Behind the Scenes

Below is an excerpt of my inner monologue. Don’t judge me.

 

AUTHOR: Jeremy, come back in the room. We aren’t done working on this chapter.

PROTAGONIST: No. I’m not talking to you.

AUTHOR: Seriously? You can’t leave the story without a resolution. Come back here. You are making me look bad.

PROTAGONIST: No.

AUTHOR: I’ll let you kiss Svetlina . . .

PROTAGONIST: Promise?

AUTHOR: Yes. I will totally let you make out with her. And she won’t try to kill you this time.

PROTAGONIST: You said that last time.

AUTHOR: I know, but this time I mean it.

PROTAGONIST: Do I get a cool sword?

AUTHOR: Totally.

PROTAGONIST: Why do I feel like there is a catch?

AUTHOR: Um. . .

PROTAGONIST: I KNEW IT! You are going to fuck up my life some more, aren’t you?

AUTHOR: Only for a little while. It gets better, I swear.

PROTAGONIST: I hate you.

AUTHOR: I know.

PROTAGONIST: You know you are insane, right?

AUTHOR: Probably.

PROTAGONIST: Okay. Fine. I will get back in this chapter, but you better make my sword badass. And no more making me look like an idiot.

AUTHOR: Riiight…. You will totally not look like a moron swing a sword wildly as the wolves converge on you. . .

PROTAGONIST: Goddamn it. I knew I shouldn’t trust you.

 

 

“I’m a writer. Therfore. I am not sane.”

– Edgar Allan Poe

 

What I Am Up To

I know, I know, it is really late in the day and I should have posted much sooner. But wait until you hear about what I spent my day doing (then you might forgive my flakeyness). Since it is summertime, my good pal Kristin Swartfager is out of school (she works at a preschool), at which point she switches hats from teaching young-ins to illustrating and arting up the place.

Curoius?

 

I knew you would be. Here is a taste:

Yarn for title page

Yup. It’s a ball of yarn. This is one of many adorably irresistible images that will appear in our first collaboration, Timmy Tommy Tum. It is a picture book with a rhyming story about a human-like kitten who refuses to go to sleep. Yes, it is for children.

The reason (and my excuse) for being so un-bloggy today is because Kristin and I spent the day refining our work. You will see the results of our cooperation very soon.  Until then, bask in the cuteness of the characters she drew to represent us in all of the books (yes, there will be several more to come) we do together specifically for kids.

KS&AL (1)In other news, my webpage got an update. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here: authoralsant.com

I will give you updates as our happy partnership produces more awesomeness. Until then, Happy reading!

 

Plot Decisions

love triangle copy

 

 

Ah, to romance, or not to romance? That is the question I have been presented with this week.

You see, I was aiming at a urban fantasy without any lovey dovey stuff. Partly because I was afraid my attempt at literary smootchy-smootchy would end up super cheesy, but also because I wanted to focus on Jeremy-my leading fellow- and not who he is kissing. I have invented a politically unstable world, and thus far I have focused heavily on that. But as you may know, writers invent characters, and then those characters seem to do whatever the heck they want to do, regardless of your original intentions. So now I find myself battling the seemingly natural progression of a budding relationship between two of my people.

I took the issue to several of my writing buddies, and a funny thing happened. None of them had an issue with an underlying romance. Nobody thought it was cheesy. Most of them didn’t know why I was even asking, thinking I’d done it on purpose. Do you know what did happen? I got pretty divided camps on who Jeremy should end up with.

Huh.

As it it turns out, I have written myself a bit of a love triangle, without realizing I had done it. So I had a choice. Let it work itself out as I go along, or try and snuff it out. When I talked to my hubby about destroying the bit of romance, he protested. Loudly. I got a stern, “what does it matter if there is romance in it?” lecture. Oh, and he tried to say he didn’t care which girl Jeremy ended up with, but he had a lot more positive things to say about the witch. . .

Sooooo. . .

Apparently the romance stays. But I am going to blow some stuff up. You know, just to compensate. =)

 

 

 

Opinions, and Where to Put Them.

As you know, I live off in my own world, full of fairies, monsters, and creatures of my own invention. I like living this way, and I have no intentions of my work reflecting anything that isn’t me.  I’m weird, and I’m aware of it. It showed through in Tilted Tales, and it will shine equally as bright in Fayling (my pending novel).

Now, when I share my work for critique, I get lots of great advice and encouragement from my fellow group members. But I sometimes get critics who just don’t like my genre. They question a characters abilities, and try to enforce real-world physics into my book. “that’s not possible,” one person will say “a character cannot be all powerful” another will say. Yes, because being able to move walls means nothing can ever harm you. It’s an ability, my friend. Not all mighty perfection. Magic is supposed to be unexpected, and put the super  in supernatural. Their problem is not with my style, by the subject matter. And that is just fine; clearly they are not my target demographic.

Thank god J.K. Rowling didn’t listen to any such advice.

Feeling the way I did about the review of my current chapters, something occurred to me. I am always encouraging other writers to seek out and listen to the advice of other writers. I may have left an important tidbit of advice out of that sentiment:

Don’t stifle your own voice because someone doesn’t like your theme. Listen to the grammar corrections, and the honest concerns about your plot. But take the opinions of the people who don’t like the subject matter (and judge the work accordingly) and place their opinion on the shelf, where it belongs. Your writing is yours. Don’t let anyone try to change that.

Interesting Character = Interesting Story

Nobody is 100% good or 100% evil. Your characters shouldn’t be either.

As a writer, you’ve probably thought out your plot and have begun writing a character. We all know that heroes have to have at least one flaw. Superman has kryptonite. Harry Potter’s Scar burned-also he’s a teenager and a bit moody. Katniss doesn’t connect well with people. Bilbo Baggins often underestimates himself.

One thing you may want to think extra carefully about is you supporting characters. Often the most interesting stories have a really bad bad-guy. But there are other characters that are either not labeled, or initially presented as bad or good, and later reveal complicated qualities. Find the human element in every character, and you have found a believable motivation for his/her actions. For example in Lord of the Rings, Sauron is a total jerk-face, but Gollum was partly misunderstood. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Dobby the house-elf works for a horrid family, and keeps trying to maim Harry, and yet he helps Harry in the end. It isn’t until we understand Dobby’s story that we understand his motivations, and come to love him.

What would you do in your characters shoes? What sort of life have they lived? It never hurts to create a back-story even for support characters. I like to keep post-it notes or a spreadsheet on the characteristics of key characters in my story. Even if you only include hints at the back-story in the body of your work, understanding the character yourself will help you to make more realistic and believable people. Someone that your reader can understand, if not relate to.