The Unintentionally Helpful Villain, Vol. 08 — No Patricide goes Unpunished

Read the previous Volume here.

Diary Entry #0160

I am told that  I have entered the first of many identical free human kingdoms. This one shares a border with mine lands. That is what makes it special. Bah, humans are strange folk. So glad am I that I no longer fill their ranks that I could incinerate a dragon with but a blink!

The stench of mine wife of before grows ever-stronger. We are a mere few days away from catching up with her. She smelled well, once. Her perfumes were sweet beyond measure, beyond imagining. She enjoyed the flustered looks of men fool-enough to take a breath within her sweetly vapors, mere moments before they expired.

What man could not love such a woman?

Diary Entry #0161

The trolls I adopted unto mine armies in mine infinite army have once again tried to eat a village. Not even the villagers, this time. The damnable brutes started munching on buildings as we passed by. I found myself forced to summarily execute them.

The structures within the village were historic! Fifty years old, I hear. I felt that the villagers deserved some recompense for the grief given to them, and so I turned all their elders into statues of pure gold.

They did not seem too pleased with this development.

I couldn’t imagine why.

Diary Entry #0164

We have come upon a wondrous and most tranquil pond, which feeds into the great river Kraln, that gives easy access to the very shores of the continent, and I find myself considering the very real possibility of plundering this kingdom single-handed and turning this land to near-eternal darkness.

These notions are premature, I reckon — there is yet the thunder to be reclaimed. It must be safely brought back in mine citadel. Only then will I–what’s this? I hear the blunder of idiot horse-creatures coming towards mine camp. They will not enjoy mine great mercy for this interruption!

Diary Entry #0165

A princeling and its servants attempted to run through mine camp with their filthy animals. Whilst I reacted with great alacrity and cut into a squadron of these pampered noble-born, some of mine young lads lacked such experience.

Twoscore of mine loyal subjects have died. A dozen of those were promising Librarians…there can be no forgiveness for such crime.

This land will burn. It will all burn.

I did not kill the wretched princeling. He was damn skilled for a human, I will grant him that; I did leave him a parting gift, however — something to remind the boy what is coming for him.

A cut across that face will certainly serve that function.

Diary Entry #0166

I have learned that the man to have attacked mine loyal band of servants has recently killed his father and has taken to calling himself king.

He will have difficulty doing so with no tongue. Patricide fills me with disgust I can not logically explain. I will punish this fool boy in the stead of this dead father.

But first, my thunder and my wife await!

Ex. Ex-wife.

 

 

 

Writing Advice: Humor

Humor is one of the fundamental ingredients in any story. From horror to drama to epic fantasy – no matter the genre, there’s always time to lighten up the tension with a healthy dose of humor!

Humor can be a genre in itself, as well – Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett are two masters who use sci-fi and fantasy, respectively, in order to showcase brilliant wit and insight about human nature.

They don’t use slapstick comedy, opting instead for dialogue-based and narrative humor. What I mean by narrative humor is

The humor I enjoy is the kind that surprises me. That’s the kind of humor that I tend to write — I take situations that should be familiar to my readers (tropes, clichés and so on and so forth), and I spin them around in a way that is clever, bizarre or even outrageous.

Write what you find funny, write what makes you laugh. Then check it and double-check it; don’t underestimate the power of analysis. Having someone read your writing later and weighing that person’s reaction is a sure way to discover whether something is funny. If you’ve got a few loyal readers– even better!

For those of you who prefer everything neat and tidy, you might like Scott Adams’ six elements of humor:

  • Cute
  • Cruel
  • Naughty
  • Recognizable
  • Bizarre
  • Clever

These elements can offer a lot of information, but they won’t magically help in crunching out tomes upon tomes of humorous writing. They very much aid analysis, however. Here’s a simple piece of advice on writing them!

Set your complicated jokes up early on, lay a strong foundation and build them up. That way, the payback is all the sweeter!

And don’t forget — always, always, always surprise your audience!

Top Ten Things I would do if I were a Dazzlingly Hot Prince in a Fantasy Realm!

