UNLIKABLE CHARACTERS

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What is the deal with people these days? They want us to believe that everybody is a drug addict looser who is so awful you don’t want to even look at them. They portray men as wimpy feminine sissies who are incompetent and woman are selfish evil reptiles with nothing on their minds but sex and hate.

What are we letting them turn our heros into? I won’t stand for it and neither should you. There is nothing good on TV anymore, they show us something that has a sliver of interest, then you get to know the characters and you become disappointed and detached.

What is the problem? Well, that’s simple. Everybody in almost every story of this age has become completely unlikable. They will argue that people have to have flaws. Okay, I get that. What is with all the drugs? Has everyone become some kind of lawless hack that has no talent and can do nothing but be disgusting? NO! But that’s what they want us to believe.

Ever notice that anything that sparks your imagination gets canceled and any shallow piece of garbage that you have no interest in goes on for years before someone wakes up and strips it away?

Even your villains should have something that makes you like them. What is the point of writing about such horrible creatures that no one could possibly like? If you pronounce your “ing’s” at the end of your words and are clean and sober they say you’re all high and mighty. The truth is that those sick people are just weak. I don’t want to read a book or watch a TV show or movie about such pathetic idiots.

I will not step down and be weak because that’s the common decision. Neither will my characters. You should love your characters, even the bad guys. Your hero’s need to be bigger than life. Your villains need to have a reason for being.

Would Batman still become Batman if his parents were not murdered by a mugger? Probably not. Give your characters a reason why they act the way they do.

The men and women I write about are powerhouses who effect everything around them. They are soulful and alive, with dreams and aspirations. They are who I want to be, how I want the world to be. You can be anyone, do anything. So why can’t your characters?

Death to unlikable characters! BOO! We don’t need them, I don’t want them. I understand having one or two in a story but not all of them. That just sucks the life out of you and makes you not want to watch, read, or write them.

Have some courage and just be yourself. Let your characters do the same. If every character in every story was nothing but a mass of flawed mess, why would we ever want to read them? Not every man is a sissy and not every woman is a soulless bovine. Don’t let them ruin our heros.

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DON’T LISTEN TO LAZY WRITERS!

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Unfortunately there are some authors who are lazy and really don’t care anymore. They will say things like: “I never describe my characters. I leave that for the imagination of my reader.” OR “I never describe my environment because I want the reader to picture the story anywhere in the world.”

The above is what I like to call a big unhealthy load of lazy writing. Don’t listen to these people. They are obviously dead inside. You can call them out on it and say, you don’t describe these things because you can’t picture it.

The market of Independent authors is full of people who just don’t even want to try, which makes it harder for the rest of us. I urge you to imagine your characters and locations.

I don’t know what your method is when you write but My story unfolds in my mind like a movie. I see very vivid scenes and people who are alive and struggling in the world. You should feel like these characters are important to you. These places have to mean something to these people you are breathing life into. They live in that world, give them somewhere to exist.

These lazy writers will tell you to only use “he said, she said,” as dialog tags. That is incredibly boring. I don’t care for those kind of books. That tells me that the author couldn’t be bothered to imagine their characters actually speaking or what their mannerisms would be. What a snore-fest.

They will tag all these stupid rules onto your art with no purpose other than to draw a line in the sand. Your words are a warhead, blow up their sand into oblivion, having the whole beach rain down over their lazy heads in white hot sandy grains and jagged shards of fire forged glass.

When I am creating a character, I will often type in a description and download a picture of a stranger from the internet. I will look at their face and decide what kind of person they are. Then, I will look at cities, pictures of towns, bus stations, busy streets, and create their environment. You need the steam rising from the manholes. The grey sky smothered in gathering clouds. You need the faceless strangers, heads down, pushing through the traffic, just trying to get to work. It’s our world, don’t let lazy writers take it away from you.

Indie Author War

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Being an indie author is a lot of hard work. We are in a war against posers, scam artists, and publishing companies who want us to fail. Between all the haters bashing us all over the internet and the publishers afraid they are becoming obsolete, things tend to look bleak. The only thing you can do as an author is write, right?

Wrong!

