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How Do You Face the Page When You’re Exhausted?

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Editing Book 4 of my epic fantasy tetralogy, The Sword Bearer’s Ascension, has been going slower than expected. The reason? We’re in the process of moving to another country, and for the last month we’ve done nothing but pack and make arrangements for the movers to first come over for two days to wrap and then take our stuff, hoping we’ll see everything in one piece and all present when we get there! Sorting out what we want to take with and leave behind (and the fact that once you’ve decided, even if you’ve made a mistake, once it’s done it’s done!!) is mentally and emotional draining, to say the least!! This includes my entire life of stuff accumulated over 45 years that I must now fit into a few boxes and what’s left gets thrown away, the latter being more stressful and painful than can be described in simple language.

It has taken a few months to make the final decision to move to the UK and leave behind all I know, including my poor mom. During this chaotic time I have done very little work on my book, and with teaching ballet (my afternoon/evening  job) five days a week, finding the time to sit down for a couple of hours and get something significant done has been nigh impossible.

Now I know some of you will say that even getting in half an hour is better than nothing and I agree. But what level of quality will my work exist at if I just squeeze it in quickly here and there? Surely I need a good 2-4 hours at least to lose myself in my story once more and connect heart and mind to ensure it doesn’t become superficial and amateurish? Doesn’t that cheat the reader out of the best of me?

You see, I know myself too well. I need that full emersion to get the entire spiritual experience. I have to live my story and my characters, to see their world and partake in it again every time I sit down at my computer in order to feel what I did when I wrote that frenzied first draft, when the true magic of creation happened.

Everything you do has the potential to be brilliant - but if you're too tired to see it then you and your readers won't experience the magic you've created!

Everything you do has the potential to be brilliant – but if you’re too tired to see it then you and your readers won’t experience the magic you’ve created!

No, I MUST find the proper amount of time to spend on the book, to edit it well so that my existing fans, and future ones, will not be cheated out of the final installment that I worked so hard to create. They deserve all of me – all of my emotion and attention and creative force, that which makes magic on the page and leaves them wanting more. Isn’t that our duty as storytellers, anyway, to ensure that our readers get what they want from a story – laughter, tears, love, joy, excitement, fear, adventure… It is vital we bring our readers what they want and need, and to do that we need to invest all of ourselves into every word. Therefore, I will make the time to edit and edit well so that I and my readers are completely satisfied.

What do you say, dear Writer? Do you write when you’re tired? I have heard it works and I have experienced an interesting emotional effect when I do the same. But when it comes to editing, that extremely detailed process that requires a clear mind, isn’t it preferable to be more alert? I’d love to read your thoughts. Please leave a comment and let’s discuss.

 

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When Life Interferes with My Passion

Make time to write every day even if it's just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

Make time to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

So, those of you who follow my blog might have noticed that I haven’t written a post for a while. The reason? My job, and I don’t mean writing. I mean that thing I do that pays the bills. And every day I cannot get to my computer and focus on my first love, my passion, my creative outlet, and drug, to put it mildly, makes me grumpy and miserable.

I enjoy teaching ballet, but there comes a time when it all becomes too much, especially when I can’t find time to spend writing or editing for even just a couple of hours. My mood sours, my husband complains I’m not as cute and cuddly as I usually am when I manage to spend a few hours a day feeding my addiction, my hunger to create and unleash what churns inside!

I share my teaching week with another teacher, who is also an international examiner and tutor. As a result of her status, she frequently travels all over the globe  leaving me with more classes to teach and less time to write. The month of March was insanely busy for me as I taught six days a week as opposed to the usual three. Hey, I received an incredible salary at the end of the month so no complaints there, but I can’t help but feel robbed of time with my beloved characters; you know, spending quality time with them in their world.

I know I don’t really have to ask you this, dear Writer, but do you not also feel a sense of separation when you cannot be with your characters, especially those you’ve written four or more books about? For me, it hasn’t only been the last five years of penning their story. No, try thirty-seven years!!! Yup, my epic fantasy tetralogy was born when I was a wee kid, and the story has evolved over all that time, growing, morphing, evolving, until it eventually found its voice in 2009 when I decided to share it with the world. These characters have lived with me practically my entire life, so when I can’t spend time with them every day it feels like I’m ignoring them and my relationship with them suffers. I lose the connection with them and their story, never a good thing when writing an emotionally charged tale!

