Archive for November, 2012

Character Building – Leadership Qualities

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2012 by Dawn Ross

 

I am almost done with the fall semester of school. Now, I hope I can focus more on my writing. I bought three books on creative writing this week so I am ready to go! But I didn’t mention this to get off-topic. I mention it because, once again, I have not had time to prepare a proper blog post for this Saturday. What I do have is some notes I took for a report in my management class for school. What does management have to do with fantasy writing? Stay with me a moment…

My management report was on management leadership. What I found when I was writing this report is that management leadership is a lot like leadership in other fields such as military and political. I’m not talking about just simple management or ordinary leaders. I’m talking about those rare people who inspire followers, those rare charismatic leaders that encourage change.

Many different kinds of people can be a manager just like many kinds of people can be appointed as military leaders. But not anyone can truly lead. So what are the traits of a real leader and how does this information help fiction writers? I am going to answer the first half of the question first using the notes from my report.

Most leaders have a strong desire to achieve something. There is something emotional that drives them to their goal. Perhaps that emotion is personal ambition or perhaps it is a determination to right a wrong. But this personal ambition can’t be strictly a selfish one. To be a leader, one must have followers. This means that the leader also has qualities to inspire other people towards the same goal.

Two strong traits that many famous leaders throughout history have had are self-confidence and honesty. When I say honesty, though, I don’t mean honesty with everyone. We all know some imposing leaders who have done terrible things. The honesty I am talking about is the honesty “perceived” by the followers. Take Alexander the Great, for one. Born into his leadership role or not, he would not have had the eager conquering military followers that he did if they had not trusted him to bring them glory and/or riches. In school my report, I also mentioned Hitler. I hate what he did, but he seems to fit the requirements of a true leader. While he did dominate many into following his regime, he also had true followers – others who believed as he did and trusted Hitler to make their ideals a reality.

Obviously, a leader must have expertise in their corresponding field. Managers have to know the industry of the company they work for while military leaders have to know not just military arts but also have some idea of the political environment, strategic maneuvers, their enemy, the landscape terrain, etc. They also have to know their people. A good leader knows the strengths and weaknesses of his men and utilizes them accordingly. He generally has people skills which means he doesn’t sit in his tent and give orders through his immediate subordinates. He probably goes out among his men and socializes with them. He probably asks if they have any grievances and genuinely works to resolve them. A good kingly leader will likely do the same.

That is not to say that a leader must be everyone’s friend. A leader can take advice of their subordinates but makes their own decisions and is confident about their decisions. This is where the previously mentioned self-confidence trait comes in. If one does not have self-confidence, one tends to doubt themselves and their intentions. While a leader may have these feelings from time to time, especially when the adversity is at its peak, but ultimately a leader knows what he wants to achieve and has the self-confidence to see it through.

Now that you know some strong leadership traits, perhaps you can see how this information can help you as a writer. You now have information to help you in the character building of your hero. Your hero can work alone but a hero may also have followers. And if he or she does have followers, then your hero is going to need to have certain traits. No one is going to really follow a hero who can’t make up his mind on what he wants to achieve, or a hero who has no skills whatsoever. Even if your hero is a military leader but can’t fight with a sword or ride a horse, there has to be something he excels at. Perhaps he is gifted with magic. Or perhaps he is an excellent strategist.

You can even use this information to write an evil leader. Sure you can have an evil leader that rules by force. But to be even more effective, that evil leader should also have true followers. When I think of an evil leader in fiction writing, I think of Jagang in the Sword of Truth series. He had a lot of real followers, people who really believed in his sick ideals, people who looked up to him like a god and not a dictator. The way Terry Goodkind wrote this evil leader made the hero Richard’s task all the more daunting, and therefore, all the more triumphant when he won.

So here is a breakdown of my notes, most of which came from a book called “The Essence of Leadership” by Edwin A. Locke:

– ambition, desire, drive, energy
– socialized power – power used to benefit everyone in the group, not just the leader
– honesty
– self confidence
– sometimes charisma, flexibility, and/or creativity
– knowledge of their particular field such as military
– people skills
– intelligence
– an ultimate goal or aspiration

There is more to it than that, but if I make this post much longer you will fall asleep. 🙂 Does your story have a leader? If so, does he or she have most of these traits? What other traits do they have that make others want to follow them?

Off Topic – Pets Rescued from Hurricane Sandy

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , on November 10, 2012 by Dawn Ross

Sorry, I haven’t had time to write a blog post for this Saturday. I am working hard in school on my economics class and management class. Because they are online courses, I can work at my own pace so I have been working ahead to be done by Thanksgiving. If I can get done early, I can dedicate time to work on Book Three of the Dukarian Legacy before the spring semester starts.

So instead of blogging today, I am going to go off topic and discuss something near and dear to my heart – pets. As many of you may know, a lot of people on the east coast suffered the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. Pets have suffered too. Here are a few pet videos about some four-legged victims of Hurrican Sandy:

Getting Help Writing Vivid Scenes

Posted in Book 3 - The Dragon and the Lion, The Dukarian Legacy - Fantasy Novels, Writing with tags , , , , on November 3, 2012 by Dawn Ross

When I close my eyes and daydream, I can see, feel, hear, and sometimes even taste the story as it unfolds. But when I write it down, it is flat and boring. Why? Because when I write, I am sometimes so caught up in the narrow view of the action and the dialogue that I forget to write down the other sensations.

