Crafting Rich Characters (Part 1)

Greetings to all the storytellers out there. Let me start out by first wishing you a peaceful Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Then by sharing how …

Crafting Rich Characters (Part 1)
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Small Post About Sea Turtles . . . I’m Not Joking

So, I was in a classroom and noticed a poster.  I’d seen it before multiple times, but a new thought clicked in my head:

There are only 7 species of sea turtles?

I always thought there were more than that, but I only remembered a few.  No, there are only 7 and nearly all of them are endangered.  3 are critical!  Primarily due to what humans are doing such as fisheries, pollution, and overhunting.  So, I thought I would post a picture of each one.  I hope I got one of each since you can’t really tell if the Image Search was being honest or not.

If you want to read up on sea turtles then HERE is the World Wildlife Federation site.

Oh, here’s the NOAA Fisheries site that shows what you can do to help sea turtles.

Flatback Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtle

Hawksbill sea turtle

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

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Goal Post: Brain Pieces at 30% Capacity

You know it’s been a week when this post isn’t scheduled.  It means I passed out rather quickly last night.  Exhaustion took me over and it’s still not really done with me, but I can’t get myself to sleep any longer.

So, what happened? (Summed up in one paragraph below.)

My son had two tests on the same day, so the first half of the week was studying, homework, and extra help.  This was on top of things getting crazier by the day at work because of ‘things’.  On top of those things was me abruptly waking up at 3:11 AM, 3:10 AM, and 4:56 AM during 3 of the workdays.  My body is such a wreck from crappy sleep and working hard that I can barely function.  I still have the online course that I started this week too.  Finally, I’m just going to toss ‘other people being irritable’ into the pile of stressors since it was the last thing I needed.

Needless to say, my anxiety went KABOOM! and I was borderline panic attack most mornings and evenings.  Kept it mostly together at work, but that took all of my dwindling willpower.  The WORST part of this issue is that the most common aspects of my panic attacks are respiratory.  I start having trouble breathing and begin to cough until I calm my nerves.  What else has those symptoms?  COVID!  So, I’d start a panic attack and begin internally freaking out that I’d been infected.  One person telling me ‘stop worrying because you are going to catch it eventually’ didn’t help.  Just thinking about that is starting another fit.  Time to chill.

It’s 11 degrees here and -5 with the wind chill.  I know people in colder regions will laugh at this, but you have to remember that we don’t get this a lot.  In fact, I’m fairly certain that the houses aren’t designed to retain heat as well as they should.  They were designed during a time of milder and more predictable weather patterns.  That’s why I’m feeling drafts as I move around the house.  Soooo cooooold!

The online course I’m taking for work is interesting.  It’s about ‘Breaking Down Bias’ in the classroom and has a big discussion component.  I’m having to learn terminology that I’ve heard and never figured out though, so I’m feeling kind of old.  That’s probably the biggest hurdle for me here.  Well, that and I have to do a video response.  I currently look like a guy who had been woken up by a rooster, telemarketer, and marching band at the same time.  In other words, not pretty or functional.  I’ll have to do it later after I’m functional and I’ve got my son started on homework.

Writing-wise . . . I got nothing.  I designed a bunch of villains for ‘Phi Beta Files’ and thought I could finish one of the rival groups at work.  No quiet times and the few moments I had for thinking were spent on my phone trying to let my mind wander.  It’s not easy to be creative when you’re that tired.  I used to be able to do that, but not under these circumstances.  I tried at night, but didn’t make it for very long after my son went to sleep.  I didn’t even get through any shows beyond ‘Cobra Kai’ on Sunday.  I might work on more villains this weekend when my son is doing homework, but I won’t hold my breath.  I need to contact someone about Do I Need to Use a Dragon? (Fantasy Writing Tips) cover and interior art too.

Oh, I did buy all of the new Lego Mario sets and the Sonic the Hedgehog set for my son.  It took a while to get the Luigi sets and I had to order directly from the Lego site to get all three.  Hopefully, we can put Sonic together this weekend.  That’s really the big event since we both have homework and Monday is appointment central.  Maybe I’ll get a little fun, ‘me’ time at night.  We’ll see.

Next week is going to be the same as the previous week for me.  In fact, the rest of January is looking like a test of mental endurance since it’s the end of the quarter.  That’s crazy even under normal circumstances, but Covid always makes things worse.  I’ll have to use the weekends to recover.  I wonder how much of my anxiety and spontaneous sadness is stemming from not being able to write.  I’ve had rough patches, but the last 2 months are a nightmare.  I played it off as this ‘break’ being my choice, but the reality is that I knew I wouldn’t be able to get any writing time in.  Worst part is that it’s looking like the stress and mayhem will stretch to the summer.  Half a year without writing?  If having no sales killed my dreams then this is looking to finish me off.

I saw a meme recently that said ‘artistic endeavors are for the rich and comfortable’ and I really feel that.  A person struggling to survive and keep their heads above water don’t get the luxury of sitting down to write, paint, or do whatever.  Free time always comes when you’re about to break, which means you need to use it to recover instead of putting energy towards things you love.  I know so many people in this position and the list appears to be growing.  (Betting most comments will be about this.)

Anyway, goals of the week:

  1. Survive
  2. Son’s chorus concert
  3. Survive
  4. Maybe set up some April posts like the poems or holidays
  5. Survive
  6. Continue coursework
  7. Survive
  8. Design at least one villain . . . Those won’t be seen as a real victory
  9. Survive
  10. Survive
  11. Survive
  12. Survive
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7 Tips to Writing Chase Scenes

Matrix

While a staple of action movies, the chase scene isn’t as easy to pull off when it comes to books.  They depend a lot on visuals to create the right amount of suspense and tension, which means word choice is imperative.  Too little and you have a chase scene that feels more like a walk around the block.  Too much and a reader can lose track of where everyone is in the scene.  So, what can you do to make this easier?

  1. You need to choose one perspective and stick to that.  Jumping from even one pursuer to the another can be confusing.  You certainly can’t leap from the hunter to the hunted without it being jarring since this is a fast-paced scene.  It isn’t even getting their thoughts, but who the ‘camera’ will be following.  If you want to show what the other side is doing then it has to be done through the same lens as everything else.
  2. Describe the terrain and make note of what kinds of obstacles will appear to get the reader ready for them.  You want them to imagine that trees are in the way if there’s a forest or traffic will play a part in an urban setting.  It can reduce the impact if the reader doesn’t know the setting and figures it out halfway through with a jolt of realization.  This can result in them having to restart the building of tension in their minds.
  3. Remember that both parties are moving at high speed and focused on the pursuit instead of their surroundings.  This means they will be distracted and won’t always react perfectly to unexpected obstacles.  Now, you can sidestep this issue by having the drivers focus on running away while the passengers focus on defense, but that doesn’t always work.  Not having vehicles or those that only allow one person means that they are trying to pay attention to the road and their enemies.  So, the chase can and should take sudden turns when the unexpected happens.
  4. Get a feel for how the vehicles you choose will work under the conditions you have set up.  If you’re using cars and it’s snowing then remember that the tires might not have the best grip of the road.  If you have horses then you need to factor in fatigue and a lower time limit than if machines are used.  Every vehicle has its own pros and cons, so it helps to do a little research.
  5. Yes, we know everybody loves to see explosions and vehicles flying through the air.  All you have to do is make sure it fits the setting.  Also, land vehicles do get damaged if they soar through the air and slam down onto the pavement.  Not to mention people inside are going to get jolted around.
  6. Seatbelts!
  7. The key to a chase scene is suspense and tension.  This is established by describing the scene in details that touch on every sense.  Note how characters are acting as they move along.  Describe the state of the vehicles and how the scenery goes by.  Sounds are incredibly important here such as screeching tires and metal hitting metal.  You need to paint a fast-moving, kinetic picture with your words from beginning to end.  If you find yourself breathing heavy and sweating then you’re on the right track.
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Creating a Promotional Author Video

Hello, SEers! Welcome to the first Mae Day of 2022. I hope your New Year is off to a great start! Today, I’d like to talk about how to create a …

Creating a Promotional Author Video
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Poetry Day: 30 Minutes

Fantasy Magneto

(Clearly, my time management skills and quiet time have not improved since 2011.)

Half an hour

Is all I ask for

Just thirty measly minutes

Time to myself

To be left alone

Yet it never comes to pass

Four people in eleven rooms

Five if you count the toddler

So, why is space so rare?

You all say things are tight

But everyone has a place

That is their very own

Except for me

All I want is thirty minutes

To bike and work a sweat

I am overweight

And out of shape

As you all tend to state

I am self-conscious

About this task

Since you all just love to judge

This is why I bike alone

And you said you understood

You agreed to my request at first

Then it soured fast

You passed through for snacks

And sudden work

That truly was not urgent

So I changed my time

To later on

When everyone was busy

Yet now it happens once again

This time you get there first

I cannot move the bike

So here I sit upon my ass

Watching my thirty minutes die

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Ye New Oil Boutique: All Effects Are Temporary

Oils

Welcome to our little store.  As you can tell from the sign, we have oils and a nice collection at that.  Please don’t touch anything because even the residue of our products can have an effect.  Understand that these last only so long as the oil is in your system or on your skin depending on usage.  So, digestion and showering should be taken into account if you plan on doing something specific.  Now, what can I decanter for you this day?

  • Olive–  Our standard, but not top seller.  Attracts and mind controls anyone connected to the sea such as sailors or fishermen.
  • Virgin Olive–  Same as above, but you glow a little.
  • Extra Virgin Olive–  Same as above, but you have a ghost priest judging you for any physical contact you make.
  • Canola–  Gain the ability to understand various languages, but only the slang parts.
  • Vegetable–  Gain the powers of either a rabbit or turtle depending on if you eat it or dab it on your skin.  Each bottle is different in terms of which is which.
  • Sesame–  Enhances singing voice, counting ability, kindness levels, and friendliness.
  • Coconut–  Skin becomes rock like and hairy.  Urge to explain coconuts are not actual nuts is constant.
  • Peanut–  Ability to summon elephants with a clap of your hands.  Do not use when part of a live audience.
  • Flaxseed–  Grants the ability to slip through any opening bigger than your thumb and wider than your torso.  Sign wavier that we are not responsible for illegal usage.
  • Hemp–  Emit a soothing gas from nose, but the effort causes dizziness.
  • Grapeseed–  Fire tiny seeds from the palms of your hands.  They don’t hurt, but they do annoy.  Overuse can result in grape vines growing from pores.
  • Lavender– Do not eat!  Gives you the ability to survive any awkward conversation without stress.
  • Corn–  Nothing special.  There’s just so much of it that we give away a vial with every purchase.
  • Sunflower–  Grants temporary photosynthesis when in sunlight.  You can only face the sun until effect is over.
  • Avocado–  Telepathy along with the unstoppable desire to get involved in every conversation you sense.  Sense of superiority and low self-esteem are side effects.
  • Palm–  Gain the ability to geniunely slap the taste out of someone’s mouth.
  • Pumpkin–  Transform face, but only into scary visages.  Will upset any child holding a blanket on sight.
  • Walnut–  Grants the ability to choose the perfect wooden flooring and paint combination.
  • Lemongrass– Do not eat!  Steal the sleep of other people in order to stay awake.
  • Soy– Enhances all senses, except for taste, which is sacrificed for a week.
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Writing Set-Up for the Big Reveal!

Greetings, SE Readers. Beem with you today. First, I want to thank everybody involved with Story Empire for the warm welcome extended to me as a new …

Writing Set-Up for the Big Reveal!
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Teaser Tuesday: Visiting a Friend

Cover Art by Alison Hunt

I really liked this scene between Clyde and Chastity.  It raises some questions if you haven’t read War of Nytefall: Eulogy though.  Enjoy.

Continue reading

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#4 Post of 2021: 7 Tips to Adding Fear Into Fiction

(Post originally published on February 3, 2021.)

Yahoo Image Search

Even if you don’t write horror, you may want to include some fear in your stories.  From fear, we can create hope and relief.  We can also drive people into despair and sadness.  It’s a fascinating jumping point for so many stories.  Yet, one does come off a little depraved if they enjoy the manipulation too much.  Still, we’ve come this far (5.5 sentences) and might as well move on to the advice.

  1. Fear doesn’t always come from gore.  That’s actually disgust.  The fear can come at the beginning because you are surprised by the gore, but it isn’t the main focus.  This may seem like it’s more for movies and shows.  It isn’t because authors add graphic descriptions of violence in their books at times.  Blood being described as it flies from a body and limbs getting hurled into the air like hats at a high school graduation.  Just know that the fear kind of comes and goes in this scenario, so you can’t depend on gore for that emotion.
  2. You can cause a reader to become numb to fear.  If stimulated and kept tense for a long period of time, a person may simply turn off that part of their mind.  It isn’t intentional, but the human body does what it can to reduce stress.  This means, keeping the tension going for too long can result in there being no payoff.  This is the reason why many authors suggest that you create tension in waves.  Add calm and relaxing scenes between the tense ones in order to keep the reader emotionally invested.
  3. Never flat out tell a reader that he or she has to be scared.  They don’t like that.
  4. Have a reason for the fear being in your story.  If you’re writing a romance then repeatedly terrifying your reader won’t help with the plot.  You can have some tense scenes where a touch of fear is involved, but you have to maintain the proper tone for fear to make sense.  It is one of the most powerful emotions that humans have and it has a major impact on tone in a story.  Throwing it in for amusement when it doesn’t match can ruin everything.
  5. Dialogue can be just as important as exposition when it comes to inducing fear.  Think about being told a story in a way that puts you on the edge of your seat.  A character is capable of doing this.  It can be tricky because you may have to depend on adjectives or risk an info dump.  You can’t have them do this with a few quick sentences, but you can’t go on for pages upon pages.  That’s just a story within a story, which can throw readers off.  Beta readers can really come in handy here.
  6. If you can scare yourself then you’re onto something.  Then again, being the author means you’re emotionally invested in the first place.  Don’t take your own sense of fear as proof that you’re doing things perfectly  It’s more that you’re in the right ballpark that you plan on dropping the readers off in.  Unlike them, you know where the story is going, so the fear has an added level of anticipation that can enhance it.  You may miss that you aren’t creating enough tension for a person lacking in your pre-existing knowledge.  As before, beta readers can help here.
  7. Just because Stephen King did it doesn’t mean you should or can do it too.  Fear depends a lot on there being something that a person hasn’t seen.  If you go for an evil clown then you may only scare those with the specific phobia.  Others will roll their eyes and all tension will disappear.
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