My writing and blogging have taken a back seat this past month but I hope now to finally kick it up into gear again and finish editing The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4, the final installment and the end of a thirty-seven year journey. My characters are waiting for me to finish telling their story so that the world can read it, so that they can become part of the hearts and minds of those who choose to read it. I also hope to blog more regularly, and I want to thank all my followers for your support and interest in what I have to say. It means a lot to me that you read this humble blog, and I hope that in some way you are inspired to never stop writing every day no matter what life throws at you.

I have determined to make an effort to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes. My soul sings when I create; how could I be so cruel and deprive it of  such joy and expression?

I love reading your thoughts. Have you also had times when the mundane necessities of life have interfered with your first passion? Please share!

What Would You Attempt To Do If You Had No Fear?

QuoteWith the new year spread out before me and nothing yet written – both figuratively and literally (and I am talking new works here) – I have the power to create not only new literary works but my very life, and the message I’ve been reading and hearing about the most since 2014 began is that I have the power to decide what I want and how to go about getting it.

Whatever your faith, whether you believe in God or the Universe or your own creative power, I know that this is possible, and therefore I have presented myself with a challenge: This year will not be a year of negating or doubting my skills as a writer, creator, student, teacher, and wife. I want this year to be different to last year. Oh, I accomplished a lot last year, but by the time December rolled by I had a distinct sense of non-achievement. I could have done more, achieved more, written more, learned more, and become more.

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer's Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

So, this year I am going to achieve great things. I am going to improve my writing skills; I’m going to finish rewriting and editing The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 and get it published, and then rewrite and edit the book I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2012! Yes, I haven’t had time to do it yet because my tetralogy had to be completed first and I’ve never been the kind of person to handle two writing projects at once. That’s just how my brain works! I give all my attention to one main project and if an idea comes along for another book I jot it down to come back to it later.

Now, some of you may think that all this is a simple case of procrastination, but, unfortunately, it’s worse than that. Feeling despondent because I’m not selling as many books as I’d like, or because more people are interested in 50 Shades of Grey than epic fantasy, is quite simply an excuse to not to keep focusing on what I want! I began writing my Sword Bearers tetralogy because it needed to be written; it needed to be read and shared with the world – even if that world was only a handful of people.

When I started, I wasn’t as skilled as I am now. I made mistakes and I had to learn as I went along. I read excerpts from Book 1 now (The Sword Bearers) and I pick up those small mistakes, things that a rookie might do their first time out. But you know what, I’m so proud of that first book. I nicknamed it The Beautiful Monster because it was both beautiful and a monster in that it took so much out of me – blood, sweat, and tears, as it were. But I did it! It was one of the greatest achievements of my entire life! I didn’t give in to the fear of public opinion or my lack of knowledge or the fact that I was writing in a genre that wasn’t as popular as romance or thrillers or the paranormal.

Book 1 in The Sword Bearers tetralogy

Book 1 in The Sword Bearers tetralogy

My writing career began in 2009, and by the time 2013 came along I had read hundreds of blogs by experienced writers and editors and publishers, enough to make me doubt myself that the fear I defied writing Book 1 suddenly reared up and took hold of me and I started slowing down. There were too many people telling me what I was doing wrong and, the worst, not to publish until my work was perfect! Perfection? Really? I didn’t know that perfection actually existed in the human race!

Thank goodness I didn’t listen to those ‘perfect’ bloggers and experts but rather to the writers who had tried and failed, tried and failed, tried again and failed again, and how they kept going and finally succeeded. Those are the people I gravitated towards because those are the people who were like me. They had faced their fears and had snubbed their doubts and had pushed ahead and had conquered not only their fears but their shortcomings regarding their skill as writers.

So, this is what I have decided for 2014: No resolutions, but rather a decision to approach my year with the same fearless tenacity I had when I decided to write my first novel. I have grown so much as a person and a writer since The Sword Bearers: Book 1. I am a better writer – more skilled, more knowledgeable, braver, and more confident – and armed with these truths and a determination to create my future, I will accomplish a lot more than I did last year and the year before that and the year before that!

