EnE: Elemental Novel Experiences
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Welcome to my blog!

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This blog was my online wordsmith workshop, where you'll find notes on my writing experiences, excerpts from my fantasy and science fiction novels, and essays of a more homeworld flavor.  Some of the advice therein may still be of interest to new writers so I have left it here but due to technical difficulties, I no longer post here regularly.  You can look me up on Dreamwidth, although I do not post frequently. 

Feel free to share a link to this site. If you opt to download it or share content, please give due credit to this website and the author: Emmalyn N. Edwards. Thank you--Emmalyn

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm back again
I spent my free time on the trip, like the previous one, polishing my latest SF novel in preps for posting. On the long trip I did a straight edit, noting where scenes were incomplete but not always filling them in, correcting spelling, phrasing, polishing for clarity, noting the need for additional scenes if some point wasn't clear.

On the latest, shorter trip, I went through all the places that I had noted the need for new scenes and scene expansion and drafted the scene, rearranged a couple of existing scenes to make the new scenes flow properly--mostly writing on the blank facing pages since I wasn't able to print my draft two sided so I did it single spaced (I can write very very small, and normally do, as well as having space to make longer notes on the facing page. I also edit in a contrasting color for easy in reading my own crammed-in notes).

I have gotten about half way through the quicker nest edit: going through and checking for names, consistant titles, IDing the need for names for minor side characters (refered to in the current version with phrases like "crabby spacer", "sympathetic marine", "sec ch." (Security chief), "sen int" (senior interrogator), etc. when I forgot a name spelling or hadn't decided on one yet. In the process of focusing on the who's, I also check for consistency in character attitudes and speach, etc, along the way, and for story flow, since it is much quicker to go through the story creating a list of characters (and ships) than editing word by word, and it puts me in a position to see the bigger picture and view the story a little more like the reader will encounter it.

I name characters a variety of ways, depending on factors such as mood of the story, culture elements, local inspiration, and how alien or not I want the names to sound. When multiple species or other significantly different groups are involved, I use different naming inspriation for each group, or a couple of spelling or structural patterns to differentiate them. I have taken word seach puzzles and looked for pronouceable sequences that weren't words, took a list of scotish clans and scrambles two or three letters in each, written words that described the characters and disguised the word with a one or two letter change, pulled syllables and words out of the air, as it were, and other techniques to create names.

How do you name characters?


On an unrelated note, I plan on taking the train in the future. The latest insanity with airport security is that long skirts are considered a security risk, and the metal detectors insufficient to counter their danger! How ridiculous is that?

Another scene has been posted for Mattias.


Comment from Sharon: I had a chance to check out this again and realized how much Ive missed of your other writings. I hope you make a copy of them all and then I can read them. Poems and all.

Yup, I will gladly provide copies of past entries on request. I have copies of everything. --EnE
30 sep 09 @ 9:52 pm

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blog tour: the Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul
Paul, not Pauls as I believe I may have typed it the last time.

On Fantasy Explorations, readers will find the start of the ending, the first scene of the last chapter of Onaline's adventures in Mattias. I won't be posting more for about a week, then I'll be wrapping up the last few scenes in quick succession. If you want more, (Onaline has three more books in varying stages of polish) let me know, otherwise I will probably be switching to some science (space and aliens) fiction.

BOOK TOUR FINAL REVIEW:

Comments on previous posts on the Vanishing Sculpture:

email: rluellam@earthlink.net

name: Rebecca LuElla Miller

comment: Article - Blog Tour: The Vanishing Sculpture by Donita Pauls

Another thorough, thoughtful evaluation. I really enjoy reading your tour posts.

I agree with the idea that the ideal target age is about 6th to 8th grade. (Rachel Starr Thomson brought up the subject on her Monday post, too.) But I also agree adults can enjoy the story.

Becky URL: http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/

Thank you, Becky! i do try, though I think they usually get at scattered as my thoughts by the time I'm done trying to capture impressions from a whole novel in a page or three- EnE


email: donitakpaul@msn.com

name: Donita K. Paul

comment: Great, because I wanted to talk about your impression of Tipper. I was chortling (yes I really do chortle. I figured since it is a word we use in writing, I ought to learn how to do it.) while I read your comments about Tipper. You see her exactly as Wizard Fenworth does. If you could envision her as some of the other characters do, you would find her to be a different person. I have no idea why you caught Fen's POV to the exclusion of all others. I suspect it has something to do with my writing, not your powers of observation.

