Writing Update, Summer 2018

Hey groupies!

So, I know it’s been awhile and I’m sorry about that. The truth is, I’ve been too busy to keep up a blog, since I’ve been knee deep in a Spanish class that is required for my degree. But more to the point. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the last few weeks on where I want to take my writing, and I’ve chosen to start focusing in on short fiction and flash fiction, and maybe a novel here and there.

Obviously, it’s been awhile since I put Kingslayer up on Amazon and other outlets, so I’d say I’m very much behind on getting a second story out to the world. At the moment, I’m working on a short piece that I hope to put into the back of a new edition of my novel, but after that, it’s my goal to get hard at work on two different projects.

The first project is a space fantasy verse novel (yes, you read that correctly), and the second is an anthology of fantasy flash fiction. Given how slow I am as a writer, it will likely be awhile before either of these projects are published. However, I do plan on making some of this work available on my brand new patreon account. It will be awhile before the profile has any posts available, but I’ll make a post about the account when that time comes.

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

–N.L., 2018

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Writing for Yourself

Sometimes people act as if writers must automatically want to publish their work, just because that person’s a writer. But to be entirely honest, I didn’t always want to publish my work and get paid for it. It started out as something personal, yet society seems to think writers MUST get published in order to validate their desire to make their art.

I reject the notion that all writers have to publish their work.

The truth is, it’s okay if you want to write just for yourself. In fact, some published writers already write for themselves (myself included), and simply publish the work they happen to put out. The truth is, there is a difference between writing a product and writing for yourself. The best books happen to be stories that the author wrote because that’s the story they wanted to tell. J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter because it’s the story she wanted to write, not because she thought it would be a bestseller.

The point I’m trying to make is, write what you want to write, and don’t worry if it gets published. You can always worry about that later. And at the end of the day, if your work doesn’t become a bestseller, at least you enjoyed writing it!

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

–N.L., 2017

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

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

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.