My message to you today is to defy your fears, your doubts, your concerns, and those people who say you can’t and press forward with new determination. If you need more knowledge then go get it; if you have a weakness then face it and deal with it; if you have lack in a particular skill then find out how to improve it. But whatever you do, do it with no fear!

Truthfully, there isn’t really anything that exists that you can’t accomplish this year. You just need to believe it, and then hold on to it as you approach every new project.

Personally, I have to rewrite and edit The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4. Writing this incredible story, a story that began in 1978 when I saw Star Wars for the first time, has been a thrilling, joyous, and often tearful journey as I’ve told the tale of the characters that have lived with me for over thirty years! Coming to the end had me sobbing, and I mean sobbing! But typing that last sentence filled me with such a sense of accomplishment and joy and all because I started it with no fear!

I love hearing your thoughts! Tell me about your fears and doubts and how you overcame them. Do you still face any? Maybe I can help.

Introducing Epic Fantasy Author Roy Huff: Cover Reveal and Free Kindle Promo

roy-huff

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Roy Huff. He is the author of Amazon‘s #1 international bestselling epic fantasy novel, Everville: The First Pillar as well as the newly released Everville: The City of Worms. These are the first installments in the remarkable Everville series which combines elements of epic fantasy and young adult fiction in a form that nearly anyone will enjoy reading, young or old. He is a man of many interests including but not limited to science, traveling, movies, the outdoors, and of course writing teen and young adult fantasy fiction. He holds five degrees in four separate disciplines including liberal arts, history, secondary science education, and geoscience. Roy Huff’s background includes work in art, history, education, business, real-estate, economics, geoscience, and satellite meteorology. He was born on the East Coast but has spent more than half his life in Hawaii, where he currently resides and writes his epic fantasy sagas.

The Free Kindle Promo is running from November the 14th to November the 18th. The first book, Everville: The First Pillar, will also be at a special price during this five-day promo so don’t miss out on this great opportunity to buy two fantastic reads and become a fan of Roy Huff!

Everville7d With Books

Everville: The Rise of Mallory is set to be released around December 15th, 2013. It is the third installment of the Everville Series.

Excerpt from Everville: The Rise of Mallory

Owen had taken The Keeper’s advice to take a break, but it wasn’t easy. He had to force himself to relax after his victory. The events that occurred in The City of Worms were a constant distraction, but spending time with his mom helped keep him from thinking about what happened and so did the change in scenery. The holiday, however, was almost over, and Owen found it increasingly difficult to prevent his mind from wandering back to The Second Pillar of Truth and the destruction that he had initiated. Despite the difficulty, it was his last weekend home, and he was determined to do absolutely nothing of consequence.

You can also join the event on Goodreads right now!

 

 

NaNo and 36 years of Preparation!

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer's Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

It’s been just over a week of NaNo and I’m ahead of schedule. Yay!!

Last year I decided to write an entire novel in a wad of different genres – sci-fi, urban fantasy, western, fantasy, and horror – and the precious file sits awaiting a rewrite and edit since then. Now, this isn’t because I’ve been procrastinating or anything, it’s because I had to finish The Sword Bearer’s Awakening: Book 3 (published in May this year), and then I needed to complete The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 by the end of this year, the final installment of my epic fantasy tetralogy.

This year, NaNo for me is about drawing to a close the 36-year project that has lived with me, grown with me, evolved with me, and then, finally, was birthed from me when the pen-to-paper journey began in 2009. And this November is the month I complete this incredible story and lifelong adventure. It’s a very emotional time for me because these characters, especially Khyri/KC, my main character, have lived with me nearly all my life.

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films

Star Wars was the catalyst of this marvellous, exciting adventure and I have to give praise and thanks to Mr. George Lucas for inspiring me to the extent that the future Sword Bearers tetralogy bore me through tough times, good times, happy times, and, most especially, the sad times. That kind of inspiration that makes your heart soar and your soul sing is very rare, indeed. But I was blessed beyond youthful understanding when I beheld the magic, mystery, and thrill of Star Wars.

