October Surprises!

Hey, it’s Ed White, how’s it going? Staying safe I hope? I’ve been a busy-bee working on my manuscript, and I have some splendid news to share, plus free reads from a fellow blogger.

  • When it comes to writing fiction, a map is always handy. In this article, I present a tutorial on how to get started in GIMP and enhance your novel. Or, for those not artistically inclined, you can use a software called Inkarnate to make your maps too!
  • November is NaNoWriMO month! Here are some tips and tricks that should help you if you’re brave enough to take on the challenge.
  • I had the pleasure of working with a fellow blogger and writer on the use of Kindle Create. If you missed it, I highly recommend checking out this article right now! It has a simple rundown of what Kindle Create does and how to use it.
  • My notes on Brandon Sanderson’s 2020 Lecture notes are still raking in the views. Be sure to check it out!
  • I recently did a book review on a non-fiction piece about foraging. I also included a bit about foraging and herbs in Ethereal Seals. Here’s another article on geology and gemstone technology for my world.
  • There are Fall designs and sweaters on Flux’s Esoteric Store of Art right now! Use code FLUX2012 to get 10% off.
  • I finished my beta swap with a co-writer, and her feedback was amazing! I can only say Blade of Dragons is much better now. That said, I know what to change and where to polish, bringing the manuscript that much closer to publication.
  • You can check out my beta partner, Rebecca Alasdair, at her website: https://rebeccaalasdair.com/. Her upcoming fantasy novel is called Graceborn.
  • I’ve been doing some additional revision passes on my manuscript for Blade of Dragons. The story has changed over the past few months, but it’s reading better and better! I truly feel it is nearing completion. At around 130,000 words, this science fantasy is loaded with world building and intricate character arcs.
  • Watching Pepper Slyhart grow as a character has been very fulfilling as a writer and artist. I look forward to developing her further in the sequels. She has been like a daughter to me, a character I will always cherish and reflect on.

Lastly, blogger and writer Richie Billing is spreading the word on free reads for New Adult fantasy. Just click the images below to start reading. I know you’ll love these stories!

Thanks for stopping by!


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Book Review: Stalking the Wild Asparagus—and Herbology in Ethereal Seals

A week ago I finished a nonfiction book on foraging. It was a very enjoyable read, as it played into one of my biggest hobbies. It also had me thinking about the herbology in my fantasy novel, Blade of Dragons. I’ll provide a rundown of Stalking the Wild Asparagus, then tie in concepts to my own world building.

Premise

The book is organized like a reference manual. Each chapter describes a specific herb or plant, the lore behind it, how to harvest and process it, and so on. There were several foods, like cattails, which I never realized could be ground for flour.

The author also takes time to describe personal stories associated with each herb and how he went about acquiring it. I found it entertaining and educational.

Prose

The chapters are fairly short and straightforward. The author does a good job conveying information, but some of the terms are outdated. The book was published sixty years ago, so it’s not too surprising. A new reader might get initially confused at this.

Information

As mentioned above, there are useful bits of information in the book. Each chapter has its own lesson: “do’s” and “don’t’s” when handling wild plants. It still fascinates me that one can walk along a trail and gather a whole bag-full of edible greens and herbs.

The author covered everything from wild crab apples, to purslane, watercress, even fishing bluegill from local ponds. Free food, many of which are taken for granted.

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The Good

Stalking the Wild Asparagus is a handy field guide for foragers and the curious. Considering the times we are in, having access to one of these books may not be a bad idea.

The Bad

Some of the terms and methods explained in the book are outdated and may not apply to the modern reader.

The Ugly

The author is slightly condescending towards races of color and labels he gives. This may create uncomfortable moments for the reader.

Stalking the Wild Asparagus is an effective tool for foragers, preppers, and wild foodists. The outdated jargon aside, a reader will get a lot of use out of this book.

After finishing Stalking the Wild Asparagus, it had me thinking about my fantasy novel and the herbs that Atlas uses. Who says nonfiction can’t influence a creative writer? Exploring culinary and medicinal foods in one’s setting is a fun way to world build too!

