NaNoWriMo 2020: Tips and Preparation

download

It’s that time again Today’s topic is—you guessed it—NaNoWriMo. It stands for National Novel Writing Month, a yearly event celebrated by writers the world over since 1999.

From November 1st to the end of the month, each writer must produce a 50,000-word novella—first draft version of course. Nobody expects a masterpiece as this is more of a rush-rush creative exercise.

What writers decide to do with the novella after NaNoWriMo is up to them. I’ve heard of some amazing stories emerging from the ritual. I might attempt it myself this year, if time and energy allow. The seasons are a busy interval for most people, and scheduling NaNoWriMo time is crucial. I may just use it to polish up Blade of Dragons.

If you’re brave enough to undertake this challenge, then there’s some important steps you should take days before November arrives.

remington standard typewriter in greyscale photography

1. Determine Your Writing Medium

Do you plan to write on a desktop computer? What about a laptop? Maybe pencil, pen, or even a typewriter? Figure out your medium for creative writing beforehand so you can set up your workplace appropriately.

Stock up on fresh pencils, printing paper, coffee, food, or whatever you might need.

2. Plan and Outline Your Story

Days before, begin thinking about what genre you want to write. Will it be a romance novella or maybe fantasy-adventure? Consider the protagonist and antagonist—the actors that drive the story forward. Your story doesn’t have to be perfect for NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t even have to be good as a first draft, but it should be coherent and have potential.

3. Have a Plan

Create a diary or calendar, something that can set milestones, deadlines, and objectives. Remember, you need to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s around 1,700 words a day. Scheduling your progress will improve your organization and help you stay on track.

4. Write, Don’t Edit

For those seeking 1,500+ words a day, you won’t have time to edit or revise. Focus on the writing process only and don’t backtrack, otherwise you may ruin your momentum.

5. Get Excited and Motivated

Nothing kills a project faster than boredom. Be thrilled about your project, just like a sky diver about to plunge from a plane. Remind yourself the reason you’re writing. Is it to improve your writing ability? Maybe you’re finally finishing that forgotten story. Use that focus to propel your efforts and stay on top of your game.

6. NaNoWriMo Is What You Make of It

Ultimately, this event is determined by your goals and objectives. Some participates use it as a means to get motivated and don’t care about reaching 50,000 words. Others see it as a challenge that must be completed, up until the final letter.

Set goals within your means and remember to enjoy the process. If it becomes too hectic or stressful, that will hinder the creative process. Turn it down a notch, or meditate for a while.

NaNoWriMo is a time to get motivated and to explore one’s creative potential, in whatever way chosen. Some writers use it as an excuse to work on belated manuscripts, others on poetry. Then there are those who take the hardcore challenge of developing a whole novella in a month.

Think about what you, as a writer, want out of NaNoWriMo. That goal will be what shapes your experience and what you get out of it. Thanks for reading and good luck. 🙂


Interested in joining a Mailchimp community? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on the project, Ethereal Seals.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.
person holding fountain pen

Disease in Fiction

download

Hello, my readers. Today let’s discuss something that’s been on all our minds recently. Yup, that’s right—diseases in fiction. Right now, the world is in flux over the Coronavirus. It has created a bizarre, paranormal society where we’re all confined to our homes, some of us without jobs. The Coronavirus is like this invisible antagonist, challenging all of us right now.

“Plagues are like imponderable dangers that surprise people…” —Gabriel García Márquez

This makes one think: how would such events play into fictional stories? What examples do we see in published works for diseases in fiction?

Below is a list of diseases in fiction. These should give you ideas of how authors design them, both in fantasy and science fiction.

Jorah-Stormbrn

1. Greyscale

If you’ve read Game of Thrones, you’ve run into this ailment. It’s a horrible disease that cause a person’s flesh—and later internal organs—to harden and die. Necrotic flesh coats the victim’s body, offering the appearance of cracked stone.

2. White Blindness

In the book, Blindness, by Jose Saramago, the disease robs its victims of eyesight. The protagonist is a woman who is immune to the ailment. Able to witness the world around her, the heroine must guide her comrades to safety.

3. Inferno

Created by Dan Brown, the Inferno virus renders people infertile. Used by the antagonists as a waterborne agent—and later an airborne one—this disease serves as a potent vector for conflict.

4. Nanoprobe Virus

No so much a biological virus as a form of nanotechnology, the Nanoprobe Virus is used by the Borg in Star Trek to gradually assimilate organic life forms. Victims become drones for the Borg Collective as nanotechnology slowly takes over their bodies.

