A little explanation first.
And a greetings.
I’m back to writing, and this time I’m going to try to keep up with my blog posts, but I make no promises. As the more I learn about the craft, the more I realize, I don’t have advice to give.
But anyway. As an exercise before I begin my writing each day (with a goal of 5k words a week I WILL be writing nearly every day) I will spend 15 minutes free writing. Writing almost stream of conscious. Though, I don’t know if any of my writing could ever be TRULY stream of conscious, as I edit it in the space of time it takes to get from my head to my fingers. But, such is life.
When she spoke, it was as though her she were removed from the situation; as though nothing that was happening affected her in the slightest. There was no emotion, no feeling, no soul in her voice. As Ja’ahrek kneeled in front of her and peered into her face, he found it to mirror her voice. A blank expression matched her blank voice and vacant eyes stared through him sightlessly.
Grasping her arm, she still did not move. Not to shake him off, not to meet or avoid his gaze. This was not the Ma’arina he knew. For the first time in many years- too many to count- Ja’ahrek felt fear; the good and proper kind that raised his flesh in bumps as the chill of it worked it’s way down his spine.
“Jinelle,” his voice cracked slightly and he had to clear his throat before he could speak without wavering. “Take that thing off of her.”
The woman with him snapped a smart salute and, letting her rifle hang loose on it’s shoulder strap, she stepped closer to the still woman and reached for the amulet that still gave off it’s even, blue glow. The snap of breaking bone and flesh echoed through the small chamber and it took a moment for Ja’ahrek to put together what had happened. Ma’arina, moving so quickly that neither soldier had time to react, had broken Jinelle’s arm before her fingers made it within a foot of the amulet.
True to her training, however, Jinelle didn’t make a single sound of pain even as she cradled the broken arm to her chest.
As the word came to his lips unbidden, Jinelle raised an eyebrow. Come to think of it, he’d never cursed in her presence, had he? No, of course not. Since they’d met he’d been in the position of her superior. He ignored her look and stepped closer. At his gesture she proffered her arm. Though she still made no sound of pain, he saw the wince that she tried to hide.
Scowling, he examined the limb without touching it. It appeared to be broken at the midway point between the wrist and the elbow. Though blood obscured much of the skin, he could see the end of a pale bone peering from the flesh and he had to force down bile.
Well that’s my time, and I think I may have to continue this little piece tomorrow. I’m intrigued.
January is almost over, less than two weeks left and I realized I hadn’t posted yet this month. A once-a-month posting schedule, I think, should be good, yeah? I may post more, but once a month is guaranteed. I said this last month, but I think it’s good to reiterate. For as well as for me.
Anyway! Onto the meat.
Your mind is wonderful! It’s what produces your ideas. It’s working on your ideas even when you sleep. And you know what I’ve found out this month? The more you write, the more you want to write. The more ideas you get. The more ideas you get, the more you want to write, therefore the more you write.
It’s a wonderful, wonderful cycle. Take advantage of it.
How do I know this? It’s happening to me. I’ve been writing this month. A lot. Not as much as I would like. But more than I was doing before my chat with S.M. Boyce last month.
Though I didn’t write over the weekend (weekends are difficult because I work ten hour shifts on Saturday and Sunday), I wanted to. And once I post this, I will be back at it again.
One more thing that I’ve noticed. Since I’ve begun writing again, I don’t get stressed out at either of my (2) jobs as much. I’m not sure how much sense this will make, but it seems as though Writing is my job, while what pays the bills is a non-important side thing. This could just be me, but if you can get yourself in the mindset that Writing is your REAL job, maybe that’ll help?
It certainly will keep you going through the rough patches.
Writing isn’t all sunshine and daisy’s, but that doesn’t mean you should stop,
Okay, y’all might hate me for this.
But I’m starting work on another new novel. I know, I know. I can hear what you’re thinking- Another one? Yes. Another one.
This one I’m going to stick with and work on until it’s done. If you hear/see/know of me working on something else, send me a raging email or comment to get me back on track. I’ll probably need it. I’m trying to get back into the swing of writing again, obviously. So I’m setting aside an hour after work each day to work on it.
What is this book, you ask?
The working title is “Clockwork Justice.” It’s Steampunk genre. I’m in love with steampunk, love the technology. It’s almost like a blend of medieval (or Victorian-era) and science fiction, or at least in my mind.
The basis of the plot is, a city (for now just called “Clockwork City” or just “Clock City”) is completely walled in. They are self-sustaining (which some research is going to go into here soon) and have no contact with the outside world. But as they are controlled by four families, called the Nonpareil, no one questions it. They control even movement through the city. (Five rings, the outer ring being only accessible to the Four families and few others. The closer you get to the giant Clock in the center, the poorer the people that inhabit the ring.)
