Posts Tagged With: Writers Resources

Somebody Order A Villain?:Part Two

~ Firstly, I apologize for the absence. I started my senior year, so between course work, college prep, working, trying to find a better job, and non-school-related life…I got a little distracted. ~

As I’ve already made abundantly clear, I’m quite fond of villains. In many cases, they’re more interesting than their hero counterparts(and usually better dressed). They’re unpredictable, appearing in all shapes, sizes, and emotional states. They’re troubled, by anything from guilt to greed to the continued existence of the human race. And everything that makes them fun to hate and a joy to read also makes them terrors to write properly.

 

 

1. Sauron – A good villain is driven.

 

 

Whatever it is that your villain wants, he has to want it with every fiber of his soul. Heroes can occasionally be apathetic about what they’re trying to accomplish since they’re often dragged into quests and adventures against their will, but the bad guys cannot.  If your villain is lackadaisical about getting what he/she wants, then the rest of your story is going to lag, as well.

 

 

The Eye of Sauron as portrayed in Peter Jackso...

The Eye of Sauron as portrayed in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy as Sauron’s form in the Third Age. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron stopped at nothing to retrieve the One Ring. He sent all kinds of nasty beasties and recruited unsavory characters to help see that little piece of power returned. A fact that helped keep the action going through three books and as many movies.

 

 

2. A good villain believes in what he’s doing.

 

 

Considering the things that villains do? They better believe in it!  Without believing that his actions will bring him to his goal, a villain won’t be driven(see above) to do much of anything and you won’t have a story.

 

 

Granted, there may be doubts. Every human on the face of the planet has doubts from time to time, and letting your baddie have some from time to time can go a long way toward making her more human. However, unless your tale is a tale of redemption, make sure she pushes through them.

 

 

3. Professor Moriarty – A good villain is the kind of person your protagonist would have as a BFF.

 

 

If he wasn’t, you know, evil. In a lot of great fiction, the protagonist and the antagonist are two sides of the same coin. Good and evil versions of the same person, if you simplify things.

 

 

Take Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, for example. They’re both brilliant. They both invented professions to suit their talents. They both possess a penchant for great schemes, and neither has ever found anyone to keep up with them until they crossed swords with each other.

English: Sidney Paget's drawing of Holmes and ...

English: Sidney Paget’s drawing of Holmes and Moriarty in Mortal Combat at the Edge of the Reichenbach Falls. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

4.Queen Levana – A good villain is not good.

 

 

 

 

First, allow me to qualify that statement: a good villain is not doing bad things for good reasons. If that’s the case, your character may be more of an anti-hero than an antagonist.

*spoiler alert*  In Cinder by Marissa Meyer, the antagonist, Queen Levana, embodies this concept pretty well. She tries to murder a three-year-old princess in order to steal the throne for herself, tries again when the princess is in her teens, routinely brainwashes her own subjects, and orders certain disabled infants to be murdered at birth. Not a nice woman.

 

 

A villain does what they do for reasons that they consider good, but that likely sound insane/diabolical/repulsive to the average person. Typically, their motivations revolve solely around themselves. Granted, there are exceptions to this, as with almost all aspects of writing.

 

 

5. The Weeping Angels – A good villain is frightening.

 

 

Human or monster, psychopath or sociopath, explosive or calculating, a good villain should be scary in some way, shape, or form. The worse your protagonist’s opponent is and the more your readers hate him/her, the more emotionally invested they become in seeing him/her vanquished.

The Weeping Angels are living statues from Doctor Who. In the series, they move faster than the human eye can blink and if they reach you will either send you back in time to feed off your potential energy or snap your neck, just because…well…they can. Either way, they can be terrifying. As such, when an episode features them, you’re totally invested in the plot and seeing them lose because you’d really like to be able to sleep that night. Not that you will.

And I’m not posting a picture. If you’re a Whovian, you will know why.

 

 

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Worlds Away Writing Challenge Day 1

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                                            Worlds Away Writing Challenge:

Seven days of questions, prompts, and ideas to keep you writing. The rules?

  • Answer each question/prompt as completely as possible.
  • Add the link-icon to your posts.
  • If you are so inclined, challenge other writing bloggers(or just any blogger in general) to challenge the challenge by completing the…um…challenge.

