Sunday, September 30, 2012

Your VILLAIN is Someone's HERO

Photo credit: Flickr

Yeah, and why not?

They all seem to be fighting for a cause.
Here’s a striking example from personal experience:

From a different P.O.V, Thomas Harris’ famous character, Hannibal Lecter would have been a formidable villain.

I had the misfortune, or whatever you might call it of reading ‘Hannibal’ first before any of the other books in the series. I ended up disappointed when Dr. Hannibal was not caught or gutted (not necessarily in that order) at the end of the story.

I was rooting for Clarice Starling and completely ignorant the whole time of the fact that Dr. Hannibal was the main character of the book while Agent Starling was tagging along for the ride! Imagine the surprise when Hannibal annihilated everything in his path and successfully kidnapped the FBI agent (Starling) assigned to his case.

The most fearful villains are the ones amped up with a reason for their actions. Morality issues are added boosts for these ‘bad guys’. Most of them believe their actions are for the good of humanity.

When you arm a villain with feelings and concrete emotions and throw in a bit of history in the mix, the reader either despairs for the hero of the story or falls in love with the bad guy(s)’.

Villains do not understand why people hate or fear them. Many are driven beyond the lip of sanity because of the way people react(ed) toward them. You might need to remember this when you create villains for your story.

Making your villain(s) formidable and lovable involves giving them:
1. A history
2. A cause to live or die for
3. Concrete emotions–may involve making them fall in love, probably with somebody who doesn’t know who they really are. (This makes your reader see them as humans and as people going through rough times.)

Of course, your heroes do not always have human or superhuman enemies but when they do have ‘em remember your villain is the next guy’s hero.

Love them or lose your readers!

Keep your pen bleeding!

Akpan


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Thursday, September 27, 2012

How to Make your Story Compelling

If anything’s 100% guaranteed to put the kick in your story, it’s your fictional people–your characters.

Story is important, yes. But somebody once said, Plot is character. I believe him/her. And you will as well once you see what this post has to offer.

Your story is bound to move your readers if it’s populated with compelling characters

Will Smith and son in Pursuit of Happyness
Photo credit: Flickr
Readers want characters they can identify with.

The protagonist of your story does not necessarily have to be superhuman. They don’t even have to fit into the prototype Rambo-style hero niche. The single ingredient which shoves a reader beyond the edge of reality and sends them scrambling into your fictional world (and if I may add, with great pleasure) is how much you make your characters partakers in the fellowship of your reader’s sufferings.

Compelling characters are often than not, ordinary people going through the motions, having the blues. And especially, characters who attain the goal of their dreams when they come through. That goal could be anything from something as other-worldly as superpowers to one as ordinary as a job. (I’m thinking of Will Smith in the Pursuit of Happyness, here.)

What are the things that strike you about your favorite stories? Who are your favorite characters? There might be a story there.

Plot is what your characters do. The bottom line is who your characters are and what your characters do should be interesting or you end up with a blunt tale in your hands.

Without compelling characters, there can be no compelling story.

Let your pen bleed!

Akpan



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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gettin' Up Stayed On My Mind

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Each time the wind blows, I hear the voices of you ripping the silence of the seas;
Preaching a specie of submission which achieves the victory of hope. And
Gettin' up stayed on my mind.

I open up my eyes seized by a million stares of reality;
I visualize pathogens of impossibility breeding in my vital breathing space,
Invading the air I exhale.
Arsenal of low self-esteem got my faculty beleaguered,
Intent on crippling the makings of me. And
Gettin' up stayed on my mind.

I battled inspired lions three times my size
In a depth of willful exile
And my course dug deep into the belly of the beast and of course,
Gettin’ up stayed on my mind.

It's the trials of Bro. Jero
And I am the tragic hero.
Nobody knows my struggles; my state of mind is no longer at ease.
It seems the last of my dying strength fizzled away on the resurrection morning. Still
Gettin’ up stayed on my mind.

