Empyraeum Videoblog Episode 4 : Characterisation

Some people say plot and setting are more important than characterisation because the former shapes the latter anyway. Others say character drives everything. Of course, both capms are correct because it completely depends on what kind of story you are writing.
Is it plot-driven tale of epic proportions with a cast of way too many to pay sufficient attention to or a character-driven oddyssey where the choices and deveolopment of one person drive everything else? It can be both but that, my friends, is incredibly hard to achieve well.


The Empyraeum Cycle started off as a collection of such character-driven story arcs; first person short stories in the the Collections and tales riven predominantly by one character or another (though mainly from a third person perspective) in the the Novellas. The Empyraeum Trilogy of novels is going to be set in third person and will, as you may well have seen, have quite the cast of characters. Of course, there will be some characters who complete their own version of the famous “Hero’s Journey” throughout; Sean Ollimur, the mysterious Kat, Gabriel, and some others, together with their vast supporting cast. This is what makes Empyraeum such an ambitious project; it is aiming to be a part of the Space Opera genre, as well as something quite different; combining ancient history, sci-fi, myth, magic. and cyberpunk together with another influence or few. Those that have paid attention to artworks we have released can see many of those influences already.


Character Journey


Of course your character is expected to set out on a journey as part of the story, to leave behing their comfortable life – either willingly or unwillingly – to discover a new one along the way, as well as discovering a thing or two about themselves in the process. This is, of course, something we like to call character development.
As humans in our regular lives, I doubt any of us is exactly the

same person we were in our teens. As life progresses and we experience, as well as learn, new things, we see the world differently and, whether we realise it or not, it changes us. I will use a personal example here; when my wife and I met, I had just come out of a period of incomparible difficulty and chaos I had allowed into my life; I was a nervous and insecure person in many ways. Over time I slowed down and, with her pregnancy and the birth of our daughters, my wife claims I underwent an incredible transformation. A positive one, of course, into a steady, calm, and decisive person who was afraid of nothing, at least n the surface. Now she doesn’t know I used to be like this decades ago and simply, thanks to her love and support, managed to recover my old self back, with a positive change or two thrown in.


There is a lesson in this; not all change is new. Your character can experience trauma and recover a part of themselves they had thought forever lost. Not all backward motion is bad.
A character must change, though, for a major character that remains changless from their first appearance to their last is a two-dimensional one. This should be avoided unless said character is a Lesson.


A what? A Lesson. Let us say that Main Character is resisting a change they must undertake, a decision they must make, a direction theu must travel in in order to achieve their goal. Two-dimensional character does not change and suffers some mishap – either a permanent or temporary one – and serves a wake-up call to the Main Character; often taking the required step in order to honour the noble sacrifice – or stubborn stupidity – of said character.


A Warning to New Writers


Neither race nor gender defines a character. There is much pressure these days towards inclusivity. One must have a racially, sexually, and community diverse cast in your works. Must one? In my opinion, only if it fits.


In the Chronicles of Enoch, the cast is delightfully diverse because of the worlds it is set in. Ancient Eastern civilisations, lost lands, modern-day Atlanta and Albuquerque, to name just a few. Atlanta, for example, is one of the most ethnically diverse cities I have visited and lived near; East Asians of all kinds, Indians (from India) and Pakistanis, Jamaicans, Latins of all kinds, African Americans of infinite variety…it was impossible not to represent that diversity among my cast there.


In Empyraeum, the core cast, as it were, are more monoethnic; proto-Greeks mostly with a character or two thrown in. However, anyone that has spent any length of time in the London of our world must surely know that the Lùndùn of the Empyraeum is going to be rather similar, especially once it effectively becomes the capital of first the Union and then resistance against the same. It’s only to be expected that a taste of London be found in Empyraean Lùndùn.


Now, none of my more ‘diverse’ characters started out as any particular race of belief. Acora the Kalshodar leader of the Sons of Nemesis just seemed to suit the race he took on in the artworks of him; his developing character seemed to demand it. Paxxi, the nonbinary trans augmented hacker character, just seemed to fit their chosen identity. Commander Soong appeared to develop his own personality and background.


You see, the Empyraeum was founded on the idea of diversity, in its way, because Alexander never tried to impose Greek views of the world upon those nations he conquered. In fact he even adopted Persian and Babylonian customs himself and recruited people from those nations into his army. It stands to reason that he would not change that philosophy as he began to found the Empyraeum. In fact, in deveoloping ESG or Empyraen Standard Greek, we intentionally chose diverse linguistic influences from both extremes of the Empyraeum as some of the dominant ones in order to represent that.


My point? If the colour, ethnicity, sexuality, or gender of a character has nothing to do witrh their role in the story or development thereof, why include it? In many works, some such things are implied but never directly told. Anne Rice’s vampires are said to be bisexual but she has never directly said it. In the Chronicles of Enoch, there is talk about Asmodeus and Julian’s relationship but, I assure you, I will never go into depth on that because it doesn’t affect their story (and what some of your have imagined is quite impossible anyway).
In Empyraeum, Paxxi’s identity is mentioned but they go on to be somewhat dismissive of it themselves and assert that it really is not something they think about a lot, people respect it anyway.


The danger for those thinking inclusivity is mandatory is making a character of one archetype or another just to tick a box and creating a potentially harmful stereotype or obvious insert as a result; a character who behaves as they always did and not how someone of their ethnicity, community, or identity would; that there is no reflection of that aspect of their character anywhere in their behaviour or such behaviour is forced and artificial.


That will hurt the cause far more than the lack of such a character might

.
Giving them Free Rein


I have often joked about this myself, often at length. That saying we writers have that characters appear to write themselves sometimes. Asmodeus started off as a boss-mobster-monster in the prologue and a single chapter and a half before dying later on as a plot device. Sham was a generic Mentor-to-The-Chosen-One character in the abandoned Trinity series. Both came to dominate their respective series and, I have chuckled, appear to have rebelled against their creator. In actuality, I do so love the trickster type character; the heroic anti-hero type who at times does the wrong things for the right reason; one that will do the things the heroes cannot but which need to be done.


I do enjoy getting inside the head of the complex manipulator who genuinely thinks that he is doing the right thing even though, on occasion, his best plans aft gan aglen! His motivations are always the most interesting and intriguing. Both Sham and Asmodeus as good people, deep down (though you have to dig a lot deeper with Asmodeus), and doing what they think is the only possible way to help those they care about.


The fact is that Sham and Asmodeus are extreme examples of the Free Rein Principle (patent pending) but they are also excellent illustrations of it. Their characters and the story itself needed them and their previously planned roles expanded to fit the need; enhancing the story rather significantly. Let your character be what your story needs them to be, is the lesson in that.


Sham became Indian because it suited him, Asmodeus became ethnically indefinable because that’s who he is; a powerfully chameleonic personality.


Let your character be who she, she, it, or they need and ‘want’ to be; not who you or the nebulous ‘they’ of the internet think they should be.


Conclusion


As you have seen, characterisation is often the hardest part of the art of writing. Who your character is, what they are, their thoughts and motivations, will actually shape the story around them. At times, they will shape the story and at others, it will shape them. All of our previous episodes and ‘lessons’ also come into play here because the fabric; the context of your world and your story are important because the ‘rules’ you have built into it will influence what your character can do and, therefore, how they can change. The influences and crises that will push this change will also be controlled by the environment in which they find themselves.


In short, you must realise that both story, plot, and character may well change one another unexpectedly. A challenging situation one character finds themselves in has multiple ways out of it and you had, previously. chosen route A. However, as your character develops, you realise that this course of action does not suit the character at all; in fact route B doesn’t either, only route C does. Route C, however, leads to unexpected developments in the story and some retrospective editing on your part. As annoying as this might be, I think it’s more important to be true to the character then to your original outline. right? It makes the story feel more organic and natural as it were.

Empyraeum – Videoblog Episode 6 : Exposition

Exposition; there is the rub, though in the absence of a question.
Just how much is too much? That is the actual question.


I have seen this discussed, weighted, challenged and justified over and over on various groups and fora; it is called info-dumping, the Wall of Text…it is called many things and much advice about avoiding it to be found but none seem to answer the most important question for the apprentice author, for the journeyperson; how does one avoid doing it?


It is easy to do – I raise my hand in guilty associatin, I have done it – to be in the heat and passion of a scene, and to go off in detail about the background to a particular event, place, relationship, etc. It is likely that you have spent a lot of time, effort, and heart in creating your world and are justifiably proud of it, I know I am. You want to show how great it is to your readers and have them enjoy it as much as you do, I completely understand. I still have this awful habit at the moment of steering unrelated conversations to my writing, or dropping anecdotes about characters into relevent situations, it is causing both friends and family to “assume the expression” with me often.


Admit it; you know which expression I am referring to!


You are in love with your world, it’s like your child because you created it, you nurtured its early stages, you developed and taught it tricks and gave it direction. It is a part of you and you are right to be proud about that. Thing is, not everyone sees it that way.

Somebody giving one of my artworks a like does not know that it took anywhere between 3 hours and 3 days to create that, to tease and massage it into an acceptable shape. In fact a large proportion of viewers will not even see the finer details I agonised for hours over getting just right. But it looks pretty and conveys a feeling or three, so they click a button and move on, maybe even pass a moment held in its grip.


Equally, they have no idea how much time you spent deciding how to spell the word for sandwich in your work, how you spent sleepless nights debating whether your main character was a Steve, a Bob, or a Mark and why. They will never know the level of research that goes into inventing a whole language and its associated grammatical structure, or the layout of a space station, the configuration of armour, weapons, insignia….they just think we plucked it out of the air in our clever writerly fashion.


But, to quote a famous Spaniard; “Are they entertained?” That’s the goal isn’t it?

The Iceberg


You all know the image; big chunk of frozen water, floating in the sea, most people don’t see that the bit we see is really small compared to the bit that we don’t. I read a quote somewhere from one of the effects crew in the Lord of the Rings movies. He said that they have a team of dozens, hundres maybe, of people designing everything from swords and armour, down to door knobs, the buckles on a belt, chairs, paintings in the background, cutlery and plates, etc. How many of you noticed anything special about the mugs the hobbits drank beer from, do you recall its look and feel? Nope. Someone put a lot of thought into that. Did you see the titles of the books in Elrond’s study? Probably not, but someone painstaking thought about each and every title.


Why, you might ask (if you didn’t please keep up), would they do that?
Ahhh…now that is the right question.


Your goal, as a writer, is to have a stranger pick up your book and read it from cover to cover without being forced in any fashion, to enjoy it and, ideally, want to do so again with your next volume. We want to tell them a story they will never forget and have them hankering for more.


We need to draw them in and show them how much more beautiful our iceberg is, seeing as it afloat in a sea of icebergs. We must let them see that its penguin passengers are worthy of a look, that its unique algal blooms are quite stunning, and that, underneath the water, there is a frozen alien spaceship/ancient artefact/frozen caveman etc. waiting to be discovered if only they take the chance to stop their journey and look.

The Balance.


So, how much iceberg to show, just what do you display in order that your reader not only picks your one frozen leviathan from the hundreds bobbing in the ocean but stays upon in and is interested enough to find the secret door into its very heart?


You want them to be interested in, immersed in, and draw to your world. You want them to feel it so that they understand your characters’ struggles, the story itself, and why what happens actually happens. You want them to imagine and feel a part of it, even if they are only an observer. You want them to know what it feels like to be inside the skin of your characters, to see the world through their eyes and empathise with them.


There, my friends, is the key. Nobody will care about your character unless you can make them feel empathy towards said character, to identify and become invested in them. How do they do that?


Well, empathy means to imagine oneself in the situation of another. This requires a reciprocal relationship of sorts. The empathiser must find something in the empathee with which they can identify, a shared experience, even if it is a vague one such as shared humanity or a childhood experience. Shared humanity. Is your character a living, breathing, being in their eyes?


Here it comes. Dropping avalanches of information at a key moment of connection, as your reader tentatively explores the inner slopes of your iceberg and approaches the location of the hidden door might just sweep them off in the ocean to to eaten by orcas and leapard seals. Or accidentally stabbed by a narwal.


You have to give enough that they understand the character but not so much that they become lost or disinterested, losing the excitement of the moment. Compare these two examples;


“Well, you know, Steve did his thing, you know the thing with his whatsit? Well he was doing that when that thing with the cats happened and he remembered that other things and cried. So sad man”


to


“Brave Stephen considered his party trick – the one he had perfected at the age of seven and which much amused his friends. You recall? It was the one involving ferrets? Twenty-five years ago ferrets were outlawed as pets and most were exterminated, it was the smell, you see, many people were offended and there were riots, I think. Ferrets though/ Such wonderful and loyal creatures, easy to train, to share the affection and loyalty of. Quite, quite intelligent little fellows too! Why, I knew a man who had taught his ferret to… One such rioter, by the name of Marcus, he came from Greece or somewhere and was 25 years old at the time. He did this thing during a demonstration, his mother had taught it to him as a child and he remembered it fondly because she had died when he was a child and had few memories of her now. That may have been what caused Marcus to join the rebellion and, through the centuries that have passed since, inspire so many – “


See? In the latter, thread of excitement is lost completely and the eyes are becoming heavy as narrator drones on about ferrets and other unrelated things. These things might, in your mind, be of vital importance to the story and, thus, essential for the reader to know but how better to tell them?


