Monday, March 29, 2010

Steampunk Fantasy Short Story

So I decided to write a fantasy short story, with some steampunk elements in it. With setting aside my science fiction short I wanted something else short to write for the end of this month. Over at Forward Motion for Writers, they are holding their March Madness challenge. I signed up for the 1k a day level, the challenge running the last seven days of the month. That makes 7,000 words I'm aiming to write, which is a bit long for one short story. For the challenge I figured I can write two short stories for the word count.

I'm a little over 1,000 words into the story so far and it's fun. There is a bit of a challenge with this being my first steampunk piece that I'm writing. I didn't really plan it out to much ahead of time, aside from the basic idea of my main character ending up in a magical world with air ships and other strange workings.

Yes, short blog post is short. I missed my usual Sunday post yesterday and am writing this on my lunch break.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Probably not a short story

But I'm okay with that, really.

Awhile back, I wrote about how I was working on a short story which would be history for a group of related novels I'm writing. Back in that post I had joked to myself that I didn't want it to turn into another novel. Yet now with the planning I've been doing for this short story it feels like there is enough going on so that it won't fit into the short story format.

Backing up a little bit, going forward at the same time. Last year I wrote the first draft of a science fiction mystery novel which takes place a few hundred years into the future. My main character is on a mining station in deep space somewhere. While that novel is set only on the mining station, the characters involved are part of a human race which has spread out to the stars. The time in which the novel takes place humans have been living on different planets for generations. Based on the colonization patterns and life on the planets, there are distinct cultures between them. People travel between the planets, and the planets are organized in some sort of interplanetary government. I also have other novels in mind that take place in this set up.

When I was doing some of the initial planning for the draft I had mapped out a vague time line of how humans had made it from Earth to the stars. I wasn't doing anything to detailed early on, only enough to get me to what I needed for the draft. With this time line I had decided that humans had a base on a planet just outside of our solar system from which they had a nice launching point to start exploring the planets which end up populated for the novels. With still settling on names for everything at the time, I called this the "Alpha site" since it's the first step to the stars. (Then I called the first planet settled Beta, as the next place humans moved onto from there).

Now that the first draft of the mystery is finished I've been looking at more world building to flesh things out better in preparation for revision. In the mean time I'd also been thinking it would be fun to write a short story. Inspiration hit and I thought, wouldn't the founding of the Alpha site make a great short story. So this month and last I've been writing down various scene and world ideas, figuring out the events which lead to the Alpha site being set up. Of course as I worked the more ideas generated other ideas. I've got a few different conflicts going on, and some thoughts for a decent cast of characters. People are involved with getting the mission ready to travel to Alpha, and then there is the crew of the shuttle.

Taking a step back and looking at what is involved I realized that at the current level of detail this is more than what would make for a decent short story. There are to many things happening and to many characters, if I confine it to a small space (pardon the pun) then it will feel to disjointed. This realization gave me a choice; I could take out part of the story to simplify it, or I could turn it into something longer.

While I'm not saying that this will be a novel, I have decided not to remove anything for the sake of length. The events that transpire here are all involved in a pivotal moment in history for the formation of civilization in my novel(s). My goal here is to best tell that story. If on further work it looks like it might stand as a short, fine. But if as I suspect it wont, then I'll work out the details and figure out what format will work best with the telling. I can always come up with something else if I really want to write a short story for the purposes of working in a short story format.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Blossoms of Spring

Yes, off topic post is off topic. Well mostly. I have been thinking a bit about the plant life in different areas in the world my fantasy novel takes place. I did mostly want to post this to share some signs of spring. Here in New York State our snow is melted and it's starting to get greener around here.

First - flowers of spring

Photo taken by me yesterday, in my front yard.

Zoomed trees budding

And one more, the trees in my back yard as seen from the front yard. The zoom on this camera rocks. I didn't realize how much the trees back there were budding until I was taking the pictures. (I was taking pictures of the nests).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Magical Fantasy, revisiting

One of my March goals involves working on my Magical Fantasy novel. I finished the first draft over a year ago and haven't done much with it. Revision time is looming ahead. Instead of simply diving into the revision I'm in the process of taking time to step back and look at the novel.

Tonight was the first part of that process (officially at least) with the really high level work. I took some time to write out the major conflict points (again), and also what goals I have for the novel, and my promise to the reader. In promise I mean what am I setting up in the first few pages that will be out there for the reader to keep reading and will continue through the book. With a mystery novel you have the sleuth character discovering the crime, and the promise of the book is being able to read along with the sleuth's investigation. For my novel the promise is a work in progress, but I have more thinking to do on some of this work yet. I'm not going to worry about it.

I also spent some time writing about the main conflicts of the novel. The major one is for the main character (Trenkisa) to set out from home and find what she wants to do with her life. At the start of the novel she's at home with her family, and expected to follow in the family trade (metalworking). I'm still working out the details on her conflict some more. Like figuring out if she's traveling to look for magic users, or if she's traveling simply to find something new. Either way magic is involved in the plot, but the character's motivations will shape the novel.

