Online Users
satyabear:

isozyme:

mountains-crush-oceans:

a decellularized “ghost” heart

aaaaaaaay extracellular matrix
How cool is it that when you take all the cells out of an organ it still looks like an organ?
I remember when I was in high school and still very confused about how tissues worked, because all anyone taught me was that we’re made up of piles of cells hung on bones.  But that’s not how it is!  Cells build themselves little hammocks of polymer and densely branched glycoproteins; we’re like onions, layers of membrane over tough rubbery collagen, huge protein scaffolds cradling slippery organs.
Bodies are not made of cells — bodies are made by cells.

^confused me so much in high school! They never mention it at all.
{

satyabear:

isozyme:

mountains-crush-oceans:

a decellularized “ghost” heart

aaaaaaaay extracellular matrix

How cool is it that when you take all the cells out of an organ it still looks like an organ?

I remember when I was in high school and still very confused about how tissues worked, because all anyone taught me was that we’re made up of piles of cells hung on bones.  But that’s not how it is!  Cells build themselves little hammocks of polymer and densely branched glycoproteins; we’re like onions, layers of membrane over tough rubbery collagen, huge protein scaffolds cradling slippery organs.

Bodies are not made of cells — bodies are made by cells.

^confused me so much in high school! They never mention it at all.

Karkat’s Quotes and Insults Masterpost

amoragirl10:

Yeeeeaaaah, in the last month or so I went through most of Karkat’s logs, collecting various insults and other quotes from him. Mostly for people to use as inspiration for their own Karkat insults, whether it be for fanfics or roleplaying, or for anyone who just wants to laugh at some of the hilarious things he ends up saying.

EDIT: Alright, well, I updated it now with a bunch of the newer Karkat logs! Supposing anyone’s interested.

Read More

sims-a-la-carte:

itsphotoshop:

COLOR PALETTE MASTERPOST by forbiddenforest

So today I felt like sharing some useful websites that provide pre-made color palettes (left side), as well as sites that allow you to create custom ones (right side). They can be used for graphic design, themes, art, interior design, or just something pretty to look at.

Adobe Kubler (Explore)

Chromaa

Color-Collective

Just Jaimee Daily Color Inspiration

Design Seeds

Adobe Kubler (Create)

Color Scheme Designer

Color Palette Generator (paste the URL of an image and it will automatically generate a pallet that matches the image)

Color Hunter (upload an image and it will automatically generate a pallet that matches the image)

Colllor

I hope you find this useful (and please like or reblog if you did)! Enjoy :)

I use the Color Scheme Designer whenever I get a little stumped with color matching, but sometimes I feel like the color schemes are a little too obvious.  It’s definitely nice to have more choices.

thewritingcafe:

