Monthly Archives: August 2013

Guest Post with Rhiannon Paille, Author of The Ferryman and the Flame Series

Just what is a Ferryman, you might ask? Well, I don’t want to give away too much – author Rhiannon Paille is here to tell you why they are more awesome than Zombies. You can check out any of her books on Goodreads by clicking on her covers, or check out more information on her website. Her first novel, Surrender, is about two elves who decide to tell destiny that they’re carving their own path – and the consequences are devastating. 
Surrender
Why Ferrymen are better than Zombies.
I know the zombie craze is big right now and that everyone who is anyone is writing about them, but I’d like to divert your attention today from the zombies to explain why Ferrymen are better in every way that counts.
1. Zombies have rotting flesh and Ferrymen don’t.
Technically when the Ferryman is on the boat he’s a skeleton, but when the Ferryman steps onto land, he transforms – skin, muscles, lips, eyes, everything. It’s like you can’t remember he was ever a skeleton at all.
2. Zombies can’t speak very well, and Ferrymen can.
Zombies don’t have souls so their motor functions are seriously questionable whereas Ferrymen are immortal, they’ve experienced life for hundreds and thousands of years. They know every country and have lived through the best and worst parts of history. To say they have a way with words is an understatement, they are the kings of suave, sensual, pillow talk.
Justice
3. Zombies only want one thing . . .
Ferrymen want things too, but while a Zombie will try and crack open your brain and eat your soul, a Ferryman will ensure your soul has a safe passing to the other side so you can be reincarnated. Zombies don’t do much for you in terms of reincarnation.
4. Zombies are fairly easy to kill . . .
And Ferrymen are impossible to kill. They live approximately ten thousand years, and are impervious to death until their successor comes along. A Ferryman can also die if they let too many other souls be taken by Vultures, but most Ferryman don’t let that happen.
5. Zombies are a disease
And Ferryman only exist in twelve families in the Lands Across the Stars. You can’t randomly become infected and become a Ferryman . . . but that doesn’t mean you can’t fall for one.

Vulture

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Storybuilder Inc. — Step 4: Character and Setting Profiles

In the last step of Storybuilder Inc., I talked about developing your story into a 3-part outline. Did you manage to capture a unique, gripping end scene then build a bridge to it from an unlikely beginning? If so, then it sounds like you’re growing a good story.

Today I will talk about organizing the characters, settings, and world details that are no doubt taking shape as you knead out your storytelling dough.

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Dealing with the clutter

A story is easy to manage when it’s only one sentence. Even the simple paragraphs that make up your 3-part outline are manageable. But you are going to write more than three paragraphs, and every one of them has to be important.

Fortunately, your story is like a tree. Even though there are countless leaves, they all trace back to the trunk and main branches. You can think of the story’s paragraphs as the leaves. The shoots that bear them are the characters, the main branches are the settings, and the trunk is the premise. And as it grows upward, it grows downward—those oft-forgotten roots also known as world building.

Characters

As tempting as it is, do not write anything about your characters in your outline. Here’s an example to show you why:

Let’s pick on Bob, aka seed #1 from last week. Remember him?

Seed #1: “A depressed marathon runner discovers joy when an injury sees him in the care of the woman who was to blame for his family’s death.”

“Bob” started out as a depressed marathon runner, but when we developed our end—

Bob (the marathon runner) holds Cynthia’s (his nemesis) hand as she dies from her cancer and whispers the words he’s never dared: I forgive you.

—we discovered his name, along with the name of his nemesis, Cynthia.

Then came Bob’s wife and children, when we developed our beginning, and let’s just say when we were writing out the middle we realized Cynthia has a best friend named Sandra who is Mormon and quit smoking ten years ago. Hmm… Sandra, who is the Godmother to the son Bob lost (whose name is Caleb, after his grandfather), and best friend to Jane–Bob’s deceased wife. Just to make things more interesting, let’s decide that Sandra and Jane grew up practically as sisters and were always close, and the reason Sandra quit smoking ten years ago was because her father died of lung cancer and she vowed to never do the same. Oh, and Cynthia is a voracious smoker, and consequently, ever since Jane died, Sandra got to know Cynthia better (Jane dislike Cynthia because she found her conceited) and started up again, and boy is she ever going to feel terrible when Cynthia dies of the same thing her father died of.

Scribble, scribble, scribble. Soon my sheet for the 3-part outline is covered with notes.

If you got mixed up reading that paragraph, imagine how you’d feel trying to pry that information out of your outline. And it only gets worse. What happens when I decide that Jane had blonde hair? That Bob has a zebra tattooed on his upper thigh (remnant of an Africa trip from his youth)?

There are plenty of useful courses, books, and workshops on character profiling, and I’d encourage you to read them to get ideas, but whatever you use, make sure you create your own little sheet for every character. Decide what’s universal (eye color, hair type, facial build, height, age, weight, build, ethnicity, distinguishing marks, etc.) and place them on your sheet. You don’t have to fill them in, but at least for every character you “meet”, you will have those places available to fill in information when the time comes. I like to have a part of the page just for early childhood events, for motives and goals and personality quirks. Because I write fantasy, I usually draw personal sigils or say a bit about their dress style–basically, you make your own rules, just as long as you stay organized.

Settings

The same principle applies to settings. You will want to create your own profile sheets for settings, but there are a few different tricks required to manage them effectively.

This time, I’m going to pick on bounty hunter Steve:

Seed #2:  “When a bounty hunter bent on capturing the bad guys finds out he’s the bad guy everyone’s after, he chooses to forge a new identity and abandon his quest for justice.”

If you remember back to Week 2, Crash Test #4, we’ve tailored this premise not to focus on too many details. Characters are not named; neither are settings. But the ending brings about some more questions:

Steve (the bounty hunter) shoots his best friend (Jim, a.k.a. “Patches”) when he discovers he’s a mole and their whole friendship was a lie. He decides to flee the country he’s been proud of his whole life, disgusted with its hypocrisy.

So, Steve has a country, and he flees his country. Where to? Let’s decide it’s the US (San Diego, California), and when he leaves he sneaks on board a trade ship bound for China. The captain’s a fat short man with a thin, black mustache and he doesn’t speak a word of English, but the lanky, corrupt businessman from Hong Kong does, and that’s what counts. So here we have this vivid end scene taking shape, and a boat to set it on.

Let’s find out a little more about that boat. It’s a giant freight boat that carries fish and corpses. Yep, you read that right (the answer to that puzzle is in the businessman’s profile page). Speaking of which: Captain? Businessman from Hong Kong? Ah, right, time to make a character profile for them—they don’t belong in the setting profile.

