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Kyoshi

Boarders Writing A Novel: Part 13

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Here are the last two posts from the previous thread:



Neumond said:


As Starkess said, gender swapping is an amazing tool:

Do you know BSG?

There are two series. One is the 80s version where Starbuck and Boomer were male. The other is the new version, where Starbuck and Boomer were female (Kara Thrace).

The writers decided to make Starbuck female, because they felt another male Bad-Ass is just too cliche.

Fans rioted when this was announced. Starbuck was a fan favorite in the first series and they feared a female Starbuck would just destroy the character.

Kara turned out to be one of the fan favorites of the show. She was just as Bad-Ass as her male "ancestor" but she had an emotional depth and a human feel to her that the first one just lacked.

I really recommend watching the show, but not for Boomer or Starbuck. Watch out for president Roslin. The best female leader I´ve ever came across in tv.


These female characters have one thing in common, they have as many problems and strengths as their male counterparts, because they are written as characters.

It actually felt to me like they wrote their characters in pairs. A female and a male character seem to mirror each other on the show. And neither is weaker or stronger than the other:

Starbuck/Apollo; Adama/Roslin; (I won´t go further into it because of spoilers. But it´s really interesting...)


There is something to learn from this show for writers who aren´t able (or feel like they aren´t able) to write females. You will be amazed how good gender swapping works, because in the end we are all human beings. And it will teach you, that women are people, too.

The downside is: If it doesn´t work, chances are your male characters are lacking, too. Because they are people as well. The world doesn´t need another cliche Bad-Ass guy with no emotions... (In german we say "paper-guy" to this kind of character. It means he is lacking the dimensions of a real guy, as paper has just two dimensions...)


Another recommendation:

Dune, this book is from the sixties and it has kick-ass females in it.

Dune was written in a strange time.

The fifties were one of the crudest anti-feminist times you could think of. In the twenties women started working and getting more rights. After the war, society was so conservative it defies believe. The ideal woman was a dumb, obedient, smiling, birthing and nanny robot...

(I remember a film where a woman drove a small boat in a completely calm and warm ocean, fifty meters from the beach. The men on the beach got an heart attack, because this was soooo dangerous. Obviously she fell off while attempting to wink back (she was too dumb to get, that the men were trying to warn her). And obviously the man on the beach had to jump into the water. Because she couldn´t swim fifty meters. Mind you, she was a healthy woman in her prime... But that equals dumb and weak. :lmao: )

In the sixties people began to realize once again, that women are people, too.


And you can see that mind-set in Herberts books, as those women start out in positions that are official beneath their male counterparts. But the author made his females into strong characters.

At the end you come to the conclusion that many of the male characters were just plot devices.

While the females each had an agenda and story of their own. And they were far from perfect. Alia is one of my all-time favorite characters because of her weaknesses. The motif of hidden and visible female power is very strong throughout all the books.

Eddard Stark wasn´t the first "hero-father-guy" to kick the bucket... The hero-father-guy in Dune was pretty generic. But his wife was the one to kick off the story and she remained a decision-making driving force throughout. And she made decisions that weren´t the obvious choice.



On a sidenote:

I guess you know asoiaf? ;) There are great females, too.

But I personally never warmed up to Brienne. She never felt like a real character to me. But that might be very personal...



The_BlauerDragon said:


Wow, Thanks! You reminded me of some characters that I'd honestly forgotten about... And brought forth some great examples all around. That, I think, was what I was driving at in my earlier question. I didn't want to end up with a flat, cliche, dumb, and weak character. I am planning out a mixed cast of male and female characters, each with their own agendas (hopes, dreams, strengths, flaws, etc.) ...and I guess I was just feeling a little gun shy about trying to get the female side of it right. I see now that I was simply over thinking it.

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I was originally planning to kill one of my characters in an upcoming escape sequence, but when I got around to writing the first scene from her perspective and gave her a bit of a backstory, I'm having second doubts. Not because I feel bad (I don't feel bad about any of the planned character deaths :P And there are many) but I feel like there's more that could be done with the character. And if she'd die when I'd planned her to, it'd leave a recently thought-of personal mission of her unfulfilled. I guess I'll do what feels most natural when I eventually arrive at that sequence (it's still 6 or 7 chapters away I believe).

