A Blog by an Author, for Authors about the Writing and Publishing fields.
A little corner where I can post my thoughts and opinions on things that matter to writers. If someone gaines insight, knowledge, or even just enjoyment from reading this time to time, then my mission is accomplished. :)|
If there is a specific Writing, Publishing, Marketing, or other related topic that you would like to see me address, feel free to shoot me an email. Or if you would like to comment on what I have said, email me about that too. :)
RD Williams, author of 'The Lost Gate'
| I have gotten some feedback regarding my post on dialogue, and it seems that I am not the only one that has struggled with making my dialogue sound the way I wanted. Dialogue is one of those things that can make or break a scene, with it you can either build the tension, or feeling in your story, or, if it dosn't come accross right, it can destroy the mood and turn the reader off on your story. Not to say that dialoge is the most important, or the only important, element to a story, for there are many, but it is up there on the list.
Here are a few tips that have worked for me over time when I try to make my dialogue 'flow', and give it that real life sound and feel:
1 Listen to the way other people around you talk. Everyone is different, and while many people might sound alike, or use the same words when talking about certain ideas, there is going to be some difference. Listen as people talk, either to you or around you, not only to what they are saying but also HOW they are saying it. For instance, when talking about things that evoke a lot of emotion our voices change, we might whisper, our voices might tremble or crack or squeak, or we might talk with more volume or less, etc. The next time you have a discusion with someone, writie it out(as much as you can remember) later on, trying to make notes of how both you and the other person sounded when saying various things.
2 Stay centered on the topic. When characters in a story are discussing something important, say talking about a certain piece of the plot, or passing important news to each other, try not to throw in too much 'extra' information or talk. While sometimes people do ramble when talking, the last thing we want to see in a story is someone rambling on about unimportant information. A little of this is ok, if it works into your story, or shows us something about the character, just be careful not to over do it. If the conversation feels like it is running too long, try cutting out a line or two, and see how it flows then. Or reword some things, or try breaking it up with some action.
3 Listen to yourself. Once you have written out a conversation, or even just part of a conversation, try reading it outloud to yourself. Put the inflections in your voice that are indicated by the way you have written it, for instance if you say someone is whispering, whisper, if they are shouting, shout. Or even better, get your spouse, or girlfriend/boyfriend, or a friend to read through it with you. See how it sounds when being read aloud. Does it give the feeling you wanted it to? Does the text flow? Is all the information you wanted to get across there?
So what tips or ideas do you have about dialogue?
| Been a few days since I got a chance to check in here, been busy this last week with a few things. Working on the sequal to 'The Lost Gate' for one thing, but the blog has not been forgotten. :) Work on 'The Chaos Blade'(which is the working title) is coming along very well at the moment, as I have recently had a bit of a 'creative rush' so to speak. More on that to come at a later date. For now, here is this weekend's book review...
The Rune Lords
by David Farland
In The Runelords, David Farland captures your attention, and imagination, by setting his story into complex social and magical systems. In this world vassals not only serve their Lords, they can grant their Lords attributes, which then make the Lord powerful, who then in turn protects and cares for the vassal. Weaved into this 'endowment' system is a wide ranged system of magic in which mages recieve their powers through service to the various elements of their world; earth, water, wind, fire.
At the time of this story we find a human Lord who seeks to be granted with so many endowments from others, that he will become the 'Sum of all men'. In trying to acomplish this he begins a war, reaching to conquer his neighbors and force them to aid him. Yet now the young Prince Gaborn, recently named the 'Earth King', strives to stop him. Will Gaborn be able to save the northern Kingdoms? And what about these creatures called Reavors, that have been seen in the hills, once again spreading out to destroy
'The Rune Lords' is the first in a series of books by Daved Farland, which I recomend for fantasy fans.
Until next time, Happy Writing!
|Hey everyone, ran across this short story while poking around some of my haunts online. Thought I would post it for anyone who is interested, but the deadline is NEXT WEEK! So if you are interested in entering it, better get a move on.
