Shadyia's Blog

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Art Imitates Reality – Writing Tips by T.S. Adrian

Art Imitates Reality – Writing Tips by T.S. Adrian

Art Imitates Reality

It helped me be a better writer

I will do for you what someone did for me about 25 years ago, and it helped me be a better writer.

Have a look at this incredible painting by Thomas Satterwhite Noble (1835–1907.) The title is The Price of Blood. It’s part of the permanent collection of the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia:

Art Imitates Reality

(http://www.themorris.org/ourcollection/noble-price.html)

When I first laid eyes on this, I had no idea what story this painting was telling. A woman working at the museum took me though it step-by-step until the terrible truth was revealed. She could have said, “Oh, this is about…” and put it all out there like dousing me with a bucket of water, but she allowed me to understand at my own pace—and thus the impact was far greater. For that, I am ever grateful.

I will ask you some questions about this painting. I wish I could hear your answers, but the best I can do is assume them, based on the many times I’ve used this painting in my classes.

  1. How would you describe the mood?
    Gloomy. Serious.
  2. What do you see?
    Three men. Two are standing. One is dressed well. One poorly (no shoes). The man behind the table is a businessman. None of the men are looking at one another.
  3. What time period would you put this at? Why?
    Mid-nineteenth century. The clothing. The furniture. There are coins on the table and not paper money.
  4. What do you think is happening here?
    A business transaction in the home of the man sitting (he is too casually dressed to be anywhere else.) The man behind the table is obviously not a guest—he is still wearing his hat—and he is doing the buying, as the money is close to him.
  5. What is on the floor in front of the man who is sitting?
    I’m not sure. Looks like he tore up several pieces of paper. I don’t know why.
  6. Why does the man sitting not look happy?
    I can’t say for sure. But he is unwilling or unable to look at the two other men.
  7. Let me provide some information. The time period is before 1850 in the USA. The pieces of paper are offers written on scrapes that man with the hat is giving the sitting man. They don’t want the man with no shoes to hear their negotiations, so they write them down. The man sitting doesn’t like any of the offers, so he tosses the scrapes of paper to the floor. Also, the man with no shoes is a slave. Does that last thing strike you as strange?
    Yes. The man with no shoes is white. The USA used black people as slaves.
  8. Take this magnifying glass. Use it to enlarge the eyes on the man sitting, and then on the man with no shoes. What do you see?
    The eyes are the same. Oh my God…
  9. Do you understand now?
    Yes. The man with no shoes is the sitting man’s son. He is selling his own son to the man with the hat.
  10. Well, at lease he isn’t happy about it.
    Yeah, there’s that.

I love this art because there is nothing in it that doesn’t belong to tell the story. Not the painting on the wall, not the pattern and color of the tablecloth, and not even the single scrap of paper near the slave’s foot. It all has a purpose.

How about Writing?

In Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 rules for writing a story, the first rule is:

Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

When you describe anything, do it to establish mood and tell your story. Put nothing in there that doesn’t belong. If there is a sock on the floor, that sock better have a purpose. If a cat is sitting on the bed, that cat had better be there for a reason. Why? Because you can’t describe every winkle in the wallpaper and every spot of rust on the pipes, so why are you drawing my attention to this cat?

Please look again at The Price of Blood. What if you saw a cat on the table? You would likely be “Why the **** is there a cat on the table? It has no place there.”

If you put dark clouds in the sky, some bad shit should be about to happen. If your protagonist walks past a stranger who is leaning on a wall, that better be damn important, beyond even to establish atmosphere. Art imitates reality, but it is not reality. You and I could walk past a stranger leaning on a wall and think nothing of it. But to write about that, and then do nothing with it, is unforgivable.

Imagine reading a story with this as the first line:

Janet woke to the blast of a single gunshot outside her window.

Now, that is a hell of an opening hook! You are instantly curious.

You go on to read the story, and it’s one of the best you have ever read! Maybe Janet is a public defender in New York who kills rapist with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. Or maybe Janet is the first human to set foot on Mars. Or maybe Janet is pulled into a magical world and must protect the gentle Kemni from the savage Dreadoccs of Bloodvine forest. Whatever.

But if you get to the end of the book and never learn who shot off that gun, you would feel cheated. You and I could wake to the blast of a single gunshot. What was that! We look out the window. Nothing there. Maybe a car backfired, but does that even happen in 2017? You ask your neighbors. Yes, they heard it too. No, they have no idea what it was. You go the rest of the week, the rest of the year, the rest of your life and never learn who fired that gun and why. No biggie. Real life is often a series of unrelated events.

But in writing, it’s unforgivable to never tell your reader who shot that gun and why, even if the rest of the story is awesome. Art imitates reality.

To quote another of Vonnegut’s rules:

Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

Go through your manuscript. Put on a pair of dark “Terminator” sunglasses and kill anything that doesn’t tell your story. Never put a cat on a table unless there is a damn good reason for it to be there. If you have, you will leave your reader confused and cheated.

Write on!

 


Go away and Die First Person writing!  – Writing Tips by T.S. Adrian

Go away and Die First Person writing! – Writing Tips by T.S. Adrian

Go away and Die First Person writing!

First Person writing?

Imagine for a moment you are listening to a really interesting story. In fact, let’s be specific. You are listening to Rob Roy MacGregor tell his story. After years of dealing with the Marquess of Montrose, “Robert the Red” borrows 1000 pounds, which goes missing. When his lands are seized by the authorities, his wife and children evicted, and his house burned, Rob Roy leads a rebellion against the Scottish nobles that ends in his surrender.

The is one of those rare times in history where what happens actually makes a great story, one that has inspired plays, songs, and two movies (one with Liam Neeson as Rob Roy—how cool is that!) There are a lot of great characters in this story: Rob Roy himself, his wife, the chief herder who might have stolen the money, James Graham, 1st Duke of Montrose, and the men who fought for either side.

On the surface, this story seems ideal for a First Person Narrative. “I am Rob Roy MacGregor, and this is what happened to me.” First Person is also easy on the writer. No need to sweat all that Deep POV stuff; it doesn’t get any deeper than First Person! Only one character voice to keep in mind.

Then why not First Person writing?

But Dear God, do you lose so much! You get none of the anger from James Graham at Roy’s “theft” and uprising. You get none of the helplessness of Roy’s wife watching her home burn and their livelihood taken. The 1995 film with Liam Neeson had a fictional character that stands as one of the top five greatest villains I have ever seen, Archibald Cunningham masterfully portrayed by Tim Roth. When Archibald’s young mistress tells him she is pregnant by him, he replies “Well, he won’t be the first bastard born in Scotland.”

If the events of that 1995 film were made into a book that was written in First Person, we would never have that scene, unless Rob Roy was in the room hiding behind a curtain when it happened. Some authors attempt to escape this limitation by writing a First Person book from several persons. That’s even worse! Why? Because readers are trained to hear all First Person narratives in the same voice — their voice. Conan saying “I then split his head to the teeth with my sword” sounds exactly like Albert Einstein saying, “And that’s when I discovered the theory of relativity” because it’s your voice in your head saying those words! But when you read, in the Third person:

Conan broke the spells, snatched his sword from the throne, and split the dark wizard’s skull to the teeth.

That’s not Conan telling the story. That’s the narrator’s words in your voice. Add a little brain splatter, a grunt of satisfaction from Conan, and you’re right there in the room with the mighty barbarian king, safe and invisible, enjoying his revenge as much as he did.

Workarounds

There are writers who are aware of the limitations of First Person and try to get around them. They will even surprise you by killing the character off in First Person (“And the room grew dark as my intestines filled my bloody hands”)—no, No, NO. It never works. Readers are too trained to read First Person as if the person were standing in the room and telling his story. How weird would it be for the man telling you what happened to him last week ending with, “And then I died.” You’d be like, “Ah, dude, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but you’re not dead.” It’s equally weird for a second or third person to push the one telling you his story aside and say, “And then this is what happened to me! There I was…”

Think of the greatest stories you know: The Last Supper, Monroe and Livingston telling President Jefferson about the Louisiana Purchase, The Battle of Midway—heck, even the birth of your first child—think of all those stories and tell me any of them would be better in a First Person narrative. Such amazing events demand the contributions of all characters to fully bring out their power. I don’t like First Person writing, and you should stop using it! When you tell your story, tell it from all angles. Don’t be lazy!

