Stories Told in Dialogue

Dialogue

This week’s creative writing camp is all about economy of language. I’m hoping to teach my students to give every word multiple jobs.

The most overt example of this is dialogue.

Good dialogue should tell the reader more than the words the speaker is saying. You should be able to tell who is talking, what they think of who they’re speaking to, how they feel about what they’re saying, and get a feel for their personality while they’re at it.

For an example, we looked at the story “They’re Made Out of Meat,” by Terri Bisson. Without a single description or tag, the Bisson constructed a rudimentary setting, goal, worldview, and character dynamic. We know the two beings speaking are co-workers, we can tell one out ranks the other, but we also know they’re friendly beyond their work roles because of the way they speak to each other.

Of course once they read a story entirely in dialogue, they had to write one of their own. Every student wrote their own story, and the students had to guess the setting, who was speaking, relationships to one another, and attitudes toward their topic.

Want to give it a try? Post your dialogue story in the comments below.

 

 

Random Plot Generator

Writing Resources, #amwriting

In Creative Writing Camp today, my students were challenged to firmly ground the reader in the story in three sentences that convey the setting, goal, and character.

It’s a super fun exercise that everyone should try (credit to the idea from Writing ExcusesMary Robinette Kowal who had a tweet about healthcare go viral this week).

Step 1: Go to Random Plot Generator

Step 2: Choose a Main Character, a Setting, and a Situation

Step 3: Set the scene in three sentences.

Step 4: Change only the setting and write it again

Step 5: Change only the character and try it again

Step 6: Change only the situation and try it again

Here were mine from today.

Scenario 1: A foolish man in his thirties at the fair being left for good.

So maybe he should have told her about the motion sickness before sitting next to her on the tilt-a-whirl, but how was he supposed to know it would both tilt and whirl? 

“Forget my number,” she snarled, slinging chunks of his birthday dinner off her designer dress.

Whatever, it was still an improvement from his thirty-second birthday when he’d gone scuba diving with the piranhas. 

Scenario 2: A foolish man in a castle being left for good.

The young king watched impassively as his wife bared her neck for the guillotine, trying to figure out why she looked so upset. If she’d given birth to a son instead of a daughter, this wouldn’t be happening. Next time, he’d find a woman approaching her forties; with age came wisdom, and with wisdom, sons. 

Scenario 3: A naive old man in a castle being left for good.

The king was flirting with his wife again, but Old-Man Bob wasn’t worried. His young, beautiful wife had a stable life without all the problems riches brought with them. Surely she’d reject the King’s advances. 

Scenario 4: A naive old man in a castle giving a dog a home.

Old man Bob squinted his eyes at the puppy dragging an elk out of the castle moat. “Here boy,” he whistled as the puppy bared teeth the size of his arm at him and left out an earth trembling growl. “Let’s get you in out of the cold.”

Want to give it a try? Post your 3 sentence scene in the comments below.

 

 

Review: Worthy of Love by M.M Kin

Worthy of Love by M.M Kin first edition book cover, Hephaestus, Kabeiro, Hades, Persephone, Aphrodite, Ares, Hera, Zeus, Greek Mythology RetellingBefore I begin this review, let me give a quick disclaimer. Worthy of Love is not a YA book. It includes adult content of the sexual variety. So, if you are not an adult or do not read adult books, read no further until you’re older.

We good?

Good.

Worthy of love is an adult Greek mythology retelling that focuses on Hephaestus’s life. We see his birth, his tragic fall from the mountain, his childhood, and his love life. Other mythological figures like Aphrodite, Hera, and Kabeiro play major roles, and still more like Hades, Persephone, Ares, Hermes, and Zeus have brief cameos.

One thing that I love about reading other Greek mythology retellings is that we authors have all looked at basically the same source material. We’ve studied the same myths, read the same stories, and we all came away with completely different characters and stories. A side note in my research (Heph and Kabeiro) is a major plot point for hers and vice versa. In her story, Heph, Hera, and even Zeus (sometimes) can be viewed through a sympathetic lens, but Aphrodite and Ares can most certainly not. My take is almost the exact opposite, I’ve read other stories that meet somewhere in the middle, and we’re all looking at the same myths. There’s so much room in Greek mythology for creative takes that are all completely accurate.

