Books and Affiliated, From Writing to Publishing, Writing Prompts

We’re Here!

Villains

I’ve bounced around an idea of starting a series of blogs titled “We’re Here!” – the search for characters and what makes a character-driven story.

Today, I thought we’d focus on villains. What makes a villain and what makes a good villain so bad.

In our very first post for “We’re Here!” we’ll explore villains from multiple angles and discover the antagonists all around us.


PS LOVE the new additions to the WordPress app. ūüėÄ


Bad to the Core

There are, of course, people in the world who are simply bad. They seek only to please themselves. They run after pleasures of the flesh and the physical, always chasing that which they believe will make them feel happy and fulfilled.

You can use this in a story. You can have a villain who is simply selfish, and every reader will understand their motive and cringe at the injustice of it all.

There are other levels to selfishness too. Some people have a specific skill set, such as gambling, swindling, lying, stealing, and they take pride in those skills. Give your villain a defining skill, something to make him realistic in your reader’s mind.

Bad by Default

Wouldn’t you agree some people just strike on bad luck? They were born in the wrong place at the wrong time. This can be discouraging for the human soul, which strives to believe everything it does is for good.

Now this villain needs a place to belong. They’ve given up on life and got caught up in whatever racket has been chasing them down. It could be a gang. Maybe they’re a follower for an evil ruler. Maybe they’re simply so hurt, all they care about is hurting others. Hurting people hurt people.

So give your villain a strong emotional connection on the negative side. Make them angry or bitter, resentful, unfulfilled. But try to strike for something specific – their father left them/beat them/etc. Their only friends were the neighborhood gang who treated them terrible but promised them a place to belong. Be creative, but try to stem from real-world examples if you can. Maybe they were kidnapped, human-trafficked, or simply raised by plain old mean people.

Usually these villains can have a great redemption moment. Play with that. Maybe in your story, you want to save people, not simply create an environment for your hero to be heroic. We all love stories of forgiveness.

Bad for the Sake of Good

This is a tough one. There are people in the world who believe what they do is for the good of humanity. Conquers of old were good examples of this. In those days, it was conquer or be conquered. So as ruler, you sent out to battle local countries to display your power. This in turn kept your own people safe, because no one dared challenge you.

This villain believes they are good. They are completely justified in their mind. One could almost write the story from their point of view and make them the hero!

One of the best ways to write this villain is to make them so believable even the hero begins to falter. Make your readers question everything they thought they knew about right and wrong. This is a powerful villain, because if the readers believe for even a second that their hero could fail, you’ve added the perfect element to any story – RISK.


A good way to find villains is to look at people, politicians, religious leaders, and anyone you don’t like. Dig into questions of why you don’t like them. Do they challenge your way of life? Do they cause you personal harm? Are they resisting your cause for good and well-being?

Now hop the fence and study your personal antagonists. Read up about them and their values. Discover why they do what they do. Why they believe what they believe. In doing that, you’ve just researched material for a great villain.

Now go write about them.


This has been,

Fan T. C.

in “We’re Here! – Villains”

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Books and Affiliated, Le Shorts

Something to Share

I’m going to share my fairy poetry with you.

They shared it with me, and I don’t feel it’s right to keep it to myself.

Who gave it to me, you ask.

The fairies, of course.

* * *

“Deep in the hollow
Of an ancient wood
Mystical lanterns
At one time stood.”
HOME

* * *

“This road you’re on
Does it ever end?
These twists and turns
Each hidden bend
What made you walk
The path you took?
Was it fairy love
Or love forsook?
THE ROAD

* * *

“The fairy glade is where you’re at
Where dreams are made in a great big vat,
And in this land you’ll never find
A grain of sand left out of time.”
DARE TO DREAM

* * *

“Don’t you wake by bird’s light song?
But all is dead in winter’s frost.
Can life begin at journeys end?
Or is snow the mark that all is lost?”
WINTER

* * *

“Hush of night
‘Neath a violet sky
Moonlit waves
Have sung goodbye.”
FAREWELL TO THE SEA

* * *

On the isle of wonder
Where enchantment reigns
Where walls fall asunder
And set free their chains
Give worry to the sea
And stress to the winds
For on the isle on wonder
Your adventure begins.”
THE ISLE

* * *

The passage of time
A mysterious thing
When you hear the bells chime
Then you must leave the ring.
Be warned.”

