Action/Adventure Aficionados discussion

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The Reader <--> Writer Interface > Open Question for those who write from the dangerously curious reader

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message 1: by The Pirate Ghost, Long John Silvers Wanna-be (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) | 5327 comments Mod
For those of you who have written a book or are writing a book with intent to sell...

What the devil, or angel, no discrimination here, pushed you over the edge to writing a book with intent to distribute?

That's a scary step for creative minds that put so much of their heart into their work. So many people want to write a book, some of them write a book, and some of those who write a book never let it get to the point yours is.

What motivates you to write?


message 2: by The Pirate Ghost, Long John Silvers Wanna-be (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) | 5327 comments Mod
By open question, I mean, please, any/all Authors can respond to this, and of course discussion is always welcome.


message 3: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Bellaleigh (anthonybellaleigh) | 76 comments Okay Hugh, I'll kick off the answers then...

I started writing with three simple objectives: could I do it (it's a huge challenge, especially part-time), would I get any fun out of it (finding sufficient motivation to finish a full-length book is a good test-case for this), and would anyone else enjoy what I'd written (I didn't set any minimum numbers)? As it turns out, I kept the same objectives for the second novel. Maybe they'll always apply for me?

As for publication, it simply became a logical next step - publication widens the scope for robust feedback (this can only truly come from people with whom you have no connection) which I think is vital to be able to seriously step forwards in terms of communications skills. Beware though: the feedback sometimes hurts - terribly. This has got to be one of the only art-forms where other wannabe authors seem to love tearing strips off of their fellows...

Selling has become a necessary evil (though I tend to keep as clear as I can from any self-promo) on the basis that free books unfortunately attract a stigma of low value - therefore not putting a price on your work ends up becoming self defeating.

I'm in complete sync with your comments regarding writing from the heart. Anyone who truly loves books, who has a story they want to tell, who can spin a good anecdote and captivate friends and family, who just can't stand going through life following the easy path, should probably put pen to paper and give writing a go... I, for one, will only ever look forward to seeing what happens as a result! :)


message 4: by Jim (new)

Jim Crocker | 271 comments I've always had an attraction to stories and an obsession with physical books -- not to mention brief cases (okay all luggage) and office supplies. I worked as a technical writer for 25 years in all sorts of weird IT environments. Now that I've come to my senses, I just writing what I wanna write. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. (I'll work that line in, at any opportunity.)

But why SELL the stories? Like, I want to get them out there and have people actually read them -- and hopefully enjoy them, learn something, ask questions, re-think politics, etc. So I write to affect people. I know, that's weird. I could just post the books in the Amazon free column and let that be that. But there's this boat I want to buy. And I'm thinking about the new Caddie. And I'd like to spend a couple months in La Romana in the Dominican Republic. And there are these $25 cigars I want. And I'd like y'all to pay for it!!


message 5: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Duder (thomasduder) I write because I have this muse riding my back, y'see. If I don't write, the bitch won't let up on me and then things get all depressing and my hatemongering swells up and gets all annoying. In order to keep the negative fugue that she brings on from time to time at bay, I write.

Also, immortality.

Also, groupies.

But mostly the first thing, yeah.

~Thomas Duder
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorOfTheTh...


message 6: by Tim (last edited Dec 25, 2012 09:12AM) (new)

Tim Fairchild (timfairchild) | 69 comments Great question, Hugh.

I've always wanted to write that action novel after years of reading them. When I finally retired, I had NO excuses not to sit my ever-widening butt down at the keyboard and start my own adventure.

I didn't do it for the money, or fame. Just hearing people say, "Wow! I loved Zero Point!" means more to me than money. When I met Dirk Cussler, he said to me, he had thought of using my story premise as well, which I thought was pretty cool!

I've met a lot of nice people, authors, readers, cover designers, and so on, so the personal rewards have been worth it all.~Tim


message 7: by The Pirate Ghost, Long John Silvers Wanna-be (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) | 5327 comments Mod
Guys, thank you for answering this. I've read them all and their wonderful. After Christmas, I'll comment on each of them. Thank you!


message 8: by Greg (new)

Greg Stillwagon | 2 comments Hugh, I rather love this question.

I'm not much of an author - I'm an accountant and business manager - and I read like a maniac. But in the old saying "Everybody's got a book in them - i.e. the story of their life" - I think I have something to offer. My idea is to wrap a bunch of personal experiences, personal philosophy and ideas into an adventure story.

So I've been working on 'it' (mostly 'off' it) for 20 years. I have three what you might call chapters of introduction completed, for the main charactors, which I have posted to Goodreads. I have an idea of where its going but who really knows and has the time at the moment. When I get a situation that is different, no doubt I'll continue. I hope, but its tough.