URL: www.donitakpaul.com

Thank you for commenting, Miss Paul! I certainly wouldn't have guessed mine was a wizardly perspective ;-> it did make me think about what gave me the inpression, always a valuable exercise for writers. In this case, most of the impression was established in the beginning, as it often is. The POV introdution character is Sir Bec, and he refers to Tipper as a girl, is dismayed that she is even walking with a man. Tipper giggles one minute and is ready to "plop down and have a good cry" the next, though she doesn't cry. Sir Bec's conversation with her is all simple sentences though his thoughts are notably more sophisticated. Lady Peg, Tipper's mad Mom, quizzes her about her activities as if she were a five year old gone too far during her play. Even Bealomonda, the painter, described as a young man, doesn't address Tipper as an equal but addresses her only as "dear daughter of the celebrated Verrin Schope", not as Miss Schope, or even as "Mistress Schope" as a servant does, while she addresses him as Master Bealomonda. All of the characters have reasons for addressing her as they do; long standing mentor who raised her as a child, mad mom, and avid Verrin Schoppe fan to whom she is barely worth noticing, but when everyone else, includeing it seems the author, treats Tipper like a child, how should the reader see her as a yong woman coming into her own? Nor does she ever escape the presence and guidance and aide of all these grownups during the course of the novel. Her forays into independant (and disobedient) action, unlike in the classical young Adult novel, are always failures to one degree or another.

Still, it is not necessarily a flaw in and of itself. The character is consistant troughout, always important, and the impression doesn't lead to misconceptions of what is to come but sets the tone of the tale. If i had had the impression that she was a mature young adult, I could have been a lot more unhappy with her treatment by the others, by her failures and silly behavior. As is, It makes good material for the tween age group and it remains a fun, delightful read for the understanding adult looking for pure entertainment.

For other comments, check out the list on the Favorites Links tab for more comments. Hopefully more will have posted their inputs by now than i saw yesterday.
23 sep 09 @ 8:00 pm

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blog rout: The Vanishing Sculpture, cont
The Vanishing Sculpture was a delightful read but it his hard not to find flaws when I am purposely reading a book to review and I found one that appeared several times: lectureing. Even if the book is intended for children, I find that lecturing is a bad thing, usually not only offensive but obviously unnecessary. Three of four times in the book I found myself skipping over several pages because the sermonizing lessons were so painful to read. Most were apparently intended as moral lessons appropriate to five year olds: don't lie, don't lose your temper (in various forms), at least one on the otherwise subtle and inoffensive religious message. They are clear examples of what not to do in a novel, contraditionx to basic rules of fiction writing: Show don't tell.

Ms Pauls showed very effectively the lessons. Lying has consequences. Losing ones temper is unpersuasive and potentially damaging. A well-directed truth can be used effectively instead. controlling ones temper earns respect and listening can prove valuable. All of these were demonstrated by the characters, their behavior, their thoughts and the results, and that would have been quite enough. The lecture/sermons were unpleasant to read, lacking even the interest quality of well-placed narrative. Further, when actually spoken aloud by the character, usually in the form of scolding the main character, Tipper, they were patently offensive and insulting because they had the tone usually used by parents to their five year old children, and no behavior by a young adult deserves that, no matter how childish the adult.

They are also lessons in what not to do in life: I don't learn, I turn away and shut down when someone has the gall to lecture at me. Even if the tone is merely useful advice, and this generally was not that mild, i don't appreaciate people whose advice is that I'm doing something wrong without offereing an alternative. We all get into situations that seem overwhelming, when a short cut seems the best cut for any number of reasons, especially when the long cut isn't even in sight. It's wrong is never satisfactory advice, not even it's wrong and the potential bad consequences; it should be accompanied by an alternative.

As writers wishing to avoid the same mistake, ask yourself if you are trying to make a specific point in a single passage or scene. If you are, stop. There is no good way to make a point in a single scene. Lessons need multiple stages because they need to be shown, not told. Moral lessons, in my observation, require at least three stages: a temptation (such as a seemingly easy solution to a complex problem), a bad choice and consequences, or a struggle and a good choice. Ms. Pauls offers several good examples, or comes very close, usually immediately before or partially before and then after the lectures.

Fortunately, the lectures are easy to see coming, easy to skim by looking at a word or two, and the end relatively easy to identify so that the reader can skip them and go on, with no loss.

