Allie. Chapter 8. Engaging Imaginations.

“They don’t have protection here,” Serenity said, holding a handkerchief over her nose.
Allie kept quiet as she followed Serenity and Frank into her old city. Already, the sights and smells conjured unwanted memories.
“There’s nothing to protect the people from,” Frank replied, looking down at his scroll. “The closest recorded city is weeks away.”
“And brigands?” Serenity said. “Thieves? We walked past the gates uncontested. What’s to stop anyone else from doing the same?”
“There’s a guard here,” Allie said, wrapping her arms around herself as she passed by the homeless people lining the brick streets.
It was midday, yet an older woman slept with her head resting on the only clothes she had. Two others sat next to her, their hands perpetually held out in pursuit of coin. Their eyes, however, were glazed over, whether from lack of food or lack of hope, she didn’t know. She remembered that feeling too well.
“Then they’re not doing their jobs,” said Serenity, who watched the people just as closely as Allie. “I’ve seen enough to condemn them already.”
“We must meet with their government,” Frank said, a hint of desperation leaking into his voice.
“We must do nothing,” she said. “But we will do as you say. Perhaps if they listen to reason…”
“Left,” Allie called, thankful they were moving further away from her old corner.
“You would think there would be more care in how they planned the city streets.” Serenity said, following my directions.
“This likely began as a humble town. They wouldn’t have put much thought into the streets back then,” Frank said, looking back at Allie. “Am I Right, Miss Allie?”
Allie shrugged, lost in thought.
“I’m sure I am,” Frank continued, looking back at his notes.
“I’ve seen enough cities come to be,” Serenity snapped. “That doesn’t excuse lack of thought.”
“But it’s an oversight from generations ago,” Frank said. “Not of those currently in rule.”
“Sins of our father’s,” Serenity mumbled, watching a beggar hold his hand out to a well-dressed man.
The man swatted the beggar’s hand away and kept walking, wiping his hand against the bottom of his robes.
Serenity immediately picked up her pace, forcing Allie to jog to keep up.
Frank realized what was happening before Allie. “My lady,” he called to Serenity, but she ignored him, moving even faster.
Moments later, Serenity had pulled even with the rich man. Before they had walked two steps together, Serenity whipped out her knife and slit the man’s throat.
Allie froze, stiff with shock.
“Come on,” Frank said, frantically pulling her forward by her elbow. “Keep moving.”
Suddenly, someone screamed, causing a panic. Before Allie knew it, most of the street had cleared, everyone running for their lives. Everyone except for most of the beggars, who were too exhausted to stand.
“Now we’ll see how good those guards are,” Serenity said, wiping her knife on the rich man’s robes.
Allie’s mouth worked, trying and failing to form words. “Why?” She eventually asked.
“Justice is a beautiful thing,” Serenity said simply as she continued on her path toward the palace.
Allie turned to Frank, his face expressionless. And with a slight shake of his head, he followed Serenity, leaving Allie to follow after him.
Emotions warred within Allie as they made their way to the Palace. She wasn’t sure she agreed with what Serenity had done. It wasn’t her place to administer justice. Was it? Yet she remembered a time when she had been the beggar. When people had dismissed her, hurt her, and treated her as if she hadn’t existed. They deserved justice. She deserved justice.
It wasn’t long before the palace became visible over the flat-topped homes of the city. A beacon for Serenity to follow.
Down each street we walked, people scattered before us. Eventually, even the homeless men and women were running for their lives, motivated by popular fear.
Eventually, only a block away from the palace, guards finally arrived.
They appeared suddenly, turning a corner just as another group appeared from behind.
“You’re under arrest!” Called one of the guards, the front lines leveling their spears toward us.
Allie could see the eyes of the guards fixed on Frank. They assumed he was the source of danger, dismissing the much smaller women.
Serenity raised one of her hands, the other still holding a cloth over her nose. “We want to speak to your leader!” She yelled.
“If you’re cooperative, I’ll let you speak to the mice that roam our dungeons,” the guard called back, eliciting a small wave of chuckles and grunts.
Serenity looked to Frank.
“Give them another chance,” he said.
Shaking her head, Serenity turned back to the guards who seemed content to hold their lines from a distance. “Last chance!” She yelled again. “Bring us to your leader.”
The guard spit, his jovial demeanor quickly becoming hostile. “The Queen is busy.”
Serenity turned back to Frank. “I tried,” she said, shaking her head.
Then, suddenly, bricks erupted all around the guards, the ground beneath them splitting open like the heavens.
The screams of the guards were overshadowed by the roars of five dragons, each expanding to fill the street.
Within seconds, all became still, the silence broken only by the intermittent groans of men slowly dying.
Shivers ran down Allie’s spine, unable to look Serenity in the face as she processed how many lives had just been lost. Did all of these men deserve death? She’d met decent guards in the past. Good men…
“Well,” Serenity said, sighing. “Our cover is blown, might as well take the easy way to the Queen.”
And with that, the dragons stooped their necks, inviting us to climb on top.
Serenity swung herself onto the back of the first dragon with ease, the dragon growing size as soon as she climbed on top.
Frank did the exact same with another dragon before looking down on Allie, both waiting for her to join them.
Allie seriously considered running, but couldn’t bring herself to move her feet. She knew she wouldn’t get far if she tried. Still, the last thing she wanted to do was climb on top of a beast who had just killed dozens of men.
Trying not to look at the blood dripping from the dragon’s teeth, she forced herself to climb on top, shutting her eyes as they launched into the air.


