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.

5 Subgenres of Fantasy Fiction Explained

Hello Writer Bees!

One of my favorite genres to write and read is fantasy. And the fantasy stories come in a variety of different flavors. Today, I’m breaking down 5 subgenres of fantasy fiction. Grab your wizard hats and let’s dive in, shall we?

Fairy Tales

In my opinion, fairy tales were the cornerstone of fantasy. Folktales full of pixies and mermaids, trickery and wonder. Characters are fanciful as the world around them, from the lost royal to the walking-talking cat. We see you, Puss in Boots. Keep in mind, the general readers of fairy tales are children. That being said, the overall tone is usually kept light and entertaining. At the end of the tale, there is always a moral lesson to be learned. And they all lived happily ever after.

High Fantasy

Also known as epic fantasy, this subgenre lives up to the name. Dungeons and Dragons players and Lord of the Rings fans know this fantasy subgenre too well. With medieval fantasy vibes galore, there’s the ever-classic battle between good versus evil present in these stories. Often times, the plot centers around one hero, who starts off weak but overtime, grows into a mighty warrior. They’ll embark on their quests and explore the world, maybe meeting other races like elves and ogres. In Epic Fantasy, the cast of characters can get quite extensive, so keep character notes handy when writing.

Urban Fantasy

Forget the sparkly forests and towering castles of fairy tales, this fantasy subgenres takes magical elements and throws them into a modern cityscape. Full of grit and noir vibes, the story always takes place in a major city, with bustling streets. Typically, the main character is connected to both the real world and the magical world. And almost any mythical creature can call the city home. Maybe there’s a shapeshifter riding the subway, or a werewolf in the alleyway. Heck, I’d argue that superheroes fall under this fantasy subgenre too. Truly, the possibilities are endless.

Gothic Fantasy

Sometimes referred to as Dark Fantasy, this subgenre is the mix of supernatural and horror elements. Noted for its gloomy, brooding atmosphere, the setting evokes fear and anxiety in its readers. Building up suspense is crucial to constructing the spooky environment. In Gothic Fantasy, ghosts from the pasts haunt the characters, never giving them a night’s rest. This fantasy subgenre is more focused on supernatural elements, like specters, vampires and Frankenstein’s monster. If you’re looking for a good scare, Gothic Fantasy might be the subgenre for you.

Low Fantasy

Similar to urban fantasy, magical events invade on an otherwise ordinary world. In this fantasy subgenre, the supernatural does not exist or isn’t well known in society. When something magical does occur, it’s accepted as natural in the world, like it could happen any day. Disney films like Mary Poppins fit this bill perfectly. This fantasy subgenre proves you don’t need an epic dragon battle to have a good fantasy story. Sometimes all you need is a little sprinkle of whimsy in everyday life.


Interested in learning more about subgenres in fiction? Check out these posts!

What are some of your favorite and least favorite subgenres of fantasy? Talk to me in the comments.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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The Golden Rule of Fiction Writing: Show, Don’t Tell

Hello Writer Bees,

This week, we’re talking about the fundamental golden rule of fiction writing. A technique most writers know as Show, don’t tell. But what is show, don’t tell? How do you use this writing technique? Will it help take your stories to the next level? Let’s explore that, shall we?

What is Show Don’t Tell?

In simple terms, Show Don’t Tell is a writing technique where the writer leaves behind lengthy expositions and explanations. Instead, the plot, it’s tone and characterization are all conveyed through actions, thoughts, and feelings. Showing the audience instead of telling them point blank. At its heart, Show, Don’t Tell is about how readers experience a story. How they learn information and how they draw their own conclusions.

And many famous authors have used this technique in their creative works too. There’s this quote by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov that is often associated with the Show Don’t Tell technique. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Also, Ernest Hemingway shared similar views on storytelling in his notable iceberg theory.

Tips on Using the Show Don’t Tell Rule

  • Set up the Setting: When describing the setting, play with the reader’s senses. Remember, it’s not just about the visuals. Think about how sight, smell, sound, touch and taste tie into a scene. What noises can be heard from the background? What does the texture of a blanket feel like? What are the flavors of a home-cooked meal? No need to go overboard with details but give the audience enough to feel immersed in the world.
  • Digging the Dialogue: How characters communicate with one another can be a telling sign of their relationship. Think about it, you’d speak to a family member differently than a coworker, right? Plus, dialogue is an excellent tool for showing a character’s nature and personality. Someone with an excitable personality is going to have more lively conversation while a shy person may mumble or stutter a bit.
  • Understanding Emotions: When in doubt, pull that flowery language out of your writer sleeves. Every writer has that in their arsenal. Metaphors, similes, and personification can help express emotions and moods in any story. Like “the chill of fear tumbling down your spine“. That sort of wordy goodness. Keep in mind, this poetic style of writing may not suit your specific narrator. For example, my WIP’s narrator, Oscar Fitzgerald, is fast talking and not exactly a poetic soul.

