The Importance of a Good Character Death

Everyone knows when they read a book or watch a movie that there is a chance a character they really love is going to die.  Either the character was the funny/supportive friend, the wise mentor, or even a love interest, no one is safe!  If one show/series of books has taught us that, it’s Game of Thrones.  George R. R. Martin is notorious for killing off many good characters that we all loved or came to love.  First example would be Ned Stark, as played by Sean Bean.  Ned Stark was the perfect character: loyal to king and wife, a devoted father and a good master.  That’s probably why he needed to die (per Martin’s logic).  But then, that set a precedent for most of the character deaths on Game of Thrones.  They were all good characters.

Now, everyone who has read/watches Game of Thrones, has probably also read/watched The Lord of the Rings.  J. R. R. Tolkien created a world and any good characters; most of whom live to see peace come to Middle Earth.  Honestly at the rate GOT is going, who is going to be yet living at the end of this final season?  Nobody!  Of course, GOT is on a larger scale than LOTR simply because there are more books in the series.  So, I guess there are more characters to kill off, but they are usually the good guys.  That’s my problem.  Tolkien understood the importance of having a well placed death of a good guy, but he didn’t do it often.  Obviously in The Fellowship of the Ring, we believe Gandalf has perished, and Boromir sacrifices himself to save Merry and Pippin.  In The Two Towers, Hama is slain while defending Helms Deep (this is from the book, not the movie, where he still dies, but in a warg attack).  In The Return of the King, we see Theoden die in combat at the Battle of Pelennor Fields.  Also, if you recall, Halbarad, one of Aragorn’s Dunedain Rangers, also dies in battle.  That’s four good characters who died.  That’s less than one hand by a finger.

For GOT, you’ve got the characters as follows:

  1. Ned Stark
  2. Khal Drogo
  3. Robb Stark
  4. Catelyn Stark
  5. The Blackfish
  6. Commander Mormont
  7. Pyp
  8. Grenn
  9. Osha the Wildling
  10. Rickon Stark
  11. Benjen Stark
  12. Talisa
  13. Hodor
  14. Jojen Reed

And probably a couple of others we’ve all forgotten.  Many, many, many deaths.  It is important for certain, key people to die in order to give the heroes or heroines a reason for finishing the job as it were.  There have to be deaths so that somebody can say, “Their deaths will not be in vain.”  Just, don’t kill everybody who ever showed a whiff of goodness and decency.  That’s why there’s this meme:

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And on that note, it’s been real!

 

The Zodiac: How My Books Came To Be

The first time I contemplated writing a book, I was around twelve-years-old.  I my head was filled with the Greek tales and epics, and my first concept of the story was more of a Greek spin on things.  I had names like Andromeda and Heracles and so on.  It was more ancient and I was going farther back.  I wrote things down on paper and tucked them away because I didn’t have a dedicated computer.  We only had a public computer, and I could get kicked off any time.

About three years later, I saved up for and purchased my own laptop.  I started writing short stories, but my mind eventually wandered back to that idea for a novel.  I dug those notes out, looked at them, and went, “What the heck was I thinking?!”  I trashed the idea and went back to the ‘old drawing board’.  At that point in my life, I had read The Hunger Games trilogy, and two of the three Divergent books.  I enjoyed them, but at the same time, the two lead female characters had a flaw I could not abide by: they hated killing their enemies.  Now, note that I said, ‘they hate killing their enemies,’ instead of, ‘they hate killing.’  There is a difference.  Somebody comes at you with a gun or a knife, are you going to stand there and mumble, “But I don’t want to kill them.”  It doesn’t matter!  They want to kill you!  It’s your life against theirs, your future opposing their own.  There is no pausing to think; there is only fight or flight.  Both Katniss and Tris got on my nerves because they didn’t have the guts to do what was necessary.  They thought too much instead of using their instinct.

When I created the medieval world ruled over by Orion, my mind fashioned Zodia.  She believes she is common and nothing special; but she is so much more than that.  She becomes a source of inspiration to others, she teaches and is taught, and she fights for everything she holds dear.  Zodia is young and looks to others to guide her: her pet lion, Fangrus; her right hand, Zentii; her shadow, Kator; her father, Prince Horun; and her mentor, General Tiron.  She had a support system, but still followed her own judgment and gut feelings.

I shaped her and honed her and other characters for three books.  It was a pleasure and a joy to do so, and when I self-published them via Amazon, I was happy to think that other people could enjoy them as well.

And on that note, it’s been real!

Demigods – Modern Day Norse

Demigods

This is me working on getting my screenplay out there so I can hopefully get it seen by producers.  This is the screenplay I wrote for the New York Film Academy when I was taking their TV Pilot course.  I’ll give you guys a little preview and explanation.