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In the last three weeks I've put the finishing touches on two projects. One is a 75k contemporary young adult novel called THE SEVEN LABORS OF NICK JABLONSKY and sent it off to my agent. It was a few years in the making, working here and there on it. But it's done and I'm waiting to hear back from him. I only betaed it once (Thanks Starkess) and that was only part of it. I like it and think it's good. We'll see what agent man says.



Today, I finished a 117k young adult fantasy called THE LAST SCION. It was known for years as JAIMAN ZARACHEK AND THE SISTERS OF KHODA but there were some changes to the story that made the change in title necessary. I carved down the idea from an unwieldy eight book series to a trilogy (though I still think 4 to 5 books is possible). I'm very happy with what I did with that one. I sent it off to betas, including one new beta for a "Is this okay" check before I send it to the agent man.



Next up is either something new or salvaging the wreckage of the MS I lost in the "I'm an idiot and didn't back up my data" mistake of January 2015.


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I was originally planning to kill one of my characters in an upcoming escape sequence, but when I got around to writing the first scene from her perspective and gave her a bit of a backstory, I'm having second doubts. Not because I feel bad (I don't feel bad about any of the planned character deaths :P And there are many) but I feel like there's more that could be done with the character. And if she'd die when I'd planned her to, it'd leave a recently thought-of personal mission of her unfulfilled. I guess I'll do what feels most natural when I eventually arrive at that sequence (it's still 6 or 7 chapters away I believe).

Funny thing is that the more writing I do, the more I'm convinced that killing off characters should be a last resort thing. I find it more interesting to let them develop on their own, and only consider killing them off if there's nothing more I can do with them.

("Death is final, but life is full of possibilities").

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Funny thing is that the more writing I do, the more I'm convinced that killing off characters should be a last resort thing. I find it more interesting to let them develop on their own, and only consider killing them off if there's nothing more I can do with them.

("Death is final, but life is full of possibilities").

I'm still stuck in the planning phases, and have given no thought to lengths or numbers of books or chapters, but I've already started combing through character ideas and trying to decide who to kill of and where. I had this vision that I have been exploring, of mapping out a character's entire story arc, their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations and goals... Then just picking a random point and drawing a line through it to signify the point where I will kill them. The idea being that sometimes we die young and our story never gets to be completed. Are you saying that you think that is not wise to do? Or is it just that you, personally, don't like wasting time on characters that you know are doomed from the git?

Also, as for series length... Lord knows that I am not going to be the one to do it, but I had a dream that I cannot shake and would like to see done, if no-one has done it already. In it, there was an author that wrote three series of books. Each series had 7 books, and each series was a complete entity unto itself. Yet, each series was also one piece of a larger trilogy. In my dream it was quite fantastic reading. There was a lapse of several centuries between each series, so no real cross over characters to speak of (though lots of cross referencing), and then end result was beautifully crafted.

Anyway... Serious question time. I have been furiously writing out notes and snippets of detail and such whenever I have time and now have a mountain of individual pieces of paper with random information on them. Seeing that I have no real organizational skills to speak of and that the majority of what I have written is background detail (things I need to know, but will not necessarily ever need to say), is there any particular methodology or program that anyone has found useful for wrangling in such clutter? Or is it even something I should worry about doing?

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My first book, "The Rules of Supervillainy" just came out yesterday. It's being published by Amber Cover (Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, Prime Suspects, Dead Eye).

http://www.amazon.com/Rules-Supervillainy-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B00ZA9U8T4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433891281&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Rules+of+Supervillainy

My second book is coming out on the tenth, published by Ragnarok Publications, "Esoterrorism": http://www.ragnarokpub.com/#!esoterrorism/c14nv

I've got to say being a published writer has been a long and involved journey. Anyone who thinks it's not just as, if not more difficult, than any other job on this planet but uranium mining is selling you something. I've been blessed to have plenty of fellow writers help me through the growing pains of the business, though. Really, I would have never gotten a third of the way I did if not for having a really helpful bunch of people point out all the various mistakes and problems with my writing.