Atlasian Herbs

  • Berryshroom: A sweet tasting fungus that enhances the immune system; it is a common side dish in Atläsian cuisine. Berryshroom is often found in dark places, like caverns and bogs.
  • Bitterwort: A vinegary herb used in many medicinal tinctures. When over boiled, it becomes hallucinogenic. Bitterwort is the staple for many medicines across Atlas, although it must be handled carefully with its caustic nature.
  • Frostleaf: A minty and soothing herb with a mildly sweet taste; it is often used for sweetening drinks. This herb grows in very cold regions and is a delightful sight for any adventurer braving the cold.
  • Grassfoot: An herb with a mildly sweet taste; used for garnishes and sweetening tinctures. Unlike its cousin, frostleaf, the grassfoot variety grows on lush meadows
  • Gospelberry: An herb with a potent and sweet aroma; it is unsuitable for eating, but excellent for perfumes. However, if overboiled, gospelberry can make a fine tea. Interestingly, gospelberry often grows near holy sights on Atlas. This earn the berry its name.
  • Ravenberry: A berry with a pungent and sour taste; when fermented, it turns sweet and sour, ideal for alcohol cocktails. Ravenberry’s black hue and indelible dye are its signature features.
  • Savormoss: An edible lichen prized for its nutrition and delicious, pungent flavor—if you can stand the sour aroma. Savormoss grows everywhere and its prized for its abundance.

Preparation in Ethereal Seals

I drew from alchemical methods in Earth’s history when devising herbal preparations. Many Atlasian herbalists use cooking or fermentation to process these herbs. Teas, tinctures, and broths are all common. Some herbs, like gospelberry and bitterwort, can take longer to process. Others, like savormoss, can be eaten raw.

That said, the above list of Atlasian herbs will likely expand into the second and third book. It has certainly added depth to the story, and it plays a little into the protagonist’s arc. I have books like Stalking the Wild Asparagus to thank for my inspiration.


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September in Review

It’s time for that monthly wrap up, and I have some interesting news to share!

  • Do you ever wonder about human emotion? How are things like fear or joy expressed in fiction? How do these emotions create dynamic stories? I’ve learned a lot about them in the past few weeks, and I wanted to share my research. Here’s two articles on fear and joy and how they’re portrayed in storytelling.
  • Another interesting topic is life and death in fantasy realms. Here, I spell out how I go about it in my upcoming novel.
  • I had the pleasure of working with a fellow blogger and writer on the use of Kindle Create. If you’re interested in e-publishing, I would check out this article right now! It has a simple rundown of what Kindle Create does and how to use it.
  • When it comes to writing and the creative process, the inner intelligence guides us. It is our intuition, our inner muse. Here’s an outstanding essay on the process and how YOU can access this inner intelligence. 
  • If you missed it, I posted notes on Brandon Sanderson’s 2020 Lecture notes. This post is quite popular, and I highly recommend it.
  • There are Fall designs and sweaters on Flux’s Esoteric Store of Art right now. Use code FALL50 to get 50% off everything for the first week of October.
  • I finished my beta swap with a co-writer, and her feedback was amazing! I can only say Blade of Dragons is much better now. That said, I know what to change and where to polish, bringing the manuscript that much closer to publication.
  • You can check out my beta partner, Rebecca Alasdair, at her website: https://rebeccaalasdair.com/. Her upcoming fantasy novel is called Graceborn. I’m looking forward to reading the final version.
  • I haven’t had the chance to read many books this year, having done two beta swaps in addition to issues with the Lockdown situation. Oral surgery, meditation work, research, and work on my two books has also kept me busy.
  • I have plans to take a break from non-fiction research and focus more on one of my favorite genres: fantasy romance. I decided on Grail’s Dawn for my next read.

As always, I’ll keep it short and sweet. I hope to see you next time when I’ll have more exciting news and gifts to share. Thanks for stopping by, it’s through people like you that make this dream possible.


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Life and Death in a Fantasy Universe

Within fiction, some characters don’t share the typical life spans that Earth humans experience. Unusual lifespans in fantasy and science fiction can influence culture and plot considerably.

