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Showing content with the highest reputation since 03/11/2019 in all areas

  1. 8 points
    I'm not sure how unpopular this opinion might be, but I often feel like there aren't enough small-scale fantasy stories. There are plenty of fantasy books about heroes and rulers doing things that influence entire countries, or about people with 'exciting' occupations like thieves or assassins or spies, and all that. And that's great. I love a lot of those stories. I just wish there were more stories exploring fantasy settings from other angles. I'd like to see stories about common people living in those small towns that adventurers often pass through; about teachers at magic schools who have to deal with classes and paperwork and finding time to live their own lives with the addition of magic which sometimes makes things easier and other times harder; about merchants and tavern keepers who are just trying to keep their business going after the hero killed the tyrant, took up the throne, and now sure, everyone's celebrating, but what's going to happen tomorrow with the economy and the laws and the taxes. There are a lot of stories about the movers and shakers of the fantasy realms; I want to see more stories about how the common people live while around them dragons are being slayed and kings overthrown, if that makes sense.
  2. 5 points
    Mynoris: Project - Necromancer (working title, not intended for final use) Goals - Write another 50k, or finish, by the end of the year. (I have no clue how long it will be, or how much content, so saying to finish by the end of the year would be foolhardy of me.) Summary - Addric goes with an adventuring party into a forgotten castle. When things don't turn out, he's abandoned to his fate. This fate is listening to a female necromancer tell her story, which starts out in her childhood, goes through her experiences training to be a concubine, and her life as a concubine, where things go sour and put her on the path to becoming an infamous necromancer, known as the 'Terror of Avendrow'. (It's a frame story.)
  3. 5 points
    I try to make my villains more morally gray than straight up evil, and I like to have multiple antagonists at various levels, each with their own agenda. I also like to insert plot twists that change the reader's perception of the antagonists, making them less of a villain in some cases. Severus Snape was a great antagonist for just that reason. I rarely give antagonists much, if any, POV time. I write fantasy, but there is a very heavy dose of mystery in my stories, and getting inside the head of the antagonists will often ruin the mystery. Villains need to have clearly defined goals and a solid plan to achieve them. Those goals don't need to be clear to the reader/protagonist until later in the story, but the villain needs to be fully aware of what they are and be proactive in pursuit of them. The villain is usually the most proactive character in the story. There are so many better things that your villain can be than evil. Evil is boring. Smart can be dangerous. Compassionate can be soul wrenching. Consider a passionate character, doing what he/she believes is the in the best interest of everyone despite the cost. Thanos comes to mind here. We fully understand why the heroes need to stop him, but at the same time, we understand where Thanos is coming from and we even sympathize with him to a degree. GRRM is a master at twisting the reader's perception on characters. In the beginning, could Jamie Lannister be any more despicable? Yet there are times where he shows compassion and nobility. The same guy who pushed Bran from the tower is also the guy who jumped into the pit, one handed, to save Brienne from the bear. He's known as the Kingslayer and generally regarded as a man without honor, yet when Jaime tells the story to Brienne of how the Mad King meant to burn the entire city, you can't help but feel for him. There are so many characters who are at times both despicable and noble, treacherous and loyal. Even Ned Stark, for all his honor and nobility, deceived King Robert when he wrote "my rightful heir" instead of "my son Joffrey" in the decree that named Ned protector of the realm. And Kat, who fiercely loves her children, yet had no room in her heart for her husband's bastard. It's this type of stuff that makes the characters feel real, whether they are hero or villain, protagonist or antagonist. The lines are so blurred in many cases that the labels become meaningless. That is something I strive for, though maybe not to the degree that GRRM does it. My stories aren't usually that big. But if I can get the reader to sympathize with someone they hate, or be angry with someone they love, then I've done my job well.
  4. 4 points
    *waves* Been meaning to pop back in for a while. And all it took was avoiding homework in a class where I'm learning such fascinating things as "How to use the Start Menu in Windows 10" and "How to save a file in Word." Holy croakers, shoot me now. *headdesk* Tolkien is a pain in the tuchas, and I say this as a massive Tolkien fangirl. The problem I found with his books is that to understand and enjoy them properly you have to have already read them. I'm not kidding. I picked his stuff up at thirteen and read the first book in LoTR through sheer cussedness. Despite enjoying some of it, it was a slog trying to get through it, and more than once I found the best way forward was to just let go parts that confused me (this is okay as many of the events stand alone, and the least confusing bits are those with bigger plot arcs). I hit book two and the story took flight, and book two and three I chewed through in no time flat and with no issues. And I enjoyed them so much I decided to re-read the first book. And suddenly the first book was fun. I chewed through it with the same vigor and enjoyment of books two and three and, better yet, I understood everything. I was no longer confused. Tolkien was a fantastic builder of worlds, histories, and languages. He was in many way a superb storyteller, and I think allowances can be made that he was basically blazing new ground with the tales he chose to tell. However, that said, one of his biggest flaws as a writer is knowing his world so well that he forgets to introduce the audience to it properly. Or, since he was one of a rare breed of writer in that era (sci-fi and fantasy did exist but was not common and were usually just classified as regular fiction) maybe he didn't know how. And that lack causes his books to be dense and quite hard to read upon first picking them up. I highly recommend doing so as it is well worth all the effort--what he does he does well and aspiring authors can learn a lot from him. But I'm never going to blame anyone for not making it through his tomes; most people read for fun and it takes a while for the fun to kick in with his stuff. On this, I'd say the thing I'm sick of is marketing departments. That's how books are done now--a marketing department will first declare if they think they can successfully market a book, and to what audience. If they say they can, only then will a company agree to go forward with publishing or even agree to take a serious look at the manuscript. All these YA, Paranormal Romance, and Urban Fantasy look-alike plots (and goodness knows all three genres are so similar on tropes and plot points that sometimes the only way to tell the difference is how the book cover is kitted out) are that way because the marketing department knows these plots will sell, and so they'll saturate the market with them looking for every last dime. Remember when zombies were everywhere for a while, and vampires before that? I mean, more everywhere than they are now. Yeah, you can thank marketing departments. Though I will caveat my own personal preference with--gods save me from first person POV. It's so ubiquitous now that almost any book you pick up has it, and there's even a growing snobbery against other POVs (especially omniscient). In some books it is absolutely the right route to take, but I can't tell you how many books I've read where the plot is going on somewhere else but the reader isn't allowed to follow it because we're forced to sit on a single person's shoulder and peer through their hair. Again, it doesn't seem to be what's best for the book that's important so much as what sells. Off topic fun fact time! ๐Ÿ˜„ Swords aren't heavy. In fact, most medieval swords were so light that a child could lift them. Could probably use them too if the length didn't make them too unwieldy for a half-pint frame. Most weighed less than 4 lbs (1.8 kg), making them actually quite light--which makes sense considering the length of time swordsmen had to wield the things in pitched battle. In fact, even heavy bastard swords were often only around 3 lbs (1.6 kg). And what about exceptions like those enormous two-handed swords? Those were about 6 lbs (3 kg). That would take a little muscle and endurance to swing around for long periods of time, true, but yes, a woman can wield that. The really weighty swords did exist, but they were showpieces, not items meant to be used in serious warfare. And, seriously, at the 8-9 lbs (3.6-4 kg), I could have picked up and held, even waved around, the showpiece swords when I was ten. Heh. The things you have to learn when saddling a slip of a thing with a bastard sword that her five year old child finds first. In an urban fantasy, because yes, my heroine will totally be bringing a knife to a gun fight. Oh geez, reminds me of Dies the Fire by SM Stirling. All electricity and gunpowder inexplicably stops working, society inevitably breaks down, and suddenly...rape. All. The. Rape. I mean, I'm not sure this man could write a full chapter without mentioning at least one poor girl getting used, if not actually showcasing the event. It got to the point that I wondered if it was an author fetish. And frankly, it never made sense to me. It didn't add to the story at all, nor was it a large plot point, just a reoccurring one. You could just tell that the author thought that the only thing that stood between men and mass rape was laws, and once those were gone men would just...go feral. To every male on this forum, I apologize on behalf of this author. I shouldn't have to, but man he has a low view of his own sex. I can't seem to find a spoiler or similar tag to hide part of the post--if it exists someone point me to it and I'll try to edit the rest of this so only folks who want to see it can. I'm afraid I don't have