Some Thoughts on Turning Your Supposed Weakness in Assists

24th Nov 1


From reading the many interesting posts and comments I was relieved to find that many folk have misgivings about their styles, motivations approaches etc It would seem, therefore, we all have our judged that these are weakness, and woe- thrice-woe that we shall never, ever be good writers, we shall be less than the dust beneath the chariot wheels of far more talented folk.

Well that’s one point of view.

However, consider this: (Just using the Fantasy writer’s world as analogy). Iron is strong and makes blades and axes, and if you are set on making a point, ugly crown and thrones, but is no good as a currency because it is common and also tough to knock into a titchy delicate detailed shapes. Gold is rare and soft and is cool for making coins to bribe folk and hire mercenaries with. It is also handy for neat crowns and to craft into fine gifts for fine ladies, but if you have a sword made out of it, and in consequence strike your foe’s helm then you’ll end up with a helm shaped sword; you are also on the business end of an iron sword and out of the story-end of chapter-scoot.

From the above illustration it can be noted that two elements have different advantages if put to proper use. So let us consider these ‘weaknesses’ and see if it’s not just a case of putting resources in the wrong places.

As explained previously I have a problem with villains; I don’t like them, personally don’t like them, pathologically (in a mild way) don’t like them. In my previous books they were clowns, buffoons and incompetents set up for a fall. One guy (evil magician) always got his spells wrong; he was assailed by two major characters who in a shared frantic fit for possession of a secret device tore off his trousers; later on it is recorded he was arrested by the local lord for the local crime of Not Wearing Trousers Sufficient Unto Your Status. That might sound (faintly) amusing in small doses but on reflection the recurring theme of demeaning villains in three 100,000 word novels would wear a bit thin. (I seem to recall there were three instances of trousers being lost in embarrassing circumstances). Thus the problem is- if villains (and their henchstaff) are an issue then how can this be turned to an advantage?

Consider history and warfare for example. Take the 18th Century wars of Succession, arcane arguments by the big powers over who they wanted to be ruler of another country. On the face of it there were no actual villains; no Hitlers or Nazis. Yet there were dreadful acts carried out. One of our British heroes Duke of Marlborough, victor of such battles as Blenheim and Ramillies also conducted ‘The Rape of Bavaria’ a deliberate ravaging of that land to force the Franco-Bavarian alliance to battle- today it would be a war crime, which illustrates the theme that in war dreadful acts are carried out as simple policy. I therefore used this basis for my current project, no one grouping is actually evil and villainous, they are simply driven by the urge to see their plans fulfilled. I channel my incapacity to portray deliberate evil into highlighting a more pressing question, what are we prepared to do to achieve our ends? (Incidentally, there are some nasty folk in the project but these are more the opportunists and survivors at the bottom end of the ladder, the ones you can have a bit of grudging understanding for).

The other issue I have is being possessed of a tendency to a bizarre or downright juvenile imagining of historical events (when alone my audio book time is punctuated by mutterings of ‘urk’ when a king or noble dies; anything to do with Edward The Confessor is plagued by me whispering ‘I confess’ or ‘It wuz my fault’…and not helped by frequent reading of the classic British work ‘1066 and All That’)…..(This tendency dries up the closer events reach the present; distance the anaesthetic )

This quirk was let to run riot in previous work, and might have seemed tremendous fun at the time, but again in another bout of reflection might be wearing to readers who are thirsting for a plot to surface amongst all those disorderly goings on. But what to do with that streak?

From sundered personal experiences and reading of many witnesses’ accounts of war humour is a part of human reaction and behaviour; the release of tension, the way to process the horror of the situation. Under stress we make jokes which might appear inopportune, but only as our way of handling something threatening to overwhelm us.  I use this in the current project; most of the narrative is conducted from the point of view of the folk caught up in events; the principal movers and manipulators are shadowy figures with minimal input in terms of dialogue. The main characters therefore have a feeling of lack of control, and so that theme of humour as dealing with events comes in. Add to that The Clash of Personalities. What happens when personalities clash?…..Insults!!….And what do we encounter sometimes with insults….humour. Therefore I will weave humour into the story in all forms, of course keeping it under control will be important- nothing worth doing is ever easy; where’s the fun in that?

The suggestion is for you to exam the aspects which you feel are weaknesses and consider them in a broader scope. Think of them as facets of the way you write and develop your stories, consider ways in which they can be put to other uses. Just a couple of notions:

I create too many charactersSuggested way to look at that– Our experiences in life involve interactions with many people, are you picking up on that? If so maybe if you write them all down you can return and see which ones you prefer to use and have others as ‘extras’ on the ‘lot’

Truth Be Known I Can’t Do Plots Suggested way to look at that- Maybe your strength lies in dialogue and the observational. Perhaps you have strong empathetic side to your nature. I understand there are novels which are narratives alone that equally demonstrate Life. There are books of short stories dealing with encounters, incidents and their conclusions. Go with your writing inclinations and see where they lead you.

You are a writer; you are possessed of this gift and its drive. Of all the wonderful facets which accompany those twin jewels. I humbly suggest, sit yourself down with pen and paper and your brew of choice (no my love, I did not put more than three spoonfuls of sugar in my tea….ok I confess they were heaped spoonfuls) list your perceived weaknesses, then ponder on the nature of those, are they weaknesses, or are you simply trying to covert iron into currency and gold into swords?


7 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Turning Your Supposed Weakness in Assists

  1. There is some great advice in there. I’m partial to your take on villains. I try not to have them. “Evil” characters need to be few and far between. Most antagonists are only the enemy because they are working towards a goal antithetical to the antagonist. When I find a villain getting too cardboard I’ll rewrite a chapter from their POV and that can do wonders in making them more human.

    Liked by 2 people

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