The Fictorians

Archive for the ‘The Writing Life’ Category

I Would Do Anything for Love…

27 February 2015 | 1 Comment » | Kristin Luna


But I won’t do that. You know what I’m talkin’ about, Meatloaf.


Instead, we did all of this:

Victoria Morris Threaded the Tapestry

Gregory D. Little Subverted the Meet Cute

Ace Jordan did the Science of Love to Explain the Murky Middle

Mary reminded us that All You Need is Love

Joshua Essoe gave us advice about Writing Sex ScenesIn two posts!

Clancy showed us the Flip Side: Bad Girls and Anti-Heroes and Why the Guys Love them

Travis Heermann Examined and Bound

Kim May Pleasured us with Pain

Stephan McLeroy no longer Struggles to Define Love

Leigh Galbreath Drew us in with Dysfunctional Relations

Tracy Mangum gave us a master class in Love in Screenplays

Jace Killian showed us the Try and Fail in Love

Matt Jones made Ignorant Secret Troubled Love to us

Tracy Mangum followed up with Sex in Screenplays

Lisa Mangum reminded us that First Comes Like

Frank Morin pushed A Life of Passion

Colette advised us to Let Love Simmer

And RJ Terrell wrote On Love


Sure, this month is over, but we know you’ll be back. If you fall we will catch you, and we’ll be waiting. Time after time.


On Love

26 February 2015 | 1 Comment » | fictorians

A guest post by R J Terrell.

Love is an interesting subject, and could arguably be the core element in every story. When we take a step back and think about love, what it is, and what it means to us, every person may come up with a different definition, but I believe the core of it is the same.

The dictionary defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection, yet when we define the term ‘affection’, the dictionary states that it is a gentle feeling of fondness or liking.

These are technical explanations of something that is in itself, very difficult to explain, and when you look at the definition of one term (affection) within the definition of the word ‘love’ itself, you see conflict in regards to the level weight of what it means.

This very thing is what makes love a fascinating thing to explore in stories. It never gets old, because it is something most, if not all humans experience yet struggle to define in regards to how we as individuals experience it. It is also a multilayered term. I as an individual love playing video games and love reading books. Yet my love for my parents, my brother, my family and friends is a different kind of love altogether. And to take it even further, my love of spending time with my wife is quite different than my love for my wife. Would I throw myself in front of a car to save my Playstation? No.(though my wife might argue) Would I throw myself in front of a car to save my wife? Without a thought. Same word, different meaning.

In stories, we see characters love their parents, family, friends, spouses, etc. We also see them love forging weapons, creating magical spells, cleaning and polishing guns, washing their cars, practicing the sword, etc. When we delve into these characters, we see the things and people they love, but we also get to see ‘why’ they love them. Jason loves skipping rocks across the pond because it reminds him of how he and his father did it every day after school. It was one of the only happy times in a socially trying time in his school life. Linda loves her mother, the person who gave her life and protected her as she grew older in a harsh and hard world. Yet her love for Jason is a different type, a romantic type. She loves his voice, the way he looks at her, the way he smiles when he talks about how he skipped rocks across the pond with his father.

Characters experience love in the same ways that we do, and it is one of many things that make them relatable to us, and makes us sympathize with them, root for/against them.

There are many elements that make a story great. There are many elements that make a story alive, full, multilayered, and colorful. One of those elements has so many layers, so many aspects and so much depth, that whole novels are written about characters who struggle to define it, struggle to find it, struggle to hold on to it. Some even struggle not to attain it. Not many things can cause intense joy and pain. Some characters live in love with the specter of hate just on the other side of the coin.

Love is multilayered, multifaceted, and one of the most complex and powerful aspects of life that a human can experience. It is strengthening and debilitating. It is invigorating and crushing. It can make the soul sing a celebration of life, or a dirge of loss.

Love is life.

About R J Terrell:
R. J. Terrell was instantly a lover of fantasy the day he opened R. A. Salvatore’s: The Crystal Shard. Years (and many devoured books) later he decided to put pen to paper for his first novel. After a bout with aching carpals, he decided to try the keyboard instead, and the words began to flow. When not writing, he enjoys reading, video games, and long walks with his wife around Stanley Park in Vancouver BC.

R J Terrell on facebook

RJTerrell on twitter

R.J. Terrell on Goodreads

Ignorant Secret Troubled Love

20 February 2015 | No Comments » | Matt Jones

whisper-408482_1280 One of my favorite tv shows of late is Castle. What’s not to love? Nathan Fillion is awesome, fights crime, and is an author! He’s who I want to be when I grow up. One of the subplots, and it’s almost getting to the point to where it’s cliche, is the love relationship between Richard Castle and Kate Beckett. Everyone knew from day one that the sexy co-star would eventually end up with the strong protagonist. In fact, I’m sure that even those who have never seen the show know exactly what I’m talking about. The formula is as old as time, so why does it keep happening? Or, perhaps a better question, why is it still so exciting?

If you’ve been following the blog all month, you have seen many examples of how love sells. We’ve talked about why it sells, the science behind it, the deep emotional depths, and the physical side as well. And, like clockwork, it comes up every year as we approach and celebrate Valentines Day. And, like the media we watch, it won’t go away. Cliche or not. The easiest explanation for all of this is that love if one thing that, no matter the genre, style, or age, will instantly connect to the audience. Everyone has experienced love and heartbreak. We all know the spark of attraction, the joy and embarrassment of dating, and the hurt of betrayal. And watching these shows, we can instantly bond with the characters and we have an idea of what they’re going through.

