Category Archives: Authors Answer

Authors Answer 120 – Dodecahedron

A geometric shape as a title? This could be anything. And it’s a shape people most likely don’t even know. It’s a twelve-sided polygon, and if you play role playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, you most likely have used one.

Before we get to the stories, let’s find out who won last week’s story. It was called Fender Slander, and the winner is Gregory S. Close again!

So now on to this week’s story.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 120 – Dodecahedron

Jean Davis

Dodecahedron is science fiction. The Council of Twelve acts in the shadows, pulling the strings of planetary governments, crime lords, and the galaxy’s financial markets. Matthews, a scientist who’s funding has suddenly vanished, hunts down the council, slowly exposing its supporting structures until the Council must reveal its faces and answer for all it has done.

Cyrus Keith

Genre: Science Fiction

Setting: Near-Earth space

Summary: A strange, immense 12-sided structure is found during excavation on the moon. Found inside are humanoid aliens, long dead, along with animal forms — a total of twelve different species. But not every life-form is truly dead. What was the original purpose of this mission: to save a race, or to exterminate another?

C E Aylett

Genre: Sci-fi Thriller/Cyberpunk

London 2035

Heston is a cop in search of a gang of arsonists. His investigations lead him into the murky depths of London’s criminal underground where a new recreational drug is sweeping the streets: Dodecahedron. But this drug is like none ever seen before, a plethora of multifaceted highs that no single user shares with another. Sometimes stimulant, sometimes hallucinogenic, sometimes opiate, among a few; users take a gamble with each dose as to what experience they will get. Then there’s those who ‘pop out’ —an effect created by more industrial-scale usage that is hotly rumoured to make people literally disappear into thin air. No one can swear to have witnessed this; objective judgement is but a minor sacrifice for the hedonists involved in abusing the substance, and no one can be sure if it’s real or an imagined side effect. Those who ‘pop out’ return, unscathed, even if they can’t remember much of what went on in between. But as Heston navigates his way through a maze of alternative society in drug-induced psychosis, and the lines between reality and possibility begin to blur, he soon finds out that not everyone comes back. And especially not the women. Inexplicably, he is certain the disappearing women and the arsonists are connected. He just can’t quite figure out how.

No one else believes him — his chief superintendent has written off testimonies from ‘Dodecaheads’ as tripper’s folly and assigned the cases to the sex trafficking unit. As the city fires become more and more frequent, Heston’s under pressure to find the arsonists, yet that voice inside keeps nagging him that the disappearing women are connected in another way. He can’t help but involve himself with Merena, the DI dealing with the trafficking case, to stay abreast of any developments.

His appetite for updates on its progress seems exacerbated by a sense that he’s being watched and a recurring dream he’s had every night for weeks that turns him into a trembling mess and makes him soil his bed linen. A dream of fearsome creatures raining down from the sky. Creatures with razor-sharp fangs or glowing eyes, tails or blue skin. Creatures who like the taste of human flesh. Heston can’t help but feel as if something awful is coming, and the end of the world is nigh.

Compelled to follow his instincts, he’s going to be horrified at what he’s about to find. Something that blows all perceptions of reality out of the water and takes him through a myriad of trails, from the dingy dens of London, to the corridors of Whitehall and across Europe. Even to the beyond. Heston is about to find out just how dark the world really is. Can he save it before it’s too late?

And does he even want to?

Paul B. Spence

Genre: Historical Crime Techno-thriller

Setting: Ancient Rome

Synopsis: Decimus had entered into the priesthood after serving his time in Imperial Army. Things had been going well, until priests started mysteriously dying. What had caused their violent deaths, and what was the role of the strange bronze dodecahedrons found at the scene of each crime?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Genre: Mockumentary

Setting: Back-alley America

Summary: This book follows a young D&D addict as he leads the reader through the seedy underbelly of underground tabletop gaming. He’s known as a legend among his friends, but will his velvet dice bag be enough to get him through the challenges ahead?

Beth Aman

Genre: Fantasy

Setting: The Library; time and space

Summary: There have always been twelve stories that Librarians had to know by heart.  But one morning, Librarian Zack Stewart awakes to find that he has forgotten a story, as have all the other librarians.  The Twelfth Story has been wiped from everyone’s memory, and it will take a search through time and space to recover the lost story – and the lost souls.

Eric Wood

Science Fiction

Post apocalypse world. There are 12 people left – 6 men, 6 women. The storyline will follow from each person’s perspective on how they intend to reestablish the human race. Which one will succeed… or will they?

D. T. Nova

Genre: Historical/thriller/mystery

Setting: Ancient Greece

Summary: Someone has been murdering Pythagoreans, and their newest inductee works with an outsider for find why. But the murderer isn’t the only one who wants the reason behind the crimes to remain unknown. And will the two investigators be able to keep their relationship purely platonic?