THE JUDGE: Joyce Carol Oates, the National Book Award-winner and Zoetrope contributor, will award the top prizes.
PRIZES: The first-place prize is $1,000, second-place prize is $500, and third-place prize is $250.
LITERARY AGENCIES: The winner and seven finalists will be considered for representation by the William Morris Agency, ICM, Regal Literary, the Elaine Markson Literary Agency, Inkwell Management, Sterling Lord Literistic, and the Georges Borchardt Literary Agency.
THE DEADLINE: All entries must be postmarked by October 1, 2007. The winners and finalists will be announced at the website December 1, 2007, and in the Spring 2008 issue of Zoetrope: All-Story.
| There are times, and I am sure I am not alone in this, that when I finally get time to sit down at the computer and write, that choosing an idea to write about is like being a kid in a candy store. 'Let's see, I could write about this idea I had on the bus, then there is this idea that I jotted down a few notes about last night when I woke up to get some water, then there is...' Sometimes it seems they just flow like a river, and the hard part is deciding which one to work on first. Those times can be exhilarating, and annoying both at once.
Then there are times, and I am sure I am not alone on this one either, that I open up a fresh word.doc and my brain seems as empty as the blank screen before me. The river feels like it has been damned up stream somewhere, and I can't seem to even get a trickle. These times are just plain annoying and frustrating. We give this type of thing a name, a dirty name among writers, almost as bad as any other four letter word...writer's block.
It happens to all writers at some time or another(even Stephen King), and being the creative, imaginative beings that are writers, we tend to feel rather 'shut down' when this happens. It has been my experience that this 'shut down' feeling, when left unchecked, has a tendency to merely further the problem. So, I thought I would share a few ways that I try to tackle this when it happens to me.
So there I am, staring at a blank word.doc, watching the cursor flash(or is it laghing at me?), feeling like the time that I set aside is being wasted. Ok, well since I am at the computer(already having checked emails and other things), why not go over some past notes? I have found that by rereading some of the notes I have made about various story ideas, or even rereading partial stories, or short stories that I have written in the past, my mind sort of 'jump starts'. You get yourself back into focus with your writing, and sooner or later the gears start turning again(even if they do smoke a little at first).
If that dosn't help, or I have gone through everything in another recent bought with block, I will sometimes just start doing random web searches on topics that are related to things I like to write about. For me that means checking out some of the fantasy/D&D sites, maybe a few blogs that I havn't been on lately, or maybe even find a few new ones and see what they have to say. Or, I start looking through random fantasy stories on writing.com and see what other people have been up to in the field. It's amazing how inspiring this can be sometimes.
Another idea, when you feel you can't stand to reread that short story again, or just don't feel like doing random searching, or its just not working, is to just close the file, stand up and walk away from the computer for a while. Go do something else for a little bit, idealy something you enjoy, and which dosn't take a lot of brain power. One of my favorites is to just go take a walk about the neighborhood, get some fresh air, clean out the cobwebs, and let your brain cruise in neutral for a little while. This can be like recharging batteries.
Do you have something in particular that you do to relieve, or avoid the dreaded writer's block? If so, and you want to share, drop me a line and let me know. Remember, I might just use your comments on the blog, so if you don't want me to post your comments, make sure you let me know.
Until next time, Happy Writing!
by Raymond Feist
Pug, a local boy in the town of Crydee, feels himself very unimportant, that is until the Duke's Magician chooses him as his apprentice. This tale follows Pug as he begins on his path to being a Magician, and perhaps more, as the entire Kingdom is being threatened by an invasion, from another world! Pug's destiny is also tied up with another, even more powerful mage, perhaps the most powerful of all time, and his coming signals an even greater danger for both worlds.
This book is a great introduction to two vastly different worlds, joined in what later becomes a common danger to them both. Once you begin reading this story you won't want to put it down, as Fiest throws you one twist after another. I would recomend this book to any Fantasy fan.