One of the first questions I had when I began writing was “where do I start?” There’s so much detail in the World, how was I supposed to mimic that in my story? It’s a tough task, and one that can summarize the difference between a good and bad writer.

Can you make your story feel real?

The key is about putting in just enough detail to let the reader fill in the scene with their own imaginations. This is an art. A skill worth practicing over and over again. Put in too much detail and the readers’ eyes will glaze over. Put in too little and the reader may feel lost or disinterested.

Since this is an art, all I can really do is give you parameters and tips:

Use all five senses

  • Don’t harp on them
  • Don’t constantly tell us all five
  • But at some point in a scene, you should engage all of the readers’ senses.

Don’t try to describe everything

  1. Choose the unique feature of your environment and highlight them
    • Everyone can imagine a street – so highlight what kind of street and move on
  2. Choose a unique feature of your characters and highlight them
    • Again, we know what men and women look like – focus on bringing home their specific characteristics and try to re-focus on that same feature every time the character is in a new scene
    • Ex: Rowling does a really good job with this for her characters. She chooses a characteristic and finds ways to bring it up again repeatedly. Long brown curly hair. Long crooked nose. Scar on forehead obvi. Giant beard. Black oily hair. Freckles… you get the picture.
  3. Focus only on the important part of your story
    • Every scene should have tension
    • There needs to be a reason for every part of the story
    • If nothing interesting happens when your character wakes up. Don’t write that. If it takes three pages to get to something that matters, then cut the first three pages.
    • (this doesn’t mean everything has to be fast-paced, just make sure there are MULTIPLE reasons for writing what you’re writing)





Draco. Chapter 7. Describing Human Reaction.

Blood flowed down the wounds on my forehead, leaking through my eyelids. I blinked furiously, but the blood remained. Still, I kept my composure, my eyes fixed on my torturer.
“Do you know why I like you?” Miguel asked, running his knife down my neck.
A burning sensation spread from the point of the knife, my body hardly responding to the pain. Instead of answering, I spat out the blood trickling down my mouth.
A small splattering of blood spread across Miguel’s face, but he merely smiled.
A shiver shot through my spine, shaking me more than the knife wounds. No man should enjoy this.
“That’s exactly right,” he said. “It’s because of your spirit. I can push as hard as I want, and I know you won’t give in.”
Stoic tears welled up within me, clearing my vision enough to see the details of Miguel’s face. His eyes were alive with delight, changing from black to blue to white in a matter of seconds.
“That’s not why you like me,” I whispered so the guards behind Miguel, Beardy and Torchy, couldn’t hear.
Miguel frowned. “No? Tell me then.”
I shook my head, blinking out the last of the blood. My wounds had already sealed themselves.
For the first time in months, Miguel seemed agitated as he sliced my forehead open yet again. “You’re adding to the game,” he snarled. “It’s just one more secret I can rip out of you.”
“There’s nothing you haven’t tried already,” I said, coughing from the streams of blood. “You won’t break me.”
I lost sight of the room as blood overtook my face. When Miguel spoke again, it was with a thinly controlled voice.
“All you have to do is answer, and you can finally die in peace. Why do you resist?’
I spat again, this time only managing to dribble on myself. My neck was held in place by a collar, separate chains restraining both arms and legs.
“Surely everyone you care about is gone,” he reasoned. “There’s no point in remaining.”
My eyes clear once more, I met his gaze evenly. “You’re right.”
Miguel merely nodded, his eyes softening in understanding. “I know. So why do you resist?”
I thought for a moment before answering. “You see yourself in me.”
Miguel frowned again, unconsciously running his thumb up and down the blade of his knife. “What?”
“Unlike you new-bloods, I’ve seen enough of this world to understand,” I said. “You see yourself in me. It’s you who are hurting. You who’s powerless. Not me.”
Miguel immediately stopped running his thumb down the blade, his pale eyes burning with hatred when he suddenly dropped his knife and screamed.
Both the guards leaped forward with their blades drawn, looking baffled as they searched for the source of Miguel’s pain.
Miguel doubled over, his arms clasped against his stomach. “Something’s wrong,” he whimpered.
I looked on in shock, not understanding what was happening until Miguel collapsed to the floor, conscious, yet convulsing violently. My heart raced in fear.
“What did you do to him?” Beardy asked, standing an arms-length away despite the chains.
“Nothing,” I whispered, “someone else is doing this to him.”
Torchy shoved the torch in my face. “Shut your mouth with that nonsense. Tell us what you did!”
“Wait for him to stop,” I said calmly, barely managing to mask my terror.
“You don’t give the—“
“I told you to wait,” I barked, silencing the guards.
Suddenly, Miguel stopped convulsing, his body going still.
“Is he…”
“He alive,” I said, “give him some room.”
Both of the guards stepped back as they watched Miguel’s motionless body. Then, finally, he moved.
The guards sighed out of relief as Miguel slowly got to his feet. His hands shook as he bent down for his knife, his eyes wide with shock. They had settled on a light brown hue.
Still shaking, his knuckles white against the grip of his blade, he eventually looked me in the eyes. “She took my dragon.”
My breath quickened, anxiety threatening to overwhelm me. “Who was she?”
Miguel steadied himself, taking slow deep breaths. “I only saw for a moment… there were multiple.”
Miguel nodded, grinding his teeth.
My heart sank. “It’s her.”
“Serenity?” he asked, his face twitching. “I didn’t realize…”
“That’s not her name,” I said, fighting to hide my despair. “How many did she have?”
Miguel shook his head, his eyes distant. “She took Geleo. So three now, maybe four.”
“I’d bet more,” I said, suddenly seeing my opportunity. The guards were still standing directly behind Miguel, their uncertainty plain on their faces. Still, this was my only chance. “However many she has, she’s bringing them here.”
Miguel eyed me, his jaw working furiously. “How do you know?”
“I know her better than anyone,” I said, trying to steady my breathing. “If she has your dragon, then it’s because she’s on her way here to destroy the city.”
Miguel frowned. “Why would she? No. Take it, maybe. But not destroy it. Maybe if I play my cards right…”
I eyed the guards, watching their expressions. They had already moved away from Miguel to whisper to each other.
“There’s no negotiating with her,” I said. “Surely you’ve heard that much.”
“I’ve heard she leaves most everyone alive.”
“Not the government,” I whispered. “Not the ones in charge. She’ll kill every last one of you for your crimes.”
“And not you?” Miguel asked, his eyes alight with interest.
I looked away, setting my jaw. “No, she’d kill me too.”
Miguel stepped closer, setting his knife against my throat. “Unless…”
I allowed myself a smile as I returned his gaze. “Unless we escape,” I whispered.
“And why not just escape by myself?” He whispered back. “Leave the city to its own devices.”
“You could,” I said, “and you might live. But you’d still be without a dragon.”
Miguel’s eyes widened, his knife dragging against my scalp. “Or…”
“I could give you mine,” I whispered. “Just get me out of here.”
Miguel took a step back, his eyes calculating. He was still shaking from the shock of losing his Bond, his pain fresh.
“I’ll think about it,” he said finally.
“There’s no time,” I said, my voice raised, unable to keep the fear at bay. “We need to leave now.”
“What’s this about leaving?” Torchy said, shoving the torch near my face.
Suddenly, Miguel slashed his knife across Torchy’s neck. The torch immediately fell from his hand, casting the dungeon into near-darkness just as Miguel spun and plunged the knife into Beardy’s stomach.
Both collapsed to the ground gasping for air, their fallen swords clanging against the stone.
After a moment, Miguel eventually picked up the torch along with the keys. “I guess you have my answer,” he said, his voice eerily calm. “Let’s go.”


