Throwback Thursday: How to Help Your Audience Suspend Disbelief

First published 03/02/2019

Before I begin, let me ask you a question: what is the hardest thing to believe about Superman? Is it the fact he can fly, deflect bullets and shoot heat rays from eyes? Is it the fact he is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than… you know? Or is it something else?

As you may be aware, if you’ve been following this blog regularly, I’m cooking up an original superhero story, which I plan to publish in regular instalments here on Penstricken. Now all writing has its challenges, but if there is one thing that I’ve found difficult to get right with this particular story, it is the willing suspension of disbelief.

‘The willing suspension of disbelief?’ I hear you cry. ‘What the heck is that?’

I’m glad you asked. Basically, whenever an audience sits down to read a book or watch a play, they make a subconscious decision to accept the truthfulness of what is happening despite knowing it to be a work of fiction. If the audience does not suspend their disbelief, they will never be able to enjoy the story, because they’ll spend the whole time pointing out all the obvious contrived and plain ridiculous elements that are required to make a good story. While it is ultimately something the audience can decide to do or not to do, you as the writer have a responsibility to write a story which makes it easy for the audience to suspend their disbelief.

Does this mean magic, goblins and (in my case) superheroes are out? Certainly not. People have been telling stories about magic, goblins and yes, even super-powered humans doing incredible things since ancient times. If the current trend in Marvel and DC films is anything to go by, humanity’s taste for the impossible has not dwindled much in the last few millennia. It’s also true that there are plenty of non-fantasy/speculative stories which can utterly fail to inspire the willing suspension of disbelief. The issue is not one of what is possible. The issue is of what is likely.

The hardest thing to believe about Superman isn’t the fact he comes from another planet, nor is it the fact he has incredible powers. Those things are perfectly acceptable within the rules of the Superman universe. The most ridiculous thing about Superman* is the fact that Lois Lane (and everyone else) is actually fooled by a pair of glasses. I started wearing glasses for the first time back in 2014, and when I went into work the next day my colleagues didn’t all demand to see my ID badge, nor did my boss phone me up and ask me why I wasn’t at work. They knew it was me. That’s because glasses really don’t obscure a face that well.

But as much as everybody loves you there is one question that keeps coming up: “How dumb was she?” Here, I’ll show you what I mean. Look (puts glasses on). I’m Clark Kent (glasses off). No, I’m Superman (glasses on). Mild-mannered reporter (glasses off). Superhero. Hello? Clark Kent is Superman. Well, that was worth the whole trip. To actually meet the most galactically stupid woman who ever lived.

Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, s. 2 ep. 18 ‘Tempus Fugitive’ 

Source: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=lois-and-clark-the-new-adventures-of-superman&episode=s02e18 (parentheses mine)

At this point, there is something very important to point out: in order to function, almost every story you ever write will feature a little unlikely element here or there. That’s okay, as long as you don’t push the audience’s ability to suspend their disbelief too far. Think of these things like using selloptape to wrap a Christmas present. You need a little, but too much spoils the whole thing. The audience will put up with one very small ‘oh come on, that wouldn’t happen!’ moment provided it helps your story along and isn’t the beating heart of your story in and of itself. For instance, Superman wouldn’t work without the glasses ‘disguise’, but its not fundamental to who he is or what he does. It’s just a simple trick to allow him to lead a double life and it’s unobtrusive enough for the audience to forgive, assuming the audience wants to enjoy the story (a determined audience can and will find the joins in even the most perfect stories; don’t let them get you down).

Having said all of that, you still need to take care when you are constructing fantastic elements for your story too. You can’t just have a dragon pop up and save the day in the last few pages of your story when previously you had no dragons. You can make your fantasy world as ridiculous and as imaginative as you like (have you read The Colour of Magic?) but there are still a few important things to remember if you want the audience to fully suspend their disbelief. I’ll rattle through them quickly.

Every fantasy world has rules. These can be almost anything you want, but you can’t deviate from the rules of your fantasy world any more than you can deviate from the laws of physics in real life.

Consider your genre and your audience. You’ll get away with elves in a fantasy. You won’t get away with them so easily in a space opera. Your audience will almost certainly approach your story with certain expectations, so think long and hard before you deviate from them.

Foreshadow. Don’t introduce fantastic elements as and when they’re needed. If Superman only flew when he had a missile to catch but got the train everywhere else, we would find this sudden introduction in the story’s climax a little jarring (might even read like a deus ex machina). If he can fly, he can fly– so let him fly! Don’t have him climbing ladders to change light-bulbs. He can fly! He’s not going to forget he can fly!

Avoid making things too easy for your characters. Whether it’s a personal code of morality, a price for casting magic or some other Achilles heel, if all your hero has to do is snap his fingers and save the day with his powers, you’ll have created an anticlimax. Nothing in life is ever as easy as simply magicking your problems away, and no matter how much your audience might enjoy magic or reversing the polarity, a good story reflects this. Your hero has to face a challenge to overcome using their head, their heart and their hands. There’s a reason Superman always winds up a cage made of Kryptonite. The bit where he escapes the Kryptonite using nothing more than his wits, his natural human strength and his burning passion to save the day is always more satisfying than the bit immediately after where he catches and disarms the missile in midair and actually serves to make the final ‘magical’ rescue all the more exciting.

*Okay, there’s also the fact of his impeccable moral purity, but that’s a deeper issue of character writing that I’ll talk about some other time. In fact, I already have.


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ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Bodacious Creed by Jonathan Fesmire

U.S. Marshal James Creed has known loss, starting from the untimely death of his wife and daughter in a sudden fire. His work, chasing down and arresting outlaws across the Wild West, is all he has left to live for. Then one day, in 1876, the infamous killer Corwin Blake catches Creed by surprise and guns him down.

Creed awakes after a mysterious young woman resurrects him in a basement laboratory beneath a brothel. Half alive, Creed feels torn between his need for justice and his desire to fall back into the peace of death. Creed’s instincts drive him to protect the city of Santa Cruz….

He uncovers a secret criminal organisation… determined to use resurrection technology for its own ends. The former marshal, now faster, stronger, and a more deadly shot than ever before, must work with a brothel madam, a bounty hunter, and the remaining marshals to uncover the criminal syndicate before they can misuse the machines of rebirth and create more mindless zombies. Meanwhile, he must also stop Blake, before the outlaw kills the only people he cares about.

His own death can wait.

Praise for Bodacious Creed

I had no idea I would enjoy as much as I did! If you like steampunk books, zombies, or western, go check this one out! 

Jordan, ‘Bodacious Creed by Jonathan Fesmire’, Forever Lost in Literature, 01/03/2018

A great mix of genres, recommended to those who love to try something original and don’t fear to tread outside of the normal paths. For Western, steampunk, and zombie lovers. Highly recommended.

Olga Nunez, ‘#Bookreview Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western (The Adventures of Bodacious Creed Book 1) by Jonathan Fesmire (@FesmireFesmire) Highly recommended to Western, steampunk, and zombie lovers #Western #steampunk #zombies’, AuthortranslatorOlga, 08/01/2018


Have you read Bodacious Creed? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Buy Bodacious Creed on Amazon


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ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Why I Love Julia Donaldson's Picture Books

If you read books to your children (and you should), there’s a more than even chance you will have come across the work of Julia Donaldson. If you haven’t, allow me to commend her to you now. Donaldson is the author of numerous award winning picture books, including (but not limited to) The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, Monkey Puzzle and The Smartest Giant in Town.

Before I became a parent myself, it never occurred to me that a two year old could have a favourite author. I was wrong. Whether or not my two year old understands that there is a common author behind her favourite works or not, I cannot say. One thing I do know is that the vast majority of the books she asks my wife and I to read to her over and over were penned by Julia Donaldson.

A remarkable coincidence! I hear you cry. But no, for I can also say with certainty that of all the books I read to my daughter, Julia Donaldson’s picture books are the ones that I also enjoy the most.

