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Fleshing out Characters Part One: Motivations and Idiosyncrasies


If characters are little more than excuses for scenes to occur a reader will quickly tire of them.  Sometimes this is not true, as some horror oriented genre stories have little time to flesh out characters before killing them.  The rest of the genres however can keep people hooked by having characters that are more than stereotypes or archetypes, and behave like real people with their own quirks and idiosyncrasies.

One of the first steps to a fleshed out characters is for each one to have their own motivations.  Notice I used the plural of that word. If they only have one, then they remain a stereotype.  For a short period of time the knight who is motivated by his code of honor, the swordsmen who wants revenge for his family, the mother who wants to protect her kids, etc, can be entertaining.  Over the course of a series or even a novel that can make a character seem one note, like they only exist for the single motivation.  To make a character better give them at least three or four motivations.  If possible, have at least one of them be set up for the sole purpose of clashing with the rest, so the character is not entirely predictable.

For example the person who wants revenge for his slain family may also have drives to protect his new (unrelated) family that might put him at odds with revenge (is it worth putting the new family in danger?)  Add a few motivations that are not directly connected to the clashing ones (he also wants to run a successful business, and to charm as many women as he can) and you have a more fleshed out character that in some scenes may have all four of his motivations at odds, and readers won’t be absolutely sure which way the character will go when faced with a challenge.

It helps to not make these completely random (they built a new family to replace the old one, running a business makes them feel accomplished like their father who they will never know, charming the ladies gives them a closeness they will never have with their new or old family, etc) but they shouldn’t all be slight variations on the same theme either.  Often when starting a novel you as the author may only know one or two motivations.  However if you pay attention to the scenes you are writing you may see small nuances in a characters dialogue or reactions that hint at more buried drives, or a even a flashy surface motivation (be the center of attention at all times!)  that stop your protagonist from being just another revenge/protective/heroic protagonist.

Those clashing motivations also underline the another important aspect of a  fully fleshed out character: Idiosyncrasies.  In many ways it’s the things that DON’T fit the stereotype about a character that makes them as memorable as the things we are used to.  Batman, unlike all the other vigilantes DOES NOT USE GUNS.  This sets him apart from the rest and is natural within the character (guns killed his parents) but don’t fit the other modern vigilantes at all.  Some idiosyncrasies happen so often they become a stereotype of their own (fierce large warrior who won’t hurt kids) but still have more depth than if they did not have those aspects that go against the grain of their core concept.

Much like motivations, to make it more real, let the idiosyncrasies flow from the rest of the characters motivations and back story.  The gentle merchant’s daughter who goes crazy and violent when animals are hurt does this because she spent more time with her dad’s horses and the hunting dogs than most people.  The normally taciturn blacksmith who in a bar can’t stop singing loudly with no shame might have had a father who blew off stress every night at the local ale house and have fond memories of when passing it hearing his father do the same.

As important as it is to have these aspects that make a character more than two dimensional it is just as important to have all the “layers” fit.  If the things that make them different flow out of actual events in their life it feels better than just to make a character “quirky”.  In a later blog I will talk about adding quirks to characters, but things like motivations and idiosyncrasies work best when coming from logical outcomes from a characters environment.

My next blog I will talk about a contest several GenreUunderground authors are having.  It will culminate in a blog swap, where other authors are writing for each other.  Whoever guesses the most wins!  There will be prizes involved including an really awesome grand prize from Bookbaby! (more on that next time!)

So with that little bit of information in mind, we come to our poll”

Poll

Will you check out some of the other blogs to try to win prizes this October?

1)Yes.

2)No.

3)I’ll wait until I get more information next blog.

World Info about the Allmother’s Fire series:

Adulthood comes at a time we think of as early in our modern lives.  People (men or women) can own property around the age of 12 or 13 (depending upon whether or not they have “come out” as an adult if noble, and if other commoners are willing to sell to them if a commoner).  Commoners tend to embrace adulthood younger, starting families often at age 15 or so, in order to have more people help on the farm quicker.

Nobles on the other hand have a formalize ceremony where they are first considered adults, and can be heir to a house (normally this is around the age of 13).  After this ceremony, they then either run the affairs of the house, or some women start learning at the Questionary for a like in the church.  After a few years (normally 2-4) they decide what they want to do, and start courting suitable mates.  This often leaves them a few years behind in family development then their commoner counterpoints.

