Guest Post from Sonya Clark

September 7, 2010 at 5:55 am (fantasy, September Blog Tour) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Note from Cassandra: It brings me great pleasure to introduce Sonya Clark today. Her debut fantasy novel ‘Bring on the Night’ is available from Lyrical Press. Thanks Sonya for hosting me on your blog today and thanks for sharing your thoughts today on your writing process. Hope you all enjoy this fantastic post and then jump on over to Sonya’s blog to check out my interview.

My writing process tends to be inconsistent and chaotic. Sometimes I outline, frequently I fly by the seat of my pants. Sometimes I start with a character, other times a plot or situation. Sometimes the words come quickly and I’m riding the rapids without a kayak. Sometimes I’m dragging a story, heavy and manacled to my body in rusty chains, across the desert Ray Bradbury called Dry Spell, Arizona. Hopefully one day I’ll figure out a sure-fire method to consistent writing.

One thing I have learned is how to start the actual narrative. I write urban fantasy, an action-heavy genre to be sure, but I think this could work for just about any genre. When I first started writing I made the newbie mistake of starting with set-up and background. I thought I needed that to set the stage, so to speak. I didn’t realize what I was doing was the dreaded info dump. I had a manuscript I was unhappy with. Well, I was happy with the manuscript but the beginning was seriously lacking. It was way too low-key and did a poor job of introducing my main character, a vampire named Jessie. One thing I tend to do when I’m having trouble with a manuscript is take a detour, write a short story or flash fiction about a character or two. It helps me learn about the characters and I’ve found it’s a good way to get past a block in the main work. So I did this with Jessie, and liked what I came up with so much I used it as the beginning of Bring On The Night. Rather than tell what she was all about, this showed it. From that experience I learned to always start with action. Find a way to introduce your main character that shows what they’re all about, and fill in the background details later.

Here’s an excerpt from that opening scene:

“Or are you one of those guys who want to take what you want, but you don’t want to put

the hurt on? Huh? You too tender-hearted to listen to some poor girl scream and cry and beg for

mercy?”

“But that’s not how I roll.” She laced the fingers of one hand in his hair and pulled his head

back sharply, black eyes boring into his. “I like to put the hurt on, and I want you to remember

every second of it when you wake up.” She leaned closer, close enough he should have been able

to feel her breath on his face. “If you wake up and you go looking for more girls to drug, you might want to think of tonight as a cautionary tale.”

She opened her mouth. He watched in horror as two teeth began to elongate into sharp,

curved fangs. He began to scream as she lowered her mouth to his neck, struggling in vain to free himself. Her fangs sank into his flesh like hot knives, ripping and tearing as she jerked her head. The blood began to flow, followed by the echo of his screams.

**

Learn more about Sonya Clark at her blog. Bring On The Night is available for purchase from Lyrical Press and the Amazon Kindle store, as well as other ebook retailers.

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The Sycophant

August 4, 2010 at 5:47 am (Character, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’ve jumped works in progress for the time. I wasn’t making progress on one draft and I wanted to write so I decided to have a look at an earlier abandoned project (rather than starting yet another never to be finished project). Interestingly, even though I abandoned the project because I felt it was too flat, reading it after having a fairly lengthy space, I was drawn in to the story and the characters again and when I got to where I’d abandoned the project I was disappointed that the story didn’t finish.

So working between project I am now trying to reacquaint myself with some of my earlier character creations and it is amazing how fast they come back (all giving me dirty looks and muttering about being cast aside).

One of the characters I particularly enjoyed reading about again and getting to know all over again is the sycophant. This isn’t actually his name though it may as well be. It is what he is called by pretty much all the other characters and even though he is only a minor character in the story, he manages pretty effectively to be despised in the most amusing of ways.

I’d clearly also used the thesaurus when writing the draft originally because I noticed I was very careful not to endlessly repeat the word sycophant, even though I really enjoy that word. It rolls right off the tongue and always gives just the right amount of contempt and loathing.

Anyway – alternatives to sycophant:

  • toady
  • appeaser
  • crawler
  • flatterer
  • follower
  • greaser
  • hanger-on
  • parasite

All of them very flattering words.

Incidentally, when introducing the character I don’t tell the reader that he is a sycophant. I have one of my other characters call him one within the first few lines of him entering the story and then back it up by having him carry out some very toady like actions. His character is established and I haven’t once said to the reader (by the way, you’re meant to dislike this character).

I’ve since also moved on from this project but I think the time will come very soon when I’m going to have to finish this one.

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Minor Setbacks

June 5, 2010 at 5:57 am (Character, Thoughts on Writing, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

When writing I tend to focus on the big things, the major complications and problems the characters are facing and sometimes I forget that it is the little things that can make or break a person.  Something really small can set off major turmoil for an individual.

The big things are important. Characters have goals and they go through certain challenges to reach them, and these all have an impact on our characters. But while these big, major events are going on, life keeps happening and we all know that life has a way of having the last laugh.

It might be as simple as having a friend not feeling well and so missing the usual moral support. It might be the mother who says the wrong thing at the wrong time and utterly shatters what remained of the character’s confidence. It might be that the sales assistant is not interested in assisting and it is just the last straw in bringing a character down.

Then the character reacts.  Because they are feeling pressured, instead of feeling sorry for their sick friend they might explode instead. They might fail to say something as simple as ‘hope you feel better’.  The situation escalates. The friend is now not only feeling sick but slighted and now doesn’t feel any particular need to help out. They aren’t actively hindering our character but they aren’t lifting a finger to help them.  The situation is going to deteriorate fast and now our character is in real trouble.

Minor setbacks – definitely having an impact on our characters.

What are your thoughts?

Do you find the big events interesting or do prefer to see what is going on behind the scenes?

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