Tag Archives: Creative Writing

Time for the Writing Confessional…

… or those times I ventured beyond the clear blue waters.

As someone who enjoys writing, I’ve come across the need to include characters. Sure a portrait of a landscape can tell a thousand words, maybe more, but even then, the place becomes a sort of character in its own right, not that I want to elaborate on that until I can process the thought there. It’s a spur of the moment comparison, you see, and if I rambled off like this every time I made such a comment, I’d never get anything done.

Anyway, back to characters. Confession 1:

With writing characters, I often find the need to venture beyond the male gender. Sure, I know what it’s like to be a guy, and most people say write what you know, but unless I’m writing pre-women’s rights war novels (and I’m not) there’s going to be some facet of female presence. So now I have to get in a woman’s head. Where can I draw on for that? Fortunately I have friends and family for that on very different ends of the spectrum. I know the fluffy pink girls, the power hungry and manipulative kind, the ones that snap under pressure, the tomboys, gamers, etc… So, I think I can write these people. Sure those are generalizations, but I feel that aside from anatomical and certain mental instincts, we’re mostly the same. I know girls who want sex more than their boyfriends, and guys who can have deep philosophical conversations. They exist.

What’s the confession? I still feel that my female characters aren’t quite up to snuff, and I’m never sure how to ask for advice. Truth be told, I don’t know any female writers very well, and this is tough to just ask a friend, since friends like to be supportive.

Confession 2:

LGBT characters exist, just like people. In fact, in today’s societies, particularly those with more tendencies to equality, they are becoming more and more common. In games, movies, TV, etc… The characters exist. I admit that I’ve never tried my hand at much of it, but I have written a small number of homosexual characters in my time, drawing as much as I could from those I’ve met in their respective lifestyles.

My one big mistake? To be honest, I’ve barely done the plight justice. (Though I’ve never tried my hand at writing the T side of the LGBT) A lot of times, it’s sort of just accepted, partly because of how I view society. On another end, I have written the character that has to hide their feelings from the general public, and dealt with the fallout of being found out, but it’s all just sort of worked out. I feel like I can’t do them the right justice, but again, from the people I’ve met, I find it hard to see them as anything other than normal people with different tastes, like everyone else.

Conclusion:

I’m leaving this for the readers to judge, but I’m wondering if I’m doing the characters in these confessions more or less justice this way. The plights and understandings in their entirety are beyond me, I admit. However, in that same breath, I have to consider that such equalities are desired by these very different people. In writing them the way I do, perhaps it’s more justice to the cause that someone can put the plights and differences out of mind. Perhaps, in regards to the second confession, it would take a more center stage in a character’s life depending on the story.

I just wanted to put these thoughts out there, and maybe see if anyone has some confessions of their own to air out.

Time for the Writing Confessional


The Writer’s Job – The Jaded Perspective

As much as I enjoy writing, and video games, and music, movies, etc… the problem I have with media is that it’s very repetitive. There are only so many ways to portray characters, because despite how unique we are as human beings, it always seems as though we only have a few characters. The way they interact is how the story is made. So, besides the job to tell a story, and to give out the best story we can, we have the added job of trying to tell a story in a fresh new way. The band 3 has a song called All that Remains¬†that has a line “The same old story, but the names have all been changed,” that hits very close to home when I write.

While I’m sure the world is filled with amazing writers, I can’t help but worry if I can pass the test of telling a story in a new way, or to come up with that new character. As opposed to my usual thoughts and support, this is my off my chest moment for the day. It’s short, but I needed to say it. Thanks for reading!


Divination and Your World

How many fantasy books start with a Prophecy? I capitalized prophecy, because it is always the prophecy. It’s something about the future that has been divined and set in motion, and will happen. Sure others have been made, but there’s one that is central to the fate of the world. That seems to be the kind we are most familiar with at any rate, unless you played something like D&D or in my case the many D&D based games such as Neverwinter Nights and Icewind Dale, etc… In those games, divination allows us to see some aspect of the near future, or some sort of method to locate things and people based on some connection. These great prophets are usually killed or maybe they survived, but no one took them seriously, or whatever. So what’s my point?

To be honest, I suppose I just wanted to talk about divination to some extent. It’s an interesting plot device to be sure, but in what ways can it be used?

I guess I’ll start by pointing out the Alex Verus novels. (Book 4 is coming out in August and I can’t wait!) In the series, the main character is a magic user, but his only power is over divination. He can see into the future indefinitely, but the problem is that there is no guaranteed future. Thus he has to work everything out based on probability, and which are the more likely futures, and even those can be wrong. Has it been done before? Maybe. I couldn’t say for certain, but I can say that it is a refreshing look at Divination.

Divination – late 14c., from Old French divination (13c.), from Latin divinationem (nominative divinatio) “the power of foreseeing, prediction,” noun of action from past participle stem of divinare, literally “to be inspired by a god” – The Online Etymology Dictonary

In the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, and I would assume the sister series Novels of the Malazan Empire (by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont respectively), there is an interesting form of Tarot in the Dragon Decks. It’s a set of cards, and there’s a specific way to reading the cards. Only a few people are gifted enough to actually read them, and in the first book there are a couple of characters who can. When the Dragon Decks come out, it effectively predicts a chunk of the upcoming story, but it’s always vague, and you have to guess which characters correspond to which cards to figure it all out. Even if you have some idea, it doesn’t mean it’ll go the way you think. Card reading has always been a skill of interpretation after all, as I’ve learned first hand with actual Tarot decks.

The funny thing about divination and especially Tarot decks is how much you have to interpret, especially if you don’t know the person(s) you are reading very well. See, someone close to me is into the witchy crowd (not an I can throw fire at you kind, but a pagan, choose your gods and worship them kind) and has been doing Tarot and getting readings for some time. I’m not a part of that crowd. I used to do Tarot for fun with regular playing cards as a kid, and they convinced me to get a real deck once. Now, as a warning, I’m only as insane as a fantasy writer should be. Personal feelings aside, whatever I type after this, take it as you will.

As a personal experience, it’s interesting when you get into these witchcraft shops. Not because of the odd things for sale, but because there is a different energy there. I ended up sitting there for more than 20 minutes after deciding to buy a deck. You’re supposed to look at them, and choose one that’s right for you, based on the feeling you get from it. It turns out the deck I chose says something about me, because I ended up with a deck that brings a positive outlook to even the worst situations, much like myself. My second deck came as a purchase after three trips back to this store with friends, and picking it up each time before putting it down. I was encouraged to consider the deck, because I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It wasn’t a replacement to the first one, because it had a different feel, as odd as it sounds. Turns out this deck reflects a different part of me. Unlike a traditional deck which has meanings with the cards, and the image often says much, this one was much more the opposite. The meanings behind each card are small phrases, and I’ve found the deck to be a bit of a wise-ass on the occasions I have used it, going so far as having it talk back to me in the cards I pull. Another interesting fact is that neither deck had a reverse meaning, so there’s only one vague light to look at the cards in.

Why would I bring this up? Well, because it’s a step in a good direction. Yeah sure, there are any number of stories with talking implements, or skulls and swords with personalities, however, how many people can say the universe actually has a good sense of humor with inanimate objects? I suppose there isn’t a lesson in here as much as an inspirational takeaway: The universe is weird.

Keep Writing!

~ Underdog


Reality as a Tool

I think the past few months have been a real eye opener for me. While I may not be quite as active of a blogger as I was due to real life obligations, I’m still learning, and itching to talk about it. Maybe not itching. I don’t like itching. How about hungry. Hungry’s better. After all, who doesn’t like to eat something? Imagine this as a therapeutic snack or something. Anyway! Before I side track myself further with the realization I ate a doughnut for breakfast and haven’t eaten since…

Desires! That’s what this post is really about! That one thing your character must obtain! Sure we have dreams and passions and goals, but the real need for something is, as I’m discovering, much more of a gut reaction than one of the heart. See, on top of my life, I’m looking for a job so I can stabilize my life. Right now, I’m underpaid, overworked, and barely squeaking past on student loans and gas money with my paychecks. It doesn’t leave much for a whole lot else, and my nerdy habits that let me relieve stress begin to get affected.

See, I don’t just want a new job. I need a new job. Every time I walk into work, I feel it in my gut. The intense dislike of being the office bitch, as I duly call myself to anyone out of a professional setting. My most recent promotion, with no increase in pay, is the boss’ taxi service for whenever he drops his car off to get worked on. I don’t just need a new job. My life depends on me getting a new job. I cannot continue to work in an environment with an “evolving job description” that changes to suit the boss’ needs, but not my own. Thus I’m doing everything in my power to get this new job, regardless of how difficult it is.

I admit that I’m young, but I don’t think I quite understood the drive needed for a protagonist until the last couple of months, and even then I’m sure that I’ve still missed something in it, but it’s a start.


Sequels and Trilogy Syndrome

An important part of writing is knowing when to just stop. I wish I was kidding, but it’s unfortunately true. There’s nothing wrong with staying in your world. There’s nothing wrong with writing a sequel either. I happily encourage it, if it’s a world you love to write in, but don’t just write books because a publisher says so. When I say this I think of trilogy syndrome. Trilogies seem to be all the rage in the literary world, or just long series, however, the latter doesn’t have this problem.

Trilogy syndrome is when a book, usually the second, is dragged out with filler and fluff so as to force the story onto a third leg. Anyone who has read a few trilogies can tell when trilogy syndrome takes place, because much of the book in between will feel forced towards the later half. A story should be told in however many books it needs, and that is why I have a lot of respect for the two book sets (a duology?) that appear from time to time. There was nothing forced, they just wrote what needed to be written. Another method that I’m fond of is the L.E. Modesitt Jr. method (only because I can’t think of many authors who do this), which is to write books across history in your world, giving a character no more than two books of their own, and only one in a few cases.

Is trilogy syndrome avoidable? Well, yes. If it means writing two longer books, rather than weakening two of them, or even writing one longer book. What matters is that the story gets told the way it was meant to, not because trilogies are popular.

There isn’t a ton for me to say on the topic without dredging up examples that I don’t have time for, so, for just a moment, I want to look at my current work. It’s presently titled Earth Shaker. The character, Elyas, drags himself quite reluctantly to the battlefield to go after the woman he loves, one of the Iron City Knights, because he fought in the last war, and knows just how vicious the honorable Drae can be. Of course he’s been getting stronger over the years with the help and influence of the Earth Goddess Anset, and more so in the days to come. As such, she is preparing him for a task, to act as her Envoy and kill someone he knows. Of course his decision is something that can shake the world. (Edit: pun unintended)

However, my story is about Elyas throwing himself back onto the battlefield and growing in power for the sake of love, and learning just what he can do. It’s a set up to what will hopefully be the second and final book. I’m not stretching the story more than it has to, however, I recognize that for certain events to take place, time has to pass, and I won’t be able to resolve certain conflicts in what I’d like to end in a single book and still maintain the writing style it has up until now. I recognize the story though, and I can at least confidently say that I don’t want it to suffer trilogy syndrome, and won’t let it as long as it continues on the path I seem to have envisioned for it.


NaNoWriMo Check in #2

Hey everyone! We’re 2 weeks into NaNoWriMo, and I hope everyone’s doing well. I’ve been a little bit ahead of the curve, and managed to hit the big 25000 a day early! Here’s to all of you making it that far and to the finish line!

I also have to thank Dreampunk Geek for nominating me for an award! I will do the required post for that tomorrow.

Best of luck everyone, and keep writing!

~ Underdog


A NaNoWriMo Check In!!!

Well guys, it’s been a week since my last post. I’ve been hard at work on NaNoWriMo, working late almost constantly, and trying to balance what little remains of my free time for everything else in between.

That’s why I decided to check in with you all today. Those of you participating, how far along are you? As of the end of November 7th, I can proudly say, I’m only a couple of words shy of 13,000¬† myself. Hopefully you all are coming right along with it.

While it is as of yet unnamed, I think it’s coming along better than expected.

With this, I leave you all 2 questions.

1) How many words have you written?

2) Are you looking for a writing buddy? I know that having someone to try to keep up with has been a huge help to me getting this far. I’m happy to extend the same service to those of you who ask. Just let me know, and I’ll leave you my NaNoWriMo user name.

Keep writing!

~ Underdog


Miscellaneous Creation: The Stitch Men

I’m not really sure what twisted part of my mind came up with these creatures, but I thought I’d share them. I call them the Stitch Men.

———

Stitch Men are made from the dismembered corpses of people. An angry spirit will try to seek revenge through these corpses, reattaching limbs by taking on the form of threads reattaching the body parts. Though their limbs hang loose, the threads act as new muscles and allow these undead creatures to move. Unfortunately, these threads do not allow them to speak or communicate in any way, and only allow to carry on the spirit’s ill will towards humanity.

The most fearsome of the Stitch Men is known as Plague. A truly vengeful spirit took hold of a former powerful warrior whose scattered body parts had been taken by rats and filled with plague. Spreading rot and disease where he goes, many have tried to take down this fearsome man, but none have succeeded. The myth behind Plague is that he only appears on the night of a New Moon in a place where his weakness, fire, can’t get to him without causing untold amounts of damage and destruction. From there, he walks the streets, letting disease spread. At false dawn, he takes the life of one victim, and then leaves without a trace that he’d been there.