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Saturday, June 30, 2012

What Kind of Writer Are You?

What's Your Style?

I've posted about this before, but I think it's worth repeating. Beginning writers get bombarded with materials telling them how to write – or more precisely, how not to write. The fact is, there is no perfect, magic formula that works for everyone.

Some how to authors will say it is mandatory to know the outcome of the story before beginning. They will also demand that the author outline everything. I read such an article when I was a fairly inexperienced writer. I was shocked.

I don't outline – not anything. Outlines are things English teachers demand for term papers. (I know, because I used to be an English teacher.) I outline after the paper is written – and only because it's required

I don't know the ending of my story before I begin. I don't know the middle either. In fact, if I have a structure in mind, chances are good that the story will bog down and not go anywhere. I make notes, jot down ideas, talk about problem passages with my husband (who is not a writer, but has some good ideas) and eventually I get the story finished.

What kind of writer are you? Are the mathematically precise type who organizes, outlines, knows the entire story before you begin? Or are you an organic writer who gets an idea for a story, a starting sentence, a glimmer of a conflict and runs with it? These are the extremes, there is plenty of middle ground. Where are you?


Dellani Oakes is an author with Second Wind Publishing and Tirgearr Publishing. She is the author of 8 published novels and has written infinitely more. She is also a blog talk radio host for Red River Radio Network. Listen for Dellani every 1st Monday at 4:00 PM (EST)for Dellani's Tea Time and every 4th Wednesday at3:00 PM (EST) for What's Write for Me on Blog Talk Radio!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Writing from the Heart - Laura Smith



In All Things; Giving Thanks When Hope Seems Lost”

What inspired me to write and actually have my story published was an accumulation of events. My original intent was never to publish a book however; when I had one person read it and then another, and another, the feedback was amazing! It was like a sense of urgency that the message within was something people needed to hear. And even the men who have read it have been profoundly affected.

The life events that sparked this book began in my teen years where I remember wondering why I was even on this earth, or why God would put me in a family that didn’t seem to even want me. I was always called a mistake and they would tease me when I was younger that they found me on the streets of St. Paul. It’s no wonder that I married the town rebel two weeks after my high school graduation! Finally someone loved me and I wasn’t going to let that go. Fast forward 4 years, two daughters later and a divorce, I’m re-married. I just found out that my youngest daughter was molested by her biological dad when she was only two years old, she is diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and Bipolar disorder, my oldest daughter diagnosed with neurofibromatosis and facing numerous back surgeries, many other trials and then being told that my husband and I will never have a child of our own. But wait! After weeks of being sick a random pregnancy test to rule out that possibility, I’m PREGNANT! A miracle! It took us weeks to absorb this miracle and with growing excitement from our entire family, I lost the baby 3 months into the pregnancy.

While some write to entertain, I found the writing process was very healing for me. Journaling through trials helped me to empty the pain of the day from my heart onto paper so I could start fresh the next day. This was the case when I initially started writing “In All Things”, it was simply in a journal and was a way for me to try and process the grief of going through miscarriage. I write very honestly and hold nothing back. I believe that by the power of our testimony others can find healing. I also believe sugar coating things makes for a nice story but has no impact. The first editor I contacted to go through my book wanted me to remove a lot of life events because it wasn’t “Christian” like. Well, I’m sorry but I’m a real person and experience real life issues and others need to hear the real stuff.

Since the publishing of this book, I have had inspiration for another book to be a second in the “In All Things” series. The next one will be “Expect A Miracle” which will be an account of the amazing two years going through my dad’s cancer journey with him. Also since publishing, I have been asked to speak at a few local events and my desire is to be able to do that more. I feel that when you can share your story in person it can have a much more profound impact. At one of the events where I shared my story, there was a lady in the audience that was healed instantly from the pain of miscarriage she was suffering from for two years! I would love the opportunity to see others find that same healing to live again. I encourage others with a personal story to get it out there, the reward and I don’t mean monetary is far greater than the fear.