Get the idea? Just as it’s important not to clutter your outline with character notes, it’s important not to clutter your setting profiles with character details. Write out what’s important about the settings. (Though you can mention who is met there. Maybe there’s a mute Japanese girl who stays in a one-bunk room next to Steve.) Draw a pictures, floor plans, layouts, schematics. Do research. In the case of your trade boat, you might want to look for real-life cases and add some facts to make it more realistic. You’ll find this gives you ideas too. Research is a great way to develop your settings, and to catch silly mistakes—like, for instance, the fact that the steamboat I originally picked wouldn’t fare well across the Pacific Ocean (nor would Chineses smugglers use one).

World Building

As your story expands, so does world building. It’s there whether you admit it or not, and like characters and settings, world building can be organized too.

Remember Ren?

Seed #3: “An elderly woman discovers her lifelong dream to free her people against an insane king when she worms her way into his court and turns him into her play-thing.”

I think she’s my favorite of the three we’ll be continuing with for our examples. Mad King Burt Left-hand would get quite the profile card, I think, especially when we realize that he’s afraid of birds, and that’s the apparent source of his madness (actually, he’s not insane at all—it’s a ruse to trick the nobles into thinking they have the upper hand). His castle court would be a wonderful setting to develop, and the inevitable nobles who come with it. But what about these nobles? They come from lands afar, right? Even if they just belong to the city, they have to come from somewhere, and when I fill out their profiles I’m going to be putting those details in. Like Lin Lon, the East Ambassador, who wears the traditional Shae (twin pins) on his left sleeve.

I might wonder what Shae are, and what they symbolize, and might know, right away, that they come from the Xialu Dynasty, a symbol of unity when the Six Empires united under the Twin Empresses. But I’m not putting that in the setting sheet for King Burt’s court, nor am I putting it in Lin Lon’s character profile.

The simplest solution is to create a profile for the East Empire. In this, I can jot down any details I might need. Because this story about Ren and the Mad King is set in an imaginary world, we’ll be making nation profiles as the need arises, and nations have things in common, just like characters do: flags, noble houses, government, resources, exports, imports, notable characteristics, history—the list goes on, depending on the story and your imagination.

You might do this with social groups as well. For example, Lin Lon also belongs to a group of supremacists called the Luminaries, who think the intelligent must create a new order to guide the simple-minded. So does Daisy Gerranallo from Pampallinia (in the northeast). We would need a group profile for the Luminaries, and if you find that you have lots of groups, you might want to categorize certain attributes as well: philosophies, oaths, rites, influences, members, and so on.

If you use magic, or magical creatures, you might want to have profiles for magic guilds or different creatures (I have ones for the various types of Unborns and Dread Lord sects in my own story). Fortunately for Ren, Burt’s madness and the plotting poppinjays are the extent of the magic she has to deal with.

It’s all about keeping your roots straight so your story tree has a lot of support as it grows.

One word of caution…

World building, character profiling, and setting sketches are whole universes unto themselves. Spend as much time as you’d like on them, but make sure you’re mindful of the balance between story development and profiling.

A good rule to follow: build the story, and stop to profile only when the story calls for it. You’ll find that once in a while, the story will send you on quite the profiling adventure.

From 3 to 9

Now we’re ready to move to the 9-part outline, which will be next week’s topic for Step 5.

I hope your stories are evolving, and if you’re just joining this week, pick your own pace. These posts will be collected and used as a free online resource on my blog once the series is over.

out_of_the_darkness_300sigRita

Graeme Brown is an epic fantasy author. His first published story, The Pact, is available for KoboKindle, and other ebook formats through Burst Books.

 

You can follow Graeme on Twitter (@GraemeBrownWpg) or on his blog, Fantasy Writing Journey.

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Sequels and Series- What Kinds of Problems Might They Cause You?

When I wrote my first published novel, The Dark Lady, I gave no thought to what happens next in the story. I had reached, what seemed to me, to be a satisfactory conclusion. It was only after having several readers asked me when the sequel was coming out, did I give the matter any serious consideration.

One of the many rules of writing is: “Know your character’s backstory” even though you might never use it in your short story or novel. What is their favorite flavor of ice cream? Who were their parents? The idea is, the better you know where they came from, the better you can describe how they would react in a given situation. It adds depth to the tale. I can add another rule you might not be so familiar with. I re-discovered something when I sat down to write the sequel. (Which turned into two volumes, not one.) You must keep detailed notes. I knew this in the back of my mind, and thought I had done a pretty good job of writing down details, names, places, etc., of the characters who would now suddenly re-appear in the sequel. I still had to go back and refer to the original book, correct several errors such as misspelling minor character’s names.

Even if you don’t plan on writing a sequel, keep a separate file where you record all pertinent information about characters and settings. Have you ever changed a character’s eye color halfway through a story? I have. Have you ever changed the spelling of a protagonist’s name in mid-tale? I have. The moral, keep good, clear, easily accessible notes. I do now on every piece I write. This is especially important for those of us who write fantasy tales with exotic sounding character and place names that could potentially be spelled a hundred different ways!

With the sequels to The Dark Lady, I had to plot out what might happen next, keep the threads and theme of the original, and then run with it more or less as a single, longer-running story. I also write a series of fantasy detective novellas, The Housetrap Chronicles. The process there is slightly different. Of course I still need copious notes, but now I have two choices. Do I simply extend the first story, or write separate tales for each novella? I chose to try and write each as a stand-alone that the reader could pick up out of sequence and still follow along. Several of the characters and settings may re-appear, but that is not a problem if you can introduce them in such a manner as to not keep repeating who they are in long boring detail/

Looking back, when I have finished a manuscript for a novel now, I often jot down a few notes as to what might happen next to the characters, assuming they survived. Even just a line on who might get married, who might cause future problems, whether they might wander, will give you a head start if you decide a sequel or follow-up is warranted.

Consistency is the key to extending your story. How you keep track of things is up to you. Do whatever works best for you, whether it is an electronic file, several paper notebooks, or scribbles on napkins.

The last hint I want to leave you with is: Don’t hesitate to sketch out a map or diagram of your mythical land, or enchanted castle. I drew a map for The Dark Lady simply to allow me to keep directions and neighboring countries straight. It later appeared, cleaned up a bit, as a free download on my website along with a character bio I had originally created to help keep me on the straight and narrow. Maps, building plans, and bios can prove invaluable to the writer trying to keep the threads of a story straight.