exactly what you're looking for (I'd love recommendations on that too), but I think I have some ideas that are closer. And I love recommending stuff, so.... ๐Ÿ™‚ Okay, books/series to check out... Karavans, the first book of the Karavans series by Jennifer Robinson I'm still making my way through the first book, but so far the plot follows pretty closely one family who have put their entire life in a wagon and are trying to flee to another country to escape a despotic king and a war. By the summary, despite any world-changing events going on around them, the story is pretty tightly woven to the man, his pregnant wife, and their two teenage kids. White Cat, the first of the Curse Workers series by Holly Black This is more an alternate modern earth. Everyone here wears gloves because all magic happens by touch--an ungloved hand in this world is the equivalent of a gun leveled at one's head in our world. And because doing magic is a crime, of course crime families have grown around "curse working," that is, utilizing magic for selfish purposes. The main character is Cassel, a teenage con artist with no magic born to a magical mob family. The entire series follows his life closely as he unravels a web of secrets and lies in his family and solves the mystery of the disappearance of his best friend. The Pillars of the World, first of the Tir Alainn series by Anne Bishop If you want stories tightly woven to family and as often dealing with ordinary situations as extraordinary ones, Anne Bishop is your girl every time. Though the blurb reads like an epic fantasy, the plot is tightly bound to Ari and her family and friends, following her life as she tries to navigate the witch hunts, fae of uncertain temperament, and a culture increasingly unfriendly to those who follow the wrong religion or born into the wrong bodies. Sebastian, first of the Ephemera series, also by Anne Bishop If you don't mind a heavy dose of romance (this series has the heaviest dose of romance of any fantasy I have read and could probably be considered a cross-genre book, but is light on sex), I highly recommend this series for the world building alone. Plus, the series reads like a song feels. Ephemera is a shattered land, and the only way to get from one country to another is magical "bridges" that link them. However, slipping accidentally between worlds is supremely easy--too easy. Each person "resonates" with a different place, and that resonance could change if someone becomes depressed, or violent, or happy. If a five year old child resonates with a different land than their parents, they could find themselves in another part of the world with no way back home. And Ephemera has monsters, like the Incubus Sebastian, darker sorts who may not be evil, but whom often get pushed into evil lands or driven there by the suspicion and hatred of others. The series follows the family of workers who help maintain the bridges, keep stability, and can even create new lands for the dispossessed to go. Oftentimes key points of the story happen at a dinner table over a meal. Like other recommendations, while there are world moving events in the background, we see them dealt with through the lens of one tight-knit family. But, if you read nothing else of Anne Bishop, I highly recommend the novella The Voice, also part of the Ephemera series but able to be read as a stand-alone piece. This is simply the story of one small village and the practice of "sorrow eating." It follows two girls and how they grow up and is very bound to friendship and compassion, and the damned thing made me cry. Not much does. Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums, all part of the Harper Hall series by Anne McCafferey This is more Science Fantasy than straight fantasy, but it counts. ๐Ÿ™‚ Follows one girl's journey out of an abusive home and onto the path of her dreams. Everything is about her, from her first festival to her progress a a musician to her brand new blue boots, and it's a fun read. This is probably closest to what you wanted. The Catsworld Portal by Shirley Rosseau Murphy Set in the 50s, it follows a painter and a girl who can change into a cat. She comes from a hollow earth, where she was raised poor, sheltered, and hidden, only to find herself plunged into a world she had no capability to navigate. And that's before she finds her way above ground. Though drama and politics are exploding all around them, much of the book is varying forms of domestic, a showcase of two people just trying to have a life, one that keeps getting interrupted by powerful people with far too many ambitions. Also, despite some well used tropes, the author melds them into a highly unique book. The Truth About Unicorns by Bonnie Jones Reynolds Warning, this book ends like it's the first in a series, though if it it was the rest was never written. That said it is one of my favorite books ever. It's set somewhere between to 1920s-50s, and follows two people in a very small town, a farm girl and the town's rich son. Not to mention, the enigmatic tutor. The story is almost impossible to describe but reads like a slice of magic. I'm just gonna give you part of the synopsis: Why did Crazy Lizzy paint her body with strange symbols? Who stole Cass's newborn baby girl? Why did the round house have a windowless second story -- and no way to reach it? I'll add--what was it with the sound of bells? ๐Ÿ™‚ The Apprentice by Deborah Talmadge-Bickmore I once gave this to someone and they handed it back to me, unimpressed, saying it felt cliched and tropey. I can't say they were completely wrong as the elements--evil sorceress, dark tower, mysterious apprentice, etc--have been hammered into the dirt over the past few decades. However, it was written in 1989, when the tropes were common but had not yet reached the point of flogging a dead equine. This is the story of Shayna, a young woman trying to navigate situations that are way over her head and she is ill prepared for. Most of the story takes place in kitchens and bedrooms and gardens, the entire thing highly domestic despite a whole lotta magic going on. But what I love about it, as a writer, is how flawed everyone is. The more you learn about Shayna's mother, the more you realize Shayna is deeply abused, despite the author never actually mentioning the fact. She's also been raised in almost utter isolation--in fact ,the entire cast of this story, including side and bit characters, is maybe six people at most--leaving her ill equipped to deal with anything outside of her position as a servant. She spends the book torn, conflicted, indecisive, afraid, and sometimes making decisions that are stupid or even self-destructive, and all her actions are almost textbook abuse victim. The apprentice also isn't much of a hero, often making amoral decisions and displaying a couple cases of truly questionable consent, and yet at the same time he is courageous, determined, and unwavering in his desire to protect others and right an old wrong. But what made me really fall in love with it was that, by the end of the book, despite wanting to see the baddie defeated in the worst way, I didn't hate her. She's a terrible person, and yet the more you learn why she's the way she is the more sympathy creeps in. I couldn't fully hate or like anyone in this book, everyone is an antihero, everyone is flawed and weak and so very human, and that can be such a rare thing to find. It is honestly not the best book I've ever read, but keep in mind this author only ever wrote two books. It's a solid offering for a beginning writer, and I've always been sorry this author wasn't given a platform on which to develop and grow. The City Not Long After by Pat Murphy I'm not sure if this is an epic journey or not, it feels too personal. It's a love letter to a city and it's counterculture, but it's also the journey of "girl," a young lady who was never given a name. She grew up with her mother in a post-apocalyptic environment, on a smallish farm, and stayed there happily until being friendly to the wrong strangers got everyone but her killed. She went seeking refuge in San Francisco, and the entire book, despite the war that surrounds them, is more the story of the survivors and their city of magic and ghosts. Plus, you get to enjoy a weaponless war, which is truly unique. Four and Twenty Blackbirds, first in the Eden Moore series by Cherie Priest I am so sad she abandoned this series because it is downright amazing. In many ways it's a typical urban fantasy, mysteries, magic powers and all, but the stories within feel a lot more personal than most UA books. Eden is a young black woman who can see ghosts, living in the deep South. The first story is tightly knit to her family, while another follows her as she survives a city undergoing a natural disaster. The images from that book still haunt me. This being set in the South, you never escape the ties of family and friends that define her life, even as the mysteries ramp up. I love this so much more than her Boneshaker series. Shades of Milk and Honey, first of the Glamourist series by Mary Robinette Kowal If you like books like Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre, you're probably on board for this. It's your typical journey of a young noblewoman of the 1800s, following her as she sorts out her marriage prospects and tries to keep her family from doing anything too abysmally stupid. The twist is that every young lady is expected to learn the art of glamour, and our heroine is a whiz at it. Jane, at 28 and unmarried--not to mention not very pretty (and of course it's against the rules to use glamour to make yourself prettier)--is resigned to dying a spinster...and is pretty okay with that, overall, until a spate of domestic troubles pushes her unexpectedly back into the game. Fair warning; it does have the slow, steady, meandering-on-a-country-day pace of books from that era.
  5. 4 points
    I've posted this before, but I am almost done my outline and I find this really inspirational. This chart is a reminder that it doesn't take that many words per day to get a novel going. A few hundred words a day and you'll have a novel draft in a matter of months. It can seem like a like long when you are staring at a screen, but its completely doable!
  6. 4 points
    Project - The Perilous Hunt Goals - Finish the first rough draft of the book by January 4 2020. Summary - Inspired by the tv show "Supernatural". A father's wife and the mother of the their two daughters is killed by a werewolf. So the father and two daughters hunt the werewolf across the country.
