Tag Archives: science fiction

Bringing a Story to Life: Reverse Engineering

physics1.jpgSo, listening to Boys and Girls by Blur and realizing that the next book in the Metatron’s Army Series – Book 12 – needs to be done differently than any of the other books in the series.

And differently than any other book I’ve ever written.

I need to reverse engineer it.

I think this is a side effect of the nature of the Endgame.

So much still needs to happen, though I did get through the high scene of the series.

It’s in Promotion: Book 11.  Lots happens in each of the books so I’m not giving anything away with that tidbit.

I don’t want the wind down of the series to be just tying up loose ends.

There is so much more to it than that.

And then there’s the damned back story.

At this point in the series a necessary evil.

As I was going through what I’d written I found myself frustrated by the necessary evil.

And decided if I was having a problem with it – readers will too.

But how to deal with it?

Enter Stage Left.  Not long ago the artist who works with me on my book covers asked a question that enabled us to bridge the gap of communication.

“What is the important thing that happens in this book?”

My answer helped her get a better understanding of the information and emotion I’m trying to evoke with an image when I create a cover.

Or, as in the case of Port in a Storm, the mood/tone I’m setting.

The question helped me. It forced me to focus quickly because she’s busy and – like so many of us – needs to maximize her time.

In other words, cut to the chase. 

Stepping back from my frustration, I realized the same method I employ with the artist would work for me.

“What needs to happen from here on out?”

I haven’t answered completely yet.

I’m still annoyed but it can wait.  I just released Book 9 for pre-release.  This is book 12.

I turned to what I often do when I hit a writing wall.

Or any number of life frustrations.

I put together an article for the web.

As if the web was an entity.  Fun. 

What this has done is force me to think differently which will definitely help here.

  • What needs to happen?
  • In what order does it need to happen?
  • What am I trying to accomplish?
  • What do I need to accomplish?

Those answers provide me with the flexibility that allow me to rearrange events and get around evil necessities.

And that’s empowering… 

I think I’ll listen to some Bonham next.

The Disregard of Time Keeping…

Of course…

 

 

 

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Bringing a Story to Life – The Dark Moment

maxresdefault-2After several weeks of editing I am back in writing mode.  It takes getting used to though I like to tell myself switching gears is good exercise for my brain.

Ahem.  The difficulty was only an excuse, however.  I’d been stalling for quite some time because this is the phase in the Metatron’s Army series known as middlegame.

In chess, this is the portion of the game between opening and endgame. 

There is no clear line between the opening and middlegame or between middlegame and endgame.

 Your setup is to play and your play is to win.

This is the part of the series where the strategy and positions set in motion in the opening are put in play.  Not everything that is about to happen is fun.  I like my characters, so I have a bit of grief over this.

What Doesn’t Kill.  In the early stages of the series, I knew bad things had to happen to likeable characters.  Even so, I worried about ticking off readers.

I get really irritated with authors who kill off characters for no good reason. 

 I spent weeks talking with a number of people who read all manner of fiction, to ask their thoughts on the matter.  The overall consensus was that if there was a reason for death or harm then they had no issue with it, as it is unrealistic to think nothing bad ever happens.

Interestingly, more than a few expressed frustration with authors who write about warring factions but have everything tied up in a bow so there is no suffering or harm.  They felt it was distracting because it was not realistic.

Makes Strong.  Some of the events were part of character building.  I’m big on understanding the motivation behind characters.

  • Why do they do what they do?
  • Why are they who they are?
  • What forces shaped and molded them?

 Reality.  In creating the heroine for MA, I considered not only what her qualifications were but how it was she got them.

This is why I spent so much time on opening. 

I wanted the readers to really be able to identify with a character who had extraordinary experiences.

Reality.  I worked to keep Christine grounded even as she developed skills and gained powers.

It wouldn’t have been realistic if she gained powers and suddenly became a totally different person.  As Dr. Erskine points out to Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger, it’s what’s inside already that will be enhanced.  We also see evidence of this in the 2002 Spider-Man with Norman Osborn. 

