Writing: Backstory

This may never show up in the novel it is for. I don’t know. I kind of like the “start with some intriguing backstory of the world” introduction to a novel. I get mildly frustrated when it’s clear there is “known lore” in the world that the characters all just know but it takes the author AGES to finally tell ME (the reader). I also like a world-history deep enough people go “oooh, I want to see that story written out too.” Twelve hundred and eighty two years ago the great age of magic ended. It was called the magical bane; within minutes every man, woman and child with the mage talent died. Their spells unraveled, their magical compulsions snapped, and many magically created creatures escaped their enclosures. Deals with demons caused the greatest havoc as those deals were not ended properly, the demons did not get the souls of the magicians they had contracted with. No one knows how

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Writing: Auditory reading

Over Christmas time I re-listened to Going Postal and Making Money (Terry Pratchett). One of the reasons I love the audiobooks for Pratchett is his play on words. Pratchett doesn’t just use the English language. Pratchett abuses it in the best of ways, and his reader does a brilliant job capturing that. I also recently re-read Ready Player One and because I have listened to the audio book, there were parts I “heard” in Wil Wheaton’s voice. His tone, pronunciations, etc. I think a good reader does that, becomes the character’s voice and sticks with it. There are other books where the reader was not of such high importance. The only reason I know who reads Sanderson’s The Way of Kings series is because they read Wheel of Time and they are the only way I got through WOT was Kate and Michael’s reading it to me. I am listening to a book now called The Diviners and enjoying it. But

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Writing: Urban Fantasy

I’ve tried a few times to write urban fantasy. I find it less than fun even when I like my idea/character/etc. I recently was re-reading something I had written (in this genre) and reached the “damn, I wish I had finished this – I want to read the ending!” (of which there isn’t one) point. It made me start thinking about other urban fantasies. I see there being two styles to urban fantasy. There is the “Harry Potter” style where the magical and the “real” world never meet – and so there is this idea that WE are just “missing” what’s there. I think most urban fantasy seems to fall into this side – Dresden Files, City of Bones, etc. The protagonist finds out or was raised in a world with magic. It collides with the “real world” somehow (usually) and their attempt to be “normal” OR to escape “normal” people. IE, Harry would do anything not be like the

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Writing: Why is it a “Pilot”

I work in tech, and you hear a lot about “alpha builds” and “beta testing” and “pilot programs” – and the first two make perfect sense.  Alpha is first, beta is second.  It’s “pilot” that caught my attention the other day.  Why DO we call it a pilot?  TV shows have “pilot” episodes.  We have “pilot” groups in implementations.  Or “pilot programs” when testing new theories. So I turned to my trusty Google and found…. well, not a lot really.  I was sorely disappointed with the curiosity of Quora.  I was utterly let down by Wikipedia.  I turned to Dictionary.com and read through definitions (this is not 100% of the definitions, just 1 from each category): (n) a person duly qualified to steer ships into or out of a harbor or through certain difficult waters. (v) to lead, guide, or conduct, as through unknown places, intricate affairs, etc. (adj) serving as an experimental or trial undertaking prior to full-scale operation or use: a pilot project. Interesting…

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Writing: To Camp or Not to Camp

I have been writing every day most days for the past two weeks. It has felt wonderful and it makes me kind of want to push for a “50,000 words in 30 days” sort of month in June. I’m afraid to try as well because I will be returning to my daytime job from maternity leave and I have no idea what that is going to be like. So I am debating. Do I want to hold myself to something which without a new baby to juggle I’ve found challenging or not. I do like challenges, but I don’t like failing them (who does!). I could set a lesser challenge (that is part of the benefit of “Camp” NaNoWriMo). I could aim for 30,000 words (1,000 words a day). I could set an entirely alternative writing goal (write 16 chapters over the month). Decisions, decisions….

Writing: World Building vs. Plot

I’m going to confess. When I am plotting or world building the two tend to get very intermixed. I use my world building to help me define plot points and when I have a plot point I want to get to, I use the world to make it happen. I call this the troll-inn-escape. It’s a classic fantasy writing trope. The writer gets stuck so that night a troll bangs open the door of the inn. It can be lazy writing. “I don’t know what to do, TROLL!” Every time I read or watch that part of the first Harry Potter book (“there’s a troll in the dungeon!”) I wonder if Rowling was struggling to get Harry moving and used the troll-inn-escape. It also gives me hope that just because it’s a little lazy, it can be effective! My husband came downstairs one Saturday and found me with a bunch of post-it-notes and the wall. I was world building history

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Writing: Fanfiction or Not?

One of the blogs I really love is called QueryShark, an agent who will publicly dissect peoples’ query letters and gives advice. And puts it online to help everyone else see what they did right/wrong in their query letters. I find it very informative! Most of the time there is an idea to be supportive of a writer… Not this time. Seriously – read the query letter, read the blog comments, then read the comments from others at the bottom. In 2-3 years of watching this blog, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a harsh response from either the agent or the comments below. Now – I think there is cause for this. I think copyright is a big deal. So the difference between re-imagining something like Romeo and Juliet and well, anything written after 1924 is like the difference between a goldfish and a blue whale. Yes, size is part of the equation – but you are also talking about

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Writing: PVP vs. PVE

I am going to crossover my gaming and my writing. Let me begin by defining these two acronymns for any non-gamers. PVE is “Player vs. Environment” – almost all single-player games can be put in this category (I know if I say “all” someone will point out an exception – though I can’t think of one!). No matter how you slice it, the player is up “against” the environment the programmers have laid out. No matter what the story is, the computer-controlled characters have a very limited AI available to them to deal with the player. They have limited dialogue and boundaries in motion and thought. PVP is “Player vs. Player” – multiplayer games. Fighting games, all the of Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games like DOTA, Fortnite, and Smite. (All those games getting turned into esports). Players add a level of complexity game designers haven’t been able to duplicate – a creativity in the way the characters, tools, and world

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Writing: Death of the Author (Part 2)

Click here to read Part 1 Wondering why there is a part 2? Because I think this actually goes beyond merely literary critique. Let’s take an example: The Bible. One of the big areas I see this is around homosexuality. And it makes me see a little cross-eyed because every verse that gets brought up is brought up either without the cultural context of the time it was written and/or the linguistic context. I’m not going to break down all the verses (there are 6 and you can Google it for yourself). But when people talk about Sodom and Gomorrah they always talk about man-on-man sex. It ignores the custom that when you feed someone in your house (as Lot did), in that culture – you have taken on a responsibility to protect them. This is huge. I would compare it to spitting in someone’s face in today’s world. It is such a taboo you’ve probably never seriously considered it except

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