Gregory S. Close

DODECAHEDRON (Book One of the Sacred Geometries)

Cosmic Horror, New England

Mal and Ben Algernon had always seen the world in numbers as much as words, more comfortable discussing theorems and proofs than sports or pop culture. Adults found their intellect unnerving.  Other children thought them odd and withdrawn. But by the time they were sixteen, their talent had attracted the attention of Professor Allan Edgars, the foremost theoretical mathematician in academia, and they found themselves the youngest in his exclusive cadre of students at the esteemed Blackwood College.

Mal and Ben find more than they bargained for in Professor Edgars’ lab.  He is obsessed with an ancient mathematical mystery, dubbed “The Unknowable Truth.” He believes that it is the only answer to counter an awakening evil, the Slumbering Dread – a malevolent other-worldly being that seeks to rule and feed on the mortals of Earth. But when their mentor and classmates are all horrifically murdered, its up to the twins to discover the Unknowable Truth, where arcane rituals of magic and complex geometries of mathematics intertwine.

The sum of this equation may be the survival of humanity.

Elizabeth Rhodes

Dodecahedron, a science fiction story set in the near future.

Allison Morris is a post-grad math student who has just discovered how to travel through time. Half the department gathers in secret to test her theories to some measure of success – but in the process damages the very fabric of spacetime. The fallout is unpredictable and needs to be contained fast, but it may be something that requires more than academia to fix.

Jay Dee Archer

Genre: Fantasy

Setting: Geo-Earth

Twelve kingdoms, twelve fates. The Gods of Geo-Earth gamble with the futures of the kingdoms to satisfy their desire for entertainment. With the roll of a twelve-sided perfectly-shaped piece of ivory, they unleash one of twelve horrors on a chosen kingdom. But Toss Arnegax has had enough. Can the twelfth son of the hero Sparc Arnegax resist the gods? He must first find the twelve blades of Gyneson.

How about you?

Now it’s your turn. Choose a book that you think should be written. Which best fits the title “Dodecahedron” in your mind? Vote below, then leave a comment explaining your choice.

Authors Answer 119 – Fender Slander

Another interesting title. To be honest, this one seems a bit difficult, doesn’t it? What exactly is Fender Slander? Check out our ideas for stories, and you can then vote for your favourite.

But first, last week’s winner. The best story, as voted by you, the readers, is by Gregory S. Close! Check out the entries for Bonbon Journey.

And now, this week’s story!

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 119 – Fender Slander

Elizabeth Rhodes

Fender Slander, a thriller set in modern-day Seattle.

Carl Gallagher just made his big break. The video he put on Youtube playing his song went viral, and record companies are knocking at his door. He attracted near-instant fame… and attention from a supposed superstar on the other side of the world who now accuses him of theft. The man lays claim to Carl’s signature song, look, and even the custom Fender passed down from his father. Now Carl has to defend his good name in court, and defend his life from this man’s rabid fans.

Gregory S. Close

Magical Realism, Louisiana Bayou

It started small, like most storms do.  The stranger sold the car to Jeb for a pittance, with a strange warning to “just take things as they come, or it’ll go worse for you .”  It was in bad shape, rusted out, covered in bumper stickers like “My other car is an F16” and “Better Dead Than Red.”  Jeb needed wheels, and he was low on cash, so he ignored the twitch in his gut that warned him it was too good to be true.

The next morning, that twitch was like the kick from Pappy’s old mule.  Sittin’ there in the drive, parked next to his new-to-him car, was a shiny jet fighter, all glimmery in the sun.

Jeb dropped his cup of joe, shaking as he surveyed the words on that rusty old bumper in a whole new light.  Which one would be next?

“Just take things as they come…”

D. T. Nova

Genre: Courtroom drama

Setting: any typical city, particularly the courtroom

Summary: A man has to appear in court for a car accident that he knows wasn’t his fault. Though he has no alibi to prove it, he wasn’t even there.

Eric Wood

Romance

Ellie gets into a car accident when she’s rear ended by a macho model named Yuri. After refusing to pay for the damage, Ellie begins a slander campaign against him. She wants nothing more than to destroy his posh, playboy career. But then something happens and she finds herself falling for him instead.

Beth Aman

Genre: High Fantasy

Setting: The stone castle of Fender

Summary: The royal court, the servants, and all the guests see only one version of the Great Stone Castle that has been the jewel of Fender for a thousand years.  But Meredith-Dragon-Keeper sees what no one else does: the disappearances, the bloodstains on stone, the secret hallways between the rooms.  It’s up to her to find out who is behind the killings, and fast, because if her evidence is right, then she’s next on the list to die.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Genre: Crime/Mystery

Setting: Urban America

Summary: The police are baffled when a serial vandal, who carves demeaning insults into the victims’ cars, begins to work his way back through his targets in order to murder them in a variety of increasingly horrifying ways.