There are many advantages and disadvantages to storytelling with different mediums, but due to the nature of this blog, I’m going to primarily stick with discussing the topic in the context of books.

The magic of novels is that they allow the reader to engage in the story. They watch movies. They listen to music. They engage in books.

This means that as writers, we must know how to help the reader engage in the story. This primarily is done by knowing how much detail to give in order for the reader to adequately fill in the rest. To do this, we must understand how to engage the creativity of the reader’s mind.

I’ll discuss different aspects of this principle at later times. In this Chapter, we’re going to look at the character.

Readers naturally identify themselves with the main character of the chapter. This is due to several psychological factors, but also because the writer does everything they can to help this process along.

Main characters tend to be more vague in description so that the reader can more easily place themselves in their shoes.  They also tend to be more likable and less alienating than other characters to ensure that we don’t disassociate ourselves from the main character. For example, if the main character hated ice cream, we might be more likely to either consciously or sub-consciously think, pshhh, I don’t get this guy at all.

There are notable exceptions to this. I.e. Sherlock Holmes type characters. In that type of story, the main character is assumed to be Sherlock Holmes, but he is anything but a typical main character. In this case, the writers typically place us in the shoes of Watson instead to, in most cases, allow us the experience of watching Sherlock and solving the crime with him. In this case, Watson is the typical main character that we identify with. Regardless, you get the picture.

So what else do we do to help the reader engage in the story? Write realistically. 

Write so the reader feels what the character feels. Hears what the character hears. Thinks what the character thinks.

Here’s how:

Something happens. You describe it. What does it look like? what does it smell like? Etc.

The Character reacts. And you describe their reactions. But it HAS to be in this order:

Feeling. Instinct. Thought. action.

And then you repeat the process.

You don’t have to show all four of these every time something happens, but you should be showing at least one in response to every. single. thing. that happens. And the more intense the event, the more of the character’s reaction you should describe.


The cat meowed. Jake, feeling whimsical, meowed back to see how the cat would react.

In this case, I showed feeling and action.

More intense Example:

The cat clawed Jake’s face. His face burned in agony as the claws dug into his skin. Fighting the urge to throw the cat off the couch, Jake ran to the sink to splash water on his face.

In this case, I spent more time on the feeling, showed the instinct to fight, the decision to not fight, and the action of going to the sink.

Following this principle, your characters become more real, as they respond in the same way we do in real life. Anything less and they become less real to us as the readers. So just remember, if you want to make your characters feel real; Cat. Cry. Repeat.

Allie. Chapter 6. Theme & Meaning.