Books and Affiliated, From Writing to Publishing

New Year; New Novel

dedication-copy.jpg
(C) FanTCBooks; All rights reserved

Me: I can totally finish editing this book by tonight!

*Glances down at page bar. Pages read out of total page count – 53/147.*

Also me: I’m never going to finish…


 

 

 

 

 


A WORD ON EDITING

Editing is when a writer becomes inundated with her own work. The read-through, rereading, excessive reading, looking-up/looking-back/looking-through, not to mention shipping it off to an editor who will instruct you to go through his edits carefully, after which you really should follow up with a polish read, then send off to a beta reader (or two or three – not all at once, mind you. You really should only send to one beta at a time in order to keep all edits concise.) Once they’re through, you’ll find yourself going over their edits, which means more reading.

Does it ever end?

This part can be discouraging for writers. It’s a well-known truth that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. You might find yourself getting bored with your own work. Certain scenes may sound useless and trivial. The ending might feel muddled, confusing, or just plain bad. It’s tempting to give up sometimes. But sometimes, this is where the rubber meets the road and you’re faced with the awe-inspiring realization that you have created something spectacular.

This is the moment every writer lives for. Acknowledgment for oneself that the work is indeed good. You might think the “moment every writer lives for” is when readers first get their hands on a copy of the book, but I say that’s an inaccurate statement. In order to believe what others might say about us, we must first believe it for ourselves.

A hundred people can call you pretty/handsome, but until you look in the mirror and believe it for yourself, those compliments fall on deaf ears.

Your parents may call you brave and stalwart, but until you face down your own fears and see the hero within, you will simply think “they’re being¬†nice.”

A teacher might say that you’re intelligent, creative, but until you review the work of your hands and see the product for what it is – intelligent, creative – you will say, “They’re just trying to be encouraging. They don’t believe it.”

See? If you don’t believe in yourself, you won’t believe in others either.


Because this book I’m working on is the sequel in a two-part series, I reread the first book to refresh my memory on the characters and working of the plot. It has been perhaps two years since I published the first book, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I had forgotten. It took me three days to read it.

Maybe that’s a small book. Or maybe I simply couldn’t put it down.

Arrogant? I think not. There’s nothing wrong with getting excited about your own work. If you don’t, no one else will. There’s a difference between bragging excessively and wanting to share something you are passionate about.

Forgetting and rereading the first book cemented in my mind that, yes, I had created something spectacular. You see, after publication, I revert to this overwhelming phobia that my work wasn’t polished up to par, or that I didn’t describe the world well. Sometimes I fret that the characters aren’t true to themselves, or that readers will discover all my plot holes. I become paranoid. My work isn’t good. My writing is terrible. Now everyone will see it.

(Admittedly I¬†would¬†like to polish up the first book more, just because I’ve learned so much about editing in the past two years, and I would like to fix the esthetic appeal of the read.)

In my rediscovery, I found the story flowed exceedingly well. I was impressed with my own characters. I cheered for their growth and successes. My heart began to pound everytime they encountered danger, and the horror of the cliffhanger left my palms sweaty and my hands shaking.

This was everything I dreamed it would be.

Now I’m 53 pages into the second installment. I have been meticulously editing, molding, reshaping the words so that they are their clearest, so that they speak their best, describe their best, and read their easiest. I have been merciless, cutting out anything that detracts from the story. And the most surprising realization is that there is no pain in editing.

