This week marks the relaunch of my sci-fi novel Sorrow’s Fall. It’s been revamped with a new cover, and brand new content. With the second novel Sorrow’s Despair well underway, I felt it was time to freshen things up a bit.
So, for those of you who already bought the book, I’m having a contest. All I need for you to do is post picture of you with your book on my wall on Facebook. Simple right. If it’s an ebook show the cover on your device in your picture and you’re in too. At the end of the month I’ll pick five winners at random who will receive their choice of either a signed print copy or a free ebook.
In order to be eligible the cover must be clearly visible. Submit pictures via my Facebook page. Like my page here: Davonne Burns.
I look forward to seeing all of you! And good luck!
It’s not far off to say that for the most part a writer’s blood is 90% coffee or some caffeinated beverage. Even Dunkin’ Donuts noticed that writers are among the heaviest coffee drinkers in the industrialized world ranking #4 in their survey. I don’t think that surprises anyone.
You know what else fuels writers? Reviews. Coffee might be our life’s blood but reviews are the air we breathe. Sometimes the air stinks and then we know we’ve either done something wrong, made an enemy somewhere or a troll has claimed our bridge. Other times its all roses and fresh linen. Either way reviews let us know how we are doing and what is or isn’t working in our prose.
So how do you, gracious giver of air, go about crafting a review that keeps us writers breathing? It’s really quite simple. Remember that time you read that one book and got really excited about it and decided your best friend just HAD to read it? Yeah, do that. But write it down and put it on Amazon or Goodreads or where ever you like. If you want to get technical and look all fancy you can do as Amanda Patterson suggested in a recent blog post about how to write a great book review. It’s still pretty simple.
Now great doesn’t always mean positive, sometimes you don’t like the book. That’s fine. You are entitled to your opinion and this doesn’t lessen the validity of your review one iota. I don’t expect everyone to love every word I write. Art is wholly subjective after all and some art is meant to evoke negative emotions.
So, this writer would love to know what you think of her works. Good or bad. Air is still air after all. Now, where is my coffee.
So last time we talked about creating multi-dimensional characters and focused on the protagonist of my novel Sorrow’s Fall. This week I’d like to help you look for ways to make you antagonist just as compelling and multi-faceted. After reading my post about Sorrow you are probably wondering what kind of person could possibly be an impediment to him and his goals. That’s a very good question. It’s also one you need to consider in your own story. For now we are going to assume that your antagonist is another person and not that your character is struggling against nature or something. Nature doesn’t really have a personality, though it might seem like it at times.
In Sorrow’s Fall we are quickly introduced to Qadira Fall. She is the daughter of Lady Zulyekha Fall and the Queen-In-Waiting. She is nearly as powerful as the Barendi Queen herself. She has been raised and groomed to be consummate royalty. She is gorgeous, highly-intelligent and disgustingly wealthy. She also hates Sorrow with a passion. In the book he has no idea why she detests him. All he knows is that she tries to kill him every chance she gets.
She is his antagonist. But outside of her hatred for Sorrow, what is she like? We know she’s royalty, that she inspires great loyalty among her coterie and that she is driven by the need to save her race. But what core qualities does she possess that take her from just being the person who hates Sorrow to a force all her own?
Last time we started with a negative trait, since most heroes have issues with them. This time lets look at the positive qualities a villain could have. Yes, even villains have positive traits. Serious. I’ll prove it.
First I need to figure out her core moral value. The Postitive Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Buglisi offers some amazing insight as to why this is so necessary. Not just for villains, but for our heroes as well. In The Positive Trait Thesaurus Appendix B has a method for finding your character’s core moral value. This is the core belief that affects all their other traits. After making my lovely list of her positive traits I went to Appendix A to see which of them were moral values. The main one was professional. I’ll be honest. That confused me. Until I went to the entry for it. There they list the definition as: exhibiting specialized knowledge and applying it with courtesy and good judgement.
Whoa. Wait-a-minute. Now I’m more confused. My villain is courteous and has good judgement? Well, let’s think about this for a moment. She is extremely well educated by the best instructors money can buy. She’s talented, smart, career and success focused, she’s ambitious and mature for her age. She is confident with high self-esteem and is highly ethical.
