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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Join the official Write Your Novel this Summer Challenge

Hey everyone, it’s my first reblog lol. It sounds like a neat idea. You should check this out, especially if you’re looking for some motivation to write.

Write on the World

I recently wrote a blog post in which I discussed author Stephen King’s view that you should never take more than a season to write a novel. In that post, I posed a challenge to my readers to “write your novel this summer.” I’ve been thinking about this challenge, and I think it might be fun to make it a real “thing.”

How cool would it be if a bunch of us banded together to support each other in knocking out that first draft of the novels we’ve all been meaning to get around to? It could be kind of like NaNoWriMo, only we get an entire season rather than just one month. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to write a novel in one month, November is just about the worst month of the year to do it in!

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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Personal Project – Fire and Stone: The Stage, Basics.

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Your plot is like a stage, your characters the cast, and your plot is the script.
A story with only the last two has nothing on which to stand.

Setting is paramount to a story, and as any fantasy author knows this is especially true in this genre. When writing the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Tolkien spent years devising worlds, cities, languages, and cultures all for the sake of his stories. The same goes for Brandon Sanderson, who crafted an entire solar system in which his stories take place (look up the Cosmere and you’ll see what I mean). Ursula K Le Guin, Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, George R.R. Martin, and many other great fantasy authors devote their writing not only to the plot and characters but to the world itself. Though their worlds vary one thing is for certain: the setting is paramount if the story is to get off the ground.

Hence, when I created Fire and Stone, the first thing I created was a stage. Thus the Two Cities came into fruition.

The Two Cities – A Legend

Nearly a century ago, the Two Cities were once one. Bound by the teachings of The Savior, known as the Will of Fire and Stone, their society came out of barbarism. Eventually a war broke out, and the city was split in both people and ideology.

To the east, a society known as Romanica was born.
To the west, a society known as Al-Hascio was born.

The Two Cities: An Overview

The story takes place in a massive forest. And when I say massive, I mean that if you climb to the top of a tree and look out, you’ll see more forest. The forest itself is extremely dense, so much so that almost no light escapes the canopy. Those who live in the Two Cities avoid the forest, for its inhabitants are the source of many superstitions and mysteries.

The Two Cities themselves are about 10 sq miles (16 sq km), and are currently undergoing a transition. With the invention of farming and smithing, the Two Cities are in the dawning of an Iron Age, and with it all the social unrest and anxiety that brings.

Though they share a common beginning, the two societies are different in both management, culture, and magic. Decades of isolationism tend to do that with relationships, no matter how close they once were. Observe:

Romanica: The Society

Will of Fire

“The Fire Sigil”
Romanica’s Offical Symbol

Romanica is a Theocratic Matriarchy. In essence, they are a deeply religious society in which the political and social norms are determined by females in power. The citizens are devout followers of the Will of Fire, and attend a weekly mass held in the city’s tallest structure: The Ivory Tower.

The most powerful woman in Romanica is the Noru, who is also the head of the Fire Clergy. She, like the Pope, is the ultimate say in the religious goings on that encompass the society. As the political leader she is the final say in every economic, legislative, and judicial proceeding. You can probably guess she has a lot on her shoulders.

Inherent to their society is a magic called “The Inner Fire” in which practitioners can use their emotions to summon flames and keep themselves warm. This magic is not unlimited as the body uses one’s hydration as fuel for the flame. In addition, one’s own control of their emotions determines one’s ability to control the fire, for the soul acts as a spark for the flames.

Al-Hascio: The Society

"The Five Paths" Al-Hascio's Official Symbol

“The Five Paths”
Al-Hascio’s Official Symbol

Al-Hascio is a Democratic society built into a nearby lone mountain. Those who live here were the descendants of those who instigated the War of Fire and Stone, and as such they hold great pride in their history. Built on the Will of Stone, the other half of The Savior’s Teachings, these people fought for their freedom from the Noru and the Fire Clergy, and now live within a mining society.

True to their symbol, everyone lives within one of five “paths”, or careers. The five paths are: Scholar, Guardian, Politician, Mason, and Labor, though not all paths fit neatly into one category (for example Teacher falls between Scholar and Guardian.) Children in this society are raised in such a way that they experience what it’s like to live in all five paths. When they come of age they are expected to marry and choose a path from which to serve the city.

Within their city are gemstones called Sceon. When touched, these dull blue gems steal warmth from whoever makes contact with them and glow brighter for every bit of warmth they took. They have the consistency of gems but are oddly malleable and capable of being grafted into everyday tools. Doing so enhances the tool’s properties (a metal knife can easily cut through stone, a hammer hits with more force, etc.). When not being a tool these stones act as a renewable light source for the cavern dwelling people of Al-Hascio.