Day 1: Given the chance, would you spend a day in the world of one of your short stories/novels/whatever? Which one? Why or why not? How would you spend the day? Would you survive? If yes, write a short scene from your day with your characters.

It’s…hard to say. In a way, I would love to. Most of my worlds are dripping with adventurous journeys, nefarious plots, and a general sense of mayhem and fun, all of which I like to think I would enjoy. However, I have my doubts that I would last ten minutes in any adventure executed sans safety equipment.

Secondly, my own characters would hate me. Period.  Adventurers, inventors, scientists, thieves, the occasional pirate–nowhere in that group does a writer fit. Though, it might be amusing to see one try…*plot bunny*…Moving on.

That being said, were I foolhardy enough to venture into one of my own creations…it would be the one from my Victorian Vagabond storyline. That’s the one with the adventurers, thieves, pirates,etc. Fun, right?

I imagine we would spend the day in Mayhap Manor with me pestering Alec to teach me how to shoot and trying to break into Zissa’s lab to play with the chemicals. Mayhem would likely ensue, thanks to some pesky villain or another deciding it was the perfect day to strike. And then I would probably die tragically, as I have no idea what to do in an imbroglio.

Scene:

“No.”

“Please?”

“No!”

“Pretty please?”

“For your own safety, it’s out of the question.”

“Por favor? Per favore? S’il vous plait?”

“Absolutely not!”

“C’mon…what harm could it possibly do?”

“Look, you nearly get us killed every time you so much as write about doing something dangerous. I shudder to think of what would happen were  you to try it yourself. Let alone something as potentially fatal as covert surveillance.”

“Well…if I can’t do that…can I play with your rifle while you’re gone? Or perhaps the explosives?”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake…”

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Tumblr Roundup

 

The Internet can be both a fatal distraction and a lifesaving tool for the writer. Between specialized forums for research, online critique groups, writing prompt generators, and everything in between, there’s pretty much a site for anything.

 

And I think all of them are on Tumblr.

 

Here is a list of the most helpful, the most amusing, and my favorite Tumblr writing blogs.

 

1. reference for writers

 

The blog title describes it pretty well. The site provides random lists of obscure information on everything from martial arts to the daily routine of a police officer in Wales to how to escape from a coffin. It tends to go off-topic every now and again, but the posts are still writing-related and typically quite intriguing.

 

2. Prompts and Pointers

 

…is exactly what it sounds like. Generally, there are at least two, if not more writing prompts posted each day in a variety of categories(character, plot, etc.). All of them are thought-provoking and can generate plot-bunnies like you would not believe.

 

3. prose is architecture

 

Otherwise know as “worddocs.” Send a piece of your writing that just doesn’t seem to be working to these guys, and they’ll diagnose your problem!

 

4. writing prompts

 

The prompts are as wildly creative as the title is not. My Pinterest board is overflowing with prompts from this site that I want to write, but haven’t had the time to.

 

5. WriteWorld

 

The blog is a mishmash of everything writerly, from deliciously odd words to (sometimes startling) picture prompts to simple lists of words. A scroll through the archives can help spark quite a few ideas.

 

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Top Writing Quotes – The Sequel

Considering how popular my last quotes post was and how hard I’m trying to revive the blog, I thought a sequel was in order. Luckily for me, there is no shortage of sage remarks on the life and times of writers. Salud!

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn’t expecting it.

  -H. G. Wells

I like the image of attacking a misbehaving manuscript (since there are times I’m tempted give up on mine and delete all traces of its existence). And Wells is right about it being helpful to hop out your routine to jumpstart your work. Some of my best stuff has come out of times when I’ve been writing at odd times or in odd circumstances.

Don’t ask a writer about what he’s working on. It’s like asking someone with cancer about the prognosis of his disease.

Jay McInerney

Unless you’re one of my editors, if you ask about what I’m working on, all you get is a tight smile and a vaguely nervous, slightly annoyed look. It’s not pretty.

There is a splinter of ice in the heart of a writer.

  -Graham Greene

Yeah…Most people don’t hear about grisly murders, horrific deaths, and the misfortunes of their friends, then go “Huh. I could use that.”

Don’t tell us petty stories of our own pettiness…Go back where there are temples and jungles and all manner of unknown things , where there are mountains whose summits have never been scaled, rivers who sources have never been reached, deserts whose sands have never been crossed.

