Some world-building

…and a little teasing.

In case any of you have been curious as to what I’m up to, writing-wise, I wanted to tease a little of one of my more recent novel ideas. Instead of just giving away some of it, however, I thought I’d share the world-myth as a little bit of a tease.

Bits and piece of this had solidified a while ago, but some of the finer details really solidified today. I’m really pleased with what I have here–though it should be noted this is a first draft of an idea that is being fleshed out in a full novel–and so I hope it’s an enjoyable read. Continue reading

On elves, orcs, and other standard, fantasy fixtures

Fantasy creatures are all pretty well universally recognizable to most fantasy and non-fantasy readers alike. Orcs are usually the big, burly ones with green skin and a need to break bones, invade places, and generally wreck things in the name of honor, family, and glory. Elves are beautiful, often androgynous, woodland-dwelling masters of archery. There are certainly plenty of variations on these themes, but they are tried and true enough to keep readers (and viewers and gamers) coming back. Is it because these types of characters are familiar, bordering on near-family? Or are they more like set pieces to the overall story?

One of the driving forces behind A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders is that I wanted to play around with these races of characters. High elves are always the most revered, esteemed characters, but why can’t they be laughable, lowly gutter-scum? Why not make orcs sophisticated, reformed from their more bloodthirsty ways? Does deviating from the tried and true versions of orcs and elves and so on reduce them to something less than they are meant to be or help them grow into something more?

Are writers better off sticking to the usual of what works or should we focus on mixing things up more often?

I’m asking these questions as I write, of course, but my focus is elsewhere. I’ve been slacking, and this novel has been sitting. There’s writing to be done if I ever expect this to be the novel that gets me noticed by HarperCollins (wish me loads of luck, please).

The conundrum of dividing chapters

Or “At least I didn’t just name this post ‘The chapter conundrum,’ despite my love of all things alliterative (oh god, I did it again)”.

There are plenty of elements to writing that could potentially bug the shit out of me, but only one particular thing consistently irks me. Dialog is easy enough, in a pinch, in terms of making sure characters don’t all sound the same (and in the event little bits of the narrator’s voice bleeds through, there’s always editing to fix that). World-building is time-consuming, and can be a tough, but necessary, evil.

I absolutely hate coming up with the right places to start and end chapters, because I almost never feel like they’re organic (and when I do, it’s because I’ve managed to set up a system of “oh-no-what-now? cliffhangers to be directly followed by the starting point of the previous problem’s resolution). Let’s just get this out of the way now: I’ve started drafting another novel idea I had some time ago (tentatively titled The Devil Made Me Do It), before Joshua’s Nightmares even crept into the creative areas of my brain (the existence of which can be debated, of course), and I find myself butting heads with the very issue of wanting to shift the focus of the story ever so slightly, but not enough that I feel like it’ constitutes a chapter change. This is how I’m choosing to occupy my time between short stories (or, more likely, punctuated by short stories as I work on this) while I wait for the last bits of critiquing to wrap up on Joshua’s Nightmares. 

Did I mention it’s only two pages and a paragraph into the story? Because that’s certainly a factor in all of this. Also, I suppose it couldn’t hurt to add a page to the top of Misadventures in Fiction to offer a synopsis of The Devil Made Me Do It.

The story begins focusing on the main character going through his morning routine, focusing on certain aspects of it being entirely unremarkable. I want to shift to another character (consider the title) and focus on his typical morning. The two narratives eventually come together, of course, but I’m really fighting myself on if I want to have a two-page-and-a-paragraph first chapter or not, and how to properly handle this situation. What similar issues do you, fellow writers, run into?

If nothing else, this post should confirm something I already knew: I have a serious writing addiction, and I’m completely okay with that.

My conundrum of wanting to write versus being able to write

Or “I promised myself I would do a little writing every day, and I refuse to break that promise” with a dash of “I resigned myself to not being productive tonight, so I had to prove myself wrong somehow or another.”

I need to write. It’s a compulsion, bordering on a requirement for my very survival (careful, I’m already getting all dramatic about writing and it’s only one line in, because the sub-title doesn’t actually count). If I don’t give my worlds a stage, or my characters the proper chance to have voices, who will? I mean, yes, you could argue that there are only so many, or so few, actual stories, and everything just reworks them to some degree or another, and I would agree to some extent. It’s all in the presentation, I say in such a powerful statement of the obvious that people pointing out how the sky is blue seem to have discovered a brave, new world full of awe-inspiring truths. That sentence was probably a lot more fun to write than it is to read, I imagine. Continue reading

Manufacturing landscapes

Let me start by saying this much: this is my second to last week at my first-ever job, and it has been quite busy.  I finished my second of three 3p.m. to 10p.m. shifts in a row, which is a lot more tiring than I’d expected, and so writing’s been minimal at best.  Really minimal at best.  There’s an idea, drifting about in my brain, for a short horror story.

That much out of the way?  Good.  Thank god.  I hate whiny, personal-blog-stuff me.

I built a very large chunk of the world in “Joshua’s Nightmares” tonight at work (in my trusty red Moleskine notebook, actually).  It’s evolving into this big, amazing, surreal thing that I’m slowly falling in love with, which is dangerous for a writer because there’s always the risk it’s actually not nearly as good as I think it is.  However, I do have the good fortune of getting universally positive feedback so far.

Building worlds, when my brain permits such activities, is one of my favorite bits of writing (the top favorite being writing villains, which may very well get an entire series of posts dedicated to it and by may very well I mean it actually just will).  Sometimes the environment takes a backseat, like with Death at Teatime.  The location was irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, so there were just little glimpses of it with the bigger focus on the characters.

There’s just a tremendous joy in building something massive out of what could’ve started as a tiny detail, one little point in a vast landscape, and just going from there.

The Sleep State of “Joshua’s Nightmares” is turning into this massive, and hopefully highly-varied, mix of different locations that I hope will encompass the vast, bizarre realm of dreaming quite well.  A taste, just to tease readers of my blog with: there’s an entire landscape that exists in the sky of this world, linked to dreams about flying and such.

At any rate, I hope to get some writing done should I survive the remainder of the week.  And by the remainder of the week I mean the insane sale that’s going on tomorrow and Friday.