The greatest lesson any writer can impart to another is, "Yes, your work is horrible. Work on improving it."

After that, everything flows.

Currently, I'm working on a fantasy novel series which is my favorite work. I don't know if it'll be my most popular or my best but it's the one I will consider my baby.

Because at the end of the day, you have to write for yourself.

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^Congratulations, Charlie! :commie:



Hope they're available in my country.


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Congratulations Charles! :commie:

I'm still stuck in the planning phases, and have given no thought to lengths or numbers of books or chapters, but I've already started combing through character ideas and trying to decide who to kill of and where. I had this vision that I have been exploring, of mapping out a character's entire story arc, their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations and goals... Then just picking a random point and drawing a line through it to signify the point where I will kill them. The idea being that sometimes we die young and our story never gets to be completed. Are you saying that you think that is not wise to do? Or is it just that you, personally, don't like wasting time on characters that you know are doomed from the git?

Also, as for series length... Lord knows that I am not going to be the one to do it, but I had a dream that I cannot shake and would like to see done, if no-one has done it already. In it, there was an author that wrote three series of books. Each series had 7 books, and each series was a complete entity unto itself. Yet, each series was also one piece of a larger trilogy. In my dream it was quite fantastic reading. There was a lapse of several centuries between each series, so no real cross over characters to speak of (though lots of cross referencing), and then end result was beautifully crafted.

Anyway... Serious question time. I have been furiously writing out notes and snippets of detail and such whenever I have time and now have a mountain of individual pieces of paper with random information on them. Seeing that I have no real organizational skills to speak of and that the majority of what I have written is background detail (things I need to know, but will not necessarily ever need to say), is there any particular methodology or program that anyone has found useful for wrangling in such clutter? Or is it even something I should worry about doing?

Absolutely: Sometimes we die young and never do the things we wanted to.

But stories aren´t reality.

You hopefully don´t write dialogues as people actually speak in rl.

And you won´t write a scene where nothing happens with any impact, implications or reveal at all. And you shouldn´t write characters that never do anything.

The exception might be, if you´re writing survival horror. In this genre it is expected of people to die like flies without getting anything done ;).

If you´re going for the "GRRM-thing" of anybody can die: I don´t want to offend you, but I think you misunderstood the concept. (I´m german, I hope you forgive my rudeness ;).) GRRM doesn´t kill people just by chance.

Eddard Stark was the traditional father figure that died to set his kids on the loose and set the stage for the Lannister vs Stark conflict. His death had a great impact in the story.

And if you watch closely, every mayor character death had something to accomplish. Catelyn and Robb sealed the Bolton rise and the fall of the Starks. Quentyn (often seen as a complete nonsense-arc) will probably have implications for Danys relationship with Dorne. Tywins/Kevans Death was needed to shatter the Lannisters. Drogo had to die, to cut Dany loose from the Dothraki. Joffrey died, because his story was over, Melisandre needed a guinea pig, Cersei had to go crazy pants and Tommen was needed as a king who wouldn´t stop the faith militant...

This goes on and on. GRRM is a very good writer and he doesn´t kill people just for the sake of it. Mind you, there are obviously other ways of getting characters out of the way. But if you´re hell bend on killing, do it ;).

show spoiler:

I´m sure, Shireens death in the books will not just shock us. It will be tragic and have great implication for Stannis (Imagine he finds out, he isn´t AA after he burned Shireen as his Nissa Nissa...) She won´t die just because Ramsay set horses on fire...

You can let someone die without fulfilling their "list". But then the death has to fulfill your list and better not just to shock. Or you risk seriously angering your readers.

So figure out, at which points the story demands a death and not at which point your pen randomly hits...

Have you watched GoT? They are always ramping up the "shock"-factor of deaths by making people marked for death more likable.

On the recent developments:

My friends all knew what was up with making someone cuter and more likable... they knew this was coming and still had no clue why it was happening. They don´t even expect to get an answer. Which resulted in them being not very invested in it... Imagine this: they are not emotionally invested anymore. They don´t trust in the ability of the show to have a good reason for anything.

