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Banespawn last won the day on February 12

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  1. Banespawn

    Dissecting your favourite characters

    Drizzt Do'Urden has always been a favorite, not just because he's a badass (especially in Sojourn), but because of his idealism while growing up in such a morally corrupt world. Another favorite is Lord Mhoram, from The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. His nobility, his willingness to sacrifice everything he loves rather than deny someone their right to choose, is what I love about him.
  2. Beginnings are the easiest for me. I have a lot more beginnings than endings, unfortunately. Good endings are hard to come up with, but once I have it, the middle is easier. I feel like the middle is where I have the most freedom, in some respects. The beginning has to do certain things and the end has to tie everything together, but the middle can include subplots that don't have to tie into either the beginning or the end. They just need to complicate life for the protagonists.
  3. Banespawn

    "Said is Dead" and Dialogue Tags

    You don't need it with every bit of dialogue though. There are many ways to eliminate them. Example: I've got a couple beats here (lines 1 and 5). I've got 1 dialogue tag (line 2). And the rest I don't have either, because they aren't necessary. I only use the beats to keep the reader grounded in the setting, so I don't have a talking heads thing. There's no confusion as to who is speaking, because there are only 2 people in the conversation. If I had more, I'd have to use more tags, but the same methods still work. When you have more than two people, you can also use direct address more, which helps. Example: The conversation starts off being between John and Mary, but then John addresses Mike by name in line 5, so I don't need a dialogue tag in line 6. We know it's Mike who is speaking. These are short samples and there isn't a ton of context, but do I really need dialogue tags to tell you what they are feeling? I'm showing how they feel by what they do and what they say.
  4. Banespawn

    "Said is Dead" and Dialogue Tags

    I use said, asked and replied. That's pretty much it. Maybe an added or confirmed once in a blue moon. Mostly it's said. It just feels more natural for me to end a question with "he asked" instead of "he said". 9 times out of 10, when writers feel like they are overusing something, it's a sign that they are doing something else wrong. In most cases, they end up fixing it the wrong way and making things worse. "Said" is one of those. If you think you are using it too often, odds are that you aren't using enough beats, or the writing it too dialogue heavy, or there are more people involved in the conversation than necessary. Just because there are a dozen people in the room doesn't mean that they all have to take turns speaking. Another one is pronouns. If you are using "I/he/she" too often, it means you aren't varying your sentences enough, and/or you are using too many filters. Instead of fixing the underlying cause, many writers will replace the pronouns with descriptions like "The blonde haired woman" or "The mechanic", which most of the time ends up being a break in POV. Said is not dead and you don't want to use a lot of alternatives to avoid repetition. The dialogue should speak for itself. If the dialogue, and the context in which it is spoken, don't convey the necessary meaning/tone, then that's what needs to be fixed. Adding a dialogue tag as a crutch for poor dialogue isn't the answer.
  5. Banespawn

    The Midpoint Mirror

    If anyone hasn't watched Dan Wells youtube videos for his 7 point system, I highly recommend it:
  6. Banespawn

    The Midpoint Mirror

    It's interesting, but I don't think it fits every story, and I can't ever see myself starting with the middle. If it's supposed to represent a moment of change for the protagonist, then I need to know what he/she is changing from, which would inevitably lead me to start with the beginning.
  7. Banespawn

    What Constitutes a Good Magic System?

    Sanderson has done a really good job of quantifying magic systems with his rules, so I won't repeat that. My recommendation would be to think outside the box in terms of what magic is. It doesn't need to be spells, fireballs, wands, etc. It doesn't need to be based on the elements. Anything can be magic if it is something that people can't normally do. A lot of people seem to focus a lot on where the magic comes from and not very much on what the magic can actually do. The latter is very important, as it will shape your world. My magic systems are always deeply rooted in the world and in the plot. One of my favorite magic systems of all time is in Dave Duncan's series "A Man of His Word".
  8. Banespawn

    Fifty Word Fantasy: Master

    "Master Rybon said you quit." "I got bored of making swords." "But you were good at it! What will you do now?" "I haven't tried my hand at magic yet." Harold shook his head. The boy would never settle down. "And what after you grow bored of that?" Jack shrugged. 50 words on the nose again, and I worked in fantasy elements this time.
  9. Banespawn

    Is Pseudo-Medieval as a Setting Played Out?

    There are definitely people who like the familiar settings, but I think there's an opportunity in the genre to go more strange. There are some authors pushing more toward the strange, but I think it's something that unpublished writers should take note of and maybe try to incorporate into their stories. And it's not just the settings, but other worldbuilding things like cultures, politics, religion and magic systems. I've been re-watching Game of Thrones in preparation for season 8, and I'm just amazed at how unique and diverse the cultures are. That's an area of my writing/worldbuilding that I am really trying to improve.
  10. Banespawn

    Fifty Word Fantasy: Fire

    "The fire's gone out." A glance at the hearth confirms Maranda's words. It has indeed gone out. When, I couldn't say. She doesn't suggest relighting it. It is simply a shared truth between us, one that I'm content to live with; the chill has long since settled into my bones. 50 words exactly. I wrote it at 58 and had to trim it down. Contractions help 🙂 Edit: I just realized this doesn't have any fantasy elements. I'll leave it up, but maybe I'll try again.
  11. Banespawn

    No romantic subplot?