For the fantasy writers who want to include magic in their story.
Origins:
So you have magic. But where did it come from? Do you know where it really came from while your characters have some other explanation? Is there a scientific explanation? A religious explanation? Do your characters not want to know? Are they looking for the origin? How long has magic been around?
If you’ve created a mythology and your characters don’t know how long magic has been around, the creation of magic or the gift of magic (whatever you want to call it) may be included within a myth or a creation story.
Knowledge:
How much do your characters know about magic? How much a person knows about magic, how it works, its laws, its limitations, and its origins will depend on what they believe the explanation is, how they feel about magic, and how much the world knows about magic in general. Have your characters figured out exactly how magic works? Do they have theories and laws of magic? How long have these theories been in place?
If your characters have extensive knowledge on magic, there will probably be written records of this knowledge. If there are records, how available are they? Are there text books about it? Or is the magic incorporated within religious text? Or is it forbidden to know about magic?
Limitations:
There should be limits on the magic in your world. If there are no limits, everything will be too easy for your characters.
How often can they use magic? How much power do they have? Do they tire after using a lot of it? Does it deteriorate with age? Or does it become more powerful? Can someone gain more magic? Can they lose it? Are they able to kill? Can they only use a certain amount each day? Making a list of what magic can’t do can sometimes be more helpful than making a list of what it can do.
Laws:
There will probably be laws about magic. What are yours? Who can use magic? Who cannot use magic? Is there an age requirement? Do you have to pass a test? Are there certain types of magic that are not allowed? Are there certain situations in which magic is not allowed?
How are the laws integrated into the government? Is there a separate government for magic? Or just a separate department? Or is magic integrated with other laws? Who makes the laws? Who enforces them? What are the punishments for breaking them?
Population:
Think back to the origins of your magic. This will affect how much of the population has magic. Who has magic? If they’re born with it, how is it passed on? Is it genetic? How many people have that gene? Is it learned? How many people are able to learn how to use magic? How many people actually know that magic exists?
Ranks and Orders:
What are magic users in your world called? Wizards? Witches? Warlocks? Sorcerers? Do any of these titles have negative connotations in your world? Is there a rank of magic users? Are there any offensive words that refer to magic users? Are special titles used (Sir, Master, Madame, etc.)?
Is there a hierarchy of magic users? How are they treated? How are they thought of? Are there different types of magic users who are seen as equal? What are those types? Can magic users move throughout the hierarchies and ranks of magic? Are there different levels based on power or skill? Do these users wear anything that signifies what their rank is?
Types:
There are several types of magic, some which may be put into the category of science in some worlds. What do your characters call magic? Here are some types of magic:
Forms of Divination
Stone/gem/crystal Magic
Herb Magic
Alchemy
Color Magic
Conjuration
Evocation
Summoning
Banishing
Manipulation
Transmutation
Mimicry
Transformation
Power Primer: Elements
Power Primer: Mind
Linguistic
Transportation
Astral Projection
Candle Magic
Tree Magic
Moon Magic
Necromancy
Morality:
Is magic even allowed to be used? With most things, there will be differing opinions on the morality or ethics. There may be a majority opinion on the morality or the opinions could be evened out in terms of quantity.
What about certain types of magic or certain people using magic? Is it unethical to use certain types of magic? Is it taboo or looked down upon to use certain magic? Is it immoral for religious leaders or government officials to participate in types of magic? Is it shameful to die from magic? Or an honor? Or is there nothing attached to magic and death?
Teaching and Learning:
If magic is widely used, it will need to be taught and learned. There may be some who are self-taught, but more organized magic systems and worlds will require some sort of training.
Public Education: In this setting, the knowledge of how to use magic would be passed on from instructor to student in a public setting. This could be a school, just one class, a club, or any other gathering that would either be free or cheap so that it is available to the public. These settings are far less selective for who is allowed in and may allow everyone to participate. Where does this take place? In a school? A classroom? Another building? A special magic center? Outside?
Private Education: This setting would be similar to the public one, but it would be more selective in who was allowed in, more secretive, and probably more expensive. These settings would be more ideal in worlds where magic is not widespread.
Private Mentor: This would be someone who is hired specifically to teach one or a few students. This is often expensive. Does this setting take place in your world? Where does it take place? Someone’s house? A meeting place?
Generational Knowledge: Knowledge of magic and how to use it can also pass down through generations. Do the old teach the young? Do parents teach their offspring in private? Do certain people of a community teach the younger ones?
The Mentor: Who is the teacher? How do people become teachers and instructors? How are they chosen? Do the students choose their instructor? Are students assigned to one instructor? Is there more than one, each of which handle one type of magic?
The Student: How old are students of magic? How long does it take them to learn? Do they choose to learn or are they forced? How competitive is it?
Attitude:
With most things, there will be a general attitude toward magic. What is that attitude? Is it welcomed? Feared? Respected? Do your characters talk about it openly, or is it whispered about in secret? How do people feel about magic users? Is there discrimination? Think back to how much of the population can use magic.
Use:
Now you come to one of the more important aspects of putting magic in your world: its use. Why do people use magic and what do they use it for? How is it used? Are there certain objects that can channel magic and make it more powerful, such as a wand? Are there appropriate settings for magic and inappropriate settings?
Magical Objects: Can magic be applied to objects to give them magical connotations? How are these objects used? Are they popular? Can they be bought, or do magic users prefer to make their own? Are objects used to channel magic? Or can people use magic without them?
Everyday Life: How does magic affect a person’s life? Short people may have no problem with grabbing high objects if they have the power of telekinesis. Glue may not be needed if a magic user can stick objects together with magic or mend a broken object. If they can conjure light, they may not need any lamps (electrical, gas, oil, etc.). What about jobs? Is a person able to do more in one day at work because of magic? Are they allowed to use magic?
Transportation: Magical transportation is probably more effective than other forms of transportation, especially in a world with little technology. However, this can also be seen as lazy writing if your characters are able to teleport anywhere in the world at any time. Add some risks to this. Are they only able to travel like that once a day? Does it deplete their magic? Can only really powerful magic users do it? How is it learned? Are carts, wagons, and carriages pulled by magic or by animals? Or both? Are there portals? Are certain magical objects needed to transport through magic? Is there a possibility of ending up in the wrong place? What about flying?
Communication: Communicating between long distances with magic is much easier than snail mail. How do your characters go about this? In one of my stories, the extremely wealthy and government officials are able to use tablet-like devices in which what they write on that tablet (it’s sort of like parchment wrapped over thick cardboard) will show up on another’s tablet thus allowing communication. Think of limitations for the communication, like how the tablets in my story are quite expensive. Who is able to communicate through magic? Are there many forms? Are some faster than others? Can symbols be used to communicate?
War: Is magic used in war? Does the military have a special task force filled with magic users? Or does everyone use magic? How does the use of magic change battle tactics? Are there magical weapons?
More:
Describing Magic and Supernatural Powers
Witches and Magic Systems
Magic Prompt
Writing Magic
Types of Magic
When Magic Goes Wrong
Magic-Like Psychic Abilities
Science and Magic
Creative Uses of Magic
Thoughts on Creating Magic Systems
Defining the Sources, Effects, and Costs of Magic
Coming Up With a Magic System
Using Magic in Horror Fiction
World Building Basics: Magic
Let’s Talk About Magic
{