  7. 4 points
    Project: Tales from the Witch House (a future web serial novel) Goals: Finish and revise the first three arcs so I have a proper backlog and start publishing it online before November. Summary: In the middle of a city that never truly sleeps yet always seems to slumber, there is a big old house. The House isn't safe to live in; all but one of its original residents have left. Others, however, have trickled in. Witches and demons and werecats and other refugees of the occult underground, ones who are hunted or running or lost. Here they gather as squatters, reasonably safe under the protection of an old woman who's known simply as The Witch. Some of them view this place as a temporary pit stop, somewhere to take a breather and accumulate their strength. Some are trying to build a new home for themselves within these grey, moldy walls. None of them have chosen to come to the house. Instead, the house and its mysterious benefactor chose them. To what end? That remains to be seen. If it's even important, that is. I mean, who cares about the deep metaphysical questions when Tim's fur has clogged the drain in the only working bathroom again, in the kitchen the fumes from Delilah's cleansing candles substitute for air, and Leo forgot to get the groceries for the fifth time this week?
  8. 4 points
    Project - untitled POS is what I affectionally call it Goal #1: write up all the scenes of the 50k I wrote for nano so I can work out how to fix the mess Summary - oooof. Um. Humans, demons, faeries, people trying to attain their wants while I laugh and deny them. Sarett wishes for love, Luna wishes for family, Dmitri wishes for his children's protection, Sevastyan wishes to continue being the strongest. And somewhere a faerie is stirring, her eyes settling on just the right person to give her a chimera child... Bonus points; Kali and Dmitri are in my sig banner
  9. 4 points
    I um... Okay, so there are several reasons I am absolutely against this logic. The age group you're talking about (between ages nine and...what, fourteen?) are not mature by a long shot. As @Penguinball said, their brains are still developing, ESPECIALLY at that age. They're dealing with hormones. Educationally, they really haven't learned a whole heck of a lot. They are minors. They cannot legally: Drive Smoke Drink alcohol Join the army (I know that eighteen year olds in the U.S. can do this, and there's a big debate about the fact that eighteen year olds can serve in the army, whether by volunteering or by being drafted, but they cannot smoke, drink alcohol or gamble, but that's tiptoeing into politics and I am going to firmly push against this becoming a political discussion) Make medical decisions for themselves Gamble Probably some other things that I am not thinking of at the moment There are probably a lot of school systems where the kids have to walk to school, because they don't have school buses and they don't want the students taking city buses. How do you think these students would get to college if they cannot yet drive and are not anywhere close to getting their licenses? Their parents likely have to work. Some of these kids may actually be in daycare still. College is for higher education. Professors do not expect to be babysitting their students (granted, they end up doing that even when their students are in the 18-early twenties range because of the way their students behave, but that's more on the individual student and less on the students as a whole). They expect their students to be able to come to class (on time), listen to the lectures, do their work, and get their grades. They do not want to basically still be teaching the basics that should be taught in elementary/middle/high school. Unless you are a student prodigy (which is rare) who also has the maturity to handle the amount of coursework a college student has to deal with...you have no business taking college classes. (Exception: there are some programs in high schools where high schools can take college classes for credit as part of their high school requirements. I am fine with this, because at this point they're probably 16-18 years old and they're still developing their brains but not to the same extent as anyone in the 9-14 year age range. I was in a class where we had a student who was in high school and taking classes for college credit. He was very mature for his age and got his shit done.) Some college students are taking six classes a day while also juggling their homework, jobs, and any sports they play. There's no way a child in the age range you're talking about would be able to handle that kind of workload. Kids that age need to be allowed to just be kids. It's bad enough when they're staying up until 8-10 PM trying to get their homework done and then having to be up early to be able to catch the bus and spend 6-8 hours in school. So...yeah. I definitely disagree.
  10. 4 points
    I'm not saying any type of portrayed bigotry has no place in fantasy, or fiction in general. One of my favourite musicals(not fantasy but I think still relevant to this) includes a gay lead in the 1960s and it definitely at least mentions the homophobia he's scared of. The difference between that and the type I'm talking about is in the musical it ties into the character development, the theme of secrets throughout the musical, and the subversion of tropes. The type I mean is the one where you read it and you can tell that the author put this into their story not to make any type of commentary or make the narrative stronger, but just because they want it there. It's usually the same type of author that includes horrific slavery, sexual assault, and other things like that under the guise of "historical accuracy" while giving their characters perfect teeth and conveniently leaving out things like smallpox and dysentery. Meanwhile, this accuracy is usually at least partially inaccurate anyway. This just gets to me because you have control of this world you're writing. Make a point about things if you want, use character experiences to tie into their backstories and arcs, but don't make me watch someone get killed for being gay (usually the only gay character in these types of stories) in a fantasy world just because you think that oppression is a universal truth or that this kind of stuff makes your story "hard hitting".
  11. 4 points
    A good villain can make or break a story, and the good ones are often the most interesting! I agree that they need goals, and to pursue them relentlessly. I loooooove this kinds of villains as well, especially the kind where they would be the hero of their own story if it was told from their perspective. It makes them so much more human and interesting. My own short version... My logical writer side: My favourite is the kind of villain that has their own internal logic and moralities, totally separate from everyone else. The things they do may be evil, but they make total sense for that character. My awful fanfic loving side: I love me a villain with good shipping potential. Bring on the enemies to lovers fixer fics, NO SHAME.
  12. 4 points
    So I'm more than a little late getting this posted but something we want to do this year is give a list of what everyone pledged for each previous month and what they actually wrote during that month, just as a form of encouragement and such. I think/hope I got everything correct, but please let me know if I didn't and I'll adjust it! Purple is the pledge number and green is what was written in that month Orange is for those who surpassed their goals @airrica pledged 50,000 words and wrote 28,657 words for March @Amblygon pledged 5,000 words and wrote 0 words for March @Anthony Lockwood pledged 5,000 words and wrote 5,453 words for March @Autumn pledged 20,000 words and wrote 0 words for March @C_M_Clark pledged 30,000 words and wrote 3,611 words for March @CrabbyMaiden pledged 10,000 words and wrote 242,435 words for March @Cryssalia pledged 5,000 words and wrote 0 words for March @Dizzy72 pledged 30,000 words and wrote 0 words for March @Elena pledged 15,000 words and wrote 16,733 words for March @Emskie-Wings pledged 30,000 words and wrote 34,334 words for March @fenn pledged 5,000 words and wrote 15,603 words for March @Fluffypoodel pledged 70,000 words and wrote 13,456 words for March @Jedi Knight Muse pledged 50,000 words and wrote 11,419 words for March @Krimson Ravyn pledged 15,000 words and wrote 0 words for March @lorneytunes pledged 25,000 words and wrote 25,265 words for March @mathgnome pledged 10,000 words and wrote 0 words for March @morewordsfaster pledged 10,000 words and wrote 0 words for March @Mynoris pledged 15,000 words and wrote 15,855 words for March @Penguinball pledged 15,000 words and wrote 16,981 words for March @Pinchofmagic pledged 30,000 words and wrote 20,402 words for March @RKM pledged 20,000 words and wrote 9,767 words for March @roadmagician pledged 5,000 words and wrote 10,000 words for March @Romancegirl pledged 5,000 words and wrote 9,979 words for March @Sheepy-Pie pledged 15,000 words and wrote 16,994 words for March @Storycollector pledged 10,000 words and wrote 11,727 words for March @taintedhero pledged 10,000 words and wrote 1,055 words for March @Tangwystle pledged 200,000 words and wrote 38,874 words for March @Tigtogiba34 pledged 15,000 words and wrote 1,867 words for March @tllbrinkley pledged 25,000 words and wrote 27,500 words for March @TricksterShi pledged 20,000 words and wrote 15,728 words for March @ZillieR00 pledged 15,000 words and wrote 1,508 words for March Our total word count for March was 613,456 words! Congratulations, everyone!
