Category Archives: Poll

Fleshing Out Characters Part Two: Behaviors and Quirks


Another thing that can help a character feel more real is having a consistent behavior when reacting to situations.  Behavior in this context is not just a single emotion or reaction; like angry, jovial, blunt, polite, or quiet.  The character’s attitude is an overall guiding way they react which is normally a mixture of emotions or styles depending upon what they are reacting to.  Like the idiosyncrasies we covered earlier sometime aspects of their behaviors can seem to conflict, but if you know the character more fully then it is consistent to who the character is.

One example of a characters behavior is someone that reacts to events in a Patriarchal manner.  This definition was first broadly used to define the relationships that often occurred in Rome, and still has some influence on how people see fathers in general.  Someone who reacts Patriarchly tends to be stern, but protective to those below him as long as they are given proper respect.  They even show moments of warmth and kindness sometimes to unexpected behavior from their subordinates, but have no tolerance for rebellion.  They tend to try to create orderly environments, and are resistant to change.  This combination of attitudes creates a fleshed out behavior pattern that makes it so in hypothetical situations one could say, ‘I am pretty sure (insert Patriarchal character) might act this way,’ or, that reminds me of something that character would do.   Of course keeping in mind the tips from the first article you will want some inconsistencies, or a person will be completely predictable.

To get ideas for behavior patterns you can look at both basic archetypes that are in all sorts of stories (like the hero, the wise woman, the soldier, the trickster) or even modern types, the wall street power monger, the dilettante, the activist, etc.  You can even take the basic behavior patterns of one type of character (like a Robin Hood), and then add additional attitude or tweak basic concepts like this Robin Hood type only works alone when doing her job  of taking from the rich, but prefers to be surrounded by people in her time off.  Overlay that with the fact that she is very calculating, and does not like to make snap decisions and you get a twist off of a well-known behavior type.

Another thing that can flesh out your character is quirks.  These are small random likes and dislikes that are less about a personality, and more small things that identify what a character is like without being necessarily as meaningful. The character who tugs on a lock of her hair when thinking, or prefers his music to have heavy drum beats, the person who can’t stand reading but wants to hear stories told by bards constantly, or the woman who loves spicy food.  Random small things like this can be simple likes and dislikes (music, food, hobbies, fashion, etc.)trademark physical patterns (has a limp, closes eyes when thinking, whips hair around when enters a room), odd preferences (likes to be surrounded by dogs, talks to self when making decisions, etc), phobias (bodies of water, pigs, etc) , and so on.

Adding both meaningful consistent guidelines (through the behaviors) and more surface attitudes (the quirks) combined with the tips from before (motivations and inconsistencies) will give you three dimensional characters which will be more engaging.  If people would like, I could also do some more blogs on this, but the above is a good way to get started.

Not a Poll Exactly, but Close:

I am not technically doing a poll this time, but I would love to hear from people there favorite character types, and even characters in literature or other media.  My favorite type is probably the trickster.  Character wise it’s too diverse for me to pick just one but some favorite characters in various media include Wally West, Perrin Ayabera, Coyote, Walter Slovotsky, Silk, Tim Drake, Jamie Lannister, and Monk Kokkalis.  Quite a mix of media types, but some similar strains in many of those characters.

Book Update:

The book is still moving but very slowly, due to my upcoming cross country move (that starts in a week).  I hope a week or so after I move to fit into a regular schedule, and it is still possible book two of the Allmother’s Grace will be ready for publication in December (I can’t guarantee it but the first half is already being edited and it depends on how quickly I can catch up after my move whether the book is ready late December or early 2013).


Non Sleazy Self-Promoting (Then a Promotion about a Promotion!)


One of the best things about e-publishing is the about of creative control you get over your narrative.  In the end you get to decide what you want to write about, how you want to write about it, and who you want in it.  The downside about this of course, is it’s up to you to make sure people know it exists.  Self-Promotion is the only promotion, and it’s a necessary part of being an e-book author.  How and where you decided to promote has a lot to do with how successful you are.  There are some right ways and wrong ways to do this.

Wrong way: Going onto Amazon and self-promoting everywhere.  Many e book authors are amazon exclusive, so it makes sense to go there. However, any amount of self-promotion or mentioning your own book outside of the Meet Our Authors forum is completely discouraged.  This might seem odd at first to a new writer, how else are people going to here about your book if you don’t talk about it?  The problem is, there are thousands of other authors with the same thing in mind, and soon the amazon forums get glutted with everyone only offering their own book any time asks for a recommendation.  It’s considered tacky if you relatives if or those involved in editing your book do it either for the same reasons.  So how do you get the word out with forums?

Right Way: First, if normally forums you used in your hobbies (such as gaming forums) have a miscellaneous section, you can always post links there (check those forums rules before you do so).  Doing this helped a lot with the initial launch of Fall of House Nemeni.  Second, you can go to writers forums that allow that sort of thing.  For example, the Genre Underground group on Goodreads,  http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/70802 has several places for new authors to write about their own books.  Other groups can be obtained from google too.

Wrong way with social media: Constantly spamming your normal friends, and only the people you already know to buy your stuff.  After the tenth post about your new book, Grandma might block you from facebook.  That would probably be humiliating.

Right way with  popular social media (twitter, google+, facebook) : Make new accounts for just you as an author.  If not using a pseudonym, then use one just for the “writing side” of you.  Of all of them twitter is probably the best.  It is easy to get a large following of other authors (follow e book authors and they will often follow you back).  In addition to social media, blogs can be used as a way of getting your name out, as long as you post frequent and original content that those besides just readers of your books would want to see (hint this blog is an example :))

Networking with other writers is a fantastic way to promote your book.  It is not acceptable to just say to other writers “tweet my book posts” or “put a link to my book on your site.”  Instead actual friendships with other authors can be beneficial to all.  Mention them at random times in other posts, and help them with their own book launches and other news.  In return, they will be more than happy to help out without you having to badger them when you need the same assistance.

This month the Genre Underground will have blog swap, with the last post of the month swapping mystery author’s blogs.  This event is called “Trick and Treat”.  The link to information about this is here:  http://www.genreunderground.com/GU_TrickAndTreat.html and I highly recommend reading the others blogs to get used to their style, so when it comes around you can guess as many as possible.  Prizes (including a HUGE one from Bookbaby) abound, and I am getting into the spirit of it by giving my own prize.  Besides the above link, tonight on twitter there will be chat about it with the hashtag #GUchat (8pmEST) and the @GenreUndergroun feed.

The winner will get a short story, written by my set in one of my worlds (of their own choosing).  The also will request what he main protagonist is like (it can even be based on you) and maybe a hint of what they want the story to be about.  Then I will write it for you, and post it here later (free for everyone).

Poll:

How do you feel about self-promotion

1)I have no problem with it.

2)Necessary Evil.

3)I hate it.


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.


Songs and Prophecies: Fantasy Flavor


Songs and Prophecies: Fantasy Flavor

Fantasy novels are a continuation of the same story telling tradition as myths and fables.  Most are inspired by the epic ballads of heroes, and due to this link often contain prophecies and songs from that world.  This is due to the original tradition of mythological stories being recited orally, and often sung (hence the term ballad) depending upon the culture.  This carried through in many of the first fantasy epics, like the works of Tolkien (especially the songs) all the way through current blockbuster epics (Wheel of Time for prophecies and songs).  They add significant flavor to a book, and make it fit the genre better, but if done wrong can pull a reader out of the book.

Songs are probably the harder of the two for most authors.  While there may be a few budding songsmiths amongst fantasy writers, many are not particularly musically inclined.  This has the habit of making many songs either just general poems or not feeling songlike in the least.  The easiest way to make it feel more authentic if you do not have song writing abilities yourself is to pattern your song after either the cadence of epic ballads ( like Beowulf, odyssey, etc) or if doing something closer to our time then sung to the tune of other songs you know.