Author Bio: Laura works as a medical coding and reimbursement specialist in Northern Minnesota. In All Things is a witty and raw account of an otherwise normal life filled with incredible challenges that will make you laugh out loud and cry tears of joy and tears of sorrow. Her little family had no idea that the life experiences they walked through early on and one life altering event would prepare them for the near death of her oldest daughter.
Author’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InAllThings
Author’s Twitter:
https://twitter.com/#!/LauraMStorrs Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4KBlLlBXhQ Link to Purchase: http://www.halopublishing.com/bookstore/Laura-Smith also available at all major online book sellers.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

S. Evan Townsend

Today's guest is S. Evan Townsend, author of riveting novels - "Rock Killer", "Agent of Artifice" and "Hammer of Thor". I've read and enjoyed all of Townsend's books. To read their reviews, visit Dellani's Choice.



Whither Books

Two phenomena are happening simultaneously in our society and it's going to be interesting to see what happens. Both are thanks to technology and both are conflicting with the other.

The first phenomenon is it is easier, cheaper, and faster to write, edit, and publish a book. I have no idea how much discipline it took to write a novel on a typewriter without spell check to catch typos and the ease of editing and re-writing and moving text around. Then with HP's print on demand technology replacing expensive off-set printing for producing books, its relatively inexpensive to self-publish or start a small-press publishing house. And with ebook technology, it is free if you do all the formatting work. This has caused an explosion of new books on the market (according to Amazon, there's something like one million books available for the Kindle). The problem for the writer/publisher is how to stand out in that crowd.

The other phenomenon that is happening is I believe people, especially young people, are becoming less interested in reading. When you can download movies onto your iPhone or Kindle Fire why do you need to read? I think we are becoming more of a visual society, which started with the invention of the motion picture, accelerated with television, and is now at warp drive with the internet, streaming content, and smart gadget technology.

So where does that leave book authors? It's easier than ever to get a book published (selling it is another matter) but there is a dwindling audience for books. I've been told by a publicist that the people who read books the most are women aged 40 and up. And they are getting older and will all die some day. Maybe with Harry Potter the so called Millennial Generation will rediscover reading. But they are going to want to read it on their contact lens interface.

I believe the purpose of books is to make memory permanent. You no longer have to go to the village elder to learn. That memory might be organic chemistry or the fevered results of a writer's imagination. But in any case, once it's published, it's permanent. If an civilization-killing virus hits, the lucky immune survivors are not going to be looking for a kindle but for books to rebuild their civilization on. As much as I hate government interference in the free market, maybe there should be a law that all books need to have at least one paper copy printed, just in case.

It will be interesting to see what happens to physical, paper books in the future. Will they become as anachronistic as the buggy whip? Or will people still want them? It's not very impressive to hold up an electronic gadget and say "I've read all these books" but point to a book case stuffed with paperbacks and hard covers and say, "I've read all those books" is much more impressive. That is, if reading impresses anyone in the future.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Writing Tips by Fran Lewis

My guest blogger today is author, radio host and reviewer, Fran Lewis. Welcome, Fran and thanks for sharing your words of wisdom with us today!


Writing a Non-Fiction Book

1.  When writing a non- fiction book that is not an autobiography you might want to start by doing research and getting information related to the topic that you are going to write about. Before writing my first Alzheimer’s book I researched the disease and got information from many doctors, organizations and websites to include in the medical part of the book. In order to understand the illness and the stages I had to find the information needed from different sources.
2.  By doing research you will have some idea of what you want to write about and how you might want to present this information.
3.  You need to decide on your audience. Are you targeting all adults, young adults or children?
4.  Is this book for someone who does not know much about your topic or is it for someone with some knowledge? Knowing your audience will help you decide which type of research you will need and how technical the articles might have to be or not be.
5.  Create an outline of the chapters or areas you want to cover.
6.  Create a short summary before writing the book or an article on this topic.
7.  This will help you to focus on the important areas that you want to cover in your book and the order of how you want to present it to your readers.
8.  After writing your story, article or novel you need to edit it from start to finish.
9.  Read your article from top to bottom. Spell -check it and check for correct grammar. Edit the book or article many times. Make a hard copy of the book or article by printing it. Recheck for errors that you might have missed. Have someone else read it. Self-editing and reediting.
10.                Publish the article: Make sure that it is perfect.


