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Posts by TXRed

Story From The Start 4: Conflicts and Antagonists

All stories have a conflict in them. Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs Himself . . . there are lots of possibilities. Some conflicts are universe-shaking, others are far quieter. The English have a sub-genre of domestic dramas nicknamed “Aga Sagas” after the Aga stoves found in many homes, which gives you a sense that the stories are not about saving the planet from invading alien hordes.

Which leads to a question about your conflict? Do you have an antagonist or a villain? The two are not mutually exclusive, but you do not have to have a villain in every story. Some don’t call for it. Read more

Story from the Start: 3 – Story Bible?

Before we go any farther into the stories, let’s stop and review.

We’ve looked at openings, and setting the scene. We’ve outlined some characters, and either hinted at or stated what the conflicts are going to be. We don’t have antagonists/villains yet, or motivations for the Bad Guy/Gal/Thing.

Before you go too far in your work, step back a little. One thing you need, especially for a book or a work in a series, is a Story/Series Bible. You can call it story guide, whatever, but it is a single document with all the important information about characters and settings in it. How detailed and how long depends on you and what you are using to write the story. Read more

What Colors are Your Worlds?

Description is vital to world building. You need some setting, at least a quick sketch to show readers where your characters are and what’s happening. How characters describe their surroundings can also be a clue as to something unusual.  Does the protagonist focus on smell over color (Rada Ni Drako?) Do they focus on the sound of places, hearing the passageway narrow?

The more descriptors you have in your toolbox, the better you can do at conveying things to your readers. Especially when you need to write short.

Eldred “Bob” Bird over at Writers in the Storm as a neat little piece about the power of description and how to do it “short.” Read more

Story from the Start – 2: Digging In

So, on with our stories.

Story 1. “Magic in the Darkness.” When we left Imre and Csilla, we had established a broad setting (Budapest, modern day), and two characters – Imre the mage, and his Familiar and seeing-eye dog Csilla. Csilla is a Hungarian Kuvazs, weighs 45 KG (100 pounds) and will herd her charge whenever the opportunity arises. This could be good or bad, depending on how the plot develops.

The story begins with Imre working, repairing a piano. Blind piano tuners are not all that rare, so this fits his character. It is assumed in the Familiars universe that one cannot make a living from magic alone, so he has a “regular” job. More setting, and a reason for him to go places, with tools and with a seeing-eye dog.

This is a short story, so we need a story-problem or plot driver early on. Imre is not a shadow-mage, so he does not go looking for trouble. That makes things a little more difficult. Trouble has to come to him, or he has to stumble onto it (metaphorically speaking, if Csilla is doing her job). So . . . What if we have a person with an unusual instrument that needs to be tuned. A person with something odd about them? He is working on a spinet piano that has seen better days as the excerpt begins. (Maria is his wife). Read more

Story from the Start: 1 – Getting an Idea.

One of the requests was for a “class” on writing a story from the idea phase to publishing. I’m going to try, with two sides, so to speak. One a story in a known world, one a brand new world. I have no idea how long this will take.

1. Known World. I needed some stories for a Familiars* story set, to be called G——- Familiar. I already had three based on previous characters, maybe four, so I needed someone and something new. Hmm, what to do, what to do? Ah, a reader asked if I ever did Familiars that are domestic cats or dogs. Sure, why not. So I decided on a dog, because cat Familiars are just strange. Read more

Quick! What does he do?

So . . .

I’m writing a new character in the Familiars world, one who appears in a previous book but who gets fleshed out in a sequel. He’s, well, not to have any spoilers, but by the time he appears on his own, his issues have subscriptions. He’s not a happy camper. And then he’s tossed into trouble.

What does he do?

Ah. Flee, fight, freeze, or yes? Read more

Can I Quote That? Ask Your Lawyer

At least, that’s the short version of the answer.

The slightly longer version of the answer would be: how long has the original author or speaker been dead?

This has come up a few times when I wanted to quote more than just the title of a song or poem. The rough rule of thumb for fair use in a commercial setting (your book) that I was given has been five words. If you quote more than five recognizable words, then you are getting into copyright law’s turf. The rule comes from academia, specifically what constitutes plagiarism, and a real copyright law site suggests that you can go a touch farther. In one case, I knew I didn’t have a prayer of using the lyric, because it was (and as far as I know, still is) tied up in a nasty copyright fight between a performer and the writer of the song, and the distributor.  That’s the sort of fight no author wants to wade into, so I made up some lyrics that fit the mood of the song and went from there.

Making up something is always safe. Doing your own translations is also safe. Read more