Writing Tips Blog


LOOK WHO'S COMING TO TABC 2019!Rosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains, dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the reading and telling of stories is still one of her favorite things to do. She has a PhD in English, emphasis on rhetoric and composition, from Penn State, and she teaches writing at Southern Utah University. The first two books of her debut trilogy (BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, LOST CROW CONSPIRACY) are out know from Knopf/Random House; book 3, WINTER WAR AWAKENING, comes out March 19, 2019.


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Building a Believable World

through Culture

Culture is a complicated mix of beliefs, behaviors, and artifacts at the heart of human society, encompassing religion, worldview, social habits, art, music, food, language, literature, and more. Culture matters because it shapes our perspectives, whether we act according to the cultures we grew up in or react against them. A convincing fantasy or sci-fi world depends on believable cultures within the fictional worlds. And while we can’t possibly cover every element that feeds into culture in one class, we will start by defining the core elements and beliefs that shape cultures, and then exploring how those core beliefs feed into material aspects of culture, such as social behavior, food, clothing, art, language, and more. We’ll build up these elements through examples, and then apply these principles by creating our own invented culture.


Writing can feel a lot like a rollercoaster—exhilarating highs followed by plummeting lows. Some days, we’re happy just to have a story unroll in our heads; other days, it’s hard not to compare our progress with writers who are faster, funnier, more famous. Or to give into self-doubt and the inner critic that lives in all of us. Here are four things that help me remember the joy in writing, even when it’s hard.1. Find your why Most writers, when they start writing, don’t write because they want to make money or because they want to be famous (or if they do, they find that those goals don’t sustain them for long). Most writers start because they have a story they want to tell, or because writing fills some kind of creative need in their life. If writing isn’t joyful, remember why you started in the first place.2. Be grateful While goals can be an important forward-looking device, sometimes we need to look back and see how far we’ve come as writers. One of my critique partners forwarded me the pages I’d sent for one of our early meetings and my pages were truly awful—I was astonished to realize how much I’d learned.We also need to acknowledge the good that has already come from writing. I know authors who keep a bucket list of things they’d like to achieve as a writer, and pull the lists out periodically, not to mark how far they still have to go, but to appreciate the things that have already happened, from the mundane (the first query rejection!) to the more profound (the first fan letter!). Don’t forget to look around too: my life is so much richer for the friends I’ve made as a writer. 3. Be brave We are often taught to believe that happiness means the absence of fear or unhappiness. But mental health experts point out that trying to avoid stress can actually increase it by training our bodies to view all stress as a negative thing.Part of being happy with our writing means being brave: sitting with our fear or our disappointment and then putting ourselves and our writing out there anyway. (Within limits, of course: knowing yourself and protecting your own health are also important). Brené Brown suggests telling our fears, “I see you, I hear you, but I’ll do this anyway.” 4. Tell your stories Barbara Kingsolver has said, “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” I find that as a writer, I’m most satisfied when the stories I’m working on are stories that are meaningful to me, rather than the stories I *think* I ought to write. This doesn’t mean that all the stories I write for myself are stories that need to go to a wider audience (Jeanette Ng has a fantastic post on the need for egotism in writing and humility in editing), but that they ought to start with something that matters to me.

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