Strange New World

On December 20, 2015, Zoe wrote, So I’m working on inventing the world where my story is set right now, and I’m totally overwhelmed with having to invent languages, cultures, religions, political structure, geography, history, all that stuff. I was just wondering, how in depth do you go when you invent the world for your stories, like Kyrria, Bamarre, etc.? How much do you invent about your worlds?

It’s hard to remember what my thinking was with Kyrria and Bamarre, because I wrote the books so long ago. The latest world that I invented entirely was for my mysteries, A Tale of Two Castles and Stolen Magic. And even those I don’t remember well. A kind of amnesia falls over me about the hard parts of writing a book, and the whole first draft is always hard.

So for that reason, I looked at the beginning of my notes on A Tale of Two Castles–and found virtually nothing about world building. The novel is super loosely based on “Puss ‘N’ Boots,” and what I see is me wondering about Puss and why he’s so weirdly clever, not to mention why he can talk. So the world would have to accommodate magical cats. I speculated about introducing a genie, so then this would also be a world with genies, probably because I’ve never written a genie, and they interest me. (Neither the genies nor the magical cats made it into my story. Maybe in a future book.)

A word search on world in my notes. gave me nothing about creating the universe of my story. What I was doing was starting to work out my plot. I do remember that I wanted to use as much as I could of the Middle Ages. In Ella Enchanted, Fairest, and The Two Princesses of Bamarre I invented a fairy tale land that never was historical–but some readers intuited a medieval setting–and must have gotten a prettified idea of the period. In Fairest, for example, I dwelled a lot on fashion, and I used actual clothing, mostly gowns, from several reference books. However, I leaped centuries back and forth, and the outfits were post-medieval, because medieval dress was much simpler than the periods that followed, and I wanted to make Aza look ridiculous.

For the Middle Ages, I bought Castle by David Macaulay, which cannot be beat for clarity, and used his castle as the blueprint for mine. I got two books on daily life in the Middle Ages, not that I read all of either of them–just the parts I needed. And I supplemented the books with googling. For example, I learned what covered the floors in a medieval house: reeds. No carpets yet. And tapestries came later than the thirteenth century, which is the time I focused on.

Unless you enjoy world-building–some people do–why make up more than we have to? I do like to create new versions of imaginary creatures, like dragons, and there aren’t any real-life models anyway, so I spend time on them. In Stolen Magic, I made up an entire new kind of being, the brunka, and that was fun, too.

But my kingdoms have always been monarchies, although I could invent a new system of government, which probably would be fascinating. However, I might also lose myself in it. And when I get lost, when I haven’t made trouble for a character in a while, I get bored.

When my stories involve travel, I do have to come up with geography. But, again, I’ve never developed a new kind of landscape. I’m an admirer, though, of writers who have. I’m thinking of the forest of Ents in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, and the geography in the Discworld invented by Terry Pratchett.

I did create parts of languages in Ella Enchanted, Fairest, and Ever, but I did that because I wanted to, because I loved the languages in The Lord of the Rings, especially the orcs’. I didn’t have to, I could have made all the creatures speak Kyrrian.

Our universe, in my opinion, pales in importance next to plot and character. We don’t have to defy the laws of earth if our plot doesn’t demand it. But, since many of us are into fantasy, it’s nice to indulge ourselves if we want to.

However, sometimes the world steers our plot. In my Disney Fairies books, which take place in Fairy Haven and in which the fairies are the main characters, I had to think about this sort of fairy, and I did create a partially new world, which leaned a lot on the one invented by James M. Barrie in Peter Pan. Looking at my earliest notes, I see myself grappling with the world, but always in hopes of finding conflict. My first idea was that humans were building a bridge to Neverland. Then I decided that the island, which had floated, would get stuck on something. And my notion was that either of these would disrupt the island’s power to confer eternal youth on its inhabitants. I didn’t use these set-ups, but the one I finally came up with did create a crisis in aging, and I had a blast nudging the classic characters along the trajectory of life. Peter Pan, for example, loses some baby teeth!