5. Tyrant Virus

Also known as the “t-virus”, this disease defines the Resident Evil series. Developed by the Umbrella Corporation, the virus was designed as a eugenics project to cull world population and build an army of bioweapons—namely zombies. Umbrella eventually designed variants of the t-virus that affect victims in different ways.

6. Flare Virus

Found in the Maze Runner movies, the Flare Virus eats away at a person’s brain until they become mindless zombies. Like the Tyrant Virus in Resident Evil, the Flare Virus was designed by scientists to reduce world population.

Diseases are—surprisingly—versatile and useful in fictional worlds. An author, if clever, can use this disease as a plot device to strengthen characters and move the story forward. Disease can also be used to create conflict and established a degree of worldbuilding.

1. An Invisible Antagonist

Heroes can defeat a villain they can see and touch—but what about an antagonist that is invisible? Nothing evokes fear in a character like impotence. Finding a cure, or elixir, may be the only hope in defeating this intangible opponent.

2. Atypical Conflict

Diseases in fiction offer an unusual form of conflict—even better if the disease afflicts characters that the hero cares about. Mental illnesses can add further depth to the conflict, as the victim may experience situations that alter memory or cognition—even turning them into an aggressive mutant or monster. Now the hero may have to fight a loved one, offering moral conflict in the protagonist’s conscious.

3. Worldbuilding

A pandemic forces a society to explore its resources, introducing the reader to what’s in the fictional world. An economic slowdown—like we see in the real world—causes shortages of goods and services, forces people into a different state of mind, and encourages innovation in characters.

In short, a virus exposes the innards of a fictional world and allows a reader to become intimate with it.

Diseases in fiction—whether biological, artificial, or magical—drives plot and character progression in a fictional world. It creates atypical conflict that exposes the underbelly of a society—not just in the protagonist—and allows the reader to dissect the morals, financial resources, and technology of an afflicted civilization.


Thank you reading, as always! During these troubling times, perhaps we can derive some meaning from the Coronavirus and how it is exposing our society. Like the heroes of old, we too can defeat this invisible foe and establish a stronger, more orderly world if by learning from our own mistakes and what habits we have buried throughout the years. That said, maybe this virus can be seen as a good thing—a source of inspiration and growth for the human spirit.

Stay safe and healthy out there. And remember, we’re all in this together. 🙂

download

I’m merging my blog with Mailchimp (still in testing). I plan to send out blog news, book promotions, and free gifts once I get it up and running! 🙂

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

SEO stuff: #coronavirus #disease in fiction #worldbuilding #writing #writing tips #coronavirus #disease in fiction #worldbuilding #writing #writing tips#coronavirus #disease in fiction #worldbuilding #writing #writing tips#coronavirus #disease in fiction #worldbuilding #writing #writing tips#coronavirus #disease in fiction #worldbuilding #writing #writing tips

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2-2.png

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.


Interested in joining a Mailchimp community? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on the project, Ethereal Seals.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

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.


Interested in joining a Mailchimp community? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on the project, Ethereal Seals.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

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!


Interested in joining a Mailchimp community? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on the project, Ethereal Seals.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

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!


Interested in joining a Mailchimp community? Members will receive free poetry, special deals, and short stories. You’ll also get the latest news on the project, Ethereal Seals.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

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.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

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! 🙂


I’m currently expanding my platform onto Mailchimp to develop a mailing community. Members will receive free poetry, special deals, and short stories. Thanks for your support!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Hero’s Journey in Fiction

download

Years ago, I read a fantastic book named The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. In it, the author details the Hero’s Journey. This is a powerful story element that every writer, artist, or spiritual seeker should understand. It illustrates a protagonist’s adventures, from a safe haven to the darkest dungeon—be they literal or figurative.

The Hero’s Journey is a story mechanic of the protagonist’s journey through the various acts of the story. Typically, there are four acts for each journey.

The first act of the Hero’s Journey introduces the hero. The second and third act elaborates on their ordeals, and the fourth finishes round circle. You may notice certain tropes or definitions used in each act. These are minor plot elements that form the Hero’s Journey. Some are necessary to flesh out the story.

The Ordinary World

The story begins in the Ordinary World, a mundane realm that may be a safe haven or even a prison for the hero. Here, the audience learns about the hero’s life situation, his/her abilities, fears, flaws, and personality.