  13. 4 points
    I just thought this was hilarious, and yes, I have done a few of these things in my stories. Maybe we all have. ๐Ÿ˜„
  14. 4 points
    Writing is a journey. As we get more experienced we learn new things and change and grow. How do you think you've changed as a writer since you started writing, to now? Myself, I started more as a panster. I felt like I needed to almost 'divine' stories, let them come to me without knowing what happens next. But now, I find that doesn't work for me anymore. I went from planster to fairly firmly in the plotter came. Even if I don't write down my thoughts, I still want to know how a story ends before I start writing. It helps me shape the story and is honestly just easier for me to write. I also used to be more about plot driven stories. It was about the cool worlds, the interesting premise. But now I find that my stories work best when I let a character with goals tell me what happens next. I can still have the cool setting, and an idea of what I want to happen, but it has to make sense for a particular character now. This has led me to doing character exploration exercises, writing throw-away pages that no one else will see of me just getting to know the characters, so I can understand what plot actions are understandable for them. The last thing that has changed is my defense of adverbs. I used to HATE how everyone says they are weak writing, that they need to be cut out. I would say, its not a rule, its a suggestion, do what fits best for your writing... while that is still true, I now believe that cutting out all but a few adverbs will PROBABLY strengthen your writing. I don't believe they ALWAYS have to go, but having looked at my writing with a really critical eye the last month, cutting them out has often been the best choice. OUTSIDE of dialogue, I should specify that. Using adverbs in dialogue can contribute to that character's voice, and that's free game. How about you? What has changed about your writing process, your writing beliefs over the years?
  15. 4 points
    I think mine is plotting, so the author of that article wouldn't like me ๐Ÿ™‚
  16. 4 points
    Oh, wow, I loved that! Tragic relief is so necessary for comedy, and you got both in one twist here. Nice! I found the evil overlord a bit hard to twist too, it's been twisted a lot for comedy already, so it was a challenge. I don't actually know if this has been done by someone, but here it goes: The evil overlord inherited his title as evil overlord, and have a league of minions eagerly awaiting his grand plan for world destruction, but the evil overlord is a perfectionist. He can't act until every piece in the puzzle is utterly fail-proof. By then the bank he planned on robbing has closed, the superhero decided to get new villains to fight and the landlord for the overlord-lair got fed up waiting for rent. New trope: The Gentle Giant (big, strong, intimidating, but with a heart of gold)
  17. 4 points
    I would say I have a combination of inductive and deductive, but I lean more towards the inductive (if I'm reading the OP right.) Generally I have a very specific scene in mind because I have a literal dream at night that would make a good story seed. So I write up that scene the best I can. From there I have to figure out a) how the characters got to that point and b) where they go from that point. My dream scenes rarely start at the beginning and I'm rarely able to sleep long enough to finish it (even when I don't get interrupted, my dream's cohesion will break down into events that are not helpful for the story). Since I only see the one scene, I rarely have any idea of what the world at large looks like, and I have to use the general type of clothing worn, or furnishings in the 'room' to gauge what sort of level of technology the people might have. The same goes for things inspired from watching a show/reading a book. I usually have a clear idea of a single scene and have to expand outwards from there. But sometimes during conversation I'll get a more vague, large world idea that I have to distill back down to an actual plot. My story, A Time Before was like that, where I started with just the idea I wanted a story with Gods like the Greek Gods that weren't exactly the Greek Gods, and tell a creation story that explained them all. This sort of approach is far rarer for me. I think that's because, when I have these dreams or other specific inspiration, there's a strong emotional component that draws me in, making me WANT to tell the story. The other approach rarely has that sort of connection; generally it's purely cerebral without the emotional side. Interestingly enough, Mynoris, the character my screen name is from, came from A Time Before, which was not an emotionally drawn out story.
  18. 3 points
    Strong Female Characters--what does that even mean, right? I mean, everyone seems to have a different idea on it, at least, if published works are anything to go by. And then there's the issue of woman's place in fantasy world. If you're fully "historically accurate" (and I'll explain the quotes in a bit) you run the risk of making women basically useless. But if you don't and your work receives any attention at all from the outside world, or even if it just makes a the beta-reading stage, you know some jackass will pipe up about how it's just unbelievable that woman would do insert just about any profession outside of popping out brats and cleaning houses here . I mean, giant fire-breathing lizards are okay, and there's no issues at all imagining a society that can live exclusively in tree tops or underwater but three dimensional women not defined by their reproductive system is just that step too far. I mean, women do anything useful? How stupid is that! ....for those who might not know me, that is a seriously healthy dose of viscous, acidic, dripping sarcasm right there. Careful of the puddles on the floor, they'll take your toes off. To answer those horrible people and--more importantly--get some amazing ideas for your stories, I thought I'd post some of the more outstanding links I've found. Please, by all means, make this a thread; I'd love to see what you guys have! These articles are a direct response to all those myopic and ill informed people who insist that placing women, PoC, or LGBT characters (or any other -ism for that matter), is historically inaccurate because they didn't learn about it in their high school history class. Therefore, if you do include it in your books, it must be because you want to meet some sort of "social justice warrior" quota and push your terrible "liberal agenda" in everyone's faces and...oh my god, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. These articles take the time to give real history in a way we never learned in high school or even college, deeply referenced, and just chock full of surprises. 'We Have Always Fought': Challenging the 'Women, Cattle and Slaves' Narrative If you haven't read this amazing article, you're missing out. It's well-written, passionate, thoroughly researched, and utterly amazing, and it's not just me saying that. This bad boy won a Hugo Award. Credentials aside, it's a great place to start, even if you never read farther than the part about the scaly, cannibalistic llamas. I have been known to reference scaly llamas from time to time, and not always in conjunction with women's history. Her llama scenario may be the most well-explained example of confirmation bias I've ever seen, outlining how nothing more than the correct cultural attitude is needed to render millions of people virtually invisible. As good as the entire article is, it mainly talks about what choices we make when creating a narrative and how and why we might make different ones. If you read nothing else in it, read about the cannibalistic llamas. That's maybe six paragraphs long and is the very first thing she tackles. PSA: Your Default Narrative Settings Are Not Apolitical Just like the last article, this one talks about different ways to write about women in history, but she gives some fascinating concrete examples. For instance, did you know a former Chinese prostitute turned pirate commanded over 1800 ships and 80,000 men, took on the British navy, and retired happily on her ill-gotten gains? Or that in modern Meghalaya all property and power go through through the matriarchal lines while men there are the suffragettes? She also touches on other minorities that are assumed not to exist, mentioning such things as the inferred romance between Alexander the Great and Hephaestion, or that no less than three Knights of the Round Table are canonically Middle Eastern, or that black Africans had a significant presence in Europe during the Renaissance era. And she links positively everything. If you want copiously-linked research to start your narrative or get some unique ideas, this article is your baby. Writing Women Characters Into Epic Fantasy Without Quotas This article also gives amazing world-and-character building ideas for your female characters using real life examples that cover everything from politics to medicine to tradespeople to warriors to the sex trade. (Hey, did you know in one country only women engaged in the merchant trade?) When necessary, it explains how culture and attitudes have changed from ancient times until now and shows how modern and unusual our Victorian/1950s ideas of gender roles actually are. It also points out quite deftly that, just like today, what was writ in law was not the final word but was often circumvented by either technical loopholes or just plain ignoring the law. So, just like today, just because a (female) person was told not to do a thing, it doesn't mean that they didn't do it. The other two articles are excellent and great for whetting your appetite to know more, but this one is the full monty. It can get a little dry, but it is thorough, well-researched, and can give you a place to start no matter what you choose to write. And while it's not the linkfest of the previous article, references are copiously given. Badass of the Week You mean, you haven't found this website yet? Oh, you're in for a treat! This is a blog that researches people who did extraordinary things, the kinds that might be mistaken for action movie heroes. Some are fictional (I swear I saw Darth Vader listed), some are animals, and even a few weapons are listed, but most are real, historical people, and a nice chunk of them are women. You have people history forgot to mention, such as Julie D'Aubigny, who...oh, I'm just going to quote the website; there is no way to paraphrase this: Heh. Then there was Kamla Devi, a 54 year old mother in India who was attacked by a tiger and fought it off with nothing more than a sickle. Rukhsana Kauser turned her living room into a scene from Rambo when she machine-gunned down six very dangerous terrorists who were beating her parents; to get the gun she had to first attack six men armed with machine guns with nothing more than a hatchet and big brass ovaries. There was Leigh Ann Hester, an American MP who was the first woman to earn a silver star since WWII. There is the quite impressive Cloelia the Hostage, a teenage Roman girl who had been ransomed off and was none too happy about it. Her response was to slip her bonds, free about a dozen other imprisoned girls, and successfully escape, and later when the king demanded her head be brought to him just casually got on a horse and rode back to give him a piece of her mind. And who can overlook Blenda, yet another badass teenage girl? This one who slaughtered an entire invading Viking army with nothing but wits, farm implements, and a butt-ton of mead. If you need some story ides or just a pick-me-up because the world is feeling extra-terrible today, I highly recommend this blog. I might make a second post later with awesome article links exploring the actual creation of "Strong Female Characters" and tropes to look out for.
  19. 3 points
    Being Weird on Purpose - Writing Speculative Fiction, as presented by Candas Jane Dorsey. This was my favourite panel of the conference. She talked about speculative fiction - What it is, and some tips on how to do it well. Her talk was quite dense and I know I missed writing down a lot, but here are the key points. All fiction is speculative. Even if it takes place in this reality, it is never 100% accurate. Towns are made up, dialogue is constructed. Inner thoughts and feelings or real people are speculated on. Humans love allegories. We generalize from experience until we see meaning in patterns. Speculative fiction offers patterns. Allegories can bypass human defenses and biases Realistic fiction is actually quite new, and was not the default historically. The term 'speculative fiction' first was used to be more inclusive of other languages and cultures that use a variety of terms to describe the same sort of thing There are many lists of things not to do, but all the 'don't do this' rules can be broken by a clever writer - you can break the rule if you do it WELL Spec fic vs literary - In speculative fiction the journeys the characters understand (physically, mentally, emotionally, etc) are often longer, and they tend to have outcomes. A literary story may cut short or not be fully resolved. A quote from someone I missed - "Fantasy is a self-coherent narrative', meaning that it doesn't subvert the elements of a story, it moves in a predictable way (of course there are examples of more experimental stories, but generally speaking). 'Delaney's Levels of Subjunctivity' Subjunctivity - The relationship between something proposed or portrayed (especially in science fiction) and reality; degree of realism or probability. She talks about Delaney's three levels of Subjunctivity as a way of figuring out if something is speculative fiction or not. 1. Reportage level - This writing described things that did happen, factual events. This covers things like memoirs, newspapers, news reports (barring fake news of course) 2. Realistic Fiction - Things that 'could have happened'. The didn't, but they don't violate the rules of our reality. So this is things like from modern mainstream literary fiction to romance, high literature, pulp fiction, coming of age stories adventures. They may have made up towns or people, but the rules of the world and the setting are largely the same as our own. 3. 'Could NOT have happened' level - Elves do not exist, dragons do not fly. No matter how realistic the setting (urban fantasy for example), it is impossible for this story to have happened. As soon as a fantastic element is included, it infects the story with this level of subjunctivity. Think LOTR, Harry Potter, ghost stories, paranormal romance, magical realism, surrealism, horror, fantasy, etc. Sci fi fits into a strange place with several levels of subjunctivity. It sits at 'could not have happened' based on reality right now, but extrapolating trends could push it into 'has not happened', or even 'has not happened YET'. Spec fic, and especially fantasy, has internal rules. You have to change the rules of your world so the cool thing you want to happen falls into the 'could have happened' level. If it falls into the 'could not have happened' then your world is either poorly explained, or you have a plot hole. Our worldbuilding when we first start out, often is like fanfiction of our own world, its incomplete, not fully realized. You get the DnD style of characterization, Bob has 12 strength points. But WHY is Bob strong, what made him that way? Your worldbuilding too will have consequences, your characters shouldn't trip over cool ideas and mess up the plot. She talks a lot about the work of Samuel Delaney, who has several books and essays that Dorsey uses to teach this subject. With spec fic you can say things that are metaphorical in the real world, but are interpreted literally in fiction. Consider "She gave her heart up willingly" The background is equally as important as the foreground with spec fic - ie, the worldbuilding that is needed to explain how this world works. "The door dilated" is the sentence she gave as an example. That one word, dilated, tells us so much about the setting. Doors are different here, perhaps designed to accommodate a different shaped being. Humans don't need round doors after all. What can we infer about the world from that one word? "The red sun was high" - This tells us that maybe there is dust in the air, or a sunset. But that's not the whole sentence. Heinlein wrote, "The rest sun was high, the blue low." - This tells us a lot more, there's two suns, so its not earth. This world might have different gravity, plants, ways of life. Even the shadows would be different. So much worldbuilding with just a couple words. It is unnecessary then to explain that 'Bob lives in a binary star system' Your own language is such an important tool in spec fic, you can use it in a very short way to create a whole world. Another example "The city floated over the plain this week." - The addition of 'this week' tells us that not only does the city float, but it is mobile and doesn't stay in one place. Spec fic readers love the detective work of piecing together the details. This is another reason why info dumps are bad. It removes the mystery and feels so clunky. Exercises: 1. In your WIP, find a lump of exposition/info dumping, and see if you can find one adjective, one verb, and one noun (at least one of each) to tell this information in a descriptive sentence instead. Are there are ways to use the senses to make it all snap into place? 2. For the people of the world of fairy, or Mordor, the things we see in the books are normal. They don't require extra information and backstory. For them, magic (as an example) is normal. From your WIP, find a secondary or background character and write a short scene in which they go about their day. All the extraordinary things of your setting are normal for them. Show them being comfortable in your world. 3. Interview your characters, ask them 'Where is the voice coming from" - Why do they say what they say, do what they do, what shaped them? They shouldn't be there to dress the set, no Red Shirts or Spear Carriers. 4. Interview your 'really cool idea' too (your worldbuilding premise, the 'what if' question you are asking). To make this idea work, what needs to be different from our world to this one? Pin down what research you need to do. What are the long term effects of the idea? What plot elements have to happen to cause the idea, and what are the consequences of those plot elements. 5. Put two characters in a fairly commonplace setting, and put them through the 3 levels of subjunctivity in short scenes, or even a few sentences. What happens, what needs to change? How do the characters change in response to changes in the setting? Example - "A kid is sitting under a tree reading a book." Example - Meeting to talk about writing here and now in this room is very different compared to meeting to talk in Cambodia in 1076 when the Khmer Rouge were executing all artists and thinkers. Changing the setting changes the danger the characters are in, the tension, the choices they've made to even BE in that place.
  20. 3 points
    First I think we want a distinction of what we are looking for, by summary you mean the 'back of the book blurb'? As opposed to a more detailed synopsis. The advice I've read says a good blurb should be focused on your main character - Who are they, what do they want, what obstacles are stopping them from getting it. If you've got two MCs they could get a paragraph each, but I wouldn't do more than two, there's only so much space. I've also read that as far as plot, you generally want to talk about the first 3rd of the book, the initial problem that is set up (because we know story problems tend to grow or get worse as the story progresses). That way you still have your hook, but you aren't giving away the ending. But if you are writing a synopsis, like for querying an agent, you'd want to include the ending and more of how the character arc develops, because you are selling them the whole story, not trying to entice them to read with the first 3rd. The synopsis might also be a lot longer, some people use synopsis to mean a 1-3 paragraph description of your story, others are looking for several PAGES.
  21. 3 points
    Today, June 1st, is the third birthday of Worldsmyths! Happy birthday, Worldsmyths! New artwork by @JayLee!
  22. 3 points
    This is good advice. But not necessarily the way it was intended. Usually it's seen as write the things you know from reality. Don't use things you have no experience with. Now, that is terribly unhelpful to fantasy and sci-fi writers who, by definition, have to write about things that we have no experience with since they don't exist, or don't exist yet. But we can still use this as a useful catch-phrase for writing, at least in a first draft. So here it goes: Write What You Know. You have a story idea in your head. Write that down because you know you have the idea. Don't worry about things that you don't know yet. If you haven't decided what technology your world has, or how big the country is that your story takes place in, don't sweat it. Write what you do know. Keep that pen, or those fingers, writing the things that you already have in your head. Write them until you don't have any of those things left. Then you can worry about sorting out the other stuff. I know this approach isn't for everyone, and that's fine. But, for me, I often get caught up in trying to make things make sense immediately, or trying to write things in order. But when there's something in my head further down the road in my story, I need to remember to write it down while I know it, or else I might forget it. Losing ideas can really set us back, so we should write what we know when we know it. Even if it has to be fixed later, or even tossed out entirely. Because if we don't write what we know, and fixate on what we don't know, we might actually be making more work for ourselves. Just a thought.