Movies like Star Wars and the countless books and superhero comics I devoured as a child, all contributed to helping me develop into a successful, “genius, brilliant” (the words of friends and reviewers) storyteller and I couldn’t feel happier and more fulfilled! So, thank you Marvel Comics, DC Comics, all movie makers of sci-fi and fantasy films, authors of great adventure stories, and mom, who allowed me the freedom to discover my passions and pursue them. Mwah!

This November sees me finishing 36 years of one story that I have had the incredible privilege of writing. It came to me with great power and it is being completed with great power – magic, mystery, adventure, facing demons and monsters and defeating them, and then, when the ending is ready to be written, I will be in tears as I write that which must happen the way it was always meant to happen. By the end of November Khyri’s story will find its rest and so will I. It’s been a long journey, and my life has dictated this story’s path from the very beginning – all my trials, victories, challenges, and losses are all part of Khyri’s journey, as are my beliefs and the knowledge about the mysteries of life I have gained along the way. Book 4 is an ending and a beginning, for Khyri and for me, and to find out how and why you’ll have to read all four books!

Pen on Paper

I wish you all the best, Dear Writer, as you face this month-long challenge. Remember why you love writing when things get tough and your eyes can’t focus and you just want to sleep; go back in time and revisit that exact moment when you knew with absolute certainty that you are a storyteller. Then, use that passion to cross the finish line and celebrate yet another great accomplishment.

I’d love to hear about your 2013 NaNo project. Please share in the comments and let me know how things are going!

Trust your passion and talent and let nothing stop you!

A 5-Star Review of The Sword Bearer’s Awakening: Book 3!!

Cover for Book 3

I just read this fantastic 5-star review of my third book, The Sword Bearer’s Awakening: Book 3, by Ruthi Kight from R&M Fab Book Reviews!!

“It has been a few months since I read the first two in this series, but even now the story has stuck with me. When I was given the chance to read book three, I knew I had to jump on it!
I’ve said this many times: I’m not a huge reader of fantasy, but THIS series will forever be one I will recommend to others. The story is absolutely fantastic!
From the first page, the reader is enveloped in the story. Granted, this story is LONG. Over 700 pages! So it took me a while to read all of it. But there were none of those points where I just wanted to give up. I’ve had that happen with many books.
The characters are fleshed out and so unique. While you’re reading, you can actually picture having each one of them in your life. The descriptions are fantastic! Seriously, I’m in love with the beautiful world that Ms. Rockliffe has painted for us.
Just so you know, once again, I don’t rehash stories. I give my opinion. And in my humble opinion, I’d definitely say check out this series. It’s fast and fun, engaging, and seriously should be made into movies. But that’s just me. I want to witness this story on the big screen.”

Go to www.amazon.com/author/moniquerockliffe now where you can read other reviews of my work!

Writing is my Drug. Without it I’m too…normal!!

My Escape

 

Only writers will get this, but when I can’t sit at my computer everyday and write I feel disconnected from the universe, from myself, and from my characters. Reality crowds in and I start getting irritable and my husband thinks someone else has taken up residence inside his wife.

Sometimes life and work crowd in and take over; well, they actually take me away from where I really want to be and from what I want to do. Working to pay the bills and put food on the table is necessary, but if I had a choice I wouldn’t do it. It’s days like that when I envy professional writers their freedom to not have to do another job besides their beloved writing.

I’ve been bogged down with dance festivals for the last three weeks, and even though I’ve had a few days where I’ve managed to get down around 10-14 pages, they came too seldom. I enjoy choreographing and creating dances for the kids I teach; I love seeing the end product on the stage and watching my girls, with whom I’ve been rehearsing for months, performing their hearts out and getting rewarded for their hard work and dedication. Now, this used to be my entire life – dancing, performing, rehearsing, choreographing – but when writing came along and my dance career slowed down it became my entire existence. I couldn’t believe that creating with words was as intoxicating, if not more so, than dancing. Oh, believe me, nothing beats being on stage in front of an audience and drawing them in and making them laugh or cry or applaud – it is definitely an art form where you get instant gratification and recognition – and even though writing produces the same results it just takes a little longer and a lot more (and a different kind of) work.

