Where is the most dangerous place for your characters to go? – Eight questions for building fictional worlds.

Building Fictional Worlds Part I: Setting and Characterization

When building a fictional setting, the connection between your characters and the world they live could make or break the believability of your creations. Therefore it is very important to deepen the connection between your characters and their landscape.

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Setting Impacts Character

It was 5:45am last Wednesday when I drafted a scene between two characters having an argument about their beliefs. Each character came from a different regions of their fictional world – one from a well-developed medieval city, and the other from a seaside fishing village at the end of Sothgren Reach.

These two characters have vastly different experiences, and to make matters more complicated, their perspectives are shaped by regional differences. Their stories converged in my work in progress The Witch’s Uprising, the first in nine novels about my fictional world – Brylennia.

Crafting Brylennia has been an exhilarating experience, resulting in characters that share a rich history, with a variety of perspectives.

Early sketches and inspirations

 

The following eight questions were useful in my development of Brylennia. These questions have helped me flesh out different aspects of Brylennia, and of each other regions “on the map.”

My goal was to strengthen the connection between the setting and the characters inhabiting it, resulting in a detail-rich experience for readers. Also, I wanted to have some fun creating a fictional world. Hopefully you can use these questions in your own projects or as a way to spark your reading curiosity.


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Here are eight questions to ask yourself to strengthen the connection between the setting and your characters:

  1. How has the landscape changed over time?
  2. How has the geography influenced the beliefs of your characters?  For example, if they are polytheistic, is there an emphasis on one god or goddess over another?
  3. Does geography influence the inequities in your societies? (If there are inequities).
  4. Are any particular people in direct access to resources that others do not have? How does all this influence an intelligent person from the region, or an ignorant person for that matter? Does this cause prejudice between groups of people?
  5. What freedoms or privileges does one group enjoy over others, if any?
  6. Do people dress differently in each region? Is this due to fashion, practicality, some other reason, or a combination of these reasons?
  7. Where is the most dangerous place to go?
  8. What’s the safest way from one place to another in your world? Who has made it through, and who has not?

So you know, I hope to explore each of these questions individually in future posts as part of a world-building series. You can stay updated on these posts as they are published via this blog.

If it’s easy for you, please follow me here on WordPress,  Twitter , and/or via email as part of our reader’s club

I hope these work for you!

-Curtis

Are you depleted of ideas, or do you just need to re-energize? Three questions to ask yourself when experiencing a creative block.

It was Saturday morning, and I stared at a half-written scene in the all-to-familiar agony of writer’s block. My usual urge to craft a scene had left me, and my cat, Horton, made a bed of my forearms. The time had finally come to do something else.

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My relationship with creativity is ridiculous.

At times, ideas won’t stop entering my mind. However, there is the occasion when I feel like my mind has run completely dry. During these times, I often try to re-energize my writing, change a routine, or work on a different aspect of my writing project.

This usually happens after I have planned an arc or chapter and the actual work of fleshing out the scene stands before me. Don’t get me wrong – I very much enjoy the process, especially if the idea is brand new. This was not the case with my current project.

Routines and Low Points

For those of you new to Paper Palaces, I am working on a fantasy saga known as A Thousand Watchful Eyes. I chip away at this project each day in a different way. Last week, I wrote about how little changes in my routine have impacted my writing progress.

While I have continued with my routine this week, I took some time to reflect on how I could revamp my daily writing habits. I added a half-hour writing sprint to my morning tasks.

The results were surprising:

  • 4/5 of the days were successful.
  • On Thursday, I wrote nothing, opting for more sleep from an exhaustive week. (I made up the lost word count on Friday).
  • I wrote an average of 800 words per sprint.
  • With each day, I felt like my scenes were developing, but all too slowly. Some were a little stale.
  • By Saturday, I felt some writer’s apprehension and eventually some blockage with creating new material.

What I do when faced with a creative block:

When faced with a creative block, I usually turn to revision. Revision energizes me and gives me relatively simple task to accomplish. It activates the creative part of my mind, and pushes me forward.

