Limits in Magic Systems

In fantasy, you tend to have magic all over the place. Often times, it is used by elves and wizards, while regular people don’t tend to use it unless there’s some kind of magical object. But in a story, what kind of magic system works best? How do you know the magic isn’t too overwhelming but at the same time know it has a purpose in the fantasy world. Well, today I’d like to answer that.

One of my favorite authors has developed a set of rules for how he makes his magic work. One of these rules is fundamental to my writing, and that is that your magic system should provide the character with some kind of power, but it should have limitations, costs, and weaknesses.

In my novel Kingslayer, the main villain possesses a ring that grants immortality and prevents all injury, with one exception. There is also a magic sword that can cut through any object, including the flesh of immortals. This means that the magic ring has a fatal flaw: the one who owns this sword can still kill them. This is a weakness and a limitation to the magic that works quite well in my opinion (though I’m biased).

Another example of how this works is in Lord of the Rings. The Ring of Power can do all kinds of crazy things, but there’s a terrible cost involved. Eventually, the person who owns the ring goes mad and becomes addicted to the intoxicating power. If that’s not a cost, I don’t know what is.

The bottom line is that, when making a magic system, you have to create some kind of balance or your readers won’t be able to suspend their believe in your fantasy.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

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Setting

In writing, one of the key elements to making a story great is determining where your story takes place. The location, the culture, and the people in that culture are key when figuring out what happens in your story.

The setting is, in a lot of ways, the most important thing in your story. In a lot of ways, it impacts your characters more than even the plot itself. Without setting, what is to determine how your characters feel about religion and politics? Setting can also define how the characters in question dress. Do they wear cloaks? A turban?

I say all of this because knowing where your story is set is an important thing for you to know even before you write the first word. If you’re setting your story in the real world, it’s key to figure out where. If it’s fantasy, do you have two parallel worlds set in the same place like Harry Potter, or do you have a single world set apart from our own like in Lord of the Rings? In both those cases, some world building is required, but in Harry Potter, some knowledge of the real world is also required.

When it comes to world building, you make everything up from the culture to the religion. But if you incorporate real world settings in the mix, research is mandatory.  The bottom line is that if you want a setting for your world, you need to know everything you can about that setting before you even type the first word.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Finding Time to Write

Sometimes as writers, we struggle to find time to write. Everyone, unless they’re a retired old fart who doesn’t get out of the house, has a social life and a job and other things that get in the way. The bottom line is, we all have to deal with struggles that come hand in hand with being a writer. One of the biggest struggles, however, is finding the time we need to sit down and write that dang book.

But the dirty little secret is, it’s actually not that hard to do.

If you’re stuck in a rut and you’re having trouble writing whatever project you’re working on, then you need to evaluate what is going on in your life. For years, I’ve been trying to publish a second book, and I’m just now learning to focus onto how to get my words down when I’m struggling. Some of that involves writing detailed outlines, which has nothing to do with finding time to write, but one thing that does relate to it is the idea that you need to schedule your writing time.

Recently, I went to Walmart and bought a weekly planner. That allows me to plan every single day and write down tasks I need to fulfill during the day in question. This means that I can set in stone every day’s tasks and write during my writing time and carry out other tasks that have to be done that day. In the grand scheme of things, it’s taught me how important it is to focus and be consistent. Truth be told, you don’t need a weekly planner if you can learn to focus on when to write without one, but it certainly does help. It’s the best tool I’ve invested in.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Is a Lack of Profanity in Fiction a Sign of Weak Writing?

Earlier today, I had an experience in one of my Creative Writing classes that I have chosen to share. It was in playwriting class, and it was my turn to be workshopped. While the majority of the class took no notice to the fact that my play had zero profanity in it (rude words yes, profanity no), one student felt it was odd that my play’s cast swore none of the time at all. To be honest, she even seemed bothered by it. So, I’ve chosen to use this experience as a means to talk about profanity in fiction.

Is it poor writing when your fiction has little to no profanity?

I don’t think so. I can only speak for myself, but the worst words I’ll use are “crap,” “heck,” and “darn.” That’s verbally, though. Occasionally, I’ll slip a real dirty one in there, but I’d be lying if I said that’s how I talk in real life. My mouth is as clean as a whistle. But that being said, I don’t think it’s a poor choice of diction to exclude certain words when you’re writing fiction or some other form of Creative Writing. I think often times, people rely far too much on profanity to get the point across.

The point is simple. If you choose to include characters that cuss, make sure every word out of their mouth counts. Too much of that stuff can reflect poorly on you as a writer. And please, don’t be so narrow-minded that you catch yourself thinking that a lack of profanity is weak writing. It’s frankly a stupid mindset, and there are plenty of writers out there (myself included) that don’t generally use language like that in their books. I won’t judge if you do it, but for Zeus’s sake, make sure every word counts.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

The Future of Kingslayer

As everyone has probably noticed, I’ve been juggling several ideas for books for awhile now. One thing that I will say is that I’ve been guilty of this thing called “Shiny New Idea Syndrome.” Basically, when I have a brand spanking new idea, I want to see where it takes me.

But nonetheless, I’ve mentioned on Twitter and on here that I’m working on an anthology with stories tied to my novel Kingslayer (the working title being The Kingslayer Anthology), as well as an epistolary novel that centers around the main villain’s first cousin, Vensyr D’Artanian. Both of these projects are things I still want to work on, but it should be noted that with how my brain works and operates, I have to jump from one project to another on a semi-regular basis.

Rest assured, both of these projects will be finished, though it’s unlikely they’ll be out before 2019. But just know that I am a very ambitious writer, which is part of the reason it takes so long; sometimes, I bite off way more than I can chew.

Now to expand on what the future of the “Kingslayer Universe” might look like. I’m done writing typical prose novels in that universe. That is to say, I’ve got two epistolary novels (not just one) that I’d like to see in print. Epistolary, meaning written in the form of letters, journal entries, and other written documents. I did say I was ambitious, didn’t I? To my knowledge, high fantasy and epistolary don’t typically mix. Well, I’ve chosen to try it, but not until I get my anthology out.

So this is what it’s going to look like. As you know, Kingslayer is already out. My next project that I’ll probably release is the anthology; then I’ll release my two epistolary novels (books that cover much of the same events from totally different perspectives) at the exact same time. At least, it’s my goal to do that.

We’ll see if this all turns out the way I hope it will. Just know that once all these books are out, the Kingslayer series will have four very different books.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Description for Non-Characters

In the real world, we see things. It could be anything: cars, houses, trees, the sun, the moon, birds in the sky, or dogs on the ground. For us writers, it is imperative to find a way to describe those things.

This is different than describing characters, since eye color/hair color and slightly less important features cannot be used to describe the thing. For example, a car is not a person. It has a color to its paint job, which is similar to eye/hair color, but it goes far deeper than that. What is the make and model of the car? What kind of tires are on the car? Are there dents on the frame?

You get what I’m saying? The point is, there are a lot of things to point out if you’re going to do your job properly. The most important thing to remember, however, is that there is a such thing as too much description. The car example may work if it’s from the POV of someone who knows about cars, but that same person may not be as savvy on the various sub-genres of fantasy fiction.

A book lover would know those things like the back of their hand, but a car salesman would go in and see books about magic, knights, wizards, and elves, while a book lover knows there’s a lot more to it than that.

In a nutshell, your POV character (or your narrator) will describe things to the reader as they know things. Always keep that in mind.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

World Building

In novel writing, research is key. You have to know what you are writing about before you go about writing the subject in question. But in fantasy and other genres with made up settings, world building takes the place of research, and it is the author’s job to create a world that only exists in the mind.

In order to do that properly, you have to look at things that exist in the real world and ask yourself how that can relate to a fictional one. In the real world, you have cars and other motorized vehicles, but how do people get around in a fantasy world?

Also, if you’re writing fantasy, what does the politics or the religion of people look like? Is your government a monarchy with a democratic twist? Is your religion a polytheistic version of Christianity? Also, what do the world cultures look like? In my novel, Kingslayer, I based a lot of my culture on Europe (not exclusive to England), plus I added a few hundred years so the characters could carry guns and ride airships and trains.

One of my all time favorite examples to world building is Harry Potter. In the magical world, there is a real world equivalent to pretty much everything. For sports, you have Quidditch and the Tri-wizard Tournament; for school, of course, the students focus on the magical arts as opposed to math and grammar, and instead of your ACT’s you have your OWL’s and NEWT’s; and you even have the media with The Daily Prophet.

I haven’t even touched on the Chocolate Frog Cards, so needless to say, HP is chock full of examples of world building. These are just a few ways a writer can make their world truly unique. And in fact, if you are setting your story in a secondary world, there are even more things you can do that are ripe for the picking.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.