MasterKoda is proud to introduce their guest author, Jennifer Starks. Jennifer will explore how inspiration for titles and characters come to her.
Answer: everything. Who’s my favorite UF writer? Answer, um…
No clue. Seriously, I could no sooner pick a favorite picture of my children. They are all adorable because they all have my kids in them. Still, I have favorite(s).
- Kim Harrison
- Charlain Harris
- Richelle Mead
- Chloe Neill
- Rachel Vincent
- Kalayna Price
- Stacey Kay
- Stacia Kane
Why are they my favorite? Great characters and worlds that are different but are (mostly) well understood. Kim Harrison gets pretty deep in her Rachel Morgan series, and I’ll be honest; I can’t follow it all or keep track of every rule, but who cares with characters like hers? Seriously. If she wrote something that totally tipped that whole world off balance, I’d be bummed, but I wouldn’t yell, scream or stop reading the series because of it. Rachel is too awesome to let go of.
Charlaine Harris started out keeping things very simple. I LOVED that about the Sookie Stackhouse series. It was believable because there wasn’t a damn history lesson in each book. It was just…logical. Vampires have come out of the closet. Now there are church activists trying to dust them. Those activists are called Fellowship of the Sun because, surprise, surprise, the sun kills Vampers. For a long time, she kept it simple. These days it’s a bit more complex, but we’re all so invested in Sookie’s character, it doesn’t matter. That’s how you know you’ve got a good book. When the reader is so invested in your characters that they’re willing to overlook damn near anything to keep peeking into their world.
Richelle Mead is very good at keeping things simple. But, as a series progresses, things get more complex. It can’t be helped.
Chloe Neill is really the only one on my list that seems to have kept her UF world simple. By simple I still mean complex just not so complex that you’d need to go back and read an entire book to understand one part of another book.
Stacey Jay has a new Dead on the Delta series out. I love the heck out of it, and aspects are simple, but the world is tre complex.
Stacia Kane also has a great series out, but it too is tre complex. Thankfully, her character, Chess, is every bit as complex as the world she’s running around in. Having that tie between your world and your character is necessary and she does it well.
In my humbled opinion, Urban Fantasy should be about a world that involves many, many fantastical things. There should be rules and a history fleshing your world out, but the characters are what drive the story. As a human being in your life, right this second, do you know every law that has been put into effect? Do you know how many years you’ll get in jail/prison for breaking each of these laws? How about your town? Do you know what was happening in your town three years before you moved there? The answer to most of these questions is a resounding: no.
As people, we don’t know everything. Why should we expect our characters too? Introducing a UF world should be limited to what that character deals with. Their perspective is what the reader cares about. If they know something that’s outside their scope of knowledge, make sure you explain why they know it. For me, the biggest UF faux pa is having a MC that miraculously knows a little bit about everything. Some characters are written that way for a reason. Take Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer for example. He always had something to say about a current baddy because he was the Slayer’s Watcher and a Librarian. He was supposed to know. His whole purpose was to be that guy so it worked.
What doesn’t work is taking a character who, for the most part, isn’t book smart then turning them book smart for the sake of a scene. It’s a hack way of summing things up and, unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to do. Resist the temptation, writers. Resist. Find another way to get the plot point across or your going to damage the integrity of your MC and once that happens any world flaws you have will start to matter. At the core, every story is character driven. Letting that deteriorate will kill your perfect UF world because readers will become disenchanted. When that happens, your fan base…withers.
Jennifer Starks has been writing since the tender, but still wise beyond her years, age of eight. She gets giddy at the thought of visiting a bookstore, loves that good ole Library smell, is most at home on the couch reading or at her desk writing. She adores her children (though they make it entirely difficult to keep any kind of writing schedule) and is humbled beyond belief to have a mother who fostered her love of the arts and a husband who supports the lifestyle even when it means listening to her type at 5 AM. Messy Death will be Jennifer’s debut novel. Updates on its progress can be found at www.jenniferstarks.wordpress.com
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Minshall-Starks/376756749003411