    I like writing relationships, romantic or otherwise. Some stories have included a romantic subplot by design while others have developed them along the way. I don't ever feel pressure to add one though. These are my stories, first and foremost. I only add things that I believe will improve the story. I can't really think of any books I've read where the romantic subplot overshadowed the main plot, and that's not something I have a problem with myself. While I enjoy writing relationships, it's the fantasy elements that interest me the most. I've seen movies where the romantic subplot wasn't well done. Jupiter Rising comes to mind. It didn't show enough progression in the relationship to make me believe that they were really in love. Conversely, the movie Tangled was very well done, though the romance was more plot than subplot. There is a very clear progression in their relationship. The best part of writing relationships IMO is playing them off of the other plots/subplots. In real life, relationships complicate everything. So should it be in books too.
  12. Banespawn

    Too Many Names

    Does the character need to be thinking about these people at this time? I wouldn't describe them as the character is thinking about them. That will just make it worse, because the details will feel forced and out of place. My suggestion would be to examine why the character is thinking about them and maybe see how you can reduce the number. Is this character spending more time thinking than doing? Are you telling more than showing? Try to narrow the focus to only the characters you absolutely need in that scene. Maybe instead of the POV character wondering what so-and-so will say, you wait until they actually meet, then give the POV character's thoughts. Having a large cast of characters isn't a problem, but throwing a bunch of names at the reader all at once can be overwhelming.
  13. I think about what the goals are for the scene, both my goals as the author and the POV character's goals. If I want the character to end in a certain place, he/she needs to start in a certain place. I also think about the mood I want to set for the scene. I don't think hooks are reserved for only opening chapters. I want to hook the reader at the beginning of every scene, especially if I'm changing POV. Often while reading a book that uses multiple POVs, I'll get really into one of the POVs and then the POV will switch. Even if I really like the new POV, it's still a bit of a let down, so hooking the reader into the new POV right away helps IMO. Keeping these things in mind helps when I am struggling with a scene. How can I grab the reader's attention? How can I accomplish my goals for the scene, but do it in an unexpected way? How can the character pursue his/her goals in an unexpected way? In some cases, I realize the character doesn't have a clear goal and that's what missing. There's a scene in my WIP where the MC is attending Tribute for the first time. Every year, dignitaries from around the world come to pay homage to the MC's father. Previously, his father didn't allow him to attend in order to keep him safe from their enemies, but now that the MC is getting older, he finally allows him to be a part of it. I had originally put the MC in a throne next to his father, but try as I might, I couldn't make the scene work. The MC didn't have any goals. He simply sat there and watched as the tributes were offered. It occurred to me that his father wouldn't just have him sitting there as a potential target. They have a stand-in for the MC for just that reason. So instead, his father assigned him to the spymaster, and the spymaster tasked him with attending to one of the delegations. Officially, he was to serve as a page for the group. Unofficially, he was to listen to their conversations and report back to the spymaster. My entire goal for that scene was to have someone say the line "They can't protect him forever" and for the MC to hear it. Originally, that was supposed to be said directly to his father so that everyone could hear it, but I changed it to something that the MC overhears. It is now said by a different person than I had originally planned, but that makes it better because it adds another potential antagonist, who is a a red herring at this point. So I am still accomplishing my goal, but by giving the MC a goal within the scene, I found the angle I needed to make it work.
  14. Banespawn

    Multiple POV characters/chapter question

    There's no such thing as too short to be a chapter. Some books have chapters that are 1 word long. I wouldn't worry about having only one chapter where the POV switches either. Chapters are just a way of organizing your scenes. If chapter 1 only has one short scene, so be it. Readers won't be bothered by it. If the scenes work in the order presented, it doesn't really matter that much how you organize them into chapters. It doesn't really matter if you have chapters at all. Some books don't.
  15. Banespawn

    Age of main characters

    I think fantasy tends toward younger protagonists, even ones written for adult readers (adult as opposed to MG/YA/NA). There is usually a lot of information that has to be relayed to the reader over the course of the story and having a protagonist who is ignorant of much of that information makes it easier to reveal. The reader learns it as the character learns it. I usually have younger protagonists, but I'm making a conscious effort to include older characters as well. Some stories require characters of a certain age. In one story, the MC is a prince and has been confined to the palace his entire life to protect him from his father's enemies. His father has also kept a secret from him that is common knowledge to pretty much everyone else. For that to be believable, he has to be young, but not so young that he can't do the things he will need to do. I do have some built in time skips to advance his age, but It's something I've had a hard time balancing. In another story, the FMC has to be young because girls in this society are expected to start conceiving once they turn 16, and I need her story to begin before that happens. There are other characters in that story though who have their own story lines, and they will be older. One will be in his late 20s/early 30s and the other will be even older, maybe late 40s or early 50s. I haven't totally planned out those story lines yet.