The Trouble With Trouble

I’ve been asked for clarification of a Twitter post I made earlier today.  Since “clarify” and “Twitter” aren’t exactly words that mesh well, I figured I’d make use of my beleaguered blog.

First, the tweet: I have issues coming up with good antagonists. This leads to issues developing plots, which leads to issues writing stories. This annoys me.

Joe from The Podge Cast asked for examples.  I have two right here on the blog.  My steampunky, alternate-history, whatever you want to call it story, the one I tried to get through the Snowflake Method with, is the prime example.  In that story, I have a lot of ideas for the world.  I have characters that are well-rounded and have a lot of depth (at least, that’s how they are in my head).  There are conflicts between the main characters, which is great, but I’m finding the problem arises when I look to outside conflicts.

The characters will tend to do what they’ve always done and avoid their problems.  They’ll go their separate ways until whatever’s wrong cools down, then they’ll meet up again and start the cycle over.  I need something that forces them to stick together.  I’ve got a vague idea of a politician that can cause problems.  The Crawlers are a threat, but humanity has survived and dealt with them for a long while, now, so they’re not an imminent danger.  Pirates?  Maybe?  I dunno.

I get to thinking about the antagonists of my stories, and I start to peter out.  I want to focus on my world and my heroes.  I want to know who they are, where they come from, where they’re going, how they handle themselves in the face of adversity…. Shit.

Now, I’m no expert at this, but whether you want to write character-driven fiction or plot-driven fiction, you need some “bad guys,” you need something there to stand between your characters and their goals.  I seem to have issues with that.

On the positive, though, I’m figuring out that I have issues with that.  Now I know my weakness, I can start sorting it out.  (Thanks, Basher.)  Maybe I don’t have clear cut enough goals for my characters.  Maybe I haven’t thought out an expansive enough world.  Maybe I need to go through a character outline based around antagonists, rather than protagonists.  Maybe I need to find a writer’s group.  Maybe….

I dunno.  I’m sure once I’ve got this worked out, I’ll find some new road block in my way, but it’s a start, for now.

Written by StingRay in: Writing | Tags: , , , , , ,

(Writing) Rules I (Want To) Live By

I recently started reading A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, and I’m trying to read it critically, trying to learn something from the writing within the book rather than just read for enjoyment.  I’m not that good at it.  However, that’s not what this post is about, because I did learn something early on.

In the third chapter, Ned meets the king, who has gone from being a fearsome, muscular warrior to a fat mess.  Martin spends nearly a page and a half describing the thoughts Ned has, describing the look of the king now versus then, and even throwing in a few historical details to boot.  All of this happens within practically no time at all from the character’s perspective.

Why is this significant?  Well, my writing has shifted to more of a real-time feel.  I get it in my head that I can’t spend a lot of time describing something or focussing on anything because my characters don’t have that much time to spend.  The reader should spend no more time on an action than the character spends on that action.

That doesn’t quite work, though, and I look back over my writing and chastise myself because there’s not enough detail.  I rush through, and that’s bad, but something in my subconscious seems to think that’s the way it works.

So, I’ve decided to look at this as a game, D&D to be exact.  In D&D, speaking isn’t considered to take up any time during combat, and I think that’s applicable to writing.  Description need not take up any time in regards to the characters.  Thus, the first writing rule I want to live by:

Description is a free action.

We’ll see if this approach helps with the need to rush through the details.

Written by StingRay in: Writing Rules |

NaNoWriMo – 2765 Words

Exhaustion yesterday and wife-time today have put a damper on finishing up the next Snowflake step.  However, I’ve been considering tossing the fruits of my NaNoWriMo labor up here, so what better time than now?

Be warned.  This, like the first chapter of my Snowflake story, is an incredibly rough draft.  I wrote it quickly and I have not edited it.  Cliche’s, word errors and passive voice may be present.  There may even be an author’s note or two.  (At the end of the chapter, “Caldesor” was originally “LANDYLAND” because I couldn’t remember the name of the country.)  However, I don’t remember being entirely disgusted with the first 5000 or so words of NaNo, so you may find it entertaining, if rough.


Chapter 1

Ellora Sunstrider wrenched her sword from the orc’s skull. (more…)

Written by StingRay in: NaNoWriMo |

NaNoWriMo – A Wildly Successful Failure

So, November is over, and so is NaNoWriMo.  Well, it is for me, anyway.  Technically, there’s about eleven more hours to go before November comes to a close and the final word count has to be entered into the system, but I’m going to sleep and going to work pretty much immediately after waking up.

How’d I do?  Depends on how you look at it. (more…)

Written by StingRay in: NaNoWriMo | Tags: , , , , , , ,

NaNoWriMo Thoughts – 2/3 Done

So, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, which is part of the reason why I’ve not updated this page, nor recorded any podcast episodes, nor participated in any of the online stuff I was participating in prior to November.  Another reason is that my computer’s hard drive died completely, and I’ve been sharing a computer with my wife.  Oh, and my sister-in-law had her baby at the end of October, so nephew visiting has been going on.  And work.  And…. anyway!

In October, a number of people expressed their… objections to NaNoWriMo.  They made a few valid points that I’m seeing in action right now.  50,000 words isn’t really a novel.  The NaNo peeps focus far too much on reaching that 50,000 word goal.  They also ask for a lot of money.  I concede all these points, however, I still think NaNoWriMo is a good thing, so long as you keep a few things in mind. (more…)

Written by StingRay in: NaNoWriMo | Tags: , , ,

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