Monthly Archives: October 2012

World-building is a flippin’ BLAST!

Who among us hasn’t wished they could be Supreme Overlord of the World, even if just for a moment? I know I have. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself, ‘Man, if I were in charge and my edicts were binding upon the whole world I could fix this, and this, and that over there…’

Well, when you’re a writer you can do that. And no genre is as completely moldable to the author’s imagination than than the science fiction/fantasy genre. In sci-fi/fantasy, literally if you can dream it, you can write it. Of course, with that much power comes… say it with me… great responsibility. Dreaming an entire world into existence is a monumental undertaking in and of itself, but making that world breathe is another thing entirely.

When I started this blog, the purpose was two-fold and throughout all the changes I’ve made on this site, that’s one thing that has never changed. Sure, I’m plugging my work for those who are interested in my writing and I’ll admit to being a greedy attention-seeker. *lol* But I also want to provide a ‘behind the curtain’ look at the struggles of a new writer. Those of you who’ve known me from the start have been on quite a ride with me and I appreciate it. I’d like to think that my writing has improved and matured throughout these changes and I’m looking forward to discovering what the final product will look like just as much as all of you are.

And so, I’m writing the draft of these No Redemption for the Wicked novels and I’m loving it; but sometimes I just have to stop and do some world-building. What happens is I just need a more concrete understanding of what my world looks like: Who lives in it? What kind of people are they? What kind of power do they have over themselves and over others? What are their names? What are their relationships to each other? Who are their natural allies and adversaries? Who are their unexpected allies and adversaries?

These questions must be asked and answered because, just like in any other novel, your story is going to be driven by people, and that means your characters. And what makes your characters come alive on the page is not just how well you define their character and develop their growth throughout the novel, but each character needs to have a believable context. The traits and characteristics you give to each character need to seem as if they logically flow from the experiences you dream up for that character before they are introduced to the story, in other words, their backstory.

So, now that my draft is starting to develop and I’ve realized that I need to shift around to different places in my setting to continue, I’ve found myself suddenly in need of clearly-defined places and people.  And so, that’s what had me up at all hours last night dreaming up the names of the various noble estates that populate the primary setting for the story, which is the Kingdom of Arcadia. Kingdoms need dukes, counts and earls, viscounts, barons and lords. Most of them will never see the page, but I still need to know who they are, enough to know whether they figure into the story or not. I need to know, or instance, that Baron Cluckfinster won’t be in the story because he his baronial seat is in Lamona Roost, which is nowhere near any of the action and besides, the Cluckfinsters have no family or even incidental relations with anyone in the story.

Now, that doesn’t mean I need a detailed background for every single one. That would be a waste of time. For most purposes, once I determine that some character or place is not going to figure in the story at all, I’m generally going to be safe in stopping at that point and moving on. But added just a little bit of unnecessary detail (as long as it doesn’t consume too much of my time and focus) will be a good thing as it will just give me that much more of a clear picture in my mind when I write and that increased level of clarity will come across on the page and make the writing better. You just have to keep it to just a little bit of added detail because the benefit you get per minute you spend adding that detail diminishes rapidly the longer you spend at it. The trick is to do just a little bit more than you need and no more than that.

So, here’s to the joys of world-building and making your literary world come alive with people and places that breathe!

Scene 2 is finished!

Hey everyone,

I had a nasty headache last night, but after crashing early I woke up at around 2:30am and started to write. I was able to finish Scene 2 of Chapter One and I’d love to get some comment on how it comes across. Jen, I think you’ll find that I also improved that bit about the tannery.

Thanks, everyone. Now I’m going to grab a few more winks before getting started for the day.

Quick update:

Just a quick note to let folks know that I’ve changed the name of a major character. The name Salome’ for the second main character almost works, but doesn’t quite. The new name for her will be Serena. I’ve made the updates on the website. I know it’s a small detail, but names have character, and even small changes to a character’s name can have a disproportionate impact on the impression the character makes.

