In today’s growing market of books, it is sometimes hard to find a story that grabs you and makes you want to read more. What are two elements that help you decide? One may be a free book from the author; the other element may take you by surprise!
Everyone loves to get something for free. More and more authors today are offering free books to entice readers to take a chance on reading their stories. I have several free books available for just that reason. The number of free books has grown so much over the last couple of years that the market is saturated with these free offers. The pain for the reader is shuffling through the good stories and the not so good stories. I think we have all encountered those. Writing a good story doesn’t come cheap – or free – for the author. It takes months, sometimes years, for an author to write a story. Then, comes the costs of editing, book covers, formatting, advertising, and more. These costs can run into the thousands of dollars. This is a hefty investment for anyone to make in the hopes that a reader will enjoy the story enough to purchase additional books. But, why would a reader buy another book by the author if they can get so many of them for free? This leads into the next element: writing style!
Readers who really enjoy an author’s writing are more likely to purchase additional books the author has written. An author’s writing style is more than the book cover, the editing, or the formatting-all of which are important. It is the voice of the author. The way they tell a story that makes it interactive where you laugh, cry, cheer, and get angry with the characters. It is the way the author creates a world that is so vivid you feel like you are a part of it and have a vested interest in what happens to everything and everyone in it. It is about the author’s branding and what they believe in. Writing styles cross genre and make a so-so author into a great author. It takes a special author to connect with readers on an emotional level that the reader can identify with. The author isn’t writing something just to make a buck or waste your time, they are writing to take you on a journey that would otherwise be impossible and help you deal with the stress of daily life.
A story should take you away from where you are and into a new world. A great story should be interactive and make you feel like you are there. When an author gives you a free story to read, they are giving you a chance to hear their voice and get lost in their world. If you do enjoy their story, please consider supporting them by purchasing another of their books.
Bad guys you love to love? Or is it good guys that are bad that you love to love? All I know is there is a lot of ‘love’ in there. LOL. Seriously, a really good author can take a bad guy in the story and turn him/her into one of those characters you end up rooting for. How do they do that? Well, I’ll share a few things I do to make those characters pop off the page.
First, you need to make him truly bad, but with some type of redeemable quality. I’ve done this through many of my stories, but I’ll focus on Ren Lu in Capture of the Defiance. Ren Lu is an intelligent man who is a product of his upbringing. He is a man that has been programmed from an early age to do what others what or need done, but he isn’t a thoughtless man, he is a calculating one who picks and chooses his battles carefully. In the story, he works for the true baddie, a man with no redeemable qualities. A man that you don’t like, don’t want to like, and cheer for him to get what is coming to him for being such a horrible human being.
Ren Lu understands there is collateral damage in the world and that he must do certain things to accomplish a greater task. So, you might ask, what is his redeemable quality? The answer is Makayla. In the story, he becomes fascinated with her strength. He is curious. By making him curious, I’ve given him a fork in the road where he has to decide which he will continue. I’ve also made him human. This insight into a cold-blooded man now has a vulnerability that makes the reader curious as to why he is the way he is and can he overcome those influences and make the right decision when it comes down to it. The reader is now invested into his life and is silently rooting for the underdog inside him, the good, to break free of the darkness that holds him in its greedy fist.
Writing a bad guy that you fall in love with has to be handled with care. There are certain lines he can not cross and certain codes of ethics and morals that he has to have. If you look at any of the bad guys in the movies that you enjoy, you’ll understand exactly what I’m saying. Without a redeemable characteristic, a vulnerability that glitters on the fine crack in their veneer, the reader will never become emotionally invested with the character.
Ren Lu is a character that leaves me hungry for his story. I want him to find his HEA. I am rooting for him to win… but first, I need to know which path he is going to take on the fork in the road that I’ve given him.
Excerpt from Capture of the Defiance: Breaking Free Book 2 Copyright ©2016 by S.E. Smith
He immediately recognized her as well. She should be dead. He never missed his target. His gaze swept over her when she walked toward the dock. She was gesturing toward the bike and pointing to where she had fallen in the water. A minute later, both women disappeared from view when they climbed onto the sailboat.
Lowering the binoculars, he stared across the bay. He didn’t move when he heard the sound of footsteps approaching over the wind. He finally turned when the man who had approached cleared his throat.
“What is it?” Ren Lu asked in a deadly quiet tone.
“The information you requested has arrived,” the man stated.
Ren Lu turned away from the side. “There was a woman with the old man. Find out who she is,” he ordered coldly. “And Mr. Arys, this time make sure I have all the information that I request.”
“Yes, sir,” Arys replied with a bow.
You can discover more about Capture of the Defiance here:
Many of you have heard of the shooting in Orlando. What you may not be aware of is that the gunman was from my hometown which saddens me. I often refer to where I live as paradise. Throughout all my travels, it is the one place when I get home I always say I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I used it as a backdrop for my YA book because I believe in the beauty and culture that thrives there. Does it have its issues, yes, but it also has character and people with heart. I can only hope this tragedy shows that hatred and intolerance can happen anywhere in the world. Open your hearts, your eyes, and your minds… Together we can change the world.