I am in the process of revising my third fantasy novel, “The Dragon and the Lion: Book Three of the Dukarian Legacy”. Before I send it off to be edited, the revision requires that I add more meaningful and vivid scenes. As soon as I finish my fall semester, I plan on engrossing myself in working on my book. In the meantime, read the unrevised version of the prologue of “The Dragon and the Lion”. As you read it, feel free to provide me with tips on where the story could use more depth. I could also use some writing tips on creating better scenes in general. When I finish the fall semester and begin working on this, I will take your feedback into consideration and hopefully transform this one small passage as well as the rest of the story.

*****

            Death lingered over the land.  Black withered leaves clung precariously to the twisted limbs of old trees.  The ground, littered with decay, struggled to hold on to what little was left of the fading plant life.  But it was a fight which would soon be lost.  The war of man was over for a season, but the coming winter brought its own battle of death.

            Prince Tristan Belanus of Trusca headed home with a feeling of uncertainty.  He thought he was on the path to peace, but everything around him looked ugly and violent.  A vast army of battle-worn and tired men followed in his wake.  Blood and dirt stained their armor and weapons.  Gloominess was borne on their faces.  Although the soldiers were heading home, war would begin anew in the spring.  It seemed the cycle of death would never end.  When, Tristan wondered, would the promised peace come?

            The cold gray sky brought a bitter wind and a biting chill to his bones.  Tristan knew King Haban Dukar would not stop until all of Ungal was under his control.  This ruler of Lower Ungal rode beside Tristan on a black Hunarian stallion.  A look of dangerous fervor burned in his eyes.  The King’s sharp nose and furious scowl reminded Tristan of a bird of prey on a lethal hunt.  But he was no bird.  He was a beast, descendant of the ancient Duridian clan of the Dragon.

            King Haban was a man to be feared and Tristan greatly feared him.  The man was a tyrant with a cruel hand and an infinite greed for power.  But fear was not the reason why Tristan had sworn allegiance to him.  It was the King’s two sons he was truly interested in.

            Prince Kamil and Lord Jofan not only had their father’s blood of the Dragon; but through their mother, they also carried the blood of the legendary King Mitas Renlo of the Lion clan.  These two young men were the sons spoken of in the Prophecy of Peace.

 

The ancient land will heal

When the blood of Dragon and blood of Lion freely combine.

Two sons will be born to continue the family line.

Their legacy will live on,

As these descendants of the Duridians grow into power.

The new blood will rule in peace and their kingdom will flower.

 

            Useni, Tristan’s trusted companion, said the Prophecy of Peace had been invoked by the red moon and eclipse of the sun several years ago.  Even though Tristan believed Useni at the time, he was now finding it difficult to keep his faith in this Prophecy.  It was hard to believe Prince Kamil and Lord Jofan were the ones it spoke of.

            The brutality and bloodshed of the past several moons lingered in Tristan’s thoughts.  He reluctantly recalled how he watched with horror as the two sons ruthlessly slaughtered helpless peasants and even innocent children.  Out of simple anger, the brawny Prince Kamil once beat one of his own men to death with his bare hands.  The terrible grin he wore on his face at the time made Tristan’s skin crawl.

            Lord Jofan was worse.  Although much smaller and physically weaker than his brother, Lord Jofan was truly the stronger of the two.  Men did not fear him for his brutality, they feared him for his absolute wickedness.  Tristan felt a wave of nausea whenever he looked at him.  The young man had the sharp facial features of his father, but his eyes were full of cunning and they held a deathly darkness even deeper than those of the King’s.  Lord Jofan killed just as mercilessly as his elder brother, but he seemed to particularly enjoy torturing his victims before allowing them to die.  Even now, he was licking the dried blood of his last victim from his fingertips.

            Tristan broke from his thoughts as a group of soldiers rode up from the rear.  Nothing about their dusty traveling clothes identified them as warriors or even men of the house of Dukar.  But they had the hard, fierce faces of men who knew how to kill.

            “My King!” one of the soldiers called.

            Tristan gritted his teeth in revulsion towards this man who spoke.  It was Gavin, the King’s most sadistic tool of war; the same man who had tortured and killed Tristan’s father, Prince Nolan Belanus.  Scars from fire warped Gavin’s face.  One particular scar above his right eyebrow turned a deep red whenever the man was filled with blood-lust, which was much too often.  No one deserved to die as much as this man did.

            “Gavin,” the King replied.  “Did you find him?”

            “No, my King,” Gavin responded with reluctance.  “I even went into the city of Nagad, but I heard no news of him.”

            King Haban’s face turned red with rage but it was Prince Kamil who spoke.  “Perhaps if you hadn’t spent all my father’s money carousing at local taverns, you would’ve found out something useful,” he said contemptuously.  Tristan was pleased with the Prince’s tone.  When King Haban was gone, perhaps Prince Kamil would rid himself of this dangerous man.

            “You are supposed to be a great hunter, Gavin,” King Haban said bitterly.  “Surely, if you were as good as you say you are, you would have found some trace or heard some word of him.  I don’t pay you to fulfill your own selfish pleasures.”

            “I swear, my King.  I have spent the entire time looking,” Gavin replied defensively.

            “Then why haven’t you found him?” King Haban yelled.  “Do you have any idea how important it is that you find him?  He must be stopped.”

            “I am quite aware of how crucial my task is, my King,” Gavin said with a deadly calm tone.  “I will find him.  I swear it by my own blood; I will find the boy and I will kill him.”

            Even though Tristan did not know who Gavin and the King spoke of, he heard the conviction in Gavin’s words and it frightened him.

*****

I realize there are a few spelling and grammatical errors. I also already know what some of those errors are. But feel free to point those out too for in case I missed something. Thanks!