Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Something I Can't Discuss Out Loud...

So while searching the web for something interesting to post about, I found this interesting article (click on the word 'article' to see the article). I decided to explore this topic from a two person perspective.

Hey, look at this article (see above). I think it's highly relevant and helpful to writers of both science fiction and fantasy.

I can't believe you would show me an article like this. Fantasy is obviously for children and contains little to no sex. Wait, let me rephrase that, it contains no sex.

Um, how many fantasy books have you read?

Enough to know that the concept of putting such material into fantasy just makes it smut, therefore it is no longer considered fantasy.

So every fantasy book that contains physical relations goes from being fantasy into the world of smut once what, clothes come off, certain words are said, certain events are implied? Where is the line drawn?

It's very clear to me. No relations, possibly even no relationships = fantasy, any romantic inkling = smut.

Really, do we have to call it smut, why not just call it a romance novel?

Once you make the beast sound like it's less of a monster everyone wants to be its friend.

What do you mean?

Once you make smut sound like it's not smuth, it'll run rampant through fantasy and every other genre.

Um, it already does.

Curtains close, players bow, lights dim...

I know, from personal experience and from discussions with other writers that it is hard writing relationships especially when it comes to romance between characters. Writers are weary about people judging them if they write something too graphic or disturbing. But, physical relations are part of the real world and should be part of real fiction, no matter how hard it is to put those scenes out there for everyone to read/judge. I guess, if you're a reader of fantasy, enjoy: if you're a writer of fantasy, remember my short two person play (and feel free to perform it as often as you wish - either as you playing both parts or with an equally apathetic friend), worry often, write much and keep in mind that I didn't really read the article (see above) I just thought it was a funny topic.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fantastic Description!

I had an idea for a post last week, but as I began writing it out, it seemed pathetic (and not in the good Charlie Brown way) so I abandoned it and now I'm posting this instead.

I have been engrossing myself in edits lately and I thought I would bore all of my avid readers with a blog about it. This blog will be minimally comical at best, so if you want a good laugh check out some previous blogs or read something else - I promise not to be offended (but I am known to lie on occasion (also known as daily)).

Writing fantasy is challenging because fantastical works need to very visual. Fantasy stories hold scenes and characters that may not have been previously imagined by readers, so a writer must have intense powers of description to make these elements believable and see-able (if that's a word). The more I read fantasy (even my own) I can detect good description and bad/lacking description. A good fantasy novel does not force a reader to re-read a section three times to fully comprehend what images are being handed to them. In the same vein, a reader shouldn't be left wondering what a character or scene is supposed to look like (although some readers will never be content no matter how much description you give them, but we'll pretend those people don't exist). As a general rule, a fantasy novel needs a lot of quality description to allow the reader to believe the story and to be immersed in the lore of the tale.

So as I go over my novel: Two Heads Are Better Than One, I'm finding places that need clarification and places begging for better description and as I work on these I hope it makes the book stronger because description is the biggest key to fantasy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time Travel

Time travel is a topic often explored in science fiction and fantasy.
Hard science fiction goes into the physics/chemistry/other tough to understand science to explain how time travel could be possible.
Soft science fiction may explain time travel through vague scientific means or just establishes that time travel is possible (without explanation) and the reader just accepts this fact.
Fantasy likes to use magical elements such as portals, spells, serums, so on and so forth to explain/utilize time travel.

While I personally have considered several time travel plots for my stories, I have yet to write one. I do, though, make weekly jokes about being from the future, being from the past, being a zombie, a vampire, a samurai - all which have the ability to time travel.

Time travel has been a fascinating idea for many writers and has been the premise of many books and I would like to explore here, my latest time travel scenario:

Amanda and I looking for pictures of kittens on the Google, hoping to find one cute kitten with an upset belly. This is not because we like to see kittens in pain (we hope that being cute outweighs the pained look) but because we wanted a picture to go on the cover of a journal called "angry tummy times" or something like that. Finding no pictures of kittens that would be acceptable for a pink bismuth advertisement, Amanda realizes that there is an untapped world out there for these such photos and by tapping into it we could become millionaires (or possibly just dollaraires but we didn't go into specifics). Amanda utilized the world of kittenomics to prove that kitten pictures would make money. I said, why don't we go into a time machine and ask John Locke about it. Then I realized that John Locke is a philosopher, not the creator of economics (that's Adam Smith) but I don't like changing plans on the fly, so we still went to see John Locke.

As we step out of the space time continuum, a surprised John Locke stares at us -- visitors from the future.
Me: John Locke! What is the principle of kittenomics?
John Locke: What?
Me: You know nothing!

Then Amanda and I jump back into the space time continuum. On they way back Amanda reminds me that the future is bright, and hands me my shades. We see Huey Lewis traveling back in time and wave.

As we land back into present day I tell Amanda a funny joke about fudz. She explains to me that fudz is lolspeak, I tell her I just made it up. She tells me that all of my thoughts are unoriginal and have already been plastered all over the internetz. I blame Huey Lewis and plan to give him the finger next time I travel through time.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Characters can be like best friends, or best enemies. They can be helpful and harmful to your story. Knowing a character is inevitable, and is going to move your writing along faster the sooner you find out who these characters truly are. Knowing mundane details about your character not only builds your personal appreciation of these people that are going to be a large part of you life, but also makes them more interesting for your readers and may adjust the storyline because of the characters particular likes/dislikes/circumstances/you get the picture.
Your main character is a pirate.
Is he/she a parrot pirate or a monkey pirate?
If you don't know the difference you should go back to pirate school.
Knowing which he/she is leads the character into a different direction and makes them more interesting than a pirate whose personal preference on an animal sidekick is not known.

When I write characters I tend to base them on who I think people should be with a little tiny bit of real people. Especially when creating heroes. Heroes get to be larger than life, so I make them into people that I think they'd be, not necessarily based on people around me that aren't heroes and whom heroes shouldn't be based on. While your characters should have realistic abilities/wants/desires/(you get the picture), they also can exceed the limitations of the people you see/know.

Also, knowing the back story of your characters helps your story be more complete and can offer that extra fluff to make a 44,000 word story into a 55,000 word story (I know from experience). I enjoy using several different "character sketches" to build on my character's back stories. These usually entail writing out details about birth dates, likes/dislikes, family history, physical descriptions, wants/fears and so on and so forth. If you Google "character sketch" you probably can get a lot of sites with stuff you can use to plot out your characters personalities and histories. I want to say though, that not only does knowing your characters help you enhance your story, it also leaves your reader more satisfied. It's like the difference between a plain bologna sandwich and a bologna sandwich with ham, salami, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and mustard.

While you shouldn't leave you readers with questions, you also shouldn't tell them too much. A reader doesn't need to know how many sheets of toilet paper your character prefers to use, unless it matters (later in the story they run out of toilet paper and a mutiny on the ship causes the main character to go rouge).

I feel like this post is very scattered, so I may touch on this subject again in the future.