Science Fiction Romance (SciFiRom) is a growing genre. It was interesting to see that up until about five years ago, there were actually very few authors that wrote it. Science Fiction (SciFi) has always been one of those areas where it is either pure science or pure fiction, but seldom was romance mixed into the storyline as the main concept.
I think one of the best examples of Science Fiction starting to cross the boundaries was Star Trek. There was the SciFi mixed with action, adventure, and the occasional romance that made viewers want more. Then, there was Star Wars. This was an epic romance without viewers realizing as it contained a love story that would eventually help shape how the entire saga came about.
Today’s SciFiRom is bolder, fresher, and filled with more of everything viewers have been wanting: action, adventure, suspense, humor, and yes, ROMANCE! It is okay for aliens to be the good guys and for humans and aliens to fall in love and go on fantastic adventures that we can only do in our imaginations.
Just like Star Trek, Star Wars, and many other sci-fi movies, the physics behind space travel and conquering vast distances, language barriers, and the evolution of the living form doesn’t have to be completely and utterly scientifically explained. No, some of it can just be accepted as it can happen.
It really isn’t such an unbelievable stretch of the imagination. Look at the technology we have now that at one time was only featured in stories or in movies – sliding doors and cell phones, anyone? No, today’s amateur astronomers are out searching along with the universities and governments for life out among the stars. The more we learn, the closer we get to understanding the possibilities that there really is life out there somewhere.
So, that brings about the question – Why does writing SFR work? The answer is easy, really. If you write a story that draws the reader into it, and make it seem plausible, the readers will follow your characters to the ends of the universe and beyond. I know there are others out there, like me, that believe deep down that we aren’t alone. Besides that, who doesn’t love a great romance?
Over the last decade there have been a lot of changes to the publishing world. Traditionally, anyone dreaming of becoming an author often had a long and tedious journey ahead of them. Just like today, there were no guarantees that the work of the author would be well received. The difference from previous years was the screening process an author was required to go through. During that time, there were few authors that wrote Science Fiction Romance, or SFR.
Science Fiction stories were different. The genre was, and still is in a large part, dominated by male authors who focus on the science aspect of the story. SFR is different. Here, the readers are given both science and romance. The stories contain aspects of science, alien worlds, different modes of transportation, and such, but also contain a romantic element to them. Wow! For those of us that enjoy that combination of action, adventure, fantasy, and romance this is out of this world reading, no pun intended.
Wait a minute! Action… Adventure… Fantasy… and Romance? Isn’t that what Star Trek, Star Wars, and a dozen other successful television and movies have in them? I grew up loving anything to do with SFR, even before it was called that. The million dollar question was how does a writer write a successful Science Fiction Action Romance. Well, I don’t know about the million dollars, but I’ll give you my two cents on it… with passion!
To write a successful science fiction action romance you have to have a world and characters that seem real. If you are having the romance, the characters have to be compatible with each other. Yes, you can have shifters, but when the characters come together they need to be in a form that is believable. Wait a moment… Shifters! Isn’t that paranormal? Yes, it is, but the beautiful thing about science fiction is that you can make your species anything you want as long as the rules you build in work. So, build worlds and characters that work together.
Your characters and their interaction with each other is important. I believe every character throughout the story is important. The smallest one can make the difference from an okay story to a fabulous one. It is also important to balance your dialogue with your description. Let the readers build the world in their minds by giving them just enough information without breaking into a college lecture on the dynamics of the atmospheric molecular structures and astrophysics.
Your characters also have to be able to communicate with each other. How they do that is up to you. Just make sure that whatever method you come up with makes sense. In Outlander (the scifi movie), the aliens had a machine that poured the information into their brains. I’ve had everything from the human heroine learning the language to magical spells to implanted translators.
I love action and adventure. When developing a story, remember that not all plots have to be from an internal conflict. Science Fiction Action Romance is the perfect setting for outside conflict to pull the readers in. When you think of it, just the thought of space travel has enough hazards involved. Whatever happens in space, you either fix it or die. The same concept applies if you are on an alien planet. Now, throw in all the other things like cultural differences, tribal mentality, differences in technology, greed, power, corruption and love. It is the perfect mix for an action-filled story.
You have your world, you have your characters, you have your action – now what? You listen to the characters as they share their amazing journey through the stars. Remember, you don’t have to have all the rules for the universe you’ve built in book one. Let it grow throughout the series, because if you write a fascinating world, your readers will want another book in that world based on one of the characters you have introduced (this is why ALL characters are super important for the story; they carry on in that world).
There is a reason shows and movies like Star Trek and Star Wars are so popular. Readers, whether male or female, crave the unknown action, adventure, suspense, and romance of far away worlds. They want to know what it would be like to journey to another world and live the life of a space pirate or be a member of the Alliance.
So, the next time you step outside on a clear night and look up at the stars ask yourself “What if…?” and let the characters take you to another world you’ll never forget.