Hello,

I hope you all are well. I’m finally getting back into a good working groove again for my art projects and my novel, which reminded me about how much I miss blogging about my progress/research.

Starting with the progress with my novel series, what really helped was using a cork board and sticky notes to jot out the main plot. My first draft was written with more of a pantser mentality. I kept beating myself up for it before, but now that I’ve accepted that I’m at where I’m at and there’s no changing that, I can lean more into my plotter side.

Using a cork board and sticky notes to track the plot/character arc of one of my protagonists has helped tremendously. I think seeing the story’s progression through one character’s point of view and having more of a visual/tangible mode of seeing my work brought it more to life. Specifically, I was able to pinpoint how many other characters cross the path of this protagonist along with what areas and events they come to interact with whether they expect it or not. It’s an interesting process because initially I was down on myself for not plotting more for my first draft, but it was pointless to think that way. I’m learning to trust my creative process more and I’ve accepted how chaotic it is, but it’s also has a natural order to it. In other words, there’s an order to my chaos and I should never have compared myself to other authors/writers to begin with. It does help to learn about the creative process of others, but at the end of the day, just do your own thing.

As for the Russian/Slavic witchcraft venture, I previously posted of a podcast I listen to where author Natasha Helvin describes her own experiences. I’ve been reading both of her books Russian Black Magic and Slavic Witchcraft. Both are intriguing reads and are very inspiring for a specific character of my novel, which I hope I can capture well with the utmost respect of the craft.

Here’s the Instagram of one fellow writer I follow who reminded me of cork board plotting.

Now, for my art projects. I focused on my poetry collection for most of the winter season. While working, I kept having these visual ideas being paired with my poems. I’ve done photography with poetry before when I was younger (like a teenager), but looking back on my creations in the past, it’s not really up to my standard of quality today, although I love that I tried my best back then. So what’s the next level? Photomanipulation. I’ve been taking lessons with photoshop, photography, and digital art to see if I can bring my dark fantasy vision and poetry to life through a darker medium. The surrealists and dark self-portraiture artists of the photoshop composite world are amazing.

Danny Bittencourt is a Brazilian visual poet whose work I’ve fallen in love with.

Another is Flóra Borsi, whose fine art self-portraits are surreal and captivating.

I hope to enter this world one day, so I’m working hard. Diving into the world of photoshop and photography was very unexpected while working on my poetry. At first it felt like I was distracting myself from the main goal of the project. Quite the opposite; this is exactly what I’ve been wanting to do since I was a teenager. I don’t want the poetry collection to just be in a book. I want each work to be a masterpiece.

Here’s to ambition and the crazy chaos of creativity.

Be well.

  • Leliel

Featured Image: © Danny Bittencourt

Time to get back to recording my novel progress. The last post I did about my novel was January 13th, so going back to that, I have finally edited about 110 pages of my first draft and am starting to write through the second. The exposition has been really fun to read through again, but now it’s time to hone in the focus on clear settings, intriguing characters, and establishing solid plots and subplots. Though I am writing the second draft, I am still reviewing some old notes and tracking everything from timelines to character arcs…It’s a glorious nightmare and one day, I’d like to show how I organized it all for publishing.

I’ll stay in touch. Time to write, plot, and write more.

Read about 3 Essential Writing Techniques from Stoker’s Dracula


Jeremiad: “A prophecy that evildoing will bring on destruction; a lament. The term is an allusion to the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, who wrote both kinds of works,” – The NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms

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My Take on a Jeremiad

So angst + prophetic vision + telling the vision to everyone while being angsty = a jeremiad. Lol okay maybe it’s more than that. A jeremiad in literature is a work of prose that is sorrowful and prophetic. It has also been used as a plot device.

The power of prophecy is significant in storytelling, especially stories of adventure, mythology, legends, etc. Fantasy and even some horror stories use jeremiads the most, it seems. It can be exposition or be part of some rising or falling action. In yesterday’s post, I discussed Dan Harmon’s Story Circle and I think a jeremiad could work as an element of order or chaos. What if the protagonist’s desire is to prevent the jeremiad from becoming true? What if they are a crucial part of the prophecy? Are they the cause of the impending doom or are they the stopper of doom? A jeremiad has been used to the point of being a bit cliché, but I’m still planning to use it in my novel. I have a prophecy in mind and it gives my protagonist the “chosen one” ambience, but prophecy is often as influential and as powerful as those who truly believe in it and that’s what I want to test with my characters. However, there are also things in life we can’t control even when we’re forewarned about it. I guess a jeremiad can bring our characters to surrender or undying resilience, as plot devices should beckon some kind of great change in our characters…but what do you think? Is a jeremiad and the use of prophecy that constrained? Is it dying out in fiction since we live in a postmodernist age? Comment below.

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Freytag’s pyramid: “A diagram representing the structure of a well-made play, especially a tragedy in five acts,” – The NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms

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My Take On Freytag’s Pyramid

Most writers know about this very famous diagram of dramatic structure.

When I look at Freytag’s Pyramid, I also think of Dan Harmon’s Story Circle, which is one of the coolest and simplest ways to explain storytelling.

My favorite aspects of the story circle of the paradoxical nature of life/death, stasis/change, order/chaos, and the conscious/subconscious working together. These are the most important elements so we can see DEVELOPMENT in the characters. When a story is lackluster and unsatisfying, it’s often missing these elements. We’ve seen many stories flop due to a lack of transformation and purpose.

Another thing to point out is the vast difference between Freytag’s Pyramid and Harmon’s Story Circle is the climb versus the cycle. I think Freytag’s pyramid is very pre-modernist and concrete. A situation is presented, choices are made, and those choices lead to an inevitable end or revelation. We’ve structured the pyramid by sequential acts, beginning, middle, and end, but stories being told this way seem to be rigid, half-truths. It’s like these stories are saying “If this happens to you, and you do this, and things will end like that.” It’s a very black-and-white way of defining how we deal with conflicts in life. Harmon’s Story Circle, on the other hand, presents stories as cyclical. The Story Circle is postmodernist, more subjective, and fluid. The cycle of the character’s life do come to a finish, but only to allow a new one to be birthed. There really is no conclusion, yet there is still a revelation along with acknowledging the constancy of change.

So yeah… food for thought for my fellow writers. I’d love to know what you think if you’d like to leave a comment.

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Here’s my novel summary that I’m probably going to have on my book cover soon.

Initiation – The Spirit Strings Series
Genre: Dark Science Fantasy

Magic is regulated under a strict, theocratic movement with global rule on the planet Terrana. The Terrans, paralleling humans in appearance, were created to observe Earth and learn from human civilization to fulfill a 3000-year-old prophecy that will restore Earth from its dystopian, magic-deprived state. Most Terrans are obedient to their theistic government, but Violet LaCroix has arcane power refusing to be oppressed. She’s hidden her multifaceted magic since she was a child. The day she decides to let her power flow changes her life completely, starting with a criminal charge for performing necromancy. To save herself from merciless persecution from the government’s elite organization that hunts disobedient mages, she’s forced to join a resourceful cult that promises her refuge in exchange for her joining their coup de t’at. Violet goes from model graduating student ready for college to joining a cult of rogue mages eager to liberate Terrana from magical oppression and hoping she’ll bring the power needed to end a war between mages, deities, and unknown forces lasting for millennia.

What do you think?

Oh my! Almost down to a week!

Words Written (yesterday): about 1000-1300? I lost track while traveling…
Current Word Total: about 98500 words.