Write on!


The Perfect Villain : How to Write It? – Writing Tips by T.S. Adrian

The Perfect Villain : How to Write It? – Writing Tips by T.S. Adrian

  1. The Perfect Villain : How to Write It?

The Clichés of The Perfect Villain

One of the most amusing things I’ve ever read is “If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord.” It’s a list of clichés from TV and film that we, the gullible and passive public, have been conditioned to accept when we see the antagonist. Here are a few of my favorites:

The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box.

When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.

I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cell block, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.

If my advisors ask “Why are you risking everything on such a mad scheme?”, I will not proceed until I have a response that satisfies them.

If an advisor says to me “My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?”, I will reply “This” and kill the advisor.

There are many more. Google it if you wish to read them all.

What is a Credible Perfect Villain?

When writing a villain, the value in not falling into a cliché trap cannot be understated. If your villain looks silly in the eyes of your reader, or his actions create a plot hole you can drive the Death Star through, you’ve lost. But an intelligent villain is but part of the equation.

Motivation is far more vital.

Why does your antagonist do what he (or she) does? What drives them? If your only answer is ‘power and wealth’, you need to do better. Why? Because most top villains are already powerful and wealthy, thus using more of the same as motivation is dull in this day and age. Readers today demand more.

I am going to commit blasphemy and criticize Tolkien. (Please understand, I don’t do this lightly. I owe Tolkien everything. He took fantasy out of fairy tales and Greek/Norse mythology and gave them life.) But, let’s face it, his villains sucked. (Except Gollum, who was awesome.) Sauron was an eye on a tower and Saruman was wizard who switched sides. What was their motivation? To simply rule the world? They were already powerful and timeless beings. Why did they want to rule the world? Let’s say Sauron got his ring back and won. He kills all humans and elves and now he rules a planet of…orcs? Yuck. Same for Saruman. Why try and help a slumbering god that will never share his power with you? What was his end game?

One of the Greatest Villain

Now, let’s compare that to arguably one of greatest villains ever written. Darth Vader. Forget the whole Anakin back story. Let’s just take him as he was in Episode 4 and 5. Vader was a loyal servant of the Empire who wanted to one day be emperor himself, but wouldn’t you agree there was always more to him? He was cold, calculating and menacing. He obviously felt nothing when Alderaan was destroyed. Why? Because that planet was one of thousands. Destroy one, you keep intergalactic civil war from happening. You maintain order. That, dear reader, is motivation. Kill a few billion to save hundreds of trillions from death and chaos.

The Emperor, on the other hand, is a punchline by today’s standards and the source of most of the items on the Evil Overlord list. Put all your eggs in one super-weapon basket. Invite the hero into your inner sanctum. Maniacal laughter. Employing legions of terror in matching uniforms that can shoot for shit. The list goes on. (Although, to be fair, I’d like to slap Luke upside the head for throwing his lightsaber away. I hope Ghost Yoda did that for me. But I digress.)

Back to Darth Vader. He is the hero of his own story. He believes he is making the galaxy a better place, for everyone. Can you say the same for Sauron? Not really. He was mostly a force of nature that just existed, from a time when readers accepted the two-dimensional villain. We never got to know Sauron and we weren’t really afraid of him. If Darth Vader, however, walks onto your ship, you better be wearing your brown trousers.

My Perfect Villain : Demos Azari

Let’s take a glance at my antagonist, Demos Azari. Look at this scene in The Penance of Pride when Aaron asks:

“Why? Why are you involved with these evil men?”

“Let me show you something.” Demos rose and walked over to the canvas Aaron had noticed before. “I painted this from the window in the tower above. What do you think?”

Aaron stepped closer and examined the worn artwork. It depicted the western half of Anderholm, but had several odd omissions. He pointed at places in the paining. “Where is the inner wall and observatory? And the university bell tower should be here. The forest line is all wrong.”

