Tips

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! Cryptids Read Books Too – Sorta

Bigfoot CrossingI’m sure you’ve heard the stories about some well-meaning but unrealistic “researcher” who goes looking for a famous cryptid. What’s that? What’s a cryptid? Sorry – that’s a creature which is undiscovered but may “likely” exist. It’s your basic Lock Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Abominable Snowman (Yeti) and other such creatures reported to have been seen but always appearing in bad photography.

Well, apparently they read books so that’s where you can find them. No, not really. Actually, the rare creatures you’re seeking as an author are reviewers. The big question is where to find them, not whether they actually exist. So how do you find St. George’s Dragon or El Chupacabra? Here are 5 ways to find them.

Dragon Symbol1. Amazon – check your favorite books in the genre(s) in which you write for reviewers. This can be time-consuming, especially since many of these reviewers are back-logged or have guidelines.

2. Join a book club – I’m a VIP member of Rave Reviews Book Club by Nonnie Jules where I give and receive author support. Several members have given me helpful, honest reviews and I’ve handed out a few myself (I’m back-logged so be aware of my loooong time-table). Be aware when joining such a club that you may need to review a minimum number of books during a calendar year to remain an active member.

3. Facebook – yep, there are groups on Facebook where authors can meet reviewers. One such group is Reveiw Seekers. Take a look and be aware that there are requirements for such groups such as not plugging your book.

4. Goodreadscryptids reviewers are lurking all over the place here. The secret is to go out and interact with other readers before asking for reviews. It’s likely that you will attract one just by being in a group and joining discussions.

5. Twitter – it’s a bit more of a tall order but try these hashtags: #reviewers & #bookreviewers. Tweet that you are looking for a reviewer for your book as well as your genre. Someone may just notice and offer to review your work.

As always, when dealing with reviewers be willing to offer a copy of your book for free. Always remain polite and thank the reviewer whether the result is good or bad – the latter being part of life so don’t lose sleep over them.

Bonus Info: Here’s a list of 10 cryptids that turned out to be real. So don’t laugh, that hairy neighbor could be Bigfoot.

The Bow of DestinyHave you been cryptid reviewer hunting? Where have you gotten your books reviewed? 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 on 11/10/14 so take a look.

Thanks for reading.

P. H. Solomon

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

Bigfoot Crossing photo – Used by Permission of MorgueFile.com, taken by earl53

5 Signs You’ve Gone Too Far With Your Fantasy Novel

Today, I share 5 signs you may have gone too far with your current fantasy novel.

Fiction writing requires a bit of immersion into you story. Fantasy requires an author put on a squirrel suit and jump in for a deeper excursion to truly get the experience necessary for bringing readers along for an entertaining ride. Here are 5 ways to know you’ve gone too far but I can’t tell you how to get back – that’s your own problem… However, I can offer a few suggestions that might help you re-gain perspective:

  1. One of your characters actually threatens you. Fantasy worlds are by their very nature dangerous, places that are unstable in any number of ways. That doesn’t even cover the places your characters travel and visit right through any number of dangerous scenes and settings. The nerves or your characters can easily get frayed and they may turn on you with whatever weapon they have at hand (and fantasy characters often have a weapon at hand). If you are in a bar or tavern, offer them a drink. If that fails, my advice is back away slowly, maybe with an apology for crowding them, and just shift to another scene. Maybe things will be a little less tense in another scene or the character will be too busy to notice you.
  2. You go drinking with your characters, have such a great time you wake up dressed like one of them and find you’ve been given a prized item that’s integral to the story. No, you can’t keep that gift so find a way to politely give it back and try not to go that deep with your characters again. It just gets awkward for you, the characters and the people around you in real life. Honestly, that’s getting a little off-balance.
  3. You go running and feel like you’re in that scene where there’s a devastating retreat. Take a deep breath, it’s ok, that’s just in the book. This is just exercise and there is no one chasing you with a battle-ax to grind. It’s just running. But it is good to keep in shape just in case you do need to retreat, right?
  4. You start speaking one of the languages used in your book. This is getting pretty serious since no one around you understands what you are saying. If you really keep going that deeply into the book, no one will be able to read it in that language. You might try getting out of your writing sphere and re-join the real world, try talking to someone about something trivial. Maybe watch some day-time TV – maybe.
  5. Maniacal laughter erupts from your lips as you near the end and kill a few beloved characters. Just back away from the computer, go do something else. It’s just a book. Deep breath. No, don’t go play that video game. Go to the museum or something. Just remember, you are not the villain here.

Notice: This is all tongue and cheek except my character threatening me since one of them is based on my dogs. However, my dogs just like to bark and growl for the fun of it so the first one really doesn’t count that much.

About the Author

I’m P. H. Solomon and I live in the greater Birmingham, AL area. I strongly dislike yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, I perform such duties to maintain a nice home for my loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In my spare time, I ride herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, I enjoy reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, I also have a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone my writing. My third book of The Bow of Hart Saga fantasy series, The White Arrow, will be released October 2017. I’m also a contriubtor to Story Empire and a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

This blog is about my writing, other authors, writing-related topics and my chosen genre – speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy to be specific). Join me regularly as I highlight other writers and share my journey as an author. See my Contact page for more information.