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The Testimony of a Villain

Testimony of a Villain: A Raw, Dark, True Crime Thriller by [Harrell, Aaron G.]

The Testimony of a Villain by Aaron Harrell is a dark, slick ride into the gritty alleys of the inner city. The book is not your typical crime thriller but one with a social lens that can only be given substance by one who has lived it. The reader follows Manuel Doggett, a boy who lost everything to be formed by the streets and remade in its’ dark image. He is out for retribution not redemption when an opportunity arises to have his vengeance on one of the murderers of his family.

Harrell provides a fresh and new take to the “true crime” thriller. His style is so firmly set in the bitingly grime reality of the inner city that the reader could even give this novel a new sub-genre of socio-economic thriller. The new threads do not stop there either, because the plot of the book itself is almost like a hero’s journey in reverse. Manuel is the classic anti-hero and one that does not once look to the audience for sympathy. Instead, there is only apathy towards almost everything, except towards the memories of his past.

The weaving of the inner city struggle and the complex inner life of Manuel makes this novel a stand out for readers of not only crime thrillers, but also those who wish to delve into the dark, broken mind of a man walking the line between light and shadow. The writing is fraught with graphic images of both violence and sex and is not for the weak-hearted.

I found myself enjoying the book from the start, because of the quick and realistic dialogue and the meta conversation about corruption, justice and social strata. There are a lot of binaries at play here, between the poor and wealthy, justice and injustice, and morality and immorality. Harrell does a fantastic job with surveying these issues, touching on them just enough without becoming too explicit. I can only guess at what Harrell’s personal experience has been with the inner city, but I very much appreciated the taste of authenticity that he lends to the narrative.

I find Manuel to be a compelling character. Most readers may find something akin to the backstory of Batman here, but there is a real human struggle that Harrell puts on display often.

Overall, I do believe that The Testimony of a Villain stands up to the best the crime thriller genre has to offer. It makes for a pleasurable read for any fans of such novels!

Pages; 489 | ASIN: B06XG6FYVH

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Literary Titan Book Awards June 2017

The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Gold Award Winners

Deity's Soulmate (The Goddess Training Trilogy Book 1) by [Kerner, Angelina]I'm With You by [Frost, Allie]See Me Forever by [Oriel, Susann]

The Fugitive's Trail (The Sean Kruger Series Book 1) by [Fields, J.C.]End of Knighthood Part I: The Chess Pieces (Reverence Book 2) by [Landeros, Joshua]The Perfect Teresa by [Silva, Ulises]

The Last Train (Detective Hiroshi Series Book 1) by [Pronko, Michael]Einstein's Fiddle by [Smith, W.A.]

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Book Award

Dining and Driving with Cats - Alice Unplugged by [Patterson, Pat]The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies (Students of Madness Book 1) by [Edwards, Wolfgang]False Gods (The Sentinel Book 2) by [Ramos, Yolanda]

Another Summer by [Lilley, Sue]Globes Disease by [Keeble, Lance]Barrow of the Damned by [Drake, Jonathan J.]

A Burning in The Darkness by [McGrath, A P]Sins of the Father (Larkin and Colt Book 3) by [Cressman, Ken]The False Prophet (Stonegate Book 2) by [Fox, Harry James]

“For me, books are important because they feed the imagination. Books can be portals to incredible worlds and thrilling adventures or a mirror to real life, and they offer unique perspectives through diverse characters, voices, and stories.” – Allie Frost, author of I’m With You

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

I Wanted to Study Obsession

Jesse Teller Author Interview

Jesse Teller Author Interview

Mestlven follows Meredith as she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies. What themes did you use as you built this new story in the Perilisc series?

As a man without a father attempting to raise two sons, in a lot of my work, I study fatherhood. In this book, I studied motherhood, and the effects of a mother’s estrangement from her children. I wanted to study obsession and how it can dominate the mind and creep into the soul. So far in the work I’ve published, I’ve played very little with love, and the love that I did show in Chaste was an old and familiar love. In this book I wanted something new and fresh. Of course, I wanted to spend some time on revenge. It is an idea that’s gone through my mind often in my life because of my childhood, and I wanted to develop that theme and play with it in my work. In most or all of these topics, I found a certain amount of cathartic release. Mestlven really did help heal me in a lot of ways, and I’m very thankful for it.