So what makes her work stand head and shoulders above the rest?

Perhaps one of the things I like most about her books is the non-patronising language she uses. Although it is crafted in a way which is highly accessible for small children, the quality of writing suggests a (very correct) presupposition that children are intelligent and capable of learning, rather than stupid and in need simplistic sentences and single syllable words. As a result, the word choice and sentence structure in her picture books is often not so different to what you might find in a book aimed at a much older audience, were it not for the use of repetition and rhyme which make the writing more accessible for younger audiences.

In a similar way, the stories themselves are far more tightly structured than I have found in picture books by other authors. Many non-Donaldson picture books I’ve come across either read like some strange literary acid trip (I hate these) or else have a meandering quality to them, with little or no conflict for the protagonist to overcome. For instance, Eric Hill’s Spot books follow the adventures of a puppy called Spot who does perfectly normal things, like going to library where he reads some books and brings a few home. Now there’s nothing wrong with that in a picture book (my daughter loves Spot too!), however Donaldson’s books actually employ the conventions found in more adult writing, such as giving characters motives, goals, conflicts and resolutions. This not only makes the story more enjoyable for the parent reading it, but also allows the child to experience a story with a bit of substance to it and, as a consequence, to learn a thing or two about life.

For instance, one of my daughter’s favourites is Tabby McTat, in a which a busker’s cat is accidentally separated from his master. The cat builds a new life for himself, settles down with new owners and has a family but is continually plagued by the memory of his old master until he finally goes hunting for him. Upon finding him, he is torn between returning to his old master and remaining with his new family. There is also a subplot about the youngest son of McTat’s litter who enjoys singing loudly and out of tune to such an extent that he is unable to find an owner. These conflicts are also resolved with a neat little bow at the end of the story, just like you would expect to find in any quality piece of writing.

My daughter loves this book, and will often comment not only on the central themes of the story, but will also ask us about other interesting concepts the book has introduced her to, such as busking, thieving, hospitals and family. In a similar way, whenever we read The Highway Rat, which tells the story of a highway robber, she frequently will interrupt us to ask who the stolen property belongs to; and when we tell her that it really belongs to the character the rat stole it from, my daughter will arrive at the conclusion that the rat shouldn’t have taken it. Again, when we read The Gruffalo’s Child, my daughter will explain to us that the Gruffalo’s Child really should have stayed at home, and when we get to the bit where the Gruffalo’s Child says she isn’t scared, my daughter will pipe up: ‘I think she probably is scared!’

In short, she is learning and loving it.

I suspect we often patronise our children with meaningless stories. I do believe there is an important place for low/zero conflict picture books in the world of children’s fiction so I certainly don’t mean to knock any other books or authors (except for the aforementioned acid-trip writers; you can get out of my house), but I feel that Donaldson and authors like her provide a very special service to children by giving them access to stories which will give them the experience of a character with a goal they cannot easily accomplish. If such things are wholesome for adult consumption, surely they are also beneficial to a child (provided, of course, that language and themes are age appropriate).

As for me, I can think of no better compliment for a children’s author than to say that her writing both teaches and pleases my daughter; and that is exactly what Julia Donaldson has accomplished time and time again.


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ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Haven Wakes by Fi Phillips

What if we lived in a world where hidden cities lie just beyond the next door, hidden in plain sight and guarded by mystical creatures?

One ordinary boy, lost in two extraordinary worlds. An eccentric stranger with the ability to summon doorways out of thin air. A strange girl with powers no one understands. An evil villain hell-bent on trapping Darklings. A world of magic… and robots.

When Steve Haven’s uncle dies, Steve finds himself the guardian of a strange artefact known only as the Reactor. But there are people out there who want the Reactor; dangerous and powerful people. With his parents missing and no one in the normal world he can trust, Steve must join forces with a strange collection of magical beings to save the world by stopping the Reactor from falling into the wrong hands…

Praise for Haven Wakes

Have you read Haven Wakes? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Buy Haven Wakes on Amazon


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

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ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

6 Excellent Writing Tip Blogs

It’s that time once again! Time to shrug off my writerly responsibilities for another week take a humble bow into the shadows and give centre stage to some of the best writing blog posts I’ve read in the last wee while.

