Writing together – are two heads better than one?

We have been writing together for some time now but only recently started to figure out what that means to us. Here is a little Q&A about writing together.

1. Why do you write together? 

Andy: For us, reading is a passion shared so to put our heads together and come up with ideas makes sense. 

Frida: Stories are something that we both enjoy. We have a similar outlook on life and we like to build stories around us. It felt natural to also write together.

2. How did we start?

Andy:  Soon after we met we started to write improvised text that became short stories. After that we decided to make something of it and hence the Burning Squid

Frida: We came up with a lot of elements for Adventures of Wilhelmina and one day I said we should write a children’s book around it.

3. Where did the name The Burning Squid come from? 

Frida: Andy used to call me a hamster squid and his nickname is Burnsy. Combine two to The Burning Squid and you get a pretty rad name for a bar. 

Andy: We started to build Cyd and Cordelia’s story around that bar and the name became part of us. So we didn’t have to think twice what we would call our project. 

4. Pros and cons of writing together?

Andy: Pros are that we pool our thoughts and ideas together and come up with something we may not have thought about individually. Cons are that sometimes our opinions differ and we can not always agree to one certain point but we can find compromises.

Frida: Pros are definitely the two heads together. When you can mirror your ideas and talk about them from the very beginning. Cons are our different backgrounds in writing. I have been writing and studying creative writing for years and sometimes I tend to take more of a teacher role when we work together. Though sometimes that is a pro too because Andy is a diamond in the rough and helps me to be less critical in the process and have more fun with it.

5. How writing together works for us in practice?

Andy: We write our ideas on our own to begin with and share them to edit as we see fit. We also write together on a joint file  so we can see the changes live as well. At times we video chat and share our ideas while writing.

Frida: We talk a lot. We come up with ideas and sometimes the ideas are very organic. We can start from a silly joke and end up with something we can use in one of our stories. 

We write Chronicles of Salaboa in English but Adventures of Wilhelmina in Finnish. Andy doesn’t yet speak or write Finnish. So it means a lot of translating back and forth and trying to get everything right in the final version. First we designed the plot and characters. Then we framed the chapters and now both are writing our own parts. I translate my parts roughly to Andy so he can comment and we can talk about all the details and translate his texts to the final form in Finnish. It may seem a lot of work but actually writing like this has given us a chance to make polished finished text much faster during the process. 

6. What does the other bring to the table?

Andy: Frida brings a lot of her experience as a published writer to help me with how stories are structured and how they are laid out to make my writing more crisp and focused. Her style of writing and the stories she writes are very close to the stories I enjoy.

Frida: Andy is a wizard of plotting. I tend to be way too analytical sometimes to actually see outside of the box. So Andy definitely helps me with that. Andy also has more knowledge of genres, I tend to be way more limited what comes to mixing and playing with the genres.

7. Do we have any difference in writing styles?

Andy: Personally I always write the story as if I lived in the present (even though it’s a pain for Frida). It may not be the way it is usually done but I like to think I am portraying the characters of the story, living through them and the actions they take to shape the tale. 

Frida: Andy is definitely a present tense writer. Past tense feels more natural to me, especially for longer texts. Because we write with two languages but only have one language together for now, it is sometimes hard to explain something or translate something the way it should be. But we are both learning. Translating text back and forth between English and Finnish also helps to see what is not expressed strong enough or what seems loose in the context. 

8. Do you have individual projects?

Andy: I don’t have any solid plans for an individual project, but I have dabbled in my spare time on some short stories or ideas I like to put across some time in the future.

Frida: I write a lot. Besides The Burning Squid projects I am officially writing one novel for adults. But to be honest I have three novels on the table, one play and some poems. I like to have more than one project going on at once to be able to switch between them when I get stuck or bored. More about my other project can be found on my blog

9. What are our plans for the future?

Andy: Well we have two projects now, ‘The Adventures of Wilhelmina’ and ‘The Chronicles of Salaboa’. Once we get these done and hopefully published we have talked about maybe doing gaming projects around our story worlds and of course we will come up with new ideas as well.

Frida: I hope The Burning Squid will find its form and become a publishing house and an interactive story platform. I hope someday this is what we will do for a living. 

Picture StockSnap Pixabay

Hope lives in dystopia

I’ve always liked dystopias. Partly because I like sci-fi and horror, and dark future fiction often has features of both. Most of all, however, I am fascinated by the hope that lives in every dystopia.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines dystopia as a very bad and unfair society or a future society after something terrible has happened.

Heroes are born in dystopia

Dystopia is the opposite of a utopia, an ideal perfect society. However, it is not always so black and white. Sometimes in fiction utopia may be just a cover for a totalitarian society or a dystopia could be an impulse for better tomorrow. Dystopia as an environment motivates people to become heroes.

