Archive Page

Welcome to your Archive. This is your all post. Edit or delete them, then start writing!

Deresi: The Perfect Girlfriend

Deresi: The Perfect Girlfriend

Deresi: The Perfect Girlfriend

I often ask myself why the romance between Shadyia and Deresi works so well when they are so different. Shadyia takes everything seriously. Her perception of the world is very black-or-white; no grey. That’s my friend; that’s my enemy. I kill my enemy and protect my friend. She is quick to anger, slow to change, and is terrible at telling a lie. Deresi glides through life like a penguin sliding on ice. She is playful and mischievous, lies as easy as she breathes, and would rather avoid an enemy than confront them.

Opposites DON’T attract.

‘Opposites attract’ makes a great song with a cartoon cat, but doesn’t stand up to reality. Would the activist rebel really fall in love with the die-hard conservative? Would the adventurous athlete really want to spend all her time with the computer nerd? No. Yes many writers and—especially—Hollywood films insist on perpetuating this myth. Why? Because it demonstrates the awesome power of love, which is something we all want to believe in. Love knows no age or gender or personality or political/social alignment. Don’t we all adore the story of the prince who marries the common village girl and lifts her up to be the future queen? You want to make George RR Martin laugh out loud, ask him to put that “and they lived happily ever after” myth in his books between a member of nobility and a commoner. Medieval monarchs held onto their power by convincing the Great Unwashed that they had a divine right to rule, and that mixing royal blood with common blood would not only be poisonous to both, but against the will of God and would bring doom to the entire world.

Shadyia and Deresi aren’t opposites.

I prefer to think of them as Yin and Yang; they complete one another. Each has something the other not only lacks, but desperately needs in her life. Shadyia needs to learn to let it go. Deresi needs to learn that the world cannot be avoided. In Beneath the Silver Rose, Deresi had a moment of jealousy that was so foreign to her, it nearly shattered her love for Shadyia in those fragile beginning moments:

She slipped her arms around Deresi’s hips and drew her closer. “You asked me a question, and here is my answer. You’ve stayed by my side. When everyone else fled, you were there.”

Deresi tilted her head to the side as if to dismiss Shadyia’s words. “Anyone could do that.”

“Anyone could, but no one did.” She parted her lips and leaned for a kiss, but Deresi avoided her.

“It’s not enough,” Deresi said.

Her words gripped Shadyia’s heart in a blacksmith’s glove. If I don’t say it right, I may drive her away. She had to stay calm. Deresi just craved further assurance. Was she herself any different?

“There’s more,” Shadyia said. “I need you now more than ever. I need one thing in my life that will stay the same. I need someone I go to and feel safe, and I chose you.”

“You chose me? But why?”

Flowery quotes from books stuffed with poetry flooded her thoughts. Love is a single rose growing at the summit of a—Luun’s tits, just kill me now. She briefly closed her eyes. How could she make Deresi understand?

Just tell her the truth.

“Because you’re everything I wish I could be.”

There it is. Shadyia is like a camel carrying too much weight, as she knows it. She adores how Deresi can just unload and walk away from the terrible problems of this life. But that river does not flow just one direction. Deresi needs to learn how to stand her ground when the need arises. Running is not an always an option. We especially see this in Book #3 when she finally confronts Mareli. Would she have ever done that without knowing Shadyia in her life? Probably not.

Great Sex

No examination into the romance between Shadyia and Deresi is complete without talking about their love-making. The sex between them is fantastic! It’s not just volcanic orgasms (although there are plenty if those) it the way their deepest fears and passions are exposed. All the walls are lowered and all cards are on the table. There is no dominate and submissive in their love-making, but there is no absolute equality as well—which would be rather dull. They trade control; in one moment, Deresi takes the reins of their passion and Shadyia must yield to her games and devious nature. In the next moment, Shadyia is calling the shots and Deresi is along for the ride. There’s trust; absolute trust not to use the weaknesses they bare as a weapon to humiliate or manipulate. That trust is the core of their passion.

The Perfect Girlfriend

Deresi is the perfect girlfriend. She is playful, creative and joyful. She is a refinery for Shadyia’s raw passion and the best friend Shadyia could ever hope to have. But more than that, she keeps Shadyia from submitting to darkness and despair. As Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, Whoever fights monsters should [be careful] not become a monster. [If you] gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you. Shadyia has stared hard into the abyss, and it’s only Deresi’s love that keeps her from falling.

Imagine how tragic it would be, if that ever changed…

Read on!

Sorrow and Rage United

 

 

If you want to discover other characters, like an evil and ancient magician,  Download my free short story here!


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!

Sorrow and Rage United

 

 

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


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!

 

Sorrow and Rage United

 

 

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


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!


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!


%d bloggers like this: