Wednesday, August 27, 2014

All about the big bads...

Before I launch into today's post, I wanted to point out the new look of the blog.  If you go visit my website, you can see that they match-LOL ;) (by the way, a not so subtle point being made that I NOW have a website!)

I'm very excited about the new look and am extremely grateful to Rae Monet Designs for the awesomeness!

Ok, on to the post :)

Characters always have to have something to push against, something or someone who is stopping them from their goals or creating the problem they feel they need to rally against. For my genres those antagonists are usually Villains.  Aka in Buffy-speak "big bads".

Villains can range from Cardinal Richelieu of The Musketeers (BBC TV show- my newest obsession ;))- he's evil, completely bent on ruling the world, and yet is out in the open.  Everyone except for the king, know he's an evil man (they just may not realize how evil ;)).  Yet because of the circumstance, they can't do anything to complete stop him and at many times have to work alongside him and even save his life. He is an awesome villain.

This is the up close villain in my book- he/she is RIGHT there, a constant aspect of the protagonist's life. These are often hidden ones, where they come on as a good person, but the reader finds out they aren't--eventually so does the character.  Sometimes these don't work however, as they need a fine balancing act as to why the character isn't catching on.  Like romances where the thing keeping a couple apart is made out of bad misunderstandings, this can fall flat. But when done right, amazing.

Now the up close villain won't always work- especially in my genre (they are great for political intrigue though!).  So, at the other end we had the shadow villain.  These beings are rarely seen except through the destruction their minions cause.  A powerful force moving behind the scenes to turn the world--or at least their corner of it--in their own favorite hell.  Sauron from Lord of The Rings would be the classic example of this one.  He doesn't even have a body! Yet his power and influence is strong and the destruction he causes through others is massive.

I'd say those are the two extremes on villains, and I know there are many more.  But all villains think they are the hero of their story, they can't be bad just to be bad (unless they are a sociopath and those are quite different in my book ;)).

So what about you?  Who are the big bads you write?  When reading or watching tv or movies- who do you love to hate, or just hate?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Biggest peeves

I was thinking about things that annoy me as a reader, and that I'd really like to avoid as a writer.  Since all writers are readers, I thought I'd toss this out to all folks- writers, non-writers, pretty much anyone who reads books:

What bugs you and to what level?

I've noticed that the longer I write the harder it gets to read for enjoyment.  I get annoyed far to easily nowadays, and that annoyance is far more likely to result in me not finishing that book than it used to.

So what bugs me?

A character that I can't relate to.  If you have an amazing world, but I really dislike the main character- I'm outta there.  To be honest, usually this only happens with free books I get (aka- ones I didn't go out hunt down and buy ;)), simply because if I'm buying the book, I look inside to read a bit on the character.  Now, I can still be tricked, but usually that gets rid of those.

Flashbacks.  Ok, little ones might work if you can do them well-- but sometimes authors get way too into the flashback.  If the story from the past is that interesting- TELL that one!  My suggestion is use the flashbacks in small doses- let us see how the character is now, then show us bits and pieces of how they got that way.  I started reading a book years ago where I liked who I thought was the main character- only to find out two chapters in, that the rest of the book was about ANOTHER character completely in a flashback!  Yeah- that one went sailing into the giveaway book pile.

Prologues.  Not a fan, but not a book deal ender either- I just don't read them.  So, ya better hope they aren't needed for the story ;).

Stupid people.  I've raved about this before.  Making a character do something because YOU want/need them to, isn't the same as their behavior being a logical (or at least plausible) outcome of their current situation. Nuff said.

Focusing on stuff of no importance to the story.  Yes, you need to make your world real, but if you have the "book camera" pan on a vase for half a page, then don't have that vase be anything important later- I will hunt you down and pummel you.  As a writer you've just wasted valuable "reader focus" and you've also lied to your reader- both are a crime.

I know I have more, but those are mine. What are your peeves when you read?  And do you stop reading or muster on?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

So where to begin?

Just a short sort of blog today- more of a question really. 

Where do you start your stories? 

Yes, yes, I know--start where the protagonist's life goes sideways, where things jump off the rails, where it appears as if everything is going to spin into world class hinkiness.  Also, other fun tips- start with action and never give backstory in the beginning.

Now, I've seen stories that follow the rules and fail and break the rules and succeed (granted, rarely).  Given the types of books I write I do start with action.  But I recently realized I jumped the gun in one.  I dove into the main storyline way too fast.  It seemed logical when I was writing it, but now that I'm trying to fix the story (hmmmm- wonder why ;)) I realized I began too soon.

So what are your thoughts about beginnings- yours or others?  What do you love, hate, wish you had done yourself?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG: Freak out and throw things!

Ah yes, another entry in the once a month saga of the Insecure Writer's Support Group!  Once a month writers from across the globe gather to well...freak out and throw things.  Join us!

Ok, to be fair, not all of us are in the freak out and throw things mode, at least not all at the same time ;).  But right now that is a much better and more accurate assessment of my writing mind than "Keep calm and carry on".  I do love the original British motto, and it helps.  Sometimes.  Other times you just sort of want to freak out.  And throw things. And maybe scream a little.

Usually the epic geeky wonder of Comic Con San Diego gives me a boost of creative energy.  And it sort of did this year, I was gobsmacked as usual by all the amazing things folks are doing.  But I fear that may have collided with my current stress/overwhelmed state and created a perfect storm of "can't do nothing".

I have now managed to not write for over two weeks and heading solidly into week three.  I think it's a combination of stress at evil day job, but also a massive amount of self-doubt and being over-whelmed by trying to get the self-publishing off the ground and still taking hits from rejections from the few things I still had floating out in the trad publishing world. I want to do the self-publishing right, but being able to afford it all is freaking me out.  Putting something out there that looks like crap, freaks me out.  Pretty much my entire writing world is freaking me out right now.

So until I figure out a better coping mechanism (like any at all) I'll be sitting in my corner and throwing things.

Wanna find some more writers who are perhaps not quite as insecure as me today?

Go check some out!