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Young Writers Cafe: Creating Antagonists who Live

After rereading a much earlier story, I found that this is the relationship between my characters:

Hero: You will never win, Mr. Evil McVillian!

Villain: I will destroy the world!

Hero: But why?

Villain: I don’t know. I’m evil. Sam needed someone to try to stop you on your quest. Why do you hate me so much?

Hero: Sam gave oodles of thought to that. You burned down my village when I was a baby and hurt a lot of people.

Villain: Now, why would I do that?

Hero: I don’t know. Part of being evil I guess. Oh, wait! I hear Sam coming to finish off our battle. You’ll never win!

Pretty bad, right? In many of my earlier manuscripts, I’d just learned about planning out characters and I decided that I needed to do this to become a better writer. The problem was, I only planned out my main character. The other characters, I decided, were just there to carry the story along. In order to write a strong story, your antagonist needs to have several of the following elements:

1. Have a reason to dislike the main character.

(Perhaps the main character always shows him up at athletics)

2. Believe in a lie.

(That the main character despises him and spends all of his time figuring out how to embarrass him)

3. Several other things that he cares about.

( Track and field, his job at the fast food restaurant)

4. A point that he turned against the protagonist.

(When the protagonist accidently tripped him in gym and he sprained his ankle, thus disabling him to try out for the Track team)

5. A life outside of trying to foil the protagonist

(An afterschool job, etc)

Your antagonist doesn’t even have to be a horrible person. An antagonist is simply someone who stands in the way of the main character achieving his goal. If two friends try out for the basketball team, but there’s only one spot available, then they instantly become each others’ antagonists.

Now, let’s examine some of my favorite antagonists:

Luke, of the Percy Jackson series is a powerful one because he used to be Percy’s friend. Eventually though, he became sick of watching the Greek Gods take advantage of humans and he turns to the darker side.

Snape of the Harry Potter series is also a good example of a misunderstood villain. He’s a villain who appears to despise Harry Potter, but in the end, we realize that Snape was trying to protect him all along.

In the Hunger Games trilogy, it could be said that the tributes are each others’ antagonists, but the group has a common enemy: the Capitol and President Snow. Those antagonists are perfect for my demonstration because they believe the lie that they are powerful enough to overcome any obstacle and as a result, they underestimate Katniss.

In conclusion, Antagonists are major characters and they deserve to be treated as such. While I’m not going to trot around with a sign saying ANTAGONISTS: EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL, please think out your antagonist and his goals before you begin writing.

TRY THIS!: Find a scene in your story that includes the antagonist and rewrite it from the antagonist’s point of view.

Young Writers Cafe: Opportunities for Young Writers

As we all know, every young writer loves free things: free opportunities… free services… In this article, I am going to share with you some of the latest free opportunities out there for young writers.
Name: Go Teen Writers Store
Age range: 12-18
Go time: Always
opportunity: free critiques
About: In this store, the only thing that you need to spend is your time. Go Teen Writers is a site run by published writers Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson. in return for promoting one of their latest releases, you earn points to use in their store. In the store, the costs are the following:
Story Idea Feedback: 250 points
Single Chapter critique: 500 points
10 000 word critique: 1000 points
25 000 word critique: 1700 points
Name: Creative Kids Advisory Board
Age Range: 8-16
Go Time: Until July 1st 2013
opportunity: Publishing credit
About: Creative Kids is a magazine written almost entirely by kids ages 8-16, assisted by an advisory board of children in the same age range. The advisory board for the 2011-2013 term is over and now they are accepting applications for the 2013-2015 term. The members give feedback on the design and promotion of the magazine as well as review products for the Under Review section. To apply, read the submission guidelines on the site.
Name: Stone Soup Magazine
Age Range: Up to 13
Go Time: Always
Opportunity: Getting published
About: Stone Soup is known over the world for publishing quality children’s writing and artwork. They accept submissions from children all around the world and the entire magazine is written by children, with the exception of the Editors Note. To submit, please read the guidelines on their website and browse through their archives for a good idea of what they enjoy.
Name: Teen Ink
Age Range: Teens 13+
Go Time: Always
opportunity: Getting Published
About: Teen Ink is probably the most well-known magazine that publishes teen fiction and non-fiction. They accept submissions via email or their website and publish the best in a monthly print magazine. Read Submissions Guidelines for details.

