Tag: novel writing

Fallen Friday: The World of Smoke and Magic

Fallen Friday: The World of Smoke and Magic

With the upcoming release of my novel, Fallen, I am going to start writing blogs about the setting, the characters and more things about me as an author and a person than just my usual fare of writing advice. That’s not going away, of course. This is still my editing blog. But I am expanding.

Okay, so, on to brass tacks.

Fallen is an urban fantasy in a world that was inspired by a combination of re-reading the Dresden Files and watching the movie Bright. I’ve been a lover of the genre for ages, and after watching Bright a few years ago, my husband and I were spit-balling about the movie and talking about what we’d do if it were our world. Which then turned into us creating some stories in the setting.

Now, I’m going to admit here in front of the whole world that I’ve been doing text-based role-playing since probably the late 1990s. I started on a forum dedicated to the Gargoyles television show (shout-out to my friend, Brynn, who got me into it), and then I continued from there into AOL chats (Rhy’din, Red Dragon Inne) and even ran one myself for a few years (Silence Falls Inne). I met some of my lifelong friends there. I even met my husband through text-based roleplay.

If you don’t know what it is, the long and short of it is you have people taking on the roles of characters and, usually through a chat medium or a forum, telling the stories of their adventures in a cooperative fashion. It’s sort of like Dungeons and Dragons without the dice.

So my husband and I, as is our wont, started building up this world with some amazing characters and stories, and it lived there between us for awhile. I have literal hundreds of logs of it on my computer.

And as we played, and as we developed this world, we started agreeing that writing a novel in the setting would be cool. Now, my husband is also a writer, but he hasn’t done much more than short stories at this point in his life, and has his eyes set on a different story. That’ll be for him to talk about, though.

With it settled that I’d do the writing, I got down to it.

I started writing the novel during the lockdown in 2020. I didn’t have much editing happening that year (or much anything happening that year except all the D&D ever), so it seemed like a good time to do it. As I wrote, of course some of the characters changed from what they were in the roleplay, and through all of this my husband has been my coach, cheerleader, and sounding board. I’m constantly pestering him to read passages where I’ve written his characters to see if I did them justice because, well, I love them. Though the stories I’m writing here are different from what we’ve played out. Even if some do have the same beats.

I started writing the novel during the lockdown in 2020. I didn’t have much editing happening that year (or much anything happening that year except all the D&D ever), so it seemed like a good time to do it.

E. Prybylski

While I’ve written several novels in the past (not including the “novels” I wrote in high school), this one felt different. I had always intended to publish a different series and setting first and have actually rewritten that novel from the ground up about three different times now. But something stopped me. This time, when I put my hands to the keys, the story more or less just fell out of me all at once. It wasn’t as fast as NaNoWriMo–it still took me almost a year to write. But unlike the other books I’ve written in the past, when I read this one, I didn’t feel the urge to strip it to the outline and try again.

In fact, I have the audacity to think it might actually be good.

Part of what kept me going was my writing group, I’ll be honest. I was posting drafts live to them to keep myself accountable, and one person in particular (Elly, you’re a rockstar) kept me going. She’d talk about what I’d written, express excitement or worry. Or ask me when the next chapters were coming out. It kept me going through the hard parts, and when I got to the end, she was so excited for me.

I finished actually writing the first draft sometime in April, I believe. I spent May revising and sent it in to my editor a couple weeks ago. We’re about halfway through the first pass because before sending it to her I ran it through SmartEdit several times long with PerfectIt and had Word 365 read the entire thing aloud to me. While it butchered some of the names in a hysterical manner, it worked well enough for what I needed.

Now, of course, the real work has started.

As I’ve talked to my authors about for years as their editor at Insomnia and the publishing house I started at, I am gearing up to do my pre-release marketing. I’ve got my street team assembled, I have been putting together a list of blogs to submit ARCs to, I’m working on a “press kit” for my book as iWriterly suggested in her brilliant marketing video. In addition, I’m in talks with my amazing friend at Pop Fizzion to make a special bath bomb to as a raffle prize to give away to people when I get closer to release (or during my release party), and I’m going to be looking into commissioning art for some stickers to send out. I don’t have a lot of money for prizes, but I’m working on fun ideas to get people engaged.

