March 30, 2011

from pantser to plotter

So for those of you that follow along, I’ve been working on a new novel for about a week now. As far as the actual story goes, I have written a whopping two sentences in the manuscript document, a whopping forty-two words. Had I started this novel a year ago, I would probably already have at least 10,000 words written. This is the moment of truth, my friends… I am no longer a pantser.

Just declaring that makes me all giddy.

March 28, 2011

sims medieval and fantasy writing

I pre-ordered Sims Medieval ages ago, and just got it in this weekend. I spent all of yesterday – and I mean from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm – playing Watcher over my kingdom. The game is fantastic. It took all of my expectations, which were really high, and surpassed them tenfold. If you are a lover of RPGs and Sims, then you should buy it… right now. Warning: you will get addicted.

But as I guided my promiscuous knight through the bedchambers of the king, and watched as friendships died due to the bard’s philandering ways, I thought about fantasy writing. Yes, I always go back to writing. It’s amazing that video games do this to me.

March 25, 2011

hogglepot contest

As promised, I'm having a spring contest with awesome prizes!

This time around, the rules are a bit different, and the prizes are full of awesome... first, the rules!

In order to enter the contest, you must be a follower of my blog or twitter (new or old).
You must submit an original fantasy short story.
  • you can find the usual submission guidelines here
  • for the contest, the guidelines are a tad bit different
    • maximum 2500 word limit, minimum 500 words
    • only fantasy fiction will be considered, no poetry whatsoever
The contest will run four weeks from today, ending April 22nd at 11:59 pm CDT. The top stories will be posted on the blog the following week for voting. No entry fee!

All contest submissions will be considered for publication, even if they do not make it to voting. Stories that do make it to voting are guaranteed publication in Hogglepot.

And now for the prizes!

Win the contest and you win:

Grand prize: $30 in books and a miniature Moleskine notebook, shipped from the Book Depository; publication in Hogglepot: A Weekly Fantasy Journal; and a free 30 page critique

Second prize: $15 in books, shipped from the Book Depository; publication in Hogglepot; and a free 15 page critique

Third prize: publication in Hogglepot and a free 10 page critique

The Grand Prize winner gets to choose what books they want to receive, as well as what color and paper-type of Moleskine notebook they want (as long as they are available at the Book Depository).

All winners may redeem their free critique at any time for any project. Critiques will examine grammar and sentence structure, as well as characterization and plotting.

Loser Sweepstakes: For those of you that don't win the contest, or don't want to enter a story, you have a chance at a prize too!
  • If you tweet about the contest, you get your name in a hat. 
  • If you mention the contest on your blog, you get another name in the hat. 
  • If you dedicate a blog post to the contest, you get your name in the hat twice. 
When the top stories go up for voting, I'll announce the random winner, who will get the choice of a miniature Moleskine notebook, or a $5 discount on a page critique.

I hope everyone enjoys the contest! If you tweet or blog about the contest, be sure to link to me on twitter @brookenomicon, or comment here with the link.

March 23, 2011

writing fears

So last night, I spent a good few hours looking at steampunk art and dress. I made a few bids on some neat items on eBay, and began mentally constructing my ideal steampunk costume, the one I would wear to cons and just for sillies. I helped make a friend's costume last year and ever since, I've wanted to make one of my own. Well, as I'm contemplating this endeavor and its associated costs, I think, man, I would love to write a steampunk novel.

"SteamPunk Octopus"

March 21, 2011

new blog schedule

I love blogging. That is a fact. But I never intended to make my blog my first priority. On my list of prioritized things, blogging is supposed to come second, but either by bad time management or negligence, it's shimmied its way to the top. Writing fiction should be my first priority, not blogging.

So effective immediately, I'm paring down my number of blog posts a week from five to three, blogging on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I honestly think that blogging has affected my writing in a bad way. By the time I get to my fiction, I have exhausted my willingness to write or my mind is still in blog mode. I have noticed my writing becoming more simple since I started blogging, more journalistic rather than creative. I think the blog is to blame. And, though I love my followers here, and I love writing posts for you everyday, I love writing fiction more.

The new schedule will be
Monday: Mythology, Fantasy, and History
Wednesday: Craft, Tips, and Journey
Friday: Book Reviews, Interviews, and Guest Posts (and should I fail to have any of these, probably a fun, silly post)

I thank all of you for having an interest in what I have to say, and I hope to keep delivering quality material. Hope you're having an excellent Monday so far!

March 18, 2011

review: behemoth

Behemoth - Scott Westerfeld

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory. 

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead. 

March 17, 2011

what do you need to write?

Last week, fellow blogger Rowenna talked about why habitat shouldn't dictate your writing schedule at her blog Hyaline Prosaic, and she listed her preferences. I'm following suit.

I too have noticed that several writers have rituals or modes of writing, where certain stipulations must be met before they can even think about writing. This could be location, or wearing a certain item of clothing, or drinking a shot of tequila every thousand words - don't I wish I could be that guy....

March 16, 2011

take a break

From all writing advice on the interwebz, the number one saying is "Writers write." I've said this before, and I stick by it. Writers do write. But sometimes, this unforgiving mantra needs to step aside and let the writer rest.

Sometimes, it's okay to take a break from writing.

There. I said it.

March 15, 2011

polarity... part two

Polarity is essential to storytelling, governed by a few simple rules but capable of generating conflict, complexity, and audience involvement. These ideas on polarity are pulled from The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. Last week, I gave the first eight points on polarity.

9. The Other End of the Spectrum. When a character goes through a reversal of polarity, what happens to his or her partner in the polarized relationship? Some of these partners exist only to catalyze change in a main character, and will not change much themselves. But they may make a reciprocal movement toward the force at the opposite pole. When a dependable, strong character has a sudden weak moment, the usually cowardly character may need to step up until the strong character gathers his courage.

March 14, 2011

on prophecies in fantasy

This particular mechanic in fantasy stories irks me to no end. I hate prophecies. I do. With a fiery passion that delivers me into a malicious rampage at the mere mention. I’ll contain myself for your sakes and explain why.

Most prophecies are completely unnecessary. I mean it. Usually, authors place prophecies where they can’t find any other way to get the characters to move forward. When the plot drags or the hero has no tangible reason to keep going rather than turn back, insert prophetic vision, meeting with oracle, or ominously ominous omen. But, dear hero, you are destined for this journey! For example…

March 11, 2011

review: i am j

I Am J – Cris Beam
J always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a "real boy" and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible - from his family, from his friends...from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he's done hiding - it's time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.

March 10, 2011

advocating WriteOnCon

This is where I get up on my soap-box and tell you that you're an idiot if you don't participate in WriteOnCon later this year.

What is WriteOnCon? you ask. Well, it's an interactive online writer's conference held annually during the summer. The conference is designed to give attendees the features of a live writer's conference, but in an online environment using blogging, vlogging, chats, and streaming video. They keep transcripts of every event should you miss out. They also have forums where writers can gather and share their queries and first pages for critique. Oh, and did I mention it's FREE?

March 9, 2011

lies writers tell

Today's wisdom comes courtesy of Chuck Wendig.

On his blog at Terrible Minds, he gives several lies writers tell themselves or others in regard to their writing. It's a funny read (as always with Chuck), and true to the T.

Lies Writers Tell: Ten Writerly Deceptions (Okay, Eleven -- See, I Totally Just Lied)

Reader discretion is advised. He uses adult language that could offend.

March 8, 2011

polarity... part one

Polarity is essential to storytelling, governed by a few simple rules but capable of generating conflict, complexity, and audience involvement. These ideas on polarity are pulled from The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. I'll go into the second half of the polarity bullet points next week.

1. Opposites Attract. Like the differently charged ends of a magnet, two contrasting characters will be drawn to one another. The clash of their differences attracts and holds an audience’s attention. Two lovers, friends, or allies may be attracted to one another because they complete one another, perhaps clashing at first because they possess contrasting qualities, but discovering that each needs something the other has. Characters may seek out those whose strengths and weaknesses balance weak and strong qualities in themselves. The hero and the villain may be locked together in a struggle, drawn together by circumstances but operating in strongly contrasting, polarized ways that show the whole range of possible human responses to a stressful situation.

March 7, 2011

hindu creation myths

Since I have a rather busy morning ahead of me, I thought I’d share the Hindu creation myths with you all. Hinduism has a large influence on my writing, and its myths are not well known in Western culture. I hope to rectify that over time.

This text is taken directly from The Encyclopedia of Ancient Myths and Culture, and this passage is cited from The Indian Way by John M Koller.

Some of the creation myths are very abstract struggling with the concepts of existence and non-existences, as in this extract from the hymn of creation from the Rig Veda.

March 4, 2011

guest post: plotting for the structurally inclined

When it comes to developing a story, there are about as many ways to go about it as there are writers to write them. It runs the spectrum from pages and pages of detail to almost nothing. There are many reasons for this. Some writers need everything laid out before them, working out the bugs (as much as they can) and creating a roadmap that guides them from start to finish. They need this framework to work within, otherwise they feel at loose ends about the story as a whole. Other writers have a starting spot and the destination and treat it more as the great, unknown road trip. They love the creative adventure of just seeing what happens.

Now, I'm very much generalizing here. This is the rather cliche dichotomy of the plotter versus the pantser. These terms get bandied about regularly among writers, each envious of and wondering how the heck the other side does it. How can you plot the whole thing out ahead of time? You know the whole thing, so why bother writing it? On the other side, the plotter drools at the prospect of just being able to sit down and start writing when a great idea pops into their head. But then what if you run yourself into a dead end and have to start over? Think of all the potential editing! Ugh! Anyway, you get the idea.

March 3, 2011

when mood affects writing

It's amazing how a single event can make or break your mood for the day (in my case, two events, neither of which I wish to disclose). The fact of the matter is, lately, I've let the ups and downs of life affect my writing. It seems that any time something unpleasant happens to me, I'm put off from writing. Going to bed one night, I could be gung-ho about the next chapter in my novel, and then upon waking the next morning, a tweet, a bad bit of news, poor sleep, or disappointment could completely nullify any excitement I might have had.

That's how I feel this morning. Today is not ideal, and there is nothing in the world that I could have done to make it any better. The disappointments for the day are completely out of my control. It's been this way for a few months now. I've dreaded working on my manuscript. Just opening the document feels like a chore, and it's all rather depressing

March 2, 2011

titling your manuscript

So, this is going to be a collaborative effort. Today I wanted to give tips on creating titles for your work, whether it be your novel-in-progress, a magazine article, short story, or letter to the editor. Here's the truth (and it's going to be in all caps, so be warned)... I SUCK AT TITLES. It's true. Coming up with a title is the most difficult thing about writing for me.

How do I usually do it?

March 1, 2011

developing character motive

Developing character motive is the most difficult thing for me when I create characters. Even after creating characters, I question their motives. For someone who loves or hates a book based on its characters, I have the worst time creating my own. I can come up with their backstory. I can give them personalities. I can name them. But I can’t tell you why they do the things they do (beyond what they’re driven to do by external forces, of course).

I have tried defining a character’s motive based on what is most logical, what my motive would be, or what their motive should be. I haven’t tried defining a character’s motive by what it actually is, which is what I should have been doing.