When writing a fiction book you can follow the above steps but you need to consider these additional ones too:

When writing my children’s series I had to decide on the main character of the book. I listed the character traits that I want this character to have. I created the many different situations that I wanted the character to encounter and in what settings she would encounter them.

I wrote a short summary of the book and what I hoped it would finally say. A short summary can be written in the present or third person. The summary introduced my main characters and their possible conflicts.
You can create a short plot outline the plot points or scenes that you want included in your book. When I wrote my first chapter book I created my outline and as I wrote the book I realized I had to change the chapter order and recreate some of the conversations among the characters and where they took place.

REVISE: look for areas or parts that do not need to be in your short story or book.
Make sure your opening will hook the reader and keep him/her interested from the first word.

Check the dialogue and make sure it flows
Make sure that you created the scenes and the places in a clear way
Add characters where you think they are needed.

Choosing A Strong Character:

This was the hardest part for me. I sat down and listed all of the things that I would want to include in my first book about and about my character Bertha. I decided to list all of her strong and her weak character traits. I listed which I wanted included in each story. I had to decide on how she looks and her physical appearance, which had to match her traits and fit her as a person. Since, the main character of my books is really me, I guess that was not too hard. I worked long and hard to decide whether I wanted to reveal to the world the many things that I went through growing up and how I handled them.

I had to find a way to describe Bertha and tell about the many incidents that happened to her.

Bertha has a sister named Tillie who is her total opposite which made is easier for the many conflicts that I included in my first two books to take place. I made sure that Bertha learned from these difficult situations and would react as any child would that was in elementary school and then Middle School. I wanted to make her a real person that both kids and adults could identify with. I made her overweight, like I was as a kid and not so pretty either. I made her awkward, klutzy and the brunt of many unpleasant remarks and situations. But, I made her smart, funny and intelligent. I made her the real me.

After choosing Bertha and creating Tillie who was her opposite and her sister, I added other characters who would help create the many conflicts that she would encounter. I then added her mother who was a strong force in her life and how she had to deal with a difficult parent who wanted to her to be perfect at all costs.

In a novel, you need to decide on your main character. Is that character going to be a hero, villain or just plain kind and nice? What is your characters role in this novel? Is your character going to do something to help others, hurt others or what their purpose is in this novel?
Create your characters career, occupation or daily activities.

What type of family background does your character have? Is your character from a solid family or one that was abusive? What is the character’s economic or financial situation and does it relate to the book or what this person does?
Describe your characters physical appearance: height, body type, glasses, skin color, shape or face any specific facial features or other features that stand out.
Describe how this character dresses
Describe the good and bad attributes of this character
Write a short character sketch or profile of this character and the other minor ones. How will these characters intertwine and what role will they have in the plot.

The next step would be the settings for the situations that you are writing about. But, that would be for next time.

Publishing Tip: Do not sign off on a galley copy or author’s copy that has any errors. Do not let the publisher tell you that these errors will be corrected before the book is out. All too often, as I have learned, I keep every galley, every email and every piece of paper that I have written on with the errors that I have found each and every time my manuscript gets sent back to production for editing. Unfortunately, the last time I signed off on perfect galley with no errors, production printed the book from the previous one with errors. I could take it off sale but the errors are not that many, but they should not have happened. This time I will make triple sure and let them know that they will pay for any corrections that might need to be made, I hope not, if I have to take the book off sale as I did with my first one and they never got that right. Be aware that you should not have to pay extra for many of the print on demand services and before agreeing to a contract make sure they include the registration with the Library of Congress and the Copyright without an extra charge. Make sure that you get at least ten copies of your book and make sure that you get it all in writing. Make sure that the postcards; bookmarks and other media material are part of your package. I learned how to negotiate.
Hope these tips are helpful. I am just learning too.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What is Fantasy?

The following article is by guest blogger Kira Morgana and is used with her permission.




What is Fantasy?
A Lecture by Miss F. Writer



Cue ABBA song –

I have a dream, a song to sing.”

Don’t all Fantasy writers? We slave over our keyboards, burning our fingers with the force of the dreams in our heads. Characters, dialogue, action, romance, horror, comedy, growing up – it all happens in Fantasy.

