We have covered Character building, and world building so far this month. This is the third installment in the series. If you are interested in or perhaps missed the first two you can find them here:
Character Building: https://christopherjhillger.com/2019/07/18/basics-of-writing-character-building/
So lets first explain what I mean when I say setting and supporting details. They do sound a lot like world building after all.
So world building is the details within the world you built. For instance, a town inside a country, inside the world you created. Setting is more of the scene in which your characters currently reside. It helps to show things like time of day, time of year, temperature around the characters, etc. These things don’t do much to the world building, they don’t tell much about the world, but do make the time spent reading more immersive and relateable.
So that is what I mean when I say setting, are supportive details any different? Kinda. Supporting details, are things like expressions, clothing, and things within the setting. So in that way yes they are basically the same. But supporting details can also include moods, mentioning of past events in case a reader didn’t read the book before, and references to events that took place off “screen”.
Ok, you explained what your talking about, but why should I care about these? They don’t sound important to the story or the plot.
Glad you brought that up. I mentioned before that it helps make your story more relatable and immersive, but that is not all. What dose it mean when you say a story is immersive anyway? Well a simple expression for it is “you get lost in the story”, or in other words you loose track of the real world around you and your mind puts you completely in the world of the book/story.
Relatable on the other hand, helps a story be immersive. You bring up things the reader has likely experienced. Simple things like being cold, anxiety, being unsure, clothes not matching or making sense on another person, etc.
If your story is immersive it will flow much better and you will have tapped into what I refer to as “the magic of a good story”. This magic is what captures the imagination of the reader, makes them loose themselves in your story. When you have tapped into this magic that is exclusive to story telling people are far quicker to praise your writing. They will tell your friends about the story, those friends might check it out, and suddenly you could have a best seller, or even just sales in the first place haha.
That magic is hard to cast, and takes a lot of practice. Not everyone can use it to its full effectiveness either, but everyone from a small fish like myself to JK Rolling herself could use with continued practice in tapping into this magic. I call it magic because while we do know what it is, and have a good idea how it works, no one really understands it yet. Stories have always had this quality, even if we go back to the verbal story telling around a campfire on the edge of a cave.
Bards, musicians, authors, public speakers, and teachers all try to use this elusive magical quality to be able to get the message into the minds of their audience. It’s importance cannot be understated, and effective use of both setting and supporting details will help you tap into this mysterious and amazing ability.
That’s all I’ve got for you all this week. Until next time, may God bless you and keep you.
Last week we started this series of the Basics of Writing with world building here is a link in case you missed it: https://christopherjhillger.com/2019/07/09/basics-of-writing-world-building/
This week we are diving into some of the basics of Character building. I feel like this topic doesn’t need me to explain why it is important, I mean what kind of story is it if you have poorly built characters? That isn’t to say that books haven’t been written with bad characters, but such stories tend to be forgotten. After all, your characters are (typically) who tells your story to begin with.
So, how do we build a character anyway? Well, it helps if we start with an archetype. You have many to choose from, the “everyman” to “paragon” to “mary sue” just kidding don’t use that last one. Now, please understand me here, Do Not stick to an archetype solely, or force a character to only fit in one category. Sticking too strictly to an archetype tends to make your characters boring, and stagnant. You do need to utilize them however, because if you say have a character that switches what category they fall in rapidly without good reason you will only confuse your reader. I mean, we didn’t see Frodo (everyman) turn into Gandalf (paragon/sage) in the end of the Fellowship of the ring.
So lets build a character from scratch right now.
Ok, so we are going with “everyman” in this example. It is can be a common archetype for the main character of a book. They are easy for the reader to relate to, and tend to struggle with similar things that most people struggle with. They don’t normally possess any extra ordinary skills either.
What kind of physical traits should he/she have? Well, we should probably make sure they are close to “average” maybe a little taller/shorter, a little more/less strong than their peers, and have a certain yearning to become something more than what they are now.
So lets make this a female character, who is a little taller than average, and while lacking extra strength physically she knows how to use her height to win a fight if she needs to. She has brown hair that sits just above her shoulders in length, and has a natural wave to it. She has fierce green eyes, and a thin face with a few freckles on her cheeks.
There we go. We have the appearance of a character, but that is only the beginning. Now you need to have a couple story decisions before you can do much more. For instance, is this your main protagonist? Lets say she is, what kind of character traits should she have? Well kind and loyal are both normal protagonist traits, but we don’t want to fit the mold too closely so how about we go the route of loner and suspicious of others?
We have a couple of character traits now, that’s a good start. But it doesn’t mean much without context now does it? Which is what the first part character building truly is at its core: Giving the reader background information about characters in a story over the course of many chapters. You can start your first chapter and revel your character’s appearance, and even dominant traits within the first few pages. Explaining as the story goes on what struggles they face going forward, and have already faced help the reader to understand what this character is all about.
So say about five chapters in you find out that due to the betrayal by a close family friend, she lost her younger brother to a group of bandits and doesn’t know if he is even alive. That would explain why she tends to be suspicious of others and why she tends to be a bit of a loner.
The next part of Character Building is growing your characters over the course of the story. Our green eyed protagonist is forced to work with another girl and that girl’s brother in order to proceed the plot. This makes the character uncomfortable, and forces them to adapt to new situations they have previously avoided. Being placed in uncontrollable circumstances is another trait of the “everyman” and one that is fairly universally kept.