Well, most, people wil tell you that dialogue is the trick and they are right, to quite the degree, but as you have seen above, that doesn’t always work. The sharper among you will notice that, indeed, neither example is correct because while the latter gives too much information, the former gives too little even though, most importantly, the former feels much more like a natural conversation.


I gave two extremes intentionally but felt the need to demonstrate an important point. How do we avoid movie trailer voice or insurance commercal conversations? How do we convey enough information while keeping the flow natural?


“So, we were talking about last week and Steve started to do that thing -“

“The one with the ferrets? Oh god, really?”

“Yeah,” he sighed. “Really.”

“That’ll get him arrested by the Pickers that will.” eyes dart around on conditioned reflex.

“Listen, I told him”

“Remember Greek Marcus, right?” she barely managed to suppress a snort. “Remember Greek Marcus.” voice low and solemn.”

Scraff! What did he say?”

He said those ferrets are all he’s got since…well, since, you know…” he ran a trembling hand over three days of growth. “Since it all went to sh-“

“Yeah…” she cut him off with a sharp gesture, suppressing a shudder. “Who can forget? Steve least of all..”


A little better right? Could be polished a bit as I made that up on the fly but you see the idea, a good starting point for a first draft. we’re invested in Steve, he has a tragedy somewhere that his friends are worried about and takes refuge in ferret tricks, it’s his way of coping. Maybe we want to know more about Steve now. Maybe we want to know what happened to him and why is friends appear frightened.


Like our iceberg, events and time reveal more or less about it. Our characters do not enter the story the same as when they exit or complete it. They develop, as they experience events or learn new information.
Just as we do not reveal everything about our character and what is going to happen to them all at once, we should not with our world either. Not in the book, at least.


Publishing in the Information Age


We all know how much the world of publishing has changed since our literary heroes started out. Whether your hero author is dead, well established, or a Name, their journey was quite different to ours. We are both incredibly fortunate to have this new world and stymied by it at times. Let us consider the elements, as it were, of our information rich world as an author;

Self Publishing; the only barrier to getting published and having our book available to readers is actually finishing it. Of course, this is amazing, one can become a published author overnight! Of course, there are pitfalls and we have discussed those before and will come back to them in the next chapter.

Social media; One can establish a presence on a number of different platforms, or a combination thereof. We will discuss strategy in later chapters.

Author and Book Websites; they are (relatively) cheap to set up, host, and buy a domain name for these days; you can have everything for $20-$30 a month or even less. You can include all kinds of information there and this I will come back to shortly.

Author Blog(s); often an integral part of a website but can be an entirely seperate entity, depending on preference.

How does that connect to the topic at hand, I hear you ask. I believe it does because we have something those that proceeded us did not. We have the ability to do all our detailed expositioning seperate to our book, and, if we are really smart (and have the time to do it right) can actually blend all of that information into the ebook version of our work quite seemlessly. Amazon have a service, for example, called X-Ray which allows you to build a database of hyperinked words and terms into your ebook file so that the reader has simply to click on said hyperlink to learn more…you can turn your ebook into a truly interactive experience and allow the reader to choose how much they want to know. This is a very handy tool I encourage those with ebooks on Amazon to look into.


Next we have our website. as you know, the Empyraeum Enkyklopaedeia is a growing source of information for readers, as is the website as a whole. I encourage you to consider the same with your work. These days, everyone is looking for a website and will, if you do it right, spend a good portion of time studying it. Maybe this is a personal preference but I find myself these days, when reading a good fantasy or scifi book, having a browser window open to a good information source on that book and, when I come across an interesting term in the narrative, I find a relevent entry to learn more, often distracting myself away from the story entirely for a good 10 minutes!


Now, established series, authors, and IP’s have people to manage these vast volumes of information, to summarise and create great content but you, my friends, have not that luxury yet. It is, as the saying goes, on you.


The next chapter of this videoblog series will touch directly on these aspects of an author’s world in much more detail but I hope I’ve given you a few things to think about for today.

A Linguistic Nightmare?

When the idea of the modern and current Empyraeum was set out, it came with a nagging problem; Latin never came to dominate because Rome never rose in the vacuum left by Alexander’s death and Ptolemy’s failed legacy in Egypt.


Citizens of the Empyraeum, even in its current state would not speak a language we’d recognise. Latin languages wouldn’t exist. Turns of speech and even complex words would be quite different.


We touch on this is first acknowledging the rise of koiné in the invasion of Persia and hints toward what we called the argot or emerging conlang of the Empyraen army; the result of one hundred different cultures and armies melding into a whole. Some would learn the koiné, others would speak a pidgin of their native tongue and koiné, others would make up an odd mixture of both. By osmosis, an argot started to spread, even Neshaa and Kalliades started to converse in it.


Following formal foundation of the Empyraeum in Alexandria, the argot was formalised as ESG or Empyraen Standard Greek.


Early stages of its use can be found in the stories of the Collections and inside the Novellas. Place names and little terms and insults were replaced, just to give an idea of how different the world of the Empyraeum is.
After much thought and linguistic play, we decided more was needed and below, we introduce you to a particular flavour of ESG, that spoken in Lúndún, the capital of Brytton, where much if the action of Book One “A Flame Undying” will take place.


What we consider Great Britain was never invaded by Rome, the Vikings, the Saxons. The Welsh and Gaelic tongues common in 4th Century BC remained the mother tongue of the common people who learned ESG later on, at school or for work. Also London of our world is known for its unique slangs and argots, as is Britain as a whole so our Bryttons will, of course, add and adapt words to their preference. Elements of Irish, Scots, and Welsh mix with the ancient Greek and, often, the two blend together;


