This is an excellent writing advice from Chuck Palahniuk. This was first seen on tumblr. Unfortunately, when I clicked on the link, it no longer existed.

But, I still think it’s worth sharing.

writingadvice: by Chuck Palahniuk

In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.

From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not
use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands,
Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred
others you love to use.

The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.

Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”

Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The
mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d
had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking
sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d
only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”

Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present
the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character
wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader
wants it.

Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have
to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d
go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot,
leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the
smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her
butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”

In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.

writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In
this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against
those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And
what follows, illustrates them.

For example:
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. Traffic
was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her
cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or
there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the
plants for her neighbor…”

Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.

If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.

Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your
story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions
and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking
and knowing. And loving and hating.

Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”

Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.

Present each piece of evidence. For example:
“During roll call,
in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before
he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just
as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”

One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing,
you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your
character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary
character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.

For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”

A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come
by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see
all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No
doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the
line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was
going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up
drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic

A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then
you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.

Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.

No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”

Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”

Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.

Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.
Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and
words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.

And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”

For example:
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”

“Ann has blue eyes.”


“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”

Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details
of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most
basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.

And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters,
you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the
telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”

Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.


For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.

Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.

“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”

“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”

“Larry knew he was a dead man…”

Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.

— Thanks Hiraku! (via wingedbeastie)

Our (Non-Comprehensive) List of Fairytales



Here’s our list of fairy tales, fables, ghost stories, myths, legends, and sacred tales, classified according to land of origin. Many of the stories are available online; others can be found in folktale collections in libraries. Feel free to use these, or any of your own choice outside of this list.


Sang Nila Utama and the founding of Singapore

Badang, the strongman

Lancang Kuning

Siti Zubaidah

Singapura Dilanggar Todak (The Legend of the Swordfish and Bukit Merah)

Puteri Gunung Ledang

Bawang Merah, Bawang Putih


Prince Panji

Keong Emas, the Golden Snail

Legend of the Pontianak

Legend of the Penanggalan

Sang Kancil, the Clever Mousedeer

Hang Tuah

Dang Anom

Pak Pandir, the Village Fool

Mahsuri, the Maiden of Langkawi

The Dragon of Mt Kinabalu

Dewi Sri, the Rice Goddess

Bangsat and the King of the Crocodiles

Rangda and the Barong

The Tale of Sisters’ Islands

The Tale of Kusu Island


Pan Gu creates the world

Nü Wa creates humans and repairs the sky

Hou Yi shoots the sun, Chang’er flies to the moon

Nian and the Story of Chinese New Year

The Canonisation of the Gods

The Legend of Ne Zha

The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl

Hua Mulan

Lady Mengjiang and the Great Wall

The Eight Immortals Cross the Sea

Journey to the West (aka Monkey King)

Liang Zhu: The Butterfly Lovers

Lady White Snake

The Magic Paintbrush

The Fox Fairy (and anything from Strange Tales of Liaozhai)

The 24 Paragons of Filial Piety

The Dragon King’s Daughter

Mulian Rescues his Mother From Hell

Tales from Justice Bao (e.g. the Civet for a Crown Prince)

Ma Zu, the Sea Goddess

Tales of Ji Gong


Tales from the Ramayana

Tales from the Mahabharata

Tales from the Life of the Buddha

Tales from the Panchatantra

Sukhu and Dukhu

Tenali Raman the Jester

Tales of Akbar and Birbal

The Mongoose and the Jackal

Tales of Suppandi




Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Sinbad the Sailor

The Fisherman and the Jinni

Tales of the Mullah Nasruddin

The Tale of the Hunchback


The Seven Wise Princesses


Izanami and Izanagi

Amaterasu and Uzume

Issun-Boshi, the One-Inch Boy

Momotaro the Peach Boy


Urashima Taro and the Turtle


Hanasaka Jiisan, the Old Man Who Made the Cherry Blossoms Bloom

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (aka The Moon Princess)

The Rabbit in the Moon

O-Jizo San, the Grateful Statues

The Magic Tea-Kettle

The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya


The Story Bag

The Mirror and the Villagers (aka The Bridegroom’s Shopping)

