Why I Write Fantasy . . .

So the trailer that I’m posting is for Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls Online game.  It is long–it clocks in over 23 minutes, but if you have the time, it is well worth the investment as it helps to illustrate the reasons that I write Fantasy stories.  Go ahead, take a moment to watch it, I’ll wait . . .

Finished?

I hoped you liked it as much as I did.  But in case you didn’t, here are my reasons that I found it inspired:

  1. Larger than Life Characters – There were 3 main characters.  I don’t know their backstories, don’t know their histories, don’t know much about their motivations (other than they seem to want the city/citadel for conquest).  However, you do learn a lot about their personalities through this trailer.  You get a sense that guy with the beard is a “rough and ready” sort of person, the kind of person you’d go drinking with, but definitely not the type person you’d invite to tea with the Queen. There is a gruff, down and dirty feel to him that is emphasized by his headbutting, spitting, and all around mean/callous disposition.  The Ranger of the group seems to have a nobility about him.  He kills with precision, but is never cruel about it in the same way the bearded warrior is and that makes his “corruption” all the more tragic.  His most poignant moment comes when we see him holding the cloth of a presumed paramour as his eyes implore the female elf to end his suffering.  And speaking of the woman elf, she is no damsel in distress.  She is more than capable of holding her own and giving just as well as she gets.  In fact, I would argue she’s the main hero of the trailer in that it is her actions that ultimately save the group from outright death at the hands of the “evil” forces.  Without her quick thinking, the entire group would have mostly likely died on the field of battle.  No, they do not have the emotional depth and growth of characters in War and Peace, but even from this short vignette, we can get a clears sense of who these characters are and what makes them tick.
  2. Stunning Visuals – Computer graphics and imagery are wonderful.  Having grown up in an era of practical effects and now watch CGI, I can see how far the effects industry has come.  However, I would argue that NO visual effect can match the mind’s eye.  Being able to describe on paper all of those cool things that were in that trailer is both my challenge and my reward.  I SEE the stories in my head just like I see these trailers–as movies.  They progress and then they finish just as the trailer did.  My challenge is to find a way to replicate what I see in my Mind’s Eye into words on the page.  Rarely, I get it right the very first time.  More often than not, I get only bits and pieces right while others don’t come out correctly–as that image was “fuzzy” when I was trying to replicate it on the page.  I sometimes have to do 2 or more drafts for the story to come out like I wanted.
  3. Insane World-Building – So what’s on the other side of that Rift that held the anchors?  Why do they want the city/Citadel so badly?  What is the Elf “King” hiding in that city?  Just where did the bearded guy end up at the end of the trailer?  There are so many avenues of exploration for world-building here that one spin stories out for a long time.  That’s what good characters and good world-building gives you, a way to tell stories.  Now, because it is Bethesda’s property, there is already a history and backstory to this world.  If you’re at all interested, check out the YouTube video below (clocks in @11:00 mins).  But just imagine that YOU were the writer of this vignette and the Possibilities that could come from fleshing out this world.  Awesome!
  4. Dramatic Action – This is my final reason and is also my most personal.  For me, History is not a dry thing learned from textbooks and recited from rote memory, but rather a living breathing thing.  It is alive and active.  It moves, it adapts, and it is something that requires action.  Right now, we live in a world of drama (and I mean that in both its formal and slang definitions).  Readers and writers today seem to want to see things that are dramatic, but not necessarily filled with action.  For instance, I find myself rereading an older Fantasy series called the Belgariad and the Mallorean by David Eddings or newer series such as The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson because they are trying to save their worlds from destruction using the tools that they have available.  I personally cannot read popular works such as Game of Thrones because it is “Mean People doing Mean Things to each other and Mean Things to Non-Mean People.”  I tried to read The Game of Thrones but couldn’t get past the first few chapters–not because of the writing, but because they weren’t doing anything but being mean to one another just because they could.  I want to see/write action, where the goals can be large or small (but are usually large) where they struggle and strive rather than bicker, wench, and murder just for the sake of it.  Now, I realize this is probably just me, but to me, action defines a story, not limits it.  Just because there are beautifully choreographed fight sequences, doesn’t make it resonant any less than a story that lacks those same scenes (and the inverse is true as well–a story that lacks action is not inherently more of a story).
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Well, that’s all I have for today.  My next post will *probably* be a post on why I like Science Fiction.  If not, it will come later on this year.  Now to the Weekly Updates:

APPLE ROUTER WEEKLY UPDATE

Soooo, I thought I was over/past the hump on this problem, but it seems not.  On Tuesday, wi-fi began to work properly without me doing anything.  It stayed up through Friday, so I thought everything was fine.  Yet, when I just started to write this blog, Wi-Fi went down and would not let me connect to my laptop.  I had to plug in my ethernet cable and restart in order to write this blog post.  Uggghhh!  So frustrating.