If you think of The Burning Squid stories, Syd (from the Chronicles of Salaboa) would be a typical dystopian hero. Syd’s world is under a threat and even he is not the most heroic type of a character; he acts on that threat and tries to save the world.

In dark futures, I am drawn by hope. When the story world is gloomy and its social structures are cruel to the people a lot of opportunities open up for the story. Hope creates rebellion and gives the people courage to act.

Future fiction creates a framework for future action

I participated in a seminar about imaginary cities. It was held by a research network called KULTVA at the University of Turku. Among other things, we were discussing future cities in literature and films. What lies behind the visions of the future and what the imaginary futures tell about us and our time.

There was also discussion about how fictive futures could be used, for example, in urban planning or when we try to solve possible future problems. Literature researcher Lieven Ameel‘s (PhD) also spoke of hope and activity. Fiction can create a framework for future action and through it we can research the impact of personal choices in a complex world.

According to Ameel, through fiction we can safely deal with different conceptions of the future. Because dystopia does not actually describe society, but how the humans see the society, the activity generated by dystopia can be positive.

What fascinates about the dystopias?

Few years ago the grim science fiction was more popular than ever. But what will happen next? In a world of climate crisis, the corona pandemic, the rise of the extreme right, and political contradictions, it would be logical to want to escape more into pink dreams and funny moments.

But perhaps what draws us to dystopias is that they are even worse than our own reality. Perhaps real life feels more tolerable after you immerse yourself in even darker worlds for a moment. Or maybe we all just love the idea of an ordinary person’s possibilities to make a difference. Maybe we need dystopias to find that person inside of us.

Picture: Carroll MacDonald, Pixabay

You can read this article in Finnish from The Friday Press blog.

Gaming and Interactive Story Telling

Since the magic of cinema and books, people’s imagination has grown and sparked. When people see their favourite characters come to life it helps them see themselves as the main heroes (or villains if that’s what suits them). This also helps people to re-enact their favourite moments with the characters they love.

The beauty of games, especially role playing games, is that not only can people live out stories but create something new and unique to them. The main difference between films/books and role-playing games is that the story of the latter is not set in stone and is decided purely by the players and the actions they take within the plot. 

Imagination comes alive

Gaming for me has always been a gateway to another world where my imagination can come alive. It also has been a way for me to be open and more social among others as it has been a big part of my life. I started back when I was about 6 years old with Heroquest being my first game with the family and I have been hooked ever since.

Role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons can form very strong communities. The dungeon master (the person who runs the story for the players) has a huge role as they create the world, the characters and the history. With all these combined, it makes the adventure feel alive and gives the best experience possible for the players leaving them wanting more.

The players also make the difference as their actions with the characters help shape the world around them and challenge the dungeon master to adapt and rise to the challenge of keeping the players on their toes.

Modern campfire 

Before literature, story telling used to be more interactive when people would gather around a campfire and tell their tales to each other. With books however, even if they do provide an adventure, it is a more solitary experience with not a lot of interaction between people. The author writes their story alone and the readers would then read it later usually in their own solitude. Games and roleplaying games help bring back that campfire experience where people gather not only to tell a story but to live it. 

That’s what we aim to do with our work. We would like to make games and stories that are accessible to a wide audience, so they can have their own moments of being a hero in a world they can also shape.

Image: StockSnap Pixabay 

Meet the Main Characters of our stories

Last time we wrote a guide how to build characters in your story or game. Today we thought we could tell you a little more about how our main characters were built and who they are.

Last time we wrote a guide how to build characters in your story or game. Today we thought we could tell you a little more about how our main characters were built and who they are.

Characters in Adventures of Wilhelmina

It all began with the airship. I said I wanted one and Andy asked what kind. Small and a bit homemade sounded good. So we started to build the imaginary airship and collecting cats and zombies on the crew. I named the airship loosely after the actor Bill Skarsgård.

One day I told Andy we should write a children’s book around Wilhelmina and here we are now. We decided there should be 2 kids that are very different from each other.


Because I am a fan of Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, I wanted to bring something similar to Lila’s character. Lila is a wild child with untamed curls and grass stains on her jeans. Lila gets easily animated and she is a kind and warm spirit, always ready for an adventure. She tries to remember how to be polite and more subtle around people, as her aunt Belinda tells her to be, but she usually just can’t contain herself and ends up speaking her mind. She gets often distracted and always loves a good goofy laugh.


Lila needed a friend who would balance her out, so we came up with Robin, a boy next door. As more quiet and prudent, he gives perspective to Lila’s wild ideas. Though on the other hand Lila also helps him to be more brave and spontaneous. Robin is a caring and very thoughtful kid but still might need some help with his sometimes arrogant attitude and short temper.