Janghwa and Hongryeon

Heungbu and Nolbu


The Disowned Student and the Field Rat Spirit

The Three Princesses and the Land-Below-the-Earth


Alitaptap, the Princess who became Fireflies

Ibong Adarna

Bernardo Carpio

Juan Tamad


Maria Makiling

The Creation of the Pineapple

The Creation of the Banana Tree

The Creation of the Durian

The Creation of the Rose


Nang Nak Phrakhanong

Manohra, the Kinnari (Bird Maiden)


Tam and Cam

The Hundred-Knot Bamboo Tree

This is a collection of Asian folktales, fairytales, myths, and legends. Good for mixing things up from the usual Greek and Roman variety. I would personally recommend Siti Zubaidah, the Chinese creation myths (Pan Gu and Nü Wa), Journey to the West, the Japanese creation myths (Izanami and Izanagi; Amaterasu and Uzume), Tokoyo, and Kiyohime.

The original post only listed all of this, so I added links for almost all of them (some I couldn’t find resources for). Found this while I was looking at a Singaporean indie publisher.




The most valuable chart…

yes thanks for colouring it I had a hard time reading that




The most valuable chart…


yes thanks for colouring it I had a hard time reading that


Editing and Proofreading Tips


Editing and Proofreading Tips

Anonymous asked: "Hi, how come some links eg the graphics tutorials and FC Help don't work? x"

I have no idea, no matter what I try, it won’t link. But what can I help you with? :)

Anonymous asked: "hey so i need advice in something: i don't know if i should go through with a book idea... i want to do a reincarnation thing, with the first half of the book in todays normal world and then the second half (the secong book if you will) in a supernatural world kind of thing. i want to use the same characters, like they die in the first half and the second book cuts to a time where they are in the other world... should i do it like that? cut it to two halves? thanks in advance :)"

I think so. It means you can incorporate parts of the future story into the current one to create a better flow, I think it’s a fantastic idea!


So, someone wanted some tips on planning/outlining their novel and instead I made this. It kind of happened.

If you’re new to my silliness let me introduce myself.

My name is M. Kirin and I write books. If you’re interested in writer resources, inspiration, and the adventures of a dork, you could do a lot worse than me :3

A Body Language Masterlist


Cheat Sheets

Body Language Cheat Sheet (archetypewriting)

Body Language Cheat Sheet (writerswrite1)

Writing-Specific Guides

Using Body Language to Create Believable Characters

Character Emotion Written All Over Their Face

Ideas For Using Knowledge of Body Language in Your Writing

Elaboration: The Power Punch of “Body Language” Detail

How to Read a Person Like a Book

Body Language: An Artistic Writing Tool

Body Language Basics

41 Flavors of Body Language for Writers (very nice guide/reference)

Reveal Character Through Body Language (a good quick reference with emotions and behaviors associated with them)

Non-Writing Specific Guides

Dimensions of Body Language (very extensive with pictures)

Nonverbal Dictionary

Body Language Index (lots of tables, resources, and terms. I highly recommend checking out this link)

Body Language Wikipedia Page

Important Features of Body Language


Creative Writing Exercises: Body Language

An Exercise in Character Differentiation 

A Conversation Through Body Language


The Shapes of Stories, a Kurt Vonnegut Infographic on Narrative Structure


The Shapes of Stories, a Kurt Vonnegut Infographic on Narrative Structure

Three Goals for Every Character



You can break down each character’s goals into three types: professional, private and personal.

‘Professional’ refers to the job that needs to be done. A monster has to be killed, a treasure has to be found, a wedding has to take place etc. This physical goal drives the main story and gives the hero something to do.

‘Private’ is something that characters want for themselves. It may not be the main focus of the story as it doesn’t necessarily affect other characters, but a character that only acts out of pure altruism and self-sacrifice is both unrealistic and a little annoying.

‘Personal’ is more about the psychological needs of the character. Whatever flaws or hang-ups the character might have (and he should definitely have some), there will have to be a resolution or understanding reached at some point in the story. This aspect is often the most rewarding and satisfying in a novel, but also risks being the most clichéd and obvious.

These three elements are often very closely linked and intertwined, but they can also be very separate.  Both approaches have their advantages and their disadvantages.

Read More