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Of Faith and Fiction

Hey everyone,

I wanted to get one more post in this month. So this is something of a more philosophical post than most of my posts. So fair warning, and disclosure out of the way lets get into this.

Faith and Fiction, one is a story you believe, the other is one you wish you could believe (well, most of the time haha). I’m not going to discuss the reasons or evidence for faith. Instead, I plan to cover the connections and the reason they are not the same, yet often intermingled.

When I was set up at my booth at Old Timer’s days this year someone who stopped to talk to me said something I couldn’t quite respond to. So if you weren’t aware, my books cover a bit of fictional magic. A bit haha, ok it is arguably a large plot point. What this person said was, because of their faith they felt it was a reason such a subject couldn’t be covered in the fiction they read.

Which I was so stricken by, I stumbled around the reasons that shouldn’t matter (especially in my story, but all stories really). I mean, I am a christian author after all, which is the faith the person felt conflicted with the very idea of magic.

The God of this world, is the God who gave us our creativity and inspired the very idea of magic. I mean the scriptures gave the foundations of what magic could be, and where it comes from.

Before anyone raises pitchforks and torches, let me explain. The magic in fiction is NOT the type of magic the bible rebukes. It is a made up world not our reality that fiction takes place in. On top of this, fiction is an escape from our reality and that should be enough to make the distinction.

That short rant out of the way, lets dive deeper.

I can point out so many parallels of how fiction repaints our world to teach and to entertain. So let’s do a little of that shall we?

In Doctor Who, the Doctor is the only one of his kind (in most of the episodes), can exist at any point in time, and has two hearts. I would argue that his character is an eccentric depiction of the God of our universe. The bible suggests that God exists outside of time, so he exists and is present throughout it. That He is the only true God and is alone in this distinction. Lastly, according to the bible, God created Adam in his image. When he made Eve, he took Adam’s side out and put it into Eve to give Eve life. Could that have been that Adam had a second Heart that was given to Eve? That is a romantic idea, but I don’t have more than the idea. You see some parallels though.

That is only one example. And yes, there are many ways that fiction separates from reality. From alien landscapes, to non existent creatures, to magical abilities. They all have some level of grounding in our world though, there are limits to what our minds can create.

There are fans who make religions out of works of fiction. This is a product of a deep desire to connect to something bigger than ourselves. That is commonly described as a God shaped hole, that a person longs to fill with something.

Well that’s all the time I have today. I hope to cover more writing related subjects very soon.

Until next time, may God bless you and keep you.

Basics of Writing: Character Building

Hey everyone,

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.

Basics of writing: World Building

Hey everyone,

This week in the basics of writing, we will be covering World Building. Well, world building within fiction anyway.

So what is world building?

As the name implies world building is a building of the world in which your story takes place. Setting the stage for the reader. Forging a world to get lost into.

So it’s like, the supporting details about the places the story takes place in?

Yes, and no.

World Building is far more than just a couple of lines that set the atmosphere. It does much more than just describe the difference between scenes. The goal is to make this land of fantancy feel just as impactful as the world in which you read the book from.

Which gets us to why it’s important.

Character dialogue is great inside a story. Epic conflicts, growth (physical and emotional), and accomplishments are all awesome to read. None of these and more, have any lasting impact without effective world building.

If you don’t believe that the place exists, how are consequences meaningful? Can you achieve something in your mind only? No, not really. Yet stories can make you feel accomplished, despite not really existing outside your mind. This is due to effective world building.

So we have covered the what and the why of this subject. Now let’s dive into the how.

This is something that is easy to mess up when starting to write. Books especially require well thought out world building to keep a reader hooked. This can be solved by trying to find natural ways for your story to answer some questions about itself.

Those questions could be like:

  • How do people earn money in this area?
  • What are common modes of transportation?
  • What does the political scene look like?
  • What do people eat?
  • What are the species of this world?

And the list can go on forever. The point is, don’t be afraid to draw paralels and contrasts to our world. Don’t force it though, that can break emersion. For instance:

Say people can’t ride horses in this country. A poor way to explain that could be.

“It is illegal to ride a horse in this region. We’ll have to walk.”

That sentence doesn’t help develop more out of the world, rather it just places the obstacle and tells you people ride horses. A better way to do this would be:

“Riding horses in this region became illegal some time ago. It is due to the king becoming gravely injured while riding a horse as a child. It would be best if we simply walked instead”

You see the second does a few extra things (besides just increase the word count). It establishes a monarchy in the region. A passage time is implied, which builds a local history. It can be assumed that the ruler of this region is cautious, and wishes to keep his subjects safe (albeit in an overprotective way).

World Building answers questions the reader might not have known to ask. It keeps you thinking about the settings and characters within the story. These are key to keeping interest of your audience, and crafting an emersive world.

Well that’s all I have about the basics of writing when it comes to world building. Until next time, may God bless you and keep you.

The Trilogy is complete!

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 now in Paperback!

Hey everyone!

 

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.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1720324964

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!

 

It’s Release day!

Hey Everyone!

 

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.

The Sorcerer’s Gamble Cover Art

Hey Everyone!

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).

Cover art for Sorcerer’s Gamble

Don’t forget, the conclusion to The Sage of Hytrae Trilogy releases Next Week!

 

Sorcerer’s Gamble Update

Hey guys,

 

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!

A synopsis for The Sorcerer’s Gamble

Hey everyone!

Sorry I didn’t get this out last week. Between working long hours at work, and fighting with KDP to get the print to look right (I’m about half way through that fight right now), I just didn’t have time to post until now.

I have sent the manuscript to the copyright agency, so the ball is rolling there. I will continue to get more done on the artwork side this week as I am able. I am hoping to have new banners for both this site and facebook.

Anyway, I am posting the synopsis from the back cover of my book below to give a little tease of what is to come later this month. Enjoy!

 

Mistar recovered a lost research tome that reveals the plot to bring Hytrae into darkness. He must race to alert the orders of magic before it is too late! During this time, Cyan and Lucy have trained over the winter at the Northern Monastery. Lucy easily passed her trials but Cyan has yet to attempt them. Three must stand at the end of the age, and Fate has a way of forcing you hand….

The Sorcerer’s Gamble Has a release date! (for real this time)

Hey Everyone!

It has happened. I don’t think anyone thought it ever would but it has happened. I finished editing the final installment in The Sage of Hytrae trilogy! All that is left is to finalize the artwork and get it out to all of you 😀

The Sorcerer’s Gamble is releasing November 20th, 2018 and we will be running special promotions on the previous two installments as well. Over the next week I plan to give a sneak peek at the artwork, as well as, detail more about the promotion and maybe even offer a preview of the book (another one actually, as the baited fan will already know).

I whole heartily wish I had gotten this done sooner for everyone. But what’s done is done, and the final proof is done! You all will be hearing again from me real soon, so stay tuned to this channel for further details!