Tips on Writing for the Anti Hero

Hello Writer bees!

Happy New Year everyone!

We’re starting off 2023 with some writing tips. And funny enough, this topic was inspired by my non-writer boyfriend. For weeks, he has been singing – loudly and off-key, mind you – that Taylor Swift song, ‘Anti Hero’. So much so, I told him “Maybe I should write a post about Anti-Heroes.” To which he replied, “I would love that!”

So today, we are rooting – I mean writing – for the Anti-Hero.

What is an Anti-Hero?

Yes, we all love a knight in shining armor. We all love a Superman. But not every protagonist is a golden hero with a pure heart. In simple terms, an Anti-Hero is a type of protagonist character in a story. However, they don’t look like your traditional hero. Lacking the traits typically associated with heroes, an anti-hero is complex and flawed. Their actions are morally ambiguous.

Non-So-Heroic Traits

It’s all in the characterization of the anti-hero, what traits you give them. Consider this, if a conventional hero is selfless and a team player, the anti-hero would be more self-interested and an outcast. While their intentions may be noble, their morals and actions may not be. Ends justify the means, right? They will do whatever is needed to reach a goal, including making a few “bad” decisions. Also to note, when building characters, really dig into their backstory and their internal conflicts. What do they struggle with? How has their personal history impacted their personality?

Anti-Heroes and Antagonists

Keep in mind, there’s a fine line between the anti-hero and the antagonist. Yes, the anti-hero will engage in actions that may seem villainous and corrupt. However, they cannot cross into villain territory. They can toe the line of evil, but never be as evil is the antagonist. If it’s for the greater good, this morally misguided protagonist will take whatever action they deem necessary to accomplish their mission. For the anti-hero, being a bad guy doesn’t make them the bad guy. Did I get that Wreck-It Ralph quote right?

Foils

Think of it like this, every Batman needs a Robin. A good anti-hero needs a good foil, someone who breaks down the hero’s tough exterior and shows another side of them. The foil – whether that be a sidekick or love interest or family member- shines light on the anti-hero’s redeeming qualities. Supporting characters can be an asset to an anti-hero’s characterization.

All in all, you should create a hero that the audience will want to root for.


Who are some of your favorite anti-heroes? Lemme know in the comments!

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

5 Subgenres of Romance Fiction Explained

(Happy holidays everyone! I’m currently on break right now, but please enjoy this repost. See you all in 2023! – Love, Victoria aka Lady Jabberwocky)

Hello Writer Bees, 

With Valentine’s Day only a few days away, let’s talk about the lovely subgenres of Romance Fiction.

Historical Romance

Rev up that time machine and travel back in time with a Historical Romance. As the name suggests, this love story takes place in the past, usually before 1950. Historical periods such as the Victorian era, Medieval Times, or the Roaring 1920s are examples of possible setting used in this romance subgenre. No matter the year, the time and place of a plot may impact a couple’s relationship. Rules of courtship and class can apply to characters and their relationships. When writing a historical romance, historical accuracy and research is crucial. Describing and understanding the clothing and culture of a time long ago will bring a certain era to life for your audience.

Paranormal Romance

Twilight

Love can be magical. And in a paranormal romance, it really is! In this romance subgenre, elements of fantasy, paranormal or sci-fi are at the core of the plot. Not necessarily restricted to magical creatures only, a Paranormal Romance could include any non-human creature, from ghosts, to fairies, to the ever-irresistible vampire. That being said, there’s an opportunity here to explore a human x non-human relationship, or a couple from different magical backgrounds. Truly, the possibilities are endless. Incorporating fantasy elements in a love story requires solid worldbuilding. If magic is real in that world, create a magic system and know who can use magic and how. If the story involves a non-human creature, what specific characteristics apply to that race?

Contemporary Romance

If you’re looking for a modern day happily ever after, perhaps a contemporary romance is more your speed. This romance subgenre focuses on current conventions and topics, for a more modern approach. Subject matter may include online dating, LGBTQ storylines and workplace romance. Main characters don’t fit the mold and may not live up to what’s considered attractive by society. Often times, the heroine is an independent woman with a career. This romance subgenre encompasses all shapes, sizes, colors and sexualities. When writing in this romance subgenre, remember that love isn’t perfect. Create characters with flaws and challenges and place them in realistic dating situations.