So, I’d say we should let making trouble be our guide in our world-building. If we are going to invent a legal system, for instance, let’s come up with a law or two that endangers citizens, especially our characters. If we’re going to dream up customs, let’s include a few that oppose what our MC wants or needs.

We can toggle back and forth between world and plot. We can think, What kind of government do we want? And when we think, let’s not leap immediately to tyranny for maximum trouble. We can list possibilities. Maybe, for example, our kingdom is governed by a committee of university deans who want the best for everyone. How might this go wrong? Considering potential problems, we begin to imagine our MC. Who might she be, and what might she want that would run counter to her benevolent rulers?

Here are three prompts.

∙ Imagine that world ruled by university deans. Write a page of description. Write a scene in which your MC bumps up against authority. If you like, keep going.

∙ Your fictional world is our real one, contemporary modern life. Make it a slice of the ordinary that you know well, your neighborhood or your town or the theater group you’re part of. Change only one thing to make it fantasy. Make a list of what that single thing might be, and consider how it might affect your main character. Write a scene. Keep writing.

∙ Going entirely into the strange and unknown, your story is set inside a black hole in dark matter. Take a half hour to google black holes and dark matter (which I haven’t done). Write a page of notes about the possibilities. Write a scene. Be as strange as you can while still being understandable.

Have fun, and save what you write!

  1. Gail Carson Levine says:

    Once again, I’m coming to you for ideas. A company called Litographs is going to make tee shirts, tote bags, and such based on ELLA ENCHANTED. I said yes because I like what they’ve done with other books. You can see at the website: Anyway, I’ve been asked to suggest an image or two to represent the book. My husband suggested a stair banister, which I like, but I’d like to offer more. I’m thinking of one of the Agulen sculptures, but that may be too obscure. Any thoughts?

    • How about a creepy talking snake?
      Just kidding.
      A centaur, maybe, or one of the other creatures? The pumpkin carriage? The necklace Ella inherits and has to give to Hattie?
      Whatever the image, it might be cool to have it framed inside a book cover.

    • I do like the idea of the Agulen sculptures, especially the one Ella imagines when she sees Apple the centaur reaching up on his back legs. And the banister–with Ella and Char sliding down it! Or one of the iconic Ella-being-obedient moments? Having to hand over the necklace to Hattie, having to scrub the floor with lye, something with having to marry Sir Edmund (is it Edmund? I’m suddenly second-guessing myself! Ahh!)…

      But I think my favourite idea is Char putting the slipper on her foot–have you seen this fanart before? Because it is my favourite thing ever and fits the scene perfectly:

      I’ll let you know if I think of anything else…. 🙂

    • I think my favorite idea is your banister suggestion (maybe with Ella or both of them sliding down, as was mentioned down farther). I think ELLA was the first book that I actually enjoyed the romance (and I was already into my teens by a couple of years). I just didn’t care for mush and nonsense, but that stair banister scene opened a new concept to me. You mean, romance can actually be fun? Now that sort could be interesting!

  2. What about the magic book that Ella receives from Mandy? She’s near it in almost every version of the book cover I’ve seen. Or maybe a castle. If you need any more ideas, I might be able to think of some more.

  3. I enjoy reading books that have a realistic enough world that I feel it exists outside just this one story–if nothing else, because it’s easier to imagine myself in it that way. World-building can be fun. I like to use timelines, maps, family trees, and sometimes short stories of historical events.

  4. I really like the banister idea. The part were Ella and Char are sliding down one is my favorite scene in the whole book. I also like the book idea. I keep trying to think of more, but I cant really come up with anything very good. But I do like the others. Just thought I would give a little feed back.

  5. Jenalyn Barton says:

    Branden Sanderson has some great advice on world building for those who want to delve a bit further into it. There are videos of some of the lectures he gave at BYU at, under “archives”. Part one of his world building lecture is available here:

  6. WriterGirl4Life says:

    How about Mandy, or Lucinda? Or maybe Ella’s mother holding her as a baby right after the curse/”gift” was given?