Common Empyraen insults and slang of Lúndún Town


Kop = idiot/stupid Ease/Easy-G = ESG Myrt = slapper of either gender, a person of adaptable morality Moik = untrustworthy Kora = *uck Kopra = s*it Koraka = *ucker Kúna = bitch/dog Glàm = falsely flashy Laik = wimp, little bitch Proko = arse kisser Chalk = wiseguy, smartass, sort of a compliment of the backhanded type Myx = stubborn person Gràs = stinky Pòra = p*ssy, invaliant person Tod = overweight fellow, slang for aristocracy/the rich Pánastás = rebels, commonly known as Pans Hèg = boss or leader Kos = military unit or group The Choir = slang for the Keepers, Union Police Savs = Alexander Loyalists Savmor = The Kalshodar, considered a myth Gowl = clumsy person Gomb = trick, trap, ambush Felci = a fart, often used for an unfocused person Cach = crap, worthless Twm = jumped up officer, often pronounced ‘Tim’ Man = undecided, indefinite reply…”Man a well” means, ‘why not?’ or ‘might as well’ Pilli = Day dreamer, head in the clouds Clats = fight, violent disagreement Soomp! = Brilliant! Excellent! Cool! Sometimes simply “Soom” Lemb = Embarrassingly Stupid Moog = bad/dangerous Cleka = informant, grass, traitor Gaida = arse, annoying person. “On the Gaid” – messing around, fooling with someone. Skatagam = A Charlie-Fox, or complete and messy failure militarily Melit = one who favours DIY intimacy; an objectionable individual Och = multiuse term that can mean almost anything depending on context. “Gaid och” means ‘**ck it’. “Och soom” means indescribably amazing. “Och man” means ‘give me a minute to think about this’. “Och Aye” can mean anything depending on the speaker’s tone of voice. Tevo = a sneak or thief Gamina = multiuse word of emphasis meaning anything between ‘darn, ‘curses’,’**ck’, ‘**cking’ etc. Kàton = negative situation. “Dwin a lig gamina katon…” means ‘I’m in serious effing trouble here…’ Lig = a bit, a small amount. Often used ironically. Mor/Maw = big or large. Serious. Dwin = I am . “Dwin Pan, drae sior” is a common rebel greeting.
More may be coming as time allows but, for now, enjoy playing with speaking like a Lúndolix using the clues I have scattered around.

Hegemony Concept Alkemas Neshaa

Alkemas Neshaa; The Persian, The Zoroastrian, the Dracograth.

Neshaa joined Alexander’s campaign at Susan, during the Night of One Thousand Weddings. Neshaa himself remained unwed that night.
He was one of the first to become Dracograth, together with Kalliades, Korae, Lysander, and the acerbic Iapetus.


Neshaa is an odd choice for a soldier, he is a devoted Zoroastrian and, thus, a pacifist. He explains it;


“protecting one’s friends and the innocent from evil is the ultimate Good Work. To stay passive while ubiquitous men and their works flourish serve Ahiriham more than any act of justifiable violence…”


Neshaa is also the only man in History who has not only sermonised (cheeked, according to Kalliades) to a dragon and lived to tell the take upon he also won Her respect and love.


Though chalk and cheese to all appearances, he and Kalliades are the deepest of friends. They stand guard together, laugh together, play jokes on the other Dracograth together, and enjoy Lupernikes’ famous lamb stew together, usually in the company of their fellow ‘conspirators’ (though they only conspire to make sure first Alexander’s ‘malady’ then his disappearance are kept secret).


They have many adventures in Korae’s company before reuniting with first Lupernikes tgen Alexander and Sham on The Dragon’s Crown in a far-flung corner of the galaxy. Sham greeting him,as, always, as “that big ginger dreamer” and received a joyous hug in reply.


#Hegemony #Dracograth, #Persian; #Neshaa #Zoroastrian #alanjfisher #digitalart #bookseries #writingcommunity #bookart #booksecrets #Kalshodar #concept #conceptart #bookseries #characterart #characterconcept@LaurieGoulding

Hegemony Concept Art : “Manticora” LAR

Kalshodar compact rail-gun or LAR

The “Manticora” LAR (Linear Accelerator Rifle) is the favoured distance weapon of mainline Kalshodar in combat.


Using technology recovered from the cache on the Moon, the Manticora crystallises and accelerates projectiles of an exotic metallic allow at hypersonic speeds, similar to a compact rail-gun. The Manticora gets its name from the distinctive “growl-bark” sound it makes when operating and firing.


Its projectiles are both very dense and sharp, though they tend to fragment upon penetration, causing significant (usually dramatic) trauma to an unarmoured enemy.


One canister, as you see mounted in front of the trigger, is good for around 200 shots and can provide a good rate of fire at 45 shots per minute, one shot every 3-4 seconds. This slower rate of fire is best suited to squad based covering fire scenarios and accuracy is vital. The rifle’ s targeting systems are slaved directly to his armoured internal HUD.


#Hegemony #alanjfisher #writerscommunity #writingcommunity #bookseries #bookart #booksecrets #kalshodar #weaponry #weaponconcept #design #conceptart

On Epics & World-Building

World-building. What does that mean? Well, we could start with the Oxford English Dictionary definition, I suppose;

World Building.
Noun
(uncountable)
The construction of a world, especially a convincing fictional world for literature etc.
Origin
world +‎ building

Quite simple really, right? Right? Wrong. World building is truly not simple and will be the most difficult part of your work as a writer. Note the key word in the definition fictional is a given, of course so that’s not the key word. So what is? Convincing, that’s the key word. You want to a create a world that your own characters believe in and belong to, one which shapes both them and the story so that your readers will believe it too. For this to work, you need to sort of beleive in it too, I suppose…Consider what I think are essential elements to make sure you pay great attention to;

  1. Language. You don’t have to go Klingon, Dothraki or High Valeryian and actually construct a language entirely a-la-Tolkien but you need to consider it as an important factor. Consider such things as;
    A: Slang, regionalisms and dialect. How does your character speak. What words does he or she use that other characters don’t. What words are unique to them and which are unique to the world as a whole
    B: Curse and insult worlds; believe it or not these have an impact. Curses are often culturally influenced therefore will reveal a lot of details about the either the culture using them or the culture they are being used towards.
    C: Differences to our speech; of course you are likely yo be writing in English for the most part but you want to find little ways and add differences here and there to make it at least look like another language is being spoken. How would accents differ and how you might represent them?

I first ran into this side of the world-building art when composing my alternate world of the Hegemony. In this world, Alexander the Great did not die in 323 B.C. but went on to first conquer the know world as far as Nepal, to the Valley of Silence, what would become Base Camp 1 in our time.

Inside of the mountain known locally as Sagamartha or Chomolungma or ‘great mother mountain’ he found the true great mother by whom both he and ten thousand, three hundred of his soldiers were reborn into the Kal-Shodar. As they arrived and built camp it was Lupernikes, the Spartan General, who made observations about what I called the argot of the army.

Alexander’s army now had Persians, Greeks, Sogdianans and many proto-Chinese or Oriental tribespeople within it’s ranks and camp followers, among others. It was inconceivable to think that there would be the time and the titanic organisation needed to teach all of these peoples Greek or Koine, the standard Greek the army used (back then each Greek City State had it’s own version of Greek and the Koine was named ‘travelling Greek’ or Standard Greek, combining all the dialects of Greek into something everyone could use and understand) back then.