Paul B. Spence

Genre: Postmodern Literature

Setting: California freeway, today

Synopsis: One man’s journey through rush hour hell. The hours trapped in his car without AC will change him forever.

Cyrus Keith

Genre: Thriller

Setting: The NASCAR community

Summary: An up-and-coming driver is accused of the assault of a young racing fan. He must prove his innocence, race with the best, and restore his reputation. But the rapist is on his crew, and determined to get away with his crime–even if he has to kill.

Jean Davis

Fender Slander is a legal thriller set in New York. A hit and run car accident ruins Chuck’s drive into work and his new BMW. The article in the next day’s paper, though full of lies, ruins his career at the firm. With his car in the shop and unemployment barely paying the bills, Chuck must hunt down the person intent on ruining his life before he’s out on the street.

Jay Dee Archer

Genre: Science Fiction

Setting: Late 20th century USA

In a time when mind transference to androids is possible, one young man has been accused of assault. What’s unusual about this man is that his mind has been transfered into a 2063 Toyota Prius. Crime fiction meets science fiction in this thrilling novel. Can the young Prius and his android lawyer beat the odds and prove his innocence?

How about you?

Now it’s your turn. Choose a book that you think should be written. Which best fits the title “Fender Slander” in your mind? Vote below, then leave a comment explaining your choice.

Authors Answer 118 – Bonbon Journey

It’s back! This month, we’ll be doing some more fun book summaries where we get to test our authors’ creativity. We take a title, then give it a genre and setting, and write a summary of the book. It’s a lot of fun.

And this is interactive. You get to vote on your favourite! So, please read the summaries and choose the one you’d love to read.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 118 – Bonbon Journey

Jean Davis

Follow chocolate lover, Charlene Taylor, on her world tour of confectionary bliss in this food travel guide. Bonbon Journey is sure to make your mouth water with the stunning photography and vivid descriptions of the words greatest bonbons and other rich chocolate treats.

Cyrus Keith

Genre: Romantic comedy

Setting: The Rhine River, 1890’s

Summary: A young, eligible (but determinedly single) heiress to a once-great chocolate empire embarks on a river tour of Switzerland and Germany. Accompanied by her best friend (and personal assistant) Sylvia, she tours various chocolatiers along the way to revamp her failing company’s fortunes with new products. A steward aboard the ship falls for her, and with Sylvia’s help, hilarity and romance ensue.

C E Aylett

Bonbon Voyage – The Sugar Wars of the Caribbean

Historical dynasty fiction set in the Caribbean.

She’s the daughter of the most ruthless sugar baron of all the islands. When the estate is abruptly bequeathed to her, she refuses to rule the plantation with an iron fist, just as her father once did. Her lone vulnerability soon makes her a target and she finds herself caught between European powers with no allies. All she has are the slaves whom her father mistreated, none of whom trust their colonial masters, even if she does wear a dress.

He’s a ‘privateer’, one of many pirates sanctioned by the British government to conquer the monarch’s first ‘jewel in the crown’ against Europe’s warring factions. Set loose upon the Caribbean seas with the royal seal, he seems at liberty to fill his coffers with sugar and gold any which way he is able and kill whomever he wants.

As the sugar wars reach their climax, with every major European navy threatening to destroy them and their enterprises, the last thing either of them expect is a piracy-slavery alliance. Suddenly, there’s a new power at sea, and it might just tip the balance.

Paul B. Spence

Genre: Paranormal Romance Horror

Setting: A tropical island, modern times.

Synopsis: It was supposed to just be a three hour cruise, but the storm shipwrecked them on the small tropical island. At first things were fine, they had little to do but while the hours away in pleasurable dalliance, but then the unthinkable happened. One by one the survivors were being hunted down and slain, eaten. Was there some supernatural force on the island, or was there a darker secret? Was it one of the seemingly innocent crew or passengers? Jen was terrified it might be one of her friends or lovers, but what if it was worse than that? What if it was Jen?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Genre: Chick Lit

Setting: A Bakery Shop

Summary: After losing everything she owned in a fire started by her crazy ex-boyfriend, Sasha has to move back to her hometown with her parents. There she gets a part-time job at one of the only choices available – a small bakery – and learns a great deal about herself as she learns how to create the most delicious of sweets and treats.

Beth Aman

Genre: Sci-Fi

Setting: The galaxy of Bonbon

Summary: When 17-year-old human Jack Stevonson gets kidnapped from earth, he awakes to find himself in a world stranger than his wildest dreams.  And the most frightening part isn’t the blue, 8-legged aliens, or their strange obsession with food – no, it’s that humans sell as collectibles on the intergalactic black market.  Jack will have to use all of his cunning and wit if he ever wants to get home alive and in one piece.

Eric Wood

Children’s book

A brother and sister move to the city of Sugarville and open a produce stand. There is a city wide power outage and people have to rely on the only thing made without using electricity – produce. Can two kids feed the city and save it’s citizens?