Examples of Show Don’t Tell.

TELLINGSHOWING
She was tired.Dragging her feet, she yawned and stretched out her arms.
The room was filthy.Dirty laundry strewn across the floor. Stains on the paint chipped walls. A rotten smell in the air.
He was a shy guy.Staring at his shoes, his stood on the sidelines of the party. With a soft voice, a blush painted his face as he tried to start a conversation.

Final Thoughts

Does each sentence you write need to follow this rule? Probably not. Exposition can come in handy, if used correctly. Find the balance between showing enough and telling enough. Will the Show Don’t Tell technique improve the quality of your stories? In my opinion? Yeah. By showing rather than telling, the whole story gains a new level of depth and complexity, and it allows readers to fully engage with the plot, characters and overall tone.


What are your thoughts on Show Don’t Tell ? Do you apply this technique to your writing? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you.

Have a question about creative writing or blog writing? Let me know! It may be answered in a post in the near future.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Celebrating 500 Blog Posts!

Hello Writer Bees!

I’m back from vacation! My partner and I had such a fun trip. We left feeling relaxed, recharged and genuinely happy. And we mostly drank beer and ate fried food the entire weekend. So good times all around.

Something exciting happened since my last entry. The Lady Jabberwocky blog reached 500 posts!

That’s mindboggling to me. When I first started this blog, I wasn’t sure if I could consistently create content and handle the responsibility of a platform. I wasn’t even sure if anyone cared what I had to say. Now look, all this hard work paid off and has amounted to 500 posts. And I’m ready for 500 more.

A lesson for all the new bloggers, don’t give up. At first, It may seem like a daunting task, constantly coming up with ideas for your audience. If making content and blogging is what you love, keep going. Your readers will find you. For those who are considering blogging, or are just starting out, check out some of my helpful posts below.

Also, I believe my blog anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. It’ll be five years since I started blogging. How should we celebrate my blogaversary? Leave ideas in the comments.

Thanks for sticking around on my writing journey. You guys are the reason I write.


Take care of yourselves and each other.

Write with heart.

Love,

Victoria (aka Lady Jabberwocky)

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Out Of Office: This Lady is on Vacation!

Hello Writer Bees,

When this post is posted, my partner and I will be driving to upstate New York for a well needed weekend away. With work and life being hectic right now, both of us were overdue for a break, to recharge and to mind our mental health.

But I didn’t want to leave you guys empty handed this week. Blogger’s guilt is a real thing, you know. So below I’ve shared links to some of my previous posts. Check them out!

Writing Tips

15 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

Pen Name VS. Real Name: The Great Writer Debate

How to Build Up Suspense in Any Genre

About This Lady Writer

The Inspiration Behind Naming my Blog

Do You Need a Writing Degree to Be a Real Writer?

The 3 Ways I Beat Blogger’s Block

100 Word Stories

Sunny Day Towing Company (100 Word Self Care Story)

The Basil Sprites (100 Word Fantasy Story)

Hamburgers and Horoscopes (100 Word Humor Story)


What do you want to see next on the blog? Do you have any questions about fiction writing, blogging or my writer journey? Let me know in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you.

Take care of yourselves and each other.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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It Lives in Kentucky (100 Word Sci-Fi Humor Story)

“What did you do!?”

The girl. Wendy Jane. From a farm in nowhere, Kentucky. Freckles.

“Smee wanted hamburger.”

The extraterrestrial. Sm’ium. Smee for short. From a planet past Pluto. Laser gun in tentacle.

Together, they stood in front of the vaporized remnants of a cow. Blood and guts splatted onto the grass.

“Generous one said hamburgers come from beef, yes?”

“Stop calling me that.”

“Generous one is generous. Let Smee sleep in red dwelling with riding beast.”

“You mean the barn with the horse?”

“If beef is in cow, then hamburger is in cow.”

She facepalmed. “Your logic’s off, buddy.”