The show is supposed to be about the three children of Loki from Norse mythology: Fenrir, the Hell Hound; Jormungandr, the Midgard Serpent; and Hel, the Goddess of Death.  However, they are 21st century people who are called Finn Wolfe, Jace Fang, and Hero Spectre.  They are all orphans, taken in by different families, with no idea they have actual siblings.  However, a meet up during a bank robbery reveals more than they bargained for.  Not only do they tip off Odin as to their existence, but they also manage to unwittingly free Loki from his bonds and imprisonment.

Now, they have Asgard breathing down their neck, more specifically, the All-Mother, Frigg.  She has a bone to pick with the offspring of Loki for what happened to her own son, Baldur.  Now, the children of Loki find themselves teaming up in a company called Fang & Wolfe Investigations.  Together, they use their gifts to solve cases in the modern world, while also covering up the presence of the Nine Realms from the mortals.  All the aid of their ever-capable, secretive, and witty assistant, Andre Dante.

I came up with the idea for my class and my teacher and fellow classmates ate it up.  I had so much fun writing it too.  The characters were fascinating, and I’ll take some time to describe them to you.

Finn Wolfe (Fenrir) is the eldest child, the son of Loki and Angriboda of Jotunheim.  His powers include incredible strength, high frequency hearing, acute sense of smell, and even claws and fangs when thoroughly roused.  His eyes turn yellow whenever he uses his powers.  He has a dark past and does his best to control his temper in order to not kill people.  Finn has the loyalty of a dog, but it takes a while to earn his trust.  Once you have it, the power of the wolf is yours.

Jace Fang (Jormungandr) is the second son, the issue of Loki and Sigyn of Asgard.  His abilities are hypnosis with his red eyes, speed, and fangs with poison when he is at his peak.  Jace Fang is a suave, debonair character with a list of women as long as he is.  He has moments where he doubts his own worth, but usually hides it beneath a layer of designer clothing and a sharp retort.  Underneath all those suits and fancy quips, is a young man wondering where his place in the world is.  But, if somebody helps him find it, he’ll be your friend for life.

Hero Spectre (Hel) is the youngest, the only daughter of Loki and Lady Mortis of Niffleheim, the mother of Grendel.  Her capabilities allow her to control people through black whips from her fingers called ‘soul tendrils’.  They allow her to physically grab a person or thing, or to take control of them.  Her eyes go black whenever she does this.  Hero is the politician; the ‘ends justify the means’ and ‘I always get what I want’.  However, she lacks companionship, being an ‘only child’ in her adoptive family.  Hero latches onto the concept of siblings and is immediately possessive of Finn and Jace.  Want them, you’ll have to go through her.

Andre Dante is not the type of assistant that fetches your coffee and gets your doughnuts.  He’s the special kind of assistant who gives you all the dirt on whatever case you’re working, or whatever target you have in mind.  Cambridge educated, ex-British Special Forces, and so much more.  Andre Dante is the slick, sarcastic, highly trained person, who also acts as the siblings sounding board.  He listens to all of them like a true confidante, and even parents them a little when they get into trouble.  The assistant is there to serve his employers, and you mess with them, you mess with him.

And there you have it!  I was so excited when I created these characters and the story.  The plots that are still spinning around in my head are aching to get out and be seen by others.  I am hoping (and trying) to get it out there, but in the mean time, I’d better get to writing the next couple of episodes.  😉

And on that note, it’s been real!

Writer For Hire

So, I mentioned that I was hoping to start making some money off my writing this year as one of my resolutions.  Somebody commented on one of my posts in December stating I should look into that.  So, I looked around a little and found a site called PayPerPost.  I can put some of my previous work out there and pitch myself whenever I want work.  Well, I won’t know if I don’t try.

I hope to write as much as I possibly can within reason.  I do still have to go to school and work my other two jobs, but I will do my best to charge into the breach, all guns blazing.  I will study as hard as a can, work as diligently as I can, and write as often as I can.  Of course, I’m only human, so I will have to pace myself.

Wow!  Loki at me!  Only three days into the new year, and I already have evil plans made…

And on that note, it’s been real!

Write Till I Drop

It takes many people most of their lives to figure out what they want to do.  Not just as a career, but as a past time, a passion.  For some people, it’s playing video games, or Magic the Gathering… or anything else that catches their fancy.  But, it’s just a hobby.  Yes, there is a difference between a hobby and a passion.  Example, anime conventions are a hobby to me; writing is a passion.  I only started going to conventions when I was eighteen-years-old.  I’ve been writing since I was twelve.