Organic Characters

Lila and Robin are what we like to call organic characters. We never made a sheet or a list of their features. We talk about them and write them in different situations to see how they would react. They also mirror how we were as children.

We want Lila and Robin to show the readers that there is no one right way to be, think or feel. And that you can value and cherish people that are different from you.

Characters in Chronicles of Salaboa

Chronicles of Salaboa started out with the little Pub called The Burning Squid (we have an odd way of starting with a place even when we think character is the main element). We already knew that this story would be more youth/young adult and that pretty much guided the age of the characters. At the same time we wanted the MCs to be independent so sadly we had to kill their parents.


Syd, the one running The Burning Squid, is 19 years old. He is a little scruffy, red haired boy who just doesn’t care about things like grooming or fashion. Syd is very much of a people’s person. He loves to service the customers and get to know them. He is witty but a great listener and because he seems mostly harmless he is an excellent double, triple or even quadruple agent when the war is near.


Syd’s older step sister Cordelia is the so-called mystery character. No one knows much about her but slowly as the story goes on we will reveal more and more about her and her past. With this kind of character we, as authors, need to know a lot of her background and features so we know how to give readers some hints to keep them on their toes.

In game worlds these kind of characters could give more excitement in the game. Maybe the GM could know more about your character than the other players and use that as a plot device too.


The third MC of the Chronicles of Salaboa is Grond who was actually a surprise for me. We were writing the intro of the story when he all the sudden knocked at the door. When Andy introduced him to me out of the blue in the middle of writing the scene he right away found his important place in the story.

This is one great thing about writing together. Two heads come up with so much more than just one.

If you like to know more about the main characters of our stories, please feel free to ask.

And if you want to hear more about how we feel about writing together, we are writing about that soon too.

Picture: Karolina Grabowska Pixabay

Get in Character – How to build the most important element of your story

One of the most important things in any storytelling, whether it is an RPG or literature, is the character.

You might have heard the saying “Show, don’t tell”. It means your story should be told via action and not explaining things. And that is exactly what your characters will do in your story.

We wanted to give you few tips how to build a good character.

About characters:

What is a character and why do we need them in a story?
A character is a person of interest and a plot device to express the story via feelings, thoughts and actions that the reader or gamer can identify with. The story can unfold through the characters eyes or point of view. Sometimes the reader can only experience the universe the way the character experiences it. 

What makes a character interesting? 

Characters help the story change through different perspectives. This is represented  by the reader’s interpretation. Readers use their imagination and see themselves how the characters interact. When the character is not too one dimensional readers can identify with them and feel as they feel. The character can also have secrets and the creator can hide in little hints before revealing it all.

What elements characters build from?

Characters have personality, background, looks, voice and the way they present themselves. Creator sets the basic, the reader fills the gaps as they read. Sometimes you can leave whole elements out, like the looks. Then the reader can imagine the character looking the way they want.

How to build a character

When building a character you can use for example a back story or a character sheet. Back story that isn’t part of your final text but explains your character to you as a writer. Character forms and sheets are lists of character’s features that can go from looks to face expression, style in clothes to political views and dislikes to fears. Whatever you need to know to really know your character. You don’t have to use or reveal it all in the story but it helps you to know how the character acts, reacts and makes choices in the story.

Things to consider when building a character:

  • Backstory of the character (life before the events of the actual story) 
  • Description of the character when first introduced (how you want them to appear to the reader)
  • Aims of the character in conjunction with the story and the plot 
  • Relationships, how they feel about the other characters
  • How many characters you need to make the story
  • The Environment the character is set in 
  • Is there people in the characters life that you don’t see in the story but affects on the character
  • What world events the story is centered on and how do they affect on the character or does the character affect on them
  • What the character brings to the story, what is their mission in the story
  • How does the character develop during the story, what they learn

A few tips:

  • Keep the character in character. If he hates meatballs, don’t make him devour them later.
  • Remember how your character looks. If they have short hair they can’t tangle in tree branches. If you don’t tell anything about your character’s looks, the reader will imagine it. Remember not to spoil it by saying at the end of the story something like “by the way that MC had a black hair”.
  • Give your character a voice. You don’t have to overdo their accent or the way they speak but use some details to separate them from other characters and use them consistently throughout the story.
  • When first describing the character, cover as much ground as needed to be familiar with the character as later on you want to keep the descriptions of what they do short to keep the story flowing. You can reveal more details throughout the story but you need a solid base so readers know and recognise the character.
  • Give your character some features that don’t fit in the overall picture.  Maybe some unique trait or a quirk – like a sweet rich lady who might pickpocket for fun. That will make the character more lively. We all got flaws and we love them.

We hope you got some good material to help you build your characters.

Picture: Colin Behrens / Pixabay