Category: occult editor

How to Write Strong Female Characters

How to Write Strong Female CharactersLazlo Ferran, Romance, Vampire, Werewolf, Magic and Science Fiction writer writes a guest post on Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar’s blog: ‘How to Write Strong Female Characters‘ This article shows what difficulties are faced and some possible solutions when writing female characters from a male feminist point of view.

Movie Review: Oblivion, 2013

Oblivion movie still of the Sky Tower
Oblivion movie still of the Sky Tower

What more can be said of Tom Cruise in sci-fi roles? He always seems to deliver, so I was expecting something a bit special when I sat down to watch Oblivion last week.

Things were looking good after half an hour; great sets, great scenery and great special effects. Cruise was, as usual, dry in his delivery of Jack’s lines and held my attention.

But then I noticed something odd; Andrea Risborough, as Jack’s girlfriend and teammate Victoria, was acting badly. I thought, ‘Oh yeah, she must be an android and this will all be explained properly later,’ but no, the further into the movie I got, the more it became apparent that Victoria was human, and therefore badly portrayed. I am not saying Risborough can’t act, but she must have been at least badly cast here. It makes all the scenes with Cruise wooden and the love-making scene was just embarrassing. Continue reading “Movie Review: Oblivion, 2013”

How to Write a Good Book – Post 5. Varying the Pace

pen5So you have your plot of Rudolph’s adventures all worked out and you know where the climax and twist will be. Now you are considering writing the climax and want to know how to show tension when Rudolph can’t get the tractor down a narrow alleyway, or gets stuck in a snowdrift. So how do you show the tension?

It’s not as easy as you might think!

Action Words and Expletives

The first rule is to use more action words when you are writing action sequences. These are words like ‘ripped,’ ‘spun,’ ‘yelled,’ ‘wrenched,’ and ‘panted.’

Here is an example. See how this sentence sounds quite calm.

– He knew he needed to get through the door. He put down the axe and walked up to the door. He pulled on the handle and it opened. He went thought the opening and all was well.

That definitely lacks tension. Let’s try it again:

– He had to get through the door. He only had seconds left! He threw his axe down, spun round and leaped toward the door. Grabbing the handle, he pulled and pulled but the door wouldn’t budge. Using all his strength, he gave it one last almighty heave and wrenched the door open. The wood cracked and splintered as the lock broke, and he was through!
“What’s the problem Rudolph?” Santa yelled.
“The door! It’s bloody stuck!”

Okay, so I went a bit over the top there; it’s twice as long. But it’s much more exciting.

Notice the use of words like ‘grabbing,’ ‘cracked.’

Also notice saying ‘had to’ instead of ‘knew he needed to.’ Forget about considered thought in tight situations. People just act and think later when they are desperate. This is one place where we definitely don’t need to know what the hero is thinking.

Also note the use of an expletive (swear word) by Rudolph. You might not want to use expletives in your writing but it’s a fact that people swear a lot when under pressure. Leave swear words out and you risk losing realism.

Short Sentences

For the last reason above, short sentences are good in action sequences. We want simple action, and short sentences tend to increase the pace.

Time

Another trick is to use time. If the hero is not only fighting against an evil adversary or obstinate door, but also against the clock, this will dramatically increase tension.

I used this a great deal in Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate.

Adversity or Obstacles

Elements of adversity of obstacle can also add tension. In the example above the door wouldn’t open easily and he had to wrench it open. Small accidents can also increase tension. He needs a key to unlock the door but he drops it, as people do when tense or in a hurry. Both accidents and obstacles also prolong the tension, which also helps create tension.

Use of Commas

The use of less commas during action sequences can increase tension, but this is a technique not all authors employ. If you try it, you still need to observe good grammar rules.

A Word of Warning about Length of Description

As you probably noticed in my example above, quite often action sequences can make the prose longer. For this reason, you will need to allow a bit more space for describing action, perhaps as much as 50% more space. But on the other hand, if you use short sentences carefully and avoid any description of inner feeling, you can sometimes keep the prose in action scenes as short as elsewhere.

Slowing the Pace

It may sound crazy, but sometimes you will want to slow the pace!