*Mr. Pernickety Agent raises his hand*

Yes?”

Wait a minute, Miss Frustrated Writer. Fantasy is just about dwarves, elves and humans fighting an evil overlord with the aid of medieval weaponry and Magic.”

Ah. The classical definition of Fantasy. First brought into the publishing mainstream by the Master of High Fantasy, JRR Tolkien.

(Look we can argue about where Fantasy came from later – I’ll stick a pin in it and maybe you can just let me get on with this please?)

Just because THE LORD OF THE RINGS exists and it’s author is considered the founding father of the Fantasy Genre doesn’t mean that it is the be all and end all – the only definition of FANTASY

*Rolls eyes to heaven*

That is what we in Fantasy circles tend to call Pure or High Fantasy and it follows generally accepted rules or guidelines that Papa Tolkien created by writing LOTR and many copy cats have followed since. Some with more success than others. I won’t name them because we all know them.

There are a lot more definitions of Fantasy than that. Lets head over to the Dictionary channel for a more precise version first –

Thank you for that Miss F. Writer. The precise definition of Fantasy according to the Collins English Dictionary is… ah there are more than one – which would you like?”

All of them please Ms Presenter.”

Very well – here you go:

  1. Imagination unrestricted by reality.
  2. A creation of the imagination, especially a weird or bizarre one.
  3. A series of pleasing mental images, usually serving to fulfil a need not gratified in reality.
  4. A whimsical or far fetched notion
  5. An illusion or phantom
  6. A highly elaborate imaginative design or creation

Did you want me to go into the Thesaurus Definitions?”

No, thank you. That will do nicely.”

There you go. Where on earth in there are dwarves, elves and magic mentioned? I can’t see them. The only thing that I can see even repeating is the word Imagination. Oh you can’t see it? Here allow me:

  1. Imagination unrestricted by reality.
  2. A creation of the imagination, especially a weird or bizarre one.
  3. A series of pleasing mental images, usually serving to fulfil a need not gratified in reality.
  4. A whimsical or far fetched notion
  5. An illusion or phantom
  6. A highly elaborate imaginative design or creation

There does that help?

So the publishing world’s definition is a much more narrowed definition. Too Narrow.

I believe that the first definition is more than sufficient to back me up on my next point.

You have a point to this? I thought you were just ranting.”

*Rolls eyes again*

Yes I have a point, I have several. Don’t worry, I’ll go through them at the end, Miss New Writer, so please try to stay awake.”

Where was I? Oh yes:

Cue ABBA -

To help me cope, with anything,”

Imagination unrestricted by reality.

An incredibly important phrase that. Now what is Reality? – and no, I don’t want to start an existential debate on this, lets all just agree that REALITY is the EVERYDAY WORLD that we humans live in and move on quickly.

Now this Reality is a hard one. We go out to work to make money to feed ourselves, put a roof over the head of our children / DVD collection / Goldfish and to pay the bills that Living requires. We might even enjoy our jobs but they are still hard work and at the end of the day everyone likes to get away from Reality.

Rich people can do this physically but the rest of us usually have to rely on other releases from Reality. So what do we use?

Yes, Miss New Writer?”

Our Imagination?”

Excellent answer. I’m glad you’re still awake and listening.”

The majority of people are too tired at the end of the day to use their own imagination so they rely on the imagination of the Writer. Be it a Computer Game, DVD, Music CD, TV Show or Book, they all still require a WRITER to have put in the requisite hours in front of a keyboard, writing the Fantasy that that Player / Viewer / Listener / Reader is relying on to remove them from the Reality of their lives.

Do you understand yet? Fantasy = Imagination, simple.

Now let’s…

*in a weary tone*

Yes Mr. Pernickety Agent?”

When I receive a manuscript or an introduction letter from a Writer asking for my backing for their creation, if I see the word FANTASY, I immediately think of the industry definition.”

Is that why you don’t take on FANTASY or Science Fiction writers?”

Well yes. I get so many of them. They all think they’re the next Tolkien, Clarke or Rowling and I’ve learnt over the years that the Fantasy market is a very fickle genre to go into. So I stick with the tried and tested genres.”

And they are?”