The town of Mestlven is a haven for the depraved, dirty, greedy and perverted. How did you set about creating this vivid world?

In my past, I learned that when you live with darkness, you live in darkness. If you’re violent and ugly, the world you live in can’t help but be the same. Evil breeds more evil. The tragedy of Sob’s situation is that she is so enthralled by the idea of her own revenge that she attracts darkness to her. In many places, she had the opportunity to walk away from this darkness and find some other kind of peace. She had the friendship of Sai Sibbius Summerstone, and the love held out to her by Jeffery. But in both these situations, she turned away from that, seeking darkness. Usually, we find what we go looking for. There were many places in the city of Mestlven where you can find goodness and light. But Sob goes out of her way to avoid those places, to look for deadly pets and vile foes, and so the book is wrought with them.

The Pale is very morbid in this story. What was your inspiration for The Pale? Did anything develop organically?

For the most part, all of my work develops organically. My writing style is very much like I go around setting ideas into motion and watching them spin out of control. Very rarely do I plot an idea’s course. I started out with the idea of a festival of death, and tried to picture the city that would willingly hold such a festival. I realized that none would. None would truly welcome in the goddess of death to take over their city. So she would force her will upon them. I started looking at the sort of things that would be held sacred by the goddess of death, thinking of what would be The Pale’s virtues, what would she love? That’s when I realized she would see killers and murderers as her most beloved. She would hold sacred certain diseases, and when she sees someone like Sob, preparing to paint a masterpiece of death, she would send aid. I pictured the face of death, and what that face would look like, and for some reason, the image was of a beautiful woman with pale skin. So I named her The Pale. My gods I cast as people. They’ve all got their own likes and dislikes, loves and desires. They have their own flaws and their own sins. The only trick to creating my religion is understanding the quirks and foibles of the deity.

This being the fourth book in the Perilisc series, are you developing a fifth book or a different story?

We’re going to set this story line here for awhile. In 2019, we’ll pick up where we left off and head into a 5-book epic series I have already written that will take us through The Escape. But for now, we’re going to head southwest and find Rayph Ivoryfist for a trilogy called The Manhunters. When we left Rayph Ivoryfist in Liefdom, he had had a falling out with his king, Phomax. In my next book, Song, Rayph has been wandering the countryside of Lorinth, helping out where he can, and waiting for the king to die. Soon, a new evil organization rises, and he must gather what allies he can and rush off to face it. That’s where we go next. It introduces a set of new characters, characters that will show up again everywhere. With the first seven books I release, my goal is to build a character list. I’m introducing as many different people as I can organically in order to have them in place for later novels. What’s exciting about Song, and really the entire Manhunters series, is that we get to meet a new cast of characters, all unique and varied, all of which are leading somewhere. And we get to make cheese.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Mestlven: A Tale from PeriliscRevenge, Insanity, and the Bloody Diamonds

Meredith Mestlven was abused and betrayed by her nobleman husband. After a desperate fit of retaliation, she fled for her life and lost her sanity. Now nearly 20 years later, she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies and reclaim her jewels. How far will she go to satisfy her revenge? Dark, cunning and beautiful, Mestlven will win your heart or devour your mind.

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Brutally Betrayed

Fawn Bonning Author Interview

Fawn Bonning Author Interview

In this novel; passion, danger, and the madness of King Kynneth are spreading across the land, and Christa’s legend is at the center of it all. What was one thing that got you excited about writing the 3rd book in your Atriian Trilogy?

I was anxious to see how Christine would fare against crazy Kynneth and his formidable infatuation. And I was especially curious to see how she would resolve her greatest dilemma of all, her forbidden desires for Hannen Fallier.

Christa stays true to her headstrong nature and is prone to ignoring advice she doesn’t want to hear while making risky decisions. How do you think her character has developed throughout the trilogy?

As a young woman, Christine felt the world was pitted against her. She was defiant and unruly, and prone to distancing herself from others to avoid further rejection. When she finally lets down her guard, her trust is brutally betrayed, and she is left bitter and broken. When she becomes a mother, I believe her focus shifts. It’s no longer herself she is trying to protect. She is fierce in her resolve to keep her children safe. I believe her headstrong nature, her grit and determination, are the very traits that keep her alive on Atriia, and that ultimately forge her into a legend.

The cover art for the Atriian Trilogy has been fantastic. What decisions went into the art direction?

