"If you are a writer, and you have a novel idea that you are excited about writing, write it. Don’t go on message boards and ask random Internet denizens whether or not something is allowed. … Who is the writer here? YOU ARE. Whose book is it? YOUR BOOK. There are no writing police. No one is going to arrest you if you write a teen vampire novel post Twilight. No one is going to send you off to a desert island to live a wretched life of worm eating and regret because your book includes things that could be seen as cliché.

If you have a book that you want to write, just write the damn thing. Don’t worry about selling it; that comes later. Instead, worry about making your book good. Worry about the best way to order your scenes to create maximum tension, worry about if your character’s actions are actually in character; worry about your grammar. DON’T worry about which of your stylistic choices some potential future editor will use to reject you, and for the love of My Little Ponies don’t worry about trends. Trying to catching a trend is like trying to catch a falling knife—dangerous, foolhardy, and often ending in tears, usually yours.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to what’s getting published; keeping an eye on what’s going on in your market is part of being a smart and savvy writer. But remember that every book you see hitting the shelves today was sold over a year ago, maybe two. Even if you do hit a trend, there’s no guarantee the world won’t be totally different by the time that book comes out. The only certainty you have is your own enthusiasm and love for your work. …

If your YA urban fantasy features fairies, vampires, and selkies and you decide halfway through that the vampires are over-complicating the plot, that is an appropriate time to ax the bloodsuckers. If you decide to cut them because you’re worried there are too many vampire books out right now, then you are betraying yourself, your dreams, and your art.

If you’re like pretty much every other author in the world, you became a writer because you had stories you wanted to tell. Those are your stories, and no one can tell them better than you can. So write your stories, and then edit your stories until you have something you can be proud of. Write the stories that excite you, stories you can’t wait to share with the world because they’re just so amazing. If you want to write Murder She Wrote in space with anime-style mecha driven by cats, go for it. Nothing is off limits unless you do it badly.

And if you must obsess over something, obsess over stuff like tension and pacing and creating believable characters. You know, the shit that matters. There are no writing police. This is your story, no one else’s. Tell it like you want to."

Rachel Aaron (via relatedworlds)

Yeah, so, this answers a lot of asks I get. It’s also why YW focuses on technique and style, and less on content and research.

(via clevergirlhelps)

Save Your Computer



I have the worst luck. I’ve broken five computers and four laptops but I’ve finally learnt my lesson. After losing my work so many times, I have been great at rewriting because I’d never backed anything up.

Take it from me:

  • Even if you backup your work in one external source from your computer, back it up online or in as many places as you can
  • Back up according to how much valuable work you have so if you save work/programs frequently, back up once every week
  • If you have a Windows computer, go onto Control Panel and search “back up”. Click on the first link and follow through from there
  • Do not wait until it’s too late

I may add more information on if I can think of any, but here are some useful links on some other ways to back up your computer:

Windows help to backing up files

How to Back Up a Computer (among other devices)

How to Back up Data

The absurdly simple guide to backing up your PC

Three Best Ways to Back Up Your Files

6 cheap ways to back up your files

8 Ways to Back up Your Computer Files

How to back up your data

Done a Computer Backup Lately?

Google Drive is a great resource to use for backing things up.

Five Most Common Female Character Stereotypes



 When someone says that your character is “common”, it is not a good thing. It means that your character is a copy that’s been copied over much too many times. That you’ve probably seen it in books yourself— you may have even based it off a book character. Or you may have ripped it directly from a stereotype without even thinking about it.

 It happens to the best of us when we’re absent about development. However, that does not make it okay. Common characters must be eradicated as soon as they start sounding bland.

 The post on male characters will serve as follow-up tomorrow. If you think this one’s a tad brash, just wait for that one. Juuust wait.

5- Brave chick who has utterly no personality besides oh, look she can shoot stuff pretty good can I leave her there.

 Somehow, the trend seems to be going that in order to have a female protagonist, we must rid ourselves of every trace of interesting traits and make her the equivalent of a mindless arrow-shooting vixen who’s cold on the outside… and on the inside… and is generally cold… and bland…

 Bland is not good.

 A female protagonist can and should be utterly hardcore with the weaponry and all that— I am completely down with that and in fact encourage it— but don’t sacrifice her depth for it. She can be both gun-savy and a memorable character.

 If you’re questioning that your character might be a part of this group, check to see what her main traits are. “Good with ammo” is not a trait. “Trained in judo” is not a trait. “Can do sarcastic comebacks but otherwise is still as a sock” is also not a trait.

Dig deeper into her personality, bring her out, let her delve deeper, gosh darn it.

4- Overly supportive mother/grandmother/aunt.

 Kudos to your character if she has a mother who cares. Overly supportive mother, however, cares a bit too much. She seems to live in constant peril that any sign of discipline she enforces over her daughter will make her unlikeable, and that making herself a limp noodle— albeit a sweet limp noodle— will earn her daughter’s respect.

 Common phrases from her mouth are: “Whatever you want, honey”; “Hello! I made dinner! Do you want a smartphone with that?.”; “But officer, I don’t care about the evidence— my child is golden!”

 This is one of the more distressing common tropes. Think of your own mother— you respect her, don’t you? It probably wasn’t because she let you do whatever you want. Mothers aren’t passive, and the fictional ones shouldn’t be. And if she is passive, she better not be portrayed as the perfect role model for every teenage girl. You’re just a-shoeing for both a terrible character and a warped perspective for the next generation.

