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Monday, March 31, 2014

Third Draft Revelations

I'm on the third draft of my novel, and I've recently come to a realization. In a sense, the story will never be finished. Yes, I'm going to have it done enough someday to query agents, but there is always more. There is always a stone left unturned, a conflict unexplored, a setting left undiscovered, an interesting characteristic that hasn't made it to the page. There is always more. I can always take the story further. A writer can spend decades exploring and expanding a story, adding this quirk in a relationship, that surprise to the plot, those rich descriptions to every setting.

Sometimes the changes I think of making to my story aren't better or worse than what I already have. It's just preference. And I have to wonder, do I really prefer one over the other?

I think on a subconscious level, I wanted to explore every possibility, every unturned stone, and then pick what was best out of all of them. But with so many characters, complexities, mysteries, relationships, themes, and opportunities for worldbuilding, it's unrealistic to do that. And once the story reaches a certain point, it's not a better or worse option anymore, it's just a different option. Often it becomes an exchange. If I switch this, I can gain this and that, but lose this and that. Sometimes it's not.

There's a saying for movie-makers: "A movie is never finished, only abandoned," meaning, one can always do more work on it. He just finds a good spot to stop.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tips on Starting a Story

Anonymous asked: Do you have any tips on starting a story? Haha, sorry, I'm new at this thing .-.

Don’t be sorry. Many writers feel the starting of the story is the hardest part to get right—and with good reason!

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve read literally thousands of story beginnings, reading through slush piles.

First off, there are basically two methods of writing: “Pantsing” and “Plotting.” Some writers like to just start writing a story without an outline or anything, and they just discover their plot and characters as they go. People who do this are called “discovery writers,” or informally, “pantsers.” Other writers like to have a solid outline before they start a novel. They may even plan out the dialogue and action for a scene before they write it. These are “plotters,” or “planners.” A lot of writers use a hybrid method of both.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Writing Lessons from DBZ: Heroes into Legends & Closing Remarks

You can create a lot of interesting character dynamics by playing with your character's reputation--how people perceive him to be versus what he actually is.

In the Buu saga, Goku gets permission to come back to Earth for one day (he's in heaven, alright?). While he's been in "otherworld" for the last seven years, Trunks and Goten have heard all kinds of stories about how strong and powerful Goku is. He's become a legend. While Trunks argues with Goten about his Dad (Vegeta) being stronger than Goku, when it really gets down to it, Trunks, in addition to Goten, thinks Goku is the strongest person in the universe.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

Writing Lessons from DBZ: Skyscraping the Cost of Victory and Fish out of Water

Skyscraping the Cost of Victory

One way to raise tension in your story is to raise the stakes--you heighten what's at risk. But what if you raised the cost of your character's victory so high that to win means to lose at the purpose of his goal? Okay, I know that sounds confusing, so, let's get to the example.

In the Buu saga, the whole point of defeating the super villain Buu is to save the world and everyone on it. But what if the only way to defeat Buu is to destroy the world and everyone on it? The cost of winning is much greater now (and so is the story's tension). The very reason to destroy Buu might be the only way to destroy him. Look at that plotting technique--isn't it crazy?!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Get 6 Novels from Best-selling Fantasy Authors for $5

Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, Tracy Hickman, Kevin J. Anderson, James A. Owen, Peter David, David Farland, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. What do these people have in common? Well, they're all professional, established writers, most of them are best-selling authors, and they all have books up on right now. And I figured my followers would want to know about it.

StoryBundle lets you buy novels in groups, and let's you decide how much you want to pay for them. So, you can get their Truly Epic Fantasy Bundle for $5, $20, $30--you decide. If you pay the average price that others have, or more, you get three bonus books.

This is the craziest bundle they've done so far. Neil Gaiman is known for Newbery Award-winning novel The Graveyard Book, and for Caroline, and Stardust (which was turned into a film adaptation), and he's even written episodes of Dr. Who. Brandon Sanderson is an author I've mentioned several times on my blog. He wrote Mistborn and finished the Wheel of Time series. He's very popular in the fantasy world.

