Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working primarily on two WIPs, one of which is my never complete novel following a high queen through murder, plotting, war, love and lust. And it’s been an interesting journey, trying to decide how my main girl Xoe is going to think and behave. She’d bounced between being a rebellious non-queen to an ice queen all the way to a bastard who somehow ends up on the throne. But in all that uncertainty, I’ve gathered a few tips and tricks for establishing your royal characters. Take a look:
- Establish how the line of succession works – history has proven how delicate a position a royal family, and a nation by extension, can be in without heirs. Even if your king and queen are hated by their people and peers alike, everyone wants to know who’s next in line for the throne.
- Establish a royal family history – meaning, at least have an idea of what’s been going on in the palace for the past 50 years or so, even if it only comes through in backstory. The same way Martin wrote about the Mad King in A Song of Fire and Ice gave the perfect sense of tension and a badass reputation to Jaime, so too is your royal family’s history important.
This was a rather interesting read. I wasn’t aware of the “problem of Susan” concept, but now I’ll be on the lookout for it while reading, especially writing articles. I’m glad to see though that I’m not the only one who was bothered by C.S. Lewis’ handling of one of his female protagonists.
As a teen I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian for school after having seen the first movie adaptation. And to be honest, this is one of the few series where I enjoy the movies more than the books. Besides that the written originals were somewhat dull, they did have several anti-female lines that, quite frankly, ruined the magic. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone who understands that the books are heavy in their Christian allegory.
This apparent tension between the story Lewis told (or didn’t really tell, in this case) and what his readers wanted from the story highlights an age old question every writer must think on at some point: to give the audience what they want, or tell the story he feels needs to be told?
Originally posted on Fabulous Realms:
Anyone who has read and loved C S Lewis’ Narnia books may have encountered what is usually referred to in literary circles today as ‘the problem of Susan’. Susan was the only one of the four Pevensie siblings who survived the train wreck (because she was not on the train or at the station) on Earth which sent the others to Narnia after The Last Battle. In that final book of the series, Susan is conspicuous by her absence. Why? Because, as Peter says, she is “no longer a friend of Narnia” and she is described, perhaps rather uncharitably, by Jill Pole as “interested in nothing now-a-days except nylons and lipstick and invitations”. Several people who are otherwise fans of the Narnia books have a big problem with Susan’s fate. Notably, Harry Potter author J K Rowling once commented: “There comes a point where Susan, who was the older girl, is lost to Narnia because she becomes…
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The following piece was supposed to be submitted to an anthology that will be titled “Mothering Through the Darkness.” The stories it will contain when it comes out will center around mental disorders during and after giving birth and especially postpartum depression. This was difficult for me to write, and despite sitting down to work on it periodically, I missed the deadline. I chose to finish it though because I felt that it has been an important part of healing and a testament to what my daughter has done for me.
Putting grief into words is futile, and trying to do so would bankrupt the vocabulary of all languages. -Mark Twain, on the loss of his daughter Suzie
Some have told me that I am not a mother, and those who have no experience with miscarriage or infant loss might genuinely ask how one can “mother through the darkness” with no child to care for. The truth is both simple and complicated. It is simple because all of my love, preparations and instincts to care for my little one didn’t go away when she died. It’s complicated because I can never explain to you the dualities that I live with now.
On April 19 at 12:04am, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was 2lbs 13oz and 15 ½ inches long. I was only 32 weeks along, but my labor was induced because I had become a severe pre-eclamptic and my doctor was afraid for my life. I’d spent almost a week in the hospital before the actual delivery, twiddling my thumbs while the nurses pumped me full of medicines that often conflicted with each other and had unpleasant side effects. After my water was forcibly broken, more than 24 hours into the highest level of pitocin my nurse was comfortable giving me, I watched my daughter’s heartbeat move in time with my contractions. I remember one of the nurses telling me that Eevee was doing remarkably well given everything they were putting us both through. And I was so damned proud. That was my girl. Continue reading
My husband joked we had a ghost, and periodically throughout the following months his explanation for some things was, “It was Tanya!” Of course, I have yet to detect any supernatural vibes anywhere in the house or yard, and the most logical explanation is that Tanya was one of the grandchildren of the elderly woman who lived here before us.
But every time I’ve take the laundry downstairs or gone to clean out the litter boxes, I’ve seen her name there. And I wonder who she is, or who she was. I wonder how her name came to be written on that wall, and wonder what the next owners might think if I wrote Eevee’s name up there too. Is that girl’s name written on stone so no one would forget her? Was it an indulgence of a doting grandparent, a loved one just lost, or simply someone testing the color of paint?
At some point when writing fantasy you’re going to encounter a world that needs its own language. Giving a name to a tongue is easy enough, as is differentiating when characters are speaking what and distinguishing dialects. But likely at some point you’re going to want to insert at least a handful of words somewhere. I’ve found often I want to add familial relationship tags to the end of sentences in my made up languages, so the first several words I develop are usually mother, father, brother and sister.
There are tricks to creating a language, and you don’t have to go as in-depth as Tolkien did when creating Elvish to still have a world enriched by multiple tongues. You also don’t have to be a linguistics student. Consider these:
- Don’t use random letters
Please just don’t. Your language needs to make at least a little sense, and literally have some rhyme and reason to it. Continue reading
Yeah, I know what your English professor tried to tell you. But if your English professor could make a living writing fiction, they would have been doing it. – Dean Wesley Smith
Writing fiction is hard, and in some ways is harder than writing non-fiction. At its core, non-fiction is based in finding a unique angle, doing adequate and accurate research and presenting information in an enlightening way. Fiction is all of these things as well, but requires imagination and a more out-of-the-box creative input because a large part of that base you have to make up yourself.
Even fiction requires research
Yes, even if your world is a complete fabrication of your mind, you still need to research the mechanics of the things you wish to install, even if it’s just to see how a device’s real-world counterpart works. I usually begin researching about 1/4th of the way into a story, so that I can fact check my groundwork before I get too deep in, and then continue to write and research intermittently. Continue reading