Panned: A Poem

The miry clay scraped aside

my hands, caked thick with muck,prospector-940076_1920

I stare into my palm

at the nugget I’ve unearthed.

 

The water pours reluctantly

a canteen cascade of glugs and gasps

 

is it just another stone?

a jolt of rusty hope

rattles in my chest.

 

the ragged dream

fills the corners of these old eyes

and spills down a familiar crease in my face.

 

It’s iron pyrite, by gum.

Blast it all!

 

~Robert JV Christensen

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8 Quick Writing Tips For Villainous Villains | Writamins: Vitamin V |

8 Great Tips for Villainous Villains
8 Great Tips for Villainous Villains

Welcome back, my inklings, to Writamins!  An article series designed to get you pumped, get you thinking about your craft and get you writing with my very own brand of condensed writing nutrition.

Now we all want to write stories that pop off the page and there’s a lot that goes into it but at the very center of it all is the characters.  If you want people to come along for the ride and love every minute you need characters that will provoke an emotional response.  If your readers love and hate the people on the page then they’re really into it.  Drawing out  emotional investment from your readers is necessary to giving them the best and most exciting experience possible.
So today we’re gonna talk about characters your readers will love to hate.  So start thinking villainous thoughts, everybody, cause we’re gonna take some Vitamin V!

Vitamin V: Villainous Villains:
Exercise: Take your favorite character (could be your own or from a book or show you like).  Come up with their antithesis, whether they have an enemy already or not.  Invent the person that represents everything your favorite character stands against and write a flash fiction piece just for that villain.  (Your favorite character doesn’t need to be in the story for this evil exercise.)

Now for the active ingredients of Vitamin V!

    8 Quick Tips For Villainous Villains

    1.  Know your villain’s overall goal, what are they obsessing over when they’re off page?  Their actions should push their agenda whether in secret or out in the open.  People, objects and places that no longer play into the villain’s plans can be discarded callously or kept close for later usefulness depending on the villain.

    2.  Find the lynchpin between the hero and the villain.  There must be an inescapable reason for your villain and your hero to collide.  Merely having opposed ideals does not necessitate conflict.  Teammates can have opposed ideals, it doesn’t make them destined foes.  

Conflicting goals concerning the same person, place or thing, however, do necessitate a decisive battle.  Whether it be a social conflict about how the new kid in school is being treated or a full out mounted dragon war with spears of flame to decide the fate of the Castle Whitehollow, that’s up to you!

    3.  Great villains strike heroes close to home.  For example, when a villain comes after a hero’s school, friends or family readers respond emotionally as if they are the ones threatened.

    4.  A truly fantastic villain is one that would have made a wonderful hero if circumstances were different.  Your villain cares about something.  Find out what it is.  A great villain would see himself as the hero.

    5.  Villains must be credible threats.  If a villain constantly has their plans foiled and never makes any progress toward their goal there will be no excitement in the final climax of the story.  Their loss will be a foregone conclusion.

    6.  Villains don’t need to kill for the threat to be real.  Once a character has died they can’t change, they can’t grow, they can’t move the plot.  Basically death for a fictional character is the last thing they can ever do for the story.  Use death sparingly or lose its potency.  Life and death should be the ultimate stakes, not just the tool to show whether or not a character is dangerous or evil.

    7.  Villains who capture, wound, and terrify can be more powerful at rocking the emotions than villains who merely kill.

    8.  Great villains are never evil just for the sake of it.  Their desire for their goal must be stronger than their fear of the consequences of violating laws and social norms.  If a villain feels they have nothing more to lose they can act freely.  Villains with real lives, jobs and families are also fascinating because they have to go about their villainy more carefully.

A villain represents humanity unchained.  Like it or not, evil and selfishness are a part of what we are.  Your villain was once an ordinary person that was swallowed up by the desire for their goal.

Until next time, stay creative!

Robert JV Christensen

8 Quick Tips For Great Dialogue| Writamins: Vitamin D |

Welcome back, my inklings, to Writamins!  Your regular dose of condensed writing nutrition designed to get you pumped, get you thinking about your craft and get your project in gear!

This weekend is Independence Day here in America and many of my readers will likely be spending time with friends and relatives trying not to explode while the kids survive the annual pyrotechnic ritual we affectionately call “The 4th of July”.  Now how, you might ask, is an inkling supposed to get work done on their magnum opus on a holiday weekend?  Take some Writamin D, of course!

Writamin D: Dialogue:
Dialogue is crucial to building believable and compelling characters Continue reading

I won another Short Story Contest! Wanna read it?

Good afternoon, my inklings!  I have the most delightful news for you.  I have another free short story to share and this time it’s another contest winner.  I have been honored as the winner of the first ever “Short Story Showcase” over at Kara Piazza’s blog, “The Writing Piazza”.

I’m just grateful to God that I was given another story that somebody really liked.  I hope you’ll like it too.  The story is called MadWorm.  It’s a web savvy futuristic adventure with laughs, intrigue and maybe even a little danger.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. 😉

You can read the full story right here on H2WLAO.

Please add MadWorm to your reading list and let me know what you thought about it!  You can comment to me here or over at Kara’s place.

   See, my inklings?  Good things can happen if you keep working hard, keep putting your stuff out there and give yourself a chance.  I believe in you guys.  Stay creative!

Robert JV Christensen

The Difference Between Stories and Novels

You describe the relationship between creativity and cold hard craftsmanship really well. It’s like being a race car driver and the mechanic at the same time. You’ve got to feel the road, race like the wind and change your own tires.

A Writer's Path

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Humans are born storytellers. Shortly after learning to string sentences together, we start sharing them: “Mommy, I did this…” or “Daddy, I did that….” We are eager to hear about others’ experiences, supposedly to learn from them and avoid their mistakes, and we like basking in the glory that our own stories give us (after being mentally edited, of course).

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8 Quick Tips For Great Short Stories | Writamins: Vitamin S |

8 Short Story Quick Tips
8 Short Story Quick Tips to get you writing great new material!

Welcome, my inklings, to Writamins!  Writing Vitamins or “Writamins” is my new article series designed to get you pumped, get you thinking about your craft and get you writing with my very own brand of condensed writing nutrition.

If you’re like me you have a million ideas for books with new ones popping up almost daily, but how do you narrow them down?  It’s going to take a lot of time and effort to write an entire book, so how can you know that your concept and characters are going to excite people and really connect with your readers?  Take some Vitamin S, of course! Continue reading

Short Story: Verser

Welcome back, my inklings!  Here is the science fiction adventure tale “Verser” which won first place in the Constellation 6 writing contest at the beginning of May.  I hope you enjoy it!

“Verser”
by Robert JV Christensen

Hail’s heart was pounding as he sprinted through the smoldering city streets while fire-arcs, like bolts of lightning, cascaded down around him slashing deep wounds into the ancient steel skyscrapers.  He held a toddler, in his arms as he ran, sheltering him as best as he could.
“Hold on, Harp,” Hail said to him.  The boy, shaking with fear, could only cry.  He winced and shrieked as a loud crash let Hail know that another building was coming down nearby.
Holding Harp tightly, Hail leapt from where he stood up a few stories to the roof of a nearby parking garage.  Casting a hasty glance up at the sky, he saw the sun eclipsed by an enormous flying metal structure.  It was the Iron Fortress of Ageless.
Hail and Ageless were Versers.  Once, there weren’t any Versers.  Life was better then.
The Iron Fortress cast another deadly strike of flame down upon the city and Hail frantically looked for a path of escape. Continue reading