And the tension mounts

Isn’t technology grand? I can track the progress of the cable I ordered right to my door. This is the cable that (fingers crossed) will allow me to recover my Scrivener file and all of the juicy metadata for my books and get back to NaNoWriMo-ing.

Back in the old day I would have been content to patiently wait for it’s delivery. Instead I’m obsessively refreshing web pages as if the driver could feel me poking her.

Doesn’t technology suck?

In other news, I received a new cover proof from the incomparable Mareta Pettigrew showing the title text enhancement. It’s perfect – no more text fade with the dark background and it looks floaty the way I wanted. Once she paints that in I will have completed cover art.


crappy paint shop option 3


Writer’s block remediation – POV shift

I’m fairly lucky in that I don’t run into writer’s block very often. Generally I have the opposite problem – I can’t get things down fast enough and I lose them. That said, I do still get it from time to time. I’ll know where the story is going but have no idea how to get there, or I’ll have written myself into a corner and can’t see a handy window to crawl out of.

Like every other writer I have my arsenal of weapons ready to launch hale and hearty combat against the WB monster. One of the most effective for me is a POV shift.

Take the last scene, or the next one, and write it from an unexpected perspective. If your narrative is a 1st person adventure, let the hero sit for a bit and examine the story through the eyes of the villain’s henchman. Take the least defined character in a group and see what things look like to them.

For me this will not only spear the WB right through its black heart, it also opens up entirely new parts of the story. Even if the exercise never gets into the manuscript it adds depth and flavor to the story in my head, and that works its way onto the paper through richness and negative space storytelling.

What weapons do you wield when the WB comes haunting?

The good, the bad, the ugly, the other bad, the irritating, etc…

The bad news: Desktop is dead.
The other bad news: I didn’t back up my Scrivener file for Ages of the Seed (that’s all of the books I’m working on)*.
The irritating news: Best Buy does not actually carry anything any longer to actually work on a PC.
The good news: Finally got my new desk set up.
The other good news: Got Scrivener to work on Alana’s laptop.
The happy news: Found what I need to recover the desktop hard-drive for under $10 on Amazon.

Trying to work on AOS without my Scrivener metadata is maddening. I’ll be doing some fairy tale conversions for insertion purposes until I get my meta back (probably Tuesday).

* Totally know how stupid this was. Already heard all of the comments, mostly from myself.

Call for action – Early Reader Feedback (ERF) needed for Weavers draft

I will be ready to distribute the 1st draft of Weavers (Ages of the Seed, Vol 1) for early reader feedback by Friday 11/27.

The purpose of early reader feedback is to give basic impressions on story, plotlines, characters and environments before I begin the extensive second draft of the work. Continue reading “Call for action – Early Reader Feedback (ERF) needed for Weavers draft”

How to write a Fairy Tale

First, recognize that there is nothing fairy about a Fairy Tale. Our forbears came up with this term because before Disney, fairies were terrifying. They were the bump in the night, the terrors of the unknown, the font of darkness. Fairy tales are meant as cautions; to guide and control. They are a social construct and if done well they are the truly timeless tales – told and told again, maturing and altering over time. Fairy tale archetypes form the base of every character we write and the classic versions of them are modified for every generation.

You will be hard pressed to find any modern book, movie, tv show or broadcast where you cannot find a comparable fairy tale that is their progenitor. These stories form a cultural base that transcends generations.

“And the moral of the story is” is a common thing because yeah, these were most often tales told to teach or impress moral values.

Second, write a fairy tale.

It’s not hard. These are some of the very most basic elements of storytelling. About all you need are:
1) What is the moral lesson?
2a) How horrifically can I show somebody failing to learn that lesson? /or
2b) How cleverly can my protagonist outwit the test?

Note that those are the only real options available. Learn the lesson through failure (and usually a grisly end), or figure out the lesson and use it to outwit the antagonist. Somebody has to lose. The lesson/moral always wins.

I’m particularly fond of taking modern tales and converting them into fairy tales. The Monster Under the Bed. Bloody Mary. The bloodier the tale, the easier it is to convert. Fairy tales are brutal. Hmmm… This should probably have been a number. Okay: Third. Fairy tales are brutal because they were socially imperative messages meant to stick. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal. Don’t kill. See a pattern here? Fairy tales teach things critical to the function and wellbeing of social groupings.

Look Fourth on modern fairy tales. Take any modern horror and you will probably see one. For example, last night (this morning? forgot to go to bed, sorry) I converted the Bloody Mary myth. All I had to do was change the POV to Mary. Suddenly it’s a cautionary tale against adultery instead of an unsourced horror in the mirror.

Modern horror movies are our fairy tales. So do the above with any horror movie. Most of them were intended for it. Some examples:

Slender Man: Stranger danger
Jason Vorhees: Adultery (initially)
Alien: Rape
Final Destination: Fate v choice
Jigsaw: Purgatory
Freddy Kruger: Masturbation (initially)
The Others: Adultery. Again. There are a lot about adultery. Sex sells.

Fourth, get religious. Okay, that’s not actually necessary. But look at religions. In Western culture almost all of our fairy tales tie to bibilical or primary European pagan beliefs, because that’s what we have carried from generation to generation. It’s the same in the East, North and South. The Christian Bible is a massive field of ready to convert fairy tales. So are the works of every other religion, and for the very same reasons.

Hit wikipedia. Look up an obscure religion and migrate a myth to New York City’s Central Park. Voila. Modern fairy tale. And possibly a Hollywood blockbuster. Hollywood loves Central Park.

Magnum Opus Idea: Convert King James to fairy tales. Win all the money.

Fifth, stop with the happy endings! Unless it is ironic or promotes a DIFFERENT moral lesson than the expected one a happy ending destroys the intent of the tale. Fairy tales are supposed to be scary so they stick with you and are memorable. Fairy tales are the rod we use to literaturally* beat morals into the next generation. Happy endings don’t stick. Or rod. We were using rod before, right? I’m losing my metaphor here.

Anywho, stop with Disney** endings is what I’m saying. That only works for the princess crowd, which is an entirely different audience from the fairy tale crowd.

So go write one. They are short and exceptionally fulfilling. And everybody lives happily ever after, right?


But that’s okay because it is what makes them work.

* Literaturally – (wordified) Accomplished using the written word.
** Disney puts out great stories, the last fairy tale they made was Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

[Post cleaned up 11/14]

Old problem just remembered

I’ve been out of blogging for years and this site is just starting my return. I have quickly been reminded of one of the most awesome and dangerous things about the blogosphere. As I am meeting people here and being introduced to their works, I WANT TO READ EVERYTHING.

Y’all are awesome and I’m in a happy place. 😀

Also, I’m super glad I’m ahead of target for NaNoWriMo because y’all are just slaying my productivity now.

This used to be awesome. Why does it suck now?

So I have gone back to my draft of Weavers, to refresh myself in preparation to incorporate a bunch of dialogue written separately. When I finished the draft a month ago it was the best thing I’d ever written. Somehow in the weeks since then it became a pile of suck.

I am beginning to see why they recommend letting draft 1 sit for a while before you go back to it. I see so much in there that needs fixing that I didn’t recognize while writing it.

Now I’m trying to resist editing the whole thing while I work in the dialogues.

How do you build a character?

My characters tend to pop out and develop in one of two ways.

  1. Simple – I need an archetype character for a scene. I’ll take the extract characteristics for the archetype, trash what I don’t like about it, and add inconsistencies. Voila, minor character complete(ish). This allows for quick generation without the ‘archetype clone’ feel.
  2. Complex – For characters who will stick around a bit I want much more depth. For these I generally start by throwing them into the story and seeing how they swim. Once I’ve written a bit of them and have some dialog/activity to look at I figure out WHY they said and did those things. That then forms the character base; the things that I need to do consistently with the character.

Let me show what I mean. This is the opening for a chapter in Makers. Tyche is an established character en route with a caravan. I needed 2 people around a campfire with him so took advantage of this to introduce Muril, who will be a recurring (complex) character. I had no idea what to do for the other guy but figured Tyche had to be riding in a coach so poof – coach driver Dobbs.

Dobbs is a simple character, a quickly defined coachman. I decide he’s an independent, not part of the caravan owner’s people. He’s gruff, has an outrageous accent and a gambling problem.

Muril I just let happen at this point.

“An then ye add oop ol the cairds wi the same suit. And then ye double check Muril’s numbers. Te sonofabitch cain’t add fer shite.” So saying, the coach driver threw his cards down onto the pot and said “Fer en twenny”.

“Twenty seven” the aforementioned Muril said, tossing his cards onto the table. “And I add just fine, Dobbs. I can about do it from the marks on the backs of your cards.” Muril turned to Tyche as he raked in the pot. “Well then, sirrah. Stake is 5 chits. Are you in?”

“I think it would hardly be fair” Tyche responded.

“Muril’s jest tryin to rile me. The cairds are true” interjected the coachman.

“Be that as it may, with only 41 cards it would be frightfully simple to determine what is in each players’ hand. It would not be gambling so much as collecting a tithe.”

Muril laughed heartily. “Well then how could you refuse such simple coin? Come on then, man. I have most of Dobb’s money to lose. It’s not like there’s better entertainment available.”

“Very well” answered Tyche. “But please maintain your composure as the game progresses.”

After this I went back and looked deeper at Muril. I decided he knew Dobbs before this trip so I can infer from just that tidbit plus his actions above:

  • He knows Dobbs has a gambling problem. That means Muril is knowingly taking advantage of him. This speaks to his jovial nature being somewhat misleading.
  • Muril is a bit sneaky and preys on weakness.
  • He’s beating Dobbs, who has (presumably) some extensive experience with the game they are playing. So Muril is intelligent and perceptive, traits that do well for a roguish character and fit well with what I eventually want him to do.
  • He banters and speaks well. I decide he is at least fairly charismatic.
  • Why is he trying to get Tyche to play? To win more money or something deeper? I decided it was both. He’s an opportunist so responds to possible additional winnings. Since he is perceptive I figure he has noticed some of Tyche’s oddities and wants to find out more. That makes him a very curious man, something that also fits in well with where I want him to go later.

So I end up with a character with a strong core, an-archetypal, that I can base consistent future actions on as he continues to develop.

Where do your characters come from?