I write best when I'm angry. Well, that's not really correct - like when I have tough stuff on my mind and I am thinking most clearly. The diversion of writing makes me relax and ultimately focus on my problems. Odd, upon reflection, but true. The ability of putting yourself into a different world allows solutions and thoughts to "float up" seemingly out of nowhere.

I hope to complete it (this work) one day. It being the masterpiece that no doubt only me and a select few will read. But, those who have read what I have so far are fortunately complementary.

again, I believe it would be great to write a book that people like me would enjoy, while expounding good values which the world - one reader at a time - should be exposed to.

Most likely I am beong too lofty in my goals, but this is a small part of my life I am kind of proud about.

Greg


message 9: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Literary Adrenaline Junkie (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 4746 comments Mod
I'd like to know how A/A writers on the group plot out their action scenes? Do you run them by tough critics to find out if they read well and go back to the drawing board based on critcism? I think this is a huge factor to me when I read an AA book, so I was curious how much authors focus on this.


message 10: by Greg (new)

Greg Stillwagon | 2 comments Dear Lady D,
You know when somebody asks you what time it is, and for whatever reason you feel compelled to tell them how to build a watch? Sometimes an easy answer doesn't quite fit. Such is the case here - I think.

It would be-in my opinion-that successful A/A writers do it (plan and write action scenes) like the way everybody eats pistachios --- i.e. everybody does it differently, as the current commercials are showing.

I have three stories on my Goodreads site, which are introductions to charactors who will "save the day" later on in a great and nobel conflict - which has yet to be written. You have my permission to check them out. At worst they would be a marvelous cure for insomnia.

But to get to the point, your question, --- "Thank God, finally!!" you must be thinking -- I personally have tried to outline, bullet point and prescript the major action points. I personally find that this doesn't work for me. Please realize that I am NOT (as yet - but certainly NOT at this point) a successful author.

My best way is to visualize the flow. As I am writing, I get my head into it and be the hero. By doing this I can figure what would come and how I would react to it. I try to allow Murphy's Law to intervine to make the situations reasonable and difficult. As Mike Tyson said "Everybody's got a fight plan until you get punched the first time".

I, no doubt much to my shame, have always thought the hero in the books I read, and who I am writing about looks just like me. I know, my family gives me psychiatric care gift certificates every holiday. I know why I think that way and I am ok with it. I could go on and on but I will spare you that.

So what I like to do is to use a very basic outline, get to an action scene, and redraft the heck out of it. Get into the flow as if I were fighting, shooting, talking or whatever. Redraft, over and over, the action after reading it and including what I would think would be cool, real and hard.

Of coarse, I have others read it. But I find that I am my worst critic. Other suggestions help, but not really too much because "this is MY story" -- you know what I mean.

This is how I approach it. I understand the process of a play or movie director. I am an accountant/businessman and I prepare inumerel budgets & cash flow plans. I know how to plan, but for me the planning of the specific details isn't the way. Those details will come out of the rusty file cabinet, which is my head -- after pounding my head against more than a few drafts (I mean rewrites, not the beverage).

Greg


message 11: by Tim (new)

Tim Fairchild (timfairchild) | 69 comments Hi Lady Danielle,

Good question! Like Greg mentioned, sometimes an outline just doesn't cut for me. I too use the "mind movie method." I have the basic scene jotted down then just close my eyes and let my imagination play out the scene as if it were a movie and jot down what works for me. Sometimes it works great! Sometimes..eh, not so much. :-)


message 12: by Galen (new)

Galen Watson | 48 comments I have to say, Hugh, that you know how to get to the heart of a thing. Writing well is hard work, so the result better be worth the effort. I always wanted to be a writer, and that was my plan. Then marriage, kids, and pesky responsibilities pushed writing into the background. That’s as good a rationalization as any. Faint-heartedness often comes to mind. The reality is that for most of my years, I had stacks of starts and no finishes. Kids become adults, leave, and the house is quiet. Somehow, I inexplicably arrived at a certain age—well, an age when it dawns on you that if you don’t say the things that are most important, things you need to say, you never will. Tempus fugit.

Now I’m desperate. I have countless unwritten words and not so much time to write them. Would that I had been so desperate forty years ago. Nevertheless, I should be grateful. One novel is in the can and the next begun. Best of all, I’m writing things that are important to me—stories I’d like to read. Happy New Year.


message 13: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Literary Adrenaline Junkie (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 4746 comments Mod
Thanks for the feedback on my question, Greg and Tim.

I'm not published author, but I do write, and I tend to employ a similar method. I visualize the way an action scene would look on the screen, and I think through the mechanics of feasibility. I like to write about crazy stuff like ninjas and assassins, but I have to do my research. I read up on the weapons and weapon tactics and go from there.

