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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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Three quarters of a sentence, half a thought, or something in the air
I list something in the air as an option because several people at my work have more than usually tired and not all with the same causes for stress. the whole week I seem more to be resisting thought than thinking well, prone to think of things from the past, or daydreaming of potential scenarios that make me angry rather than happy, a sure sign of things bothering me. Some I knew - work's been aggravating, and people at work, and some quite innocently but others more or less earning blame by playing less than fair or sanely.

Still, I wonder if it isn't the weather or other things. the stresses aren't so much worse than usual, and don't fully explain the scattered-brain functions when I can still focus so fully on something like crochet. Usually if I start jumping around, I jump around with everything. But I can crochet lots, and I still write a bit every night, though sometimes less than others depending how late I get to bed. I've been hopping a bit between two stories, one that I've been revising as I post on my other blog, and one that is not nearly so far along.

Mostly I've been beginning on introductory sentences. I took a workshop on them last year and didn't understand all of the lesson, but over time I think I've gotten the hang of at least the suggested concepts: give or seem to give a lot of information, present something that makes the reader curious (something that sounds odd to the uninitiated but may be perfectly normal within the context of the story, and something that conveys the sense of recent change.

Linnel stared up at the eight-by-eight foot opening in the ceiling and wondered if the planet had anything but sky.

Not quite right yet, but I think it has a lot of the elements: an action, an unusual sort of question that hints at something about the character's circumstances, and an indication that those circumstances have changed. It also leaves in no question that it is a space fiction, though I leave it to the next few sentences to convey other key aspects of the nature of the fiction. The tricky bit is to make sure that more action follows soon, not just laying back and wondering. Fortunately, the question is directed at an interesting creature that has much more freedom of action than Linnel.

Writer's challenge: write several first sentences for a current story, or for a story you haven't yet started.
26 feb 11 @ 10:53 pm

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Time jumping
I thought I had posted Monday, planned on yesterday. Yesterday I know I didn't because I was concentrating on my crochet project. I'm putting together blocks while making blocks, balancing against the pattern, such as it is, and the limits of my current yarn stock in the right colors, so it takes a fair amount of concentration to keep track of little stacks of sequenced blocks at various stages of completion). I'm not sure what happened to Monday. Chuck and Castle, probably, and I should have blogged between them. Cape wasn't satisfying.

The weather is on m mind today and I haven't seen much real news but I have posted a couple things on my other blog (usually the same days I post to this one) about Democracy, first in respond to the Egyptian's demand for democracy, then on the state employees of Wisconsin, trying to hold onto their rights, and the curious and delightful flight of the democratic state senetors, leaving the state to delay the vote and allow time to make the issues impressively public. Delightful and inspirational and fuel for many stories, potentially, though more for contemporary comedy (it made me think of American President and Dave, among others) than for fantasy and science fiction.

Still, I've managed bits and pieces of story stuff, too, some little vignettes to fill out the culture of E-ships: I have focused on certain aspects, but found one that could provide the symbols for a long metaphor and a focus for a weak point in the plot: a crystal necklace.

I first added crystals in general as an occupation for the mountain culture of the main character, represented by her father and a crystal given her as a gift. Originally it was a gift from her mother as part of her right-of-passage type experiences (a role in a play), then from her father, as the crystal grower. In a later version, to give some evil scientist types a direction of effort, I added a potential/seeming link between the crystal and the prevelance of empaths in the mountains. Now I've tied them together by including it in the first scene of the book, adding a scene of her remembering her father in his workshop (along the way I worked out elements of crystal growing from minerals in the mountain waters, mostly by making vague references, guesses by the characters, then figuring out which to make true). I think I should include the crystal in the climax and/or ending but haven't quite figured out the role they should play.

At a con where I was able to meet with an author for feedback on one of my books (t least the intros), the author said that big "saves" should be accompanied by sacrafices. In that one, I sacrificed the magic crystal used for the save, but that crystal played a very different role, not so much symbol as addiction, prop for habitual jestures, etc. In this case, the role of the crystal should be different, too. If I can find the answer, I think I will be able to fix most of the weaknesses I still sense in the later part of the plot.

Writer's challenge: look at an existing story: does it contain something that can be used as a physical representation of some aspect of the theme? (Crystals, jewels, and blades are common in traditional fantasy (and still work). Does SF have an equivalent?)
23 feb 11 @ 10:04 pm

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Back again and Suvudu
Catching up after a week away, mostly e-mail and Facebook, and one of the links brought up a timely link to a Delray competition ongoing now. The prizes are mostly books but the grand prize is a full editorial review and feedback and chance at publication. I sent them one of mine and hope wit was as ready as I thought. If you have a completed manuscript (they want the whole thing), I encourage you to give it a try, too.

I'm planning on writing more blogs in the near future. Many topics, many issues in mind and want to share a bit.

Writer's Challenge: if you don't have a story started, set a goal of working on it several days a week. If you have a story started but not finished, set a goal of finishing it (if you've barely started, a year might be a reasonable goal for a first draft: if you're further along, adjust accordingly. If you've finished one, show it to someone.
20 feb 11 @ 8:21 pm

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

journals are writing too
Work and life are not aiding my fiction writing this week though I am making excellent progress on my afghan. I relived some of the tension by catching up on my much-neglected journal. It's amazing what a bit of vetting through words on a sheet of paper can do to improve the mood and generate scene ideas... what I would have like to do to...

It reminded me that I should do at least a brief follow-up on my mini journal that was my big resolution for last year. I didn't quite manage to write a sentence every day and several times wrote two or three sentences - one for each day I had missed prior and the day of, but in the end I came to within about three pages of the end of the tiny book and have lots of food for thought, including, why in the world did I think that was worth writing, and how bored I must have been to have written that as the capture of the day, and oh, yeah, that was still this past year, wasn't it!

A couple of deaths of relatives, one I'd recently seen, one i'd only tried to keep in touch with long distance. Lots of train trips: I started going by train at the end of 09 and it feels like I've been on dozens of trains, my experiences there have varied so much!

Writer's challenge: find a notebook of a cozy, comfortable use size, and keep it with you. Find a good, pricy pen that you enjoy holding, too.
9 feb 11 @ 7:27 pm

Thursday, February 3, 2011

one track at a time
I learned the concept of focusing on one thing long ago, and it is a way to get things done, but it turns out I can focus a little too well. Not that that is a new notion to me, but it's been awhile since I had the opportunity, and between travel and weather, I've had time to work on crochet. One scarf done, one afghan well on its way, two wrists aching (aggravated by falls on the frozen snow and ice...) That's probably a bit too much at once. Before that it was all too many hours on the computer, which got a lot of material into the computer and helped me make progress on my next novels, but I need to balance that against trying to get published if I want to make anything of my writing (or from my writing). And the one thing can't be neglecting family and social life either...

When I wasn't focusing all too much (I think I crochet like the entire day and evening on our local snow day besides many hotel hours and other evenings), I have felt totally scattered, not so much that I couldn't concentrate but that I wasn't allowed to because of stuff seeming to come at me and needing my attention. Not conducive to good creative writing. Maybe a paragraph a night the last couple of nights despite retiring early for the purpose of writing awhile. Editing is easier under these circumstances.

Writer's challenge: set aside some time to write every day, preferably the same time, and schedule a reasonable stopping time, too. How easy or hard is it to either notice the time or stop on schedule? (I don't recommend an alarm, especially an obnoxious one: tension doesn't help creative writing unless you are writing a very tense scene.)
3 feb 11 @ 8:17 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.

Every word should be an experience