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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Process

I've been doing a lot of actual reading lately!  This has helped stir up the creativity in me as I've been trying to process where to go with Trezl's story.

First, I've been really back reading the Bible.  It's important to me that I stay grounded in God's Word, and I let myself wander away from reading it from time to time.  With Easter this year, and a new group of friends that I am studying the Bible with, I have been motivated to keep it up, and it has really helped me stay spiritually centered.  I think this has helped me stay motivated with all the things in my life I am trying to work on, including my writing.

Next, I finished the latest Drizzt book by R.A. Salvatore, Neverwinter.  It was a good book, though I must admit I had trouble reading about Drizzt, now that the latest trilogy takes place over 100 years after the first 20+ stories.  There are new characters and the world has really changed.  I've realized that my uncomfort is related to Drizzt's own uncomfort, as he is having to come to terms with living so long (as an elf) and has had to watch friends grow old while he is still relatively young.  I guess Salvatore is doing a good job of making me feel Drizzt's own discomfort.  If you're a Drizzt fan and haven't picked it up, I recommend it.

Finally, I've been reading more of Holly Lisle's ebooks about writing, which I mentioned in my last post.  This has been very enlightening.  They come with worksheets and exercises to help the creative process.  There have been a few items that I've been working on the last 10 days.
  • Meditation - I don't mean spiritual meditation here, but simply taking time every day to sit in silence and clear the mind.  It has helped me to push the many distractions in my head aside.  I try to do it in the morning right when I wake up.  Those days that I do, I've actually been inspired creatively and immediately sat down to make notes or write a few paragraphs.  It has been really great.  The only problem:  it is not a habit, and I have skipped it more days than I should.
  • Writing Conflict - one exercise I am currently working on is creating conflict in a character's life:  internal, interpersonal, and external.  This has been fun, as the exercise has had me think of a new character in a new setting.  I've had to be creative outside of Trezl's story.  I can now use what I've learned to apply it back to Trezl.
  • Plot outlining - One of Holly's courses is on plot outlining.  One suggestion was to come up with an outline of the ending pretty early in the process.  As I read about this, I realized I do not have Trezl's ending figured out.  Since I don't know where he's going, I realize that is part of the problem when trying to write how he gets there.  He's wandering aimlessly since I don't know where I want to take him.
    • So, I've begun work on the ending.  I have an idea of where he's going, but I think it needs to be a little more concrete so I can then outline just how he gets to that point.

It's been a good week.  I still appreciate all of you reading the blog.  Your comments are encouraged!  My motivation goes up exponentially when someone asks me about the story, or just gives a word of encouragement.

Thanks again...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Defining People

First off, Happy Easter to all of you out there!  I never grow tired of celebrating that God's Son came down and lived among us, died for us, and was resurrected. 

I've been doing some thinking about defining characters this week.  Take for example, Trezl's father: Candel.  Who is he?  What motivates him?  He is a husband and father, but the main thing that defines him in my notes is his vocation. 

He is one of the most highly respected wizards in the elven society.  His job is to protect the city from outsiders by leading a group of wizards who magically keep the elven city hidden.  This group also employs a number of magical defenses should any invaders be able to actually find the city.  Trezl, of course, looks up to his father and aspires to be a great wizard as well.

When I think of Candel and write about him, everything comes back to this defining quality.  He's the "grand protector" and everything he does is motivated and related to this.  Now, he loves his family dearly, and tries to make time to be the husband and father he should be.  But his work overrides any other defining attributes in the end. 

I have been wondering if this is too one dimensional for the character.  Where does his personality come in to play?  How does that personality determine how he approaches his role and tremendous responsibility?

Related to this, I have been wondering if such a narrowly defined character will resonate with readers.  Our lives can be so fragmented today.  Can I even relate to a character like Candel?

I try and let my faith and my family be the overriding defining characteristic for the decisions I make, but my life is still pretty segmented.  I "do" a lot of things.  Would Candel?  What would he do to have fun?  Would he coach a little league team for Trezl?  How does he relax?  What upsets him?  What other questions should I be asking myself about him?

These are all questions I've been asking myself lately.  In the end, I think it is OK to create a character with one major defining point, but the more important that character is, the more details I need to be able to work out.  Trezl cares deeply about his father.  The readers should too, right?


A couple side notes to close:
  • I've been reading a series of "workshops" by Holly Lisle.  She's an author who started later in life and has become a full time writer.  She even creates classes on her website to help aspiring writers.  So far, I've really enjoyed the first book.  She's currently some of them away for free in PDF form (or 99c on Amazon for Kindle).  If you're interested in writing, I highly recommend checking her out:  http://hollylisle.com/
  • I am putting a permanent link on the side of the blog to download the test chapter I released recently.  It should make it easy to find for anyone new.

Thank you all again for reading!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Momentum Lost

I really let a MONTH get away from me???  I have got to get back on track!


I've done a number of things over the last month, but I have fallen behind in the writing department.  There are a lot of excuses to be given, but they are only excuses. 

The main thing I learned after all the writing in February:  it can be exhausting!  I had a big goal, and worked really hard at it (finish the chapter).  At the end, I posted it online, took a deep breath, and let my productivity fall off a cliff.

Generally, feedback was positive, which I am really happy about.  On the down side, I felt like I did not get as much feedback as I was hoping.  I'm not sure if people didn't see the post, decided not to read, or just didn't have anything to say.

I'm going to repost the links to the chapter here in case anyone still has not read it.  I appreciate your feedback.

The last month has been slow, but I have done a bit of work on the book.  I found that mapping out the scene before writing REALLY helped, so I have committed to doing the same in the future.  I want to make sure I know what I'm writing before just throwing words at a page.

As I started coming up with a more detailed map of the story, I realized I didn't really know what I wanted to actually happen in the story.  I've got a very loose outline that basically says Trezl starts at point A and ends somewhere near point B.  The middle is a big nebulous blob. 

How does he get to point B?  Who is he when he gets there?  How will he react to finally reaching point B?

I'm reminded a bit about Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series of books (which I have not finished, but am slowly working through).  You know Roland is going to the Dark Tower, but you have no clue what is there and what he will do when he gets there.  The story helps develop that character over 7 books so that what happens at the Dark Tower has meaning. 

I realized that Trezl's story needs the same, so I have been doing a lot of thinking and writing (and crossing out and rewriting) on the middle.  I'm expecting it will pay dividends in the end!

Thanks for reading.  I expect to get back to regular blogging again, starting now!


Links to the chapter:

.pdf: Download
.epub: Download
.mobi: Download