What makes a good villain?

The villain – don’t underestimate your baddie.

The baddie has to be just as developed as your good guy or gal. They require good and bad points and a way for your reader to identify with them.

Yes, readers do need to have some sort of love for your villain. I’ve skimmed through loads of books when the villain is on stage, because they just don’t appear real.

They need some good motivation for being evil. Did they lose the girl to their best friend? Did their best friend bully them and now they are getting their own back? Were they abused as a child and that’s all they know? Got into the wrong crowd? There are lots of reasons.

Add in a description. Give your readers a way of imaging them. Maybe not a full description but enough to wet their taste buds.

Give them the past your have come up with. Not all in one go – all that narrative can turn a reader off, but in bits and bobs where required. Have they abducted someone? Add in some memories why. Have they killed someone? Again, get some thoughts running through their heads. A person rarely kills without something in his mind.

You might even give them a love interest.

Above all else, most baddies I come across have something in common with the hero. A shared past or partner. Same upbringing – hero comes out better then them. There’s the jealousy.

In a twist, you might start with a hero who turns evil. Or the villain becomes the good guy. Play around and give your readers a hook.

Most baddies aren’t stupid. They are more clever than anyone takes them for. That’s why they get away with things. They make your hero look good.

So, go and plan out your bad guy or gal. Make them lovable. Make them cry out for attention. Give them a backstory your readers are dying for.

Show verses Tell

This can be the bain of a new writer’s life. Show verses tell. What is it? How does it affect our writing?

Let’s examine this more closely. A book which tells the reader everything can be to the point and doesn’t leave the reader with much to imagine. The telling can slow down the pace, making the plot slow and boring in some cases.

A book which shows gives the reader a reason to continue reading. They can imagine every scene and relive it in their head. The plot and characters become real to them, to the degree they fall in love with them.

So, how does this work, I hear you ask. Easy, think about everything you are writing. I’ve read lots of books where the character mumbles, mutters, shouts, gets frustrated, angry, happy – great, they need too. However, these words are redundant in writing. Yes, on occasion I use them but as a beat and not a dialogue tag. The way you write should bring these emotions out.

Examples – I can do loads if you want.

Happiness. Okay, every character at some point is happy. Below is two version of describing a happy person.

  1. “Oh, my god, I love it.” As Sarah glanced at the ring her happiness shone around her.
  2. “Oh, my god, I love it.” The ring glistened in the morning light. As Sarah’s chest filled with a heat, her eyes danced as she held out her left hand which tingled as he slipped the ring in place.

Now, the dialogue indicates shes happy at what just happened. Therefore the beat in number 1 isn’t required. Instead, number 2 shows us how she’s feeling. You can see in your mind how happy she is as he proposes. It’s like you are there in person witnessing the event.

But what if she said no?

  1. “But I can’t marry you.” The ring should have made her happy. Instead, Sarah shook her head as she let the sadness in.
  2. “But I can’t marry you.” The words were forced out as Sarah’s throat constricted. Turning her back on him, she crossed her arms, slumped her shoulders, and lowered her head.

Again, number 2 gives you an image in your mind. You can almost feel her heartbreak and are left wondering why she said no.

Now, showing isn’t hard. No, it’s not – don’t argue back. There’s an easy way to figure out the emotional response you want. Yes, it is. Stop arguing back and I’ll tell you. All you need to do is put yourself in your characters shoes – yes, they fit, and imagine how you’d feel.

Which brings us to another fact. A rather important one. If you feel nothing when you write, your readers will have the same response. It’s a well known fact that adding your own emotions makes the book. So, those funeral scenes, death scenes – I always cry when I write them. Weddings, engagements – I feel the joy. When I add any funny moments – I have to laugh. If I don’t, they go. And it’s not just once. Every time I read the manuscript through, those emotions return. The last paragraph in my Fareious three book is a happy ending. I’ve read it several times and every time my eyes water. I won’t say why. But this is the exact response you want from your readers.

If an author doesn’t feel this when writing it does show in the book. I’ve read a lot of books by new and well-known authors. I find both types which have that missing oomph. And the ones that aren’t up to scratch? Are the ones who tell. I have no image to go with what’s happening. Nothing to give me those emotional responses. The characters do nothing to make me love them.

Right, now go and do some writing. But remember. Show not tell, is one of the best things you can do. And if you want exercises to do – I’m happy to send you a few. Just contact me. In fact, I might do a few more blogs on the different types of emotions. Any interest?

Pinterest

I’m going to let you know how I got that amount of unique visits, and no adverts.