She’s not sounding very vile. And if you are not a threat to her, she’s won’t be. So what associated behaviors might she display where Sorrow can see them? Lets look at the list.
Having the education and knowledge required to be proficient at one’s job
Being experienced in a specific field of work
Reliability, trustworthiness and honesty
Having strong people skills
Working well under pressure
Having a strong command of language and being able to articulate oneself well
Keeping one’s promises
Maintaining control over one’s emotions
Thinking before acting
Treating others with respect and courtesy
Being a strong listener
Assessing the politics of a situation and acting accordingly
Using good hygiene
Being well dressed
Acting appropriately for the situation
I could go on but you get the idea. A couple of the ones I highlighted as far as things Sorrow sees are; being experienced, adaptability, keeping promises, using good hygiene and being well dressed. Each of these things on their own seems pretty neutral or at least positive. So how do we grow her character beyond just being professional? Well according to Appendix B the next layer beyond the moral core is achievement traits. This was a new thought for me and it took me a little getting used to, but now I see how invaluable it is. So let’s look further into Qadira’s personality and see what achievement traits she’s might posses that build on her core trait of professionalism.
The first one that pops out for me is ambitious but decisive actually wins out as the dominant trait here. Mostly because you can’t get much more successful than she already is, though she does have ambitions. Her decisiveness on the other hand is partly her and partly her upbringing. She’s had to bear a lot of responsibility since she was very young and much is expected of her. Her core value also influences her decisiveness since she is driven by a strong sense of responsibility and has the desire to lead.
Cool, we are on a roll here. Can you see how working from the inmost core trait outward is helping us build her personality and keep her well rounded? Let’s move on to the next layer: interactive.
These traits develop through interaction with others and the world in which the character lives. These traits help her work with her subordinates, handle conflicts, convey ideas and create healthy relationships. So building on our core trait of professionalism and our achievement trait of decisiveness what might be her dominant interactive trait? Here I run across several that are worth noting such as bold, flirtatious, inspirational, patriotic, persuasive, sophisticated and traditional. She is all these traits to varying degrees, but which one is dominant and why? Looking through the book both patriotic and sophistication are good choices, but sophisticated wins. This is mostly due to her upbringing and the culture in which she was raised. She was brought up to be royalty so sophistication is not only needed, it’s demanded.
Now we come to the out most layer, the identity layer. The book describes this layer as “attributes [that] are tied to a personal sense of identity, leading to satisfaction and contentment with who one is. Traits emerge to allow the character to explore and better understand what makes them unique.” (The Positive Trait Thesaurus 2013, Ackerman & Puglisi, Appendix B page 233). It’s in this layer that I would put patriotic along with traditional. Here traditional actually compliments patriotic. She is very concerned with keeping her native culture untainted by outside influences which is directly tied to politics. She even went so far as to disown her mother who went against the established tradition and is willing to start a war to keep things as they have been.
You’ll notice we’ve not once considered the negative side of any of these traits, yet we already have a very good basis for her character. And she doesn’t seem all that evil does she?
All of this just from a core value of professionalism.
“The great destroyers of nations and men are comfort, plenty and security. A coward gets scared and quits. A hero gets scared, but still goes on. ” – unknown
by Leyla Akdogan
“We make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains by necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion.” – William Shakespeare
Heroes rarely surprise us. They do what we expect them to. What is right, what is just, what is honorable. They may struggle getting there but there is never any real question as to the outcome of their fight. They may die trying but it will be a heroic death. But what makes them heroic? Is it strength, intelligence, wit, loyalty, perseverance, morality, sheer bull headedness? Is it the fact that they do what is right, not for any benefit or personal gain but simply because it is the right thing to do?
Heroes are rarely seen as such by their peers. Their actions are often regarded as too avant guard, consider Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird or Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games. While a hero’s actions might be altruistic, their motives rarely are. I personally have always been skeptical of the typical hero. Why would someone go to such lengths for others with no thought of any gain of any kind? We all want to be at least recognized for our good deeds if not compensated.
