Cliches – according to Jared.

Well. First off, whether I like a cliche or not depends entirely on how it’s used. If an author uses a cliche and doesn’t seem to realize it, as happens in so many young adult fantasy novels these days (and I know ’cause I read a lot of them XD ), then I don’t like cliches at all. They annoy me and make me roll my eyes. It’s like “that’s the best he/she could come up with?”. But if the author takes the cliche and uses it to make something new–turning the cliche on its head, looking at it from a different angle, making fun of it, combining it with a seemingly very disparate cliche, etc, etc–then I like them. Then, they show the author’s cleverness. Using cliches in an unexpected way can also enhance a novel’s overall “surprise factor”. For example, I read a book recently where a character had an encounter with a Galadriel-like figure. I had a whole scenario worked out in my mind of what would happen, because it seemed very familiar, a cliche. BUT–I found out shortly after that the Galadriel-person was actually evil, and had cursed the hero. That particular event, the cursing, was totally unexpected due to the scenario I’d created based off the seeming cliche. That is exactly the sort of way to use a cliche. Of course, there were several other cliches in there–notably the classic “super-tough, independent female fighter” that’s so overused–but some of them are perfect examples of how to use cliches. I think I just insulted and complimented that author at once. XD I’m talented. Anyway.

May I use an example from my own writing? When it comes to cliches in my own writing, I prefer to take the approach of making fun of them. I’m a fairly experienced reader/author, so I have a fine-tuned cliche detector. So when I find a cliche, one of the characters will say or think something that points it out and pokes fun at it. My characters commonly make fun of each other or the story for being cliched. And they usually have sarcastic senses of humor. *eyeroll* Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. Just as an example of what I’m talking about, here’s an excerpt from a novel of mine, Little Darkangel:

Liam led them to the stables–Gryff had been surprised to find out they had horses this deep–and they mounted up. The horses had already been saddled and loaded with supplies, and Gryff got a rather placid brown mare that nevertheless seemed much too big. Looking around, he realized that Liam was the only one on anything other than a nag. The pack horses looked much more spirited. Apparently Liam was the only one who could ride. Gryff swallowed, hoping he’d be able to figure it out without too many bruises. He wished they could use a car, but Liam’s grunted explanation–“No fuel out there”–belied that notion. He supposed a proper epic quest needed horses, but a car would really have been nice.

The example is only in the last sentence I guess, but I needed some context. XD So yeah. Cliches can be very useful or very detrimental depending on how you use them. It’s also good to remember that a story can be based on cliches, and gain individuality through the author’s unique perspective and the personalities of the characters. One good twist can completely turn around an otherwise cliched story. For example, there’s a video game called Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The basic story is one that’s been done a lot–evil overlords attempt to conquer the galaxy, amnesiac hero must stop them by going on a quest to find ancient objects of great power. Sound familiar? But life is breathed into this story through vibrant, interesting characters, cool settings, and one very, very good twist that I consider to be one of the best ever: eh…. I’m not sure I want to reveal it. 😛 But suffice to say that it completely changes your view of the story, as every good twist should.

 

~written by Jared

Fantasy

One of my friends requested that I do a post on fantasy. So… I’m going to give it a shot.

Fantasy is my favorite genre. Why? There are many reasons, and I’ll try to cover some of them in the post. I will also attempt to address what my friend said, which was “…explain that fantasy isn’t evil..” because it is far from that. ANY genre can be ‘evil,’ depending on how it is put to use. A romance novel, for example, could be filled with things that aren’t appropriate for anyone to read, or think about.

First reason that come to mind is this: in fantasy, you can show the unseen. The line between the spiritual and physical is blurred, and the war for the souls of mankind can be shown in full. In a fantasy it’s not something you have to imagine; the author lays it out for you – light and dark, good and evil. The love of God is something that can be seen, felt. And then, you can see all of that easier in the real world.

Second, is that it pulls you in. A well thought out fantasy world will pull the reader in. Having a setting that the reader likes or even cares about, is very helpful. It also allows you to go places you never can in a non-fantasy story: heaven, or even hell.

Third, allegorical options. Being able to use allegory is a wonderful and powerful thing, and I believe that some of the best allegories are used in, and possible to use in, fantasy. Narnia, with Aslan, is a very good example.
A colorful world filled with magnificent creatures, dragons, unicorns, griffins, fauns, satyrs. You don’t have to use any, or all of them, but in a fantasy they are an option. Dragons and unicorns are both beautiful and magnificent beasts and have a certain majesty about them that in a fantasy world can be used to point straight to God.

Three is a good number, so I will stop with that. I will return to the topic again, though.

~Daniel

Cliches

Okay, so.. This next post is gonna be written by the readers. Please email me at knightofelyon (at) gmail.com with your thoughts on story/writing cliches.

Not sure what one is? A very famous one can be shown via a single movie line: “Luke, I am your father.”

If you have any questions, please leave those in a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer.

Okay.. post will be up as soon as I get at least three emails!

Write With Purpose

You can sit down. Boot up your computer. Open your text editing program. Type 50,000 words of blah. And be a popular writer.

Is that what you want? I hope not.

One thing I learned is to write with purpose. Have a theme for the story, have a goal. Don’t just write something that’ll make people cry; write something that will make them cry for a reason. A story with purpose can impact someone’s life.

A novel I read recently changed my outlook a bit. After reading it, I look at the world a little different. It’s a fantasy, and deals with some things in the Bible. I read the Bible through at least once, if not twice, or more, every year. I’ve read the things that this novel retold many times, but reading in prose, in a fantasy setting, and then having it applied to the real world… it hit me hard.