Pen on Paper

Writing when I’m exhausted is also hard and it takes great effort to sit down in front of my computer and make the start. But what I’ve learned as a reasonably new author, is that once I begin, once I set my imagination free, then there’s no stopping me. Tired or not, I can write all day. The adrenaline, the force that pulses through me, is addictive and one drug I hope never to give up.

Dance and writing are very different and very similar: they are both visual art forms and require the observer to use their imagination; they both take the observer on a magical journey, an escape from reality that the observer craves; they both grab the observer’s attention and hold them captive, and here is the first major difference: dance incorporates music, lighting, costumes, sets – basically, all the visuals are physically provided to help the observer become engrossed in the atmosphere created for them – whereas in a book the observer, with the author’s help, is left to create their own world, their own physical interpretation of the story, all taking place in the mind.

I thank God for giving me the ability to create and imagine. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying: “Imagination is more important than knowledge…” He understood the power of imagination, that it is limitless whereas knowledge is not, and as a dancer, dance teacher, and a writer I understand and acknowledge and welcome its power, and I’m grateful for the ability to use it to its fullest extent – tired or not 🙂

When I danced professionally it consumed my world; I could not even contemplate doing anything else. But time past and life, too, and when I discovered the world of writing I realised that dance isn’t all there is. There were other ways for me to express and share what was inside me, what was inside my mind and heart, just that now it was with words. I approached it tentatively, this new, scary thing, and once I tried it and discovered that putting down on paper what was in my head was just a little harder than creating a dance piece (choreography is as natural to me as breathing!), and it slowly started taking hold of me like a powerful drug coursing through my veins and setting my heart and soul on fire! Never did I think that writing would consume me so, and I allowed it to because it replaced my passion and love of dance, soothing the pain of leaving that world behind.

Image courtesy of blackballerinas.tumblr.com

Image courtesy of blackballerinas.tumblr.com

Teaching dance is my job; writing is my new passion, and I cannot think of doing anything else. It’s a good thing I can write ’til I drop dead one day. I don’t think this body would be able to do leaps and turns as well as I used to as the decades go by 🙂

When I write I feel invincible, I feel alive and full of joy, so when the ‘normal’ stuff of life encroaches I get very grumpy. I even hate stopping to have food when I’m in the flow. Ask my hubby; he’s had full on conversations with me while I’ve been writing and I haven’t heard a word!! He’s slowly learning not to mess with me when I’m in the zone 🙂

Tell me about the things that you’d rather give up than have your writing interrupted. I love reading your thoughts! Please share!

Is Your Writing Style a Tango or a Waltz?

tango dancers

This is such a frustrating and curious topic that many either ignore it altogether or pursue it with fervour with the single-minded goal of perfecting it. Style is spoken of as the most important thing a writer can have in order to possess a unique voice. I don’t know if I agree. Style to me is superfluous when it becomes the be all and end all of the way you approach your work. If it’s all you’re concerned about at the exclusion of other things then I believe it brings limitation and not freedom.

Stephen King Quote 3

When I read a famous author’s work I don’t analyse every nuance and slant and approach, I just get on with reading the story, hoping to be sucked into another world, another existence, for hours. Although I recognise Stephen King as someone who writes with no fuss or gimmicks or fancy words and phrasing – this makes my reading experience pleasurable and easy – and someone like Tolkien, whose use of language I find complicated and fussy, I still appreciate their very different styles. But, again, I read to be drawn into a story not to be caught up with so much fuss and so many big words that I start focusing on the way it is written instead of on the story.

I’ve been told my style is very much like Stephen King‘s, and no wonder: I love the way he expresses himself and gets to the point with so much emotion and clarity that I can do nothing else but lose myself in every scene. This is my goal as a writer. Even in epic fantasy it’s important not to lose the reader in too much jargon and waffle as though I’m trying my best to show off, to show what a fantastic, accomplished author I am aiming to get selected for many writing awards. All I want is to be a storyteller that blows people’s minds with my vision and emotion and passion.

I think I write like a waltz – easy, flowing with just enough light and shade to hold my reader captive, and with enough crescendos and quiet moments to make them hold their breaths. My style is not an Argentinian tango – intense, demanding, at times too loud, broken with jarring phrasing and rough handling. There is no doubt it is beautiful and passionate and seductive, but a little too rushed for my taste!