This time, they all share a single unifying them: they all contain great tips and advice for writers. As ever, I have listed these in no particular order. So without further ado:

‘Top 10 Writing Tips by Crime Author Owen Mullen @OwenMullen6 #WritingTips’ by Shelleywilson72

‘Writing Advice: Managing Progress’ by Cafereading

‘Writing Tips: Don’t Be Too “Writery”‘ by leeduigon

‘These Two Tips That Will Help You Write Better Characters by Erik Bork’ by Filmcouragevideos

‘The Greatest Writing Advice in the World’ by John Siebelink

‘Writing Tip: Don’t Tell, but Show- Repost’ by Libby Sommer


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Still Out There by Laurie Holbrook

Sixteen years ago, Mabel Peters was left to die by the monster who’d killed her mother and brother. He was never brought to justice. Mabel left everything behind, including her name, to find a new life in safety. Now she’s back and determined to find the man who ruined her life, even if it means risking everything. She can’t rest until it’s done. But when a series of suspicious events happen around her, it becomes clear that she is being hunted once more. And one of her students may just be the key to unlocking the mystery that has consumed her life. Determined to bring her family’s murderer to justice and protect those close to her, Mabel races against time to find her attacker… before he finds her.

Praise for Still Out There

Still Out There by Laurie Holbrook is a book that will keep you in suspense up until the very last page!

Mary, ‘BOOK REVIEW: Still Out There by Laurie Holbrook @LaurieAHolbrook’, A Bookworm with Wine, 24/04/2019

Recommended as a solid thriller that you can easily binge read in one sitting, the pacing was fast enough it’s not easy to put down and the writing style was easy and fast as well…. Quick, Engrossing and Original

Amy, ‘Review: Still Out There by Laurie Holbrook’, Novel Gossip, 22/06/2019

Have you read Still Out There? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy Still Out There on Amazon


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Throwback Thursday: What Do Your Characters Think of Each Other?

Originally published 19/02/2017

Think about someone you know well. Anyone. A friend, a relative, a colleague, anyone. I bet if I asked you what that person was like, you would be able to easily give me your opinion on what sort of person they are.

John? Oh, he’s loud-mouthed, arrogant and opinionated. He’s not a bad person but he’s a real pain to be around…

Jeanie? She’s the most beautiful creature I’ve ever laid eyes on but she’s a liar and a thief. I wouldn’t turn my back on her. 

Willy? Nice guy I suppose, doesn’t say much (but let me tell you, he’s got the sharpest wit you’ve ever come across).

Now ask yourself… would that person’s own mother sum them up the same way you did? What about their spouse? Their boss? Their arch-nemesis? Even though you see John as loud-mouthed, the chances are his mother would focus on some other, more positive qualities, such as how kind-hearted he is. If John has a wife, she would be more likely to emphasis his physical attractiveness than his mother would (or, perhaps, she thinks he’s a lazy good-for-nothing and she can’t believe she married him).

As we all know, characters are the beating heart of any good story. However, no character is an island. How they respond to other characters is often essential in making your plot work (indeed, this arguably is your plot), so don’t be fooled into thinking it’s obvious how your characters will respond to one another. Just because you would respond in a particular way to Character A doesn’t mean that Character B will respond to Character A in the same way you would. Even though you, as the author, know all the facts about all of your characters, you’ll still have your own narrow opinion about what sort of person they are just the same as anyone else. That is why it is vital to know what every character thinks about every other character if you want to create a rich, vibrant and believable story.