So they did what the army had been doing up to that point, they developed an argot or pidgin, as the various languages and dialects mixed, they flowed together and bits of one combined with parts of another to begin the process of creating a new language, which was formalised a short time after Hegemony was achieved in Hegemonic Standard Greek or Standard for short. As they travelled, the argot developed and Neshaa speaks to Kalliades and others about it and uses it. Kal-Shodar itself is a combination of Persian, some old Asiatic and even old Hindi and Sanskrit meaning ‘Enlightened Ones’ or ‘Remade Ones’. Dracograth is also a combination of Persian, Attic and Early Germanic languages to mean something like ‘Dragon Guard’.

Using these linguistic excercises didn’t end there either. I wanted to include Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla and Dr. Stephen Hawking in the story, among others but I thought, how would the language have changed had Latin not become the major influencer on speech of the day? Had Rome not risen and created it’s Empire, how different would the world be? I decided that most of Western World we know today would be quite different.

Alexander believed in his version of Hegemony, the culture and manner of those who joined was added to the whole and parts we adopted in order to enruch the whole. This habit of his, taught to him by Aristotle some historians say, got him into trouble with the army in real history. In my alternate history, the big change happened before that rot set in. Instead there was another major problem but we’ll get to that later.

Suffice it to say, I played with place names first and those three gentlemen became Albrecht Aïstàn (Old Gothic mixed with a ‘hellenisating influence), Dr. Stefæón Hwœlèdh (Old Saxon and Gaelic again a shade hellenised) and Nikàlà Tesla (because Dacian, the ancient name for region now known as Romania being Dacia, was a possible off-shoot of Thracian which had contributed to the Koine of that age). Place names were also altered, as were countries. Some remained with the names they would have had at the time, others were hellenised. You see Standard would have caught on eventually but, left alone, most people would just keep doing what they had always done and be glad for the peace and adopted it later.

  1. Technology; this is thought to just be the realms of science fiction but anyone who says that is wrong. Technology has it’s place in fantasy too and ignore it at your peril! How certain common tasks are done, what forms of transport and communication were used and even what food they eat (and what technology or techniques they use to cultivate and harvest it) need to be at least thought about, if not directly referred to in detail. Think of what we take for granted in today’s world and, in your world they will probably do the same, unless it is something new and incredible. People today are very blase about cell phones and computers but fifty years ago these things were incredible. Let your characters refer naturally to things they take for granted or your narrative will get clunky and unwieldy rather quickly.

I take time to explain the new technology, first in the Kalshodar armaments and armour and later what is discovered and developed on the Moon because it new to everyone so such explanations are relevent to the story. Again, this is my opinion, no hard and fast LAW!

  1. Society. What things are considered normal and which are thought to be taboo or odd in your society. Again you don’t need to go into great depth here unless you really want to. Character attitudes, if written well, will tell your readers about these. We also have in this section;

A: Class. How is society structured and organised. Who are considered to be ‘in charge’. Are there workers, are there slaves, is everyone equal? Which classes are likely to mix and which should never. Again, massive detail is not needed unless it is relevent to the story but can be illustrated by interactions or casual comments.
B: Money. The unit of currency and how it is earned, saved, represented and spent as well as its value will have significance. If you’re writing stock fantasy then you have gold, silver and copper as always, but if you use other commodities? One author I enjoy uses water as her currency. So how much water is this item worth? What is your currency’s instrinsic worth. You cannot have character 1 paying, let’s say, three blue crystals for a hotel room but they later pay seven red crystals for a meal (when 9 blue equals one red, so you established when someone made change for character 2 earlier), if so they just spent almost twenty times more for their meal than they did their room! What did they eat? The rarest of animals encrusted in nitrogen subtrate with pure white crystal pastry?
C: Conventions and Laws. If a character does something considered wrong or even illegal what would the consequences be for them? Jail? Death? Exile? Combat in The Arena?
D: Medicine and Healing. If you want to both make it feel real and maybe add some excitement, you’re going to see some injury or eve death happen. How are people healed, how are they kept healthy during regular life? Is life extended for the privileged? Is there a universal medecine or substrance which extends life or improves health? How is it made? What does it do? Does it have side-effects?
E: Drugs and Vices. We have so many today, some of which are much more socially acceptable than others but in your world how is it different? Is smoking anything illegal? Why? Is caffeine considered a drug (like in Pitch Black, remember the scene when he injects himself in the eye?)? Are everyday things we consider normal given special treatment and what is that? How do people relax? Do they use alcohol or has that been banned? What are the alternatives? If they want something illegal how and where do they go to get it?
F: Jobs and Employment. What do people do to make and earn money? What are considered menial labours? What are considered ‘good’ jobs. Is status involved? Can only people or a certain upbringing or class do certain jobs? How is employment given, found and kept? Do people get fired and what happens when they do?
G: Customs and Beliefs. Are your folks religious? Are only some of them? How do they practise their beliefs and what influence do these have on their lives? Are things banned by their beliefs which general society accepts? Do they encourage freedom in certain areas where society does not? What happens when people are born or die (THE most important events unless your folk are immortal or suchlike), what customs or relgious (or other) practises accompany these events. Where do believe the dead go?

Now, of course there are more, but I’ll end up writing a book if I cover them all!

See how complex and involved we are getting now? You wanted to build a world did you not? Think of how complex ours is. Yours must be equally complex in order to be believable. Again, you don’t have to write whole chapters about what these differences are but you need to know them so that when they come up and are relevent then they can be referred to or casually mentioned as you see fit.

4. Identity. This will come back to class and culture I suppose but includes many other items when you think about it. How do you identify yourself? Let’s review this one.

A: Nation, Planet, etc. Many will introduce themselves as natives of a country, city or region when introducing themselves to someone new. Where are they from? Where is there to be from? How do different places of origen get on with one another? Have there been or are there wars? Are there differences in language? Dialect? Accent? Appearance? Species? What factors cause these differences? What factors? Do people from one area dress or behave differently? Do they have other customs etc.?
B: Class and Status. I know we covered this but it may affect how your character identifies themselves. Maybe certain ethnicities etc. may have an impact on status or class? How? How well is that accepted? Who does and who does not? Who is reponsible? Who may want to change it? How?
C: Gender, other. Are there genders or roles similar to what we have? Are things such as status and class affected by these? What do different genders do differently or is their appearence different? How? Does one identify oneself by gender or similar? How? Is one gender or other subservient or treated differently to another?

Again there is more but you are getting the idea by now I hope. You are actually, at this point ready to begin! How will you decide, design and tie together all of this?

