You probably had a favorite legend as a child. The heroes and heroines of legends blend seamlessly with the supernatural, a jump made easily by the very young. Legends vary in structure, but most often the hero is called to adventure but resists until a supernatural power visits him and shows him why he must go. The hero ventures forth, fighting one battle after another until he wins his quest. He returns home a master of himself and the supernatural. He uses his power to help others.
Legends live on because we relate to the archetypical traits of their heroes. You’re drawn to a particular hero because the virtues you admire in him lie within you. This forms a powerful energy between you and a mythic character. Should you decide to create a character based on that hero, you’ll feel that heroic part of yourself stirring and inspiring your creative mind. Your protagonist doesn’t have to be a super hero. He or she might be a single mother juggling work with raising kids or an erudite detective being constantly outwitted by the criminal he chases. Attribute your protagonist with some of the hero’s strengths and some of his weaknesses; they all have those. Invent your character’s call to adventure, aka the inciting incident.
Unless you’re a fantasy or sci-fi writer, the visit by the supernatural does not have to literally be a supernatural entity. The supernatural is the heroic virtue within your protagonist. This could be awakened by a remark made by a close friend or a passing stranger, by a passage in a book or a lyric in a song. These words land on the protagonist’s inner hero with the precision of a dart on a bull’s eye, and the resonance of the message lingers on until he can no longer ignore his call to adventure. Once your protagonist ventures forth, he will undoubtedly become fatigued and disheartened by the many hurdles he has to jump to win his quest. This is when his heroic virtue arises in full glory and guides him to the end. Once home, the protagonist views his previous problems through the prism of his heroic self.
I write by this quote: ‘Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.’ –Rumi
A major character in my new novel Written in Ruberah: Age of Jeweled Intelligence is from an old Cornish legend about Tamara and the giant brothers Tavy and Tawridge. In my next blog I’ll share how I got inside Tamara’s head and where her legend took me.
“Greenaway juggles the many strands of her lushly descriptive book with ease, managing to bring all these characters, from all their separate time periods, together in a rousing climax that invests just as much energy in high fantasy as modern romance, with winning results. The richly imagined story of a modern woman bearing ancient responsibilities.” —Kirkus Reviews
New York real estate broker Miriam Lewis takes off for a brief getaway to a remote inn on the rugged cliffs of Cornwall. Rest and romance with her boyfriend seem like the perfect cure for a life that appears to be going nowhere, and too fast.
Entering Cornwall, Miriam crosses the River Tamar and glimpses a luminous girl floating in the river. A memory from long, long ago begins to unfold in Miriam’s thoughts—something about a promise she made to perform a selfless act of courage. Could it be true? Could she ever rise to such heroism or is it just a hallucination?
While at the inn, Miriam experiences a series of flashbacks from a life she lived in an ancient land called Ruberah. These startling images convince Miriam that she did write the promise and that she must keep it. But to do so, Miriam will have to let go of everything in her life and place her trust in a guide—the river girl—the wise and eternal spirit of the River Tamar.
“The richly imagined story of a modern woman bearing ancient responsibilities.”–Kirkus Reviews
I did it!
I love this quote by Cynthia Heimel, playwrite, TV writer, and author of satirical books.
When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.
I’ve got skid marks on my butt from leaping around the world into different careers and into love, (anyone butt-skid-free from love, please comment.) Leaping into one recovery after another. Repeating old patterns. Leaping higher and higher. Catching the updraft of that something greater than me. Hanging on. Learning of wisdom, kindness, and the joy of just being. Landing on my feet! Writing.
Write. Leap. Skid. Get up. Write. You’ve got something to say.
THE REISSUE OF DREAM CHASER: AWAKENING
AVAILABLE NOW FOR $1.99
The book blurb calls for detaching yourself from the story and looking at it from a sales point of view. Think about something you enjoy buying, like a pair of shoes. Designer names might intrigue you, as marketing experts link them to images of feeling glamorous, sexy, elegant, or kick-ass-combative. You’re in the mood for a certain type of shoe, but you’re not interested in how they were made and shipped to the store.