    But I have a question, too. I find that I’m always getting bored with my stories, putting them away, critiquing myself, or just getting bored with my plot. Can you help?

  7. How would one write about a step family? For a story I’m considering writing, I need my male MC’s mom to be recently remarried. His new stepdad is going to be very different from his dad. My main character, who’s probably in high school, has one younger sister and is very protective of her. I don’t think his stepdad is going to be a huge character, but he’s going to be in it enough that I want the relationship between them to be right. His stepdad won’t have any kids of his own, so I want him to at least try to love the MC like his own son and the sister like his own daughter. Despite this, I need the situation to be a little bit tense/awkward, at least until they get to know each other better. My MC will likely be unresponsive to the stepdad’s efforts at first, but I think he’ll warm up to him. How would I demonstrate these growing pains while still showing that the stepdad is trying?

    • Maybe you could make the stepdad laugh at the wrong times. Or you could make him laugh at an inside joke that everyone knows he is not in on. The step dad could have a strange habit that weirds your MC out a bit, and your MC might make fun of it a few times. Just use very awkward scenarios that you would not like to be in and imply it to the page.

    • Well, it’s always going to be awkward when you have someone new being integrated into your family, so the awkward is basically already taken care of, you really don’t need to add an extra awkwardness.
      The MC is going to be constantly comparing the new father with father #1. (I’m assuming #1 was a good man, if he wasn’t you can ignore this advice.) #2, no matter how wonderful, is not going to be even remotely similar to #1. This will bother your MC.
      The MC may try to be accepting, but #2 is going to be vastly different. He is probably going to try to do the best for the MC, but his methods will be different.
      Perhaps #2 doesn’t think the MC should be allowed to own a knife, even though #1 gave the MC a knife when he was just six. Maybe #2 thinks the MC should have a set bedtime when #1 never had a set bedtime. Maybe #2 thinks the family should all go on a meatless diet, while #1 held vegetarians in playful contempt. It doesn’t have to be all “I am locking you in the dungeon at night and forcing you to wash my car with your tongue” sort of oppression, but #2’s new rules that contradict #1’s rules will grate on the MC.
      The new guy will be the man of the household, the position the MC formerly held. (This position includes things like helping make important decisions, carrying the heavy things, reaching things too high for his mother and/or his sister to reach, going on errands, being the “big” boss etc.) Now he is simply “the kid” again. He is no longer in his position of power.
      Extra tension can happen when his sister asks the MC a question she should be asking the father out of habit, and again, later when she asks the MC permission to do something the new father already forbid her to do. Stuff like that make for tons of tension and awkwardness. I hope I helped.

  8. I second the bannister idea. From a purely aesthetic perspective, I think that Char and Ella sliding down would make for a very interesting and “active” (if that makes sense) scene.
    I wonder if there’s anything that can represent obedience. I can’t think of any symbols of such an abstract idea though.
    What about something representing speech or languages? In addition to the many languages that Ella is fluent is, I always thought of her curse as sort of keeping her from “speaking” up for herself (though she certainly tries, and does her best to speak up for others too): she’s forced not carry out other people’s wills, like a parrot, but when she finally breaks the curse, she finds her own “voice” to say and do the things she wants. Just a thought. A silhouette profile with a word bubble of either a quote from the book or an encouraging saying in one of the many languages would be a cool image too.

  9. You could have golden buttons from Chars doublet in the stone hallway. Or a bookshelf with Ella’s two books on it. (Her book from Mandy, one the one from her language teacher.) Just a few ideas.

  10. The T-shirts on that website are beautiful! I’m so excited that they want to make a T-shirt for ELLA ENCHANTED! I love a lot of the ideas that have been mentioned, especially the banister and the fairy leaning over the cradle. Also, I’m not sure if anyone mentioned a squirrel, but that could be another possibility.