D. T. Nova

Genre: Children’s fantasy

Setting: A world made of sweets

Summary: Anthropomorphic candy people travel to the chewy center of their candy land (no, not that one). By the end, a bitter rival has gotten his just desserts, and our heroes have learned just how sweet life can be.

Gregory S. Close

Setting: Alternate History, Genre: Steampunk

Emperor Justinian’s twin heirs, en route to important peace talks between the warring factions of Rome, have disappeared along with their airship over Northern Africa.  Now, if falls to the Kingdom of Aksum to find the missing children or the fragile peace of the last five years could crumble.  With it’s navy occupied in a stand off with the Sassanid Empire, only a few airships can make it to the area in time – and only one, the Astar’s Daughter, is captained by Cush, a retired naval officer and hero of the Carthaginian War.

Cush has the experience.  Cush has the strength.  Cush has the cunning.  But Cush no longer commands a warship – now, he is captain of a freighter that brings frozen delicacies to the far corners of the continent, a circuitous and dangerous route known as the Bonbon Journey.  With a hold full of ice cream, a crew desperate for a payday, and an airship that’s seen better days, Cush will have to pull off the most daring rescue of his life to save the world from another devastating war… before his cargo melts.

Jay Dee Archer

Genre: Children’s book series

Setting: Europe

Summary: Join Hans, Marie, Ingrid, and Petr on their adventures around Europe, making friends in local candy shops as they battle the Bitter Boys, misguided teenagers who hate everything sugary. Can they show the boys the error of their ways? Can they protect Europe’s traditional bonbons? Only Hans can unite bitter and sweet with his secret weapon: chocolate!

How about you?

Now it’s your turn. Choose a book that you think should be written. Which best fits the title “Bonbon Journey” in your mind? Vote below, then leave a comment explaining your choice.

Authors Answer Story Summaries Returns!

Back in August, Authors Answer did something different. No questions, no answers. Instead, I provided a title, and that’s it. The challenge was to create a book for that title. The genre, setting, and story summary had to be created based only on the title. You can check them out here:

This time, there will be another four titles. The rules are the same. For you, the reader, all you need to do is choose your favourite story. Which one would you be most interested in reading? Tomorrow, the first group of stories will be available for you to vote on.

This is a really fun activity. It’s interesting seeing what everyone thinks of based on only a title. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you are, too!

Authors Answer 117 – Difficult and Easy Scenes to Write

Writing isn’t always easy. Of course, writing isn’t easy! There are some aspects that are more difficult than others, but it really depends on the author. Some people have a talent for writing action, while others do really well with dialogue. So, what do we find easy and difficult to write?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 117 – What kind of scenes do you find the easiest and most difficult to write?

Eric Wood

The scenes I most enjoy writing are those from a child’s perspective. Perhaps because I have 2 of my own. Perhaps because I’m more like them than I can admit. The scenes I find most difficult to write tend to be ones about violence and death. Because of that I don’t typically include those in my writings. Naturally you won’t find those on my blog or in my children’s stories. I have written a few violent short stories, but I never shared them so I don’t really know what others think. I just feel it’s not my strong suit because I don’t like it.

C E Aylett

Ooooh, you’re really making me think with this one! Um… I’m pretty good with conflict of emotion scenes, and especially with dialogue. What I’m not so good at are action scenes. Or more accurately, fight scenes. I have the utmost respect for authors who can write huge or epic battle scenes. I can just imagine them with a full board of little plastic figures in a bedroom or attic that they move around so they don’t lose track of who is where and what everyone is doing.

D. T. Nova

Easiest: action that has an excuse for not being entirely realistic. (Though incorporating realistic consequences into fantastic scenes also comes fairly naturally.)

Most difficult: scenes that require substantial description but still need fast pacing.

Linda G. Hill

Fight scenes! It’s not that I don’t know how to fight. I have a brown belt in Shotokan Karate. It’s just all those body parts moving around – I never know how much detail is too much.

Jean Davis

The easiest for me is a scene where characters are conversing. When we get to scenes where lots of description is necessary to flesh out the setting, I’m not in my happy place and writing is slow going.

Elizabeth Rhodes

Scenes that are heavy on dialogue come easiest to me. I can focus on what characters say, maybe add a few hand gestures, and move on. Scenes that rely on heavy emotion, such as scenes where someone’s dying or getting married (or maybe both?) are hardest for me because I struggle with portraying emotion convincingly in stories.

Gregory S. Close

Fight scenes are both easy and difficult – action scenes are exciting and generally move quickly, so the words pop out fast.  Then, in the editing stage, you have to worry about repetitive word use and phrasing.  Swords swing, scythe, slice, chop and parry a lot in a battle but you have to use the terminology sparingly to avoid repetition.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

This might sound strange, but I find the easiest scenes for me to write are the emotionally loaded ones. Sex scenes, death scenes, anything that’s torturous or horrifying, or anything that is accompanied by a hammering heart and a racing mind. If it’s a situation that would make you forget the world, or make you want to die, I find it not only easy, but fun to write.  I feel like that stuff comes to me naturally, maybe because my own mind is always racing, finding the dramatic in every moment.

