Archive for January, 2014

Building the Storyline to my Fantasy Novel

Posted in Other Stories, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2014 by Dawn Ross
Guardian of Destiny

The Guardian of Destiny by Dawn Ross (work in progress)

Last week I talked about how I came up with the character for my new fantasy novel, “The Guardian of Destiny”. Now let me tell you how I came up with the other characters and with the story itself.

Although I daydreamed Galavan’s childhood, this was not the story I wanted to write. I wanted an adult hero. So despite having his childhood in my head, not much of that childhood will be written in “The Guardian of Destiny”. I needed story ideas. This is where I could have perused through my journal or did some creative writing exercises. But I don’t think that is what I did to come up with this storyline. In fact, I don’t really remember where I got the idea from. I do know this:

I’ve noticed a trend with the characters in my daydreams. I’ve always developed my characters from childhood. It helps me define who they are as adults. It gives me their backstory and their motivations. So I knew I wanted a child in this book. What if instead of a boy, like Tomis in my Dukarian Legacy series, it was a girl? And what if she was half god? I think I got the idea of half-god from watching “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys“. Such a child would have extraordinary skills. But as a child, she would be vulnerable and she would need guidance. She would need a guardian.

Hercules The Legendary Journeys

Hercules and Iolaus from “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” TV series, starring Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst.

There it was! Galavan would be the hero and the guardian of this girl-child half-god. And “The Guardian of Destiny” would be the title of the book. The title alone inspired the rest of the tale.

Now I had the hero and some of the supporting characters. Who is my antagonist? What is the setting? And most importantly, what is the plot?

Supporting Animal Characters
I was watching an old favorite movie, “The Beastmaster”, and thought it would be great if my character could communicate to animals somehow. I love animals and it sometimes surprises me on how much characters in fantasy novels take animals for granted. Horses are overworked. They perform amazing feats by doing whatever their rider says and carrying their riders wherever they want to go no matter how far or how fast. This is wholly unrealistic. Horses have personalities. They won’t always do what you want them to. And they can’t carry a rider forever. That is where I came up with the idea for Brute, a big flea-bitten gray warhorse with attitude and yet devotion to his master.

Flea Bitten Horse with Armor

Please forgive my photoshop skills. I copied and pasted horse armor onto a flea bitten gray horse.

After some deliberation, I decided there was another animal that could be of use to a soldier. A falcon would be great at scouting surrounding territory. A falcon could see an enemy before they arrive and could alert to dangers ahead. Such a creature would be very beneficial to a soldier who was able communicate with animals.

White Falcon

Wouldnt this falcon make a great assistant to a soldier who needs to scout ahead for the enemy?

The Setting
It’s not enough to know my character is a soldier. I needed to know what he was a soldier for and why. Was he a simple castle guard? Did he work for a particular lord? Was he a soldier for a religious sect? Did he defend against a particular enemy? Did he defend a border or territory? I eventually settled on a soldier guarding a border. The need to defend a border meant there were enemies to protect it from, and therefore, antagonists.

Developing the Antagonist
If one of my heroes is a half-god, then it would stand to reason that her enemy is either another half-god, or even a god. Biblical stories came to mind where fallen angels came to live on earth amongst men. The angels were envious of the lives of mankind. We appeared to be free to do whatever we wanted whereas they were directly subservient to God. And this is where I developed Dorovan. He is the son of a god that had chosen to live among men because he disagreed with his father and craved worship and domination.

Enchanting Dark Fantasy Digitalart by Ramses Melendeze

Enchanting Dark Fantasy Digitalart by Ramses Melendeze – Copied from http://hangaroundtheweb.com/2012/07/enchanting-dark-fantasy-digitalart-by-ramses-melendeze/ Bing free to share and use.

Developing the Plot
It seems now, that I have everything I need to write a story… that is, everything but a plot. If I have a hero who protects a half-god child from a full god/fallen angel, I need to consider how this child is a threat to a god. I needed to consider the god himself, too, the extent of his powers and his motivations.

How can a half-god be a threat to a full god? What could possibly limit a full god from being able to completely annihilate a mere mortal and half-breed with just the force of his will? Obviously, Dorovan had to have limitations. By choosing to live among mortals, he lost some, but not all, of his godly power. His motivation is that he wants his power back while at the same time keeping his status on earth as a corporeal being. Somehow this half-god child, I named her Adella, is the key to his ambitions.

Child Woman Silhouette

This girl-child half-god needs a guardian in order to help her survive while she learns to control her enormous powers.

Continuing to daydream on the plot, I finally developed the story in full. My journal and writing exercises played a key part in coming up with more ideas for this story, as did external stimuli of movies, books, and music. More characters came into the story and the setting came alive. The plot developed and stabilized. I’m not going to tell you that now. You will just have to wait to read the book. Perhaps I will share parts of the story with you later.

The Idea for The Guardian of Destiny – Part I

Posted in Other Stories, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2014 by Dawn Ross
Guardian of Destiny

The Guardian of Destiny by Dawn Ross (work in progress)

In my previous two posts, I gave you tips on ways you can come up with your own story ideas and tips on how you can create your own fantasy world. Now, I’m going to tell you how I implemented my own advice to come up with the story for my novel-in -progress, “The Guardian of Destiny”.

How My Character Came to Be

I was daydreaming as usual. I realized I kept daydreaming the same characters from The Dukarian Legacy and was getting bored with them. I needed a new inspiration and a new story. It was about the time the movies for the Lord of The Rings had come out. I’ve always loved J.R.R. Tolkien and his stories on Middle Earth. So it is not surprising to know I watched the movies with great fascination. No, I didn’t dress up and wait in line in the middle of the night just to see the first showings. But I would have if I had the money for a costume and a friend with the same passion.

One of my favorite characters was Eomer of Rohan. “I would cut of your head, Dwarf, if it stood but a bit higher from the ground.” “I do not doubt his heart, only the reach of his arm.” *swoon* Seeing him, I knew he was going to me the person I pictured as the hero in my next book. Incidentally, I also remembered Karl Urban from the television series, “Xena” where he played Cupid and Julius Caesar.

Karl Urban - Eomer de Lord Of The Rings trilogy

Karl Urban as Eomer in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Karl Urban Caesar

Karl Urban as Caesar in Xena the Worrior Princess series.

karl-urban-in-xena-warrior-princess

Karl Urban as Cupid in Xena the Warrior Princess series.

Developing My Character and His Story

Now that I had an image of a person in my head, I needed to develop his character. I did not use Eomer’s character. I wanted one all my own. Without having an actual story in mind, I daydreamed this character from his childhood. I knew I wanted him to be an elite soldier with humble beginnings, so how does such a lowly child come to be such a soldier? What if he was born into the military somehow? His mom was a camp follower. His father is unknown but can be guessed.

Only two things could give a soldier a high rank… being born into nobility (easy to move up) or having exceptional skill (difficult to move up). Since my character had humble beginnings, only his skill could exalt him. I love it when heroes rise above adversity to become something better. So what were his skills and how did they end up being noticed? I daydreamed my character’s childhood, from his upbringing in a soldier camp, to his love for his mother, to his desire to be recognized by his supposed father, and to his adversaries who did not think it was right for a bastard to be anything more than a camp servant.

Naming My Character

In the process of developing my character, I had to give him a name. I don’t remember how, but I thought of the name Galavan. Perhaps because it reminded me of the phrase ‘gallivanting around’. Although I do not intend for my character to be the kind to ‘gallivant’, the name stuck. And once a name sticks to a certain character, it is difficult for me to change it.

Create Your Fantasy World

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2014 by Dawn Ross

At the Heart of Winter, Nick Deligaris (2D)

Did you find an idea in your journal or through one of your writing exercises that you want to expand on? Then it’s time to sit down and create your fantasy world.

What Do You Feel?
Start with the idea that inspired you and daydream about it. Think about how your idea makes you feel and why it makes you feel that way.

Define Your Setting
What is it about your fantasy world that makes it unique and interesting? Defining your world can be very complicated. Think about some of the basic characteristics of your world and its culture. You can develop it further as you expand on your story.

Your Hero
Who is your main character? Start with the basics. What does he or she look like? What is the task he is going to accomplish? What are the prominent characteristics he needs to complete his task? Don’t worry if the character seems a bit bland at this point. As you write, his character will develop more. But the more you start with, the more deeply he can develop.

The Antagonist
Then think about your antagonist. Who is the bad guy? What does he or she want? What is his motivation? What does he look like?

Supporting Characters
Consider the main supporting characters. Perhaps you have more than one hero. If just one hero, certainly he or she doesn’t act alone. Who aids him on his quest? What do they have to offer that he, himself, does not possess?

The Plot
This is probably the most important thing you can consider. You might have a good idea for a part in the story, but it all has to come together somehow. If you don’t have a plot, then anyone who reads your book will be thinking to themselves, “What is the freakin point?” Consider the book, “20 Master Plots“.

20 Master Plots Book Cover

For me, creating the fantasy world is the part about writing I find most fun. Although there are important components to think about, it doesn’t have to be technical. Be sure to write down and organize your ideas, though, so you can make sure you are consistent and for in case you need to set aside your story for a while.

Coming Up with Ideas for a New Book

Posted in Writing on January 10, 2014 by Dawn Ross

DAYDREAM

I daydream all the time. Stories are always swirling around in my head, sometimes to the point of distraction. When I should be working or studying, I am daydreaming instead. When I take my dogs for a walk, I daydream. When I am in the car and someone else is driving, I daydream. When I’m waiting to be seen by the doctor or waiting in line for something, I daydream.

