Feature Friday: I Need a Hero/ Villain/ Sidekick.

Chess Board - TwitterThere’s been some discussion going about my social media regarding villains. I don’t write villains. I’ve never written a villain (no, not even Ellie the Evil Queen is a villain).

Here’s why: a good villain isn’t a villain; they are the foil to your hero. A good villain, in another book, might be your hero.

I also don’t write sidekicks. Sidekicks have their own story going on. That story is every bit as important as the heroes story. Just don’t tell the hero. Sidekicks tend to be a lot lower on the ego scale than heroes.

Take a look at your WIP. If you’re writing a romance, you may not have a villain, but you’ll still have a foil to your main character. Look carefully at your villain/antagonist, love interest(s), and sidekicks.

  • Do they have a backstory? It doesn’t need to be in the story, but you need to know a little bit about them.
  • Do you know their personality type or motivations? If Myers-Briggs is too much, do a simple zodiac bit or a character archetype. Then do a little twist so the character isn’t just a stock character. (I hate stock characters.)
  • If you’ve ever played at tabletop gaming, you probably know the D&D versions of characters. There’s race, class, and alignment to get you going. Race is the same for most non-fantasy/sf books, but what “class” is your character? What about alignment? (I like alignment best; it tells a lot about a character.) If you don’t know a thing about it,  here’s some help. Or you can have fun with these memes.

All of this works for your main character, too, in case he or she feels too flat.

One last thing I have fun doing that only fantasy writers really seem to do is creating a genealogy chart. Must be the geek in me, but there’s something fun about knowing a little bit of a character’s backstory. Christopher, from Veneri Verbum and Beta Beware, is an only child of a single mother. I know what happened to Dad, but the rest of the world never will. Still, it affects who Christopher is. On the other hand, The Bobian (The Annals of Bobian) has a full-fledged family and is the only boy, stuffed in the middle. Yep, that affects his personality. Grandparents will have a role in later books.

So, look at your characters. How well-rounded are they? Could they use a little tweaking?

Bonus: Archetypes in literature and media

Teaser Thursday: Oops

Chess Board - TwitterA) I’m late

B) This isn’t a real post, either.

Some of you may know that my Writer has decided to add “macular degeneration” to my list of character attributes in an attempt to make me more well-rounded. (If you didn’t know, now you do.) Because of this, I usually plan my blog posts a little bit better.

Yesterday, I realized I hadn’t assembled my teaser post for this week and started working on it. Then my Writer decided to write in a bad eye day.

Hey, it adds Character. I mean, my Character Arc is awesome.

Still, awesome character arcs do not make for awesome blog posts that require a lot of research and reading, so… I have no blog post today.

But I have an awesome blog post started for next week. And that’s what really matters.

Would you like your indie book (sorry, trads– I’m all for traditional books, but I like to feature indies because I’m an indie and I’m prejudiced or something) featured in a future Teaser Thursday? Send me a message. Or a book. Or a message in a book, but if I have to read it backwards, I’m calling a priest before I read it.


A to Z Blogging Challenge: M

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Mapping It Out

A to Z Blogging Challenge: M

Do you map things out?

I’m not referring to making a map like a Tolkien book (and please don’t get me started on how geologically impossible Tolkien’s maps are in the first place). I mean, do you map out your writing journey?

First, do you map out your book?

Of course not, you say. I’m a pantser.

You can be a pantser (or at least a plantser) and still have a map. Depending on the genre and style you’re writing in, your book needs certain checkpoints. Some people manage to get them automatically, but I find having the little checkpoints means I don’t have to stop to think about it (which means I spend more time writing). For my current WIP, I’m using “The Hero’s Journey“. It’s can also be called the three-act character arc, although I see it as four acts. Here are the main checkpoints:

  • The starting point/ real world/ normal world: introduce things as they currently are and always have been
  • The inciting moment/ call to adventure: something happens that gives the protagonist a kick in the pants (but he’ll refuse the call)
  • Major plot point/ personal test/ baddie #1: the protagonist gets another kick in the pants. Reluctantly or not, he’ll end up heeding the call this time.
  • Switch over to the adventure/ road/ trials (starts Act 2)
  • Major plot point/ personal test/ baddie #2 (also called a pinch point): puts the protagonist to the test again and reminds the readers there’s a big bad world out there
  • The protagonist starts to figure things out and act on his/her own
  • Major plot point/ personal test/ baddie #3 (2nd pinch point): after the protagonist seems like he might win, the antagonist deals him a blow that shows it’s possible the protagonist won’t win. This leads to emo time for protag.
  • The protagonist, at his lowest, makes a decision to carry on
  • The climax/ showdown/ Big Baddie: battle of one sort or another
  • The resolution

Even if you’re a fly-by-night pantser, your story will almost automatically contain all of those. However, by having a map, you can look to see where you should be heading next any time you get lost. Helpful in preventing those pesky blocks.

So there’s that. But what about your writing career?

I just write for fun.

Good for you. I think you wanted the door down to the left. I mean, you can stay, but this part is more to help you plot out your six-book series.

If you have a number of books you want to write, list them all. All of them. Be honest.

Now, what are you writing first? How long does it take you to write? To edit?

I’m a bit of a hyper-focused Figment with no life and a boredom issue. I schedule 45 days to write my first draft. Then I give myself 15 days off. That gives me some squirming room.

I do a fast, run-through rewrite in about a week. Note that I edit a bit as I go.

Then I send it to betas. I give them four weeks, but I pad that with two weeks if necessary.

More edits. Lots of edits. Finish up covers and blurbs. Then formatting.

All told, because I cycle quickly, I put a book out in three or four months. However, I write short books. You may need a full year… and that’s fine. You just need to know what you need. Because, if you really want to get that ball rolling, you’ll want to start writing your next book while the first one is with the beta readers.

It gets a bit complicated on my end, so there is a spreadsheet. Mostly I just liked messing with a spreadsheet, but it does work.

How do you organize your books? Your writing plans? What has worked (or not worked) for you?