As for the most difficult? I feel like I’ve changed my mind on this particular question a few times, but at the moment I’m going to go ahead and say action scenes. I find anything action-heavy (fight scenes, big battles in particular) to be extremely difficult to put into words. I can see everything happening in my head, like a movie scene, but trying to actually formulate the words to describe it in a way that doesn’t sound watered down is very difficult for me. I’ve written fight scenes that I imagined as these wonderfully amazing waltzes, and then when I go back to read them over they sound like the characters are just stomping around each other in clumsy circles. I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever get the hang of those scenes.

Paul B. Spence

The easiest scenes for me to write? Conversations and fight scenes. Conversations are easy, and should be for any author. You sit your characters down and have a good chat. Fight scenes, well, I know how to handle myself. I’ve been trained in western martial arts, and I’ve practiced for decades. I have also been in street fights, bar fights, knife fights, gun fights, you name it. It doesn’t always apply to science fiction, but much of it does, or at least, I make it work.

The most difficult scenes for me are love scenes. I hate reading love scenes in books. I think such things should be private. It feels like I’m writing porn. Sigh. I’m not a prude or opposed to sex, the gods know I love it myself, I just don’t like to share it. However, sex is a natural part of being alive, so I strive to write the scenes into my stories because it makes them more complete.

H. Anthe Davis

I noted this previously, but I can’t do romance, and I definitely can’t write sex scenes.  I can do horrible awful violent things to my characters, but once they take their clothes off, I just draw the curtains on them; I don’t want to deal with it.  I probably should work on it more, but I’m much like my protagonist, Cob, who doesn’t see any reason why anyone should ever be naked.  On the other side of the coin, I find banter very easy to write — whether it’s two people or a whole group.  I have to cut down my banter sections considerably any time I edit, because otherwise my characters will just snark at each other for a dozen pages a pop.

Cyrus Keith

The easy scenes are the action sequences: Fight scenes, chase scenes, scenes where things are happening. The hard ones are the introspective scenes where a character reveals himself to himself. Action can get boggy if one isn’t careful, and revealing the right thought at the right time makes the difference between being brilliant, and being boring. And I can’t stand being bored.

Beth Aman

I love writing dialogue, so scenes with conversations are easy for me. I also really like writing emotionally tense scenes, or scenes with conflict. I have a hard time writing if there’s no tension in the story.  I also struggle to write descriptions and fight scenes – so many details, so little time.

Jay Dee Archer

The scenes that I find that are easiest and most difficult to write are both emotional. However, it really depends on the emotion. The easiest scenes are those that have very strong emotions, including arguments, fights, and very intense feelings. Except for romance, that is. I find romantic scenes and love scenes the most awkward and difficult to write. Good thing I don’t write romance! I just love to write the scenes that contain a lot of tension or violence. They tend to be more exciting to read, as well.

How about you?

If you’re an author, what kind of scenes do you find easy and difficult to write? If you’re a reader, what scenes do you find easy or difficult to read? Let us know in the comments section.

Authors Answer 116 – Writing the Opposite Sex

Authors need to write from many different points of view. Men, women, children, and even animals or other non-human characters. It makes sense that a male author can write a male character more easily, and likewise, a female author can write a female character. But what about writing the opposite sex?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 116: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Beth Aman

Hmm, I’m not sure. I haven’t done it much, partially because I don’t want to get it wrong. But it’s something I’m trying out in my new WIP so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

Cyrus Keith

The first thing is to remember that although there are differences, they aren’t as drastic as you might think. Not all women are crazy about pink. Not all of them are aware of the way they walk, and all women are NOT damsels in distress. The same way as all mean are NOT born mechanics or knuckle-dragging troglodytes who only care about sex and beer.

The hard part is writing not through your filter of how you see them, but as they are, as real people. Humans.

This is when the writer becomes a researcher. Sit in the mall and just observe how men and women, boys and girls, interact. And I mean SEE it. How do they walk together? What do they do with their hands? How do they hold their bags? Where do they focus their eyes? What do they talk about? Look for the ones away from the crowds. Are they pensive? Sad? Happy? What makes them look that way?

I’m sure there’s a second thing, but I’m not sure what it is.

H. Anthe Davis

I don’t think I have problems anymore, since I’ve been writing men for ages and ages.  In fact, I had more problems with writing women, initially, than I ever did with writing men.  I read a lot of male-centered fantasy during my formative years — adventures like the Elric books, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser books, Vlad Taltos, the Amber series, Belgariad, Chronicles of Thomas Covenant — where almost all of the female characters were on the sidelines or obnoxious.  It took me ages to learn to write female characters that felt like human beings, instead of girlfriends or obstacles or tropes — female characters who reminded me of myself and my friends.  My biggest problem is still writing romantic relationships, but I have that issue on both sides of the gender fence.