Villains rarely surprise us anymore. They are a necessary evil to thwart the hero. They are crafty, greed, capricious and cruel. They seem to appear out of the ether, hate already fully born and festering for revenge on the hero. They will die before they let the hero succeed. But what makes them a villain? Is it strength, intelligence, lack of morality, snark, perseverance, sheer bloody mindedness? Is it the fact that they do whatever they damn well please just for the hell of it, or at least for some principal gain?
Villains rarely see themselves as such. They are fully justified within their own minds and see their actions as not only right but necessary. Darth Vader, Shere Khan of The Jungle Book, Moriarty from any incarnation of Sherlock, Sauron of Lord of the Rings. Shall I go on? You get the idea. I personally have always hated the one dimensional evil for the sake of being evil villain. Everyone has a motive and motive implies will and will implies thought and reason.
So who is the Owl and who is the Raven? Sometimes it’s surprisingly difficult to determine. This has given rise to the terms anti-hero and anti-villain. Theses characters are neither strictly one or the other. They are the vagabond hero and the dubious ally, the thief with a heart of gold and the benevolent overlord.
To illustrate this point I will be drawing on several characters. Most I’ve discussed before and a couple will be newcomers. If you are not familiar with my fandoms then beware of spoilers here on out.
First, Megatron. Yes that Megatron. By the time we meet him in the franchise he’s a despotic overlord with the mantra ‘Peace through Tyranny.’ A villain’s villain if you will. Yet we learn that he and his archrival Optimus Prime were once friends and depending on which backstory you prefer, co-collaborators in the rebellion on their homeworld. In the most recent iteration their friendship fell apart over method. Megatron, a former slave and gladiator only knew how to achieve his means through violence. Optimus saw a more peaceful, albeit slower, method through diplomacy. Neither was wrong in wanting change in their society. So what made one the hero and the other the villain? Motive and execution.
Then we have Loki. In the original works he is not the scene stealing villain from Marvel, but a crafty, cunning and beloved brother. He’s as mischievous as he is helpful and often his schemes benefit himself more than anyone. When they do go awry he still manages to find a way to make the outcome work for him. Yet he allows his jealousy to get the better of him and resorts to murder and extortion. This doesn’t stop him from helping when a situation calls for it. He simple will only do it if it in some way benefits himself. He’s an opportunist. Again motive and execution come into play.
Now let’s look at Deadpool. He’s the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ who fancies himself a hero yet can never quite live up to the hype. When he’s trying his hardest to be the hero is when he fails the most spectacularly. Its those moments when he stops trying and just does that the hero emerges. Yet he’s too bogged down by his own demons to ever fully transcend his penchant for indiscriminate violence. He at times both hinders and helps the other super heroes depending on how the situation strikes him and if he can make money off of it. Much like Loki, he’s an opportunist and will stab a hero in the back as soon as offer a helping hand. Motive. Execution.
So how do you write a convincing non villain?
Keep them consistent. Know their motivations, even if they don’t. Make sure their actions are supported by their motives, that they execute their plans accordingly. Loki and Deadpool are both consistent in that you know at some point they are going to betray you sometimes just for the hell of it.
It’s often considered that science and religion cannot be in the same room without a fight breaking out. Yet, many aspects of science fiction involve belief in a greater power or veneration of something. In fantasy it’s often a given that there will be a religious aspect, some stories even involving gods/goddesses themselves. Science fiction hasn’t shied away from this either often exploring themes of faith, recreating history and delving into deeply religious cultures. Yet science fiction in general is seen to be the antithesis of spirituality. One cannot be analytically and religious at the same time. One is said to be exclusive of the other. Science dealing with fact and observable phenomenon while religion deals with faith and belief in the things unseen.
Many people have used science fiction to explore religion, either to deride and mock it or to question it’s place in our cultures. It cannot be ignored that humans have an innate desire to look to something greater. It’s shown in every culture, race and people the world over. This is often reflected in our literature.
As an avid fan of the Transformers franchise in all it’s forms I’ve noticed something. I’m not the only one either. Many fans have pointed out the fact that the base story line in Transformers can be compared to the Christian allegory. Optimus Prime as the Savior who is sacrificed. Megatron as the devil from the Pit bent on world domination. Being either an Autobot or a Decepticon has over arcing moral implications. The Cybertronian culture as a whole was very religious for a bunch of oversize sentient robots. They had their gods The Primes.
