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Welcome to my blog!


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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Friday, February 26, 2010

arguments and injecting ideas
I always have a lot of ideas that I want to be part of the story but where to include them... My original drafts of such things are not scenes so much as elements, that have only aninternal sequence, flavors that may fit a scene or not. In the paper days, I kept them apart on separate sheets, then inserted and moved them around as I found appropriate scenes that fit them to.

Revising on computer is a little more challenging, harder to page through and I start alternating in-depth revision with skimming in order to copy and paste chunks. It works, but the flow is different and I find myself re-sequencing more often. Several elements of this scene moved many times before I found a good fit and flow, and with all the pieces, a complete scene that tells its part of the story... hopefully effectively.

The debate part of the scene I've not posted onto Space Explorations has gone through lots of changes, been divided and shifted and spread out to other scenes. Ultimately it has been shortened and probably will be some more before I'm done. I typically have the characters argue out a matter in endless depth, exploring ideas and opinions and options. The goal at the final draft though is to keep only a couple of lines, boiling them down and concentrating them to the most character-unique, (and least obvious) points in the argument to define the difference in their views of the issue. This one changed focus to go from too high-level and philosophical to something more concretely meaningful for the characters--at least that was the intent. You can see if I've achieved it.

Like the scenes from Tuesday, it might be a bit too much talking heads. Eventually, I'll likely spread it between scenes with a little more action, or even discuss the matter mid-adventure, but for a younger audience, that might get rather too messy, so for now I've left it separate while I consider options.

Writer's challenge: Take an issue of the day that interests you, have a couple of characters argue opposite sides (this can make a great basis for a scene between protagonist and antagonist) with appropriate adjustments for the world they are in, then shorten it by half and half again.

26 feb 10 @ 9:37 pm

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

talking heads
Since I often start a scene with a dialog, it's easy to get scenes that are almost nothing but dialog, which can be too much of a good thing. Adding gestures and expressions help (I probably need to do on the scenes I've posted today). About as often, I add another kind of scene that I sometimes write--pure narrative, in this case thoughts. They don't make a great fit as they are now, I suspect. A little too glued together and disconnected, but it makes a descent place to start for further revisions, and it's okay if the ideas don't entirely mesh. We often talk of other things than we say, and that's a message about the character's, too. When I've encountered that kind of disconnect in other books, if it's done right, the ideas can build off each other for a subconscious kind of depth, or they can add elements that add to the over all story without being a noteworth individual scene, and if the scene is brief, that might be enough. I don't think this is where it needs to be, yet, but I'll keep working on it.
23 feb 10 @ 7:49 pm

Friday, February 19, 2010

Where to end, where to end...
I've added another scene, several actually, and no, I haven't decided to end it here. To end on Eldera, I'd need to move it to later, add several earlier scenes. I may yet. I shuffle rather a lot, sometimes for the wrong reasons, because of a tone that seems to fit, more than because it's the right scene in the right place, but that eventually comes, too. For now, it remains in place and Qiri and Dragon and co have moved on.

Still, as a place, it might make a good place to end Book 1 if I build up the previous adventure more and make it more about Qiri questioning whether this is the life she wants, can accept for now, a role in the universe. But she still needs to fight pirates, a bigger adventure scene, and see that she can get news out about them, specifically about their not being Gamenti. I would also need to do something more with Digarush. Altogether, I know I've started a lot of sub plots, but obviously have more to go on all of them.

I’d like to be able to just write what I feel like at the time, but the problem with the chaos writing style is that the overall story arc in a little harder to frame. And with the nature of Qiri's new life, it's easy to resequence events, and harder to be sure the overall story is progressing as intended. What I end up doing in the end is building each scene as fully as I can, often with more than needed of the main story, sequence them as they fit best at that point, and then adjust the depth and content of the scenes to complete the main story, remove redundancies, and add a scene or two if still needed.
19 feb 10 @ 6:40 pm

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So are Tuesday's working out?
It isn't quite as steady a habit, but I do end up getting online a little less late when I do it Tuesdays instead of Mondays.

Today's addition will give you an idea whether I know how to balance the potentially tedious with local excitement (that is, a small adventure that is only indirectly part of the main story line. I mean, is it possible to make parking lots an interesting topic of discussion for those not in a parking mess at the time? Here is an attempt. And if it helps some young reader (or not so young) get past their next public speaking engagement, all the better. (Imagine yourself on the run from just about everywhere, pausing in a public place for a bit of anonymous fast food--everyone's got to eat--and being asked to make a public speech for all to hear. Can that be worse than whatever speech you have to make?)

And then the adventure. Not a big one, but an adventure all the same and I always wonder if it has the pace I'm aiming for. Lots of detail (think slow motion video; you get to see lots of the details, but it doesn't generally detract from the excitement of the moment unless it's badly done and unnatural) but it can't be philosophical or explanatory, in my view. that being said, my first drafts are always full of just that, much of it redundant to waht has been better explained elsewhere, and I have to go back repeatedly to take out explanations and non-action commentary. For example the phrase was originally "At the seeming assault, the smuggler’s fist came up" and now I've removed the entire first clause. I suspect that clauses in general probably don't belong in an exciting action bit, but haven't decided yet whether it is a firm rule.

On my rare chance to get online, I've been trying to check our SF and Fantasy clubs and other groups. Most of course are campus based and just sites for posting the local meeting times and dates and such, but they always have a little about the group. I haven't decided yet whether I'm disappointed that so many are--at least on the web description, of necessity a surface and possibly original description of the group--focused on specific shows and moveis (Star Trek and Star Wars of course are popular.) I mean, I sympathize. I have a few old classics I'll watch over and over, such as the original Star Trek and Dr Who. That kind of fan loyalty is good to see, and the popularity of certain old ones means that new things in the same ballpark still have a chance of modest success. Still, I hope the members of such groups are also giving the new stuff a chance, books and media both. Success in the box office has certain been high for a few new ones (Harry Potter and Avatar come to mind), and Harry Potter was already highly popular as a book, but beyond book tours, including blog tours, I haven't seen too many fan groups make an obvious presence for much else new. Am I looking in the wrong places? Or has the role of fandom changed over time such that only a select few series from a particular era will ever gain that particular kind of fame?
16 feb 10 @ 9:52 pm

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Holidays and other interuptions
the holidays being stacked, and Olympics starting all in one long weekend, besides filling my schedule with unusual activities, interrupted the tv shows that are my reminder of when I planned to blog, so this is a day later than I intended.

This series of scenes and to come have gotten much of my attention, not so much in the rewriting as whether to include them at all. Some scenes are just fun to write and rewrite, and in the end I drop them out because they don't fit with the rest, don't add to the story, require other stuff that slows the progress instead of adding to it, and other reasons. And some scenes seem necessary when I first write them because they help me develop some aspect of the character, but writing for myself in author is not the same as writing for the reader and what helps me may only generate questions without answers for the reader. E.g., he classic gun: a character's behavior may be impacted in the author's mind by whether the writer thinks she would carry a gun or not, but that doesn't mean the writer intends to use the gun in a current story line, so it might never be mentioned. In this case, Qiri's flight and single-color colring go together, and most eld recognize it immediately, but that's not going to matter this book, but it seems natural that the audience at the town hall would react this way... should I leave out the whole scene and potentially generate questions from the reader prematurely? Or does it speak to Qiri's character in an interesting and useful way?

Similarly, I am always uncertain about flashbacks. It is said that they can slow the action down, though I find that to be true only in the midst of a really fast-paces scene, like a battle, where things might change sentence by sentence, or if the backflash itself is slow, too much narrative without its own action. Still, the past perfect tense has its own awkwardness and fractional slowing effect, and short flashbacks are obviously out of sequence, which bothers some people. So Qiri's reaction to coming here has moved back and forth, been removed and reinserted. In the end I've opted for here because it makes for a quicker leap into the substory, often as desirable as into the book itself. Let me know if you think it still feels out of place.

Writer's challenge: write a description of a character's hometown and a scene where a visit or memory of it impacts the character's actions.
13 feb 10 @ 7:18 pm

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

the normal the the strange of Eldera
Well, the chaos has calmed and I have largely settled into typing. I found one of today's scenes in the pile of notes and got it typed in as well as revised. Hope you like it.

I have lots of great role models for world building and know I'm not as good at it, which is why I tend to focus elsewhere, but one can't do space fiction without some planets, and Qiri deserved a visit to "hers" such as it is. i also thought it would be useful to provide a taste of what is "normal" for the eld, for comparison, and give Qiri a chance to show how she's different. I hope you enjoy the tour.

One of the issues, is how much non-normal (for her kind) to make her. The mix is normal enough, but for a couple of reasons that won't be clear for a couple of books, the flight is not, and not only because this is the world of the Eldrice (the electric elds). Does she have too many traits altogether, detracting from believability to the point of the rediculous? I see it as a nice package, but as the creator, I have a far different perspective than readers. What do you think?
9 feb 10 @ 8:01 pm

Friday, February 5, 2010

A week of Mondays
A week of chaos at the day job and some at home, too. i made good progress on my quilt--a crazy quilt, so it fit right in with the flow of the day, and steady progress, sort of Qiri's book, but more on the order of steps back and forward than steady. I finally got through what I had on line, identified gaps, and started going through my paper notes for missing bits. A few things that I'll probably add to earlier scenes, lots of notes for the sequels, and the the scene for next week that i knew I'd written but hadn't been able to find until I went through my notes.

Going through notes is an interesting exercise. I'm a chaotic writer especially in early stages pre draft--scene ideas, bits and pieces of character interaction and worlds and events--and some of it includes ideas for flow and plot line, ideas for concepts and off-scene events that need to get into the story somehow. Going through this mishmash, I always get new ideas, find myself fleshing out some concept that I couldn't quite grab onto the first or third or tenth time around, trying a new approach to a scene that didn't make the cut initially but fills a still-needed place in the overall scheme of the books.

Lots of new handwritten notes that all need to be put into their proper places in the story in the computer, just where i was a couple of months back.

Writers' challenge: Look at the notes or a draft that you havne't touched in a year or more with a pen in one hand and a notebook handy. What happens?
5 feb 10 @ 10:00 pm

Monday, February 1, 2010

Face of Evil
I have a clear image of Garush, who is introduced on the Esplorer page today, but I am not at all certain that i have conveyed him effectively to the reader. I have many sorts of evil in Qiri's book, and with criminal protagonists, handling the truly evil ones has been a fun challenge. The goal here is to make the evil clear and open. He won't appear often, so he must be memorable, not ambivous. Other evil characters will be more subtle. ON the other hand clear can so easily become cartoonish and I'm not aiming for a Dick Tracy effect here. What do you think?

The basic theme/concept of the evil character comes from something I was taught as a kid: check the price. If there isn't one, you can't afford it. I've only been to a couple of restaurants that didn't actually list prices and that advice prepared me for the bill. But what about those who don't have to ask the price of a sport car? A yacht? Thus born someone as rich as I could possibly imagine, and then some. I'm not of the school of thought that rich equates to evil, however populat the theme may be in American movies, but to be that kind of wealthy without concern for throwing it away in large volume, I decided a disconnect between spender and owner of the wealth might help, which meant also powerful, and getting that kind of power seemed likely to require a measure of cold-heartedness, of cunning and mischief, and the ability to weild it freely, so evil.

What makes a baddie evil as opposed to criminal? Other views?
1 feb 10 @ 7:11 pm

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