I’m about a third of the way through the first revision of my novel about lies and deception in a small-town church. Book Bites 7 — The Little Cafe, is the beginning of Tom seeing things from a different perspective.
“Not stopping to acknowledge anyone passing by, they hurried to the cafe. Surely, they thought, they’d be safe in there. Taking a shortcut down an alley they stepped back onto the main street and into the patio of the little café. There were two couples in bright clothes sitting at the patio tables. When they saw Maddie and Tom they beamed and greeted them but Maddie and Tom just smiled quickly, politely, and rushed inside. There was no one else in the café. Maddie and Tom were relieved.”
If you’d like to catch up on previous revision posts go here.
Have you ever gone to a place and had that ‘creepy’ feeling and just wanted to run?
I’m back with another Book Bite. In this scene my hero is struggling with negative thoughts that haunt her from her past.
“All she could think to do was try to escape the crowd and give herself some breathing room, but she was unable to move, frozen in a panic attack. “God help me, please!” She screamed at Him in her thoughts and slowly shuffled along the steps toward the creek on the other side of the gazebo. There weren’t as many people there and she spotted a bench near the water where she hoped she could sit alone and undisturbed. Gathering what little strength she had remaining in her legs, she made it to the bench before she lost her balance and slumped down, leaning on the armrest.”
In this scene I added more description of her body language to express her anxiety. I’m actually having fun with my first revision. Many more to come, I’m sure! I’ll be back soon to catch you up on another scene. Thanks for reading 🙂
Ok, granted most writers are introverts, we tend to shy away from parties or hide in a corner and hope no one talks to us. I’ve become a little more outgoing over the years but I still prefer quiet over noise. Unless, of course, I’m taking notes for a party scene in my next novel!
Invitation to a Launch Party
Fear not, this invitation is for an online party and you don’t have to talk to anyone in person or virtually, only in comments and only if you want to. Kirstie, my co-author, and I want to share our excitement with all of you on the release of our new workbook for fiction authors.
There are almost 200 pages of writing tips, information, brainstorming prompts, character building graphics, mapping graphs and tips for creating a new world, plus posters to encourage you along the way, publishing tips, marketing strategies and launch ideas. Then we go through the promotional steps you can take to grow your following, branding yourself as an author and successfully marketing your books.
The workbook fits regular copy-size pages so it’s easy to take along. So if you’d love a place to collect all your creative thoughts, plot your scenes and have it all handy in one place, this will be a great workbook for you!
I hope you can join us for the Facebook launch of THE NOVEL AUTHOR’S WORKBOOK!
Tips, Games and Prizes!
We’ll be hosting four hours of fun with writing tips, games and prizes from 2pm – 6pm, Ontario Eastern time. And there’ll be lots of chances for extroverts to interact and launch ‘Congratulations’ balloons (I just love seeing those float up on my screen!). Add yourself to the guest list!
When we write fantasy stories we need to decide where the story takes place. This is called ‘mapping’ and can be an artistic rendering of the world where your story lives, or it can be a topography of the terrain drawn like an actual map with all the hills, valleys, rivers, roads and towns. I prefer to collect Pinterest pins, but at some point, I need to discover what components make up my fantasy world and literally how long it would take a Dwarf to get to the Castle Keep. So, a drawn or written map is essential to the span of time for him on his travels.
If it takes a few days for the journey, then I know to add an adventure, altercation or meeting with someone along the way, because let’s face it, a journey without an event is just plain boring and not at all interesting to your reader. In real life we couldn’t travel three days without meeting a fellow traveller, missing a bus connection or experiencing bad weather. So it is with other worlds. That’s where the storyline unfolds, in the in-between times.If you’ve already decided on a rough outline for your story (more on this later if you haven’t already started one), now is the time to decide how big your fantasy world needs to be in order to incorporate all the events you have planned. Even if you don’t have an outline written down, you’ve probably envisioned an encounter with an enemy, a chance meeting with someone, and a plot twist somewhere. What kind of backdrop needs to be in your world for these events to happen? Walk around in your world a while.