Oftentimes, my daydreams are triggered by something I’ve seen, heard, or read:

What I’ve Seen – I get lots of ideas for new worlds and new characters from TV and movies. Sometimes I get ideas for characters by watching real people. For example, why was that woman at the grocery store so rude to the manager? What situation could have possibly occurred to make her yell at him and insult him so harshly? If she had been a noblewoman, how much further would she have taken her anger? When I see situations like this, I sometimes put my characters in their shoes and replay the situation.

Dwarves Bilbo and Gandalf in Rivendell Hobbit Movie

What I’ve Heard – Music can inspire me sometimes too. Songs that have recently stirred my imagination are “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence, “Castle of Glass” by Linkin Park, “Stairway to Heaven”, a tribute from Heart to Led Zeppelin, and “I See the Light” by Mandy Moore & Zachary Levi.

What I’ve Read – Things I’ve read can also inspire daydreams. It can be a fantasy novel, a short story, or just a random article on the web. Being as how I’ve been focusing on my pet business lately and reading about dogs, I read a great true story about a dog rescued from a horrible puppy mill situation. This kind of story gets me thinking about what kind of person it would take to be so greedy as to treat animals this way. Then I think about the kindness of the people who go out of their way to rescue such animals. Can I apply both these kinds of people to characters in a fantasy story?

The Third Kingdom by Terry Goodkind

KEEP A WRITING JOURNAL

Since different stories come to mind all the time, I try to take notes in order to keep track of them. I have a journal that I write in and periodically peruse through. If I find a particular character or setting recurs, I create a folder or binder for it.

I currently have a permanent binder for nine novels. For six of those novels, I plan on continuing the Dukarian Legacy series. The other three novels are with different characters and different settings. One of those novels is “The Guardian of Destiny”, which is my 2014 writing project.

WRITING EXERCISES

I have a couple of books that give ideas for creative writing. “Rip the Page! Adventures in Creative Writing” is a great resource. Select from hundreds of writing ideas that can help encourage you to not only write, but to come up with creative ideas. Most of my exercises are trash, but every once in a while I come up with something that triggers an idea.

Rip the Page Book Cover

One of the writing exercises indicated in this book is about clichés. Instead of saying hot as fire or cold as ice, the exercise asks you to brainstorm different ways to describe hot and cold. If this doesn’t give you a story idea, at least it keeps your creativity skills sharpened.

Another idea is to describe a color without saying what the color is. Show, not tell. How does it feel, taste, smell? Writing exercises are a great way to stir ideas.

DESIGNATE SPACE

All of my binders and folders are on a specific shelf. On each end of all the binders is a silver dragon book end. And the spine of almost every binder is colorfully labeled. I have resource books there too, books such as “Life in Medieval Times”, “The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures”, “European Arms and Armor”, “45 Master Characters”, “Writing Fiction”, etc.

DESIGNATE TIME

This has been the most difficult for me. I can actually think of a number of times when I was being lazy and could have been writing instead. But sometimes it is so difficult. It’s easy to think about what I want to do, but another to actually do it. I wrote a blog post some time back on this topic – Setting Goals to Write. I think it is time for me to reread it and try to implement it.

What do you do to force yourself to write? How do you come up with story ideas?

2014 New Year’s Resolution – Get Back on Track with Writing

Posted in About the Author, Writing with tags , , , , , , on January 1, 2014 by Dawn Ross

 

It has been almost a year since I’ve posted something useful. I can’t believe a whole year has gone by since I’ve done any serious writing! And so it should be no surprise that my New Year’s Resolution is to start writing again. Before I tell you my 2014 writing plans, let me tell you why I haven’t written in so long.

Firstly, I wanted to finish the editing on my third book, “The Dragon & The Lion”. I meant to have it done at the beginning of 2013, but got distracted. As a result, I didn’t finish the editing until August.

The Dragon and the Lion by Dawn Ross

Available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback. Search dawn ross dukarian legacy on Amazon or click the book cover image above.

The second thing that distracted me from my writing is school. I have some college credits, but I never did get a degree. So here I am at age 40 and attending college once again. This past semester course included Accounting II and Business Law II, both of which required a lot of study.

You may know from my previous posts that I also run an online business for pet car safety supplies. You’d think running a website would be easy, but it’s not. If I want people to find my website amongst the millions of others out there, I have to work hard. So instead of writing a new book, I’ve been writing blog posts about dogs, writing articles, and networking in the dog blogosphere.

Enough with the excuses! Even though I’m still going to school and still running my business, I fully intend to find the time to start writing again. I’m going to start with finishing a fantasy novel I started years ago. It is called “The Guardian of Destiny” and I’ve blogged about it before. In fact, the book is already a fifth of the way done. And I have the rest of the story clearly mapped out.

Guardian of Destiny

The Guardian of Destiny by Dawn Ross (work in progress)

While I finish writing “The Guardian of Destiny”, I am also going to write blog posts telling about my writing process. I am going to start from when I first came up with the idea for this book. Look for my first blog post on this process next Friday (the 10th). I hope to have a new blog post for you each following Friday after that.

So there you have it – my New Year’s Writing Resolution. Are you making any resolutions this year?