-Willa Cather

I miss that about today’s writing. I end up reading a lot of 19th century fiction and being slightly in awe of the spirit of adventure and the hope for the future that went into them. Can we go back to that now? Please?

I know no person so perfectly disagreeable and even dangerous as an author.

-King William IV

Hmmm…I like “dangerous.” And it’s quite true. We can be very dangerous (“the pen is mightier than the sword”). And also highly disagreeable, especially if forced to get up before 8 a.m.

Characters take on life sometimes by luck, but I suspect that it is when you can write most entirely out of yourself, inside the skin, heart, mind, and soul of another person who is not yourself, that a character becomes in his own right another human being on the page.

-Eudora Welty

I haven’t mastered this yet, and probably never will. All of my character have some part of me in them. But it would be an amazing skill to have, and I’m in awe of the writers that can do it.

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Mwuhahaha! : Writing About Fear, Horror, and Other Delightful Things

Just to be clear, I don’t do horror. Being a writer, I have a despicably overactive imagination and it makes monsters out of shadows often enough as it is, even without adding fodder to it. I once accidentally read (yes, it is possible) a gothic horror novel and didn’t sleep for two days afterwards. But, even in genres other than horror, there are still sections that involve a little suspense and a little terror. Some writers do them well. Some not so much. This is what I’ve noticed about them.

1. Emotions

If something’s really gone and shook your puddin’, you aren’t going to be calm, cool, and collected. Yet, in a disturbing number of books, the characters go right on with their adventures, even after supposedly being terrified moments beforehand. I was in my first car accident last week, and, despite it being minor with no injuries, I still didn’t stop shaking for a good hour afterwards. Though, that was partially because the first responders were rude and rather scary, but I digress. If you’re really and truly scared, the feeling doesn’t  just evaporate once the danger is past. Granted, you can’t take it too far, or it will throw off the rhythm of your story, but it’s still something to think about. Also, it depends on the character you’re writing. Some are cool through the crisis and fall apart later, some bawl throughout the duration, and some lock up like clams. Whatever works for your story.

2. Details

As I’ve mentioned before, I am aware that adjectives aren’t exactly cool in the writing world right now. And I understand why. They can be a real nuisance if used incorrectly. But when you’re attempting to pull off a good scare for your readers, mood is everything. And without adjectives to describe it, there is no mood. You don’t have to use a lot (In fact, you shouldn’t use a lot–bad form. Very bad form.), but a few well-placed descriptors can work wonders.

3. Pacing

This can be a major issue. If it drags on for too long, you lose the sense of urgency that makes suspense and horror what they are. If you cut it too short, there isn’t enough time for the reader to become invested in the scene and therefore become frightened. The age-old writers’ advice of reading aloud really helps with pinpointing areas where the action is either too choppy or dragging. Also, having a disinterested party (who has a decent ear for words) read through and highlight areas where something feels off can be a lifesaver, since we all know how blind we writers can be to the failings of our own works.

4. Excessiveness

According to Google, that really is a word…It still doesn’t sound right. But I digress. While trying to write something capable of keeping your readers up that night, the tendency is to go overboard. If a little is good, a megaton is better, right? In writing, no. Definitely not. With blood, gore, monsters, and the abilities of said fictional monsters, it seems to work better to keep it realistic. Well…as realistic as you can while writing about fictional beasties. If the terrors you describe in your tale are too out of the bounds of reality, then it may very well pull your reader out of the story long enough for them to put the book down. If your monsters are too powerful, then your readers are going to hate you for writing a perfect character, evil or not. And I’m going to stop here, because doing more would be…excessive.

 

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4 More Writing Resources!

Since the last “Writing Resources” post was so popular (and I do love popular posts), I decided I’d do another one with all of my newfound writing loves. There are a surprising amount of awesome tools out there, and, though not all of them were actually intended for writers, they can come in pretty handy.

1. Bubbl.us

Bubbl.us is a free, online mindmapping program that I found a week or so ago, and I love it. It’s nice for doing character sheets, plot maps, outlines, brainstorming–whatever you can think of. It’s pretty easy to use, and you can store up to three maps in their cloud without having to go pro and pay for the service. Also, you can export your work as jpegs for easier reference.

