13 Jul 2014

WW4BB Presents: A Spotlight Author Weekend With Melissa Parkin author of Divine Vices

Posted by Amanda Masters on 8:08:00 am


Guest Post

Practical Advice For Beginning Fantasy/Paranormal Writers:

As an author, it’s your bread and butter to let your mind run amuck. And it’s fun! What other profession encourages you to go into the darkest corners of your conscious, where evil twins lurk about, alien invasions are commonplace, sinister villainy is an art form, and swoon-worthy gentlemen always come gallivanting to the rescue? You won’t find that at the average office building, I’ll tell you that much. So while your friends are talking about filling out T.P.S. reports, you can proudly tell them all about the witches, haunted houses, and rising body count you encountered during your travels into your imagination on your quest to write a book.

Firstly, there’s no right or wrong way to write one. If you’re like me, you’ve probably Googled your butt off in your pursuit of better knowledge on how to construct the perfect book. You’ve read infinite articles and posts, trying to decipher the formula. There’s a small problem with that though, and that is…everyone’s saying something different! There’s no clear-cut answer. Everyone insists their advice is Gospel, but there’s also a thousand different preachers giving you a thousand assorted sermons. Got a headache yet? Yeah, not surprising. You’ll hear some authors who swear by the three-act structure and others who condemn it. People will tell you that “word count is everything!” Others will say that you need to follow the trends. And the jury’s still out about whether prologues, epilogues, cliffhangers, clichés, and archetypes are bad or not.

The truth is, when you’re writing for fantasy or paranormal, there’s nothing to fear. There are two things that I think every fantasy and paranormal writing should know.

Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. As Harry Gray once said, “No one ever achieved greatness by playing it safe.” Fantasy and paranormal are probably the best genres to take risk with your book, to take it to a whole other level. No idea is too strange, no writing style is required, and the laws of 100% logic need not apply. In a genre where wizards train at school, Shadowhunters can be invisible to mortals as they kill demons, and a singular gold ring can bring upon the apocalypse of Middle Earth, it’s clear that there is no limit to where your story can go. So go for it!

Don’t be afraid to let your characters have “Royale With Cheese” moments.
For those unfamiliar with my Pulp Fiction reference, what I mean to say is, don’t refrain from natural dialogue. Some writers will tell you that you should axe any banter that doesn’t progress the plot. This notion does work sometimes, because it can deliver a taut, tightly bound, thrilling story. Others though who try this can still run the risk of having unsuccessful, blatantly scripted prose. Allow your characters to interact with one another like normal people would. When we’re burdened with a problem, is that all we ever talk about? No. We still have everyday chitchats, so why can’t your characters? Yes, they live outside of the realm of the norm, but that doesn’t make them any less human. Realistic, “meaningless” dialogue can actually give the reader better insight into the people in your book. Some authors and editors swear that the DELETE key is the most affective button on your keyboard and that scenes of this nature should be subjected to its function, but I humbly disagree. Ask yourself, is the opening scene in Reservoir Dogs where the characters share a lengthy discussion about Madonna and the etiquette of tipping at a restaurant really relevant to the overall storyline? No, not one bit. BUT…its realism is what makes it one of the most memorable scenes in the entire film, and with good reason. It gives the characters LIFE.

Fun Facts

10 fun facts About Being an Author

Here are the top ten things I love about being an author:

1. No Required Dress Code: While other professions insist on you wearing business suits, dresses, skirts, or uniforms to work, you can rock out in your pajamas when you’re an author!

2. Flexible Hours: 9 to 5? Nope, that rule doesn’t apply here. You work on your own set timeframe. Doesn’t matter whether you have the sleeping habits of a lumberjack or a vampire; it won’t affect your writing process either way.

3. Being able to use the “I’m not crazy, I’m an author!” excuse: As your loved ones spend their days writing up billing reports and marketing strategies, you instead contemplate things like murder, conspiracies, and zombie apocalypses. Best of all, your profession gives you the creative licensing to do so without the fear of being called a nut-bar!

4. Mobile Office: You can work anywhere you like. Whether it’s with the aid of a laptop or good old-fashioned pen and paper, an author can take their stories anywhere at anytime.

5. You get to explore your dark side. As Robert De Niro once said, “One of the things about acting is it allows you to live other people's lives without having to pay the price.” Same goes with writing. You can write about a despicable character that came from the depths of your own mind, a villain who does horrific, bloody, terrifying things, and you can happily walk away from the keyboard with clean hands.

6. Escapism. Sometimes problems in life can get you down, and when you’re a writer, you can translate though issues onto page or completely lose yourself in another world entire. It’s so wonderfully therapeutic.

7. You get to share your stories with the masses! Yes, at times that fact can be downright terrifying because some people may not respond to your book in a positive manner, but discovering that someone enjoyed your work is pretty much the emotional equivalent of finding an unicorn in your backyard! It’s amazing!

8. You see inspiration wherever you go. The greatest ideas can come from
anywhere. Heck, J.K. Rowling was inspired to write Harry Potter by simply taking the train.

9. Writer’s Block allows you to act like a lunatic, and no one can judge you. If you’ve seen The Shining, or Secret Window, or Barton Fink, you know that it’s best to stay clear from a writer when they’re having blockage issues. This means you get the O.K. to go a little mad without friends and family wanting to bind you in a straitjacket.

10. The Book Community is awesome! Bloggers, readers, and other authors have made such an amazing impact on me as a writer. Their feedback really gave me so much confidence in my work.

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