For me, the obvious solution was to take the new scenes from this week and revise; however, I just didn’t want to do it. I was completely tired of writing the novel, which many writer’s know is a dangerous place to be. This is what I consider a low point in the writing process.

So… what did I do?

I worked on something else.

I decided to take the day off  – not from project itself, but rather from the task of generating and revising scenes. Instead, I opted for investing time in tasks that inspire me to write the chapters, refresh my mindset, and help me build a richer, more interesting fantasy world for my characters to live in. 

This is my advice for any person feeling the lull of a project that requires dedication willpower, time, and sustained effort.

Here are three questions you should ask yourself when feeling sapped of creativity:

  1. Is there something else I can work on?

  2. How can I make this more fun?

  3. Am I depleted of ideas, or do I just need to re-energize?

These open-ended questions will help you to reflect on your project, whether you are a writer, reader, musician, dancer, entrepreneur, or anyone else who dedicates time, effort, and routine to a task. They help me revitalize my projects and habits that have devolved into mind-numbing work.

At the end of the day, I write because I love it, because I am fascinated by the world, and because I just really, really have to tell the story of these characters. Some mornings, I forget these simple reasons, as many people do.

In order to keep the momentum going, we must re-connect with the passion behind our passion projects. Here is how I approach each question:

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Question # 1: Is there something else I can work on?

This question is definitely inspired by the idea of creative procrastination. At the end of the week, and the beginning of the weekend, I often want to rest. This was especially true after this week. By shifting my focus to a different aspect of my project – world-building and map-making, I made good use of my time and kept my passion for my fantasy series fresh.

Question # 2: How can I make this more fun?

I won’t lie to you. When I answered this question, it lead me to Youtube, where I began “researching” how to make fantasy maps.

After ten minutes, I felt better.

I cannot deny that this is a form of procrastination, but I would be lying to you if I said it didn’t help me create new material for my novel.

This world-building step was very fun. I ended up drafting new ideas for how the setting of this series will impact my novel without detracting from the integrity of the world I had already created.

Question # 3: Am I depleted of ideas, or do I just need to re-energize?

This question is the most important, as asking the question always leads to activity. Usually, this question comes first.

While my answers vary, I rarely say that I am depleted of ideas, even if I feel that it may be true. When I ask this question, I often can find that there is something in my writing for me to investigate, some idea that makes me interested, a character who needs attention.

Although I have experienced writer’s block, I find the notion of “lacking ideas” a little silly. This is mostly due to my experience with curiosity. If I stay curious, I often come up with new ideas. On the other hand, I almost always feel the need to re-energize at the end of the week.

Maybe this is a signal to me that I need to take a closer look at how I work. Maybe I should always revamp and re-energize on Saturday. Maybe I should schedule blocks of time for just having fun with the novel, or maybe I should schedule nothing at all.

Take-Away

If I remember anything from this Saturday, it is to always re-connect with the passion behind my projects, to push forward with my tasks, and not to give up just because a blank screen or half-written scene feels intimidating.


I hope these questions help you with your creative projects.

-Curtis

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See other Daily Posts for Deplete

A Lightning Storm in My Brain – Navy SEALS, Dark Magic, Middle School, and a Secret Worth Sharing

On my way to work, the sun is rising, I look across a snowy field, and a flock of birds scatters into the air like flakes of debris from a campfire.

I hear a navy SEAL sternly recount the horrors of war.  He talks about discipline in everyday life, and I absorb his experience through my headphones.

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The SEAL’s adventures are far too modern for me to write about, but this field and his words recall an older type of warfare to my mind. The rhythm of horse hooves enters me. When his podcast is over, and everything is silent, my brain is still busy.

I daydream:

Steel clashes and a young woman rides her horse across a snowy field, much like the one I see before me. The woman will travel an entire realm, beyond the forest and the mountains, to a place where she discovers something far more powerful than the enemy she faces.

She is not yet seventeen, yet she tries to save the world from the rise of dark magic.