I, personally and a great lover of retroactive editing. It may be because I had two to three story archs and and drafts which I had no idea on how to continue and complete until my great “Ah-ha” moment of last year. After I went forward and developed my shared universe, world and characters etc., I edited back to fix things and make them coherant, as I did so I developed my world.

This worked for the Hegemony and Trinity series.

For the Chronicles of Enoch I did it rather differently. I had an idea of how the world was going to be different to ours but I wanted to make it as close to ours as much as possible at the same time. Our history is present and I didn’t alter any of that this time. We just have what people call a “Harry Potter Effect” (Thank you J.K) of ‘worlds within worlds’ where most people remain blissfully unaware of the other world until something (usually) bad happens to blow away their comfortable preconceptions.

You do, though, have to build your subworld in order to know how people from our world or the main world will be affected by the imminent collision of those worlds? How will the hidden world be changed or affected, positively or negatively? I established the differences and then wrote the chapters to let those differences play out and interact with one another. I had some fun. I had Lucifer and Abaddon watching Armstrong and Aldrin from a distance and joking about them, as well as commenting on the hidden truth that both the astronauts and general population were unaware of. I joked about a lot of conspiracy theories, made fun of some and with others I took them and ran!

As we wrap up let’s give you an assigment. Think of your favourite movie or book series. One set upon a world or worlds very different to ours and think on how they built their world. Look for all of the tiny little details you probably didn’t notice. All the hinted at subtexts and hidden meaning that I guarantee they left lying around for you if they did it well.

Peter Jackson, referring to his Lord of the Rings trilogy, stated that there are increible amounts of detail in there and stories attached to those details which the audience will more than likely NOT notice consciously. Around 70% of these details will be completely missed by 80% of the people who watch those movies but those very some details will add depth and authenticity to the experience. They give what is called immersion into his and Tolkien’s world. Immerse your readers in yours.

Anyone who, of course wants more specifics or ideas knows where to find me! I’m always where I always am, right here in my own little worlds, having an explore. This is what I would like to leave you with, the famous quote or, if it doesn’t exist as I am sure it does (I can’t find it now…)

“A good writer will build a world. A great writer will occasionally visit it in order to learn more about it. A truly remarkable writer can take you on a tour any time you ask them to.”

(Someone famous or maybe me)

What does that mean? Well to be truly great you must know the world you great and write in as well as you know this one. To all intents and purposes it must be real in your mind. It is a theoretical contruct yes but can you, as the quote suggests, visit it? Can you and readers take a trip through it’s less known regions? Is your universe coherent enough for fan-fic? Were I to ask you anything about your world or worlds could you give me the answer on the spot? I can. I can tell you where Lupernikes gets his lamb from and how. I can tell you exactly what goes into his famous stew and how the dwarves make their bread so tasty. I can tell you where the dwarven women are (thanks to the late and great Sir Terry Pratchett for putting that in my head!). I can walk you around a Kalshodar cruiser, The Nest, Alexandria the First, The Dwarven Complex, The Dragon’s Crown.

I can walk you through the streets of the Atlantis of Sable and Enoch’s time. I can explore the antediluvian world with you. I can introduce you to people and places I haven’t written about or drawn maps for. How? I have been there and I explored around a bit. I can visit any time I want because they are my worlds.

You consider all these factors and the rest and you are able to stage a great battle or event and know how it’s going to go and how it’ll happen because you know all the strengths and weaknesses of those involved already. You know the weapons used and how they wound and interact. You know tactics, you know customs. You even know the terrain. If you can see every move of the battle then you can write about the important parts of it!

The world of Hegemony and Trinity or the world of The Chronicles of Enoch are made real by me and seem real to me at times because no-one else is going to want to visit them otherwise are they? If I don’t believe in them enough, how can I write them truthfully enough to make other people believe? That’s why I do the little fake articles trick you might have seen me use, that’s how I explore. I ask myself a question or am asked one and I give the answer. I set the events going in my world to see what happens.

Make them believe as you believe and see what you see. See what we’re doing? We’re visiting this world so that we can summarise the important parts so that that we can encourage visitors to explore and learn more. My greatest pleasure has been when someone who has read one of my books mentions something I hadn’t thought about or noticed. They actually expanded and improved my world! They loved it so much that the dived even deeper than I had and found something new I’d passed by and missed! Has that ever happened to you? Tell me about it.

Tell me anything about your experiences with world-building and I hope you have enjoyed by little journey though some of mine…

The BIG Secret

Many people talk to me and ask me things like, “Alan, with your incredibly busy life, how did you fit in all the time for your incredible success?” or “How do you manage time for all those Hollywood interviews, questions from movie directors and still fight off all of the book contract offers?”…it is often around that point, as I am about to explore the great bounds of my literary success, that one of my babies tends to wake me up. I never get to see the rest of the dream…

So, maybe success has not come knocking at my door just yet. Maybe success has not even looked up my address in order to think about at least knowing where I even am. It’s getting to me, it’s just very, very busy…it’ll be around….


The road to success is a long and winding one, there is no doubt about that; it will branch, it will divide, it will double back, it will twist and circle, it will often do things worthy of an Escher drawing… 

If one were to describe the true path to success, one would be both completely correct but also somewhat unpopular. People prefer more friendly images….

Not quite the fairy-tale image we had imagined as neither kids nor even the one we thought of in our early adulthood but there it is. The truth is boring, the truth is a frustration, and the truth could sometimes use a change of clothes and be transported to a nicer locale and spiffed up a bit. People don’t like the everyday truth of their regular lives. That is why we exist. The writers and creators; we invest other worlds and situations where people can lose themselves from reality for a time. We are, to coin a term, the true escape artists, for we are in the business of creating mental escapes for other people.


I have a colleague who states that we writers actually are professional liars and I do see his point somewhat. We do invent and we do write fiction which means “made up” but do we actually lie? I disagree here, we do not lie, and we tell the truth in a new way, one which is more palpable. We’re set-dressers; we fancy the truth up in allegory and metaphor until the people accept it with a tear or a smile. If you want to look at it literally, all art could be considered a lie because only the original inspiration would be the actual truth. Everything else is just methods of making the same truth more enjoyable, more pleasurable, and more exciting. Giving them fantasy. Not the genre though, the purer concept. Fantasy; dream…reality as we wish it was or could be. My goal as a writer is to pick readers up from page one and to take a journey with them. A journey which will have something to teach us both. It really doesn’t matter how big a rebel writer you are, how much you want to challenge establishment and shake the roots of literature; we all have the same goal – we want to teach. We want people to understand. We want them to learn. So we invent worlds, situations, people, and things, mythologies and so on in order to tell our story and teach our lesson.


Now let’s take a momentary pause for a lesson of my own for you, my legions of readers.
Writing Tip: What is Your Lesson?