I mentioned doing a practice query with this novel a short while ago. I'm still planning on that. After I finish with the conflicts and novel goals/promise I'll put a query together. I am also planning to read through the first draft and jot down what jumps out at me. Then I'll create a revision outline and dive in.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oh Look, A Map

I was sorting through my novel files this afternoon to organize them a little better and I came across the maps I'd made. I had done a bunch of work on paper using my Copics markers to color in the various areas. This map here is the MC's home country, which is in the north of the continent. Looking at this I see things I may want to change as I'm working on worldbuilding.

The image of the map is only a thumbnail, click the image to see it larger. As I had only worked on the country for this one I left the paper around it unmarked. For purposes of sharing the progress here I quickly scribbled some blue and tan in MS Paint to show where the sea is and where land is. The legend and the various land use graphics are on the actual paper.

Under the country the yellow and orange lines are to represent the countries which border this one. My first map was political, and country color coded. Somewhere I have notes as to what color is what country (the official marker colors - yes Copic makes over 300 colors for their markers).

I still need to name all the countries. For writing the draft and making the maps I simply referred to this country as "Northen", the eastern most as "Easten", then "Westen" and so on.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March Goals

I posted this over at Forward Motion, and am posting it here to.

Here's what I'm aiming to accomplish this month.

4 Critiques - Seeing as how these are shorter works I'm planning on doing one crit a week.

Back to school for busy writers - get started on this. Outline the class and have the first 2 lessons done. Bonus points for all of them done. (It's an FM thing).

Magical Fantasy - Do my practice query in prep for more world building and a revision outline. I'd like to get a good start on the outline and world building as well.

2yn - Do some of the lessons for that and get closer to being caught up. (Another FM thing - my Mining Mystery)

Alpha read for a friend - I can fit this in around the other writing.

Website clean up - My poor writing website is in rough shape. Some sections need to be put together, others need cleanup, and some just need updating.

Finish organizing my writing area. I've got a good start to this, so it's mostly finding homes for the last few things on my desk then putting the mini crates up. Oh, and watching out for the cat she likes to sit on top my tower and paw at stuff on my desk. Pens are her favorite so I've gotten good at keeping them in their spot. (I have something on my desk for pens, luckily she only bothers them if they are laying on a flat surface.)

SF short - start on first draft. This is related to the 2yn world wise, but it's a stand alone plot wise.

Fantasy Time

Following up on my post from yesterday, today I'm using the new icon for my Fantasy novel in progress. I really need a title for this novel, along with something to call the series. For now I'm calling it "Magical Fantasy" even though magic doesn't play much of a role in the first book.

Here is the rough blurb: "In a land where women are forbidden to use magic, one woman can't keep herself from wondering about the subject. What must it be like to cast spells? Stuck in a job chosen by her family can she find a way to pursue something that interests her?".

Yes, rough blurb is rough. What I'm working on right now is getting at the core of the novel, the main plot point that the main character deals with for the novel. The character isn't on some big quest to learn magic. She's not happy with having to work in the field of her family's business so she sets off on her own to see what else is out there. So there is a good bit of travel in the novel, just not the epic quest type. There is some sword fighting, as main character is pretty proficient with her sword.

This is the novel I'm planning on writing a practice query, to really get at the main point of the novel. I also am working on more world building for this, the world is lacking detail right now. Though after having written the first draft I have a better idea of my character's travels which helps with figuring out which parts of the world need more detail.

I do have a map already for the series, which may get tweaked as I do more world building. It's over on my Deviant Art account if anyone wants to see it. The next step on the map is to create a scale for it and I'll be plotting my character's travels as well.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Getting back in touch with...

The purpose of this blog.

After reading a bit of advice on blogging for writers via Twitter, I got to thinking about my target audience. Right now I'm not published, I don't even have a polished novel manuscript to send out query letters for. Given that fact I figure for the time being that my blog might be helpful to other writers in similar stages to me. What I've learned so far about the craft of writing, what I've found helpful along with not so much. And to it is a bit of accountability for how my novels are progressing.

But with keeping an eye towards the future I want to have some more details about my novels in progress. That way I can hopefully connect with some future readers as I'm writing and blogging. It also figures into my website. On my novel information page I currently have a link for each novel to the times I've tagged Live Journal entries with said novel. The idea being that if someone is looking at my website, they have a quick link to see related posts about the progress of said novel.

Then today I had a novel (pardon the pun) thought. What if I have a bit more detail here as I blog with various fun facts or extra images relating to the novels in progress. I do want to be better about using tags (or label's in blogger's case) then I was on Live Journal. I have enough tagged posts where I merely mention working on a novel without having much detail in the post. I'm not sure exactly what sorts of things to include, and they won't be in every single novel post. Just some randomly for fun. Though all posts tagged with the novel labels I do want to have a certain level of detail about the current stage I'm working on.

In addition to tags, I thought it would be fun to have little post icons when I'm writing about various novel projects. I chose 100 by 100 pixels because I'm used to Live Journal size icons, and because it's a nice size. Enough of a canvas to work on without taking up to much space. I'd been wanting to include a bit more images on my blog anyways so this works out. They are going to coordinate with the novel being blogged about. The icon for this post is for my Science Fiction group of related novels. I may tweak the planets a bit but I'm generally pretty happy with it. I'm also sketching out one for the mining mystery, one for the related short story, and ones for my fantasy trilogy.