“Far Over The Misty Mountains Cold”, from The Lord Of The Rings (you can see it on YouTube), describes the terrain beautifully and sets the scene for the Dwarves’ backstory and imminent adventure.
Your Hero’s Lifestyle
“…using real places as a springboard can help you frame elements consistently and with a more grounded result” – Ammi-Joan Paquette, author and literary agent explaining mapping in Writer’s Digest, March/April edition 2016.
Look around your real world. Do you see the potential for mapping your fantasy world based on reality?
I often draw from my childhood memories of the hills and dales of England, where the Bronte sisters gathered most of their inspiration. You can find some of those places on my Pinterest board, West Yorkshire England
Who were the authors who shaped your childhood memories of fantasy and make-believe? These are the writers we tend to remember the rest of our lives. My childhood memories of magical and fanciful tales come from four well-known children’s books:
Rupert The Bear by Alfred Bestall (originally created as a comic strip by Mary Tourtel)
Your Next Step
Draw or describe your own fantasy map and copy to your secret Pinterest inspiration board if you’re not ready to share it with the world yet. Here’s a link to my Fantasy Inspiration board which is public, but I have a secret board I’ll share once my novel is published. Or pin your inspiration to a board you’ve created to share your work with your followers. I’ve done this with my Dwarf Book I’m Writing. Another way is to cut out pictures from magazines and actually pin them to your office bulletin wall or stick them to your fridge with a crazy magnet.
Comment on how you were inspired for your creation and where you post/pin/stick your inspirational images/words. I’d love to hear about the world you’ve created.
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image and gave us this beautiful world to live in.
Ready to have more fun? This week I’m sharing an excerpt from a blog a friend of mine wrote. She’s a talented artist and her heart is to help people discover their creativity. Here’s why I’m sharing this with you; she blogged about creating a personal (or group) flag. I thought, seeing as most of you are writers of fantasy like me, you’d love knowing how to add that creative element to your books. You could even create a flag for your fantasy world and use it on your book cover.
On her blog, Ann-Margret digs deeper and gives you links to resource further. Cool, huh? Here’s part of her blog post:
Saturday, March 24, 2018
“This activity is perfect for a family, youth group, classroom or any themed club. It would make a great ice breaker for a big event, too.
I want you to imagine that you (or your group) are a country. What would your flag look like?
There are endless ways to design a flag because you have these options to consider:
Shape (most flags are rectangular but there are a few exceptions)
If Steven Spielberg called you for advice on casting the main character for your movie, who would you choose?
As I was doing research on creating characters for my stories, I came across an intriguing idea for character profiling. If you think of a famous person and keep them in mind as you write, it helps when you write dialogue and body language. This is actually very helpful when considering how your characters will respond to events with their mannerisms, quirks and personalities. I tried that and it works!
And what if your novel is so epic that a hugely famous producer wants to make it into a movie? Hopefully, some of us will be able to do that one day. How awesome would that be? Have you already been daydreaming about who you’d cast in your movie? Let’s face it, most of us envision our stories on the screen even before we put fingers to keyboard.
Which famous person reminds you of your character?
Is your story a swashbuckling adventure with a shot of rum humour? Maybe Jonny Depp is who you have in mind for your protagonist. Or do you see the dashingly romantic Orlando Bloom as your hero?
Are you writing a sci-fi novel? Do you see Leonard Nimoy as your strange wise man, or perhaps he fits the role of a High-Elf wizard in your fantasy novel?
Who would you love to cast?
Who would be perfect in the role of your main Protagonist?
Your main Antagonist?
Your Protagonist’s Love Interest?
Your Protagonist’s Mentor?
Your Protagonist’s Sidekick?
Your Protagonist’s 4 Main Followers?
Your Antagonist’s Sidekick?
Pinterest For Role Call
By now most of you know how much I love to play around on Pinterest and create boards for my writing projects. I have boards for my characters, costume ideas, writing tips for the genre I’m currently writing in and so on. I find this casting exercise very helpful and inspiring. There’s freedom in ‘hiring’ professionals to play around in your imagination. And it’s so much fun!