We always have a lesson.

If we write without a direction or a goal, what are we writing for? Be you – to use the popular parlance of NaWriMo – a pantser or a planner, you always have a plan, whether it’s in your head or on paper. You know – if you are what I prefer to call an impulsive writer, like me – where you pretty much want your main characters to end up and which ones you want to end up there. The ways between may be a little fuzzy right now but already have the reader’s ultimate destination pretty much planned out, right? What awaits both the reader and your characters there is the conclusion of your lesson. The resolution. If you don’t know what your lesson is or think you have lost sight of it, it is time to sit down, put the pen or keyboard down and think. If you encounter writer’s block here is my advice; remember your lesson. If you recall what you want to teach your reader and how, you’ll find a way through the labyrinth. You see your lesson is your compass, your direction, your map. Your compass and map which helps keep your story on track so it doesn’t wander and get lost. So if you are suffering writer’s block and are lost, ask yourself “what is my lesson?” and the way will present itself to you.

So, I digress, quite a lot actually, just ask my family…with that neat segway, we return!
How do I do it? People genuinely ask me this question or others like it, often. They neglect to mention my coming fame and how many thousands of copies of my book I am going to sell (or when they are actually going to but some like they promised…) but they exhibit curiosity at least, which is nice. Let me break it down for you.


I am 45 years old this year so not an altogether young man. I have five kids at home; they range from 16 years to just over 3 (two of the latter, you’ve all seen them), I work full time on an odd schedule five days a week. I am rarely at home and when I am, I am either eating, sleeping, showering or looking after my girls to give my dear and much overworked wife a rest. How do I fit all this writing in there? Quick answer? Babies sleep!

That is not me; he’s younger and has much better hair than I do. Neither of my babies have writing across their faces either (they have yet to learn that skill) but the principle is the same. This is how I often write, I have no real choice. There I am, immersed in my moment of great cathartic revelation when young missy #1 boots young missy #2 in the head and wakes her up. Both take this well but decide to broadcast their own version of events to mum and dad and we end up with one each, or some similar scenario. My daughters are becoming rather good critics it would turn out; they are constantly trying to edit my work on the fly, as it were. Their spelling could use some work but the will is there…seriously, they love touching the keyboard, it’s like it has magical baby attracting dust on it or something!


My writing career, over this four years, has thus been quite the learning curve. I tired to work around this; I set myself goals and fought to stick to them. I missed things because there was just no way could I give 100% of my attention to one single task. I would be proof-reading my latest soon-to-be best-seller and one of my sweetie-pies would politely request a moment of father’s time. I would return to my task later and possibly have forgotten where I had left off. Bad system maybe. I learned from that. I learned a lot and applied a lot of what I learned. I hear that is called self-improvement or something, I call it “hard work” or, as a nod to my Northern British roots, “graft”.

You see here is a controversial standpoint; everyone can write. It’s true. Everyone can. Just as everyone can learn a language, sing a song, play an instrument, cook a meal. Anyone – excepting those who have a physical or mental condition making them truly incapable of performing a task – can do a thing. Anyone. It is a commonly misused aspect of language that confuses people. I can sing and, either in the rare moments I am alone or occasionally in the shower I do, with great enthusiasm. I cannot sing well however. I have variously been told thing such as; cats under electroshock torture have better vocal control; a broken engine has better rhythm. That is our common omission these days.

Everyone can write but can they write well?

Now I am sometimes in two minds about this (nothing unusual there) one. Writing, like a language is something one can learn. Just as I arrived in Spain at the age of 14 with a very basic understanding of the Spanish language but now live in a home where English is only spoken by me to the babies, one can improve with practise and willpower. I forced myself to learn, apply and improve my Spanish. I was often alone practising my “rrr” (“Round and Round the Rowan, the ragged rascal ran” thank you all of my Scottish friends, especially the old hotel concierge who taught me that) before a mirror, I would force myself to think Spanish (like Clint Eastwood did in the film with the plane…oh no, that was Russian) for longer and longer periods. Then I cracked it and it became automatic. Writing can be like that too. You can learn it, improve at it, learn its usage, its rules and it’s “ins and outs”. You can do that. You can do that very well and you can make money that way.

Time for another distinction right? Indeed it is. One can learn to write but can one learn to story tell? Ah, there is that rash the Danish Prince had which he desired to ease with judicious application of friction. You can write, you can follow the rules and you can be technically perfect but you still won’t sell. Why? Your books are more boring than ones you learned all those rules from that is why. You see it’s not you skill at writing which draws the reader in, it’s the story. It’s always been about the story. You call a certain Hawaiian actor know for his muscles representing Hercules in a certain movie? This illustrates my point clearly. People wanted the unkillable hero slaying, vanquishing and so forth; they wanted the mythic, the story, and the tale. Deep down though they wanted to be inspired and to be told that there is justice in a world where none appeared to exist. First, though, they wanted to be entertained. Fail to entertain or “hook” your audience and it’s bye-bye fame, fortune that movie or TV deal and sex with that famous actress you want to have in your movie. Won’t happen.

“Can we learn story-telling like we did writing Oh! Great and wise Bard?” I hear you all crying, all two of you, in oddly syncopated unison. “Can we, one day be master or mistress story-tellers like you?”

The answer is no. Not like me, not every because there is only one me (thank God) and only one you. No-one can teach you to story-tell, that comes from you. What does that involve? Let’s take a look at some of the elements of story-telling shall we;

