Saturday, April 27, 2013

How to Make Your Fantasy World Feel Real

Though I'm working on a science-fiction novel now, my first love was fantasy. In fact, I plan to work on my fantasy series during my break from my science-fiction this summer.

I love Fantasy, especially High Fantasy, because of the massive creative freedom of it. It is so much fun to create a completely new world, but like any world it's very complicated. To make a fantasy that is both unique and believable, details are the key.

1.) Politics - Is your fantastical world a republic? Monarchy? Tribal? Oligarchy? If it's a monarchy does the king or queen have lords, dukes, counts and such beneath him or her?

2.) Economy - What kind of money does your culture use? Do they trade? Is the country/countries prosperous or poor? What is their primary crop or export? If your character is low class, then this could effect their lifestyle.

3.) Culture - What traditions and festivals does this fantasy world have? A good trick for culture is basing it off of one of our world's cultures then combining and adding your own twists to it. I combined Egyptian, German, and Russian cultures together for one of my fantasy realms.

Culture also affects architecture. Are they more peaceful or warmongering? If they covet war, they will probably sanction how battles are won with tributes to great victories. If they are more towards peace, they will have a more peaceful environment with gardens and libraries. This along with flora and fauna will affect how your world's residents dress too.

4.) Flora - Your environment is very important too and will affect culture. Is it tropical, mountainous, desert,
Lady's Slipper
 tundra, woodland, plains? The native plants and stones will affect how buildings are constructed and reflect in art and weaponry.

Also adding some new plants doesn't hurt either. There are so many amazing plants in our world. Try looking up some and then changing them into something magical. Make the grass blue if you want. Have fun with it.

5.) Sky - Your sky is something you can play around with too. Do you have multiple suns or moons? How long are days (the time it takes the planet to rotate around your sun or suns) in your world?

In my fantasy world, days are twenty-eight hours long with an extended night. Is your sky purple? Are there other planets? What different constellations are there? Are their festivals for celestial activities?

6.) Fauna - What kind of animals do you have? Do you have just earthly ones or do you have some fantasy animals tossed in? Griffins? Dragons? Unicorns? Some creatures of your own making? If you want some unique creatures, look up lists of fantasy creatures on Wikipedia. There are so many different creatures that aren't commonly used. I personally have a ton of fantastical creatures in my books both traditional and of my own making. Do your creatures speak?

7.) People - Are the people of your fantasy world human, human and other sentient beings, or are they unicorns or another four-legged creature? Do they have different languages? If you have multiple races, do they get along? Do they live in the same lands, or do they have their own territories?

8.) Magic - Does your fantasy realm have magic? What are the limitations? What races have magic, or can use magic? Are there different kinds of magic?

I hope this posts helps you make a more realistic fantasy world! Happy writing! Thanks for reading! :)

What's something unique about your fantasy world? What's something unique you like about a particular fantasy world you've read about?

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reeling In Your Reader: A Guest Post by Lauren Claire

Hey, everyone! I'd like to introduce an old friend of mine and fellow writer, Lauren Claire. She is currently working on a Christian YA Contemporary novel called Melody of Courage. Enjoy her guest post on hook-lines!

Stop yourself at the end of this sentence and ask yourself, “Do I want to keep reading?”

Now, hopefully you decided to stick with me long enough to find out why you should keep reading. Today, I’m going to be sharing with you about hook-lines. First, let’s talk about what they are and why they’re important to your writing. After that, I’ll let you judge for yourself what makes the best hook-line.

What are Hook-lines? - If you’ve ever been fishing, you’re a lot closer to understanding what a hook-line is than a lot of people. 

Even if you haven’t been fishing, you know that the purpose of a hook is to catch the fish. A hook-line is a metaphor.

In writing, a hook-line is the very first line of your novel or short story. Just like the fish, you want to “hook” your reader on your story. The rest of your story you is then spent trying to “reel” the reader all the way in. Great, right? Now let’s talk about why they’re really important.

It’s been said that when in bookstores looking for something to buy, modern day readers will only read the first two pages of a book. If they’re not caught up in the story by then, they set the book down. That really gives you a page to interest them…and you better make the most of it.

That’s why you want one really strong, intriguing line for your opening sentence. You want something that will make your reader want to keep reading to find out. So what kind of lines do that?

Learn For Yourself - There are many methods of starting a story, including dialogue, narration, setting, and conflict.

Generally speaking, starting with the setting and the weather is a huge turn-off in a hook-line. Why should your reader care about the setting if they’re not even sure they want to read the story? And who wants to read about weather? Most people don’t even want to listen to their grandparents discuss that! If you decide that you want to start the story with the setting or with weather, you should make sure that it has immediate significance to your story. By significance, I mean that it becomes a crucial part of the story on the first page.

Presenting conflict in the first sentence might be one of the best ways to immediately draw somebody into the story, but there’s also a pitfall that must be avoided: having a character already in action or in danger is not encouraged by this writer. This is because your reader has no reason to care about a character in danger, and especially not in the first line. So how do you use conflict without putting the cart before the horse? 

When I use conflict, I normally go for conflict between characters. This reveals that there is some animosity between them, but it can be more generalized. You can also start conflict with something as simple as, “The broken vase could not have spelled Kasey’s doom any better if the shattered pieces had formed the letters themselves.” See, there’s already a dilemma here: the broken vase. The point of starting a story with conflict is to make the reader want to see how this minor issue is resolved. By then, they’ve already invested their time and emotions into the character which keeps them reading.