I opened my Pinterest account years ago. It was a personal one and I rarely used it. Then earlier this year I upgraded to a business account. Again, I ignored it.

The last few months that has changed. I changed my boards. I keep the ones of my interests and set up ones for my books. One for each series. Added quotes and pictures of things which inspired me when writing the novels.

Then I added more boards. I write dark romance, so I added a wedding and special events board. As I’m branching into paranormal, I added a supernatural board. This is where I add the potential pictures which might influence me when I begin certain books. If they do, they’ll be moved to the accompanying board.

You see, it’s not just about what you are writing at the time. Any other author knows, ideas pop into your head at any point. We write them down, but words aren’t enough. Pictures help. So, I add to to the spare boards. Then, I can look back and go, yeah, that’s what I wanted.

Here’s an example. I have a novel planned where my female main character will be involved in a photo-shoot. I’m not giving out anymore details but the photos that I’m thinking off, are in the appropriate board. When I start that book, I’ll have the ideas waiting for me to refresh my memory.

Simple. Right?

But remember that boards just on your books and ideas will get boring. I do crafts, so there is a board to cover that. I enjoy reading and have a board of all the books I’ve read and given 5 stars to. I read too many to post them all – just go to my Goodreads page to see the rest. I enjoy walking and wildlife – add in a wildlife and landscape board. I love, keep and breed rabbits – guess what – there’s a board. Anyone who visits my area, will learn a lot about me and I add in my own photo’s too.

I now get several pins saved everyday. My followers might not change too much, but my monthly figures are shooting up. 4k in one day. And not a penny spent.

Just remember to post new pins on a regular basis. Static boards get boring. I’m trying to post a few every day – but some days just don’t happen. Yes, it’s more work, writing the book is the easy bit, marketing and getting your brand out there is just plan awful. Lucky for me, I know a man who can help, but even then it’s still down to you to make the effort. Even paying someone, you need to do some work yourself. It’s your book. No one knows it as well as you.

So, now go out there and build your brand. Not your book.

Now, if only I can manage Facebook as well. Twitter is going better. But remember – no spamming book links. That will get your followers unfollowing. Interaction is the key.

And if you want to look me up – here I am.

What Type of Romance to write

Part Two

Wedding, Couple, Love, Wedding Couple

Contemporary Romance

This might be one of the more natural romances to write. The setting is in the modern-day. No thinking of having to world build, or get any historical facts right. If you set the story in an area you know, then you’ll be on roll.

Your characters will be people that you might come across in real life. Research can come just by you sitting and watching the world go by. The way people interact and talk. Cary that notepad with you at all times. The number of times I’ve picked up things at railways stations or bus stops is unbelievable.

Plot – again the modern-day makes it easy. Read the newspapers and watch the news. If celebrities are proposing – how are they doing it? Have you been invited to weddings recently? Same-sex marriages are no legal, so no need for any gays to hid in the dark. They can now show their feelings. Social media makes it easier for people to stay in touch, arrange things. Make the most of it. When I’m at events, my phone isn’t being used to check Facebook. No, I’m making notes.

The end – Now, these type of books always have an happy ending. Make a hash of that, and bye-bye readers.

One quick mention of the dreaded sex scenes. Contemporary romances can have all the sex you want. But most are clean or have less detailed scenes. Too many and you head in the erotic area. Don’t overdo them. One decent scene will be enough.

What type of romance to write.

Part One

Fantasy, Lake, House, Dance, Water, Sun

So, you want to write a romance, but what type are you interested in? I’m doing this in several parts as there are many types to cover.

Fantasy and Paranormal

I’ve added these two together as they can be closely related. They tend to have some sort of fancy element. This can be anything from vampires and shifters to angels and witches. Unicorns, stories based around fairy-tales or myths. It’s an endless supply.

These types of books can be set in the modern world, historical or even on a different plant. Whatever you decide you must world-build before even considering writing anything. You want the world to be believable. I’m planning two paranormal series which I hope to begin writing next year. At the moment, I’m world-building. I’m getting the main details sorted well in advance. If you don’t, you’ll not have a reference point to refer back too. Remember those readers? They’ll be spotting any problems.

Next, consider your characters. Clothes must match the mood. If they have powers, what are they? Weak points too. No one is perfect.

The layout of the ground. Social interaction – it all needs to be covered. The types of technology, the history the of place. Hierarchy. It’s your world do what you want but pass the info onto your readers. If to confusing they’ll close the book. Intrigue them. But, don’t overload them in one big go. Spread it out and bring the info in as needed.

Explain the species you have imagined. The flora and fauna. Give your readers an idea of the world but hold back and let their own imagination take hold. What do your characters want? Is there a back story? If you add a war, mention how it started. Why? Are your main characters the good guys from the start or will they grow into the role? It all needs to be covered.

And if you are still unsure – go and read a few romance fantasies. Learn how other authors branch into the subject. It’s a big area, one you need to know inside out.

That Perfect Setting. (Proposal)

Couple, Love, Romance, Sunset Landscape

Now, everyone has that perfect romantic location in their head. Be it the beach at sunset, a sunset cruise, a hot air balloon over the Serengeti or a quiet meal in. There are so many to chose from, so how to you go about finding that perfect place for a propasal?

Go back to your couple, to make things simply I’m doing the classic route of the man setting everything up. To do things right, he must know his girl rather well. If she hates hiking, a long walk to the middle of nowhere isn’t going to do the trick, even if the waterfall is stunning. The things to consider are what she likes, where she likes to go and do you have a special place?

If you have somewhere that is special in both of their hearts, then go with that. She likes to be pampered – a day at the spa followed by a meal. She likes animals – the zoo or if you can, one of those wildlife places where you can go into the enclosure.

The one thing to remember is how your soon-to-be fiancee reacts. Does she enjoy public places and won’t mind being watched, or does she prefer the quiet tones of somewhere private? Maybe picking the location isn’t going to be as easy as you thought?

But, it is. Go on, admit it. You wrote the couples background – you did, didn’t you? If not you’re on a downward streak. This is going to be hell. How can you make him propose if even you don’t know what your heroine likes? Now, go on, back to square one and get that background wrote. Amateurs, eh?

Now, there’s one more thing to remember. Women being women, she’ll have dreamed of her dream proposal. Every female does, so your mc isn’t going to be any different. If your hero is clever enough, he’d have got it out of her or asked her friends. How much easier do you want it?

Then there’s a romantic holiday route. Take her away. Whisk her off to a romantic location and pop the question. sorted. But is it?

The location is sorted, but how is your hero going to propose? The typical on one knee is common. Or maybe, have him lean over the table, the candlelight echoing around them. Maybe your hero has a joint problem and can’t kneel for the length of time required? Remember that background your wrote, go check it for those little bitty details because if he’s kneeling and you said he got shot in the knee recently…

So, hopefully this has got you thinking about this a bit more. Guess now you are figuring that romance writing isn’t that easy. Go on, you can sort it out.

But I will leave you with one last thought. How is he going to react if she says no…

Minor Characters

So, you have your main couple but what about the others? Those minor, side characters that filter in and out. Or do they? For those who have watched Grim, What about Juliette? The Grim’s wife? Minor or major? She came into her own as the program developed and you could say – one of the major characters. This is another thing to consider. Do you what them to remain as a minor character, or are you allowing them to grow?

Think about it. Your couple must have friends. Those they have grown up with, work with, go out with. You can’t ignore them. I dare you to try it. Go on, they’ll come back and bite you. They won’t stay in the background. Remember, they will affected by whatever you through at the main couple. A close friend wont just say – ‘Oh, well, its only a story’.

Minor characters help your main ones come out into the open. They might be the ones to help them get together. Match-make – it happens. Or she has to dump her friend at a party because this drop-dead, handsome guy appears. How will her friend feel. Add it in. Is she happy or will she throw in the jealous card? Think ugly sister time.

Don’t think your readers gloss over those little, bitty characters, they don’t. Okay, some might – there’s always the one. But take it from me, most won’t. So, what can you do?

When planning out your characters, don’t just concentrate on the main ones. That’s a big mistake. Take the same amount of planning with your minor characters. At some point, it’ll pay off. When your female goes out with her best friend you need to know what both like to eat and drink. Plan their birthday’s too. If it’s his best friends birthday, is he going to forget about it – I know, its a man thing so probably yes. But his friend will probably remind him.

Make sure you know their favorite colors too. If like me you then decide to write their story, you’ll already have the details to hand and won’t need to re-read the previous book – been there too. Remember those readers, yeah, those ones, the ones which will spot the inconsistencies and break out the bad reviews. Don’t give them the ammunition.

Your minor characters could easily steal the show, so get them right. You don’t need to go into a full description, unless they are getting their own book, let the readers decide how they appear. Many readers like that. If you do add a description,l do it early on before the reader makes their own decision. Nothing worse then deciding how a character looks and the author turns it all around – I know I hate it.

So, there you go. More decisions to make. Who said writing a book was easy? They were lying.