Research Topics:

  • British, Scottish, and Irish accents
  • Better development of LGBT+ relationships
  • Cool names for islands

I have about six chapters left in my story, plus an epilogue and a prologue. It’s quite the challenge and I’m excited to take it on. I’m hoping that even though I’m traveling a lot I’ll be able to complete this. The pressure of a deadline is actually helping me more than crippling me. I’m thinking more critically about plot. I’m reaching the climax/transformative revelation of my protagonist, but there’s still so much rising action that’s needed. I’m trying to weigh what is and isn’t necessary. It’s easier said than done. When you’re trying to build up suspense, you don’t want to lose momentum unless slowing down the momentum makes it agonizing in a satisfying kind of way, like, as Donna Tartt wonderfully put it, people having a casual conversation somewhere and there’s a bomb under the table they’re sitting at. When’s it going to go off? You’ll have to wait. Although I do like that style, the suspenseful elements in my novel are fueled by momentum. There’s always something going on in with the protagonist in the span of a week because of one choice she made. I want the stress to be focused on her and how she’ll be able to sustain everything going around her. We’ll see how it goes.

Also, I ended up writing two LGBT relationships that are so…complicated?! Ugh! I’m kind of upset with myself for doing that. It’s just not fair representation. I need to display simplistic and successful LGBT relationships. I was thinking way too hard about them. Gonna fix that.

Lastly, accents. I gave one of my characters a type of accent that’s a mix of Brit, Scot, and Irish. It’s VERY fun to write his dialogue.

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Hamartia: “The error, misstep, frailty, or flaw that causes the downfall of a tragic hero. Sometimes called the tragic flaw… bad judgment, ignorance, accident, inherited weakness, or plain bad luck…Whatever the error or defect, it results in action (or inaction) that leads to disaster. – NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms by Kathleen Morner and Ralph Rausch (1991).

I strongly recommend getting this dictionary if you’re a fiction writer.

My Take on Hamartia In Writing

Hamartia must appear in every story, if you think about. It’s necessary conflict (internal and external). How else is your character going to develop if they don’t endure some sort of issue that is placed upon them or self-perpetuated? Many authors understood that any type of tragedy or disaster makes audiences feel pity, fear, or satisfaction for the character(s) affected by it. One example off the top of my head is (vague Game of Thrones spoilers ahead!!) is Hodor who just…had to hold that damn door and shatter my heart into a million pieces.

I’ve seen tragedy hit the whole spectrum of archetypes, even though this definition focuses solely on the tragic hero since the Greek Classics have most protagonists fail due to their prideful nature. It has to happen because that’s what makes a plot work; that’s what makes characters relatable. Audiences want to see the character confront disaster, whether they survive it or not because it echoes reality, you succeed or you fail. However, tragedy is not that black and white. Some rise from the ashes of their suffering and some don’t, but transformation is inevitable. Even when a villain faces disaster in death, and I mean a well-crafted villain with backstory, motive, and ambition, you see them as more than just the bad guy who got what they deserved. If anything, it should poke at the audience’s moral compass encouraging them to question their ethical boundaries (because pitying a villain is strange to some and accepted by others).

Additionally, adding a little metaphysical take on this, the act of manifesting or weaving your own destiny is common in stories and hamartia plays in the mix of that. Most of us prefer calling it “reaping what you sow”, but in the metaphysical community, we call that “The Dark Night of the Soul“, where you’re in a place of complete sacrifice or surrender and come to terms with whether you’ll endure what’s happening to you by trusting yourself to survive it or choose to despair and desperately mourn that you didn’t reach your ego-based expectations. I don’t think hamartia is enticing if it becomes the definite annihilation of the character where they’re damned for eternity for their purposeful or accidental sin and that’s it. A choice must be made. Hamartia exudes its greatest effect as an inevitable, destructive force that shows no bias to any archetype and shouldn’t be considered “evil” or “just”, “bad” or “good”, but simply destined to appear before you and demand you make a choice, which can be taking action or being inactive.

I’ll be sharing more literary terms in the future, but seriously, get the dictionary of literary terms. Maybe I’m being a lit nerd and pushing too hard, but it’s just…fun to read. Especially if you like learning random new things.