I wanted to depict the characters as I envisioned them, to capture the image of the fierce fraigen dropper with his menacing mask and toothy tattoo, Christine with her ravishing red hair and piercing blue eyes, Lor Zeria with his sensuous mouth, and King Kynneth with a gloating glare in his eyes that could only mean trouble.

This being the third book in the Atriian Trilogy, how do you feel about the series coming to a close?

It’s been bittersweet. I’m afraid I’ve grown much too attached to many of the characters. It was a fantastic journey, and though there were horrific moments that broke my heart, I’m sorry to see it end.

Do you plan on continuing these characters in another series or are you working on something different?

Currently, I’m working on a completely different series, but one never knows. Mayhap somesol Becca and Bixten may have a tale to tell.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

King Kynneth (The Atriian Trilogy #3)Christine escaped Lor Zeria with her life and her child, but now she must face his brathern.

He is King Kynneth, hungry for power and bent on revenge. He means to rule the world of Atriia and to claim Christine as his own.

Will he conquer the world? Will he conquer Christine? Or does fate have other plans?

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The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies

The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies

Upon entering the book, The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies, the reader is immediately greeted with an acceptance letter. Wolfgang Edwards uses this as a sort of introductory to foreshadow what is to come: you are literally stepping out of our own reality and into this new one and this letter serves to summarize that. What follows is the collections and stories of various students and characters who attend this university. Set in a fictional, sometimes bizarre, universe, Edwards explores various facets of the supernatural, blending fantasy with characters who have very human traits.

I think an interesting way to categorize this book is like taking Harry Potter to the next level. You sort of get that feel because of the setting that it’s in. It’s not magic per say, but exploring otherworldly things, some of which I was unfamiliar with before learning about it. So that’s really the closest way to describe it, although it goes far beyond that. I learned a lot because certain things piqued my interest which I honestly have never heard about before. The book is intriguing and I became more interested the more I read. One such example was a chapter titled ‘The Oneironaut’ which is based off a concept called oneironautics. I learned that this is the concept of lucid dreaming, or being able to control your dream, whether it is trying to wake up from a dream or make something happen within the dream.

The actual story is divided up into a number of different perspectives from each character. Some had more relatable stories and more developed characters than others; some were truly fantastic. It reads like a dark adventure of disconnected people that the author is able to draw together for a bigger purpose – much bigger, and much more dangerous. Throughout the various chapters, we learn of different schools within the University, from which the different characters attend. There’s the School of Coin, School of Metallurgy, School of Engineering, etc. Each school is headed by a dean; and one sticks out in particular. Dean Merkea – an unpleasant man with an ugly, tattered demon dog who even urinates on a character’s shoe at one point. My favorite chapter, Prisoner from Beyond, ties together Dean Merkea, a curator, and unravels the launch of a very unique exhibit at a museum.

Despite its setting, the author manages to piece together a few solid pieces of insight every so often that can be just as intriguing as the story. One such example was of Arakatzeko, a character who can be related to someone like Socrates today: deceased, but full of wisdom. As Araktzeko is studied, we learn alongside the characters: “the true rulers of the royal palace were the cats, who were said to live through every change in royal families without incident”. Such tangible reliefs are welcome and help humanize an otherwise crazy setting.

As the book progresses, you get a feeling it’s heading towards something – just not sure what. The unique stories of each of the characters has surely got something for everybody, admittedly some more than others. It is guaranteed to stay fresh and new until the very end, which may leave you wishing that the author could’ve just kept going.

Pages: 720 | ASIN: B01MUAKPM3

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Monster Literary Book Awards May 2017

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Literary Titan Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

Return to Babylon (The Orfeo Saga Book 5) by [Eiland Jr., Murray Lee]Descendent Darkness: Book One: Stirrings by [Macready, A.]