No matter which method you pick, the point is always to grab the reader’s interest. A simple exercise to develop stronger hook-lines would be to read the opening lines of your favorite books. That’s it: the first sentence. After you read the first sentence, ask yourself if you would keep reading and also answer why or why not. 

Let’s try it now - In the comments, I want you to rank these sentences by how likely you would be willing to continue reading the story. Then, explain what interested you about your top picks. Ready? Go!

1)       The tiny woodland glade seemed secluded far from the mechanics of the civilized world.

2)      There are two kinds of phobias in the world: justifiable and just plain absurd.

3)      Nothing would be all right, not this new house, not this day, and especially not Caleb’s smirking face, until Adrianna rescued her violin from the pits of the U-haul truck.

4)      “Sometimes, the hardest choice to make is to do the right thing.”

5)      If Kimemela’s foster parents knew that her growth had already been stunted, perhaps they would at least let her enjoy coffee.

6)      If time would only rewind ten seconds, Daniel would be able to stop himself from making the greatest mistake of his life.

So what do you think? How would you rank these hook-lines? Why? What famous opening lines do you like?

Lauren Claire is a young writer with a passion for God, life, and her young friends. She knows that there are many kids in the world that have nobody to talk to about the problems they face, so she strives to write real stories they can identify with. When she's not writing, Lauren is busy with College, Camp ministries, and going on adventures.
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Five Tips on Writing A Good Main Character

Hey all! I'm back with another writing post. :) Sorry I'm a little late. I've been working on the sequel to Subsapien Biomech called Subsapien Grafting.

Anyway onto the post ...

The past few weeks I've been thinking about character development so I thought I'd do a post about developing a good main character.

Here are some of my thoughts:

1.) Make the readers either be able to relate to your protagonist, look up to him/her or sympathize with them or a combination of these - You want the reader to care for your character and you want one they can respect and understand.

2.) Make them human - Don't make your character impervious to everything or just not act like a regular person. Make them vulnerable; let them have little quirks and habits and a natural thought pattern. Would you do what your character does? Could you see your friends or someone else you know acting like your character?

Let them have realistic emotions and dialog. Try thinking of yourself or a friend in the situation your character is in. How would you or your friend react to that? On the other hand, don't make your character too much like you. They are a different "person," but make sure they have human or natural qualities and actions.

3.) Don't make them unlikable - Whiny, bratty, stiff, completely obnoxious, and melodramatic main characters put readers off or at least they put me off. Crying is fine, but don't make them cry every chapter or even every other chapter. If your character has no emotion or whines all the time, the reader could get tired of them.

You know when your watching a show or movie and the main character drives people crazy? Don't let your readers feel that about your main character.

4.) Don't make them similar your bad guy - Don't make your character stoop too low or do things evil things that'll make the line between them and your antagonist blur. Maybe they waver and do a bad thing, but let them feel remorse about it. Make sure there's a difference between them.

5.) Make them memorable - Out of all the other main characters in the world, what makes yours stand out? What makes that main character perfect for the journey he or she is on? Her special abilities? His personality traits? A hobby?

Example: Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. If you have not seen this show, put it on your to-watch list. It is one of the best shows I've ever watched. The writing is great hence why I'm using the show's protagonist for my example. Aang is brave, funny, but also human in his fear of taking a place of massive responsibility. He has a good sense of right and wrong, and he's memorable since he is the Avatar.

I hope this post was helpful! Thanks for reading! :)

Do you have any questions about main characters? What's your main character like? I'd love to hear about in the comments!

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I'm now twenty and other updates!

So this weekend was my twentieth birthday! I cannot believe I am that old ... To celebrate I had a friend from out of town over this weekend and we had an awesome time, hence why I didn't post on Saturday, but I'm posting now. Another post will be coming again this coming Saturday as usual. :)

I got some good news to tell you all!

1.) I sent off my submissions to the agents this Saturday. *crosses fingers* I'm praying so hard that I get accepted, but if I don't that's okay. Still so nervous and excited about that. But this is my first official submission! Whoo hoo!

2.) The winner for the Go Teen Writers ebook giveaway is Lauren Snodderly! Congratulations! I'm contacting Stephanie about how to get the prize to you and I'll let you know. :)

3.) So last week was author Jill Williamson's launch party for her new YA Distopian, Captives, and I won a copy! Just got it in the mail today! Be sure to check the novel out. It looks so good! You can find it on Amazon here! After I read it, I'll post a review of it here.

Matt (Subsapien Grafting)
4.) I'm going to start my twentieth year by working on my YA science-fiction sequel, Subsapien Grafting, which is in the point of view of Bryce's younger brother, Matt. You can check out my progress in the progress bar widget that will be coming to the blog soon!

5.) Lastly, God and my brain gave me the awesome birthday present of a new book series idea for a steampunk romance that for now I'm entitling Silhouette. I'll give you guys a little sneak peek of the first two lines and this edited photo I did of Max Irons (The Host) who looks exactly like my main character, Conan MacIvor.

"Two more years until I get my body back. At the thought of being this close to feeling again, the gears rotated faster in my porcelain chest."

So this has been a pretty exciting week. :) Thank you all for reading my blog and for all your comments in my 19th year! Check out my Facebook and Pinterest. I'm up to 50 likes! I'm trying to come up with a way to celebrate that ... Every comment on my blog has been a joy. Every like, follow and pageview helps my career as a writer! Thank you for your support! :)

Conan MacIvor (Silhouette)
If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)