Final Thoughts

I have much more I could put down here but I would rather not, seeing as the Word Doc for this is over 40 pages. Instead I consider this to be an acceptable starting point for these places.

I can’t say I knew exactly what I was basing these from but I can say I had a lot of help from peers. I asked my History and Anthropology friends what all is necessary to make a society, as well as looked into cultures myself. Any blanks were filled in by going to websites like The Seventh Sanctum or Hiveworld. This information served me well, and hopefully it would do the same for you.

So that’s some insight into the world of Fire and Stone. Do you all like to make worlds of your own? Do you think worldbuilding is necessary when your story takes place in the real world? What do you like most about worldbuilding?

On Friday i’m going to post some basic info on the cast of Fire and Stone. Until then, happy writing everyone.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2013 in My Writing, Uncategorized

 

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News of the Week (6/23/13) + Fire and Stone – An Introduction

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As some of you may know, I’m attending a Publishing Institute in Denver this upcoming month. To say i’m excited for this new adventure would be a massive understatement. During my time there, I will learn the ins and outs of the publishing world and meet with people from every walk of the printed word.

In honor of this, from July to Mid-August my blog will focus on publishing terminology, news, and information, all the while acting as a bit of a diary for my experiences. I promise it’ll be worth your time to stick with it, as I plan on engaging in quite a few shenanigans in the Mile-High City.

Before that happens, I have a treat for you all:

During my last year of undergrad I wrote a novel for my Senior Project. I’m still in the revising stages, but for the most part it’s complete. This project is called Fire and Stone, and for the next three posts before Denver i’ll give you a little insight.

So what is Fire and Stone?

It’s a story set in a world barely pushing into the Iron Age. The setting takes place in a world called “The Two Cities,” in which two vastly different societies live surrounded by miles of forest and mist. Magic is present, and while I have set rules, the people themselves don’t quite understand it yet. Mystical creatures of my design populate this world but the real crux of the story are the characters.

I could go on, but i’ll save that for the next post. After all, what’s the fun in giving all the answers right away?

Until next time. Have a good day y’all.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Trope Discussion – The Love Triangle

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Alex loves Betty.
Carl loves Betty.
Betty cares for both.
Alex and Carl want her to choose.
She can’t because she doesn’t want to hurt them.
Drama/Hilarity ensues.

The Love Triangle, one of the many tropes that act as a double edged sword.

I’m not going to sugar coat my feelings: At one point in time I considered this trope is more trouble than it’s worth. People I knew often defended it by saying stuff like “this happens in real life” and “you can’t help who you fall in love with.” True as that may be, anyone who has actually lived a love triangle knows how frustrating this can be. Whether you’re on the pining or pined for end, a love triangle brings about a certain level of stress no matter the outcome.

The other issue that concerns me is that this trope is often used as “1 can’t chose between 2 and 3” when in reality this trope can be endless in it’s execution.

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For your consideration. The arrows show which way love is being given.

As shown above, the Love Triangle can be done multiple ways, and it has. Some notable examples are as follows:

2) Berserk, between Guts, Griffith, and Casca.
3) Archie Comics, Betty and Veronica to Archie.
4) The Wedding Singer, Where Julia and Glenn are engaged, but Robbie likes Julia.
5) Naruto, Naruto likes Sakura, Sakura likes Sasuke.
6) Wheel of Time, Elayne and Min over Rand.
7) Scott Pilgrim, where Scott dates both Ramona and Knives.

And so on and so forth. As you can tell, the examples and ways a Love Triangle can be handled is nearly infinite. Hence, my issue with this trope is not it’s existence but in it’s execution. When done well, it reveals an underlying strength or flaw the characters possess, and enriches the story with it’s multi-layered facet. When done poorly, it serves as pointless drama and does nothing short of aggravate everyone in the room.

So, fellow writers, should you choose to execute this trope, keep these things in mind:

  • This trope is highly volatile, and must be handled with care.
  • In real life this trope causes several issues, so keep them in mind at all times.
  • There are many paths this can take, as long as there are three it counts.
  • It’s been done to death, so be aware of cliches.

Keep this in mind and i’m sure both your sanity, your readers, and your characters will appreciate it.
—-

I spent this article explaining why this trope can be volatile so what tropes seem problematic for you? In what way? What’s the most common love triangle you’ve noticed? Is any one of them your favorite? Keep in mind this can be done for laughs, so how would you make them sound funny?

With that, have a nice day.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Advice, On Writng, Tropes

 

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Trope Discussion – The Father Figure

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Dedicated to my dad.

Ah “The Father”.