Also, most of the religious message is handled better, which is to say, subtlely and as part of the story, plot, and natural character interactions and development. Religious messages work best as brief portions of dialog, hesitation and questions in the course of a decision, and ms Pauls handles it well in most cases. The faith or uncertainty of the characters enriches the oddball characters and adds to the story.

For comments by other readers, see the Favorite Links tab above. Tomorrow some samples and responses to comments.
22 sep 09 @ 7:16 pm

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blog Tour: The Vanishing Sculpture by Donita Pauls
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400073391 is the link for the book

Also, check out the blog tour list at Favorite Links: lots more people have opinions that you may want to read.

Basics: Overall, I found this a delightful, magical tale with light adventure and a cast of amusing characters. Despite being nearly 400 pages, it is a light quick read for adults, probably very doable for the young audience for which it is intended. It was billed as young adult and teens and college students may enjoy it as a break from serious reading, but I think tweens would be more appreciative and less likely to be offended by the childish behavior and treatment of the central character, Tipper).

Characters: The characters are described as having some non-human visible characteristics but even those who object to aliens or other fantasy species won't object to reading about these: there is nothing else obviously non-human about any but the dragons and grand parrot (Tipper's talkative mentor)

Tipper is the central character, and if the (adult) reader will think of her as a 10 or 12 year old, they will find her behavior reasonable and approrpriate, but don't expected Tipper to be the strong female lead that has recently become popular. She is silly, naughty, eager to get into trouble without thought or sense, and prone to scream and go for help from her several male companions, guides, and teachers (including father, mentor, wizard, and friends including a crush/love interest). (i was lead to wonder early on if her kind wasn't intended to age slowly, like hobbits, but the author makes no indication that her kind ages differently than humans. Also, her crush is treated with just enough seriousness that it seems she is intended to be something of grownup and elligible for marriage despite that she both behaves like and is treated like a child in all other respects). Tipper is not the classic young adult heroine learning independance and separateing herself from parental control, either. Tipper is still dependant on Daddy by the end of the tale, though the scoldings become thankfully less frequent. She is a fun character and fairly easy to sympathise with if the reader goes in with these expectations in mind.

The other characters all help to keep the story light and fun throughout. The grand parrot Sir Beccaroon is the primary POV character, a protective mentor and a bit of a prude and a snob. By the end, they are well-rounded and believable but they could never be considered realistic. They are instead quirky, eccentric, and odd in such ways as to keep the story an entertaining read even when the plot lags. All of the characters except the parrot and not-quite-animal dragons (both minor and major) are of non-human races but only barely so and they could as easily have been human. Even beccaroon could almost have been human, as his parrot features only rarely matter to the progress of the tale, but readers with good imaginations will probably enjoy the images that the descriptions present and the mixed group would probably make a wonderful animated movie cast.

Next time: morals and the problem with lecturing.
21 sep 09 @ 9:56 pm

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I'm back
I'm back and it looks like the ladies' battle was popular even if I hadn't done a good technical review yet. The aftermath will be posted by the time you can read this. then tomorrow the next CSFF blog tour starts so I'll have a couple of blogs on this month's book (a tween fantasy) over the next couple of days and maybe some new stuff for the Homwworld, from vacation observations or its aftermath (claening, lots of cleaning).

Vacation was fun. I was not entirely surprised to discover that cell service was NOT available most places we went but was surprised at how little was available to my phone even on the interstates, where i was assured by several people that it was "always" availble-- there may be some, but not on my network or its affiliates. considering we put more than 5000 miles on the car and that the national park service told us we should have 911 service, i expected phone service more than the couple of times we found it. On the upside, it kept our camping vacation low tech, always nice when you're trying to connect with nature again.

We did manage to see quite a bit of nature: not just mountains and plains, geywers, and rock formations, but plenty of wildlife (always potluck). We saw buffalo and elk, mule deet, antelope, mustangs (all further north, yet,not migrated to the more southerly areas of our route), marmots, flying squirrels, priarie chipmunks, lots of birds (though mostly ravens and possibly magpies) and even one bear lumbering across the road. i think it's our first time to see one in the wild despite many trips to "bear country". No wolves or coyotes this time, though.

As always, we travel-journalled along the way and I have severfal notes for things to check out in my novels and ideas for things to include in the natural settings (mostly in my fantasy stories) though i didn't keep up as well as sometimes and have a couple of days still to write up while my memory is fresh. Sage brush was in bloom and herds of cows were near (nad sometime on) the roads which helped keep even the passenger enteretained (and alert to the need for sudden stops) on the long stretches, besides the difficulty of writing with a cat in ones lap.

One of my whenever-I-can-find-the-time goals is to take travel notes, pictures, and my stories and put lots of them together as a means of helping get certain settings and scenarios more polished and ecologically correct (the right trees together for a particular envirnoment) and such. Mostly I have depended on my memory and story ideas i noted in my travel journals, inspired at the time, but eventually facts need to be checked for the rest, too.

Challenge: build a scrap-book-like page with a picture of a place you've been (or seen in a magazine), a few facts that you notice in the picture, and a precise of a story scene that fits, then write up the setting and the scene. Did it help you build the scene in your mind? Have a friend read it before they see the scrap book page, Then look at the page and see if it is what they envisioned.
20 sep 09 @ 12:18 pm

Saturday, September 5, 2009

last post for a couple weeks
As promised, I've posted an extra long chuck for Mattias for while I'm out of web contact. I hope everyone enjoys the ladies' battle. i wrote it before the class on combat for writers so I'll have to give it a close review with those lessons in mind and would appreciate it input on if there are elements that are two unbelievable.

Notes on the reunion. Reunions are always a trip down (memory lane, sometimes on unexpected side streets. I go the chance to re-get to know some people I didn't keep in contact with and didn't even know all that well back in the day, so it was a very pleasant time. I did find some unexpected SF%F fans among them and for once remembered to not only bring but pass out to a few people my blog card. I hope they will e-mail me and let me know what they think of my blog when they see it.

It's always a challenge getting feedback. Many readers aren't writers even for quick notes and, as they discussed at one of the conferences recently, the more the readers like it, the less they want to step out of the content and into the practical reality of posting a note. And in person, few people will give feedback of anything except the most pleasant and general sort. Tracking numbers is a fallback that I've found tells me a little--either the story scene or the blog post (I assume it wasn't my poetry) got a little wider interest than the average, but not vastly so. Most often the changes in numbers could be as reflective of the season and holidays and all as anything to do with the posts. something to keep in mind for those of you considering doing blogs of your own, and probably something that applies to writing in general, on or off line.

One other little side note rather far off my usual topic though it may relate to my Homeworld essay for Labor Day, (that I haven't written yet but will be done by the time I hit the "done and publish" button for this blog post). Spending non-tv time with family can have interesting results. This past weekend, my sister and i came up with advice and predictions for the future in the course of a wide-ranging discussion of modern day life and circumstances:

We need to focus on practical technical training (instead of University degrees) so we can keep the practical, technical jobs here (instead of hosting all our help desk jobs in India). We put too much emphasis on college degrees merely as a means of using college as a sorting mechanism, even when the job is not helped by anything taught in college (some jobs call for it; tech schools typically don't teach creative and complex analysis, theoretical science, or provide sufficient training for being a doctor or lawyer or such; on the other hand, the job of admin and floor manager at a store has only gotten the added keystroke skills of computerized forms and cash registers, not much else has changed since the days when those jobs could be done by people without college degrees. With the price of college, and the need for jobs, the disparity between requirements and expectations and reality only exacerbates the problems. To accompany that, we need to provide and accept more programs that teach people the technical and personal skills (like working with each other, business communications, computer applications, welding, machine tooling) that people could really use in what industry we have managed to retain or could get back.Provide has to include scholarships and grants on a par with college industry, and active work with industry to both identify the needed skills and get the requirements in line with reality, outside the university environment, where the high cost of a four-year degree pushes the cost of living (including paying off student loans), and hence the cost of labor, higher than it would needs to be if the right courses were part of one or two year, better-focused program. Then perhaps we could afford to keep more of the jobs here that we currently export in droves to places that don't pay enough to build the consumers that keep businesses in business.

health care was of course the other big topic. We decided that the two assurances that were lacking in the many blurbs we've seen is that the govenern plant be fully comparable to the insurance federal government employees have avaible as choices (as close to a good industry standard as we could think of) OR that the government plan be more expensive than (or at least comparable to) the majority of such level group plans but cheaper than the current rediculous prices of individual plans. That would then ensure that good government and company plans weren't replaced by worthless crap, and that it would benefit those who, as promised, can't currntly get insurance due to preexisting conditions or can't afford it because they can't get decent coverage through their work. It would be a little more comples to deal with the problem of too many part time jobs that don't pay enough even for such a rate, but that is more an issue of our job problems than medical insurance problems.

We predict that lack of curiosity will continue to cause a decline in scientific development (due to lack of funding, not brains), news reporting, ecology and industry in the US until the general population realizes that so-called backwards countries have obviously overtaken us in these areas, and we start to ask "Why?" once again. but meanwhile, advances elsewhere may encourage the rise of new consumer classes and quality of life conditions

Thus are our solutions for the world's problems...
5 sep 09 @ 5:59 pm

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bad Carma at Writercon
I've posted several more scenes to Fantasy Exporations. this wraps up the notes from Writercon. No writing tips here, really, but some issues worth being aware of as we choose our characters and present them for readers.

Diversity Panel

The last session turned out to be a very bad one on diversity. I should have guessed it would go badly from the start but was curious what they would say, given the unusually diverse group in attendance. One of the bad signs was the assumption that good attendance meant it was "needed" when in my past experience it seemed that those who voluntarily attended diversity discussions are usually those who don't need to hear it. I myself was there for lack of anything better to do on the last morning as the other panels were of very narrow interest and nothing I would bother with.

The panelists said a lot of interesting and appropriate things, including that the majority membership is not always at fault: white males get stereotyped, too, and that some stereotypes seem to come more out of left field than others. It's easy to insult by accident if people are defensive and over sensitive, but it's also easy to insult by being inconsiderate and thoughtless...

Fandom in general is many groups, and like recreationist groups--who don't go around everywhere in period garb, though they might not bother changing if a restaurant is convenient for the faire--bringing fan topics into the public arena may not be taken well by everyone. It has its place.

Every side needs to be aware that theirs is not the only perspective, theirs not the only one right veiw of the world and everyone needs to be willing to listen to the other person's point of view. Just because someone says something politically incorrect doesn't mean cutting off the dialog will help anything. Plenty of good words that were forgotten and ignored before the end of the session.

They covered a lot of specifics and examples about multicultural elements that donít get noticed, donít make it onto cover art or into movies and shows, the widespread if not complete prevalence of white characters in science fiction, and other matters. Then somewhere along the way one of the majority members (white heterosexual female, at the con) had the audicity to express her view, that she sometimes felt constrained from expressing her views in the face of all the slash and other talk (I entirely sympathised! I listened a lot and spoke up little about my own views, wondering how disapproval of even the foul language might be taken). Instead of letting her have her say--which didn't seem likely to be long-winded and was very decidedly expressed with care and caution to avoid inadvertently offending--someone shouted her down as if every word she spoke was a horrible insult and several more applauded, proving the point the unfortunate woman had dared try to express.

Contrary to everything that had been said and encouraged by the panel members, open rational dialog wsa disallowed instead of being encouraged. The unfortunate woman not only didn't have "privilege", she didn't even have the right to speak. She, and every heterosexual female in the room was marginalized. She handled it well, apologized for inadvertently offending though no one said what she had done wrong, and I certainly saw nothing wrong in what she had begun to say. And the applause was even more appalling than the shout down, negating every wise word that had been said. The shouter accused the woman of derailing the dialog, but that was instead the role of the shouter and her supporters.

The end of the shout down offered the classic Ghandi or Mother Theresa moment, the opportunity for any of the panel members to be a hero and to demonstrate the substance behind their wise words. it wouldn't have taken much, it seems from the outside: a token conciliatory gesture to the unfortunate victim of the shouting attack, the slightest instructive correction to the shouter and those who, beyond any reason or sense, countering everything that had been said in the preceding hour, applauded the shouter, such as pointing out that it was impossible to listen while shouting someone to silence. Even an indirect reminder that a dialog was not only two people speaking and listening in turn but two people who were allowed to hold and express differing opinions, as panel members had already said at least once. But I was on the outside, observing, and perhaps the panel members, nervous at being in front of the group from the start, were at a loss how to react.

Unfortunately, the result was that the panel members missed that rare opportunity to put substance behind their words by supporting their own tenants. They chose instead to let the shouting and the applause stand as if they approved, probably not recognizing to what degree that noise, and the resulting silence of the woman who had been shouted at utterly negated every good, wise word that had been said prior. I have them a few minutes, to see if they would respond, then I left the meeting and the conference, too appalled to speak to anyone there.

I don't judge the whole group by that panel meeting and fortunately it was at the end, after I had met many pleasant and friendly people whom i can remember fondly, but I will look to meet them again individually, on line or at other sorts of conventions, not at a future Writercon or other FanFic event, where such bitterness prevails.
1 sep 09 @ 8:51 pm

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Be sure to get in touch so I know you're out there! See contacts page or e-mail wyverns(at)earthlink(dot)net.

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