  23. 3 points
    I wouldn't say there's anything wrong with using "as", but it depends on the execution. If you are using it a lot, maybe you aren't varying your sentence structures enough. Or maybe you are combining 2 things via "as" that really can't happen at the same time. John smiled as he finished his beer. It's kinda hard to drink and smile at the same time. More likely, the character is doing one and then the other, and the wording should reflect that. Of larger concern is the use of prepositions in general. Again, this isn't something to avoid, but some writers overuse them. Consider this sentence: The keys are in the desk drawer. This sentence creates a relationship between the keys and their location (the drawer). Each prepositional phrase extends that relationship. The reader has to keep straight where everything is in relation to everything else. Let's look at another example: The keys are in Boston, in my mother's old house at 31 Main Street, up the stairs, on the left just past the bathroom, in the desk drawer behind a bunch of letters. This is an extreme example, but I think it illustrates why using too many prepositional phrases can be a problem. It's too much for the reader to keep track of. If you need more than 2 prepositions in a sentence, it's probably better to divide the sentence up. Sometimes prepositional phrases are unnecessary and can be cut. Example: Mike had told him that the keys were in the drawer. John searched every inch, even going so far as to dump everything onto the floor, but found no keys in the drawer. The last "in the drawer" can be cut. It has already been establish where John is looking. There's no need to repeat it. So yeah, there's nothing wrong with using "as" or any other preposition. As with most things, it's really a matter of how they are used.
  24. 3 points
    Project: The Pirate Witches of Deadwater (Middle Grade Fantasy Novel) Goal: Rough outline done by May (which is about now), first draft of 30k-40k hopefully done by the end of June, then editing until complete. I hope that's sometime before NaNo this fall. Summary: After a string of foster-homes 12-year old Beata discovers she has inherited a house together with a distant cousin in the pirate-witch village of Deadwater. The village is in decline because the witches are old and childless, and a developer try to seize the opportunity and turn Deadwater into a hot summer-vacation spot with hotels and casinos. Beata's house has a ghost (like houses do) and hopes it's her dead mother trying to communicate, but finds it's her cousin's mother; a witch trapped on a ghost ship in another dimension because the magic anchors to bring her back were stolen. Beata finds it's really difficult to rebel in a pirate-witch village, take orders from a bossy apparition and hardest of all: find a summer-job that doesn't involve collecting leeches. How hard could it be when the only other kid in the village managed to get a sweet gig as a bread-delivery man and won't stop bragging about it? She also has to help her cousin pass the magic entrance exam for the prestigious village council called The Crew, which will give them a lot of advantages and might be their only way to avoid having to sell their house. The end: By the use of very old knot-magic Beata manages to pull the ghost ship back into the real world, with both the lost witch and an incredible pirate treasure onboard. Beata earns the empty chair in The Crew and saves the house, while the treasure saves the village.
  25. 3 points
    Project: The New Trilogy, Book 1 The New Queen. Book 2 The New Priestess. Book 3 The New . . .not sure yet. Goals: Finish first draft of Book 1 and publish by the end of October. Start Book 2 for NaNoWriMo this year. Summary: I created an original world that blends folk lore from around the world, though what's presented in the book is predominantly anglo-saxon, celtic, and Germanic inspired with a little sprinkling from the middle east and eastern Europe. In this mythical other world the daughter of a witch is traded to a goblin by her mother for a rare magical ingredient that will help save the lives of her coven and many other innocents (thought has crossed my mind of writing this up as a separate novel that is sort of a prequel to the trilogy, like The Hobbit to LoTR). Shortly after acquiring the child the Goblin is killed by a slightly delirious Fae fleeing his exiled people who were forced into the eastern mountains and deep underground long ago. He adopts the human infant who grows up among the court until she's about twenty. At that point a seer informs the queen that a gathering darkness threatens every life in the realm ( I still haven't settled on a name for the Fae country -_-') and the human Berry is key to preserving the land, though how is unclear. It's important she travel South before it's too late and do so with the Prince (who has just turned 100 and is officially an adult though he's still pretty immature in a lot of ways) and her adoptive father. Unfortunately, Berry's father was just sent North as a spy and can't be conveniently reached because he's spying on allies and if he's caught spying it could push the two countries into another war since the new king in the North doesn't like the Fae as much as his predecessor. phew. That's about it without going into spoilers.
  26. 3 points
    I forgot I posted this, so maybe I should answer it myself. The coastal village of my WIP is called Deadwater, and I'd visit the broken ship of the first pirate-witches who settled there: Matilda and Grumpy Octavia. The part of the ship with the captain's quarters is now the meeting hall and has an observational deck. Then I'd walk on the beach to see what kind of stuff floated ashore since the currents are affected by magic and lots of fun stuff end up at the shore-line almost every day (finders keepers!). The Bone Witch House, constructed by old whale bones and fossils, is a must, and then I'll probably go with the Captain of the village on her daily "inspections" of the small brewery before heading out to the big evening barbecue on the beach.
  27. 3 points
    Subtlety can be considered an extension of "Show, Don't Tell". It is the art of saying something without saying it, implying rather than stating. One of my favorite books on writing, "The First Five Pages" by Noah Lukeman, has this to say about subtlety: "Although the focus of this book is what can be wrong in a manuscript, if we were to stop and ask what best signals the proficient writer, the answer would be subtlety. Subtlety is the mark of confidence and is thus by far the hardest thing for a writer to achieve. A writer who is confident need not prove anything, need not try to grab attention with spates of stylism or hyperbole or melodrama. A writer who is subtle is in no rush; he can pace himself, prolong tension, suspense and even dialogue for hundreds of pages. He can hint, foreshadow ever so slightly, set things up hundreds of pages in advance. He will often leave things unsaid, may even employ a bit of confusion, and often allow you to come to your own conclusions." "The unsubtle writer will condescend to the reader, hit him over the head with obvious information, tell him things he already knows and generally repeat things (sometimes to the word)." "...the unsubtle writer will often tell in addition to show" The varying degrees to which you imply things within your story is a measure of subtlety. You may want to be less subtle when steering the reader toward a red herring, while you might want to employ a larger degree of subtlety when foreshadowing something that will prove to be critically important later in the story. How do you employ subtlety within your story? What things do you imply that you want the reader to pick up on, either at the time or later in the story? How do you use subtlety to get the reader to go where you want them to go, to come to the conclusions you want them to have?
  28. 3 points
    Project - We Can Be Heroes Goals - finish rough draft by end of this year Summary - in Generic Fantasyland, a crew of misfits, NPCs and throwaway characters are hired by a mysterious employer. Their job: stop the Chosen One from fulfilling the Prophecy. (I'm also aiming to speed-draft an SF locked-room spaceship thriller by end of May/June.)
  29. 3 points
    Facing death is facing death and that happens frequently enough to many of my characters. What's worse? The loss of the soul, perhaps โ€” though strictly speaking my stories do not allow for a 'soul' as many understand the word, ones physical essence might be trapped eternally in another world, which comes to much the same thing. My Donzalo character faces that threat at least once, and it is implied that is the final fate of the sorcerer who tried to inflict it on him (to be explored in the sequel, of course). And then there is poor Saj who faces a fate worse than death when he is threatened with marriage.
  30. 3 points
    Project - Lilith Goals - Finish the first draft by the end of 2019 Summary - Lilith is torn between two vampires who both have a claim to rule the vampire kingdom. Zane wants to stop killing humans and live and work together. Caleb wants to farm humans and believes they are a lower class than vampire-kind. Meanwhile the angels start a war between humans and vampires to claim control of the earth. Can Caleb and Zane settle their differences to stop the angels and humans from destroying them while also competing for Liliths heart
  31. 3 points
    Project: Heart of the Darkness (Witches of Texas #2) Goal: Finish the stupid thing by the end of July. Summary: The wagon train has reached the abandoned settlement of Sparrow Down and must hurry to not only make it livable but to plant, grow, and harvest a crop to help them survive their first winter. Taz and her sister are pulled in different directions: their witching services are required all over for healings, animal tending, charm settings and mendings, and there's no time to think much less explore the new connection and power they obtained from the lightning storm. As the season grows cold strangers become neighbors and Samhain, the last harvest, looms. But there is something else lurking in Sparrow Down. A presence, a secret, and it has found a powerful ally in Eckbert Hummel, a boy with no empathy, conscience, or hesitation about unraveling a life to see what lies under the skin.
  32. 3 points
    Project - Uh, untitled novel Goal - Finish the first draft by the end of the summer Summary - Chiara lives in a world where each person has a magical gift related to an aspect of their identity. Her gift is to speak to ghosts so she's found herself working in the morgue where her affinity for the dead is meant to be useful, but she's not sure she's making the most of that gift. Her first criminal case involves the murders of two shapeshifters who had made themselves look like the leading candidate in the mayoral election.
