Tag Archive | #MondayMotivation

Epigraphs? How to Increase the Depth and Tension of Your Fantasy World

An epigraph is a short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, intended to suggest its theme. Epigraphs usually come from other artists, such as poets, authors, painters, or musicians.

For example, here’s the famous epigraph, written by D’Invilliers from Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. If you’ve read The Great Gatsby, then you’re familiar with how the quote kisses upon (but doesn’t tell) what is to come (foreshadowing) and the tragic theme of gaining the superficial love of a woman — no matter what the price.

the great gatsby epigraph

I noticed that some of my favorite fantasy novels contain quotes in the beginning or at the ending of each chapter, which are both entertaining to read and build onto the story. I also noticed that one of my favorite role-playing games — Dragon Age: Origins — includes epigraphs, which though not immediately relevant to the story, entertain me with something to read while I wait for the game to load.

dragon age origins

What both of these mediums have in common is that these quotes come from fictitious works within the story’s or game’s universe. These quotes, or what TV Tropes brilliantly calls Encyclopedia Exposita, are excerpts from other fictional books “being used as an epigraph or part of the frame of the story”.

As I mentioned before, epigraphs usually come from other artists. However, since I’m writing fantasy, I want my own quotes from my own fictitious text. It took me a couple of days to create six texts for the first book in this trilogy and draft five decent quotes with imaginary authors, which makes a nice round number of 30 total quotes. I enjoyed writing the quotes and focusing each one on specific themes of music, immortality, religion, fairy tales, and so much more. Stuff I actually love, love, love to discuss! Seriously, if I’m going to be stuck with these pseudo-encyclopedias, I need to like it. Even a little, yes?

Oh, yes. In order to write epigraphs for your novel or short story, think about the underlying themes. Reflect on the conflict. Once you’re able to write one solid sentence that encapsulates what the main character wants, you’ll be able to start drafting your own mini-poems, quotes, religions tenants, or whatever it is your literary heart desires.

I had specific goals for the epigraphs that I noticed in books I’ve read and what my personal desired outcome was.

In a nutshell, an epigraph can and should relate back to the story by:

  • foreshadowing what’s to come
  • highlighting a point the author made
  • introduce a new theme or turning point (which will hopefully increase tension and suspense)
  • set reader’s expectations

All of these points should keep readers engaged, deepen the complex “reality” of your fantasy world, and perhaps even answer some questions you didn’t realize you needed answering as author and literary god.

Another great outcome of this kind of writing is that I realized how more three-dimensional I could make this world with its own encyclopedia of musicians, historians, and artists. These artistic individuals wouldn’t only need names, but backgrounds of their own. And even though these mini-biographies will most likely not appear in the story, this necessary information is essential for me while I write.

So, if you’ve fallen into a rut with your fantasy story, consider using epigraphs — your own or someone else’s — to spice up your novel.

Happy Writing!

 

 

 

 

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Dear NaNoWriMo Cheerleaders, I Want to, But . . .

Cheerleaders of NaNoWriMo, I’m already behind. Based on the 50,000 word goal, I already have a deficit of 10,002 words!

Yes, I’ve written some short stories. There’s one that I’m finishing up for a November 15th deadline, but does that even count towards the novel of my dreams?!

You see, I have a novel inside of me that needs to be written. It makes threats. It keeps me up at night. The characters taunt me, “Monique, we’re so much more interesting than those other characters you created. Come on, what are you waiting for? This project is so much more important! Do us! Do yourself a favor and write about us!”

If only I had the time. So, I’ve decided to make time.

In Florida (accent on the duh), we have this thing called Daylight Savings Time, where we FALL BACK (happens in autumn or fall — you know, the season where trees change their color and the weather gets cooler?)

gorgeousfallscene

Sorry, Florida. No gorgeous fall scenes for you. You get to “fall back” an hour as a reminder that autumn has arrived.  #sarcasm

Well, since Florida rarely experiences these beautiful moments, I guess that’s why we’re still forced to abide by “da rules”.

Anywho, let me get back to the task at hand.

In order to make NaNoWriMo happen for me, I pledge, I vow, I promise, I swear (by the moon and the stars in the sky) that I’ll wake up earlier AND before making smoothies for the family, before packing lunchboxes, before working out (Zumba or weight training) that I’ll crank out those words; I’ll wrestle with those words; I’ll caress them; cajole them; coax them; and tickle ’em out of me and spew them on paper or clank them out on keyboard!

kermitthefrogtyping

Oh yes, I can!

So, now my day job is starting in a few minutes. With that said, au revoir. Until later. Blah, Blah, Blah.

blah blah blah

*Falls asleep on keyboard*

 

Quotes to Write By – Day 28

Months ago, I wrote a poem for my husband (it was his birthday) that invoked such deep emotion in him that he cried. I considered getting the published (come on, our kids have gotta eat) at one point and instead shared it at a Wordier Than Thou open mic event.

The response was powerful from the audience.