I finished this book fairly fast and really enjoyed seeing another interpretation of the marriage of Hephaestus and Aphrodite. I do wish Aphrodite had been a bit more multi-dimensional since she’s such a focal point in this book. Kin does acknowledge the double standard in the way Zeus is viewed for being promiscuous and the way Aphrodite is viewed, but Zeus was fleshed out enough that it wasn’t his only character trait. Aphrodite was just a shallow, petty, whore, and apparently a terrible mother. But I also recognize I have a bias when it comes to Aphrodite.

One thing I really appreciated was Kin setting this in ancient Greece but not doing the whole ‘my characters are going to randomly speak in stilted, Victorian English thing. I know the modern dialect puts off some readers because it’s not historically accurate, but if Kin was going for complete accuracy in her dialogue, the characters would in fact be speaking ancient Greek, not stilted, old English. If a reader can assume the characters are speaking Greek, but the story has been translated to English for our sakes, then can’t we also assume the idioms have been translated as well?

Thank you Kin for the review copy. It is always a pleasure to read another take on the Greek myths.

 

 

YA Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the PINK TEAM but there is also a red team, a gold team, an orange team, a red team, and an indie team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

Team Pink.jpgIf you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the PINK TEAM, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
 
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by October 8th at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
 colleen2
Today, I am hosting Colleen Houck on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!
Colleen Houck is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tiger’s Curse series and the Reawakened series. Her books have appeared on the USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Walmart bestseller lists, among many others. She has been a Parents’ Choice Award winner and has been reviewed and featured on MTV.com and in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Girls’ Life magazine, and Romantic Times, which called Tiger’s Curse “one of the best books I have ever read.” Colleen lives in Salem, Oregon, with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.
 
Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book here! 
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
Tiger's Dream, YASH
Hello Readers,
On this YA Scavenger Hunt I am giving you a sneak peek of something you’ve been waiting for a long, long time–the cover of Tiger’s Dream. The cover isn’t final yet since we still need to add the title, my name, the cover copy, etc., but at least you can catch a glimpse of the beautiful art. Cliff Nielsen who did all my other tiger books did this cover too and I think it’s just beautiful. I hope you like it as much as I do. We are hoping to publish the book next spring and I can tell you this is a BIG book, more than 800 whopping pages.
Here’s a brief summary:
From Colleen Houck, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Curse, comes the third and final book in the Reawakened series in which Lily will train to defeat evil once and for all and find a way to her everlasting love.

After surviving her otherworldly adventure, Lily wakes up on her nana’s farm having forgotten everything. Her sun prince, her travels to Egypt, and her journey to the Afterlife are all distant memories.
But Lily is not the girl she once was. Her body is now part human, part lion, and part fairy. And if that isn’t bad enough, she must harness this power of three and become Wasret: a goddess destined to defeat the evil god Seth once and for all.
With the help of her old friend Dr. Hassan, Lily departs on her final voyage through the cosmos and across the plains of Egypt. On the journey, she will transform into the being she is destined to become.
Reunited is the heart-pounding conclusion to the Reawakened series. It is time for Lily to find her sunset.

For those of you who can’t wait, here’s an excerpt.

Each step I took was weighted, like I was trying to stay upright as I strode deeper into the ocean. The further I went, the more the risk of drowning. Even though I was disguised, I felt recognizable, out of place, like a flower in a fruit basket. I nodded at people when necessary and made my slow way over to the bar. When the man asked what he could get for me, I stared at him mutely for a moment and then said, “Just some water, please.”

He slid me a sparkling water and I took a seat, sipping on it as I scanned the room. Nilima was the first person I noticed. She entered the party wearing a beautiful dress. Her smile was brilliant as she took the arm of a tall man that looked vaguely familiar. I sucked in a breath when I realized who it was—Anamika’s brother, Sunil. He looked just as happy as she did and much more comfortable than I would have expected considering he was from a different time.

Looking around, I recognized a few of the people who worked for Rajaram Industries. Sipping my drink, I studied Nilima and Sunil. He was deftly keeping all the other men wanting to dance with Nilima at bay. His hardened expression when anyone approached was very effective. Seeing her glare at him and lean close to give him a lecture was heartening. I smiled, happy that Nilima might have found someone and I hoped when I told Ana that she would be pleased.

Despite my interest in them, they weren’t who I’d come to see. A kind of breathless anticipation, a churning in my stomach, stole through me. When the bartender asked if I wanted a refill, I gave him a curt nod. A trickle of sweat crept down the back of my neck and I tugged at my collar, feeling hot.

Then, all at once, the music halted and a new song began—a lovely one I remembered that Ren had written for Kelsey. My heart wrenched. Almost as one, the expectant crowd turned to watch the front of the room. Before I could prepare myself, they were there. The wedding guests cheered as the couple entered the room. Ren beamed and waved a hand as he proudly guided his new wife. He looked dashing in his sherwani coat, his dark hair slicked back, but Kelsey was breathtaking.

Wow! I can’t wait to read that book :D. I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Kaitlin Bevis, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 2. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the pink team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

#YASH #TeamPink
CONTINUE THE HUNT
 
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, MAY FREIGHTER! Don’t forget to comment below for a chance to win an audio copy of my novel, Persephone.
 
 

 

FAQ Friday: Demeter’s Soul

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

 

Super-ultra-mega-spoiler warning for Iron Queen.

 

 

 

You have been warned……

 

 

A reader asked what happened to Demeter at the end of Iron Queen. “There was the part with the sad goodbye of her transferring her powers to Persephone, so was that it? Did she die?”

Yes. Demeter willed all her power to Persephone to force the coming of age rite that enabled her daughter to use the full breadth of her power safely. There wasn’t even enough left to maintain a soul. Why?

Well, gods can either be created or born. Demeter wanted Persephone to be born, to experience infancy, childhood, adolescence, and all the human rites of passage. But until she came of age, Persephone was essentially human physically speaking. As she drew closer to maturity (defined by the moment a body is at its absolute peak, frozen in time just before it starts to decline, so there’s variation from god to god), her body could handle more power, but not enough to deal with fealty from the entire Pantheon so she could defeat Zeus. And anything less, and she wouldn’t have been able to defeat Zeus.

Persephone deals with the fallout from that grief in the Aphrodite trilogy.

FAQ Friday: How will SPOILER impact Persephone in the long run.

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

 

Super spoilerific post for anyone who has not yet read Iron Queen. Fair warning…

A reader who just finished Iron Queen emailed the following. “This can’t be where Persephone’s story ends! The pantheon hinted that Zeus killing his parents might have been part of what drove Zeus crazy. Plus she’s a triple realm-ruler now, and she lost her mother, and Hades seemed to be a bit unhinged at the end. So what’s in store for her in the future? Are we ever going to see that?”

Short answer:

Yes.

Longer answer:

The sanity thing was just Athena speculating. Zeus was unhinged from birth. Something about his father attempting to kill him, his mother hiding him by tying him upside down to a tree for years, and spending his early years training him to kill his father. The whole slicing his dad open and rescuing his siblings thing only to find himself at once their savior and an outsider to their very tight inner circle, formed by years of being all they had in The Before was also fairly hard on his psyche.

As for the weight of ruling three realms, losing her mother? That gets explored quite a bit in the Aphrodite trilogy. Persephone’s adapting to her new role as queen of the Pantheon and her grief/trauma from everything that happens in Iron Queen. She gets a few POV chapters in Venus Rising to really emphasize that arc, but the Pantheon as a whole has to do a lot of adjusting throughout the trilogy. In the Persephone trilogy, the gods of the Pantheon were separate entities. They were used to working around each other, but they hadn’t truly worked with each other in centuries until the end of Iron Queen. Now they’re realizing they can’t just ignore each other until a big epic battle. That’s the very mentality that left them vulnerable to Zeus. There’s a lot of growing and adjusting that needs to happen.

As for Hades…this is lightly addressed in Aphrodite, and addressed more in depth here, but broad strokes, he’s not unhinged. He’s just mildly traumatized. He went through a lot in Iron Queen. Dealing with Zeus brought up a lot of horrible memories for pretty much everyone in the Pantheon. He also felt every second of Persephone’s torture, and he had to rip her arm off, and she’s waking up from nightmares where Zeus wore his face. That’s a lot to deal with even without the fact that he’s dealing with the fact that Zeus, Demeter, and Apollo are dead. They don’t think of each other as siblings, but that is millennia of history, good and bad. Then there’s the fact that he just kind of destroyed Zeus’s soul, and there’s some emotional baggage with that. And he also witnessed one of his worst fears (that his past will hurt the people he loves), come true for Poseidon.

It’s a lot. And I included that final scene to show that what happened with Zeus didn’t just happen to Persephone. She and Aphrodite weren’t his only victims, and they aren’t the only ones who need to come to terms with the events of Iron Queen. If Hades, the guy with millennia of experience getting over horrible things and a library full of self-help books, is rattled, you can bet every other god in the entire mythology is. And that will be explored quite a bit in the Aphrodite trilogy.

 

 

FAQ Friday: Is Iron Queen the last Persephone book?

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

I get asked a lot if Persephone is ever going to return as a main character. Short answer, no. Iron Queen is the last book in the Persephone portion of the Daughters of Zeus series.

Slightly longer answer: The ripples the events that occurred in the Persephone trilogy caused are still ongoing. Aphrodite’s trilogy focuses heavily on what comes next for the Pantheon after the boss battle in Iron Queen, and Persephone plays a major role in the Aphrodite’s trilogy. She even narrates a few chapters in Venus Rising. The ending of Venus Rising for sure will have an impact on Persephone’s future, so she will certainly appear in Artemis’s trilogy, possibly even as a POV character somewhere down the line.

 

FAQ: Melissa

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

Not exactly a question, but I get a lot of readers emailing me to say they loved Melissa in book one

And hated her in book two.

And I just wanted a moment to address that.

I completely understand the feeling. Melissa’s making demands and being super inconsiderate to what Persephone’s going through in book two. Persephone is super annoyed with her, so the reader should feel that way as well. Technically all this Melissa hatred means is that I’ve done my job.

But it still makes me a bit sad because Melissa’s one of my favorite characters. She’s not very considerate to Persephone in book two because she has no idea what’s going on in Persephone’s life. She cut herself out of the equation, so that’s on her. But if my former best friend called me at 3 in the morning during finals week and only gave me vague responses as to why, I would not be sunshine and rainbows either. The fact that she showed up at all means she’s a better person than I’d probably be.

I’m a horrible person when I’m sleepy. No. Really. A horrible person.

As for cutting herself out of the equation, Aphrodite was doing a lot behind the scenes to prey on Melissa’s self-esteem issues. Add that to…

The Joel drama (which you can read all about in That Moment When)

The fact that she literally died at the end of Persephone

and everyone but Persephone, including her own mother, was willing to let that happen

The mind trip it must be to be born and bred with a purpose you have no say on

Being magically forced to keep a secret from your best friend for years

Eagerly waiting for the day she finds out what she is only for her to get all distant and has problems that you can’t possibly begin to understand despite the fact that understanding and being there for her was the only purpose in life you were ever supposed to have…

Oh yeah, and she’s human and normal and surrounded by the supernatural constantly. Her best friend could be best described as an unearthly beauty. And she has super powers.

And she complains about them.

A lot.

I’m a reader. I’ve spent my entire life burying my nose in stories where the fantastic is possible. I cannot imagine anything worse than knowing it’s all out there, it’s all real, but not for me. I can’t imagine being surrounded by those magical one-percenters, the chosen protagonists, and not getting jealous. Much less being expected to listen to them whine about problems I’d kill to have and then be completely expected to die for them.

Melissa has a ton to process. And she does so in a flawed way. And I wish I could write more from her point of view to fully convey that, because from a writing standpoint, she’s a super interesting character to place in a scene. She brings an entirely different dynamic to every line she’s in.

But what is fun for the writer is not always fun for the reader. The reader is invested in Persephone’s POV, so what she feels, hurt, annoyed, betrayed, the reader feels. And that’s a good thing.

FAQ Friday: Why doesn’t Persephone ever listen to Hades?

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

There are multiple points in Daughter of the Earth and Sky where Hades gives Persephone a very specific set of instructions.

That she promptly ignores.

Sometimes she ignored him because she’s charmed (see last Friday’s post). Others because Persephone is impulsive. It’s her character flaw. She’s impulsive, naive, and she thinks she knows best. A chunk of the time she’s right, but not always. It’s not a new character development. This is the girl who ran away from home in book one then ran away from The Underworld to face Boreas. She’s never, regardless of the stakes, sat quietly and listened as other people make decisions. Not once in six books. It’s frustrating. But she also has a way of getting things done.

We all know people like her in real life.

But by the same token, Hades is wrong just as often as she is. There seems to be this impression that if she’d only listened to him x or y would have happened, but that’s not necessarily the case. There is no other way the conversation with Poseidon would have gone, regardless of who was speaking. Poseidon had days to plan exactly what he was going to say and how he was going to say it. Hades didn’t have all the information about Joel or about Zeus or about Aphrodite, so her listening to him in those cases would have led down a different path. But not necessarily a better one.

She is growing as  character, and being less impulsive is one of the places where she’s going to grow. But she and Hades are also growing in terms of having a healthy, functioning relationship where they listen to each other instead of both just doing their own thing because they’re convinced it’s for the best. In other words, it’s not just her flaw.