The Call to Adventure

From the Ordinary World, conflict arises that stirs the hero from complacency. This may be something serious like an assassination or a minor incident like a strange phone call. The hero now has a choice to pursue the source of the conflict and resolve the issue, or remain in his or her realm.

Refusal

Initially, the hero may be hesitant to leave the safe boundary of the Ordinary World. The hero sees the risks involved and what’s to gain if s/he succeeds. Some stories skip this step with a willing or reckless hero who jumps onto the quest immediately.

The Mentor

The hero encounters the mentor, a wise or experienced individual. The mentor trains and/or guides the hero, providing new knowledge about the nature of the quest. This character is more often an elderly person but can manifest as a younger individual or inanimate object such as a legendary sword.

Crossing the Threshold

The mentor guides the hero away from the Ordinary World to the first Threshold—or the point of no return. The hero’s commitment is tested, determining if the hero is ready for the quest. The Threshold is the gateway to a new dimension, far away from the Ordinary World.

Tests, Allies, and Enemies

Now in a world of mystery and danger, the hero learns more about his/her new adventure. This strange world brings a host of challenges, allies, and enemies. Every obstacle is a stepping stone to unearthing the hero’s personality and capabilities. Abilities are sharpened, and pain is endured. Temptations are met, and the hero struggles with his/her inner shadow self.

Approach to the Dungeon/Inmost Cave

The hero prepares to enter the Inmost Cave. Setbacks occur, but the hero endures, priming for the Supreme Ordeal—an inner crisis that demands change from the protagonist. The hero must analyze personal flaws and push forward to complete the quest.

Supreme Ordeal

The protagonist faces a dangerous challenge, often against the antagonist. The antagonist can also be a dark reflection of a father figure, such as with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, with exaggerated flaws of the protagonist. The Supreme Ordeal is a highlight of the hero’s quest, and everything is at stake. The hero must draw upon all the experience from the journey to survive.

Reward, Seizing of the Sword

If the hero succeeds, s/he emerges as a changed person. The hero also receives an award as proof of victory; this might be a mythic sword, elixir, or artifact, signifying the change in the hero’s life. The hero now prepares for the last part of the quest.

The Road Back

With the quest completed, the hero begins to travel back to the ordinary world, which is the opposite of the call of adventure. Instead of worry or pain, fulfillment and satisfaction arise. The quest is not done, as the last challenge awaits the hero.

Resurrection

The hero faces a test or battle against the antagonist at the Final Threshold. This ultimate tribulation challenges the hero, requiring all the experience they’ve gained from their quest. Failure may result, leading to the hero’s death, a dearth of all hope, or even a severe injury that mars the hero.

The protagonist is reborn from the flames of demise, returning as a new person, transmuted into the true hero. Now cleansed of past flaws, the hero is equipped to end the adventure.

Return with the Elixir

The adventurer returns to the Ordinary World as a changed person—physically, mentally, and spiritually. Using the reward from the Final Ordeal, s/he improves upon the Ordinary World. A new era of peace and reflection results. The prize may be multifaceted, manifesting either as a damsel in distress, a powerful relic, or a shift in the climate of the realms.  At this point, the hero finishes the journey, but things will never be as they once were.

Others Variables in the Hero’s Journey

There are extra elements in the Hero’s Journey, such as sub-journeys that stretch throughout a trilogy. Sometimes, the hero cannot return to society as they are, instead choosing exile.

How The Hero’s Journey Relates to Readers

The Hero’s Journey occurs in every good fiction. It’s a retelling of human life, the growth of a person into a mature and wise individual. It is also a blueprint from which anyone can appreciate the heroic archetypes and make changes for a more prosperous, happier life.

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.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Antagonists and Villains in Fiction

download

Hello, my readers, to another installation about fictional worlds! It’s been a stressful time for all of us, so I wanted to entertain you with another post of mine: Villains in Fiction!

Last time, I discussed the purpose of disease in fiction. In many ways, disease is like an invisible antagonist that cannot be seen—but what about the villains that can be seen? What are they all about? What different types of villains in fiction are there? Let’s dig into it!

“Each film is only as good as its villain. Since the heroes and the gimmicks tend to repeat from film to film, only a great villain can transform a good try into a triumph.” — Roger Ebert

Throughout human history, each movie, each story tale, has a villain. Some love them, others hate them, or even love to hate these nifty characters. They are the individuals who forge dynamic prose and brilliant screenplay—epic scenes and heart wrenching moments.