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Word Usage in Non Existent languages


In fantasy (and in many scifi novels) your protagonists probably are not speaking English.  They are likely not speaking and actual existing language, unless you want them to.  You could just decide by fiat that they are speaking English, but some people might have a problem suspending belief (especially if they know enough to know different Old English is from current English, and that language constantly evolves).  If you do decide that they speak their own language however other issues occur such as; can you use any puns then, what about rhymes, or wordplay like homonyms or clever phrasings, and what about modern idioms?  Below is some advice to help with these issues.

The most important advice is to stay consistent.   If you sprinkle your own (or another language’s) words for something, or an ancient word for something use it every time.  Do not use the phrase katana and broadsword as if interchangeable.  Don’t call an animal a k’ysen most of the book, and then suddenly call it a dinosaur later even if the description you gave made it obvious.  If you do pepper modern idioms into your world, decide which ones fit and why and stick with it.  Nothing is worse than having what parts of our languages are used in your world seem arbitrarily.  If the whole world seems like an allegory for the ancient Vikings, and then you use all modern English rhymes in their poetry it may pull a reader out of your world.

Modern phrasings in particular can be tricky, including what is “modern.”  Even phrases that often are in our language and seen as conventional are actually references to real life cultural events and would not probably exists in your fantasy world.   This means extra care must be taken of what types of phrases you use to keep your world feeling consistent.  Decide why those phrases are allowed. It might be because of cultural similarities, it might be events in that world, or you might let all modern idioms apply and assume that those modern idioms are translations of whatever they are really saying. If attempting to weed out modern phrasings then you will need to think hard about anything allowed.  Even my last phrases “weed out” assumes the speaker’s culture has familiarity with the process of keeping a garden.  If trying to be rigorous on phrasings, I recommend having multiple beta readers that keep an eye out just for that.

If you want your own jargon (this happens particularly with magic or technology in fantasy and sci fi) it helps to keep it to a level that does not overwhelm your reader with new words they must learn.  Also, if there is something analogous in our world you can use that as an alternate way to describe it as long as it is not too rooted in one particular cultural identity.  If a person has a specialized curved sword called a dyten, calling it a sword later is fine.  Referring to the dyten as a scimitar later is not advised however, as it weakens the idea that your world’s sword is this unique thing you called a dyten.  If you can keep all your phrasing to a small amount (maybe a dozen or two words) the reader won’t feel like they need to check a glossary each time a conversation occurs.

Puns, homonyms, rhymes and the like very much rely on deciding if: the language is for all intents and purposes modern English, the language is not at all like English and you do not want anything to break that illusion, it is not English but you assume that there is some sort of wordplay in that language that the people in that world are seeing that we are not and let our version of the wordplay stay as a way your reader can connect.

Most fantasy seems to go with the third one.  The language is not English but it is treated like that in the rhymes, songs, and puns its characters use.  This is the easiest way to write, but can sometimes pull your reader out of the book much like using modern idioms.  This seems to very by reader.  Some readers actually prefer this technique for familiar wordplay draws them in more.  If firmly rooting your novel in history, or emphasizing the “otherness” of your culture you might want to write it differently.  Instead use analogues, related concepts, and wise observations for poetry instead of rhymes.  Make humor contextual instead of pun related.  When writing think  “Will this joke be the same for my Spanish, Japanese, German and Italian readers?  That sort of mindset can give you good guidelines of who to keep language integrity throughout your work

Poll:

Do you prefer your languages in fantasy and sci fi to be:

A)Modern English.  Who cares if that’s not feasible, it gets rid of all other barriers.

B)Its own unique language, and nothing modern or reliant upon being English should show.  The translated version of this novel will easily be able to use actual translations with little to no localization needed.

C)Functionally similar to modern English, but only as a device to allow the reader to be more immersed in the world.  It will have differences, but rhymes and puns are allowed and it is just assumed the world has an equivalent for them.

World Info:

Mandatory Paradise will be the focus again, since it is the newer book and I have more questions about that from people who have wondered how one structure can cover the entire island.  The truth is the Palaces are essentially connected and wind their way around the island and jut into the center of it at parts.  There are, however,  places not actually part of the Palace as a whole.  These are not residential places, and do not have the running water the rest of the island does or entrances to the catacombs.  This is where the markets are, smiths craft their wares, and the vineyards for the grapes are located.

