Monday, November 23, 2009

10 Commandments For Novel Writing

Okay, the thing is, I am always in a better mood when I write. It does keep me sane in this loopy world. When I am there, it flows and things are good. Much of my flow comes from a good organization of my characters and world for my tales. As I have been putting together the goods for my next two novels, there are a some writing commandments I would like to share with my readers and hopeful writers, so that it may help you create worlds of your own.
1. Character Outlines: This includes name, age, basic physical points like hair and eye color, race, importance in story, relationships, and anything that would be important to your tale. A good character breakdown list is a good thing to work with.
2. Go with the impulse: A few of my favorite characters were not planned at all. They were meant to be very minor characters or not even in book at all, but they popped in head as I was writing and they basically came to life. Go with this-it is your inner muse giving you a boost.
3. World Planning: It can be easier than you think. I do not go overboard with my world creations for my novels but I am also very specific and use common sense. I decide number of continents and seas and oceans, races, what type of goods they export and crops, weather, how many moons or suns. I name the seas and continents and give a basic ruling structure and society. If you are planning a long term fantasy novel set upon a secondary world, you will need to be organized. I do not use technical engines to generate these-I just use practical approach and then have fun coming up with names.
4. Nothing is set in stone: Sometimes your story or character takes a different turn as you are writing and that is fine-there is usually a reason behind this so just go with it.
5. Is this a story you would want to read?: Frankly, you cannot get all twisted up about what is selling or "hot." Concern yourself with characters and story. I only write things that I would want to read. Do a story that moves you to create it and write it.
6. Characters: One of the greatest compliments my editor and publisher, Joe Dickerson of HD-Image, told me is how good I am with characterization. If you can bring great characters to life on paper, you are half-way there.
7. The First Page: That is the toughest thing. Even if I know how entire book plays out that first page is critical and usually makes me want to cry-why? Because that is the test page, the page that will determine whether or not that publisher or agent will turn to page 2. Starting is the toughest thing. Once that is done, it gets much better.
8. The Final Page: Also a killer-the final words or actions that happen in a story must satisfy, even if it is only end of book 2 and there is still a book 3 coming-you want to give a sense of completion but still leave them wanting more and be faithful to what you are doing.
9. Killing a Character: Make sure there is a damn good reason-a bad guy does need to pay, but that is not what I am talking about here. It is when you kill off characters that readers have invested an interest in and come to love, even if they might be minor. Too often I have been disappointed by a writer killing a character for momentary emotional wrench. If you have to kill a good character to make a point-it had better make a good one. The temporary fix to a plot is not only cheap to me, but it makes me mad. It must be integral to story.
10. Keep writing: Blow off the toady people that try to bring you down. Just focus on you and what you want to write-and just write.
These are my personal 10 commandments. If anyone has any suggestions for writing, please contact me. As a writer-we are always learning.
Verna Mckinnon

Monday, November 16, 2009

In mourning for a wonderful actor and inspiration Edward Woodward

This is a dreadful Monday. I learned this morning via phone call from my husband Rick that one of my favorite actors, Edward Woodward, has passed away.
Mr. Woodward's voice was the inspiration for one of my major characters in Familiar's Tale series, Belwyn the Owl, familiar to Cathal the sorcerer.
I know it may seem odd, but I imagine very specific voices for my characters in my "Familiar's Tale" series. Edward Woodward (who had been a fav long before I conceived of Belwyn the Owl) was a wonderful actor and someone I wished I could have met. The minute I put his voice to the character of Belwyn the owl, he was truly born. Those of you that have read my book Gate of Souls know who Belwyn is, and what a great character he is. I hope that pays the great actor some small tribute. Edward Woodward will be missed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Focus, Focus, Focus!

As a writer, it is an important skill. You need to focus to get all the great imaginative stuff jumping about in your brain into print mode (be it paper, computers, whatever) and it is often so damn tough because you get distracted by the idiocy of the world. It is easy for writers to get lazy too-I have been working on 2 books and editing Tree of Bones for my second "Familiar's Tale" book. But my focus has been dreadful. I keep getting distracted by trivial things, the way Mellypip gets distracted by a drobba-chip cookie. I have much of book 3, Fires of Rapiveshta, running scenes in my head. As I try to write it I keep getting scrambled by which part of book to write. It is very annoying because I have the last half of the book worked out but the first half is still taunting me.
I have resolved to be made of tougher metal-because when I am focused and writing-I feel better. My mood is less glum. I am less cranky. I even stay on my diet better (though drobba is always a danger)
Focus is what makes for success too. In all things in life-if you have your goals and energies directed where they should be-into your art-you will eventually succeed.
Now, I must get back to writing Fires of Rapiveshta and my 'other new fantasy' novel (The Legend of Rose Greenleaf, The Dwarven Bardess of Rhulon- a working title only).
Focus people!