It’s honestly surreal to be going through this process for a book that’s mine. In some ways, I feel arm’s length to it because a lot of these motions are familiar and based on advice I’ve been giving to authors on and off since the first release I was part of in 2010. It’s a collection of short stories (I don’t get anything from you buying it at this point, so you can or not if you feel a yen to). It’s published under my maiden name, but that really was me. Same with this book that I published in 2011. I didn’t write all of these stories, but I did edit them, and I do have a story in there. I also have a piece of flash fiction in this collection and another two short stories in this one. (It’s been a long time since I looked at those. Wow.)

I know that’s a whole stack of links, and I apologize.

Despite having been published in multiple short story collections and having had a number of articles in The Mighty get good reviews, finishing a novel somehow feels more real to me. It’s not that I don’t think short stories or articles are valid–I absolutely do–but my heart has always been in long form fiction, so the shorter pieces never quite felt complete to me in the way finishing a novel did.

Well, this has been a long ramble for a first post in this new series, but this is where we are.

What Is POV And Why Does It Matter

What Is POV And Why Does It Matter

I’ve touched on the subject of POV (Point Of View) a few times in the blog here, if you check my backlog. Notably, I brougth it up in context of a discussion on head hopping a little while ago, but I realized I’ve not apparently discussed it at length, and that should change since it’s a thing I’ve noticed is a common and significant struggle for a lot of writers who are just starting out.

In school, we are taught about “person” in terms of language. I, you, he/she/them–first, second, third.

E. Prybylski.

In school, we are taught about “person” in terms of language. I, you, he/she/them–first, second, third. Right? Okay. With that refresher out of the way, let’s take a look at the way these are related to POV. The first thing is, there are (more or less) four types of POV in writing and they mostly coincide with person. You have first person POV, second person POV (used rarely and almost exclusively in chose-your-own-adventure-style stories), third person limited POV, and third person omniscient POV. The last two are the stickiest, so we’ll address them after we handle the first two.

First Person

First person is simple enough. It’s written in (as the name implies) first person. The Dresden Files books are like this. As are To Kill A Mockingbird and Moby Dick. It’s written from the deep and exclusive perspective of the POV character. Typically there is only one POV character in books like this, though there might be two. With it being first person, you aren’t using the characters’ names to differentiate between who is what and where, so it can be more confusing to have multiple POV characters. I’m not telling you you’re not allowed to do it, but definitely have caution.

Writing in first person is pretty easy. It’s all from the “I” perspective, and you don’t really run into the temptation to switch POVs because the narrative style just doesn’t have room for that.

E. Prybylski

Writing in first person is pretty easy. It’s all from the “I” perspective, and you don’t really run into the temptation to switch POVs because the narrative style just doesn’t have room for that. So, for that reason, it can be simpler than the thirds. Though it does require a deep degree of knowledge and intimacy with your character(s), so make sure you’re prepared for that when you get into it.

I like writing in first person because it gives me a deep degree of intimacy with my characters, and it lets me create that intimacy in the reader. Of course, emotional journeys and such are a big part of my writing, so getting as up-close and personal as possible with my characters lets me do that.

Second Person

Second person is, as stated above, used with rarity. Typically it is used in short literary stories, erotica, or choose-your-own-adventure style novels. I don’t advise its use in novel format because it’s also very “telling” and kind of puts the reader into the shoes of the character in a different way. It would be difficult to use effectively for a long work. I’ve never heard of it being done, anyway, and I don’t think it would be effective.

Now into the difficult ones that folks struggle with.

Third Person Limited

This POV is starting to get stickier. Third peron limited (TPL) is much like first person, except you are using different pronouns. With TPL, thoughts are typically written in italics when they’re written like dialogue. (Gee, Edwin thought, this POV stuff is complicated.) If POV is a camera through whose lens we see the world, TPL is perched on top of the POV character’s head (where first person is through their eyes exactly). With third person limited, we know ONLY what the POV character knows and nothing else. At all. Ever.

If POV is a camera through whose lens we see the world, third person limited is perched on top of the POV character’s head.