Antagonists

While a villain is selfish, naughty, or seeks to harm people, an antagonist—strictly speaking—is the opposing force of the protagonist, the lead of the plot with sympathic values towards the audience. Quite often, villains are the antagonist. However, you can have a villain as the protagonist—or even a hero as the antagonist!

Antagonistic Perspectives

An antagonist can help drive the narrative forward, develop the protagonist, and add color to worldbuilding. A villain is seen as “evil” to the eyes of the hero, but this is subjective. You could, for example, have a character appear as a villain from the viewpoint of most of the characters, but to others the villain seems neutral or even righteous.

Here are some types of villains I’ve chosen to examine. This list is by no means exhaustive.

I. The Anti-hero

In the case where the villain is the protagonist, you get an Anti-hero. Although evil, the Anti-hero believes in doing what he or she thinks is right. The Anti-hero establishes sympathetic relations with the audience and drives the plot forward through heinous acts. An Anti-hero usually has three important traits, which you can read more about here.

2. The Anti-villain

Conversely, an Anti-villain is a character with strong morals, yet accomplishes evil in the long-run. Perhaps an Anti-villain is a priest, wishing to purge “evil”, but he or she commits heinous acts to achieve this. Once again, “evil” is subjective to readers and other characters.

3. The Visionary

The Visionary sees the world in a demented state and wishes to fix it. These types of villains believe they are doing good—despite the fact they may be collapsing economies and killing millions, and they see the hero as an “evil” interloper.

4. The Madman

These types of villains are psychopathic and enjoy being evil, causing mischief, or hurting others for the fun of it. The Madman may have a sense of humor, in the case of the Joker, or even a ruthless, calculating demeanor like Lex Luthor. They will throw whatever resources they have at the hero, even if it costs them their life.

5. Femme Fatale

Seductress, siren, temptress—the Femme Fatale is a female character with malicious intent. Often she seduces the hero in clever ways, provoking him/her towards actions of moral ambiguity. The Femme Fatale may promise the hero power, clout, wealth, or even sex for surrendering to her.

6. The Beast

The Beast is a feral animal or a monster, with a desire to feed, gain territory, rampage, and reproduce. It has a primitive mind and cannot be reasoned with. Some beasts may appear justified for their rampage, like in the case of Godzilla. Others are confused and lost in modern society as with King Kong.

7. The Machine

Similar to the Beast, the Machine has one motive: disrupting the hero’s plans. The Machine is pure logic and can be even more dangerous with its lack of morals and emotions. See the Terminator series as an example.

download

8. Evil Incarnate

Some villains are pure evil by nature. Dark gods or devil embodiments do heinous acts because it’s what they do. Sauron in The Lord of the Rings is innately evil, and opposes Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring. Sometimes these types of villains have certain morals they follow, a code that guides them to destroy.

9. The Outsider

The Outsider is an outcast or disliked minority, detached from the world. Though intelligent and experienced, the Outsider is bitter towards society and holds a degree of vengeance. Outsiders may also have a cult following who champion their cause. Motivated by this revenge, the Outsider is led to commit vile acts, often opposing the society-accepted-protagonist—whom the Outsider also despises.

10. Nature

Nothing can oppose the will of Mother Nature, and unlike other villains, this variant can seldom can stopped. The hero must discover how to mitigate the damage, whether from a storm, a virus, or violent earth changes. Fortunately, conflicts caused by Mother Nature typically resolve on their own once balance is restored.

11. The Authority Figure

The Authority Figure is in charge of a lawful system, and he or she seeks to maintain said system through rules. This villain symbolizes restriction and control, whereas the hero may want freedom. Authority Figures are seen in a wide variety of genres—and they can be anything from a school principal, a police chief, or an emperor. While not wholly evil, Authority Figures only wish to maintain the status quo and do their jobs.

Other Villains in Fiction

There are numerous categories of villains in fiction, such as the Mastermind, a criminal overlord; the Henchman, who follows the Mastermind—and others. Some villains fall in multiple categories—they are a difficult breed to classify, and considerably more interesting than the cliché heroes that are often repeated. I encourage you to check these two articles out for more information.

An original hero will often break away from traditional stereotypes and establish his or her own set of moral values, not necessarily agreeing with society. Perhaps this is why an audience finds Anti-heroes more engaging and reflective of human nature. Anti-heroes also struggle more internally and this plays better with the audience.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more content during this Quarantine with yours truly—and stay safe. 🙂

#fiction #worldbuilding #writing #reading #literature #villainsinfiction

—–

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.