It was a deeply personal decision for a Cybertronian when it came to choosing a faction to join. According to the new aligned continuity most of the Decepticons came from the working class or the slave laborers in the Pits. Megatron promised freedom from the elitist tyranny that had existed for eon. Then he granted it, but at a tremendous price. Many Cybertronians looked upon him as a god, their Savior. Others new differently. The true Savior had to be chosen by the Matrix. The Matrix chose Orion Pax the humble clerk not Megatronus the proud gladiator.
If any of this sounds familiar, it should. Its the same trope used in Star Wars and many fantasy novels/series. The unsuspecting and humble hero is plucked from obscurity and told Destiny awaits. Its the story of the Messiah told with metal and energon instead of flesh and blood. Star Wars had Jedi and Sith instead of angels and demons.
Religion factors heavily into everyone’s life whether they are aware of it or not. Science fiction doesn’t gloss over this and shouldn’t. We crave a god but also fear having to be responsible to that god. Just be glad it’s not Megatron.
Something has been nagging me lately. A disquiet that I wasn’t sure how to quell. So, this morning I decided to write the final scene of Sorrow’s Fall from Sarin’s viewpoint. This might have been a bad idea because it was intense.
Warning: Major Spoilers for Sorrow’s Fall including the end and several major revelations. Do not read if you have not read the book.
The book is only $.99 on Amazon so fix that then come read this. 😉
Below is the music playlist I wrote the scene to. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The air hung thick and heavy with the smell of ozone. Blaster fire seared the air. The Hyperian shock troopers were no match for the Sal’Ori but they just kept coming. Holding a hand to my side to stem the flow of blood I tried to locate Sorrow. I’d never imagined he would be powerful enough to kill an Ancient. Even as an Amalgam I’d been helpless before her. Rinkin and Diedre had received the worst of it. It would take some time to heal from Ophelia’s poison.
Sorrow was several yards away on his hands and knees in the grass. Qadira stood over him. She was saying something, but I couldn’t quite make it out. His dark hair was much shorter, barely brushing his shoulders. I wondered who had cut it and how they’d known it would hamper him. The dark vest he was wearing glittered with blood, more pooled under him. She’d already stabbed him twice from what I’d seen. How was he still moving?
“No!” Sorrow’s voice reached me clearly. Whatever she was saying it was upsetting him enough to drive him to speak. I started forward grabbing up a discarded phase rifle as he got to his feet. He staggered a few steps his determination flickering around the edges of his aura. It wasn’t as tumultuous as I remembered. He’d managed to find some emotional balance.
“…the fact that you are already powerful enough to kill an Ancient will please Grandmother.”
I steeled myself and pointed the rifle at Qadira. “And that is why we cannot ever let him fall into your hands again, Qadira.”
She laughed and took a few steps back as she looked at me. She wasn’t going to take me seriously. Swallowing hard I looked at Sorrow. He was so different now. Rinkin and Diedre had done a lot to help him but that darkness was still there, just waiting to be unleashed. I’d just witnessed how devastating it could be. What would happen if it was used-if he was used to further the war? He had no control. He would obey any order given by someone in authority over him. I would have to report this to Zaryfa. Her plan had failed. There was no way to save him.
Her only grandson. The first male child born in nearly three generations. And I was going to have to kill him. Drake had done too good of a job rendering him useless as anything but a weapon. Even though I had seen the potential within him, he couldn’t see it for himself. Gods why did it have to be me? The rifle shook in my hands as I selected my new target. He was facing Qadira his back to me. He trusted me. Why in the seven Hells did he have to trust me?
He staggered forward as the bolt hit him in the back. His shock lit up the area blinding me for a moment. Oh gods. I pulled the trigger again watching him sink to his knees. Gods this can’t be happening. Please don’t make me have to kill him. Please. I’ll do anything. Anything at all just don’t make me kill him.
The choice is not yours child. Zaryfa’s voice reached me from the ship orbiting overhead. He must die.
But he’s your grandson.
And Qadira is my granddaughter.