I ‘hired’ a famous actor to play the role of my hero in the Dwarf story I’m currently writing. You can check out my Dwarf storyboard with sections about my protagonists, antagonists, mountains, caves, armour and more here.
If you missed my other blogs on writing characters, you can catch up here:
If you’ve been writing your story along with me, you probably have a pretty good idea of who your hero protagonist, their main sidekick, and the evil antagonist and his henchmen are and what they’re doing when your story starts, but how did they become who they are? Why is your protagonist a charming young female who loves to wander the forests of a mystical land on horseback? Why is her companion an outcast from a faraway land? What led your antagonist to despise all Elves?
What’s the story behind your story?
How do you find out the backstory of your story? As you know, I’m learning this whole process as I go along – like most of you too, I expect, as I write my Dwarf story. Thank you for joining me on this journey.
In my research, I discovered that the best information to start with is the character’s birth. (Duh.)
I also found as I wrote my first NaNoWriMo novel draft in 2015, it really does help to plot all this before you start writing your novel. I wasted many hours going back to a previous chapter to correct something I didn’t realize about my character until halfway through. Did I mention I switched my focus halfway through the story? Yep, the first half was a superhero and the second half was – well, I’m not exactly sure but it wasn’t a superhero. Something I learned from a fellow NaNo writer was to write all the main characters on sticky notes or in a journal with their own page, then add anything you discover about them as you write so you don’t lose track of information. Scrivener is another, more technical, way to organize your work. (The link goes to their page for a discount).
Let’s start with the protagonist
Where they were born and were there any unusual circumstances surrounding their birth?
Was it an easy birth?
Was the father present?
Were they delivered by a doctor or a travelling healer?
Maybe in their realm, they were delivered by supernatural means.
How many siblings did they have?
Write as much as you know about the birth of your protagonist.
Then go on to childhood.
Did they go to school?
Who was their best friend?
What was their favourite subject?
Did they excel at anything?
Did their experiences as a child influence their career choice?
Were they homeschooled or sent away at a young age to apprentice with someone?
Were they born with all the knowledge they would need in life?
How did that happen?
Your protagonist as an adult.
What drove them to be in the situation they’re in now?
Did they suffer prejudice, health issues or a failed relationship?
Write as many life events as you can think of and delete each one as you write.
Be open to adding new things you discover about your protagonist as your story unfolds.
Let the story evolve and delete any notes that no longer apply.
Then do the same for your major antagonist.
Ask why they’re angry, mean, and vicious.
People don’t start out that way as a newborn baby so what happened in their past to steer them down that path?
Is the antagonist driven by fear, guilt or jealousy?
Why do they have metal teeth or wear a mask?
Do the same for a few minor characters. Write only what’s important for your reader to know, not their entire life story.
Take a look at The Watcher by Sara Davison as a great example of backstory for her protagonist, Kathryn Ellison. Check out The Watcher on Amazon.
and Great Expectations as a wonderfully written backstory for the antagonist, the embittered Miss Havisham. Check out Great Expectations on Amazon
When we write fantasy or any other genre of fictional story we need to name our characters. We get to create the people and creatures and then give them a name, so they come ‘alive’ to us as we write and to the reader who’s going to be blown away by our stories. Cool, huh?
Reading and researching old books from the countries or regions which have influenced your setting can be a big help. Consider the character of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. Heath means ‘an area of land covered in heather or similar low dense shrubbery’, and Cliff is ‘a high steep rock or precipice’. Heathcliff is a perfect name for the dishevelled and tortured romantic hero living on the English moors. (Dear to my heart as I was born there–not on the moors, down the road a bit).
Other characters have more obscure names such as Mark Twain, the renowned author and humourist. He was born Samuel Clemens but used the pen-name Mark Twain, which means the second line on the side of the riverboat where Twain worked as a young man. The second line (mark) was 12’ and the safe depth mark for the boat.
How do you go about choosing, or inventing, a name for your fantasy characters? If I want to quickly write a short story or an ebook, I find it easier to use a name that fits with the occupation of the character.