Also thePpalaces are broken down by areas and quarters have different feels to them.  I will describe the differences between the quarters in a later article.  In general they are broken down by class and occupation, but occasionally by philosophy.  It is still all one Palace, but the culture is not nearly as homogenous as the Senate would probably prefer it to be.


Reviews: Life Blood of Independent/Self Published Books


As per the title, without reviews independent and even more so, self-published books, wither away and disappear.  Without a giant media machine letting you know you should buy something, or buying reviews in Locus or other major review organizations the only way most readers know if they are truly interested in your work is in reviews.  The two most important for this are Amazon Product review and Goodreads.  Without these things, your book is lost amongst the glut of self-published fiction, with nothing but maybe your cover and product description to distinguish yourself.

In some ways the Amazon Product Reviews are the most important.  A prospective reader can tell if someone actually bought the product, and Amazon does a good job filtering out sock puppet accounts and false reviews.  There is also an immediacy to it, especially if you book is a Kindle only one, for they can scroll down and see the whole review right away.  If something happens to make it so that they are already reading your description (such as your cover catching their eye, a free promo day kicking you up in the rankings, hearing about your work on twitter) this is probably the best type of review to have.  However this does not normally help someone learn about your book and something had to already draw them to that product description page for it to do any good.

Therefore Goodreads reviews can be excellent to have also.  Many people like to use Goodreads, especially if their friends with someone, or someone has similar reading tastes to them.  The way a reader tags your book is good too, for it can show up in searches more frequently.  From my own personal experience my Goodreads reviews seem to be by people giving more in depth reactions to my book than my amazon reviewers, but that is only anecdotal evidence.

Other ways available for your book to be review include personal and professional blogs.  The more widely read the blog is the better it is for you.  However this sets up an issue that the very wide read blogs are often booked up and so it can either take forever for someone to review your book this way, or they may not even try if there are not enough reviews on your book already.  This is where it helps to have reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, to show that other people found the novel worth their time.

If you really want to thank an independent/self-published author for writing a book you enjoyed then write a review on one of the above places.  Even if it’s not perfect, any word of mouth and honest opinion does help, and it’s more genuine that way.  You do not have to give a glowing 5 star review to make an author very pleased that someone took their time enough not only to read what they wrote, but to give an opinion about it later.  All of this is of course because my newest book Mandatory Paradise is very new, and looking very lonely with no reviews anywhere.

Poll

If you read Reviews, where do you get them from? (you can choose more than one)

1)Amazon

2)Goodreads

3)Small Personal Blogs

4)Large Review Blogs

5)Libraryanything

6)Shelfari

7)Other, put in the comments below

 

World Tidbit – Allmother’s Fire

The Grand Laws of the Universe are often said just like that in one large unwieldy phrase.  The Grand Laws are not put in just one specific book, but are all the combined observations of scholars and philosophers throughout the Centuries of how the world normally runs.  Families with Domain over a certain aspect can Loophole them, but they still follow some sort of internal logic with a cost for what they do.

Many philosophers have thought of codifying what the Laws are so that they can be read in all of one book.  The Allmother’s church however has a distaste for the written word, and discourages such movements whenever they occur.  It is whispered that this may be because the Church is afraid that people will look to the Grand Laws instead of the Allmother to solve their answers if this was ever to occur.

In the darkest of locations it is rumored such a book does exists, and the Church has either destroyed it or acquired it long ago, never to be seen again.


Short Stories: Doing More with Less


Personally, giant Epics have often been my favorite novels to read.  The form allows a level of depth (into the characters and their histories) and breadth (amount of characters and span of events) that other forms do now allow.  Another favorite form of mine, however, is the short story.  I personally find them harder to write, as they do not allow as much time or character span as a giant epic.  What they do excel in is giving a fantastic window into a character and normally one event or a small series of events.  This smaller focus often can create more powerful scenes and dialogue than the larger form, for every word must be razor focused to do its job correctly.

My favorite form of reading short stories is anthologies.  Whether it is a linked literary theme, a shared world, or something even more random reading multiple short stories at the same time seems to enhance them. You can compare and contrast how different stories handle the same theme.  If all done by the same writer even if there are no obvious links you can see how the writer highlights different characters or concepts in a variety of ways. Anthologies allow context to be given to stories without forcing them to be part of some larger linked story.

