Just a quick post today, as I’m enjoying the cooler weather and my computer not overheating. I wanted to pose a simple question to you all. Is it still writer’s block if you know what you want to write?
(For those who don’t want to read my rambling outside of a book, you can just click here for your free book.)
Have you ever tried to write an epic fantasy? I have, and I loved every minute of it. There’s a lot of work and planning that go into building your world.
Should I include a prophecy or shouldn’t I? Should I build an intricate magic school or shouldn’t I? How much of my plans do I reveal to my readers?
I’m not your typical epic fantasy author. I don’t use overly colorful language, though there are some curse words in my books. I tell it as I see it, knowing the story will carry itself in the end.
(Insert penis joke.)
There’s a hint of love that could blossom, but hasn’t. And there’s no sex, for those bothered by it.
A group of friends and family that only want to help.
There’s Nord, an elf who is too pretty for his own good.
Sanche, a stern elven general looking to fade into obscurity.
Missy and her fairy friends try to keep everyone on task.
Tyrosh is a dragon unable to shift forms and held prisoner by the false Tutanbringer, Martell.
Jaxon is the halfling friend of everyone, only along for the ride.
Martell is the man who stole Tyrosh’s mantle.
And Lovonian is the one out for revenge, while seeking to bring balance to the world.
I wrote the books to learn to write, and I’m glad I chose the genre I did. Writing the story of Lovonian felt like telling people about a movie only I could see.
I can still see the scenes clear as day if I close my eyes. It’s almost like magic. If only it was as simple translating the images to words.
There’s a ton of planning that goes into writing an epic fantasy, but I really did none of that for Breath of the Titans. I only sought to write a story I would enjoy reading as time passed. So far, that holds true.
Now I’ve written several different genres, from contemporary fiction filled with zombies and other monsters, to a science fiction adventure filled with a myriad of races. In both cases, it was much easier to start the world building process. It could be experience, but I think it’s genre.
In my horror stories, it’s much easier to get started because they are set in a world like this one. I don’t have to plan a religion, politics, or anything that I know the reader already knows. Whereas in a fantasy book, all of those things need to be taken into account. I can’t assume you know the religions of the world, because I am building it from the ground up. I can’t assume you know how the king will react, as he rules a land only in my head.
But in a contemporary environment, I can mention the president, and you can imagine how they could react. Same with religion, if I say christianity you automatically know what I mean. That’s not to say that horror can’t have the same planning and storylines that go into an epic fantasy, just that if the author chooses they can be a bit lazier about the entire process.
Science Fiction is a bit closer to epic fantasy, as far as world building goes. I cannot rely on the reader’s knowledge to fill in the blanks on the same issues. But I can include modern gadgets and whizzbingers. I can say, “They carried a communicator in their hands.” and you can picture an image of what I’m talking about. You may even understand on a basic level how the contraption might work.
Harder to do that in a fantasy world. Harder to explain that the titans are robots made by magic. Or how a magician uses his mind to shape the very fabric of the world. These are concepts that, while not difficult to understand, are much harder to put into words. It’s much harder to convey exactly what propels them, versus in science fiction where I can point to the gears, nuts, and bolts and say, “That’s what makes it tick.”
Having written several genres now, I can officially say that they’re all equally difficult. The thought and planning that goes into any book is monumental. It just seems to me, that epic fantasy takes that little bit more planning.
As it is, I’m amazed at how quickly my books came together. I learned a lot from the experience about pacing and telling the story you want to tell.
The great thing about an epic fantasy, or really any work, is you can put your ideals into it. Take Breath of the Titans, I wanted to write something that reflected all of the many religions I’ve tried to study in my life. I wrote the series with an approach to life that a new age spiritual person might use. I meditated and sat in the sun, thinking positive thoughts and listening to the world around me. Then I would go inside and sit in front of my computer, and the story would literally pour from my head onto the page. I didn’t have to think, I didn’t really plan all that far ahead. I had my characters and their limitations. With those in mind, the story seemed to build itself from the ground up. There’s a bit of foreshadowing in the book, though I freely admit most of it was accidental. It’s amazing what our minds can do when we sit and put them to work.
Everyone Dies At The End and Journey From Atremes have a little bit different process, but the premise is still the same. I go and I think. I work my brain muscle until it hurts, and then I work it some more.
Keeping the voices of the characters different was simple, though I admit the dialogue is probably a bit more contemporary than in most fantasy novels.
I know this is going to sound a bit like schizophrenia, but when a character speaks to me, I hear their voice. The inflection, the way they carry themselves. I see it all in a million little images, shapes, and feelings. The problem I have comes from translating the sights and sounds in my mind onto the page for someone else to understand.
I tend to write in Rilenese, which means I need a lot of translation from what I originally put down upon the page to the finished story. People, places, names, anything can and will change during the process.
Breath of the Titans never suffered from that problem. Once I started writing it, I had all my characters already pre-planned. Those characters are what compelled me to write the story. Having to choose between having them bug me, or putting their words upon the page.