Allie’s view was limited underneath her umbrella. All she could see was the passing landscape and the behinds of both her horses. She still couldn’t believe that… the horses belonged to her.
“Miss Allie,” called a voice from behind. “The pigs are panting again!”
Allie kept her hands on the tethers as she glanced behind her. In her cart were eleven pigs and a boy a few years younger than her. “Just put the blanket back over him, Olly.”
“It’s not just him, though,” he said, starting to hyperventilate himself. “They’re all starting to pant. I think they’re too squished together.”
Allie sighed. “They just don’t like change,” she called back. “You know what you have to do.”
“But I can’t sing worth a lick,” The boy complained, “you should do it.”
“I did it last time,” she said, concentrating on keeping her horses steady. They were last in the caravan and had already fallen behind twice that day despite the slow pace.
When Olly didn’t answer, she just sighed again and took a deep breath. “Oh when the wind blows softly down the willow’s path, and the trees sway nice and low, the moon sings sweetly down the sun’s wrath, and in the coolness grow.”
Allie glanced backward as she continued to sing and smiled as she saw Olly sway with the song. She suspected he could sing just fine. Already, the pigs were growing calmer, likely recognizing her voice.
Suddenly another voice chimed in. “And the death shall cease the narrow crease, a voice softly calling, the voice of night keeps grip tight, and bended knee still crawling.”
Frank appeared around the cart in front of her’s as he finished the tune, paper in hand as always. His voice wavered on the high notes, but he sang the tune without shame.
Olly laughed, clapping for Frank’s performance as the large man gave a mock bow.
“Afternoon, Lady and gentle-boy,” he said, smirking. “Serenity would like to see you at the front.”
“What about my cart?”
“I’ll take care of it, Miss Allie,” Olly said as he hopped into the seat next to her. “I’ve got loads of practice.”
“It’ll be in fine hands,” Frank said begrudgingly. “Don’t you worry.”
Allie hesitated, looking back at her pigs before eventually hopping off the cart.
“Come back soon, though” Olly yelled after her, “I’m not gonna sing for ‘em.”
Allie shook her head as she walked with Frank, picking up her pace.
“Take your time,” Frank chided, placing a hand on her shoulder. “She hates it when we hurry. Especially on her account.”
Allie furrowed her eyebrows as she focused on matching his pace. “Why should that bother her?”
Frank shrugged, his hands clasped behind his back as we walked by the other slow-moving carts.
Taking that for as much of an answer as she was going to get, Allie allowed herself to focus on their surroundings. Dozens of carts followed each other in a single line, some led by horses, others by donkeys, all moving at the pace of a crawl.
Kids laughed and chased each other around the carts, their parents busy either leading the carts or talking amongst themselves.
Even at their leisurely pace, she and Frank passed several carts in a short amount of time. Each one had at least two or three adults walking beside it, most of them working on some sort of craft as they talked.
“She doesn’t like to see us suffer,” Frank eventually said, frowning to himself.
Allie cocked her head to the side, “what do you mean?”
Frank sighed as he carefully chose his words. “She’s not like the others. She’s seen so much… been through so much. She doesn’t want us to go through the same.”
“But we’re not,” Allie said, gesturing to the people around them. “Running isn’t suffering. And neither is bowing for that matter.”
“No?” Frank said, eyeing her. “Does your body not experience stress when you run? And what is bowing, but allowing someone power over you?”
Allie frowned in silence, thinking over his words they passed yet another cart. “What if you’re in danger?” She eventually asked. “Would you not run to save yourself? What if the person you bow to can offer you protection?”
Frank nodded thoughtfully. “It’s true,” he said. “Life works against us. But Serenity does what she can.”
Allie went silent once more, lost in thought. Something wasn’t sitting right with her, but a part of her wanted to agree with him. After everything she’d experienced…
“My dear Allie,” Serenity said suddenly as they rounded the front cart. She was leading the caravan herself, setting the slowest pace possible.
“Serenity,” Allie replied, bowing ever so slightly before remembering to stop herself. “…Sorry.”
“It takes time to break bad habits,” she said, smiling. “Just try not to do it again.”
Allie nodded, feeling uneasy as Frank left her to walk back down the caravan. “You wanted to see me?”
Serenity waved for Allie to walk next to her, her chin raised toward the horizon over the next hill.
Allie obliged, matching her pace. “What can I do for you?”
“How well do you know this area?” Serenity asked, her eyes still on the distant sky.
Allie thought for a moment. “Decent enough. There’s a city about two days away if we’re going in the direction I think.”
Serenity nodded. “And anywhere else to stop for the night? A town perhaps?”
Allie frowned. “No.”
“Are you sure?” Serenity asked, her eyes seeming to pierce Allie’s soul.
Allie squirmed internally. “There may be a ghost town nearby, but there’s nothing there.”
Serenity frowned. “I’ve heard otherwise. I wonder how this ghost town came to be…”
Finally, Allie relented. “Okay, yes, there’s a dragon hole in the town. And it’s not safe.”
Serenity suddenly stopped walking and grabbed Allie by the shoulders, their face inches apart. “Do not lie to me again, you understand?”
Allie nodded. Her throat suddenly too dry to swallow her guilt.
Serenity continued to gaze into her eyes until her face finally softened. “I apologize for scaring you, but you must understand that lies only bring pain.”
Allie nodded again, trying not to shake in Serenity’s hands.
After a moment, Serenity brought her into a hug and started gently stroking her hair. “Trust me, my girl. I won’t hurt you.”
Allie nodded again, her head stuck against Serenity’s shoulder.
“Tell me you trust me,” Serenity whispered in Allie’s ear.
Allie hesitated, fighting the shiver that threatened her spine. “I trust you.”
Serenity smiled at Allie as she finally released her from the hug. “Good, because the town is right over that hill.”
Just then, a deafening roar erupted from over the hill, involuntarily buckling Allie’s knees.
“Oh, get up, my girl,” Serenity chided, grabbing Allie’s hand. “The fun is just beginning.”
Against her will, Serenity led Allie to the top of the hills, the town emerging into view.
The town that Allie once knew was no more. Even the shell that had remained had collapsed into rubble, creating a landscape of ash heaps.
And amidst the ash heaps were five dragons, each larger than the houses they’d collapsed.
Even as Allie watched, the dragons dove in and out of the Earth like Leviathans swirling through the Ocean. Their changing colors glistened in the sunlight, turning from black to blue to white in a matter of seconds.
They were indistinguishable from each other, recognizable only by the way one was struggling against the attacks of the other four. The roars quickly became more distinguishable as the fight became one-sided. Four, the roars of victory. One, the roar of agony.
Then they disappeared inside the maws of the Earth only to re-emerge together. The lone defeated dragon had turned pale, discolored only by its own blood. The other four dragons had the pale dragon clasped in their jaws, one around its tale, two around its front claws, and the fourth around its neck, together dragging it toward Allie and Serenity.
As the dragons drew closer, Allie could hear the whimpers of the pale dragon. Allie tried to pull away from Serenity’s grasp, but she held tight, her eyes transfixed on the dragons.
“Aren’t they beautiful?”
Allie didn’t answer, her eyes shut against the horrific scene.
“Didn’t this dragon cause you pain?” Serenity asked, brushing her hand against Allie’s cheek.
Despite herself, Allie opened her eyes.
“Do you not want revenge for the grief it caused?”
Allie kept still, unsure of her answer. Still, she couldn’t look away from Serenity’s intense gaze.
Eventually, Serenity sighed and turned toward the dragons as they approached. Their giant jaws still clasped around the defeated dragon, they stopped directly in front of Serenity.
Beaming, Serenity released Allie’s hand and stepped forward, walking right up to the dragon’s desperate maw. It tried to snap at her, but was held tight by the jaws of her dragons.
“Geleo,” she said soothingly. “I’d wondered where you’d gone.” And without a hint of fear, she climbed up his wing and placed her hand between his eyes.
Geleo roared in pain as his scales rapidly changed colors, squirming against the hold of his siblings. Then he finally went still as the other dragons released him.
Humming delightedly, Serenity hopped off Geleo’s back just as all five dragons decreased in size.
As soon as the other dragons removed their jaws, Geleo’s wounds healed, his scales reforming even harder than before. As he slowly regained his strength, he stood taller, the other dragons licking the blood off his scales.
Serenity chuckled. “Welcome back to the family.”