We all enjoy our fantasy stories about long-lived elves, immortal dragons, or extraterrestrials who supercede death. When writing or reading about these characters, it can be hard to sympathize with them. We humans have lives of 80 to 120 years at best.

Learning to Humanize

It’s important to connect characters with readers. With fictional races, ensure the reader understands the lifespan beyond each creature. Ask if a particular lifespan serves a purpose. Are elves, as an example, long-lived because of certain worldbuilding elements in the story? What the pros and cons of living this long?

Use immortality or long lifespans to an advantage. If used to create tension, all the better. Maybe the protagonist will outlive all her friends. What emotions does that create? Is it fear, sorrow, or worry?

Cultural Impacts

If a race of elves outlives a race of humans, how might that change the way each society views each other? Are the cultural functions of elves slower, more ponderous? Are the humans ever envious, or perhaps angry at the elves? Are the elves are arrogant and see the humans as lower-beings. Michael J Sullivan’s book, Age of Myth, does an excellent job of this.

Politics

If elves are long-lived, how does that change childbearing laws, if there are any? Do they procreate often, or not very much? How is it impacting the government’s role in regulating the population? We can ask a million questions with these. Take time to explore each one and world build.

Religion

A society’s view on death can be a good way to world build and even build a cast of characters up. Weave spiritual principles into the life and death narrative. The more one examines each of these facets of a fictional race, the stronger the reader’s grasp on things.

Due to changes in the sun and gravity compared to Earth, the people of Atlas live 150 to 250 years on average. Full-blooded Dragonites may reach 1,000 years, whereas half-dragons are closer to 500 to 750 years.

Because of these variables, the characteristics of Atlasian society is different than here on Earth. Lives aren’t as short and years may pass quicker for an Atlasian than an Earth human.

Culture in Ethereal Seals

Atlasian culture is advanced, to the point of space travel. Technology allows anyone to summon food at will through crystal devices. Healing technologies and magic also exist, which can mitigate the risk of death.

Death is looked upon as a somewhat foreign phenomenon. Oftentimes death is the result of battle, rather than starvation or old age. When it does occur, it creates a visceral reaction in most Atlasians, who might not be accustomed to it, nor the violence associated.

There is more consideration towards major societal changes, and families don’t procreate as often. A family might have a child once every 30 to 70 years at most.

Atlasian Politics

With longer lifespans, Atlasian governments handle things slower than here on Earth. Youth is considered anyone from the ripe age of 18 until 50, whereas anyone over 100 is of middle-age. Most leaders are chosen based on seniority for this reason. An Atlasian who has lived 200 years is much more experienced than someone at 100.

The main ruling body on Atlas, the Dragonite Empire, is more conservative, with the average Dragonite living up to 1,000 years. Some Dragonite families may only have a few children throughout their whole life, others have none. Due to their high vitality, Dragonites may act arrogant towards other races, and see themselves as protectors of Atlas.

To a Dragonite, long lives invite loneliness, as friends of other races die long before they do. Death is seen more as a release from their duties in that lifetime. A reprieve. Dragonites have a higher appreciation for death, whereas other races fear it.

Atlasian Religion

Whether through fear or respect, all Atlasians see death as an inevitable process. When one dies, it is believed they ascend into the Celestial Heavens and become one with the divine Aspects. Those of a wicked nature may visit the Celestial Hells.

After an unknown period of time, the soul is then said to recycle itself, returning back to the mortal plane in a different form. Reincarnation. This comes at a price, as the soul forgets who it was, carrying over trauma and tendencies from previous births.

Burial

Burial is a sacred process, called a Deliverance, which calls for priests or priestesses to evoke the name of the Aspects. If a priest isn’t available, certain prayers and mantras can suffice. Bodies are buried within the ground of Atlas, called the Earthmother, a deified form of the planet.

Priests are sought by kings, army generals, and cutthroat mercenaries alike. Most believe that if a corpse isn’t given a proper Deliverance, the killers may experience horrible repercussions from the Aspects, for the soul will be unable to reincarnate.