Since I came to be in this position, I could sketch you hate diagrams eye-witnessed on the streets;
Tales of men who by convention oughta stand but fell to their knees to beg bread that's stone.
I could begin by picking pieces of shattered dreams, ghetto dreams and hopes
Sunk in the depths of Acheron never to be retrieved.
Here I stand, washed ashore-survivor of a faith shipwrecked,
Stealing a vision of better days on strange shores ' cause
Gettin’ up stayed on my mind!

My story is the apocalypse painted on battered canvas.
The ink is the sorrow mingled tears of an orphaned longing.
But history will remember me ‘cause as a child
Gettin’ up stayed on my mind.

I got an ace up my sleeve ‘cause I have a dream.
And even though it seems I lost the silver platter,
I'll let no sleep to my eyes nor waste a sweat on my brow
Till my destiny comes thro.
Not even if I have to carry a mountain on my shoulders
While swimming an ocean. And when my days on earth
Is done known to all will be this startling truth:
Gettin’ up stayed on my mind.

Akpan


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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Personal Convictions to Personal Victories

Photo credit: the-editing-room.com
In adversity, there is a sharpening of human character and there is focused strength.
            You can transform grains of a minus into a pyramid of payoffs if you possess the right measure of the right kind of attitude.

The reason (the primary reason, if you please) a lot of folks fall at the feet of defeat at the slightest instance of agitation owes in part to a lack of skill to seize the heat of the moment and erupt! I read some place that,

Skill is experience brought to bear on the present.’

The struggles you go through can be subdued and quicker the minute you see them as challenges. The rut in which you’re stuck might be an element of ignorance on your part.
            You need to settle the score in your mind, deep in the pits your very soul; you are a unique individual. It’s something to treasure. You have to annihilate the course of ignorance because you have a right to know.

Enemies of your soul strike at the root of your ignorance. Therefore, you must show yourself a veritable fighter. Truth is nobody is willing to back down, not obstacles and I hope to God, not you either. Go to war like a versed warrior. Step in a room and declare, “This house is going down!”

One perplexing habit of many a people is they cling on to popular opinion. You wonder, is anything wrong with that? No, I don’t see nothing wrong about that. Not unless you try to plug a gig which works for everybody into a personal situation. Running around with that sort of mindset certifies you can only win when everybody endorses your triumph.

            Without personal convictions, there can be no personal victories.

What do you do when you’re standing face to face with a taunting weakness? Let it know you’ve come too far to be daunted. There are no set rules to battling your demons. On another level, there is one thing we all need, Courage!
            Without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. Maya Angelou

No enemy ever pays you a visit and leaves you in the same condition except of course, you were a wretch before the visit. The greatest enemy lives within and its greatest power is self-doubt. You have to learn to live with the fact you are all you got. And you are more than enough!

It’s that time to stretch beyond all you could ever give and keep coming back every time you fall over. There’s a blessing for every sacrifice.

It is never enough before your last breath. And for your sakes, quit waiting on miracles to conquer the enemy within. The miracle is right here:
            You!

Let your adrenaline rush.

Akpan

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Explosive First Lines of 30 Great Books


The Poet is a novel written by Michael Connelly. He had Stephen King do the introduction to the book for him. In said introduction, there’s a place where Stephen King wrote:

            “I’m a sucker for good first lines, collect them in a little notebook the way some people collect stamps or coins…”

And that got me thinking waoh!… I can do that, too. On a serious level, I’ve bought more than one novel simply on the basis of a good first line. They seem to act as starters, like King stated above, pulling the reader into the story while they are barely aware that they’ve been sucked through reality’s fabric into the world of make-believe!

I collected the following first lines from books off my study bookshelf. I did not arrange these in any particular format. I only picked the closest book and pumped the content into my Word Document.
Have fun!



“The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years–if it ever did end–began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper…”
Stephen King,
It

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the spaces between the notes and curl my back to loneliness…”

“You would think that such a day would tremble to begin…”

“He seemed incapable of creating such chaos, but much of what he saw below could be blamed on him…”

“When I finally slither out mewling, I’ve already given Mama hard labor, because she’s been cussing and screaming seventeen hours. Then there’s a calm until she sees me. Then she starts howling worse…”
Christopher Wilson
Cotton

“I hadn’t planned on going anywhere…”
Terry McMillan
How Stella Got Her Groove Back

“A few minutes past one o’clock in the morning, a hard rain fell without warning…”
Dean Koontz
The Taking

“Not twenty minutes has passed since you left me here in the cafĂ©, since I said No to your request, that I would never write out for you the story of my mortal life, how I became a vampire…”
Anne Rice
Pandora

“In the darkness, he touched her arm and said, ‘Stay here…’”
Michael Crichton
State of Fear

“They moved swiftly, silently, with purpose, under a crystalline, star-filled night in western Siberia…”
Tom Clancy,
Red Storm Rising

“The music was as much a gift as sunshine, as rain, as any blessing ever prayed for…”
Bebe Moore Campbell,
Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine

“The first day of school was even worse than he’d thought it would be. Part of it was the weather. It was one of those perfect days when any normal ten-year-old boy would rather be outside…            But Josh MacCallum wasn’t a normal ten-year-old, and it didn’t seem as though anyone was ever going to let him forget it…”
John Saul,
Shadows

“I knew it would begin with the end, and the end would look like death to these eyes. I had been warned…”
Stephenie Meyer,
The Host

“It was hope undid them. Hope, and the certainty that Providence had made them suffer enough for their dreams…”
Clive Barker,
Everville

“Thankfully, Longview's streets weren't stacked with cars and bodies.  Kendra drove past the industrial districts, those smoke stacks that no longer belched white, the waterway now clogged with logs that, in saner days, would have gone to the Weyerhauser mill to build houses and make cardboard boxes.  Nothing moved…”
Steven Barnes & Tananarive Due,
Devil’s Wake

“There are people who like change. There are even a few who thrive on it. That’s not me…”
J. A. Jance,
Breach of Duty

“I’m dead.            You want to talk about my family and here I been dead to them for fifty years…”
James McBride,
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother


“Death is my beat. I make my living from it…”
Michael Connelly,
The Poet

“Early in the spring of 1750, in the village of Juffure, four days up river from the coast of The Gambia, West Africa, a manchild was born to Omoro and Binta Kinte…”
Alex Haley,
Roots

“Girl, take a look at the brother who just walked in…”
Brenda Jackson,
Whispered Promises

“My redemption began in hell…”
James Herbert,
Others

“Stupid me–I fell right into the old pattern and spent a week pretending I was a moving target. All along, a part of me knew that I was hitching toward southern Illinois because my mother was passing. When your mother’s checking out, you get yourself back home…”
Peter Straub,
Mr. X

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me…”
Daphne du Maurier,
Rebecca

“No one can deny that Chief the Honorable M. A. Nanga, MP., was the most approachable politician in the country… I have to admit this from the outset or else the story I’m going to tell will make no sense…”
Chinua Achebe,
A Man of the People

“When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow…”
Harper Lee,
To Kill A Mocking Bird

“Brrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinng!            An alarm clock clanged in the dark and silent room…”
Richard Wright,
Native Son

“When my mother was pregnant with me, she told me later, a party of hooded Ku Klux Klan riders galloped up to our home in Omaha, Nebraska, one night. Surrounding the house, brandishing their shotguns and rifles, they shouted for my father to come out…”
As told to Alex Haley,
The Autobiography of Malcolm X

“I was sitting at my desk doing my nails when the door opened and the spy sneaked in…”
Elizabeth Peters,
Street of the Five Moons

“That smashed elbow was still in a crooked cast after a month of repeated surgery…”
Herman Wouk,
The Hope

“Robert Langdon awoke slowly…”
Dan Brown,
The Da Vinci Code


Bonus
“On a very hot day in August of 1994, my wife told me she was going down to Derry Rite Aid… The next time I saw her, she was on TV. That’s how you identify the dead here in Derry…”
Stephen King,
Bag of Bones


I sincerely hope you were inspired to make a grab for one of these stunning reads!
Read with passion!

Akpan


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