WEEKLY WRITING UPDATE

Soooo, I made a mistake.  As a teacher, I find my body HATES Mondays., trying to get back into the school schedule really does a number on me.  I usually crash 1-2 hours earlier than I do for the rest of the week.  So I don’t even try to write on Mondays.  I start writing on Tuesdays.  Since school started on Tuesday, I  did not write on Monday, but tried to keep to my normal schedule, but found that I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I did manage 4-5 strong paragraphs on HawkeMoon, but was not able to complete the section, so I’m going to say .5.  Did not get to work on any other projects this week. 😦

  • HawkeMoon (.5 of Section 2 = Total Progress on Story – 1.5 sections done of 4 total sections)

DREAM BIG FOR 2015

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For me, 2015 is all about Dreaming Big. On New Year’s Day, I was half-watching the 2015 Rose Bowl Parade while doing something else.  I have always loved the floats, be they crazy, inventive, traditional, or imaginative.  Usually, the floats have some elements of whimsy associated with them and I usually gravitate to the floats that are fantastical, futuristic, or highly imaginative in some way (the floats that feature animals are a particular favorite).

This year, the “Dream Big: World of Possibility” float caught my eye.  It featured Jack Black and one of his former teachers (among others).  It was also designed to honor teachers.  It had fantasy and sci-fi elements and I was captivated.

So, my motto for 2015 is simply, “Dream Big.”  How that manifests itself this year, I don’t really know.  I’m hoping that it translates into my first novel, but we’ll see.

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What I do know is that Far Orbit: Apogee, the newest entry in the Far Orbit Anthology series is open to submissions until 3/31/15.  My goal is two-fold: 1) to submit a sci-fi short-story to them and 2) focus all my writing projects to the deadline of 3/31 (which means that I write all the way until 3/31 and then begin submitting everything I’ve written–or rewritten–after that date.)

So essentially, 3 months of focused writing time, followed by a period of submissions out to markets.  Then I’ll try to find another deadline to write to–did I mention that I’m pretty good with deadlines?  Incidentally, I made the banner a link, so click on it if you want to find out more about the Far Orbit: Apogee and the type of work they are accepting.

So, on to the Weekly Updates:

Weekly Apple Router Update: Still not working correctly.  I thought on Friday night/Saturday I had a breakthrough as devices such as the iPad and iPhone were able to connect after I erased several passwords and “repaired” my hard drive using the Mac’s Disk Utility feature to “clean up” permissions and “repair” the disk.  But, later Saturday night, I started to lose wi-fi and by the end of the night, Internet was completely down.  Couldn’t even access it through the ethernet port (which is one reason that this blog post is a day late).  There are several errors that seem to be in play and I’m not sure what’s going on.  For anyone who even wants a sample of the frustration that I’m having with my network right now, check out this forum posts: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6607637?start=30&tstart=0.  And this is only one of the MANY threads that I’ve read over the past 3 weeks.  Still not sure of what the problem actually is–firmware, Airport Utility, settings, flaky unit, or what?  I just know that it is very hard to diagnose and I’m limping along right now.

Weekly Writing Update: Didn’t get a ton of writing done this week, but I did get SOME writing done, so I would call it a successful week.  Worked on two projects: HawkeMoon and Project Skye.  Also discovered something: I’m okay for creative writing on Tuesday nights, but by Thursday nights I’m exhausted.  Might try to REVISE or REWRITE on that night and see if that works better–I didn’t get ANY writing done Thursday despite my best intentions.  I’ll see how it goes.

  • HawkeMoon: Section 1- “Predawne” Done – (Story Sections – 1 of 4 Done)
  • Project Skye: Planning – Work in Progress on Section 3 of 3

If It Isn’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!

Hi, Everyone,

Took an extra couple of days to get around to write this blog post while trying to (still) diagnose this vexing wifi problem that I’m having with my router.  I’ll update you on the status of the problem at the end, but this particular problem has reminded me of something very important: the greatest piece of advice ever given to me (and sort of my unofficial motto)–if it ins’t broke, don’t fix it.

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There was nothing wrong with my old router.  I just happen to live in a city with ridiculously fast Internet Fiberoptic speeds (for a reasonable price).  My old router (manufactured in 2006) worked just fine, but it was unable to allow me to access all of  the blazing speed of my service.  The new router has new tech and specs that will allow me to access much more of the speed (although still not all of it as my 2008 computer can’t access the highest wifi “a/c” spec needed for the fastest speed).  But this has been a nightmare to get working.  

