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  1. Today
  2. Pinchofmagic

    No romantic subplot?

    This explains it perfectly. Thank you!
  3. Penguinball

    No romantic subplot?

    Well I personally like them, romance and finding a partner is a big part of a lot of people's lives. But as always to really boils down to it the subplot is done well. There's a reason why Romantic Plot Tumor is a trope. They have a tendency to take over and sideline the main plot if care isn't taken, which is why they get so much hate. So if you look at your story, and that subplot isn't adding anything like tension, increased pace, room for character growth, then I'd say remove it.
  4. Pinchofmagic

    No romantic subplot?

    😮 I'm half-way through a first draft of a contemporary fantasy adventure and built in a romantic subplot almost by habit. Then it suddenly seemed so unnecessary and I realised it won't really add to the plot much. I'm thinking about scrapping it all together. So, what are your thoughts on romantic subplots in fantasy books? Love them? Hate them? Are there too much focus on the romance part in fantasy books (Romance Fantasy genres excluded of course)? You like them, but see too many badly written ones? Is there a kind of pressure to add one, even if it gets shoe-horned in? If you don't write romantic subplots, what are your favourite ways to create strong emotions?
  5. Yesterday
  6. Usually, when I start writing, the first chapter, or at least its start, has already been written a hundred times in my mind. I have some ideas what to write more, even if I don't have yet ideas for the whole novel, but only up to a point. (Or I know the beginning and the ending, but I am not sure yet how to arrive to that ending). As for the words not coming - it can happen at any moment. Usually it's a sign that I am tired, angry, disappointed, something had happened in my life, and until I solve that, I can't write. Other times, when the problem is with the story, not without me, it's a sign I need more research or brainstorming.
  7. LivvyMoore

    Too Many Names

    I have since restarted the novel, and taken away the “thinking of” bits. Most of them, anyway. This is really good advice! A lot of my named characters are background characters—characters who are relevant to my protagonist’s past, but who will exit the story as soon as she embraces the journey ahead.
  8. Elena

    Real World History Geek-out

    My debut novel was based on the historical assumption existing in the late 20-th century that Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent Aztec god, described as blonde and bearded and whom the natives thought he returned when the conquistadores arrived, was Viking. (There had been another idea that he might have been Phenician, too). So my Vikings, in their search for a new homeland (the novel is titled The wanderers of the seas) are told to go seek some islands beyond the big strait (probably Canaries or Azores) but they are facing a big storm, then they lose their direction, get pulled by the sea current and get to Mexico, into Veracruz area (where there were local ballads about the Gods' arrival). There, among the Totonac people, I both researched the Aztec civilisation/ culture/ traditions/ daily life and their mythology, as the plot of my story is somehow linked with the Aztec mythology (so my Sigurd became Quetzalcoatl and he fought the old chieftain, Xolotl, on life and death, after the old chieftain had plotted against him. The goddess of water, Chalchiuhtlicue, who is Marina, my main character, marries Tezcatlipoca, the local god of war - in truth, a prisoner foreigner chieftain's son who was kept one year in order to be sacrificed in the temple to the god Tezcatlipoca - and becomes a widow after one month, when he is sacrificed, etc.) And yes, I am trying to keep them as historically accurate as I can. There exists, however, the so called writer's license in order to write a good story in the historical environment. Also, the short story collection I am launching soon has a 20 pages story titled A road (or trip) into history, which deals with a modern student of history who gets to travel into the Inca Empire after the conquista, during the reign of the last inca, Tupac-Amaru. (It isn't as much fantasy, since at the end it shows that the trip into history was a strange sort of dream caused by the vapours of a ceremonial drink their old host was brewing for the next day's holiday festivities). LShelby, I don't succeed to reply you below, only above the quote - unfortunately you can't read mine, since they aren't in English. I am just telling people about them...
  9. Banespawn

    Too Many Names

    Does the character need to be thinking about these people at this time? I wouldn't describe them as the character is thinking about them. That will just make it worse, because the details will feel forced and out of place. My suggestion would be to examine why the character is thinking about them and maybe see how you can reduce the number. Is this character spending more time thinking than doing? Are you telling more than showing? Try to narrow the focus to only the characters you absolutely need in that scene. Maybe instead of the POV character wondering what so-and-so will say, you wait until they actually meet, then give the POV character's thoughts. Having a large cast of characters isn't a problem, but throwing a bunch of names at the reader all at once can be overwhelming.
  10. I'll have a book launching on Saturday, at the National Museum of Literature! It's the short stories collection issued as a prize for winning the first place in the literary contest last autumn. I don't like the cover because it doesn't represent my character. But the choice of the cover belongs to the publisher. It's a marketing choice, they say, unrelated to the characters per se, but more with the spirit of the book... The fourth cover comment is done by a famous hispanist, translator from Spanish and Portuguese and writer. She translated Paulo Coelho in Romanian, i.a. Also, since February till May, one Sunday each month I am at a book fair. 🙂 Getting slowly known.
  11. Penguinball