I breathe in slowly. Right now, she is a twelve-year old girl, a character in my novel, that has yet to grow. She cannot even hold a sword, but someday she will set foot in a snowy field. Someday, after she has surpassed the challenges of the book I am currently writing for her, she will change.

The Lightning Storm in My Brain

When I write, one thought leads to another branching out in several unpredictable directions, like a lightning storm. I feel the same is true when I listen to music or podcasts. One person’s experience leads me to think of another’s.

Sometimes I chart story ideas, plotting possible novels based on these little moments of exploration. Other times, I sit down and draft a scene, discovering the characters within it.

Most of my ideas are forgotten when they are not written down, but there are always a few that resurface. Some even return after years of paying attention to other story ideas, other characters, other plots.

It is as if some themes and some characters have a life of their own, an insistence for their voices to be heard and their stories to be told. 

The thrill of creating fiction, especially pre-writing and beginning stages is often amazing, and most writers know it.

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A Secret Worth Sharing

At times, the act of writing a novel is somewhat mechanical. I found more progress in my word counts and chapter construction simply from dedicating more time towards the craft. Still, one aspect of writing fiction amazes me:

The world seems to change when I’m working on a fiction project. Hours go by while I am absorbed in a scene, and then the next day arrives.

Every detail of every aspect of my life begs to be stitched or weaved into the tapestry of the story. 

Strangers in Chicago become workers in a medieval village square. An unruly beard of a friend becomes the mark of an ancient man in Brylennia. The arguments and discussions of my middle school students remind me of the energetic relentlessness of human curiosity. In the midst of growing from childhood to adulthood, the complexity of human emotion unfolds for us. The world feels – somehow – new and familiar when I write.

It is with this feeling – this thrilling mixture of happiness, introspection, and inquisitive observation, that I share with you one realization I had today. Here is one secret, or rather one truth, worth sharing.

Writing is more than just a mechanical act; it is more than just meeting a word count or completing a novel.

Writing, in many ways, is forging a sword from raw material, imagining the person who will wield it, shaping and tempering the wild steel into something crafted and refined.

It is recalling the family and friends who have loved you, and remembering the lessons within every tarnished relationship.

Writing is the act of bringing together the seen and unseen in any given circumstance.

It is living deeply, and it is a challenge worth pursuing.

 

How One Children’s Fantasy Book Inspired Me to Rethink My Artistic Process…

Lyra’s Oxford

Philip Pullman published his trilogy, His Dark Materials in 1995.  The three main books in the series included:

Northern Lights (The Golden Compass in the U.S.)

The Amber Spyglass

The Subtle Knife

Lyra’s Oxford is a companion novel to the set, along with Once Upon a Time in the North. When I was looking through my book collection, I found an old copy of Lyra’s Oxford in my bookshelf. It was sandwiched between a few other paperbacks I’ve neglected over the years. This edition is simply beautiful in the way it is designed and executed. It is this design that made me take a step back and rethink my creative process.  Take a look at the photos below:

The artwork is the most striking aspect of the book’s visual appeal.  Jon Lawrence, illustrator and engraver, contributed these visuals to the book. The aesthetic is amazing. For me, I can’t resist the look of woodcut and engraved design, nor can I resist the appeal of engraver as a metaphor.

Engravers work on their products with sustained effort over a long period of time, eventually rendering an intricate whole from thousands of little creative decisions.  The parallels to the writing process are pretty obvious.

Jon Lawrence’s work inspires me.  The artwork, layout, and overall aesthetic of this edition urged me to sit down, slow down, and rethink what I do.

Mapping Out A Story

In the center of Lyra’s Oxford, a neatly creased fold-out waits for readers to discover its secrets. This unassuming piece of paper is folded into eighths, with the facing page entitled “The Globetrotter,” a “Series of Maps for the Traveller.”

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The Globetrotter – Lyra’s Oxford, Philip Pullman

As the reader unfolds each section, the pages reveal publications, sketches, and advertisements that directly and indirectly allude to characters in the whole His Dark Materials series. It is an outstanding example of keeping continuity within a series.

