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Re: Mythical Creatures? I have a board on pinterest where I keep all of the mythical creatures and other little tidbits I find. Here's the link: https://www.pinterest.com/nalexr/compendium-of-weird/
I also like the Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John & Caitlin Matthews. Plus sometimes I just make stuff up.

April 24, 2016, 10:18:35 PM
World-Building Excellent thoughts and advice on world-building


“Treat your real world locale like another character.” Penny Ruggaber

“You don’t need it to make sense. It just has to be internally consistent.” Hisui X

“Tools, philosophy, folklore, and spirituality. And don’t forget the little touches, like minor superstitions, and foods. Even if you don’t use them, they will inform the way you write and add richness.” Robyn McIntyre

“Make sure you create some kind of map to know where everything is. The last thing you want to do is send your characters north when the city is actually south.” Chris Mentzer

“1st check. Do YOU believe your world could exist, if you don’t, no one else will.” JW Arlock

“Don’t throw capitals at me every couple of pages.  You remember what they mean because you wrote the book.  I’m not likely to remember all those Circles of Pollyanna and Three Faces of Musili.” Stanley Morris

“Always make sure your reader knows whether your story is centered in the northern or southern hemisphere. For instance, a reader in north America would get confused if your character heads south and the temperature got colder.” Roland Boykin

“You don’t need to do as much thinking or research as you think you need to do before beginning.” Mark Mercieca

“I’m a sucker for worlds in weird shapes. Flat worlds are awesome (I mean, who doesn’t like the ability to literally sail off the edge of the world?)” Joseph Stoll

“Just don’t forget that when worldbuilding, whether it’s in this world or another, every subculture has its own favoured art, music and symbols, as well as ideology. Hone those, as well as the history of the place.” Zena Shapter

“Don’t set the “World Map” in stone too early on–let it solidify around your story. I drew mine out and named every mountain range, forest and town years before the story had fully come together, and my uncle surprised me with an artist’s elegant, framed illustration of it. It’s been sitting in my closet for years, and would require a monster glob of white out to be updated.” Charles Murray

“Don’t forget that food, clothing, shelter, and all the other goodies come from resources, both local and imported. Knowing those plants, animals, minerals, water, etc., can go a long way to showing your characters living in the world instead of living on it.” Gerri Lynn Baxter

“World building is by far one of the most magical moments that take form before putting pen to paper; an ever-evolving beast that grows with every step. Without it the story would be a shadow, but add too much and the damage can be catastrophic. The intertwining link between the two plays out like a lover’s embrace, and when done well creates a world of delight.” Chantelle Griffin

“To bring the world alive, it’s not just the social and geopolitical aspects you need, its economics and how alien topographies might affect the story.” Mark Mercieca

“Creative boundaries set by your world can be great creative starting points.” Rik Lagarto

“A world needs to have it’s own myths, religion, heroes, villains… these kind of stories should come out naturally in the narrative and it can make your book stand firmly in a reader’s mind.” Vanessa MacLellan

September 30, 2016, 06:59:56 PM
Re: UGH... self-promotion I feel for you Eli. Its pretty damn hard.

A smidgeon of hope - authors do make it simply by word of mouth, simply by friends telling friends and with the contacts they make from places here. Yes, that often takes a long long time. The self-promotional tools will help and I think you'll still end up using them here and there but they're not the only way to do it.

October 20, 2016, 09:36:30 PM
Re: UGH... self-promotion Just joining the chorus of "hang in there"s, Eli. Doing indie *anything* is tough, but indie publishing is particularly so, since there are literally millions of competitors doing the same thing.

All I can offer is to try to find enjoyment in even the small victories (a good review, a nice note from a reader, or a sale) and return to those when you're feeling frustrated.

Among the "successful" indie authors I've seen, one consensus is they didn't start to remotely break even until they had 5, 10, even 15 books published. But if the grind of trying to get your stuff out there ever gets overwhelming, don't be afraid to take a break or channel your creative talents into something else that you find more fulfilling.

October 20, 2016, 10:09:55 PM
Re: Author websites - Best and Worst I can offer my experiences as both author and reader.

As an author, I initially went nuts on my website. Got character artwork done for my six main characters, made sure they each had a bio and a page, added some world history, basically fleshing out the world of my book as much as I could. Added a whole bunch of individual navigation categories and the like. The idea was to get people to read it, get interested, and buy the book.

I don't think it really worked.

Similarly, I can't recall the last time I read a book and went immediately to the author's website to devour all the little extra bits and trivia associated with it. There may be people who do that, but not me. So I'm going off my own personal likes/dislikes.

What I have done (quite often) is to meet an author at a convention and then look their site up on my phone. If I can't figure out how to read about their book (and buy it) in a click or two, I lose interest. So that's oddly the biggest tip I can offer ... make sure your site works fine on a mobile device.

This means relatively simple - straight scrolling is best (you can endless scroll DOWN, but never scroll HORIZONTAL) and make sure that "here's the book" link is front and center. When I get the time to redesign my personal author site (maybe over Christmas?) that's the route I'm going, and you'll note most professional authors do this too.

