More Magical, Dreadful and Exciting

Quotes from Tanith Lee. Have you ever read her science fiction/ fantasy? It’s time you had a look. She is one of those writers who works to invent something new in plots, characters and that is part of her longevity in fiction.

I just love writing. It’s magical, it’s somewhere else to go, it’s somewhere much more dreadful, somewhere much more exciting. Somewhere I feel I belong, possibly more than in the so-called real world. – Tanith Lee

It’s very selfish when I write. I’m not aware, ever, of writing for another person; I’m not even really aware of writing for myself. – Tanith Lee

No one is ever ordinary. – Tanith Lee

Writing is writing, and stories are stories. Perhaps the only true genres are fiction and non-fiction. And even there, who can be sure? – Tanith Lee

Word Stringing and Pinning Them Down

Tell the readers a story! Because without a story, you are merely using words to prove you can string them together in logical sentences. – Anne McCaffrey

I’m working on fiction. I have the idea but it keeps changing and I keep coming up with different main characters. The more I try to nail down a plan the more I get sidetracked by other plans. I need a sticking point. Yet, in writing fiction there are a lack of rules when it comes to keeping on track and sticking to the point. A work of fiction can wander into all kinds of territory. Add in the paranormal or science fiction and… the variety of elements are endless. Which planet do you want to start on?

Self discipline and I are not very well acquainted. How do you pin down an idea and keep it? Maybe I should look up butterfly collecting, they tend to be good at pinning things down…

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.” – Winston Churchill

Not Showing Your Work

“There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don’t see them.” ~Elie Wiesel

This makes me think of school when, in math class, you were told to show your work (to show the steps you took to get the answer to the math question you were given). All the work was important to getting to your conclusion but usually no one sees it, or has a lot of interest in all those details. Writing is like that too. There is a lot of work that goes into a story which never makes it on to the printed page. I think, as a writer, we have to make sure we don’t show our work, the steps in the process we took in reaching the conclusion of our story. The only steps that should show are the advancement/ development of our characters and the plot of the story itself.

Catching the Tiger’s Tail

There are no right or wrong ways to start writing a story. Some writers will plan it all out ahead, even using a storyboard as they do for drawing cartoons. Not everyone finds this to be the way that works for them. Not everyone can get into planning and then get out of it again and actually start writing. I’ve known someone who stalled with planning a project and then never actually left the launchpad.

For those who don’t want to start with a lot of planning start with a few characters, one main problem to deal with, one main setting and a limited time span. See how it goes. Do you feel other characters evolving into the storyline? Do you get an idea for more places and more details to come along and muck up things with solving the problem? Then it seems you’ve got the tail of a story. Hang onto that tiger and keep writing.

Guidelines for Dialogue

This isn’t an exact guide to writing dialogue, there are always going to be unique situations. But as a guide it is pretty good, I think.

  • Use words and language which your characters would actually use. Give a character his or her own favourite phrases. Their own unique self expression. Please don’t try to mimic a dialect like a Scottish accent in your written words. The words are spelled the same way whether or not they are spoken with an accent. Let your readers know the character is Scottish (or has an accent, speech impediment, etc.) another way.
  • Get rid of dialogue that doesn’t have a point or advance the story in some way. Reveal character, add to the action, set up foreshadowing, change the pace, something that makes the dialogue work for the story rather than just ramble on.
  • Most of the dialogue should be about the speaker’s thoughts, beliefs or problems. Two or more characters enter into dialogue to discuss something, a plan of action, an argument, a change of heart. Dialogue adds drama because it is more immediate and action based than a written description.
  • Write the dialogue as people actually speak. People interrupt each other, ignore each other or just don’t hear each other.
  • Stop the conversation at a good point, build drama and leave something to the reader’s imagination. An entire conversation isn’t necessary and would be kind of boring.
  • Use punctuation in your dialogue, this makes it easy to read and understand. Punctuation is always an important part of written communication. Indent for each new speaker and identify who is speaking. Even during a long conversation between just two people you need to refresh the reader with who is saying what so they don’t become lost in the dialogue.
  • If you use dialogue in an interview (non-fiction) you always identify and exactly quote the speaker (your original source). If you paraphrase you use proper punctuation (quotation marks) to show what is quoted and what is paraphrased or added.  Don’t misquote, you don’t want to put words in someone’s mouth when it’s a real person you may need to ask for information again.

Who Will Win the UnDeath Match?

So far the werewolves are ahead. They’ve outlasted zombies, vampires and angels. (Are angels undead?)

I would have to pick dragons as their next challenger. No, dragons are not undead. But, I can’t seriously see angels as undead. I think that opens the options up to other immortal creatures and a dragon can give a werewolf a pretty serious bad day, any day. As much as I love Kelley Armstrong‘s werewolf characters (especially Elena) I know they can’t walk away from a match against dragons. Though, I will admire them just for having the courage to show up.

There are too few books in the paranormal chick lit genre which include dragons. The last one I liked is a bit old now and not so likely to be found on the shelves at your local Chapters. Have you read Stephanie Rowe’s Immortally Sexy series? Looks like it ended at the fourth book a couple of years ago. A shame, we need more dragons in paranormal fiction. Especially the kind which can ferociously battle werewolves while enjoying a full, passionate life full of chocolate, good books, adventure and treasure hunting!

What do you think? Which undead/ immortal creature do you pick as the ultimate winner in the UnDeath Match? Check in with them on Twitter too.

Ficly: 1,024 Words

Ficly comes from the people who started Ficlet (Ficlet is now closed).

We impose a limit of 1,024 characters because we think constraints are good. They make you choose your words more carefully. They also make it less daunting than starting at a never-ending blank screen in a word processor. All you have to do is write one kilobyte of something – something fictional. That’s all.

NaNoTweetMo?

NaNoTweetMo – Would you want to write your 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo in Twitter? Can you imagine reformatting all of that to look like a standard manuscript?

Just to get an idea of how it would be to write in 140 characters at a time test it out with a word counter (or just use your Twitter account). Post what you get, 140 at a time, to your blog and then comment here so we can follow you and see how you wrote it. Fun?

A Poke at Fairytale Princesses

Francesca Simon wrote “Don’t Cook Cinderella” for kids. I picked the book up just for the title and the picture on the book cover. A Witch, in full black hat and gown, is holding Cinderella up by one ankle over a bubbling black cauldron.

Written on the back cover:

Fairytale goodies and baddies at school together: Miss Good Fairy is teaching Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Snow White and their classmates to read and write, while Miss Bad Fairy is urging her evil pupils to gobble them all up. But Wicked Witch, Troll, Big Bad Wolf, the Ugly Sisters and the rest are in for a shock.

A little light reading if you need something less serious and simple. It’s written for kids and I did buy it for my neice, her birthday is this month. But, I really bought it for the book’s cover. It is a little taunt to all those perfect fairytale Princesses. Write something of your own as a poke at the stereotypical fairytale. How would you write about the usual characters and make us see them in a new way?

No One is Infallible

The probability of someone watching you is proportional to the stupidity of your actions.

Read in The Rules of Thumb blog.

I like when characters in the book I’m reading are less than perfect. One great way to illustrate this is with humour, having them drop something. slip and fall, or other things which happen to everyone. It may not do much for the plot of your story but it does a lot to bring a character to life and help readers identify with a character that seems a lot more human and fallible.

Write a scene that brings out your character’s humanity while making the reader laugh with them.