thewritingcafe:

For the fantasy writers who want to include magic in their story.

Origins:

So you have magic. But where did it come from? Do you know where it really came from while your characters have some other explanation? Is there a scientific explanation? A religious explanation? Do your characters not want to know? Are they looking for the origin? How long has magic been around?

If you’ve created a mythology and your characters don’t know how long magic has been around, the creation of magic or the gift of magic (whatever you want to call it) may be included within a myth or a creation story.

Knowledge:

How much do your characters know about magic? How much a person knows about magic, how it works, its laws, its limitations, and its origins will depend on what they believe the explanation is, how they feel about magic, and how much the world knows about magic in general. Have your characters figured out exactly how magic works? Do they have theories and laws of magic? How long have these theories been in place?

If your characters have extensive knowledge on magic, there will probably be written records of this knowledge. If there are records, how available are they? Are there text books about it? Or is the magic incorporated within religious text? Or is it forbidden to know about magic?

Limitations:

There should be limits on the magic in your world. If there are no limits, everything will be too easy for your characters.

How often can they use magic? How much power do they have? Do they tire after using a lot of it? Does it deteriorate with age? Or does it become more powerful? Can someone gain more magic? Can they lose it? Are they able to kill? Can they only use a certain amount each day? Making a list of what magic can’t do can sometimes be more helpful than making a list of what it can do.

Laws:

There will probably be laws about magic. What are yours? Who can use magic? Who cannot use magic? Is there an age requirement? Do you have to pass a test? Are there certain types of magic that are not allowed? Are there certain situations in which magic is not allowed?

How are the laws integrated into the government? Is there a separate government for magic? Or just a separate department? Or is magic integrated with other laws? Who makes the laws? Who enforces them? What are the punishments for breaking them?

Population:

Think back to the origins of your magic. This will affect how much of the population has magic. Who has magic? If they’re born with it, how is it passed on? Is it genetic? How many people have that gene? Is it learned? How many people are able to learn how to use magic? How many people actually know that magic exists?

