Planning

Questions, Questions

Hi everyone! First, let me get a few housekeeping items out of the way. Curses Dark and Foul was soft-released on 8/6. I’m scheduling a hard release (meaning I start marketing the book more) on 8/24. Meanwhile, I’ve moved on with several other projects I’ve mentioned previously. However, my main novel of the year the Cursed Mage Case File series (formerly Reformed Mage series) with a working title of The Feral Name which continues to be my most important project.

The manuscript is with my editor and we’ve been conversing about various aspects about the book. Also, the manuscript is being read by a few beta readers. This means the book is in ongoing revision. While I expect to receive full reports about the book in several weeks, there are some ongoing minor phases of the revision which continue for me. The editor and the beta readers do ask some questions.

You might think that questions about the book manuscript are a bad thing. After all, questions mean that the editor or the beta readers are confused in some way. Actually, it’s a good thing for revision. It’s important to get the questions because these help resolve all the problems with the book. Questions and observations tell me as an author where I need to focus on quality and clarity. This leads to the end product – the published book.

While revision questions are trickling to me, there are also more concerns about the completing the book. I’ve made contact with my cover artist and he’s waiting for my written concepts for the artwork. I have some good ideas but the problem is that I don’t like the working title of the book. It really doesn’t grab me so I’m playing around with a variety of titles until I settle on one that hits the correct chord for the type of fantasy book this will be. I like the series title, it’s just the first book that bothers me. I see a lot of titles on Amazon that are poorly chosen. I feel it’s important to get this part correct.

Next, I’ll consider the blurb. Writing a book description is something I’ve studied and worked at for a while so I’m confident I can write it. Yes, I’m a writer but this kind of writing requires a specific skill at communicating the essence of the book well but with brevity. If not done well, readers are not interested and my job is to interest readers. It answers that question we writers get all the time, “What’s it about?” Everyone who finds out you have a book coming out wants to know about it. Answering the question well is half the task of a good blurb.

These are all questions which need answering so I’m taking time to work through them. Answering the title question is not always easy. Neither is the blurb an easy answer. Likewise, finding all the questions a reader might stumble over if I don’t revise the manuscript well is a process. I have several of these reader questions in my mind regarding revision, many of which I can answer and change in short order.

Revision and moving toward publication is fraught with questions. With The Bow of Hart Saga, much of the title and blurb questions were with me for many years, but with a new series there are a set of ideas that I must complete for publication. Now is a good time to begin addressing these aspects of publication to remain on schedule.

Of course, I have several other projects underway through which I plan to progress this month. I just have to keep in mind that the main revision will also need my attention at times. Hopefully, I’ll come up with a title I like, get the cover art completed and write a blurb within a few weeks so the book begins to come together and I can share more specifics. The pace quickens as the pieces come together into a finished book.

Mixed into all this is a prequel, The Changeling Incident. The title and cover are in place. Writing a blurb and completing the manuscript revision are also in progress. Being a shorter book, this will move along faster than the novel, especially since it is scheduled for release sooner. It’s the novel in a micro-state, just further along in the publication process.

Authors are always part of these publication processes but it may not be so evident to readers. As a self-published author, I’m in complete control and it’s my responsibility to produce all the parts that make up the published book. I hope this gives readers a taste of where the book is in it’s current process.

Thanks for stopping by today and reading where my next novel is on the long road to publication. Got questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

 

Fantasy Friday! Can Your Character Survive A Flaw?

These days, all characters have flaws be it physical, mental or emotional. So if you give your main character a flaw that is integral to your story can your character survive said flaw?

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George R. R. Martin gives us a great example in Tyrion from A Song of Fire and Ice series (better known as HBO’s Game of Thrones). He’s a dwarf with physical limitations to his legs. Not only this but he’s viewed negatively by most everyone around him because of his flaws. He even gains a few more during the course of the series through battle as well as toting a load of emotional baggage. As effective as this characterization is, could he actually survive this flaw as long as he has in real life?

FightingI’m glad you asked. There’s a more recent archaeological discovery that has subsequently brought just such a real-life case to light. Richard III of England’s grave was discovered under a parking lot 2011. For those who are unfamiliar with Richard, he died in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 which pretty much ended the Wars of the Roses. One way he was identified was by a specific physical handicap – severe scoliosis or curvature of the spine. By severe I mean a 30% curvature – very noticeable. The unusual thing is that all accounts of the battle indicate that Richard fought with great skill and nearly won the battle. He unhorsed a jousting champion, killed Henry Tudor’s standard-bearer and almost killed Henry.

A recent episode of Secrets of the Dead actually examined whether Richard III could actually have functioned as a knight on the battlefield. They found a volunteer with very similar scoliosis and began to determine what his physical capabilities were. They realized that Richard would have needed specially designed armor and that the medieval saddle would have benefited him with greater support. In the show, they were able to outfit their volunteer and give him some basic training as a re-enactor. They were even able to show that Richard would have been able to ride in the charge and effectively use weaponry.

knights fightingHowever, physical limitations were also discovered. The re-enactor had less stamina due to the scoliosis affecting his ability to breathe well during exertion. In spite of Richard’s skills and training he may well have been just as limited.

Richard lost the battle for a number of reasons one of which was Lord Stanley’s failure to advance behind the initial charge. But Richard favored fast charges and ending battles quickly. If you lacked stamina for long physical exertions you would likely choose the same strategy. However, in this instance the charge actually took much longer. I could see Richard almost making it to victory only to be thwarted by his own malady as much as other circumstances. This one time, Richard likely misjudged the circumstances due to “the fog of war”. Had he known or thought it through better he might have chosen a different strategy. But maybe all outcomes would have been the same if Lord Stanley was indeed a traitor.

So as a writer of fantasy, I’m looking harder at my future characters and the flaws I can give them just to twist my plots tighter. Can my character’s survive their flaws? Will they be trapped into exposing their difficulties to enemies through lack of choices – political and otherwise? It’s certainly a way to add more spice to conflict in a story.

Book Cover Green Top & Bottom Cover - CopyPlease share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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photos via Morguefile.com – free section and Microsoft Office clipart

coverart commissioned

 

Fantasy Friday! Traipsing through the Tropes

Courtesy MorgueFile.com

Courtesy MorgueFile.com

The falcon soared on the morning wind. It spied two figures around a fire and dove. It circled the pair of men talking about their fire.

An old man stirred the pot that hung over the fire. “When we reach the city we can find help and re-gain your kingdom.”

The young man scratched his head. “Funny to think a poor orphan like me is heir to a kingdom.”

The bird of prey alighted on a branch and cocked it’s head. “A common trope lingering in this wilderness? I must hear more!”

The orphan-prince and others are common in fantasy. From Tolkien onward it’s almost prerequisite to use the trope in epic fantasy – so much so that many readers are turned off by it. Many have fled to gray fantasy were there are no clear delineations between good and evil, right and wrong.

But why is the notion and others like it used so often? A missing heir or one who was usurped is excellent for conflict. Likewise, the orphan elicits sympathy through perceived weakness. It likely roots much further back in history to many tales of fallen nations and city-states. One such example is that of the Princes in the Tower during the Wars of the Roses.

Courtesy MorgueFile.com

Courtesy MorgueFile.com

This plot element has some basic uses for writing in fantasy the main one being conflict. The political or ethical conflict behind this trope and others like it are the grist of many a fantasy. These constructs have ready-made rivalries so it’s easy to use when writing.

Is the average tale of winning back the kingdom for the old family’s sake worth telling? In my opinion yes – but only as necessary. I think a writer must ask themselves the question, “Can it be told differently?” If the answer is no then the author should use this trope – or any other common one.

However, to use a common trope, one must do so with care or risk turning off readers. Some twisting is necessary so be inventive. If I want a well-worn path for my reading, I’ll just pick up my copy of Tolkien.

But if the answer to the question above is yes, then start re-plotting your outline. What the story can bear in being unique in the marketplace is most important.

Whichever way you go consider your presentation. Don’t follow in someone else’s footprints. Forge off the beaten path – trope or not.

The young man lifted his arm and balled his hand. “I’ll win back the kingdom!” His sleeve slid and revealed his forearm.

The old man leaned forward and squinted. “Your arm – there’s no mark.”

“Of course not. What are you talking about?”

The elderly fellow commenced packing his things. “You’re not the one.”

“What do you mean? You said I was.”

“I was wrong.”

The falcon screeched. “Looks like they have a twist. How far will it go.”

The old man hefted his pack and marched away.

“Wait! What will I do now? What does this mark look like?” The poor orphan grabbed the old man. “Maybe we can do this anyway.”

Just because the trope has been used is no reason not to use it. While readers may assume much based on the trope and reject the book out of hand there is no edict against using the basic concept of a common trope – just use it well and communicate with your blurb that you usage is different.

The Bow of DestinyWhat tropes bother you? Have you got a common trope that you’re using anyway? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.