I started writing because I had a story to tell, voices inside that pleaded to be let out.  I needed to refine my skills and learn from my mistakes.  It a college instructor and years of practice and toil for me to get here.  And even then, I know I’m not done expanding my skills.  I write and write every day if I can.  The only time I don’t write is when I’m working all day, go on trips, or don’t bring my laptop to a sleepover.  That’s about it.  Otherwise, my fingers are flying across the keyboard and creating words that all link together and form sentences.  Neat, huh?!

I have experimented in my books, taking elements and tactics from other works that I liked.  For my first trilogy, I had a heroine.  However, I decided that unlike Katniss Everdeen, and Tris Prior, I would not have a female lead character who cringed at the idea of taking lives.  I didn’t want that for my character.  She still needs help and can’t do everything alone, but she doesn’t crack under pressure.  She doesn’t flinch when faced with turmoil, and rules with an iron, but fair fist.  She has her moments of doubt, but they did not overshadow who she is.  That was something that bugged me about the aforementioned characters.  I felt like they eventually developed, but that was still not quite enough.  Personally, I still felt like they were lacking something.

For the novel I’m currently writing, I have male lead characters.  One based off a person who actually lived, and the other I created.  I want them both to have certain weaknesses and strengths as well.  They will face challenges that will make them question their paradigms and morality.  Good characters do that, but they don’t have unnecessary baggage that just makes them sound like whiny youngsters.  Oh, wait… they are.  I try to avoid making more characters like that.  I know not everyone can be strong, but the world is full of weak people.  Why should we put them in our books?   Why should we force them upon ourselves in our fantasy world as well as the real one?

And on that note, it’s been real!

R.I.P. – Rite in Peace

Writing books has always been easier than writing research papers.  For me, at least.  I hated writing English and Religion papers in high school.  Just so boring!  When I started writing my short stories at twelve, I found writing to also be enjoyable.  Of course, story writing has certain aspects that make it similar to research papers.  The story has to collect facts and present them in a tangible manner to the audience.  It has an introduction (the appetizer), the body (main course), and an end (dessert).  Think of writing as if you were cooking a big meal for somebody.  Is it juicy?  Spicy?  Flavorful?  Do you like your novel medium or rare?  In this case, you want a well done story.  A bit pun-ish, but hey, sue me.

My short stories were all like a bunch of little appetizers you get at happy hour at a restaurant.  I was just getting warmed up.  My first novel was the first part of a three course dinner.  The next two course came out not long after that, and I started to feel good about my ‘cooking’ skills.  The writing has continued; little projects here and there that just remind me that I can cook, as it were.  That’s kind of one of the reasons I took up this blog.  It allows me to write in a different manner than I’ve ever written before: in real time!  I can endow some of my characters with my sardonic sense of humor, but, obviously for the sake of development, and individuality, not everyone of them can be like me.  Here, every post can have a little bit of the real me in it, wit and all.

And on that note, it’s been real!

“Come & Tell Their Story Again”

I’ve mentioned in the past that I am working on a new novel.  The last novel I wrote was completed my last year of high school, but obviously, editing needed to be done.  I’ve worked on only minor projects since then.  The first three novels I wrote took up a lot of my time; that’s not chump change, that’s precious seconds, minutes, hours of my time devoted to something.  I knew that the next novel I did had to mean something, not just to me this time, but to other people.

A few months ago, my brother played me a song (I may have mentioned it) called “The Last Stand” by the Swiss rock band, Sabaton.  It is a song about the 189 Papal Swiss Guards defending the retreat of Pope Clement VII in the 1527 Sack of Rome.  42 soldiers survived only because they went with the pope.  The other 147 were all killed, but not before butchering close to a thousand enemy troops.  Their brave leader was wounded, and begged to see his wife before he died.  His men got him to the house where she was staying, but mercenaries followed them.  His wife tried to protect him, but she was injured while his enemies hacked him to pieces before her eyes.  I was moved when I looked up the whole history behind the event; what little we know.  Documents were destroyed by the German and Spanish soldiers, and many relics taken.  It was an utterly devastating event, that took the lives of thousands of Roman Catholic citizens.