Do you think, this is a good way of telling a story? The criticism isn´t that D&D kill people, but that they kill them "out of context". The show is successful. But think of how much better it could be, if people still cared for what they see...

And you want to surprise your readers, when they are invested, don´t you?

Or you start doing this survival horror thing ;).

Readers aren´t stupid and they will call you out, if you have no clue why you are doing something. Respect them and trust them to be smart and unwilling to buy any bullshit.

Perhaps they read and even like a story which kills randomly. But they´ll know your scheme...

And now, imagine how they would love this story if every death brings character development, emotions, conflict, riddles, motivations,... Every death accelerates the story, gives it a new drive, raises the stakes and puts oil in the fire.

That´s the story we really want to write isn´t it?

Or we start "you know what" ;).

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Thanks, much appreciated!



On the subject of murdering your darlings:



I actually have killed a number of characters I didn't expect to do so in my books. I didn't actually plan for the characters to die but it sort of happened when I was writing. I was thinking that the story would be improved by one of the character's dying at that point. According to George Lucas, that's how he decided to kill Obi-Wan Kenobi.



For me, I think it's important to go with this sort of instinct as it usually is your unconscious telling you that there's a moment needed for drama that will carry you forward. You can always make new characters but you can't often capture the drama of the "perfect moment" to kill a character.



Which makes me a psychopathic author like those I love!


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I feel like one very important thing is to not get stuck in certain methods to create drama and suspense, and then always relying on them. Like, now and then killing a character off because nothing else of importance has happened for a while. To me, GrrM has in his later ASOIAF-books gotten caught in trying to create exciting and nerve-wrecking scenes by time after time making characters "almost die". This repetitive manner of the drama is in my opinion often a sign of the story having derailed or gotten stuck or just simply not working anymore, as is also the case with the later half of ASOIAF, at least to me hehe.


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Okay, I am currently writing a novel, and it is going reasonably well, it is a fantasy with a focus primarily on comparative religion, how event becomes myth etc, with a late bronze age setting.



But, I have planned nothing ahead of me, except a very rough outline, I know how it ends and I roughly know how we get there, but the exact steps are unknown. Take characters, when I first started writing what become some of my main characters were completely unknown to me, they just seemed to walk of the page fully formed.



I am finding it a lot easier to write than previous stories where I had planned in meticulous detail; a lot quicker too, albeit it is only a first draft but I have bashed out 30K in a little over a week.



What advice would you give me? Should I plan more precisely, or carry on as I am, thunder through the first draft and then spend more time working on the latter drafts?



Thanks in advance


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I'm still stuck in the planning phases, and have given no thought to lengths or numbers of books or chapters, but I've already started combing through character ideas and trying to decide who to kill of and where. I had this vision that I have been exploring, of mapping out a character's entire story arc, their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations and goals... Then just picking a random point and drawing a line through it to signify the point where I will kill them. The idea being that sometimes we die young and our story never gets to be completed. Are you saying that you think that is not wise to do? Or is it just that you, personally, don't like wasting time on characters that you know are doomed from the git?

This sounds like a cop-out answer, but I think it depends on the character. Sometimes the "gains" you get from the effect a character death has on other characters outweighs the lost opportunity you get from that one character. If that makes sense. Like the influence Ned's death had on Catelyn, Robb, Jon, et al: the ripple effect of his death outweighed any remaining development you could squeeze out of Ned.

I don't think killing off characters is bad (far from it). I just think that there are plenty of ways of making life tough for characters without necessarily killing them. Watching Theon come back from the brink is more interesting than if he had simply died in ACOK.

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What advice would you give me? Should I plan more precisely, or carry on as I am, thunder through the first draft and then spend more time working on the latter drafts?

Your mission is to get that first draft finished. By hook or crook. "Planning" at this stage will only slow you down, and under no circumstances go back to edit. That's for subsequent drafts.

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Thanks Pet Leech, I just want to see where the story takes me, the journey is long, the road is steep, but always exciting. I have only looked back over what I have written for the purposes of keeping a concordance, and yeah some things need heavy work done on them, but I am not worried about that right now. As you say, subsequent drafts!



Thanks again.