Now mentioning a site like Sanderson's (with his book progress bars and all that) ... I think that's an exception because he's so huge. Once you get that huge, then you have a reason to have a more developed website because people will be hungrily devouring every tidbit you put up. But as a starting author who doesn't have an audience yet? You don't need it.

Until you make it big, make sure your site does the following: let me find your book, let me find the back cover text and maybe a sample chapter, and let me buy it, all within a click. Make sure your site works well on a mobile device like a phone, and make sure nothing other than what I just listed gets in my way.

December 12, 2016, 06:01:27 PM
Re: Author websites - Best and Worst As a reader, and casual writer, but not an author, my view on author websites is simple :

I never go on them, and can tell you exactly whose sites I've visited so far, in my life :

Charlaine Harris
Jean M Auel
Becky Chambers
Oliver Langmead

All were because I was hoping to see new release dates, but for the last, I was only helping Ollie set up his own website. Becky was the one I went to out of curiosity as much as to check if she had any other work "out there".

Otherwise, since I've said plenty times on threads on gender or authors, I generally dislike knowing anything about the authors I read, and this means I have no interest in googling them, hence I never end up on anyone's website.  :D

As for opinion blogs, the only one I sort of "went through" in a couple of days was the one written by R.J Bennett

December 12, 2016, 06:22:27 PM
A question of motivation So I am curious about character motivations, main characters/protagonists especially. Looking around at successful works, I see a three-element formula in most.
The first is a need for someone to act, often (but not always) voiced by a mentor character.

The second is the character's stated desire or willingness to act, usually voiced. Luke says he wants to go with Ben, learn about the Force, and become a Jedi like his father. Frodo says he'll take the ring, even though he doesn't know the way. I do not recall Paul Atreides stating his intentions so succinctly, but it's obvious he has the desire to set things right.

The third is a social convention of some kind, be it Luke acquiescing to Ben's urging him to join him (listening to elders) or Paul's doing what heirs to thrones do. Frodo's an outlier here, as there's nothing obligating him to carry the ring, and I do not recall Gandalf stating his desire outright.

But beyond these points, I do not recall any solid foundations of commitment, and the more I look at the tired clichés out there, the more I see that they are most often used to attempt to build a deeper foundation. Such as "I have to [insert story goal] because I must [get princess, save world, fulfill my role as The One, etc.]."

In life, I have found that the strongest motivations are indicated by the simplest and most succinct statements. "I will run a marathon, climb Mt. Everest, be a millionaire before I'm 40, become a Green Beret", or whatever. And these people then go out and do these amazingly difficult, sometimes lengthy things.

But in fiction, there's a belief among writers that more is required. So my question is - just how much depth is needed for a character's motivation to accomplish their goal to be plausible?

April 26, 2017, 09:02:08 PM
Re: A question of motivation Mostly, characters need strong reasons to do things because any sensible person would have nothing to do with this situation. :) (A story about a character trying hard to avoid the plot would be realistic, but kind of boring to read. In fact, I think I've read a story like that, and it was.) Most people don't do the dangerous thing. Most people don't even do the difficult thing. As writers, we should appreciate this most of all: how many of us fall away in the pursuit of achieving The Thing?

To complicate things: my personal view is that the character's struggle to achieve their goal (external conflict) is more compelling when matched with internal conflict as well, because it increases the scope of the struggle geometrically. And one of the best ways I know of achieving that is to have what the character needs to do being in opposition to what they want to do. (Frodo has enjoyed his little adventure, but fundamentally he's a hobbit and he wants to stay warm and fed and safe. But someone needs to take the ring to Mordor... Or, a starker example: Buffy wants to be a normal teenage girl, but she needs to save the world.)

So the more a character's need is in opposition to their want, the more compelling reasons they need to turn their back on their want and address their need. That's the conflict, that's the story, or a big part of it.

April 26, 2017, 10:23:13 PM
Re: Do you start big or start small? Have to agree.
Start "small", or start "big and small".

Small = a character, a conflict, a first sentence, and build an actual story from there.
Big and Small = let yourself imagine the big world and build a small part of it; then write an actual story about that.


May 01, 2017, 05:31:01 PM
Re: Employment in a futuristic world
The Trends Institute says that because of innate human wiring, the more high tech a society gets, the more they crave "high touch" and hands-on to balance it.

Handcrafting and handmade are no longer a necessity in the future world, but they become a novelty experience others crave and now must pay for in order to experience. Teaching or allowing tours to handcrafting and experiences revolving around high touch now become new paid occupations.

Also, someone has to continue to build, repair, upgrade, and eliminate outdated drones, computers, etc.

"high touch" is why i think we're approaching a new artistic renaissance.  i'm actually pretty excited about it.

that being said, it's gonna be rough getting there:
“Seriously? You’re asking about the workforce of the future?” added another respondent, a science editor who asked to stay anonymous. “As if there’s going to be one?”

May 05, 2017, 10:22:13 PM