Paul B. Spence

I’m not sure. I don’t seem to have a problem with it. I write people. People are usually not defined by their sex or gender. Sometimes they are, but not usually. Culture is much more important. It defines gender roles. I have degrees in anthropology, the study of humans. Take a few classes, learn about the people you are writing about. If you can’t afford classes, then read Marvin Harris. I would start with Pigs, Cows, Wars, and Witches, then move on to Our Kind. Trust me, it will change your view of the world.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I haven’t written much from a male perspective, aside from a few drabbles and very short stories, but I’m currently working on a project that would be a full-length novel from the view of a male character, and honestly, I don’t find it all that difficult. Perhaps I’ll get torn apart by readers who tell me that I’ve got no grasp on how a man actually thinks, but I personally feel that I’m doing okay, and that if I gave a chapter to someone without them knowing I wrote it, they wouldn’t be able to tell whether the author is male or female. If I ever get around to finishing it and publishing it, you can all tell me whether or not I did well. 😄

Gregory S. Close

Whenever you write from any unfamiliar perspective, be it race, gender, religion etc. then you have the challenge of presenting something that is fundamentally alien to you in a way that it seems second-nature.  I want to make sure I do everyone justice without too much pandering or cliche.  Beta readers are really important for this, I think.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I actually don’t have a problem with writing male characters. If anything, I have more trouble writing women. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a house full of guys and with few feminine influences. When it comes to women, I think I have trouble with striking a balance between creating a realistic woman and avoiding stereotypes. Thankfully it’s 2017, and the line between masculine and feminine things is becoming all the more blurred.

Jean Davis

I like writing both sexes so I guess my biggest challenge would be the proper word choice and phrasing. We speak and think differently so my brain is hardwired one way and it takes thought to make the opposite sex sound natural.

Linda G. Hill

I actually prefer writing from a man’s point of view. I’ve never been much of a girly-girl myself, and I’ve had very few female friends in my life. If there is one difficulty I face, it would have to be the obvious. Luckily I have a man as my best friend, with whom I can discuss the body parts I lack… like a beard. Get your mind out of the gutter! 😉

D. T. Nova

Honestly I think I’m better at writing female characters than male ones.

One exception would be writing heterosexual romance from the female character’s perspective.

C E Aylett

It definitely depends on the type of person they are, more than the gender. I don’t buy into the idea that because someone is of a different gender they are more difficult to write — we’re all human, we’re all emotional entities. I look for writing about a human before a gender. Our common ground — emotion, motivation, fear, desire — transcends gender.

I recently read on Quora some answers regarding this very question and someone even ventured to state their idea of the differences between men and women, one difference being that men are not emotional beings and women are. This, of course, is not true, but more to the point, I think that as a writer this is a highly dangerous approach to take. If you write characters from the point of view that they must fit into our preconceived ideas of gender you run a high risk of sounding like a sexist (both ways) or, at minimum, writing to flimsy and outdated stereotypes. That can come across as lazy characterising.

In my first novel I found it more difficult to write the female lead than the male one, even though I am female, because firstly she was American and the male lead was British. Plus, she was into basketball and I hate sports (except for pool, if that even counts), so I had to do a lot of research that I didn’t really enjoy and only used about a third of it anyway! The novel series I’m starting to revise this year will have a football fan in it (that’s soccer to our US readers), so I will have to research that. Luckily my partner is a fan so I can tap him for info. That’s the hardest part — giving them character traits of stuff I’m not particularly interested in. But the world is made up of all sorts and you can’t ignore that just because it doesn’t suit. And especially not in this case where the football fan side is actually a small yet deeply significant part of the setting and politics.

It probably also helps that I have a lot of brothers and hung around a lot with the lads when I was younger, Well, still do! So I just write how my mates talk and act. I’ve also met enough wrong-uns in my life that the more villainous characters don’t feel like a chore, either, just natural.

Eric Wood

The hardest thing for me is hearing their voices. What does she sound like? What would she say?

Jay Dee Archer

My current work in progress features a girl as the main character in her teens. But she’s from a different time and far different circumstances than anyone has ever experienced. I think that makes her easier for me to write. However, for the average female character, what’s difficult for me is writing dialogue between her and other female characters when men aren’t around. I generally don’t get to hear those conversations, other than what’s on TV or movies, but they’re completely scripted.

However, I think that because both men and women have so many variations in personality, there isn’t a typical female or male character, so however I write that person, that’s the way they are. If someone said that’s not how a woman behaves, I’d just say that’s how she does.

How about you?

If you write, what do you find difficult about writing the opposite sex? Let us know in the comments section.