Before we get too much further into the story, I want to talk about writing a story with meaning.

Too often there is no meaning in media. Either for fear of offense or isolating an audience, writers will write purely to entertain. And while we should write to entertain, the best stories are filled with meaning.

Now, there are many ways to write a meaningful story, but here is a really good way:

Focus your story on a theme.

A couple of ways to do this:

  • have your main character (MC) believe a lie… usually about themselves
  • Give your MC a major flaw regarding the theme

So let’s take this story. My theme is on suffering. I won’t go into specifics yet, but suffice it to say that all of my characters believe a different sort of lie about suffering. This is a really good way to create tension between characters. Which brings us to character relationships…

Once you’ve chosen a theme, your characters should challenge each other on that theme. Here’s a breakdown of what that usually looks like:

  • The main character believes a lie
  • Multiple side characters vary in beliefs, either supporting or dissenting against the lie, but it doesn’t change the MC’s mind either way
  • Mentor and/or love interest challenges the lie (hence the story) and eventually the MC changes his/her mind


  • The MC is the only one who believes the truth
  • Everyone else/Society believes the lie
  • MC eventually changes everyone else’s mind (hence the story) – This is usually in dystopian stories

However, it’s important to note that no one’s mind should ever be changed by argument. It’s good to write dialogue regarding the theme, (hopefully in subtle ways) but these arguments shouldn’t be one-sided or decide the fate of the MC. Because here’s the thing:

Everyone thinks they are the good guy.

This is true in life and should be true in stories. Everyone has what they think is a good reason for the things they do. Show that. And let the results of the story be what convinces the MC/audience.

Example: Black panther. (Spoilers ahead)

  • Black Panther believes in hiding to protect his people
  • Killmonger believes in using what they have to help others
  • Black Panther has multiple conversations about this throughout the movie, but he doesn’t change his mind until Killmonger tries to usurp him
  • The result is the bad guy being right and changing the MC’s mind not with arguments, but by proving by example that his people have a responsibility to help others
  • It’s important to note that Killmonger is still the bad guy due to the fact that he is willing to commit evil actions in order to “help” people – and the writers made sure this point got across by having him kill his girlfriend
  • This story is all about the theme of “with great power comes great responsibility” (thank you, Spider-man)

So if you want to write a good story with an impactful message, be mindful of the theme of your story. Write characters that believe in something and let the story itself do the talking.


Allie. Chapter 5. Effective Dialogue.