Book Review: The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet

Don’t just get even, write a novel. From the moment I read that slogan, I knew that I absolutely needed to read this book. Now that I’ve read it, my opinion hasn’t changed one bit. I love this book.

Blurb: When Ellie Sweet gets ditched by her life-long friends, she lets out her inner love of writing and begins to explore medieval Italy. Along the way, she discovers the world of publishing and enters her book in the Great Debut novel contest. But if she wins, what will happen when her friends recognize themselves in the story?

The writer of this book, Stephanie Morrill, is the writer of another book that I have reviewed on Young Writers Café, Go Teen Writers: How to turn your first draft into a published book. She also blogs over at Go Teen Writers with Jill Williamson, a fantasy author. I love their advice and I hope that someday I can achieve what they have!

There was a bit of a scuffle involved with this book, none of which was the author’s fault. The book released on May 1st as an Ebook and I assumed that as a Kobo owner, I would be able to download it that very day. It didn’t happen that way. Instead, it took Kobo a full week and a half to get this book in their stores, something that annoyed me greatly.

But back to the review. I found that Stephanie Morrill managed to balance the story amazingly well. She balanced Ellie Sweet’s writing life with her school life while demonstrating how the two affected each other.

As a blogger, I feel that I must point out the writing of this book. And indeed I shall.  The author stayed true to all of the advice she gave to us young writers in Go Teen Writers: How to turn your first draft into a published book. She captured the voice of a true American girl and mixed in lines that made me laugh.

Thanks for reading! Buy The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet on Amazon or Kobo today!



Young Writers Cafe: Creating realistic characters

A long time ago, before I bothered to read anything on writing, I wrote stories. Yes, I still do write stories but back then, all of my characters had dull, unauthentic dialogue. (For example, “Mary, I know that you’ve been sad ever since your perky best friend Polly moved to that farm in Kentucky, but I’m telling you that you’ll love this summer camp!”) Get the idea?

Back then, I wrote stories because I’d fallen in love with an idea and my mind was committed to putting it into words. Which wasn’t saying much, because the other day I was rereading some of my stories and I found one about Mr. Blueberry and his friend Mrs. Orange the dance teacher. They were my favorite characters. Anyway, in my mind, characters were just there to propel the story from start to finish.

Those characters had no life and no reactions. Someone just lept off a cliff? Oh well.  Then, I read a book on writing and it said that my characters should have a goal. Genius! A goal. My characters should have something to aim for, something they want to achieve. This can also be known as a Heart’s Desire.

For the sake of this blog post and for a better explanation, I am going to invent a storyline for a short story. How about there is a girl named Chloe and she really, really wants to be the lead role in her school play. There’s her goal for the story. Now we know that the story is probably going to center around the school play, the auditions and other people who want the leading role. But now we need to make things difficult for her. After all, if she wants to be in the play, is an amazing actress and her parents can hire a professional coach for her, then the readers are probably going to be rather bored, won’t they?

Let’s say she lives in a tiny apartment above a music shop and there is never any quiet time to practice. Perhaps her parents think that acting is a waste of her time and would rather that she spends time on homework.

Now we have a Heart’s Desire and a storyline plotted out. Now, we need to work on the even more important part: the main characters. Although some people don’t agree with me, I believe that characters are the most important element of the story. They are the powerful tool that keep the reader coming back for more. For example, Harry Potter is a celebrated character. Would you rather that the writer plunked Harry Potter down without his Hogwarts life and tried something new with him, or would you prefer a completely new cast of characters with a new idea? Personally, I’d go for the first option. This is because Harry Potter is such a memorable character and we love to see what he does in different situations.

