Get With the Program

December 15, 2008 at 6:20 pm (Information, My Thoughts, The Story, Writing Tips) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I just finished importing my story into a program called yWriter.

It was hard work, because the program asks you to re-organize the whole text into a more divisive format.  It’s taken me about a month to complete the transition.  However, now that it is finally complete, it will be much, much easier for me to add things and change elements around to come up with the perfect story.  I don’t have to settle for less, just because it would be too much effort to make changes!

You can now read my story in a number of different ways.  For example, you can quickly skim the chapter names to get some idea of what it’s all about.  Then, you can click on each chapter name for a quick description of that chapter.  Within each chapter (and on the same screen), you can see the different scenes in that chapter.  Skimming the scene headings provides a deeper understanding of the story, without you being forced to read the actual text.  It’s based on the Snowflake Method of writing.  Fun, huh?

I know it’s strange to be reading about my story design without knowing what it’s all about, but don’t worry, you’ll know more very soon.  But, if you’re interested in writing your own story, you would do well to try the software for yourself before you start typing.  You can import things later, but it took me a long time to do it that way.  yWriter is completely free, and it will even help you to start your story and build it from the ground up in an organized, efficient manner.  It’s just… useful.

I am not affiliated with the maker of yWriter in any shape or form, but I can’t praise it highly enough – especially as it is completely free!  if you want to check it out, just click the link embedded in its name.

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The Second Rule of Storytelling

December 13, 2008 at 12:51 pm (My Thoughts, Writing Tips) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Here’s another of my thoughts:

  • Credit your reader with intelligence.
  • Allow their imagination to fill in any blanks.

Sometimes, writers have a tendency to explain everything in great detail.  They want to get ideas out of their head, and they also don’t want people to misinterpret those ideas.  I think that doing this is a mistake.

As readers, we don’t need to know everything about everything as soon as it is mentioned.  In fact, without any mystery, that quickly becomes boring.  Mystery keeps readers interested – we want to keep reading to find out if our imagination is correct.  If we already know the answer, why bother continuing to read?

Further… no matter how brilliant your ideas may be, they simply cannot compare to the imagination of an avid reader!  No matter how skillfully you write down those ideas, you simply cannot compare to the images in a dreaming head.  Imagination can produce everything you could possibly write… and much, much more.

Of course, you do want the story to go wherever you want it to go.  After all, it’s your story.  I’m not suggesting that you leave everything to the reader… just leave choice parts that allow you to stay in control.  Float your ideas around the story – allowing the reader to use their imagination at the same time.  This will result in a better reading experience.

You can see this tactic working all the time in successful stories:

  • In Harry Potter, Rowling had us all wondering whether Snape was good or bad, and also what had previously happened between him and Dumbledore.
  • In Star Wars, Lucas did not explain how Darth Vader came to be until the very last of his six movies.
  • In Lord of the Rings, Tolkien never told us where Sauron came from and how he became so evil (at least, not to my knowledge).

And so on.

Doing this in your own story is simple.  You obviously need to set the scene; that might mean describing the viewpoint character’s surroundings, their thoughts and feelings – anything along those lines is fine.  But don’t succumb to the temptation to fully explain past events, technology, or concepts.  Just mention them in your story a few times and leave it at that for a while.

This tactic is best used in casual conversation, because nobody in real life would explain things in detail during such a chat – they would assume that the other person already knew about it.  Or you could try not explaining how somebody has a particular skill.  Instead, just show them using that skill and let the reader wonder.  Actions speak louder than words!  Perhaps you have your own idea how to accomplish this in your writing, and many things could work, so go ahead and try.

As an extra benefit, this also allows you to tell further stories, explaining a back story in greater detail (either confirming the reader’s imagined story, or surprising them with something different).

By keeping people guessing about things that are not vital to the story being told, you allow their imagination to fill in those blanks – adding depth and intrigue to your tale.

Credit your reader with intelligence, and that intelligence will improve their reading experience.

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Concept Art #1

December 11, 2008 at 3:09 pm (Designs, The Story) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Just a quick post today.

I thought you might like to see some of the book’s concept art in 3D.  This is the face mask from Commander Triens.  And yes, his eyes do glow.



Want a better look?  Click on the picture to see it full-size!

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The First Rule of Storytelling

December 9, 2008 at 12:52 am (My Thoughts, Writing Tips) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In no particular order, my rules start today with number one on the list:

  • Do not focus your story on its concept and setting. 
  • Focus on the characters and their relationships.

Any good story has an interesting premise, adventure, and outcome.  For example, Mr. Smith must return his book to the library, but it’s too dangerous to go outside because wild animals roam the streets.  He must figure out a way to safely return the book.  That premise may be what interests a person to start reading it, but it’s not the reason why they will continue to read and become engrossed in what happens.

If you think about it, all stories are simply a telling of events.  Events, in turn, can only ever be about people and their reaction to these events.  If they are not about people, then readers won’t relate to them and will have no interest in what happens.  Any reader needs to relate to the characters in the story and hope that things turn out in the way that they want them to end.  So, the story needs to make the reader care what happens to the people involved in the adventure.

How do you make people care about your characters?  Easy.  Just give your characters real-life traits, but with enough variety to make them interesting.  Accentuate the differences with each character, and you will provoke an emotional response in the reader.  It doesn’t matter what type of emotion they feel, just as long as they feel some emotion. 

For example, when reading a story, you may hate a certain character because she is so selfish.  That’s okay, you’ll want to either see her change (by learning how to be unselfish) or see her be punished.  You may not love the character, but you still have an emotional response towards her when she is in a scene.  The worst characters are not those we hate, but those that we have no interest in whatsoever.

Make interesting characters come alive in your story, and your story will come alive to its reader.

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Book Title

December 7, 2008 at 6:30 am (Commercial, Designs, Information, My Thoughts, The Story) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

What’s in a name?

The story has been without a name for a very long time, so it’s time to give it some form of title.  Something to which I can always refer when talking about it.

But how important is the title anyway?  Certainly not as important as the story content, that’s a given.  But if it’s catchy and easy to remember, it’s more likely to stick in the memory.  Perhaps, if the title inspires you, you will be more likely to read the story itself.

But I’m not yet ready to name this particular book.  It’s the first of five, and they have to fit into a cohesive whole.

What I will do, is give the series a working title.  A name for the saga!  It may stick. Ultimately, it may change.  But for now, the series is to be known as…

Legends of the Future.

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It’s coming…

December 5, 2008 at 5:33 am (Information, My Thoughts, Writing Tips) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The story is moving along at pace, so I will have all sorts of things to tell you about in the coming months.

Next, I’ll post what I think are the best ten rules for writing a story.  I would be very interested to hear what you think about them.

Coming up, I also have concept designs of the main saga characters.  They are drawn by a fantastic new artist who, I think, is going to be famous.  You’re going to love his work.

Remember, we live our lives in a mirror.

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