2. BBC’s Victorian Franchise

For those of you who write Victorian or Edwardian historical fiction, these shows are goldmines. There were five shows (that I know of): Victorian Kitchen, Victorian Pharmacy, Victorian Farm, Victorian Flower Garden, and Victorian Kitchen Garden. All of them delve into the culture and the practices of the day, not only in their title areas, but in others related to them. They’re detailed, well-researched, and very, very informative. Despite all the books I’ve read on the era, the shows still managed to enlighten me on a lot of things. For example, did you know that pharmacists were responsible for everything from rat poison to electroshock therapy to fireworks back in the day? I now want to be an 1800’s pharmacist…A word of warning: these aren’t necessarily great for entertainment purposes. Some of them can rather dry. But they are vastly intriguing to history buffs and writers, and well worth your time if you need to research any of the aforementioned areas.

3. HeroMachine

This is awesome for those of us without the necessary artistic talent to get our characters from our heads to a sketch. It’s a free online program for creating comic-book style portraits of your characters. It turns out surprisingly detailed portraits, complete with backgrounds. They can either be saved to your computer as a document (V. 2.5) or exported (V. 3) or printed directly. Fair warning, though, Version 3 can be a bit of a pain to use unless you do quite a bit of tinkering around with it. Still, it’s a really handy tool. It has a lot of variations and the finished sketches look professional. Also, it makes me feel somewhat productive while not actually writing.

4. Henley’s Formulas for Home and Workshop

This is a find from my dad’s amazingly varied library, and I was practically giddy when I got ahold of it. It has (obviously) formulas for everything from cosmetics to antidotes to explosives, all in one handy (and massive) volume. Be warned, though, the book was originally published in 1907, so be careful what you use, in either reality or fiction. Some of the formulas are pretty outdated. It’s perfect for period pieces, but if you show a modern character whipping  up a lead-and-mercury-laced face cream, your readers are going to think them idiots. As they should. Still, for more obscure things–explosives, acids, adhesives, this is a handy way of finding out how to make them and describe the process.

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A Method to My Madness. Or Not.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with outlining. Way back when I was first learning it in English, I didn’t mind it because it was a could-be-done-in-my-sleep-with-one-hand-behind-my-back assignment. Simple. But then they started making me do it with my actual writing assignments. And when I made it to high school, it was required with my creative writing assignments. Personally, I tend to associate “spontaneous” with “creative” and there’s nothing less creative than an outline. Following an outline is by definition following a pattern. I hated it with a passion.

But then I started writing novels. I realized just how complicated it can be to try keeping track of everything in your head for over a year and 60,000 words. Without an outline, you run the risk of not having a set (or well-thought-out) plot or mixing up details and clues. It gets quite troublesome. On the other hand, figuring it out as you go (“pantsing” for those who like that term) lends the work a bit of freedom to go where it will. Both have their advantages. Or you can do a hybrid outline/pantsing thing with a little of both. There appears to be no really wrong way to do it.

1. Outlining

I’ve tried strict point-by-point outline with some of my work and it’s fallen completely flat every time. There’s something about trying to write a novel before actually writing the novel that completely douses my creative fires. All the ideas dry up, the passion for the work flies the coop, and everything goes kaput. Also, it tends to put me in an indescribably nasty mood in which I feel the need to give up and go hunt for character photos on Pinterest or consume copious amounts of junk food. But apparently it works for some people. *shrugs* Go figure.

2. Pantsing

Outside of having an endlessly amusing name, this method actually has some merit. You can go any direction you want without messing up a plotline and there are always later drafts to tighten everything up. I did this with my first novel.

And I’m never doing it again.

I’m still working on fixing that stupid book, thanks to a plot that was overly complicated and didn’t really work, characters that popped in with clues that didn’t make sense, and about a dozen other issues that all arose because of pantsing. While I will admit that the creative freedom is nice and can actually be helpful, I can’t advocate pantsing. Nor, apparently, can many other people. Just about all the people I know that write use outlines of some sort, most of them stricter than mine.

3. Hybrid Outlining

This is the method I’ve settled on using, because it combines the better elements of the previous two. You’ve got the structure of traditional outlining and at least a little of the pantsing freedom. I tend to write a loose outline and write from that, changing things and going in new directions as I see fit. It seems to work well so far. It feels a great deal less stifling than outlining as well as less I’m-lost-what-on-earth-am-I-supposed-to-be-doing than pantsing.

So, howsabout you? What are your views on the subject?

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Writing Prompt Monday – Entry #5

My apologies for being so late with the post. I was babysitting this morning, trying out archery this afternoon, and trying to do school this evening. Busy day, to say the least. BUT I GOT TO PLAY WITH A BOW AND ARROW!!! Now, I want my own.

But, back to the topic at hand…writing prompts. Due to my weapon-filled day, we’re gonna have a weapon-themed prompt.

Q. How does your character feel about weapons and the violence connected with them? Does he/she have a weapon? Do they carry it with them? Write an interview style response with one of your characters.

A. Flynn Churchill:

“Weapons? It rather depends upon whose hands they’re in, as to whether or not I like them. They’re ruddy useful things when you’re in trouble, but I don’t like solving problems and getting out of scrapes that way. It sort of feels like…cheating.
Pulling a pistol or a knife takes all the challenge (and therefore the fun) out of it. Though, on the other hand, if someone’s about to kill you, it’s hardly fun, anyways. Weapons can be very handy in certain dire circumstances.

Concerning violence…I don’t like it, weapon-related or not. But humans have always been violent creatures, and it’s better to be armed and ready for it than unprepared. When I studying the Indian ruins in Arizona, practically every chap I met carried at least one gun (if not more) and a knife. Typically, those were the chaps that survived.

Sometimes. In my younger days, I did not. If I needed one, I usually improvised with what was around me–fireplace pokers, chairs, priceless vases–and made do. Now that I have to carry a blasted cane, I occasionally take the one with the sword in it. Or the one with the dagger. Or possibly the shillaly.”

Your answer? Let me know in the comments!

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Writing Prompt Monday – Entry #4

Wow…guys, this blog is less than a hundred views away from being viewed one thousand times. That’s a lot of views. A lot of people. A lot of reading. A lot of affirmation for a certain young writer who is altogether too excited about people actually reading her work. So, thanks, guys! *blows kisses*

In other announcements (since I’m rather excited about it and have no one else to tell), I am officially in possession of my cover art! Now I can send the novel for binding as soon as I finish revisions. As you can guess, I’m bouncing off the walls with the thought of actually holding a copy of my first novel in a form other than a flashdrive sometime before Christmas.

Now, on to business…this week’s prompt. We’re popping back to characters this week, since they’re my favorite part of writing. Salud!

Q. How does your character feel about thunderstorms? What memories do they bring up? Do they make them restless or lethargic? Love them or hate them? What do they do on stormy days?

A. Well, since I’ve used Zissa for all the previous prompts, I think I’ll switch over to a character I’m developing for a later series, Elle Ross. Elle rather likes thunderstorms, as long as they don’t get too serious. She loves walking around in them with the hood of her cloak up, particularly at night, because it makes her feel dangerous and mysterious, like the characters in her books. They also remind her of her trips to and from Arizona (where her parents are homesteading) and tend to make her feel a little lonely and homesick for her family. Typically, a good rolling thunderstorm stirs her up and does make her restless. Unless she’s already upset, in which case, they make her want to go collapse on her bed and bawl. When she doesn’t happen to be working at the bookshop on rainy days, she’ll be at home working on her latest novel and trying to avoid her Aunt Constance’s attempts to foist suitors upon her.

Your Answer?

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Writing Challenge ~ Day 3 ~ Your Novel’s Soundtrack

Since I’m trying to catch up on this thing and am currently sitting in a library with nothing to do, I’m going to go ahead and write up this challenge, too. Honestly, it’s the one I was looking forward to the most, anyways. I love picking out writing songs. So, here you are…now presenting the soundtrack for The Misadventures of a Victorian Vagabond: The Inventor’s Imbroglio by various artists.

I figured this would work for the first couple of chapters since it progresses in the same manner the song does. Nice and calm one minute, then huge fight the next.

And then this for the whole escape and train-jumping thing that occurs in Chapter Two.

This is Alec and Zissa trying to get along. Imagine lots of bickering…

These two characterize the mystery and Zissa’s attempts to figure it all out.

This is Chap. 14. Sappy things happen in Chap. 14.

This is Alistair and Prilla trying to cooperate with each other.

Alec and Zissa’s adventures in the Embassy.

This is the climax. Obviously.

And this is Zissa’s theme.
As for an overall tone, it sounds like a Victorian adventure. Which is good, since that’s what the novel is. It sounds like it uses a lot of humor and action, with intermittent romance and drama. Your thoughts?

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