E. Prybylski.

This is the POV from which the vast majority of modern novels are written. You may have multiple POV characters (whose POV must be separated by a scene or chapter break), but you are in one character’s head at a time, and you cannot know things outside what they see, know, or experience. This means you cannot write a scene between two characters and tell the reader what they’re both thinking. That habit is called head-hopping, and I refer to it in another blog. It’s confusing for readers and likely to cause literary whiplash. While it happens in certain genres (romance most notably), it’s not a good practice to get into.

If you need to be in multiple characters’ heads at once, then that brings us to the last type of POV.

Third Person Omniscient

While it has fallen out of favor in many circles, third person omnisicent (TPO) was a very common POV some time ago (mostly Victorian and a little after). If the camera is perched on top of the POV character’s head in TPL, in TPO it is hovering above the world like watching a battle shot in Lord of the Rings. You can see the bad guys hiding in ambush around the corner if the camera pans that way. You can see all the main characters at once. You’re not really deep in any of them, but you know what they’re thinking.

This style of writing still has a place in the world, and it’s how a number of book series that are widely-beloved are written. The Lord of the Rings books were written in TPO, as was the Harry Potter series (as much as I try to avoid that as an example these days, it’s widly-known and a good example of this POV). You aren’t following any one character too closely, and the story is often about a small group whose thoughts and actions you are always aware of. Ultimately, it’s kind of about narrative distance. With the camera analogy, you’re further away in this POV than you are in TPL.

Third person omniscient tends to have more “tell” than show in some ways. I’m not saying it’s bad by any stretch, but it is different.

E. Prybylski

Now, there are a couple flavors of TPO which further confuses things. There’s the kind where you have an external narrator, as in A Series of Unfortunate Events, where the story is being told as though in an oral tradition by a person who interjects their thoughts, opinions, and views into the narrative. Then you have it where there’s just a great deal of narrative distance. Ultimately, TPO tends to have more “tell” than show in some ways. I’m not saying it’s bad by any stretch, but it is different. If you want your story to be more arm’s length to your characters then it may be a good POV for you.

Can You Mix POVs?

This is where things can get messy. The short answer is…sort of. I’ve read books where there are break-in chapters written as journal entries by the antagnist. Those entries were quite effective, and they really set those bits of the story apart from the others by doing this. However, that’s about the only way I can think that changing POVs from third to first and back would be a good idea.

The place it gets awfully difficult is between TPL and TPO. A lot of writers drift between the two at random without really settling, and that’s an issue. If you write mostly in TPL and have a chapter or scene in TPO it can work, but note the thing here: you must have some kind of break between POV characters and POV styles. Mixing them without that break is a huge no-no. It’ll give readers whiplash, and it’ll damage your narrative. If you need to have a character guess at another character’s thoughts while in TPL, you can have them observe body language or use what they know of the character. Heck, they might even be wrong.

If you need to have a character guess at another character’s thoughts while in third person limited, you can have them observe body language or use what they know of the character.

E. Prybylski

What’s The Best POV For My Book?

This isn’t a question I can answer without knowing more about your story. Short of mixing POVs badly, there’s no real right or wrong answer here (except maybe second person) for most applications. A lot of that is up to your personal taste as a writer. Some genres tend to be more one style of POV than another, but there’s no one-size-fits-all category here, so choose which one you like the best and have at it.

The key here, however, is to be consistent. Outside of changing scenes or chapters (with a break in between, to be clear) you should choose a POV and stick with it. A lot of new writers find the idea of not telling the reader what’s going on in everyone’s head at once daunting, but you don’t need to in order to tell your story. Trust me. We humans walk around all day without a psychic link telling us what everyone is thinking at all times (and thank God for that). If you want to write in TPO, that’s okay. But make sure you do it with intentionality. The narrative distance from your characters and your story will have an impact on the way the story is told. And it will change your story some.

Some genres tend to be more one style of POV than another, but there’s no one-size-fits-all category here, so choose which one you like the best and have at it.

E. Prybylski

While there’s no wrong answer in general, your story may be better served by a specific kind of POV over another. Romance, for example, is typically told in TPL or first because we want to get deep and intimate with the characters. A spy novel that is more focused on the big-picture politics might be best told in TPO (I’m thinking Fist of God-style novels). While you certainly could tell those stories in other ways and with other POVs, they will have an imact on the way these stories come out. So it’s worth really considering before you start writing.

