A Matter of Character

Are you ready for some football!

NFL ShieldWeek 1 of the NFL season is in the books. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to curse at the TV and wring my hands to prevent myself from throwing either my laptop or my phone across the room. If not for a few of my fantasy football players having good enough outings to make up for the atrocious play of all the others, I’m not sure I would have had that strength to save my electronic devices. It’s also a good thing I’m not an habitual betting man. Only picking 6 of the possible 16 winners would have cost me more than the shirt off my back.

I can see the rolling eyes and hear the derogatory remarks.

celebrating_football_fansI know it’s just a game. I know the players are paid far too much for running after a ball. I know, in the greater scheme of things, none of this matters. But in the here and now, for the next 13-16 weeks, it’s a big deal. There are millions of franchise owners out there poring over the numbers, fine-tuning their teams, and treating each and every one of their players as if they were in the room right next to them, able to hear their demands for better play or cheers for needed scores.

It’s entertainment, pure and simple. You sit in front of the TV, usually at the edge of that seat, holding your breath, hoping, wishing. You share the players’ pains and triumphs. You voice your frustration along with the coaches. You high-five the fan next to you because your quarterback who just threw the touchdown pass is miles away and you can’t reach him.

It’s still just a game.

Football Character CompareI’m going to make a correlation that is scarcely ever made: football players, in the scope of fantasy sports, are like the characters in a novel. You watch them as they step up to an obstacle. You see them struggle, wince when they fail and feel joy when they succeed.

At least, this happens when the author succeeds in making their characters believable and the story is well written. When the reader relates with the protagonist, they essentially become exactly like the football fan. They wait with bated breath to see what will happen next. Of course, no one expects the reader to jump off their seat and scream at the book when the hero plunges her sword into the creature’s heart after it has been hurting her loved ones for the past 10 chapters. But, as an author, I do hope the reader needs a few moments to bring his or her heart rate down to normal.

As coaches foster a relationship with their fantasy roster, so I aim to create that bond between the players in my fantasy realm and the fan who wishes to see how they fare. I want them to sit up when everything hinges on one character’s decision. I hope they fall back with a sigh when they survive a foolhardy plan that virtually promised to skin them alive. I strive to have them want to throw the book across the room when the antagonist smashes the weapon needed to destroy him before the heroes even have time to finish it.

So, it’s not just a game.

Fantasy football reaches its fans down to the core of their desires and dreams. This is a worthy goal for anyone wanting to entertain the masses. As an author, I use these intense emotions to help form my characters. I know what it feels like to will someone I’ll never meet in person to achieve the impossible. I shake my fist and hang my head with defeat when they fail.

I harness these emotions and use them as targets. If my readers experience this sort of connection with the characters in my novels, than I have done my job as a writer.

Spread the word!

A Question of Sanity

They say insanity is repeating the same actions over and over again and expecting different results.

Let’s take a look at this:

10232322_sAs an author, I never pick up my novel to read it. I know that sounds bad, like a negative opinion of the story. I assure you, that is not the case. Knightfall is the only book I have read four times (on top of the writing of the manuscript). I did it from start to finish, each time poring over every single word. There was no skimming. There was no speed reading.

Sometimes I took a week off before starting the next round of edits, but I went back, again and again…and again and again…poring over the same words. I changed a few of those words with every read, so I guess I achieved a different result, which doesn’t make it that crazy. But believe me, while you’re slaving away over the same words you just read not that long ago, you can feel the madness gnawing away at you.

And this process I will repeat many times over. I have more novels to come. I am in my second round of edits of Trials of the Chosen Book One: A Woman’s Scorn, while the first draft of Meeting the Dark is done and waiting its own set of rewrites. So here lies the insanity, for the repeated process will result in the same improvements. While my writing is getting better, so is my editing, so the margin of betterment remains pretty much the same.

And then there’s this:

Authors spend their time in unreal places, giving life to imaginary people. Our stories may occur in cities known to the world, or town known only to those that live nearby. That doesn’t make it real. Read the fine print at the beginning of the book. It clearly states we writers take creative license and twist whatever fact we want to make our story work. We distort reality.

DSC00270As for fantasy authors like myself, we go miles further than that. I play God, putting mountains where I want, directing the flow of rivers along courses to please my fancy. I plop villages wherever I want, create metropolises that span hundreds of miles (I actually haven’t done that, but I might someday). I do have an ocean in Kagendur (the fantasy world in which Knightfall is set) that continually churns as if in a storm, but without the winds and the clouds. And in the middle of that impossible sea lies a minuscule island, a slab of rock that somehow survives the crashing waves when the barrage of waves should sweep it away with ease.

Novelists create imaginary friends and treat them like real people. We need to do this, or they won’t be believable. You need to find the quirks that make the characters interesting, or funny, or down right despicable.

Then we write to make others believe. Of course, we all know what we read isn’t real, but while we pore through the pages, if properly written, the impossibilities sweep us along and make us feel something.

Conclusion:

Let me recap:

  • Authors perform the same tasks over and over
  • Authors have imaginary friends and enemies
  • Authors live in their own world
  • Authors try to convince others their delusions are real

There can only be one way to describe us novelists:

We are insane.

Spread the word!