Now you have a growing opportunity for the protagonist. They could work with others better as a result of this situation, voice their distrust which could lead to emotional growth, or even out right fail and see it as justification of their previous feelings causing them to grow more callous towards others. Growth is necessary regardless of what traits your character ends up growing into. It makes the reader gain more emotional connection to the characters, look at Harry Potter. He started something of an “everyman” and towards the end took on the mantle of “the hero”. That growth took place over several books, and countless situations. In the end he even changed archetypes (which is also okay, when there is enough supporting information for it).
You as a writer weave the story, and build the world, and the characters within it. By using effective world building, and character building you can write memorable stories for people to enjoy for generations. These are your two greatest tools as a writer. You must learn how to use them effectively if you wish to create great stories, and further yourself in the art. Of course you can also just use the information to make better creative narratives for a school assignment as well, so to each their own haha.
That is all for this week, I hope this explanation made sense to all of you.
Until next time, may God bless you and keep you.
The KDP free book promotion ends today for The Sage of Hytrae trilogy!
Fill out the holes in your collection, or grab the whole thing before it returns to $5 a book.
Thank you to the hundreds of people who have grabbed a copy of one or more of my books. If you liked them, please consider leaving a review. Without reviews Amazon’s algorithm can’t suggest it to new people. It’s one of the major obstacles to overcome being self published.
Thanks again everyone! And remember, Don’t feed the Jacob’s.
I have been giving my next project a lot of thought this month. Among my ideas were some projects I started back in December of last year (and some even older than that). It has not been easy to choose which project to work on next. Despite this difficulty I have decided a plan of action, and I do have some details to share!
I’m happy to announce that the next book I am working on will be an all new tale with a pleasant mix of Science Fiction, and Fantasy. An exhilarating story that mixes science and magic, in ways that might challenge the way you look at the two. This stand alone Novel will place you, the reader, into the story and whisk you away on a journey that will be hard to forget!
You might be thinking: Hey, The Sage of Hytrae trilogy had some Science fiction elements in it too, what makes this different? I would say that trilogy focused more on the fantasy side of the story, but don’t worry we’ll be getting back to Hytrae eventually.
So what other details can I share? Well, I obviously don’t have a release date, I haven’t been writing this one very long after all. But I can tell you that my plan is for this book to be out by the end of summer (if all goes according to plan that is). I’m excited to share more as it develops over the next couple months!
I’m hoping to get the website updates, banner, artwork, etc. done this month as well so hopefully we’ll have something a little more fitting for a multi series/genre/novel author blog page.
Until next time, and don’t feed the Jacobs!
Thank you Everyone!
For all the support over the years. The Sage of Hytrae Trilogy is now complete with the latest installment The Sorcerer’s Gamble (Available now at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1720324964). I would like to thank everyone who has bought or downloaded any of the books over the years! You guys are the real MVPs and have allowed me to see that not only can I finish writing a book but people can enjoy them.
I plan to spend the month of December exploring different writing projects. As always I will update everyone here if and when I have updates on all my writing related ventures. So far it’s been a bit of a rocky year, but I am grateful for everyone sticking through it with me.
The Sorcerer’s Gamble is finally able to be ordered as a physical copy! These copies are priced at $9.99 and are available now on amazon.
The Crystal Seal is free (as an ebook) until tomorrow so this could be your last chance to grab the digital copy for free!
Thank you to everyone who has already checked out The Sorcerer’s Gamble, and I hope everyone is as excited as I am that the paperback is out now as well!
The Sage of Hytae trilogy is complete! The Sorcerer’s Gamble is released on Kindle! (Print to follow very soon, just have to finish fixing some print errors today). To celebrate the release The Crystal Seal (book one in the trilogy)is free for the next four days! On top of that The Candesent Vessel is on a count down sale for a week, if you pick it up today you can get it for only 99cents! Those are of course the kindle editions of the books, but still pretty sweet deal.
The Sorcerer’s Gamble is $4.99! (not 5.99 like my other ebooks were their first year so price break there 😀 ). Thank you all for your patience in waiting for the release to finally happen. I hope everyone enjoys the completed series and if at all possible leaves some amazon reviews, and tell your friends (Advertising is expensive and hasn’t been kind to me so far ha ha).
Until next time (when the physical book is actually available I hope). Have a great day!
Today marks the day that The Sage of Hytrae Trilogy is finally complete! Well it would be if Amazon would actually let me release it. It exited review today (which means I should have been able to launch it). But unfortunately since I updated one field (added more keywords >.>) it has to be “reviewed” again… They were able to get this turned around in 48hours last time so hopefully this time will be quicker. Anyway, watch this space for further details. I will be continuing to fight their Kindle filters (hopefully I can get at least one version actually released today). I did not have nearly as many issues when it was createspace and not just amazon, oh well.
Talk to you all again real soon.
I finally uploaded the cover art 😀
You can take a look by clicking the link (it’s in pdf format so WordPress wont imbed it).
Don’t forget, the conclusion to The Sage of Hytrae Trilogy releases Next Week!
I’m afraid I don’t have book cover art to upload with me tonight (I just simply don’t have that PC with me) but I wanted to give a quick update.
I have been able to eliminate all but one pesky formatting issue for the printed book (and the one that is left I have no idea how to fix, and if I cannot fix I can live with it). So all is good to be releasing on schedule next week (wow it’s coming up fast on me). If I can remember to either send my phone the images or get on my home PC to post there I will get the artwork up for everyone to see soon.
Anyway, I just felt like I should drop a quick note (I am not letting my launch date slip a third time). So, see you guys soon!