  33. 3 points
    He said he thinks they should be sent to college as soon as they hit puberty, though. They hit it as young as nine or ten years old and as old as thirteen or fourteen (I haven't googled the exact age range, but I'm guessing based on the fact that I do know that kids sometimes get it really early), so he still would be talking about early teens rather than late teens. What would "late teens" mean in this case, though? "Late teens" is more like 17-19 years old, and there are already high school kids who are 17-18 years old who, like I said, are able to take college classes for credit before they graduate. I thought of another thing to add to my list: you can't get a credit card at the age you're talking about, and you probably can't get an ATM card until you're at least 15-17 years old, though I suppose it depends on the bank. I want to say I was probably around 18 when I got mine. I was definitely in my early twenties when I got my first credit card, though. Let's see...when I was in school, our grades were: Kindergarten-3rd grade was elementary 4th and 5th grade was in our middle school 6th-8th grade was junior high 9th-12th grade was high school They've made a lot of changes since I was in school, though, and they built a new elementary school and the elementary school that I went to is like...middle school? I don't even know, because even I get confused. My stepbrothers are in 8th and 10th grade (although the older of my stepbrothers should actually be in 11th grade. He was kept back because his grade level was lower than what it should have been due to his father making him go to a Catholic school when he was younger). I can guarantee you that the youngest of my stepbrothers would NOT be ready for college at his current age. He's only just sloooowly starting to become more mature and take school a little more seriously. The first half of this school year, he was getting in trouble a lot and his grades were suffering because he was spending 98% of his time playing video games. Now he still spends 98% of his time playing video games but he's keeping his grades up and not getting into trouble like he was in the beginning of the year. He made the honor roll, and he's going to the same tech school my other stepbrother is next year. Tech school will be good for him because it's a mix of the typical classroom environment where you sit and listen to a teacher and take notes and hands on work, and he does better with hands on work. If anything, I think school should be more like that. Less forcing students to sit in a classroom taking notes and listening to a teacher give a lecture and more hands on activities (without relying 100% on group projects for "hands on" stuff, especially at the college level when not everyone has the same schedule). It would be good for those students like my stepbrother who get too fidgety and bored by sitting in a classroom having to take notes all the time. And I mean, there are classes at his school where it is more hands on, but not to the same extent as it is at the tech school he'll be at next year. Basically you rotate through and do a few weeks of classroom stuff and then do workshops for another few weeks.
  34. 3 points
    For this question of the day, I thought it would be fun for us to share small snippets of something we've written that we're proud of. It doesn't matter whether it's been super edited or is still really rough or not - the point is just to show something that made us go "wow, I really love how this is turning out" as we wrote it. In this case, I'm going to say that a "snippet" is 1,000 words or less. If 1,000 words makes you cut off in the middle of a sentence or at an awkward spot you can extend it to the end of the sentence. Keep in mind that these snippets may be unedited, so unless someone who is sharing specifically asks for it, do not give any unasked for non-criticism. When sharing your snippet, feel free to tell us what it is that made you proud of it. Was it a particular bit of dialogue? A particular bit of description? Here is mine, completely unedited. I really love how this scene turned out. It's an important moment for the character, Ivar, reconnecting with his court's dragon guardian. There are definitely some bits that need work, but overall I'm very happy with it.
  35. 3 points
    Kids are hitting puberty at age 11 these days, that is far too young to move out. And teenagers brains are still developing, they need a lot of guidance. It would be healthier to remain at home, but with increased boundaries and responsibilities.
  36. 3 points
    Maybe the most unpopular opinion in this whole thread: I don't like the epic faux-medieval fantasy. Everything that genre is built on, like the bulky descriptions for immersion, the detailed magic systems, the kings and queens, the quests, the battles and big-scale politics... Basically everything that fans adore about this genre, that's the stuff that makes me squirm: "Get that dragon away from me!" It's a big problem for me. Most of the writers I talk to about writing, yeah, they write this genre, and I have never read any of the books they discuss (except stuff that's really old and I hardly remember because I was in my teens). I also have to explain all the time to people that it's the subgenres of fantasy that I enjoy, because most regular people only think Tolkien and Martin when they hear "fantasy". I don't ever have any advice to give when it comes to sewing your own cloak or if this or that sword is too heavy to lift for a woman. I don't know how a stew is seasoned, or how to skin a rabbit. I'm epically challenged, and thank you for this opportunity to address my troubles.
  37. 3 points
    Thanks to this thread for getting me writing again! I'm fond of this bit because I hope it sets the scene: It was wet and miserable outside the Dark Fortress. The building rose above the tiled roofs of the city, taller than all the rest, like a finger raised in insult towards the heavens. It was an evil thing, carved of black granite and covered in spikes and leering gargoyles. It had earned multiple design awards for architecture, which only made the locals hate it more. Two guards sat outside, one tall and skinny, and one short and stout. (Royal decree stated that there must be two guards at all times, for occupational health and safety reasons.) The tall and skinny one was called Beanpole Ron. He had pants that were too short, revealing pale ankles, and his ears stuck out like a goblinโ€™s. Beady little eyes peered from the slit of his helmet. The other one was new. He got called โ€˜Fat Percyโ€™ (despite his protests) because he was almost as wide as he was tall. A portion of it was muscle underneath the padding. He had dark skin, a round head, and a dim-witted sort of face. There was a third guard, scarred and snaggle-toothed, who often lounged inside. Officially, his role was to boss the other two around. Unofficially, he made a lot of trips to the pub. He was called Sharky, and he fancied himself a great deal smarter than the other two. After all, that was why he was inside.
  38. 3 points
    This is the opening to a novel that is currently only 1 scene long (it's still in the planning stages, but I had enough to write the first scene). The rest of the scene after this isn't very good, but I like this first bit because of how much information is given to the reader without stopping the action. Natani crouched behind her hut, hidden from all view, and vomited. When her stomach finally stopped heaving, she wiped her mouth and stared down at the effusion of her blasphemy. Her body had rejected the Mother's gift. She grabbed a stone and used it to rub the vomit into the dirt, erasing the evidence. She returned to the Circle where the rest of the tribe sat in quiet contemplation of their meal. It was always a somber experience when consuming the Mother's gift. The bones had been picked clean and for that, Natani was grateful, despite the hollow pain in her belly. She filled a stone bowl with water and went to sit next to Raigan. They shared a spot on the ground, south of the cookfire. The smell of charred flesh lingered on the air with no breeze to chase it away. The Mother, her effigy standing watch over the tribe, held back the wind and the ice and the cold. But She hadn't saved Jogo. Natani drew deeply from the bowl, the cool water washing away the bitter tastes in her mouth, leaving only memory. She had eaten the flesh of the fallen before and taken pride in their sacrifice. Why could she not do the same for her brother? Raigan popped the last of the meat into his mouth and licked his fingers to show respect. His face betrayed no sign of the turmoil Natani felt, nor any other emotion. In a dozen more turnings of the moon, he would be old enough to join the hunt, and then it might be his bones blackening over the cook fire.
