10 Self Publishing Terms All Indie Authors Need to Know
Are you an author who wants to use storytelling techniques more creatively in your writing?
Do you want to bring your fiction or nonfiction writing to life using memorable metaphors or imaginative wordplay?
Do you dream of penning a kairotic or bildungsroman novel, or creating new neologisms that your readers will love?
If so, A-Z of Storytelling Techniques for Authors can help!
This bumper digital resource features FIFTY devices for authors to use in their writing, to help make it even better. It includes lots of classic, contemporary and original examples to help understand the techniques more in context, as well as hyperlinks to further examples/online resources.
A-Z of Storytelling Techniques for Authors is available to buy or borrow now! Get it here.
Every night for two years, seven sisters—princesses all—walked beneath silver trees hung with jeweled fruit, crossed a still black lake, and danced to liquid music with their faerie suitors. Every night for two years, their shoes collapsed and kept the city's cobblers busy.
His schemes for political and trade alliances thwarted by his daughters' nightly disappearances, the royal duke of Nuygenie invited royalty and aristocrats from far and wide to solve the mystery and win the hand of a princess. They came and they failed.
Then a common soldier, aged by war and years, thought to try his luck and improve his circumstances. A kindness to an old hag resulted in a magic cloak of invisibility and excellent advice that he put to good use to break the enchantment that held the princesses in thrall to their fey suitors.
Rejoicing, the duke elevated the soldier to serve as his general, so that the man might have rank befitting his royal bride. General Miles Carrow chose the eldest sister, Aurora, and wondered at the emptiness of their betrothal. The duke then cemented other political and trade alliances with the blood of his other children: Crown Prince Eric, Prince Ascendant Jonathan, Princesses Rose, Pearl, Celeste, Grace, Lily, and Hope. The two youngest princes, Roderick and Simon, were yet too young to be married off as benefited Nuygenie.
This is the story after the faerie tale.
“Did you hear that?” they whispered among themselves and agreed that, yes, each of them heard that, but not with their ears.
They all looked at the hippogriff, but only Aurora met its gaze. It despises us, she thought with surprise. A beast that despises us.
I find most humans contemptible as well as bad-tasting.
Her lips turned upward slightly at the corners. Touché, she thought, and caught the faintest glimmer of humor from the hippogriff.
“When will Lirón arrive?” she asked aloud, more as a courtesy to the others than for the hippogriff’s sake.
The animal cocked its head, opened and shut its beak with a click, and then sneezed. It shook its head, sending a feather into the breeze, which twirled it in unseen fingers for the princess to catch. She held it to her lips and surreptitiously sniffed. The scent wasn’t sour like poultry, but fresh, clean, and somehow wild.
Toss it into the wind should you have need of me, beloved of Lirón.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
The hippogriff bowed its head, turned tail, galloped a few steps, and leaped into the wind.
This leads to the cliche of the strong female character. And, yes, it's become a cliche--a trope--in several genres. A quick Google search brings up several articles addressing this, such as:
- "Strong Female Character Cliches to Avoid (In Writing and Beyond)" by Hanna Bauman
- "Write Strong Female Characters Without Being Cliché" by Writer's Relief
- "It's Time to End the Cliche of the "Strong Female Character," and Just Write Women" by Elisabeth Sherman.
The stereotype of the strong female character has been addressed before and by many, but it persists even as literature offers slight adjustments. One of the more recent variations on the cliche is the female protagonist who's too stupid/stubborn to live. Pigheadedness has become conflated with strength, something to celebrate rather than regard as a fault. I call it terminal stubbornness.
That trait makes my teeth itch.
The female main characters I write oftentimes exhibit excessive stubbornness, but to such an extent that it ought to get them killed. Instead, they suffer the consequences which forces them to evolve and adjust, just like real people do.
In Triple Burn, Ursula quickly learns how and when to pick her fights. Some reader responses indicate that they think she capitulates too soon and too easily. But consider the overwhelming circumstance: she is physically altered. Adapting to those circumstances makes her smart, not weak. (If my very DNA and flesh were altered, you can bet I'd resent what happened, but I'd also adapt, because the alternative is permanent.) Excessive stubbornness wouldn't have endeared her to me and would have condemned her to a harsh doom on a planet she was not equipped to survive.
In The Barbary Lion, Chloe retreats into herself, becoming compliant to her captor's will until the moment arrives at which time she takes full advantage of it and flees for freedom. She adapts, using the supernatural skills learned from her captor to evade him and the hunter he sends after her for two decades. Of course, this is a romance and reconciliation must occur, so she negotiates impressive concessions from Atlas Leonidus, a character whose defining trait is his utter refusal to break his word.
The ability to recognize futility and adapt is a strength rather than a weakness. It's a skill we must all accomplish to some degree, or we don't survive very long in a society and world determined to crush us.
In avoiding the Mary Sue protagonist as well as one who's too stupid or stubborn to live, the author must imbue the character with at least one fatal flaw and perhaps several more minor flaws. (This goes for heroes as well as heroines.) In Hogtied, Melanie's has two major flaws that feed on each other: she's hot-tempered and impulsive. She's also determined to make her way in the world and, when circumstances become more than she handle, she seeks help like any rational person would do. In short, her flaws don't annihilate her intelligence--they just blunt it occasionally. After all, that's human, too.
A main character exhibiting the spectrum of virtues and vices that make him or her human--even if the character isn't human--becomes relatable to the reader. The Mary Sue character has either no flaws or her flaws are so minor that they don't matter. Those tiny flaws seem to enhance rather than obstruct. Gilmore noted the current trend in fiction preferences for Mary Sue heroines. Perhaps that's because, in these days of an ill-managed pandemic and civil unrest, we need something perfect to inspire or comfort us.
I don't know the answer. I do know that I don't like Mary Sue protagonists or the strong female character cliche.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
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Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is happy to reciprocate Blog Swaps in 2019.
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