What are your views on life and death in fiction? Do you have a story that explores these concepts? Leave your answer in the comments below. Thanks for reading!


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What is Joy? How do you Describe it in Fiction?

The other day we covered the emotion of fear in fiction, and how useful it can be in creating tension within a character. Today, we travel to the opposite side of the spectrum: joy.

Joy is a state of happiness or delight, often seen with positive emotional changes. We all have experienced joy at one point in our lives. This happiness can be a powerful tool in fiction as it heightens characters’ expressions, shows them at their best.

While it can be fun to break a character down into the depths of fear and despair, joy is refreshing and relaxing for the reader. There are characters with up-beat personalities, often used for comic relief or for balancing out the fear and gloom in a story.

How Do We Define Joy?

Quoting from Dictionary.com, joy is:

1. The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation: She felt the joy of seeing her son’s success.

2. A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated:Her prose style is a pure joy.

Describing Joy in Fiction

Joy is harder to flesh out than fear in storytelling. Joy requires a deeper level of authenticity that connects to the reader. Writers should be wary of cliches or other mundane terms that weaken the expressions of joy.

Some Character Expressions of Joy

  • smiling, singing, or dancing
  • heart leaping
  • laughing, joking, or teasing,
  • vigorous, excited energy
  • high sociability
  • hugging, kissing
  • confidence, willingness, optimistism
  • restraining from certain quirks
  • daydreaming
  • giving or sharing
  • a clear, strong voice
  • a straight, but relax posture
  • higher than usual strength or endurance

The Dance of Joy and Fear

Remember, joy can’t create tension like fear can. Joy’s purpose is to command relief to the reader. Too much joy all the time, and the story feels dull. Too much fear, and the reader can quickly get exhausted. Instead, a balance of the two is ideal.

Going Deeper

We should ask ourselves how our characters feel when they are happy. What are their dreams? What are their fears that counterbalance that joy? We can put ourselves in the characters’ shoes and savor every ounce of emotion that compromises that joy.

It’s important to show and not tell the emotions, as showing draws the reader deeper into the character. There are exceptions when telling is preferred.

Joy, as wonderful as it sounds, is another device used in the cog of storytelling. It has specific purposes associated with it. Some of these are to:

  • Contrast with dark or hellish themes
  • Motivate a depressed character towards a goal
  • Worldbuild, based on a culture’s perspective of joy
  • Briefly break tension to give the reader a reprieve

Example 1: Lord of the Rings

Let’s examine the Shire: a merry place full of feasting, greenery, and food! It’s kin to a paradise and has—ahem—all the comforts of home. Now contrast that with the dark, hellish realm of Mordor. With Sauron’s evil encroaching upon Middle Earth, the Shire makes his realm look that much darker.

Example 2: Theft of Swords

Royce Melborn is a dark character, often depressed and aloof. His comrade, Hadrian Blackwater, is more optimistic and idealistic. This contrast is excellent and helps drive their character arcs forward. It also creates an entertaining exchange between the two.

Happiness, like fear, can be a potent tool in fiction. When used right. A careful balance of joy and tension creates an enjoyable play of emotions that will delight readers.

What are your thoughts on joy? How would you have it portrayed in stories? Are there any favorite books that illustrate this? We’d love to hear in the comments below. Thanks for reading!


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Kindle Create review and guide

When it comes to publishing our work online, the options can seem confusing and overwhelming. Here’s a helpful article on Kindle Create from a fellow blogger. KC is a tool to publish your work online with some easy-to-use features.

 


Tomas - the wandering dreamer

Today, I’ll look into the Kindle Create tool for formatting Kindle e-books in a mix of review and guide. I’ll share my opinion, the +/- of the software, and look at the basic functions.


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Fictional Terms in Ethereal Seals: Crystal Technology

Crystals are a fascinating subject for me. Ever since college, I consumed books and articles on crystals. I also examined more esoteric material, the supposed energy properties of gemstones.

With geology as one of my side hobbies, I decided to incorporate it into Ethereal Seals. This will be the first in a series of fictional terms found in my story as of 9/8/2020.