  39. 3 points
    Same. There are other ways to make the goals and motivation behind a villain's action come through. And part of the fear can come from not knowing too much about what the villain is capable of. I like what you said about blurring lines, and where the villain is not so much a monster that we can't at times feel sympathy for them, or even see how easy it would be for the protagonist to end up on the wrong side too with just a few different life-choices. :)
  40. 3 points
    Some additional plot structures to add to your toolbox: 'Plot Diamond'/Moral Premise - I found the idea of story as a debate between different values and ethics to be an interesting way to set it up. A four act mystery structure - discussed here and here. you could argue it's still 3 acts, but another way of thinking about it Save the Cat - gonna be honest this isn't my fave but it's worth knowing about and looking at how they break down films Jami Gold - romance-related but she has a ton of good beat-sheets using the 7 point structure, Nano-related excel spreadsheets, as well as some discussion of how to bring a character's internal conflict and weave it into the plot Dramatica - can't comment on whether it's worth paying for (i'm cheap and love libraries), but maybe interesting? Shakespeare's Five Act Structure - also discussed here and here if you can get past the ALLCAPS this is an interesting criticism (focuses more on scriptwriting) eta: how could I forget Chuck Wending? 1 2 3
  41. 3 points
    I find three-act structure useful to a point and then it's kindaโ€ฆ eh. It's like getting a map from A to B and you're on the road and you know where you are and then BAM, a thousand miles of desert with one solitary signpost. It's very good at describing what should happen at the start and what should happen at the end (for a given type of story*), but the middle is vague. "Increase the stakes! Raise the conflict!" Like, is it a soufflรฉ? Do I put it in the oven and wait to see whether it's collapsed or not? For me, when I'm trying to figure out what happens in the middle and where the hell we're going to stop for the night without being eaten by bears, I prefer to think of it as separate sections within Act II. Which I think is what they're getting at with the mention of mini-climaxes, try-fail cycles, and the twist. I'm still figuring out the best method for finding a path through Act II. It's less daunting to think of it as smaller sections than one giant block where Stuff Happens. (*on that note there's a lot of overlap with THE HERO'S JOURNEY and heroic narrative which is great and all but I also wonder about what we can learn from other types of story, mystery and tragedy and so on and whether that structure changes depending on the type of story being told, but that's a whole other discussion probably)
  42. 3 points
    BUT THOU MUST. do itttttt one of Disney's underrated gems, probably bc it's so different from their other stuff. worth watching if you enjoy The Road to El Dorado (which is the Dreamworks equivalent I guess (no central romance, frenemies-road-trip sorta dynamic, similar sense of humour, and MESOAMERICA.)
  43. 3 points
    Such a fun thread! All the selfcomplimenting is awesome! I think that my knack is special details, just a little fun, quirky, strange, odd extra that adds some spice to the character/setting/plot. A little thing to remember.
  44. 3 points
    Just some things that I've noticed can work: characters who are funny because they take themselves too seriously (the boss in The Office) juxtaposition/contrast and subversion of audience expectations (the killer rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. any kind of contrast. Kronk in Emperor's New Groove subverts the expectations for a henchperson - "My spinach puffs!") humour from a situation. "for want of a nail" - you take a basic scenario, and exaggerate til 11, then keep going! (eg. in Meet the Parents, Ben Stiller has to deal with increasing BS from his judgy in-laws - relatable to most people because they probably have some weird family members, but it's exaggerated to the extreme) humour from common experience (ie. the slug lady in Monsters Inc. is funny because most of us have had to deal with either embittered bureaucratic frontline staff AND/OR annoying overly-friendly customers who want a free pass) characters who cause their own demise (through stubbornness, or stupidity, or being a jerk - see the finale of Seinfeld where almost every single character they've ever wronged turns up for their trial to publicly shame them, because they were terrible people. or, by contrast, Bertie Wooster is continually dragged into his friend's schemes because he's dimwitted and also a pushover.)
  45. 3 points
    Moodboarding is one of my favorite novel-adjacent timewasters! Mine always tends to be character focused. If left unchecked, I`ll spend hours trying to find just the right picture to add. I use Pinterest for moodboards. Pros: Infinite scrolling! Cons: Remember, you're here forever. (Also, I've noticed Pinterest's inspo leans more YA.) Okay, I joke about how much of a timesink it can be, but it also helped me to get back a spark of enthusiasm about my WIP. I return to it when I want to remind myself of the core of my characters. My boards are set to private, meaning only myself and the shadow agent monitoring me can see them, but here's some examples:
  46. 3 points
    I think I don't get some of these questions, but here are my thoughts: How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar? Changing stuff to make the characters more different, if they are important characters - if their voices are too similar, chances are their personalities are as well. Or they're simply too flat, then "they sound too similar" tells me that I should take a break from writing the story, take a step back and flesh the characters out more. If they are not important characters, I'll question if I need them at all and chances are I'll cut one of them or combine them into one person. Or if it fits the plot, do something funny and gimmicky, like making them twins or siblings that are supposed to be similar - obviously, this one should be used sparingly. How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem? That's one of the questions I don't get - what problem are we even talking about? Guess I'll have to listen to the episode to get more context. How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive? Same as with side characters that sound too similar - I don't, I'll often end up cutting inactive characters or combining them with a more active one. What function does this character have in a story? Can any other character fulfill it as well? Why do I need to keep this character at all? How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys? Giving them plausible motives. Making them relatable. I'm a fan of gray antagonists - they might be more ruthless (or desperate) than the protagonists in getting what they want, but they need a motivation and a goal, and there are obstacles they have to overcome to reach their goals (which is often where the protagonists come in - either the protagonists happen to be those obstacles, or they have a goal that clashes with the protagonists' goal). How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character? I don't. I'm terribly bored by powerful characters, so I don't write them ๐Ÿ˜› Well, at least not as POV characters - powerful mentors, advisors or antagonists are fine. How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting? By making them relatable. Defining their goals, motivation, conflicts, and values. Giving them challenges that resonate with me and hopefully with readers as well. How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot? That's another one I don't get - if a character's interests don't mesh with the plot, why are they there in the first place? I guess the answer would be "add a meaningful subplot or cut the character"? If the manuscript already exists and is finished, the plot obviously gets resolved without that character just fine, so what is that character's function? If there is none, there's no reason to keep the character. (Yep, I'm a plot-driven writer, in case someone didn't suspect that yet)
  47. 3 points
    So I tried to find out where 'said is dead' came from, and it looks like there's no singular source. I've found two blogs that claim is comes from elementary schools, (here and here). They claim the advice 'said is dead' comes from teachers of beginning writers who are looking to expand their students vocabulary primarily by providing big lists of things to say instead of said. The advice has been parroted without knowing this context, until its bled into other new writers. I didn't do a thorough search, but based on all the fancy graphics and things, it looks like it re-surged on the internet as writing advice in the late 2000's/early 2010's. I think using a lot of words like yelled, grimaced, shrugged... it reads a lot younger, more grade school than aimed at audiences. Do you agree? I am firmly on the 'said is invisible' side of this debate. It doesn't pull attention to itself. Using alternate dialogue tags does pull attention. If you are using them every time it clutters up a page, people are yelling, whispering, grumbling, all within a few breaths? It sounds exhausting. It can also border on 'telling' as opposed to 'showing' a character's internal state. Now I don't believe they should never ever be used, they can definitely help get into a characters head or to visualize a scene. They should just be used sparingly, a spice, not the main flavour. Basically, I think this is just poor writing advice that keeps circulating because its short and pithy and sounds on the surface like it could be helpful, but it really isn't.
  48. 3 points
    Did it with a Discworld book, and found Nanny Ogg singing "A wizard's staff has a knob on the end"... That certainly was an epiphany for me. ๐Ÿ˜„
  49. 3 points
    I was linked to this Tumblr post on another writing forum and thought I'd bring it here. It introduces the concept of Deductive vs Inductive storyteller to describe how you write, as an alternative to the pantser/plotter dichotomy that is spoken of more often. Very loose definitions: Deductive = large, general concepts to specific details. Inductive = small, specific details to large, general concepts I really like it! Here's what the post says: What do you think? I'm mostly a deductive storyteller, I have a concept I want to explore, like a cool kind of magic, and figure out what the rest of the world looks like from that, then figure out what characters fit in that world, theeeen figure out what those characters want, and come up with a plot. How about you?
  50. 3 points
    I've never heard of this before either, but they do make a lot of sense! I'm usually always inductive with my stories. I come to them by way of a scene, a conversation, or just a flash frame that looks interesting. The first book I ever finished started that way. I was doing dishes and listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra near Christmas and was hit by a powerful wave of loneliness and then saw a scene where a boy was watching his family celebrate the holiday through a window. I knew the boy had been missing for years, that bad things had happened to him, and because of it he could never walk through the front door. I knew he also had wings, so when I got to a notebook and wrote it out I had that for a foundation and built it from there. I find I often get lost when I try to start broad and narrow stuff down. I don't feel a good connection to the story on an emotional level. I can world build all day long because it's interesting, but doing that first and the crafting characters to fit the world causes me to lose interest, or go off on tangents and re-create things that muck with the entire system. I already know how everything works, I guess, so exploring it through a character a second time isn't as appealing. Now, given that I'm currently writing a series I have to do some deductive writing just to keep everything in order, so I end up trying to balance planning just enough to keep it all straight while leaving enough blank to explore so I don't wander off to play with something else. It's kind of like placing strategic piles of toys and treats within a large playpen area to keep a toddler occupied and simultaneously unaware of the fence so they don't try to escape.