Enter 5-D (Short Excerpt of the Character Pandora)

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John Williams Waterhouse “Pandora”

This is a short excerpt from my urban fantasy novel Enter 5-D.

Pandora is about the enter the labyrinth and encounters the Minotaur. She successfully escaped Pluto’s punishment.

As Pandora contemplated her choices, she heard the sound of high heels echoing in the hallway behind her and then Persephone with Demeter dressed in black dresses and stilettos entered the office. The women’s glittering eyes landed on Pandora and assessed her predicament.

Persephone lowered her eyes and in a haughty voice acknowledged her former husband. “I didn’t know you had company. You always liked them young and pretty.”

Pluto raged. “What are you doing here?”

“My mother and I thought we would stop by for a visit, if you know what I mean.”

Pluto’s Confidant entered the office and gaped at the women in the room. He hid his excitement by presenting a glacial expression.

“Did I come at a bad time?”

Pandora took that moment to back out of the office and when she entered the hallway, she sprinted to the end. However, when she reached for the door and grabbed the knob, she realized that Pluto had locked all the doors. Wishing she had her toolkit with her, Pandora pulled out a bobby pin from her hair and a credit card from her purse and set to work on the lock.

(As you can see, this is a multiple narrative novel so I skip back and forth between characters and their scenarios).

5th Novel–Strangest Literary Ride

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I never really know when I’ve completed a novel. And I guess the answer to that is once it’s published and on the shelves of bookstores. However, I completed phase one and phase two and phase three of my fifth novel, Enter 5-D (modern telling of Orpheus and Eurydice), and I have entered the beta reader zone…

Although this feels like the next to last leg of a journey, my favorite part of the journey comes when an idea for a novel enters my thoughts. It’s what Joseph Campbell would refer to the hero (in this case, the author), responding to a quest that last several months to several years, depending on the author.

I carried a heavier burden with my fifth novel in that I had memories of past mistakes weighing me down. I guess I can also see that knowledge as lightening my burden which allowed me to organize the timeline of the plots (multiple), create enough detail of the characters and setting: as well as, work out the structure ahead of time. However, I’m yet to find the right genre to squeeze this novel and I’ve used the term genre-bender. Agents don’t like this, and publishers like it even less. Bookstores and libraries need to know where to shelve the book for best results.  As a writer I have never liked categories, but I understand marketing and publicity too.

My second favorite part of the journey is spending time with my characters. I immerse myself completely in their worlds during and after my writing process. I research the details of their worlds and dive into their head and heart spaces. I also find pieces of my personality in each character–even the antagonists who I sometimes relate to that borders on dangerous projections. Although I’m half joking.

My 5th novel doesn’t just coalesce everything I learned from writing my other four novels, but gleans from astrology, sound healing, music history, and my childhood love of Greco-Roman myths. Then when I was in my twenties I related to Persephone, who I include in my novel, as a powerful Divine Women character. The overall theme of the novel is that by delving into our own darkness (subconscious), we gain power and liberation. Power comes from the inner and not the outer world.

I’ve now entered the beta reader stage and I’m still cleaning up the manuscript. I don’t have a practice of complete rewrites, meaning I never toss the first draft and start from a blank page. I actually, go back and edit the previous chapter each day before writing the next chapter. Then I keep notes of the timeline, eye and hair colors of the characters, but I can still make mistakes due to forgetfulness. After all, this novel is a 300+ page journey that lasted over six months, and then I moved several times in the process of completing the final chapters and epilogue.

I believe that if an author doesn’t reinvent the wheel with each of their novels, then the process becomes easier along the way–especially if the author develops a template or formula. However, doubts, worries and fears still crop up as do potentially dramatic moments where the author deletes the file from the computer (modern version) or tosses the manuscript out the window. Never do this, by the way. You’ll regret it later.

And speaking of my novel, I have some cleaning up to do, so off I go.

 

 

Write It–Doling Out Character Backstory

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Two scenarios plague most novelists. The first one revolves around clogging the narrative with too much backstory and too many character details. The second scenario revolves around not including enough backstory or descriptions to ground the story in a reader’s mind. I fall into the latter category.

However, as I’m rewriting my 5th novel, Enter 5-D, I’ve discovered that doling out the descriptions and backstory in small amounts throughout the early chapters (and later chapters), grounds the stories, gives the readers enough description to go with, and doesn’t clutter the narrative flow.

For instance, I’m current rewriting a novel with multiple story lines, and have created a new reality since my novel falls into the speculative fiction genre. But if I included character descriptions and backstory in large chunks, then I would slow down the tempo of the narrative, and also confuse the readers.  Not to mention, bore myself.

And I also ran into the same problem that I did with my other four novels and that is, not including enough character description or motives for their actions–but I did that less with this novel than with previous ones. But on the other hand, I don’t like reading stories with too much description of the characters, such as describing the eyes, hair, and clothing and other attributes in the same sentence or even paragraph.

On the other hand, if I don’t write down the descriptions of the characters and locations on notepad or storyboard, when I’m dealing with multiple characters, and Enter 5-D has a large cast, I say that a character has blonde curly hair at the beginning of the novel and in chapter 5, he’s a brunette! Of course, you can find these mistakes during the rewriting process and have a good laugh. “Wow, Orpheus, you went from being a Viking to a dwarf. How did you manage that?”