Good luck with your writing, and most important of all, keep at it!

R.J.Hore
http://www.ronaldhore,com
http://www.facebook.com/RonaldJHore

Medieval-style fantasies: The Housetrap Chronicles:
The Dark Lady Housetrap
Knight’s Bridge Dial M for Mudder
The Queen’s Pawn House on Hollow Hill

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Guest Post with Kyra Dune, Author of the Elfblood Trilogy

Joining us this week is Kyra Dune, author of The Elfblood Trilogy, although she has numerous other titles available, check out her Goodreads to learn more about Kyra’s body of work. The Elfblood Trilogy was just finished with the last title, City of Magic, being released earlier this month. 

Interview with Kyra Dune

What makes your fantasy world different from ours?

 Everything is powered by a magical energy source derived from magestones.

What inspired this series? 

To begin with, Elfblood was a short story inspired by an Edgar Allan Poe story. I worked up two beginnings for it and I was trying to decide which beginning to use when I realized that I didn’t really have two beginnings to the same story, but two entirely different stories. One grew into the Elfblood Trilogy, and the other into the Firebrand Trilogy.

Are your characters human? What talents do they have?

 Most of the characters are human, elves, or elfbloods (mixed human and elven). Although there is one very feisty sprite named Spree as well. Spree has the ability to carry people long distances in a short amount of time by way of a magical corridor. All the elves have their own unique, magical abilities, and a few of the humans have psychic talents like telekinesis and telepathy.

Tell me about each book in the series.

 In Elfblood we meet Charlie, a fourteen year old orphan descended from mixed human and elven blood. Elfbloods are considered lower in societal standing than humans, though not as low as full blooded elves. Charlie’s best friend is Grant, who has a secret that will change Charlie’s life in ways he cannot even imagine. Everything Charlie thinks he knows, from the history of the human and elven war to his own personal history, is proven false as the truth slowly unravels. 

 

In The Silver Catacombs, Charlie travels to Kiloreen, ancestral home of the elves. There he searches for a lost magic he hopes can help him save the world from a mad king. Though many secrets were revealed in Elfblood, there’s still more truth to learn. And some of it may be more than Charlie can handle.

 

In City Of Magic, Charlie has travelled to a different world than his own. A world of danger and magic. This is Charlie’s last chance to find what he so desperately seeks; his last chance to try and stop a war.

 


What’s your process like when it comes to world building? Any tips for other fantasy authors?

I’m a pantser, so there’s no real process when it comes to world building for me. Everything comes together on its own. The only advance I can give other fantasy writers, is to go about world building in whatever way works for them. Don’t let anybody tell you it has to be done this way or that way, because it’s not true.

ElfBlood  

Charlie is an elfblood, descended of a conquered people brought to the brink of extinction in the aftermath of a long war. Being able to pass for human gives Charlie an advantage over most of his kind. Only those who look at his record or those he chooses to tell, need ever know his secret. Growing up in an orphanage is hard enough without having to live with that stigma. 

When soldiers come and haul the kids off to a prison work camp, Charlie finds himself no longer able to hide the truth of what he is. If that isn’t bad enough, the magic buried inside him is growing stronger and more out of control.  As Charlie struggles with his own problems, and with the dangers of the work camp, he finds himself swept up in a much larger struggle, one whose outcome could decide the future of the world.

Excerpt:

Shock quickly turned to anger. Charlie had trusted Grant enough to tell him the secret of his elven blood, a fact no other boy in the home knew. How could Grant have kept such a secret from him? Charlie always felt they were close as brothers, but it seemed he was wrong. Brothers would never keep such secrets from each other.

 “Charlie!” 

 Charlie looked up at the sound of his name, though it took a conscious effort to pry his eyes from the unbelievable truth he held in his hands. The shadowhound was staring down at him with its blood red eyes. For a heartbeat they stood frozen that way, the boy looking at the hound, the hound looking back at the boy. Then the hound lunged. 

 

TSC

 

Charlie has made his way to Kiloreen, ancestral home of the elves, in his quest to find the Silver Catacombs and the lost magic that lies hidden within. Instead, he finds a branch of the Elven Resistance Movement, a secret underground organization of elves bent on retaking Kiloreen and freeing their people. 

If they are willing to stand alongside humans, the elves will be a great help in the struggle against King Richard, but there is still the matter of the lost magic. For if Charlie cannot find it, the war may be lost before ever it has begun. 

 Excerpt:

Charlie’s heart sank. They were elfbloods, and if they were using ears as a test for identifying their own kind, they had obviously never met anyone like Charlie. “Look, I can explain. I don’t -” Before he could finish the sentence, Jack grabbed hold of his arm, his fingers pressing down with surprising strength, and pushed Charlie’s shaggy blonde hair back from the side of his head.

 “There, look at that.” Jack indicated Charlie’s perfectly human ear. “See what good your legends are? He’s just a human who happens to be able to fight well.” 

 Raven looked distressed. “But I thought…I was sure.” 

 Charlie tried again to explain. “Wait a minute.  I’m not –”

 “Shut up,” Jack said, giving his arm a rough jerk that nearly pulled Charlie off his feet. 

The dragon in Charlie’s mind jumped up. He quickly took a firmer hold on its chains and pulled it back down again. The dragon eyed him balefully, flames dancing along its crimson scales. It didn’t care for being manhandled. It had taken enough of that from Thomas over the years, while it was locked up in its cage and buried deep in Charlie’s subconscious. Now that it was free and strong, it wanted to fight. It wanted blood. 

CoM

 

Charlie has finally reached the City Of Magic, where waits the lost elven magic he has been searching for. But the city is a ruin, his friends are missing, and there is a darkness known only as the Void slowly creeping over everything. 

When Charlie comes across a group of elves, he hopes they will be able to help him locate the Silver Catacombs. But everything is not as it seems. There are two groups of elves in the city, one who resists the Void and one who worships it. It’ll be up to Charlie to figure out who his true allies are. Danger lurks around every crumbling ruin and betrayal always comes from within.

Excerpt:

 The dark one roared out its fury. Then it attacked, slamming its will against Thomas’ and trying to drive him out. It was strong. So strong. But Thomas held on, seeking a way to force it to release its hold over the wraiths. He dug himself deeper into the dark one’s mind. Mental claws raked across his consciousness, filling him with a red hot pain the likes of which he’d never before felt. Still, he clung stubbornly to his tenuous hold; driving his will further down through layers of black bile that burned and stung. Fighting for control.