Romance, Crime, Thriller / Horror but Contemporary Fiction mostly.”

Thank you for that Mr. Pernickety Agent. You’ve just made my next point for me.”

Oh.”

As I was saying – in the Publishing Industry some Fantasy Genres are more popular than others (i.e.: they make a lot of money) and I’m not just talking about the current Twilight / Vampire craze.

Romance is the most popular. Well what real woman, stuck in a tired relationship or single life, doesn’t dream of being swept off her feet by a handsome, kind, rich man (or woman – I have no gender issue here) who will take her seriously as a person and treat her as if she’s spun glass, possibly even bring her to orgasm for the first time / properly?

Then there’s Crime. CSI has a lot to answer for here – Crime Readers all dream of being the one to bring the Serial Killer in to face Justice.

(Justice is a topic for another argument – lets stick another pin in that shall we?)

Crime Readers want to know all the ins and outs of the method used by the police to bring criminals in, possibly considering that moment when they can put two and two together faster than the experts (don’t go there) and be hailed as a Hero for saving the City from another rapist or murderer.

After all, that’s what Crimewatch is for isn’t it? Letting the public solve the crimes that have happened recently?

Then you have the Thriller / Horror.

Humans, when you get right down to brass tacks, are sick, twisted, individuals and the people who really enjoy being scared or made to feel slightly sick tend to be those who are most into what makes a human tick both physically and mentally.
I personally think it’s something left over from childhood and Stephen King or the creators of Freddy Kruger, Jason and the Puzzle Killer would not have made so much money, if this impulse to see how far you can scare yourself was something that wasn’t ingrained in our psyche.

Cue ABBA -

I have a Dream, A Fantasy / To help me through, Reality.”

That’s what the Reader (the most important person to a Writer and a Publisher) actually wants.

Oh by the way. I hate the phrase “Contemporary Fiction”. All it really means is a Fantasy set in the “Real World”. Every Fantasy Writer has at one time or another set a story in the “Real World” and if they are a writer with a Fan base, it usually confuses the crap out of the fans because it feels different to so called “Normal” Fantasy. David Eddings has done it – read “High Hunt” if you don’t believe me and so did Terry Brooks, that’s what the Knight of The Word books are.

So we come back to the Industry definition of Fantasy. In some ways, I curse Tolkien and all those who have made the Fantasy Genre what it is because it means that as a Fantasy Writer I don’t even get a look in.

Still don’t believe me? Try reading one of the Literary Magazines that don’t deal specifically with Fantasy or Science Fiction. How many of that genre story can you count in their pages? One… possibly. If the Editor is feeling generous.

There are really only two proper types of Writing: Fiction and Non-Fiction. So what are these?

Back to the Dictionary Channel for the official definitions:

Non Fiction – this doesn’t have an actual entry but it can be broken down into ‘NON’ and ‘FICTION’.

Non – Prefix.
  1. Indicating negation,
  2. indicating refusal or failure.
  3. indicating exclusion from a specified class.
  4. indicating lack or absence

Fiction –
  1. Literary works invented by the imagination, such as novels or short stories.
  2. An invented story or explanation.
  3. The act of inventing a story.
  4. From the Latin Fictō – a fashioning, hence something imaginary

So therefore Non – Fiction means – Not imaginary. Factual.”

Thank you Ms Presenter.”

Non-Fiction is obvious really. It’s dry facts. A textbook about a particular subject, sometimes with pictures and occasionally dressed with some emotion depending on the passion of the person who has written it. All with the aim of instructing and / or teaching the Reader something about that subject.

Believe me, I’m a Teacher, I know a textbook when I see one – even if it has a title like “A Dummy’s Guide to Parentcraft” and has funny anecdotes to reinforce its points.

Not everyone can write Non-Fiction, it’s a tough thing to do, especially as there are so many ‘Experts’ out there. It’s like a Jungle, one factual slip up and you invite the Tigers in for Tea…

Fiction (for a writer’s purpose anyway) is best summed up by that first definition –

Literary works invented by the imagination, such as novels or short stories.

Hmm. There's that word again. Imagination. That thing inside the Brain / Soul of every human being that requires feeding. Just because the publishing Industry chooses to break “Fiction” down into Genres based on the overall theme of the books it publishes does not mean that they are not Fantasy.

