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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!

Sorrow and Rage United

 

 

If you want to see how I translate this into my work,  Download my free short story here!


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!

Sorrow and Rage United

 

 

If you want to see how I translate this into my work,  Download my free short story here!

 


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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