The dark one cried out as Thomas struck a vulnerable spot, wounding it. It lost its grip on the wraiths. But in doing so freed itself to turn the full power of its fury on Thomas. Before he could escape, he found himself entangled in the web of the dark one’s mind as it grabbed at him. It was furious that he had won even so small a victory and intent on making certain he didn’t live to enjoy it. 

 Fresh waves of pain rolled over Thomas. He struggled to break free, but it was no good. He had used up all his strength and now he was drowning. He was suffocating. He was dying. 

Where can readers find out more about you and your books?


Amazon   Barnes & Noble    Smashwords   Champagne Books   Goodreads
  Website   Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   YouTube

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Savvy Author 2013 Summer Symposium

I’m taking a break from syntax this week (mostly due to time constraints) but our very own Cassiel Knight will be among numerous other editors and agents looking for requested material over at Savvy Authors. I don’t have my own personal pitch ready, but you’ll probably see me there in the next few days trying to hock a YA manuscript or two.

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Storybuilder Inc. — Step 3: The Three-Part Outline

In the last step I talked about crash-testing your premise. How did that go? Feel free to share your working premise here. It will be interesting to look back on it when we get to the end of this series and see how much it’s changed.

Today, with Step Three, I will talk about germinating your premise – otherwise known as the three-part outline.

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End, Beginning, Middle

Your premise has three parts: who your character is, his or her conflict, and what’s going to happen as a result of it. Beginning, middle, end. But we’ll be reversing the order.

I like to think of your starting story as a seed. If you were a drop of water, you’d pass through the seed coat, then the endosperm, before finally reaching the embryo waiting inside. But germination begins when the embryo starts growing. The same thing happens with a story.

The Embryo: Germination begins at the end

A great story is an ending, with a beginning and middle that whisk the reader toward it. Your job now is to find the embryo of your seed. Think about your end, based on the premise you’ve carefully been developing. Here are my favorite three premises from last week – the ultra-safe ones that made it through our crash-tests:

Seed #1: “A depressed marathon runner discovers joy when an injury sees him in the care of the woman who was to blame for his family’s death.”

Embryo: Bob (the marathon runner) holds Cynthia’s (his nemesis) hand as she dies from cancer, and whispers the words he’s never dared: I forgive you.

Seed #2:  “When a bounty hunter bent on capturing the bad guys finds out he’s the bad guy everyone’s after, he chooses to forge a new identity and abandon his quest for justice.”

Embryo: Steve (the bounty hunter) shoots his best friend (Jim, a.k.a. “Patches”) when he discovers he’s a mole and their whole friendship was a lie. He decides to flee the country he’s been proud of his whole life, disgusted with its hypocrisy.

Seed #3: “An elderly woman discovers her lifelong dream to free her people against an insane king when she worms her way into his court and turns him into her play-thing.”

Embryo: Ren (the elderly woman, a seamstress) orders King Burt Left-hand to dance for her before every scheming noble and enjoys the satisfaction of finally being able to show that she holds the power. “Revolution is coming, starting with fairer taxes and equal rights for women,” she declares. “Anything she tells you, do,” her puppet lover says, not missing a beat.

Notice two things these germinated seeds have in common: (1) the end is vivid, tense, unique, and not obvious from the premise; and, (2) there are names and particulars. I will talk about dealing with the latter things (the sprouts) later, but the former is very important. When you are germinating your premise, take some time to create something quirky, powerful, and satisfying. Like your premise, you want to make sure it’s got the right edge.

The Seed Coat: a beginning for the ending

A powerful ending needs a robust beginning. Just as a seed’s coat is hard and the last likely thing the needed drop of water should be able to get through, you want to craft your beginning so that it’s a very unlikely path to your end.

Seed #1: “A depressed marathon runner discovers joy when an injury sees him in the care of the woman who was to blame for his family’s death.”

Embryo (end): Bob (the marathon runner) holds Cynthia’s (his nemesis) hand as she dies from her cancer and whispers the words he’s never dared: I forgive you.

Seed coat (beginning): Bob enjoys the satisfaction of seeing Cynthia collapse from exhaustion on the track and wonders how she bears her shame. “She deserves it,” he thinks, as he sprints on, remembering why he’s running: to honor the memory of his wife and children. And that bitch is the one who took them away.

Seed #2:  “When a bounty hunter bent on capturing the bad guys finds out he’s the bad guy everyone’s after, he chooses to forge a new identity and abandon his quest for justice.”

Embryo (end): Steve (the bounty hunter) shoots his best friend (Jim, a.k.a. “Patches”) when he discovers he’s a mole and their whole friendship was a lie. He decides to flee the country he’s been proud of his whole life, disgusted with its hypocrisy.

Seed coat (beginning): Steve catches a bad-guy after a high speed chase and smokes a cigar with his best friend, Jim, a pacifist, and adds another mark in his notebook – one sporting an American flag on the cover. “One day, we’ll catch them all, and make our country a better place,” he tells Jim.

Seed #3: “An elderly woman discovers her lifelong dream to free her people against an insane king when she worms her way into his court and turns him into her play-thing.”

Embryo (end): Ren (the elderly woman, a seamstress) orders Mad King Burt Left-hand to dance for her before every scheming noble and enjoys the satisfaction of finally being able to show that she holds the power. “Revolution is coming, starting with fairer taxes and equal rights for women,” she declares. “Anything she tells you, do,” her puppet lover says, not missing a beat.

Seed coat (beginning): Ren watches as a tax collector rapes one of her apprentices in an alleyway and knows there’s nothing she can do. It’s been like this all her life, compliments of Mad King Burt and his noble puppets who make the laws. She hates him, and wishes he will die more and more each day. Especially this one.

Notice the contrast! While you are crafting your beginnings, your goal is to creates an “as if” reaction. The more unlikely it is your ending will result from your beginning, the more dramatic your middle will be. In fact, you might modify your ending as a result, or even modify your premise – that’s fine. Tweaking is the name of the game, which is why we start small and build slowly.

The Endosperm: a big, fat middle that nourishes

The middle kills most writers. It’s the biggest part of your story, and often the most neglected. If your reader yawns partway through, they won’t get to the end – that wonderful moment you want to reward them with.

Your hardest work will be making a middle that doesn’t flag for a single page, but that’s very doable. It begins with ensuring your middle is nutrient-rich, like the endosperm of a seed.

Seed #1: “A depressed marathon runner discovers joy when an injury sees him in the care of the woman who was to blame for his family’s death.”

