Is Royalty Really Fashionable?

Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with Kirin’s attitude toward royalty. He didn’t get it from me.

Stability is all about order in leadership, of course. Never mind finances or fleets or armies. All you really need is a leader with a crown and scepter. His word is law, no questions asked. One can serve him, or one can rebel. In either case, there will be uncles ready to spring from the woodwork and depose of untested nephews, or queens to seize the crown for their young infants.

But hey, it’s still all in one family. A family who can fight it out among themselves, while wielding great armies and unlimited power. What could ever go wrong?

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New Fantasy Times: An Assassin’s Handbook

Kirin, umm, acquired a handbook not long ago. More like a pamphlet, giving tips to assassins both about their jobs and of what to do to occupy the times in between.

Disclaimer: if you’re reading this, you’re probably some young idiot who thinks he can take on the world and get paid to do it. Or you’ve some sort of broken past with nothing to lose. Or maybe you just like the money (which is decent, I admit. If you can keep it). All this to say, if you’re serious about being an assassin, chances are you’re going to die. Not yet, unless you’re really stupid. Maybe not for years. But sooner or later you’ll start a fight you can’t win. Or some vengeance stricken family will hunt you down. Or you’ll become so dangerous your own kind turns on you. If you can enjoy life with that shadow on your future, read on. If not, go find some other occupation, like candle-making or wool-carding.

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Guest Post: The Inside Joke Technique

Today we have an amazing guest post from the great Kate Flournoy herself. Get used to hearing her name, because whenever she starts publishing her book I’ll be ranting about them all the time.

They’re amazing.

Oh, and for those of you who keep asking, she’s also the one who’s made my book covers.

But I’ll not embarrass her too much today because she’s sprung to the rescue of my own insane schedule and saved us all with her guest post about the power of parallels in writing.

The parallels that make your story come alive

Writing is like magic. Tremendous power that can only be harnessed through the tricks and tactics of the system.

Some of us (the truly ancient magicians) have many of these powerful tricks memorized by now.

But for the younger generation of trainees, most of us have yet to even discover them.

Fellow magicians, gather round.

I’m going to share one of the most powerful tactics I’ve learned in my own training. The one. The only. The INFAMOUS. INSIDE. JOKE.

*cue ominous drums*

Okay, that may have been slightly overdone.

Seriously though, this is one of my favorite tricks, because it’s so incredibly simple but wields a ton of power at the same time.

The first thing any writer needs to understand about their craft when it comes to writing a book that engages the reader is that half of any story is always written in the reader’s heart. Without a reader, your story is just strings of words on a page, and every person brings a different perspective to it.

Your job is not to force them to see everything as you see it in every detail, but to guide the eyes of their heart in the direction of what you saw and trust them to put the pieces together as they belong.

Inside jokes are one of the best ways to do that. Essentially, the I.J.T consists of parallels. Create an association, and then repeat the outer characteristics of that association elsewhere to evoke the same emotions.

Think of it as an ordinary object that you fill with magic to use later. You find a stone, endow it with the ability to give light, and then the next time you want light all you have to do is pull out the stone.

For instance, what if your hero is a brooding, emotionally unstable assassin who spends his days in hiding and his nights on assassinations. We open with him perched atop the very highest pinnacle of his dark tower, staring down over the city and half-playfully daring himself to jump and discover what ‘too late’ feels like.

But then, say his life takes a turn for the better. He falls in love with a woman he was sent to assassinate, and goes on a quest to remake his life and become worthy of her so he can ask her hand in marriage. He goes to the pinnacle of his tower less and less often. He takes to wearing brighter colored cloaks over his black clothes, and stops playing with his knives in public.

Finally he gets to the point where he feels he can approach her, and with high expectations he slips into her palace and obtains an audience… only to find her surrounded by maids of honor and decked out in flowers and a white dress, in preparation for her wedding with one of the highest men in the city… that’s happening in precisely twenty minutes.

The assassin’s life is shattered. We could go to great lengths to describe his agony; send him all over the city on a wild killing spree and spend chapters worth of anguish taking him all the way back to the place he started.

But we don’t really need to. All we have to do is take our magic stone and whisper ‘let there be light’… and we find him back on the very pinnacle of his tower as he was in the beginning, with his bright cloak in tatters and his black clothes showing through as though it never changed.

This works on every level of storytelling, from prose to subtext to character arcs to theme. Parallels are amazing tools, and the I.J.T. is only a very small part of a very large and powerful collection of spells.

So? What are you waiting for? Your reader wants to be trusted with piecing the story together; they want to invest in it by catching your hints and responding to your subtle pokes. Not to mention, casting these kinds of spells is just plain old fun for you. What’s holding you back, aspiring magicians? Go forth and conquer!

Thank you so much, Kate, for hopping over here for the day. As for you others, you can (and should) find out more about Kate and her work at The Inky Notebook.

You don’t have to be the best – and that’s okay

I wrote this out of a struggle I had, and still have. Just because I’m writing an article doesn’t mean I have it figured out. I still have to remind myself of the things I know in my head time and time again…

See, I want everything I create to be perfect; I always have. I love reading well-written books. I sometimes ‘hate’ them at the same time, because I wonder how I can ever write as well and make as big an impact with my own writing. It’s not pride issue of wanting to be better than others. Rather, it’s the desire to create stories and characters and themes that touch lives and to do it in the best way possible. If someone has done it better than me, then that means I can get better. And if I can get better, that means I wasn’t good enough.


But eventually, I realized I didn’t have to be the best.

And that it was fine.

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Guest Post: Making the Most of Your Secondary Characters

So a few weeks ago, I guest posted on the blog of a friend and Kingdom Pen writing team member, Brandon Miller, about Three Questions for Developing Characters. You can go check it out and stick around on his site because he has some pretty cool information there. But, for today, he’s popped in over here to give us some cool thoughts about secondary characters.

So, without more introduction, may I present Brandon Miller and secondary characters!


Secondary characters have a bundle of responsibilities for being just secondary.

Maybe they should start a support group.

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Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Fear Clichés

“That just… sounds cliché.”

Four words every writer cringes at. We have so many ideas. We try so hard. And then someone comes along and tells us it is cliché. Commonplace. And we wonder how on earth we’re going to fix our story when everything seems to have been done already.

If you read a lot or watch any number of movies, you’ll recognize a number of clichés on sight. The dashing prince rescues the helpless princess. The mentor dies and his student goes on to save the world. The villain dresses in a long black cape and carries a pet snake on a staff.

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Is Clean Christian Writing a Good Thing?

Lying, murder, torture, assassinations, lust — as Christians called to be a light in the world, should we touch on these darker aspects of life in our writing or should our books be clean and full of light? Should a character swear? Is it wrong to have a character be immoral? What about the sympathetic thieves or the hardened interrogators? As Christians, we want to write inspiring stories. But is an inspiring story the same thing as a squeaky clean story, and what does ‘clean Christian writing’ even mean?

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Day 3: Writing Tools

3-2-1 WRITE! party

Well, I’ve talked about it enough you might guess what my number one resource for writers is, but I’ve no problem with saying it again.

Kingdom Pen!

Kingdom Pen is a website, but it is so much more than a website too. For starters, don’t let the ages of the writers posting there fool you. There is so much great information posted every week, along with poems and the occasional short story.

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