Why can’t I kill her?!
We spoke of this Sarin. She cannot become a martyr for the Purists. He has to die. Implicate me as you must for those who are listening.
Yes, My Queen.
So, you’re going to kill him yourself, is that it?”
Sorrow’s fear and pain was difficult to ignore as I stepped closer to him. My throat was tight and speaking took effort. “If I have to I will. I may not be able to defeat you right now, but I will take away your chance of using him. If I had not seen him transform like that I would never have believed it, but he is too dangerous of a being to be allowed to live. No one should have that kind of power.”
Especially not you, I thought to myself. She was already more powerful than any Barendi before her. If she succeeded in gaining Sorrow’s help either willingly or not, there would be no stopping her. The Hyperia would fall and with it the fragile balance with the outlying systems. It would be the chaos of the Clan War all over again. Only this time the galaxy itself might be destroyed.
“You have no idea Sarin. Why do you think Our Queen destroyed the Aram when she had the chance? This,” She pointed a finger at Sorrow, “this is the embodiment of what they were. Beings so beautiful and powerful they had to be destroyed at all costs. Yet, who could have foreseen the price? I know why you feel you must rebel. All the clans are dying out Sarin, not just yours. The Queen is well aware of this. That is why she allowed him to be born, why he was not aborted the instant it was discovered what he is. She will make sure that the clans prosper once more. The Barendi will once again rule the galaxy as they did centuries ago. You Baroness, could have your place in that galaxy.”
It wasn’t even a temptation. She had no idea who was working to thwart her. I looked down at Sorrow. He was staring up at me blood trickling out of his mouth as he fought to breathe. I could feel him trying to reach out to me, soft tendrils of disbelief and anguish. He’d thought I was dead. I could see the flicker of relief fading as he continued to look at me. I blinked back tears, forcing down the searing pain in my chest. I’d already felt him die once, I wasn’t sure I’d survive a second time. I kept the rifle pointed at him watching the hope fade from his eyes. His aura was flickering between fear, pain and despair. I kept myself tightly shielded. If he or Qadira discovered what I was actually doing all our plans would fail. Xenazia’s mental touch caressed my mind, her concern flooding me.
“Sarin, don’t!” Xenazia pleaded, “Didn’t you hear what she said! We could save our clan. He’s no threat to us any longer.”
“She is a liar Xenazia. You know as well as I do that we are both dead no matter what happens. The only thing I can do is make sure Zaryfa cannot use him to make war on the rest of the galaxy.”
“There has to be another way, Sarin please!”
“What other way, Xen?” I screamed at her part of me needing some outlet for this horrible pain, “Tell me another way then.”
“I . . . I don’t know.”
Qadira snorted, “You are pathetic. Hurry up and be done with it, or I’ll kill you both where you stand.”
“You are going to anyway so what does it matter?”
She laughed again. A horrid gloating sound, “I’ll let you live as long as you kill him.”
I let out the breath I’d been holding. It almost became a sob as I felt Sorrow give up. His will flickering out like a snuffed flame. I wanted to scream at him to tell him to run, if only to save myself from having to do this. I wanted so badly to touch him. To comfort him and tell him how much he meant to me. To tell him that I would always love him, love that part of him that tried so desperately to be more than what he was allowed. I blinked, tears burning down my cheeks. Taking a step closer I raised the rifle to point it at his head. I couldn’t let him suffer any more. He looked up at me his eyes pleading and my resolve threatened to disappear.
I can’t do this Zaryfa. I can’t.
There was no answer. I stared down into those deep green eyes and wondered when I’d fallen so completely.
“I never meant to hurt you.” I could barely get the words out, “I wish-I wish so desperately things could be different. Goodbye, Sorrow.”
Closing my eyes I pulled the trigger.
There was a soft thump. I didn’t dare open my eyes yet. Tears were still streaming down, I couldn’t stop them any more than I could block out the cold pull of his energy evaporating as he died.
The rifle thudded to the ground next to me. Qadira made a soft sound and I opened my eyes to see her kneeling next to him.
“I can’t believe you actually killed him.” Her voice was soft, full of wonder. “I’ve always wondered what it would feel like when he died.”