    Multiple POV characters/chapter question

    I was thinking about this some more, and as others have said, it being a super short chapter is fine to me, especially because its at the beginning. The shortness increases the pace, which isn't a bad thing, could get the novel up and running from the get go. On the other hand too, I wouldn't notice if it was just a scene break, if the Alanna/Kassel thing really bothers you.
  12. Penguinball

    Hey Everyone

    Yeah, I only watched the first episode and didn't finish, it was too 'sexy young people go on adventures' for me. I wasn't a huge fan of the books anyone (first one was alright) so I didn't have a lot of interest to finish it. Chronicles of Shannara was the same, too much teen slang and sex and not enough focus on the stories. But I guess if sex works for Game of Thrones... Oh yeah, and the book Stardust is fantastic! I'll always recommend Gaiman. The movie is a pretty close reproduction so I was happy with it. I got the poster signed by one of the actors last year, its up in my library now 🙂
  13. Penguinball

    Discussion: The Beginning of a Chapter

    One thing I wanted to add - Go to your bookshelf, or electronic equivalent, and see how a couple of your favourite books open. Maybe that will spark something?
  14. Penguinball

    Age of main characters

    I completely agree with this. We are all just people, why do we have to make such a big deal about what bits a person has. Yeah, there are some culturally ingrained differences between genders, but at the end of the day a person's adherence to those differences varies so much that we might as well write person first, gender second. This is something I've thought about a lot, especially in regards to my gods and dragons. They would just have to think differently than humans on some basic level I think, otherwise they'd run into problems like elderly humans do, like forgetfulness, inability to adapt to change, um... inability to give a f*ck?. Like, a human granted immortality. I would think the granting would have to change them, grant them a more elastic, youthful brain or something. Otherwise you'd have a 700 year old who just doesn't give a flip about conventions, and complains about how things were done back in the back (back in the day you died of the plague at 40 at were HAPPY about it). I mean, that could be funny, but if you are going from a more realistic/hard science approach to your fantasy........... Okay to summarize, I vastly overthink character age, which is why my human protagonists are mostly young.
  15. Penguinball

    Best (and Worst) Writing Advice?

    I want to amend my post to add second bad advice, which kind of sums up this thread I think... Rules. You must do this, you can never do that. If you do X you are a bad writer, if you don't do Y you can't even CALL yourself an author. Screw. That. Yeah, there are guidelines, and advice, and things you should consider doing or not doing, but writers shouldn't deal in absolutes. We aren't Sith. We should take advice under consideration, weigh it against our own experiences, and make our own decisions. If there is a 'rule' you are really set on passing on, consider phrasing it more like 'I suggest you don't do X, but if you do, be prepared for a negative reaction for <these reasons>'.
  16. Penguinball

    Too Many Names

    Wheel of Time had over 2400 named characters, and its my favourite series, so maybe I'm a bit biased... but I don't think there is an easily definable upward limit, because it varies so much from person to person. And it also depends on the skill of the writer, how much they can develop and utilize those extra characters. People above have made a lot of good points about secondary/background characters already so I'll just add this: Consider the function of the named characters. What is their purpose? Are they just there for flavour? If they aren't doing something that impacts the story then maybe they should be combined with another character. I think the reaction of 'too many side characters' comes when those people aren't doing anything with story relevance. If the side characters matter, people won't notice how many there are. Related side note - Make sure the names are different from each other. If there's an Istan and an Istar I'll probably skim and get confused about which side character is which.
  17. I think about what the goals are for the scene, both my goals as the author and the POV character's goals. If I want the character to end in a certain place, he/she needs to start in a certain place. I also think about the mood I want to set for the scene. I don't think hooks are reserved for only opening chapters. I want to hook the reader at the beginning of every scene, especially if I'm changing POV. Often while reading a book that uses multiple POVs, I'll get really into one of the POVs and then the POV will switch. Even if I really like the new POV, it's still a bit of a let down, so hooking the reader into the new POV right away helps IMO. Keeping these things in mind helps when I am struggling with a scene. How can I grab the reader's attention? How can I accomplish my goals for the scene, but do it in an unexpected way? How can the character pursue his/her goals in an unexpected way? In some cases, I realize the character doesn't have a clear goal and that's what missing. There's a scene in my WIP where the MC is attending Tribute for the first time. Every year, dignitaries from around the world come to pay homage to the MC's father. Previously, his father didn't allow him to attend in order to keep him safe from their enemies, but now that the MC is getting older, he finally allows him to be a part of it. I had originally put the MC in a throne next to his father, but try as I might, I couldn't make the scene work. The MC didn't have any goals. He simply sat there and watched as the tributes were offered. It occurred to me that his father wouldn't just have him sitting there as a potential target. They have a stand-in for the MC for just that reason. So instead, his father assigned him to the spymaster, and the spymaster tasked him with attending to one of the delegations. Officially, he was to serve as a page for the group. Unofficially, he was to listen to their conversations and report back to the spymaster. My entire goal for that scene was to have someone say the line "They can't protect him forever" and for the MC to hear it. Originally, that was supposed to be said directly to his father so that everyone could hear it, but I changed it to something that the MC overhears. It is now said by a different person than I had originally planned, but that makes it better because it adds another potential antagonist, who is a a red herring at this point. So I am still accomplishing my goal, but by giving the MC a goal within the scene, I found the angle I needed to make it work.
  18. Jedi Knight Muse

