Holly Lisle Revision update – lesson two

December 19, 2011

So, I’ve fallen a little behind on my Holly Lisle course, because of trying to keep up with some other stuff going on, but I think I’m nearly finished with my week two lesson. Week two is all about Promises:

  1. The seven big promises that all fiction writers are making by giving their work to readers. (I like #6: ‘If I put something in the story, I will put it there for a reason.’)
  2. The specific promises that you intended to make and keep when you set out to write this book.
  3. All of the promises that you didn’t realize you were making by writing three paragraphs about something cool that occurred to you while you were writing your first draft – probably during Nanowrimo. Unfortunately, they also look like foreshadowing about something that’s never going to happen.

A lot of the worksheets for this week had to do with #3, the ‘Unplanned promises’ – which could turn into something that would make your book a lot better, if you find a way to deliver on those promises. There’s also some work on the planned promises of your major characters, which I’m feeling a little iffy, including the question “Why should your reader care about this character?”

But I finished those ‘character refocus’ sheets, and I think that I’m almost done going through the book looking for unplanned promises for characters. I’ve only reached the half-way point by pages, but you only look at a character’s first scene, and the new character introductions have been coming less frequently once I’m out of the third act.

I’m not quite sure where this course is going to take me, but I’m learning new things already.

Six Sentence Sunday – more from ‘Children’

December 18, 2011

Good morning, everybody, and happy Six Sentence Sunday. I’m going to continue from last week’s excerpt, and just to make one point of background clear – Odin is the ship’s computer, not a human being.

“Yes, I did,” Melanie told Odin. “Including the part where you told us about the contraceptives that are in use on Santa Maria, fed into the food and water, which are absolutely one hundred percent effective?”

“That is indeed successful at suppressing conception within a margin of one in ten million when administered at the proper dose,” Odin shot back. “But it would be foolish of you to assume that the ship-wide mass dosing would continue indefinitely without a halt. There must be a resumption of births to maintain a stable population level on board ship.”

 “Well, that makes sense,” I said, squeezing Mel’s hand as reassuringly as I could.

Belated Deja Vu blogfest – Dana by Alphasmart

December 17, 2011

Sorry I spaced on the Deja vu blogfest yesterday, guys – it just went outta my head. 😦

I’ve picked, somewhat arbitrarily, a post from last May to rerun, about one of my favorite writing tools. And it’s one that served me in good stead during Nanowrimo 2011!

* * *

I’ve told you about some of my other writing writing devices during the A-Z challenge, but I don’t think that I’ve ever mentioned my Alphasmart Dana portable word processor on this blog yet, other than just casually in passing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Guest Post: Character Development Series Part 1

December 14, 2011

Greetings Readers,

Once again my name is Mark Allen and once again I’m filling in for Chris for reasons I’ll go into later on in this post!

Now odds are that at least one of you out there hasn’t yet suppressed the horrible memory of my previous guest post and as a result might recall that I was in the process of working on a series on the subject of character development in writing.

So today I’m very proud to present to you all today the second part of the series, which describes how to develop complex characters and as a bonus, my response to a post by Chris from a few days ago inviting others to share character and plot ideas that have emerged from their dreams. Read the rest of this entry »

A writer’s community Holiday giveaway

December 13, 2011

Happy holiday season, everybody!

I’ve decided to start a holiday giveaway contest as part of my recruitment drive for the Stringing Words writer’s community. YOU could win a twenty dollar Amazon.com email gift card. Want to enter? It’s simple.

  1. Go to Stringing Words
  2. Register for the forum, if you don’t already have a membership.
  3. Wait for me to activate your membership and email you that it’s active.
  4. Find the ‘Holiday Giveaway thread’, which I will make sure is always in the ‘Latest Active Forum Threads’ on the Stringing Words home page.
  5. Post a reply to the thread, saying that you want to enter the contest.
  6. Also, optionally mention up to ten interesting things about you.

I’ll announce the winner in the Holiday Giveaway thread on Jan 1st, 2012. Hope to see you all there!

The story of my dream.

December 12, 2011

I had a dream last night that was really like a passage out of a pretty cool fantasy novel. I’m not sure if I can work out the rest – if you’d like to use this notion, that’s okay, but please let me know, alright?

So, I don’t know what the overall sides were, but let’s say in the dream I was on the Rebel alliance working against an Empire led by a crazy evil wizard, okay?

We’d managed to find a magical talisman that was part of the Evil Wizard’s big ritual for destroying the Alliance. I remember that the talisman was a green sphere, about the size of a tennis ball or an apple. But it was so powerful that it couldn’t be destroyed safely just by squashing it with a rock or anything like that, and if we tried to hide it away forever, the Wizard would eventually be able to track it down.

The only safe way to dispose of the talisman was to invoke it early, without the rest of the ritual. It was voice-controlled, with a key word of ‘invoke’, that had to be spoken within a range of about 100 yards – but voice-locked to the Wizard’s assistant Magician. So, we had to find some way to trick the Magician into saying the word ‘invoke’, somewhere that we could hide the talisman within range.

I was researching this for a lot of the dream, and came up with a plan. The Magician was getting married soon, and there was a spell that was sometimes cast by the bride and groom at weddings, to temporarily summon up the presence of dead family members to witness the exchange of vows. And the spell started with the words ‘I invoke…’

So, all we needed to do was find some way to talk to the Magician’s fiancee without getting caught, and convince her to include this spell in the plan for her wedding ceremony.

That’s all I remember from the dream, but I think that it’s pretty cool. Have you ever had story ideas in your dreams?

Six Sentence Sunday: A Keeper point from ‘Children’

December 11, 2011

Hello everybody, and welcome back to Six Sentence Sunday. Since my read-through this past week went well, I thought I’d share one of my favorite ‘keeper points’ from the first draft of “Won’t somebody think of the Children?”

“Melanie, you’re pregnant.”

“I’m what?” I felt my grip go a little faint and willed myself to hang onto her hand – it would not have gone well for either of us if I’d suddenly dropped her at that moment. “Odin, explain this!” Melanie yelled.

“No explanations should be required, Melanie,” Odin’s calm, nearly flat voice told her smoothly. “You received excellent grades in the relevant health and sexual education courses.”

What I’ve read this fall

December 10, 2011

September issue August issue

Okay, it’s been nearly three months since I shared my readings here n the blog, so I’ve got lots to tell you about!

Please note: I will be discussing a plot spoiler for “Childhood’s End”, by Arthur C. Clarke further down in this post. If you don’t want to get spoiled on this fine book, then don’t read past the paragraph on “Castle for Rent.”

“The Gripping Hand,” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. I finally finished this in early October. I loved the main thrust of the action within the Mote system, with the Empire expedition running into a new civilization of space-born Moties this time and getting caught in the middle of a war between them. Frankly, the novel could probably have done with less build-up to the point of “OMG a new jump point to Mote system could open up any day now!” and it would have been at least as strong, in my opinion. But I loved reading the build-up anyway.

“Gateway,” by Frederik Pohl. Overall, I really liked this – I liked the concept of humanity discovering strange and temperamental alien ships and heading out to prospect the galaxy in them. I want to read more of the Heechee series by Pohl, and I like a lot of his secondary characters. On the other hand, Robinette Broadhead just pissed me off a lot of the time, and as fun as Sigfrid von Shrink was, I didn’t really feel impressed with the therapy plot thread or Rob’s enormous survivor’s guilt for trying to do the right thing, to sacrifice himself to save his teammates, and getting the timing wrong.

I also had problems with the physics at the end – if you’ve got ships that can somehow circumvent the speed of light, then the event horizon of a black hole isn’t an impassable barrier anymore. I think that the Heechee ships must already cross an event horizon with every trip, so why can’t they get out of the black hole – or if the development of the black hole threw off their targeting, then how could Rob get back home once he passes the event horizon by another means?

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Stringing Words Day 2: Word Game threads

December 9, 2011

Sometimes you just need to relax and have a little bit of fun before going back to writing. That’s what word games are for.

There are two long-running word games on the Stringing Words forum. One is fairly simple, a word association game where you type in the first word that comes to your mind in response to the previous word:

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