I’m with Bugs Bunny every time. Well, maybe not necessarily the swift part, I’m okay with revenge of all kinds in a book.
And so should every writer be
Building conflict is a natural part of writing. Take every opportunity to drive a little more drama for our heroes and heroines. Explore every option to pile on the pressure, take away safety nets, and keep your readers guessing at motives and intent.
It isn’t always easy to provide surprises, but that doesn’t mean you have to make it easy for the reader. As the saying goes the first draft is you telling yourself the book. Once you know the way the story will play out, walk through again and generously sprinkle red-herrings, weave subterfuge, and turn up the heat.
Yes, we need the balance of the good, the empathetic, and the kind, but they will shine so much brighter if you dump a little darkness on the other end of the scale.
Surprise yourself with just how dastardly you can be.
Cultivate a ‘What if’ mentality.
What if I pull this leaver?
What if I break that?
What if he is lying?
What if she is telling the truth?
What if I take away this?
What if this happens?
What if this doesn’t happen?
You’re a writer, you need to give your inner bastard some air time.
Be mean. Be cruel. Be utterly wicked.
Think of the worst possible thing that could happen. The thing you would dread. The thing that would make you yell ‘NO’ if it happened to you.
Today I have the pleasure of introducing author M.L. Williams who will be sharing his thoughts on reading and writing, and details of his book, SEERS OF VERDE.
M.L. Williams On Writing
When I start working on a project, many times the characters come to me in my dreams and either demand their story be told or provide me with ideas for future chapters.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Be true to your ideas and put in the time. Writing can be lonely. Find mentors or other writers who can be a support group or sounding board. Don’t let anyone else’s opinions influence you during the writing process.
Best thing about writing?
Seeing these characters unfold and tell their stories is fascinating.
Least favourite thing about writing?
Rewriting and editing.
What is your favourite genre(s)?
Science fiction and that curious oxymoron, historical fiction.
Both genres appeal to my imagination. With science fiction, the themes and characters can be endless, only limited by the imagination. I guess historical fiction appeals to my sense of romance for another period of time.
Have you ever skipped something important to stay at home and read a book?
Interesting question. I have not gone to parties or social events sometimes, preferring to stay home and read. I also put off chores when in the middle of a good book and read well into the night when I should have gone to bed.
If you could have a signed copy of a book by an author (dead or living) What book would it be?
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I read this in a college literature class and was immediately enraptured by his imagination and sarcastic tone. It sparked my love of other fiction, especially science fiction.
Tell us what you are currently reading and your verdict so far?
I am reading Raptor by Gary Jennings. I have had this book on my shelf for years and just needed time to get to it. His writing and knowledge of history and ancient languages is impressive, but he keeps using different languages throughout the story. I was curious about this author since reviewers have raved about his novel, Aztec. I do not like it when authors flaunt their expertise and vocabulary in ways that detract from the story. It’s difficult to stay with the story when the reader keeps stumbling over arcane references and unfamiliar words.
About your book…
You are living in the your latest novel. Where are you living, and what is it like?
In Return of the Earthers, I would be living on the planet Verde Grande, an abandoned and almost forgotten Earth colony. The planet has one huge land mass. A treacherous mountain range divides the lone continent into two tracts.
The largest one is a huge verdant valley that stretches for hundreds of miles. One group of colonists live there and developed a relatively peaceful society ruled by a ever watchful clan of psychic women — the Seers.
The smaller area is a narrow valley strewn with huge boulders but plentiful with wildlife. A second group of colonists escaped to here during an attack and have developed into a hunter society.
The planet was covered by a thick blanket of moss. Most of the moss has been replaced by Earth plants brought by the bioformers and cultivated by the colonists, who have been living there for almost three centuries. However, the mountain range has retained its much of its native moss so the planet looks like a giant emerald as seen by an orbiting space ship.
You are your most recent protagonist, What do you like doing for fun?
I am Aron Nels, an orchard keeper. Even though maintaining, pruning and harvesting fruit from the trees is my livelihood, I would not trade this lifestyle for another. Being outside in nature and seeing the benefits of my hard work is extremely gratifying. My family has been doing this for generations. It’s in my blood.
After being imprisoned during a misunderstanding, I am told I am one of the last members of a secret warrior sect that has been fighting to protect its people from attackers sent by the Seers. Due to a forced hypnosis, in which my memories have been suppressed, I refuse to believe I am one of the last surviving warriors.
Marauders from a renegade planet attack an Earth colony ship forcing landing parties to split into two groups in a desperate attempt to escape. Their vessels are destroyed stranding them without their technology on either side of an imposing mountain range on the planet Verde Grande.
Descendants of a mysterious Seer now protect their people but become the bane of the hunter society on the other side of the mountain.
Characters are not robots, and they need to have emotions if we are to identify and invest in getting to know them. A character arc is where the character grows or transitions. Fundamentally, they are about how our characters change. While writing a book doesn’t necessarily mean you need a character arc, many great stories do include one.
Personally, I love watching characters evolve, and some of my favourite books and movies have a strong character arc.
I have read the book and watched the movie, and this is one of those that managed, in my opinion, to do a great film version too. Although the story was far richer in the book, I enjoyed the whole steampunk aspect the cinematography and so forgave the movie some of its flaws.
It’s a great story for many reasons, one being that the baddies are so unashamedly depraved that you want to reach into the book and kill them slowly and painfully.
The main reason I like this story though, is because of the hero’s character growth.
So what happens to the main character? Well the hero begins his journey by being thrown (as usual) into a great big vat of conflict. He comes from a wealthy family, has a position of standing – good prospects is probably an understatement. Then his family is killed, brutally, he escapes.
So that alone is pretty game changing. He has been ripped from his idilic, coveted life, and cast out into the unknown. He is taken into an underground world, where he needs to fight to survive, and has to prove himself to be accepted.
He becomes their leader.
He becomes the catalyst to bring about their freedom.
He becomes something more than an ordinary man.
This is not a new or original journey but it is a powerful passage, and one that I enjoyed. There is something very spine tingling about the end of this – where he becomes the ‘one’ who is something more than others. It was a very similar transition for Neo at the end of the first matrix – you feel a sense of pure condensed ‘awesome’ when Neo finally kicks the agent’s butts.
The same in Dune, only possible more so. He was the rich kid – turned rebel – turned rebel leader – who ended up more than human. It felt to me at the end as if he had almost become a God (anyone who can kill his enemies with a thought is pretty damn impressive as far as I am concerned!).
In short I loved the emotional journey that he went through, and the culmination of this journey when he finally becomes all powerful.
Down side? or just something different?
For me I do like to see a shift in values of my characters. In Dune the hero was fundamentally good – bad stuff happens – he overcomes it – he is still fundamentally good.
What about someone who is not so good at the start? Maybe a little reluctant? Partakes in dubious activities? Who by the end of the story is a bonafide hero? I am, of course, referring to Han Solo, and another great example of a character arc. Ok, so he didn’t turn into a God who could nuke people with a word – but his was still a powerful transition.
Professionally known as a Style Sheet. I’m not referring to a list of what matches what hanging in your closet. Or the hottest trends from InStyle Magazine. No, this is a document where you define the writing style and rules that apply to your WIP. Is the style of your WIP American or British English? Do you use contractions? […]
I can’t claim to have any success as a writer, after all, I’ve never had anything published, but it seems to me that the moment you do publish, you are soon to be measured against a fantasy measuring stick.
I hope I never lose sight of the fact that I love writing, and I keep things in perspective. Both the good reviews and the bad.
If even one person enjoys our work, and even if that one person is ourselves, shouldn’t we be allowed to feel a success?
A very thought provoking article below, and well worth a read.
100 fun facts about writers and their fascinating lives
On Twitter we recently reached the 100,000 followers milestone. (Hurrah! And do follow us @InterestingLit if you’re also a tweeter.) To celebrate the occasion, we’ve gathered together one hundred of our favourite facts about famous authors. We hope you enjoy them! Where there’s a link on an author’s name, we’ve linked to our post about that particular author (usually part of our five fascinating facts series – indeed, if you like these facts, check out that series).
Virginia Woolf was the granddaughter of novelist William Makepeace Thackeray.