Embryo (end): Bob (the marathon runner) holds Cynthia’s (his nemesis) hand as she dies from her cancer and whispers the words he’s never dared: I forgive you.

Seed coat (beginning): Bob enjoys the satisfaction of seeing Cynthia collapse from exhaustion on the track and wonders how she bears her shame. “She deserves it,” he thinks, as he sprints on, remembering why he’s running: to honor the memory of his wife and children. And that bitch is the one who took them away.

Endosperm (middle): Bob is going to break his leg after a training. Cynthia is his nurse, then shows up at his house with a bowl of soup. He’s never voiced his resentment to her, and she won’t go away. She’s kind and sweet, which surprises him, but he can’t bring himself to warm up to her, even when he realizes she’s the kindest woman he’s ever met. But when he finds out Cynthia is dying, he starts to second-guess his instincts.

Seed #2:  “When a bounty hunter bent on capturing the bad guys finds out he’s the bad guy everyone’s after, he chooses to forge a new identity and abandon his quest for justice.”

Embryo (end): Steve (the bounty hunter) shoots his best friend (Jim, a.k.a. “Patches”) when he discovers he’s a mole and their whole friendship was a lie. He decides to flee the country he’s been proud of his whole life, disgusted with its hypocrisy.

Seed coat (beginning): Steve catches a bad-guy after a high speed chase and smokes a cigar with his best friend, Jim, a pacifist, and adds another mark in his notebook – one sporting an American flag on the cover. “One day, we’ll catch them all, and make our country a better place.”

Endosperm (middle): Steve is surprised when the police come to arrest him for a murder he knows nothing about. He suspects he’s been set up, since the man he just took down was one of the Senator’s sons. He flees as soon as he gets bail, becoming a fugitive, using his free time to get the better hand against the corrupt politician. His friend, Jim, has strangely accurate hunches, leading him closer to answers, even if each lead is a near-miss.

Embryo #3: “An elderly woman discovers her lifelong dream to free her people against an insane king when she worms her way into his court and turns him into her play-thing.”

Embryo (end): Ren (the elderly woman, a seamstress) orders Mad King Burt Left-hand to dance for her before every scheming noble and enjoys the satisfaction of finally being able to show that she holds the power. “Revolution is coming, starting with fairer taxes and equal rights for women,” she declares. “Anything she tells you, do,” her puppet lover says, not missing a beat.

Seed coat (beginning): Ren watches as a tax collector rapes one of her apprentices in an alleyway and knows there’s nothing she can do. It’s been like this all her life, compliments of Mad King Burt, who she’s hated and wishes he will die more and more each day. Especially this one.

Endosperm (middle): The king chooses Ren as his seamstress for his new wardrobe and, upon meeting him, she realizes he is nothing like she thought. Worse, he’s handsome and there’s an immediate flare between them. He’s still mad, without a doubt – banishing her from his castle for a fortnight, then inviting her to dinner as though nothing ever happened. Slowly, she becomes a regular part of his court. When she realizes the true source of corruption in the kingdom is the nobles who are taking advantage of the king’s madness, Ren plans the revolution she’s only dared to dream of – without the scheming nobles getting the best of her.

You’ve created a vivid ending, and a beginning that is a very unlikely path to it. Although your middle will expand the most, don’t worry about getting too detailed – just make sure you create a believable (and interesting!) pathway from the beginning to the end. Be creative and quirky; these unique twists will help you with your next stage, the 9-part outline.

Dealing with the sprouts

By the end of this exercise, you no doubt have characters, settings, and perhaps some world building notes. Your seed is growing well, but it has many sprouts. For now, you might want to write them down on a separate sheet of paper. Next week, we will talk about ways to deal with them and prepare you for the 9-part outline.

Keep your evolving stories to yourself it you’d like, or share them here. Feel free to post your progress, and jump in at any time.

out_of_the_darkness_300sigRita

Graeme is an epic fantasy author. His first published story, The Pact, is now available for KoboKindle, and other ebook formats through Burst Books.

You can follow Graeme on Twitter (@GraemeBrownWpg) or on his blog, Fantasy Writing Journey.

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Five Tips for Writing the Book Blurb

The book blurb is an important piece of the important puzzle of promotions. It’s an important skill, and, after your cover, is the next way to draw in your readers.

Here are five tips for creating one:

(1) Hook the reader
Ask yourself:
What does my reader need to know right off the bat? Who is your interesting protagonist, and why should we care about their quest? Or is the world you’ve created for your characters the starting place? Once you established your hook, consider Shoutlines.

(2) Shoutlines (can be called taglines) Yes or no?
These should be neither too long nor a tired cliché. Does it add something that the reader won’t get in the rest of the blurb? They need to add value or skip having one.

(3) How much plot do I include?

Obviously you don’t want to include a spoiler so keeping yourself to the first quarter of the book is a good choice for a spoiler-safe zone. You don’t want to bore your reader with too much but you do want to entice them to read your book.

(4) Use your manuscript:

An author’s own words are the best tool to sell a book. It can do a superb job of showcasing your writing voice. Reread the first 15 pages and highlight passages of the manuscript that you might use in your book blurb. Also, a well-written, accurate synopsis can help. Your own words will also convey if you have written in third or first person which helps your reader.

(5) Finally, end with conflict and drama:

Always leave your reader wanting more. You want them dying to read your book to find out how the story ends. It should almost seem unsolvable. You can end with a question or remind your readers what is keeping your lovers apart. Resist the urge to give them any idea of how things will work out. They must read your book to know!

Happy writing everyone!

Best, January Bain / Storyteller

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Running Low On Ideas?

Today’s guest, T. Rae Mitchell, offers a terrific post on sparking ideas. Take it away, T.Rae:

~*~

Nothing makes you feel more like a god than the ability to create fantastical worlds with your mind. That being said, nothing makes you feel like the mere mortal you truly are after the endless hours of strain and thinking you put into imagining unique and interesting scenarios readers will want to experience. The pressure to dream up brand new concepts or invent surprising twists on classic fairy tales, myths and legends can be overwhelming.

Thankfully there are some effective ways to jump-start the old idea factory. One is to stir up a sense of magic and wonder in yourself about the characters and world you’re creating. If I’m unable to slip into Wonderland, I can often get there by reading a few pages from my favorite authors. Or sometimes I’ll run a fantasy movie I love in the background, allowing the music, sound effects and dialogue to recharge the excitement I felt the first time I saw the film. Plugging into this head space will often spark ideas I may not have thought of or help me recall ideas forgotten along the way. Also, I think going to your happy place (even if it’s a sinister oak grove full of carnivorous pixies) is essential to the writing, because this spirit of wonder is what readers crave from fantasy. If you’re not feeling the magic, most likely no one else will.