Erotic Romance

Fans Self GIFs | Tenor

Things can get steamy quickly in this romance subgenre. Erotic Romance centers around explicit, sexual interactions between lovers. It’s not total smut, but let’s just say vividly detailed sex is a major component of the plot. Relationships grow and develop through scenes of physical intimacy and intense chemistry. Often, characters are cliché and unrealistic, examples being a curvaceous cutie or six-packed hunk. If I’m honest, this is not my favorite genre. However, if I had to give a piece of writing advice, it’d be to focus on the character’s physicality, the way they move and how they interact with others. During intimate moments – not just sex scenes – be mindful of how body language is written. Readers want to feel swept away, and maybe a little turned on, when they read this kind of story.

Romantic Suspense 

Romance plus adventure equals an exciting romance subgenre. Romance suspense involves action, suspense and intrigue as the couple tackles situations like a murder mystery or criminal plot. In some stories, there is a threat on one person’s life and the other must act as protector. Or perhaps they protect each other. Characters that play well in this romance subgenre can be detectives, superheroes, members of law enforcement or even femme fatales. Regardless, in the end, the heroes form a strong romantic relationship, hopefully leading to a happily ever after or grand finale kiss. Whether there’s a mystery to solve, a villain to defeat, or a race against the clock. Romantic Suspense can be thrilling story for many readers.


Like this post? Then check out the 5 Subgenres of Mystery Fiction Explained.

What’s your favorite romance subgenre? Talk to me in the comments.

Stay safe and stay creative.

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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The 5 Subgenres in Mystery Fiction Explained

(Happy holidays everyone! I’m currently on break right now, but please enjoy this repost. See you all in 2023! – Love, Victoria aka Lady Jabberwocky)

Hello amateur sleuths,

The mystery genre is like ice cream.

Exciting. Delicious. And they both come in a variety of flavors.

Today, I’m breaking down some subgenres of mystery. Since some of these subcategories overlap with one another, I will try to focus on the 5 most notable subgenres in detective fiction.

Classic

A straight vanilla mystery right here. Everyone loves and respects a good classic done right, right? This has your traditional storyline where the investigator – who can either be a professional or a novice – solves a whodunit. A large chunk of the plot is centered around an inspector gathering clues and interacting with suspects. Depending on the sleuth and the target audience, the level of gore may vary. However, traditional mysteries tend to involve murder. In the end, the culprit is reveal and all loose strings are neatly tied in a bow. Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Nancy Drew are the prime examples of this mystery subgenre.

Nancy Drew GIFs | Tenor

Cozy

Looking for violence and sex and foul language? This is not the mystery subgenre for you. A cozy mystery is the kind of story you want to unwind with while wearing fuzzy socks. The tone is much lighter, and can even be considered wholesome and humorous. Book titles are pun-filled and corny. The crime is described in a less gruesome way. Typically, the sleuth is an amateur detective, nosy neighbor, or a knitter with some free time on their hands. Solving a mystery is like a fun hobby or satisfies their idle curiosity. These kinds of mysteries often include a fluffy companion, like a loyal canine or finicky feline. For a cozy mystery, solving the crime is all in good fun.

Old lady knitting gif 1 » GIF Images Download

Noir

Opposite of a cozy mystery. In noir fiction, like it’s film counterpart, the atmosphere is dark and gritty. The world is a cynical and hopeless place. Shadowy street corners. Femme Fatales a lighting cigarette. Hard-boiled detectives are flawed anti-heroes with ambiguous morals. Those are the common traits of noir. When it comes to what’s right and what’s wrong, the lines are blurry. Noir endings can often be open ended and open to interpretation. Is justice served? Is the detective a hero? All valid questions in noir.

She Devoured Men The Way She Devoured Cigarettes | Movie stars, Bogart and  bacall, Humphrey bogart

Police Procedural/Forensic

For readers who enjoy those CSI shows, this subgenre is for you. For this subgenre, the main focus is police investigation. And it’s as accurate to real life as possible. Think unsolved crime documentary. Usually, the main character’s occupation is in law enforcement, in some way. Whether that be a cop or a forensic scientist or a coroner. In this subgenre, a lot of time and detail is devoted to the forensic science side of a case. Autopsy reports, crime scenes and dead bodies are described in almost too vivid detail. Not exactly for the faint of heart. But hey, reading a story like this, you may actually learn something about police procedure in a realistic case.

