showcase of villainy, part iv

Villain Month

As promised, here is the last showcase of the month-long villain series.

This ended up being more difficult than I thought it would be. Just spending time thinking about the antagonists was useful, and it was fantastic seeing other people join in. Thanks to everyone participating!

I spent the week focusing on my last villain of the four I meant to go over, Sorche du Remerdii. I also wrote a closing message and introduced a bonus villain-type, the king’s secret police, nicknamed after the silver masks that they wear.


Saint Know-All finished a few more drawings, and bid farewell to the month.


Nilah wrote a short article about human predators, in regards to the villain month project.


Aldersgatecycle focused on her last villain, Sally Din.


Nymeria wrote about Orion Novak, Dahlia Laras, and posted a gallery of her villain portraits.


And, last, even though she wasn’t actually participating, Worderella was kind enough to write up a few posts on villains on her blog as a kind of villain-month-tribute.


Closing links:

A list of participants
Showcase of villainy, part i
Showcase of villainy, part ii
Showcase of villainy, part iii

Thoughts? Comments? Shall we do this again someday? 🙂

A ‘hero month’ idea has already been put out, and I wouldn’t mind spending some time dedicated to world building as a future project…

the battle of show or tell

I had an email after my last post, inquiring after the specifics of the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule. After reading it, I felt that I should clarify the difference between the two methods.

(Warning: Bad examples follow.)

The letter lay on the coffee table beside a crumb-laden placemat and a newspaper and a glossy orange piece of paper advertising oil changes partway across town. The address had been handwritten in pink ink, the smooth glossy swirl of gel-pens. He made himself a drink. He listened to music, Bach first, then Handel. Partway through the winding, disjointed verses of ‘We Like Sheep’ he stood up, picked up his keys, and slipped his wallet in his pocket. He moved partway to the door, stopped, turned, and returned to the table. His hand shook with fear as he opened the letter, the key chain still dangling on his little finger giving a metallic rattle as he tore the paper.

Showing only: this example uses nothing but visual clues as to what’s going on. There’s no blatant emotion given to the audience, it’s all imagery. It gives no explanations, no internal dialog.

He found the letter after he had arrived home, and the sight of it instilled a deep fear. Unopened responses could mean anything, the possibilities turning a once rational head to something panicked and imaginative, circumstances winding into other hypothetical circumstances born of the haunting words ‘what if’. The confidence in his first query crumbled and died, turned to salt as it looked back to the destroyed city where his hopes had once lain. Stalling didn’t help, nor did his evening drink, and he listened to classical music until finally he could take no more of the anticipation. He must face it, or he must leave, and for a moment leaving sounded like a better alternative before he forced himself back, gathered his courage, and approached the paper once more.

Telling only: This is telling. I described nothing, and gave only the barest hints of the elements in the scene, instead focusing on the cause of the shaking hands from the last paragraph. It includes details and feelings that were left out of the first one. But it also doesn’t set the scene.

Neither of these are right or wrong. They just focus on completely different ways of storytelling. One might be right and one very wrong for a particular project. But to dismiss the latter as ‘bad practice’? You can show this badly by losing the point in boring details. You can tell this badly by not explaining the fear, and subsequent courage, well enough to follow believably.

Add or remove detail as is needed.

writing craft, a list

I decided to make a short list of the essays on writing and blogs that made me really think about this field. I only picked out a few of the sixty-five writers I follow (and I disagree with every one in at least one small way). Hopefully these will be useful.

E.E. Knight’s Journal has over a dozen useful links to craft essays that he’s written. His April Fools Day joke post on writing is also twitch-worthy.

Full Throttle and F**k It – A slightly less than polite title, but Steve Malley has written some of my favorite articles on craft. Especially worth reading are his comments on sequel (not a second-in-the-series sequel, but the follow-up to a scene to ensure smooth flow), and the post on how the body reacts to sudden and persistent dangers has been a great help.

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, by J.A. Konrath. While most of the advice is down-to-earth and practical, I find myself bristling at some of his comments about letting genre standards define what you write and not breaking out of the box. This may be why I’m in fantasy…

Paper Cuts! Glorious Paper Cuts!, by Elizabeth Jote (a literary agent). Brutal, funny, and usually advocating good sense and common courtesy. (If ever there was a longer way of saying ‘don’t be an idiot’…)

The Life of a Publisher, by Echelon Press Publishing. Informative, and a good industry reference.

Are there any really stellar craft-journals that I might have missed? Feel free to post your favorites; I’m always looking for more sources.