Stephen King Quote 4

But again I ask if style is that important if as a writer you succeed in getting your story across to the reader the way you want. Perhaps the answer is that style changes with each story you write, unless it’s part of a series, of course, where the feel and voice must be consistent for the sake of the reader’s comfort and happiness. They love their comfort zones, after all, and like to know exactly what they’re gonna get before they read the next book in a series they’ve come to love and trust.

Personally, I like writing as differently as I can with every new story I approach. My epic fantasy tetralogy flows and moves and expresses like a Viennese waltz, while the Vampire novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year has an entirely different feel – more like a tango 🙂 It has to be because the characters are COMPLETELY different to my characters in my epic fantasy. They’re harder, rougher, more dangerous and earthy, and therefore they demand that my writing (style) matches their temperaments and unique personalities.

This is why I say that perfect style is not the ultimate goal and achievement of a writer; being able to tell a powerful story effectively with conviction is.

I know many will disagree with me on this, but, hey, that’s what makes debating such fun 🙂 What are your thoughts about style and its relevance? Is it relevant or not? How do you identify your unique style, and what exactly is it?

I love reading your thoughts so please leave a comment.

Visualisation: The Art of Drawing Your Reader In

Action and Visual Perfection - the art of creating emotion

Action and Visual Perfection – the art of creating emotion

There, that’s the moment you’ve been waiting for, the climax, the explosion, the huge secret reveal, the plot twist to make you gasp and scream “No! That can’t be happening!!!” And that’s why you sit through a movie you’ve been dying to see since they announced it was being made two years ago!

And that, dear writer, is what your reader wants at the end of your novel!

BUT before they get to the end they need the build-up, the lead-in, the gradual and almost painful journey to the point they can scream or cry or jump up and down and yell either “Bitch!” or “Bastard!” at you. Yes, that ‘George R. R. Martin‘ moment, that’s what makes your reader and future fan come back for more. And I’m sure you know exactly what it is: the ability to paint with words, to enable your reader to ‘see’ the entire story in their head like a movie, to see it clearly and become emotionally hooked from page one.

My Escape

Now, every book I’ve read approaches this differently because the writer has her own idea of HOW the story should unfold and how quickly or slowly. There are many masters of the Build-Up, my favourite being Stephen King, and I sit with bated breath waiting for the ending, devouring his books at a furious rate because I want to know. I have to know, dammit!!

When I wrote my first novel I had to learn how to paint with words. I have always been extremely visual in my thinking, thanks to about 40 years of dancing and choreography, and when I took the plunge to go from professional dancer to writer I had to teach myself how to express the glorious, exciting, moving scenes in my head onto the page. It took patience and practice, but by the time I found my own style and the words began to flow faster, I experienced the joy of expressing myself to my future readers in a way that I knew would move them and enable them to join me on my epic fantasy adventure! They would ‘see’ what I ‘see’ and feel what I feel, and to me that made me a successful storyteller.

In the big blockbuster movie we go to have a visual feast – to gasp at the latest CGI techniques and the hot actors in tight costumes 🙂 – and we expect to be entertained and get our money’s worth. If we are not satisfied we gripe and moan and complain on Facebook and Twitter, and soon the movie loses its punch and becomes a flop. This, as you know, happens with books, as well. As writers, we have to learn to draw our readers in or we run the risk of being flops ourselves.

Saying that, it’s vital to know your audience and pay attention to your reviews – good and bad – and learn from both. If you want to be popular you need to give your audience what they want. BUT, and a very big but here, never compromise your skill or style or passion to write and tell your story your way in favour of pleasing everybody. As I’ve said in so many of my previous blogs, ALWAYS HAVE BALANCE!

Pen on Paper

There’s nothing I love more than hearing a fan tell me how they couldn’t put my books down, how they were drawn in and got so involved with my characters and their dramas that they had to keep reading until they finished. And my epic fantasy novels are long books! How wonderful to know that although I’ve written such a big story that not once did my reader become bored! Now that’s a compliment I can bathe in for the rest of my life 🙂

Do you have a particular way of approaching your story that paints the most vivid picture for your readers? Is it important to you to grab the reader from page one or do you prefer the gradual Build-Up? I’d love to read your thoughts. Please leave a comment and share.

