IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY
How To Write A Compelling Villain (The Self Publishing Show, episode 163)
How do you introduce your story?
I always begin my books with a catastrophic event in the prologue that directly affects both the protagonist’s internal conflict and the entire plot. For Example, in my upcoming novel: The Born Weapons, my protagonist is the first “natural-born” of his kind and his birth is an act of Rebellion against “the Maker.” The Maker makes a deal with my protagonist’s mother that if she kills the Rebel Leader, who is her honorary brother, than her baby can live.
What’s your process of creating characters?
I base my characters off a theme such as truth or innocence. There after, I build their backstory, psychology, personality, appearance, and quirks. The themes I choose correspond to the plot work. For example, my protagonist is based on truth and the catalyst to the climax is the event in which he tells humanity the truth about why his kind was created.
How do you introduce the main conflict?
I design the main conflict and my protagonist’s identity to be symbiotic. In my current novel, the main conflict is that the ‘Alma’ (a type of cyborg) are subject to the oppression of their Makers and Humanity. Since my protagonist is an Alma, he and the conflict are introduced simultaneously.
How do you approach writing the first Act, or 25% of the book?
I love to hit the ground running. I believe that characterization and world building are best shown and not told, so I throw my MC into peril from the first chapter and introduce settings, characters, etc… in pace with the plot.
Do you use a certain number of scenes per Act?
Nope! I actually don’t pay attention to anything regarding quantity such as pages, scenes, or acts until I am revising. I only concern myself with following my outline to ensure I cover all my plot points, sub plot points, character development milestones, ect….
What’s the hardest part of developing the setup?
I assume that by ‘setup’ you mean world building and primary conflict. I often struggle to include world building details while drafting because I tend to focus on plot and character development. I’ve learned to let these details go and add them in while revising.
What has helped you develop your writing skills?
I have to say that the process of trial and error has been most helpful. I’ve been writing books since I was eight years old. Also, reading has helped improve my writing voice over the years.
What’s your creative approach to writing?
I treat it like a job, these days. It may sound unromantic, but writing one or two novels a year takes discipline. I tend to research, write and edit for eight hours, every week day.
Outlining or pantsing?
I like to outline, but always veer away from my plan! I wish I could stick to my blueprint, but I get distracted by better ideas, or juicier characters, so my plans are constantly changing.
When you write crime fiction what comes first? The crime, character, idea?
First the location, then the theme. I fell in love with the Isles of Scilly as a child, for their wild remoteness and knew I had to set a series there.
How do you get to know your characters?
I write detailed profiles, so I know all of their quirks.
What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Lack of confidence. It doesn’t matter how many books I write, I always reach a point, midway through the writing when my belief takes a nosedive. It takes one heck of a lot of stamina and a robust ego to stay in the writing game.
How has your writing process changed over the years and books written?
I began life as a poet, writing longhand, but now use my computer for pretty much everything. With poetry you have to agonise over every word because the form is so precise, but prose is much more discursive.
Did you write poetry before novels?
I surely did. Two collections, Reversal and The Alice Trap, both published by wonderful London press, Enitharmon.
What do you enjoy most about poetry?
Its impact. If a poem is doing its job well, it can be like a bullet of truth, straight to the heart.
Can you share one of your poems?
Not right now, I’m afraid, I’m deep in the middle of a crime novel, but my poems are floating around on the net if you go looking for them.
What next for you?
Two more books in my Hell Bay series, published by Simon and Schuster, which I’m enjoying enormously.
KATE RHODES is a full-time crime writer, living in Cambridge with her husband, a writer and film maker. Kate used to be an English teacher and has published two award winning collections of poetry. In 2015 she won the Ruth Rendell short story prize. Kate is the author of the acclaimed ALICE QUENTIN series, with the fifth book, BLOOD SYMMETRY published in 2016.
In January 2018 Kate will publish the first novel in a new series, HELL BAY, a crime novel set on the remote Cornish island of Bryher, featuring DI Ben Kitto.
Resources mentioned in this episode: BONUS CONTENT: Free sample report from Alex and K-Lytics – http://k-lytics.com/SPF
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The award-winning author of The Music of the Primesexplores the future of creativity and how machine learning will disrupt, enrich, and transform our understanding of what it means to be human.
Can a well-programmed machine do anything a human can―only better? Complex algorithms are choosing our music, picking our partners, and driving our investments. They can navigate more data than a doctor or lawyer and act with greater precision. For many years we’ve taken solace in the notion that they can’t create. But now that algorithms can learn and adapt, does the future of creativity belong to machines, too?
It is hard to imagine a better guide to the bewildering world of artificial intelligence than Marcus du Sautoy, a celebrated Oxford mathematician whose work on symmetry in the ninth dimension has taken him to the vertiginous edge of mathematical understanding. In The Creativity Code he considers what machine learning means for the future of creativity. The Pollockizer can produce drip paintings in the style of Jackson Pollock, Botnik spins off fanciful (if improbable) scenes inspired by J. K. Rowling, and the music-composing algorithm Emmy managed to fool a panel of Bach experts. But do these programs just mimic, or do they have what it takes to create? Du Sautoy argues that to answer this question, we need to understand how the algorithms that drive them work―and this brings him back to his own subject of mathematics, with its puzzles, constraints, and enticing possibilities.