Elemental crystals are used as storage containers for magic (Shifting) and technology. The ether can build up in crystals. This forms charged gemstones , which can operate machinery or perform Shifting spells.

The Uses of Crystal Technology

Atlasian culture makes heavy use of Elemental crystals. Everything from convenience tools to military weapons see use. Below, I’ll list the more predominant ones.

  • Ration Crystals: conjure food and water that doesn’t last long
  • Vi’lances: power lance-like weapons that shoot fireballs
  • Etheric stabilizers: power large machinery like spaceships or buildings
  • Crystalweave: forms clothing that repairs damage and removes smells
  • Etheric translocators: teleports users to a designated location
  • Crystal glass pads: thin, flexible slabs that can display digital information (much like phones)
  • Vir’gols: advanced, sapient weapons or tools powered through denser crystals

The Costs of Crystal Technology

While Shifting and using magic draws lifeforce from the Shifter’s spine, crystals mitigate this. Instead, crystals take the brunt of the stress. Any Elemental spirits alive within the gemstone experience great pain.

Imagine being trapped in a prison your whole life, strapped to a generator like a battery?

This adds a moral dilemma to using crystal technology. The protagonist, Pepper Slyhart, realizes this, and her perspective of crystals changes through the story. Crystals are also more limited in their uses compared to Shifting.

The Elements in Ethereal Seals are based off the Aspects, gods that rule over the universe. Crystals usually take after a certain Aspect. These being:

  • Fire: destruction and cleansing
  • Water: healing and preservation
  • Wind: movement and space
  • Earth: growth and form
  • Spirit: abstract and astral
  • Light: radiation and healing
  • Shadow: free will and concentration

A Shifter can insert crystals into a vir’gol via slots in the devices. Upon interfacing, the vir’gol can draw upon the crystal like a battery and funnel the Shifter’s spells. Much like a wand.

Most vir’gols have sapience, which allows them to speak freely. They can also do telepathy with their masters. Once a crystal is removed, drained of ether, or damaged beyond repair, the vir’gol loses its awareness. It dies.

Vir’gol Pacts

The connection between Shifter and vir’gol is called a Pact. A Shifter makes a Pact by inserting the crystal and activating the device. An oath is spoken, binding the Shifter to the weapon (and therefore the crystal) until the oath is fulfilled.

Some Shifters form a Pact subconsciously, only to later realize and strengthen it. To break a Pact isn’t easy. It causes emotional upheaval in the Shifter, in addition to nausea, lightheadedness, and confusion. The vir’gol is also disrupted and its crystal damaged.

Cursed Vir’gols

One exception to this in the story is Myrnight, a cursed vir’gol that feeds off its masters energy. In this case, the vir’gol forms a parasitic relationship with the Shifter. Cursed vir’gols are rare and quite powerful, often at the expense of one’s sanity.

Crystals in the world of Atlas are useful, widespread technology. While there are serious costs to using Elemental crystals, they are a powerful tool for Shifters.

The plot of Ethereal Seals plays heavily on the moral predicament behind crystals. It also influences the protagonist’s journey, creating scenes of tension.

Thanks for reading! 🙂


I’m currently expanding my platform onto Mailchimp to develop a mailing community. Members will receive free poetry, special deals, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on my project, Ethereal Seals!

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Writing and Creating Through the Inner Intelligence

This week let’s discuss our Inner Intelligence. What is this mysterious force within us, you might ask? How can we access or come to understand it? More importantly, there are ways to channel this power into creative outlets, like writing or artwork.

It’s the spark that invigorates us and drives us forward to complete the impossible. It’s the force that keeps our spirits high, even when we get discouraged.

Even when everyone else cuts us down.

Call it God, Allah, Buddha, Mother Nature, the human brain, or whatever you will. It is that intelligent spark that gives rise to ideas.

To innovation.

When we surrender to it completely, there’s no telling where it might lead.

Looking Inward

How do we know for sure that this Intelligence exists? We feel it whenever we are out in nature. When we enjoy our favorite pastime, engrossing ourselves in the joy of the moment. It drives us forward, gives us a reason to live, to aspire to new heights.