 Tarbabies Book 2: The Siege at Friendly Haven by [Brady, Allen]Just Shut Up and Drive by [Laird, Chynna]Mestlven: A Tale from Perilisc by [Teller, Jesse]The Law of Moses (Sam and Laura's Story Book 1) by [Griffeth, Kwen]

Literary Titan Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

The Paranoid Thief by [Estes, Danny C]

Tainted (Lisen of Solsta Book 2) by [St. Martin, D. Hart]Blooded (Lisen of Solsta Book 3) by [St. Martin, D. Hart]

The Battle of Barkow by [Simmonds, Paul]The Reaper (The Fallen Conviction) by [Matthew James Stanley]

Cassie's Marvelous Music Lessons by [Poe-Pape, Sheri]The Passer by [Christophersen, Robin]

“Books are the original “golden tickets.”  They grant us passage to Hogwarts, flights across galaxies, or desert treks with Alexander.  Books document that which we were, what we are, and who we may become.” – Kwen Griffeth, author of The Law of Moses

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

Mestlven: A Tale from Perilisc

Mestlven: A Tale from Perilisc

Mestlven is the latest book in the Tales from Perilisc series by Jesse Teller. I found this to be the best book yet by Teller. The last novel Chaste left many characters in turmoil. This time Teller takes us to the city of Mestlven. Here we learn about Sob and her past. We learn about her obsession with stealing jewels and how she became the deadly assassin that she is. We also discover just how troubled and deep her instability runs and why she became this way. Joining her in this novel from the past is Emily, the young girl in Chaste that she saved and took under her wing, and Sai the swordsman that was her friend and companion on their last adventure. In this story, though, Sai is no longer her friend but an unfortunate enemy that she shares an understanding with. Teller introduces several new characters that the story line focuses on as well, Mort, the priestess of the Pale, Saykobar, a wizard of immense power, and Donnie the Ego, the young man that runs a mass crime ring. Together their destinies intertwine and we see the full savage and cruel world that Perilisc is, where modern decencies are nowhere to be found and suffering is common place no matter what your station in life is.

Mestlven is the town Sob is from, the castle Sorrow Watch, was her home when she went by the name Meredith and was married to Malcolm. She was content in that life, even though her true love Stephan, Malcolm’s brother, was dead. Malcolm loved Meredith and together they had a child, a girl named Megan. This is the baby she always referred to in Chaste. Her life however was destroyed when a group came and murdered her child and Malcolm. This set her insanity into full swing and a series of events that followed lead her to become the deadly assassin she is. Sob returns to Mestlven to exact her revenge on the people that ruined her life. The town of Mestlven is a haven for the depraved, dirty, greedy and perverted. Their perversions know no bounds and Sob means to rid the town of those that soil her home. She shows no mercy to those that made her this person. The goddess of death, The Pale, sends Mort into Mestlven to assist Sob in getting her vengeance. The Pale works in gross and morbid ways, such as taking a disease from one and then sending to another that the Pale wants to inflict pain and suffering on. Mort has the skills to do the bidding of the Pale and her works coincides with Sob’s.

Mestlven is a well composed story line with dynamic characters. Jesse Teller is able to bring their minds to life, their personalities are deep and complex. Sob’s story is heartbreaking and despite her clear insanity the reader can’t help but feel great compassion for her and want to see her achieve her goal of vengeance. So many of the other characters are not what they seem from beginning to end. You’ll end up loving characters your supposed to hate, and characters you trust will betray you. I won’t say that there is a happy ending, but sometimes you settle for just having peace. Teller has composed another great novel and I look forward to reading where the story line of Perilisc will go next.

Pages: 330 | ASIN: B06X8YNCF1

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The Reaper

The Reaper (The Fallen Conviction)

The Reaper opens with the revelation that the King of Akala is missing, and the new Queen, Leah, is now in power. She meets with President Inaeus Janu of Shaweh to offer a peace treaty that brings their long war to an end. Janu suspects the Queen is a figurehead and focuses on the mysterious Lialthas who seems to have an undue influence over the Queen.

In the meantime, refugees from Akala reach the city-state of Shaweh seeking asylum. The group includes the missing King Darius, his half-sister Moriene with the child Hannah in tow, General Victor Ikharson, and Sefas, once called Meddiah when he was an Empty One. They are shadowed by the black-clad Zacharias who used his magic to help them escape from Lialthas. When the Akalan’s gestures of peace turn out to be empty promises, President Janu and the Akalan refugees are whisked to a secure location as war resumes.

This is the second book in the Fallen Conviction series, and it wasn’t hard to catch up when the asylum-seekers told their story to Janu. This gave me the chance to get up to speed on the plot if you haven’t read the first book.

The interplay between Darius’ group of refugees and the leadership of Shaweh are the primary drivers of the plot. Character-driven stories are a big draw for me, and the author has a knack for showing the complex, often antagonistic relationships between all of these strong-willed characters. My favorite characters in this book were Moriene and Sefas, who were once under Lialthas’ control. Both escaped his grasp and recovered from being “Empty,” yet both still seem to be fighting the battles of the past.

