Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Fantasy and Reality in Our Writing

In my dream, I walked into the snack bar of the student union of my alma mater. Daniel, the hero of my first novel, sat at one of the tables. He melted me with a sexy megawatt smile and purred, "Hello, Penn."

The awake part of me cringed--Penn was the heroine's name--and muttered, "You're going over the edge, Byerly. Writing IS a form of schizophrenia." 

"Uh..., hello, Daniel." I sat down beside him and decided, to heck with mental illness, I was going to enjoy myself. 

Even after many years, that dream remains vivid. It was my first encounter with the gray shadings between fantasy and reality in a writer's life. I know the difference between the two, every writer must. I've also learned their interplay enriches my characters and my life.

Parts of me litter my novels like confetti at a party--Tony Chaucer wore the ratty man's bathrobe I refused to stop wearing, Ariel at five snuggled with my teddy bear, and David had my vermouth dry sense of humor. Those parts help my characters live.

But each character is more than just chucks of me. They have thoughts and wisdom I've never had. 

I've borrowed Daniel's genius for quick puns and dear Nelson's serene wisdom and faith when my own was sadly lacking. In this manner, my characters have given back as much as I've given them.  Almost like real friends. 

Are you wondering what happened in that dream about sexy Daniel? We sat and discussed his own college days. You see, fantasy like reality doesn't always have the expected ending.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Links of Interest

FINDING THE RIGHT STORY QUESTION TO MOVE YOUR STORY FORWARD:


GETTING DEEP POV RIGHT:


ADDING HUMOR:


CREATING TIMELINES FOR YOUR NOVEL’S EVENTS:


CREATING POWERFUL HOOKS:


EBOOK CONVERSION SOFTWARE:


MAKING YOUR STORY MEMORABLE:


DISCOVERABILITY AND NEWSLETTERS:


CREATE MYSTERY, NOT CONFUSION, WITH YOUR OPENING:


GOOGLE ANALYTICS TO UNDERSTAND WHO YOUR READER IS:


DEFINING YOUR ANTAGONIST:


REBUILDING AN EBBING CAREER:


CREATING THE PERFECT LOVE TRIANGLE:


THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE URBAN FANTASY AND HORROR MAIN CHARACTER:


PROMOTING A SERIES:


USING ZOOM IN THE THIRD PERSON NARRATIVE:


THE DANGER OF USING THE WRONG TONE:


PROMO, DO THIS, NOT THAT:




Monday, April 10, 2017

The Yin and Yang of Worldbuilding

One of the fun things about worldbuilding for a fantasy or paranormal novel is that you can take bits and pieces of religions and mythologies to build your own world.  Popular writers like Kevin Hearne have had confrontations between their main character and the gods of Greece, the Norse, and the Celts as well as demons, angels, werewolves, and vampires.  

This mix and match can be as much fun as an a la carte desert tray.  

However, and this is a big one, you must include the light/good and the dark/evil elements of these choices so that the playing field isn’t ridiculously one-sided.

One of the most common mistakes I see is the use of only the dark/evil part of a pantheon or religion.

A recent young adult novel I read had Judeo-Christian demons invading this world with only a small number of magical humans to fight them.  The two most powerful humans were a couple of ten-year-old boys.  

I kept expecting some force from the light to make its appearance to help give these kids and the human race a chance, but none appeared.   Any major victory without help is ridiculous and unbelievable.

Consider the show SUPERNATURAL.  The universe in this series has both angels and demons in play.  The angels, for the most part, are “big dicks,” but a few offer some assistance in the constant struggle against demons and other monsters.  Sam and Dean, even though ridiculously skilled, have more than themselves in this struggle.  They are also adept at creating alliances including with the dark side like the King of Hell when what they face threatens both sides, good and evil.  

As writers we must stack the odds against our heroes so that their victories are sweet and hard fought, but we can’t make the mistake of making that victory ridiculous by offering no help from the the light side.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Links of Interest


CREATING GREAT SECONDARY CHARACTERS:


HTML TAGS IN AMAZON BOOK DESCRIPTIONS:


HANDSELLING AT CONVENTIONS:


INCREASING SCENE CONFLICT:


STORY STRUCTURE IN THE ROMANCE:


THE NINE ASPECTS OF STORY PROMISE:


FACEBOOK ADS, A QUICK START GUIDE:


BOOK RESEARCH FOR BEGINNERS:


WRITING A TRICKSTER CHARACTER LIKE LOKI:


REVISION, FIXING GRAMMATICAL ERRORS:


REVISION, HOW TO DO A FINAL READTHROUGH OF YOUR NOVEL:


REVISION, WHAT TO DO AFTER COMPLETING YOUR REVISION:





Monday, April 3, 2017

The Zombie as a Character

Zombies are the animated dead.  In their usual depictions in movies and TV shows, they are shambling, disintegrating, and mindless corpses who seek to kill the living so they can eat their brains.  

Sometimes, they are controlled by magic so they appear to be intelligent but are really robots of dead flesh.

The traditional zombie is most often a mindless threat, part of a massive hoard of stupidity and appetite which moves toward its victims who must find a safe fortress to fight against them.  

The creation of the zombie is as often a scientific one -- a pandemic virus or a scientific genetic experiment gone wrong as it is a supernatural one caused by curses, demons, or evil magic doers.  

The zombie also appears under a number of other guises including the failed/feral vampires in Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels and Davidson's Queen Betsy novels.  

Other writers like Marjorie Liu in her "Hunter Kiss" urban fantasies used demons to infest the dead.

In most novels, the zombie is a threat, but it is rarely the main threat since it lacks the sentience that a good bad guy needs in a novel.  This lack of sentience doesn't matter in a movie, but it weakens a novel which is more intimate.  

An effective bad guy in a novel reacts to the main characters, he has snappy dialogue, and he threatens his minions and everyone else.    A zombie does none of those things.

Some writers have turned the zombie myth around by making the main character a zombie who is both sentient and blood-thirsty.  For example, Mark Henry in his Amanda Feral series had a zombie chick-lit heroine who was smart, witty, and a cannibal.  Black humor and horror are always included.

The zombie as a romantic partner in a romance has also happened which I find gross.  Your tastes may vary. 

NOTE:  Welcome back, iZombie, the only zombie show I’m a fan of.  



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Links of Interest

THE PROS AND CONS OF USING A MADE UP SETTING:


STEPS TO OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL:


2016 AUTHOR INCOME SURVEY RESULTS:


RUNNING A WEBINAR:


HOW TO FIT A ROMANCE INTO THE HORROR STORY:


KEEPING YOUR READER IN SUSPENSE:


WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR FACEBOOK AD:


MAKING YOUR READER CARE ABOUT YOUR MAIN CHARACTER:


THE OXFORD COMMA PROVES ITSELF BY WINNING A COURT CASE:


AVOIDING PAY TO PLAY PUBLISHERS:


A GUIDE TO CREATING YOUR WEBSITE:


ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S GUIDE TO CREATING SUSPENSE:


AP STYLEBOOK UPDATES, “THEY” AS SINGULAR AND THE OXFORD COMMA:


HIGH CONCEPT:


USING PINTEREST:


CHARACTER ARCS, WHAT CHANGES A CHARACTER:


SIGNS YOUR PUBLISHER IS GOING OUT OF BUSINESS AND HOW TO SAVE YOUR BOOK:


USING BACK MATTER TO SELL YOUR NEXT BOOK:


REVISION, SMOOTHING ROUGH TRANSITIONS:


REVISION, REMOVING THE PASSIVE VOICE:


REVISION, REMOVING CLICHES AND OVERWRITING:


REVISION, AMBIGUOUS PRONOUNS:


REVISION, REPLACING WEAK WORDS:


REVISION, MISUSED WORDS AND AWKWARD PHRASES:


REVISION, ELIMINATE REPETITION: