Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Not sure how this works. I guess I tag six other bloggers. Then tell six things about myself.
So.. I am going to tag other emerging authors...
Wendy Laharnar
Ron Adams
Anita Davidson
Pamela Thibodeaux
Rosemary Morris
DS Haines

Right, Six things about me.
1 I love being a grandma. It's the best.
2 I believe Family is the most important thing in life.
3 Thinking positive gets difficult sometimes. Hugs help.
4 Although I don't want to sound too excited, having a Fantasy workshop on the Museonline writer's conference is a huge buzz. I am looking forward to meeting the writers who have signed up. It should be a great week. I am humbled by having Lea Schizas invite me to participate.
5 My dream is to be able to write full time.
6 Another wish is to have Exiled:Autumn's Peril released BEFORE the conference.

I guess that is enough for anyone to know about me. I am obsessed with my family and my writing. It's not earth-shattering. It's just me.
Have a great day. Smile. You could be the next one tagged!!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

What it takes to create a GOOD Villain. Point Five.

How many times have you been reading a book or watching a movie and the bad give the hero a break, whether intentionally or by accident or they do somthing too stupid to be believable?
If the villain relies on being dumb for the hero to succeed there is a major flaw in the character.
A villain who stops to explain their diabolical plans and in doing so gives the hero a means of escape, just doesn't cut it.
Although it might have worked in the spy thriller's written by Ian Fleming and the films of that genre, in Fantasy we need to have antagonists who are consistant in their villainy. They need motive and they also need to be worthy opponents to a worthwhile hero. Don't sell them out for less.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What it takes to create a Good Fantasy Villain; Point Four

POINT 4) Creating Villains that readers love to hate can come from having them start out with good intentions. If their plans get out of control, or their ideas become too aggressive they can become the ‘bad guy’ even though their original goals were motivated by good intentions.

There are two villains from recent Batman and Spiderman movies who show these tendencies. In Spiderman the character of Dr Octopus began with wonderful intentions. His energy ideas were for the good of mankind, but things get out of hand and he becomes a lethal villain. Poison Ivy, one of the villains in Batman, started off being an environmental activist. She is seen as evil and mankind's enemy when her actions become destructive.

The idea that 'all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely' is one adage that can be put to use when creating an evil nemesis for a Fantasy novel. Good intentions can be warped when things become too easy, or the power too heady for a character to control. Losing sight of the goal, having a character turn from good to evil, can create a great villain.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What it takes to create a Good Fantasy Villain; Point THREE

Point 3) When creating a Good Villain, the author can give their character all the dreadful determination that in every day life we keep leashed.

For example, when rage raises its ugly presence we can wish evil upon someone. What makes us reasonable people is that we do not carry out our wishes.

We can though, have a villain take their worst intentions to heart and act on them. Where a reasonable soul would rage and then simmer, finally allowing logic to rule their lives, our antagonist can take their rage and act on it. Even to over react and devise and enact those dastardly deeds that will keep the reader hoping justice is finally served. When the villain takes payback and revenge too far, when they fail to keep within limits of behaviour that are reasonable, that’s when their behaviour becomes villainous and dastardly.

An example of a villain whose actions are malicious and whose diabolical plan keeps the reader hoping for retribution is the arch villain in the Chronicles of Caleath. Throughout the series, readers keep asking if and when will the hero finally defeat/meet his nemesis. I take that as a sign of having created a great ‘bad guy’.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Seven Tips and Hints on Creating a GOOD Fantasy Villain

Tip II: To create a Lovable Villain you need to make them characters to whom readers can relate. There are ways of doing this that will help our readers empathise with the most miserable antagonist.
Villains can own their own set of injustices. If they feel they are ‘hard done by’, by society, life or circumstance, they not only have an understandable reason for maladjusted behaviour, but they will have enough logic for their actions to allow the reader to have some sympathy towards their plight. From a single human frailty, such as fear, jealousy, or loneliness your villain can still generate evil but they will also have at least one character trait for a reader to relate to.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Seven Tips and Hints on Creating a GOOD Fantasy Villain

7 Hints and tips on what it takes to write about a character readers will love to hate.

Tip 1)

The archetypical villain, dastardly and devious, comes from the pantomime stage. When writing Fantasy we need to look for an antagonist who will keep our readers hooked. The villain needs therefore, to have some redeeming aspects of their character.

Remember that average bad guys don’t see themselves as evil. They have purpose and although their means and actions might be malevolent, their intentions can be purely selfish. As long as your villain can justify their behaviour, seeing their actions as logical and working towards a certain goal, they can still be frightening and threatening but their character can also sustain some empathy and interest in the reader. A villain like Hannibal Lector can be more disturbing because he sees his behaviour as rational. ( although he's not from Fantasy, he's a recognisable character with a creepy habit that he thinks is justifiable.)

A strong motive can give the most dastardly villain some credibility.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Review of Bloodstone Castle by Mirella Patzer

My Review of Bloodstone Castle by Mirella Patzer.

From the prologue, Mirella Patzer creates the atmosphere of 10th century Italy, with all the tension and emotion of childbirth. In the opening chapters we begin to understand the drama of life in those times. Death, marriage and family loyalty are themes that play a large part in this story.

Duke Amoro Dragone the handsome hero, is told that his father’s dying wish is for the feud between the house of Dragone and the house of Monterossa, to end. His father wishes for Amoro to marry Morena Monterossa the only daughter of the family who own Bloodstone Castle. That the two families have been feuding for three generations does not deter Amoro in his quest to win Morena’s love.

There is of course a fly in the ointment, or the story would be short and sweet. Before his death, Morena’s father promised her hand to Ernesto of Savona. Morena knows of this betrothal and would honour her father’s wishes. While reluctant to accept the advances of Amoro, Morena finds herself charmed and confused by his attention.

Should she follow her heart, or follow her father’s wishes? Is Ernesto’s claim valid? Or is he only after the treasure that legend says is buried beneath Bloodstone Castle.

With two father’s murdered both Amoro and Morena are intent on finding their killers. Amid a tempestuous romance, betrayal, murder, rape and torture, Mirella Patzer weaves a tale filled with intrigue, passion and power. Her characters search their souls for an answer to the predicament they find themselves in. Despite devotion, love and ultimate sacrifice will Destiny bring them together or will Ernesto’s original betrothal keep them apart? Bloodstone Castle explores the depth of passions and how they dictate behaviour. Passion, love and lust all play a part as this tale unfolds.

I would recommend Bloodstone Castle for anyone looking for a romantic trip back in time. Amoro’s loyalty binds him to his father’s dying wish, but he remains thoroughly heroic. Morena matures from a virtuous maid to a passionate woman who discovers her own mind and is not afraid to express her opinions. The villain is devious and dastardly enough to satisfy any reader.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Using Character Driven POV

Point of view can make or break a story. Used well, the character driven pov can create empathy with the reader, showing them the world as the main character views it. They will live and breath the main character's adventure, feel their pain, share their successes. For me it is the most fun. In truth I am still learning how to polish this pov, but I really enjoy trying to involve every sense as I 'see' the world through my character's eyes.

Third person character narration, or character driven pov, allows the character to think about things and in doing so the reader gains an intimacy with the main character. They experience their inner turmoil, their angst, their elation or despair. Writing Fantasy it is important to create a world that the reader can relate to. We are removed from what is familiar and the reader relies on the writer to give them enough information to complete the illusion. Always remember to allow your character to experience all the sensory stimulii possible. This is shared with the reader. Within character driven pov the information can be conveyed in various ways. Writers can choose to use 'internal monologue narration', a style that conveys the story as if the character is telling it.

An example of Internal monologue narration. With the reader inside the main character's head.

Stryder threw open the door, stumbled inside and looked around. How had he forgotten her bewitching wiles?

Or they can use 'Internal dialogue narration', (as opposed to monologue) Let's see...

Stryder threw open the door, stumbled inside and looked around. How did I forget her bewitching wiles?

When writing a scene, it is best to keep to the one pov. To begin with an omniscient intrusive pov (god like) (where the reader is told what everyone is thinking or feeling) and then close in to a character driven pov just doesn't work. It is called head hopping and is one reason a manuscript will be rejected. Jumping from one character to another within a scene is also head hopping and a big 'no no'. If you must change characters, change scene or chapter. There should at least be a double spaced paragraph between POV changes. If possible maintain the single pov for a chapter.

I read recently that it is 'ok' for pov changes in times of conflict. I don't know. I think it shows the author isn't trying. That's my opinion.

Another rule to remember when choosing a pov to use is to tell the story from the point of view of the character with the most to lose or gain from the scene. You might find though that if you have a character that the reader is following, breaking from their POV shatters the focus. I re wrote a novel that followed three main characters. Now it follows one. From reader's reactions it works well now. Sacrificing so many words seemed almost painful at one stage, but I have learnt so much since the book was written. I would be wrong not to incorporate new information wouldn't I? Writing and re writing.. honing our skills. That's what it is all about, isn’t it?

Poor POV and Passive writing both distance the reader from the action. Learning to avoid these two pitfalls should sharpen your writing. Seeing the same mistakes in others is often easier than correcting your own work, but once you are aware of the problems and how to overcome them you will find you notice them as you write. At least, that is what I have found.

Good luck and keep writing.

What is important about POV?

The secret to dragging a reader into a story and immersing them in the Fantasy world is to master at least one Point of View. The Character driven POV is useful to the writer when they need to include the reader in the action.

Now Point of View and Passive writing can actually cause the same problems. The problem is distancing the reader. So using a POV that works and that a writer is confident with can make the difference between a winning story and a yawn.

If the author does not succeed in describing, filling the reader's imagination, or giving enough information to keep them turning pages, it can often be due to a failure in using a workable POV.

An author should avoid at all costs anything that separates the reader from the POV character. Editing for this error is difficult. It means finding any instance where the author has backed away from the main character.

A useful analogy is to think of a cameraman filming a scene. To begin the shoot the camera angle would be wide lens giving an overview for the audience. Once established the camera would close in. Zooming in to focus on the characters and create empathy with them. As the scene continues the camera can be used to create tension, conflict or to establish how the main character is feeling. It is only able to relate what is SEEN or what the character believes. The camera cannot tell what other characters are thinking. Neither can the main character when using this POV. If a camera cannot SEE a thought, neither can the character. To suddenly read minds is to change POV and will distance the reader.

It is important with character driven POV to only reveal the thoughts and reactions of the main character. Actions and emotions of other characters can be described as if seen by the main character, but they must be interpreted through the main character's eyes.

When the narrator intrudes on the story, imposing their own thoughts or beliefs the reader is suddenly distanced. They no longer have the intimacy of being inside the main character's head, they are suddenly being told what is happening. This is called Author Intrusive narration.

There are many different types of POV. For example in fiction, writers are able to use: effaced omniscient narrator, limited omniscient narrator, restrictive omniscient narrator or third person character narrator. The temptation to write in first person also exists, First person POV has several styles all of its own.

I have trouble with POV. Hence the length of the discussion here. Trying to understand the various different styles, gives me a headache. Reading published authors who seem to head hop or change POV confuses me. I have tried to master the character driven pov. I don't know that I have managed to as yet, but readers comment that they feel as though they are involved and in the story, so I guess that's a good sign.

Good luck and keep writing.

How to Edit for Passive Voice...continued

Editing for passive voice initially means seeking out and replacing many of the instances where a writer used the verb 'to be'. Replacing weak verbs with stronger action verbs will improve their writing immediately.

Passive voice results from the over use of the 'to be' verb. Instances include using; am, is, was, were, be, being and been. The opposite of Passive voice is Active voice and this comes about when the writer uses action verbs. For example; run, hop, hit, crash, slash. A read can visualise an action verb. They can see somebody ACT, but they cannot visualise somebody BEING.

Passive voice will slow a writing and increases the word count without achieving stronger writing. Passive voice can be confusing because it does not conform to the basic SVO form of sentence structure. SVO for those who aren't familiar with the concept means SUBJECT VERB OBJECT. Without following this form senteces can become jumbled, confusing and can become too complicated.

