Pure Concept

I love making ideas. Back in college I frequently got frustrated with people who were, or wanted to be writers, but who were ‘waiting for good ideas’. Perhaps they thought the right idea would vindicate their desires more quickly than writing the first thing that excited them. No matter.

I was probably wrong to be frustrated with them, but personally, I stopped waiting for the right idea when I started writing.

Or so I thought.

Truly I have so many story ideas on the large and sweeping level of design as I ever need. I defnitely don’t wait for anything like that. The ideas that trip me up these days are the little ones involve the execution of the larger ideas.

As Rudy Rucker says in his writing guide, which I found so helpful I’ve more or less memorized it, fiction is fractal. The deeper you go, the more there is to see.

This applies on the idea level. Once one delves down past the upper levels I find it more and more difficult to manage the ideas I work on. And I have to make more little ideas to fit inside the big ideas. Where my technique is lacking is potentially in this stage.

I love random number generators, so I’m now planning to come up with an idea generator for the paragraph level of my story.

We’ll see if that helps. I sort of doubt it will have much effect, but I might be able to vary things up a bit with some reminders of what to do. At the very least, this should be fun.

Have a good day!

Numbers Game

Sometimes measuring productivity is important.

I think I’m reaching that point again, as I feel like I’m doing mostly pretty well with writing at the moment. But the numbers still hold me back from great productivity.

It’s about my time commitment. Over the past year I have rarely spent more than an hour or two actually writing on any given day.

That will be expanding today. I have my plan set in motion already, involving relaxation during the course of writing. If I can’t relax while I’m writing my mind wanders and I got to check email or facebook.

I’ll detach from the net and keep focused by enjoyment alone. After all, I am now in the final eightth of the book, whihc is more or less the climactic build of this novel. It will last for a few days, but then will be complete.

This lengthy adventure is about to begin for the day.

I plan to enjoy the process.

Character Categorization Pt 3: Thoughts on a New(ish) World

In one of my created settngs, people can have a limited ability to create new semi-designed universes from a particular rare and powerful ingredient.

That’s where I started with fooling around in my brainstorming yesterday.

A customized shield universe, created as a strongpoint against an evil force interested me.

I imagine this universe as full of deathworlds. If you’ve never read the concept of a ‘deathworld’ this is a trope of planets full of lifeforms hostile to human (or alien?) life. The deathworlds in te shield universe are intentionally designed to lash out into space and pull invaders into them. These are the landmines of this fortress universe.

But landmines alone aren’t enough to defend a fortress. What kind of people live in this shield universe? Many, many kinds.

First of all, there are the magical folk (Makers) from the parent universe. At one point they were in control of the whole fortress universe, but they have lost some territory to nonhuman foreigners who are among the threats they built this universe to defend the parent universe against in the first place.

Next, are the magicless people, who form an underclass conscripted into this universe. And the hybrids between the makers and the magicless.

Factions abound, and this post could get really long if I posted everything I had brainstormed.

I guess I’m not ready to do that yet.

So I’ll leave you with this teaser, and ask you to have a good day.

Ways to Classify Characters: Pillar Universe

Yesterday I posted about roles in science fiction and fantasy stories. I also had a conversation on a similar line where my brother and I concluded that roles on a wide scale are basically world building details. We concluded this because once one stops talking about specific characters, or takes the discussion to the level of a system one is necessarily talking about the larger world.

That said, here is a dose of the worldbuilding I did for universe of the book I’m nearly done rough drafting.

For the purpose of roles one breaks characters up into categories, and for now I’ll describe some of those categories for this universe.

Species and Subspecies – This is a very broad set of categories because most of the book focuses on humans. So humans have subspecies in this world, five of them diverged and changed over generations apart.

After that could be nationaity and region of origin. Then, to further detail would be profession and below that specialty and so on.

I see one thing I do not like so much about this setting is the lack of iconic clarity in roles. If a character is, say, of the bandojen subspecies and an engineer specializing in robotics, that fits an archetype I built for the world, but it doesn’t necessarily have the sort of zing I want to read. Or maybe in that example it does. I’m conflicted on it.

How iconic do I want certain roles to be? How specialized and restricted? How distinctive must a roole be to truly shine?

Questions, questions.

I’m asking, but I’m not getting answers until I get back to the book.

Have a good day everyone!

Roles in Fantasy and Science Fiction

I finished reading Kameron Hurley’s novellette, The Body Project recently and loved it a great deal. This is the first I’ve read of hers, and its super. Gonna have to read the novels in that series soon.