If Harry Potter was the perfect teenager, then perhaps this desire would not be so. But we root for Harry Potter because we know that he isn’t perfect. He’s an orphan, for one, and he’s been mistreated his entire life. At the beginning, he is nervous and rather uncomfortable in his new surroundings. He isn’t the perfect hero at first, but by the end of the series, he had changed emotionally and gained more confidence in himself.

To have a strong story, characters need flaws. Don’t make my early writer mistakes and make perfect characters, because they aren’t interesting. Readers root for the underdogs. If we follow up on the plotline mentioned above, we can create some flaws for Chloe. Maybe she is an impatient person with a quick temper. This makes it harder for her to concentrate on practicing her lines and if she gets mad at her parents, they might ban her from going to the audition.

Perhaps the play that she’s auditioning for is Cinderella and she’s the most un-Cinderella like person auditioning. She’s awkwardly tall and her long legs aren’t what you’d call graceful.

Now we have some flaws that might stop her from accomplishing her goal and the readers will root for her.

Also, don’t create a wonderful main character and make the rest of the characters cliché and boring. Here’s some advice for you. When developing characters, remember that each character has a life of his own. The world doesn’t revolve around you MC. While the story might, the cast should have distractions and goals of their own. The Main Character’s mother doesn’t think of herself as The Mother. She thinks of herself as the main character and the Main Character is her daughter. Same with the antagonist, best friend and so on.

While the cashier that says exactly two things in the whole story might not need  a whole life story, you can consider giving him a problem. Maybe a shipment that was due today got delayed and hundreds of pre-ordered books won’t be at the bookstore for another week.

When I come up with a story idea and I need some great characters, I use many methods. I’ve listed two of them below:

1. Character Interviews:

While this one has been around for pretty much as long as people have been writing, it’s worked well for me. Fill out the below interview sheet for each character and you’ll be on your way. While it may seem at first that the answers are coming from your own mind, work on it for a while and the character’s voice will peek through and do the work for you.

Reason for their name:

Parent’s jobs:

Children and personalities (if writing from an Adult’s POV):

Birthplace and reason for move:

Greatest desire in the story:

Three minor wants that need to be accomplished (for a powerful ending, try to not let him accomplish one of these):

Three greatest flaws:

Inner Desire (Peace, Acceptance, friendship ect…):

Personality trait that helps MC accomplish goal (Perseverance, knowing when to give up…):

2. Character Journals: I first discovered these while reading the Go Teen Writers: How to turn your first draft into a published book. These are by far my favorite exercise. Come up with a scene that you want to include in your story and write it over from three different sorts of characters’ points of view. Love it!

Young Writers Cafe: Book Review: Go Teen Writers: how to turn your first draft into a published book

When I first began to write, I looked around for any books to guide me to a published book. Over time, I have found many but my favorite remains Go Teen Writers: How to turn your first draft into a published book. Each of my writing books had a purpose of their own, but when it comes to the ultimate package, Go Teen Writer: How to turn your first draft into a published book, takes the gold.

The book was written by two successful published writers, Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson and is broken down into five basic parts.

1. Making sure you have the elements of a strong story

2. Understanding the publishing industry

3. Creating an online platform

4. Finding literary agents

5. How to connect with editors

This is not necessarily a ‘how to write a novel’ sort of book. It mostly focuses on publishing as a teen or young person. I think that this is because there are so many other resources out there about how to write a book. The actual book-writing process is no different as a non-adult. The only difference is dealing with publishers and literary agents as a teenager.

As a fact, in the introduction of this book, the authors stated that they had written this book to be used as a roadmap after your novel had been written but it also helps you check that you have the elements of a strong story.

The only problem that I see (and this isn’t really much of a problem) is that this book need not have been marketed just to teen writers because the information packed in those 308 pages is useful to all ages.

I had originally purchased this book as an ebook only, but I soon regretted it. The importance of the information in this book is the sort that I want to be able to highlight and flip to whenever I need advice. So I did something that I rarely do: I now own the eBook and the print copy.

As a conclusion, I would like to state that I consider this book a necessity for every writer’s bookshelf. For more information, visit the Go Teen Writers website or follow the link below to Amazon, where you can purchase the book.



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