I didn’t intend to bring people to tears. I just wanted to share the love I have for my husband. The poem, still unpublished, sits on my husband’s work desk in a frame. 🙂

Sometimes when we write we deliberately choose precise words, punctuation, and phrases to inspire certain feelings or reactions in readers. Other times, we don’t intend to stir emotions within people. But when we do it’s absolutely beautiful. From now on when I write I make sure that I’m writing from the depths of my soul, bearing the struggles, the triumphs, the heartache, heartbreak. Why? Because this practice will often ensure the best kind of writing.

Quote #28

“The best kind of writing, and the biggest thrill in writing, is to suddenly read a line from your typewriter that you didn’t know was in you.”

Larry L. King

 

 

 

Quotes to Write By – Day 21

I’ve been writing for a while and each day I realize that there’s so much more I need to learn. I remember over a decade ago when my most favorite professor, Dr. Byrd told me that I had a unique writing voice. He pointed out to me that I needed to hold onto it, to finesse it, and to be true to it.

I felt conflicted. And a little confused. I also felt a great weight of fear. I didn’t know exactly what my writing voice was. It’s not uncommon to be so close to something and not fully see it. I was too close to the mirror and had to step away in order to reflect on sound and taste of My Voice.

I was also afraid that My Voice wasn’t good enough. I’m glad that he was my teacher because he inspired me to write more and criticize myself less. That period of time in my life was what I needed. My second oldest brother had died; I was a teen mom raising a little boy due to unfortunate circumstances. I needed nurturing soil to bloom. I needed sunshine.

The season of rain and pruning came later and I was able to find glory and beauty those bitter-sweet moments. The following quote encompasses the power of a writer’s voice and why it’s important that we find it, feed it, and cultivate it.

Patricia-Gauch

Gauch

Quote #21

“A writer’s voice is not character alone, it is not style alone; it is far more. A writer’s voice like the stroke of an artist’s brush — is the thumbprint of her whole person — her idea, wit, humor, passions, rhythms.”

Patricia Lee Gauch

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet with me @moniquedesir

Quotes to Write By – Day 13 . . . with a BONUS!

I have two quotes today from two different authors: Daniel José Older and Ray Bradbury.

daniel jose older

Older

From a superficial perspective, it appears that these men don’t have much in common. However, both Older and

ray bradbury

Bradbury

Bradbury are exceptionally talented writers. Yes, are. Even though Ray Bradbury has died, his stories are still read and discussed today. For example, Fahrenheit 451 was one of the first-ever dystopian novels! Bradbury was also a screenwriter and he worked in many different genres: fantasy, science-fiction, horror, mystery. Likewise, Older is not only a talented writer that writes in different genres. He is also a composer and an editor. I first learned about him over a year ago when I saw a copy of his fantasy novel, Shadowshaperat my local library.

Shadowshaper_cover-

Sierra, the protagonist, in all of her glory!

I had to read the book. Needed to. I don’t recall ever reading a book that spotlighted an Afro-Latina as the lead! (Review will be coming soon). Older is an expert at stringing words together without too much flowery description. The dialogue and setting is realistic. The characters are relatable!

I aspire to be like the authors Bradbury and Older by writing more and dabbling in different genres and medians to stretch, tighten, and polish my author’s voice. Why? Because I’ve got to be better than I was the day before. After all, readers of all ages and colors are relying on writers for more “honest literature”! 🙂 There’s much work to do.

 

Quote #13

“Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”

Ray Bradbury

BONUS QUOTE

daniel jose older_quotes

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet with me @moniquedesir

 

 

 

 

Quotes to Write By – Day 11

Today’s quote comes from Mildred D. Taylor, author of award-winning middle-grade titles such as, “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry”, “The Gold Cadillac” (which I need to read), and “The Road to Memphis”, which is one of my own personal top ten coming of age books. 🙂

The following quote is not my way of criticizing anyone who takes pride in their skin color and I hope anyone that does that considers if that pride is something that they had control or a choice over. And if the answer is “no”, then what’s there to be proud about? In other words, I know about the Black Pride movement and that it was an answer to Blacks celebrating their achievements in spite of  and not because of an imperfect, ignorant, and young country that they lived in, but weren’t treated as members of.

I’m not ashamed of being Black. I wasn’t able to choose my skin color while I counted my toes and fingers in my mother’s womb, waiting to be born. However, I did accomplish a lot as a single mother, a teacher, and so much more. And for those achievements, I am proud of them because it’s what I chose to do with the life that God has given me. 🙂

Quote #11

mildreddtaylor

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet with me @moniquedesir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotes to Write By – Day 10

Oh oh! I was so exhausted yesterday that I was unable to post! So, without further ado . . .

here is TODAY’S (well, yesterday’s quote that I’m giving today) QUOTE! 🙂

eugeneionesco

Born: 11/26/1909 Died: 3/28/1994 Wow! Check out that #bookstack!

Quote #10

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.”

Eugène Ionesco

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet with me @moniquedesir