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Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 3

It has been three weeks, and I do not have a ton to post about this week.  I'm mostly doing this just to make sure I post weekly.  I am afraid that if I miss a week, that will turn into a month or longer.  The blog really helps me set my priorities to make sure I am setting aside time to write.

I was struggling the last couple weeks with transitioning between different "scenes" I had planned out.  As I talked through this with a friend, he suggested I may be trying to race to a particular point in the story's timeline that I consider the "present".  The present time in m mind for Ryndaria is the state of the world I dungeon mastered for our recent Dungeons and Dragons game. 

The friend suggested I begin writing about Trezl at this particular point in time.  I can then flash back to the previous months as a way of filling in the blanks of how Trezl got to where he is "today."  This week, I started doing that, and I found myself able to write a little easier.  If anything, it has been a good exercise to get me back into the world mentally.  I can "see" the world more clearly now, and I am able to write about Trezl the way I think of him instead of the way he "was."

In other news, I let someone read the first few pages of the story yesterday.  It was nerve wracking, but it went well.  The feedback was positive, but brief.  It was a good start.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week 2

Work has been terrible this week.  I've had to work longer than usual each day, and it has taken away from writing time.

That said, I've tried to stay focused this week by spending time thinking about specifics.

In the opening scene, I have 5 elves in the forest.  I feel like I need to make sure each one is an actual character and not just a generic prop standing in the scene.  To do this, I have taken notes on general backstory for each character to understand motivation and personality for each of them.  I feel like I have made some progress.

One of my biggest concerns with side characters is how stereotypical should they be?  Is creating a stereotypical extra a good thing?  I get a little annoyed when I read books or watch movies where I see basically the same character over and over.  On the positive side though, it is easy to understand a character if I can quickly evaluate them based on stereotypical behavior.  (i.e. "the fanatical zealot" who is willing to die for his cause and follows whatever evil power he follows even if common sense says that is a bad idea.

I guess in the end, I need to determine how important the character is and their role in the story.  Any writers out there, what are your thoughts on this?  Any good resources you have read that discuss character development?

The other topic I have been researching a bit this week is weaponry.  Early in the story, there is a skirmish.  I want to make sure that as I describe the weapons and tactics of the characters that there is a level of accuracy to it.  Why does a character use that "type" of sword, and how do his tactics then differ from someone that uses a sword that may be shorter/longer, or lighter/heavier?  How does this choice of weapon reflect the character's personality and physical attributes?  I think all of these items questions help make a fight scene more compelling.  So I have spent some time this week looking at different types of swords to see which ones fit my characters.  The fun thing about fantasy is I do not need to be historically accurate.  A fictional world with its own history can have weapons from distinctly different time periods in reality exist together without issue!

I read an interview with a successful author who self-publishes all her books online.  She stated she tries to write 5000 words a DAY!  I haven't even written 5000 words total on this story.  I am trying to keep from getting discouraged.  This is her full time job, and I'm just getting started.  If anything, it spurs me on to spend more time thinking about and writing about these characters.

I cannot end a post without thanking you all dearly for reading and for your comments and encouragement.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Getting into a zone

Well, here's my second update to the blog.  It has been a typical week, with lots of "real work" to do and plenty of frustration on the writing front, but actually a some good things to report as well! 

First, a progress report.  I think I've written about 6 sentences since the first blog!  Its not much, but it is progress!  I think my biggest frustration at this point is getting focused enough to actually start describing the scenes I have in my head.  I can only describe this state as "getting into a zone." 

I have experienced said "zone" on a few occasions in the past when writing.  Most recently, I was on a trip to China last fall and I began to write a back story for a new character I had created for our latest Dungeons and Dragons campaign.  Poor guy was a paladin who had been "chosen" by some dark power.  He's being forced to work for this thing until he can break free.  I had a neat scene in my head of the young knight's encounter with this evil being and I set to write it down.  It was really fun to write, and I spent several hours of my 13 hour flight writing out the scene.  I was pretty happy with the result and ended up with a 4 or 5 page little story written down that has been great for using as the starting point for playing the character in our game.

This has not yet happened with Ryndaria.  I am hoping I do not need to catch another flight to China to make more progress on the story.  I have actually mapped out what I think will be the first "part" of the book, but actually writing it out has been an issue for me.  For one, the opening scene has 5 characters in it, all elves working together.  I am used to writing back stories and short stories that revolve around one character and maybe an antagonist.  I am having trouble keeping track of what all 5 characters are doing and describing them all.  Any other writers face similar issues in the past?  What have you done?

I had some great advice this week about this conundrum though.  It was suggested that I take the various characters and take some time to write about them in a completely different setting.  This would force me to write about how they would react to a different story, and then learn about them and understand the characters better for writing about them in my story.  I think I may try that.  I have done some similar thought exercises with a couple characters and that has helped a bit so far.

I have also been encouraged to play to my strengths and write in a style that I am comfortable with.  I am doing that in a way.  While the book is in the third person, I write it mostly from Trezl's point of view, so I do not have to spend too much time describing the minds of the other characters, only Trezl's.

I wanted to thank everyone for the encouragement and support my first week with this!  I have been spurred on by the out pour and appreciate it beyond words.  As a thank you, I am going to share the very first line of my story with you all.  So get ready... 

Are you sure you are ready???

"Smoke."

Pretty awesome beginning eh?  Are you all intrigued now?  Don't worry, I'm sure I will ask many of you to help me by reading early versions for feedback. 

Until next time...  follow those dreams!

Remember to follow me on Twitter as @Ryndaria

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's this here for?

I'm not sure why, but I've had an itch in the back of my brain to write for a very long time.  When I tell people this, most are usually quite surprised.  See, until recently, I have not spoken about this desire (need?) to those around me.  To some reading this now, it may be a bit of a shock!

There are a lot of reasons for this, of course, and that's what this blog is really going to be all about!  I am going to write the book I always wanted to, and I hope that through this blog I will have an outlet to share my experiences, my frustrations, and my successes.  I hope that some may find this interesting to read along the way.  Please join me, and feel free to share comments.

To get started, I want to talk give a little background.


What is Ryndaria?

Ryndaria is a world in my head that wants out!

I first created Ryndaria as a world for Dungeons and Dragons back in high school. Having your own created world was necessary for any "real" player and dungeon master, so I went to work drawing maps, creating cities and peoples, and putting together a history for the world. It was a lot of fun to create this world and then have friends play D&D in the world.

It was during this time that I first created the character Trezl. Trezl was an elf wizard in the land of Ryndaria who was faced with trials and heartache early in his life.

I so enjoyed the name Trezl that when the internet started taking off in the late 90s, the name became my handle everywhere on the net. If you see Trezl out there in games, Twitter, message boards, etc., there is a good chance that is me.


Writing...

In my junior year of high school our English class had a big project we were to work on for most of the 2nd semester. The assignment was to "make something" and then present it and describe how to make it. I still have no clue why, but I really wanted to write a story as my creation. I was (and still am) really into the Drizzt series of fantasy novels by R.A. Salvatore, and wanted to write my own fantasy literature. Trezl's story seemed perfect to finally tell.

I put a ton of work into the story. I commissioned a friend to help me with cover art, and asked another to be my editor. Over the next several weeks I wrote a short story, about 30 pages long, detailing Trezl's story. I think it was the one project in high school that I worked the hardest and longest on. It became a labor of love.

You can imagine my surprise when I got a B on the assignment! I was pretty used to getting A's on my papers in class, and some people literally just made a batch of cookies and talked the class through the recipe to equal or better grades. I am still a little bitter about the whole thing, if you can't tell.  Looking back, I realize that the grade was due to not following the assignment closely enough.  It was more about the presentation and describing how someone would go about making it themselves, not just on the quality of, and effort put into, the creation.


What  happened next?

I put writing away at that point.  I'm not saying the experience scarred me or anything.  I finished high school and went to college to become an engineer.  There's a lot more math and science there, and the idea of writing just went to the wayside.  I never fully gave up on Trezl and Ryndaria, but I also never spent a lot of time focused there either. 

Then, a couple years ago, it all came back.  As an engineer, I've always figured I wasn't much of a writer anyway.  So when Microsoft released a platform for developing video games on the XBOX360 (XBox Indie Games), I thought there might be an outlet to resurrect Ryndaria.  I started down the path, joined by Paul, a gamer/programmer friend, and we set out to create a Ryndaria video game.  Of course, we soon found that to be much more work than we realized it would be and while the game lives on, it may be a while before it ever sees the light of day. 


Old Passion Renewed!

A little over a year ago, after our family moved into a new neighborhood (an entire story / adventure in itself!), I found myself at a comic book shop near by.  While there, I met a bunch of people playing Dungeons and Dragons!  I couldn't resist, and started playing again myself.  In the process of creating new characters for new games, that little itch became evident again and I began to write little background stories.

Over the last year, I have put together all sorts of new history for the world.  I also even led a D&D game in the world for a while (and expect to bring it back again in the future).  I've been cleaning up a lot of what younger, teenage me first put together all those years ago.  And now I have finally started writing Trezl's story down.  I hope to eventually publish it online.

This blog is where I will discuss the process of writing a book.  I have absolutely no formal training, and I'm learning as I go.  As my wife tells me all the time, I need to stop fearing and criticizing what I haven't even written yet, and I need to just write. 

So here I go...

If you want to find me, you can start with @Ryndaria on Twitter!