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Anyway... Serious question time. I have been furiously writing out notes and snippets of detail and such whenever I have time and now have a mountain of individual pieces of paper with random information on them. Seeing that I have no real organizational skills to speak of and that the majority of what I have written is background detail (things I need to know, but will not necessarily ever need to say), is there any particular methodology or program that anyone has found useful for wrangling in such clutter? Or is it even something I should worry about doing?

That's kind of my organizational method as well. My desk is a mess of small legal pads and sticky notes. I also have a drawer full of folded little pieces of paper with words or phrases I like written down on them when I'm out. I've heard Microsoft Excel is nice for putting an outline together. Just make a column for each character's story-line, which each row representing a given point in time. Set them all up next to each other and you can tell what events are happening simultaneously and in what order.

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I generally keep a single notepad of notes.

I also try and keep my stuff organized on my laptop by trying to do my writing in computer form.

So I do a chapter here and a chapter there and keep it all in one backed up folder.

Then slap it together with spackle.

:)

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Congrats Charles.

Funny thing is that the more writing I do, the more I'm convinced that killing off characters should be a last resort thing. I find it more interesting to let them develop on their own, and only consider killing them off if there's nothing more I can do with them.

("Death is final, but life is full of possibilities").

I might be a little too in love with death scenes.

The nature of what I'm trying to write about them for too long, which also plays a role. And death and its consequences is a integral part of the themes. Of the 30 most important characters in my current project, 2 survive the book. And it's debatable if they're that important. It's important that all of the deaths feel vital and necessary, but I freely admit I might be going a little overboard. I'm just not very fond of happy endings.

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I just wrote the first death in my wip. The recently deceased wasn't important but his death is a major catalyst for the rest of the book.


  • My MC freaks out because in his world students don't accidentally kill teachers and this creates a ripple effect that severely damages/destroys a lot of his relationships and leaves him very isolated.
  • It demonstrates how badly the school is being effected by the curse it's under. A lot of the previous incidents caused by the curse were swept under the rug, you can't do that with a corpse. Well, not a human one, they let the zombie horse incident slide.
  • It also prompts a lot of people to take action. Said action isn't necessarily beneficial or well directed but it does move the plot along.
  • There is a certain amount of shock value but that shock was directed at the characters not the readers because they were the ones who needed it, nothing else would have affected them as deeply. It followed months of escalating misbehaviour and it was the next logical step for this storyline.


Don't worry about happy endings (I'm terrible at them) just make sure it is satisfying.


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Here's a death scene I wrote in a manuscript which hasn't been polished but has been tentatively accepted for release in 2016, "Cthulhu Apocalypse." For me, I think it made the world more dangerous seeming while also making it real that death could come at any time.

"You've adopted one of our kids; you're an honorary ghoul now. Just don't expect to win any beauty pageants." Richard slapped me on the back.

His words confirmed something I'd expected for a long time. Little Jackie was a ghoul-human hybrid and doomed to undergo the same transformation Richard had undergone. "Richard, was… it painful?"

"The Change?" Richard’s voice grew very cold, almost sad.

"Yes."

"Excruciating." Richard’s voice, still human despite his canine mouth, changed only a little as he said that one word. That tiny change in his voice, however, spoke volumes.

“I’m sorry.”

The two of us soon found ourselves at a strange twisting staircase, one which rose high up toward a star shaped doorway. Beyond it, strange noises echoed and weird lights flickered on and off. We both paused at the base of it, not ready to make the trek up even if our quarry was close at hand.

Richard took a moment to think before he started speaking again, "Listen, if you want some advice about Jackie. The best thing--"

And then he was dead.

The nature of combat is a violent, swift, unromantic thing. That was the first thing I’d learned as a soldier. One moment, you were standing next to someone you thought of as a friend and brother-in-arms, the next you were cradling their dead body. In Richard's case, he was struck by a bolt of strange alien energy which passed through the front of his chest and out the other side like a gunshot. A massive gaping hole was created by the blast, killing him instantly. I had only a split moment to react before a second bolt was discharged in my direction. Reflexes are faster than conscious thought, however. I was able to maneuver out of the way of where my assailant was aiming. Long enough to privately vow I would kill whoever had taken my best friend from me.

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