Another trick is to pour through lots of fantasy art. You’ve heard the saying, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” Well I say there’s a story in every picture. Looking at an otherworldly scene and imagining what is happening in that frozen moment in time is a great idea generator. And because the emerging story is in the eye of the beholder, it will be unique to your way of thinking.

FatesFablesCoverTo a large extent, this is how I came up with several of the fables from my YA fantasy, Fate’s Fables. The premise of my book is about a girl named Fate who’s cast into a Book of Fables. Her only escape is to turn each dark fable into a happily-ever-after, or she’ll remain trapped inside the book forever. Before I could write a single word about Fate’s perilous journey through this magical book, I needed to first create eight fables that read as if they’d been around forever, but were completely new. Talk about the terror of staring at the blinking cursor on the blank white screen of my computer. It wasn’t until I began immersing myself in fables, folklore and myths to get a feel for how they were written, that I discovered how much old fairy tale illustrations sparked my creativity. I remember as a kid how the pictures captured my attention and carried my imagination far beyond what was actually written in the classic tales.

One of my fables, The Goblin Queen, was inspired by Arthur Rackham’s illustration, The Magic Cup. This scene portrays an entranced girl staring at a gleaming goblet held in the hands of slithering green creatures coming up out of a murky pool. I wanted to know if she was under their spell. Were they giving her a gift, or luring her into danger? As soon as I began asking questions, the answers formulated into an entire story.

Questions are one of the most powerful methods for activating ideas. I think this is because our brains are wired with a need to know the answers. By asking questions, we automatically slip into filling in the missing pieces of information. In fact, asking a question is how I came up with the idea for Fate’s Fables. I was upset about my favorite bookstore closing, a quaint little place full of eye-catching book displays and book ladders rolling along its century-old brick walls. So one day as I thought about the sad, empty store, I wondered what I might see if I peeked through the windows. Had anything been left behind? Strangely enough, my crazy imagination offered up a giant ten-foot-tall book––a magic Book of Fables to be exact. And then a girl named Fate came to mind and I knew she was destined to plunge inside that big bad book.

So whenever I’m running low on ideas, I remind myself to return to what inspired me to write fantasy in the first place and then I begin mining the deep deposits of creativity that’s literally at my fingertips until I strike another golden vein of magic.

ImageT. Rae Mitchell is an incurable fantasy junkie who spent much of her youth mesmerizing her younger sisters with stories sprung from her crazy imagination. Over the years, her craving for the rush of being transported to fantastical realms became more acute. So it was only a matter of time before her habit got the best of her. Grief stricken one day upon discovering that her supply had dried up (her favorite bookstore had closed), she decided she’d had enough. Abandoning her career as an award-winning graphic designer, she entered a fantasy world of her own making called Fate’s Fables. She lives in British Columbia with her husband and son who are helping her cope with her addiction. Fate’s Fables is her debut novel.

Find out more about T. Rae and Fate’s Fables here:

Website: http://traemitchell.com
Amazon: amzn.com/dp/B00B6K2EPC
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TRaeMitchell
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mitchelltrae
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6926344.T_Rae_Mitchell

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Syntax: School House Review

Upon rechecking my references, I was curious to find that many schools of thought on the subject of grammar and syntax simply have their subject, and the rest of the sentence stands to modify it, therefore, a complement is oftentimes irrelevant. I was taught complements exist or are implied, but keep in mind that there are numerous schools of thought on the matter.  Because this is more or less a lesson for writing rather than the study of language, I’ll keep things the way I was taught for my stylistics class, but I will simplify.

While the existence of lawyers proves that clauses are subject to interpretation, I find that a better understanding of syntax helps to solidify the sentence’s meaning. Before we can start to identify what parts of the sentence are modifying which words, let’s go over the different parts of the sentence – some, like nouns, are easy to understand – it is a person, place or a thing. At the end of this refresher, I’ll identify most of the components of a sample paragraph from Graeme Brown’s “The Pact” – and next week, I’ll continue to discuss syntax by showing what words effect and modify which parts of the sentence, and chart syntax the way I was taught. Once again, there are multiple ways to do syntax – so if you see it different somewhere else, don’t freak out. Also, I’ve modified and simplified this for a fast and easy way of understanding language for the purposes of clean writing, rather than being 100% accurate. That being said, if I’m making a mistake, please call me on it.

Nouns – Person, Places, or Things.  I touched on these briefly last week – basically, something you can touch, an activity in general, or an idea. Running, for example is an activity – it’s a noun, much like a war or a specific war, to run, is an example of a verb. Now, nouns can be broken into numerous categories (concrete noun, proper noun, abstract noun) for the sake of keeping things simple, the only thing I’m going to subdivide nouns into is into pronouns.

Pronouns – these take the places of nouns. You have to be careful with these placeholders, on account that it’s easy to sometimes confuse if there are multiple subjects. For example:

“Can I send Bob and Mary to the store?” Stu asked.

Sally thought a moment before saying, “Wait until Lisa and Ingrid return, and then send them.”

In normal dialogue, this would be fine – you could emphasize ‘them’ as to mean “Send Lisa and Ingrid.” However, without the tonality that is explicitly expressed, Sally’s dialogue is unclear as to what two people she wants to send to the store. Of course, if we were to change Mary’s gender (we’ll say she’s now magically Marty) you could replace the pronouns to something gender-specific. “Wait until Lisa and Ingrid return, and then send the guys.” I find that English is historically male-neutral, female specific, but this has fallen out of favor in recent texts, with generic examples alternating between both male and females used interchangeably for a non-proper noun. (IE – A nurse is a valuable member of the hospital team. She is often the face the patients and their families see most. He needs to be a person who can handle a very stressful work environment.) However, once you establish a proper noun (IE – Sally) all female pronouns refer to her, until we have something else that can also be replaced with words such as ‘she’ and ‘her’. Example – “Sally saw Bob at the mall. She was happy to see him.” Since these two are of different genders, it’s easy to differentiate your pronouns – we can assume it’s Sally who is happy to see Bob, not Bob who is happy to see Sally, even though the latter might be implied.