The best part of the short story is the author is not tempted to put anything even slightly extraneous in there.  As a reader is perusing the story they know that everything noted upon has some reason to be there.  It is like viewing art made with small tight brush strokes that focus on a small area.   Word economy actually becomes an art form, and it’s also almost impossible for a reader to lose interest unless it’s very poorly written or does not connect with the reader at all.  Backstory must be kept to a sheer minimum and if it’s does not affect the immediate main plot or actions occurring, it is not there.  Much like what timing is to comedy pacing is to short stories.  It must be honed to perfection in order for it to operate as it should.

The tools authors use to create good short stories include keeping external descriptions to a minimum, using terse wording to paint an idea of the world the characters habit.  Exposition is also kept to a minimum, and only occurs in dialogue or very truncated monologues.  Every word spoken in a dialogue sheds light on either the characters or situation.  Repetition to reinforce them is obviously not suggested in short stories, but actions and ideas that reinforce a theme can occur instead.

I personally love the various George RR Martin edited short stories and have used those anthologies to widen my knowledge of authors.  On the smaller press and e publishing scale I am recommending Frances Pauli http://francespauli.com/ who if you go to her blog site http://francespauli.blogspot.com/ today and comment in her comments, she will give you a coupon for her anthology to be free (this is for smash words, so it is cross platform readable! ) I am not going to lie, free anthologies are some of my favorites, and a real fantastic way of knowing what an author can be like.

Today is the second day of the Genre Underground Road to WorldCon.  Stay tuned tomorrow for information on some free books associated with us!

Poll:

I prefer reading:

A)Giant Epics large enough to Kill Spiders

B) “Average” length books of 70-100 k words

C)Short Stories

World Info:

Today’s Info Tidbit is from Mandatory Paradise

Although scrolls and even a few books exist on Nimoa, in most cases the written word is not trusted.  People have been raised to believe the outside world before the Cataclysm lied, often.  They think the written word was a form of propaganda, and that people believe whatever they read was true, without thinking critically of it.  Citizens of Nimoa are taught they need to memorize information and think critically of anything they are told.  This is why their classes are primarily oral in nature, and most homework involves interacting with servants, parents, or other adults to help them memorize or learn information.

This distrust of the written word is so strong that even many teachers do not like it, with the exception of a few.  It is thought anything important enough to keep concrete in memory will be done by the Bureaucrats and the Library Mind.  Since the Senators have full access to the Library Mind they will keep all information “honest.”  At least, that is what is said.


Inner Monologue vs. Dialogue (Revealing Information)


Besides describing events as they occur the main way information is relayed to the user is through dialogue of the characters and the characters inner thoughts.  Good writing has a balance of this, for they both have different uses in pushing the story forward.  There are reasons to rely more on one than the other, depending upon the feel you are trying to evoke in your narrative.

Dialogue has the advantage of simultaneously moving the narrative along and possibly relating personal or past information at the same time. It does not however allow the same amount of inner thought to be revealed as internal monologues do.  That does not mean that NO inner thought is revealed that way.  Word choice, the topics spoke of, idioms used and other subtleties can clue the reader in to things that other characters might not pick up on. Overall though dialogue is better at conveying more overt information, unless it is in character for the speaker to say things that have primarily double meanings.

Narratives heavy in dialogue seem to read much quicker.  Some readers actually crave the dialogue so much they skip past scenes that do not have it.  Most information we gain about someone in real life comes from talking to someone else.  Sure you may occasionally read of people that become your friends, but often getting to know someone starts off as a conversation with them, or about them.  Because of this dialogue feels like a very “natural” way for information to be conveyed, and helps make that a primary form of fast reading for many people.

People often slow down when reading inner monologues, partially because in real life that is not something we can do.  They are essential however for conveying information that is internalized.  A lot of history, personality, and subtleties are easier to understand when coming directly from the characters head.  Context is often key to truly understanding a character.  Most people do not constantly talk about their past with others, and stuffing your novels with flashbacks is cumbersome (I know, this coming from the guy who is showing 12 years over twelve flashbacks over the course of a trilogy).

Without those resources the main way to deal with the past is the way many people do in real life.  When things occur or even when idle it reminds them of other events that have some sort of similarity.  In addition to relaying past information an inner monologue can often be the only way to really know how a character feels about a situation, especially if it is opposite of their words or tones used.  It is easier to convey dramatic irony through inner monologues, and can add depth to a novel.