Ranks and Orders:

What are magic users in your world called? Wizards? Witches? Warlocks? Sorcerers? Do any of these titles have negative connotations in your world? Is there a rank of magic users? Are there any offensive words that refer to magic users? Are special titles used (Sir, Master, Madame, etc.)?

Is there a hierarchy of magic users? How are they treated? How are they thought of? Are there different types of magic users who are seen as equal? What are those types? Can magic users move throughout the hierarchies and ranks of magic? Are there different levels based on power or skill? Do these users wear anything that signifies what their rank is?

Types:

There are several types of magic, some which may be put into the category of science in some worlds. What do your characters call magic? Here are some types of magic:

Morality:

Is magic even allowed to be used? With most things, there will be differing opinions on the morality or ethics. There may be a majority opinion on the morality or the opinions could be evened out in terms of quantity.

What about certain types of magic or certain people using magic? Is it unethical to use certain types of magic? Is it taboo or looked down upon to use certain magic? Is it immoral for religious leaders or government officials to participate in types of magic? Is it shameful to die from magic? Or an honor? Or is there nothing attached to magic and death?

Teaching and Learning:

If magic is widely used, it will need to be taught and learned. There may be some who are self-taught, but more organized magic systems and worlds will require some sort of training.

  • Public Education: In this setting, the knowledge of how to use magic would be passed on from instructor to student in a public setting. This could be a school, just one class, a club, or any other gathering that would either be free or cheap so that it is available to the public. These settings are far less selective for who is allowed in and may allow everyone to participate. Where does this take place? In a school? A classroom? Another building? A special magic center? Outside?
  • Private Education: This setting would be similar to the public one, but it would be more selective in who was allowed in, more secretive, and probably more expensive. These settings would be more ideal in worlds where magic is not widespread.
  • Private Mentor: This would be someone who is hired specifically to teach one or a few students. This is often expensive. Does this setting take place in your world? Where does it take place? Someone’s house? A meeting place?
  • Generational Knowledge: Knowledge of magic and how to use it can also pass down through generations. Do the old teach the young? Do parents teach their offspring in private? Do certain people of a community teach the younger ones?
  • The Mentor: Who is the teacher? How do people become teachers and instructors? How are they chosen? Do the students choose their instructor? Are students assigned to one instructor? Is there more than one, each of which handle one type of magic?
  • The Student: How old are students of magic? How long does it take them to learn? Do they choose to learn or are they forced? How competitive is it?

Attitude:

With most things, there will be a general attitude toward magic. What is that attitude? Is it welcomed? Feared? Respected? Do your characters talk about it openly, or is it whispered about in secret? How do people feel about magic users? Is there discrimination? Think back to how much of the population can use magic.

Use:

Now you come to one of the more important aspects of putting magic in your world: its use. Why do people use magic and what do they use it for? How is it used? Are there certain objects that can channel magic and make it more powerful, such as a wand? Are there appropriate settings for magic and inappropriate settings?

  • Magical Objects: Can magic be applied to objects to give them magical connotations? How are these objects used? Are they popular? Can they be bought, or do magic users prefer to make their own? Are objects used to channel magic? Or can people use magic without them?
  • Everyday Life: How does magic affect a person’s life? Short people may have no problem with grabbing high objects if they have the power of telekinesis. Glue may not be needed if a magic user can stick objects together with magic or mend a broken object. If they can conjure light, they may not need any lamps (electrical, gas, oil, etc.). What about jobs? Is a person able to do more in one day at work because of magic? Are they allowed to use magic?
  • Transportation: Magical transportation is probably more effective than other forms of transportation, especially in a world with little technology. However, this can also be seen as lazy writing if your characters are able to teleport anywhere in the world at any time. Add some risks to this. Are they only able to travel like that once a day? Does it deplete their magic? Can only really powerful magic users do it? How is it learned? Are carts, wagons, and carriages pulled by magic or by animals? Or both? Are there portals? Are certain magical objects needed to transport through magic? Is there a possibility of ending up in the wrong place? What about flying?
  • Communication: Communicating between long distances with magic is much easier than snail mail. How do your characters go about this? In one of my stories, the extremely wealthy and government officials are able to use tablet-like devices in which what they write on that tablet (it’s sort of like parchment wrapped over thick cardboard) will show up on another’s tablet thus allowing communication. Think of limitations for the communication, like how the tablets in my story are quite expensive. Who is able to communicate through magic? Are there many forms? Are some faster than others? Can symbols be used to communicate?
  • War: Is magic used in war? Does the military have a special task force filled with magic users? Or does everyone use magic? How does the use of magic change battle tactics? Are there magical weapons?