3- The weird girl who all the guys love even though she sniffs her feet in public.

 You can see them through indie fiction in droves, this wave of “different” girls whose only case in point seem to be acting uncommonly weird. The sort who shy guys hook up with presumably so he can poetically narrate her wandering off bridges because she was staring at the clouds. Creating a girl with quirks is one thing— creating an offbeat girl is also great. Creating a psychopath with “cute” abnormalities like licking walls and taking baths in ketchup every Saturday— exaggerating a bit here— is not cute.

 Frankly, it’s a tad psychotic and uncanny to the extreme.

 The thing with characters is that no matter how weird they are, they still have to be human. You must provide a viable reason for her bathing in ketchup, not just because she has an excusable-because-she”s-eccentric.

 I can’t find any excuse for your character to like bathing in ketchup unless she also likes burning down orphanages and mutters to herself in public while clinging to a shopping cart.

 Again, if your character’s a bit eccentric, that is alright. But keep her reasons for being eccentric within reason— too many novels go overboard with this bit.

2- “I’m going on an unnecessary spiritual adventure and will describe it to you with looooots of adverbs.”


 See if this sounds familiar: “Here is Sally. She is in her mid-thirties. Sally is bored of the never-ending rut her successful job and well-meaning friends give her, so with soundtrack accompaniment by an inspiring instrumental, she gives up all her possessions and somehow manages to pay on a trek around the globe.

 Here she meets offensively stereotypical side characters, encounters stereotypical events, and manages to meet an addendum on the meaning of life in a stereotypically philosophical way, also accompanied to an imaginary soundtracks.

 And a brick ton of adverbs.”

 Literary escapism is so hot right now. If we were to believe the charts, every middle aged business woman is currently on an adventure in deep deep {foreign country}, where she is building houses and outraging every reasonable person she meets with her ignoramus comments.

 The best way to root her out is to decide if her jaunt or move has purpose besides “discovering what she’s all about.” If no, tweak with caution until everything she says isn’t a one-liner from the great philosophical internet.

  She is also often a victim of trope number three, so beware. And if she’s ditching her job for Bulgaria in no reason besides she’s always wondered if Bulgaria hides the secret to happiness, careful. You might have this trope on your hands.

1- The begrudgingly-blank teenage girl.

 "Hello, honey!" said overbearing relative character, beaming as she gave me a mama bear hug. She always does that because I’m her golden child even though I constantly backsass her. "How was your day at school."

 ”Uhh, fine mom,” I mumbled, shoving her out of the way. She was in front of the refrigerator. This is the life of a teenager. “Do we have any milk?”

 ”Milk,” said my playful-but-clearly-unhip father, creeping out from the pantry. “I am going to make a sarcastic comment about milk and ruffle your hair, kiddo.”

 ”Ummm, okay,” I said, rolling my eyes. What a hopeless goofball. “Very funny, dad.”

And so on.

 You don’t tend to see this in published teen lit fiction; perhaps there’s a reason for that. Not only is it dull to create a character who goes around saying “umm” and mentally abusing people, it’s also inaccurate. Find the rudest teen queen you can think of, with the most perfect live who rejects it all for angst, and I guarantee you she’s nothing like this character.


 For starters, she has a viable personality.

 This is the most forgettable stereotype—the top of the overtly-stereotypical family pyramid— and therefore is the most vital to avoid. Your character needs to have a more complex base than this.

 I don’t care what that base is, but find it. Find it before you figure out your character is an insult-spewing adolescent zombie.

Re: Point 3

  • Don’t use psychopathic/psychotic interchangeably. 
  • People with those kinds of personality disorders are people.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girls do not have the flaws the Point 3 rails against. I believe Point 3 is trying to tell people not to write them, but does not get everything quite right. 
So your robot character has no emotions programmed


What does that mean?

  • Hatred is an emotion. No hatred allowed.
  • Same with anger. “No emotions” also means “no negative emotions.”
  • They need a goal programmed in so that they don’t just sit around doing nothing.
  • It’s possible to have “don’t kill people” programmed and also have no emotions programmed.
  • Longing is an emotion.
  • "Emotionally repressed" and "zero emotions" are very different things. The only way they could feel things would be if they got reprogrammed.

Some pretty cool news: Compound Interest is now a contributing blog to Business Insider! This won’t affect the posts on the main site in any way, it just means that some posts will also feature on Business Insider’s Science page, spreading chemistry funs far and wide. The first post is the first of the chemical warfare graphics from a few days ago (on the Compound Interest site here if you missed it).


Some pretty cool news: Compound Interest is now a contributing blog to Business Insider! This won’t affect the posts on the main site in any way, it just means that some posts will also feature on Business Insider’s Science page, spreading chemistry funs far and wide. 

The first post is the first of the chemical warfare graphics from a few days ago (on the Compound Interest site here if you missed it).

Costume Designs from Sleeping Beauty by Mary Blair

Costume Designs from Sleeping Beauty by Mary Blair


It’s 5 AM and I’m well batty-fanged, but I’m laughing fit to disturb the neighbours (one hopes). What a delightful list - it’s like Bertie Wooster mainlined acid, cocaine and Viagra and went about struttin’ and naming things as if he were Adam.

Advice/Resources: Winged Armor and General Armor


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