I'd love to hear what other authors have to say about their methods.


message 14: by Galen (new)

Galen Watson | 48 comments Lady Danielle aka The Book Huntress wrote: "I'd like to know how A/A writers on the group plot out their action scenes? Do you run them by tough critics to find out if they read well and go back to the drawing board based on critcism? I thi..."

I usually start with one or two sentences describing what I want to happen. Then I let my mind run riot, and write until the scene is done. It’s always waaaaay too much. Then I condense…condense…condense until the scene is sharp and the tempo is right. I’m loathe to let another person see snippets, like just the action part. Somehow, scenes read out of context are hard to interpret. I want critical readers to read them in the context of an entire chapter or several chapters.


message 15: by The Pirate Ghost, Long John Silvers Wanna-be (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) | 5327 comments Mod
Anthony wrote: "Okay Hugh, I'll kick off the answers then...

I started writing with three simple objectives: could I do it (it's a huge challenge, especially part-time), would I get any fun out of it (finding su..."


Thank you for jumping in first Anthony. I'm glad you took up the challenge. I've got a pile of "must reads" in my TBR... or is that my MRP (Must Read Pile) but yours is as high on that list as I can get it.

I for one find your approach to taking feedback to be wonderful. So many people talk the talk about taking feedback, but come short of walking the walk. I don't know if it's a mark of confidence, or a better step in the direction of Nirvana. I've noticed you do a wonderful job of not taking things personal, letting it all come in, keeping what makes sense dumping the junk comments and putting those things that sounded reasonable but don't make sense on a shelf in case you need to revisit them later.

I could go on, but, "good on you!"

I kind of like the "Exidi. Vidi. Vici." approach too. ("I came. I saw. I conquered." - Julius Caesar.)


message 16: by The Pirate Ghost, Long John Silvers Wanna-be (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) | 5327 comments Mod
Jim wrote: " I want to get them out there and have people actually read them -- and hopefully enjoy them, learn something, ask questions, re-think politics, etc. So I write to affect people. I know, that's weird. I could just post the books in the Amazon free column and let that be that. But there's this boat I want to buy. And I'm thinking about the new Caddie. And I'd like to spend a couple months in La Romana in the Dominican Republic. And there are these $25 cigars I want. And I'd like y'all to pay for it!!"

That's not weird, that's a great idea. As a substance abuse counselor I invest a lot of my time and effort into getting people to look at what their doing, how rational, or irrational their thought processes are and hopefully convincing them to open their minds to new possibilities, and answers.

And, does your boat have masts and sails or motors and propellers? (or hydrofoils and rockets!)


message 17: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Literary Adrenaline Junkie (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 4746 comments Mod
That makes sense about wanting a beta reader to see the whole scene than just preliminary sketches.


message 18: by The Pirate Ghost, Long John Silvers Wanna-be (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) | 5327 comments Mod
Question for Galen:

I love Pascal. I just met him in your book. I was wondering..."Does this guy have links or ties to anyone real? (Inpsired by a real person) that you've met, or is he just a wonderful creation that popped out of your head like Midas?


message 19: by Galen (new)

Galen Watson | 48 comments I, Curmudgeon wrote: "Question for Galen:

I love Pascal. I just met him in your book. I was wondering..."Does this guy have links or ties to anyone real? (Inpsired by a real person) that you've met, or is he just a wo..."


I’m glad you love Pascal. Sometimes a character comes from nowhere, but Pascal is based on a couple of dear friends. One is a Parisian gentile, raised a Catholic, with an interesting and unique story that should be told. (Look who’s giving that advice.) Actually, his life is a saga. I’ll call him Pascal to keep the real person anonymous. Pascal’s father raised him since he hadn’t married the mother, and she was too poor to care for him. The father had been a WWI infantryman and aviator. After the war he became a grain merchant who traveled the world, so he boarded young Pascal in a Jewish boarding school, since he felt their schools offered the best education. The family’s origin was Swedish, and they have a German-sounding family name. See where this is going?

Pascal was a pre-teen when the Germans invaded Paris, so the school principal argued with the father to hide his son. The father couldn’t believe Germans could be a threat to his son. He did business with Germans and had German friends. In the end, the stories of atrocities were overwhelming and who would believe that a French boy with a with a German- sounding name (that could be Jewish), inscribed in a Jewish boarding school was not Jewish. So the father spirited Pascal out of Paris just ahead of the advancing invasion. He spent the war in the Loire valley, hiding out.