    Multiple POV characters/chapter question

    Because of how short it is and how so little happens in it. I mean, if it was me, I would probably think it was supposed to be a prologue or something. Maybe that's because I can't think of any books I've read where the first chapter has been 600 words long. Fair enough! Well the only reason this even became a potential issue is because like I said, I was going to post the first chapter for feedback last night and I realized...it's SO short with it the way it is. Since I'd be submitting it for feedback into the library, I felt like I immediately would get at least one comment telling me that there wasn't enough in it to give any actual feedback on. I'm honestly not sure that it brings that much to the story that I couldn't weave into both Kassel and Alana's chapters by getting rid of the current first chapter (where Alana's being chased) as further details, especially since Alana and Kassel have a connection to each other that I could convey even more in both of those other chapters (the new one where Kassel talks to the queen and then the one where Alana wakes up). Would the story be impacted that much without that chapter with Alana being chased? Probably not that much. I can easily weave some of the same details, like the golems (who do make a few other appearances further into the story), into the other chapters without it really making that much of a difference. (I suppose the downside is that I'd be risking some info dumpy-ness, but that can always be fixed.) Also a good point. And yes, the golems play a role later (although right now it's probably rather weak, but that's more on me and the writing itself). And yes, I could easily weave in most of the things in the first chapter into Alana's chapter. Maybe it's because it's my story so I'm finding it harder to approach it from the same angle that you are, as a reader, without overthinking things, but I just don't really see the way the chapter with Alana being chased through the forest bringing THAT much impact to the story. I could be wrong, I guess. Someone elsewhere (who didn't read the chapter) said that I really should be showing Alana stealing the parchment. Part of me agrees with that, part of me is like -____- at the thought of trying to write a theft scene. So I guess what I'm going to do is go ahead and submit the first two chapters to the library for feedback, while leaving in that chase scene, and see what anyone who reviews it thinks about the chase scene and whether it makes enough of an impact on them as a reader to leave it in or if I could get away with having it start with Kassel's chapter and add in some details. I'd honestly rather risk having the reader assume that Kassel is the main character, especially since it would likely be pretty obvious fairly quickly that it's really Alana that's the main character (I think/hope), than either leave it the way it is with the short chase scene as the first chapter or leave it the OTHER way and have it switch POVs from Alana>Kassel>Alana and have that be the only chapter where that happens.
  19. Last week
  20. RKM

    Hey Everyone

    Very excited to see the cast for that show. GOSH I hope they don't mess it up! Terry Goodkinds Sword of Truth Series didn't turn out too well in the end as far as I'm concerned so I just hope they don't go down that old "Xena and Hercules" style story telling. More Game of Thrones style/modern day big budget stuff PLEASE! oooo! Keen for a writing challenge! Thanks for letting me know I will go read more about it 🙂 Also never read the book... And I only watched the movie at the cinema because there was nothing else on. I remember having such low expectations going in and being blown away. I love it and love that's such an awesome standalone that fit so much into it.
  21. Banespawn

