Monthly Archives: May 2015

Conflict and Character

Creating conflict in a novel helps to create drama.

If something merely flows, like a river without obstacles, no canyons would be created. We would have a one-dimensional landscape.

Boring, flat, uninspiring.

Bringing drama through words and actions means that a writer can channel all manner of situations and arguments into her writing. It can be quite therapeutic, I suppose, to put into words thoughts one has not dared utter. Channeling the dark recesses of the mind to release an inner demon and letting it out into the light and onto the page can be frightening, especially if one is afraid of conflict.

A writer can put into words things that people may never do.

Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”.

Ideas, situations, characters: these all spring from somewhere, some place where we often don’t want to go. But as they say, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” No matter how far out you think you are, know that there is someone out there who either experienced those things, or someone who is doing those things. Witness serial killers, mass murderers and demonically possessed people: they are everywhere. So if you are sane, sitting at your computer, and thoughts and ideas buzz around in your mind about the actions, words, thoughts and demeanor of a character, know that it is not unique. You, the writer, are not evil. You are merely channelling the pervasive and ubiquitous dark thoughts of humanity.

So, do you want to read a novel like this?

Or do you want to read a novel like this:

Go there, find that drama. Create that conflict. Bring out the knives, the craziness you have been hiding so successfully all this time.

Put it into writing, CREATE!

Word of caution. Please reboot your mind before cooking dinner and bathing the kids!!!

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Posted by on May 28, 2015 in authors, writing


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It’s all about the Point of View

The Cathar heresy has been featured in many novels, videogames and movies, always portraying them as the underdogs, the persecuted faithful who were forcefully and brutally eradicated by the Catholic Church. Sadly, this image is true.

But what lies behind all of this?

From the research I have done thus far, it is clear that there is far more to this than merely religion.

The Cathars did not believe in violence, and did not condone killing anyone or anything – not even animals, for the parfait  were strict vegetarians. Some of them ate fish because it was believed at the time that fish did not reproduce sexually, therefor they were not killing a creature that has a soul.

Sexual reproduction was not permitted, since giving birth meant another soul would be entrapped here on earth. They had a very strong belief in dualism, in the opposing forces of good and evil. “Good” was ruled by the God of the New Testament, and “evil” was ruled by the God of the Old Testament, the God that had created human life. To give birth meant that you were perpetuating the wishes of the evil God. Many of the Cathari, including women, took vows of abstinence later in life, or upon their deathbeds. I think the majority of believers lived normal lives, but worshipped a little differently. The Catholic Church actually adopted many of the practices of the Cathars after the Inquisition, for example, that priests should be celibate, and that Catholics should eat fish on Fridays.


Many of their beliefs pre-date Christianity, and it is argued by scholars that their religion was closer to the original Christian belief, to  the Paulicians,(named after the bishop of Antioch) which formed the basis of the Armenian religion that flourished between 650 and 872.

There is far more to this than I want to elaborate on right now and there is plenty of information on the internet, so look it up if you are so inclined!

To get back to my original point:

At the time that the Cathar faith was at its zenith, the Catholic Pope’s legate, Pierre de Castelnau, was allegedly murdered by a Cathar after he was sent to excommunicate the Lord Raymond VI of Toulouse. The Pope had been trying to convert these wayward heretics for a considerable period of time but they stubbornly refused to yield to the power of the Vatican.

De Castelnau was declared a martyr, and this initiated the Albigensian Crusade to wipe Catharism off the face of the earth.

But wait, there’s more to this, as I said. The Pope encouraged King Philippe Auguste II of France and his vassals to perpetrate the “cleansing” of the heretics, in preparation for his annexing the Languedoc region and making it part of France. (So….it’s quite possible the Pope ordered the murder of his legate, not so? Then he would have ample reason to start a crusade against the dastardly heretics?)

So, voila! The Catholic Pope  Innocent III (what a misnomer!) thus enriched himself because all of Christian Europe had to pay homage to the Church.

The games people play. All in the name of religion.

Yes, there is more background to the Cathar faith that I have not included. I want to keep this simple and educational. I’ll get to the Bogomils, the Manicheans and the Gnostics some other time, so don’t despair.

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Posted by on May 14, 2015 in French history, History, religion


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