Since I decided to do this, I have tried to find what little books I can about those Swiss Guard specifically.  Not much.  I had a doozy of a time trying to discover all their names.  Luckily, I knew a cardinal, and sent him a letter, asking for help.  He gave me viable leads, and I will use them to get the names of all the guards, as I would like to list them at the end of the book.  I think it would be some justice to them to recognize what they did.  They were brave men, who stood their ground against an overwhelming force.  We remember Thermopylae because of what 300 men did.  We recall the 194 rescued men of the Lost Battalion and their desperate attempts to get home.  Why can’t we remember 189 men who fought and died on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica?  I want to bring that back and tell a little known story about true honor and courage.   Bravery is not men fighting a fight they know they can win.  Bravery is fighting a fight you are certain to lose, but you do it anyway.  Why?  Because if you are fighting for a cause you believe in, then it’s the right thing to do.

And on that note, it’s been real!

Fingers Flying

Alright, so my day off yesterday was pretty productive as I had hoped.  My car went in as I said it would and they did everything up to and including a complimentary car wash.  Yay!  As for myself, while I waited for the call to say they were done, I wrote.  I alternated between surfing on my Netflix queue and listening to music as my fingers did their beautiful dance across my keyboard.  I had been kind of/sort of hung up on a part, but yesterday was the day I needed to get over the hang up.

The writing is a little bit easier right now.  I know it will be a smidge harder when I arrive at the part in the book that has the most documentation in history.  Other than that, everything is progressing nicely.  I have two main characters, both boys (soon to be men).  They stand on opposite sides when it comes to religion and that is where the conflict will come from.  I haven’t decided if I want them to meet each other, or if they will spend the entire book separated, only to be drawn together by the tragedy that is the historical centerpiece of the novel.

Another thing I’m not sure of is if I want romance involved overly much.  A coworker of mine, who knows I’m writing this, asked if one or both of them would have women in their lives.  I’m not sure because I don’t want to turn this into a romance novel.  It isn’t.  The reason I’m writing this book is to draw people’s attention to a moment in history that is and has been brushed over, but one that was filled with great loss.  It is supposed to be a tale about sacrifice, on personal levels, and on a grander scale.  I don’t think I want romance to play a major role in that, because I think it would detract from the larger message.  And that message will unfold with both of the characters facing their hardships accordingly.  Otherwise, I hope to continue with my writing and see these characters develop, on the page, and in my heart.

And on that note, it’s been real!

Wistful Wednesdays

Now, my start as a writer began by accident, actually.  I was ten-years-old and I constantly pestered my older (and endowed with a driver’s license) brother, to take me to the library so I could pick up books to read, as I had a voracious appetite for new adventures.  I bugged the poor guy to death.  Finally!  He said, “If this is going on MY library card, you will read the books I pick.”  I was concerned at first when I got this ultimatum, but he told me not to be worried.  “I’ve got a good series all picked out,” he informed me as we searched the shelves in the library.

After following him around for a while, he finally came to a shelf that was covered in yellow bound books and he exclaimed, “Ah ha!”  We marched over and he pulled out a book and held it up to me.  It was a Nancy Drew mystery book.  I had never heard of them before and was genuinely curious when he handed it to me.  “You will be reading these from now on.  When you finish this and two more, I will pick out another three for you to read.”  I accepted the challenge and he gave me two more books from the Nancy Drew collection.  So, that was my goal: read the three books my brother gave me and inform him when I was done so he could pick the next three for me.

This lasted for several months, and then I was old enough to get my own library card.  Once I had that baby, I picked my own Nancy Drew books and took off!  And it was from the writing of Carolyn Keene, that my very first character was born.

Aubrey Cass is a professional smart-ass, with no tolerance for stupidity, and a sharp mind for solving mysteries.  Even though my set of short mystery stories on her were published after my novels, these stories were the first ones I wrote.  A long time ago… on Planet Mars.  I was just thinking how I went over these from when I originally wrote them when I was twelve, and me (now) was like, “Were you high on cocaine?!  What the ‘bleep’ is this?!”  Don’t worry!  They’re all fixed now, and I’m so proud of my very first character.

And on that note, it’s been real!

The Mail Must Go Through!

So, yesterday I get home from work after going out for a few refreshing drinks and a chat with the receptionist that I am training, and I found a letter for me from a possible source of information for my current historical project.  I had written to him a couple of weeks ago, and actually thought that he would not respond (being a busy man and all).  The letter was from him personally, and even though he did not grant me (directly) the information I sought, he did give me two leads to follow.

Since I decided to take on this novel, I have already met many brick walls that have been thrown up in my path.  Not deliberately, but inadvertently.  For the sake of truth and historical accuracy, I still find myself seeking the same answers.  I’m starting to hope against hope that I get the answers I am looking for.  It is doubtless that they will (all) show up in my novel, but I would like to put something at the end with all their names.  Just the names of 147 men, who died defending their faith and the city they were charged with protecting.  Sounds easy, right?

NOT!

And on that note, it’s been real!