It felt like winter, like the infinite cold of space, like being ripped apart from the inside. Nothing would ever be the same.
“Are you happy now?” I choked on the words.
She cocked her head up at me. “Happy? You just killed my brother. My twin brother…this really hurts.”
“You expected something different Qadira?” I’d forgotten about Sher’Ak. “You spent all those years forging that bond and then expected to be able to sever it at a whim without backlash?”
She got to her feet but I didn’t miss the tremble. Her eyes glistened as she looked at me. She looked terrible. It seemed Sorrow had gotten in a few hits of his own. “I won’t kill you Sarin but you are still a traitor.”
I didn’t move as she turned and walked back toward one of the Barendi drop ships. I wanted to throw up. Sher’Ak was glaring at me.
“Nicely done Baroness.”
“Do not speak to me.”
“Sarin, lets go. There is nothing more-“
“Just…leave me for a moment Xen. I need a moment.”
Sher’Ak snorted. “Stupid. What a waste. Do me a favor Baroness and never contact me again. I might kill you.”
I nodded but my entire focus was on Sorrow. Collapsing on my knees next to him I reached a trembling hand toward him. How had this happened? I could still remember the first time I saw him. The jolt at realizing who and what he was had left me reeling for days. I was supposed to be his guardian, not his murderer. A sob caught in my throat as I ran my fingers through his hair. What was I supposed to do now? How was I supposed to go on? Slipping my arms around him I pulled him close. He was limp and warm and I was reminded of the last time I’d killed him. Stopped his heart with a kiss. I wasn’t going to get another chance to hold him. I clung desperately to that memory as I shook with sobs. He’d always been so brilliant and powerful but now there was nothing. No bright colors and shimmering energy. Staring down at him through the tears I knew I would never feel like this about another being. I’d never meant to hurt him. At least now he felt no pain and could finally rest.
“I’m so sorry-so sorry.”
How long I stayed there holding him, I’m not sure. When I finally let him go his body was cold, the once brilliant green eyes faded and dull. I kissed him and brushed the hair back from his face. The blaster burn was an ugly mark on his forehead and I resisted touching it, wanting to erase it. Doing so wouldn’t fix what I’d done.
“We need to go Sarin.” Xenazia’s voice was soft, her mental touch hesitant.
“I-I can’t just leave him here like this.”
“Sarin, please. He’s dead. There is nothing you can do.”
“Don’t you think I know that?”
Her mental touch faded but she didn’t move away, instead wrapping an arm around my shoulders. I couldn’t fight her as she pulled me to my feet.
I cannot do this My Queen.
You must child. Believe me when I say it was for the best.
Sorrow’s Fall is available on Amazon in both paper back and digital. Audio book coming soon to Audible.com.
This past week I took my girl friend to see The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. She’s been reading the books. I have not. Other than a vague idea that it involved demons and demon hunters I knew nothing about the storyline. Apparently, this was a good thing since a lot of fans of the books are outraged at the changes made. Wait, don’t we go through this fan-rage every time a book gets made into a movie? Harry Potter, Twilight, Eragon (okay that one was really bad) Percy Jackson et cetera and so on.
First off, I enjoyed the movie. The characters were likable, the acting was well done, the settings were by turns beautiful and gritty, and the action was intense. It was also nice to see that the warlock Magnus Bane was cast as an Asian, specifically Godfrey Gao whom I find hideously attractive. He scintillated on screen for the few moments we were privileged with his countenance. Oh, so I have been informed that in the book Magnus is Japanese. Well good on them casting an Asian at least, even if he is Chinese.
Godfrey Gao as the Magnificent Magnus Bane
Clary’s actress was quite fun to watch and I loved how flippant she was at times. She didn’t succumb to the standard damsel in distress routine even if she spent the first half of the movie in terrified denial. She is pretty, but not blonde. Yay for not blonde pretties! And she’s not afraid to throw a knife at a charging werewolf. Yay for badassery!
Speaking of blond pretties, Jace’s actor was fun to watch. He’s a smartass but somehow his actor made you feel as though it was his way of protecting himself. Interesting layering in his performance that I was not expecting from someone so young…and pretty. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t end up bloodier after the final boss battle. He would be very pretty in red, but that’s my personal er-thing.
