Friday, March 30, 2012

A world of monsters

Do I have any fans of Final Fantasy reading this? How about Dragon Quest or Star Ocean? Or any RPG that involved encounters with monsters in the environment? Those games played a key role in the development of Tariatla, the world Eric finds himself in at the start of his Journey to Chaos. I wanted to create a world that was similar to the games I'd played growing up. In keeping with the idea of "Tariatla as a real world" I thought about how such a world would cope with monsters in everyday life.

"Well," I thought, "there would be a lot of walls". So I looked up cities in medieval Europe and ancient China and other places for how they built walls. What they were made of and how they were maintained and defended; the details for keeping a city safe.

Then such a society would need someone to fight the monsters. They would need soldiers employed by the local government and professional warriors hired by private citizens. In other words, the world would need mercenaries and their newest one came from another world. In college, I took a class about medieval European warfare and my professor spent the bulk of it talking about logistics: food, equipment, payment, soldiers and their organization etc. Naturally Eric and his team would have to take care of this and I think it adds a layer to the constructed world. It can make one more understanding of a mercenary's insistence on getting paid; it worked for me.

Finally the society would need a mindset that included the 'monsters outside the walls'. There would be those stayed in the city to avoid them, those that liked to fight them and those that held the same opinion of monsters that real life people would have of mosquitoes: annoying and possibly dangerous, but a fact of life.

If you want to read more about this world, its monsters and its mercenaries, you can browse the Tvtropes page here:

Journey to Chaos, Book 1: A Mage's Power, is available at Amazon:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Modern Magic

One of the things I wanted to achieve with "Journey to Chaos" was a modern world that had magic. In all the shows and games and books I've enjoyed over the years I noticed a pattern: magic was only out in the open in settings with a medieval bent or outright fantasy world. In all the stories taking place in modern day it was hidden. Sometimes there was a reason (fear of witch hunts for instance) but other times there was nothing but a handwave. It was as if the magical masquerade was just an artificial source of conflict. With that in mind I created the world Eric arrives in, Tariatla, to parallel the real world things like its schools and sports and technology. It was a fun experiment and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Revise, Revise, Revise

Writing is a process that never seems to end. There's the initial writing where I figure things out but it's just a fuzzy glorified outline. Secondary writing comes next and then it can be called a first draft. After finishing the book it gets revised a second time. A few days later a third time. Only then does someone else read it and when they're finished I incorporate their critique. Any time a new scene is added or a scene rewritten the process starts over. I may feel inspired at random times to revise in addition to the above. At times I want to pull my hair out, but I want it to be the best it can be. There's a story that illustrates my point. I read it somewhere but I forget where. I'll update this post when I find the source.

A writer made a manuscript and thought it was pretty good so he sent it to publisher. The publisher replied with a note, "Is that the best you can do?" So the writer looked it over again, revised it, and sent it a second time. "Is that the best you can do?" So the writer revised again and sent it a third time. "Is that the best you can do?" The writer finally said, "Damn it! Yes it is!" The publisher said one more thing, "Then I guess I'll read it this time." No one wants less than your best.

See Useful Problems for how all these repitions make the story stronger. When it comes down to nuts and bolts, however, you may just want to find an editor. See Editing; Professional Help or Not for more information and self-editing tips.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I am The Trickster's Scribe

Once I become a professional writer I'll put 'Author' on my resume, but I when I actually write I don't feel like one. I feel more like a scribe. I feel like someone else is telling me the story and I'm just writing it down. Sometimes they don't mention stuff the first time and that's what revisions are for, or they'll tell me just what to write but not why I should write that. Its confusing, especially when I already have an outline. Then, sometime down the road, I discover the reason and I'm like 'wow. I had no idea that was going to happen'. There is one instance in particular that I felt more intensely than any other but I can't mention it because it would a series wide spoiler. I'll just say that writing seems to flow better when I'm not trying to force a certain story. I can insist on certain plot points but the process is smoother when I'm the accomodating one.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shame and Pride

Previous writing has a strange effect on the writer.  I've looked at some of the stuff I've written in my teens (thoughts, fictions, etc) and its like looking at someone else's writing. The ideas are different, the prose is different, and usually there are more spelling mistakes. Even "A Mage's Power" (a.k.a. Journey To Chaos book 1) is like this: I've changed scenes that felt wrong to me, perhaps because I know the characters better or the world better or maybe my style as a writer changing. I started Journey To Chaos before I started college and only now am I in the final stages of revision. Of course I've been writing other things since then (most notably the other three books in the series) but still its been a while and its nostalgic and embarrassing to look at the earliest drafts.