Allie couldn’t stop shaking, her mind clouded with fear. She would die if she couldn’t be still. They would see her and finally deliver the death she so deserved.
“Allie,” Serenity said, tapping her shoulder. “Allie it’s okay now, you’re safe.”
Allie wanted to scream at the woman. She was going to get them both killed. And yet, the dragons didn’t attack. Still trembling, she eventually raised her head just far enough to see the dragons bunched together over their prey.
“You don’t have to worry,” Serenity said, “I’ve set you free.”
Allie forced herself to breathe, trying to calm herself despite her still trembling body.
“Are you okay?” Serenity asked, completely at ease as her dragons devoured their food.
“You tamed them?” Allie whispered.
Serenity frowned, looking back at her dragons. “I raised them. They won’t hurt you, I promise.”
Allie slowly sat up, mildly comforted by the fact that Serenity stood between her and the dragons.
“There you go,” Serenity said encouragingly as she placed a scarf over her nose. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Allie got to her feet, her eyes fixed on the dragons as they turned toward roughhousing with each other.
“Good girl,” said Serenity. “Now, seeing as you’re the only one left, the farm is yours… just as soon as we take what we need.”
Allie looked away from the dragons for the first time, her mouth hanging open in shock. “Mine?”
Serenity nodded. “Though I should have been more specific. As of tomorrow, the farm is yours. My people will take shelter here tonight.”
Allie flinched as the dragons grew in size, each trying to outdo the others as they tussled in the field.
“Oh good, there are my people now,” Serenity said, pointing to the hill behind Allie.
As Allie turned, a line of carriages appeared over the hill surrounded by crowds of people. Even that far away she could hear bouts of laughter echoing across the open field.
“Is that your army?”
Serenity frowned. “Do they look like an army?”
Allie shrugged, looking back at the house. “They won’t fit inside.”
Serenity chuckled. “They won’t need to.”
Feeling abashed, Allie watched the dragons move closer to the barn. She could barely hear the pigs’ squeals over the playful roars of the dragons.
“Why don’t you give me a tour?” Serenity said, gesturing toward the house.
Allie started to bow when Serenity caught her shoulder, forcing Allie to stand up straight. “You bow to no one,” she said, her eyes burning with intensity. “Not even me.”
Allie nodded, disturbed as Serenity released her shoulder. Fighting the urge to bow again, she turned and led Serenity to the house. “There’s not much to show.”
“How much grain do you have saved?” Serenity asked, looking out over the field.
“We only just started harvesting the field.”
Serenity nodded, her face contorted in thought. “How much is already harvested?”
Allie shrugged, shaking her head. “Not much, but your people can harvest more before you go.”
Serenity frowned. “No, we’ll just take what’s already saved.”
“It wouldn’t be much trouble,” Allie said. “You could get a lot of gra—“
“I said ‘no,’” Serenity said, cutting Allie off. “My people are not working your field.”
Allie found herself nodding, speechless as they arrived at the front door.
“How many rooms?”
Allie quickly counted them in her head. “Five bedrooms.”
“For six people?”
“Three of the rooms were empty,” Allie said, embarrassed. “The others and I had our own places outside.”
Serenity shook her head, her nose scrunched in disgust. Then, without warning, she screamed, punching the wall next to her.
Her fist went all the way through the wall, her hand returning bloodied and disfigured.
Allie jumped, still trying to process what happened as she began to search for some sort of bandage.
“Stop,” Serenity ordered, composed once more. “I’ll be fine, just show me the house.”
Allie froze, watching Serenity’s fist as it recomposed itself.
Serenity frowned at Allie, completely ignoring her fist. “I would really like to get moving,” she said as a single bead of sweat rolled down her forehead.
Huffing, she dabbed impatiently at her sweat, more annoyed about that than her fist as she waited for Allie to continue the tour.
“You’re an Immortal,” Allie said, her knees threatening to buckle.
Serenity sighed. “I suppose I can choose out my room later,” she said, turning on her heel. “Show me what’s in the barn.”
Allie rushed to catch up with her, instinctively following a step behind Serenity. She never thought she’d even see an Immortal, let alone be freed by one. It was just like the stories her parents would read to her as a child.
As they got closer to the barn, the sound and stench of the pigs became more obvious, prompting Serenity to re-cover her nose.
“You have swine?”
Allie rushed ahead to open the door of the barn, a fresh wave of stench rolling over them.
Serenity poked her head in briefly before gesturing for Allie to close the door. “How many?”
“Eleven,” Allie answered immediately.
Serenity nodded. “Good, that should be enough to hold us until we leave.”
Allie went pale.
“My people should be here soon. I trust you can help them get settled when they arrive?”
“I, um…” Allie stammered. “You can’t eat the pigs.”
Serenity froze, leveling Allie with an unwavering stare. Her face was unreadable as she pulled the cloth away from her face. “Until we’re done using it, this is my farm.”
Allie fought to stay calm as her body started to shake once more. Out of the corner of her eye, she suddenly became aware of all four dragons growing still in the field. Each had their eyes fixed on her.
“They’re my pigs,” Allie managed, her throat dry and swollen. “I raised them.”
Serenity mouth pulled into a thin line. “My people need food.”
Allie’s heart raced, her hands clenching into nervous fists.
Then Serenity sighed. “But I suppose we can manage without eating the pigs.”
Allie nearly collapsed out of relief as the dragons returned to their playful fighting.
“Besides,” Serenity continued, “I imagine you’d need the company, seeing as you’d be out here all by yourself once we leave.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, her heart still racing from the adrenaline of the moment. Then her mind started spinning.
“Here comes my friend Henry,” Serenity said, pointing across the field.
Allie didn’t look, too distracted by her thoughts as she came to a decision. “I want to come with you.”
Serenity frowned at her. “You don’t want the farm?”
Allie shook her head. “I don’t have any business running a farm.”
Serenity looked Allie over critically. “You’re underestimating yourself. You’d do a better job than its previous owner.”
“All due respect, Ms. Immortal, but it’s not a matter of whether or not I can do it. I’m alone. I can’t protect myself. As soon as you leave, someone would just take it from me. But I follow you… maybe you could protect me.”
Serenity frowned, glancing between Allie and her people. “Alright,” she relented. “You can come with us.”
Allie allowed herself to breathe, smiling for the first time in a long time. “Can I bring my pigs?”