When fully unfolded, one side of the fold-out  features a tricolor of Oxford, rendered in gorgeous engraver’s print. This style reminds me of the woodcuts of Will Schaff, another artist whose artwork I enjoy. The other side features a plain grid-style map of Oxford. Of course, the map is not the “real” Oxford. This is the Oxford of Lyra Belacqua, the main character in Pullman’s series. Still, there are similarities between both Oxfords.   

 

I felt a surge of curiosity when I first opened the map. My eye was drawn to each cartouche, emblem, and ink-lined street.

 

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Fold-Out: Jon Lawrence, Lyra’s Oxford

 

Lawrence’s work does a great job at mapping out a story without even telling it. I imagine the collaboration between Pullman and Lawrence was riveting; or, at least I hope so! While I looked at this map, I thought about a comment my fiancé made in my early journey of planning The Staghorn Crown, a fantasy quintet that follows the lives of four girls as they come of age in a magical fortress called the Stellaria.  As I drafted the first scenes of The Staghorn Crown, Laura turned to me and said, “I assume when this is published, you’ll have a map of this place.”

Of course, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted the Stellaria to look like, but I had not thought about hiring an artist to make it. Until then, I had made my own sketches of rooms, towers, and ancient keeps.

After my encounter with Jon Lawrence’s engravings, I could enrich the reading experience of my novels by having these maps available. My search for the best artist to render them is underway, and I continue to sketch in the meantime.

Keeping My Goals, Changing My Process

What is my  largest take-away?

I learned that I need to periodically slow down and look at the bigger picture. How will my own books provide an experience for the reader? How can I make my own writing immersive? After all, I enjoy the experiences provided by Pullman, Martin, Gaiman, Rowling, Barnhill, and Nix,  and feel inspired whenever I read them.

Lyra’s Oxford gave me the space to sit down and rethink my creative process. I have so many questions:

How do I craft fiction with excellent continuity? How many revisions will this take? I write this, smiling and knowing that it will take enough revisions to make me happily exhausted.

Part of this blog is documenting this complex process.

For those of you new to Paper Palaces, I am a self-publishing author and teacher.  My overall goal is to write a twelve-novel fantasy saga. In 2016, I created the world, mapped out the books, and treated the project as a hobby. My fiancé and I traveled to England, where I was inspired by the beautiful seaside town of Whitby and the Yorkshire Moors.  After that, I had to create these books. It’s become a little bit of an obsession.

While this dream began with a student’s response to a writing exercise, it has since grown. I hope it keeps growing. In the end, creating these twelve books is about sharing a great story with others. I have decided to keep the same goals, despite add one important aspect to my practice. I am thankfully spending more time slowing down.

The Goals I will Keep, No Matter How:

  • To complete the series and build a readership over the next six years.
  • To release preview chapters and installments of my work online to readers, patrons, students, and friends/family.
  • To become part of a writing community so I can see, appreciate, and share the magic of writing.

I hope the little decisions I make along the way are guided by these larger aspirations.


To stay updated on my books, consider joining the Books of Brylennia Facebook Group, where you can connect with Laura and me on the process of writing, editing, creating this fantasy series, and self-publishing. You can post your own contributions too. Join us on the journey. 

Books of Brylennia Reading Group (1).png

 

Saturday Writing Session # 2 – Take-aways from five hours of writing

Paper Palaces Saturday Writing Session (1)For those of you who don’t know, I’m a middle school teacher who is also trying to write a twelve-book fantasy saga in my spare time. It’s the most amazing job in the world, as I get to work with children and their writing. To do my job correctly, I need to be efficient and dedicated. Likewise, my writing practice should follow the same principles.

When I come home, I usually grade papers, work on novel-related projects, and spend time with my fiancé. I have to budget my time; it’s just a necessity. My career has its own schedule, calendar, and set of deadlines. As a result, managing my work life is often easier than finding the time to manage my writing projects.

Until a few weeks ago, I tried to write every day. For two years, I wrote in the morning. Last year, I wrote in the evenings.