Got my point yet? I can see that Mr. Pernickety Agent is still looking confused.

Miss New Writer. I can see that you have been taking notes. Can you please enlighten Mr. Pernickety Agent as to what I am trying to tell him?”

Ok, Miss Frustrated Writer.

*clears throat and stands up with notebook*

  1. Fantasy is not just about evil overlords, elves, dwarves and Magic.
  2. The dictionary definition of Fantasy is - Imagination unrestricted by reality.
  3. Fantasy equals Imagination
  4. The Reader is trying to escape the Reality of their own existence.
  5. The Reader is the most important person to the Writer and Publisher
  6. The dictionary definition of Fiction is - Literary works invented by the imagination, such as novels or short stories.

Did I get all that right, Miss Frustrated Writer?”

Yes, Thank you.”

*Miss New Writer sits back down with a large smile on her face.*

My point, that Mr. Pernickety Agent clearly cannot grasp, is that All Fictional Writing is Fantasy. Therefore he should not dismiss a writer out of hand simply because he or she states that they write Fantasy! It should be (amongst other things) the quality of their story telling ability and clarity of voice that should make him decide whether or not to back that particular writer.

Do you understand now?

Cue ABBA -

If you see the wonder of the Fairytale / You can take the Future, even if you Fail.”

© Kira Morgana 2009

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Presenting Rachel Reuben!

I'm excited to have Rachel Reuben as my guest on Dellani's Tea Time this coming Monday, June 11 at 4:00 PM Eastern on Blog Talk Radio. If any of you missed my review of Rachel's knockout YA novel, Hag, I've included it below.

As an added bonus, I'll be running the switchboard. If you thought the shows were funny before, just wait. I've proven myself completely incompetent with the switchboard on more than one occasion, so it should be interesting to see if I can handle that and the interview without breaking a nail, disconnecting my guest or poking myself in the eye.

Tune in Monday! http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rrradio/2012/06/11/dellanis-tea-time


                                   HAG – Rachel Reuben

Audrey Saldano has learned to be tough. Living on the less posh side of Cleveland, she's learned to defend herself. The only thing she can't defend herself against is the pain she feels when she sees her ex-boyfriend, Desmond, with his new girlfriend, Raquel.
Even the appearance of a hot, interesting new guy, Roddai, can't make her feel any less upset. In fact, Roddai irritates her even more. He's persistent and, eventually, Audrey finds that she enjoys his company.
Audrey isn't quite sure what's going on when Desmond shows up at her home and wants to be friends again. In fact, he asks her out to a carnival and she agrees to go. While there, he's jumped by a bunch of boys from another school. Desmond fights them off, but gets surrounded. Fortunately, Roddai isn't far away and jumps in to help Desmond, scaring the other boys off.
For a time, life seems pretty good. She and Desmond are back together and she's friends with Roddai. Everything is fine until Desmond decides to get even with the guys who jumped him at the Winter Carnival. This time, things don't go so well and Desmond is seriously hurt. Audrey's life falls apart. Desmond's death reveals secrets he'd been keeping, even from her.
Hag is an intense, real life drama for teens. Gritty and hard hitting, Hag closely examines Audrey's situation and asks the question, "What would you do if...?"
The characters in Hag are well fleshed out and seem authentic to the reader. Audrey is an especially good, three dimensional character. Her grief and anger are very real. While we might not agree with her actions, we can see why she reacts in the way she does. She is tough, independent, self-sufficient and doesn't rely on others to fight her battles for her.
I really enjoyed Hag is a great coming of age story for young adult readers 16+ and adults. It will make you laugh, cry and cheer. 
Five Golden Acorns.


Sunday, June 03, 2012

Learning from the Best - Kira Morgana

I recently asked my author pals on Facebook to help me out with this site. I needed input badly! Fortunately, the talented and creative Kira Morgana volunteered to send me two articles. The first is below. Read, enjoy and learn! Wonderful article, Kira! Thanks for helping out.
~ * ~


I'm currently reading "Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life." by Terry Brooks. I've read it before of course - about three times!
Each time I read it I discover something new, or it kick starts my brain into writing something new. At the moment, TB has got me thinking about the NaNoWriMo Novel I did last year. I haven't finished the story line, but that was because I got lost in the middle - I was trying too hard to push it through, mostly because I wanted to get over 50k by the end of the month.

