How to World and Character Build in a Horror Novel Series by Charles F French: Part Three

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This section is the third part of my presentation for the Horroraddicts.net Online Writing Conference. I hope some of you find it to be useful.
How To World And Character Build in a Horror Novel Series
by

Charles F. French

Part Three
Themes, Conflicts, and Arcs

Themes:

Another aspect of writing a novel series is the issue of themes. I am not saying that ideas should dominate the work, that somehow a horror series should be written as literary fiction. I am, however, arguing Horror fiction is as strong and important as another other kind or genre of writing. I am proud to write Horror, and I believe it, as a genre, should be taken seriously.

As the author of your series, you should have some idea of the over-arching ideas that permeate your work. For example, in my Investigative Paranormal Society series, several themes exist—Is there life after death?; What responsibility do we have towards each other?; And does love overpower hatred?
You may have noticed that I expressed these ideas as questions. I did this because these are issues that I am exploring as I write the books. I am not trying to teach lessons in the novels but to keep in mind these broad questions as I write. I certainly think character and conflict matter more than thematic concerns, but that does not mean that themes are unimportant.
Sometime, the writer can come to more of an understanding about these questions after having created several drafts of his/her book. I suggest that you read your work and answer these questions in a sentence or two:
• What is it about? This may seem like a very basic question, but can you summarize not the plot but the point of the series?

• Do you have any repeated motifs or symbols that you intend to use?

• Are there any political of social issues that you want to include in the series?

Conflicts:

Understanding the conflicts that characters have, both internally and externally, is important to developing and maintaining your series. Conflict is the key to action, drama, and impact on the reader. Characters might spend time facing an issue within themselves, something that helps or hinders their actions. They might also have lesser conflicts with friends, allies, and families. With enemies, they will probably have the largest conflicts.

• What oppositions or problems are your characters facing?

• What internal conflicts must the characters deal with or try to resolve in order to achieve their goals?

• What are the conflicts driving the plot?

• What are the characters trying to accomplish?

• What are the stakes for the characters?

• What must the characters overcome in order to achieve success or victory against their opponents?

Understanding these questions will be important not only for the creation of the series, but also they can serve to help you write query letters and pitches for your books, if you intend to do so.
That is a matter for another day!

Arcs:

Another important consideration for a horror novel series is that of arcs, those of character and plot.
All novels should have clear character arcs, the movement that a character takes internally as the external events of the story occur. Arcs should occur in each section of the novel. I tend to think of my novels as being set in three overarching acts, but that is not crucial. In my case, many chapters would occur within a given act. You should view the major divisions of your novel as best suits your needs.

Ideally, you should look at each character and decide these points, but you might wish to stick with examining the arcs of the featured characters.
The most important questions for character arcs follow, and please try to answer each question both within each book and the entire series:
• How much and in what ways does the character grow?

• What does the character learn?

• How does the character change?

I suggest that you answer these questions about the character for each “act” of each novel, for each novel of the series, and for the overall series itself. This may seem, on first glance, to be too much analysis for a creative process, but I think that the more we, as writers, understand what we are trying to accomplish, the better the process will be.

Now, if you disagree, then simply do not use this approach.
This is a similar approach that I take with teaching of writing to students in my college classes, when instructing essay writing—that you should try various approaches. Keep what works for you, and put those tools in your writer’s toolbox; eliminate what does not work.

How To World And Character Build in a Horror Novel Series by Charles F. French

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I had a wonderful time participating in the HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference 2020. The hosts were friendly and extremely helpful. The information given out by many presenters is useful for writers who are not horror writers as well as those who are. If you have a chance, you can still stop by their excellent site: HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference
Here is part one of my presentation:
How To World and Character Build in a Horror Novel Series
by
Charles F. French
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Part One

 

Character Biography Sheet

The following worksheet is a sample of the kind of biography sheet that I use when writing. I have formed this based on biography sheets I used both as an actor and director, and I find them to be extremely useful in writing fiction. I do not suggest that I have asked all the questions that another writer might of her/his characters, but I hope this sheet is a good way to begin. Feel free to copy it and use it as you will. I find it is most effective when I include as much detail as I can about my characters. Also, please understand that it is unlikely that you will use all of these details in your writing, but knowing these minute parts of your characters will help you both to bring them to life and to bridge their existence over several books.

Physical Characteristics:
 

Height –
Weight –
Body type –
Hair color –
Hair length –
Hair style –
Eye color –
Scars or birthmarks –
tattoos and piercings –

limps or other physical issues –
Family:
 

Mother –
Father –
Siblings –
Cousins –
Emotional relationship with any of them –

Foods:
 

Is the character a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, or other special kind of consumer of foods?
Breakfast:
Eggs – how do they eat them? what style?
Breakfast potatoes – homefries, hashbrowns?
Breakfast meat? what kind?
Toast? what kind of bread?
Bagels? what kind, with toppings?
Fruit? what kind?
Pancakes?
Waffles?
French toast?
What kind of syrup?
Cereal? what kind?
Oatmeal? with what on it?
Cream of wheat?
Other breakfast choices?
Lunch:
Soup? What kind?
Sandwich? What kind? What bread?
Salad? what kind? what kind of dressing?
Pasta dish? what kind?
Fruits? What kind?
Dinner:
Any particular type of food that is a favorite?
What main dishes?
What side dishes?
What salads?
Desserts:
Cakes? What kind –
Pies? What kind –
Ice Cream? what kind and how?
Other baked goods? what kind –
Indulgences:
Candy? What kind?
Cookies? What kind?
Other?
Alcohol:
Beer? What kind –
Wine? What kind –
Whiskey? What kind –
Mixed drinks? What kind –
Coffee or Tea
Coffee? How? black, cream, sugar –
Tea: Caffeine, decaf, herbal, cream, sugar, honey –
Other beverages:
Soda? What kind?
Iced Tea?

Sparkling Water?
Clothing:
 

What do they wear to work?
What do they like to wear at home to relax?
Are they formal or informal dressers?
What kind of shoes do they like to wear?
What kind of coats do they wear in bad weather?

What do they like to wear on vacation?
Entertainment:
 
Books:
 

Do they like to read? What kind of books –
Print or ebook?
Read for work or pleasure?
Favorite authors?
Fiction or nonfiction?
Poetry?
Biography/Memoirs?
Magazines? Which ones –

Television:
 

Series?
Comedy?
Drama?
Horror?
RomCom?
Occasional viewer, faithful viewer, or binge viewer?
Prefer traditional cable or streaming services?
Film:
Comedy?
Drama?
Horror?
RomCom?
Suspence?

Life History:
 
Education:
 

Level of highest education?
What was studied?
Did the character enjoy school or not?

Sexual Orientation:
Straight, gay, bi, trans, other?
Romance History:
 

First love –
Ever Married?
Divorced?
In love now?

Children:
 
How many?
Grandchildren:
 

How many?

Other relatives:
 
Who?
If any of you find this useful, please feel free to use it as you will.

My Writing Progress: An Update by Charles F. French

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It has been quite some time since I have done a post about my current writing progress, so I thought I should do one right now.

I have just finished the first draft of my second book on writing; this is a bit ironic because it is about helping writers complete first drafts. The plan is to have this book out in the fall of this year, so I still have much work to do on it.

I am also a bit into the second draft of my as yet unnamed fantasy/horror novel set in South Dakota.  I hope to have this revision done this year.

Finally, I am finishing putting the last touches of polish on my YA ecological post-apocalyptic novel The Ameriad: The Monastery of Knowledge so that I can submit it to several agents who expressed interest during the 2018 Writers Digest Conference this summer.

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

FOE_Cover_French

 

Available on Amazon

Back From The 2018 Writers Digest Conference

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I attended the 2018 Writers Digest Conference in New York City this last weekend. I have been to this event several times, and each time I have learned more about writing and publishing. This time was no exception.

First, I want to say thank you to my wonderful in-laws, with whom I stayed during the event on Staten Island.  They are lovely, sweet, and caring people, and I am very thankful to them for their hospitality.

The event went from Friday to Sunday, and each day I attended many events–this year I focused on learning as much as I can about marketing.

I also attended the pitch slam session, which is, essentially, speed dating with literary agents! During this event, writers get 3 minutes to deliver their pitch for their books, so it is suggested that we divide the time in half–90 seconds for the pitch and 90 seconds for feedback. It went well, and I have several agents interested in my YA novel. I will send out the materials to these agents next week–as soon as my work for teaching the second summer session at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College is over.

I also met and networked with other writers.  I suggest to all writers to attend writers conferences if you are able to do it.

Plus, I had the added pleasure of riding the Staten Island Ferry two times each day!

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(https://pixabay.com)

 

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

FOE_Cover_French

 

Available on Amazon

At The 2018 Writers Digest Conference!

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This is a quick post to let everyone know that I am attending the 2018 Writers Digest Conference in New York City this weekend.  I will be pitching my YA novel The Ameriad: The Monastery of Knowledge at the agent pitch session. Wish me luck!

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I am also trying to learn as much as I can about the world of publishing and marketing as well as writing.

And I get the opportunity to ride the Staten Island Ferry twice a day, and that is something I love!

ferry-799428_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

 

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

FOE_Cover_French

 

Available on Amazon

March Writing Progress

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As I was working on a draft of one of my books yesterday, I realized that I had not give my monthly report on my writing progress.  My apologies for tardiness!

I received excellent feedback from a fellow blogger on my novel Evil Lives After –thank you!  I finished the 9th draft, and I am now currently working on smaller revisions for the 10th draft, which I hope will be done this month. Then I have to decide–do I keep trying to get an agent for it, or do I self-publish? I am leaning now towards self-publishing this book.

I am continuing timely progress with book 2 in my YA series. I expected to have about 100 pages written by the end of March, and I am exactly on target.  With this rate,  I will complete the first draft by the end of June.  It will also keep me on my target goal of drafting two first drafts every year.  I know that these are not finished works, but without something down on paper, there is nothing to correct.  Also, I have so many novels and a few nonfiction books patiently, or not-so-patiently, waiting in line to be composed that I must continue this pace.

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Book One of this series is now the novel that I will begin to pitch to agents.  I think I have a much better chance of finding an agent for this piece than the horror novel.  I will work on both my query letter and a pitch to give at the Writers Digest 2016 conference in Manhattan this summer. As always, I am excited about going to this conference.

That is all for now…will do another update in one month or so!

 

 

Home again!

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Hi all, this will be a relatively small post today.  I just arrived back home after attending the 2015 Writers Digest Conference this weekend.  I had a great time at the conference, and I learned much during the various sessions.

I missed my wife enormously, because we were not able to travel to the conference together.  I have a great deal to talk about and share with you, and I will do that soon in a series of posts.

Right now, though–I am exhausted.  So, more in future posts!

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