I also enjoyed the high-tension setting. Being locked in a bunker with people you don’t like but are forced to trust is hard enough, but if that trust is tested, things are going to get violent. The situation erodes when Zacharias reveals that there’s something even worse that Lialthas out there, and they may not be able to stop it.

The first thing that struck me about The Reaper was the unusual formatting. At first, I thought it was a typesetting error, but it became clear that the line numbering was meant to give it a scriptural feel. Some of these passages have archaic sentence structure with rhyming words at the end of sentences, but it’s not always consistent and that can be frustrating for those expecting poetic meter. However, the nod to scripture isn’t surprising because gods and religion play a major part in this story.

Don’t assume that because this is written in poetic language that it won’t be exciting. This is a place where magic and technology that we would recognize today are both present, where battles are fought with WMD strikes as well as mind-bending magical attacks. War is gruesome, and the author doesn’t pull his punches when it comes to violence and mayhem. In this world, magic is fueled by blood, fear, and suffering, so whoever wields this power must harm others in order to succeed.

If you’re looking for a novel that offers both a unique style and a reading experience that challenges and defies “the usual” in fantasy, give this book a try.

Pages: 340 | ASIN: B06XRS3SFD

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The Battle of Barkow

The Battle of Barkow by [Simmonds, Paul]4 Stars

The Battle of Barkow tells the tale of dark vs light, good vs evil, from a world where magic is not all bad, and religion is not all good. He takes readers into the mind of his characters and through them shows the good and bad of society. In the words of Paul Simmonds, “Two men will embark on a journey that will change their lives forever, if there is a forever at all. For in the world that they live it is not named nor is it entirely different from that of our own early world” (Simmonds: prologue).  The characters are intricate and plagued by the same assemblage of emotions as any other person; kindness, compassion, greed, hate, bigotry and evil. This superb confluence leaves you wondering who is going to come out on top in this novel, the simple man of God, the magician, the girl that doesn’t speak, or the dark forces that are mounting?

The story starts out with a man, hidden in a cloak speaking with an elderly woman. No names are used, but it is clear the women is a sorceress and he is there for her assistance. He is angry, he feels he has been wronged by others and denied his rightful riches and power, this woman offers him the vengeance he so greatly desires, but warns the price he will pay will be high. While she does not disclose the price, it is implying that it will not be all together pleasant for the man, but he hesitantly agrees desiring his vengeance over all else. From here the story jumps 125 years later. We meet Bolan, a simple man of God. He takes no excessive pride in his status and simply ponders life as it comes, he does not dwell too much on the past or the future. He agrees to take on an assignment for the church delivering holy books to the neighboring towns. With him goes his longtime friend and magician in training Hogarth. Hogarth can do simple magic but longs to learn more, to become something great in world that will make a difference. It is on this journey that they meet Sterre, the young women that does not speak but communicates in a form of sign language and drawings. Sterre has the gift of visions and has predicted a great danger to the city of Barkow. Barkow is the capital of sorts for this world, it is where the Pope lives and where all their laws begin. Towns outside of Barkow are not as strict as in the holy city. Bolan, Hogarth and Sterre travel to the city of Barkow to warm them of  the impending trouble that Sterre has foreseen. While they are traveling to the city, the dark forces are also headed there as well. They have no names to start, as readers we only see their evil and destruction, wiping towns out, stripping them of all life leaving no one alive to bear witness to what has happened.

The journey that these three take brings them in contact with many others, some are willing to help fully, others offer veiled advice. Some are strong war heroes that have their own battles to fight but ultimately must decide between their own personal gains or the greater good. We are left looking at a vast cross section of people whose characteristics could be anyone in modern society. In The Battle of Barkow Simmonds is able to show us that their may be darkness in us, but being good is a choice, and often times we fall somewhere in between.

Pages: 240 | ASIN: B06XK7YDBX

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How To Plot A Novel Like A Well-Timed Mechanical Ambush (Part Four)

Image result for writing

by Don Templeton

Here we are in the final stretch. Once you’ve done all your character work, you’ve got a lot of story synopses that tell the whole story from each character’s piece of the story. Now we roll it up into one blueprint, the 4-page treatment.

First, take you logline in step one and expand that into a paragraph made up of 5 and ONLY 5 sentences.