You can’t have climactic scenes throughout the whole book. This would be exhausting to read, and would ignore the whole point of climaxes. But you may want more than one climax. In The Devil’s Own Dice I knew there would be a big battle in the middle of the story. Inevitably this has to be very tense and a climax of some sort. But I didn’t want it to be the final climax. This made things tricky. I got round it by making the lead up to the battle quite leisurely and keeping the tension high afterwards. I also had a strong ‘insight’ scene after the battle, so that we see a previous love affair in detail and how it affected the main character. This kept the pace up, because of the tension of an affair, but also allowed the reader a bit of a contrast to battle. I had to make sure the final climax was even more exciting, but on the whole I think the reader feels they got a bonus, rather than a let down

Using Chapter Breaks and Scene Switching

I put these 2 factors together because they sometimes amount to the same thing.

Because you will want the climax somewhere near the end of the book, each chapter should, on the whole, be more gripping than the last. This drags the reader along and won’t let them put the book down. For this reason, you should normally end each chapter on a cliff-hanger. That is, they should either be just about to learn something, or have just seen some action but not know the outcome. This will make the reader want to turn the next page.

If the book has a large cast and a complex arena of action such as the invasion of Earth in my science fiction book Worlds Like Dust, you might try switching between different areas of action, either at section breaks or chapter breaks, rather than trying to describe it all simultaneously. Allowing yourself to describe one piece of action completely before switching to another increases tension, because the reader is wondering in the back of their mind what has happened to so-and-so in the other scene. Tolkien does this brilliantly in Lord of the Rings. You must handle continuity very carefully when you do this.

So, in conclusion, to vary pace, use:

  1. Action Words and Expletives
  2. Short Sentences
  3. Time
  4. Adversity or Obstacles
  5. Reduced Number of Commas
  6. Chapter Breaks and Scene Switching

Join me for the final part of this series 6. Editing in two weeks’ time.

Let me know what you think of my tutorials by commenting below:

Hottest, Coolest WWII Gadget Vote Results are in!

The first three places are:

Focke-Achgelis Fa 223
Focke-Achgelis Fa 223

1st Place, with 6 votes: Focke-Achgelis_Fa_223 – A dual rotor helicopter

When Otto Skorzeny was planning his raid to abduct captured Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from the Albert Rifugio hotel on the Gran Sasso in September 1943, his original choice of aircraft was a Fa 223.[14] The Fa 223 would be able to land directly in front of the hotel.[14] However, the chosen aircraft broke down while en route, and Skorzeny instead was forced to use a Fieseler Fi-156.[14]

The Drache could transport cargo loads of over 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) at cruising speeds of 121 km/h (75 mph) and altitudes approaching 2,440 m (8,010 ft). Continue reading “Hottest, Coolest WWII Gadget Vote Results are in!”

Keeping up to date with Lazlo Ferran

Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate - Extended Edition coverHi All
I wanted to let you know that I will only be posting every second Monday from now on. I have to focus very hard on my latest novel and the real world tends to intrude as well so I don’t have to much time.

If you really want exclusive inside information on what I am working on, what is coming up, competitions freebies AND THREE FREE THRILLERS, then you need to sign up for the Lazlo Newsletter.

You will always find a page with the link to the Newsletter in the menu at the top of all my blog pages.

Vote: Which is the Best Scfi Vehicle Ever?

Sulaco from Aliens
Sulaco from Aliens

Now you can vote! 3 votes each. Vote closes 5pm Monday 29 June. Enjoy!

There were 2 nominations:

The Sulaco from Aliens (1986)
Moya (sentient being) from Farscape

अब आप मतदान कर सकते हैं! 3 वोट प्रत्येक। मतदान सोमवार 29 जून 17:00 बंद कर देता है। आनंद लें!

Jetzt können Sie abstimmen! 3 Stimmen je. Vote schließt 05.00 Montag, 29. Juni statt. Viel Spaß!

Maintenant, vous pouvez voter! 3 voix chacun. Clôture du scrutin 17 heures le lundi 29 Juin. Profitez!

Ahora usted puede votar! 3 votos cada uno. Voto cierra 17:00 Lunes 29 de junio. Disfrute!

اب آپ ووٹ دے سکتے ہیں! 3 ووٹ سے ہر ایک. ووٹ کریں پیر، 29 جون 5pm کے بند کر دیتا ہے. کا لطف اٹھائیں!

Poll: Which is the best Scifi Vehicle Ever?