As an indie author, you are expected to create the absolutely best work you can for very little money (if any at all.) If someone can sift through the scams and garbage that has littered our beloved internet to find your masterpiece, which you have priced insanely low so someone will read it, they may be skeptical to purchase your book.

How can you get them to buy your ebook? Good question. First off, many great authors are not graphic artists, often their covers suck. If you cant make an enticing cover, you need to have $50 to give to an artist. There are so many ebook cover artists out there. Some are good and some are just expensive. What can you do? You need amazing cover art.

They say, never judge a book by its cover. REALITY CHECK! People do, it’s how we make decisions. In the stores, we look at the cover, then we read the back. If it seems interesting enough, we may open it up and read a few pages to get a taste of the author’s voice, if it still held our attention, we buy the book.

Online, they see your cover first. Some sites allow you to write a description of your book. If they are still awake by the time they finished reading your blurb, they scroll down and read what other people say about it. If there are no reviews, it’s slim that they will buy your ebook.

Trying to get someone to leave a blurb is often like pulling teeth. I often get emails from people telling me how much they love my work. I ask for a blurb but not many people write one. Why is it that people are afraid to leave comments? I see it all the time. Please leave a blurb, tell your favorite author that you like their work where it can help them.

As indie author’s we have to do all the networking, all the marketing and advertising. If you tell anyone about your book in a convo, it is dissected by your reader, searching and prying for those self selling monsters. The worst thing is to be labeled as a spammer. There are so many scam artists out there ruining the names of indie authors one must wonder if they’re hired by scared publishing companies.

I personally have no problems with the publishing companies. I’m not looking to be a publisher. They do some very hard work and they have whole teams of people to put out one book. We have to take the weight of the world on our shoulders and do all that work ourselves.

It is a huge learning curve and a mistake can cost you months or even years of hard work. If your work is edited to perfection, your story is incredible, your cover is beautiful and gleaming, people may still not buy your ebook. Why? Another good question. Marketing your book will eat up a lot of your time, figuring out what is spamming and what is advertising is a shaky bridge that is hard to cross. There are no real rules to this business yet. You will buy many books that will argue that there are, some will be good and others will be $12 of pure filler that leaves you no better off than when you started.

The only thing I can give you is this: Be a sponge, soak up every bit of information you can get, good and bad. File it in your brain until you forget your name. Never quit because you will regret it. Write three times, edit six.

Good luck

Fatigue & Writer’s Remorse

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One of the worst things to fight during story building is fatigue. If you’re too tired when you’re creating your master piece, you run the risk of ‘writer’s remorse.’ You will create tons of pages, maybe some will be good and you can bet that some will not. You will find yourself writing ‘double paragraphs.’ Two paragraphs, usually one after the other, saying exactly the same thing but in different ways. You want to avoid this.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that you won’t be able to use any of your work that you create during your foggy minded typing. What I am saying is that you won’t be able to tell if it truly is good or if it belongs in the bin, as Gordon Ramsey might say. It’s underdone, put it back in the oven.

Writer’s remorse is YOU plugging away at that amazing story and ending up with choppy scenes, unwanted characters, bad plot, flat people, no environment, maybe no reaction. REACTION drives your characters. Without it, you have flat characters. I once read a short story where a guy was stabbed and he didn’t even grunt, no cursing, no “AHHHH! You stabbed me!” Nothing. What the hell, some guy stabs you, you’re gonna make a fuss. Right?

Maybe you completely forget to mention your environment. What? Your world has no weather? No people in it except the talking heads? No obstacles? Why would you ever want to read a story like that?

Eventually, you get some rest. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, you sit at your overlord, COMPUTER and open your story, start reading what ever it was you wrote the night before to find all of the above. You’re left sitting there, staring at this mess that’s got a goofy grin staring back, mocking you, maybe the story flips you off and says, “Deal with it.”

What do you do? You suffer from writer’s remorse. Now you spend the next month, cutting, editing, rewriting, adding tons of time onto your goal. Before you know it a year slipped by and your friends and allies wont talk to you because you’ve ignored them all this time to right this horrible wrong. You could never let that story see the light of day or you would loose all face as a serious author.

To avoid all of this, get a note book. Write your whole story in it, planning it in scenes before you even type a single word. When the time comes, you write the whole thing in a couple months and call it a book. That’s life, a world you create, without writer’s remorse.