The character archetype that often overlaps with “The Mentor” and “The Old Friend.” They’re the male figure, always older, who exists to give guidance and motivation to the hero. Occasionally they turn out to be the villain, giving the protagonist an emotional as well as physical conflict. Whatever their role, “The Father” will be there to make sure the Hero/Heroine stays on the path of good and virtue.

Father’s day has me thinking about this trope because my own is like this trope incarnate. All throughout my life I thought about my father and how I’d picture a wise old sage stroking his beard while giving me advice from a mountain top. He was also my wrestling coach, so while I trained to fight the bad guy (read: other wrestlers) he was there to guide my training. As a person who loves to over analyze things, I often liken the events in my life as story elements, to which my father fulfills the role of “The Father Figure.”

Sounds cliched right? Well you wouldn’t be the only person who felt that way (read: me), but perhaps this is why tropes exist. If you feel this is a bit oversimplified stay tuned, I promise I have a point to all this.

I went to a public high school, which often meant I dealt with some colorful characters. There is something fascinating, looking back at the various cast members that composed your high school life. Like a good story should, I learned about these people and found out just how different other human beings are. In particular, I met a guy who we’ll call Ramon freshman year of high school.

Ramon was a fellow wrestler on my team, two years older, who occasionally chatted it up with me. During one of our chats we talked about our team and he told me: “Yeah, Coach is like a father to me.” In this instance Coach meant my dad, and by the look of his face he realized what he said. Intrigued I asked him what he meant while stupidly not catching on to his nervousness.

“Well… it’s weird you see… I like… Coach is like a dad to me… I mean I know he’s your dad, but he acts like a dad to me.”

At that moment I had an epiphany, but of what I didn’t quite understand. It wasn’t until the next year when another fellow wrestler said the same thing. See, my entire life I always saw my own dad as a father figure, and rightfully so, but that’s not always the case. In fact. sometimes the “The Father Figure” in your life can be someone with absolutely no blood relation.

Looking back on it, it seems like a “no duh” moment but at the time the discovery was quite profound. Soon enough I likened it to other characters in shows, most of whom lacked a living parent to be the father figure. Take Obi-Wan Kenobi, for example.

Throughout Luke Skywalker’s life he heard about this crazy dude named Ben Kenobi (great alias right? I mean seriously…). In spite of the rumors the farm boy has nothing but respect for the man who watched over him and nurtured his dreams and powers. Yeah he was a bit kooky, but you can’t deny the man was a source of guidance and virtue. Even in death the man gave him great advice.

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Okay… mostly good advice.

And how about Simba? The dude was raised by three different dads and he turned out okay.

What I’m getting at here is that a Father Figure isn’t always a dad. It can be a teacher, a coach, one of the last of the Jedi, or a couple of guys who save you after being chased by hyenas. The archetype, as it applies to our life, is that any male character who seeks to give guidance and aid can be a “father,” and we should be mindful of that. In the same way an adopted dad and a real dad can love their child, the “Father Figure” trope could apply to many people in our lives, and not just one.

So the next time you wonder if a character needs a mentor, but doesn’t get along with their dad, remember not all “Father FIgures” are fathers. “Father” is less of a classification and more of a title. Keep this in mind on this Father’s Day, for you might have more than one Father Figure in your life right now. I know I will and do.

So how do you approach the Father Figure archetype? Are they a mentor? Are they a good mentor? Do your characters have more than one, or are they a Father Figure to someone else? Any and all comments below are welcome, and don’t be afraid to comment.
I hope you all have had a wonderful Father’s Day, and have celebrated accordingly.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2013 in On Writng, Tropes, Uncategorized

 

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Music and Writing – Reclaiming a Lost Habit

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Story Time:
When I was in sixth grade I wrote a paper on the make up of an atom. Originally it was to be a project on atomic bombs but, for some strange reason, I found the tiny catalysts for the explosion more fascinating than the explosion itself. Anyhow, while doing this I listened to my favorite classic rock mix cd and cranked the paper out in a short couple of hours.

At this point in my life my godfather was my editor. If I were to liken him to any fictional character, he’d be most like Pai Mei from Kill Bill. Repetition, high standards, and unflinching bluntness with his criticism were the norm. Often times the paper I turned in was the 23rd or 24th draft of whatever I had written because he wanted to make sure I did well.

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As such, it came as no surprise that, when I handed him this paper, he threw it on the table and said, “it’s crap.”

I rolled my eyes and asked, “why is it crap?” After listing some of the issues he had with it he pointed to my headphones and said:

“Overall, your paper reads like it was a drudgery to write, and I’m sure those didn’t help.” He then explained how rock changes tempo and beats between verses and choruses (chori?) in a manner not conducive to study habits.

From that point on I refused to listen to music while doing my homework. It wasn’t easy for a kid who rocked out to his Walkman everyday but I managed. Soon enough music and writing diverged entirely.

Eventually I came to college and befriended a guy named Cooper. He’s the kind of person who memorizes minute details with such clarity that he was probably a forensic scientist in a past life. What surprised me most about him was his work ethic, for he was the only person I’ve ever known to finish two, ten page, research papers in the span of a week. He was like a writing machine, and I had no idea how he did it.

Well one day he invited me to his room and we studied Latin together. In the background he played everything from instrumental rock to show tunes. Mid study I asked him,

“Doesn’t this hurt your productivity?”

To which he replied:

“Nah, it helps me think. It’s good for a morale.”

Now, after three years of undergrad, I wonder how I got through any assignments without music.

So what changed? Well, to be honest, I have absolutely no idea. At first I thought it was a change in age but according to the Mental Floss’s article “Can classical music make you smarter?” it’s just a myth.

Then I thought maybe my musical tastes had changed. That was quickly thrown out the window when i recalled the time I shared ear buds with a friend and she said “You’re the only person I know who likes both System of a Down and Bach.”

So does it have to do with temperament? Perhaps the reason I’m writing makes music conducive? But then why does music help me write both stories and research papers? I honestly don’t know what the difference is, but since that meeting with Cooper I realized how important music is to me.

Music has been a part of my life ever since my mom and dad sang me to sleep. I grew up with vinyl records playing in my household and I got my first stereo when I was 3. Rock and Roll stirred my imagination when I was a kid, and continued to do so to this day.

My mp3 player contains everything from Classical to Dubstep to J-Pop. I look back on those years and wonder if all those hours spent without music were wasted time.

In spite of all this uncertainty I can say for sure that, for me right now, writing and music go hand in hand like the peanut butter and banana sandwich I had for breakfast this morning. And like the rock and roll mix cd I made back then, which i’m listening to now, it’s as awesome as I once recalled.

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So how does music work for you? Do you like a lot or a little? Can you listen to anything while you write or does it have to be a certain type of music?

Leave your comments below, and have a fantastic Friday!

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Fear of Writing – How to put words on the paper

 

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Hey everyone, sorry for the massively late update.

If you’re like me then you’re a twenty something year old individual who spent most of his life in school. And, if you’ve experienced that, chances are you know what it’s like to procrastinate like crazy. In my last post I talked about the benefits of procrastination but keep in mind that even research needs to be kept on check.

I once read that, as an Aquarius, I am one who lives an Ivory Tower existence. In essence: I spend all my time looking out the top of my window and pontificate the meaning of existence and all that entails. All the while, the room remains unswept, the dishes pile up, and I never get any visitors because I smell like I haven’t bathed in years. In summary, if unchecked, I am doomed to the life of a smelly, unlikeable bore.

While I don’t take astrology seriously, I did find this to be an issue in my life. Too often had I told myself, “I’ll write after this episode,” and, fifteen episodes later, it’s twelve in the morning and I’ve no ambition to write. Either that, or I spent so much time “researching” that I never make the time to write.

This past year I knew this behavior wouldn’t fly, and I decided to make a change. I planned to write every single day, and to make progress even if it was just a few paragraphs. However, as someone who had never written on this scale before, how does one get to writing something as big as a novel?

Well, after weeks of never getting past the first page, my process boiled down to two rules.

Rule Number 1

At least 500 words a day.

When put into a word document, five hundred words comes out to about three, three sentence paragraphs. Honestly this can be a great exercise in and of itself because, not only are you writing, but you have three sentences to write what you want. You can get a lot accomplished, as I demonstrated with this paragraph.

Rule Number 2

Just Write

I could spend hours talking about how I would retroactively correct my writing. I could tell you about the many days I spent starting with a blank screen and, after hundreds of black printed letters, ended with a screen as blank as my grasp of Calculus. I could do that, or I could just write what I’m thinking and be done with it.

Part of the issue with writing is we want to get it right the first time. We want to make what’s in our heads be translated perfectly on the page. However, if you’ve ever tried that with a drawing, you’ll find that’s not always the case. Sometimes it takes more than one shot to write what you meant, but you’ll never find out what you need until you have a foundation. As I said in “Shitty First Draft,” that is your foundation.

That is all I have to offer: two simple rules. They carried me through all 309 pages of my Senior Project and I hope it serves you as well. If it doesn’t, well… I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

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So how do you guys get to writing? Do you just write? What inspires you to write? Do you have rules for your first draft?

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Advice, On Writng

 

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