Archive for July, 2009

Continuing on from yesterday’s post, looking at the Fantasy Writing Clichés to Avoid list from Obsidian Bookshelf, seeing how I fair.

Characters, Names.
Don’t create names that sound randomly generated by software!
I go about names through a couple of steps. First, work out which culture they belong to in the world. People who come from Tirhan and Shekan have different styles of names than those from Chelos or Maedar or Tuafi. Each region has an Earth equivalent culturally, so I come up with names that sound similar to real Earth names. Then I run through the name a few times, modifying it here and there until I get a name I like the sound of.

For example, Tirhanites have names like Abhiala and Khiria (females) and Kazniah, Kesiad, Elial, Elaniah, Achiar and Elezair (for males)
Maedari names include Heric, Halir, Halraen, Cavraen, Jal, Awn, Raevak, Taenar, Ravaian and Laetan for males and Jaessa, Fianna or Remaia for females.
A Chelosian may be called Palidas, Adrasto, Kiriastas, Lastrasios, Skanaos or Lachanon.

Dialogue, too Modern.
Yo, baby, no slang. Okay?
I write dialogue much as I speak. It isn’t archaic, nor is it slang. Just simple conversational speech, normally. I do toss in a few Australianism from time to time, but most of the world won’t know them so they can pass, and plus most of them are also seldom used nowadays anyway.

Dialogue, too Weird.
By the Deity’s private parts!
Ah yes, I used to do this – back when I was young and though coming up with such expressions was the norm for fantasy – Phoenix’s Teeth, Mother of All Horses, that kind of thing. It fell away long, long ago and I don’t even have anything closely resembling it any more.

Dialogue, too Wordy.
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Most of my characters are fairly plain speaking folk who use everyday language much like me, as previously mentioned. No thees and thous and foreasmuches. There are the occasional more wordy, intellectual types who do at times use more flowery speech and dialogue, but that is to make them stand out a bit from the others, to show they are a bit different. It is not like we haven’t met people in real life who use big words all the time to try and impress.

Freud thought they were the royal road to the unconscious.
Again, one I did one use, but seems to have fallen out of favour. Sometimes people to have visions, but they tend to be brought about by shamanistic type rituals or forced onto people by outside forces. One thing I recently worked on did have a dream, from the POV of the villain. It was one he was forced to have nightly by outside forces, reliving a terrible day in his life that changed his character. It was put in to flesh out the character and shoe he wasn’t quite the one-dimensional villain he had appeared to be earlier in the book.

That is enough for part two; tomorrow we continue to work the way through the list.


Adventures In Purple

Posted: July 30, 2009 in Purple Prose
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Ah, Purple Prose; sensually evocative beyond the requirements of its context. The prominence now days of the teenager writer it would appear, or oft for those that write for them.

Lets face it, we all at one time or another wrote in that manner. A comment made earlier in the day made me think of it again, and to dig out something I started on earlier in the year, which aimed deliberately to be so purple it was mauve. Possibly lavender; Aubergine even.

So here it is, in all its purple glory.

Darkness, that vast and o’erwhelming gloom that did with all oppressive vigour bare down upon the firmament, across whose sable breadth was strewn shimmering, sparkling points of iridescent light, all askew where they fell, as if unto great mounts of diamonds that in the depths were scattered upon which distant radiance was reflected and scattered back in scintillating array; darkness, grim in its majesty, enveloped all in its encompassing grasp.

Yet that which was the tyranny of the shade of night was no so inviolate in its very essence that undaunted challenge could not be raised to o’erthrow it, for such gage had, with audacious fervour, been cast into the very maw of that oppressor, cast unto it by promethean orb that encroached upon its stygian domain, all as yet removed from that who would mark its very approach, though not, as it would seem, unobserved, for across the far-flung horizon of the heavens, where eternal heights did, all encompassing, gash the skies; rough hewn spires and perilous pinnacles draped in the purity of whitest snow, upon whose craggy slopes did sure-footed beats with tenacious resolve stride; across such horizons did spill, like rolling waves before the unseen storm, light of molten bronze to grace the coming day.

Fragile, ephemeral wisps; royal stained, strung out like delicate lace that dances and frays before the flickering zephyr, clung low o’er the eternal peaks; bruised the burgeoning dawn, dark against the light.

Glorious advance, deepening crimson, bronze and vibrant amethyst, driving forth, ever onwards, a multitude of hues akin that assailed that which unto recent history had gloried in its dominance, gloom in full and ignoble retreat.

Needs work obviously, but for just four sentences and 275 words, it does a good purple prose job of describing the sun rising. I may even expand on it at a later date for more Adventures in Purple fun.

TVTropes has a page devoted to Purple Prose; just try not to get too lost in there and remember to come out for food at some stage.

Recently came across a post at Obsidian Bookshelf called Fantasy Writing Cliches to Avoid.

I’m going to make my way through the list over a couple of days and see what I have and haven’t avoided.

An historic castle is sometimes really tiny!
I seem to have avoided this by not really having castles. There are palaces and there are forts, but given the lack of a feudal period with knights and the like in my setting, castles never really featured.

Appearance of character.
Keep it to a minimum.
Yes and no. While main characters do get fleshed out more, it is usually only a few lines, not whole paragraphs. Others can get a more basic description. For instance, Abasan is described as wiry, dark-haired man with a narrow face. I do like to give basic details; hair and eye colour, height and body type. Facial hair or scars. That kind of thing.

British Culture.
Don’t make your British readers laugh their arses off.

Pass this one. I’m an Australian and write, I think, with an Australian style and language. At least I try too.

Characters – Ethnicity
Why is everyone a Northern European?
Can announce I pass this with flying colours. One culture, the Maedari, are of this type, but they are alone. There are others who are Mediterranean or Slavic or African or Semetic or Indian in appearance, as well as others. A good, broad spread.

Characters, Mary Sue.
We don’t want a too-perfect version of yourself!
Maybe once, but not anymore. I hope. None of the current crop of characters look anything like me really, or act like me. They have flaws and weaknesses to balance out strengths.

We will look at some more of these tomorrow.

I’ve gone through each page for each short story currently available and finished off the background notes for each. Nothing profound; just a little something relating to how the story came about or something of interest within the story and what was behind it.

The editing of all the short stories is done, for now at least. Next step is to get the new versions uploaded to the site.

Interesting discovery made during the process. You pick up far, far more errors when you read it out loud than just reading it; your eyes tend to skip over errors far more readily otherwise.

Which means if I ever get around to podcasting them, I’m liable to find errors still on the ones I didn’t read out loud.

Next step is to get back to writing. Lots of ideas to get down.

An Unusual Tie-In

Posted: July 27, 2009 in General
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I really enjoyed the first season of ‘Castle’ (as much for the humour as for Nathan Fillion), and am looking forward to the second one – and as a hopeful author would love to have the success that Richard Castle has on the show.

Now I hear that there is to be a highly unusual, yet quite funny tie-in to the show. ‘Richard Castle’ (Nathan Fillion’s character) is to be releasing the novel, Heat Wave, that he was penning on the show, which will be starring Nikki Heat, the character based on Kate Beckett (as played by Stana Katic).

A fictional author writing a novel about a fictional character based on another fictional character? Its almost so surreal its genius.

For whatever reason, I seem to have a blind spot when it comes to editing. I can read a draft through five times and not noticed a glaringly obvious error, and then still miss it on the sixth go. It is not that I can’t spell; I’m fairly good at that. I think it may be that I read the story rather than edit it.

But today I’m setting the goal of going through every word, every line of all the stories on the site, probably 60,000 words worth and editing them until my eyes bleed.

And then tomorrow I will find something I missed.

Just finished doing the rewrite of The Gift (though I need to come up with a bit better name for it). Took five days and totals 15,000 words.

Next step is to do the editing and polishing. That may take almost as long, depending on time available.

When I sat down at the end of yesterday and did a word count I was quite staggered by it – 5500 words in total. I was not expecting as much, not after the stop-start nature that much of the day and compounded by having to have an hour long lie down in the middle of the day to try and shake off a nagging headache.

It was only after dinner that I really got into the swing of things, with a solid two and a half to three hour block of writing that was happily lacking any distractions. Got most of that word count done in that period. Only makes me wonder what I could have achieved if the whole day was like that.

That pushed the word total to date for The Gift to 10,000 and I’ve only used up about 2/3rds of the rough draft. I’m not going to have as much time today as yesterday, but hopefully by the weekend the rewrite will be done and next week comes the polishing and editing.

I’m rather happy with the speed it is coming along at though, and the story itself, even though I know I have to fix up a bit of an info dump that occurs at one place

Now that the latest two stories have been finished and added to the site, time to catalogue what is next on the To Do list.

On the website side of things, I need to keep slowly adding to the Worlds of Mist and Shadows page, expanding on it, and to also finish off writing the background notes on all of the short stories. So far about half of them are done.

The older stories need another minor re-edit and a slight modification to their layout, but that isn’t a priority as of now.

Story wise, the main aim is for the moment to finish the rewrite of The Gift and to make it ready to post. So far I have done almost 4750 words of the rewrite and that from just 1900 words of the rough draft. Given the rough draft was 7300 words long, I should easily reach between the 15,000 and 20,000 word mark I was aiming for for this story. It is probably going to take a few days to do that much output – unless I get lucky and manage to string together a couple of those 5K word days.

Beyond that I need to return to the plotting of Tears of the Moon and get working on the proper draft of that, as well as working on some more short stories. There are five more of them partially mapped out or started, including part three of Cara’s Choice and follow up stories for the android Ray, the Minotaur Nhaqosa and the Braega/Tudhala setting.

Lots to do, which is good.