International and NYT Best-selling fantasy author Tracy Hickman is best known for the Dragonlance series, and he has over fifty books in print. Kevin J. Anderson has had 51 of his books appear on national or international bestseller lists; he has won or been nominated for the Nebula Award, Bram Stoker Award, the SFX Reader's Choice Award, and New York Times Notable Book, and has worked on the Dune series and in the Star Wars franchise.

And then my buddy and boss, David Farland has won plenty of awards and hit best-seller lists. He's also worked in the Star Wars franchise, and on movies and video games, and taught #1 New York Times Best-selling writers such as Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight).

Okay, bragging done. You can check out everyone's bios at StoryBundle. And of course, read what each novel in the bundle is about. It's a great deal, so if you're interested, fork out $5 to get six of them. Some of the money goes to charity (you decide how much).

And if you want to know about more novel bundles, you can follow StoryBundle.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Writing Lessons from DBZ: Unmentored with Cake

Unmentored and in Charge

This technique follows up on Goten and Trunks's story that I talked about last post on Stacked Tripling. So, at this point in the series, Trunks and Goten are the world's only hope. They're done crying, and they're ready to train and prepare to fight the super villain Buu. Their mentor, Piccolo, shoves them into the Hyperbolic Time Chamber (a room that slows down time; one day in our world equals one year in the time chamber), so the kids can quickly get more training in, while he holds off Buu.

Goten and Trunks have no mentor. The only person still alive that can teach them fighting techniques is trying to hold off Buu. So, they have to train themselves. 

So what do a naive seven-year-old and eight-year-old come up with? The stupidest, most childish fighting techniques in the entire series! The kind that make you want to facepalm. Moves they've named things like "Galactic Donut," and "Screaming Angry Wombat." They've watched too many cartoons, and they're trying to copy them.

Friday, March 7, 2014

How to Start Writing When You Have No Idea Where to Start

(Listen to this post on Youtube)

Anonymous asked: I wanna start writing but I have no clue where to start or what to write about and I'm freaked that no one will read it so I don't see the point... I need help!

To begin writing, there are a few basic things every story needs: characters, a setting, and, problems. So those are all good places to start. Who is your character? What problems will he/she face? Where does this take place?

Some ideas for stories seem to pop into writers' heads all on their own, but most often, writers have to seek out the ideas themselves. When you start looking for ideas, you'll find them.

Often writers get "stuck" or get "writer's block" because they haven't brainstormed enough. Take some time to brainstorm. Sometimes all you need to do is sit down with a paper and start listing ideas. If you feel like they aren't coming, try looking at your favorite books, t.v. shows, movies, or, if you're into them, video games. What do you like about them? Was there something in one that inspired you to write? You might want to start there to get inspiration.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Writing Lessons from DBZ: (I want this) but I want that more and (Stacked) Tripling

(I want this) but I want that More

This plotting technique takes place toward the end of the series. Vegeta, a "bad guy," has settled down with a family for seven years at this point. He hasn't done anything "bad" for years, and he's now more of an antihero than a villain. But he still has the dream of beating Goku in a fight. Despite how hard Vegeta trains, he can never catch up to how strong Goku is, which eats at him more than anything in the series because Vegeta is brimming with pride. 

 The main villain of the show at this point is named Babidi, and he has the ability to invade people's minds and control them. Well, Vegeta realizes that the only way he can be powerful enough to defeat Goku is to give himself over to Babidi's mind control. Vegeta comes to a cross roads where he must choose between his "good guy" self and his "bad guy" self.  He picks the latter.

He wants to beat Goku so bad, he's willing to sacrifice his relationship with his family, embrace his old, blood-thirsty self, and lend over, somewhat, his mind and body to a villain's bidding--that's really saying something for a character who never wanted to be under anyone's control.

Although he's hesitant to admit it, a part of Vegeta really does want to settle down with a family (I want this, but I want to beat Goku more.) 

So the basic idea of this method is similar to a dilemma--make your character choose between two things he wants. What he chooses shows what he wants most. BUT what's interesting about this in Dragon Ball Z is that Vegeta's two choices are direct opposites of one another. Good vs. evil essentially. And what's more interesting is that, as one of the protagonists, he chooses the evil one.

You don't see that happen very often in stories.

And this takes the series in a whole new direction. We now have Goku once again fighting Vegeta as a villain--we've gone full circle--but Vegeta is someone we've come to know and love.