  1. Look at my reflection on every possible orifice in my luxurious manor or castle – mirror, guard armor, pond – you name it, if it reflects my face, I will stare at it for hours!
  2. Save any and every helpless princess I can find *authorly groan*, marry her and consecutively order her assassination. I am charming, after all– but not kind-hearted. Not by far.
  3.  Father enough wee bastards to make my own polo team.
  4.  Win several border skirmishes against enemies on all sides — The EVIL Dark Lord and his minions on the northeast; the annoying elves and their Tyrant to the northeast; monsters of darkness and unimaginable nightmare all throughout the west…and worst of all, other human kingdoms to the west and to the south.
  5.  I’ve been told that I have also won battles against dwarves under mountains…but I have never deemed to look below my belt to see the truth of these claims.
  6.  No wars, however. Those would take far too much of my “me” time. This dazzling smile, these stunning cheekbones…they take a lot of care, you know. A lot of virgin blood, also.
  7.  Prove my loyalty to humanity by challenging the Dark Lord to a duel, only to get refused for lack of sorcerous might.
  8.  Go on a quest for magical items!
  9.  Finish the quest. Claim a magical sword from a lake, or a pool, or even a little pond. No mountains, though. Those are nasty, and people can break their necks when tumbling off them. Deathtraps, I swear. When I become king.
  10. Succeed my father. By running him through. With my sword. My magical sword.

Bit of world-building in this here Top Ten Fantasy List! Hope you enjoyed it; you’re very welcome to come back for more!

Ten Things I’d do if I were a Vampire Lord!

  1. The connection between a vampire and his progenitor is a sacred one,  akin to that between a parent and a child.
    Naturally, I began plotting the murder of my maker in order to claim his influence and authority for myself as soon as I was turned…once I were to get my predatory instincts under control and my maker’s knowledge safely within my gap.
  2. The older a vampire is, the more difficult to kill…but the bloodline is also of great import, and mine is potent, powerful. My Lord progenitor is old; too old, perhaps. His guard is down and his will to live barely binds him to this world. Would it truly be a crime to aid him in his transition? He hungers for death nearly as much as I hunger for his power.
  3. A stake in his heart as he rests during the day sets the body aflame. His pain and disappointment at my betrayal reverberate through my entire being and I am lost and regretful for a moment — a short moment, as my maker’s essence withers away like the roots of a poisoned oak.
  4. The power sings to me like never before; my form changes, my consciousness expands, and the face that is reflected by the mirror is all-too unfamiliar; pale and red-eyed, lips twisted into a predatory sneer. It is difficult to believe how these changes have affected me so.
  5. Thus begins a downwards spiral into a near-constant hunt for pleasure and escape from boredom. It is the way of immortality — humans chase it all their lives; whenever they get it, they hardly have any clue how to fill their time up.
  6. Centuries pass as I gradually begin to realize that I am a pariah to my kindred. The physical changes that overtook me shortly after I killed my maker are a sign of what I have done, the line that I have crossed. Who’d have thought that the demons of the night from my childhood had such honor amongst themselves?
  7. It hardly matters. For seven centuries I have walked this world alone and have left my mark in more ways than one and I have consumed the very lifeblood of thousands. My power grows ever stronger. Why should I wince at lesser creatures and their morality?
  8. A thousand years have passed me by. I am alone.
  9. In my life, I have never created another. Never given the gift of eternal life, fearful that the betrayer shall suffer betrayal in turn.
  10. A young woman has caught my attention. I have looked upon her life for some weeks now, and find her ambition, her drive, to be unlike any I have come before. She is confidence personified…and she is alone. Perhaps it is time that I introduce myself…

 

Thank you for reading! I enjoy writing diary-like entries from different characters’ perspectives; trying on the shoes of villains, vampires and monster-hunting inquisitors is a great way to exercise the imagination!

The Unintentionally Helpful Villain, Vol. 07 – The Importance of Communication

Diary Entry #0150

Five days I have been on the road with a band of mine cohorts. Good servants, my companions — many of them come from those Libraries whence I put them, to study arcane arts and divination during those most foul attacks of the Council of Darkness. They have proven useful with their trickery and short legs, enough even for a great Dark Lord such as myself to take notice.

My wisdom knows few bounds and none of them concern young he and she-children and what is to be done with them.

As long as no one hands them bows.

Diary Entry #0151

It occurs to mine terrible intellect that no reason was writ as to the reason of me having left mine capital when still it writhes, bloodied and wounded by traitorous fiends, ripe for attack by many a neighbor, as soon as weakness is felt. Why then would I, greatest master of dark arts and magics and sorceries, keeper of secrets unknown and unbecoming, abandon mine dark hold in this hour?

‘Tis simple, really. Only my will, indomitable and fierce as it is, has the capability to see my thunder found and brought back safely where it needs must be, in the heart of my realm, protecting all with its malicious rumble.

I am nearly certain as to the identity of this thief. It is not one among the traitorous lot of that Council whose name I no longer even wish to pronounce.

Nay, tis much worse. This thief is mine former wife.