Readers are in a mood when they surf the web for a book. The new cover for my republished first novel Dream Chaser:Awakening shows a picture of lovers fading into the stars. This smacks of romance. The title above the back cover reads: “SLEEPING WITH THE CLIENT HAPPENS: A Story of Reckless Passion and Enduring Love.” The blurb itself hints at how that happens.
When I first published Dream Chaser the blurb revealed too much of the story. By the time you’d read it you had little need to buy the book!
If you scour the blurbs of best selling authors, you’ll notice much of the copy is about the writer’s style and previous successes. The author’s name sells the book. When self-publishing a first book it’s hard to acquire an illustrious third party quote. The cover art and the blurb must attract your target reader.
I’ve by no means conquered the art of blurb writing, but I hope my take on it is helpful to you.
Coming next: Mistakes I did not make self-publishing my first novel.
Dream Chaser:Awakening is a paranormal romance. While on holiday in Hawaii, the main characters look through a telescope and gaze into the Milky Way. The gaseous lights of the galaxy shine back at them from millions of years in the past illuminating the eternal nature of love. As I wrote that scene that same brilliance seemed to touch my soul and shed light on my journey through time. Ah, what a lovely experience, I thought. I want everyone to have that. Hence, I chose a photo of the Milky Way for my book cover.
I offer myself as a prime example of why authors should probably not develop their own book covers. We are too close to the story. It takes a subjective eye to create a visual expression of the novel. I’ve learned that readers invest about four seconds, at most, glancing at a book before moving on to the next one. After I published Dream Chaser and as time passed, I got a nagging feeling that I was alone in my esoteric, book-cover wonderland.
In my defense, prior to taking things into my own hands, I signed up for a cover art package with my publisher. That didn’t work for me, but it does for many authors and with excellent results. A Google search reveals a wealth of information about design and designers. The more you research those the more you will know when you’re ready to enter this process.
The redesign of Dream Chaser’s cover still features the beautiful photograph of the Milky Way, but with a picture of lovers fading into the stars. With a glance, you know Dream Chaser: Awakening is a love story. You probably guessed I wouldn’t give up this photo of the galaxy. You never know, I might have been right in the first place!
Coming next: mistake—#4. The back cover blurb.
I chose the title Dream Chaser and added a long subtitle: A Novel that Reaches Beyond the Veil of Time.
The title suits my novel. The main character is a goal-oriented woman—a high-speed dream chaser, but if had I Googled Dream Chaser, I would have discovered that several successful writers had already used it. Unless you entered the whole of my title, which only my mother might do, you’d have a hard time finding my book.
Huge mistake, but self-publishing comes loaded with opportunities for those. As independent authors we work alone, buried in our stories, sometimes for years. We hire our own editors, copy editors, proofreaders, etc. We scour the Internet for publishers, reading testimonies of authors who’ve risen to best-seller status. We select a publisher and a package, rich with distribution and marketing promises. We meet online publishing—an apocalyptic switch from creative writing to hardcore, left-brain decision-making.
My title went unchecked in the sharp gearshift between writing and publishing. By the time I realized the problem, I had spent time and effort to market the novel. I had too much invested in the name Dream Chaser to change it completely, but I knew I would improve the subtitle one day.
In mid January 2014 I will republished the book as Dream Chaser:Awakening. Also correcting other mistakes I’m currently blogging about.
Advice, if I dare! Take a long pause before pushing the PUBLISH button. No matter what mistakes you make in publishing, love yourself for having written a book and for offering to share it with others. Thank your story for coming to you. Gratitude opens the doors of creation.
Helpful title blog: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/write-first-chapter-get-started/7-tips-to-nail-the-perfect-title
Coming next: mistake#3—book cover.