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Messages - Skip

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Writers' Corner / Re: Is this the kissing part?
« on: February 14, 2015, 03:53:00 AM »
Rukaio Alter's path is mine. I had already planned some non-romantic encounters, just to let them talk and find reasons they have to work together. Then a few simple physical acts, such as a hand on an arm, or a smile. I have written nearly 100k words, knew there was a romantic angle to the story, and still had managed not to write any of it. I was dodging it, and I was surprised to find that was so.

The things we find out about ourselves, as we write.

-= Skip =-

Introductions / Re: Elk in Headlights
« on: February 14, 2015, 03:47:59 AM »
Not when I began writing, but later when I began to realize just how much work the whole publishing process was going to entail, I felt like a deer in headlights.

The rest was inevitable.

-= Skip =-

Writers' Corner / Is this the kissing part?
« on: February 13, 2015, 06:39:04 PM »

I've got male and female leads in my WIP--two males, one female. I have good reasons, both plot- and character-driven, why she has an interest both, and why they have an interest in her. I'm pretty comfortable with how all that fits together and how it plays out through the book.

I'm not at all comfortable, though, in showing that relationship develop in specific scenes. Oh, I can outline them well enough. I know when she likes A and dislikes B, when she has conflicting emotions, when she likes B but loves A. I can outline it in satisfying detail, but when it comes to the actual writing, I'm no good.

I can tell, because I've been avoiding those scenes. I've been writing all kinds of other scenes, some of them with high drama and emotion, but when it comes to my main characters in love, I just freeze up. My explanations for this range from inexperience to incompetence to a fear that I'll botch the job and my characters don't deserve that. In addition, I'm not at all sure how much space these relationships merit. This isn't a romance novel, after all, it's epic fantasy. I've toyed with abandoning the love side altogether, except that adds a satisfying aspect to the denounement.

So, no real specific question here, just angsty rambling. Have others stumbled over the kissing parts (Princess Bride reference, not a reference specifically to kissing)?

Introductions / Re: Elk in Headlights
« on: February 13, 2015, 02:25:22 AM »
It's nice to see another medievalist in FictionLand. The Red Knight is now in my TBR queue which is, alas, dishearteningly long.

Writers' Corner / Re: A Key to Good Second Acts
« on: February 12, 2015, 05:12:36 PM »
I keep wishing for guidelines and advice on plot structure that is *not* based around acts.

I don't care for the plot-as-acts for a couple of reasons. One, that structure is derived from theater, which has its own story-telling dynamics and constraints. Two, the advice is far too high-level. I can understand Act One, Act Two, etc. It's getting from Scene 8 to Scene 9 while not contradicting Scene 3 and not screwing up Scene 24 that bedevils me. The South Park advice is actually fairly useful for that level.

But seriously, what about other structures? One of my favorite authors is Joseph Conrad. Go diagram *that*. Hah! I leave aside post-modernist sorts, as they are deliberately breaking structure. Another good example would be Patrick O'Brian's books. These are good for models because they are fundamentally adventure stories. Pacing is driven in part by the simple physical mechanics of sailing, much as fantasy stories are constrained by the physical mechanics of getting from City A to City B. O'Brian employs some interesting and rather odd devices in narrating battle scenes. How he handles multi-volume narration is worth a look as well.

To much writerly advice, it seems to me, derives from the construction of thrillers or of mysteries. Even the ones that have a fantasy setting (I'm looking at you, Jim Butcher). The dynamics of epic fantasy are a bit different. So, to repeat, anyone know of advice columns for epic fantasy? (not world building; that's a different topic)

-= Skip =-

Writers' Corner / Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« on: February 12, 2015, 05:02:14 PM »
Dating site-like software would be perfect for critique groups! Somebody (a synonym for "not me") should go write one!

Lots of people have weighed in on this. But who is actually driving it? Overlord, is this on you? It's been _two whole days_!

More seriously, if this really is on Overlord's shoulders, a few of us (a synonym for "possibly me") should step up and help on the admin side.

Writers' Corner / Re: How to abandon a story?
« on: February 12, 2015, 04:53:45 PM »
You may not need to walk away completely. If this truly is a high concept work, then you probably have done a lot of world building, which means lots of backstory. Somewhere in the backstory should be fodder for other stories. Try writing a couple of short stories to fill that out. It's good exercise anyway.

It may be you simply need a couple of small victories to keep your spirits up.