Demos stepped behind the easel and faced him. “That’s because I painted this a hundred and ninety years ago.”

Aaron looked at the painting again.

“Yes, that’s right. In nearly two centuries all that’s changed in Anderholm are a few buildings and a wall.”

“And what has that to do—”

Demos clenched in fist in front of Aaron’s face. “Open your eyes, historian. Humanity has stagnated. Not just in Anderholm, but everywhere. I challenge you to name one significant advance man has put forth in the last hundred years. Two hundred, even.”

Aaron searched his memories. There had been some advances in agriculture. Trade had expanded and become more efficient and profitable, but these were hardly significant. He shook his head.

Demos nodded. “Exactly. People cling to lies, working tirelessly to please false gods and waiting for death so they can frolic in the fields of Eriensym. The old ways have prevented men from seizing their true destiny, their true potential. The Innocenti alone have the strength to lead them to that truth.”

See what I mean?

The End justifies the Means for a Villain

Demos is the epitome of ‘the end justifies the means.’ He stabs a loyal apprentice in the belly and slits the throat of a young woman without hesitation, not because he enjoys killing, but because their deaths were necessary to achieve the goal of bringing humanity out of its stagnation. He gives no impression that he wants to rule. In fact, just the opposite; he wants to be the voice behind the throne.

When you write your villains, they must have motivation. You don’t need to psychoanalyze them or show their weaknesses—they don’t need to cry for the lost mother they could never save, or even be conflicted about their goals—but your reader must think, “If I was this person, would I do anything differently?” If the answer is “probably not” you’re well on your way to writing a great villain.

But still, please don’t have your villain employ a device with a digital countdown. If such a device is absolutely unavoidable, have him set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation. Also, your villain should never turn into a snake. It never helps.

Write On!


Deresi: 5 favorite witticisms (not for the overly sensitive.)

Deresi: 5 favorite witticisms (not for the overly sensitive.)

Deresi: 5 favorite witticisms

For this week’s blog, I give you the 5 favorite witticisms of Deresi (not for the overly sensitive.)

Sweet, beautiful, crimson-haired Deresi has a wicked sense of humor. If you are one of her more generous coins (and turn a blind eye when things go missing in your home), or Shadyia in need of a smile, you may have already heard some of these. For the rest of you, here are Deresi’s top 5 favorite jests.

Here we go:

  1. Two men are fishing in a lake when a magician joins them. But instead of getting out a pole, the magician walks across the surface of the water, grabs a fish, and takes it back to his bucket.
    Five times he does this before he picks up the bucket and walks home and one of the fishermen turns to the other and says, “Those magicians think they be so damn smart—they don’t even know how to swim!”.
  2. A young woman asks her grandmother what kind of man she should spend her life with.
    The older woman says, “My dear, it is important to find a man who cooks for you.
    And it is important to find a man who can earn lots of silver.
    And it is important to find a man who can make wild, passionate love to you all night long.
    But MOST important,” the wise old grandma adds, “it is absolutely essential that these three men never meet.”
  3. A Sacred of Ouranos dies and finds himself at the Gates of Eriensym.
    Ouranos himself appears and asks, “Why should I let thee enter? What good hath thee done?”
    The Sacred says, “Well, once I was in this tavern and I saw a group of Bloodthorn mercenaries drinking and cussing and sinning. I walked up the biggest one, knocked the drink form his hand, slapped him across the face, and told him he needed to do better in his life.”
    Ouranos was impressed. “Very good my son. When did this happen?”
    The Sacred rubs his elbow and said, “Oh, a few minutes ago.”
  4. A young man joins the Knights of the Silver Horn to guard the frontier against the northern barbarians. It’s hard work, but the worst part is there are no women.
    His needs are mounting day by day, so he goes to his commander and asks what he can do about this.
    The commander says, “On the outside of the camp over there, you will see a barrel. When you need to, you can use it. Just stick your cock in one of its holes and all will be good. You can do this any day except Thursday.”
    The young warrior seems confused by this. How can a barrel take care of him? He resists another day, but then he can resist no more.
    He goes to the barrel and does as his commander suggests. And it was great! The barrel took care of his needs almost instantly! It was the best he ever had.
    The next day, he sees the commander. “Thank you, sir! That barrel was amazing!”
    The old officer says, “I’m glad it took care of you. Remember, you can use it any day except Thursday.”
    The young warrior says, “You mentioned that before. Why not on Thursday? What happens on Thursday?”
    The commander replies, “Thursday is *your* turn in the barrel.”
  5. And the number one favorite joke of Deresi is:
    A young noble is showing a girl he desires his powerful warhorse. “His name is Wild Thunder. He runs as fast as the wind and shakes the ground with his might!”
    The girl is thrilled and asks if she could ride with him.
    “Only if you take off all your clothes,” the young noble says with a devious smile.
    The girl is embarrassed, but they are far out in the countryside, so she agrees. She gets completely naked and jumps on the back of the horse. The noble digs in his heels and they’re off! The girl clings to his back! The trees whisk past! It was fantastic! Then suddenly the horse steps in a hole and stumbles. The girl is thrown clear, but the noble and horse roll end over end and stop. The young man is trapped under the poor dead horse. “There is a fisherman who lives just over the hill there! Go and get help!” he cries.
    “But I can’t,” says the girl. “I’m naked!”
    “Take off my boot,” he says, “and cover yourself. And hurry! I’m dying!”
    The girl pulls off his boot and, holding it over her pubes, she runs over the hill. She sees the fisherman by a lake and, still holding the boot between her legs, she runs toward him and cries, “Please help me! My lord is stuck!”
    The fisherman looks at the boot and says, “There’s nothing I can do, ma’am. He’s in too far.”

And, because I love to give an extra bonus when I can, here is Shadyia’s favorite joke:

  • A man escapes from the Bastille where he has been locked up for 15 years. He breaks into a house to look for coins and food and clothes and finds a married couple in bed. He orders the man out of bed and ties him to a chair. While tying the girl to the bed he gets on top of her, kisses her neck, then gets up and goes into the pantry.
    While he’s in there, the husband tells his wife: “Listen, this man has obviously escaped from the Bastille. He probably hasn’t been with a woman for years. I saw how he kissed your neck. If he wants you, don’t resist, do whatever he tells you. Satisfy him no matter how much he nauseates you. Be strong, honey. I love you.”
    To which his wife responds: “He wasn’t kissing my neck. He was whispering in my ear. He told me he prefers men. He thinks you’re cute and asked me if we had any lard for his cock. I told him it was in the pantry. Be strong honey. I love you too!”

Heroic Fantasy? What is so damn appealing about it anyway?

Heroic Fantasy? What is so damn appealing about it anyway?

What is so damn appealing about heroic fantasy, anyway?

Allow me to explain

Once upon a time, in the early days of computer gaming, I bought a game which came with a map. Totally unrealistic; towns with no purpose, castles and crypts put in mountains and swamps (who would build a !@&%#! castle in a swamp?), and groups of monsters that would just sit there and wait for the player to bring his adventurers along, slap the tar out of them, and take their stuff.

The Isle of Fire - Heroic Fantasy Game

Here’s the thing. The map, for all its gamey silliness, was utterly fascinating. An Island of Fire in the middle. Castle Dragontooth. Forsaken Sands. I was looking over this map (it was for Might and Magic 3, Isles of Terra, if you must know) in my university library when a beautiful young woman walked by, saw it, and asked what that was all about. Abashed at my nerdiness, I awkwardly told her it was a map for a computer game. I held my breath as she took a good long look at the map (I expected some ‘means girls’ comment like “Yeah, whatever, looser”) but she said, “Oh, I love things like that” and walked on.

I think she meant it, and I was surprised. Not because I didn’t get a ‘mean girls’ comment, but because this map was so dumb! Even back then I knew it. I looked at the map again—and I began to realize why heroic fiction (swords and sorcery) held such appeal.