    On the subject of the post… I’m really not sure what it was I just wrote for the last prompt. 🙂 I haven’t dared to go back and read over it yet, but it looks rather like a bizarre sort of myth, I think. At any rate, it was a fun idea, and I came up with a couple character names I could probably reuse somewhere. Thanks! I always appreciate your posts!

  11. Here’s a question. I’ve got about two scenes to get my introverted character to feel connected with her large extended family she’s just met. I struggle with Dialogue Land so I’m trying to keep away from too much talking. One idea I’ve got is for her to notice her own characteristics among other family members, such as mercy (she often tries to rescue the villains)–but I’m not sure how to apply this in a family-reunion type setting. This is in a sort of ‘break’ section where there’s not quite as much action as the rest of the book (so fighting off villains together is out). Any ideas?

    • Have her notice the little things they say and do. For example, using your example of mercy, have her catch and release a spider in the house when everybody else is clamoring to step on it. Or have her talk to the little kid alone in the corner, whose parents are too busy talking to other adults to notice him, and is ostracized by all the other kids. Have her show restraint and/or forgiveness when another family member wrongs her. As any teacher having to write a college recommendation letter would tell you, it’s the little things you do when you don’t think/care if anyone is watching that really shows your character.

    • They say blood runs thicker than water – I’m not entirely sure what everybody means when they say that, but I take it to mean the unique connection that exists between relatives – even sometimes between relatives that have nothing else in common. There is something about it – you don’t even need that dangerous situation or common enemy. You already have something in common whether you like it or not. Like it or not, this person is a part of you. There’s no point in putting up pretenses, because your family is their family, and to profile you because of family is the same as profiling themselves. And regardless of how well you know one another, there is a place in the network that belongs to you and you belong to it, and it goes back to before you were born, and it won’t change. Job connections can change, even friends can change. If they do, there may be no permanent tie. But there is a permanent tie to family (again, like it or not).

      If your MC is an introvert, she may think about some of this kind of thing without having to talk about it. 🙂

    • I have a MASSIVE extended family. On my dad’s side there were only kids in his family, so I only have two aunts and an uncle but there are so many great aunts and uncles and second cousins and cousins at various stages of removal…it’s HUGE! And on my mum’s side there were nine kids in the family, and each of my maternal aunts and uncles have a large family, the smallest is four children the largest is nine. All in all I’ve got over fifty cousins–not including second cousins or cousin-in-laws or second cousins-however-many-times-removed! So all in all I think I may consider myself something of an expert. Also I’m an introvert, so there you go.

      Something about extended family is that, even though you don’t know them, you still have a connection with them. You can do things with and for them that couldn’t necessarily do with or for an unconnected, random stranger: such as offering them food. Sometimes I would like to offer food to a stranger, but I get worried. What if they are allergic to whatever I offer, what if they hate the sort of thing I offer, what if they are on a diet, what if they are fasting, what if they get offended, what if they think I’m a poisoner, what if they end up being creeps?

      With extended family you don’t need to worry so much. It isn’t weird to be offered something by a relative, and if they are allergic they’ll let you know and you’ll remember next time, if they hate the thing you offer you will learn of it from someone else most likely. You won’t have to feel like a jerk if they refuse your food and you won’t have to wonder why the refused it. Maybe they don’t like it, or aren’t hungry or simply are too busy talking. It really doesn’t matter, the fact that they are family takes away the “weird” factor.

      You are less guarded around extended family then you are plain strangers. Say you’re sitting out on the front lawn in a fairly bad section of town and a guy approaches. If he’s a stranger you will probably be worried, if he’s your cousin you won’t give it much thought, even if you don’t know him personally, you will still feel safe. You are connected, he isn’t a threat.

      In a big extended family there is almost certainly going to be someone who is, if not your own age, at least only a year or so older or younger. I have about seventeen girl cousins that are very close to me in age. We all go around in a group. Which is something cousins do. If a new girl arrives, one of the (usually) older girls in the “set” (there are about five sets: toddlers, 4-6 year olds, 7-11 year olds, young teens and older teens. There are adult sets too, but I don’t think they concern us, though if that interests anyone I can expound on the subject.) will generally take it upon herself to integrate the new girl into the set.

