Friday, May 17, 2013
Spring cleaning would be easier if we had spring instead of jumping from winter to summer, but there you are, ad of course
it generated an idea regarding writing: real is not always believable: you might have to say something. I like not having
to explain any more than necessary and while I start explaining too much, I often explain too little eventually.
17 may 13 @ 10:19 pm
It's easier with alien stuff: show, explain it once, briefly, then show some more. With real stuff that seems unbelievable,
harder to identify, but one of them is weather. in some places, weather changes with impressive speed, but some places, hardly
at all. the readers from the little-change areas usually know about the seasons, but not how readily they can seem to be
skipped, or how often they seem to alternate as the bulk of the transition from one to the next, so it, and many other regional
and unexpected phenom might need some comment: how unusual, the usual for here...(implying not elsewhere), well, look at that,
just as predicted.... something to indicate that locals and travelers might react differently, and an understanding that
the readers might fall into either category.
Sometimes more logic and science might be needed to make sure sequences make sense, even if not explained. Kind of like checking
to make sure that the lighting changes between night and day, noting if characters are upstairs or down, indoors or out, and
whether clothes are appropriate for the season.
Writer's challenge: do some spring cleaning on your latest story: season, weather, consistency, logic, sequence
Writer's prompt: use spring, join, wood, bloom, shelf, some form of water or rain, turn, some form of mirror or glass
Sunday, May 12, 2013
An odd intersection today. The first part was my quicky research on women in the middle ages, which included several articles
analyzing roles and attitudes. One or more of the articles talked about (some more directly than others, which is why the
"or more") women being defined in terms of their relationships with men: virgins, wives, widows, prostitutes (often
widows with children who had not other means of making a living). It was as if they had no other meaningful role, or at least
as if everything else was less important. They were more equal in the first century BC based on Jesus's teachings, which
allowed women to learn and play religious roles, and occasionally inheritance and other econcomic issues allowed periods of
greater equality, but they were usually short lived.
12 may 13 @ 9:17 pm
I was thinking how like today that is, with equality more often going than coming. Virginity is rarely assumed with lack
of marriage any more, but women are still often discussed in terms of whether they are married or not, have children or not,
and other things remain secondary in consideration, and their relationships with men take a common place on tv and movies
I was surprised, therefor, and found the second piece of the intersection when I caught an episode of Hazel in black and white,
and to see how irrelevant they treated all of that. Wealth was important, since it was the maid getting a free week at a
health spa for rich ladies, and there were a couple of rich ladies and one either very much richer or more social status or
both, but their activities and discussions were about stock investments and their roles supporting/leading unspecified organizations
as keeping them very busy, and some question of whether they had (paying) "work"/jobs. There was no indication
of marriage or not, children or not, and that came across as reasonably natural, as if they were less important than other
factors, just as those factors would be more important when discussing men and their place in society.
Not quite what I intended my story to be about, but I can see where it may impact some of the dialog and other layers of the
story setting and character elements.
Writer's challenge: read something about history of culture, women, men, rich, poor, or other aspect of social life. Look
at the dialog in one of your stories. What might be changed to enrich characters or give more power to dialog?
Saturday, May 11, 2013
I've gone though most of what I wanted to read, enough to fame some likely characters and their role in society. It is to
be some version of speculative and early medieval lends itself well to faeries and such fantasy, though fitting them as more
than superstitious reference will take a bit of shoving aside traditional roles to give them space and their own more active
role. I have a few points of the story in mind, but need to get the plot line more concrete in mind, a starting point, a
problem and other forces of movement, a resolution and change of direction, and an ending point. The challenge for me will
be to keep it at that and not add complexities and backgrounds and such that start to turn the story into a novel.
11 may 13 @ 1:47 pm
I also have to recheck the guidelines so I know what I am really aiming for, since "short story" can mean many things.
A firm goal in mind will help maintain control.
Writer's prompt: a boast.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Taking a short detour
I got challenged to write a more proper historical fiction fantasy short story instead of my usual vaguely medieval fantasy
with made-up times and places and people. It's hard to find out anything about specific people not at the highest levels
in my preferred early middle ages, but I know a fair amount about a range of times and can find a place, I think. Fortunately
I have a decent library because online turns out to have way too little historical stuff.
7 may 13 @ 9:07 pm
So, a bit of research because for a proper historical fiction, the culture and settings should be right, the time should include
key features that the locals would know about, like a king, like saints from earlier, not later times, and appropriate settings,
such as the wood castle that preceded the later stone one, or better yet, for the historically-savvy reader, the castle that
was under construction during the appropriate decade and the eventual saint while still alive as a passing character.
As a short story, not all of that, but something to ground it in a sense of reality.
And then there is the short story. Not really my forte, but if I think of it as a single scene with it's own story line,
I might keep it short enough to work. Probably five scenes by the time I'm done... but that would be better than five books...
I of course see all the potential for an epic in each of the history books I page through, the maps I check for historic
place names, in every scene I envision. So far I have two possible endings inspired by the phrasing of the challenge, a category
of place for the story to happen, and a bit more reading to do.
Writer's challenge: if you do other times and places, try taking it one step closer to real. If you do real, take a step
further into the imaginary.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
John Robert Sermon, of www.johnrsermon.com posted an interesting question on our faceboo group page so I thought I'd expound
on the short answer I offered there.
27 apr 13 @ 3:42 pm
The question was about the final battle scene, but some of the answer applies to other battle scenes as well. For final,
and sometimes other battle scenes whose outcomes matter (as opposed to aspects of the fighting being more important to the
story, such as a particular person's death, a dishonorable act along the way, etc.), I usually plan backwards from the desired
ending. Stories are about twists and turns and things going wrong, so I make sure that the plans of those going into the
battle are headed in a different direction (geographically and metaphysically/goal-wise) than what ultimately happens (since
colliding forces will always result in a change in vector). In between: forces collide, plans are changed on the spur with
less thought, reason, and sense than the planning in advance ever accounts for, forces interact and the ending then comes
For the writing part, especially for a final battle/climax, speed and intensity are created by their opposite in writing,
so I go into more fine detail than the later battle scenes: earlier a little explanation is allowed; later, everything should
already have been explained to the reader so that they can just focus on the action and understand as much as the characters
do of the blow-by-blow terminology, available weapons, capabilities, character motivations, etc. The final battle should be
all about the actions and reactions of the characters, with the background all known, the emotions all known, the language
all known, the dialog terse, and only the outcome and the how of getting there unknown to the reader. Not predictable: forces
presented earlier in the story should all be colliding here and no force so overwhelming of those arrayed against it that
the outcome is predictable. If one sides seems to be overwhelming, that's okay, but ultimately, something should shift the
forces into nearly perfect balance--a change of mind, a shift in loyalties due to other side forces, a betrayal, a clever
trick to exclude part of the overwhelming force, whatever, so that the final battle is replete with uncertainty.
If individual characters are opponents, I bring them together at some point either during or as aftermath: it is one of the
few "coincidences" that readers not only accept but expect, since the characters function as representatives of
their sides, driving forces in and of themselves, destined to face off, challenge, forgive, something that brings the big
guy down, raises the little guy up, adjusts the relationship for good or ill, ending or new beginning. They may be rivals,
enemies, frienemies, obsessions, but in the end, the antagonist and protagonist have to both be key parts of the final battle...
As it happens, I just finished revising one myself. It is smaller than the earlier battles, and the protagonists and antagonists
don't physically meet face-to-face, but they do face each other in both a physical battle and a battle of wills and have a
brief dialog. Though it is a small battle, leaving the extraneous external enemy out, it is more focused and important to
the characters, which helps make the fine details easier to incorporate and heightens the impact of the results, I hope.
Writer's challenge: write a battle scene: it can be war-type, fist fight, or just an argument.