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New Author and New to FF Salutations, ladies and gents.  I've been reading the blog here for a little while now, and when I thought to seek out a writing community to engage with, this is the place that came to mind.

I'm a new author with the only complete work under my belt being an unpublished novelette.  That novelette, however, was the first work of a series entitled, Children of Cataclysm.  The series is more than a decade in the making, but I've just launched the first published work of that series, book one of nine in serial form, Sons of Exile (more background on that here).

I'm somewhat of an outsider (newcomer) to literary fantasy, but I've always been keen on the broader world of speculative fiction.  Though I've enjoyed classics of literary sci-fi and fantasy, both old and new (SoIaF, Dune, LotR, Starship Troopers), literary philosophy has long dominated my reading lists.  The greater portion of my exposure to speculative fiction, on the other hand, has been attained through more visual mediums.  Nevertheless, I find my work squarely in the realm of fantasy and am enjoying catching up what the genre has to offer.

March 25, 2016, 05:44:35 AM
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Re: To prologue or not to prologue?
I often find it a good way for authors to put a lot of questions in the readers' minds quickly, which is a good thing.

Rescinding my response: I was tired and misread as "put a lot of questions to rest" and ended up restating what you said. [What questions does a reader really have until the story starts? The information given in the beginning of a story should have a reader asking questions of the story until the end, and sometimes, yes, a prologue can accomplish this. An expositional prologue might guide the reader to ask the right questions of the story to follow, but I think that this is best accomplished within the story itself. An author can't really expect the reader to care about exposition without context.]

I dabbled with the idea of utilizing an interlogue in that manner, actually, and while I think I've settled on not including one, I did write it and found it to be an excellent exercise, at least. It's proved to be a great way to summarize large chunks of the work that goes into worldbuilding without the pressure of maintaining narrative flow.

March 31, 2016, 03:47:14 AM
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Why Do You Want to be an Author? I've had a singular world brewing in me ever since I was a kid. That world gradually became my own internal mythos and a repository for many of my personal dreams and notions as well as a testing ground on which to put those through the wringer. Though I hadn't originally intended to pursue this by literary means, my love of literature and its low-friction approach to developing a narrative eventually won out.

I had long dreamed of publishing, but I really never intended to publish fiction. Since having given fiction a go, however, I've had a greater drive to write, even beyond that work, than I ever had before. It's been a great way to become familiar with how to see my creative writing through. It's helped to have had so long to mull over and develop the bones of my narrative to make that possible.

Since my original forays into writing were for the purpose of developing and communicating philosophical notions, I would say that's my main reason and drive to write, even when it comes to my fiction. Obviously there's the satisfaction of bringing one's imaginings to life, particularly when it comes to literary SFF, but that's just a perk for me.

April 08, 2016, 07:39:44 PM
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Re: How does the writer impact the story?
When you find a message in a work that the author didn't mean to put there, you're not wrong. You just discovered something about the way the authors mind works that he wasn't aware about himself.

No. Not so much. You've discovered something about yourself and your own biases, and now you're projecting what you want to believe onto the author.

That sounds an awful lot like solipsism, which to my mind directly contradicts the literary experience. Literature is a communication medium. It is a way for the author to immerse a reader in a piece of their own mind. Communication can fail at both ends of this and reveal the shortcomings of either party. An author can reveal more than intended just as a reader's own worldview can be challenged.

April 24, 2016, 11:53:48 PM
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Re: How does the writer impact the story?

To this day I'm not so sure what Scorcese actually thinks of a man like the Wolf.

Not so coincidentally, "Taxi Driver" was very much a similar case. It was definitely more of a character study than either a moral repudiation or glorification of Travis Bickle--meaning it's essentially both.

This is reminiscent of what often happens in war films. While the creators are typically known to hold antiwar stances, the films have a proclivity to glorify the subject matter. I believe Anthony Swofford made this observation in his book, "Jarhead," noting how religiously warfighters internalize the themes of such films (Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, etc.) to very much the opposite effect as presumably intended. This is probably owed to the filmmaker's own empathy for the enthrallment of combat upon its participants. In such a case, I think it's clear that the intent is at odds with the message manifested, but they are both relevant to understanding the value of the work.

April 25, 2016, 07:33:46 PM
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Chapters I find that I have a tendency to write longer chapters, but 8k would be pushing it for me. The first part (three chapters) of my current novel doesn't go over 5k (or at least not by much if I recall). Don't cut it down just for the sake of it, but I would say that it's a good bet that you could either split it up or trim it down if maybe you're unloading too much all at once. Think forward a bit and see if there's something that might be better kept close to the chest.

For reference, people have made available analyses of various SFF works for chapter length ranges and averages. I would utilize a notion of those when thinking critically about your own work.

April 28, 2016, 03:27:21 PM
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Re: Book Planning I spent about ten years worldbuilding (this included the narrative elements) before seriously beginning work on something publishable. During this time, I did write a shortstory prequel as a part of that worldbuilding process and also wrote bits and pieces of the main work. Since seriously beginning the main work, I have yet even glance at those bits and pieces, nor do I ever reference any my notes (though I edit and ammend them). I still consider all of the prewriting I've done as essential to developing my own sense of the world and narrative, but it's the writing that I did within the narrative that gave me the greatest insight, particularly when it comes to undertaking that work from beginning to end.

That being said, I do feel that I could have begun the main work sooner, but I would have had a harder time writing it. The notes that I kept came on their own, as I spent a great deal of time with my mind on the matter, but the writing was far more deliberate and forced me dredge deeper than was possible with notes. The shortstory prequel I wrote provided this opportunity in advance of the main work, allowing me to also explore tone and voice without the pressure of the intent to publish. This is about as extreme as the ten years spent prewriting, but the writing of the main work somewhat began of its own accord when there was essentially no better way left to explore what I had created.

So yeah, I don't think there's any way to know how much planning is too much, and while the work certainly shouldn't be forced, writing the story (or a story) may become integral to the worldbuilding itself. I think what's needed is a smooth and natural transition from prewriting to writing--being intrigued enough by your worldbuilding that the only satisfying way to proceed is to just write.

April 30, 2016, 10:43:48 PM
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Re: Mapmaking Software/Websites I haven't posted my WIP in that thread, yet, but I've used a combination of Sketchbook, Gimp, and more recently, Graphic, all with a Wacom Intuos drawing tablet.

I have kept an eye out for more dedicated software like Jonathan Roberts' Fantastic Mapper or Other World Mapper.  I would like to explore using something like World Machine to create something more realistic, interactive, and versatile.

Edit:
I guess World Mapper is just about abandonware, supposedly Terragen is currently the way to go.

Edit2:
I actually took up my mapmaking again last night and figured out how to overlay my map in google earth. This made me glad that I was using vectors, as it was a cinch to resize my map's dimensions and shuffle my continents around to achieve a more favorable position on the globe. It will also help for figuring out distances and climate.

The workflow for this is pretty nice, actually. GEarth just pulls the overlays from your file system (or a URL, I think), so if you overwrite the file (I export to tiff), it only requires a refresh to see the changes. I have a whole-globe wrap at the moment, but the resolution is limited, so if want higher rez zoomable features, I'll have to cut those out of the larger map and overlay them as separate chunks.

I'm not sure how far I'll go with this particular workflow beyond general positioning, however, as I'm wanting to make a proper heightmap and looking at tools like Wilbur and MapToGlobe.

May 01, 2016, 07:16:07 AM
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Graphic Novel recommendations? DMZ is one of my all time favorites. It's a near-future political sci-fi with somewhat of a post-apocalyptic and dystopian tinge, as it takes place in Manhattan reduced to the anarchy of a demilitarized zone by a hypothetical (and to this day reasonably plausible) second American civil war. The story's told primarily from the perspective of an embedded photojournalist come to live amongst the denizens of the DMZ.

I've never played The Division, but that game strikes me as somewhat of a spiritual successor to this comic.

May 21, 2016, 10:49:02 PM
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Re: What comic book are you reading? I'm finishing up "Fight Club 2." It's pretty ridiculous, but I understand why. I'm eager to continue "Mobile Suit Gundam," "Akira," and "Knights of Sydonia" (guess I'm on a a bit of a manga kick ever since I read "All You Need is Kill").

I'm now on to Lone Wolf & Cub Omnibus 4...

Been wanting to start that one. I enjoyed it's cinematic incarnation and influences "Shogun Assassin," "Road to Perdition" (haven't read the comic), "The Road" (book and film), and I guess "El Topo" can be seen as a spin on that theme.

May 21, 2016, 11:07:47 PM
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