After the war, Pascal’s father took him to the Palais Royal every Saturday to watch the trials of French collaborators. He wanted his son to never forget how some French had betrayed their compatriots, but the lesson was unnecessary. Very few of Pascal’s friends survived.


message 20: by The Pirate Ghost, Long John Silvers Wanna-be (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) | 5327 comments Mod
That's a wonderful story, sad, but, yes, one that needs telling. Was the inspirational Pascal as freindly and odd as the one in your book?


message 21: by Galen (last edited Jan 07, 2013 09:23AM) (new)

Galen Watson | 48 comments I, Curmudgeon wrote: "That's a wonderful story, sad, but, yes, one that needs telling. Was the inspirational Pascal as freindly and odd as the one in your book?"

Wise, eccentric, and a party animal to boot. I think wisdom comes from terrible and wonderful experiences, and Pascal lived more than his share. We had a wonderful dinner at his apartment before coming back to the States in early December--a little too much wine and Calvados and just enough laughing and storytelling. On reflection, perhaps not enough laughing and storytelling. And yes, every bit as friendly and charming as the fictional Pascal.


message 22: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 224 comments I, Curmudgeon wrote: "What the devil, or angel, no discrimination here, pushed you over the edge to writing a book with intent to distribute?..."

I've been writing since I was in fourth grade and wrote my first full-length work (narrative nonfiction) in high school. I started with novels after a twenty-year break. Doha 12 is my sixth completed full-length novel and the first to go beyond my critique group. So, the short answer? I figured it was time someone other than my relatives got to read one of my books.

I enjoy writing, creating people to spend time with, and coming up with interesting circumstances to inflict on them. In that I've spent (mumble) years writing without publishing, I suspect I'd keep doing it regardless. After a certain point, though, I wanted to push the baby out into the world and see who else would adopt it.

Storytelling in front of an audience is as old a human endeavor as language itself. I suspect it's coded in our genes by now. To be able to see a product of your imagination cause perfect strangers to laugh or cry or cheer is something like a superpower. I wanted to see if I can do that.

True, there's an element of "Am I as good as I think?" in publishing; there's also a touch of reaching for immortality. I'll admit to having mixed motives for publishing, and I'll bet most authors do too.


message 23: by Mike (new)

Mike Meyer I write about what interests me. For instance, I have always been intrigued by the relationship the United States has had with Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive societies in the world, where I have been personal witness to the fact that life here and life there is as different as being on two separate planets. What we take here for a given is nearly always a no-no there. It is as if our two cultures come from completely different worlds, so the interaction between the two fascinates me and makes for a good suspenseful read.


message 24: by Seeley (new)

Seeley James (seeleyjames) | 367 comments Mike wrote: "I write about what interests me. For instance, I have always been intrigued by the relationship the United States has had with Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive societies in the world, wher..."

Mike, I've always wondered about that same thing. We are their biggest customer and some of their citizens are the big supporters of Jihad. On my WIP, I was casting about for bad guys and decided, Saudi Arabia -- Ripe as any.

Peace, Seeley


message 25: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Literary Adrenaline Junkie (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 4746 comments Mod
I have a question. As a writer, do you read a lot? What kinds of books do you enjoy reading and who are your favorite authors and why? Do you read more in the genre that you write or less? Do you find that you are more critical of what you read because you write?


message 26: by Seeley (new)

Seeley James (seeleyjames) | 367 comments Lady Danielle aka The Book Huntress wrote: "I have a question. As a writer, do you read a lot? What kinds of books do you enjoy reading and who are your favorite authors and why? Do you read more in the genre that you write or less? Do you..."

Yes, I love reading. I read what I used to consider a lot (until I started hanging out in this group :) -- about 1-3 books a week. I'm not a speed reader and I take notes/highlight. I read in my genre (thrillers) probably 70% of the time.

I am both critical and appreciative. I don't like reading with a negative attitude so I'm more careful about what I choose to read. I'll read the first three pages and make a decision about whether I can spend 10 hours with that quality of writing & editing. Especially important with indie authors because there is a wide variety of quality. If there are expository clumps or other indications of an un-edited, or not-quite-ready writer, I will skip it. But I give an indie author a lot more lee way because they often have innovative approaches (Wool by Hugh Howey, Doha 12 by Lance Charnes, The Girl Who Would Be King by Kelly Thompson).

I've higher standards for traditional publishers because their books follow a predetermined path. It's predetermined because it's proven effective but that's no guarantee of quality. Contrast Brad Meltzer's 5th Witness (formulaic structure, terrible editing, atrocious grammar) to Roger Hobb's Ghostman. The latter is a masterpiece of complexity, style, and innovative approach -- and it's a debut author who recently graduated from college.

What I really love is reading passages so clever or well done that I highlight them and read them again when I'm done.

Peace, Seeley


message 27: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Literary Adrenaline Junkie (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 4746 comments Mod
Thanks for your feedback, Seeley. I do a lot of reviewing, and it gets hard not to be cynical about what you're reading if you read a lot and you are reading for critical purposes. I can usually find something I like about most of the books I read, while not casting a blind eye towards serious craft errors. I think being a pleasure reader can be impacted by being on the other side of the equation, either as a reviewer or a person who writes themselves.