Verbs – Action words. Usually verbs are thought of in their most active sense (Bob ran vs. Bob was running). However for this article I will not differentiate the two forms.  Examples of verbs include words such as said, drank, saw, was, is. Now, you’re likely thinking of an example where a noun becomes a verb – an example would be. “Bob’s favorite Avenger is The Incredible Hulk. However, he very seldom hulks out himself.” While I’m not going to check and see if hulk has a very specific oxford definition, whether or not we think Bob merely doesn’t SMASH! Or doesn’t turn green with only little purple shorts is open to interpretation at this point. Many words can be used in a different context, and exist as nouns, verbs, adjectives – for instance, the word what.

Adverbs – a word that modifies the verb. These are words like quickly, softly, coolly. Words that you don’t think of as often modify it in a negative way – this could be words like never or no.

Example: Bob slept soundly.

Adjectives – a word that modifies a noun. These are words like beautiful, hard, blue, as well as quantifiers, such as an, the, & dozen.

Example: Sally bought a red hat.

Some words are obvious, others can be tricky because they can be used in a variety of ways. Let’s take the word Beauty – in that form, it is a noun because it’s an idea – something can be said to possess the characteristic of beauty, the only way I can make it a verb is if I were to ‘go beauty myself up’ (and end a sentence in a preposition. Tsk). However, we can alter this word into numerous forms. Beauty, beautiful, beautify, beautifully – If you’re without a dictionary, try using that word in a simple sentence and see if it fits. For example:

Bob ran ________.

Bob ran beautifully – this doesn’t describe Bob so much as his running. Beautifully is therefore an adverb.

Beautiful Bob ran – this describes Bob, not his running. This might also be differential if there’s more than one Bob in the story. (Poor Ugly Bob). Beautiful is an adjective.

Beautified Bob ran – this means that Bob has been somehow transformed into being more beautiful. Beautified still relates to Bob, ergo, an adjective.

Bob ran through the mud. It was beautiful. – ‘through’ is a preposition, which we’ll get to below. If we were to describe the mud (Bob ran through the warm and stinky mud) the words warm and stinky would be adjectives, and if we were to describe Bob’s running (gracefully, trudged) they would be adverbs. However, these two sentences both have their own clauses, which we will get to next week. However, the second clause’s subject (‘it’) refers to Bob’s running through the mud.

You’ve probably heard from someplace that you should destroy all adverbs and adjectives, and I’m not about to say you need to throw caution to the wind and give your potential readers a grocery-list of adverbs and adjectives to waddle through – I’m not here to lecture you what stylistics choices you want to make. (I have heard the same school on thought that ‘said’ should never be used). Basically when someone says, “Get rid of them!” they mean limit what you don’t need – afterall, it’s less words to say “Sally sprinted.” Rather than “Sally ran very quickly.” And while some times it makes sense that you relate that Sally wasn’t sprinting (perhaps this is from a young child) if your editor says “Trim down your word count” these things are usually the first thing that go on my cutting board. By all means – if something is green and this is a plot point, please tell us – I find that if you are picky with your use of descriptors, you can utilize them to great stylistic effect.

Before we go on, I’ll talk about difficult words – definite and indefinite articles. Let’s go back to the previous example with pronouns:

 “Can I send Bob and Mary to the store?” Stu asked.

The word ‘the’ implies a specific store – there isn’t enough context to be clear, but one would assume he has a specific store with a specific task in mind. “Can I send Bob and Mary to a store?” – This implies Stu simply wants to send them to any store – this would make more sense if he said, “Can I send them to a convenience store?” Meaning he doesn’t care which one. Thus, “the” is a definite article – it refers to a specific thing, whereas ‘an’ and ‘a’ are indefinite articles – they could mean any that exist.

Grammar purist are reminded at this point when your mother says, “Stay out of the mud.” She most likely means all mud. She will be quite cross with you if you try to use definite and indefinite articles in your defense.

Conjunctions – these exist to join parts of a sentence. They can connect subjects, complements, predicates, and even clauses. Words include include but are not limited to: and, but, & or.

Subject Example – Bob and Mary went to the store.

Complement Example  – Bob bought chicken and rice.

Predicate Example – Mary ranted and raved about the new video game she wanted.

Clause Example – Mary wanted to stop at the electronic section but they didn’t have the time.

Prepositions

You might have heard that you’re never supposed to end a sentence with a preposition – prepositions mean ‘to go before’. I’m a believer that choosing to break rules can work to stylistic effect, but basically the word exists to go ahead of something else.  

The cheat to knowing if something is a preposition is to put the word in front of “the log.”

Example:

“Before the log.” Before is a preposition.

“Around the log.”  Around is a proposition.

“To the log.” To is a preposition.

“Bob the log.” Bob might be a bump on a log. Bob might be magically turned into a log. Assuming he has annoyed a local wizard and found himself turned into shrubbery, Bob the Log remains a noun because I can chop him up and throw him in the fire. Bob is still not a preposition, no matter what we do to him.

This rule doesn’t work with verbs. “Throw the log.” Throw is a verb – neither is burn, eat, dance, but if I were to say, “Sit upon the log.” Upon is a preposition, sit is not – it is a verb. I can sit here, there, anywhere, but if I want to sit on a chair, I need a preposition to specify. And yes, grammar matters – you sit on the chair, not in the chair, but now we’re being technical.

Exceptions, blah blah blah

Now, if you’re a keener delighting in my mistakes, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “What about Nouns that have adjectives, prepositions, and other stuff in them?” Examples would include:

Old Spice

Oil of Olay

The Queen of England

This is where a little bit of interpretation is okay – The Queen of England, a very specific title – unless we were getting really technical, I’d be okay with lumping all four words as a noun. Next week, I will knock it down to its basest level. For now, I will put it in brackets. I’ll do that below for the example, “Scotch of Myra”. It’s a specific drink.

Putting it all together

There is more to this then I’ve gone into – and I haven’t even touched how punctuation can greatly effect sentence structure, but this article is already several pages long and we’ve hashed out most of the basics. If you’d like some homework, take a chunk of text and color-code it with highlighters like I have below. Try it without a dictionary, and see how you do:

Stuart Wood cocked his head, narrowing his eyes a little more. His bronze beard bristled, as if every hair were made of fine wires. He moved a little closer, and Will smelled the [Scotch of Myra] on his breath.“I pray by the [White God’s blood] that you never have to wield a blade, Willy, but a man should always be prepared. When the reaper comes, if your axe is sharp, you can cut his scythe at the haft, and escape with your life.