Authors Answer 115 – Common Mistakes by New Authors

Everyone goes through that awkward toddler stage of writing. There are mistakes. Lots of them. And frankly, the writing sounds weird, clunky, and just plain awful. The mistakes are extremely common, though. It’s not that difficult to avoid them.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 115: What are some common mistakes for aspiring authors?

Eric Wood

Since I consider myself to be an aspiring author as I’ve only been published via my blog posts, I would love to know some mistakes to avoid. Based on what I’ve learned from the writing I’ve done thus though, I would say one common mistake that is made is telling instead of showing. It’s quick and easy to tell me what happened. However, it’s much more meaningful if you show what happened. Give the reader details. Another mistake is editing. I know it’s one I struggle with time to time. I don’t do it enough. It’s annoying to read a book with spelling mistakes, tense inconsistencies, etc…  It takes tons of editing and revision to get to a final copy of a book.

C E Aylett

He-he… Where do I start? Well, let’s see…

– believing the first draft is where all the hard work goes! But that’s because there’s so much to learn to begin with, so it’s not just about writing the story. It’s also about learning technique, about effective structure, and pacing is so ‘out’ there to be almost obscure. It’s all very overwhelming to begin with.

-Expecting that what plops out on the page the first (or even 2nd) time is the way the story should be and is not in need of change, aside from tidying up some errant commas and smoothing out a little bit of grammar.

– Not seeking out vigorous critique partnerships. There is a belief out there that the way to learn how to write well is solely through the act of writing and reading. And yet, for all the books people have read and writing they’ve all done throughout their lives, the majority of people will have their manuscripts rejected. This just goes to prove that reading and writing alone do not work as effective instruction. If you don’t understand the why of fiction (why does this work and this doesn’t) then you won’t understand the how of fiction (how to improve, create desired effects, etc). I’m of the belief the key to good fiction is not only to read and write, but to learn about and practice techniques, plus — crucially — critique fiction too. That last one in particular. It develops your skills as an editor and I’m always flabbergasted as to how many writers I encounter who don’t participate in vigorous critique, not just of their own work but in giving it to others’ too. Many people are too scared of what readers will say, but I go on the premise that everyone will think my work is shit, or at the very least it won’t be to the tastes of the majority, so it can only go upwards from there, surely?

– Being apologetic — if you write stories, even if they are flawed, you are a writer. Own it and don’t feel guilty or undeserving of it.

– Writing stories as a reason to rant about politics, religion, or any other highly emotive subject involving society and/or its ills. Ranting is rarely attractive, unless it’s funny and a part of someone’s ‘brand’ (think Victor Meldrew: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46flaThCYhE).

– Not swatting up on the publishing industry/book marketing early on. This is probably because when we first start writing our inner critic/lack of confidence says our writing is purely for our own pleasure and we’ll never be good enough (or sometimes arrogant enough) to assume we’ll ever be published. However, I think it is prudent for writers to learn about how publishing works as early as possible because, for those of us who find ourselves hitched up to this passion, talent, instinct, or whatever you want to call it, in writing, there will come a day when we will want to step over that threshold between bedroom writer and professional and give publishing a serious whirl (be that self-publishing or trad). Once you feel your MS is as perfect as you can make it, you want to to be as industry savvy as possible so that if you get any offers of representation you’ll be well-prepared or, if you decide to self-publish, you will have a plan. Which brings me onto the next point…

-Lastly, self-publishing a novel and believing that marketing it is all about bombarding social media with free links. This doesn’t convert into sales for a new author with minimal online presence. Someone more established, yes. They can send out freebies to their fan base in order to seed the market, but when no one knows you and you’re yet to prove your massive talent, it’s just white noise to the majority. Tempt potential readers with intriguing morsels of book blurb that will work as (honest and interesting) click bait, get a decent front cover, make links to your book and it’s sales outlets available wherever you socialise online (without mentioning every five minutes that your book is for sale), socialise with people in your niche. Blog about your book. Written a book with a bear in it? Socialise in wildlife forums. Spy novel? Socialise where people have an interest in things like the cold war period, or wartime espionage (Bletchly and the enigma box, etc.). I know a historical fantasy author whose books bazookaed in the self-pubbing charts because of her membership in a historical society who happened to also have as members some other best-selling authors in her niche. They got to know her and her books then publicly rated her series and — boom! — she was away. DON’T socialise with writers as a means to find readers! Not saying writers don’t read, but they are there for the same reason, and that’s not to find books. Here’s a great free class from Leah Berry for more ideas.

Most importantly, bear in mind it takes time to accumulate a fan base. Get on with the next book. Write short stories and get them published in reputable publications, and put some on your website. Short stories are your best marketing tool — people get a taste of your work and that might lead to a book sale if they are hungry for more. Plus, short fiction markets are popping up all over the place. That’s where you’ll find audiences.

