A Writer’s Guide… to Sword Fighting by Morgan Morrow

Fellow fantasy writers, you won’t want to miss this fabulous article on sword fighting from the perspective of someone who actually does it.


A love of Swords

I’ve always loved stories featuring heroes wielding swords. That love eventually resulted in my finding and joining a dojo that teaches a school of kenjutsu dating back to the warring states period in Japan.

My years of practice have given me an insight into sword fighting that I think is fairly uncommon in this day and age. My experience is limited to the katana, but I feel like much of it could apply to other swords and other fighting styles as well.

Using a sword

Firstly, swords are generally expensive weapons and they are not indestructible. Trying to cut through someone’s sword is unrealistic, but hitting it broadside and shattering the blade is not.

Throwing a sword would be a last resort only for the most desperate of situations, because not only would you lose your weapon the blade may well shatter or bend upon impact.

The blade is not the only part of a sword that can be used to attack. The hilt can be used for offense; to hit the enemy in the face, solar plexus, or groin. It can also be used to defend against an attack that is coming too quickly to get the blade in front of.

For added realism, it’s important to remember that most swords, if not secured in the sheath, can slide out when the wearer leans forward.

Keeping one hand on the hilt and sheath to secure the blade is oftentimes necessary. It is not unheard of for someone to lean forward, have their sword begin to slide out, and then grasp the blade to stop it. This is not a good idea and will usually result in stitches…

Keep reading A Writer’s Guide… to Sword Fighting

Originally found on Chris the Story Reading Ape’s blog. (Thanks for always posting interesting stuff!)

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#AuthorToolbox Needing a Win, by Adam at Write Thoughts

This post was inspired by Why You Shouldn’t ‘Go All In’ When Starting a New Project(https://megdowell.com/2018/08/14/why-you-shouldnt-go-all-in-when-starting-a-new-writing-project/)

Recently I had a conversation with someone, and in the midst of that conversation, I realized how in recent times I’ve frequently said the phrase “I need a win,” and how true that is for me.

The more effort I put into something, the more invested I become, the more I want to receive a return, some form of validation, proving that I was right to invest. Granted, not everything works out, but there is a way in which, just as we need a certain amount of resources to sustain ourselves physically, we need a certain amount of mental/emotional support in the form of success.

This past summer I attended a talk where someone discussed how many recreational activities (notably video games), are built around guiding audiences towards a success, while simultaneously convincing the audience that failure was a very real possibility (when the reality is the experience was designed to end with a successful outcome).

At the time the speaker was extolling the virtue of experiences that actually allow audiences to fail (i.e. escape puzzle rooms), and while I agree with what he said, I think it’s also important to recognize that we need a certain amount of success in our lives, and writing can be a very long road, with many setbacks, before we can achieve that long sought-after outcome.

Click to read the rest of this great post.

Writing As a Waking Dream

I very much identified with this post as the way I write–and how feel about interruptions! A very interesting take from Adam at Write Thoughts.


Writing as a Waking Dream #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

How many here have struggled to “return to their story”? You sit at your table, pen in hand or fingers on the keyboard, but you’re not “ready” to write yet. You don’t “feel” the characters, or their world.

So you review what you’ve written; you do some random low pressure writing exercise, or maybe you just start “babbling” into your medium, and slowly, you feel yourself “returning to that world”. You can “feel” the characters, and “see” their world. Then something snaps you back. Someone has opened the door, walked into the room, and asked you a question, and just like that you’re “awake”. And part of you realizes there’s no quick route back to that “other place”…

Continue reading: https://writet.blog/2018/06/19/writing-as-a-waking-dream-authortoolboxbloghop/

 

How to Pick a Character’s Name

Andrea Lundgren

This is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog-hop, designed to help encourage authors and foster discussions about writing topics across the internet and the world. This month’s question is “What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names

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For me, it’s definitely coming up with a book title. Because I’m primarily writing a series, I want the titles to all work together, to where they sound like they’re part of a “family” of books. And then, I want them to be memorable, to not be something already used by another writer (at least, not on the blockbuster level). I don’t want to be one of 5 or 10 authors who wrote a book by the same name if possible.

By comparison, coming up with names is simple. I usually start with a feel for who the character is, what sort of person…

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What Makes Effective Christian Fiction…And What Doesn’t?

In this article, Lee Duigon discusses what makes effective Christian-based fiction by way of a book review of the Chronicles of the Nephilium by Brian Godawa. Even if you don’t know the book, this is a very well-written article worth taking a look at–particularly if you read and/or write Christian fiction. It was published in Chalcedon’s online magazine. You can find out more about Lee Duigon and check out his book series, Bell Mountain, through his personal website and blog.


A Review of Chronicles of the Nephilim by Brian Godawa by Lee Duigon

Who doesn’t want to know more about those “giants in the earth”—Nephilim in Hebrew?

I couldn’t wait to read these books. Biblical mysteries elucidated! The bare-bones narrative of Genesis fleshed out! What really happened in that age before the Flood? It’s quite a draw.

And what a disappointment, when I finally read them.

But first I read the appendices attached to each book. These were fascinating, compelling. Delving deeply into Biblical and extra-Biblical scholarship, Godawa relocates Genesis into its original historical and cultural context, that of the Ancient Near East: Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaanites, and how ancient Israel itself was influenced by these neighboring civilizations.