Many traditional songs we know like Yankee Doodle had the lyrics patterned to fit existing songs (in this case a drinking song) and this happened with many hymns and other songs that people know of.  Sometimes your reader might even think it seems familiar, if they know the source material enough.  In the second book of the Allmother’s Fire I needed a rousing but slightly wistful song for the Air Pirates.  I decided to pattern the tune after “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean.”  At that point the song practically wrote itself (lyrically it’s not similar, but the idea for the song I had grafted onto the backbone of the existing tune so well, the whole thing was written in about four or five minutes).

For both songs and prophecy you could get the feel you wanted by using certain types of poetic forms, like iambic pentameter to give it a familiar stylized feel.  Other rhythm and meter schemes work.  If wanting to evoke the feel of homer for your Prophecy, try dactylic hexameter.  Modern English is used to rhyme schemes being emphasized, but it is not the only way to give the effect of a song or prophecy.

With prophecy the content is just as important as the presentation.  If the meaning is too clear and accurate there is no sense of discovery or surprise in the book, since everything could be predicted easily.  The key to good prophecy besides making it “catch” in the head of the reader through meter and rhyme scheme is content fuzzy enough to not make twists obvious, but detailed enough in hindsight it makes sense.

For prophecy use vivid descriptive phrases, but let them have multiple meanings.  This way a reader (and the characters) can draw wrong or obvious conclusions early on, but the truth of their meaning can be obfuscated for later surprise.  You could also make intention obvious and have the whole prophecy be an outright lie, but is more a plot choice then stylistic.  You would still want to use things like rhythm (which syllables are stressed) and meter (how many “feet” {syllable combinations established with rhythm} each line has) to make the prose stand out as something unique.

Poll:

Do you like when fantasy novels have their own songs, or do you skip past them to get to the rest?

1)I like it, it adds flavor.

2)I don’t it bogs it down.

World Info:

Here is an Air Pirate Song!  We would recognize this tune as my Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean:

“My love once met me on an isle

It was a place no one else could see

I stayed with her but a while

But it was long enough for me

 

For I won’t

I won’t

I won’t be tied down

Not Me

Not Me

For I won’t

I won’t be tied down

Not Me

 

My place instead is in the skies now

Sailing and forever free

Never tied to one love by a vow

For I won’t ever bend the knee

 

For I won’t

I won’t

I won’t be tied down

Not Me

Not Me

For I won’t

I won’t be tied down

Not Me”


Fantasy Magic: Internally Consistent or Author Fiat?


When it comes to fantasy, the magic system is often very central.  If not to the plot itself the options available to characters often rely on rules and restrictions of their magic systems.  There are two main types of ways (and many points between those two) authors handle those limitations to their characters.  One is by having a rigorous magic system with it’s own internally consistent rules.  It in essence becomes another type of technology that gives predictable outcomes if one takes specific steps to achieve them.  The other is magic more as mystery or a story device.  If you treat it this way it seems like a capricious force that achieves things without the reader or character being able to know why, or the character being able to replicate the same effect again.

A lot of older fantasy fiction and myths occur like the later description.  Magic in stories was a way to have the mysterious or even frightening happen. Those that could use it would be rare, and follow more the paths of a mythological hero than anything else. Early fantasy fiction followed this.  For example Gandalf as a wizard does very little that the modern day would consider “magical” in the Lord of the Rings.  He fights with his sword more than anything else, and most of his wizard abilities were small, illusory, or using obscure lore.  He could however suddenly do things completely unexpected and not foreshadowed, like essentially coming back from the dead.  Even greek and norse gods seemed to only have the abilities that fit the needs of the specific tales they were in.  The one exception to this was at times magic items would do the same things every time, whether it be a ring of invisibility or a spear that causes thrones to sprout out of it’s target.

Modern fantasy seems to be more informed by the fact that many of its readers have been role playing gamers, or played video games or other media which are influenced by specific rules. There is still some leeway for surprise effects, like letting a character have fire magic without codifying each and every use of this before it happens.  Then the mage who normally throws fireballs at its enemy can summon a firestorm and go unconscious from the fire during he final battle (or even burn themselves up) without it seeming “deus ex machine” or to occur by fiat.  Some authors (such as Brandon Sanderson) might add appendixes so you know exactly the limitations and abilities of each “branch” of fantastical powers available.