Even though I went into everyday with no idea what I wanted to write, I never had a problem getting words onto the page. I didn’t struggle to find things and events to add to the book. If anything, I struggled with finding places to fit their adventures into the novel. There are a thousand things I never mention in the books, because if I did the trilogy would be 1,000 pages long, and I didn’t want to write that.
I wanted to write a fun little adventure, full of excitement and imagination at every turn. I think I did that. Feel free to let me know your opinion.
So, I’ve been telling you guys about choosing love for awhile, but I’ve never really articulated exactly what I mean about it. I’ve had several people accuse me of talking about the old hippie adage where you should go and hug everyone you meet, and tell them you love them.
No, I’m not talking about going and hugging that man pointing a gun at you. I’m not telling you to ignore the dangers of the world. I’m telling you to start approaching them with love.
If you’re walking around a dangerous area, you need to be aware of your surroundings. You need to realize that not everyone is your friend, and there are some people who only seek to hurt others.
My point is, you can’t approach everyone as if that’s the way they are. If you do, then to me you’ve given up hope.
I’ve mentioned before I used to work in a psychiatric hospital. I don’t know if I’ve told you, but I’ve done some things and been put in situations that were a danger to myself in order to protect others. It’s hard to forget watching a man rip a water fountain out of the wall with his bare hands, and then having him charge across the room at you.
When he did that though, I didn’t get angry at him. I didn’t try to punish him past the moment. I did enough to keep him from hurting me or others, and we sedated him with drugs. The next night he made it a point to come out and apologize to me. No one told him to, he knew he needed to. I didn’t get angry at him, tell him I refused his apology. I listened, told him I understand losing one’s temper, and that I accepted the apology. As a grown man should do for another person.
I started thinking about all the tortured souls I’ve met in my life. People that suffer in life from internal demons, or diseases that warp the body as well as the mind. I’ve seen some who should be caregivers treating these people as if they don’t deserve respect (That never lasted long in front of me).
I’ve also seen the blatant idiot that does way worse damage trying to help, than they would have if they had done nothing.
Sometimes you have to do things you don’t like in order to stop pain later. Choosing love means doing the right thing, not because it’s easy, but because it’s right. It’s why I don’t condemn any officer who fires their gun in the line of duty because they feel threatened. They’re doing a job, trying to police an unruly nation. Don’t mistake it, we are unruly.
So, I’ve been thinking of all these tortured souls, and what should I do, how should I do it? Where should I go with my life? How do I explain to people what I mean by choose love?
And it hit me. Why does a wolf chew off it’s own foot to escape a trap? Because it loves life. Why does a man cut off his arm if it’s trapped under a boulder? Because he loves life. Why does a man spend days swimming in the ocean surrounded by sharks, praying for rescue? Because he loves life. (I actually met that last dude by the way, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.)
The problem with America is we all get stuck in our own little bubbles. With the advent of the internet, those bubbles are getting much smaller. We’re realizing things about each other that we never realized before, and it scares us.
There’s people who fear what you don’t, and you fear what they don’t. There’s people who are afraid 9/11 was an inside job, and other people that look at them like they’re crazy. Yet the same people who say it’s impossible for America to have perpetrated an attack on itself believes that Obama is the antichrist coming to destroy everything America stands for.
It’s all so damned confusing, and it feels impossible to find which side you should be on, or even if you should be on a side. There’s more than two choices, and that’s what frustrates me about our political process. Why are we only hearing two voices? Why are we not hearing from more people? I can’t think of two candidates that were more hated in my lifetime.
So with that, the confusion and the chafe meant to distract us all away from what matters, I chose to ignore it. Oh, if you were to go on my facebook, I’m sure I have a crap ton of political stuff on it, but I really don’t give two craps about it. What I mean is I choose to read both sides, and find the side that fits with what I believe. I listen to the voice I disagree with, to learn what stirs their passion, and I add it to my accumulated knowledge. I make a rational decision once I have the choices in front of me.
I’m not going to try to tell you who to vote for, I really don’t care who you vote for. I want you to do as Ted Cruz (I can’t believe I’m agreeing with this man on something, anything.) said, and vote with your conscious. Vote with love. Don’t give into fear and anger which sap away rational thought.
He may be a fictional character, but Yoda was right when he said, “Fear is the path to the darkside. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” I bet you he would understand Dr. King’s words, about hate being too great a burden to bear.
Now that I’ve started to choose love in my everyday actions, I’ve started to notice a difference. I can get angry at someone because I love them. I listen better to other people’s arguments because I’m choosing to love them. I’m even using my past, and seeing people threaten my family and I’m loving them to use them as fuel. It’s helping me to write my next book, a stand alone project to have some fun with.
For some reason I like descents into dark places, for all that I talk about love. I hope that you too start to #ChooseLove in your everyday life. #SupportIndieAuthors!
That’s right, the party has started! Come get your free and discounted summer reading from a myriad of new authors, I’m sure you’ll find a new favorite!
Today is going to be the last day I do this for a bit, not because I’ve run out of things to say, but because I want to focus my efforts on other endeavors for awhile. And that’s not mentioning it was supposed to end three days ago. I do know I will be doing this again in the future, as I really feel it helped me to get my thoughts in order before writing my stories.