Hey Writer Bees. Two 100-word stories in a row? Crazy! Actually, this one’s been sitting in my drafts folder for YEARS. I always said I’d play around with it on a rainy day. And today is that rainy day. I kinda like how it turned out. It’s dialogue heavy and with limited descriptions. When it comes to filling any blanks, I’ll leave it to your beautiful imagination.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Query Letter’s 270+ Best Writing Contests (Repost)

Hello Writer Bees!

Hope you all are staying creative and enjoying the warm weather. Still stuck in the editing trenches here, so I’ve yet to frolic in the sunshine.

This post will be quick, but trust me, it’s a goodie.

The lovely folks at QueryLetter.com reached out to me with some exciting information. Recently, they published a blog post titled ‘The 270+ Best Writing Contests‘. In this extensive list, they’ve highlighted over 270 of the top writing contests around. And the best part? There are contests in a variety of genres and word counts. From poetry to flash fiction to non-fiction, all writers are welcomed. No matter what you write, you’ll for sure find something up your alley.

I highly recommend checking out this list. Even as I’m writing this, I’m looking through all the different contests and am tempted to try it out. Inspiration is already bubbling in my head. Challenge yourself and try participating in one of these contests. There’s no harm in taking a chance and throwing your hat in the ring. You never know.


Have you ever participated in a writing contest before? Are you interesting in signing up for one of contests listed? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you.

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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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

5 Archetypes of Fictional Detectives

Hello sleuths!

Welcome to May of Mystery, an entire month dedicated to detective fiction and mystery lovers alike.

At the heart of every mystery story is a detective ready to crack the case. In detective fiction, any character can become a sleuth. Detectives can come from any background, any walk of life, and have differing methods of deduction. Let’s investigate the various types of fictional detectives, shall we? Here are 5 classic archetypes of detectives in mystery fiction.

Amateur Sleuth

This is somewhat an general term for any mystery solver who has no connection with law enforcement. Nor do they get paid in assisting in an investigation. These types of fictional detectives can be adventure seekers, inquisitive reporters or simply nosy neighbors. Regardless of their reason for investigating, Amateur Sleuths are guided by their curiosity and desire for knowledge and justice. Because they may lack the skills a “proper detective”, their investigations tend to be a learning experience for them.

Hardboiled Detective

A staple in noir fiction, the hardboiled detective is one of the more notable archetypes. All a hardboiled detective needs is a trench coat, a gun and their acholic beverage of choice. With their tough exteriors, they have a cynical outlook on the world. Their morals are grey, there is no right or wrong. Protagonists are often depicted as Anti Heroes, or characters who act in self-interest and don’t have typical heroic qualities. An untraditional knight in shining armor, if you will. Perhaps that’s why they sometimes get tangled up with Femme Fatales. Famous fiction detectives such as Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade are noted as quintessential hardboiled detectives.

Private Investigator

Next up, the private investigator, another notable type of fictional detective. Usually self employed or cooperating alongside law enforcement, they follow their own rules and their own means of investigating and deduction. In some cases, private investigators have had previous experience working for law enforcement, and may still have connections. Most of the time, they are hired by clients who are in desperate need of their sleuthing skills. Genius great detective types, like Consulting Detective Sherlock Holmes would fit this archetype.

Little Old Lady

For a more cozy mystery, call on grandma to save the day. From years of wisdom and experience, they seem to have a knack for this mystery solving thing. Using their unassuming appearance to their advantage, they attract little attention and can work around the cops. Instead of having intense interrogations, suspects sometimes confide details on the case willingly. Constantly underestimated, who would think a sweet little old lady could crack the case? The iconic Miss Marple, created by Agatha Christie, is the perfect example of this type of fictional detective.

Kid Detective

Often designed for a younger audience in an adventure-centric plot, a kid detective is another type of detective found in mystery fiction. Though they may not need to be an actual child, this archetype includes sleuths who are minors. These young snoops must sneak passed the suspicious adults without getting in trouble with their parents. They rely on trickery and sneaking around to obtain evidence. Being juveniles, they face difficulty asking questions of adults and convincing police that a crime was committed. The cases they take on never involve violence or truly dangerous situations, their antagonists are harmless. Some would argue that Mystery Inc. from the Scooby Doo Franchise would fall under this category.


What are you favorite types of detective characters? And for all the mystery writers out there, which archetype would you categorize your sleuth under? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you guys.

Happy sleuthing!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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