Of course, you can always go back later and try rewriting it in another POV style if you don’t like what you wrote the first time, but you will probably figure out whether a narrative style is working for you pretty early on, so chances of you deciding to rewrite it from the ground up is relatively slim. I say relatively because I have several friends and clients who have done it because they weren’t satisfied with a project after finishing. It happens sometimes, but it’s not something you’ll deal with constantly.

Ultimately, POV is a complex choice, but it’s not usually a difficult one. Most writers know roughly what they want to write in before they start writing, and a lot of that comes on instinct. Just make sure that when you are writing in a POV you do so with intentionality and don’t just jump around POVs because you aren’t sure what to do. That’s when things get dicey. As with many things in writing, your choice of POVs is a decision. It’s not just something you do based on vague ideas on gut instinct. While you might follow your gut instinct on what POV you want to use (and I won’t tell you not to), you should study it enough that you can evaluate why you’re having that gut feeling. And it sometimes takes work. Be mindful you’re not slipping from POV to POV.

As an editor, helping writers sort out their POV is something I’ve had to do a lot of. And since it can require such high-level work (as in all-encompassing and a lot of rewrites) it behoves you to understand it and save yourself the time and cost of having a professional cull it out for you. Having someone like me fix those problems can be expensive. While I absolutely am equipped to do it, and if you want to pay me to fix it I will, it can tack on hundreds of extra dollars to a job in billable time, so learning how POV works can save you a lot of trouble.

Don’t get me wrong–if you’re still struggling to understand it and have questions and want help, let me know. That’s what I’m here for. I want to help you. I’m not going to talk down to you for not understanding it. Not at all. But learning it before you hire someone and fixing it on your own if you can is definitely going to save you money and headaches in the long run!

Also, no judgement if you’re one of my authors who’s wrestled with it. I got’chu, friend. It’s okay. We don’t wake up one day as writing experts, and it’s my job to help you as best I can. Plus, I love doing it. (And I love you. You folks are the best. <3)

Pet Peeves: Weaponry

Pet Peeves: Weaponry

Okay, so this is germane since I’ve been dealing with some authors recently who know nothing about weapons. It’s okay not to know about them, let me start there. Everyone has things they don’t know about, and I’m hardly an expert on everything. If you’ve ever watched me try to assemble Ikea furniture, you’ll see that right quick. (Directions? We don’t need no stinking directions.)

However, there are a few things that really get my goat when dealing with people writing about weapons, so I figured I’d start this series of peeves off somewhere that’s got me grumbling right now.

  1. Laser sights on firearms.
    So, active laser sights on firearms (like you see in the movies when the sniper has a red dot on the protagonist) are both not commonly used by anyone (they’re expensive and hard to dial in properly) and the gun community in general thinks those who use them are idiots.

    This is for a few reasons: they teach bad habits when it comes to aim, red active laser sights aren’t very effective during the day, and if your batteries die when you need your firearm you’re screwed if you don’t know how to shoot without them.

    A trained firearms user would never have them on a firearm–ever. A sniper? They couldn’t even use an active laser sight at range because it doesn’t take into account a number of important factors at range (windage, curve of the earth, etc). Not to mention it would alert their target they’re being sighted on, which defeats the entire purpose of sniping.

    Sure, it makes for a dramatic moment in the movies, but anyone who’s used a firearm will be taken way out of the moment and roll their eyes at the very least. Don’t do it.
  2. Swords aren’t all that heavy.
    That isn’t to say heavy swords don’t exist, but most swords? 2-4lbs at most. I own multiple live-edge katanas from my years training Japanese sword and have several rapiers used for historical fencing that are based around the original weapons (not modern fencing foils–very different). They’re light and move quickly and well. Excessively heavy weapons exist (like maces or tetsubo), but those were designed for specific purposes and weren’t your average everyday carry weapons.

    Now, the reason for this? Chances are, if you were on a battlefield, you’d be swinging that sword for a prolonged period of time. And no matter how good a shape you’re in, you’ll get tired. If you’ve never fought on a battlefield in full sun and full armor, you can’t really appreciate how exhausting it is. So having weapons that weigh half a ton doesn’t make sense for how they were typically used.
  3. Firearms safety issues in characters who should know better.
    If a character knows nothing about firearms and just grabs one, they’re exempt from this rule. However, in case you don’t know, there are four golden rules they teach at the very beginning of any firearms safety class: Finger off the trigger until you are prepared to shoot. Be aware of your target and what is beyond it. Do not point your firearm at anything you do not intend to destroy. All guns are to be treated as though they are loaded at all times.

    If you know nothing else about firearms, know those four rules. Any character with any experience handling a gun should know those four things. They are universal, and they are the foundation of safe firearms ownership and use.
  4. There is no one “superior” sword type.
    Weapons in general are designed to serve specific purposes and be effective against specific kinds of defense. They’re different tools. A hammer doesn’t work well when you’re dealing with needing to tighten a bolt. You can maybe jury-rig something, but it’s still not going to be the intended purpose.

    As such, there are typically not “superior” weapon types. There are, however, weapon types that work far better for certain applications and are more likely to exist in specific worlds or settings. If you’re doing high fantasy swords and sorcery, you’re more likely to see cruciform swords than you are to see phasers. As such, if you’ve got characters who are facing knights on horseback, they should probably be using polearms (or arrows even). Assuming, of course, they have a choice in the matter and aren’t stuck with what they have on them.
  5. Shiny does not equal good.
    While this is primarily a fantasy setting problem, it exists elsewhere, too. Weaponry of good quality is not, in fact, defined by how many gems there are in the hilt or how much gold encrusts it. Most functional weaponry (surprise, surprise) is far more about the balance and materials quality than the bling. Which isn’t to say you can’t have bling in a functional weapon, but typically the more ornate weapons are actually ceremonial or fashion rather than ones wielded by combatants.

    Part of the reason for this is that all that ornamentation can change the balance of a weapon. If you have a rapier hilt encrusted with jewels and covered in gold, the balance is likely to be poor. Beyond that, if those jewels or gold are hit by another weapon (as is common in combat) they will likely be damaged. And then all that money you’ve spent on having an ornate weapon created for you goes straight out the door. Having some artistry on the weapon (particularly engraving) is not unheard of. Many rapiers were absolutely stunning, but they tended not to have a great deal of gems and gilt on the ones designed for functional use.

While I am sure there are more, those are the things that spring to mind right now. What about you? What are the worst weapon faux pas you’ve come across when reading?

When Writing Isn’t What You Thought

When Writing Isn’t What You Thought

I encountered an article published by an author who has (according to this), given up the ghost when it comes to novels. The tone is bitter, angry, and selfish. While I wouldn’t critique someone’s private blog or Facebook rant about their frustrations regarding publishing, this being published in the Guardian is a little different. So, I’m going to write a response to the ghost of the author of this article because, honestly, I think this response has been brewing for years:

Get over it and grow up.

Writing isn’t a “sport” for the weak-willed and the narcissistic. You will be rejected often and hard, and you’ll have to kill your darlings. You have to give up the idea of your “opus” until you’ve been published at least a few times before. The thing is, the market doesn’t care about your artistic vision. It doesn’t care how you feel about your book. It doesn’t care about anything but whether or not the world wants to read it. I know that sounds jaded, but it’s true. If you are writing for external validation and for public acclaim, you will fail. If you write with an ego and expect the world to see your genius like you do, you will fail.

So what do you write for? What’s the point?

Because you want to get better. Because you have a story to tell. Because you’re passionate about writing. There are a hundred reasons to write, and they’re a hundred good ones. Write without an ego. Write without trying to live up to others’ expectations. Write regardless of what anyone tells you. Write a hundred novels no one but you will ever read. Pour your blood, sweat, and tears into your art for no one but yourself. Once you’re there, once you’re doing that, you’re starting to get the idea.

Writing is not easy. So many people assume you can just pick up and write without studying. Just because you can put coherent words into your word processor doesn’t make you a writer. What makes a writer is dedication. It’s writing through difficult times, it’s study, it’s practice. No artist of any kind ever produced pure gold without practice and study. So many folks seem to think writing is exempt from that reality, and it’s not. If you want to be a good writer then you need to do the same thing you’d do to learn to paint or learn an instrument. You find a teacher or mentor, you study, you practice, you learn how to use language and make it sing for you.

Writing is not something you can just pick up and do just because you feel like maybe you want to put something on paper. If you want to be a writer, if you want to be successful, if you want writing to be your vocation, then strap in, hike up your big boy/girl panties so high they’re at your chin, and join the rest of us in the trenches.

Writing Effective Combat Scenes

Writing Effective Combat Scenes

My triumphant return commences today. I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long, but between my husband’s health and my health we had the snot kicked out of us the last week. The good news is my husband is recovering, and I’m just waiting for the weather to break so I can return to my normal activities.

A friend recently messaged me about writing a combat scene. She had three good guys and three bad guys all involved in a melee and was struggling with figuring out how to make it make sense. Writing a large combat scene is challenging, and writers often stumble with combat in general, so I thought it prudent to address the issue.

Let’s start with the basics of writing combat, shall we? This is a cross-genre reality, by the way. It doesn’t matter if your characters are using swords, fists, firearms, or futuristic laser weapons, these will apply.

1) Do not give a blow-by-blow.

I don’t need to know every single movement to understand what’s going on. Unless there’s a theatrical reason to show a specific aspect of a motion, don’t detail it. I’ll show you what I mean:

Jon lifted his hand, pulling it to his side and setting his weight before driving it into Paul’s face, stopping before he over-straightened his elbow so he didn’t hurt the joint.

Jon punched Paul in the face.

The difference between the two should be apparent. The first would work in, perhaps, a training scenario where the character is really analyzing every movement he’s making to study it. In that moment, the reader is focused on all those little details along with Jon. They’re part of the flow of narrative. In a real combat situation, however, we don’t stop to think about all those things. We just punch our enemy in the face. You can specify the location of the hit (the nose, the mouth, the gut, whatever) if it’s important, but don’t over-complicate each action. If you do it will lead to a thirty-second fight going on for fifteen pages, and the readers will have fallen asleep by then.

As a martial artist, I can tell you it’s tempting to give a full, rich description of every blow, but as a reader I know they won’t care about that unless you’re reaching a very specific segment of the population who enjoys that kind of thing. If those folks are your demographic then all the more power to you. In the real world (unlike the world of theatrical combat and cinema), fights are usually over in about thirty seconds for close quarters combat (knife, sword, open hand). And thirty seconds is actually a pretty long fight. Firearms confrontations can last longer with the addition of cover and movement, but at that point the emphasis is less on the shooting than it is on the hunting and tactics.

2) Focus on one set of combatants at a time.

Imagine you’re watching a wide-angle shot of field combat with no one as the “main character”. You just sit up in the clouds, watching a group skirmish. It’s chaotic, it’s hard to follow, and unless you’ve got the camera focused on a specific set of combatants you aren’t going to see a whole lot other than the general gist of the conflict. Much like with dialogue, if you have too many characters acting at once it becomes chaotic fast. If you have three good guys fighting three bad guys, and two sets of fighters are not the driving factors of the story—have them as background. You can comment that they are, in fact, fighting. You can even say when one of them wins or loses if it’s important. However, keep the camera on the main character(s). Whichever fight is the most important should be what’s on screen.

When you’re in a full melee, you can narrate things happening around the main character—and you should—but don’t lose your focus. To take an example from cinema, the photo below illustrates what I’m getting at. The medium is different, of course, but we should be doing the literary equivalent of this:


The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies,Copyright by Warner Bros. Entertainment


As you can see from this still shot of “The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies”, Bard (the man without the helmet whose face we see) is in the middle of a melee with a whole host of terrible, faceless orcs all dressed in almost the same armor. Visually, they did this to make sure he (the main character of this shot) stands out. You can have action happening all around the main character and their conflict, but their personal struggle should take center stage. We can see that there is other combat happening around and behind him, but he is the one our eyes are drawn to.

3) Do at least a cursory study of whatever art you’re portraying.