The chance to command your own destiny through adventure

In no other genre can a reader expect to find this unique opportunity. Sci-fi is about how technology changes our lives. Westerns, Military, Historical and such allow us to experience people living in different times and places. Horror is to scare the shit out of us. Crime is to match wits with a killer. Only in heroic fantasy is your destiny in your hands. The Tomb of Horrors is out there, lost somewhere, full of treasure. Use your last few silvers to buy a sword and some leather armor. Roll up that map your deceased uncle left you. You’ll have to sneak across the troll badlands, but if you travel at night, they’ll all be asleep in their caves. At least, you hope so.

What’s that you say? What about the Star Wars galaxy? That’s science fiction and it’s full of adventure, right? Well, yes, but keep in mind, dear reader, that Star Wars is Science Fantasy. Does anyone ask how the engines on the Millennium Falcon work? (Only a Sheldon Cooper-like nerd would dismiss The Empire Strikes Back because there was no way Han got to Bespin without lightspeed. The rest of us don’t ask and don’t care.)

Adventure

Forget elves and dwarves and dragons and goblins. These things are fun, when done right, but you can take all that out of heroic fantasy and still have something a reader would cherish, as long as you keep alive the desire to control your destiny through adventure. Sometimes, you can do it with just a few words. In Chapter 22 of Beneath the Silver Rose, I have a scene when Deresi asks Aaron how he knows the ruby he seeks is in the labyrinth:

Deresi slumped her shoulders. “Are you sure this ruby is even down here? No offense, but how do you know?”

Shadyia glanced at him. A good question. Aaron had mentioned he had a journal of some kind, but where had he found it? And who had written it?

“Do you know of Mordechai’s tavern?”

Deresi nodded. “Sure, it’s famous.”

Shadyia had heard of it as well. Mordechai’s tavern was a last haven at the eastern edge of the empire, a place where explorers sat around a blazing hearth and swapped stories of dragon lairs and abandoned castles. From Mordechai’s tavern, adventurers set off into the wild forests and mountains beyond the frontier to search ruins for ancient treasures and enchanted relics.

“You’ve been to Mordechai’s?” Shadyia asked. She had often fantasized of going there.

“Yes, I journeyed to the frontier a few years ago.” Aaron replied. “I met a traveler in Costa Sans who sold me a map that he swore marked the location the ruins of Delbia, a Zapraskian city.”

 

Do you start to see now?

I never take you to that tavern (at least not yet *grin*), but wouldn’t you like to go? To sit around a blazing hearth, eat roast pork off the bone and drink mead. A place where bold men and women, who openly wear their steel, boast of their adventurers! At dawn, you wake in the room you rented for the night, oil your sword, strap on your armor, and ride your horse into the forests and mountains beyond the frontier. You may return with a sack of gold and a magic ring that allows you to take the form of anyone you desire. Or some other passing adventurer may find your head impaled on a spike. It’s up to you—and Fate. Heroic fantasy will give you that chance, when no one else will.

Read on!


Deep POV : Narrators Need Not Apply – Writing Tips by T.S. Adrian

Deep POV : Narrators Need Not Apply – Writing Tips by T.S. Adrian

Deep POV: Narrators Need Not Apply

One of the great balancing acts in writing is knowing when to use your narrator’s voice (the voice of the storyteller) and when to allow your character to tell the story through dialogue or interacting with the environment. In its simplest form, I can write ‘A tall man entered the room’ or I can write ‘He ducked to clear the doorway.’ Both say the same thing, only the second is generally preferred as it adds a visual element.

In first person writing, the voice of the narrator and the voice of the character are the same. ‘I drew my sword and charged the bandits. They would pay for their butchery with their lives!’ In the glory days when writers could get rich off their books, Third Person Omniscient was all the rage. “He drew his sword and charged the bandits. They heard him come and grabbed their weapons, wondering how he had gotten into their camp. He had disguised himself as one of them and had waited until the right moment to strike.’ There you, the reader, are in the point of view of all characters.