In a previous post, I explored the benefits of sitting in one place for six straight hours and writing fiction. I talked about my first six-hour session and why I chose to write in a cafe of all places.

One of the largest findings from my six-hour Saturday session was how incredibly happy I felt.  This made sense. After all, writing is, to me, one of the best activities that a human being can choose to do.

Take-Aways from Today’s Session

Today, I wrote chapters for The Staghorn Crown, my serial novel for patrons on Patreon. I found the five-hour session was useful. Here are some take-aways:

  • I walked into the cafe with a blank page and an empty stomach. I walked out, five hours later, with a sandwich, two coffees, and 3,500 words of useable material.
  • The hour I spent revising felt easier than usual, as I had created solid fiction during the previous five hours.
  • Fewer passages needed pruning.
  • Scene-to-scene continuity was clearer.
  • I felt accomplished earlier in the day.
  • My writing deadlines are now impossible to miss.
  • My fiancé, who also happens to edit The Staghorn Crown seems to like this new approach as it frees up time during the week for us to enjoy each other’s company.
  • I’m happy.

If you like what your reading, consider following this blog, liking a post, or joining the Books of Brylennia Facebook Group.

Stay updated on my books, by joining the  Books of Brylennia Facebook Group. You can connect with Laura and me on the process of writing, editing, creating this fantasy series, and our methods of self-publishing. You can post your own contributions too. Join us on the journey.

Writing Wednesday # 3 – Quotes from A New Nine-Novel Fantasy Series

Recently, I have been working on The Witch’s Uprising, the first book in my nine-novel fantasy series A Thousand Watchful Eyes. At the same time, I have planned and started drafting The Staghorn Crown Quintet, a series of five serial novels released to patrons as they are created.


(I’ve included a slideshow of quotes below.)


All twelve of these books are part of my dream to create a massive series that tells the story of a girl, her daughter, and the generations of people who are affected by their actions. It is a story about the strength of humanity in the face of fear, greed, hatred, and ignorance.  All twelve books are set in a magical, medieval-inspired fantasy world known as Brylennia. Working titles for each book are included here.

The Staghorn Crown series follow Quinn, Rhea, Tava, and Celesa and their respective challenges growing up in a magical fortress belonging to an ancient order of magic-wielding women.

The novels from A Thousand Watchful Eyes continue that story, generations after. Twelve-year-old Harlowe, Nineteen-year-old Aurelia, and fourteen-year-old Bryar, each play a part in thwarting the return of an age-old war between the Witch Queen, the Stellaria, and a new agent of ancient evil.

The story, in its entirety, spans all twelve books, each of which are planned (in a massive spreadsheet…Thank you J.K. Rowling for inspiration!).

In the slides below, you can find quotes from the two related story arcs: A Thousand Watchful Eyes and The Staghorn Crown prequel quintet. To support the making of this series, you can become a patron here, or follow me on this blog, Twitter, or Instagram. The links are in top menu.

Feel free to repost this content. In fact, your share, repost, or tweet supports the making of these books and subsequent publications. If you’re a fan of this project, consider liking my Facebook Author page for more updates.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you have a WIP or series that you are working on, please share it in the comments along with a link in your blog. If you enjoyed this post or the idea of this series, please like and share.

-Curtis

The Witch’s Uprising: Writing Wednesday # 2

From The Witch’s Uprising

Prologue:

Aurelia

Aurelia held her sword as lightly as she could. With any other thief, she would not be so cautious, but one look at the stranger assured her to take each step carefully. She let the grip on her sword stay loose and limber, ready to act. There would be no room for fear or even one misplaced swing; she prepared herself to act swiftly, carefully… softly. Every nerve in her body was electrified with awareness. She breathed deeply as she crept closer to him. The moon unveiled itself, barely revealing a man just a head’s worth taller than Aurelia. In the dappled light, she could see her breath and his. She was closer now, at the edge of the clearing. Peering at a safe distance from this man she had followed from her village, yet he crouched – there… in the center of the everything, almost perfectly surrounded by three large prayer stones, as if no one was looking for him.

A filthy thief, she thought. She knew he was not after bread or meat, or mead. The air reeked like something that had been tossed away and neglected. He leaned over one stone altar, the furthest from Aurelia, and whispered to himself.

He cradled a small child wrapped in a purple blanket – a tiny girl not yet one year old. Flecks of gold from the blanket’s design glittered. He set the child on the altar so delicately that Aurelia was confused. Whose child was this? Not his, not his.

It would take one stroke, but she would have to aim it correctly, or else she would bludgeon the child too. Aurelia remembered everything she had been taught – how to be just so graceful with a sword, just as quiet as the spring wind rippling through grass. She stepped forward.

The townsfolk had talked of this: men like him had come before, years ago, when her mother was a little girl. They were just stories to Aurelia.

Does a story bleed? She knew the answer too well.

Every man bleeds.

When the twig snapped beneath her left foot, Aurelia felt the world shift. Her heart palpitated – the hoof-beat thump of a seasoned warrior filling her chest. Before she could make a decision, before she could swing the sword, the wind blew across her face, and the man turned.

She had seconds to act – seconds!

The blade cut across the air, but it was too late.

She saw his face change first, and then his neck and shoulders. His torso seemed to compress and then shiver, until every rumor she had heard was confirmed at that very moment.

Every story, every tale of his power or his ability – everything was as her mother described. Most girls went their whole lives without seeing a shape-shifter, yet by Aurelia’s age, most women had not seen what she had seen.

The child screamed, and Aurelia swung. The man unfolded and unfurled like smoke, and she heard what she knew to be the flutter of wings. All the stories were true, she thought. He has returned. The Madness had ended twenty years ago with his death, but now he has returned.

With that truth, she doubted if she would live to her twentieth year. And in the seconds that passed, her sword cut through nothing but air. There was no longer anyone where the man had stood. He was now, not one man, but hundreds of fluttering wings, hundreds of screeches flowing up into the sky and away. Her blade passed through a cloud of dark birds as they filled the thin night air. She hacked and hacked to no avail, and for a moment she caught the altar in the corner of her eye. The child was gone, and the night was quiet as still water.

 

 


This excerpt is from The Witch’s Uprising, Book One of A Thousand Watchful Eyes. Read The Witch’s Uprising for free on Wattpad.

For more excerpts and writing Wednesdays, like and follow.

Thanks!

-Curtis

Photographs of Whitby – Seaside Ruins and Inspiration for a YA Fantasy Series

A few years ago, my fiancé and I traveled to England. Whitby stood out as one of the most picturesque locations I have ever seen in my life. Yorkshire, as a whole, is very beautiful. Here are nine photographs of Whitby that served as inspiration for the novels in my young adult fantasy series A Thousand Watchful Eyes, particularly the serial novella The Staghorn Crown. Clicking the photos will enlarge them.

9 Photos of Whitby that Inspired A Thousand Watchful Eyes, The Witch’s Uprising, and The Staghorn Crown

 

 

(Click to enlarge.)

Have you been to Whitby? Is there a different place that inspires fantastic feelings?

Share in the comments.


Sample chapters of The Witch’s Uprising, the first book of the series inspired by these photos is available to read on Tablo. For more information on this young adult fantasy series, you can see my Books page.

7 Simple Ways You Can Help Me Publish My Twelve-Novel Saga

Crafting Fiction, Telling Stories

In case you didn’t know, I’m writing novels. In fact, I’m writing twelve.

Each of the twelve novels are connected by one large, overarching story.

Within the saga, there are two main storylines: The Staghorn Crown Quintet and A Thousand Watchful Eyes. Readers can enjoy each series separately, but the story is richer if read as a whole saga.

Below are 8 ways you can help me publish my twelve-novel saga.

One: Follow this blog!

Following Paper Palaces will not only help me build a base of readers who enjoy my posts, but it will also give you the benefit of staying posted on my curiosities and writing process along the way. Just click that tiny button…

Two: Pick one of my social media profiles and follow me!

Facebook.com/curtisteichertbooks

Instagram/CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter.com/staghorncrown

Three: Like my posts or leave positive comments

Liking posts and leaving comments spreads awareness for my content, thereby helping me reach a larger audience.

 

Four: Tell a friend about what you are reading

Share what you read with others. Tell fantasy readers and writing enthusiasts about this blog. Or, as a bonus, share CurtisWritesBooks.com.

Five: Share a post, a quote, or link.

You can do this on social media, via email, or in real life. Any share, whether it is a quote, post, link is a great gesture. Thank you!

Six: Join the Books of Brylennia Facebook Group

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Stay updated on my books, by joining the  Books of Brylennia Facebook Group. You can connect with Laura and me on the process of writing, editing, creating this fantasy series, and our methods of self-publishing. You can post your own contributions too. Join us on the journey.

Seven: Become a Patron

Become a Patron

 

This is a simple, yet generous act, and it is the only action that requires money.

By making a donation, you keep this site ad-free, allow me to pay artists and professionals for their hard work and collaboration, and keep my budget for this twelve-novel project healthy. Patrons get installments of The Staghorn Crown Quintet as it is written. Read more here on my Patreon page.

 

 

 

The Witch’s Uprising – Making Noteworthy Titles for Young Adult Novels and Middle Grade Lit

The Witch's Uprising - Cover II Wattpad Edition

While working on a novel is the thrilling, the process is often fraught with little challenges. For example, finding the correct title for the book, section titles for the book’s major divisions, or the simply picking names for each character and town are often difficult tasks. Rushing the process is never a good idea; however, one cannot wait forever. During the early stages of world-building,  when the risks are low, most of name-making is easy. As the book nears completion, it’s tougher.

3 Questions to Consider When Crafting Titles

1. Does the title accurately reflect the plot?

If the title does not accurately reflect the plot, you may have a problem. Readers have an expectation from the title. For example The Witch’s Uprising has a witch in it, and there is an uprising! There are no surprises from that title, however the logical questions are in place for a reader to ask. Who is the witch? Where and when is the uprising? What is going to happen?

While the title alludes to specific events in the book, it is also relates to a few thematic threads in the book. In other words, it takes on a deeper meaning when the reader is finished with the book and the series.

2. Does it sound appealing?

How a title sounds is really a matter of opinion, and yet another reason why writers should partner up with friends, family, beta readers and other authors.

Some aspects to consider:

  • Does the title include alliteration, assonance, and/or consonance? Is that good for your genre/book?
  • Does the title sound “catchy” or “sticky”?
  • Is the title too trendy or “catchy” sounding?

I suggest getting multiple opinions.

Can a reader infer much about the book, and would they still want to read it?

If the reader can infer meaning or even a tone from your title, you may have won. However, if your title is off-putting or stops a reader from opening the book, you should reconsider. Using a controversial title is obviously something up for debate. While controversial titles attract readers, there is also the chance of may repelling or offending prospective readers.

Crafting Noteworthy Titles for My Nine-Novel Series

Brainstorming with a Partner

My fiancé and I spent a night together, making dinner and talking about possible titles for each book in my nine-book young adult fantasy series A Thousand Watchful Eyes. This fantasy book series is part of a twelve-novel saga that you can support on Patreon, or follow for free on the Books of Brylennia Facebook Group.

When considering titles, we felt the need to create a sense of continuity between each book.  We wanted titles that would “stick” and directly reference the plot of the book. To do this, we used objects and artifacts from the series (daggers, crowns, swords, etc…).

Laura and I also made a concerted effort to use the word “the” to give a definite sense these titles were speaking to an event or object that the reader would encounter.

The titles are listed below for your perusal:

Series Title: A Thousand Watchful Eyes

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Book One: The Witch’s Uprising

Book Two: The Robber Kings

Book Three: The Year of the Forged Crown

Book Four: A Touch of Fire

Book Five: The Witch Queen’s Plea

Book Six: The Hunted Swordsman

Book Seven: The Hand That Heals

Book Eight: The Shattered Sword

Book Nine: Age of Dreams


What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks!

-Curtis


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