Friday, January 18, 2019

Novel Quest #4 Plots! Oh, those nasty plots!

The Trouble With Plots

Hello fellow friends & writers. I have finally recovered from the holidays, so now back to work! My first post in 2019 is about plots.

Plots are a baseboard. A basic foundation to your story. The trouble with plots is there is a finite number of the plots in the universe. Maybe nine. Or less. Anyway, people twists themselves into a frenzy trying to come up with an original plot no one has heard of before.  I have one word of advice: RELAX.

Plots are simply a way to organize your story. It is the springboard from which your character's journey jumps off. It is how you can structure your novel. So relax. worry about creating exciting characters and dialogue. More to come in novel quest. So, keep writing and reading!


Verna McKinnon

Monday, December 10, 2018

Novel Quest #3: How Many Characters?

How Many Characters Before Chaos?

Here's the problem all writers face. Often when we are creating our tales, we create great characters which we love. You adore them (or love to hate them) and formulate their looks, history, loves, food choices, fashion, and everything important. But you can have too much of a good thing. One caution I would share is to define your story early on and determine if you have too many characters to keep track of. Sometimes it can be confusing for the reader. 

I will admit I have been guilty of this in the past. I love my characters, but they can get lost in the story of you have so many in a tale. When I was a novice writer, and especially for those of us who create epic fantasy series, it so tempting to have a cast of multiple characters in the novel. That is fine, but you need to review if you have too many. I have learned over my years of writing sometimes you need to step back and seriously consider if you need to take out some characters or merge them with another. A great character never dies, so do not fear. If they do not fit in one novel, you can do another one for them. 

More to come. In the meantime, read more fantasy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Novel Quest Post! Character, character, character!

Novel Quest: The Importance of Characters!

When creating any story, the most important thing to me are my characters. Great dialogue is key too, but that is another post. A great character can pull you into a story, making the journey a wonderful experience. They drive the story. You can write tons of battle scenes, create an elaborate plot, and threaten the world, but without wonderful characters, you're screwed.

The creation of great characters is an individual thing for most writers. My characters, like my tales, are fully developed entities with a soundtrack and wardrobe detail.  Often when writing a scene after doing painstaking outlines and chapter setups, a minor character will spring to life and demand to be in the tale. This happened to me with  my Familiar's Tale series. Both Darcus and Princess Opaline were drafted as minor characters, but they became integral to the story. It worked.

With my new novel in progress, The Bastard Sorceress, Sabine Fable grew to full life once I had her name. I struggled a bit with a new original story and the challenge of doing a novel  from her point of view-until I had her name. I love names. I have been complimented on the names I have given my characters. Names shout volumes about a character. For this lead heroine, I wanted an individual, someone scrappy, knocked down by life but still proud and fighting. Once I had this, she blossomed into a fully formed character with a vibrant personality and her dialogue flies off the page. I imagined how she looked, what she liked to eat, her hair, eyes, all of it.When creating, play with names, research the net and name books, imagine their faces, how they dress, and write down their background. A good character has a full bio. 

So pay attention to developing your characters. They are the core of your tale.




Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Novel Quest! Part 1:The Insanity Equation!

Novel Quest #1
The Coffee, Chocolate, &Insanity Equation

By Verna McKinnon

Okay, I'm going to try to do more blog posts about writing-specifically the process of writing a novel in progress and share my process with you. It will be as I create a specific novel in fact: The Bastard Sorceress. I will share the frustrations and glories as I create my newest novel and lead heroine. Yes, because in my writing universe, heroines rule. I do have heroic men in my tales, but the central character in most of my novels are female. In fantasy and science fiction, I feel I can break free of the tropes given to women in traditional novels. Good storytelling is also key. Make them interesting and toss out stereotypes. Experiment. Write. And write some more.

The Bastard Sorceress is a fantasy novel about a young woman named Sabine Fable. Yes, she is a bastard, but that is only the tip of the wand for my heroine's story arc. She has many troubles and is hopelessly flawed. She is not the rose without a thorn. In many ways she is all thorns, but that's why I love her. But she is good and strong too, despite the obstacles in her path toward magic.

I have been working on a new fantasy novel for a few months.I created the main character (Sabine Fable) about two years ago. She is brand new for me. My initial story idea for Sabine was different, but both she and her tale evolved into something new. That's the thing about ideas. Things change. Nothing is ever written in stone. A good character can lead you down a new road!

In creating a story, you must experiment with your ideas. Sometimes as you put together your book bible, where you organize your world, characters, cultures, etc., for the novel, things just shift. It is usually a good thing. Do not fight it. 

With each Novel Quest entry. I will go over the steps for creating your novel. Chapter revisions, character lists, dialogue tips, blurbs, and more. 

Right now, an idea or character is key. Start with that! Run with it. Play "what if." One of my favorite writer guides was Ray Bradbury's Zen and the Art of Writing. If you do not have a copy, get one! 

Take copious notes as your drink too much coffee and eat chocolate chip cookies. And do not fear the insanity. Creative people are not normal any way. Just accept it and write on.

More to come. Until my next Novel Quest more fantasy!

Verna McKinnon


Friday, November 9, 2018

Tree of Bones Promo sample

Hi All:

As I am learning about doing supplemental ads for my novels, I find it can be fun. This is my promo for Tree of Bones, A Familiar's Tale, Book 2. Not perfect, but I think it fits the mood.

Monday, November 5, 2018

New book promos!

Hello Familiar Friends!

I have been learning the daunting task of creating my own promos for my books. I did another new ad for Bardess of Rhulon and one for my Gate of Souls! Feel free to share these! What do you think? I swear, this is harder than writing a novel!