Violence, and violent action, can be difficult to portray. Yet the ability to do so is a necessary part of the fiction writer’s repertoire. Violence is a part of the human condition. If we hairless apes have learned anything in the last 5000 years of existence on planet Earth, it is that violence is a part of the human condition. Thus it becomes us to study the best examples and see how we can go about doing the same.
Posts from the ‘plotting’ Category
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
I’ve thought, more than once, about story ideation as feeding the sausage grinder. I’ve made sausage many times over the years. I can remember making caribou sausage in Alaska, and making sure we ground bacon into it, because otherwise there’s just not enough fat. And when you make your own sausage, you know what’s in it… although that is also a myth. The whole thing about being grossed out over sausage making? Because unless using every scrap from the animal and paying it due respect by not allowing it to go to waste bothers you… Upton Sinclair made up a bunch of what went into his ‘expose’ that was really fiction. Just like a lot of documentaries on Netflix, it’s all about the shock factor, not so much the actual data and science. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
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
When people ask “Are you a pantser or a plotter”, they often speak of pantsing as though it was a very linear thing – that you start with a beginning and write through to the end, accreting story and meandering around until you somehow end up with a plot in retrospect.
This is not the only way to pants. In fact, following a plot from beginning to end isn’t the only way to do it, either. As Kipling wrote, “There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays, and every single one is right!” (In the Neolithic Age) Read more
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