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Messages - ZRWilliams

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Writers' Corner / Re: What's in a city?
« on: September 25, 2013, 10:21:33 PM »
Check out Medieval Demographics Made Easy:

This is awesome! Thank you so much for the resource. This covers a few other areas that I was also concerned about. Also a great idea to look into children's books, I never would have considered that. Thanks for all the recommends!

Writers' Corner / What's in a city?
« on: September 24, 2013, 06:38:39 PM »
I mean this in a very literal way and I feel like an idiot for asking it. When writing a fantasy city, be it medieval or Renaissance era or what have you, what is in a city? I know there are a few obvious answers like inns, taverns or a blacksmith, but what else is there? I've tried to do some research on it and haven't found much in regards to specifics. I get much more about general irrigation, waste disposal systems and trade routes. I want to build a city that's realistic and am honestly looking for a little help. Any good resources better than just googling random questions?

Writers' Corner / Re: Put the masterpiece aside and begin anew?
« on: September 24, 2013, 06:24:24 PM »
I find that I constantly do this and try to actually do it daily. I have my major project I'll work on for a couple hours, scrutinizing the story, character, setting and wondering if it's terrible, then I write something fresh and new. I have the beginnings of worlds and magical systems in plenty because of this. It's nice because it is freeing. I understand how you're feeling completely.

Writers' Corner / Re: A Strange and Possibly Insane Idea
« on: August 30, 2013, 06:11:43 PM »
Awesome. Thanks you guys. I like this idea and it's great to have some reference points to look at. Really appreciate it!

Writers' Corner / A Strange and Possibly Insane Idea
« on: August 23, 2013, 11:24:50 PM »
So I heard the term Web Series the other day and it has sent my mind into wondering. I realize that most often web series are videos but I wondered if it could be tweaked into a book format. I have no clue if this sort of thing has been done, at least online before, so if anyone has seen something like it I'd love to see it.

The Basic Idea:
I was thinking of writing a book online in partnership with a few other authors and all converging on the same plot line. To make it more interesting, each writer would be solely responsible for a character(s) of her/his own creation. So I could never write the character that another person was working on, only my own. I think this could add an interesting depth to the characters, and world for that matter, since they all would sound so different.

I was thinking of having each writer turn in say 5,000 words a month and putting those chunks of the story online on a monthly basis. If enough writers are involved that's actually a fair amount of content.
I realize there are obvious things to consider. The world would have to be developed as well as the over arching plot, we'd want to know the length we were moving toward, who (if anyone) would write the good guy or bad guy but I think after that hump it could be fun. Additionally we'd have to worry about quality content and would probably have to concern ourselves with one another's sub-plots to assure it doesn't mess with the grand plot which could complicate the creative process, but still...
Any thoughts? Is this insane?  Is there something I'm not considering here? I honestly wouldn't know where to begin to start something like this but it's been on my mind constantly.

Writers' Corner / Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan?
« on: July 19, 2013, 07:02:19 PM »
Very few writers get every sentence right the first time. I know I don't! The good news is that it gets better with practice, but right now you need to heed the words of podcaster Mur Lafferty: "You are allowed to suck".

I feel I have to echo this notion. When you hear from many professional story tellers, I daresay most, their first novels were just plain terrible. I know mine was. I have heard Pat Rothfuss refer to a terrible novel he wrote in high school and Dan Wells basically say that a writer's first novel generally belongs in the garbage. That isn't to dishearten you but it's true, you are allowed to suck. There are lessons to be learned in starting and finishing your novel that cannot be learned any other way. While it is nice to have these nice clean definitions of characterization, plot, dialogue, world building and so on, it isn't that clean when writing. For me, after reading for my whole life, going to writing retreats, outlining story after story and writing six full length novels, nothing beats sitting down and doing it while at the same time understanding that it will not be perfect.

Writers' Corner / Re: World Building : Map Work.
« on: July 10, 2013, 08:23:20 PM »
I found that drawing maps has helped me immensely. One thing that I would highly recommend is a white board and a variety of colored dry erase markers. This is how I draw my map starting out since it's easy to erase and keeps me from drawing it several times. I keep it hung up on my wall as a reference while I'm writing. Fortunately I have a very patient wife that puts up with my geekery as well. :)
Something else that I did was find landmarks similar to my world on Google Earth. I knew my climate and that I wanted a large lake so my world is actually akin to Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela.
Those are my two cents. Good luck with the world building!

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Is Fantasy Changing?
« on: June 11, 2013, 12:36:44 AM »
Recently I had one of my beta readers ask me concerning my book, "So where's the magic?" I was actually quite flattered by this and he didn't understand why. I like the Sanderson, Weeks, Farland, Rothfuss systems of magic (Yes, I'm sure I'm missing a ton of other authors). Systems with laws and limitations to the magic often based around science. However on thinking about this I found that many of these books don't have the classic or cliched parts of the Fantasy story. Upon asking my beta, who is typically a sci-fi reader, he said he was assuming dragons and wizards were going to be in there at some point and that he liked the fact that there weren't any.
Up until recently I worked at a bookstore for nine years and I found that there are very few "classic" style fantasy books being published through mainstream publishing houses anymore. Those that are published tend to be from established authors while new authors are writing either urban or this different branch of fantasy in the tradition of Rothfuss and Sanderson. I haven't done any research to see if this is true, it's just what I have noticed.
Do you think this is the case? Are we seeing less wizards and elves for the sake of more Mistborns and sympathy magic? Is this a bad thing? A note on that last is that my beta now wants to read fantasy with complex magic where before he had very little interest due to his own presuppositions. So does this broaden our readership or hurt the genre? Neither?
Just something that's been on my mind recently. :)

Writers' Corner / Re: How do you get inspired?
« on: May 03, 2013, 07:55:56 PM »
So glad to hear other people need absolute silence while they write. I've tried so many times to listen to music or have movie playing in the background but I lose my train of thought that way. I was beginning to think it was something wrong with me :)

Writers' Corner / Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« on: April 28, 2013, 03:37:23 AM »
I'm not sure I can vote on this. In my early writings I was a complete pantser but that has changed over the last few years. At the moment I essentially vomit every little idea onto the page for 20-40 pages and see what works. After that I will try to plot it out or at least be thinking several scenes ahead of what I'm writing. This just allows me the release of discovery and allows me to sit and ask the apparent questions. I actually keep a notebook for each of my stories and will sit for a time after my writing sessions and jot down questions about the culture or the world or the character.

Writers' Corner / How do you get inspired?
« on: April 14, 2013, 04:44:35 PM »
In this I'm not talking about story ideas, but what is it that makes you sit in the chair and write? I'm primarily a discovery writer, so it doesn't take a lot for me to sit and pound out the first twenty pages of an idea. Revision and rewriting however is a different story. I constantly find myself making up excuses not to work on my main project and instead have fun with my other developing ideas.
I've found what inspires me are interviews with authors. These interviews can either be about their books or about the craft itself. Things like and the Storyboard sessions with Patrick Rothfuss have helped inspire me greatly to get the rewrite of my novel done. It always helps to hear people that have the same complaints or questions I do. This, of course, is why I joined Fantasy Faction since it is easier/better/helps me keep my sanity to hear from authors that write in the same genre I do.
What about you?

Writers' Corner / Re: When people steal your names...
« on: April 10, 2013, 05:24:25 PM »
I've never had it happen with football player's kids but in games. When I started playing Oblivion I found three characters in that game that had my characters names! I couldn't change my character names after 200K words of story and character development though so I totally know what you mean. Actually my first character ever was named Quinntus. I thought it was beautiful and brilliant. Then the name ended being used for a bad guy in a Dresden novel. Sigh.

Writers' Corner / Re: Portal Fantasy
« on: April 10, 2013, 05:18:47 PM »
I think it has to do with how the portal is used in the story. When it all boils down to it a lot of fantasy that is out there involves portals of one type or another. It's become a staple to the genre and I don't think that's a bad thing. Rothfuss has his own notion of portals in "Wise Man's Fear" and I loved that book. Butcher, De Lint, Brooks and countless others have used portals. I think it's all about how the author takes it. One thing I often hear on this topic from author interviews is that they always want their portals to be unique in their own way but still pay homage to the stories of portals from when they were growing up.
This is a really great topic since one of my side projects right now is a portal story, though one moving from a low tech world into a high tech world. Admittedly I developed the idea from China Mieville's notions of the Imer in "Embassytown." Anyway I don't think portal fantasy is going anywhere. I say keep writing.

Writers' Corner / Re: Character Naming: Help Needed
« on: April 10, 2013, 04:58:19 PM »
Is this a widely known character in the world? Because if that is the case then you could involve as much of a title as a name or even something physical he carries or wears that he is identified by. That may be a little difficult when adding in a more effeminate flare to the name but it may be worth some thought. Off the top of my head otherwise:

As far as last names go I'm terrible at them so I've got nothing there.

Writers' Corner / Re: Limiting the muse in shorts
« on: April 09, 2013, 05:49:14 PM »
Yes the characters all might have amazing backstories and interesting lives, but if it's not relevant to the plot, try not to include it.

I believe that applies to novels as well, but authors love their backstory so much.

This reminds me of Karen Lord's advice on the Shared Worlds website. Several authors were asked to write their best advice for writers on their hands. Lord's advice had all to do with this topic. What you see in a novel isn't necessarily all there is. It's actually sort of inspiring if you haven't seen it.

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