Also, fwiw, no story is ever abandoned by its author. They all stay with you.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Why do you write?
« on: February 11, 2015, 06:22:34 AM »
What Elfy said.

I don't write because I love it. Many days, I hate it. Most days, it's just this thing that I do. My favorite writerly quote is from Dorothy Parker, who said (more or less): I hate writing, but I love having written.

I didn't think I was a writer. I was trained as a historian and I spent most of my working career as a computer tech. Not long before I retired, though, I realized that I had been writing all my life. I wrote scraps of fiction, like many folks here. I wrote history essays and some scholarly articles. Even had some published.

The key understanding was that every single year of my life I had been writing. I simply had been doing so without direction or purpose. That understanding was revelatory, and I've been an author ever since.

Why do I write? Damned if I know. It's not a choice, it's merely an observed fact.

-= Skip =-

Writers' Corner / Re: A thousand years here, a thousand years there
« on: February 11, 2015, 05:54:42 AM »
One thing to keep in mind about historical memory. Pre-literate peoples had way better memories than we do. There are methods for remembering things, methods that we have largely ... well ... forgotten.

Historians are constantly trying to find ways to verify ancient facts. What might surprise you is how often we have found that Herodotus or Arrian or Polybius or You-Name-Him gave an account that can in fact be independently confirmed.

I'm not saying that their memories were perfect, but I am saying that we should not take our own very poor memories as the model. Tribes could and did pass down accurate genealogies that stretched seven and even ten generations. Rather famously, the accounts of Troy recorded by Homer were considered entirely fictional, until Schliemann dug up Troy. And so on.

In story-telling terms, this means the author can assert his characters have some tradition of the Long Ago that is more or less accurate. It also means the author can pick just exactly the inaccuracy the story needs.

-= Skip =-

Writers' Corner / Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« on: February 11, 2015, 05:43:29 AM »
I'd be willing to participate in this, but only because I already have a fair amount already written. If I were working from scratch, I doubt I would join.

This is because I am a slooow writer. Oh, I can knock out a few thousand words a day, no problem. But I would not inflict them on a serious writing group. I'm not going to submit something when I can see the plot holes for myself, when I *know* the pacing needs work, etc. Why waste your time?

I've already been in several critique groups. I know I have benefited from critiquing others, but I think I have gained most of what I can gain out of that experience. If you've not been in a critique group, join one. Do at least five or six rounds. Your writing will improve, but even more your understanding of writing will improve.

I mention the personal experience as background to saying, it would work best from my pov if I could sign up for a month (or three), then have the opportunity to re-up each cycle. At each cycle, people could leave and new people could join.

Also, fwiw, I agree that experience probably counts more than genre. We're all fantasy writers here. We could benefit from different perspectives. Heck, I'd even force myself to read urban fantasy. :)

-= Skip =-

Writers' Corner / Re: How do you keep your worldbuilding orderly?
« on: February 11, 2015, 05:35:08 AM »

More particularly, I use Scrivener for each of my stories; each story is a Scrivener project. In addition to these, I have a World Reference project with sections for each of my races, a general history, plus sections on magic, etc. Each race has slots for politics, economics, society and culture, the four-fold division often used by historians.

I have learned it is extremely handy to have a separate World Reference project because I can keep it open along with whatever WIP project I have open, making it easy to flip back and forth.

FWIW, I don't use Evernote, though I've tried many times. Typing into a phone or tablet is too infuriating, especially with all the fantasy names. Besides, I often write drafts with paper and pencil. I keep a small notebook and a pen or pencil with me pretty much at all times. I can get that out and make a note *much* faster than I can on an electronic device. When I get back to my computer, I type it up, providing me with a chance to do a preliminary edit on it.

That's my system and I'm sticking to it!

-= Skip =-

Introductions / Elk in Headlights
« on: February 10, 2015, 11:35:16 PM »
Hello to all and sundry. My name is Ellis L. Knox, but I've had a nickname since childhood, so call me Skip.

I write historical fantasy and have a couple of publications, and I'm working on a novel. I've been reading fantasy for most of my life, which at 63 adds up to a fair pile.

I'm a medieval historian by training, but I fell into the computer business early on and the tar baby stuck. I'm retired now, though, and have returned to my first loves of history and fiction.

I'm delighted to find this group. I've been reading Fantasy Faction for a year or more, but only today stumbled onto a reference to the forum. Jumped on it.

I look forward to hearing from folks here on their triumphs and tribulations in their writing, and their publishing.

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