1. I am not in favor of extreme violence against women (or men) for sensationalistic purposes. Don’t feature scenes with excessive violence unless this shows something crucial about your main character. Think about what you’re writing and why. Violence that happens off page (or off screen) is scarier, more effective, and more interesting because it’s more psychologically charged and less about gore.
2. If you’re going to write sci-fi, and I urge you to think about this and also not to, but if you’re hell bent on it, make sure it’s not cliched and that your characters are grounded in reality. Too often, students write highly unbelievable characters combined with outrageous plot lines. Good sci-fi, which I love, is rooted in realistic characters and the conflict reveals the main character’s want/desire/fear/etc. What I’ve found is that beginning writers take too long setting up a credible world and then there’s five pages and nothing’s yet happened. It’s tough to write good sci-fi.
3. I don’t want you to write fantasy. Sorry. We’re not reading any and this isn’t a genre-writing fiction class. You can have fantastic elements in your work, but this is very different than fantasy. Magical realism, for example, is okay. There’s an abundance of werewolves, wizards, vampires, and fairies floating around popular culture right now and my question to you is: Do you need to add to this already saturated and varied genre? My answer is no. But, if your answer is something else and you have a compelling reason why, then talk about it in this module.
4. Your main character cannot die. It’s too easy and a cop-out.
5. You cannot begin your story in the character’s bedroom (i.e. she has just woken up and has hit the alarm clock–yawn is right) and do not put any scenes in a coffee shop where someone is ordering a latte. No one wants to read a scene about a triple-mocha half-decaf whatever!
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