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Category Archives: The Journey into Fantasy

Sample chapters, short stories, and scenes

Revision, Revision, Revision

 

 

 

 

There! I’ve added the scenes that needed to be added to complete character arcs. I’ve included “showing” details and cleaned up the timeline. I’ve given the characters depth and conflict. Strong action verbs replaced adverbs and weak phrases. I even think a spell check happened somewhere!

Is it ready to go to beta readers for review? I want to say yes. But, a nagging feeling is telling me to go through it again. I know I could add a scene or two to help explain a few things. However, I’m afraid it might slow the pacing to a crawl and wouldn’t really add to the story. So, I set the draft aside for a month and worked on a different project.

After I had worked on the new story with a different setting and cast of characters for a few weeks, I found myself thinking about my draft in the drawer. From a high level, I asked myself, “Does the story flow well? Are the characters interesting? Are there any holes?”

The next time I opened the laptop (“Drawer”), the draft came up and, starting at the beginning, I read the whole story in one sitting. There were a couple spots where I felt jarred by the dialogue. A couple more where characters seemed a bit flat. I placed comments in the margins and kept going. When I finished reading, I realized I stilled liked the story. Not sure if that is good or bad!

The result of the reading is that I am going to take one more pass at it before I send it out for a real critique. I’ll be hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

 

 

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Story Plot Grist Mill

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As writers, we should see ideas everywhere. They can come out of the most surprising places or something mundane can trigger that creative spark.

Over the last 60 days, I have quit my job of 20 years, accepted the job of a lifetime, sold my house, bought a new house, started the new job and survived the first week of orientation. All without losing my mind or my temper. But, more important, there has been no fewer then eight ideas for story scenes pop into my head based on the situations I’ve been dealing with.

For example: I was sitting at a bar having a going away lunch with a dear friend. I ordered a glass of Macallan 12 year scotch with one cube. Except that instead of “cube” it came out of my mouth as “stone”. The young female bartender with the face of an angel smiled and asked, “Would ice be okay?” Realizing my poor choice of words, I apologized for confusing her.

Her eyes twinkled as she replied, “You’re going to make me cry.”

My friend quickly recommended, “You should go into the freezer to cry so that your tears make him some special ice cubes.”

At this point my overactive imagination took over and the next five minutes, I “think wrote” a scene for an upcoming short story involving a beautiful barkeep, a character ordering a drink with one stone and some ice made from the tear of a goddess. The scene will be the catalyst some unusual story lines.

My friend, who is also my alpha reader, laughed until she cried at the way the scene came together. She had never seen me do that before and has been wondering how I worked.

Every personal interaction can be tweaked a bit and used as the groundwork for your story. Maybe the arrogant moving company agent turns into the guild master who doesn’t realize he’s dealing with a master assassin. Perhaps the talkative real estate agent makes the perfect noble fop to obtain intelligence from on the royal court.

The bottom line is this: keep your eyes and other senses open because you never know where the next interesting idea will come from.

 

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777 Writer’s Challenge

It is hard to ignore a challenge. Especially one laid down by the lovely and talented owner of Sara Kjeldsen Writes. The challenge is pretty simple. Just open your current work in progress, go to the seventh line of the seventh page, and post the next seven sentences. Easy, peasy. Then tag seven other writers and challenge them to do the same. Not so easy.

After I read these seven sentences, i laughed. I was surprised that it took seven pages to get my protagonist into this much hot water. Anyway, He has a habit of biting off more than he can chew. So, here goes.

I stopped in mid-stride and slowly turned to face the most powerful wizard west of the Mississippi. She still stood behind the bar. Her eyes were wide with surprise but, she quickly recovered her composure.  Red sparks flashed from her casting rod. She flicked her hand and I heard the front door locks slam into place. Some of the patrons began to object, preferring to leave before two wizards began dueling. But, it was way too late for that.

Now a few author’s who should have something to offer up:

Kate Johnson

Scott Weber

Matthew Wright – He says he has some new fiction in the works, which I’m dying to read.

Corey MP

AnnMarie Wyncoll

 

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Free at Last!

“Ha, ha! I’m free at last, free at last!!!”

Free at Last!!

Free at Last!!\

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Finally! That wretched creature you call the Domestic CEO released me from my plastic coffin. Stuffed in there with effigies of witches, pumpkins and candy corn, I’ve been in mass graves with fewer occupants. I thought I was your writing partner? Huh? Wasn’t that what we agreed to?”

“Uh…yes it was but, I didn’t realize she packed you away until it was too late to come find you. Besides, I knew you’d make an appearance about this time.”

“Some friend you are! Hey, you’ve been busy. The stories coming along and I like the twist…”

“Hush, Nabob! don’t give it away.”

“Okay, okay. But look at that section in the beginning with the entire cast. Now that really needs some work. What were you thinking?”

“Well, I was trying to keep the story moving forward and kind of glossed over it. I knew I’d come back and fix it later.”

“It’s time to get it done, Writer.”

“Not quite yet, Nabob. I still need to finish the last three scenes.”

“Oh yeah. Shitty first draft and all that, right?”

“Right.”

So, Writer, where are you at?”

“I’m in the middle of the big fight scene where Derek and Amy are …”

“Good to be back, Writer.”

“Good to have you back, Nabob.”

 

 
 

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Once upon a time…

Once upon a time... Public domain image

Once upon a time…                                   Public domain image

If you have ever read folk tales, fairy tales, or fantasy stories of any kind, you have heard the words, “Once upon a time…” The purpose of the fantasy writer, and any writer for that matter is to transport the reader to another time and place. Can you think of four words that do a better job of opening the reader’s mind? The essence of this opening evokes the reader’s mind to journey to a land far away and usually a long time ago. The ‘Once” would indicate that the story only occurred one time. And, since most end with, “They lived happily ever after.” it would seem that the conflict that created the story was gone forever.

For the folk tales and fairy tales of old, This was a great way to open the story. Any time we heard that phrase we were prepared, and still are prepared to be transported to something special. We have talked about opening lines before and how important they are. However, the fantasy genre has evolved and expanded. Paranormal and horror have melded with fantasy. Vampires and werewolves have taken over for elves, halflings, and dwarves.

Urban fantasy has exploded. Every major city and more than a few minor ones have been converted into the hunting grounds for the above mentioned vampires and Lycans, as well as, zombies, wizards, demons, druids, fae, dragons, and yes, even elves. Writing about fantasy in the current modern world created some interesting challenges for writers. How to invoke that sense of wonder and departure from reality in a way the reader would believe.  

Take Jim Butcher’s epic urban fantasy series, The Dresden Files. In the first book Butcher uses the entire first page to introduce The main character. The new mailman can’t believe the sign outside Harry Dresden’s office. It says, ‘Harry Dresden, Wizard’. You see Harry is the only practicing wizard in the Chicago phone book. Butcher puts it in your face on the first page and you either accept it or not. but from that point on you know you are reading a fantasy story set in contemporary Chicago, Illinois.

Where Butcher uses a page, others still try it with one sentence. For example, let’s take the opening line from Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, “There are many perks to living for twenty-one centuries, and foremost among them is bearing witness to the rare birth of genius.” Okay. We will be dealing with a person who was alive and fought with Genghis Khan. You think this is a fantasy story? And even though I am not a fan of vampire stories, this opening line to Jaye Wells’ “Red-headed Stepchild” had me for the duration of the series. “Digging graves is hell on a manicure, but I was taught good vampires clean up after every meal.” This vampire does NOT sparkle! But, she does have a great sense of humor.

So, what can we do to urbanize the classic opening, “Once upon a time…?” Granted it’s not as flashy but what about…

“Right now, in a city near you.”

 
11 Comments

Posted by on March 13, 2014 in The Journey into Fantasy

 

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Fantasy tidbits

Today I am guest posting for follow blogger byjhmae. I was surprised when she asked me. But I jumped at the chance. She always has an interesting take on writing and current issues. If you have not already dropped by her blog, do so. You will not be disappointed. And today, you would get the added pleasure of hearing more from me. 😉

As the title suggests I talk about how fantasy and bringing different spiritual cultures together can create conflict. There are also a few other tidbits on fantasy writing and magic systems. Enjoy.

Fantasy – the purest form of fiction

 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 12, 2013 in The Journey into Fantasy

 

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And then the trouble starts! A and W Part VII

This is a scene from a story that started as a writing exercise, My Scene. It is a series of flash pieces that are the beginnings of my current WIP.. This scene happens later in the story than the previous posts though it didn’t start that way. It just made sense as I wrote it that it would be more of a turning point.  This will probably be the last installment I post of this story for a variety of reasons. Mostly, I don’t want you to see too much more of it before it starts going into revision.

A quick background: I am Derek Nantan, a North American Marshal in the service of the Pentacle. My territory ranges from the continental divide in the west to roughly Chicago in the east. I was tasked with helping Amy Hatcher, an Oscar-winning actress, by ridding her of a stalker that a local shaman suspects to be a warlock.

The door rolled open a foot on well oiled tracks. Even so, it made more noise than I would have liked. I slipped through the opening and into the darkness beyond. The faint scent of burning chocolate over the smell of horses and manure, told me someone or something was using magic. There was a pale green glow coming from the stables. It provided just enough light so I could pick my way through the vehicles and equipment stored at this end of the barn.  

I passed by the tack room and as I approached the stables, I saw a horse rear up in its stall. However, I didn’t hear any sound at all coming from the stables. I stayed close to the wall on my left side. My stalking walk was all but silent under the worst of conditions so, I was not worried about being heard. The horse continued to buck and crash into the sides of the stall until one of the stable gates opened and a man stepped out into the glow. His shoulders stood above the top of the gate and from that distance he seemed tragically thin. Long dark hair partially covered an angular face as he walked toward me. The grey sweatshirt hung from his shoulders and barely reached the top of his torn jeans. His long strides brought him within a few feet before he stopped and considered me.

“Howdy,” he said with a voice that resembled Lurch from the Adams Family. “Can I help you?”

The air now smelled like I had fallen into a vat of burnt chocolate. The hair on the back of my hands and neck was at full attention. Whoever this was, he was bad news in spades. I smiled and tried to show him I was relaxed when inside, every muscle and tendon was vibrating like a guitar string. I drew power up through the orb in my right hand and prepared a proper welcome if it came to that.

“Hi, I’m looking for Ramone,” I said, not wanting to give him any real names.

“That’s me,” he said as he smiled and took a step toward me.

He began to stretch out his hand towards me when two things struck me. First, his hands were much too large for his frame. And two, his teeth looked like they had been sharpened with a file.

“I don’t think so,” I said as I took a step back. 

His hand flashed up toward my throat. Somehow he had gotten much closer to me than I remember him being. My orb pulsed and my left hand caught his wrist a few inches short of his target. The speed and strength the orb provided was barely enough to keep him away. His eyes flashed red as he glanced down at our interlocked hands. His fingers straightened and instantly grew into foot long talons that tore through my shirt and plunged deep into my shoulder. The orb fell from my hand as all feeling drained from my right hand. I pushed with my left hand which still held his wrist and twisted away. The talons shredded the front of my shirt and tore lines across the flesh or my chest.

He chuckled as I looked down at my ruined shoulder. My orb lay on the floor between us. The talons were gone and he motioned for me to come to him. I took the opportunity and drew my knife. Made from meteor metal and enchanted by the kachinas, it was the other gift my father gave me the day before mother murdered him. With my right arm all but useless, I held the knife in my left hand with the blade forward to give me a little more reach. 

“Come mageling,” he said, looking at the orb. “Was it you who called me?”

“Who are you and why are you here?” I asked, trying to by some time.

He smiled and circled to my right. “I told you. I’m Ramone and someone called to me.”

He moved so fast, I barely had time to bring the knife around. His left hand with talons extended, tore into my right thigh. My knife caught his arm as he went past me and sliced a gash from his wrist to his elbow. Unfortunately, the knife blade caught on a bone and was ripped from my hand. His unnatural roar shook the beams of the barn. He spun and back-handed me across the forehead. The force of his blow snapped my head to the side and stars exploded before my eyes. I felt myself hit the ground. Pain flashed down my arm as I rolled over several times trying to get some distance from my attacker. I looked up through foggy eyes to see walking toward me. He seemed bigger from this angle and talons had replaced both of his hands. He flexed his left arm and dark liquid flowed from the wicked gash my knife had made.

“Time to die, mageling,” He said, as he raised his right hand to strike. 

I squirmed to get my left arm out from underneath me and bring it up in a feeble attempt to block the oncoming blow. My hand came free from beneath me and bumped into my orb. I grabbed it and looked up again expecting the talons to rip my head from my neck. 

When you are in a struggle for your life, time slows down. Maybe it’s adrenaline. Maybe it’s heighten senses. Either way, It is amazing to experience.

The muzzle blast from a large-bore rifle fired in an enclosed space is painful. The sound of the blast hit my ears as the chest of the man standing over me exploded over my head. Before he could react, a second explosion tore away a portion of his right shoulder. The force of the second round spun the man away from me. I looked at the direction of the barn door and saw Ben levering another round into a Winchester lever-action rifle. The taloned man looked down at his wounds and screamed with rage as a third bullet hit his thigh. He turned as if nothing was wrong and charged toward me. Ben’s Winchester roared again but the bullet missed its mark. That was okay because he had given me the time I needed.

My orb pulsed in my hand. The sound from the rifle’s muzzle blast was created by waves of energy moving outward from the gun. I redirected that energy through the orb, condensed it, shaped it into the form of a bighorn ram’s head and sent it into Mr. Talon’s chest just as he was about to eviscerate me. At that range, I could hardly miss. The full force of the spell hit him. All of the air and most of the blood in his lungs exploded out of his mouth and sprayed me with ichor. The force of the spell propelled him up and slammed his back into the steel I-beam that supported the barn’s roof twenty feet above the floor. The ominous crack of vertebrae shattering gave me a moment’s hope as the crumple body dropped back to the floor. 

I rolled to my knees in time to see Ben fire another shot that missed. Looking back at where the body had landed, I was dumbfounded as the man slowly stood up. I heard more cracking, as if bones were grating across each other. I began to gather energy in preparation for another spell. He made it into a crouch and glared at me. He hissed and ran toward Ben and the door out. I sent a burst of energy to create and barrier across the barn to trap him but I misjudged his speed and wall went up behind him as he raced toward Ben. 

I watched in helpless horror as the man barely slowed down as he went past Ben, talon raking across Ben’s neck. Ben was scrambling to reload the Winchester and didn’t see blow that separated his head from his neck. He probably didn’t feel it. His head fell forward and his body slowly toppled to the side. I slumped to my side. My shoulder and leg burned. My head throbbed. I closed my eyes.

If you are interested in reading the previous scenes, check them out at, Actress and the Warlock Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart V, Part VI. .

 
 

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