While most recent books on AI focus on the future of work, The Creativity Code moves us to the forefront of creative new technologies and offers a more positive and unexpected vision of our future cohabitation with machines. It challenges us to reconsider what it means to be human―and to crack the creativity code.
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to catch all the breaks and win over and over again? What do the super successful know? What is standing between you and your wildest dreams?
A Wall Street Journal and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller, The Book of Mistakes will take you on an inspiring journey, following an ancient manuscript with powerful lessons that will transform your life. You’ll meet David, a young man who with each passing day is more disheartened and stressed. Despite a decent job, apartment, and friends, he just feels hollow . . . until one day he meets a mysterious young woman and everything starts to change.
In this self-help tale wrapped in fiction, you’ll learn the nine mistakes that prevent many from achieving their goals. You’ll learn how to overcome these hurdles and reinvent your life.
This success parable is packed with wisdom that will help you discover and follow your personal purpose, push beyond your perceived capabilities, and achieve more than you ever dreamed possible. You’ll find yourself returning again and again to a deceptively simple story that teaches actionable insights and enduring truths.
“This book is written to motivate individuals to consistently achieve their own high goals,” Prichard says. “Creating results and momentum is only possible when readers take personal accountability. That’s what this book is about.”
Skip Prichard is an accomplished CEO, growth-oriented business leader, and keynote speaker. He is known for his track record of successfully repositioning companies and dramatically improving results while improving the corporate culture. He is a keynote speaker on topics ranging from leadership, personal development, growth strategies, culture, corporate turnarounds, and the future of publishing. His views have been featured in print and broadcast media including the BBC, The New York Times, CNN, NPR, The Daily Beast, Harvard Business Review, Information Today, The Bookseller, Publishers Weekly, Christian Retailing, and the Library Journal.
Mark Dawson has worked as a lawyer and in the London film industry. His first books, The Art of Falling Apart and Subpoena Colada, have been published in multiple languages. He is currently writing three series. The John Milton series features a disgruntled assassin who aims to help people make amends for the things that he has done. The Beatrix Rose series features the headlong fight for justice of a wronged mother–who happens to be an assassin–against the six names on her Kill List. Soho Noir is set in the West End of London between 1940 and 1970. The first book in the series, The Black Mile, deals with the (real-life but little-known) serial killer who operated in the area during the Blitz. The Imposter traces the journey of a criminal family through the period; it has been compared to The Sopranos in austerity London. Mark lives in Wiltshire with his family.
How I Embraced Vulnerability to Tell the Story of Becoming Starlight
by Sharon Prentice, PhD
Writing a book. To be quite honest, the thought had never entered my mind; I’d never written anything other than personal prose or patient charts that were never meant to see the light of day. The idea was so remote that it would’ve been, as in the Twilight Zone monologue, like “opening a door into a fifth dimension of thought and sound, as timeless as space, as vast as infinity.” But once the possibility was introduced to me, I had one reaction: exposing the secrets that lay hidden within my Soul sent chills racing through the recesses of my very being. I couldn’t let it go, though — once unearthed…the thought simply would not leave me alone!
Imagine, if you will, standing on a stage, alone, in front of hundreds of people unknown to you, while guffaws and ridicule, barbs of judgement undeserved and previously unknown are all directed your way! A dizzying array of emotion and confusion filling your Spirit with every direct hit…and then, you realize you are, as my dad liked to say–naked as the day you were born! It’s then, possibly for the first time, that you begin to understand the concept of unadulterated vulnerability.
No one enjoys feeling vulnerable. Especially those of us who exist in environments created to keep vulnerability at bay. But there comes a time when life slaps you awake–and you can no longer exist within the protective bubble that served you so well in your private life.
Every writer understands this concept of vulnerability. Opening up to that bone-shaking, fearful reality—that I would be vulnerable–was the beginning of my journey into the world of publishing. Accepting that in order to tell my story, I would have to surrender my oh-so- carefully tucked-away secrets to public scrutiny was my biggest hurdle. But it was one that needed confronting and eventually–conquering.
To tell my story… was exactly what I needed to do! One of my greatest mentors, Dr. Wayne Dwyer, before his death, told me, “Tell your story, Sharon. Tell the story.” The beginning of the writing process for me was the recognition that I was more uncomfortable staying silent than I was letting the words flow free and accepting the vulnerability inherent in exposure. Naked body or naked Soul–same thing!
But how and where to begin? What exactly did I want to say–or have to say–in this effort to release the words that were forming in the underbelly of my soul? Instead of letting anxiety rule the day, I simply sat myself down…grabbed pen and paper…and let the floodgates open.
I didn’t change my physical environment…I embraced it. The old La-Z-y Boy recliner that had been my dad’s “home base” before his death became my sacred space. I felt safe and peaceful. It became my home…my sanctuary. My body just seemed to conform to the indentations that had, for years, become its very nature and I felt as if it “knew” me. I didn’t feel the need to have a totally private, quiet, locked away space that had no recognition of me and the joys and sorrows of my life. It was there, on my dad’s well-loved recliner, that Becoming Starlight was birthed.