People like to say that editing feels like your heart being torn out, but I’ve never experienced that – thank the Maker. My purpose in writing is to tell a story and introduce these characters – these delightful little people I’ve imagined – to the world. I want them to look their best, so I wipe off their smudges, scrub the dirt off them, polish and shine them, and proudly look on as they make their way across the stage.

Editing should not be all painful.

Editing should be the proudest moments of your project. When you can honestly look down at the work and say, “Yeah. This is really good. And it can be better.”

I want to encourage you – whatever you’re working on – that this can be an exciting and rewarding time. If you enter the editing mode with grudging and fear, you will experience grudging and fear. But if you enter with positivity, excitement, and hope, then you will experience¬†those feelings instead.

This has been,

Fanny T. Crispin

Books and Affiliated, Raw

You Do You

I don’t care that my stories or even my characters may not seem realistic all the time. I write the kind of stories I want to read, and so should you.

How often have we heard that encouragement? “Write for yourself! You’ll find readers who enjoy your work as much as you do!” But how often are we hounded by the same gurus telling us we need realistic, heart-felt, raw characters, we need ordinary, everyday issues about life and personhood addressed and resolved, we should write about current events so readers will gravitate to our work?

I struggle with this idealism to make my characters real in a real way, and yet molding them into the heroes and heroines I need to propel the plot forward. Sometimes I write characters who are bolder than I feel. Some of them are shy and morose like me. I’ve been blamed for making shallow main characters who are only moved by supporting characters. Maybe sometimes I feel shallow and can only be moved by people around me. But on the flip side, I’ve also been accused of writing unrealistically brash characters who jump into action without thinking!

There’s no placating people. Everyone has an opinion, and someone will always tell you to do the exact opposite of what you are currently doing.

So, here’s my question: What’s your opinion?


Sometimes we have to refocus ourselves to the reason we write. I’ve been writing for so long, I don’t remember not being a writer. Before I started publishing, before I even shared my work, I literally only wrote for my sister – and maybe one or two supportive friends. I also wrote…for me. I loved my stories. When I get an idea in my head, it’s so exciting. I love the thrill of adventure! I love writing about young girls who get the chance to experience magic, who talk to fairies, who aren’t bound by family but go off willy-nilly without repercussions, scoldings, or groundings. I write to free my mind from my body, and I write to satisfy these urges to hop on a plane to who-knows-where and just escape!

In reality, I really don’t want to run away from home. Yes, I want to explore this world, but that’s not financially realistic – yet. Besides, I love my home. I love my stupid town. I love all the stupid people who populate it, the just and the unjust alike. I just want to experience adventure in a safe way.

And what better way to – safely – experience it than through a good book?


If I never publish another book, it won’t break my heart. I will continue to populate my personal bookshelves with my stories, and if that sounds narcissistic to you, then YES. YES IT IS.

Here is the only time I will tell you to fully embrace narcissism. Nobody is going to love your stories as much as you do. You will never have enough fans, enough adoring Tweets and Facebook messages to compete with the love you have for your own book. And you know why that is? Because you birthed the darn screaming, pooping, puking, colicky thing. You stayed up late and woke up early. You beat your head against walls and computer desks. You were stumped by its rebellion, but you overcame its temper tantrums. You pointed a finger at the notebook or computer screen and shouted, “You’re going to behave, grow up, and become a decent book, so help me God!”

Good parents will always tell you no one will love your child more than you will. It’s the same for books. No one will understand why you put so much patience and time into a few stupid words. Some will even tell you to trash something if it’s just being too difficult.

Well, that’s not what we do around here, is it? No, sir. You pick up that sniveling, snot-faced, puffy-eyed story, wipe away its pathetic tears, give it a few pats on the butt and tell it to go play on the swingset. This is your book. And this is my book.

So let’s write like we don’t give two fudgesicles about the world and its problems.

This has been,

Fanny T. Crispin