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‘Fictional Characters as Real People’

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It wasn’t easy to find this image. It’s from a movie, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm: Jakob Grimm, deathly ill, is visited by the characters from his fairy tales who need him to get better because they can’t exist without him.

Oh, but they can! They can!


The trick to writing fiction that the reader can believe in is to write about your characters as if they were real people (and about your locations as if they were real places). Bear in mind that all of them have lives that go well beyond the little piece you’re writing about. If they live for you, they’ll live for the reader, too.

One of the things I really enjoy, as a writer, is seeing a character enter a story as a walk-on and then stay in the story, and grow into a major character. Some of your fictional characters can really surprise you–like, I never dreamed, never even suspected, Lord Orth would turn out the way he did.

After I learned how to control a story, I learned I didn’t have to.

Think that over for a while!

I Love My Characters

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Ellayne at work

I have to admit an embarrassing thing. I have fallen in love with my characters.

They’re fictional. I made them up. But by now I’ve spent so much time with them, they don’t feel like made-up people anymore. They feel like real people.

Yesterday–sometimes it’s like I just watch this stuff come out of my pen–Ellayne had a set-to with Lord Orth. I love Ellayne because she has so much go to her: you just can’t keep her down. And I love Lord Orth for the totality of his conversion, which took away the gourmandizing theological show-off and left a humble servant of God… who is now more himself than he ever was before.

I love Wytt for his resourcefulness, his complete lack of fear, and his very small size that never stops him from doing big things.

I love Gurun for her courage: here’s a girl who’s deathly afraid of riding a horse, dreading that she might fall off in front of all these men who insist she be a queen; but that doesn’t keep her out of the saddle.

I love King Ryons for his earnestness, Fnaa for his irrepressible sense of fun, Uduqu for his cheerful bluntness, Obst for his devotion, and Helki for his wildness–and for the fact that there’s no one else remotely like him.

I even get kind of fond of the villains. Lord Reesh. Ysbott the Snake. Lord Chutt. Just don’t let them know I said that.

And I love Nanny Witkom standing up in the cart in the middle of the world’s worst downpour, hair flying every which way, crying “Behold the salvation of the Lord!” No wonder Chief Zekelesh, who couldn’t understand a word she said, was so attached to her.

Of course, if you haven’t read any of these books, you won’t have met any of these characters. But that’s a problem easily remedied.

But if you have, tell me–are there any characters you’ve fallen in love with?

Yeesh! At one point, when they thought I’d killed off Chief Uduqu, both my wife and my editor were ready to tan my hide… I guess I’m not the only one who gets kind of involved with these books.

‘The Temptation’ Marches On

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I’ve typed up another 3,000+ words of The Temptation (Book No. 11 in my Bell Mountain series), and I am too pooped to pop. But I have to present these books in sets of four or five chapters at a time so that Susan can edit them. Just in case I take a wrong turn somewhere, I don’t want to have to find out after I’ve written the whole thing.

Boss Redegger the crime baron has returned, Lord Orth has to choose which way to go when both ways seem right, and there’s a lot going on in Old Obann (not a nice place). And Wytt has his hands full, trying to protect stupid humans…

I love doing this, and to God be the glory. He gives me these stories; I just do my best to write them down.

Progress on ‘The Temptation’

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Books don’t write themselves. You have to be there, writing them. This has been difficult for me, these past two weeks: doctor appointments, car inspection, really horrible weather, and so on.

Nevertheless, I plug away at it, trusting in the Lord to give me the story that He wants me to tell. Ten chapters of Book No. 11, The Temptation, are written. Fnaa, King Ryons’ double, has just gone down in history, although he doesn’t know it yet. Lord Orth is preparing for a long missionary trip into the Wallekki country. And if you haven’t read any of my Bell Mountain books so far, those last two sentences won’t make a lick of sense.

It has become necessary to re-visit Old Obann, the massive ruins across the river from the living city. It was the capital of Obann’s empire, destroyed by God’s wrath in the Day of Fire. It is not a nice place. I wouldn’t recommend messing about with it, but Lord Chutt, the usurper-in-chief, never listens to me. He has plans.

I won’t find out what happens next until I write it.

One of My Favorite Critters

Just as a relief from the nasty stuff I have to write about, let me treat you to a classic picture of one of my all-time favorite prehistoric animals, Uintatherium. This rhino-sized beast, with horns all over its head and tusks in its mouth, was responsible, in The Last Banquet, for freaking out Lord Orth and putting him exactly where God wanted him.

How I would love to see one of these babies!

Maybe, in the regeneration of all created things, the Lord will show me one.

Progress Report: ‘The Temple’

I just don’t feel like writing about current events today. Backed up by half a billion dollars of American taxpayers’ money, Planned Parenthood has been caught on videotape bragging about all the money they make by selling parts of babies slaughtered in the womb. And those moral imbeciles on Capitol Hill are beating their breasts and wondering what has gone haywire with our culture.

You, you numbskulls! You are what has gone wrong with our culture.

“Oh! But couldn’t we just have the gay marriage and the trans-women and the drugs and the rap music, and leave out the sale of baby parts?”

Uh-uh, sugar-plums–it’s a package deal, like cable TV: and you’ve bought the whole damned package.

But enough of this. Supposedly, this blog exists to drum up interest in my books and hopefully sell a few of them. So let’s try to do that.

Bell Mountain #8, The Temple, is getting its final edit before typesetting. We’re also waiting for another glorious cover by Kirk DuoPonce, and I need to draw a map and dash off some cover copy, and hopefully the book will be ready for release in time for Christmas.

What’s it about?

Well, King Ryons’ puny little army has invaded the vast dominions of the Thunder King, Lord Orth is converting the barbaric Abnaks to belief in God, and, in the city of Obann, under cover of law, Lord Chutt is trying to steal the boy king’s kingdom out from under him. And I don’t dare even hint what Ysbott the Snake is up to.

In other words, I’m continuing the story from the first seven books, and meanwhile I’ve written some 25 chapters of #9, The Throne. By God’s grace I’ll have it done by winter-time and it’ll be just as good as all the others.

As for #7, The Glass Bridge, a Customer Review on amazon.com the other day considerably raised my spirits. “The best series since Chronicles of Narnia,” the reader said.

Well, I don’t know about that. But it’s nice to know that somebody out there thinks so highly of it.

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