But even in that sanctuary, I found myself chasing words. It was irritating as the words seemed to erupt and run like madmen away from my conscious mind. The more I chased after the words as they fled the scene, the more irritated I became. Was this the well-known “writer’s block” rearing its ugly head? Or was it simply me trying to force something that simply couldn’t be forced? The operative word here became–relax! I needed to relax and just let it flow. Not trying to force each and every thought into some perfect form of writing saved the day! I stopped worrying about tense and punctuation and dangling participles! I simply put pen to paper and wrote the story.
It was then that the sacred words fell into place. It was then that the words found their place and told their story. My process needed acceptance of the vulnerability of the story that needed to be told. I let the invisible dancer lead the way and make the pen I held in my hand dance.
Becoming an author can be a life-altering decision! Finding your own safe space, your own sense of security, allowing the unfolding of the magic within…effortlessly…is the first step to creating and releasing the music in your Soul. Drawing out that music for healing and comfort…uncovering the shadows that haunt the human condition–that’s what it’s all about and what I hoped my readers would find.
About the Author:
Dr. Sharon Prentice is the author of Becoming Starlight: A Shared Death Journey from Darkness to Light. Soon after completing her graduate studies in psychology, Dr. Prentice longed to discover “the why’s” about her own intimate experience with death in the form of an SDE, and that of others who had experienced something “weird, unbelievable, odd” at the time of the death of a loved one. Dr. Prentice is in private practice as a Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor – Advanced Certification. She is also a Board Certified Spiritual Counselor (SC-C) and holds Board Certification in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Group Therapy, Integrated Marriage and Family Therapy, and Crisis and Abuse Therapy. She is also a Board Certified Temperament Counselor. Dr. Prentice is a Professional Member of the American Counselors Association, a Professional Clinical member of the National Christian Counselors Association, a Clinical member of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, and a Presidential member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. She is also a Commissioned Minister of Pastoral Care. For more information, please visit https://sharonprentice.com and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.
Were those people in Isaiah’s dream the same people from school? Popular soccer star Magda? George, who he’d never heard speak because he always left classes for special services help? Angry Rose, the Chinese girl who was always in trouble for fighting? And why were there dead birds and fish everywhere? When the four encounter one another the next day by the same pond from the dream, they realize they’ve shared a dream and there really are dead birds and fish covering the ground! This leads to real-life adventures and more dreams as they discover a toxic waste plant disposing of poisons illegally. Not friends in the beginning, romance blossoms as they work together with their Power Animals to close down the plant.
The Hidden Worlds
Sandra Ingerman and Katherine Wood
Both of us love working with children and have worked with them for many years, both in healing and in teaching them to perform shamanic journeys as a powerful way to feel empowered in challenging life situations.
Sandy felt it was important to write a book for children that included ways to work with spiritual guides in shamanic journey to help them navigate both personal and planetary challenges. In ancient shamanic cultures, children were taught to do this, to live in harmony with nature, and to use their gifts and strengths for the good of the community. Children are our future, so a story to help them bridge these ancient possibilities was important. So Sandy set the intention to write a beautiful book that would incorporate these practices.
When she showed her draft to her agent, she was told that it needed more to capture the imagination of the readers. The agent said it was too heavy on spiritual lessons with not enough story to draw the reader in. That’s when Sandy asked Katherine to collaborate. Katherine had taught for 31 years, had her own children and had been writing stories and taking workshops on writing for children for many years. She was thrilled by the opportunity.
We brainstormed plot ideas, went deeper into the character development, and selected a setting for the book. These new ideas were woven into the original story and The Hidden Worlds emerged after much revision and reader feedback.
We worked on Skype, on the phone and via e-mail. Sandy’s ideas were already in writing, so Katherine added her ideas to structure the story.
The theme of the book is that every person has the power to make a difference in the world. We all have access to higher powers who can see the whole situation and send in ideas. When working with others and their skills, knowledge and ideas, an amazing project can emerge. We feel collaborating on this book is proof of this theme.
Because human beings are unique and complex, we both felt it was important to show this diversity in our characters. We wanted to show that people in middle school can cross the barriers of cliques to become friends with those unlike them. We wanted to show differing perspectives—someone with a debilitating illness, someone who was brought from another culture into this one, someone in special education, someone heavily involved in sports, someone with anger issues, someone who was a natural born leader who felt invisible, someone who was bullied about weight, someone who was popular with lots of friends, someone with no friends. Despite their differences, however, they each had passion for nature and courage to confront things that were wrong. Their commonalities were more important than their differences.
Power Animals are guides in the spiritual realm. Some say that each person comes in to this life with at least two power animals. In the original story, Sandy paired each of the characters with a specific animal. Each character developed through the loving support of these animals.
It is our hope that our readers will enjoy seeing how Power Animals can help with everyday life situations because they love us, and they want to help us make life better. The book has shown tools that work in real life through the characters and the way they solve the problems they encounter.
Minty Fresh Reads. Murder and mayhem, with a sprig of mint.
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