I realized I haven’t told you all exactly what all I wrote while doing this experiment. First up is a short story I’ve been working on with a friend, based off of an old campfire tale he used to tell. It’s proving quite the challenge, morphing a story he’s told ever since he was a child, into a full-fledged book with a plot and character development. A lot of fun, but a lot of work, and I’m not sure if the book is going to resemble the story as much as I would have liked.
Then there’s the descent into hell that I finished. I had already started on that book when I started this project but was able to finish it about halfway through the days. Still waiting to hear back from the Beta reader on this one. Once I hear back from them, I’ll go over it one more time to check for errors, and then I’ll send it to the publisher.
Of course, I wrote another Everyone Dies At The End, and edited it enough to send into the publisher. I think this one may be my best one yet, and it’s going on right now.
I started writing the latest Journey From Atremes, introducing a great evil for the first time in this series. It’s been going smoother than I expected, but the characters are starting to head in paths I would never have envisioned when I first started. Believe it or not, that’s making it more difficult to write, but no less fun.
Last, I started laying down the groundworks for Urban Punk part 2. Trying to decide a basic storyline I wish to stick with before I start writing it. I think I have it figured out, but this one is still in early planning stages.
That’s not including blogs, helping other authors, or any of the things I do to help my friends out. I started this project to jump start my writing again, after a break. I can say for sure that it worked and that I don’t think I would have written half as much as I did if it weren’t for this project.
Just 250 words a day helped me to start turning my life lemons into lemonade. Without even thinking about it, I wrote three novellas and planned out two more. And they were all written one day at a time, one word at a time.
I keep telling you guys that writing is good for you, but I don’t think I’ve given you all any solid examples. I thought I would take today to talk with you all about the skills writing has helped me learn to cultivate.
The first thing writing taught me was focus. I suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder, which makes it hard to concentrate on one problem at a time. I want to focus, try to focus, but my mind jumps and starts on it’s own timing. The simplest of things pull me away from whatever projects I’m working on, and I have to work hard to get back on track. Writing helped by making it so that I had to focus. The ordered thought process of figuring out a character, or a scene, really helped me to keep myself on track.
Next is vocabulary. While I have always considered myself a bit of a talker, I never realized how few words I really used until I started to write. That’s not to say I didn’t have a vocabulary, or that I didn’t know how to use it, just that I didn’t. Not until I became a writer anyways, then I had a reason to call myself a verbose philanthroper of locution.
Last, it taught me to have patience, which has never been one of my strong suits. But the patience an author needs, with himself, and the world around him, is just as important as the patience I needed when I worked as a certified nurses assistant.
Writing can, and will, help you grow. It’s all in if you choose to pursue that avenue, or take another path to become a better person than you were yesterday.
I told you this stuff is addictive. I know we finished yesterday, but I’m just going to continue doing this a couple more days. I haven’t finished saying all that I have to say.
You are courageous. I’m here to tell you that completing your story has made you one of the bravest people I know. I hear other people in my life constantly say, “I should write a book.” yet they never take the time to do so.
When I ask these people, “Why? Why haven’t you written that book yet?” the answer is never the same, yet carries the same point. They worry what people will think, and struggle to get past their own insecurities.
If you have ever even started a tome, pouring your heart and soul onto the page, you’re already ahead of 9 out of 10 people when it comes to finishing a book. There’s nothing to finish if you never start.
And those of you that have released your works to the public are part of an even smaller minority, people who have published their works. More and more authors join our ranks every day, and yet there are thousands upon thousands who will never pick up a pen in their lives outside of a school setting.
You are courageous, for putting yourself out into the world for others to critique or enjoy as they choose. You’ve put the words down, one at a time, and written a complete story, then put it out and hoped others would cherish it as much as you do. You are already ahead of the game.
So, this is my last day doing this experiment. I hope you’ve all had a good time with me, and I hope I inspired even one of you to write your story. Life is a short journey lived one day at a time, you should do everything you can to live it to its fullest.
I talked about reviews, and how to take them with a grain of salt. How to look at them, and glean whatever you can from them. That just because you have a three-star review, it doesn’t mean they didn’t like the book, and there are good lessons to be learned in a great review, no matter the star rating.
I talked about confidence, and letting your genuine self shine through. How this will make it easier for others to connect with you, since you aren’t putting a facade up before you speak to them.
I talked about exercise and meditation as ways to jumpstart the creative process, and how the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
And I talked about how helping others helps you in the end.
I’m glad to be a part of a vibrant and growing indie author community. One that I only see expanding as time goes on.
If there’s one thing I want everyone to take from this book, it’s that your story deserves to be told. Whether another person understands it, or if no one reads it at all, you still deserve to tell it. And the great thing about being a writer, there’s always someone listening. At the end of it all, what matters in life is our connections. The people we meet, and the company we keep. Be loving, be humble, and keep being awesome.
Now, to show you all what I mean when I say anyone can, and should, write their story. With just 250 words a day, spread out over the course of three months, I have managed to write a work that is novella length. That’s 40 pages, and over 25,500 words. One day at a time, one word at a time, this is how we write our stories. Eventually, they come to an end, but there’s always another one to be told. After all, the road goes ever on and on.