Narratives where the focus is on introspection, where nothing is as it seems, and the focus is on what lies beneath the surface will often have a disproportionate amount of inner monologues.  The biggest issues coming from this however is that it can slow down the reader.  Also, depending upon the reader or technique used, it can fall opposite of the normal “show don’t tell” rule of writing.

Pulp writing has little inner monologues while mysteries often come from a first person perspective  that has most of even its dialogue sandwiched by inner thoughts and reactions.  Fantasy and sci fi depends on the style used.  Swords and Sorcery books come from the same vein as pulp, and therefore are dialogue or description heavy (more of that next blog).  Large Epics often want to get in characters heads, and tend to lean more towards the inner monologues.

Poll:

Which technique do you prefer?:

1)More Inner Monologue

2)More Dialogue

3)No Preference

World Info:

Let’s go back to the Allmother’s Fire Trilogy, since that is what I am writing currently.  Although not touched on heavily in the first book (but it is referenced) there are many “schools” of sword fighting available.  Each Island has at least one school, no matter how big it is, and the largest Islands have many.  Cenive for example, has ten large sword schools.  Although any one form any guild or family can learn any style, most of the time those from the same guild learn the same style.

The Nemeni for example primarily learn the Southern Quarters style, which emphasizes two swords and precision.  The Tanello instead learn the Staccato style,  which uses rapiers only and is named after the fact it’s students learn to fight to music.  There forms are taught connected to both orchestra and opera, and many of it’s students reach for a sword whenever they hear the appropriate music.

These schools are not only useful for learning how to fight, but give one a network of friends that can be relied upon.  Houses and guilds should remain higher than that, but many see their Sword School as great family then blood itself.  It should be telling that  the Nemeni officially are not supposed to learn any style other than Southern Quarter, so that there should never be a conflict of loyalty.


Mandatory Paradise Cover Art (Fitting the tone of the Book)


Not the most creative title ever, but pretty accurate.  Here is the cover art to my new book below:

Cover art is very important, as often even before a synopsis is read a prospective reader will see the cover.  If you are in a list the title and the cover is all they have, and it must catch the eye and interests of a prospective reader.  It helps if it fit’s the book tonally too, so it is not jarring to a reader if they see an epic fantasy like cover then read a story mainly focused on economics.

The cover you see is not the first draft, and it is significantly different than the first.  The first had an authentic Minoan background, but it clashed a lot with the rest of the cover, and some people thought it would repel readers.  We chose the current background you see of a Labyrinth due too it’s importance to the story, and that it gave a neutral tone so the rest of the cover would “pop” better.

Also, the stark lack of details about book plot from the cover was done like many thrillers. The intent was to give more of a feel and less of a preview of what actually occurs in the book.  The only tone aspect that is not shown in the artwork is the “flippant” (think more Terry Pratchett) tone some chapters are told in due to who the characters are.  Each chapter is written featuring specific characters, and when that is happening the “voice” of the chapter synchs with who is starring in it.  So a chapter about a priestess or a bureaucrat will be more serious than one told from a rather frivolous artist or gruff outsider.

With all of those differences there was not a way to convey this on the cover without clashing in a very “busy” manner.  I do like the details in this cover and it holds up very well when increased in size, and I may eventually make this book available for print (there was resolution issues with my last one, and I will not be able to have that book ready for print until I can resolve them).

As for other final touches, the book will come out this week, most likely Wednesday or Thursday.  There will be a blog post when it comes up.  I’m just doing one last once over and all of the involved formatting before it is released.  The Sample Chapter available at the top of this website has been altered to match the edited text of the book.

The final Synopsis has been made by the way :

Alnanla has not always enjoyed her life as a Priestess and a teacher, but she, like every citizen of the Island of Nimoa, has always had her needs met. At night she gazes up at the energy shield that keeps everyone safe from the flying monstrosities of legend, and she wants more than just to exist in her pre-ordained role. When hundreds of innocents are massacred, Alnanla finds herself to be the prime suspect. To clear her name, she teams up with a grieving Bureaucrat, an eternally optimistic Artist, a gruff Outsider and a sarcastic Spirit. As they begin to discover the details of what really happened, they find more than they bargained for. Should they expose the dark secrets they find and risk their society’s destruction? Or should  they sacrifice their lives and let the lies continue in order to preserve the way of life that has given them all peace and safety for thousands of years?

Poll Question:

Which cover do you prefer?:

A) The Fall of House Nemeni

B) Mandatory Paradise

There were aspects I liked about both covers, but due to the resolution issues I might contemplate using a different artist for the second Allmother’s Fire book than I used for the first one.  I personally like this new one more, but I am curious what my readers think.

Next Blog: THE RELEASE OF MANDATORY PARADISE!  Woo  hoo!


Inspiration (Order out of Chaos)


One of the most frequent questions a writer receives is “Where do you get your inspiration?”  The answer to that for most authors is varied.  Personally a lot of my novels or the worlds they take place in have been inspired by history.  Sometimes it’s an old or obscure culture, sometimes it’s a specific event.  I normally go far from the original thing that inspired me, but it’s a good jumping off point for ideas.  Once your characters are fleshed out they can constantly inspire you also. Even though they are just constructs good characters react to things in ways even the author may not expect, creating future plots and ideas.

That’s good for the overarching plot but what about specific details?  If your protagonists are in a fantasy world and travelling a lot, you may have to come up with a few dozen cultures/cities/tribes in a very short time. You could once again “steal” from other sources like history or repurposing other fictional characters (take Boss Hogg and put him in a Ninja culture and boom, instant interesting character) but after a while it might feel forced or repetitive.  Many fantasy worlds are almost exactly like ours, with some serial numbers filed off and one or two minor changes to food or dress.  You can normally figure out which ancient culture they are and after seeing most of “Europe” you expect to meet the “Scandinavian” culture of the world and like clockwork you do, three chapters later.

When your normal inspirations take away your predictability you must do something to leap out of the rut you have created.  Something perfect for new ideas is finding a way to be inspired randomly.  My new go to resource for that is the random button on Wikipedia.  You can get an insanely wide spread of ideas from people, from cultures,  art,  and ideas.  In the current book I am writing, two of the characters need to go to a place to retrieve something.  I knew the plot ramifications from this, I knew the thing to be retrieved, but I had not fully fleshed out where they were going, as it was not as important.  All that was necessary was that the place was exotic, and differed greatly from where the characters originate.

I clicked on the random button and got a country, an article about an energy activist, and information about a type of rock.  My mind began to create order from this chaos, and I thought about what could possibly connect those three very diverse Wiki articles.  I let the three ideas stew in my mind for about twenty minutes, and a great new location was born!  You still have to create the ideas and write the scenes, but a tool like this is a great way to use random information to guide you.

My personal writing style probably would not allow me to use this to create over arching actual plots.  Most of my plotting is either generated from how the characters react to the situations they are in, or are thought of in advance to guide the story.  However there are still parts of all novels that are not thought of until specific scenes are reached, and using this can help with those “mini plots.”  Honestly any way to randomly generate information can help.  You could flip through a large book like a dictionary, random searches on google or even flip on the TV and go to three channels if you wanted to synthesize something.  The important thing is as a writer your mind is already good at finding connections between unrelated things, and this just a great way to jump start this process.

Today’s Poll

Last I checked last week’s poll was tied, or within one vote of being so.  This means I honestly do not know yet if I am going to take The Fall of House Nemeni off of its exclusivity with kindle or keep their one last time.

This poll will be on Mandatory Paradise.  It’s twice the size of Fall of House Nemeni, and self-contained.  Due to the size I was thinking of pricing it at 4.99 (still less than commercial paperbacks and any fast food meals not bought off the dollar menu).  Besides the size of it, if I don’t it will feel weird pricing my next book at 3.99 also.  However, I don’t want to “price” this book off of peoples casual consideration list.

Should Mandatory Paradise be:

1)3.99

2)4.99

World Info:

Since it is the book coming out shortly, I will once again focus on this world.  The main religious ceremony of Nimoa, the island this takes place on, is the sacred Bull Dance.  Twelve Priests and Twelve Priestesses “dance” with the bulls.  This is highly ritualized and include using “labrys” sacred axes that are found covering the labyrinth in the city’s walls.  The goal is not to kill the bull, but to move with it.

As said in a previous blog the clergy raise energy to work their miracles through dance, and this is a dance that most of the island participates in.  The energy drawn that day sustains most of the citizens so they do not have to eat for the next month.  Part of the reasons this island is Paradise is because no one ever goes hungry, as long as they show up at their monthly dance.


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