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Banespawn last won the day on August 8

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  1. The questions I'm most concerned with when creating a magic system are: 1. What can be done with magic? 2. What do the people know and not know about the magic? These questions are vitality important because the answers will heavily influence the world-building. I'll often start with what the magic does and then work backwards to figure out what the people know about it, how it works, where it comes from and who can use it. When I think about what magic can do, there are such a wide range of possibilities. I'm not only thinking about what people can actively do with the magic but what magic exists within the world. I rarely end up with a character who could be called a wizard or mage. I'm not interested in magical schools or people throwing fireballs and lightning bolts. There's nothing wrong with that stuff, but I've seen enough of it that I no longer have a desire to write it. None of my magic systems are based on the elements--that's another tired trope for me--and most of my protagonists are very weak in regards to magic, if they have magic at all. I really like for the magic to be part of the mystery, part of the unfolding plot that the protagonists must discover.
  2. Under 50k I think is classified as a novella. You can google the numbers, they are fairly standard. My guess is that you'll have a really hard time finding a home for it unless you already have had publishing success. At a shorter length, you would have a better chance of publishing in a magazine or anthology. As a novel, you'll want it to be longer. Some genres are fine with 60k-75k, but 80k seems to be the mark you want to hit for most of them, with epic fantasy trending more toward 100k. If you want to describe your plot, we can offer suggestions on where to expand on it.
  3. The opening line doesn't work for me. It glosses over the reasons for which Kieran is sent to Caerwen, while at the same time not really telling us anything about him other than he is bored. Is this a summer camp? Is he staying with relatives for some reason? Is he in a new foster home? Give us a bit more about who he is before the story changes the status quo. I also think it could use some polish. Cutting unnecessary words would give it more punch. Example: With help from a magician in training, an amateur monster hunter, and the heir to a millennium old pact, Kieran jumps headfirst into a world of myth and magic. He and his new friends discover a war brewing between ancient enemies, one of whom is coming for their heads. You've only got so many words with which to grab the reader's attention. Unable to ask the adults in their lives for help, the kids realise that they’re the only ones both willing and able to put a stop to the bloodshed before it happens. However, trying to stop the impending war, they uncover a bigger threat they have no idea how to deal with. One thing I really dislike about YA is the tendency to make adults ineffectual. Either the adults don't believe the kids, or they knowingly allow the kids to put themselves in harm's way. They never actually try to resolve the problems themselves. I can't speak to the Harry Potter books since I didn't read them, but this stuff happens in the movies all the time. In the second paragraph, you mention that one of the antagonists is hunting for the protagonists. Build off of that. Let that be the reason the kids are forced into this situation, rather than because they can't ask the adults for help for some arbitrary reason. In the last line, give us a better idea of the stakes. What is the danger behind this bigger threat? What is at risk?
  4. It may not be. From everything I've read about your story, it seems like Alana is the most important character. Just from what you wrote in the blurb, she comes off as the most important character. She's the one with the magic power that the dark fairy is after. She is the one needed to fulfill the prophecy. I would focus the blurb on her and the over-arching conflict. Take the paragraph you have for her and expand it. Give us more of what her life is like before Caulen gets sick, more of what she wants and cares about.
  5. I like the parallel between the two poisonings. The twist really make it work.
  6. All of the above. In the trilogy I'm working on, I have long planned a line of dialogue that a certain character would say to the MC during the climax of book 3, and it is a repeat of something the MC says to that character in book 1. The line of dialogue is representative of how that character has changed over the course of the story. When the MC says it to him in book 1, he doesn't understand it. By the end of book 3, he does understand it. Another one occurred to me after I had written both scenes and realized I missed an opportunity to make life more difficult for the MC. In the earlier scene, I had the MC purchase a horse, and the guy who sells him the horse tells him: “Don’t run ‘er unless you have to. She’ll give ya ‘er best if ya ask it, but she been too long pullin’ a plow.” In the later scene, the MC is riding along the edge of the woods, keeping off the main road to avoid pursuit. Thunder rumbles in the sky, but then he hears a rumble that isn't thunder, which spooks the horse. He then hears a roar of pain or anger from deeper in the woods and his horse bolts. When I originally wrote it, nothing went wrong. The MC held on for dear life as the horse ran and he eventually got her back under control. Yawn. I realized later that I needed to rewrite it. The MC isn't an experienced rider, so he isn't likely to keep his seat on an out of control horse. So I decided that he would fall from the horse and break his arm. Thanks to his curse he heals quickly, but it's an opportunity for me to inflict a little pain/adversity on him. This I consider a micro arc because the guy told the MC not to run her, the implication being that the horse couldn't take it. The irony is that the horse ends up being just find and it's the MC who gets hurt. That irony, assuming the reader picks up on it, is the satisfying bit. I guess this could be considered foreshadowing, but it's really not much of a plot point. It's just these two connected moments. Now the roar, that absolutely is foreshadowing. There are other references to it later in the story, but it is written off as a bear. It's not a bear, but that won't really be understood until early in book 3. There's another that involves one of the MC's quirks, which is fiddling with the buttons on his coat. I guess that could be considered a running gag, as defined by the link Sam posted. That wasn't planned. It just happened as I wrote.
  7. Kind of. The link that Sam posted is really close to what I'm talking about. It covers most of it, as it's usually bits of dialogue that are repeated in some way. Basically, anything in your story that makes the reader think about something that happened earlier in the story, I call a micro arc. It's that connection which provides the reader with a satisfying feeling. When it's done with dialogue, we get the same words, but in a different context, which invests the words with new meaning, and it can be really powerful. Those connections also make the story as a whole feel more cohesive.
  8. Thanks for the link. I think the concept can be expanded to more than just dialogue, or at least not need dialogue to make the connection, as in the case with Trouble Man playing in the hospital. Do you have any of these arc words in your stories?
  9. Banespawn

