief?

How does he react when life events conflict with his worldview?

Mistaken views will be constantly challenged. How does your villain react to these tests? This will define his character. Does he just start shouting louder like a cable news talking head? Does he resort to elaborate conspiracy theories? Maybe he has a moment where reform seems possible, and then anger resurfaces.

What’s next?

Once you have these finished, write a book pitch as if your villain is the MC and see how well your choices fit together.

Example: Voldemort knows the name wizard once meant something in the world, and only he knows how to bring that meaning back. He’s studied relentlessly, forsaking friends and family to perfect his craft. He’s searched the world to find the best spell-casters to stand with him. He’s even split his soul into pieces, all so he can restore the ancient legacy of his people. All the pieces are finally in place. Nothing is going to stop him, especially not a 10-year-old orphan from Privet Drive.

We know what he wants, what he’s willing to do to get it and who is standing in his way. Make sure your villain is a fully-realized character and one who actively affects your MC. Otherwise, your story might start to read like a video game with a boss battle at the end. Remember villains are people too.

So have dinner with a bad boy tonight.

Your readers will thank you.

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.