Writer’s Block

Well, I got it. Writer’s block. I’m at the finale of the story. In video game terms, I need a final dungeon, a perilous place that challenges the hero and put him in extreme danger. Much more that than any area previously explored.

Now, I know that transferring mediums is not always a smooth process. What works in video games might not work on the written page. But the concept is sound. Unfortunately, I’m having trouble visualizing the dungeon without platforming properties (the whole room rotating on a hub, pitfalls, swinging from hook to hook in a bottomless room, etc). I’ll work through it eventually. It’s just realism is very important to me. These books are my children. I want them to be successful.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Have a good day.

Rebooting the Main Story

I decided that Chased By Flame didn’t do enough with the theme of time travel. So I began writing a piece that has my character Mykel getting thrown back in time into multiple timelines (essentially reliving the same week over and over a la Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day). I constructed four different timelines that have the same writing but altered little details so it’s a different story in each timeline. My plan is to have a total of four different timelines, all leading to a specific point.

I just finished the first timeline and on my way towards the second. I’m very excited about this because it will allow me to attribute different details about the main character Mykel in each timeline.

Wish me luck. The grand experiment is beginning.

Looking Forward

I’ve decided to follow a new philosophy (well, new for me, anyway)> I think a day can go smoothly if you have a goal at the end. Work goes faster if you have something to look forward to later. Whatever that’s a TV show, time spent with friends and family, or even a round of video gaming, I find myself looking forward. It gives me a certain purpose. It gives me structure (how I divide my time around that end goal). Even my writing has improved. People in my writing group are responding to my chapters.

I know I might be preaching to the choir here (most of the world probably already know this), but it’s better than I’ve felt in a long time. So thanks to all the people who support me and my dreams. I’d rather look forward than behind, so I’m sticking this out. Until next time.

I Have My Moments

I got a great idea. I think I have a way to have both plot points I’ve been juggling for days to occur. Both of them. How? Time travel. Plus, if this works, then I’ll be able to take some additional ideas from the story’s original manuscript and use them in the same fashion.

It’s going to be tricky because it involves time travel. I’ll have to work hard to make it understandable (as much as you can understand a fictional science). I still don’t know if it will work. But I’m more excited than I’ve been in a long time. Here’s hoping.

Save Everything

I save everything I write. I have notes on scenarios that ultimately didn’t make the cut. They’re brilliant pieces of work, but they’re not in the right style or they don’t fit the characters’ personalities. So I save them. They serve as reference points, something to examine to jump-start the writing should the need for such scenarios come up.

Some writers say that writing around certain pre-written scenarios, that rewriting drafts should be like starting from scratch. I have no problem with that. Sometimes the piece is more organic if its re-written this way. But ideas and proposals and scenarios don’t come around every day. Saving these pieces are like looking into the past, to remind the writer of his writing style back then and how to return or modify to that style. Consistency is important in writing . . . but so is creativity.

So save your pieces. Just because it’s not an essential nucleus to your story at the time of its writing, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a purpose. It can show you how you changed or how to get back to your former writing style. Later on, in rare instances, it can be used layer. Every piece of writing a writer makes is a reflection of him/herself, a bit of him/herself that the author chooses to show to his audience. Save these pieces. You never know when you might need them.

Getting Out Of Your Head

When I wrote my first fantasy novel, my goal was to create a fantasy that appealed to everybody (more specifically the people I went to high school with). Not only did I realize that my friends were not big readers, but my plotline required an education on the sacred science fiction concept of time travel. My family had no idea about the nuances and tiny details that came attached to a fictional science. I realized I had to change my message.

Writers should write what they love. They shouldn’t compromise their vision of their fictional worlds for anything. Yet without compromise, there’s little hope of an author creating a solid bridge to connect the reader with the book. I posted yesterday that I wouldn’t go with the plotline that puts the characters in peril. Yet even as I left my weekly writer’s group, armed with their comments, I knew they would like the peril-ridden plotline I dreamed up earlier this week.

So I’m going to present the plotline that has a character exposing himself to the law and the consequences of breaking the law (death penalty).

I’m a writer. Always have been. My education has been part self-learned and college-learned. I believe in the artistic process. But I can’t have a meaningful conversation about my work if the readers don’t know the language I’m speaking in. So I’m going to give them what I believe they will enjoy more: the sacrifice of the master and the added responsibility thrust on the shoulders of the apprentice. I’m actually looking forward to it.

Difficult Decisions

Just because a writer has a plotline that is undoubtedly one of the most creative pieces in that writer’s career, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s usable. Does it achieve a dramatic hook? Yes. Does it have the readers on the edge of their seats? Yes.

But you can’t use it. Why? Because it forces a character into situations that he cannot handle. In my example, a wizard is imprisoned because he was forced to use magic to save a burning library (in my example magic is outlawed). The wizard goes to jail, which forces the apprentice to take on his duties (among which acting as a mediator with certain fairy creatures).

It’s the wizard that makes everything work. Everything depends on the wizard’s reputation for other parties to honor their agreement. But at the last moment they find they’re talking with a boy who didn’t even know his master was a wizard in the first place? No, that’s too much.

I know that writers are supposed to put their characters outside their comfort zones, but since I have plans to that effect later on, anything I would make the apprentice do doesn’t measure up to the impact my later plans will achieve. So no, the wizard doesn’t go to jail.

Writers have moments like this. Creation is not a smooth road, but you don’t want to make the road filled with potholes. Good luck with whatever challenges you face.

Wizard’s First Rule and What It Taught Me

I’ve been thinking a lot about philosophy lately. One of my favorite fantasy novels, the Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind, has philosophy in abundance. Lately, I’ve been pondering the Wizard’s First Rule: People are stupid. They will believe anything if they want to believe it or they are afraid of it.

I found that very true. I am only smart enough to know I stupid I really am. I do stupid things every day. Everybody does. It’s part of being human. By embracing our humanity, we forgive ourselves for the mistakes we make, and then are able to move on.

But I also found a deeper meaning in the matter of morality. Our culture values potential: the great potential that everyone can access or express through hard work and perseverance. That’s the potential to be good. But no one talks about the potential of evil. We may protest and swear that we aren’t the bad guy. But because we’re human, because we’re stupid, because we make mistakes, we are not walking a path but a tightrope of morality. Any one of us can make a choice that hurts others or hurts ourselves. And because doing evil is easy, making choices that mistreat or harm other people makes it easy to rely on those choices to confront problems in the future. It all builds up like a snowball. Before you know it, you’ve crossed the line of morality. We become the bad guys.

Living with the Wizard’s First Rule requires us to be constantly aware of this weakness. We must embrace our moral vulnerability and live on, doing the best we can to live the life we want to live. Not that it’s easy. Temptations are everywhere. But that’s all right. It’s part of being human. We have to take the good with the bad. That’s what a life of reading fantasy books has taught me (supported, of course, by the education of life). That’s what I try to write about.

Riding The Bronco

A story is like riding a bucking bronco. You can control it, but at some point, it’s going to go where it wants to go. As Robert Jordan said of his (originally planned six-book series) “The tale grew in the telling.”

Some might say an author has great skills because he/she knows how to handle the story. Again, I believe that the idea only goes so far. Creativity, by definition, is spontaneous, wild, random. So the writer is linked with the reader, in that they’re both enjoying the ride.

But the writer must beware. If there’s too little control, then the story gets out of hand. The characters don’t fit their roles. Events have no consequence. The writer builds a fantasy that makes sense only to him, forcing the readers into confusion, until they have enough and drop the book.

Stories deserve to be read and written, and authors will debate how crucial a role creativity and technique play in writing the story. But make no mistake. Once you touch pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) sooner or later it’s going to throw you off. The trick is figuring out how to hang on.

If you figure it out, be sure to let me know.

Forgetting

An author’s worst enemy is forgetfulness. I can’t tell you how many times I came upon a great idea and didn’t write it down in time. A great idea can unify the storyline, can provide an ending that represents all the hard work you’ve put into the story and bring it to a level of satisfaction that every writer — no, every artist — can spend lifetimes hoping to achieve.

That happened to me recently. I have to work backward with the scraps of memory I have left to compose a satisfying narrative, but I know that whatever I cobble together will be inferior to the original idea that came to me.

So the lesson of this post is: wherever you go, put it in writing if you think you’ll going to forget it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a notebook or a notecard. Keep it by your side at all times. Trust me. You don’t want to find something worthwhile and forget it the next day.