First Name + Occupational Surname
Penelope Donkeyrider (Courier)
Dugan Bagsnatcher (Thief)
Ventrice Shoemaker (Cobbler)
Tola Axegrinder (Blacksmith)
Roland Brewmaster (Winemaker)
First Name + Setting Surname
Fantasy characters can also be named for the place where they live:
First Name + Race
How about naming your character as easy as using their race as a descriptor?
Kreg Cave Dwarf
Felicia Fairy Princess
Eleander High Elf
You get the idea. I’ve come up with a few hilarious names doing this. I’ve also found watching the credits from shows and movies to be inspiring, especially if the show was filmed in a place similar to my story world. There are name generators that can help too. Here’s a site I go to for inspiration – Name Generator
Giving my main characters names helped me to organize my files on my Pinterest boards where I stash every image I can find that looks at all like I envision my character to be as well as my story settings and other features. Now that Pinterest allows me to add ‘sections’ to my boards I have one for my hero, minor protagonists, the main villain, minor antagonists and one for settings. Also, I feel a closer connection to my characters when I talk to them if they have names (admit it, you do this too, right?) Check out my published books on Pinterest and the new novel I’m writing. I also use these images for my social media gems (unless they’re repinned and have copyright).
By naming my darlings, I feel them take on a personality, and it’s easier to write their story, how they would respond to situations and their mannerisms. Do you feel this way about your characters?
A brainstorming session with friends could generate a lot of names for you – and a lot of beverages snorting out of the nose (always a good party trick). What else could influence your characters’ names?
So, have fun with naming your characters.
What name would you give the character in the title picture?
Leave a comment. I’d love to know what name you came up with.
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who made you in His image.
A premise is the foundation of your story. It’s a single sentence that reflects the core of what happens to the characters because of the events. Your story supports this premise. If you know your premise before you start writing you’ll find it easier to write because your underlying thought drives your work. It will also help you remain focused on what you’re writing and the idea you want to convey to your readers.
Why is a premise so important?
Once your premise is solid, you can then begin to create a storyline that proves it. Let’s say for example you want to write about truth. Your premise could be as simple as “Honesty is the best policy”, then write a story supporting that. What do you want your reader to know about being honest, and why is it so important?
If you don’t yet have a story in mind and you’re still looking for a place to start, try Proverbs for a short, simple sentence that conveys an idea that inspires you, or a quote from a favourite movie.
Examples of a compelling premise
“When your beliefs are at war, does love stand a chance?”
The End Begins by Sara Davison, The Seven Trilogy, Book 1. Click on the book for more information.
“Groundhog Day in space.”
Singularity – by Benjamin T. Collier. Click on the book for more information.
Once you have your premise, you can go on to writing your logline. Stay tuned…
Til next time, remember you are loved by the One who created you in His image.
(note: I’m an Amazon affiliate and receive a small fee for using their images when I promote someone’s work.)
As an author and Christian Life Coach, I’m often asked about how to get started with a writing career. Here’s a mini-course on just that – how to get started on the writing path. There are lots of coaching tips and I’ve included worksheets to help you through those all-important first stages of decision making and planning, plus a guide to help equip you with attainable goals for moving forward in your new career. This course is for anyone thinking about changing their profession or seeking a solid basis to grow their writing.
Is God calling you to write for Him?
Do you feel compelled by God to write?
Does anyone say your words have impacted or inspired them?
Has anyone in professional writing circles said your work is good?
Have you ever dreamed of writing devotionals or Christian Romance novels?
If your answer to any of those questions is “yes” —
Congratulations – You just might be a writer!
As an author and Christian Life Coach, I’m often asked about how to get started with a writing career. Here’s a mini-course on just that – how to get started on the writing path. There are lots of coaching tips and I’ve included worksheets to help you through those all-important first stages of decision making and planning, plus a guide to help equip you with attainable goals for moving forward in your new career. This course is for anyone thinking about changing their profession or seeking a solid base to grow their writing.