It makes us human.

As Writer’s Perspective

As writers, builders of worlds, we’ve certainly faltered in our quest. There have been episodes of fear, self-doubt, and sloth. It’s not easy creating a manuscript, but looking at it after years of work, it becomes something magnificent.

We can attribute this success to the divine Intelligence within us. Sometimes, this Intelligence is a playful muse, other times it is a taskmaster. Still, it leads to one goal.

Creation.

When we funnel this infinite Intelligence through our bodies, there’s no limit, no mountain that is too difficult to surmount. Our creative juices run wild, forming vivid worlds and paintings. For others, it fuels our energy throughout the day helping us to do menial tasks at work.

When we ground ourselves in stillness, we draw inward and banish the noise of the outer world. In this fashion, we move to our inner universe.

Studies Done on Meditation

American scientists held a study that examined what’s coined the Meditation Effect. Similar to going on a relaxing vacation, the research showed changed gene expression in those who participated. Long-term effects suggested a reduction in stress or age-related genes.

Another study by Harvard held an eight-week practice of mindfulness meditation. Participants showed an increased tendency towards memory, empathy, and patience. Scans showed the ritual changed the gray matter in the brain.

A second study at Harvard suggested meditation could improve ailments, particularly digestive disorders. This practice slows breathing, thereby regulating oxygen intake, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Methods of Funneling the Inner Intelligence into Writing

There are many ways we can awaken this divine Intelligence. Some of the best ways are:

  1. Relax – Let go of your ego’s blathering. Drink deep the chalice of stillness and mindfulness. Fight against the urge to think about anything, even your story. Regulate your breathing or chant mantras to redirect your concentration. There are dozens of ways to implement meditation.
  2. Time – Between writing, reading, family obligations, and a day job, it’s especially challenging to find the time to meditate. Our busy society discourages this–yet, without time to rejuvenate the subconscious, burnout is inevitable. Block out part of your day dedicated to meditating, even if it’s only 5 minutes a day. Your subliminal brain will thank you. Some people meditate better at night when the rest of the world sleeps, others in the morning. Find an ideal time that works for you.
  3. Space – Establish a quiet area where you won’t be disturbed. Be sure it’s comfortable and dark. If you need to, ask your living mates to not enter for a designated interval. Defend this personal space from any miscellaneous disruptions, if possible.
  4. Dedication – Meditation, like writing, doesn’t come quickly. With your routine established, stick to it. Some days may feel unproductive, while others will. Work your way up to 20 or even 60 minutes a day if possible.
  5. Tools – Implements like music, essential oil fragrance, or colors can enhance meditation. Everyone is different; experiment, and find what works best.
  6. Write After Meditation – The brain enters a different state after prolonged relaxation. During this period, creativity and productivity may be at its highest. Take advantage of this episode to work on your piece or jot down notes. Many legendary writers such as Shakespeare utilized this to produce their masterpieces.

The Ethereal Sealsi series makes heavy use of meditation with its magic system, called Shifting. Meditation helps characters channel the ether through their spines. Each Shifter can only draw so much ether into their bodies before it burns out the spine.

Divine Inspiration

India makes heavy use of meditation in their culture. The Kundalini energy in Hinduism is a serpent-like force that climbs up the spine as a practitioner advances. Kundalini adepts often report painful heat in the spine, among other things.

In Blade of Dragons, this is similar with how Pepper Slyhart inherits the Dragonsoul from her mother. The Dragonsoul is both a curse and a boon for the hero, and it forms a big part of her arc.

Before starting the series, the Intelligence within spelled out what the objectives of the stories would be. They were to:

  • Create an immersive, fantasy world to fascinate readers
  • Encourage interest in practices like meditation
  • Introduce concepts that might encourage this Intelligence in others

This two-fold approach was risky. Looking over the manuscript now, it reads more organic and complete than initially thought.

Concluding Thoughts

As the story nears its date of publication, whether in a few months or a year from now, it will carry an important message for all of us:

That divine Intelligence within is waiting.

All we must do is observe it and listen to its words. It is a voice that will never steer us wrong, as long as the ego is quiet, and peace is within us.