Basically, the plot is revolution. The characters, for their own reasons, dislike the way things are going. And they set about to changing that, but in a city so tightly controlled, it is hard. And there we have the start. Don’t ask me how it will end yet, as even if I knew I wouldn’t say. Still working on just what is outside the city as well. Because it’s not normal.
Unbunch your panties and put down the picket signs, I don’t mean it like that.
What I Do Mean
I hate the “Young Adult” classification of books. Both as a reader and as a writer, I feel that trying to put an “age limit” on books is, quite frankly, retarded. I didn’t read YA books for a long time, because of the classification. Honestly, when I picked up a YA book, it was by accident. The same goes with the “Teen” section in book stores. They’re all YA books, but I feel that setting them apart like that keeps adults from picking up the books because “they’re for kids/teens.” Despite the fact that they’re good books. My fiance and I just bought The Maze Runner, by James Dashner after seeing the movie. (Aside: Great movie, go see it. If you’ve read the book, they get a lot wrong, but I’m still in the process of reading the book.)
The Maze Runner is in the Teen/YA section in the bookstore along with many others. If it weren’t for the movie, I never would have picked it up. I think that’s because the perception of YA books is that their second-class as opposed to “real” fiction. This is wrong.
Definition of YA
Alright, a couple quotes from the Young Adult Fiction wikipedia page.
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) defines a young adult as someone between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Authors and readers of young adult (YA) novels often define the genre as literature as traditionally written for ages ranging from sixteen years up to the age of twenty-five
The subject matter and story lines of YA literature are typically consistent with the age and experience of the main character, but YA literature spans the spectrum of fiction genres.
Okay, young characters do not a YA book make, problem number one.
Problem number two, Young Adult is not a genre, yet we’re using it as one. YA books can be any number of genres, from science fiction to fantasy to realistic fiction.
- YA books are only for teens/children/young adults.
- YA books cannot/should not be read by adults.
- Only teens will like YA books.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Maybe you should discredit everything I’m saying because I’m within that 16 – 25 age gap. But at the same time, I’ve only recently discovered YA books because I subscribed, perhaps unconsciously, to the “YA is not as good as REAL fiction” mindset.
The truth is, everyone can read and enjoy YA books.
Look at The Hunger Games trilogy. Those are “YA” books. My mother enjoyed them. As well as the Divergent series, another YA trilogy.
Why We Need to Get Rid of the YA Genre
It’s insulting. You’re telling teens that they should ONLY read these books. That they can’t handle/understand/read REAL fiction. That they’re not mature enough and they should stick with these books that were tailored just for them. Ugh. This is so wrong. I didn’t start reading YA books until after I graduated from high school. I read the Lord of the Rings in middle school.
The flip side of this argument is even more insulting. You’re telling adults that they shouldn’t read these books. That these books are only for kids or immature young adults. Really? You’re gonna try and tell any one what they can and can’t or should and shouldn’t read?
Alright. So maybe the YA genre is well-meaning. MAYBE it’s not meant to come off as limiting or whatnot. But it does. And it needs to go away.
One, because that what this post pertains to.
Two, because it’s freaking amazing.
Three, because I’m reading it right now.
Four, because it taught me a lot about outlining and planning
But what the book taught me wasn’t so much in the words or instructions, though those are helping me a LOT right now, too! One thing, the big thing, that I learned while reading this, is what it means to be a writer. To be a writer is to question. Why do people act the way they do? What makes people tic? (tick?) In any case, this post is part regular blog post, part book review (even though I’m only half-way through it.)
Back to being a writer. You must question. Question everything. Question the obscure, the normal, the obvious. Question the way we’ve always done things. Question history, question science. Anything and everything. Nothing is too outlandish. To be a writer, you have to have an unquenchable thirst for questions. Not for answers. We’re not here to provide answers. We, as writers, are here to make readers feel. Now, onto plotting and the book.
Plotting is a thing that is met with either derision, or ever-lasting love. There isn’t much of a middle ground. You either swear by it, or swear it off. I used to swear it off. I hated the idea of plotting or outlining. Now, I hesitate to start anything without giving it a go again. But I wasn’t quite sure where to begin, as I am still in the “discovery” part of Blame the Moon, and didn’t think I knew enough about the novel or the characters or the world to even start planning. So I did some world building. But I stopped, because I am one of those people who could over plan a world to the point where the story would be forced to mold to the world. Instead of the other way around, as it should be.
So I stopped world building. But then I was stuck, how to start figuring things out? On Twitter a day or so ago, I saw a link to a blog post with another writer talking about her experiences reading Outlining. I’ll admit, I didn’t read the blog post, but I did remember that I had the book on my kindle. So I pulled it up and started reading.
And let me tell you, it sparked so many ideas for Blame the Moon, you have no idea. The one thing that really kicked it into high gear was the use of “What If?”s and “What’s Expected?” I will leave it at that, but to me, it was revolutionary.
I highly recommend any writer, plotter or pantser, get this book. Not only for the plotting/outlining itself. But from taking your idea from that first spark to a full-blown novel. I know I am.
If you click on that little thumbnail to the left, you will see how I am starting to make writing a habit. Yes, I’m cheating by using a program online. But, just holding myself accountable, or having you guys hold me accountable, just isn’t working. (Partly because there’s not enough of you that care.)
This is only day two of my using HabitRPG, but let me tell you this, it’s working. I set my writing goals small for now. 250 words a day for my personal writing, and if you look under the “Dailies” there’s one that says “Write 100 words exactly.” That one is a challenge set by someone else. And rewards will be given out to the winner. I’m not sure what that reward is, I’d have to go back and look. Also, I’m making that 100 words and 250 words completely separate.
At the top of the screen are two bars, one red, and one a yellow-ish orange. The red is your “health.” If you don’t complete a daily, or you get a negative (Yes, it can also be used to break bad habits,) that goes down. I’m not sure yet what happens when it gets to zero, and I hope I never do. The second bar is your “experience.” You gain experience by completing that tasks that you set for yourself. How many points depends upon how difficult it is. Most of mine at the moment are set to “easy” because they’re not that hard. A couple are set to “medium” and only two right now (The plotting ones) are set to “hard.”
Ooh. And the rewards. On the right hand side, you’ll see that I have “New Episode of Doctor Who” and the date it comes out. Well, in order to watch that, I must have gained 10 gold. You get gold along with experience for completing tasks.
Anyway. That’s how I am making writing a habit. How are you going to make it a habit?
Creating races is something that we in fantasy and sci-fi tend to do moreso than other genres.
But how do we get past the Tolkien-esque elves and dwarves and hobbits? Or the green/blue skinned aliens that look basically like humans with tentacles on their heads?
How do we come up with something fresh and new, that nonetheless resonates with readers? Or at least doesn’t freak them out so bad that they put down your book and walk away.
We walk a fine line. The line between the familiar and the new. The fantastic and the cliche.
However, before even thinking about creating a new race, you need to ask yourself a few questions first.
Do you NEED a new race?
Can one of the previous mentioned, elves, dwarves, etc work instead? If you’re just recreating elves under a new name, why not just call them elves and get it over with? Sometimes the classics work. If you’re just creating a new race to be “new” and it’s only elves painted green or some-such, then there’s no reason for them.
Now that that decision is out of the way, if you’re still with me, then you’ve decided your race IS unique and you DO need a new one.
What’s different about them?
How are they different from the popular elves, dwarves and hobbits? (Yes, I’m using this example because I write fantasy.)
I will use a race I just created for this example. I started rewriting/working an OLD beginning to a story that I dug out of my closet. (I’m talking old, like from 2005.) Originally, I had the character as an elf. But I tire of elves and use them too much in my stories. So I started talking to a friend of mine. And I described them as “They’d be more reclusive than you see elves nowadays. They’d be more martial, less philosophical.” And then I realized, that they didn’t sound like elves at all.
This is what I came up with.
A race even less known than the reclusive Fae, the Mashin resemble a mix of man and ape. Long arms can sometimes drag upon the ground and are well-suited to life among the tall trees of the Elvarde forest.
Standing straight, even the shorter Mashin stands at or above seven feet tall. Their fur covered hide ranges in color from deep browns and blacks to the color of the evergreens. Eye color is generally dark on the verge of black, and the few Mashin with light (generally golden) colored eyes are either cast out as ‘cursed’ or praised and protected as ‘blessed.’
Rumored to have been created originally by magic, there is no proof that any as found to their exact means of creation. The Mashin have a small number of their species that can use magic, and martial prowess is viewed of more import as a direct result. To excel with the sword is to succeed.
Separated into clans, border disputes are common among the powerful, while the smaller are constantly shifting. Combining, splintering, and recombining endlessly. Considered ‘savages’ by the few humans that have encountered them, the Mashin keep to themselves, allowing only few outside merchants and traders into the forest where they thrive.
Mashin names tend to be long, complicated things, oft containing syllables and sounds the human mouth is incapable of reproducing.
As you can see, when I finished, they resembled nothing of the Elves from whence I began.
What is their society like?
What do they praise above all else? Using the Mashin as an example, they focus more on martial prowess. Not art or philosophy. Not magic.
How are they ruled? I touched on it with the Mashin. They have a clan structure. I haven’t flushed it out other then that yet, but it’s a start.
What is their relationship with other species? Very important. Also as important is how the other species view them. The Mashin are very reclusive. Some humans don’t even believe they exist.
Religion. Especially if you’re writing fantasy, knowing the belief systems of your races can be important. Are they polytheistic? Monotheistic? Do they worship the ancestors? Do they have living paragons/god-kings?
I am sure there’s much more I am forgetting, but that should give you a solid foundation. But I must caution you once more, be ABSOLUTELY certain that you need a new race before you go about creating one.