The rest of the cast are equally good, no scenes felt contrived or poorly acted. The plot itself was full of tropes, but without being overly predictable. I especially liked where and how the special object was hidden. Having watched it, I am now convinced to go buy the books.
I am rather intrigued by how obsessed we’ve become with the supernatural. While it seems to be a trend, like superhero movies, it covers every genre from books and graphic novels to television shows and movies. It seems the more atheistic our society becomes the more these types of shows and books appeal to our fantasies. That subject might be interesting to explore in another post.
Don’t forget my sci-fi novel Sorrow’s Fall is available on Amazon. The Kindle edition is only $.99!
This week I am very happy to have author Clare Davidson as my guest. Clare is the author of Reaper’s Rhythm.
When everyone thinks your sister committed suicide, it’s hard to prove she was murdered.
Kim is unable to accept Charley’s sudden death. Crippled by an unnatural amnesia, her questions are met with wall after wall. As she doubts her sanity, she realises her investigation is putting those around her in danger.
The only person who seems to know anything is Matthew, an elusive stranger who would rather vanish than talk. Despite his friendly smile, Kim isn’t sure she can trust him. But if she wants to protect her family from further danger, Kim must work with Matthew to discover how Charley died – before it’s too late.
Clare has been kind enough to give me a list of books she considers valuable resources for a writer. Without further ado, Clare:
Four books for authors (and why I love them)
There are many good reference books out there for authors, but these are a few of the ones I’ve used (lots), in no particular order.
The Definitive Guide to Writing On Your Terms Using Your Own Honest-To-God Gut-Wrenching Voice, by Rebecca T. Dickson.
Full disclosure here, Rebecca was the editor for Reaper’s Rhythm. However, I paid for my copy of this book.
The focus of this book (as the title suggests) is on writing with your own voice. Rebecca offers a series of tools and exercises that help you switch off the internal editor and trust in your own voice as a writer. It’s a book that helps to free you up to just write. It’s written in a very honest way and includes real examples from real authors. If you’re struggling with self doubt, or even just how to get the ideas from your head onto paper, you’ll find this book really useful.
And yes, I’d absolutely recommend Rebecca as an editor too.
Let’s Get Digital: How to self publish and why you should, by David Gaughran.
This book is really useful for anyone thinking about self-publishing. As the title suggests, it gives some really compelling reasons for why you should take the leap and become an Indie author. After that, David goes through the steps of how to self publish. On top of that, he gives 33 success stories, which are inspiring if nothing else. I loved David’s no nonsense approach and his instructions helped me no end when I was publishing my first book, Trinity.
I’d also recommend David’s latest book: Let’s Get Visible: How to get noticed and sell more books.
Writing Fight Scenes, by Rayne Hall
I bought this book after taking a class with Rayne on writing fight scenes. I never had much confidence with fight scenes, but I kept writing fantasy stories with, you’ve guessed it, fight scenes in. I took the class to help me polish up a fight scene at the end of Trinity and didn’t regret it at all. The book has everything we covered in class, without the critiques. It covers different fighting styles and weapons and the types of vocabulary you should use accordingly. If you write fight scenes, this book is an absolute must.
The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
This is exactly what you think it is. The book contains a list of emotions, in alphabetical order. For each one, it gives you a definition and lists of physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, long-term responses, suppressed responses and a tips section at the end.
Obviously, some of the responses are repeated for different emotions – there’s only so many reactions, or gestures we can do. However, used in the context of your own writing, this is a fantastic resource, which can really help you show rather than tell.
My last post explored seasons 1-5 of Supernatural and which characters represented the protagonist in each season. As discussed last time the protagonist is the person with the most to lose in the story line. The one we, the audience, are expected to most identify with on an emotional level. I’d like to also discuss who the antagonist is this time.
The antagonist isn’t just the villain, they can be anyone who impedes the protagonist from reaching their goal. Their goal can be the same or the complete opposite. They may not even be aware of the protagonist’s existence, yet they prevent them from easily getting what they want. The antagonist doesn’t even have to be another person, it could be nature or the protagonist themself (man vs. nature; man vs. self). As I said, anything that keeps the antagonist from potentially reaching their goal.