 Fantasy.  I also had to be true to the character in terms of the fantastical situation she finds herself in.

Born in one universe, raised in another.

 I had been working with this story since 1982 and while I knew what happened from the when and why, I hadn’t bothered to think about the how.

That’s the cool thing about a fantasy when it’s in your head.  You don’t have to question unless you want to spend time on it; you can just accept.

 It wasn’t until I sat down to write the series that I had to work out those details.

I’m still working some of them out which is funny because I’m almost to the endgame part of the series.  You’d think I’d have worked them all out out but I find “little details” missing.

 Education.  I always like to make my fiction go beyond simply entertaining by including bits of truth.

I do a lot of research.

 Specifically, with Metatron’s Army, I included real places, like the bar and the diner in Berkley, Michigan.

The bar is/was on the same road as the Doll Hospital and Toy Soldier Shop, though the diner is not across the street.  It’s actually in a neighboring town.

 Sila’s and The Red Coat Tavern are real restaurants.

The New Agey store in Royal Oak is/was a real place.

 The Turner house is a real house in Berkley.

The Turners are made up, however.

Entertainment.  This is a no-brainer for fiction – escapism.  Put together a story that will take you out of the moment and into a world you never knew existed.

Simultaneous Display: Metatron’s Army Book 5 will be available March 2018.

Bringing a Story to Life – Where’s Your Reality?

SpiralElizabeth draws from knowledge, personal experience, and imagination in creating.

What does that mean, exactly?

Imagination.  I’ve been telling stories all of my life.

It starts out with playing house, then dolls, cars, army, then expanding – creating new worlds that include elements from an ever-growing knowledge and experience base.

Knowledge.  I’ve always had a passion for learning.  Having a deep understanding of a subject is empowering.  It is also imperative in industries such as tech where processes, tools, and trends are continuously updating, changing and evolving.

As Gretsky said, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it’s been.”

Apparently, this quote is actually from Wayne’s father, Walter.

In addition to industry specific news, industry groups, conventions, and trade publications are excellent sources of information that can add to an author’s knowledge base.

Experience.  I’ve had a full rich life.  I’ve lived and worked in multiple locations, enabling me to see and/or experience the impact various industries have had on society

  • The oil and gas embargo

Lines of cars half a mile long waiting to get gasoline – gasoline that was going to run out within twenty years.  That was almost fifty years ago.

  • Automotive manufacturing

Which has dragged Michigan through an economic downturn about once a decade through the latter half of the twentieth century.  Seeing plants close, neighbors lose their jobs.

  • Technology/Dot com chaos

We don’t need no stinkin’ business plan.  Build it and they will come – not

  • Fracking

Environmental impact.

  • Real estate

Prop 13, bubble impact

I have gained perspectives from personal experience

  • EMF Sensitivity
  • Rheumatic Arthritis
  • NDE

I draw from these factors when creating stories.

Spires and Spirits.  I have a great deal of experience with the paranormal.  I’ve also made an intensive study of the various phenomenon associated with it.

The US and other world governments have done extensive scientific research for decades.  Their findings are widely available, though scattered.

 Metatron’s Army.  This epic is a work of fiction.  However, I did draw from the Near-Death Experience for various aspects.

  • Parallel universes

After I was home from the hospital, my dad came in to find me sitting up in bed.  He asked, “What are you doing up?  It’s late.”  I told him, “Do you realize that in another universe, I died?  I can feel it.”  His reply?  “Well, you’re alive in this one, so go to sleep.”  Pretty perfect response.  The awareness stayed with me.  Over the years, I’ve learned to just accept it.

  • Light Beings

 The Light Beings in the series are totally different than what I have described in After Here: The Celestial Plane and What Happens When We Die.  They are fictional characters created for this fictional story.

  •  The Iconoclast

This character is based on a sensation experienced but again, is totally fictional.