      When you’re shy, being included into the “set” may be a bit scary at first, so many girls your own age (am I right that people that are your own age are utterly terrifying?) so many questions to ask and answer…but it is usually pretty okay after the first shock.

      Then, when it’s time for meals you all pair off, and you are always included with whichever girl you sat/stood closest to during the initial “integrating” and possibly one of her closest friends. (There are best friends within this circle. Usually each girl has two, maybe three girls she likes to hang out with most, though all of the girls are very close. The purpose of this is so that you can stand together in food lines, there isn’t really any other reason, because the whole gaggle of girls sits at one table.)

      If you have any other questions feel free to ask, I’m used to being smooshed together with my huge family for reunions and semi-reunions and random visits etc. 🙂 Hope I helped.

      • Thanks everyone! That’s really helpful. I was going for an air of confusion that she feels connected to these people even though they’re outwardly different. Her mother came from a different kingdom than her father, so she’s grown up among her father’s family and finds the culture very different… but family is still family.

  12. I have a question to ask, but before I get to that, I just wanted to say thank you SO much for writing your books Writing Magic and Writer to Writer! They have been extremely helpful to me in my journey of becoming a better writer. Now for the question… My story that I’m working on is set in a fantasy world, and it has four main characters. They are all girls, and they are quadruplets. Each of them are very different from each other (which plays a big part in the story), but since they are sisters, they are similar in some ways too. I just find it very difficult to direct a scene (particularly a scene with dialogue) with four MCs. Do you have any tips on writing a story with more than one main character? I want each of them to find their way into the readers’ hearts, but when writing with four MCs, it can be difficult to make the story personal. If anyone has any ideas/tips for writing with more than one (or more than two) MCs, they would be greatly appreciated!

    • Here’s a story from Orson Scott Card about writing characters for a family of six kids:
      ” Every member of the family had to be memorable and clearly differentiated. Each one had to stick in the reader’s mind. All those children shared the painful experience of an abusive father, but each one experienced it differently. Their responses would therefore be different, I realized, and when [my main character] meets them, he would first notice their eccentricities. The youngest boy is methodically violent and uncontrollable. The youngest girl watches even the most outrageous goings on without a sign of interest. And so on–each child with an eccentric pattern of behavior. The eccentricities help the audience to differentiate among the children right from the beginning. Gradually, though, as each child’s individual past and motives are revealed, their eccentricities begin to fade. By then, I have given them new experiences that will make them more memorable, and each child is found to have particular strengths that are vital to the famil’s survival and success, giving each child a heroic role to play. By the end of the novel, if my skill was enough to do all these things well, the audience should believe in and care about each of these children as an individual.”

    • Figure out what each of them wants or is motivated by, and what is each one’s goal. Even if they may all be working for one common goal, they may have their own separate goals or reasons for wanting it. None of this needs to be stated in the story, but it will color their perspectives.

      I have written in omniscient POV with one MC and her four younger siblings. Even though I sometimes got into multiple heads in one scene (what makes it omniscient, as I understand), I usually chose not to. I decided which character would show this scene best. Which one feels the biggest impact from this? Each has his or her own little story arc and gets POV scenes that show how each is reacting to the same things the MC is facing, and the things she is doing.

      Perhaps a way to think of it is not as one single story, but as four individual stories intertwined. Like the way yarn is made of three or four strands twisted together to make a stronger string. And we all here love spinning a good yarn, don’t we?

    • When I have a lot of characters, I try to split them into groups for different scenes. I’m working with a series that has a relatively large cast (about seven major characters) but in each book I only focus on the main character and two or three others, and then let the rest of them be minor characters for that book. In your case, maybe splitting them in different pairs (MCs 1 and 2, then 3 and 4, then 1 and 4, etc) for some scenes might help.

      Brandon Sanderson said that his method of writing was to make a list of the subplots, then decide on the most awesome resolution for each subplot, then write a list of scenes that could make that resolution come about. Then when he’s writing, he’ll pull from the list and cross each item off until it’s done. You could do that with the four characters.

      • Thanks for mentioning those ideas! I actually have already kind naturally split the 4 MCs up into different scenes at one point or another, but until you mentioned doing that, I hadn’t really realized how helpful that method can actually be. So thanks, and thanks for mentioning Brandon Sanderson’s writing method. I plan on trying out both ideas.

  13. So I’ve also got a question: I need to kill off a character, but I’m really struggling with writing a death scene. Anyone have any suggestions? I want it to really affect my MC, but I’m really awful at killing off characters (mostly because I simply hate doing it). This character doesn’t stay dead, either, but he doesn’t come back until the next book so I want the death to at least seem final. Any advice is welcome!

    • Well, to start with, do you know anyone who has died? A pet? How about a national disaster that influenced you? Think about those emotions as you write. You don’t need to describe them–maybe a quick phrase or two–but keeping the feelings in mind can help shape your writing.

      Not that I’m an expert, but here’s the death scene of my novel. He’s dying of magic gone wrong so the details will be different, but maybe it’ll give some ideas. I removed names to avoid spoilers.

      His features seemed blurred, as though they were being erased. Black smoke was leaking from his skin. He looked at her, a plea in his eyes, and reached out a hand. Instinctively she reached for it, but her fingers passed through like it wasn’t there. She stepped back in horror. The black smoke thickened until she could no longer see him. It rose, drifting on a small breeze, and faded. J’s empty clothes fell, and K heard something heavy clunk on the ground.
      J was gone.

    • I think portraying emotion has to do with detail. Finding one or two tiny things that somehow capture the feeling makes it much more powerful. “She missed her baby” is kind of sad. “She wrapped her arms against her chest as though she could still feel him snuggled there” is much sadder.

      I love this example from journalism (reporter Christopher Scanlan) , about a young woman who’d been abducted:
      “The mother always left the front porch light on when her children went out at night. Whoever came home last turned it off… Their porch light still burns today, night and day. Just inside the front door, a strip of tape covers the switch.
      Deb never came home.”

    • The only time I ever killed off characters was before the story began, and it was a hard enough decision to make them stay dead. So I’m not very wise in writing a death scene.

      That said, I do know that I’ve read stories where someone dies and the body is not present – and I immediately question the reality of the death. I think the most convincing dead-but-actually-not story I’ve read was where the author himself most likely considered the character dead until another book idea came along. It was a secondary villain, not greatly mourned or rejoiced over, and when I looked back, it didn’t actually say he died. The author just put the villain in a deadly situation and was done with him. That won’t work for a character close to your MC. But I wonder if the key to believability might be to “forget” that the character is going to come back. Can you tuck the knowledge away for a while and imagine how you would write it if it was really final? By the end of the book, bring about whatever promise of peace or vengeance or coming to terms as you would feel necessary if it was permanent.

      • Thanks! I have started doing this, and it made writing the rest of the story much easier–and made the part where I bring the character back that much more surprising (at least, I think it did!)!

  14. I just finished your book writer to writer and am so excited to go back through your posts and read me ones. I learned so much from your book, and your wrating prompts are awesome.

  15. About the death scene… I totally know how killing a character that you know and love feels. Use the emotions YOU feel to make the MC and other characters react. For example, when I have to kill a character, I’m always dreading it. I already know it has to happen, but in the time leading up to it, I have a little knot in my stomach because the thought of what I have to eventually do to that character never leaves my mind. I also always tear up when I kill a character. I sort of “give” my MC and the other characters who witnessed the death the emotions I feel and have felt for the character who has died. I make them think some of what I’m thinking, and feel the dread and sadness that I am feeling as I write the death. So basically I’m saying that since you hate killing off your characters, use that hate to enhance the scene. Because if you, the author, feel remorse, it will show in your writing. And detail is paramount.
    I wrote a question above, too, so if anyone could help me, that would be awesome!