Nouns  Pronouns Verbs Adverbs Adjectives Prepositions Conjunctions

Have at me, Grammar-Purists!

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Storybuilder Inc. — Step Two: Crash Testing a Premise

Welcome back to Storybuilder Inc.

Last week I talked about a premise and how to make one by connecting to your character. How did that go? I’d love to hear about the characters you connected to when you asked those questions.

Today, with Step Two, I will talk about how to put your premise through some important crash tests before it’s ready to zoom you away into story land.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Do you really know your premise?

So you’re ready to move to the next step. You asked the 6 questions I recommended, you spent some time sifting through the answers to find the best one, and now you have a statement that tells you about your character, his or her conflict, and what happens as a result of it. Now you’re ready to go. Right?

Possibly. First, there are some tests to take to make sure your story is ready for some of the walls you might encounter.

Crash Test #1: is your premise unique?

There are so many stories. Because there are so many, there’s no way to stop them from overlapping, but you can always give yours a spin. Here is an example of how you might innovate your design:

Hazardous: “A man meets a woman and they fall in love.”

Passable: “A marathon runner discovers his tender side when his recovery from a car accident sees him in the care of his nemesis.”

Ultra safe: “A depressed marathon runner discovers joy when an injury sees him in the care of the woman who was to blame for his family’s death.”

Powerful storytelling is concrete and specific. A good premise is no different. Make sure your story germ isn’t a square, red car, but instead a 16-valve 2013 Honda Civic Sedan with a crystal black pearl exterior.

Crash test #2: Does your character’s conflict have a clear resolution?

Do you know the ending? A good story is an ending, with a gripping beginning and middle to propel you toward it. When you develop your premise, make sure you discover the ending that you want to build toward. If you see a man in a room who decides he must cut his hand off to get free, then ask yourself what would bring him to that point. (If you’ve seen the movie Saw, ten you know the answer to this question. As a fun exercise, try writing that movie as a premise and see what you come up with.)

Hazardous: “A bounty hunter must go out and catch the bad guys.”

(this is just a beginning)

Passable: “A bounty hunter goes out to catch a notorious criminal, only to discover that the criminal is actually him.”

(this is a beginning, with a middle)

Ultra safe: “When a bounty hunter bent on capturing the bad guys finds out he’s the bad guy everyone’s after, he chooses to forge a new identity and abandon his quest for justice.”

(now we know the end)

Crash test #3: Is your premise focused on your character and his or her conflict?

You might have something unique, and you might know the ending, but remember that a premise is about a character, not a city or an empire or a bowl of soup. Readers are pulled into stories that they relate to, especially if they feel like the experience of the character could just as well be theirs.

Hazardous: “A kingdom uprises against a tyrannical ruler and turns him into a puppet.”

Passable: “An woman frees her people against a tyrant king when she worms her way into his court.”

Ultra safe: “An elderly woman discovers her lifelong dream to free her people against an insane king when she worms her way into his court and turns him into her play-thing.”

As the writer, you are going to create characters who your reader will relate to. This means you need a premise that is highly personal and vivid, connecting you to the deepest emotions of your central character and the many other characters he or she is connected to.

Crash test #4: Do you focus on relevant details?

You might know your character’s name. You might know what kind of eyes she has, or what kind of house she lives in. You might know that the final encounter will take place in a wood with a crystal orb called the Veil of Brem that steals three souls for every one it generates. Great! That might help you when you start your 3-part outline. It doesn’t belong in your premise, though.

Hazardous: “The city of Ellanor is great and mighty, with golden domes and snake-tamers, and wonderful conflicts are soon to abound, awaiting the unwary slave girl Ellan Dor, who keeps the city’s only dog hidden under her table (except when he comes out to eat bacon, or scones on Tuesday) and will soon prove to be the key to her success over the underground slave-masters called the J.J.R, because the dog contains a spiritual enchantment that the dictators of the first dynasty tried to eradicate to cement their reign.”

(an elevator pitch that ends in awkward silence for the rest of the ride)

Passable: “An unwary slave girl overthrows her city’s dictator government when she discovers that her dog’s bloodline is enchanted.”

(an elevator pitch that elicits a nod from your prospective agent or editor)

Ultra safe: “When a slave girl discovers her connection to an ancient priesthood, she destroys her nation by becoming the very enemy its leaders subjugated its people to vanquish.”

(an elevator pitch that results in an invitation to submit)

When a premise is loaded with detail, it is easy to miss obvious flaws. If you expect your reader to believe that a dog will defeat tyrant rulers because it has a spiritual enchantment, then you might be in for disappointment. On the other hand, if we trim away all the unnecessary garnish, we realize our premise isn’t very practical. A premise must be unique and interesting, grounded emotionally in a character, and coupled with a resolution, but above all it must be plausible, or your story will go up in a puff of smoke.

Crash test #5: Are your themes implicit?

A good story explores deep themes and bundles up memorable experience with profound meaning. You might realize your story is about ambition vs. humility and the seeming contradiction that the latter is more productive than the former. But as a writer in the day of modern fiction you want your themes to peek from between the lines, not offend your reader with earnest words of their presence.

Hazardous: “The Merchant’s Shop is about power and humility, centred on a craftsman who unintentionally takes on a position of power, while his eldest son’s schemes to supplant the king lead to his beheading, thus invoking the age-old message that true success comes unintentionally, while the ambitious enjoy it only for a season.”

Passable: “A craftsman unintentionally takes on a position of power, while his eldest son’s schemes to supplant the king lead to his beheading.”

Ultra safe: “A humble craftsman is beheaded for treason after he raises a rebellion to stop his son’s attempted usurpation of the throne.”

Themes that are implied deepen your story, making simple actions meaningful. Trimming away descriptions of what your story should invoke forces you to craft actions that show rather than tell, and your reader will thank you for it.

Your spine gets stronger

Last week we talked about your premise as a spine. This week we talked about it as a car. Either way, it will need to withstand many adverse forces. I hope this helped you take the premise you began with and hone it further. You will not have a perfect premise yet, but putting it through these 5 tests will help prepare you for the next stage of storybuilding.

Next week, we will talk about Step Three: the 3-Part Outline.

Keep your evolving stories to yourself it you’d like, or share them here. Feel free to post your progress, and jump in at any time.

out_of_the_darkness_300sigRita

Graeme is an epic fantasy author. His first published story, The Pact, is available for KoboKindle, and other ebook formats through Burst Books.

You can follow Graeme on Twitter (@GraemeBrownWpg) or on his blog, Fantasy Writing Journey

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