Compare the following sentences.

Caleath swung the sword. ACTIVE VOICE Subject (Caleath) Verb (swung) Object (sword).

The sword was swung by Caleath. PASSIVE

The sword was swung. PASSIVE

The first sentence tells us who is doing the action straigh out. The second example leaves us wondering who might be swinging the sword and the last one tells us very little.

The ACTIVE voice is achieved by choosing strong, vivid verbs that will describe an action rather than weak passive verbs that tell us what has happened. Active voice can bring the reader into the story, while passive voice keeps the reader at a distance.

Another Example. Stryder copied the map. (active)

The map was copied by Stryder. (passive)

The map was copied. (passive)

So, to avoid creating passive voice problems go through your manuscript and remove and replace at least a third of the instances of the verb 'to be'. (am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been). Look for sentences that do not follow the SVO form and change them. It isn't difficult. When you find a sentence in the OVS form, find who or what is the subject that is doing the action and start the sentence with them. Find the object and place it at the end of the sentence.

Passive voice can be edited out again, by combining weaker sentences. Revise weak sentences, to convey an idea in a more powerful, descriptive manner.

Note: Passive voice is used often in reports and essays. We are talking about writing Fantasy and as such we want to pull the reader into the Fantasy world we are creating. Reports have their place, and passive voice has it's use but we are learning how to improve our writing.

There are times when Passive voice works, even in Fantasy.

Caleath was lean, wiry and reticent, with unkempt blond hair and piercing blue eyes.

Keep writing and enjoy the journey.

How to Edit for Passive Voice.

Have you ever wondered how to avoid this simple problem? These simple steps can help avoid falling into the common trap of using too much passive voice.

When editing for Passive Voice it is time to seek out and replace the most common passive voice VERBS.

Using 'find' in Word docs is one simple way. Going through your ms with a red pen is another. Which ever way you choose, the time spent is worthwhile.

First, look for the two worst offenders, 'WAS' and 'WERE'. Where these occur try to replace them, even if it means re writing the sentence. One helpful bit of advice I was given was to try to describe what is happening in terms that can be illustrated.

For example.. I have used this before, so bear with me... "He was angry." Try to describe his anger. How did the viewer know he was angry. His face grew red, his teeth ground, his pulserate quickened. His temper frayed. etc.
"They were alone" Here there is a great opportunity to address all the senses. Don't just rely on sight.. What can the subject hear, or what doesn't the subject hear... or smell or feel that helps describe their isolation?

Ok, once you begin to find those pesky WAS and WERE verbs, it is time to go further and seek out and destroy examples of static verbs (other forms of the verb TO BE) such as: am, is, are, be, being, been. Then we have the dreaded..had, have, has, do, did, does, and we finish with the threesome, could, should and would.

You will have already begun to find your writing is stronger and more impressive as you learn to replace these lazy verbs with more aggressive, descriptive verbs.

It doesn't end there. Look for any instances where you might have over used got, get, went, and put.

That's enough for now. If there are any questions, please contact me. It sounds straight forward, but there are times when even these simple solutions become confusing. Remember 'all things in moderation.'

Keep writing.

Why is a Plot Outline so important?

Have you ever written a piece and found that it doesn't work? Some authors write from the seat of their pants, but even these can find that once their story is complete there are flaws that need fixing.

This is where a simple tool like a plot outline can help. An outline can find problems like loose ends, unresolved plots, plot holes or pacing problems. It is in the outline stage that trouble spots can be identified and eliminated. Missing breathers, chapters that have the wrong tension, plot points in the wrong place or an inconsistent plot can be fixed at this stage. Other common problems like missing subplots, unresolved subplots or a climax that omits some of the sub plot elements can be worked out with an outline. An outline can prevent the problem of sub plots being resolved before the main plot resolution, sub plots that are not vital to the main plot or its resolution, weal plots, weak causes of conflict or motivation and missing twists or conflicts.

Although the time taken to work through an outline might seem tedious and unnecessary, if there is ever a moment when the finished story seems to lack drive and the necessary hook to keep the reader turning every page, then an outline could be the simplest answer.