Whichever you choose, it’s best to stick to one of them, or whatever place you decided in between, the whole series.  If people can use their abilitiesonly  in certain logical ways most of the times, but at key story climax times unexpected capricious things happen it can leave a reader feeling frustrated.

The mysterious version is best if you want the characters themselves and most of the denizens of their world afraid or awed by magic.  If almost no one knows how it works then it gives a feeling of amazement when it does show, or if it works differently every time even those using it cannot rely on it for they do not know what effects will happen when they use it.  Many dark fantasies like Game of Thrones and Chronicles of Covenant make magic either rare or capricious, so that no one relies on it for they never know what outcomes will happen.  If a main character uses it even they should be afraid to use those abilities for dark consequences may happen.

Those that want to build a world different but similar enough to our own will often choose to have their magic systems following laws our minds can understand.  As stated before this is common to those who come to fantasy from genres outside of older literature (comics, video and role playing games, similarities to some sciences, etc) often expect it. In these worlds magic is less a taboo dark force than it is a consistent tool that just could not exist in our own universe.  This is a great system to use when also crating world with culture or flavors like our own (something that feels Victorian, renaissance Italian, ancient Celtic), etc sicne our minds accept it in the same way we would accept a weapon or other tool a culture uses that we do not.

Poll:

What is your preference for magic systems in your fantasy literature?

1)Open and unreliable

2)Defined and methodical

3)Whatever works for the book it is in since as long as it is consistent.

4)Don’t care at all.

Book Update:

I am probably about 60% through the first draft of Rise From the Sun Below, the second Allmother’s Fire book.  In the conceptual stage I am deciding what series to do next, between two different series, and a standalone book idea.

World Info:

Bodies of water are an interesting thing in this universe.  There are no oceans, so most water is confined to well spots or occasionally canals and streams.  Streams do go off the island, but instead of falling down into the Sun Below they careen back to the under portions of the island and then go back into the steams and different points.  If one wanted to they could try to pilot a small boat of the side of an island, but no knows if they would make it back up the island again, or careen down into the sun below.

A few islands actually have large lakes, and this is the closest anyone in the universe has to Oceans.  There are tales of islands that have lakes large enough to be similar to our Oceans, yet no one has ever been able to map how to go there, so it may just be a tale. It is certainly spoken of in the past of lakes large enough to be Oceans, and if this is not true then it is curious why airships looks almost exactly like ships that in our world would cross the Oceans.  Some whisper that this is just one more mystery suppressed by the Allmother’s church.


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.


Writing in Sprints


Most ebook authors are holding down a full time job, raising a family and might even have a hobby or two.  This means time is a premium, and unless they become a self-sufficient hermit (with wi fi) they will never have a schedule that allows them to write as much as they want.  This has some writers forcing strict schedules on themselves to make up for this, with either a specific time of day that they write (like maybe one or two specific hours each week day, all Saturday,  etc) or a specific goal every week (5000 words is a common one I hear).

My schedule, for whatever reasons I cannot pin down, ends up being too chaotic for specific guidelines.  I still have overall goals I would like to meet (I prefer a minimum of one chapter a week) but I do not always fulfill that.  I try to make up for this by most of the time that I write, I write in sprints, then edit at a slower pace.  Without some words or some guidelines, days can pass with nor progress on the book.  If you force artificial guidelines (I must have an hour to myself!) then it may never get done.  Instead when I sit at that keyboard and I have the spare fifteen minutes to write, I let those fingers fly away as quick as possible to put as much things down in electronic form as fast as I can!

After that, of course, you not only do the obvious spelling/grammar edits, but you can flesh out the scenes, or re word things.  You might even have to redo entire scenes this way, as the idea that sounded great in your head when pounding out a chapter quickly might not translate as well on paper.  That can happen even if you are leisurely typing out a chapter too, meticulously following out a point by point outline.  It’s much easier I have noticed filling out editing in spare minutes, as long as there is something on the page to change. 