  • Location

 The only real place is a bar in Berkley, Michigan that had video games in the breezeway.  A friend of mine and I used to play the games when I’d spend the night at her house.  The owner would grumble it was okay as long as we stayed out of the bar – “Don’t need no trouble with cops…”

  •  The Weird

 In the eighties, I created the warehouse bar in Perm on Catana.  Gambling was the primary activity and information was the currency.  In order to better bluff, I had the character – who was still evolving at that point – smoke electronic cigarettes.  This is before there was any such thing.  When they showed up on the scene, I was pretty shocked.  I’d totally made it up!  Jung’s Collective Consciousness? 

A major difference:  Unlike in reality, in my universe, there are no health risks associated with smoking the electronic cigarettes.

 The fictional story came about as a way of coping with an experience.  It evolved over decades.  When it came to publishing Metatron’s Army, I was able to draw from the various fictional elements in place – but I also had to tighten the story, build the world, and bring it to life.

All in a fiction day’s work.

Bringing a Story to Life – Being One With Your Character

MindMeld1“I think singing and acting go hand in hand.  Take an R & B singer; one song says, ‘I love you,’ the next is, ‘Baby, don’t leave me,’ the next is, ‘If you leave me then I don’t care.’  You have to drop in and out of different perspectives.”    – Ice T

As the release date for Bishop Pair, Metatron’s Army Book Two drew closer, I halted the book I was working on to do a final edit.

It’s a good idea to set a manuscript aside for several days to several weeks.  When you pick it up again, rereading with fresh eyes, you find mistakes or see where subtle tweaks can strengthen the story.

I remember you when.  Going back to Book Two meant having to go back in time.  My mind was in Book Five – Pawn Storm.  My character had gone through numerous life-changing experiences since Bishop Pair.

A lot happens in Book Three – Zwischenzug, and Book Four – Positional Play.

She was no longer the young woman returning to her home system to start a new life, and yet that is who she has to be in Bishop Pair, which meant that is where my perspective had to be.

Remember me?  Fortunately, putting myself back in the mindset of the “innocent” she was at this point wasn’t as difficult as I initially feared it would be.  Simply reading the story drew me into her world, enabling me to see it through her eyes.

And her heart.

 Going forward was another story.

What happened to you?  Have you ever run into someone you haven’t seen for years and find yourself astonished by the changes?

Going back to pick up the threads of Pawn Storm was like running into someone I hadn’t seen in years.  I had to take time to study the changes, understand who she’d become.  This was no easy feat.

Because Pawn Storm is a work in progress, there isn’t yet enough story for me to get drawn in.

 Even more challenging, with a release date days away, Bishop Pair is still fresh in my mind.

Christine is newly arrived at Dynamic.

To go forward, I had to become one with the character.

Getting into character.  Writing through the eyes of the character requires a bit of acting skill.  You have to put yourself in their shoes.

Switching between characters within a story isn’t difficult since, as the author, you have a bird’s eye view of everyone on stage, but going between set changes can present a challenge.

Especially if the character goes through a life-altering experience.

Who are you again?  Editing isn’t the only reason a writer might go back to a previous scene.  Going back in time can help the author reconnect with the character because the personality difference acts as a contrast, sharpening focus.

Though character evolution happens in every story, it’s tougher to manage with a saga.

Metatron’s Army is unique in that the story takes place over several books.  This was the best format to do justice to the story and  for me to illustrate character evolution that spans years.

This story telling format introduced unique challenges for managing character growth.

Staying true to the character as new characters are brought in, older characters are phased out, and secondary characters go through their own evolution is a full-time job.

Fortunately, in the seed of the challenge is an advantage.  I’ve been living with Metaron’s Army for the past thirty-five years.

Each book is more like a chapter for me

I know the characters well.

I already know who they will be at the end of the series.

The tough part is, as Ice T says, dropping in and out of different perspectives.

It can be mentally exhausting.

Bishop Pair, Metatron’s Army Book Two is now available for pre-order.