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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Tiny ones. Still concrete goals are the first step to actually getting where you want to go.

The “secret history” idea I’ve been playing with is taking clearer and clearer shape. It’s almost certainly going to start not so much with history as with legend–which might, or might not, be based in actual history. In this case, likely some of the older parts of the stories about King Arthur.

But, actually, it probably starts a bit earlier than that, with a very small part of the Welsh stories about Bran the Blessed, because that story is sometimes connected to Arthur’s–or to something inadvisable that a young Arthur does.

Of course, there’ll be a pretty big twist on these stories. (Hint: dragons will be important.)

celtic dragon_46947764

So, back to concrete steps. I need to review some of the recent things I’ve read–and watched through The Great Courses Plus–about Arthur. I’ll also review at least part of the Mabinogion to refresh my memory about Bran’s story.

And also continue the Great Courses Plus course I’m currently watching. A

And then, just maybe, I’ll be ready to start writing.

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No, I haven’t actually started writing, yet. But I have made some progress. The Great Courses Plus lectures have sparked some new ideas. I’ve done a bit of research. I’ve even started gathering potential cover art.

Gold Flame Dragon

This isn’t one of them. 😀 (That’s from the cover of BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC.)

And I’ve begun to imagine what an opening scene might be like.

That’s progress.

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So much for the last year. It’s on the way out, along with a whole decade. Time to look ahead and choose how to go forward. I have several plans, now. Hopefully some of them will actually pan out. Note, they are plans, not goals. This is going to be a process, but starting it is the first important thing. Then, of course, staying with it.

First: I believe part of the problem is that I haven’t been doing enough to refill my creative well. I’ve let myself fall into a rut. I even keep re-reading the same books a good portion of the time–the books I know won’t let me down. Well, I’m not going to stop re-reading my old friends from time to time, but I am going to make more effort to read new things, too–new authors, new stories from authors I love, second chances, perhaps, for some authors who I felt let me down. But that’s not enough. I need to move out of my comfort zone more. I’m going to make an effort to go to new places, too. Maybe even meet new people (which, as a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, is not the easiest thing for me to do). Also, most likely, a new fitness routine. I need to make some changes there, too. Process. Baby steps.

Second: Creativity thrives on the new. New experiences, yes. (See above.) But also new learning. I’ve lined up several lecture series on The Great Courses Plus. The first up align quite nicely with that secret history/alternate history idea I’ve been playing around with for years. (Right now, I’m leaning toward an alternate history, which would allow me to keep names and places, but not worry too much about the details of daily life, etc. If dragons have been influencing humanity for centuries . . . well, a lot of things might well be different and I don’t have to bog myself down with research into the details. The broad courses of history and pivotal events–and people–could still stay the same . . . more or less.) There’s also a lecture series on writing that I started but haven’t finished. And . . . well, there are a lot of things available there. Who knows what will spark an idea? Maybe for another story altogether.

Third: Breaking through writer’s block. I’ve bought and started reading one e-book on the subject. Not everything in it will work for me, of course. You can’t expect that. Every writer’s process is different. But picking up some ideas is a good start. There’s another book by a different author I may try after this one.

Fourth: Maybe try joining another writer’s group. Not that I’m going to leave any of the ones I’m in, but it could be something to try. Still thinking about this one.

Fifth:  Clean my desk.

Messy Desk

Right now, I don’t blame the muse for refusing to visit. Step one, taking down the office Christmas tree,

WireTree2019

is complete. Now I have some room to sort things into better order.

Sixth: Get back to a regular writing routine. Maybe not the same one as before, but something I can maintain–something that meshes with breaking out of my rut. This is only sixth because the first requirement is a story I’m excited to tell (right now, that secret history) that is ready to be told. Secret history is not quite ripe yet, though it’s getting close, I think.

That should do for getting started, anyway. Hopefully.

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Well, it’s that time of year again, to look back at the goals I set at the beginning of the year and assess how I did. I know the answer already. I didn’t accomplish any of my goals. Not one. In fact, I’ve done very little writing of any kind this year. Not much to report, but it’s certainly worth reflecting on why–and what I might do about fixing that situation.

So, here they are:

First Goal: Complete the rewrite of MAGE STORM and publish it.