In recent years, the trend has gone with Third Person, single point of view. ‘He drew his sword and charged the bandits. He had waited in disguise until the moment was right, and now the moment was right!’ I’ve seldom liked First Person, both in writing and reading (for reasons I will cover in another blog post) and I view Omniscient the way a surgeon today would see the practice of using leeches.

Single Point of View has, and will always be, my thing—especially Deep POV.

Deep POV

Deep POV combines the best of Single Point of View and First Person and it’s a writing style that seeks to diminish the voice of the narrator and take the reader as close to the thoughts and feeling of the POV character as possible. ‘The disguise had worked perfectly. The bandits had allowed him inside their ranks. The fools! Now they would pay for their butchery. He drew his sword and leaped into them. Slash! One went down. Many remained. Good! Bandit blood made the grass grow.’

I adore Deep POV it and use it in my writing. Here is an example from Beneath the Silver Rose:

Shadyia dropped the dagger on the corpse of the man who had grabbed her hair. He could have it back. A drop of blood slid from her chin and stained her short gown as she put her foot on the shoulder of the dying wolfguard and slid free his half-drawn longsword. She swung the blade high over her head and faced Dunstan.

He slashed the air. “Yes, come to me, whore. I’ve killed eleven men in duels.”

The leather-wrapped hilt felt good in her hand. She smirked at Dunstan. No man walked into her home and battered her sisters. “I’ll need to catch up. I’ve only bagged two today.”

Laughter skipped among the women. Lord Dunstan snarled and lunged with an overhand strike, his sword a whistling blur. Their blades met with clang of steel that shocked her arms from wrists to elbows. Dunstan leaped back and thrust forward, a tactic she’d observed when he had killed the fat general. She knocked his blade aside and repeated the move so perfectly he nearly died from his own assault. He recovered and charged, swinging wildly. She sidestepped and smacked his bottom with the flat of her sword as he passed. The sisters laughed and even Amrita rewarded her with a grin.

Do you see?

As you can see, I didn’t write “she felt a drop of blood slid off her chin…” or “she watched as he recovered and swung wildly…” Deep POV requires that the writer not use “saw, watched, felt, wondered, believed” etc–words my editor calls “iffy words.” These things just are.

Here’s another example. In chapter 18, I have Aaron and Shadyia playing Larousse, a board game I invented. Originally, I had detailed the rules strictly in the voice of the narrator. The object of the game is this, to get there you have to do that. Etc. Boring. Deep POV allowed me to tell the rules in a way that was entertaining:

Aaron glared at the board. His previous antagonist had been the master of astronomy at the University in Sullust. The match had lasted nine hours, but eventually Aaron had trapped all four of the professor’s towers and kept all four of his own towers from being trapped. The professor had used every rule to return his captured pieces to the board, but in the end, Aaron’s strategy had prevailed.

Shadyia had won their first game in less than two hours. They were an hour into their second and already she had three of his towers trapped. He had just one of hers.

He pointed at himself. “Do you know how long I’ve been playing Larousse?”

“I know how long you’ve been losing Larousse.”

Oh, you arrogant—he picked up his general and trapped the second of Shadyia’s towers.

See? You, the cherished reader, are deep in Aaron’s thoughts, and therefore in the action. Do you like this writing style? Let me know in the comments. More to come.

Write on!


Novel Writing and the Importance of the First Line – Writing Tips by T.S. Adrian

Novel Writing and the Importance of the First Line – Writing Tips by T.S. Adrian

Although I will gladly write about Shadyia Ascendant and how this breathtaking character came to be, I will also delve into the world of writing. Today, the topic is the first line of a novel.

Novel Writing Tips – The First Line

Ah, the first line of a novel. You have to hook your reader like a deep sea swordfish, reel them in and crack them over the head with your oar. If you can’t hook ‘em on the first line, your book is doomed. Your years of hard work, fortune spent on copy editors and dreams of movie rights, a chateau in Nice, France, and wearing sunglasses all the time as paparazzi blind you with their flash cameras dashed—crushed!—on the jagged rocks of mediocrity. Doomed!
Doooooooooooooooooooomed.
(No pressure.)

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun with this!

Here are the winners of the Bulwer-Lytton contest, (aka “It Was a dark and Stormy Night” Contest) run by the English Department of San Jose State University, wherein one writes only the first line of a bad novel. The goal of this contest is to write the best BAD opening sentence for a novel.

Winners in reverse:

  1. As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it.
  2. Just beyond the Narrows , the river widens.
  3. With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description.
  4. Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the East wall: “Andre creep… Andre creep…Andre creep.”
  5. Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back alley sex-change surgeon to become the woman he loved.
  6. Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eking out a living at a local pet store.
  7. Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do.
  8. Like an over-ripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor.
  9. Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn’t know the meaning of the word “fear”‘; a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death — in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies.

AND THE WINNER IS…

  1. The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog’s deception, screaming madly, “You lied!”

For the opening line of Beneath the Silver Rose I went with:

BELLS CLAMORED throughout the Silver Rose.

Nothing grabs attention like ringing bells. I point this out not to self-congratulate (well, a little), but as a spot of advice to new writers. To write a good opening hook, get the reader to subconsciously ask a question. Why were the bells ringing? It may not be as classic as “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” or “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen” but the ringing bells puts the reader into the action right away and gets them to ask a question.

Look at this awesome first line from Gunslinger, the first book Stephen King’s Dark Tower series:

The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.

Excellent! Right away, you are in the action and you have questions. Why was the man in black fleeing? Why was the gun slinger following? Who wears black in the desert?

There is also a list of “Don’ts” when writing that vital first line, but I’ve taken enough of your time. Hope you enjoyed the funny list.

Write on!

 


How Shadyia found her Story Teller – T.S. Adrian

How Shadyia found her Story Teller – T.S. Adrian

How Shadyia found her Story Teller – Interview with T.S. Adrian

T.S. Adrian talks to Shadyia

And so it came to be that Shadyia, a traveler, sought someone to tell her story. One night, she was drawn to the ruins of castle Krzyżtopór in Poland. There she did find a person reading a book aloud to the spirits of that tragic place. That person’s name was T.S. Adrian

Could this be the one she sought?

Shadyia: You there, why do you read to these ghosts of this palace?

T.S. Adrian: Someone must tell them the crimes done here were not forgotten.

Shadyia: What do you read them?

T.S. Adrian: This is Poland by James Michener. He dedicated an entire chapter about this castle.

Shadyia: Interesting. You read; do you also write?

T.S: I do. Stories.

Shadyia: What type of stories?

T.S: Heroic fantasy, mostly.

Shadyia: Ah, elves and dwarves and dragons and wizards?

T.S.: Those things can be nice, but are not needed. True heroic fantasy is about taking control of your life through adventure. Of picking up a sword and going where angels fear to tread.

Shadyia: Angels? What are angels?

T.S.: Powerful creatures that men worship as gods.

Shadyia: Ah, now this I understand. But you speak as if picking up a sword and finding adventure were a rare thing. Can you not do this on this world?

T.S.: Not anymore. That’s why people enjoy reading about it.

Shadyia: I see. Well, I come from a world where what you describe is still possible. I have a story to tell, and I am looking for one to write it. Will you be that person?

T.S.: I would be honored, my lady.

Shadyia: Then, let’s begin. It started on a clear night, when the bells of the Silver Rose rang without warning…

Read on!


I’m Shadyia and my Website is Live!

I’m Shadyia and my Website is Live!

I’m Shadyia and my Website is Live!

It’s my absolute pleasure to meet you all; I’m Shadyia, a courtesan at the Silver Rose and this is my story.

I’m the heroine of a book Series called Shadyia Ascendant that you can find on Amazon as Kindle ebooks or paperbacks. My story is one of courage, dedication to my friends and to justice. I am a proud woman and I enter the war Order and Chaos.fight since generations.

I will use this communication medium to share information with you, my fans and keep you updated when new free or paid content becomes available.

My literary parent is T.S. Adrian and I’m living my life through T.S.’s eyes. It’s a generous parent that gives me adventures, love stories, powers and a fun life to live.

Enjoy my stories and please don’t hesitate to start with my free introduction ebook on the main page!

~Shadyia


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