  16. Hi everyone! I have both a question, and some advice for Emma.

    First my advice: I read your question about the four sisters. I recommend reading The Penderwick series by Jeanne Birdsall. Have you heard of it? The main characters are also four sisters! Mrs. Birdsall does a great job presenting the point of view for each girl, especially in the first two books. In the third one, the oldest sister is absent for almost all of the story. The fourth book (My favorite) is mostly the youngest sister’s tale to tell.
    I love the series. The plots are unique, and the characters are faulty, funny, and all together appealing in their own way!

    Now for my question. In my fan fiction story, I’ve run aground on editing.
    There’s one scene were Jack and Elsa go ice skating together. They’re supposed to be really, really good skaters. They’d probably win every competition there is for that sport.
    In my imagination, it’s one of the most romantic segments of the story. Unfortunately, on paper, it’s pretty boring.
    What I want to know is: how do you write an “action” sequence that doesn’t have fighting, or dialogue?

    • Be descriptive and use comparisons. Instead of saying “she skated across to the other side of the pond” (lake, stream, puddle or whatever it is, I’ll just go with pond) say, “she didn’t simply skate, that was too commonplace a word, instead she glided effortlessly, every movement was the essence of grace. She whirled away, blades tracing the patterns of her footwork into the flawless surface of the ice.”

      To make it more romantic, try describing Elsa or Jack’s eyes, lips or hair. Take tiny, itty-bitty details and make them important: “As she spun her hair came loose of its binding and the ribbon danced away on a breeze, pale against the dark sky. Her hair twisted through the air, free at last, before coming to rest on her shoulders. A single strand fell over her eyes, and she blew it away, with lips that smiled with unrestrained joy. She belonged here, in the endless and wild winter, dancing with the the snow and moonbeams, surrounded by silver.”

      Or something like that. Agh, I feel like that looks pretentious. Ah well. Hope I was able to help.

  17. I’ve never thought about it that way before, Song4myKing. Thank you so much for the good advice! That’s what I love about asking questions to other writers. I get to see so many different, interesting, awesome ideas and points of view on how to fix a problem I had no clue on. And thank you for recommending that book series, Poppie. I will most definitely check it out. Thanks to all for answering my question!

  18. Oh, I forgot to answer your question, Poppie. I have several action scenes in my book I’m working on, and I know what you mean by having action without fighting. From what I understand, action without fighting just means a bit of trouble or something trivial happens in the scene. In your case with Jack and Elsa (love that you’re doing a fanfic with them, btw), you could have several things happen that could be trivial, but not on a battle scene scale. They could be skating on a frozen lake near a waterfall. They could be having so much fun, going so fast, and be so in love (depending on what stage of the story it’s in) that they couldn’t see the waterfall. It could be sunset, and it’s getting dark out, which doesn’t help the matter (but sunset is always romantic). Elsa could skate a little too close to the edge and start to fall. Jack would have to rush over to save her. Did she fall but catch herself with her powers? Did he grab her arm and pull her back before she fell? You could several things with this kind of scene, and it doesn’t require much (if any) dialogue. But it’s still not boring. And you could make it romantic. You also don’t have to make the scene exactly like my example. You could make him save her or her save him from anything that strikes your fancy. That’s just one idea. I hope that helps!

  19. I would write whatever they’re feeling at the time. Like maybe Elsa is feeling nervous with Jack (or the other way around, it depends) when they’re ice skating close to each other. Or maybe Jack feels free, while Elsa is finding it hard to concentrate because she likes Jack. Hope this helped!

  20. I would say to make sure there’s still some conflict. Something’s still at stake. It could be their relationship (one or the other is accidentally offended and has to work through it, for instance), it could be some broader conflict from the story that’s on hold for the moment, or it could be something invented specifically for the scene, such as finding a lost object, trying to make sure the ice is safe for non-gifted people, saving a frozen duckling… just the first ideas off the top of my head.

  21. Thanks to everyone who’s answered my query so far! You’ve given me motivation I need. If anyone who has more advice or questions, I’d like to hear them. : )

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