Good luck, and put you’re tray in the upright position, we’re landing here people.

Death of Good Villains

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Ever notice how they build up this amazing villain who you love to hate, only to kill them off? What’s the point of that? Some of the best stories ever told are with villains who ‘get away to live and fight another day.’

When you do it right, your reader will not only want your villain to survive, they will begin to sympathize with them. Professor Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes is a great example of this. He is the anti-Sherlock, yet, they have a lot in common. He’s brilliant and oddly polite. Except for the fact that he’s driven to destroy, he’s just peachy. In another life, he and Sherlock may have been close friends. They kind of are, playing their little game, that’s what friends do, they play together. If you read him right, you want to feel for the guy. He reminds you of that song: ‘Behind blue eyes’ by the who. ‘No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes.’

How about Dracula? Did anyone else get this is a love story? Put yourself in his shoes. He goes to war for his faith. Word comes back to his wife that he’s dead. He bathes in the blood of the enemies of the church and returns to find she has committed suicide. He drinks the ancient blood of the black cross and becomes Dracula. Much time passes. He meets a woman who is the reincarnation of his beautiful love. The whole world is trying to keep them apart and even trying to kill him. You can’t get more romantic than that. Yet, through all this, they are the ones keeping them from finally finding peace in their embrace, two wanting souls who hunger for each other. They call him the monster, they prey on his children and murder him. In this tale, you can learn to identify with the villain.

Don’t kill off your villains, and if you feel that it is absolutely necessary then for the love of everything that is sacred to you, introduce a bigger baddy that your once big bad villain was actually working for. Another great way to tackle this situation is to make someone pick up the torch to get revenge on your hero.

Every person is capable of good and evil. Some teeter to one side or the other. What if a villain became good? What the hell is the hero going to do then? Their whole life they’ve been fighting and now it just ends? No, we make someone even worst then the previous villain.

Killing off your villains without cause or just for a simple shock effect is lame. You have to do better than that. Too many writers forget to put villains in their stories. If there is no struggle, there is no story. A great writer once said: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” ― William Faulkner

I don’t take this to mean: ‘Kill all the characters you love.’ Maim them a little. Remember, scars build character. Make things hard for them. They need to struggle to get to where they need to be so they can grow to be great. If your heros never become great then your reader doesn’t become great. Get it? Creating great villains are an easy way to get them there.

You gotta reach, go bigger than your original idea. Always strive to be and do greater than you intended. Make us care about your villains, better yet, YOU gotta care about them. Don’t half-ass it and make some generic prick who is kind of snarky and greedy and expect me to like it. You better bring your ‘A’ game when you write your villains because you know I will. I pour my heart and soul into every character, good and bad. If I can’t feel something for each one, then what’s the point?

Ivan Desabrais

Writing Habits & When Should I Write

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Allot of writers ask the same question, ‘When should I write?’ Most authors have their own way of doing things. Some wakeup at the crack of dawn, do their yoga and write a chapter while sipping a green tea. Some of us, scribble in a notebook on a bumpy bus, on our way to work. Others treat it like a job, they set goals for themselves. They’re going to write so many words, pages, or a chapter everyday. The truth is, you have to figure out what works best for you.

I know what you’re thinking, ‘how do I do that?’ It really comes down to self discipline. Not everybody has the time to spend four hours writing a book everyday. From this day forth you shall be known as ‘Keyboard Ninjas.’ Why? Because you are the type of person who has to carve time out of your day with a katana. You have to sacrifice and be sneaky like a ninja. Maybe you have kids and they’re always on the computer, or work ridiculous hours, perhaps you just don’t manage your time well.

Here’s what you do: Wait till the noisy kids are gone to bed or off doing something else. Get yourself a legal notepad and a great pen. That way you have plenty of time to plan out your story before you sit down to write. Plan my story you say? A lot of writers don’t plan, some feel it stiffles their creativity. I write tons of notes when I create my stories. Many times that story comes to life and I don’t use most of the notes. Don’t get frustrated, it happens.

Don’t let a single day slip by without writing. When you don’t write, you won’t finish. The professionals are the amateurs who never gave up.

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