December 16, 2011

Five Tips for Intensifying Your Fiction

I'm pleased to have my sister Karri as a guest contributor for this post, since she's the one who inspired it. Please make her feel welcome, and enjoy!

Here are some tips and ideas guaranteed to create and promote doom, chaos, devastation, darkness, tumult, evil, despair, and mayhem - essential ingredients for every truly great work of fiction.

1. Give your main character not just one, but two step parents. If one can cause trouble, just think what two could do! (You can work it out any way you want. As the king of Siam would say: "You put in the details.")

2. Make each step parent arrange a marriage for your main character... with different people.

3. Make both parties to which your main character is betrothed hire someone to kidnap him or her. Then they can play keep-away.

4. Have your main character accidentally fall in love with both of the parties to which he or she has been unwillingly betrothed.

5. Give your main character serious personal insecurities, grotesque physical deformities, and a tendency to get amnesia easily.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to create more drama and trouble in their fiction? (Be as creative and silly as you want - this post is just for fun, after all. ;)

December 6, 2011

First Snow - Thoughts on the Natural Side of Fictional Story Worlds

This morning I woke up, pushed my sleeping dog off of my sleeping foot, and looked out the window to see - snow!
After two weeks of the local weatherman predicting the first snow, it's finally arrived! My transition into the Christmas spirit suddenly feels completed (and I have the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's song 'First Snow' going around in my head). I'm not the only one who's excited about it, either. No sooner had I dressed and made my morning cup of tea than my friend Ashley called me, asking if I had looked outside yet and wasn't it exciting? (And yes, I know you northerners out there are probably already sick of snow for this year... but please bear with me.)
Aside from getting me all revved up for Christmas and caroling and baking and all of that, this first snow also got me thinking about the more natural side of world-building in our stories. As I edit Son of the Shield, I've been adding in little bits and pieces to flesh out the natural story world I rather neglected in the first couple of drafts. I've added in varieties of flowers and other plants, constellations, and weather patterns unique to that story world.
But the shared excitement over this first snow got me thinking about the other natural events that we humans tend to get excited about - the first sign of green grass and flowers in the spring, the first weekend warm enough to go swimming, geese flying south and the first sign of autumn color in the leaves - and made me realize that my story world contains virtually none of that.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that a lot of the time in fiction, unless something in the natural world plays a significant role in the plot, it gets ignored. I don't want that to happen in Son of the Shield, so this morning I've been starting to think of ways I can bring the natural side of the world of Reyem to life. I realized that through the entire story (which spans a year and a half of their time) there is not a single mention of it raining. So there's one problem in need of fixing. It's not a desert, so it has to rain sometime.
But in addition to that, I'd like to come up with some natural events that the people of Reyem look forward to, like our first snow... or even something they dread, like we dread the thermometer hitting 100 or 0.
So that's something new that I'm going to be working on developing in my story world. So much to think about, so much to develop. It's a wonder any novel ever gets finished.

What is your approach to the natural realm of your story world? What are some natural events that your characters might look forward to, or dread?

December 1, 2011

Emerging on the other side...

... and finding that the world is still here!
After thirty long, grueling days and nights of NaNo (Has anyone else noticed that NaNo is only a few days shorter than the time God used to destroy the world in Noah's day?) we've at last emerged on the other side to find that, remarkably, life still goes on.
And better yet, there is no diabolical daily quota hanging over us any more! That uncanny internal clock that chants "You're getting behind, you're getting behind" has been silenced. No more annoying 'Stats' page telling us just how dismally far behind we are and how many millions of words we'll have to write per day to catch up.
Life's good, isn't it?
So, now that NaNo is safely behind us for another year (and by the way, my hearty congratulations to everyone who participated, whether you made the goal or not - merely taking part was no small thing), it's time to get back to life as we knew it.
And on that note, I'm pleased to announce that a new chapter of Falls the Shadow has been posted at The Lost Scribes! If you haven't already stopped by and read Chapter 14, you can Click Here to do so.
In this chapter, Skylar is beginning to struggle with the idea of keeping the library a secret from the professor who has done so much for him, and Coll, his best friend. The library is what they've been after for so long - now he's found it, and he can't even tell them.
He does make a surprising new discovery about the library, though... in the professor's study, of all places! Read Chapter 14 to find out what it is.