I’m currently expanding my platform onto Mailchimp to develop a mailing community. Members will receive free poetry, special deals, and short stories! You’ll also get the latest news on my project, Ethereal Seals.

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What is Fear? How do you Describe Fearful Emotions in Fiction?

Hello, my readers. Today I wanted to discuss something that’s been on my mind recently. It’s probably been in a lot of people’s thoughts with the whole COVID-19, the riots, and so forth.

Fear. What is it? Why is it there? How can we overcome it, specifically as writers, artists, and human beings? What about our characters in fiction? How do we describe fear? I’d like to share some of my experiences and how I’ve addressed these, particularly as a writer. This will also be the first in my Emotions Series for fictional writing.

What is Fear?

It’s a sensation we all know too well. Your heart starts pounding, and a cold sweat trickles down your neck. Maybe you lose your breath, or your body tightens. There are myriad ways to describe fear.

As nasty as this f-word is, it’s useful and versatile in fiction. Readers love it when protagonists are scared out of their wits, crying for their lives. This creates tension, another powerful tool in story writing.

Standard Definition

Fear is a primordial and potent sensation. It involves biochemical responses and emotional alarm. Nature gave us fear to help with self-preservation, so that we could avoid danger.

Symptoms of Fear

  • chest pain
  • cold sweat
  • dry mouth
  • disorientation
  • rapid pulse
  • short breath
  • trembling
  • broken or stammered speech
  • upset stomach
  • lip or nail biting
  • restless movement
  • loud laughter
  • wide eyes/small pupils
  • crying
  • chattering teeth
  • sudden, jerkish movements
  • goosebumps

Emotions Often Related to Fear

  • sorrow
  • grief
  • panic
  • anxiety
  • shame
  • guilt
  • apathy
  • desire
  • pride
  • anger

Fear Versus Phobia

Fear is rational behavior, while a phobia is not. Phobias will persist and nag the character, perhaps creating tension unique to that person. You can play on phobias to create dynamic scenes and heighten the tension.

Understanding Fear

Fear can be provoked many ways. From being attacked by a saber tooth tiger to facing a deadline for a project, losing one’s pride, or even the fear one experiences on a first date.

The Depths of Fear

When fear kicks in, the sympathetic nervous system activates, leading to all the changes in our body. It is important for a writer to describe the protagonist (or the one experiencing the fear) with sufficient depth. The victim should be relatable and realistic. Otherwise, you risk your readers detaching themselves from the horror. From the immersion.

Character Responses to Fear

When confronted with fear, a character can respond in one of four ways:

  1. Run: the character is scared (or smart) and needs to flee from the scenario.
  2. Fight: the character can’t run (or doesn’t want to) and victory through a battle is the only way to survive.
  3. Freeze: the character is paralyzed with fear, and unable to act.
  4. Mediate: the character draws on problem solving or negotiation skills to survive.

The Importance of Fear in Fiction

Fear can be a powerful, versatile tool for character and plot progression. Through fear, you can:

  • Create tension that progresses the plot.
  • Challenge or explore the protagonist in unusual ways, thereby growing the hero.
  • Alter the pacing of the story.
  • Increase reader immersion and attention to detail.

Without fear, tension would be much harder to produce in stories. Characters would stagnant more, and the pacing would slog. Fear is a primordial emotion that evokes challenge in all of us, for good or ill. It is fear that drives us forward, what challenges us to overcome our own boundaries.

Some Notable Authors of Horror

  • Stephen King
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • James Patterson
  • H. P. Lovecraft
  • Dean Koontz

One of the best ways to learn the art of fear-crafting is by reading famous authors like those shown above. This list is by no means exhaustive, as there are many others. Even some fantasy or sci-fi novels create good fear, so don’t feel the need to confine to the horror genre.

Thanks for reading! 🙂


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Blade of Dragons Update: Blurbs, Taglines, Longlines, and more!

Hello, my readers, I’m back with another update on my manuscript, Blade of Dragons! It’s been a stressful month (for all of us I would imagine), but my manuscript is approaching the end of the beta stage—at least I hope.