Fortunately, it’s easy to do this. Here’s how I like to do it:

Start with a nice blank page. For me, it’s a separate document in my Scrivener project, but whatever floats your boat is fine (if you’re writing on paper, I would strongly recommend having plenty to spare; this could take up a few pages, especially if you’ve got a lot of characters). Now we make a table, as I’ve illustrated below, with as many rows as you have characters and two columns. Only the top row should have a single column, as this will act as a header. In this header, we write the name of the character we are wanting to find out about; Mr. Protagonist, for instance. In the cells below this, we ask every other character in the story for their opinion on Mr Protagonist. I find the easiest way to do this is to write out the answer in their voice, as if they were speaking to me. Even though I’ve only included two other characters to show you how it works, I would recommend you have a much larger table which includes every character in your story so that you get the most out of it.

Mr. Protagonist
Baron Antagonist Mr. Protagonist is a meddler and a constant thorn in my side. We were friends growing up but it is clear now he does not understand the great work I am doing here. His table manners are appalling but he has great taste in single malts.
Lady Loveinterest Mr. Protagonist is ruggedly handsome. His personality is quite charming, if a little brash and uncouth. He has a fiercely righteous (if misguided) streak which almost makes up for his poor breeding. Unfortunately, he drinks a little too much.

Once you’ve done it, repeat the process for all of your other characters.

Baron Antagonist
Mr. Protagonist Baron Antagonist is a snake-in-the-grass. He acts all sophisticated and like he’s everybody’s friend so that he’s got the whole world wrapped around his finger. How do you expose a guy like that? Even the king’s daughter has agreed to marry him. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he beat her.
Lady Loveinterest Baron Antagonist is a great man; a real visionary and a man who knows how to get things done. He’s got the patience of a saint too. I can see Mr. Protagonist irks him sometimes but he has never lost his temper with him, not once. Mr. Protagonist is fortunate to have a friend like the Baron.

Do you see how this can help you to gain a much deeper and fuller understanding of all your characters and the threads of friendship, enmity, mistrust and devotion which bind them together in an elaborate web which I like to call a “Story”?

If you really want to go the extra mile, why not throw in an extra row on each table telling us what each character thinks about themselves?

Mr. Protagonist
Mr. Protagonist I’m a cook and an employee of my former friend, Baron Antagonist. I have to say, I feel a bit out of place living in such a splendid house. The other servants don’t talk to me ’cause I don’t live in the servants quarters. I think that’s why anyway. But I’m more a man of their stripe than the Baron’s. I wish they could see that.
Lady Loveinterest Mr. Protagonist is ruggedly handsome….

Not only is all of this an effective means of fleshing out your story, it can actually be a pretty darn effective means of coming up with a story idea, similar to (in fact, arguably better than) auditioning characters. The above example, for instance, is only that: an example. I made it up as I was going along purely for your benefit. And yet, without intending it, I actually found myself getting quite involved in the story – a story which did not exist before I started filling in those tables. The embryo of a plot began to form in my mind as I learned more and more about each character from the lips of those people who knew them best. Who are these three people? What is the Baron’s ‘great work’ and why is Mr. Protagonist so distrustful of him? Will Mr. Protagonist ever get together with the slightly snobby Lady Loveinterest?

Give it a bash. I think you’ll find it helpful.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

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ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Pomegranate by Nicole Scarano

All legends are born out of truth. Yet there is one that’s true story has all been but forgotten. Legend tells us that Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades were brothers who overthrew the first gods, taking the world for themselves. Drawing lots, Zeus, king of the gods, became ruler of the skies. Brave Poseidon drew the lot of the seas, but wicked Hades was tricked into drawing the lot of the Underworld where he became the most feared and hated of the gods. This is merely legend though. The truth… The truth is very different.

For in the beginning, Hades was not a god, but an immortal of Olympus. Once a mortal of earth, Hades had so pleased the gods that life among them was granted. On Mount Olympus, Hades’ eternal youth was that of pure beauty said to have rivalled the beauty of Aphrodite herself. All were captivated by the splendour that was Hades, but Zeus most of all. For Zeus loved her.

But the love of a fickle god can be cruel, and Hades’ betrayal will have its vengeance. For Hades is destined for a dark and terrible greatness.