A story will reach people when just facts cannot.

At a writing workshop I attended recently, the teacher talked about why Amercia needs storytellers. He mentioned several events in history, both fairly dated, and recent. People told stories, with purpose, and it has changed the way that people think of the event.

So, when you start thinking up a story, truly think it up. Give it a theme: hope, love, forgiveness, freedom. There is so much to write about out there, and so many people who, I am sad to say, just write, well, ‘blah.’

Stories affect people. They have since the beginning of time. They do now. They always will.

Write with purpose. Write to change the world.

If you are a Christian, and have not done so, I would challenge you to devote all your writing to the glory of God and His kingdom. Only recently have I done this, but I plan on all my writing to now have an impact for Him.

Write with purpose.

Freestyle writing vs. Outline writing

Freestyle vs. Outline.

I started as a freestyle writer, but after going through the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum, I’m an outline person, through and through.

Here is a way I think of them:

Freestyle writing- Your imagination is dropped into a dark maze, which starts in the middle and has multiple exits all around. You wonder about, trying to figure things out, and, finally, if you spend enough time and effort, you finally come to an exit that you like, and take it.

Outline writing- Your imagination is placed in a dark tunnel. You have one exit, and you can see the dim light ahead. Pressing towards it, you tackle obstacles and overcome them, but you always know where you are going.

Now, I’m not an anti-freestyle person; freestyle writing is pretty much all about instinct and feel, and I will always be an ‘instinct’ writer, but I will force my instincts, and what I feel at the moment, to follow the outline, towards a predetermined goal, something I never had prior to OYAN. Outlining has now become second nature to me (at least, I think it has. 😛 ), and I am very glad of that, because it means I can outline a story, and come back later, versus previously, if I didn’t work on it right then, I’d forget about the tale in my head, lose details and even characters.

Great books can be written freestyle, just sitting down and writing, “It was a dark night,” all the way to “The End,” but I would wager that the greatest and best books were outlined, carefully planned out, not freestyled.

I end this post with this: follow your freestyle writing instincts, but give them a focus, a story goal, via an outline.

From the heart, to the mind, and to the reader’s hands – the journey taken by every story

Every story comes from the heart. People may not realize it, but the source of that fantastic tale whirling in their minds come straight from their heart. It makes its way to the mind, where it is developed, and from the mind (with a few steps of course) to the reader’s hands.

When someone picks up a book, they are reading what came from the author’s heart, their very self. I was asked a while back after a friend read a novel of mine how much of me was in it. I could only reply that I wasn’t sure, but I knew I was there. There wasn’t a way I couldn’t be in the story. I had poured a part of me into it, and there that part of me would stay.

Of course, not all story comes from the heart. Sometimes writers are forced to ignore their heart, and do what they know (in their minds) they should; like causing pain to characters, or letting someone die in the story, emotion turmoil. It’s hard to do that, because to a writer, that character is real, and they are causing them pain, usually a pain the author themselves has probably experienced in one way or another. But even then, the actual story is coming from the heart.

When you read a story, you can get to know a person. If they are a strong Christian, their faith shines through the pages, speaking of the love, grace, sacrifice, and justice of God. A scene which was written by the writer during a depressing period of time in their life tends to be overly gloomy, full of doom, maybe even despair. Sometimes either can be forced, but usually, I find with myself anyway, that my mood dictates the tone of the writing: if I’m happy, the writing tends to be so, and if I’m angry, sad, or depressed, likewise.

Writers, we must be careful as we listen to the stories that come from our hearts. We must look at them carefully in our minds, and we must only with the greatest care give them into the hands of a reader.

The Pen

So… What do you use as your pen? And I don’t mean that in a literal way. Most likely, if you were to take that literally, that answer would be, just that, a pen, or perhaps your computer.

What I mean, however, is what is your source. What makes your pen, mightier than the sword.

Is it just because it’s you? I should hope not.

Where does your inspiration come from! That is the source of your pen. Consider this: if you dwell on things that are low, things that are dystopian and the like, then what flows from your ‘pen’ will be likewise.

That isn’t always the case, but many times it is.

As Christians, we should be dwelling on the things of God, and that should show in our writing. Our themes should shine through: hope, love, sacrifice. They should all point to our Savior.

So.. I ask again. What do you use as your pen? The things of the world? Or the things of God?

I know of myself that it is very easy to slip into the things of the world, to see the many sad things happening, and take that as my theme: death, decay, hopelessness.

Writers can change the world. Writers do change the world. Between books, magazines, and movies, writers literally affect almost all aspects of life in some way or another. We can make a difference, and since we can, we must know what makes each stroke of our pen; what makes us pick up the pen and jot those words that will hold someone spellbound as they read. What will the affect be? Hopelessness, or a comforting Hope? That here is no love in the world, or that there is a kind of love that would die for them?

~Daniel

Why write?

Why write? It’s a good question, and there are a lot of answers to it!

I believe that everyone should at least try to write one story, one book, one idea. The main reason?
Books have always been influential. Music, along with television, have come up in the last century or so and become prominent,  but books still affect how many people think. I know, because I’m definitely one of them.

And, as Christians, we have another reason why we should write, along the same lines.
We many, do you think, would just pick up a Bible and read it, for the sake of reading? Not many.
But a novel, now that is a different story! (no pun intended)
I mean, “its just a novel, this isn’t some religious  book. Just a story.” That might be the only chance they’ll have to hear.
Wouldn’t you be blessed to know that it was your tale of adventure that showed them the start of the path?

Well… that is my view.

God bless you all!
~Daniel