Diary Entry #0152

I remember some of what it was like, before. Our life together was happy, if difficult. There was pain and hardship aplenty, as you might imagine. Working, trying to survive tends to do a grueling trick on the best of men. But I never gave up. Never.

I had a wife I loved. A daughter.

I miss them terribly.

Diary Entry #0153

Bah, what trickery is this?!

Memories of writing this previous entry, I have none! I have been under such monstrous tension lately, perhaps a respite is necessary.

The scouts report that a gathering of feral ogres threatens a nearby village. Perhaps I shall join them in their pillage of the free people of Lokre. My arcane librarians deem it an unpalatable idea but it will not do, allowing them to dictate my choices.

Diary Entry #0155

I have taken the minds of the feral ogres and forced them to do my bidding. That lot proved to be horrid hosts; they all but failed to recognize my superiority, those insipid fools. For that,  I have punished them as only I can.

The arcane librarian corps, as I have decided to call the newly-minted organization of wee lads and lasses who spend too much time in my libraries,  has cheered my decision. It would appear that some of them have come from Lokre; such pity that their parents never taught them the importance of communication.

All they needed do was ask.

 

Thank you for reading! I’m actively trying to steer this series towards a more fully-realized and rounded fictional world instead of a series of one-off comedic bits, which — while funny — don’t really leave that much of an impression. It’s a fun challenge I enjoy revisiting weekly; if you enjoy reading it, let me know! I’m always up for conversations on all fictional matters!

 

Writing Advice: Plot Twists

The thing about plot twists? Never do them!

Hey, don’t leave that, I was making a point! Badly!

The best plot twists in books I’ve read often have to do with the author asking himself, “How best can I make this character suffer?” Think on this question, think on it really hard; whatever the answer ends up being…do that! You’re bound to produce a river of tears from your faithful fans; it’s all about the art of making your characters’ lives as miserable as can be!

Twist your readers’ expectations, and they’ll come back for more time and time again. How you do that is a broader topic that I’ll look at in more detail sooner or later, but it has to do with taking well-established elements in your world, and using them in ways inventive enough that very few would ever figure out before the fact. Subvert expectations.

Plot twists differ in scope — there are awe-inspiring, world-shattering events that can change the entire way something is viewed; and then there’s those smaller, personal tragedies that play out between characters on an entirely different level.

Make sure not to diminish the impact of your plot twists. That most often happens with sheer overuse or with trite and convoluted twists that do not follow the rules you’ve set up. Plot twists that don’t follow the law as you’ve written it risk turning into deus ex machina devices; and we all know how warmly those are received nowadays.

 

That’s what I reckon on the subject of Plot Twists! If you enjoyed this piece, feel free to follow me; I’d also enjoy discussing anything of interest in the comments below!

The Unintentionally Helpful Villain, Vol. 06 – Patronage

Diary Entry #0142

Over two weeks have come to pass since the Council of Darkness spun tail and ran off to the South. While I commanded a few efretti — fire demons, native to the far-off lands of Bazrah — to snap at the enemy’s heels, ’tis not my intent to defeat the Council as they retreat. Bah, let them hide in their desert fortresses and dusty keeps. I care not!

All that matters is finding my thunder, my beloved ambiance. My life is not the same without it. The sun has now taken a permanent residence — or what seems like it — into my glorious throne chambers. I recall arguing with a great architect about the dubious decision of making a fortress of obsidian and glass once; I can only wish that I were a more stern, principled Dark Lord.

I’ve always given old Barnabus too much leeway. Perhaps stricter control is in order, now that he is rebuilding my capital, he might as well be taught an important lesson in obedience.

GUARDS! BRING ME BARNABUS’ RIGHT FOOT!

…That ought to teach him.

Diary Entry #0143

Remaining on point is at times more troublesome than you would care to know. I was speaking of the continuous trials and tribulations that came with the spineless thievery of my precious thunder.

I have summoned a master, and forgive me if I misspell the word, “dee-tic-tive,” from the newly…sigh…liberated Elven democracy of Fanfallah. Whoever thought of these elven names should be skinned and given to the Nephew of Deceit. Nephew’s shown great affinity for naming all manner of beasties. He is also tremendous company for teatime.

Back to this dee-tick-tive. It is said that his prowess in capturing criminals is second to none. I shall use him until he is little more than a pile of bones, if that will bring me my thunder back! He better produce some results soon, some ‘kloo’ as he insists on calling them.

Elves are strange little tall people.

Diary Entry #0145

I have the thunder thief’s stench! Preparations for the chase near completion even now.