More:

THIS GOES TO ALL THE LITTLE ARTISTS OUT THERE

camacaileon:

Volavarn and I have collected and hoarded these, in order to make good use of them one day. Now we decided to share them, so all of you could use them too:

Color Pallet Generator

Textures

Clothing References/Costumes

HD Movie Screenshots

People and Animals - Classes

Muscles and Bones

Anatomy - you have to log in with your google or facebook account though

Concept Art

and always rememberimage

have fun :D

Architectural Terms for Writing

cocorry:

image

Writing and thenbeing like, “There’s probably a word for this sort of area in a house.” “There ought to be a word for those wooden paneled things next to windows.” and you can’t very well just go google it and hope the sloppy definition gives you a word.

So I’ve decided to…

glitter-schlong:

:^00
{

glitter-schlong:

:^00

(Source: glitter-schlong)

Semi-Realistic Troll Horn Tutorial

yaexrae:

I know there are a kajillion of horn tutorials out there already, but I ended up using a method to make my horns that I haven’t seen written about yet.  So just in case you guys are curious, here’s how I made my troll horns.

image

(Tons of pictures ahead, apologies in advance.)

FIRST!  Please read the entire tutorial before running out and buying supplies - a lot of the stuff I used can be swapped with other things that you may happen to already have lying around your house.  Save your money for other stuff!

For supplies, I used the following things:

image

Unpictured supplies include large snaps (the kind used in clothing), scraps of Wonderflex (any rigid material will do), hot glue, and a cheap wire cat brush. 

The basic method I used to make my horns was this:  I used the polyurethane expanding foam to carve out a base for my horns, then covered them in foil and Paperclay.  After texturing the clay, I let them air-dry and painted them with acrylic paints.  To attach them to my wig I used the snaps, Wonderflex, and hot glue.

(Also, this tutorial is sort of pieced together from pictures I took while making two sets of horns.  Just in case you’re wondering why Mindfang’s horns suddenly change into Kanaya’s and vice versa.)

Part 1:  Creating the Foam Base

Polyurethane expanding foam is awesome stuff to use when you need a lightweight, carve-able base for sculpting things.  It’s usually sold in the insulation department of home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot.  For my horns I used Fill & Seal, which was $3 per can.

First, protect your working area with parchment paper or wax paper.  (In a pinch I suppose you could use newspaper, but the foam will stick to that.  You’ll be carving off a good portion of the foam anyway though.)  Attach the nozzle to the can and dispense some foam onto the parchment paper, creating some roughly horn-sized lumps.  I have no idea how to clean the nozzle once foam has been through it, so I just kept making foam lumps until the can was empty.  For me, it was about 7 or 8 medium-sized foam lumps per can.  Keep the extras in case you screw up, or give them to friends who are also making horns.  Let the lumps cure overnight, or at least for several hours.

image

Next, peel the foam off of the parchment paper and check to make sure you don’t have any humongous voids.  If you don’t, then you’re good to go!

If you need to take a break, now is a good time.  I unfortunately discovered that if you start carving the foam and leave it alone for a few hours, it will shrink and distort slightly (maybe about a 10-20% size change).  It’s probably a good idea to set aside enough time to sculpt your foam bases and cover them in clay all in one sitting.