Mage Storm

Yeah, this is the one that seems to have derailed the whole year. My enthusiasm for this project just faded to nothing. There may be a couple of reasons for this. First, I’d already written at least two versions of this story. Now, that’s not fatal. I’d written two versions of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE before the final one, too.

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But when I did that, I truly started over and rewrote the story–not without any reference to the earlier versions, but a true rewrite. I tried to take a short cut with MAGE STORM and just revise the existing portions and add new material. And, yeah, revisions are not the part of the writing process which really generate a lot of enthusiasm. When I tackle this one again, it’s going to have to be a ground-up rewrite, I think.

Second Goal: Begin work on the second book, tentatively titled ROGUE MAGE. (But see above backup goal.)

Yes, well, having failed to get very far with the first book, it’s not a big surprise that I didn’t accomplish this either. Although, I did, at one desperate point, try to start this one in a vain attempt to generate that lost enthusiasm.

Third Goal: Housekeeping-type things:

  • Do some work on this website and on my Facebook Author Page to make them more appealing and more professional.
  • Establish some kind of regular promotions.

Now, this one I might have done. But, I didn’t.

Fourth Goal: Continue learning and improving:

  • Continue reading and learning about other aspects of the craft, chiefly marketing/promotion and better launch strategies for new books.

Well, alone on this list, this one might not be a total washout. I have done some reading about these and other aspects of the craft. And thinking. Also, there are other things to learn outside the craft that could spark ideas–and I have done a little of that, too.

And, finally, the back-burner list. Things I am not, at this moment, ready to write, but need that final inspiration or two that pulls them out of the pile and makes them irresistible.

One or more sequels to DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

No, but I did try to shoe-horn my idea for a Cinderella retelling into this world. That didn’t work, either.

  • Fairy tale retellings, including MEADOWSWEET.

MEADOWSWEET, which was meant to be a retelling of “Little Furball” is probably permanently off the table. The version of “Little Furball” I grew up with was a considerably sanitized one. Doing more research into that fairy tale pretty well killed any interest I had in it. And ruined one of the favorite stories of my childhood. Oh, well.

  • My much-neglected weird Oz story.

Nothing started. Nothing really planned in the short term. Maybe I’ll get in some more reading of the original Oz stories–which are not much like the Judy Garland movie–not even the first story. Baum had a truly . . . unique . . . imagination.

Nope.

The final book in the CHIMERIA series.ChimeriaBox

Again, nope.

  • And that Arthurian-legend, secret-history idea I’ve been playing with off and on.

Now, here’s one, finally, that has some possibilities. I said there were other things to learn besides craft. A couple of courses on The Great Course Plus and a quick survey of some English history have given me some ideas in this regard. I may choose to do it as a second-world fantasy rather than be bound by trying to stay true to all of the historical details–not just of events, but the ways people lived, etc. Over at least four centuries–possible more, depending on where I choose to start–that could be just another way to not writewhich is not what I’m looking for. Either way, I still have some thought to put into world building. The magic system would probably be minimal in this one, but I do need something important enough for two groups to fight over and continue to fight over for generations. What so desperately needs to be defended? Why do the opposition want it so badly? Until I have that worked out, this will still be in the planning stages. But at least I have started thinking about it.

  • I’m sure others will raise their heads as I go along. In my experience, there’s nothing like writing one idea to cause others to spring up along my path like bunny rabbits.

Well, yes. Starting to write again would probably help with this, wouldn’t it?

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The last couple of weeks have been too busy with other things for me to get anywhere with MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

But, with most of that behind me–at least for the moment–it’s time to get back to building up momentum again.

And I am. I’ve started on the next chapter, writing a new beginning to that scene. And making a note for something I want to add to part of what I’d already written. (Not going back, though. First drafts go only forward. This is just a little detail–a paragraph or two–I can easily add in the revisions. So, just a couple of sentences to remind me when I–eventually–get to that.)

Forward, once again. Hopefully with better speed.

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I failed to post on Wednesday, I know. Something came up that has had me too stressed out to write this week. I think I’ve formulated a plan, now, and maybe I’ll be able to get back to writing. Generally, once I have a plan and can get started on it, I can relax. And start writing again.

Meantime, I’ve been thinking about genre, some. Well, several things kind of came together to make me realize something. It has to do, among other things, with what genre to put MAGE STORM into.

Mage Storm

I’ve always framed MAGE STORM, to myself, as an epic fantasy, because it does have an epic problem, epic stakes. But . . . in other ways it doesn’t fit the typical epic fantasy mold.

The more I think about it, I’m not sure that’s how readers will see it. It seems to me, that readers of epic fantasy have come to expect the great climax that saves the world and then everyone can go home and get on with their lives. After all, that’s the model Tolkien set up with THE LORD OF THE RINGS, arguably the archetype of epic fantasy.

But . . . well, here’s how I see it. Tolkien fought in World War I. That’s how he saw war. The men–it is all males in LotR–put their lives on hold, go off and save the world, or their corner of it, and then go back home. Only, well, in my lifetime, that hasn’t been how war–or military conflicts, since we haven’t had a declared war–works. It goes on and on, sometimes into the next generation. And, sometimes, no one wins; they just agree to stop fighting. And, at the same time, many of the other kinds of problems we try to tackle are not the kind that can be solved in one blow.

It’s entirely natural and right that authors today should write stories that reflect our reality–even into fantasy realms we make up out of whole cloth. It’s part of what speculative fiction does–reframe realities in a different, more distant setting so, sometimes, we can take a clearer look at the issues. See the forest without being blinded by the trees.

But, there’s still that expectation of what epic fantasy will be like. And MAGE STORM isn’t going to fit that mold. There isn’t going to be one great climax where everything is solved. More like incremental steps and strategies for improvement.

So . . . I’m still left with the question. When I finally finish MAGE STORM and prepare to publish it, what genre do I call it? It’s certainly not sword and sorcery (no swords at all, for one thing). What kind of a bird is it?

 

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Of course this week we had hot, humid weather. In previous years, school would not have started until the Thursday of last week (Thursday after Labor Day), but, in their “wisdom”, they moved the start of school up ten days–just in time to hit what is usually the most humid part of the year, here. Naturally without making any adjustments to make that easier to deal with.

So, basically, there wasn’t enough left of me to do any writing during the week. It is cooling off–and much less humid–now. Hopefully this weather will hold for a little while.

I have gotten some writing/revising done on MAGE STORM this weekend, at least.

Mage Storm

And hope to get more done during the week, because the week after that will be busy with other things and the one after that I may be on jury duty.

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Whew!

I know I didn’t post at all last week. All I can say is that the first week back at school kicked my . . . . Well, you know.

However, I did still make some progress on the rewrite of MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

I even finished another chapter. So it wasn’t a total waste. And what little energy I had to spare was better used for that, so I don’t lose momentum entirely. I even finished another chapter.

Here’s hoping next week will be a bit easier. At the very least, it’ll be a day shorter.

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I’m a couple of days late posting this. There are a number of reasons for that, but . . . who needs excuses.

The main thing is that I continue to make progress on MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

Not quite as fast as last week, but that’s to be expected.

In other news:

-In gardening, the Heart of Darkness (otherwise known as the turk’s cap plant at the side of the house) has been tamed (as much as it can be at the moment).

Before:

Heart of Darkness

Half-way through:

Heart of Darkness Today

It was like that green wall at the back pretty much from end to end.

Finished:

Heart of Darkness Part 2

Well, that photo isn’t completely finished. There’s another section beyond that wall with the weird little window. (That window is actually in a closet. Old houses are weird.) It’s mostly ivy, not turk’s cap, beyond that point. And narrower. And I did cut back most of that stuff that was higher up and out of reach without a ladder. (Some of it was still out of reach, at least for me.) Also, I finished up this morning by raking up all the dead leaves, etc. on the ground.

-I’ve also nearly finished the whole house cleaning–as long as you don’t count the back bedroom/storage room. I’ll have to get to that, too. Preferably before I have to get the Christmas stuff (much of which is stored in there) out.

-Summer is almost over. School starts on Monday. Sadie isn’t going to like that. She likes having me home all the time.

IMG_20190311_093910

-I finished another course through The Great Courses Plus, Heroes and Legends. It was clear fairly early on that the lecturer meant something different by heroes and legends than I do, although some would have fit my definition. Still, there were some interesting insights.

I’ve started another, How to Write Best-Selling Fiction, taught by James Scott Bell. It’s always nice when a writing class is taught by someone who is actually a writer.

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It feels so good to actually be writing again!

Actual progress on MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

It’ll still take a while, of course. That’s okay. It’s finally coming out and onto the page. That’s what matters.

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