Hearing the Heartbeat of Your Story is Essential for Realism

Dancers have to feel and express the rhythm of the music in order to interpret it correctly and thus deliver a convincing performance the audience can FEEL and experience with them!!

Dancers have to feel and express the rhythm of the music in order to interpret it correctly and thus deliver a convincing performance the audience can FEEL and experience with them!!

We’ve all experienced it: We get a great idea for a story, and then we begin writing it down. Is it that simple? Yes and no.

Anyone can get a great idea – a twist on a classic or a recent movie or a song – because they’re all out there for the taking. So, what turns a great idea into a masterpiece? Right from the very beginning, as the words take form and the outline reveals itself, you must find the unique heartbeat, the specific tonality, the feel of the tale that separates it from every other story out there. And to hear that singular ‘voice’ speaking to you from wherever you believe stories come, you need to have the ability to listen, then recognise it, then express it in words.

It has been proven time and time again that if a group of say twenty kids get given the same sentence with which to begin their story you will invariably end up with twenty different stories. But the one that gets the A+ is the one that went outside the box and found a place so different from where convention dwells that the reader (in this case, the teacher) is blown away and immediately identifies the unusual/unique potential of that student. It’s not that the student had any special educational advantage over her peers, it’s rather that she lives her life by exploring the unconventional and opens her mind to things that most kids do not. The dreamers, the inventors, the ones that usually get into trouble for not concentrating in class – those are the kids the innovators of the world should be paying attention to and helping them expand those gloriously open, unfettered minds.

There are no limits to the imagination!

There are no limits to the imagination!

A great tool to use when writing – and this is fantastic if ever you find yourself stuck for an idea – is to ask: “What if?” What if the laws of nature didn’t apply to this character or this situation? What if there were no morals or ethics binding a character to act a certain way? What if reality wasn’t reality but mere illusion? What if the impossible was possible?

Many writers would say that getting to know your characters as if they were your best friends helps to make the story more real even if they’re writing about fantasy or the paranormal or science fiction. To imagine themselves where the characters are, to get in on the conversation and feel and hear what each unique personality is saying, lends greater passion and realism to a scene, even if they’re talking about swords and sorcery.

Every story has its own rhythm. Every character has his or her unique style and personality. But to get all this to a place of realism you need to live your story through every word and action. Place yourself in their position – the good and the evil characters – and try to understand them as though they were you. ‘See’ how they move and ‘hear’ how they speak (the inflections and nuances in their voices – including what they’re thinking), the way their faces move, the way their bodies move, and, of course, every single emotion they experience, whether expressed in the scene or secretly thought and felt. If they are angry you must feel angry. If they are upset or weeping then you must share in it with them, for if you can experience it all then your reader will, too!

There's great magic in realism!

There’s great magic in realism!

When writing in the same genre there is a danger that an author can end up having books with similar characters who have similar behaviours and find themselves in similar situations. I find this happening even among the greatest authors of our day. Their stories are all different, but I sometimes have a sense of knowing a character too well like I’ve met them before, and then I realise they’re a lot like another character in another book by the same author! It never fails to disappoint.

Have you written many books? If so, have you made sure that each new story has its own voice, its own heartbeat?

I urge you to spend time getting to know your new characters intimately, giving them their own existence, and making sure they don’t have a clone lurking around somewhere in another book. Take the time to make them unique, from their looks to the way they speak and act and interact with the other characters, because, believe me, your reader will pick up on a fake character just like they pick up on a fake actor who has not immersed herself in her role. It’s painful and distracting and makes the viewer want to stop watching because it’s impossible to get totally absorbed in the story when it feels unrealistic or fake.

Surrender to the power of the tale and allow it to direct you instead of the other way round! This is a quote from a friend on Facebook that is just perfect for what I have spoken about today: “Authors do not create characters. We open our minds to the unknown worlds and allow them to tell us their stories through these unseen doors. Then we write it all down for those who do not have the ability to open the doors on their own.” ~ Beth Fullaway

I love hearing your thoughts! Tell me about your experiences as a writer and creator of unique tales, and if you struggle – or don’t – with bringing your characters to life in a way that makes them as real as possible!

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