Elevator vehicle under Fireflash from Thunderbirds
Elevator vehicle under Fireflash from Thunderbirds

Another great vote this week; which is the best scifi vehicle of all time?

The choice is HUGE but below are just a few suggestions to get you started. Please nominate your favourites by commenting here or tweet me @Lazlo_F or message me on Facebook. The nomination deadline will be 22 June at 5pm. Then we will vote!

Ein weiterer großer Stimme in dieser Woche; Welches ist das beste SciFi Fahrzeug aller Zeiten?

Die Auswahl ist riesig Gewinn Hier sind nur ein paar Vorschläge, um Ihnen den Einstieg. Bitte benennen Sie Ihre Favoriten von hier zu kommentieren oder tweet ich Lazlo_F gold Nachricht auf mich Facebook. Der Nominierungsfrist wird am 22. Juni 17.00 Uhr sein. Dann werden wir abstimmen! Continue reading “Poll: Which is the best Scifi Vehicle Ever?”

Should a hero be a Brando or a Martin Freeman?

Marlon Brando in The Young Lions
Marlon Brando in The Young Lions

Superhero or Everyman?

I woke up this morning wondering what to blog about and I decided the best post would be about the subject of my pondering at the moment; what makes a good hero?

Everyone (well, in the West anyway) will know who Marlon Brando is, possibly the greatest and certainly one of the greatest actors of all time. Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins in the recent Hobbit films.

I am as big a fan of Bilbo as anybody, and nobody can deny Bilbo is the hero of The Hobbit. What is more, he is an ‘everyman.’ What that means is that everyone can identify with his situation because he is just a normal guy. Brando, on the other hand, rarely plays normal guys; from The Wild One to Superman and Apocalypse Now, nearly all his characters are superhuman or out-and-out rebels; men on the edge of society. Continue reading “Should a hero be a Brando or a Martin Freeman?”

Occult Thriller Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate Translated into Chinese!!

Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate
Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate

Stop the Press! Occult Thriller Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate is being Translated into Chinese

Great news! Yes it’s true. I recently submitted half a dozen of my books to a publisher that specialises in translating books into Chinese and distributing within China and Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate has already been accepted and partially translated. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. I have made concerted efforts to reach the Far East Market as well as the Middle East (which Amazon ignores and in fact in which it positively blocks downloads) but I didn’t know how to reach any Chinese readers.

Timescales are hazy at this point but it looks like it will be available around the end of the year if all goes well. I will keep you posted if I get anything firmer.

I can also confirm that the next Newsletter will go out around the 15th March and in it you will find information on two different ways you can get any of my eBooks FREE! So sign up to the Newsletter today!

Poll Results: Best Vampire or werewolf Acting?

Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire
Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire

Best Vampire or werewolf Acting?

The results are in! I wonder if you will agree or disagree with the people’s choice! Please comment with your opinion or tweet me @Lazlo_F or facebook.com/lazloferran

In first place we have Tom Cruise as Lestat de Lioncourt in Interview with the Vampire.

In second place, we have Salma Hayak as Santanico Pandamonium in From Dusk till Dawn.

Tying for third place, we have Jack Nicholson as Will Randall in Wolf and Christopher Lee as Count Dracula in various Hammer movies.

Did you know?

Interview with the Vampire:

Tom Cruise and all the other vampire actors were required to hang upside down for up to thirty minutes at a time during the make-up application.

Johnny Depp was offered the role of Lestat.

There’s a scene towards the end of the movie where Louis is watching Superman (1978) in a cinema. This scene doesn’t appear in the novel because the book was written in 1976, two years before the film was made.

From Dusk till Dawn:

Salma Hayek did not have a choreographer for her dance. Director Robert Rodriguez just told her to feel the music and dance to it. Rodriguez would later use the same tactic with Jessica Alba in Sin City (2005).

If you look closely, when Cheech Marin is playing the Customs Agent, his name badge says, “Oscar Marin” which is Cheech’s real-life father’s name. His father was an LAPD officer.

Wolf:

Although the film is about a werewolf, that particular word is never mentioned.

Dracula movies of Hammer:

Christopher Lee’s last film for Hammer as Dracula, The Satanic Rights of Dracula was the final Hammer film in which both Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing appear.

Watch out for another poll soon, this time on scifi movies!