So who has which roles when we start season 6?
We start with Dean, having taken Sam‘s advice and given up the hunting life. He is our protagonist. He thinks he is acclimating well to his new life and family. Yet he is going to be faced with the choice he once gave Sam and for him it, as it was for Sam, is really no choice at all. He knows what he was truly meant to do and he leaves his pseudo-family to once again become a hunter. He remains a protagonist for the entirety of the season as they look for ways to get Sam’s soul back and keep one step ahead of Crowley. Crowley is the main antagonist this season with Castiel once again a mirror protagonist to Dean. Both are looking for more power and ways to get that power and both are played by Crowley. At the end of Season 6 it seems as though Castiel has made the jump from protagonist to antagonist, having gained more power than he’s capable of safely wielding and declaring himself the New God.
Season 7 rolls around with our sexy New God in full on cleansing mode. He is the new antagonist that Sam and Dean must find a way to stop. It turns out that Castiel belatedly realizes he’s compromised himself and goes to them to set things right before he loses complete control. Sam and Dean as the protagonists are forced to watch someone they care for and call family implode. After this they must combat the real antagonists, the Leviathan that had been controlling Castiel. They both remain the protagonists for the rest of the season as they each are proactive and aggressive in their hunting. Once Castiel is returned to them he becomes a protagonist once again. As Emmanuel he has to confront what he was and accepts what he did and tries to make amends. Dean and Sam remain protagonists throughout the rest of the season. Castiel for his part ceases to be a protagonist once he takes on Sam’s mental illness. He is no longer proactive, but reactive, a victim as Sam had struggled with previously. It’s not until the last two episodes that Castiel once again becomes a protagonist taking an active, if somewhat reluctant role in combating the Leviathan.
The next season is a bit more complicated. We will break this season down a bit more thoroughly.
Dean is back from Purgatory and pissed as hell (pun intended). Sam is torn between helping his brother and wanting to continue his life with Amelia. Both brothers are protagonists as they are each forced to confront truths about themselves and their relationships. Both have left people they love behind. Sam leaving Amelia and Dean (believing) he left Castiel in Purgatory. Both are trying to come back to an understanding with each other and at times act as each other’s antagonist. We are also introduced to Kevin Tran who will be the primary protagonist in the first several episodes as he is forced to leave his old life behind and become a prophet. He at first may seem like a victim, but his character quickly shows that he is too smart and resourceful to allow this to happen. Crowley remains the main antagonist for the season.
Once Castiel does reappear he is not a protagonist, in fact due to Naomi’s interference he is delicately balanced between simply being a secondary supporting character and becoming an antagonist. He is reactive and unable to make decisions for himself. He goes from helping to hindering the brothers based on how Naomi wishes things to go in the interim. However, from episode 17 on Castiel is once again a protagonist along with Sam, Dean and Kevin, Dean having helped break the mind control. He is proactive and working to keep Dean, Sam and Kevin safe. His decision to trust Metatron is based on Metatron’s status as an angel and the fact that Dean and Sam were prepared to trust him as well.
Sam is a clear protagonist in that he makes the decision to leave behind his life and complete the trials outlined on the Demon Tablet in an attempt to redeem himself for his past sins. Dean remains a protagonist in that he must help Sam and keep him safe while at the same time dealing with what seems to be yet another betrayal by Castiel. He is proactive, finding ways to help Sam complete the trials and also trying to figure out what is wrong with Castiel.
By the last two episodes it’s clear that all three have reached their individual ‘darkest hour’ in the season arc. Sam is dying from the effects of the trials. Castiel is betrayed and loses his most precious possession and Dean is faced with the prospect of losing the two most important people in his life.
So, who will be the protagonist come season 9? It’s a pretty good bet that Castiel will once again join Dean and Sam as the primary protagonists. The changes wrought on him in the season 8 finale demand nothing less. Dean and Sam will have their own major struggles and the new antagonist could be one of several characters. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works out. Or doesn’t. This show has a pretty good track record of breaking hearts and stomping on feelings.
Oh and in case you didn’t get the ‘gonist’ in the title: