Sunday, April 29, 2012

Journey to Chaos: A Mage's Power. Chapter 5 preview

I had a lot of fun with this chapter. I looked forward to designing the guild and introducing its eccentric members. "A naive newcomer is introduced to their weird teammates and is subjected to comedic hijinks" is one of my favorite plot points. Their colorful and chaotic nature will be a plot point later in the series and more than one Chekhov's Gun is introduced.

More importantly, this is the chapter where Eric officially becomes a mercenary. This job will drive the rest of the plot and remain a guiding element in Eric's mind for the rest of the series.  Its also where he meets his teammates. They will become main characters from this chapter forward. I had rough ideas for their characters starting out and now I know them very well. Still, I'm surprised at the influence they came to have on the plot.

Monday, April 23, 2012


One of most frustrating parts about being a novelist (if not THE most frustrating) is having an outline and knowing exactly what you want to write, only to lack the energy to actually put it to paper. I refer to this as 'lock up'. Avoiding this state lead to the experiments I mentioned in my previous "In the Zone" post with the result being "Oh The Rush" and the chapters in the latest two links. Somehow I forgot to mention food.

Having food handy always seems to help; something to munch while I think and brainstorm. Right now I'm into peanuts because they're tasty, nutritious and don't make a mess. Something to drink too: I like energy drinks (I tried this Neuro Sonic last night and it worked great but Gatorade works too) to get that little 'kick'. I would be munching and drinking and thinking and suddenly DING! It clicks.

Its a mysterious force. Socrates, and many others in his day, thought that rhapsodies went into a trance when they recited plays. 'Divinely inspired' was the term. I read an entire argument in college where Socrates backed one of his friends into admitting he was nothing more than a guy inspired by the gods. I guess that's why I call myself "The Trickster's Scribe". Maybe all that food and drink isn't fuel but instead an offering to my muse.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Mage's Power Chapter 4 is up four chapter is up and, as always, free to read. In this chapter Eric is offered a job at a guild of mercenaries, but first he has to endure his recruiter's training and pass an entrance exam while continuing his school work.

Like Chapter 3 "Proof of Skill" has also gone through numerous revisions. Its another exposition chapter and so I've had to change things as I've discovered them. When I started the last major revision I realized just how much was missing and how much I could do to make things clearer for the reader. The mechanics of spiritual power and how they're developed are explained here but more important is Eric's personal development.

From the very beginning I wanted Eric to be a mage because of my realization of how magecraft works. It requires a strong spirit which implies a strong mind and a strong will. Eric had none of them and would have to develop them as he went. Thus, the stronger he became as a mage the more confident he would become and the more confident he became the better mage he would be. Its a direct feedback loop. Of course, there are other reasons to develop Eric's power besides an analogy for confidence building. They're hinted at later in this book but don't become relevant until the second one.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Oh the Rush!

I love the feeling of creative power! It is invigorating and lifts my mood and makes me feel accomplished. You know those 'my anti-drug is x' commercials? Its like that. I feel hyped up on something that I created myself, with nothing but my own thoughts and drives. Does that make me my own personal anti-drug dealer? I've had Five Hour Energy before and I can get a jolt from that if I'm feeling drowsy but this feels so much better. On TvTropes there's a page called "The Sacred Darkness" which is about 'darkness' in fiction being portrayed as this noble and benevolent force and contrasted it with 'corrupted darkness' which was about evil and nightmares etc. To show what a nerd I (and by extension, pretty much all other tropers are) the page used the example of RPG 'death magic' to illustrate their point. The death magic of 'corrupted darkness' would make the death long and painful while the death magic of 'The Sacred Darkness' would be "peaceful sleep or simply dropping dead" as the page says. Anyway, my point is that the jolt I get from Five Hour Energy would be like the 'corrupted' variety in that it was forced and caused by an outside agent while the jolt I get from writing is the 'sacred' variety in that it spontaneous and caused by the inside. By the way, that was all a stream of consciousness I wrote because I felt the writing rush. That's why it sounds a bit disorganized.

To see the results of the rush click here for a free preview of my debut novel "A Mage's Power"

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Mage's Power Chapter 3

The third part of the Journey to Chaos Book 1: A Mage's Power is available on fictionpress. This chapter has been revised more often than either of the other two. Not only did I want to include some base line mechanics (the origin of monsters for one) but also some foreshadowing for later events; all in addition to the on-the-ground action. It wasn't easy but I'm happy with how it turned out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"In the Zone"

When I was in college I was always searching for someway to 'get in the zone'. Once there I would fly on writing sessions: I would write page after page and it would all be effortless. I'm sure anyone reading this knows what I'm talking about: that state of mind where one is focused and productive and everything else (up to and including hunger) is ignored. I tried reading, watching short videos on Youtube, meditation, exercise (usually Tae Known Do) and other things. I had limited success with those methods and, while I'm better at it today, its still more art than science. The most reliable method was to brainstorm, but not outline, future events. Outlining never seemed to work as well as brainstorming. Maybe because it was too mechanical or didn't have that 'primordial' sense to it. If I hit on an idea that was brilliant or exactly in tune with the characters then I would feel this rush and slip 'into the zone'.

I have included that in Journey to Chaos. In-universe its called 'Videlicet Mens' which is (hopefully) Latin for 'Clear Mind/Intention'. It refers to a state of mind where the user is 100 percent focused on a task and a state of enchanted physical and spiritual capabilities. Novices can only reach it through extreme emotion but veterans can achieve it at will. 

For a free preview of the first book in the Journey to Chaos series click here.

Bottom line: What I would recommend is to create an outline, however threadbare, and then do some favorite activity while thinking about the outline or general scene you want to write. Don't think about time, just enjoy the activity. If nothing else you'll be in a better mood. That in and of itself can be enough to get the writing juices flowing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Mage's Power Chapter 1

I've posted the first chapter of Journey To Chaos Book 1: A Mage's Power on fiction press. I'll post another one every Wednesday starting tomorrow. If you like what what you've read here so far I think you'll enjoy it. Journey To Chaos part 1: Trickster Help Service, a fantasy fiction - Please let tell me what you think.

This chapter is something of a relic as the first part was written before any of the mechanics of the Chaos Universe were created. Back then the fantasy elements would be downplayed; only Tasio pranking Eric under the guise of 'helping him'. The bulk of the book would be him causing comedic hijinks in Eric's daily life. Soon after his introduction, however, I realized two things:  that formula could get old fast, and that it sounded like a sitcom. So I took a break for months to overhaul it and think about how magic would work if it were going to be 'real'.

Then I added a fantastical element (other than Tasio) to the first chapter and ended it with Eric traveling to Tariatla. I feel I've made the right choice. I've had a lot of fun writing the four book series (originally it was going to be a two book series) and I've inspired myself for other plots taking place in the same universe. It just keeps growing and growing and growing.