This led him to make an intriguing argument that there are other spiritual beings, angels, some good and some evil, some subordinate to God, Yahweh Elohim, but others in rebellion against Him; and that these rebel entities came down to earth and set themselves up as false gods, worshiped by the heathen nations; that these beings sought to control human history; and that they interbred with mortal women, producing a race of giants and assorted abominations.

He supports his argument with both Scripture and other ancient sources, such as the non-canonical Book of Enoch, Jewish tradition, and non-Jewish mythology. I have not the scholarship to debate his conclusions.

But whatever the value of the scholarship behind them, I cannot endorse these novels.

A Movie in Your Mind

Godawa is a Hollywood screenwriter by profession. His work is in the movies, he thinks in terms of movies, and he writes his novels hoping that his readers will experience them as a kind of movie in the mind.

What he does is string one movie cliché after another. He’s got them all: wise-cracking heroes getting off zingers as they march into mortal danger, like any pair of cops in a buddy movie; beautiful young women who are really good at martial arts; rapid shifts from one scene to another, action-movie style; sneering villains who are only one short step removed from snarling “Curses, foiled again!” My impression was of a comic book without pictures. Godawa prefers to think of his novels as movies without film. Maybe it would be fair to liken them to movies based on comic books.

And of course, as in any movie pitched to eleven-year-olds, these novels feature endless slangy, smart-alecky dialogue. What is the point of having characters that are supposed to be immortal spiritual beings, or great heroes of the Bible, if they’re just going to talk like a twenty-first century screenwriter thinks teenagers talk?

Really—it just seems wrong for archangels to say things like “We saved your rear ends.”

Literary Offenses

Two more literary offenses must be noted here.

These books present a bad case of “adjectivitis”—way too many adjectives burden the text, most of them unnecessary. There is no need for the author to editorialize about his villains. What they say and do establishes them as the bad guys. There is no need to label them, repeatedly, as “diabolical” or “sadistic.” Not when they’re always shown doing diabolical or sadistic things.

Worse, Godawa puts into the mouths of rebel angels, immortal beings living centuries before the Flood, actual quotations from present-day leaders of the Democratic Party. To list just a few examples, with their original speakers:

“Hope and change” (Barack Obama)

“Fundamental transformation” (Obama)

“I feel your pain” (Bill Clinton)

“It depends on what ‘is’ is” (Bill Clinton)

“You didn’t build that” (Obama quoting Elizabeth Warren)

In addition to verbatim quotations from the twenty-first century, Godawa’s wicked spiritual entities also spout modern catch-phrases of feminism, “gay rights,” “animal rights,” and accuse God of such modern trespasses as colonialism, imperialism, sexism, and being “macho.” As a reader I found this very hard to bear.

Godawa says (in an email to me: I thank him for taking the time for it) that he has done this to demonstrate that wickedness, tyranny, and flimflam have always been with us, they originate from spiritual wickedness, and they haven’t changed. To use current political leaders’ quotes, he says, is to demonstrate that the same sins that afflict us today afflicted us before the Flood.

Fair enough. You can make that argument. But maybe Godawa doubts the readers’ ability to come to the desired conclusion unless he makes things thunderingly obvious.

Elsewhere he himself has written, “Christian movies, though well-intentioned and sincere, often suffer from heavy-handedness in their desire to convert the unbeliever through art.” And he adds, “Which is more to be avoided: a pagan movie that rings true, or ‘Christian’ propaganda that rings false?”1

Physician, heal thyself.

Why Does It Matter?

I’ve taken time to discuss these literary faults because I think it’s important.

Why?…..

Continue reading: https://chalcedon.edu/magazine/a-review-of-chronicles-of-the-nephilim-by-brian-godawa

 

Character Actions: Should There Be a Reason Why? by Andrea Lundgren

Characters do all kinds of things in fiction. Their actions make up the stories we write, and if they did nothing…it’d be pretty boring.

But how much motivation should there be in what they do? Do you, as the author, need to always know why they’re doing it, or can they just “do something for doing it”?

Let’s take a look at a scene and see how it works.

She walked over to the glass. On the other side was a habitat, all sand and rocks with only a few scaly plants, the surface of their stems mirroring that of the creature who should’ve been inside.

Slowly, she touched the glass. Her hand stayed there for a long moment, not moving, in firm but gentle contact against the clear silica-based partition until it slowly began to warm to her touch.

Then she backed away.

Now, we, as readers, don’t need to know why she touched the glass at this point in the story. It can be something we’re left to speculate about, wondering if she misses the creature or if she is trying to see whether, perhaps, it’s still hiding somewhere in there. Or we could later learn that she touches the glass out of solidarity with the creature, feeling like her own life is encased in glass and she longs to break free, to escape like the lizard or snake did.

Keep reading via Character Actions: Should There Be a Reason Why?

4 Ways to Make a Scene Matter by Andrea Lundgren

In writing, we’re told to “kill our darlings” and get rid of the bits of writing we love if they don’t serve the story.

But what if we could take those little scenes and transform them into something useful, incorporating the elements that are near and dear to our heart with the plot?

It won’t always work–some writing is just too self-conscious, too pretentious, and too wordy to survive the editing process–but you have some options of what to do with those scenes besides sending them to the chopping block…

Continue reading on Andrea’s blog: 4 Ways to Make a Scene Matter