Thus begins, the Riftwar Saga...
| One of the most repeated pieces of advice given by Authors is to 'Write what you know'. In my opinion, it is also very sound advice. Now, I must admit that the first time I read that little tidbit in an Author interview, I thought 'Oh, well that's fine advice for someone writing non-fiction, or even certain types of fiction, but what about me? I write Fantasy and Sci-fi'. How do you 'write what you know' when you are writing about a trip through space to a distant planet, or a battle between Wizards, or a piece about a Dragon? This applies also to those of us that write horror, fantasy/horror, and a plethora of other fiction genres. I came to realize that this does also apply to writers of these genres though.
While, admitedly, one can not have personal expreience in some of these matters(when was the last time you rode on the back of a Dragon?), writers of fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc. can easily gain experience via the writings of others. This, I think, should go along with 'Write what you know' for fiction writers, heck, writes of non-fiction too, as it is just as applicable. Read, read, read, and read some more. One of the best ways to glean insight, and inspiration in both content, and just the actuall machanics of the craft that is writing, is to read the work of others.
One Author said in an interview I read a while back(I can't remember who it was for the life of me) that 'In writing fiction there are no new ideas, there are just old ideas barrowed from others but with new life, and new imagination breathed into them'. What does this mean? Basically, there are so many ideas that have been writen about, in so many ways, that it is nearly impossible to come up with something that has not yet been touched in some way, shape or form. The trick is to put your own 'spin' on it. Take JK Rowling's Harry Potter series for instance. The idea of Wizards and Witches, spells, incantations, magical items/creatures, etc. is not new. The idea of beings of this nature living in a 'sub-culture/world' seperate and hidden from our own is also not new. Also the idea of a 'Dark Lord' striving to conqure all, destroying all that stand in their way, and one lone person having the power to stop them with the aid of friends is also not new. Yet Rowlings gives us a new look, and maybe a new way of looking at, these same elements.
Another way to 'write what you know' without personal experience, is research. If you have an article, or a story involving a particular subject that you want to write, do some research into the subject. At one time this meant going to the library, armed with your library card, a notebook, and a roll of coins for the copying machine. In the world of today there is a vast well of varied information, on almost any subject imaginable, right at our finger tips via the internet. Say we are writing a sci-fi piece about someone trying to manipulate DNA and create a mutated form of life, and we know next to nothing about the science of DNA, or mutation. On Google, the subject 'DNA mutation' brings up 32MILLION entries alone, while the subject of just 'DNA' brings up 123MILLION entries. That's a lot of sources to pull information from.
So, the next time you sit down to start writing about a subject that you think 'I have no personal experience in this', do some research, read a few books by others having to do with the same topics, see what they did and see if it sparks your imagination into life. But most importantly, read, read, read, then read some more, and when you are finished with that, read some more.
Until next time, Happy Writing!...and reading! :)
| The world of Authors suffered a sad loss this last Sunday. Under a couple different pseudonymes he has written Historical novels, aided in the continuation of the Connan the Barbarian series, and spellbound many of us with The Wheel of Time fantasy series.
Known to his fans as Robert Jordan, James Oliver Rigney passed away Sunday at age 58 in Charleston, SC due to a Blood Illness.
Any that are fans of his best selling 'Wheel of Time' series, such as myself, know that the twelfth, and final novel of this series has not yet been released, in fact the novel was still in process at the time of his death. There have been some slight indications that the novel will be finished from his notes. This brings mixed feelings for me, who will step in and take up the thread of his story? Will they do justice to the final end of this epic that he has worked hard to create for us for so many years? And also, is it too soon after his death for them to be thinking of this? I suppose in a way, its a tribute to his memory to make sure that his work is finished.
Robert Jordan, (James O. Rigney Jr.)
Oct. 17, 1948 to Sept. 16, 2007
| Recently I have been pressing forward with the sequal to my novel, and in doing so I have also been expanding upon, and 'firming up' some things about the world in which these stories are set. Yesterday, with my favorite football team's game playing on the TV as a back drop, I began redrawing the map I created for my fantasy world. As I was drawing out the coastlines, and making decisions on the locations of places that I have not yet touched upon in my writings, but plan too, it occoured to me how painstaking, and important, creating the 'secondary' world for a fantasy story can be.
When creating a world for characters to live, unless they are set in our everyday world, there are many things that cry out to be set out as facts of that world. All worlds, even our own, have certain laws that govern it, and I don't mean laws made by politicians or rulers. In our everyday world they are the laws of physics, those things that determine what will happen given certain conditions, such as when you drop something, it will fall, everytime. In a fantasy world that is inhabited by strange, and fantastical creatures, some of these laws could even be magical in nature. An example of this from the popular Harry Potter series by JK Rowling would be that casting a certain spell the same way, should result in the same effect each time. Of course it could be said that such 'magical laws' are really the suspension or negation of physical laws, but it comes out to be about the same in the end, and therefore I like to think of it as a 'law' of that world.
Basically, when deciding on these 'laws' the decision is 'what happens when 'A' happens? Then everytime 'A' happens, there would be the same effect, thus a 'law' of that world/universe. Sometimes its not even something that the writer sets about thinking of as a 'law', but just a basic decision of what happens when Merlin begins chanting, or when a Dragon looks you in the eyes. It works the best when there is some congruency, because then the reader excepts it as a 'law' or fact of that world. If it changes throughout the story, without there being some reason behind it that the reader can wrap their mind around, they are most likely not going to be as 'spellbound' with the story.
So remember, the next time you sit down to write a story with a fantasy setting to it, think about that spell your character is casting, or the effect of that weapon or machine. What is it that is suppose to happen? Maybe even think about why it happens, and then decide if you want that to be a set fact in your world. Then of course, even if later you decide you want it to change 'under certain conditions' well even in our world, there are exceptions to every rule, just make sure the reader will recognize it as something out of the ordinary.
Until next time, Happy Writing!
|This week's book review is about The First King of Shannara, by Terry Brooks
Jerle Shannara, the Kingship of the Elves thrust upon him after the tragic destruction of the heart of the Royal family, finds his land and people in the deadliest peril. The Wizard Bremen also stands against that peril, which threatens the lands of the Dwarves and of Men as well.
Bremen, along with a small group of comrades, must somehow find the black elfstone and hide it from the deadly enemy that threatens them all, yet at the same time they struggle to rally the people of the freelands to stand against the armies of Trolls, Gnomes, and other dire creatures, led by the Skullbearers. Their greatest hope against the leader of these deadly creatures is a mystical sword that Bremen aids in forging, combining the strength of magic and of science in its blade. Yet what is this mystical power that is held by the sword?
The First King of Shannara being the prequel to Terry Brooks' Shanarra series, has many foreshadows of the other books in the series in its pages. It is well written, if not as superb as some of the greatest, such as Tolkien, from whom Brooks seems to have found some of his greatest inspirations. An enjoyable read for any fantasy fan, and should be on the list of any fan of the Shanarra series.
Until next time, Happy Writing!
| Well, it's Friday once again, and therefore time for another Friday Book Highlight. I try to keep this to books that have been recently released, like in the last week or so, but the second one today has been out for a while. It just seemed to fit with the first. Hope you enjoy.
by Michael Murphy
Michael Murphy has released his latest novel, 'Cold File'. Published 09/01/07 by Wings ePress. 'Cold File' is a tale of suspense and mystery set about the drastically changed life of teacher and novelist Adam Quinn. Together he and Holly Farrell face dangers and personal struggles as they search for answers in a ten year old murder case.
'Cold File' is currently available for order via Amazon.com
Knights of the Blood
by Katherine Kurtz, and Scott MacMillan
'Knights of the Blood', by Katherine Kurtz, and Scott MacMillan, finds Detective John Drummond investigating a murder case that begins strange, and gets stranger as he digs deeper. Does the body of the victim, covered in Nazi tattoos and completely drained of blood, really have a connection with an uncaught serial killer from many years before? Or has Drummond stumbled into the middle of an ancient blood feud that is even more deadly?
'Knights of the Blood' is currently available for order via Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble