Story Concepts | Official Author Website of Melissa McPhail

Archive for the ‘Story Concepts’ Category

An Update on Book Five

Once upon a time I had a dream, a dream of a book, a book to complete a fantasy series, a fantasy series to please fantasy readers, reading the completed book of this series from this erstwhile dream. If this sounds oddly wistful, it’s rather a reflection of my state of mind about A Pattern. . . Read More


Grounding Fantasy in Reality and Tackling Controversial Topics

A reader wrote in to me recently and mentioned that while she didn’t have the same visceral reaction to a particular scene (no spoilers) as many other readers had, she didn’t like that one of the characters had to use sex as part of the resolution of the conflict in that scene. This is very. . . Read More


The Strands of Elae and Their Associated Adepts

Many of you have been asking about the magical strands of elae and their associated Adepts. This is a pared down version of the chart that appears in Paths of Alir (that chart contains information that would be spoilers for the earlier books). I plan to soon include this chart in the ebook versions of Cephrael’s Hand and. . . Read More


Author Q&A and a Plea to Aspiring Writers

To my readers: please know how much I appreciate your emails, mentions and comments! Recently, many of you have written to me asking similar questions. I thought it would be best to answer all of you here on my blog in order to give your questions adequate address. I’ve lumped your questions together into these three: “What inspired you to. . . Read More


How Much Should Authors Interact with Readers?

This new age of social media makes it easier than ever for readers and writers to interact. Whether via reviews posted online, comments on a blog, forum discussions, Facebook or twitter, authors now have the opportunity to engage with their readers via multiple direct lines of communication. This is generally fun for the readers. For authors, it. . . Read More


Writing Kingdom Blades (PSOL Book 4)

Many of you have been asking when book four in A Pattern of Shadow & Light will be released. All I can tell you right now is that I’ll have Kingdom Blades to you at some point in 2016 (the Muse willing). For comparison, each book in this series runs around 300,000 words, and the first. . . Read More


On Isabel and Pelas in Paths of Alir

****SPOILER ALERT***** When I wrote the scene with Isabel and Pelas in the second half of Paths of Alir, I expected it could become controversial. I knew it would hit some readers in a way that felt morally uncomfortable, but I never imagined that the scene would be interpreted as a rape. I’ll explain more of what I did expect. . . Read More


4 Steps to Writing Organically, Part II – Viewpoints, Mimicry and Imagination

Think of writing like sailing a massive ship. There are an enormous number of mechanical actions that synergistically combine to keep the ship plowing forward through the waves. It behooves you, as the captain of the vessel, to have an understanding of all of those mechanical workings. Yet if a ship’s captain spent all of. . . Read More


Pantser or Plotter: 4 Steps to Writing Organically (and the Science Behind Why You Should) – Part 1

After my last blog post on the four things you must know before starting a novel, in which I suggested not inventing a character, kingdom or creature until the story calls for it, a number of readers wrote in to ask, should nothing be planned? My answer is absolutely plan the four points on the list I gave. . . Read More


How to Avoid Cliches (or The 4 Things You MUST Know Before Starting A Novel)

A reader recently wrote to me and asked, how do you write a novel when every time you start (oh, so many times!) you get a few chapters in and suddenly become deluged with doubts? And how, when you’re so well-read in the genre that you’ve read it all and seen it all a hundred. . . Read More