“Dialogue,” I said. “It’s super important. If done well, it can bring authenticity to your writing. If not…”

There are 3 keys to dialogue that I just made up. It also happens to spell A.M.P., so there you go. AMP up your dialogue through…

  1. Authenticity

This holds true for every part of storytelling. Do NOT force your characters to do anything. BE TRUE to your characters and let them make the decisions.

Serenity is used to giving orders. Allie is used to following them. Their words and actions should reflect that. Same goes for their decisions. Ultimately, every story is about the people in them. If the characters are false, so is the story, and you can almost always tell.

2. Movement

So this is a big part of multiplicity, which we’ve talked about already. People are complicated and are never ever just doing one thing at a time. So if you want your characters to feel real: show them in action. This applies always, but is especially obvious regarding dialogue.

“What?” Asked Fred.

“I asked you to wash the dishes,” replied Mary.

“Oh,” said Fred. “Okay.”

Compared to:

“What?” Fred yelled, shoving his hearing aid further into his ear.

Mary rolled her eyes, poking her head out from the laundry room. “I asked you to wash the dishes.”

“Oh,” said Fred, sighing as he paused the television. “Okay.”

It makes all the difference. It’s just a matter of practicing how to incorporate natural movement into dialogue.

3. Purpose

So this is basically a principle for not just dialogue, but also scenes in general:

Everybody wants something.

And that something can’t be easy to obtain. If it was, there would be no story. Something has to be stopping the character from obtaining what they want. So the story is about the attempt to overcome that obstacle to obtain what you want. Take this and apply it to dialogue:

Great dialogue is filled with meaningful conflict.

Every piece of dialogue should be pointed toward a certain end. For Serenity and Allie, their purposes shift throughout the chapter. Regardless of whether or not their intents are clear, the important part is that they never dialogue without a purpose.

  • NEVER add dialogue just to give us information.
  • NEVER add dialogue just to move the story along.
  • ONLY use dialogue if the character needs to dialogue in order to reach a particular end… and then WHILE you’re doing that you can give us information and move the story along (hurray multiplicity)



Draco. Chapter 4. Plan vs. Execution.