  1. The actual setting and world; most people don’t realise this is more important than the characters in my opinion. We are a product of where we are from. Your characters have to be believable as people therefore they must be influenced the same way people are, am I right?
  2. The rules and laws of that world. Again ignore these at your peril because these too shape the characters and will determine stereotypes and how to break or define them.
  3. Your lesson. Your main character is going to embody the lesson and deliver it’s teachings, or receive them through the course of his/her development. Your lesser characters will be smaller parts of the lesson and will help direct the story to its resolution accordingly.
  4. Your story. What is the basic premise of the story? What will the journey be? What is the actual point of your writing? What do you want to create? How will you present your lesson and how will people begin from ignorance and arrive at enlightenment?
  5. Your Main Character. Once you know what you need, you can start to personify it. You need to know what you want to achieve before you give it form, I think. Your main character is going to be important but you need to decide what type of main character is he going to be? A Master or a Student? Will she be enlightening others or will be point of the story be about their journey mirroring that of the reader; that they discover together?
  6. Villain or Opposing Force. What is your main character in opposition of, how does defeat of this concept, force, idea or actual persons help their story be learned and their lesson driven home. What is the opposite of their lesson? What type of villain do you want? Tragic, Anti-hero, Faceless, inscrutable? Is the lesson delivered by defeating or even ‘converting’ the villain or must the villain be diverted, avoided or destroyed? The type of the villain or force which must be faced will add aspects to the Main Character or, of course…
  7. Allies and Friends. Or supposed friends, traitors and secret helpers. Once you have established the basics, you can start to add the dynamics, the flesh and the details. Once you know your lesson and the basic lesson, task, quest or purpose of your main character, where you want them to end up, you can start figuring out how they get there and who they will need along the way to help or hinder them (sub-lessons which could either be preludes to the main lesson or distractions). Of course you need to determine how much about these others we need to know and, as always measure it against whether their backgrounds and lessons distract from the main lesson or add to it, deepen and enrich or muddy and confuse.
  8. Language. Now I know that if there was a different language appearing in your story, you should have determined this in Step 1 and, I hope you did. You shall not be writing your entire book in said tongue however, selling it would be difficult were you to do that. You’ll be writing in English or your native language I would image but how? Is you language going to be modern, post-modern, idiomatic/slang/ dialect, historical/archaic? This will also determine your audience, obviously and affect the flow of your story as well as you…
  9. Style. Of course we have our points of view styles which you all know so much about, folks love to talk about them so I won’t go over the same ground every “writing coach/guru” treads. Suffice it to say, POV or, as it used to be called Voice has huge effect on both your characters and your story. The Voice you choose will add or remove limitations to your narrative that which is, finally..
  10. The Journey. This is the hardest part, combining together and maintaining whole all of the elements so far laid out. This is the part which talent lives in. How to make your characters believable. How to use humour in just the right amount for it to be both relevant and funny (everyone thinks they are funny, few of us actually are, like with my singing). How to develop your characters. How to handle and represent conflict. How to play language like a musician would play and instrument. How to lead the reader up the right path, down the wrong one, back to the right one (maybe). How to create tension, fear and suspense, realism or workable fantasy.

 

Throughout I want to stress something vital; your voice, your story, your lesson. There are hundreds of vampires falling in love with angels, to save the world from a demon they are also secretly in love with. The coming of age girl beloved by the mysterious immortal and then introduced into the secret ‘adult’ world has already been done ad-nauseum. You’re never going to make your name by writing what is popular. You will do that by writing your story. This way IS going to take longer and won’t net you as many fickle fans who’ll abandon you for the next great and popular thing in an eye blink but, to quote “you don’t crap today’s food until tomorrow.” You have to work today in order to rap the rewards tomorrow, plant the crops on time to harvest them later. Work your butt off now so that in one year, two or more, you will see the benefits.

Here is my vital and greatest lesson. There is no lesson! Well there obviously is or I’d have just been waffling for the past however long this has been (I have been told I do this on occasion..). A better way to say it is that there no formula to success. There is no quick hop, skip and jump. There are no pills which will make you lose weight without exercising. There is only hard work, hard lessons and a willingness to learn and accept that one needs to learn. You see that is, if there needs to be one, the lesson;


“Be modest enough to know your failures, intelligent enough to see a lesson and wise enough to accept your failures. Also be strong enough to refuse to surrender. Accept criticism and assistance and be clever enough to know the difference”

 

The Big Secret

That is, essentially, it; there is one big secret and that is that you are the secret. There is the other secret, of course that all those people who advertise courses etc. lied to you but they were charging money so of course they lied. I’m doing this for free as lying benefits me not at all, plus I dislike it anyway. Not lied as such but exaggerated, a lot. Anyone can write it is true but is everybody prepared to put in the hard work to get to the point of being able to write well? Let me finish by telling you what I think this involves;

  1. Take a risk and do not write about ghost-hunting, demon loving secretly half angel saviours of the world fighting against cheese-hating aliens with butts for mouths unless you can make it somehow different and original; seriously different. Maybe nothing at all to do with those over-used tropes is better.
  2. Find your Voice first. You can know all the rules, have read all of the greats (and not so greats), you could have taken courses, attended seminars and been fed the best lines money can buy but your Voice is what will sell your work, nothing else. Proscribed ‘rules’ to success at x,y or z will only sell books for the writers of said rules.
  3. Experiment. Try to be different. Make up words. Invent your own language. Doodle bits about your main character, play with them and throw them into situations to see how they react. Never write the first thing which comes to your mind unless it gives you the chills when you re-read it.
  4. Allow your characters to occasionally develop by themselves. I can tell you that Sham (a central character to BOTH of my upcoming trilogies) started life as a throw-away wise mentor, ancient wisdom delivering holy man, keeper of secrets type trope. He had plans of his own, it would seem. He managed to work his way into other scenes and story lines until I had to just let him have his way and it was too late to get him out anyway. Also he added just what that scene had been missing; some humour, an odd interpretation or a crude one, a very human aspect it had lacked. Thanks to him the tradition of Lupernikes stew came to into being, he also managed to link all the disparate story lines together. I don’t know how he did it, and I don’t think he knows either. I let him develop though and it’s often scary to do that but very worth it.
  5. Don’t be afraid to do something completely new. We are artists, do you remember? Tell me of one artist who got famous for doing exactly what everyone else did? That’s right, none opf them. If you want to write what everyone else is, good luck to you but you’ll be stuck in the realms of fanfic forever.
  6. Ultimately decide WHY you’re writing. For money? For someone you love? For yourself? To prove a point? To speak for the voiceless? Because the Voices tell you to? Or because you need Words like others need oxygen? Is it Passion which drives you or is it something else? I can tell you that, if it is NOT Passion, you’re not going to make it in the long term. Passion is the only thing which will keep you going through it all.
  7. The rejection, the disappointment, the rebuttals, the criticism, the insults, the mockery of your skill and your work. There are people who will rip everthing you do because they arfe jealous or they simply enjoy doing that, the internet is full of them. They’ll complain about your use of words or a simple grammatical error. Roll with the punches and persevere. You cannot avoid them. They are all coming, doubt it not. They are not avoidable, you are on the internet, and they are coming, get ready.Ticken your skin ahead of time. You will need your will-power, a certainty of your Lesson and your Vision, as well as your Passion to face down the obstacles however. If you’re in this for the money, the girls or the fame, you’re in for a shock. Just saying. Those things may come but you will have to earn them first.

 

I am in it for what I consider to be all the right reasons and I admit to being at least moderately surprised. I have been at this for a year and things are only now starting to pick up. Why? Every day I am promoting, trying new things, refining my work and developing it. Next year I am going to do a major overhaul of everything I have written and polish it. Once it is perfect I have a plan. That is coming in the next post. For now believe in yourself because of if you don’t, how can you convince complete strangers to?

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