Along those lines writing in sprints also means not always doing things in order or stopping at obvious places. Nothing defeats a novel’s formation as much as a blank page at the beginning of a new chapter or at a break in a chapter.  It’s for this reason that normally after I finish a chapter I start typing the next one, even if only a paragraph.  That way when I come back to it I have thoughts to build off of.  For me, once I have a character in a situation I can continue the plot by merely having them react to the situation.  It’s also easier to come up with said situations when finishing another chapter because my “writing brain” is fully engaged and therefore better at pulling plot out of the ether.

Sometimes when writing in sprints real life may keep you from writing for days, or at worst weeks.  When this happens I have noticed it’s very tough to start again.  Things that have helped me before with this is: trying to continue the scene in my head before writing, jumping ahead to another chapter, or erasing the last paragraph or two and re write them differently so that new ideas flourish.

Another thing that helps with writing in short amounts is mentioned above, but can be done even if it has not been a long time between chapters: continuing dialogue, scenes, or other aspects of the novel in your head in between writing.  Often at random times such as at lunch breaks, commuting to work, or even watching TV I am wondering how characters would react to the last thing I wrote for them, or even hypothetical situations that are likely to happen from where I left them last.  When I actually sit down to write it does not always come out the same way I originally imagined it, but doing this helps you work out possibilities without constantly erasing and re-writing.

The most important thing about sprint writing is not giving up, and allowing it to happen as frequently as possible in your schedule.  You won’t type out whole chapters in one sitting like marathon writing does, but you will see progress in a way that can fit even the busiest of schedules.

Well, you will as long as you don’t eat a whole bag of jelly babies beforehand and your mind descends into sugar induced insanity and/or lethargy.

In other news:

The second Allmother’s Fire book is officially over the halfway mark now.  I can’t tell if this novel will be shorter or longer than The Fall of House Nemeni was, but it seems to me to be packing more scenes in less words as a lot of “filler” words are being excised from it.  It’s moving slower due to real life (moving across country in two months) but still expanding at a steady pace.

Also the likely next series is starting to coalesce, and I might even write a short story in that world in between book 2 and 3 of the Allmother’s Fire.  It’s not a large epic like Allmother’s Fire is, but the canvas for it’s world is vast and is also clockpunk.  It’s not however a tale of floating islands and has more of a pulp influence to it.

Also got my first Amazon 5 star review (had some on goodreads before) for The Fall of House Nemeni, and my first Amazon review for Mandatory Paradise!  I can’t describe how much a writer loves reading these things, even when the point out the weak points too (it’s honestly how we grow).

My poll ties into my post, but you can apply to yourself even if you do not write, as I am curious about how different people tackle similar things:

Poll:

When tackling a big project do you prefer to do it:

1)In many short chunks fit in when you can

2)All at one period of time with nothing else in between

World Info:

I have done a lot recently on tidbits from the Allmother’s Fire world, time to diverge for a little bit to Mandatory Paradise, since I am finally getting some feedback from it by people I do not know.  Today’s will be general answers to questions I have gotten, but edited so as to not give spoilers:

1)The cover and occasional points in the book have Alnanla in dark robes, but the first description given of Priestess’ at the Bull Dances are that they and the Priests are pretty scantily clad.  Is this a plot hole?:

Answer:

No, at the dances they do not wear alto as part of the ceremony and because no one wants to be gored by a bull because you were attempting to run around in thick robes.  When not at Bull Dances both Priests and Priestesses are modest, hence the robes.

2)If thesis stones hold such information how come they are not used by the populace in general instead of formalized teaching, reading, memorizing etc.

Answer:

Thesis stones are limited, and the Senate and Judges have a reason to not hand them out like candy.  This will become more apparent why as the story progresses.

3)If most of the populace never gets attacked by the monsters behind the shields, why are they still afraid of them?  Even though they could see them wouldn’t their fear of them go away, and the “threat” the monsters present seem unreal, much like violence has become to some people because of TV?

Answer:

Without debating conclusions drawn in that question, keep in mind that enough Lykatic Vampire attacks happen that on an island as small as that enough people know of a friend, or friend of a friend who has had someone die even if they have not seen the monsters do it themselves.  At the same time many of the citizens often do not look up at night at the monsters, because shield or no shield it’s still frightening to see dragons and gryphons careening around madly only a few hundred feet over your head.


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