Category Archives: Alicia’s Posts

Part I: Nobody notices a clean bathroom . . .

Alicia Finney

Alicia Finney

It’s an old adage. Nobody notices a clean bathroom, but everyone notices a dirty one. Worldbuilding, in any genre, is this way. Done well, your world will be a rich tapestry supplying the backdrop to your riveting story. Done poorly, your readers will be looking past the action and poking at the painted cardboard of your world to see if it can really hold up. That said, I’m going to offer you my number one rule in worldbuilding. It may sound familiar, but bear with me. Continue reading

They’re more like guidelines, really . . .

Alicia Finney

Alicia Finney

I love that moment in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Elizabeth Swan standing there, even as she is being taken hostage, citing the pirates’ code like an attorney standing on the firm ground of the law, only to be greeted with that knowing gleam in Barbosa’s eyes. He knows what she doesn’t. He’s the ship’s captain, and, while he may give a respectful nod to the code, when the hull meets the surf, even the code is just shifting sand beneath the weight of his authority. The code, along with the crew, bows to him. 

There is a hazard in learning to be a writer. It is the danger of taking good advice. Because, quite often, that great tip or daily ritual guaranteed to make you a better writer turns out to be no guarantee at all. All writers are different, and the habits that improve us as writers are as diverse our stories. No two are quite alike. The more experience we have, the less likely this is to trip us up, but none of us are ever fully immune to that siren call of being better or more productive. Continue reading

What you say to a man with two black eyes . . .

Alicia Finney

Alicia Finney

Old joke. What do you say to a man with two black eyes?

Nothing. He’s already been told twice.

It’s a good joke and in a certain sense very true. Actions speak, and fight scenes in a story are no exception. It’s not just a matter of who hit who, where, and with what. Every nuance, every pithy line, every triumph and mistake, the setting, the tone all works together to create a scene that has the potential to quicken the reader’s pulse and draw them deeper into the world of your story. My hope here is to offer you some tips and ideas to get you moving in that direction. Continue reading

The joys of cuddling with a rabid wolverine . . .

Alicia Finney

Alicia Finney

I’ve been working on a scene this week that houses a few challenges. It’s toward the beginning of the book, so I’m still becoming acquainted with the ins and outs of the characters. There are some hidden agendas at play, so the unspoken is as pertinent as the spoken. However, chief among my scene goals is getting the introduction of a particular character just right.

Why is this such a concern?

Because this fellow is unscrupulous, dishonest, selfish, and can often be just a shade cruel.

And I want the reader to like him.

So how do you take a reprehensible character and make them likable? How do you evoke sympathy for the unsympathetic? Well, here are a few ways. Continue reading

On being gold-diggers at heart (no, not that kind) . . .

Alicia Finney

Alicia Finney

I finished one of my favorite series’ last week for the second time.

At the end of it, I still wasn’t ready to leave that world, those characters. The adventures and the jokes, the romances and the rivalries. I just wasn’t ready. So I did the sensible thing. I picked my favorite book from the series and settled in for a third read. A day and half later, I was right back where I started, yearning for more books in the series, but knowing it was well and truly time to move on.

But what do you follow that up with? I tried a YA trilogy. Highly recommended. A best-seller. Gushed over by my friends. It sounded like a sure thing. And maybe it would’ve been had I not just finished reading these other books that I loved so very much. The fact is, it was built well. It had potential and probably was building up to something that warranted the hype, but I wasn’t enjoying the ride. After about ten percent of the book, I put it down. Continue reading