Finding Perspective

December 20, 2017

Finding Perspective

One of the most important things for me to find when I’m writing is the perspective of my target audience.

Simply: for whom am I writing?

For Web of Deception, I was writing to the adventurous young adult (myself and my brother), for the Brantley Station Saga, my target is young adults, and my target readers for The Devonians are those in first through fifth grade.  The Funny Sisters stories are written to be read-aloud so they are more complex.  My goal for them is to entertain both the mom or older child reader and the younger preschool or elementary listener.

Story From the Inn was written when one of my girls mentioned, “I wonder what it was like to work at the inn where Jesus was born.”  (We had just watched a show about the culture of Jewish life in Jesus’ time and read through a book about growing up where Jesus lived.)

I imagined the small inn at Bethlehem run by a family (most were in that time) and one daughter (one my girls could relate to) always trying to help yet always getting underfoot.  This became the eyes and ears of my target audience (my little girls).  Children would relate to Rachel and see, hear, and feel that inn, culture, and special event through her eyes.  I dove into some more specific research and developed Rachel’s story of Jesus’ birth as remembered by a beloved grandmother while entertaining several grandchildren awaiting a new baby’s birth.

Rachel epitomized most children: full of life and expectancy, eager to help, longing to please, and constantly asking questions.

In the moment, Rachel doesn’t understand the magnificence of the event, she only feels elated that she gets to help with a birth (something “big”) and hold a newborn baby (for the first time).  As the storyteller, she reflects on this as an adult, to complete the circle.

Check out Story From the Inn to read Rachel’s story!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Creating Darren

July 6, 2017

Creating Darren

One of the neatest parts about writing (for me, anyway) is creating people.  Maybe I take it too far, but I like to have elaborate backstories for everyone.  (For example: a character with a small part in “Web of Deception” has fifteen pages of notes on his family life, origin, habits, and history of how he rose to sit on the Myra’neen council!)  To give you some idea of how I create characters, I’ll give a simpler example:

Darren Blake is a member of the Grenadan Guards.  His parents own an inn in a small town two days’ travel from the capital.  His family consists of his father, mother, himself, and a set of twin brothers.  As toddlers, his brothers loved making muddy messes and rejected clean water.  Since his mother didn’t like mud in her inn, she would solicit Darren’s help in corralling and washing the twins every evening in the stable.  Darren hated this so much that when he left to join Guard service, he vowed he’d never wash a kid again.

Fast forward a few years.  Now Darren is a junior grade junior officer in the Guard ranks.  He is stationed at the underwater mining colony of Brantley Station.  He is low enough in rank to be unable to contest being placed “in charge” of Ethan when the pirate child is held in Guard custody until the council meeting.  Even though at first Darren appears just as callous as the majority of the Guards, his real character emerges as he realizes that Ethan is just as innocent as his own brothers.  Then Darren becomes Ethan’s guide, friend, and advocate.

I needed a character to bring the human side of the Grenadans into light.  This character needed to connect with Ethan despite being part of the Grenadan Guards.  In the long-term storyline, a positive connection early on was needed so that Ethan could reflect on at least one Grenadan as being good instead of evil.  As most of them, due to their militaristic viewpoint and cold, logical mindset, see orphans as weak links (unimportant, less than human) and are not in the least kind to Ethan.  In creating Darren, I had to take into account the lifestyles and culture of the Grenadans I’d created.  Darren would be, like all people, a product of his environment.

Darren appears only in the last half of Pirate Child and in the first chapter of Little Thief.  His character was also created to be temporary.  He is in Ethan’s life for less than two months.  Although his time spent is small, his impact on the way Ethan views the station is large.  This part of fiction is just as in real life.  Sometimes our connections with others may be very small (a nurse in an ER, a man on a bus, someone we stand in line with at a park, or a passing stranger who smiles at us when we are sad) but we remember them forever.

Be sure to check out Ethan’s story in the Brantley Station Saga and keep your eyes open for one short-term character named Darren Blake.  Ethan remembers him forever.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Research for Caleb

June 8, 2017

Caleb

I love to write historical fiction.  Historical fiction is fiction (a made-up story) set in a historical setting.  It can be following an actual historical figure, about a historical figure, place, or event, or a made-up story in a real time in history.

Writing historical fiction requires research.  The deeper and more accurate your research, the more in-depth and believable your story will be.

For example, “The Living God” is a historical fiction story.

Historical setting: Babylon, 6th/7th century BC

Historical figures: Daniel, counselors, princes, King Darius (Persian)

Culture(s): Recently occupied Babylon, rule was Mede/Persian, servants/slaves of various conquered tribes/nations/villages including Judean (Israelite)

For this story, I researched the culture of Babylon pre-occupation, the culture of the Mede/Persian empire, and the Judean culture for the time period of the story.  The Babylonians had a rather effective “conquer and subjugation” method of stealing conquered people’s high-ranking children and using them in court service to prevent uprisings.  They generally treated these individuals as princes and only took the best of the best.  Daniel was one such captive.

I also researched what was available on King Darius (and Mede/Persian rulers of this time in general), and Daniel; as these were my primary historical characters.

This research gave me insight into Daniel’s mental state.  Reading historical information about him revealed that he was grateful for his position, served his masters (at least three different kings) faithfully even if he disagreed with them, fulfilled his duties honestly, yet considered himself a prisoner and yearned for release and the ability to return to his homeland.

I created a main character to follow (Caleb) as a palace slave (captured youngster from another dominated tribe) using the cultural information I could gather.  Caleb is feisty, independent, used to being above the law (a noble in his former land), yet knowledgeable of the laws of his captive land and attempting to follow them.  As my research showed that often pairs of children were stolen, I also created Miriam, Caleb’s younger sister who is more accepting of her lower status as women were culturally lower than men even in nobility.

Since “The Living God” is a retold Bible story, the central storyline (regarding Daniel) is taken from the Biblical account.

So, that’s just a little bit about the research behind one short, historical fiction story!  I love researching things, so historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine.  Try that out with your next story – research and write!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time,

~Nancy Tart

 

 

World Builder

June 3, 2017

World Builder

I love creating alternate fantasy worlds.  I like to make them believable but fascinating.  Here’s a little step into how I build them:

In Web of Deception, the world of the Four Kingdoms is vibrant with culture and history.  I research elements I want, design histories that incorporate geography, climatic or geographic racial differences, climactic events, and culture clashes including the resulting epidemics, interracial blending, or wars that would have been.  To me, when I read Swavarian, I see the history of the people that made them who they are.

Sometimes I love the world so much that I create alternate stories within it.  For instance: the sharply contrasting cultures within the post-apocalyptic Earth world in the Realm of Earth series began with Grenadan stories focusing on the clashes between the militaristic tribe of Grenada with its central hub cities and primitive outskirt cities and the neighboring pacifist tribe of Camela in Source of Strength, Bold Worlds, and The Truth.  This precariously perched world with one central militaristic tribe whose Guards enforce law and order in most of the ten tribes shows up again in the Brantley Station Saga with the wealthier, more technological Qualizidians dealing with the political requirement of allowing Guards in their underwater mining colony.

All Greek?  No.  All part of the Realm of Earth!

That’s the way I explore other cultures in our real world.  I like to step into the shoes of different classes of people during whatever time and wiggle my toes around in them.  I like to picture their daily lives, struggles, imagine what their dreams would have been, and understand their culture without today’s lenses clouding my judgment.  It works for various cultures today too.  How does one understand another culture easily?

Imagine you are a mother in it.  What are your worries?  You love your children (love is universal); your hope is for them to have the best.  That I’ve found to be the easiest shoe for me to step into.  But you have to be able to drop your preconceived notions about what “best” is.  Here, in America, we have almost unlimited hopes and dreams.  An early Greek family living in a smaller polis would be hoping the rains didn’t wash away their crops and dreaming for a winter free of sickness.  They spent most of their day gathering food for the same day; as with most agrarian systems, they lived life connected to the seasons and their crops and animals.  Even if we are fortunate enough to have a garden today, we can find readily available food almost anywhere for a price; we live connected to our jobs which provide us money that translates into food, shelter, and clean water.  “Best” for them was survival.  Their “Best” is what we take for granted.

When I build my worlds, I’m pulling bits from a myriad of cultures I’ve studied and attempt to morph them together in a believable way.  Then I walk around in the shoes of the people I’ve created and pull their hopes, dreams, and feelings from what I would feel should their history be mine.  Hopefully, this process creates some realistic characters and believable worlds for your enjoyment!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time,

~Nancy Tart