World-Building | Official Author Website of Melissa McPhail

Archive for the ‘World-Building’ Category

How I Create Characters

Many of you have been asking about my process for creating characters—how I came up with certain characters, and more generally, how I make my characters seem real. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have read one of my earlier posts on organic writing. For those of you who are. . . 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


Immortality and Gods in Fantasy

It’s interesting to me how many novels, plays, poems (and even, dare I say, religions) deal with immortality without really dealing with immortality, i.e. immortality is automatically assumed, more understood than explored. In our concept, gods are immortal. In fact, immortality is usually a qualifying aspect to being considered a god. In my experience, even. . . Read More


Ultimate Epic Fantasy Writer’s Playlist

“Two boys arrived yesterday with a pebble they said was the head of a dog until I pointed out that it was really a typewriter.” ~Pablo Picasso Inspiration comes in many forms. There are as many sources of inspiration as there are artists to be inspired. A simple turn of a woman’s face might become the basis of a. . . 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


How Not to Write Yourself into a Corner (in Your Novel and in Life)

There’s something known as writing yourself into a corner. This phrase might be used to describe any number of authorial ailments, from the scene that mystifyingly “doesn’t work,” to the sinking realization—many chapters in—that your entire plot resolution hinges on something your protagonist can’t possibly know about. While trying to finish my third novel, Paths. . . Read More


Breaking Up With Your Novel

Last week I finished penning the third book in my epic fantasy series and sent it off to beta readers. Paths of Alir was two years in the planning/writing, and the final clocked in around 300,000 words. (It is an epic fantasy. Providing a series is well-crafted, anything short of 250k and epic fantasy fans somewhat. . . Read More


Reviews, Writer’s Block & the Author’s Integrity – A Problematic Trinity

I’ve been struggling recently with a situation that arose from the number of positive—yes, I just said positive—reviews I’ve received on my latest novel (which, by the way, was recently selected as a Finalist for the ForeWord Book of the Year – yay!) It took me a bit to sort through just what I was. . . Read More