One of the things I loved about Hurley’s story was the number and variety of fantastic ‘types’ of people in the world. From wizards who control bugs to specially re-engineered people I found the scifi elements very compelling wehn combined with the different characters who filled each role.

My Amazon review is pending. Heh.

I have a larger point as well. Basically, I like the iconic nature of the world with distinctive and well-defined roles in it, whether they be from nations, professions, or technology, or magic. Names are also important in this regard because they flavor the world and the characters.

So go read Kameron Hurley, especially The Body Project as it brought me quite a bit of joy, and have great day!

Fiction Fumble #2

(Another dash of fiction below!)
* * *

Eight Sketches Before Close

The line formed as a long tail connected to the leaning tower of his pencil as it glided over the page. The artist’s other hand kept the paper still. He curved the line and finished it. Having already made many smaller marks beneath it, he sketched the rest of the buffalo with as much skill and patience as ever and smiled.

The coffee shop smelled nice, with living flowers as well as coffee everywhere.

The artist took another piece of printer paper and began another sketch. A place like this could sometimes close in the afternoon and remain profitable, but Caroline’s Coffee never did. She kept it open from dawn until dinnertime, and for that the artist was grateful. He finished the second sketch, a horse, and moved on to a third.

Cold air from the winter outside blustered through the door as another patron entered. She looked to be about the artist’s age, mid twenties or so, and pretty with long dark hair, not that the artist’s mind did more than linger a little on the fine line of her jaw. He had sketches to sketch

With a few more lines he finished the third sketch, a wolf. The newcomer ordered her coffee then sat down at a table near his, facing him, with a book quickly appearing from her purse. She set the book on the table. He glanced up at her. Their eyes met and she smiled. The artist smiled back, but couldn’t help his eyes from moving down her elegant neck to her curves, then back up to that pretty face.

The fourth sketch, this one of a hawk, turned out a bit rough. Eight, the artist thought. I want eight before I have to leave. Already the sky was growing late.

The barista brought the woman her coffee.

“Why was the woman getting coffee now?” the artist wondered in silence. “Does she have a nightshift?”

His fifth sketch, when done, barely looked like a lion at all. He quickly roughed out the sixth, a monkey. That one looked even worse.

The artist sighed. All this talent, going to waste…

The woman across from him took her coffee cup in one hand, stood and approached his table. “You mind if I ask what you’re drawing?”

“This and that,” said the artist. “Animals really.”

She looked over the sketches. “These are really good! I like the monkey.”

“They ought to be,” said the artist. “I’ve been drawing for years. But I suppose its not a simple skill.”

The woman smiled at him. “Is that why you were sighing?”

The artist shrugged, nearly messing up the gesture of his hand that went on drawing the seventh sketch. “Mostly. But I do this professionally so I probably shouldn’t worry so much.”

Yet he did worry. So much.

He finished the seventh sketch, a lamb. He reached for the eighth piece of paper.

She put a hand on his reaching arm. “Hey, you want to talk?”

“I’d love to talk. But there is one more sketch to complete.”

She nodded.

He smiled at her. “When I’m done, we can talk.”

“Okay.”

“Thank you,” he said.

She removed her hand from his arm. He bent his attention to the final sketch. She watched him sketch the final piece.

He sketched the woman beside him and when he was done he looked up at her and smiled.

“Now we can talk.”

Limp Past Go

My right leg hurts after long day, and causes me to slow down sometimes. But that’s not what this post is about.

Though I’ve made some progress lately I still feel I’m only limping along.

Yesterday, in a conversation I had pointed out to me that I could really use a daily project, something to accomplish each day that isn’t tied to numbers like hours writing or words written. So now I must decide what a single unit of writing will be for me.

I have chosen this: One chapter a day.

My chapters are of pretty regular length, but often run long or a little short as well. I’m pleased with the idea.

The other key to this concept is to make every chapter feel like a major stepping stone in the story, which itself is something I should be doing anyway. A sense of progression is a powerful (and necessary) tool to work with in fiction.

With my novella drafted I have 1-2 novel projects left to finish this month. The first of the these two possible novels is the novel I started for national novel writing month last november. I got the 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo but the story has grown and I’m still working on the first draft. Around 30,000 words to go.

The other work is a freelance project I may not be getting back to this month based on client reaction to earlier work. It will run around 30,000 words when I get the go-ahead.

So 60,000 words is roughly where I’m headed for the month.

Off I go.