To sculpt the horns, I used a box cutter.  The foam is fairly soft and flexible, so the box cutter slides through it really easily!  The more blade of the box cutter you expose, the wider your cutting surface will be and the easier it will be to knock off large sections of foam.  To remind myself of the general shape I wanted, I used a sharpie marker to trace an outline on the foam.

image

Here are the horns after I made the basic shaping cuts.

image

Knock off the edges and continue to sculpt them into the proper shape.  Make sure you frequently compare the horns to each other to maintain symmetry.

image

Knock off part of the base of the horn so that it will be able to sit on your head properly.  I had a mirror nearby and was holding these horns up to my head a LOT during the sculpting process to make sure I had the proper angulation and size.

image

In the end, you should get something like this!

image

You’ve probably noticed that the foam can get a lot of big air bubbles in it.  If there are any large air bubbles in your horns at this point, you can tear up smaller scraps of the foam and shove them in the voids.

image

Part 2:  Covering the Base

Cover the horn in tin foil.  It doesn’t need to be a gigantic piece - I used a square whose diagonal width was slightly wider than the length of my horn.  Make sure the piece of foil doesn’t develop small tears when you’re taking it off the roll, otherwise it’ll be a pain in the ass when you’re burnishing it.

image

Find something hard to burnish the foil with.  I used the barrel of a highlighter and rubbed it over the foil to adapt it to the surface of the foam.

image

After I had covered and burnished both horns, I hacked off the end of one and added some copper wire to serve as a skeleton for Mindfang’s weird little claw thing.  Note that for her other horn (which will have a hook on the end), I didn’t do anything.  It’s up to you to choose which parts of your horns you want to use a wire base for, if at all.

image

Next, get out your air-dry clay and begin coating your horns with it.  (I used Paperclay.)  If you don’t have a rolling pin to thin out the clay, the Fill & Seal can makes a great substitute.  Keep a dish of water nearby so you can use it to blend the seams in your clay.

image

Sculpt whatever weird things you need on the ends of the horns, and be sure to blend the seams in with water.

image

The horns are now fully coated!  Hooray!  At this point the clay was too malleable for my liking and it kept squishing around in my hands every time I picked up the horns, so I let them dry for an hour or so before starting to add texture to them.  The Paperclay dries pretty slowly, so you can afford to take a short break.

image

Part 3:  Texturing the Horns

For this part, I was lazy and didn’t want to take a series of pictures, so you get a video of me rambling on about cow horns and shit for seven minutes.  Enjoy!

After you’ve textured the horns, let them air dry overnight.

Part 4:  Painting the Horns

(My apologies - this section is kind of light on pictures because of camera issues.)

To paint the horns, I mixed up four colors using acrylic paint:  dark brown, red, orange, and yellow.  The dark brown goes on first as the base coat.  Make sure you get the brown into all of the little nooks and crannies you created, but don’t just glop paint on either.  If you lay on the paint too thickly, you’ll fill in all the little pores you worked so hard to create in the previous step! Let the base coat dry.  When you add the lighter colors later, the brown will only show through in the recessed areas of your horns.

Next:  using a small, short brush, begin painting on the yellow, orange, and red.  (Technically, the trolls’ horns don’t have any red in them, but I like to add a little bit near the base of the horns anyway to give them a bit wider of a color range.)  I used a technique called drybrushing to blend from one color to the next.  Basically, you load only the tip of the brush with paint and dab it on your palette a few times to take off any excess paint.  The paint should be applied to the horns using a brisk tapping motion rather than a series of long strokes.  If your brush is appropriately loaded, the paint should be dry within seconds of its application.

image

When you’re done, you should have something like this!

image

Part 5:  Attaching the Horns

The cool thing about these horns is that they’re extremely light, so you don’t have to do a whole lot of work to attach them to your head!  However, the following method requires that you wear a wig - apologies to those of you who want to use your real hair for troll cosplay.

To attach the horns to my wig, I cut out a circular base out of Wonderflex that was about as twice the diameter of my horns.  (Wonderflex is a pretty nifty thermoplastic that you can mold with a blowdryer.  You can buy some here, but it’s really not worth getting just for some troll horns.  I just had a lot of scraps lying around.  Any stiff material will probably work, even cardboard from a cereal box.)  To make it easier for my fingers to get to the snaps, I cut out two C-shaped divets out of either side of each circle and rounded the resulting sharp edges.