Surprisingly, though, the feeling of frustration is familiar.  It is the same feeling I get whenever I try to attempt a novel.  Nothing that I do works when I try a novel.  Every strategy that I’ve read or come up with on my on doesn’t seem to translate into a longer form work.

My writing process is dead simple.  I start with a TITLE.  To me, the title is like a “seed” or a “vision” of what the story is going to be.  whether I write long or short, creatively or academically, 99.9% of what I write starts with the title.

Then I move on to the ROUGH DRAFT.  This is where I “tell” myself the story from beginning to end.  Doesn’t matter if I don’t know character names, place names, or anything specific (I just use placeholders such as “the knight,” for instance), all I need is the Plot (events) that I want to specifically remember to put in the story.  It reads like a stereo manual.  Blank did this, Blank did that, so on and so forth . . . no dramatization at all.

After that it is the WORKING DRAFT.  I call it a Working Draft because it is the draft that is a “Work in Progress.”  It may (or may not) end up being the final draft of the story, but the ultimate finished story will look a LOT like this draft.  This is the draft that gets the dramatization.  This is the draft where characters become set, emotions are acted out, and where the action follows the old writing cliche’: Show, don’t tell.

Lastly, I finish with the EDITED DRAFT.  I shy away from using the word “Polished Draft” or “Final Draft,” personally because even when done, it seems like there’s ALWAYS one more error to find and corrected, or that even after I’ve submitted it, there are changes that I really want to make in the story.  An Edited Draft (for me) means that I’ve pretty much gotten the story “locked” down the way I want it (it matches on paper the idea that I saw in my Mind’s Eye) and ALSO that I’ve edited it and made it as free of mistakes as I possibly could.  This is the draft that I send out to editors.

Somehow, I’m NOT following this procedure for novels.  I’m getting the Titles down just fine (I’ve got at least 10 good possibilities for really evocative stories/story ideas based on cool titles).  Somewhere I’m getting lost between the Rough Draft and Working Draft phases.  I have the whole idea for Project Skye written out on the Notes app of my iPhone, but the chapters are getting off base.  For instance, in the rough draft, Skye is in a massive dogfight with pirates, but in the chapters she’s running away from the pirates.  I NEED her in the dogfight for the events to unfold so that she can get to a “floating city,” but with her running, the plot doesn’t work and she has NO reason to go to the city.  Somehow, I’ve messed up from rough draft to working draft and I don’t know where I went wrong because this doesn’t happen when I write short fiction.  When I write short stories, I write in Sections.  Sort of like mini-chapters because each of the sections usually has its own title.  These sections give my stories a “wrapper” as it were and gives me an idea of what will be going on in each section.  Not sure how to do this in long form writing, yet.  How to give my longer writing some sort of “wrapper” so that I can complete it and join the ranks as a published novelist?

Not sure yet.

2015 is the year where I challenge myself to figure it out! 🙂

WEEKLY WRITING UPDATE

  • New Short Story Started – HawkeMoon (Tentative Title) – Rough Draft (done), Working Draft (In Progress)
  • New Novel Idea Started – Project Star – Rough Draft (In Progress)
  • New Novel Idea Started – Project King – Rough Draft (In Progress)

Happy 2015!

Just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy, Safe, and Prosperous 2015!

I took a bit of a break from OtherWorlds due to illness, work (teaching 6th grade language arts), the holidays, and (more) illness.  Unfortunately, that’s also true for my writing (although the illness allowed me to come up with several ideas for new stories and projects).

One of the things I would love to work on is to be more consistent with the blog, so while it isn’t a full New Year’s Resolution, it is a “mini-resolution” for me.  I work well weekly, so while I’m not going to commit fully to it, it is a definite goal for me.  So we’ll see how closely I come to my goal in 2015.

In other news, I bought a new router.  202864-apple-airport-extreme-base-station-802-11n-backtt

I’m moving from a 2007 Apple Router (pictured above) to the new 2014 Apple Router (pictured below).

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The transition isn’t going quite as I planned, so my wi-fi may be spotty until I work through the issues.  Shouldn’t affect the blog (I’m writing this now with the ethernet cable plugged directly into my laptop), but it may affect my writing as my “rough drafts” are written on the iPad connected via wi-fi.  I usually email the drafts to myself, print them out and do pencil notes on the hardcopy, then return to the laptop to put in the edits.  Much slower, but it gets me the quality of writing that I like, so we’ll see how this works.

Anyway, wanted to make sure that I wished everyone a Great 2015!