The strange little elf produced wonderful results. Let none say that I am an ungrateful master; to show my great appreciation for his service, I have offered my patronage. The little fellow agreed all too heartily. He will make me more of these dee-tick-thieves. There is great potential within the lad. I shall bathe him in my tenebrous embrace, coddle him in a chrysalis of pure night; it would be my greatest pleasure if he were to fulfill his great promise.

Aye, I might have very well misjudged Felandred…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unintentionally Helpful Villain, Vol. 05: Stoned Enemies!

Diary Entry #0120

The gates are breached! Nightmares and monstrosities assail the very heart of my realm!

Goblins and orcs and undead have long since desiccated and turned to ash and dust under my protective aura; alas, the front line of the Council of Darkness refuses to break under my fierce defense. Gigantic mole-like creatures have crept from soft–if strangely covered in green growth– soil, and cyclopi have stepped to hold against my

Damn these iron-clad fiends! They are trying to steal my thunder!

Diary Entry #0121

Someone stole my thunder. No, I’m not talking about the figurative statement of style. I mean to say, someone stole the artifact that is my thunderous…well, thunder. It’s the ambiance sound in my throne chamber.

Someone stole a sound. How can someone even do that?!

Diary Entry #0124

Since my thunder has been stolen, things have gone terribly, horribly bad. By ‘things’, I mean the war effort. Forgive me, victorious me of the future. I can scarcely get to the task of defeating the enemy with the sounds of chirping birds coming ever-so-crisp from the outside. Things could only get worse if the sun were to sh–oh. Oh no. No! It broke through! The sun broke through the thick smaug of my beautiful fortress again!

*

I have just received word that the molemen of the Council of Darkness have become blinded and turned on the Council’s own soldiers. The cyclopi, meanwhile, have turned to stone, and so have the trolls. I salute my stoned enemies, even as I entwine the mole-creatures with tenebrous tendrils of power and send them to shatter the stone-forms.

…This was, of course, all part of my plan. It was I who, through my inactivity, challenged this…this burning sphere of death to turn its attention upon mine lands. Difficult as this task was, I have succeeded in it; and I have proven victorious, for now.

The Council of Darkness sounds the retreat. Amongst them is someone who has stolen my thunder.

He will not reach far.

 

Writing Advice: Avoiding the Beginner’s Mistakes Vol. 1

I write this post fully aware of thе fact that I am, myself, little more than a beginner in the writer’s craft. My position as what equates to hobbyist writer does have the benefit to allow me a fresher perspective; I still struggle with these mistakes, and believe me, having them pointed out, actively searching for them helps.

  • Point-of-view problems are the worst.
    You know this one guy at the street corner? Beer in hand, long beard, constantly changes the pitch of his voice, the style of his speech, the whole bloody persona? You don’t want your writing to be like that guy. Point of view demands tight control. There shouldn’t be any ‘head hopping’ – the practice of switching point-of-view characters within a single scene.
    Allow me to reiterate on this before you claw my eyes out and feed on my brain! There shouldn’t be any ‘head hopping’ that’s done badly. If you’re about to change your PoV character, make sure that the readers know it, and are prepared. Give them a warning, a break in the scene; anything’s better than pulling your reader sout of one character’s head and unceremoniously tossing them into the character against him.
    I like to use double-line space breaks when I switch PoV. The chapter break is probably the best-known way to switch Point-of-view and it has been used in such epics as Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, and many, many others.
    I’ve gone as far as to change PoVs in the middle of a scene and it worked quite well! It’s all about making the switch feel natural and not forced.
  • Filtering is the anti-Christ.
    I hate filtering. I hate it, and I loathe it, and it boggled nearly all my writing in English when I first began. For those of you who don’t know what they are, filters are unnecessary words that separate the reader from the story’s action. They come between the reader’s experience and the character’s point of view.
    These include but are not limited to: ‘to see,’ ‘to hear,’ ‘to think,’ ‘to wonder,’ to realize, ‘ to feel’ ‘to decide’… you’ve picked up on the logic behind filters by now. Now, for an example:
    With Filter: “He thought that her movements were akin to a panther’s, fluid and graceful, and unmistakably predatory.”
    Without Filter: “Her movements were fluid and graceful, and unmistakably predatory.”
  • Predictability is an awful, terrible, no-good thing.
    What is that they say about your enemies? Always keep them guessing!
    What’s that? They don’t say that about your mortal enemies where you’re from?
    Moving on… Predictable stories are boring, even if they’re written supremely well. Surprises breathe life into a story the way nothing else does. Always aim to leave your readers speechless, and your characters — out of balance. Sure, things may be going well for a while, even amazingly so; but if everything goes as you’d expect all the time, the story becomes stale. Change is the drive of good storytelling.
  • Go with the (scene) flow.
    Awkward scene-to-scene transitions are a blight upon the land! Or, at the very least, upon the story you’re trying to tell. This ties into the Point-of-view debate, and steals a few of its points: ineptly transitioning from one scene to another might break the immersion of your readers and leave them no more than an angry mob, intent on ripping you head to toes.
    Okay, that last thing might not happen but the risk of losing a reader is very real.
    I struggle with the problem, myself. The key to solving it is practice, practice, practice!