  1. Sentence one should cover your BEGINNING or the Inciting Incident as I refer to it.
  2. Sentence two will cover Act 1 to the first Plot Point.
  3. Sentence three covers Act 2 to the Mid-Point.
  4. Sentence four covers Act 2 after the Mid-Point to the second Plot Point.
  5. Sentence five covers Act 3, your climax.

Next, take your paragraph of five sentences and expand that into a clean one-page treatment. Expand your five sentences into five separate paragraphs. Each paragraph will describe exactly the same territory as each sentence did above. Therefore:

  1. Paragraph one covers the BEGINNING.
  2. Paragraph two fleshes out Act 1 to PP1.
  3. Paragraph three details Act 2 to the Mid-Point.
  4. Paragraph four covers the rest of Act 2 up to PP2.
  5. Paragraph five will detail Act 3 completely to the END.

What comes next is what Syd Field calls the “kick in the ass” assignment: the four page treatment. Note that this procedure is pretty much the same in both the Snowflake Method and in Syd Fields’ Screenwriter’s Workbook. Here’s how we break it out:

  1. Page one will cover all of Act 1.
  2. Page two will cover Act 2 up to the Mid-Point.
  3. Page three covers the second half of Act 2.
  4. Page four covers all of Act 3.

Notice that we’ve written this four page treatment according to the same space requirements we’ve described in step 2 by dividing your total word count into 4 equal chunks. Act 1 and 3 occupy one-fourth of the total length of the story and Act 2 is one half of the total. Work on this until you have a perfect four page treatment. Single space or double space? I single space it to get more info per page and can fit in all the character story lines into the final document.

The Snowflake Method gives you two extra steps in that you write up a complete scene list chapter by chapter and Syd Field does the same thing but uses index cards to make the scene list, one card for each scene.

I don’t do the scene lists. Once I have a tight four page treatment, I stop planning there and start the actual writing of the novel. For me, the four page treatment is all I need. At this point, I know EXACTLY what I’m writing. So I start writing.

Here’s why I don’t do scene lists: once I start writing, the characters will come to life and will ALWAYS take over the story with stuff you could have never seen coming in the planning stage. This is where the magic happens. In fact, what actually happens in Pretty Hate Machine is a perfect example. What happens in the novel as it reads today IS NOT what I thought was going to happen from the Mid-point on. What happens in the novel is solely the result of the characters taking over and showing me a much better series of events than I could have ever cooked up at the macro level of planning. It’s that great surprise I’ve eluded to but haven’t ruined with a spoiler. The first thing to go out the window for me is that scene list. It always changes for me once the characters take over driving the bus. So why waste time writing something that’s almost always going to change? The four page treatment is all the blueprint I need to start writing confidently.

Give your characters the freedom to come to life. Otherwise, you will run the risk of turning the characters into marionettes that are just moving around the story because the plot says they have to do this, whether they want to do that or not. Let them live, O Jedi Scribe!

They say there are two kinds of novelists: planners and pantsers (flying by the seat of your pants). Pantsers just start writing with little or no prior planning, thinking that by just writing, at some point, the characters will reveal the plot and the story will write itself. For the beginner, this is dangerous. You will probably write a lot of junk that has no business being in the story and you could end up in a dead end – not knowing what the hell to do next. I’m three-quarters planner and one quarter pantser. I only let the pantser come into play AFTER I know exactly what it is I’m writing, knowing in advance what the targets are I’m moving towards.

Only write scenes that either move the story forward or reveal something essential about character or necessary exposition like backstory. If the material doesn’t do one of those two things, CUT IT OUT. Ruthlessly. I don’t care how much you like it. If you’re not moving the story relentlessly forward, then it doesn’t belong. Literary-type writers often times lose their minds when confronted with advice like this. We’re not literary writers. We’re genre writers which means, ultimately, we’re writing to be read, by as many readers as we can attract. Literary writers seem to hold us genre writers up in something less than contempt. I feel the same way about them as they do about me.

The formula I’ve revealed here will work for ANY genre tale you want to tell. It’s not just for action-horror novels like I write. It works for any story that follows the eternal hardwired blueprint we call the 3-Act Structure. Deviate from this timeless structure at your own risk.

We’re done here. I hope you’ve gotten something out of this. Now go write your Great American Genre Novel. And when you do, let me know how this has worked out for you. I’d like to know.

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