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Supernatural

Need some spooky Halloween vibes? This mystery subgenre is centered around the paranormal, investigating things that go bump in the night. In a supernatural mystery, the story designed to startle and thrill readers, dipping its toe in fantasy and horror genres. Elements of the unknown, ghosts and mystical are mixed into the narrative. Haunted houses and misty graveyards would make an excellent setting, I’m sure. The supernatural mystery is a puzzle – for both the reader and the detective. Explaining the unexplainable is the main goal of the investigator. When the story concludes, there’s usually a logical explanation for the paranormal disturbances.

Halloween GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

What is your favorite mystery subgenre? And if you are writing/have written a mystery story, what subgenre would you categorize it under? Or what is your favorite mystery subgenre to read? Talk to me in the comments. I love to hear from you guys.

Hope you all are enjoying May of Mystery so far. If you have any ideas for future mystery posts, let me know!

Safe safe and keep writing!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

The Secret Behind Writing Meaningful Character Deaths

Hello Writer Bees!

Hope you all are doing well and staying creative.

With spooky season right around the corner, and with that recent episode of critical role, I’ve been thinking about character deaths lately. Morbid, I know. But realistically, not every character makes it to the end of the story alive. So today, let’s talk about the key to writing meaningful death scene.

For the Story

In fiction, death must serve a purpose, whether to the overall plot or to the characters themselves.

A single character’s death could be used as a major catalyst in the events of a story and the lives of other characters. In terms of the narrative, character death can raise the stakes. It’s a wakeup call to both the cast and the audience that lives are at stake. That not every character may survive in the end. By raising the stake in this way, the underlying tension and suspense will grow, and readers will be hanging on the edge of their seats.

Apart from building suspense, a character’s death can also add to the atmosphere and exposition. A death scene can set the mood for the story, in practically any genre. Remember the writing rule, ‘Show, Don’t Tell‘, and save yourself from writing an info-dump. If the fictional world is plagued with war or a virus, then bodies hitting the ground is an effective, and incredibly terrifying, image. Use a character’s death as a tool for creating the mood of a setting.

For the Characters

For other characters specifically, another character’s death can change how they go forward in their lives. Characters should be written like real life people. Death often comes will a strong emotional response.. When someone dies, it can change one’s outlook or view on their world, other people or ever themselves. For better or for worse. It can alter the course of their future actions.

However, be careful using this as a plot device as it can lean towards cliché. Often times, killing one to motivate another can feel like an overused or stale occurrence. Think about it. How many movies involve the main character’s love interest dying and as a result, the hero rises and is motivated to avenge their lover? And unfortunately, because of this, women are sometimes written off as expendable and not as fully developed characters. Big no-no, writer bees.

Final Thoughts

Next time you think about killing your darlings, take a minute and consider this. What purpose does this character’s death serve? How with this impact the story and other characters? Really considering the why can be a game changer in your writing.


How do you go about writing a character’s death scene? What character in fiction crushed you when they died? Talk to me in the comments!

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky.

A Month of Mystery Posts Wrap up (2022)

Hello Writer Bees!

Thank you to everyone for stopping by for May of Mystery and celebrating detective fiction with me. In case you missed it, here is a wrap up of all the mystery themed posts from this month.

Mystery Writing Prompts

Scene of the Crime

The Greatest Detective

Like a Dangerous Woman

A Note Left Behind

Shrouded in Mystery

Mystery Themed Posts

5 Archetypes of Fictional Detectives

Born a Bloodhound (Detective Flash Fiction)

Writing my 1st Whodunit Draft in a College Writing Workshop

Watson Who?: Tips on Creating A Detective’s Sidekick (Repost)


If you have an idea for another genre themed month, lemme know in the comments!

Stay safe and stay creative!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Watson Who?: Tips on Creating A Detective’s Sidekick (Repost)

Holmes and Watson

Poirot and Hastings

Nick and Nora

These are just some of the iconic duos of detective fiction. Where would an inspector be without their trusted companion by their side? Today, I’m talking about the detective’s partner in crime, the “Watson” of a story and what to consider when creating this character.

The Function of the Foil

Opposites attract, right? The purpose of a foil – or a foil character – is to highlight the traits of the main character. Their contrast in personality or appearance reflect and highlight the specific traits and quirks of a protagonist. For example, if the detective is level-headed, maybe their sidekick is impulsive. If the detective is a total genius, maybe their companion is a bit more oblivious. Play around with the duo’s personalities. You might find their differences make them even more compatible as a team.

For the People

Not only does the sidekick serve their detective, they also serve the audience. Usually, the “Watson” is charged with narrating the story, and every step of the investigation. They pull information about the case from the inspector, or from their own observations, and present them to the reader. How to readers find out about clues, suspects and crime scenes? Usually through the narration of the “Watson” type character. As a close ally, the sidekick knows the inspector well. When the main sleuth is hard to read, their companion acts as a bridge between a distant detective and the audience. Through their interactions with the sleuth, the partner keeps the detective human for the readers, and that is such an important role in a mystery plot.

Dynamic Duo

The heart of any mystery is the relationship between the inspector and his companion. Consider the relationship they have. Are they roommates? Lovers? Acquaintances? Have fun with the relationship between the inspector and their companion. Readers want to root for a dynamic duo. Sure, they may not be on the same page all the time. During their sleuthing, morals and consciences will be tested. A little conflict between the two may makes things interesting. Partners balance each other out. Let there be a solid comradery and playful banter. Readers want to see how these two characters play off one another and how they work together. Oftentimes, the sidekick is there for the detective to bounce theories off of. Think about it, Watson is an extension of the detective’s thought process.


At the end of the day, a sleuth’s sidekick can be a valuable addition to any mystery story. Really consider the kind of partner your detective characters need by their side during an investigation.

Who are some of your favorite detective duos in fiction? Lemme know in the comments!

Stay safe and stay creative!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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(This is an edited repost. Hope you all enjoyed May of Mystery! – Victoria a.k.a Lady Jabberwocky)

Writing my 1st Whodunit Draft in a College Writing Workshop

Hello Writer Bees!

As some of you may know, my current WIP is a 1920’s murder mystery. But what inspired my first mystery story? When and how was “draft zero” born? Here is the story of how I started writing detective fiction.

A flashback to my college days. Because I was interested in mystery genre, I decided to take a detective fiction course. Super fun elective class. We read all the greats, like Doyle, Poe, Christie, and Spillane.  That same semester, I was also taking a fiction writing class, as one of my degree requirements.  

Here’s how fiction writing workshop worked. My professor charged us to write 2 short stories – any subject, any genre – 10 to 15 pages in length. Each session was dedicated to one student’s creative piece. Together, we’d discuss and critique each other’s work, offering constructive feedback. Picture your peers and fellow writers reading and judging your story, dissecting it in front of you. Needless to say, critique day was a daunting, nerve wracking and incredibly rewarding experience.

My first go around at workshop, I wrote The Tale of a Boy and a Mermaid, which I have posted here on this blog. Next turn up at bat, I wanted to write something out of my wheelhouse, something different.

Inspired by the mysteries I was reading at the time, I decided to try my hand at writing a whodunit. I thought, maybe this critique was the perfect opportunity to test drive this vague idea for a detective character I had. And mind you, none of my peers were writing any close to a murder mystery. As always, I was the oddball out.

With Jabberwock mode engaged, I furiously wrote a murder mystery, finishing the morning of my class. College deadlines, am I right? The story centered around the detective and his aid, Mister G.W. Barnaby and Oscar Fitzgerald, solving a case. Set in a 1920s Broadway theatre, an actress is shot with an assumed prop gun that had real bullets instead of fake ones. A bit cliché, I know. But I enjoyed writing a mystery, crafting suspects and leaving clues. Really did fall in love with the genre. Titling it ‘Murder at the Primdove Theatre’, I submitted the story to be judged by my classmates, biting my nails the whole time.

Surprisingly, they seemed to like the story. Peers pointed out their favorite lines and gushed over how fitting character names were to the time period. And that “Wow, what a plot twist!” moment from readers is priceless. However, I did receive some notes, like the pacing being too fast and not much setting description. Even with the notes of criticism, I was still proud of my little whodunit.

After I graduated, I set my sights on my next big goal; Becoming a published author before I turn 30 years old. Since I couldn’t get these sleuths out of my head, I gave them another case to crack, the Case of the Drowned Mermaid. Some elements from the workshop story carried over into my WIP, like the relationship between suspects. So, I always consider my first try at a whodunit as my ‘draft zero’, the little seed that started it all.

Moral of the story: If there is a time to take a risk with your craft, a writing workshop is the place to do it. Seriously, it’s a good place to experiment, to create freely, and to receive some honest feedback. Don’t be afraid to write outside your comfort zone. You’d be surprised what the outcome will be.

In my case, it was my current mystery WIP.


Hope you found my life story interesting. Do you have a story behind your first draft? Have you ever been involved with a writing workshop or class? Lemme know in the comments.

Stay safe and stay creative. Happy sleuthing!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky