Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Publishing Life

I thought I would so something a little different. Sometimes, it’s just nice to sit back and laugh (or cry) at some pictures. Of course, they all deal with publishing.

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Paragraph of the Week (Part 2)

And here once again, is the paragraph of the week (which once again I’ll bump up to two for a bit more length). Enjoy!

A ticking noise sounded every time his left foot tapped the pavement. He scrunched his nose, his head twisting to the left and right, his mouth opening and closing, sounding words that couldn’t escape his vaulted throat.  The sound vanished and John was convinced he had just been hearing distant wind chimes.

It returned, a mocking, tolling chime. He stopped and lifted his left shoe, expecting to see a thumb tack. There was nothing. John sighed and continued. Stopping again, he bent down, the rusty skeleton key around his neck clinking against his coat’s zipper. Half smiling, half frowning, John grabbed the key and pressed it into his palm, feeling the cool metal chill his flesh.

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Powers in Fantasy

Today, I thought it would be fun to talk about magical powers in Fantasy and the different strength levels magic can have. So, let’s begin!

One of the things I think about when writing a fantasy that has magic (and this could also be applied to non magic, for example how good a marksman someone is, how well they perform on tests, how strong a fighter they are, etc), is the power levels of the magic. Why? There is a big problem when you give a character too many powers. At first you are probably saying, “Well wait, that’s kinda cool! My character should have this and this and this and this…” Pretty soon your character can do everything. Then we have a big problem: there is no conflict. For there to be conflict, we need to believe your character can be beaten, but if they are too strong, how can this happen? Let’s look at an example of a cool superhero who I believe is insanely difficult to write about: Superman.

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Superman is a fun character. He has a body of steel that can’t be broken (except if a rare piece of kryptonite hits it), can fly, has x-ray vision, has super run speed, has laser eyes, can spin the world around and turn back time…now do you see the problem? Superman has almost EVERY POWER YOU CAN THINK OF. Superman has basically become this:

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And how do you go around beating that? Honestly, you don’t. Now, you have little to no conflict. If Superman can’t be beat, why pay attention to his story? If we know he is so strong he will always win, then I’ll just go take a nap and and you can wake me when the movie is over. At this point, Superman has been written into a corner. Kryptonite had to be thrown in to give something, ANYTHING, that can make Superman vulnerable, and frankly, that is poor power level development.

There is still hope for Superman. Hints from the new movie (Man of Steel) show other people from Superman’s home world coming to Earth. Ahhhh, now we have someone that can legitimately beat him (let’s hope it stays that way in the movie).

As you can see from the example, a character that starts off too strong makes for a boring character (not to mention one extremely difficult to write about). For a character to be interesting, you need to start them off with some power, but not all of it. That power can develop over time, but there always needs to be a threat that can defeat your character. Next time we tackle this subject, we’ll look at the other end of the spectrum: villains that are too strong.

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Another Helpful Link or Two

I wanted to share a couple helpful blogs I stumbled upon recently (and yes they will be added to the blogroll soon). The first is great for any reader to get a quick look at some of the more popular books out there. It’s a quick and fun read.

http://fpldreadersservices.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/top-ten-tuesday-top-ten-books-i-thought-id-like-moreless-than-i-did/

The second link is to another writer’s website who hosts contests for writers. Even if you don’t participate in the contests, they are fun to watch just to see who comes out on top!

http://brenleedrake.blogspot.com

And that’s it for today. I’ll mix it up on Thursday and do something a little different.

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The New Paragraph of the Week Series!

An idea came to me the other day: I need to post more writing material on this blog. So, once a week I will add in a new feature where I post a paragraph of writing. It may be edited, it might not be (and if it isn’t, I’ll do a follow up later and show the changes). So, to start this new blog series, I’ll be posting paragraph by paragraph of a short story. So here is a literary piece known as ‘Waves.’ This week I’ll do two paragraphs since the first one is a little short, enjoy!

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The park was barren and cold, full of snow and frost and memories of summers long gone. Ice encased trees shivered. A dust devil, whipping up loose snow, swirled around John as he walked past an open field; it churned and died.

John had walked to the lake every day for the past month. It had become a ritual ever since his wife’s death, a spiritual mending for a battered and ripped soul. What started as something he wanted to do became something he had to do, and maybe it was always something he needed, some source of warped comfort.

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A Helpful Blog

Today, I want to keep things real simple. Looking over the varying blogs, I found one to be really helpful, especially to a writer like me.

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents

The site in general is helpful, but the blog is fantastic. I highly recommend checking it out. And are you curious what other blogs I enjoy? That will be coming soon when I add in a blogroll, so stay tuned!

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And After a Short Break…

Ahhhh breaks…they are so nice.

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But, this time, I do have a valid excuse for my short absence. This past weekend I was in Madison, Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Writer’s Institute writing conference. It was a fun trip and an even better conference! There were numerous panel discussions, workshop events, contests, critique groups, and agent/editor pitches. I could go on and one, but I think I’ll leave it there and just say that if anyone is interested in writing, whether seriously or just for fun, I think you would enjoy this event. I’ll be back soon with more posts (oh, the horror!). And for anyone interested in next year’s conference, check out the website link (which may not be update for next year yet, but you can get an idea at least): http://continuingstudies.wisc.edu/LSA/writing/awi/

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