    Multiple POV characters/chapter question

    There's no such thing as too short to be a chapter. Some books have chapters that are 1 word long. I wouldn't worry about having only one chapter where the POV switches either. Chapters are just a way of organizing your scenes. If chapter 1 only has one short scene, so be it. Readers won't be bothered by it. If the scenes work in the order presented, it doesn't really matter that much how you organize them into chapters. It doesn't really matter if you have chapters at all. Some books don't.
  22. Why would anyone assume it's a prologue? The plot continues, there's no skipping of time, just a different POV character because the first one just got unconscious. Quoting myself: I've never come across a single book review where someone said "It bothered me that some chapters were really short". Neither the publishing house I did an internship with nor the literature agency I'm working for now have an issue with short chapters, they literally don't care. Short chapters are fine, they can even be used intentionally for increasing the pacing. I mean... you're the one who needs to be happy with your work, and if it really bothers you, you should go ahead and change it. But from a reader's POV or a publishing perspective, there's no problem with short chapters. The first chapter introduces the main character - she's brave, adventurous and willing to sacrifice a lot in order to save her brother, that's what we learn from it. We also get to know the golems and learn how dangerous they are - do they play a role later? What about the details about Alana's personality? Can you work them into one of the other early Alana chapters? Yes, I would assume Kassel is the main character if the first chapter was in her POV. I'd probably quickly find out she isn't, but I'd expect her to play at least an important role.
  23. Jedi Knight Muse

    Multiple POV characters/chapter question

    Okay, additional thought... I could, theoretically, just cut that scene in the first chapter altogether, and have the story start with chapter two instead. This would lead me to asking the following questions, though: Do you think that the way the first chapter currently starts off, with Alana running through the forest and such, actually brings anything to the story? Would anything be missing from it if I took it out altogether and had it start with Kassel's chapter instead? If I start it with Kassel's chapter, would you, as a reader, assume that she's meant to be the main character? Alana is really the main character (along with Harrow and Ivar, but Harrow doesn't have a chapter right now until chapter four, and Ivar doesn't have a chapter until chapter ten). Kassel is more of a secondary character, and she doesn't even have any more chapters after the current one until chapter seven. (Chapter numbers are really more of an estimate right now.) I don't want readers to think that she's meant to be a main character when she's not by having it start off with her chapter, but I think it would actually solve this pretty easily since chapter one is so short right now anyway. I would have to add in some details to Kassel's chapter to make it work better as a first chapter, but I think this is probably the best solution.
  24. Jedi Knight Muse

    Multiple POV characters/chapter question

    What do you mean by "page"? I'm confused, and now I'm confusing myself just trying to figure this whole thing out. 😛 Okay. So, right now chapter one is 600 words, because I took the scenes that were originally in the first chapter that take place after Alana wakes up and put them into chapter three. Originally, chapter one had that scene in Kassel's POV, but I took that out and I wrote a new chapter that's in her POV, but it takes place between when Alana falls unconscious and when she wakes up, so, I think, anyway, it pretty much has to remain its own chapter. I could go ahead and combine Kassel's chapter with Alana's first chapter, so that as far as POVs go it would be: Alana (scene break)>Kassel (scene break)>Alana (scene break)>Alana (scene break) I could leave it the way it is, with it separated out into three chapters (Alana (chapter one)>Kassel (chapter two)>Alana (chapter three), but that leaves chapter one with 600 words. I could try to expand on it, but I'm trying to not have to do that if I can help it. So I guess in answer to your question, assuming you meant the Google doc, it's the entire Google doc that contains everything that is currently a mess and is making this confusing. I'm worried that it might throw the reader off if the first chapter is literally the only chapter where it goes from Alana>Kassel>Alana>Alana for POV switches, with no reason behind it, and the rest of the chapters are just in a single character's POV. Even though I'm in the feedback stage, I still think that I would end up being told that I'd be better off separating it out so that it's Alana (chapter one)>Kassel (chapter two>Alana (chapter three) so that it's consistent and there's an actual reason for it. I have no reason to combine chapters one and two into one chapter that would make sense with the rest of the story, and I think that I would end up being told that I'd need to separate them out anyway, so I'm trying to avoid that. I'm already, like, fifteen chapters into this thing, so it's not like I can really just go back throughout a few chapters and add in some scenes in other character POVs to make it more consistent. I mean, I could, but like...I don't want to do that, and that's not how I want to write the story. It's meant to be strictly in a singe character's POV per chapter. It's just the first few chapters that are throwing things off because of of the way I originally wrote chapter one. It might honestly come down to me needing to just figure out how to expand on chapter one so that it's not so short at 600 words. I don't really want to do that, because I really don't have any ideas for how else I could expand on it as far as drama goes, but I might have to. That, at least, would help a little bit and solve at least one of the problems, because right now people would probably assume it's a prologue even though it's really not.
  25. bdcharles

    Multiple POV characters/chapter question

    Which page contains the section you're interested in? @Jedi Knight Muse I do it now and again, maybe three or four times throughout the book in several chapters.
  26. Jedi Knight Muse

    Multiple POV characters/chapter question

    Do you do it consistently, throughout the book, though? Or do you just do it the one time in a single chapter and that's it? Because that's originally what this chapter was going to be, where it head-hops between Alana and Kassel and that's literally the only chapter where it was going to happen. So I've fixed that by writing a chapter that is now chapter two in Kassel's POV, except it screws with chapter one by 1. making it too short (600 words) and 2. the scenes after Alana falls unconscious take place after the new chapter two, so I can't keep them in chapter one and I can't combine them together because of the head-hopping issue. Yeah, see, that's part of the problem. I WAS going to post chapter one for feedback, but now that I've had to rearrange the chapters, it's...a bit of a mess, especially with chapter two because it's still pretty rough, and like I said above, the first chapter is literally only 600 words without the second scene that was originally in chapter one. I've put them into a Google doc for the moment, so I could link you to that with the note that chapters two and three are messes (especially chapter three, because there's stuff in it that I'm most likely taking out but haven't fully decided yet). Chapter two just hasn't been edited yet and chapter three...mainly the issue is that I haven't fully decided on those things yet. Thank you. 😄 The new chapter that I ended up writing that's now chapter two basically has some of what was in the original Kassel scene rewritten into it. I'm not quite sure if it conveys the same feeling as the original scene does or not, but that's an issue for when I have to get feedback/edit it. Here's the Google doc, for anyone in this thread who wants to take a look and see what they think. Should I do what I originally did and combine them into one chapter and risk the head-hoping issue? Two people now ( @bdcharles and @Mynoris, via Discord) have said that it wouldn't throw them off, and that since I'm in the looking for feedback stage it won't matter too much at the moment if I risk potentially throwing readers off by having one single chapter where it switches between two characters' POVs and it's literally the only chapter where that happens. I'm mainly only giving the link to the Google doc in order to provide context so you guys understand what I'm talking about and can actually read it, so please keep in mind that I'm not looking for detailed feedback on what's written right now, especially since chapter three in particular in the moment. I'd really appreciate any thoughts on what you guys think I should do based on what I have written a.s.a.p, because 1. I want to put at least the first/first two chapter(s) up for feedback and 2. I'd rather get it situated now than try to deal with it down the road.
  27. Pinchofmagic

    Discussion: The Beginning of a Chapter

    I wanted to say I don't have this problem, because I rarely sweat the words and sentences much until editing, but there are stories where I had big problems with this. For some reason I get stuck with trying to get the mood right, or the voice, or whatever, with some stories. Where I would normally just say "Screw it, I'll go back to that later", I just can't. So here are a few things I'll try in this situation (even though they might not always work because the brain is a funny thing): Change focus. If I tried starting the scene inside the POV's head I shift it to a place where they're observing something or someone. Instead of "I was nervous" it could be: "My mother looked nervous." Or start with the smallest thing in the scene, like a loose button. Sometimes we go too big and have too much stuff to tell in the beginning, which can clog up the first few sentences like a traffic jam and making it hard to ease into writing the scene/chapter. A new approach from something small that grows can spark some stuff and move it forward. Start later or earlier in the scene. Feeling where the scene grabs me the most. Or I start with the most interesting thing in the scene, and then backtrack a bit. "Standing in front of the fire demon was not like I pictured it. I thought it would be bigger. On the way there we talked about how to get on its good side while our little sister struggled with her big bucket of water." and so on. Start with dialogue. It's easier to write for me. It's a call and response-thing that might move it along until I find momentum. Look to others. I crack open my favourite books and see how they do it. This is probably my favourite thing to do. It's not a matter of copying style (even though that can work too sometimes), it's more about seeing writing that flows in awesome sentences. I have designated books for beginning-inspiration. Listen to others. A change of brain-function can help when stuck, so instead of seeing words, I listen to a storytelling podcast. That's just a few practical things I try. I find practical stuff the best, because logically I know the actual sentences can and will be fixed in post-production and that the text will probably change several times before the book is done, which means I'm wasting time, but that can make me even more frustrated. For me it's just a matter of finding the flow rather than ending up with gold sentences, and that can be super-tricky. Also, very individual. Some use music to find the flow.
  28. Well I am partial to a seductive first line (of book, chapter, anything) so I try and give it as much in as short a space as I can. In those lines, I don't shy away from telling, I try and portray time and setting and mood, to position the reader, and using stronger words and images to offset any more generic ones. The workaday business of dialogue can come later. Here's a couple of examples: Hope this helps.
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