Praise for Pomegranate


Have you read Pomegranate? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy Pomegranate on Amazon


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

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ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Author Interview: H.L. Walsh (part 2 of 2)

SPOILER ALERT

While every effort has been made to avoid spoilers in this post, anyone who has not read From Men and Angels by H.L. Walsh is hereby advised that this post may contain a few unavoidable spoilers.

From the dawn of man, the war between Demons and Angels has ravaged the land. Two thousand years of peace has lulled the people into a false sense of security. Malach is on a journey to find his place in the world and pick a side in the war that is quickly approaching, meeting unlikely allies along the way.’

H.L. Walsh is the author of From Men and Angels, the first in a trilogy of fantasy novels in which humans live and sometimes even fight alongside corporeal angels and demons (you can check out my review of From Men and Angels here).

I had the pleasure of chatting with H.L. Walsh about From Men and Angels, his writing process and the calorie content of caffeinated drinks. I’m delighted to add that H.L. Walsh has also given me the honour of revealing the title of the sequel to From Men and Angels. Be sure to read on to the very end of this post to find out what it is!

This is part two of our interview. Missed part one? Click here to catch up!


You mention in the book’s acknowledgements that the idea for this novel came to you while listening to a sermon in which your pastor mentioned spiritual warfare. Is there a peculiarly Christian theme or message in From Men and Angels?

Starting out it was never meant to be a ‘Christian Fantasy’. However, I found that I couldn’t stay away from it when I was writing because of how close to my faith the themes were. I don’t want people to be scared off by the Christian themes in the book. I’m not trying to beat anyone over the head with a Bible or push my own beliefs on anyone. I hope people take this book and enjoy it for the story that it presents and not judge it for the Christian themes in it. That being said, if anyone reads this and is curious about the Christian faith I would encourage them to learn more about our beliefs. I am a Christian and won’t hide that fact, however, my next few planned projects most likely aren’t going to have the Christian themes like this first trilogy. I wouldn’t say I’m a ‘Christian author’, I’m just an author who is a Christian.

Did you find anything particularly difficult about writing this book?

The world building. I found it very hard to weave in the world building without losing the reader. Both my wife and my editor, two separate people by the way, helped me a lot with this, cutting out a lot of unnecessary details or making me rewrite things. In the editing process, we ended up cutting about 25,000 words out of the manuscript which made the story much better. To hear people say that they loved the world building is amazing since so much care went into that aspect of the story.

What’s the best author fuel: Tea, coffee or ‘other (please specify)’?

For me its definitely coffee, although I try not to drink too much of it since I tend to like the sweeter stuff. I don’t want to drink all my calories.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Absolutely! I really try to be prepared for writer’s block but I have gone a week plus with it hanging over my head. At first to get over writer’s block I would just write anything that came to mind, which included main characters being killed off and other crazy things that I never intended to include in my book. That helped me to get some creative juices flowing. Now I swap manuscripts to a totally different project and write there for a while until I have a break through. Then I jump back to my main project.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

J.R.R. Tokien, Terry Brooks and C.S. Lewis have got to be a few of my all-time favourites but recently I picked up a book by Cole Fox, who is an indie author and really enjoyed his writing.

Any goals for 2020?

Originally, my goals were to publish the sequel to From Men and Angels, launch my website, and publish the first in a novella series I’ve been working on. However, I recently went back to work full time and have checked some of those lofty goals. I’m now hoping to get all of the drafting done for my sequel and have it ready to start editing by the end of the year and launch my author website.

And finally, what’s your number one piece of advice for any new authors out there thinking about writing their first novel?

Just start writing! Get your thoughts and ideas on paper, or word document. Yes, planning has its place but don’t get so caught up in planning that you postpone writing. The great thing about writing is that you can change things and polish it later. My original outline looks nothing like the finished book. Also let the story take you where it wants to go. Don’t be so rigid in sticking to your plan that you miss a good creative idea that comes to you mid-story.


TO ASH AND DUST

Book #2 of the Deliverance Trilogy
by H.L. Walsh

COMING MAY 2021



MISSED PART ONE of this interview? CLICK HERE TO CATCH UP.



Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Throwback Thursday: 50 Quotes About Writing

Originally posted: 28/01/2018

Well, we’ve already had fifty quotes about fiction in general so today it’s time for another fifty quotes, this time providing advice, encouragement and general reflections on the process of writing. So without further ado…

  1. ‘I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.’ — Douglas Adams
  2. ‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’ — Maya Angelou
  3. ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’ — Ernest Hemingway
  4. ‘Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.’ — Mark Twain
  5. ‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.’ — Stephen King
  6. ‘It’s hell writing and it’s hell not writing. The only tolerable state is having just written.’ — Robert Hass
  7. ‘We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.’ — Anaïs Nin
  8. ‘Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.’ — E.L. Doctorow
  9. ‘A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world.’ — Susan Sontag
  10. ‘You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.’ — Madeleine L’Engle
  11. ‘If a story is in you it has got to come out.’ — William Faulkner
  12. ‘You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.’ — Saul Bellow
  13. ‘I’m not a very good writer but I’m an excellent rewriter.’ — James Michener
  14. ‘You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.’ — Doris Lessing
  15. ‘It is a very cool thing to be a writer.’ — Bryan Hutchinson
  16. ‘You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.’ — Ray Bradburry
  17. ‘If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’ – Toni Morrison
  18. ‘Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.’ — Louis L’Amour
  19. ‘Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.’ — Mark Twain
  20. ‘The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday.’ — David Schlosser
  21. ‘Step into a scene and let it drip from your fingertips.’ — M.J. Bush
  22. ‘Growing up is highly overrrated. Just be an author.’ — Neil Gaiman
  23. ‘Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days.’ — J.K. Rowling
  24. ‘What doesn’t kill us gives us something to write about.’ — Julie Wright
  25. ‘There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.’ — W. Somerset Maugham
  26. ‘When asked “how do you write?” I invariably answer “one word at a time.”‘ — Stephen King
  27. ‘Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.’ — Isaac Asimov
  28. ‘Writing is show business for shy people.’ — Lee Child
  29. ‘It is perfectly okay to write garbage –as long as you edit brilliantly.’ — C.J. Cherryh
  30. ‘If you’re writing stuff, you’re a writer. If you’re not writing stuff, you’re not a writer. If you publish ten thousand best sellers, all of which get made into films, then stop writing, you’re no longer a writer… Similarly, if you are writing with any kind of regularity, you are a real writer. You might be a professional or only an amateur, but you are a writer. Really.’ — A. Ferguson
  31. ‘If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.’ — Martin Luther
  32. ‘Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else.’ — C.S. Lewis
  33. ‘Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.’ — William Wordsworth
  34. ‘Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.’ — Philip José Farmer
  35. ‘I write to find out what I’m talking about.’ — Edward Albee
  36. ‘Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon.’ — Raymond Chandler
  37. ‘You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.’ — Annie Proulx
  38. ‘Don’t be a writer. Be writing.’ — William Faulkner
  39. ‘Writing is like giving yourself homework, really hard homework, every day, for the rest of your life. You want glamorous? Throw glitter at the computer screen.’ — Katrina Monroe
  40. ‘Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.’ — Natalie Goldberg
  41. ‘To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man.’ — Aristotle
  42. ‘You can make anything by writing.’ — C.S. Lewis
  43. ‘I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.’ — Joss Whedon
  44. ‘I need solitude for my writing; not “like a hermit” — that wouldn’t be enough — but like a dead man.’ — Franz Kafka
  45. ‘Writers don’t make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don’t work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck’s book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealousy, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch facedown and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man’s stupid words. And for this, as I said, we are paid a dollar. We are worth so much more.’ — Donald Miller
  46. ‘Some writers enjoy writing, I am told. Not me. I enjoy having written.’ — George R.R. Martin
  47. ‘A word after a word after a word is power.’ — Margaret Atwood
  48. ‘A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.’ — Thomas Mann
  49. ‘Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.’ — David McCullough
  50. ‘Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.’ — Ralph Keyes

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here: