My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year is a mishmash of books, movies, writers and TV shows that have in one way or another taught me something about writing and helped me be a better writer. Some inspired my own stories and a few taught me what not to do. Each post is a one minute lesson on writing. Hop over to the IWSG blog for some April inspiration.
Anthony Ryan has written a high fantasy trilogy that starts with the novel Blood Song. The cover grabbed my interest and when I opened the book it started with a ten page italicized epilogue written in first person by a narrator who is to witness and write about the death of the man who is the actual protagonist. This narrator hates the hero and can't wait to see him killed in a combat to the death. The reader realizes right away that what is happening is actually the end of the novel. The first chapter
then starts as the protagonist tells his story to this scribe who hates him. A few more observations of the narrator are inserted in the book but the rest of it is the life story of the man supposedly going to his death. In the second book, Tower Lord, the scribe has moved from observer to being part of the drama and action. What first seems a simple story of a boy raised in a harsh, disciplined sect expands as the boy's world expands into a complex fantasy world with complicated politics and surprise twists. Ryan also wrote his books with only a year in between and the third and last novel is coming out in July.
Lesson: The narrator of a story doesn't have to be friendly to the hero. That very hostility can throw emphasis on the better qualities of the protagonist. In war, the lines between good guys and bad guys can be blurred. Who is the good guy? You can make your hero as likable as you want as long as you give him enough human flaws. Secondary characters should be complex enough to surprise the reader when they show heroism or betrayal. Starting a book at the end can intrigue the reader to find out how the characters arrived there. Fantasy readers will love you if you don't make them wait too long for the next book in a series.
"Cruelty is in all of us,” he said. “But they made it a virtue." Vaelin Al Sorna, Tower Lord
"Men who love themselves hate those who would dim their glory." From Blood Song
“A fool is any man who doesn’t think he’s a fool." From Blood Song
Have you ever read a book where you didn't know who the good guys were or where there weren't any? Have you read a book that starts with the ending? Have you read a book where part of it is written in first person and part in third person?