I love when I read really good writing that I connect to.


message 28: by Seeley (new)

Seeley James (seeleyjames) | 367 comments Lady Danielle aka The Book Huntress wrote: "Thanks for your feedback, Seeley. I do a lot of reviewing, and it gets hard not to be cynical about what you're reading if you read a lot and you are reading for critical purposes. I can usually f..."

I hear you! If I can hack the first three pages, then I commit to the book and look for the good passages that I connect me to the story. When I finish, if there aren't enough to form a rave review, I don't write it.

BTW: I like your reviews even though many of them are genres I'm not interested in. I feel like I'm on the periphery by reading yours :)

Peace, Seeley


message 29: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Literary Adrenaline Junkie (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 4746 comments Mod
Thanks, Seeley!


message 30: by Mark (new)

Mark Chisnell (markchisnell) | 255 comments I just found this thread... for me, the whole writing thing is a compulsion, I can't not do it. I've tried, but life seems weirdly empty without it. Goodness knows, this particular career/life choice has not been easy, but I've never been happy doing anything else.


message 31: by Jim (new)

Jim Crocker | 271 comments Mark wrote: "I just found this thread... for me, the whole writing thing is a compulsion, I can't not do it. I've tried, but life seems weirdly empty without it. Goodness knows, this particular career/life choi..."

This "thing" of ours, eh?


message 32: by Mark (new)

Mark Chisnell (markchisnell) | 255 comments Jim wrote: "This "thing" of ours, eh?"

Indeed...


message 33: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 224 comments Lady Danielle aka The Book Huntress wrote: "As a writer, do you read a lot? What kinds of books do you enjoy reading and who are your favorite authors and why? Do you read more in the genre that you write or less? Do you find that you are more critical of what you read because you write?"

I don't know what you consider "a lot," but I read 2-4 books a month. I read both fiction and non-fiction, but about half of my GR book collection is in the mystery/thriller/intrigue category. I write in the genres I read, rather than the other way around; I suspect that if I was a category romance fan, I'd write category romances.

I'm probably more critical now that I've published than I may have been before. I expect the books I read to be professional in their writing and presentation, especially if they're trad-pub products. (I notice much more typos and writing farkles in Big 5 products now.) If I can do it by myself, then someone with the advantages of a publishing house ought to be able to do it at least as well.


message 34: by The Pirate Ghost, Long John Silvers Wanna-be (last edited Apr 11, 2013 05:22AM) (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) | 5327 comments Mod
I had a question for Janny Wurts.

I don't want to embarrass you, but, could you cut and past your snake story here or the link to where it is on your blog? Your snake story is way better than mine!

And...

Writing Fantasy or Epic Fantasy as you do, I like the way your female characters are both in keeping with the setting and strong, in their own ways. I mean, in a medieval setting, to be "realistic" women whould be more object and servant than person (as the men might see it). Sometimes, that's what makes Fantasy, Fantasy, because it involves a different reality where there could be different paths for respect and power (gender equality), yet, to be true to the setting - model (inspiration?) women would have more difficulty than men with even basic achievements (Not that such things are impossible) because the balance of power (power to do anything) is so stilted in favor of men.

So, do think that the way you write your female characters is more of "the untold story that history did not record about how women work and their role in life" (recognizing that not all contributions get written down and not all accolades get properly shared and what, you think all women sat around quietly awaiting someone to tie their shoes for them?)

or,

is it an alteration of our human history in some way, to show what could have (or maybe should have been?)

...or...

is it "Never a second thought about it, I just wrote down the story I saw in my head. If you want to know how that happened, try hypnosis or maybe a professional head shrinker?" (your guess is as good as mine)?

...or...

none of the above?

Feel free to say, "Uh...wow...um... sit down little boy, your making my head spin...let me just tell you how I come up with characters."

No matter the answer, I like that your female characters have believable, and strong, personalities even within the constraints placed on them by the male dominated Medieval-fantasy setting they are in. It's nice to see that you don't have to be an rebel with or without a cause to have your own sense of identity and from that identity draw strength. (Not that I don't like the Xena Warrior Princess types too. I mean... I am a sailor (retired)...I also believe that what's in a persons mind (the things that they hold as truth) is more limiting than socio-political position in life, and, that more often than we know, those things we hold as truth in our heads is an illusion created by fear, ours or somebody elses...if that makes sense?)

To sum up - "How'd you come up with those great secondary characters (Female) and give them so much strength and personality in a fantasy setting?