Anyway, bet you wish you’d never asked now! Hope I haven’t hogged your page space too much…:S

D. T. Nova

Thinking that writing the first draft is the bulk of the work.

Overuse of near-synonyms that aren’t common parts of their vocabulary (the thesaurus, like so many other things, should be used only in moderation), and overwriting in general.

Linda G. Hill

Aspiring authors have much to learn – we all go through it, and really, there’s no easy way to get around all there is to know before we publish. It’s a matter of experience. If I were to pick a single thing, it would have to be the one that causes me the most worry on behalf of the author, and that is the belief that a raw, or even a self-edited manuscript is readable. Even editors who are writers have editors. At the very, very least, as few as six and as many as twenty beta readers — ones who are unbiased — should read a manuscript before it goes off into the world. Sure, it may sell. But if it’s not the best work it can possibly be, the author risks ruining his or her reputation.

Jean Davis

There are so many mistakes to make. Let’s see. Not finding a critique group or qualified beta readers before submitting or publishing. Your best friend reading your novel doesn’t count. Getting so fixated on what your trying to say or do with the story that there’s no plot. Rewriting the first chapter twenty times before ever starting the second one.

Elizabeth Rhodes

The biggest trap, in my opinion, is the same one in which I fell. I got too excited about finishing Jasper and released it too soon with minimal outside input. Looking back at it now it definitely could’ve used more polish before it could be considered ready.

Gregory S. Close

Editing!  If you’re going to spend money on your first effort, your first priority should be a good editor.  Covers and presentation can be improved upon in a later edition with minimal effort.  Editing is vital to ensuring that the work itself is seen positively, and gives you a fighting chance to be recognized and successful (and have the nice-to-have problem of wondering if you should upgrade your interior/exterior etc).

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I’ve spent a bit of time on Critique Circle in the past, and one of the most common “mistakes” that I saw there was that many aspiring authors simply haven’t taken the time and put in the effort to really learn how the English language works. I hate to discourage anyone from continuing to write, but it was always frustrating to read a piece from an aspiring author that was so riddled with spelling and grammatical errors that you could hardly discern what they were trying to say. That’s not to say that these people couldn’t become wonderful writers, but if you can’t write a single proper sentence, you should probably work on that before trying to string several thousand of them together into a coherent narrative.

The other big mistake that I’ve seen most often is simply being too proud and too arrogant, or else too hard on yourself. Every aspiring author seems to either think that they are beyond criticism – that they can do no wrong – or that everything they write is drivel that no one will ever want to read. There needs to be a happy medium of tentative confidence. You have to be able to deal with criticism, but you also have to have the ability to stand your ground and recognize when you’ve actually done genuinely good work.

Paul B. Spence

Hmm. I have met people that wanted to write books, but didn’t like to read. If you don’t read genre fiction, don’t try to write it. That said, I think the most common mistake is giving up. Not believing in yourself. If you have a story that needs to be told, then tell it. You can do it. Aspiring authors always talk about what holds them back, life, family, jobs, etc. Guess what, we all have these problems too. Just set aside some time, and don’t think about anything except your story. Then type it out. And finish it!

Cyrus Keith

Today seems to be a day for lists, I do believe.

1.) Excessive adverbs. Adverbs in and of themselves are not evil. But they can be a crutch for lazy writing that has no energy. We walk slowly when we could meander, stroll, or wander, we run quickly when we could dash, sprint, or rush. We walk unsteadily when we could blunder, stumble, stagger, or limp. Each one of these more active verbs has a different and energetic meaning. I allow myself three adverbs per 10,000 words.

2.) Excessive speech tags. There are countless creative ways of letting us know who is talking without using “He said” or “she exclaimed.” I won’t go into a lesson here about that. But it’s worth looking into.

3.) Assuming everyone who reads your work is going to “get it.” This includes everything from writing as though your reader can see your world, to assuming that the first editor who receives your manuscript is going to tearfully write you the biggest advance check in history. Write like you want to communicate. And still expect your message to bounce off a few thick skulls. And if it does, remember, it’s not a rejection of YOU.

Jay Dee Archer

There are so many mistakes. As an author who has not published yet, I can probably mention some of my own mistakes.

First, my earlier dialogue sounded more like written language. The problem that many people have is they write the dialogue, but don’t say it out loud. You need to read it out loud to see if it sounds natural.

Second, spending too much time editing while writing. Just write the damn thing, then edit. That’s one of the biggest problems people have. They never finish their first draft because they’re so caught up in trying to make it perfect. The constant editing can kill a story. Just write it, then make the changes. But don’t do it right away. Leave it for a few weeks, then come back to it from a fresh point of view.

And my final mistake is infodumps, especially character descriptions. My earlier writing had characters described fully right from the start. Don’t do that! It’s dull. Put descriptions in a little at a time, and it’s great to do it from the perspective of the point of view character.

How about you?

What mistakes do you think aspiring authors tend to make? Let us know in the comments section.