I received good advice recently about drawing pictures of the characters or finding photographs in magazines which I can use in a collage so that I have physical descriptions of my characters. For some authors, this is ideal. Federico Fellini used to sketch and paint his characters (costumes, hair, etc) before directing his movies. For some reason, my mind keeps going back to his drawings as I rewrite my novel.

The best way to use the doling out process is to keep a notepad with the descriptions and backstories for each of the characters, including their astrological signs, date of birth (age), country of birth, etc… I know of one author who is also an astrologer who draws up charts for her characters–now that’s going in depth.

Then when the characters encounter each other we view the other characters physical appearance, voice, etc  through the character (point of view) character’s eyes. So if I’m writing from my character Persephone’s point of view, she sees that Eurydice has dark, long hair, and wears a tunic that clings to her curves. Eurydice’s melodic voice sent tingles up and down Persephone’s spine.

Another approach is to combine a character’s actions with their physical attributes such as, “He slipped his fingers through his blonde curls. Then his blue eyes darted around the room.”

When I used to spend time on the author website, Authonomy, one common mistake authors made was to add long passages or chunks of backstory towards the beginning of their novels. Nothing makes me yawn more than overburdening a narrative with the character’s life story. It’s much better to dole out the backstory in the narrative as the character muses about situations in the past related to their current situation or state of mind. And then later, bring some of that backstory into conversations between characters. But only the most masterful authors do this well.

So the main trick here is to know your characters and their situations well. Research your characters or interview them so you can get their backstory. Remember that journalists never use all their material for an article–only that which catches the attention of their readers and fills in the gaps. As an author or creator of new worlds and characters, your job is to take the approach of less is more.

And if any of these ideas are new to you, then pick up novels of various genres and study how other authors handle backstory and character descriptions. I picked up The Hobbit recently to get an idea of how this is done with fantasy, a genre known for blending an active plot with lyrical descriptions (thus the thick books). Pick up a classic from any genre and you can’t go wrong.

And if you would like a coaching session, sign up at Metaphysics 4 Everyday Living. Please read the service tabs first. I’m available in person in the Bellingham, Washington area or by Skype.  Happy writing!

An Author’s Itchy Feet (Writing Hiatus)

Orpheus

In September I put my 5th novel away, with the idea that I would return to it by the beginning of October. However, I’m still living in a temporary housing situation and I don’t have the space to work on the edits and rewrites of that novel, Enter 5-D. It would help if my Patreon campaign attracted patrons as that would allow me to at least spend more for housing while I write.

I have also looked into renting a room from a professor by circulating notices around the university campus. I try not to think about my novel because when I do I’m hit with writer’s remorse and other gremlins.

If you are an arts patron type and looking for someone to support, either contact me via this website or go to my Patreon campaign page and make a pledge. And tell your friends and colleagues too. Enter 5-D has commercial potential, unlike my other novels. And who knows, maybe some day you’ll say that you got in on the ground floor. Shooting for the moon.

http://www.patreon.com/BelleAuthor

Unintended Writer’s Sabbatical

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By now, I would have completed the edit for my 5th novel had things turned out differently. As it is, I’m wondering about writing a sequel to Woman Sleeping on a Couch (my memoir), but my current experience is less dramatic than my first, and actually in an odd way, pleasant.

Unfortunately, with all my bouncing around to temporary homes, I haven’t had time to write. Oddly, I completed the rough draft for Enter 5-D, an urban fantasy while I was staying at a temporary apartment in September. It’s funny because I wanted to go on a writer’s retreat and in a way I have, though without the writing.

I stayed in vacation cottages in Birch Bay, Washington and I went on a weekend meditation retreat at a Buddhist center near Mount Baker. And while I shouldn’task for patronage, I would love patrons to sign up with my Patreon page and pledge.

http://www.patreon.com/BelleAuthor Who knows, you might help me land in a permanent home too.

Progress for Enter 5-D

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I’m still plugging away at my 5th novel Enter 5-D which is basically an ascension story featuring ancient Greek gods and characters set in contemporary Seattle. I’m calling it magic realism, but really it falls into urban fantasy light. I also think of the novel as a Harry Potter for adults due to the romantic elements.

I would like to say this is my first time at writing spec fiction, but in 2005, I began writing another novel in this vein, Super-Nature Heroes that featured ancient saints and holy people with the story set in modern Manhattan. You can find the synopsis in the tabs above.

Since the planet is shifting and since I am a metaphysical practitioner it seems fitting that I write metaphysical novels on the lighter side. I even poke fun at Pluto and Hades. While I find the novel entertaining thus far and I promise a snappy ending no one will forget any time soon, I embed sacred geometry and spiritual messages to awaken readers.

The due date for the rough draft is October 4 or thereabouts. At that time, I will look for beta readers and take a month break from the novel. Then I will go back and do rewrites and edits. In the meantime, I still accepting patrons for funding on Patreon. I encourage you to support this future best-selling novel. Your name will appear in the acknowledgements. And depending on how many people support the novel on Patreon, I’ll send you a signed copy of the book upon publication. I can do up to 10 of those.