Anyway, I have some items to share that involve general manuscript preparation. Most any author follows this formula.

There are several tools an author uses to promote or describe a book. These include: blurbs, taglines, loglines, cover descriptions, and synopses.

Blurb

A blurb is a brief statement designed to promote the book. The blurb may be by the author, a reviewer, an editor, a publishing company, or anyone else. A blurb is designed to perk interest and add a silver-lining to the book’s appearance. A blurb may appear on the front or back cover.

Logline

A logline is a book compressed into a brief paragraph. It should be concise while packing a punch. The main character, antagonist, conflict, and any other relevant detail is included, giving the reader an idea of what the story is about.

Tagline

Short and witty, a tagline is a statement that doesn’t tell anything about the book. It’s more of a catchphrase or trademark to the author’s story.

Description

Book descriptions are like an expanded logline, often around 150 to 200 words. Besides the tagline and blurb, a description is meant to lure the reader into opening the book. First sentences are crucial in descriptions, as this will convince the reader to read the story.

Synopsis

Designed more for the eyes of an agent, a synopsis is a larger description, varying anywhere from 500 to 2000 words. Short and long synopses are both viable, but modern agents err more on the shorter side. A synopsis should mention the protagonist’s arc, showing the agent that you’ve built a complete, alluring story.

I’ll give examples of the manuscript tools I mentioned above using ones from my book. Mind, these aren’t official, nor are they polished. Still, they should give you an idea of each category.

Blurb

Exciting, hard-hitting, and exotic. Blade of Dragons is an action-packed story filled with vivid storytelling and likable characters that will hold you spellbound from start to finish.


This blurb reads promotional, coming from a reader who enjoys the story.

Logline

Pepper, a cursed farmer’s daughter, inherits her father’s sword, ancient technology that can save her planet from a dark goddess. But her draconic blood seeks to undo all she holds dear.


I kept the logline short. In a more compressed form, it almost gives a stronger punch, I noticed.

Tagline

The legend of a farmer’s daughter, cursed with the blood of dragons.


Perhaps not the shortest or wittiest tagline. Still, this one stuck with me, and it’s consistent with the other items mentioned above. It also invokes a good degree of intrigue.

Description

Whimsical Magic. Arcane Technology. Romance.

Can Pepper Slyhart use her father’s sword, a weapon with unfathomable power, to save her planet? With her childhood friend, Tarie, Pepper embarks on a dire quest. She enters a war against a dark goddess that has scoured grasslands, scorched forests, and devoured great cities.

Pepper unravels the terrible price of her sentient blade, a connection to the Ethereal Seals Gate, which powers technology and sustains her planet. 

But her half-dragon heritage seeks to betray Pepper, and Tarie may be the only one who can save her.

Are they able to fight a war on both fronts, or will the Shadow claim their souls?


Notice that I include certain keywords in the blurb. The reader will know that there are: swords, a dire quest, a dark goddess, a heroine, technology, and a dragon-like race. This suggests a science fantasy genre, the type of message I hope to convey. The beginning ‘trio-word’ technique I used is a popular strategy to create rhythm and intrigue.

Synopsis

Uhh, no, I won’t post that here—it’s way too long. Regardless, I do have a short (two page) and long (seven page) synopsis written if I need it. My synopses break down the story piecemeal, proving I have a solid and complete book. Any agent or publisher who reads it would get a good idea of what the story is about: the characters, conflict, the driving force of the story, and so forth.

Additional Items to Consider

My cover art (my own work) you can view at the top of the page. It’s still unofficial, and I may reach out to a professional to spruce it up. I included a map and glossary with my manuscript to provide additional reference material for readers.

When you design your own world, including a glossary or world map can help add depth to the story. I highly recommend it, especially for epic fantasy worlds.

Publication

I am unsure if I will go traditional or epub, but I am leaning more towards the latter. I may still find an agent to help me represent my book, as I am underread when it comes to marketing.

With that said, I hope you found this post to be informative and enjoyable. Good luck with whatever creative projects you might be working on.

Thank you for reading and stay safe out there.


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