I could go on but um...these guys might start throwing things at me so you can answer. (The Navy teaches you how to duck.)


message 35: by The Pirate Ghost, Long John Silvers Wanna-be (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) | 5327 comments Mod
Wow, my inner nerd came out on that question didn't it?


message 36: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 18 comments All right Hugh - first things first - the link to the blog with the snake story - in typical whacko eclectic fashion, the snake bit isn't the opener or the title post, it's in comment 13 (for those of you who don't care to sidewind or sidle up to it.)

http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_...

As to the gender behavior in Sessile, the tiny country featured in To Ride Hell’s Chasm, no need to tippy toe here, just hit the subject headlong with a mallet. Are we discussing the tired trope of gender imbalance?

This story is told through the eyes of the male characters, MOSTLY - and it is set in a country that is, roughly, 'like Switzerland' - in a time period before mechanization and yes, there is a social hierarchy that is 'sorta' feudal - but NOT HISTORICALLY FEUDAL. It's important to note I was not paralleling 'earth' history at all/and that the 'like Switzerland' was that the country was tiny/isolated by mountains/mostly homogenous with regard to its insular society. Which was a setting selected because it threw the other factors that drove the story into high relief. (The role of the outsider(s) thrust into responsibility there/and the contract of a huge threat imposed on a pretty complacent/tranquil/bucolic setting.

Now: the women in the story IN such a setting.

Fact: the setting is pre-industrial - the mechanical advantages are NOT there that erase the issue that MOST women lack the upper body strength of a man.

So their 'roles' in such a society would have to reflect that....the cheat sheet women have today to step past the muscle difference weren't there....it DOES take me longer to hammer a four inch nail through a fence board than it does my husband....I can fix that fence board (and I OFTEN DO) and I can dig that post hole (been there/done that, too!) but the FACT is, if we need to be efficient, I will fetch and carry tools and HE will do the muscle work - it's a lot faster and makes good sense! I do it if I need to; but it's Wasteful, period.

If you look at this angle, the women here are NOT helpless and not secondary at all - and given that, if you then see them as PEOPLE, first, you will pick up at once they have as much personality/development and certainly as critical a role to play as any of the men. IN fact, without them, the storyline itself would have ended in futility.

There is, true, no 'badass female wielding a sword' - not that way. This was not a story about a woman wanting such a role....if a woman fights in this tale, she'll do it on HER terms. She will NOT BE A MALE WITH TITS. She will not behave like a testosterone dream fantasy female - because the warrior woman in her own setting/on her own turf in a pre-industrial society living equably in MIXED COMPANY, playing to her strengths will NOT LOOK LIKE A MAN. Neither will she act like one. She will (as women do) tend to view the Greater Picture and find the loophole. And use it to highest effectiveness.

To Ride Hell's Chasm is a story told, first of all, from the viewpoint of the male characters in it...but notice this: they Respect the women in their lives. They don't see them as inferior. They don't raise them up on a pedestal as 'objects of beauty' or relegate them to the mold of servant of home and hearth...

But I like to play about with the prejudice WE as readers may bring to bear: Taskin, in chapter 2, gives the main character Mykkael his Strategist's take of a female character (Bertarra) who is acting out as the comic relief/stereotypical hystrionic fat lady - the reader is MEANT to laugh and fall for the prejudice/see her as a joke - but appearances lie! As the ONE reliable narrator commenting on her 'scene', Taskin informs Mykkael that she's, 'A shew and intelligent. She's worth a spy's insights and ten berserk soldiers...' This is the uncolored accuracy which will come into play, later...beneath every flawed human/every surface stereotype, there is the heroic strength waiting for its setting to flower.

The women in the story are all empowered, every one - they act and react first as human beings with flaws that yes, can be turned to 'appear' as stereotypes - except that when they move, they do so with EFFECTIVE resolution. The males don't laugh or belittle them. They are unstoppable.

They are not muscles with weapons - they are sisters, friends, mothers, granddames, wives and unmarried maids and trollops - the gamut of FEMALE roles in their setting. The most timid are going to stand at the front lines. Notice who dies, where and how....it will illuminate another set of values behind the knee-jerk fallacy the women are not important/live a half life.

Without the clouded glasses, these women don't live a half life at all. They are NOT abusively repressed by the men. They are are not shunted out of the story, but an integral part of it, and there are women effectively present in all walks of life.

I prefer to show the women in their day to day lives (given the SENSIBLE handling of roles in a pre-industrial setting) and not twist them into handling stuff as a man of their society would. I make no bones about it, this story begins as a tale told from the masculine perspective. But it does not end as a one sided balance, as you'll see. If you were to 'remove' the women from the equation, the whole would, beyond any question - fail. The 'bacon' would not get saved/the kingdom could not stand.

Without the women as heroines - the hero(s) would fall short. That is what makes them stand forward as characters and players in their own right.

So let me turn the fantasy prejudice on its head: Where are the 'constraints' placed upon the women in Sessalie? Because they are interactive in their setting - effective players in defense of their native country - can they actually be seen as 'repressed?'


message 37: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 18 comments I, Curmudgeon wrote: "Wow, my inner nerd came out on that question didn't it?"

The answer to your query, part II - on making female characters effective - it requires the OUTER nerd.

Research, and plenty of it, hands on wherever possible. To begin with, writing fantasy: I have extensive experience with archery, I studied fencing, have worn armor, handled museum weapons/ridden horses both difficult and green in rough terrain - have camped/traveled through wilderness/backpacked/completed Outward Bound. All to lend an authenticity and Real Feel to what the characters are doing. It adds a tremendous edge to the tension to know this stuff.

You will understand to a fine point what a woman can do with a 'man's' weapon, and where the lower center of gravity (natural) to a woman's build makes certain things work or not; and having Been (in numerous disciplines) a woman in settings that were 'all male' lends an insight that helps balance the characterization.

It also helps to look at the women you know - say your mother, or your sister - put THEM in danger - how would they react? How would they defend their home turf, given the natural bent of their nature and the items at hand?

Where would the blind spots in OUR society lend a loophole that could be seized on the spot to take advantage?

Constructing scenarios that are based upon actual experience lends the ring of authenticity you need, and that is vital, to creating a believable character.


message 38: by The Pirate Ghost, Long John Silvers Wanna-be (last edited Apr 14, 2013 06:50PM) (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) | 5327 comments Mod
First, thank you for posting the link to your snake story! I'm not too peachy keen on the bathroom buddies, but it's a great story! (autobiographical even).


Fair's fair, here's the link to mine. Who's the Action Hero(ine) who's not?

http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/2...

(I told you her's was better than mine.)

Second, Thank you for this answer Janny Wurts! I guess that "tired old trope" is more of a male action/adventure guy's issue, huh?

I loved the realistic characters. (I've mentioned before I liked Alex Sheridan's main two female characters in Finding Round for the same reason.)

I loved Bertera in To Ride Hell's Chasm more than any of the other. (For a programming note, I meant "secondary" as "not the main character tier." I didn't mean secondary citizen, (though I understand the confusion there. I surely set that idea up earlier in the post).

So, with the "Trope talk" out of the way, I had a question about the deeper themes running through the Ride to Hell's Chasm. I can count easily five "Character" themes there that I think are about what it means to be human (as I liked to explain it) and how to do "human" right. A lot of theme revolve around "Honor" and what it exercise that trait.

It's almost an opposite to the Polonius to Laertes advice in Hamlet, "...to thine ownself be true" and more the "Spok to Kirk" lament "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...or the one." (more on that in my review). How much do you intentionally work those kinds of "lessons to or about humanity" or do they just show up? (Racism, Honor-vs. Love, Duty-vs. Love, redemption for failures of the past, forgiveness, all of these had some insightful reflection in this story)?


message 39: by Joan (new)

Joan | 10 comments I write because I love to write, although I also plan on selling and making some money. Not easy, especially when you suck at marketing like I do. Hiring someone is costly and, since I don't have the money, I do my own, mostly via the Internet, and hope that one day it'll work. Aside from that, I love creating characters and get very attached to them. I haven't earned as much from The Hierophant as I've spent, but there's always hope, and I'm frantically working on the next one, The Mercenary.

J. K. Maze


message 40: by Seeley (new)

Seeley James (seeleyjames) | 367 comments Joan wrote: "I write because I love to write, although I also plan on selling and making some money. Not easy, especially when you suck at marketing like I do. Hiring someone is costly and, since I don't have t..."

After 30 years in Sales & Marketing, I can tell you it is the hardest part of being a writer. Are you a member of any writers organizations? The exchange of 'what's working this week' ideas is critical because the landscape is changing rapidly.

Peace, Seeley


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

Not to be spiritual here, but my very first manuscript was a result of a journal written after a car accident I had. It was a four year part of my life that I would rather forget, but it's cemented into my mind. The only way to deal with it was to journal every day about my feelings and struggles (the accident wasn't so much physically damaging as psychological)...anyway, the journal helped but I kept reliving the accident so one day I just started writing a story of a woman who suffers a tragedy and how she deals with all the pain and suffering after denying it happened for years...ANYWAY...The Matterhorn - Heaven's Gate was born and so was I in a way.

I'd found an outlet that allowed me an escape.

I never intended to publish when I started writing, but then I wrote Split Decisions - When Seconds Count and a coworker read part of the first draft and said "your words should be shared" (who'd a thunk).

Sometimes I wish I just wrote to write. Publishing isn't a monetary thing for me (although I'd be pretty arrogant to say the money didn't matter), I just want to share what's inside of me with anyone willing to read.

The whole process is very daunting at times but I have lots of support, which is also important because when I want to give up, someone is there telling me not too...again, not trying to be tooooo spiritual here, but many things in life need not be tackled alone.

I kept my writing a secret for a long time. No one has ever read The Matterhorn - Heaven's Gate and I don't know if I will ever let anyone. Katherine McCauley is very much a deep part of my soul and ... hmmm ... not sure if I'm ready to let anyone see her.

So, I guess a devil made me write but angels keep me going....no descrimination here. :)

Cheers,
Pam


message 42: by The Pirate Ghost, Long John Silvers Wanna-be (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) | 5327 comments Mod
That's a wonderful answer... and... what the hecks wrong with being spiritual? I love spiritual themes, healing and growth. So much to learn from them.

Thank you for sharing that Pam.


message 43: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 17, 2013 12:16PM) (new)

Thanks Hugh.


message 44: by Seeley (last edited Apr 17, 2013 01:23PM) (new)

Seeley James (seeleyjames) | 367 comments Pam (E.P. Scott) wrote: "Not to be spiritual here, but my very first manuscript was a result of a journal written after a car accident I had. It was a four year part of my life that I would rather forget, but it's cemented..."

They say, "write from the heart" and you sound like you're doing that. But before we put on our rose-colored glasses, the spiritual angle is for the brave. Wars have been started over that stuff. Within my Episcopal church, the congregants of New Hampshire (2200 miles away) elected an openly gay bishop and one out of ten of our members left the church. (As many people joined the Episcopal church for the same reason... so god only knows what that was all about.) Readers range from ardently supportive (Like Hugh!) to flippant, petty and mean at a ratio of 10:1. (Meanies in the minority.) If you can focus on the good readers, and shake off the rest, you should go ahead. If you can't, you should suck it up and go ahead anyway.

I'd offer to beta-read but it sounds like you need someone you've known longer and can therefore weigh better. An old friend you haven't seen in a long time. (Stay away from family.)

But the best way to get a real feel for where your work is: hire a professional editor. There's no attorney-client privilege but there may as well be. They never talk about an unpublished piece because they know how much it can change. A professional editor will tell you, 'this is ready, do it' --or-- 'needs work, here, here, and here' --or-- 'Are you nuts?' :)

Peace, Seeley


message 45: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 17, 2013 01:26PM) (new)

Seeley wrote: "Pam (E.P. Scott) wrote: "Not to be spiritual here, but my very first manuscript was a result of a journal written after a car accident I had. It was a four year part of my life that I would rather ..."

Thanks Seeley, The Matterhorn - Heaven's Gate is one of those stories that got written, I tried the rewrite, but then put away. Someday I'll pick it up and read it again (as tears well in my eyes as I write this)...who knows what life brings huh?

As far as Split Decisions goes, once I have beta readers go over it, I will decide about the professional editor. I did check out the service that you'd recommended and it doesn't look too bad (and you say they are good). Perhaps, if your willing, I might ask you to beta read some of it for a 'previously published authors' take.


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

Seeley wrote: "Pam (E.P. Scott) wrote: "Not to be spiritual here, but my very first manuscript was a result of a journal written after a car accident I had. It was a four year part of my life that I would rather ..."

Okay, by the way... I like that "suck it up and go ahead anyway".


message 47: by Seeley (new)

Seeley James (seeleyjames) | 367 comments Pam (E.P. Scott) wrote: "I like that "suck it up and go ahead anyway"."

:)

I'd be honored to be a beta reader, but I'd go with the Pros first. My first book did a 180 after the editor's input. He told me things like, 'nothing matters except the pivotal events. Highlight those and drop the rest.' Once I'd finished his recommendations(that was one of many), I had a much better and much different story.


Peace, Seeley


message 48: by Seeley (new)

Seeley James (seeleyjames) | 367 comments Seeley wrote: "I'd be honored to be a beta reader, but I'd go with the Pros first. My first book did a 180 after the editor's input. He..."

I should have mentioned: I'd be honored to read it before AND after the pros :)


Peace, Seeley


message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

One other thing...I don't know about anyone else, but when I beta read for someone, I don't talk to anyone else about my feelings about it. I think that is between the reader and the author their reading for...professional or not.

I've read/edited/critiqued short works for members of my writing group and won't talk about it to any of the other members until the author brings it up and begins a conversation AND asks me to comment.

Maybe I'm weird that way. Someone has entrusted you with something dear to them and to discuss it in an open venue without their consent would be unthinkable to me (unless it's an open critique group with the author present to clarify issues).

I think that the members of my writers group that have beta read for me were courteous in that way because when I brought up one question to one of the readers, casting a glance around the room, some looked like they were busting at the seams to put in their two cents (it was fun).


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, and thank you Seeley. :)

Cheers


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