Analysis

Five Stories That Killed the Wrong Character

An Endgame poster showing Hawkeye and Black Widow side by side.

Character death is a contentious issue, and there are many stories out there that killed characters when they shouldn’t have. Today, we’re narrowing our focus to stories where a character death was called for but the author chose the wrong character. Which character dies can … read more »

Five Characters With Weak Motivations and How to Fix Them

Tony Stark sitting on a couch next to his suit.

A character’s motivation is one of their most important aspects, right up there with agency and likability. Motivation is why a character does what they do. It’s what drives them to take difficult and costly actions. If a motivation is too weak, character behavior will … read more »

Five Over-Burdened Stories and How to Fix Them

Elsa shooting beams of ice into a tornado around her.

It’s incredibly common for new authors to run into the problem of over-burdening their stories. Their creative minds keep churning out new story elements, and they seem so cool, so why not just include them all? This is how you end up with stories that … read more »

Six Characters With Poorly Handled Arcs

A reformed Kallus with Zeb.

Anyone unfortunate enough to have lived through the Star Wars prequels knows that a bad character arc can ruin the story. We love watching characters grow and change over time, but when that change feels forced, contrived, or otherwise unbelievable, it’s worse than no arc … read more »

Three Genre-Defining Books With Underutilized Tropes

Some books, such as The Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice, and the Philip Marlowe series, become so iconic that they spawn entire subgenres. But they also include powerful tropes that are often lost. By underplaying these surprising elements, the new works run the … read more »

Five Characters Coded as Autistic

A few weeks ago, I discussed some helpful tips on successfully portraying an autistic character. In that article, I mentioned characters like Sheldon Cooper, who aren’t stated to be autistic but who are coded as such. Since there were some comments about this, in this … read more »

Six Ridiculous Cultures in Speculative Fiction

Building new cultures from scratch is a cornerstone of speculative fiction. From the fictional nations of high fantasy, to the interstellar empires of space opera, to the shadow kiths of urban fantasy, we authors are always crafting new societies to thrill and amaze. But for … read more »

Six Magic Systems That Need Stricter Limits

Giles in a silly wizard hat from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

When building a magic system, authors are faced with a balancing act. If they restrict their magic too much, then it won’t be cool and interesting. That defeats the whole point of magic! On the other hand, if an author doesn’t put enough restrictions on … read more »

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