Another good reason is that relationships are a source of easy drama. Misunderstandings and clashing personalities are expected with any relationship. It adds realism, while still providing the tension that can carry an audience through the series. With episodic television, it’s somewhat expected that whatever problem is introduced in the beginning of the episode, it’ll be resolved quickly. This means that you can usually sit down and start watching an episode and have very little requirement in knowing the back story. Someone was killed, lets go find out who did it. The relationship drama, however, can last the entire show. Start watching in the middle, you can be fairy sure that you’ll know exactly where they are in the relationship arc and have a good idea of what came before it and where it will go afterwards. Despite this, it’s still able to elicit the emotions the writers desired.

And perhaps the best reason it still happens is that the audience will always want it. If Castle and Beckett never ended up together, it would be frustrating to much of the audience. The formula is so ingrained in us that if we see the potential and it’s ignored or dismissed, we almost feel that it’s a failure. The world practically revolves around these two characters. It’s hard enough to get through the beginning stage where they both have the feelings but they hide it and walk around in ignorance. After time, it would become difficult to balance the proximity the main characters have with each other with the expectations of the fans.

I will say that not everything follows this format, but even those that break it do so knowing what they’re getting into. We’re human, and we love. Disaster comes and goes. Worlds shatter, and murder cases are solved. In the end, it’s the relationships that will be remembered most. Which is fine by me. The world can always use a little more love.

Struggling to Define Love

16 February 2015 | 3 Comments » | fictorians

A guest post by Stephan McLeroy.

Acid bubbled in my gut as I stared down at Jamie from the front door of my double-wide.

“Pat, come on, just let me in, just for a second.”

I took hold of the screen door’s aluminum frame and gripped it for support. The urge to look away so I could think through things for a moment itched at my eyes. But I didn’t. Jamie’d seen through my bullshit yesterday. Now I had to at least seem resolute as I made my choice: would I let us be together, or would I keep running the safe play.

“Damnit, Jamie, why can’t you just cut your losses and get the hell outta town.” I said, my voice stumbling over every syllable.

Jamie moved up onto the first step below the screen door. The rubber of Converse high-tops scraped against the sandpaper laminate, shaving away the edges of composure. Bright eyes, the color of pool table felt, stared at me with an understanding that called my bluff.

“Pat, come on, this isn’t cards here, I’m tryin’ to show you that you can have something better, something real, and I’m willing to work through all that baggage you got, but you haveta stop pushin’ me away.”

Without warning, I felt my sinuses tighten up, and fluid fill my eyes. I started to close the screen door, but Jamie had mounted the second step. Long, rough fingers slid over my hand and I felt my tight grip on the aluminum melt to butter. I tried to inhale, ready to make some excuse neither of us wanted to hear, but the air caught in my mouth as Jamie pressed against me. A river flowed through me, washing away the fear, the doubt, crashing through the calloused sphere I’d worked around myself. I’d loved and lost, loved and been hurt, but all of a sudden, with Jamie’s soft lips pressed against mine, it all didn’t matter anymore.


Whew! I hope that was as fun for you to read as it was for me to write. Love is fantastic isn’t it? For me, I’ve always been keenly interested in the subject. It’s incredibly challenging to try and define love for others, but the task is extremely important when writing love relationships between characters. When it comes to love, however, there is one thing you can always count on: Everyone’s version is unique.

Let’s go back to the little scene I wrote above. You might have noticed I kept the two characters gender neutral. For fun, I let three friends read the scene and then asked them two things. First, I asked them what gender the two characters were. As you might have guessed, the genders of the characters changed with the gender of the friend being asked. Then I asked them to describe Pat’s relationship with love prior to the events of the scene. All three agreed that Pat, whether they were male or female, had been hurt and, as a result, had developed a fear-based relationship with love.

Now, don’t get me wrong, gender is a major source for experiences we utilize while building our individual definition of love. We use experiences to decide what we associate with love. For some that love feeling could come from a sense of security, for others, it’s centered on unconditional trust. Then you have other people who associate love with something specific like height or weight or how obsessed the person is with the band Gwar. A definition of love for any given person can be associated with almost anything. This can create great differences between two love definitions, but it can also allow for some similarities as well. We empathize with friends and connect with stories of love gained and lost because the love definitions we encounter resemble ours. However, at some point, deep down, these definitions will all diverge from your own.

Okay, let’s get back to your characters. As with real people, each of your characters will have been formed by their unique experiences; their current and former relationships create the patterns for how they love someone. With this in mind, you’re going to have to define love for them. Then the problems arise: how do we define someone else’s love without having lived through every single moment in their lives that could have affected their love definition? Ah, the glorious struggle of character development. I’ve found that dealing with this problem is often quite similar to dealing with other character development issues. For each writer it might be different, for me, however, it came back to that idea of people with similar life experiences. Who do I know that would be able to empathize with a character I have no shared experiences with?

To answer this question, I revisited some of my favorite fiction for characters I felt would have connected in the ways I was struggling to define. Not for a mirror but for a frame of reference. More importantly, I began talking to the people around me. At first, my intentions were to go about this wholesale; I intentionally went to people who either grew up in extremely different cultural environments or had very different love relationships from myself. I found that having these conversations expanded my view of what could mold love into definitions completely different than mine. Although I couldn’t experience the feelings associated with those different kinds of love, I could at least begin to see how my characters could begin to form their own love definition.

Love is a tricky thing to nail down in the real world and in fiction. Your definition will be different than anyone else’s, including your characters. If you choose to speak with other people about defining love, consider how the elements of their experiences could help to frame the ways in which your characters love. By reaching outside your own personal frame of reference, you can, in a way, ‘experience’ many definitions of love; perhaps foreign to you, but perfect for your character.

Stephan McLeroy is a historical urban fantasy writer based out of the San Francisco Bay area. He is currently working on a new novel, The Adventures of Lockwood and Blackfox. If you’d like to hear more of his thoughts on things like writing and Elder Fashion Cocktails, check out his blog:


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