Here’s where I draw the line for today; but not to worry, if you enjoyed this piece of writing advice, there’s more to come over the coming weeks! Meanwhile, Happy Fourth of July!

 

 

 

Ten Things an Inquisitor would do in a fantasy world filled with evil, vile, no-good things (#1 of the Crossleg’d Chronicles)

Be warned! The following Inqusitorial Scripture takes place in the world of The Unintentionally Helpful Villain and, quite possibly, of a few other entities I have written about, in this here blog.

  1. In a world filled with a host of monsters, demons and an entire Council of Darkness, Brezt Khleid, Inquisitor of the First Order, thrives. Why wouldn’t he? See that crystaline wolf-like spirit, laying on the ground, two expert cuts having even more expertly shattered the magics that held the foul intruder’s body together?
    Ay, ay! That’s his handiwork. Impressive, isn’t it, for a man such as he, crossleg’d and decrepit.
  2. Come now, use thy eyes to look upon him. Do you see that figure, far below, moving slowly, with the determination of a serpent, old and ancient, grasping towards ephemeral rays of sunlight… Down he goes, down the streets of old Feshemar, the city ever-lit by emerald flames, a gift–some say–by a goddess to a mortal lover.
    She had many such lovers, alas. As she grew bored with him, the gift turned to deadly trap, and even now his soul is used as fuel.
  3. Brezt Khleid has little time for legend, but he knows that one. Little does he doubt that, were he to ever find himself against this goddess, he would present upon her a just reward.
    The Inquisitor is not a godly man.
  4. That is not to say that he does not believe. See now as Khleid bursts into the merchant Olivan’s home, as he draws loaded crossbow and points it at shocked Olie’s face! There it is. The moment of truth.
    Shock runs through the face of this most voluminous merchant’s face; shock, then fury — and as metal bolt pierces skin, rends flesh, breaks ribs and shatters the stuff of life, one final moment of peaceful revelation. What is revealed, only a certain few could say, and –nay, don’t look at me with such ardent expectation! My lips are sealed!
    Instead, look upon the scene of this murder most foul.
  5. Brezt Khleid reloads his crossbow calmly, with the expertise of a man much too familiar with routine. He knows his work in the house is not yet done. Sounds from the house — sounds that make the hairs on Khleid’s neck stand on ends — become louder, as if attempting to force the Inquisitor to retreat.
    He has no such intent.
  6. The house resists every step Brezt takes. It is a foul place, in need of cleansing and the Inquisitor is the one to do it. He is the only one who can; Brezt Khleid has, after all, a divine mandate. A few flying trinkets and baubles won’t stop him, inconvenient though as they are.
  7. A door is all that stands between the Inquisitor and the source of evil that has made this dwelling its home. Khleid doesn’t know what awaits behind that door, but he is not a young man, prone to illusion. A merchant with Olivan’s reputation – that of a good and honest man – will only protect this corruption if he has a personal stake in it.
  8. So Brezt Khleid reasons as he breaks through the door, using his shoulder as most man would a battering ram. His sword flashes in one hand, illuminating soft light that parts away the darkness. Figures slide towards him with incredible, impossible speed. He tries to turn to his side, using his side as defense.
  9. Claws dig into Brezt Khleid’s flesh, leaving searing pain behind, rending his right arm useless. The hand-crossbow falls to the side, still loaded. None of this fazes Khleid. To allow distraction is to die. He thrusts his sword at the creature, as its claws are still running down the length of his arm. It — whatever it is — goes limp; as the Inquisitor pulls his sword, the body falls to the ground. He takes a deep breath trying to calm the fire running through his body, and allows himself a moment of reprieve.
  10. It is the face of a woman, far from old, but not young either. There is beauty to her, even as she lay dead; the Inquisitor has seen that many of those touched by evil are beautiful to behold. He does not trust beauty any longer; it is a sign of vile infestation.
    A pair of snarles forces him awake from his reverie. Two figures, child-sized, stand not twenty feet away from him. Watching. Their eyes are cauldrons of fire.
    Brezt Khleid raises his sword, a wan smile playing on his face.

And cut! How did you enjoy this story? Let me know if you’d like more!