What I did this weekend…

Had a great weekend!

On Saturday, I went to the Twentieth-annual Festival of Reading at the St. Petersburg USF campus, sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times. I went with Vicki Roberts and Rob McCabe, fellow local writers and we had a great time. We started by taking in a panel of ‘local boys done good’ (always encouraging) and caught a couple of presentations by other authors who were presenting their work. The event was capped off by a local writer and ‘high muckety-muck’ of USF’s Poynter Institute, the school’s institute of journalism who gave a very, shall we say, interactive’ workshop on writing.

Sunday was my typical football day, my ‘day off from everything’. I immerse myself in mindless pursuits on Sundays because I usually need it – and I did.

Last night I did some more work on the draft, but I don’t have anything to show yet; although I do expect that after tonight I’ll have something to post by tomorrow. So, please be on the lookout for that.

Thanks so much for the support, folks!

I couldn’t help it. I tried to resist, but I couldn’t. I… edited. Now check it out!

I know, I know… it’s a cardinal rule and I broke it. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER edit your draft until the entire draft is done or your draft will always be under construction. I know… But the idea to make more of the conversation at the wagon to allow time for Earnest to prowl along the trees hit me like a flash and I had to do it or lose it.

So, I invite you to take another look at the scene I just posted and tell me what you think of the conversation between the two young folks at the wagon and whether it fits, if it helps the scene, if I’ve integrated it properly into the scene I had written, all that stuff. Thanks!

Almost done! But I’ve got enough of Chapter One, Scene 2 to post!

And so, here it is: Chapter One, Scene 2!
I’d write more, but I’m exhausted. Getting sleep now, then I’ll check in later in the day.

Working on a new and improved Scene 2!

I’m so happy with the editing/re-writing I’ve done so far on the draft for NRftW! I’m about a quarter to a third of the way into the second scene and it is VASTLY SUPERIOR to what I had before and I can’t wait to finish and post it!!! Gawd, this is such a high!!!!! *rubbing my hands with unbridled glee*

Updated draft of ‘No Reemption for the Wicked’ posted!

To re-familiarize myself with the draft, I’m starting at the beginning of the draft and doing some rough edits, based upon some feedback that I’ve already received. This shouldn’t be too arduous a process as I was only about a chapter into the draft. Normally, I would never edit while working on the draft, but in this instance the benefits outweigh the detriments.

So, you’ll find Chapter One, Scene One of No Redemption for the Wicked at the link here or on the right-hand side of the web page. I hope you enjoy it!

QUESTION: Multiple storylines… how best to write them?

I’ve outlined the whole storyline for the protagonist Kara for the first two books of the trilogy. I have a general idea of how I want the storyline to go for the companion protagonist Salomé for the first book, but that hasn’t been made into a concrete outline yet. For those of you who have worked with multiple storylines before, do you recommend writing a draft of each storyline in its entirety? Or do you recommend writing the draft of both storylines together?

The verdict is in. My first novel will be…

No Redemption for the Wicked

This is the novel I’m most excited to write right now. Fantasy is my first love and the genre I’m most familiar with, so I can’t think of a better starting point and a better first novel to write. It’s the first book in a planned trilogy, so I’ll be writing all three before I tackle the alternative/speculative/paranormal history series and that should put me in good stead to be able to approach that project with some experience when I get to that point.

The primary decision I need to make now is whether to proceed with ‘No Redemption’ as a story with a single protagonist or whether there should be one or two more central characters at the heart of the story. I may resurrect some elements of the storyline from my very first project, The Jezebel Diaries, and intertwine them with the Kara storyline I’ve already plotted. Or I may not. I’m still undecided on that. But, regardless, I will be returning to the draft for ‘No Redemption’ and my primary goal right now is to create a complete draft from “Once upon a time…” to “…happily ever after”.

So, let’s all raise a glass to “happily ever after”, shall we?