    Micro Arcs

    Warning: Some small spoilers for The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. When I talk about plot, I tend to talk about arcs. Plot arcs, character arcs and story arcs. An arc consists of a goal, a conflict and a resolution. Internal conflicts are character arcs, external, plot arcs, and the biggest conflicts, the ones that get introduced in the beginning of the story and resolved in the climax/denouement, are the story arcs (whether they are plot and/or character arcs). Micro arcs, and this is purely my own definition, are much smaller in scope. They don't consist of a goal, conflict and resolution, yet there are points in the story that are tied together. Jokes are often micro arcs because they will refer to something that happened earlier in the story, but they need not be jokes. As an example, let's look at the movie, The Winter Soldier. The movie starts with Steve running laps and every time he passes Sam, he says "On your left". At the end of the movie, Steve wakes up in the hospital with Sam sitting next to him and says "On your left". That is what I call a micro arc. There is a connection between those two moments. I'm sure you also noticed that the Trouble Man soundtrack was playing in the hospital room, which is what Sam told Steve to listen to when they first met. There are at least 2 others that I can think of and probably more that I'm not remembering. Micro arcs are small payoffs for the reader/viewer. They are satisfying moments because we remember the earlier reference and see the connection, and they can be incredibly powerful when the payoff comes in an emotionally charged moment. Think about Guardians of the Galaxy. All Groot ever says is "I am Groot". But then during the climax, when he is protecting his friends and Rocket asks why he is sacrificing himself, Groot says "We are Groot". Not only is this a micro arc, but we were led to believe that he couldn't say anything but "I am Groot", so the small change takes the emotional moment and dials it up to 11. So, what micro arcs do you use in your stories? Have you seen other people discuss them? What terms did they use?
  10. There's a lot of good stuff here, but the one that really resonates with me is to figure out the ending before worrying about the middle. The middle is so much easier, for me at least, when I know the ending. I have a really hard time figuring out what happens next if I don't know where the story is going. Once I have the beginning and the ending, I feel like I can do almost anything I want in the middle as long as I hit the necessary plot points. I have the freedom to add subplots and can twist them into the main plot and each other in interesting ways. Beginnings are super easy for me. I can take almost any situation and come up with a compelling inciting incident. But my stories are never much more than that until I figure out the ending.
  11. Are you building this stuff on World Anvil? I just started using it and I'm slowly building up the details of my world. I'm never really been in the habit of keeping notes, at least not in any organized fashion. Mostly I keep everything in my head. Actually having to write it down though in a coherent fashion helps to not only spark ideas, but identify holes.
  12. Most or all of you are familiar with Brandon Sanderson, and you probably know about his Cosmere. If not, the basic idea is that most of his stories happen in the same universe, even though they may be on different worlds with completely different sets of magic. He has things which tie them together and the most important aspect of that is probably the gods. I have been trying to do something similar with my stories, but in a loose way. I don't want to come up with something that is going to limit what I can do in other stories. I was thinking about gods earlier and I had some ideas that allowed me to tie two of my biggest stories together in a cool way. Basically, instead of gods being immortal and all-powerful, they are born, live and die just like regular people, except their lives are measured in eons. One story/world is based on the life/creations of one god while another is based on the birth of a new god. Gods are all part of the recycling of life in the universe. I don't want to go into too much detail and spoil it, but I really like what I came up with. This framework for the gods likely won't play a part in every story, but it might inform some of the world-building, which I think is cool. Is anyone else doing something similar? If so, how are you tying the various worlds/stories together? Is it the gods? Is it some element that isn't found in our universe? Is it some force or being that threatens all the worlds? Is it some character who wanders in and out of all the worlds? Something else?
  13. Congrats on both and welcome to the community!
  14. This happens to me too. Sometimes I'll start a forum post looking for feedback/help on something that has been giving me trouble and I'll find other holes that I missed or I'll figure out something to fill a hole. I usually don't end up submitting the post. Actually having to put it into words that someone else can understand has a tendency to reveal the rough edges.
  15. I'm not a huge fan of protagonists who are gods, half-gods, reincarnated gods or whatever. I haven't seen it too much in published works, at least the ones I've read, but it seems to be fairly common with newer writers of fantasy. The characters usually end up being too powerful and I like to limit the power of my protagonists. That said, I do have one character who becomes sort of a god. I'm still working on exactly what that means, what he can and can't do, and what his arc will be. It's all part of the magic system, though.