Next, glue some large snaps (approximately 1/4”) to the base of your horns.  With both pieces snapped together, add a dollop of glue to the free side of the snaps and press the base up against the snaps.  This way the snap pieces on the horn and the snap pieces on the base will line up perfectly!  Once the glue has cooled, carefully pry the snaps apart.  If something separates where it shouldn’t, just peel the excess hot glue off and try again.

image

To attach the horns to your wig, simply sandwich the wefts of the wig between the snaps on your horns, and press the base and the horn together.  Positioning the horns can get a little tricky, but once you’ve got them attached to the wig they’re not really going anywhere unless you want them to.  This is what the inside of your wig should look like when the horns are in place.

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And voila!  You get lightweight horns with no bothersome headband, and if you need the wig for something else all you have to do is unsnap the horns.

image

Happy trolling! >:3

Edit:  A lot of people have asked me if the snap attachment method will work for larger horns, and I don’t know!  Here is the best advice I can give for large horns until I actually have the opportunity to make a pair myself.

timeandchange:

ilikelookingatnakedmen:

For anyone who needs boat references for art or fic. 

or is interested
{

timeandchange:

ilikelookingatnakedmen:

For anyone who needs boat references for art or fic. 

or is interested

(Source: peynirkizartmasi)

How to Write a Strong Beginning

writewild:

via

1. Don’t open before the beginning.

Mystery author William G. Tapley points out, “Starting before the beginning… means loading up your readers with background information they have no reason to care about.” Don’t dump your backstory—however vital to the plot—into your reader’s lap right away. No one wants to hear someone’s life story the moment after they meet them.

2. Open with characters, preferably the protagonist.

Even the most plot-driven tales inevitably boil down to characters. The personalities that inhabit your stories are what will connect with readers. If you fail to connect with them right off the bat, you can cram all the action you want into your opening, but the intensity and the drama will still fall flat.

3. Open with the hook.

Every story begins with a hook, the first domino, which, when knocked over, starts the chain of dominoes tumbling. This catalyst is the moment your story officially begins, and, presumably, it’s also the first moment of high interest. Use that to your advantage and get right to the point.

4. Open with conflict.

No conflict, no story. Conflict doesn’t always mean nuclear warheads going off, but it does demand that your characters be at odds with someone or something right from the get go. Conflict keeps the pages turning, and turning pages are nowhere more important than in the beginning.

5. Open with movement.

Openings need more than action, they need motion. Motion gives readers a sense of progression and, when necessary, urgency. Whenever possible, open with a scene that allows your characters to keep moving, even if they’re just walking down the street.

6. Open with something that makes the reader ask a question.

Unanswered questions fuel intrigue; intrigue keeps the reader’s interest. If you can present a situation that immediately has your reader asking questions, you’ve significantly upped the odds that he’ll keep reading.

7. Anchor the reader to avoid confusion.

As a caveat to #6, make sure you have your readers asking the right questions. You want to give them enough information so they can ask intelligent, informed questions, not “What the heck is going on here?!” As soon as possible, anchor them with the pertinent facts: who the characters are, what the current dilemma is, etc.

8. Establish the setting.

Modern authors are often shy of opening with description, but a quick, incisive intro of the setting not only serves to ground the reader in the physicality of the story, but also to hook their interest and set the stage. In Worlds of Wonder,David Gerrold explains that opening lines “that hook you immediately into the hero’s dilemma almost always follow the hook with a bit of stage setting” and vice versa.

9. Orient the reader with an “establishing” shot.

Anchoring the reader can often be done best by taking a cue from the movies and opening with an “establishing” shot. If done skillfully, you can present the setting and the characters’ positions in it in as little as a sentence or two.

10. Set the tone.

Because your opening chapter sets the tone for your entire story, you need to give the reader accurate presuppositions about the type of tale he’s going to be reading. Your beginning needs to set the stage for the inevitable denouement—without, of course, giving it away.

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Following at least a few of these tips will definitely create a great beginning!