Yes, watching YouTube videos at 3am counts as cursory study. I cannot tell you how irksome it is to read a book where it is clear the author has never even held (or seen outside of cinematic use) the weapon their character is using. People forget to count the number of bullets their character’s gun carries until a crucial moment where they pull the trigger and click ! (As a side note, semi-automatics don’t do that!) While I by no means expect anyone to study and grow proficient in an art before writing about it, I recommend at least watching enough videos or reading enough information that you know these few things. If you have weapon-specific questions regarding firearms, swords, or open hand please feel free to drop me a line through a comment or send me an email. I’ll be happy to talk to you about it until you don’t want to hear about it anymore!

These quick studies are surprisingly important. Say I’m writing a medieval story, and I have no idea how crossbows work (as most people don’t), I might not realize that the crossbow heralded the end of the plate mail period because it rendered plate mail useless. Crossbows (which required far less training than a long bow) could kill a man wearing full plate armor from a long distance away. They were hated weapons because they revolutionized the playing field and gave an unwashed peasant the same killing power (or more) than a Lord. If you have a world where crossbow bolts are bouncing off plate mail, you’ll give every historian who knows the reality of that tidbit a twitch. I have similar reactions to unrealistic portrayal of most combat. It’s not personal, but when you know what it’s supposed to be, you have to try very, very hard to suspend your disbelief when someone is using it improperly.

4) Make sure you address the characters’ emotions during combat.

While, yes, your characters are swinging swords or firing pistols or what have you, those aren’t the only things happening in a fight. Their emotions are probably all over the place (unless they’re trained killers—then note that!) and their adrenaline is pumping. Chances are their hands might be shaking with the adrenaline rush, or they’ve got tunnel vision. You don’t need to spend a great deal of time on these things, but tossing them in here and there makes sense. It evokes feelings. In cinema we can see a character’s hands shake, their facial expressions, hear the tremor in their voice, but in literature we need to show those things to the reader. It’s an important part of a fight, so don’t forget it!

5) Keep your setting straight.

Wasn’t that table on the other side of the room? Wait, I don’t remember there being stairs here! Writers sometimes jumble up settings during a fight for the purpose of drama. Make sure you keep them consistent and mention important set pieces before they come into play. If your character is going to be thrown through a plate glass window make sure the reader knows there is one before the big moment because otherwise it will, to them, be a magically-appearing set piece, and those are a huge faux-pas.

What one of my editors at Insomnia Publishing, Joshua Quivey, suggests to authors is that they do a quick sketch of the environment. You can do this in any program resembling MS Paint or even on graph paper if you aren’t artistically inclined. For us nerds out t here, we’ll recognize it like a D&D map of the dungeon with the author knowing what goblins and kobolds lie around the next corner and the readers (adventurers!) creep along, hoping their torches stay lit and that the chest in the corner isn’t a mimic.

Updates and Changes

Hello to you all! I want to first say I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with this blog. I have been exceptionally busy over at Eat Sleep Write. I now write a daily Q&A blog there on the subject of publishing, writing, and promoting your books.

Since that information is going to be all over there, I’ve decided to resurrect this blog (zombie blog, ooo!) as a more personal blog about my life and my writing. Expect lots of cat photos. Does this mean I won’t give advice here? Well, not necessarily. If someone asks me a question I will probably answer.

So, that begs the question: what the heck have you been doing!?

I was married in September to an incredible man. I am currently the EIC of Eat Sleep Write, and I have a mysterious “harebrained scheme” I am cooking up in the background. Want to know more about my harebrained scheme? Well, too bad! You’re going to have to wait just like everyone else. But I will tell you this: it does have to do with writing.

I have also been doing book reviews on Eat Sleep Write as well as doing author interviews for the site. In short? I’ve been living there. I have a space in the back. No. Really. Ask Adam. I am also working on writing a novel series I am certain you will hear me ranting and raving and roaring about a fair amount. It’s in the final stages of my first draft, and the working title is Gealltanas (GILL-tinas). The word is Gaelic for “binding promise”. While I will likely change it in the future (because no one but me or people who speak Gaelic will get it) I really like the image it creates because it has a lot to do with the story.

That’s it for this update. It’s great to be back here; I’ve missed you all!