I'm going to break off about my current work and dive into the way TB and other seriously successful authors write...

TB follows these rules -

1) Write what you know.
2) Your Characters must behave in a believable fashion.
3) A protagonist must be challenged by a conflict that requires resolution.
4) Movement = Growth; Growth = Change; Without change nothing happens.
5) The strength of the protagonist is measured by the threat of the antagonist.
6) Show, don't tell.
7) Avoid the Grocery List approach to describing characters.
8) Characters must always be in a story for a reason.
9) Names are important
10) Don't bore the reader.


I have another fantasy writing hero - well actually, it wasn't one writer, but a duo - David and Leigh Eddings, neither of whom are still with us (RIP). In their book "The Rivan Codex" they also set out the rules that they used. They called it "a tacitly agreed upon list of elements that make for a good fantasy" -

1) Religion - when writing for fun, paganism is more fun than Christianity - even Papa Tolkien agreed with that!
2) The Quest - No quest, no story.
3) The Magic Thingamajig - usually, but not always the object of the quest.
4) Our Hero - Galahad, Gawaine, Lancelot or Perceval; Galahad is saintly, Gawaine is loyal, Lancelot is heavyweight champion of the world and Perceval is dumb / innocent.
5) Resident Wizard - Merlin, Gandalf or Belgarath / Polgara... take your pick!
6) Our Heroine - Wispy blonde girl mooning around or little tiger who knows how to get what she wants?
7) Our Villain - Someone with diabolical intentions...
8) Companions - obvious I think!
9) The Companion's Lady Friends - again, obvious.
10) The World - Maps, Governments, Currencies etc etc. - too obvious to explain...

I suppose this is more of an outlining list than a set of rules, but by the time you finish working through it, you have a detailed world to work with. My first attempt at writing a novel (before I got a PC of my own) used the list from "The Rivan Codex". It created a lever arch file of world details and a slimmer folder of maps...

I'm sorry, but I got hooked on the map thing - I create a map of the area that the story is going to be taking place in, before I even think about the story.
The maps get amended as I go through the story as well - it gives me something to look at and seems to help with writers block at the same time! I do this for every book I start. The ones I didn't do it for don't go anywhere - I don't have a frame of reference.

Anyway. My third writing hero - and I've had a few people disagree with me on this one - is Piers Anthony. I've picked up bits and pieces from him as well, just nothing as well laid out as Terry Brooks or D & L Eddings.

I realised as I was reading TB's book that all three (four) of my writing heroes have one thing in common. They were all picked up by Ballantine Books when they first started out and they were all edited by Lester and Judy Del Rey (sadly, also deceased, RIP). So is what I have read their way of writing or the way that they were gently guided into by the Del Rey's?

TB has a mantra that he tells everyone who asks how to get published / become a good writer -
Read, read, read.
Outline, outline, outline.
Edit, edit, edit,
Repeat
!
I completely agree with him. By combining what I have learned from Terry Brooks and D & L Eddings, I can cover all of this mantra without breaking a sweat! I get three quarters of the work done before I even start on the story...

Anyway, back to "The Secret of Arking Down." I looked back through what I had written in those 30 hectic days and decided that it was worth keeping the idea and most of the first part of the story. But the rest of it didn't seem to work right.

That was when I realised I had contravened rules 3, 4, 5 and 8... *blushes*- Imagine my embarrassment!

Of course that had only happened because I had ignored line two of the mantra - Outline, outline, outline.So now I have to go back over what I have written and start again... right from the beginning!
*groan*
Of course I'll get the Bog Boy done first - it forms a background story for Book two of the series, so I need it to work properly...

And as well as finishing TB's book, I'm going to read "On Writing" by Stephen King. TB recommends it, so I'm getting it out of the library as soon as I can. I'll probably add to my list of rules etc once I'm done...

You never stop learning in this job!


© Kira Morgana 2010 Used with her permission