Novel inspiration

All posts tagged Novel inspiration

Part 4: Oops, You’re Dead!

Published February 28, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 4: Oops, You’re Dead!

This post was going to be so large I had to break it into two, so next week we’ll discuss how a character moves from the drawing board into (semi) reality. I’m working backward, but I couldn’t resist when I found the perfect gifs to address the idea of dealing with a character once they’ve spent enough time in your story—also known as *cough* knowing when to kill them. When has a character reached their end? When is it useful to kill them off? The former is the most important question you can ask in regards to a character’s demise.

galavant fun

One frustrating thing I’ve encountered as a reader is the unnecessary death count just for the sake of having someone die. It’s like an author reached the end of their story, slapped a palm to their forehead, and remembered they were supposed to kill somebody off, so they choose some background character to avoid upsetting the plot. But was I attached to them? No. Did their death affect me in any way? Hardly. And if this is the case, then odds are the protagonist’s emotions over this character’s death won’t matter to you, which is exactly the opposite of what should happen. You should be emotional, justified, or outraged they died; their death is pointless if you aren’t wildly flipping through the pages to see if they’ll make it, or running like mad to stop the author from writing them out of your series.

 

Thornton No.gif

As a writer, everything we do should have a purpose, especially when it concerns death. I read so many books where filler is everywhere (snooze), and while most understand that not every moment of a story can be action-packed or filled with romance, creating dialogue or descriptions for the sake of word count is just lazy writing; you should be able to engage your readers and give them information they’ll need later on without putting them to sleep.

bored

 

The idea of lazy writing plays into that pesky issue of death-for-death’s-sake that I lamented above. Yes, Chasing Shadows has a . . . high-ish death toll, but every single character dies for a purpose. To avoid spoiling the story for those who have yet to read it (but, really, what’s stopping you? Get it here!), suffice it to say that these tragic passings either drove a protagonist into someone’s arms, explains a character’s actions, wedged a useful bridge between characters, or caused so much emotion in the heart of the reader (and writer) that it plays into the tone for the rest of the novel. Some of my favorite books were memorable because they made me feel like this:

nick miller crying

And there is one particular death in Defying Shadows (add it on Goodreads) that even I was crying over, and while emotion is good, I’ve always made sure that every loss I have ever created has a purpose and causes a chain of events that lead to certain points in the story. One important thing is to remember that it is never okay to kill off a character for convenience’s sake, because someone has to die, or because they’ve simply outlived their usefulness. Make it count! A character’s death should be marked by one of two things: tears for a martyr or a sense of justice when an ultimate evil is vanquished. Let me tell you, few things are more satisfying than killing off a villain who has been tormenting your favorite characters.

monsters.gif

I don’t like to make too many rules for writing, but I think this is something important to keep in mind—to have a purpose for a character’s demise and make sure that it is felt. And if you’re a reader like me, then you know how random character deaths get under your skin, so don’t make the same mistakes as a writer that have driven you up a wall in your favorite books. Remember that mantra: no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader!

 

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Novel Inspiration: Characters

Published February 27, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

Here are a few of my selections from my Novel Inspiration board on Pinterest for the cast of Rising Shadows. Later on I’ll create a Novel Inspiration page on here, so check back periodically, because I might change some of the cast and keep adding new photos for your pleasure. There are plenty more where these came from, so check out my Pinterest link on the left to see what else has been floating around in my head. 😉 One of the perks to being an author is that I get to spend hours looking through pictures of gorgeous scenery–and people–on Pinterest and get to call it research! Remember that I love to hear from you! If you like what you saw or have some opinions of your own, shoot me an email at ashleytownsend.author@yahoo.com

Sarah Matthews:

This overall look. Heart-shaped face, blue eyes, arched brows, just a little tanner.

novel inspiration, Sarah blond

This girl’s wavy hair and color.

novel inspiration, Sarah

William Taylor:

Derek Theler is exactly how I imagined Will: chiseled jaw, 6’5, wavy hair (though Jason Behr’s color, on right), and great blue eyes. Oh, yeah, and he’s bult like a truck. That doesn’t hurt my image of Will.

novel inspiration, Will novel inspiration, Will hair

Karen Ashmore:

I thought this girl was just gorgeous and totally reminded me of Karen with her hair and fair skin, though her face is a little more round and babydoll-ish in my head. And she could seriously pass for Sarah, as well, with her blue eyes and face shape.

novel inspiration, Karen 2

Lilly Matthews:

Totally Sarah’s little sister! This is pretty much exactly how I pictured Lilly.

novel inspiration, Lilly

Seth Jones:

I could definitely picture Armie Hammer playing Seth, literally the boy next door. Armie is really funny and charming and friendly, and he has this great, easy grin that is 100% our favorite farm boy. A little more red in his hair, and ta-da! Seth Jones, ladies and gentlemen!

novel inspiration, Seth

Allan Miller:

Oh, yes, we love to hate him, people. Chris Pine has that same cocky edge that I imagined for Allan, Will’s not-so-faithful assistant.

novel inspiration, Allan

Thomas Greene:

He was probably one of my favorite back-story characters to write for Rising Shadows. After watching Tron:Legacy, I could definitely picture Bruce Boxleitner playing Thomas. He’s handsome, kind, has salt-and-pepper hair, and is a good enough actor to do Thomas justice.

novel inspiration, Thomas

Gabriel Dunlivey:

Blek, blek, and blek at that name! Not at all an insult to this guy, whose name I can’t recall at the moment, but he kind of reminds me of Gabriel, though this guy is less slovenly.

novel inspiration, Gabriel Dunlivey

And now for some characters you have yet to meet! Beware teensy spoilers!

Damien Lisandro:

Oh, you handsome devil, you! I saw this picture and actually changed Damien’s scruff so that it looked more like this. The Lord Lisandro completes my favorite type of triangle as old alliances fall away and new ones begin in the sequel to Rising Shadows. I had to throw in a Spaniard for my sister Katie, and I think you’ll really like him too!

novel inspiration, Damien

Jade:

Yep. Just Jade, as of now; I can’t reveal too much yet! She and Will have a past that is a bit of a mystery, and the scene involving her was inspired by Florence and the Machine’s “Heavy in Your Arms” (you all know how obsessed I was with that one!). But this younger version of Penelope Cruz is totally how I envisioned Jade.

novel inspiration, Jade

Mr. Emerald:

Will’s newest assistant. I’m trying to decide if the name I have for him will work in the book or if it needs to be altered.

novel inspiration, Todd

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