Today's guest dropping in on the Attic Ghost is D.L. Gardner.
With a passion for a good wholesome story, Gardner dives into the adult and young adult fantasy genres. She is both a best selling author and an award winning illustrator who lives in the Pacific Northwest, USA. Dabbling in screenwriting, she's won screenings and a trophy for some of her film projects.
She loves a tale that ignites imaginations, strengthens friendships, spurs courage and applauds honor. Though she targets her stories for young adults, her books are enjoyed by all ages.
D.L. Gardner is a columnist for the science fiction and fantasy publication Amazing Stories Magazine
What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I do a thorough study of my subjects before I begin writing. Even before I begin outlining. With Thread of a Spider I read books on Irish history for half a year at least, discovering not only the incidents that led up to the war, but the long periods of oppression hundreds of years before. This gives my characters their motives, and their compassion. This brought me into the country side and helped me sympathize with their cause. Then I studied the battles by reading books written by men that led some of those battles, and letters written during those days.
Next, I read up on Irish myth and legends and there are a few mentioned in the book. Not only the Fae, but the Great Black Boar, and Paddy’s poem about it, which I wrote.
Because you see, most Irishmen are poets and bards. It’s part of their tradition. Ireland boasts many a great wordsmith from centuries past and as I read about the people and their day-to-day lives, I discovered how music, dance story-telling and poetry, make up who they are.
And dance they do. Yes you can see the Irish jig popular in Riverdance, but did you know that those steps have been passed down from generation to generation? One book, an autobiography of a woman who grew up in Ireland in the early 20th century tells how her uncle would come into the house, leap over the counter and begin to dance a jig just to please the children.
This is the Irish people and I have come to love them immensely. I wish I were Irish.
Anyway, after researching then I chose my premise and begin shaping my characters, defining my villain(s), and making a list of events. The events eventually become chapter headings and I list them in the order I think they should go. I eliminate those that aren’t necessary for the whole of the story, and add some that are. Then I begin to write.
What can you tell us about the writing process?
I don’t know if you are aware, but I am also an oil painter. I can easily use what I have learned painting en plein air (which means painting from life) as ground rules for writing
Pace: Depending on how high the sun is in the sky, timing is important. The sun moves, the shadows change, and if we don’t ‘cease the moment’ we lose what it was that inspired us. Afternoon is slower paced painting than sunset, or early morning for example because the shadows change drastically as the sun draws near the horizon.
Form: We paint shapes and shadows. (An object’s shape is revealed by how light hits it). The more detail we want, the more refined those shapes and shadows are become.
Application: We have a motto “less is more”.
A writer is a painter of words. Why should the rules be any different?
Suppose the writer wants to paint a scene of his main female character walking down an alley at night. He wants the reader to know there’s a threat, but he’d rather build up suspense instead of bringing the stalker into view right away.
How can we apply these painting rules to this manuscript?
Pace. The pace of how fast the character moves isn’t the only pacing we’re talking about in story writing. We’re talking about mood. Just as we attempt to match the atmospheric nuances in a plein air painting, so too we need to create a mood to tell our story. If our MC is afraid, she’s going to want to get to safety quickly. That’s a given. But if we want to build up suspense and in so doing build up her fear, we need to describe more than her running through the alley. What does she see on her way home? She’s walking too fast to notice the polka dot curtains in the apartment above her, the potted hollyhocks on a porch at the corner, or the cobbler’s sign across the street. If this were a quiet Sunday afternoon, the pacing would be different, and your sentences could stand to be longer and contain more detail. She’d walk slower, and many more sights sounds, and smells would be available for her to enjoy.
What she will see if she’s in a hurry though would be a sudden flash from a car headlight as it hits a window and burns the shape of her own shadow in front of her. Then it’s gone, and you hear her heels on the pavement. She’s not sticking around to notice anything else. She is totally engrossed in her own heartbeat and how it matches the rhythm of her footsteps as she runs. She might smell her pursuers, and her lungs might be hot from hyperventilating.
Form. This is the equivalent of show don’t tell. Shapes and shadows show you where the eye is. Line drawing an eye defines where it is. Shapes and shadows leave room for expression, for exploration of form and depth. Line drawing tells your viewer what to see. So in the example we’re using, the form is that of a body moving through the shadows in panic. Thoughts and emotions are going to make a strong impact in this scene. Describe those.
Application: This comes with editing. It’s OK to write good and bad in a first draft so long as you plan to do major edits. Just remember, when you do sit down to rewrite that “Less is more.” Say only what you need to say in as few words as possible. Choose your verbs carefully because they move your story. Do a find/replace for words such as “it, and that”. Make certain if you were talking to someone from a different country you would be making your thoughts simple and clear. In your edits, take away excess, and add clarification, which can often be done in the form of dialogue. This is my favorite part of story writing because it’s when the story really takes shape.
Your readers will appreciate the hard work to make your novel clean and colorful!
Thread of a Spider
by D.L. Gardner
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
TEENS ENLIST THE FAE TO WIN A WAR IN IRELAND
When all attempts to save her fiance fail, Ailis must rely on the magic of the forest folk.
Following an ambush at the Upton Rail Station in 1921 Ireland, British troops burn Ailis' home to the ground and arrest her fiancé, Liam, for murder. She and her younger brother Paddy flee to an enchanted glen. Lured by a haunting song, Paddy is abducted by forest folk. Perilous obstacles, and a questionable stranger, hinder Ailis' attempts to find her brother or free her fiance, until her only hope for survival rests on the magic of the Fae.
A bitter uprising in Ireland is taking place and two siblings are tossed in the battle, facing death, believing in love, and hoping in magic.
1920 found Ireland at the peak of tensions that had been building for centuries. Famine, tyranny and strife robbed the Irish of their homes, their lives and their country. Four years after the Easter Rising, pressure became so great, that the southern Irish took up arms against the British and fought for a free nation. Thread of a Spider, a historical fantasy, weaves history and Irish myth together to tell a story about two teenage siblings caught in the war and swathed in the legends of Erie.˃˃˃ A fantasy based on history woven with rich Irish lore.
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Daily Writing Prompt
Set your timer for ten minutes and start writing. Include the word somewhere in your story.
Good luck and have fun. I hope you find a story inside you that grows to be much more. I would love to read the story the word prompt inspires
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