I waved my sword, testing its balance as the dragon landed in the coliseum. It was currently its darkest color, each scale like a reflective shadow.
Even as it landed, it decreased in size until its rider became visible. He wore no armor or helmet, nothing to protect himself except a single knife strapped to his waist. He smiled at me as he slid off the dragon’s back. Miguel.
As soon as Miguel dismounted, the dragon increased in size, its wings stretching half-way across the stadium. The cheers only grew louder in anticipation of my demise.
Still smiling, Miguel sauntered toward me, twirling the knife in his hand.
I growled, heart racing as my eyes flicked back and forth between my tormentor and his dragon. My knuckles turned white as I wrung my hands against the leather of my sword.
Unconcerned, Miguel stopped right in front of me, his knife back at his waist. The message was clear. He didn’t need it.
“Draco,” he whispered fondly, “you know you’re my favorite, right?”
I licked my lips, fighting the urge to run him through with my blade.
“I mean, the other two… they’re just not as fun” Miguel said, gesturing to the field behind him where two other immortals stood facing the dragon, their swords still lying in front of them. “They don’t have your spirit.”
I glanced at the others and spat at his feet in disgust.
Miguel chuckled, wiping his bare feet in the sand. “I’ll regret the day we finally break you.” And with that, he turned on his heel, walking to the center of the stadium.
The cheers reached a fever pitch as Miguel raised his hand toward the Queen, signaling they were ready. I didn’t see the Queen’s response. I wasn’t watching her. I only had eyes for the dragon. Its eyes were covered by a thick film filled with thousands of oratory’s sensors. Perfect for a life underground.
Even as it stared right at me, it was making guttural clicking sounds with its tongue, using the vibrations to take in its surroundings. Like Miguel, the dragon knew who its true opponent was, and it seemed just as eager to break me.
Then the trumpets blared.
The dragon didn’t attack immediately, instead it coiled itself around Miguel, prowling the middle of the field. It was feeling playful today. That was a bad sign.
The other two Immortals just stood there, motionless as they awaited their deaths. Most claimed their minds were broken, but that was a lie. They had merely given up.
Cursing them, I marched toward the dragon, ready for escape attempt number thirty-seven.
The dragon hissed at me as I approached, changing the color of its scales to match the white sand. As large as the dragon was, it was a largely ineffective camouflage. However, I’d learned long ago just how disorienting it was in a fight.
Mouth pulled tight in determination, I snapped my sword in half, breaking it over my knee. I kept the handled end, leaving the rest of it in the sand as I continued my march toward the dragon.
As soon as I got close enough, the dragon launched itself at me, raking its claws across my chest.
I flew backward, skidding across the sand face-first. My chest burned, my body contorting in agony. But I didn’t pass out, couldn’t pass out as my body was forced into complete awareness while it healed.
Within seconds my wounds had healed, relief spreading throughout my body. I took a moment in the sand, listening for the sound of the dragon. We’d done this enough times for the dragon to know I’d rise again if given enough time.
Then I heard it, the sound of wings rippling through the air. I waited until the last second before rolling to the side, dragging my blade across one of its wings.
The blade didn’t leave a mark. I knew it wouldn’t, but the dragon backed away, growing more wary of me.
I couldn’t beat it. No one man could, but I could still win at my own game. I only had to make it angry enough. Something I had yet to achieve.
The dragon made itself smaller, becoming roughly half my size. It was enjoying to challenge.
I backed away, forcing it to come to me. Its claws dug into the sand as it stalked me, gnashing its teeth. Soon I found myself next to one of the other Immortals. He still hadn’t moved.
Cursing again, I grabbed his sword from the sand, dual-wielding blades as the dragon circled us.
Pressed against the other Immortal, I mirrored the dragon’s teeth with my blades. Still, the Immortal had no reaction.
Suddenly, the dragon snapped at me, its jaws aimed at my head. I threw the Immortal in front of me instead.
Finally, the man reacted, screaming as the dragon yanked him to the ground. The dragon wanted to eat the man, I could tell. Instead, it released the Immortal and leaped away as it had been commanded.
Before it could reset, I went on the offensive. The dragon leaped to the side, too quick to be caught off-guard. Still, right before attacking, I clanged the swords together as loud as I could.
The dragon winced, screeching as I struck at its head. Instinctively, it grew in size, reacting to the threat.
I hesitated almost too long, surprised at my luck before shoving my half-sword down its jaw.
The dragon reared back, screaming even louder as it continued to grow in size.
Heart racing, I backpedaled, watching as the dragon grew larger than I’d ever seen before. With earthshaking thuds, the dragon repeatedly rammed its head against the sand, trying to shake the blade free from its throat.
The stadium went completely silent.
Cautiously optimistic, I watched Miguel’s face as the dragon writhed around on the sand. Surprisingly, he wasn’t watching the dragon. Instead, he was smiling at me, looking amused. I smiled back, trying to look confident as the dragon continued to grow.
Finally, the dragon spit out the sword and roared triumphantly, shaking the stadium’s very core.
Then, still more than half the size of the stadium, the dragon attacked in a rage. Its jaws closed in around me with ease, as I was roughly the size of a single one of its teeth.
I embraced the darkness, triumphant even amidst the suffering. My body spasmed in pain as it swallowed me whole, drowning me in its stomach acid.
I had finally succeeded, for I had forced their hand. Either kill the dragon now in order to retrieve me from its stomach, or let me live along with it.
I could endure the suffering. Even now, my elation overpowered the pain of acid burns. Maybe after a while, if I was lucky, I would even be able to pass out.
Then, suddenly, the dragon lurched, jostling me around inside. I was disoriented, my senses nearly nonexistent as my body was stuck in constant decomposition. And so I realized what was happening too late.
I struggled at first, trying to fight him off, but I was too compromised to be effective. Then, eventually, my sight returned as I Miguel dragged me out of the dragon’s maw.
The rest of my body re-composed itself as he looked down at me in admiration.
“Well,” he said, shaking his head. “That was a first.”


Every plot involves at least one if not dozens of plans executed by the main characters.

  • We’re going to rob this bank.
  • We’re going to find this amulet.
  • We’re going to get people to think I’m cool. Etc.

And here’s how we’re going to do it! Well, here’s the rule for Plans vs. Execution:

It absolutely cannot work the way you intend.

So here’s the thing. If the character explains the plan beforehand, then that plan WILL NOT WORK. The only reason they explain it beforehand is so the reader won’t be lost when the plan goes south.

  • Oh, no! The alarm went off before it was supposed to.
  • The amulet was a fake.
  • It turns out I was cool the whole time, except when I tried to be cool, which made me uncool, and it all blew up in my face!

The only time a plan goes right is when you don’t explain it beforehand. If nothing is going to go wrong, then just show it and get it over with. Because if nothing goes wrong, then its only purpose to the plot is to get us to the next thing. You will see this all the time in every show, movie, and book. If they explain it, it’ll go wrong. If they don’t, it’ll work. And if they only explain half of it, then that half will go wrong and the rest will go right. Every. Time.

Which brings us to an even bigger principle:

SHOW, don’t TELL

Explaining something is boring. Showing something is entertaining. This applies to every aspect of storytelling. Don’t explain something you can show. Remeber this. Always.

So in this chapter, Draco has a plan, and the entirety of this chapter is about him executing that plan.

Now, In this chapter, I intentionally tried to toy with you as the reader. It is precisely because I didn’t explain the plan to you that you most likely expected the plan to work. This is because we all have absorbed enough media to subconsciously understand the rules of storytelling. So in order to combat this, I waited until the last moment to explain the plan.

  • At first, you think he’s just trying to live.
  • Then you realize he’s trying to escape.
  • Then you learn that in order to do this, he needs to make the dragon angry.
  • Then it’s not until he inside the dragon that you finally learn his goal.
  • And it’s not until you finally understand his plan that it finally goes wrong.

So not only do you need to Show your story, but you must SHOW your story in a surprising way. And explain only just enough that your reader won’t get lost.