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Tag Archives: Fantasy

Devil in the Details

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Writing about a culture other than your own can provide more than a few complications. I a pure fantasy setting, the author has more control and, so long as he is consistent, can tweak things a bit and make it work. However, when we use a real culture to base our story on, and where a member of that culture may pick up and read your story, we had better get the details right. Unless…

My protagonist is half-Apache, a native american tribe that lives in the southwestern United States and into Mexico. His father was a tribal holy man and taught my protagonist the ways of spiritual medicine. During this instruction a ritual takes place to help my protagonist find a spiritual guide. The spirit guide helps an individual travel along life’s ever changing path. The spirit guide turns out to be “Snake”. This is where things get dicey.

I had written about three-quarters of the story before I found out how Snake is viewed in the Apache culture. The Apache see Snake as a very negative spirit. Often seen as evil, the Apache people will distance themselves from anything related to Snake. Whether it is the real creature, an image, a vision, or a story, Snake is Very bad medicine.

When I first made this discovery, I began to panic. Thinking I would need to rewrite whole sections to either change the spirit guide to something else, or change his tribe to something that looked favorably on the Snake. Instead of jumping off a cliff, I decided to go ahead and finish the first draft without making huge changes. I tried very hard to not let this knowledge guide the story in any way.

After the required cooling off period once the first draft was finished, I did a quick read through and a second read through where I jotted down the more glaring issues and holes. During the second time through, it hit me that the main character was still a little flat.Along with this I was leaning toward changing his tribal lineage.

Then while I was discussing a similar topic with my brother, it dawned on me that the answer to my flat character was right there. The fact that an Apache shaman has Snake as a spirit guide would add several layers of conflict for the character.

So not counting the major conflicts he faces throughout the plot line, he has to deal with being a half-breed, an Apache with Snake as a guide, and his job makes him walk the line between the normal world and those who use magic.

Now I have a character with more than a little color. Yes, I have to add a few sections to exacerbate and the situation, but it will definitely make for a more memorable character.

This turned out to be one of those details that worked out in the end. However, I am more careful about performing research on areas that I am not 100% sure of.

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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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November Update

004Okay, as promised. An update.

The final battle scene is complete. I am rolling forward toward the climax of the main plot line. At this point the words flow as I feel the end is near. I can’t wait for the main character to figure out what has really been going on. I’ve known for sometime where he was heading, but the journey has been a little surprising to me.

I’m still aiming to type ‘The End’ before December 1, 2014. We shall see. My number one test reader calls me every few days to make sure my fingers continue to hit the keys. I type slowly and sometimes I get frustrated that I can’t snap my fingers and see what’s in my head, on the screen. But…it continues to move forward and that’s the key.

For a change I have not been thinking about the revisions that are to come. I’m not thinking about scenes that need more depth. The focus is on getting what’s in my head loaded to the hard drive of my laptop where it will be safe for a time.

So, progress is being made. The ‘Good’ word count grows.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Thoughts on Writing

 

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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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Inspiring Spaces

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As part of a blog hop run by Cate Russell-Cole, I was tagged by a wonderful lady named Jade Reyner, to share spaces that inspire me to write. Notice I did not say writing spaces. These are two different things for me. I posted about one of my three writing spaces back in June 2012 in a View of the Room. This is actually my home office where I do my day job one day a week and when I’m on call. It is full of inspiration and I love to be in this room even though oddly, it is not where I do most of my writing.

Reference and reading room

Reference and reading room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have another writing room that houses most of my reference library, a comfortable chair for reading, and several paintings created by a friend who was inspired by one of my short stories. However, the spaces that inspire me to write are rarely indoors.

Inspirational View

Inspirational View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those who follow this blog know that I spend a great deal of time at my cabin. And, if you read back through my posts, you will find numerous references to the lake, the weather, and the fauna who allow me to interact with them. I find that nature inspires me more than anything else. When I get stuck, lost, frustrated, etc., going back to nature sets things right. The change of seasons triggers different moods that translate easily to the page.

Treasure trove of inspiration.  en.Wikipedia.com

Treasure trove of inspiration. en.Wikipedia.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another source of inspiration are the numerous antique and junk shop excursions the Domestic CEO drags me invites me to join her on. Seeing the odds and ends of eras long gone, fires my imagination. I see a vase or a chair and I wonder where they have been? Who owned them? What type of house was it? Why did the owners part with the object? You can easily see where this line of thinking takes me.

Anyway, All my teachers used to say that I liked to daydream and look out the window. That’s where my inspiration was all along.

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Musings and Odd Thoughts

 

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Vacation

I’ve been busy recently with vacation. It all started Friday before Father’s Day. The archery club I belong to, holds a traditional archery shoot every year on Father’s Day weekend. Shooters come from across the U.S.to participate in what many have called the finest traditional-only, 3D archery shoot in the U.S. Yes, I’m biased. However, when participants of the IBO World Championships tells you this, you tend to pay attention.

Only traditional equipment is allowed. Longbows, recurves, and primitive bows are the mainstay. no sights are allowed so instinctive shooting is required. Targets are commercially made three-dimensional life-like replications of real animals. They are accurate in size and shape. The main differences is the real animal does not have scoring rings etched into its side and it doesn’t hold still for very long. 🙂

Looking through the blind at the 3 dimensional  foam target.

Looking through the blind at the 3 dimensional target.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The three dimensional targets look very real, but they are made from foam rubber.

The three-dimensional targets look very real, but they are made from foam rubber.

The Shoot consists of three loops of twenty targets each. It’s a lot of work to put these kind of event on but the Club enjoys putting it together almost as much as the participants enjoy shooting it. I did say almost, right! Unfortunately mother nature had other plans for us. Friday was set up day and was beautiful. Saturday and Sunday were a wash out when we got five inches of rain. It cleared up a couple of hours before it was time to tear everything down, but attendance was terrible. Oh well, better luck next year. It will be our twenty-fifth year.

After the Shoot, I visited with my father and took a few days to go to the cabin. Most of my time there was spent getting it in shape for the upcoming July 4th celebration. Then a day of yard work at the house was quickly followed by a three-day writer’s conference called 4th Street Fantasy.

4th Street is a small convention by most standards, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in content. Seeing friends from across the country, participating in panel discussions with world-class authors, sharing music circles and single malt in the evenings, all the while learning about the craft of writing; what better way to spend the last few days of vacation.  For those of you who love to write or read fantasy/science-fiction, this is a must to add to your bucket list.

 

 

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