There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

My love affair with Legend June 15, 2013

Filed under: Inspiration,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 7:34 am
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When the movie, Legend, came out, I was thirteen years old. It had everything my young teenage heart could wish for: love, magic, unicorns, and a battle between good and evil. Also, a handsome, peasant hero in love with a princess, a villain with horns and cloven feet, elves, faeries, pixies, goblins, and of course, a flesh-eating witch.

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Now, as a woman and writer of fantasy, the movie still captivates me, despite the negative reviews by the critics.

The plot is simple: the hero must defeat the villain to save the world from eternal darkness. The theme is more complex: neither light, nor dark, can truly destroy the other, for they’re dependent on one another. The characters each have his or her own role to perform that supports the branching elements of the plot.

I’ve used Legend as a template for storyboarding. Often my plot overwhelms me and I need to narrow it down to its most basic before branching out or creating sub-plots. I want to make sure my theme carries through from beginning to end, and choose the best elements to represent or symbolize this theme. Character development is the most important to me. Are each of my characters necessary? Do they have a purpose? Do they create conflict, aid my MC, have hardships of their own? Do they grow at all? Do they inspire me?

I won’t bore you with every facet of Legend I adore, but I will ask you: What movie/book do you watch/read over and over again and never tire of? Why? Is it the mythology, the world-building, the time-period? Once you know the answers, you’ll know what story to write. And more importantly, you’ll love it.

My love affair with Legend has lasted twenty-seven years. I want the same with my stories.

Happy writing!

Kate

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Tossing Heads With Heroines May 18, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 6:30 am
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K. L. Schwengel

No, I didn’t mean Talking Heads, although I do enjoy their music. If you’re a Labyrinth fan you’ll know where this is coming from. One of my favorite scenes in the whole movie (besides any with David Bowie as THE number one best Goblin king ev-ahr) is when Sarah finds herself surrounded by the odd, head-tossing Fireys.

“You’re only allowed to throw your own head!” Love it. Why? Because it’s just one of the times our heroine gets to show what she’s really made of.
Much is made about heroes in fantasy, and the qualities they should possess. Often, however, the heroine is subject to playing second string, or even sitting on the bench. Even when she’s supposed to be driving the story. Nothing will make me dump a book quicker than a simpering, milquetoast heroine. I want to see some head tossing, dang it. Occasional tears are fine. Weakness and flaws, to be expected. But constant sobbing, wringing of hands, and screaming . . . not so much.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need the Amazonian, full-on kickassery battle chick. I’m okay with heroines displaying their feminine side. But they need to temper that with other qualities or I just won’t care if they ever succeed. Heck, I may even start hoping the bad guy does them in.
So, what do I want to see in a heroine?

  • Strength: Not physical. I want that internal strength that pushes our gal forward even when she’s terrified. She can be shaking in her boots, ready to toss her cookies, but she’s got to have the hutzpah to suck it up and keep going, beyond her limitations.
  • Initiative: Give me someone who acts as opposed to always reacting, or worse, sitting on her hands waiting to be saved, helped, or told what to do. This trait is likely going to get her into worse situations more often than not, but she’s trying. She’s making the effort.
  • Faith: Hope, optimism, call it what you will. She needs to believe there’s a way out of the situation, that at the end of the day, it’s going to work out. Yes, she can have moments of self-doubt, moments of utter despair – key word, moments. We all have them. Wallowing in them pins us down, just as it will to our heroine. She needs to believe in herself, in a greater power, in the love of someone. Something has to fee her Strength.
  • A Sense of Humor: No, not slap you knee funny, life of the party, cracking jokes and taking nothing seriously type of humor. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m somewhat a fan of gallows humor. You know, that scene where our heroine and her bestie are outnumbered 10-1 and certain death is staring them in the face, and she looks over and quips, “At least I’m wearing clean undies.” (Because whose mother never gave them that warning as they headed out the door?)
  • Love: Hey, I’m not the big mushy type, but our heroine needs to be able to love, openly and without reservation. Heroes aren’t always perfect. At least, they shouldn’t be. Our heroine needs to be able to set aside her preconceived notions of Prince Charming and embrace Prince I’m Only Human.

I’m sure I’ve left something out. So tell me, what is it you like to see in your heroines?

 

Character Limitations April 11, 2013

Hello readers!!

I want to apologize for my lateness of posting. I live in a very rural area and even an ounce of wind knocks out our Internet and we had 70 mph gusts! Originally, I had planned to do a post on voice in fantasy, but my little issue got me to thinking. As a person, I am limited in all sorts of ways. I don’t have reliable internet, making it hard for me to be reliable to post on time. I have ADD, which makes me limited in the amount of time I can spend writing or doing any sort of activity for long periods of time. It also tends to make me irritated because I focus on too many things at once and not enough on what I’m actually trying to do. I live in the middle of nowhere, so if you want to come visit me, prepare to get lost in some corn.

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Seriously, the middle of NO where.

However, all of these things make me who I am, make me a very flawed but believable human being (hopefully). Characters deserve the same amount of flaws.

So your heroine is a badass knight who can chop off foes with one sweep of a battle ax. That’s awesome! But how is she limited? We want to be able to understand and become the character we are reading about, so the character needs to be sympathetic in some way, shape, or form. She/He needs a major flaw to help us lowly non-ax wielding individuals feel like we (the reader and the character) are on the same level. She could have anger issues, or perhaps she is a huge ditz and forgets where she killed the body. Too often the go to for hard, tough, girl characters is zero emotion (*cough* *cough* Katniss, why couldn’t you just love Peeta like he loved you?!). To stand out and be original, you need to give your character a different or additional flaw.

Don’t ignore the limitation of locale either. If your ax worrier is in the middle of the city practicing weapons, I doubt the city guard will like that very much. S/he might end up in jail more than they actual defend the city. If your main character is a cow salesman on a ranch in the middle of Wyoming, they are more than likely comfortable with a gun in their hands and those evil goblins coming to suck out his/her soul might have more than a fight than they bargained for.

In short, people are all flawed, they are limited. Since your main character is a person to you and to your readers, they need to be flawed too.

In need of a flaw? Here’s a short list!

  • Narcissism
  •   Insecurity
  • Fear of Heights/ Spiders/ the dark/ monkeys/ rabbits/ a lone goose/large, open areas/ tiny spaces/ ect.
  • Gambling addiction/alcohol addiction/ ect.
  • No Social Skills
  • Too friendly it borderlines creepy
  • Fumbles for words
  • Too Nice
  • Bad Liar
  • Brilliant, but very lazy
  • Can’t Keep A Secret
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror
  • Control Freak
  • Man Child/Woman Child-the character is an adult, but they still have attitudes as if they were a child
  • Ignores duty
  • Neat Freak
  • Can’t Say No to a Challenge
  • Overprotective
  • Picky Eater
  • Rebellious
  • Stubborn
  • Is an excellent liar
  • Sore Loser
  • Wildcard
  • Needs Constant Approval from Others
  • Stoic

Good luck and Happy Writing!

Jess