Narrowing Down To The End

I just finished reading a fairly good book.  It was a fantasy about a group of people who traveled to another, magical world, got separated as soon as they arrived and, as time passed, got together again.  Each time they got together there was a conversation describing what had happened while apart.  Because several characters were separated, I read at least half a dozen conversations describing their time apart. Actually, one conversation repeated several times as the same information was told to different characters.  Using almost the same words

In that respect, the book was true to life.  In real life, people repeat the same conversation every time they tell someone else the same story.  And what happens?  Listeners roll their eyes and tune out.  Same thing happens in fiction.  Because it’s boring.

I loved The Hunger Games.  I read every word describing the first Hunger Games.  But I admit that I skipped most of the descriptions of the future Games.  Because I knew how they worked. I knew how they were organized.   I didn’t need or particularly care to read more of the same.

It’s true that some stories should contain what might be considered an overabundance of a certain kind of scene.  Car chases in car chase movies. Fights in martial arts movies.  And there are a few others. But not very many others.

So what to do?  How to handle a situation where familiar information must be provided several times?

Ever seen a funnel?  One of those things that’s used to pour stuff from a large container into a smaller one?  Ever notice how it’s wide at the top and narrow at the bottom?  Most stories should resemble a funnel.   Lots of description, tons of details, at the beginning. The fat part of the funnel  But as the story progresses… and especially as it nears the climax… use fewer words,  have your character say they  understand and get on with the story, skip whatever isn’t essential.  Get on with the story and trust your reader to fill in the blanks.  Most readers don’t want the rush to the climax to be slowed with unnecessary, nonessential information that slows things down and puts a damper on the excitement.

In other words, trust your reader’s intelligence.  If you laid your foundations well in the beginning, as the story progresses they can fill in a few blanks all by themselves.  And they’ll thank you for it.

The Making of a Series

This post is partly to say ‘hi’ to my favorite people… readers of my blog… but it’s mostly to try out a link to the web page that’ll be very important for Spirit Legend for the week beginning April 8.  And to say a bit about how series are born.  At least, how mine was.

I believe I’ve mentioned before that I’m technologically challenged.  But I bought a book called WordPress for Dummies and, hopefully, following their instructions, I’ll actually create a working link from the web page that’s home to the book blast to this blog. That’ll be the ‘trying out’ part of this post.  To see if it works.  To see if I can actually do it.  So here goes (drum roll):

http://www.blackliontours.com/#!spirit-legend-by-florence-witkop/c22dh

Okay.  That’s it.  Did it work?  Can readers connect?  Please, please, please let me know!

If so, it’s a huge relief and, come book blast week, I may temporarily replace my home page with something about Spirit Legend that will also contain the link.  If that actually happens, then I’ll truly know how to do links.  But I’ll also be doing it because I want to get the word out about Spirit Legend. Marketing sucks but it’s a necessary component of writing.

The reviews for Spirit Legend have been wonderful.  I want to give each and every reviewer a big hug because everyone who has read it has liked it.  The only negative criticism has been to wish the book was longer so the reader could get to know the characters better.  A flaw that I hope to correct with my next novel, Wolf Legend, which will be book 2 of the Legend series.

Which brings me to the subject of how series come into existence.  Not that I knew I was beginning a series when I wrote Spirit Legend.  That came later when I admitted to the cover artist, Laura Shinn, that I couldn’t come up with a decent title, and the only reason I admitted to her how lacking I was in that respect was because she required a title so she could put it on the cover she was busy designing.

Well, it seems that Laura Shinn is a very creative person.  She came up with the title Spirit Legend.  I used it and it was perfect.

Then, as I began my next novel, it occurred to me that it, too, was about a legend, this time of huge wolves … possibly direwolves from prehistoric times … that were reputed to have been seen on a remote island in Lake of The Woods between Canada and the USA.  And that the book I planned to write after that one was also based on a legend. The Greek legend about Ceres, goddess of agriculture.

And so a series was born.  Might only be three novels, but, who knows, it might be more when the creative muses start whispering in my ear.  And believe me, when they whisper, I listen.

Eco-fiction

I recently joined a new group on Goodreads.  I don’t belong to many groups and I’m very picky about the ones I do join.  But this one sounded interesting when I ran across the name.  So I took a look.  What’s eco-fiction?

As it turns out, eco-fiction is what I write.  Okay, it’s one genre my work fits into, along with several others.  Because, like many writers, I don’t worry about fitting my story into any one box.  The result, honesty forces me to add, is that when it’s time to market what I’ve written, I’m truly frustrated because… surprise, surprise… it doesn’t neatly fit into any one genre.  Thus it’s difficult to market.

Anyway,to return to the subject of this post, it seems that eco-fiction is fiction of any kind that celebrates, describes, or promotes the natural world.  Dune is eco-fiction.

Really?  Well, if Dune fits the genre of eco-fiction, my books do too, as well as those other genres my books have been assigned to.  Fantasy.  Sci-fi.  Contemporary.  Paranormal.  Romance.  And so on. And  I’m sure other writers have books that fit this genre and aren’t being marketed as such because they don’t know the genre exists.  Just like I’d never heard of it until I ran across that group on Goodreads.

But I have a special feel for this new label.  Eco-fiction.  I love it! I plan on using the term as often as possible.  Who knows?  Maybe it’ll become mainstream.

Creating Characters

A long time ago, I bought a book that promised to describe forty-five compelling characters that I could use in my fiction.  As I read it, I realized that I knew someone who resembled each and every character it described. And there were forty-five of them!  Wow!

But I realized something.  The author simply described eight basic personality types that can be found in any psych textbook. But each type could be either positive or negative, which doubled the eight to sixteen.  Then each of those sixteen types could become either major or minor characters, which doubled the already doubled number. And so on, until forty-five distinctly different fictional characters were fleshed out.

I thought, hey, if that author could come up with forty-five characters from a list of eight basic personality types, I could do the same with any similar list out there.  And there are several different personality type lists out there.  Just google the term and see what comes up.  Then do what that author did, consider each type from different perspectives.  And you, too, can come up with all the characters you could possibly ever need for all the books you ever intend to write.

Of course, there’s a caveat.  I read the book, enjoyed every page, then ignored it.  I suggest you do the same.  Because, though people truly can be categorized, everyone is unique.  So use the descriptions as basic guides, then flesh them out however you wish.  The resulting characters might resemble people you know.  Or people you can’t believe exist beyond your books.

Either way you’ll have wonderful characters to populate your wonderful stories.