Saturday, February 25, 2012

When Worlds Collide ... or Fantasy Versus Reality

I wonder how any author of science fiction, or specifically of fantasy, feels when writing a script with a fantasy world setting. How comfortable are they when creating those details of setting, like how the "world" looks, or the way people dress, or even more daunting, putting them in action, i.e. what they may do that's so illogical compared to our way of doing things. Obviously, there must be some point in the writing process where the creation becomes familiar and comfortable ... but when?

The reason I am dwelling on this lately is because of the story I am working on ... Alice in Realityland. Alice must bounce back and forth between her reality and a fantasy world. Creating that fantasy world is totally mindbending! And I haven't reached a point where I'm thinking it's comfortable. So, of course, I start to doubt my creative ability and rethink what I'm writing. But I am ignoring the itch to change it, figuring to just plug along, waiting for that everything-will-click moment, and praying it will come.

This is a totally different experience from writing Not So Snow White  which has some magic in it, along with witches and fairies, but still taking place in our world. So, I wonder about all those other fantasy writers and how they think it through. Any of you reading this, please chime in with your thoughts. I'd love to hear them!

Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes
Cinderella Geek

Friday, February 17, 2012

Posting Pot Pourri ... a Little of This, Little of That

My mind is rambling with its thoughts. So, I'm going to plant some of them here and see what grows :-) One website that's "wordy" and just for fun ... Wordle Clouds where you can create cool designs by placing a series of words in the box. Change the font, the color scheme, etc. to tickle your fancy and ... voila! You have an artistic creation of your writing creation to enjoy.

Actually, my only gripe about it was if you put in too many words, it only spits back a visual with the most used words. Huh ... don't get that. Maybe I just need more playtime to get better results. Anyway, enjoy!

Best time to write ... I always wonder how other people do this. I personally think my creative juices are going at warp speed first thing in the morning and then again very late at night. No rhyme or reason to it. How about you?

Nightmare of writing ... I have it. Everytime I finish a book, I fear I can never do it again. And then I do. Grrrrr. And I don't think I will ever get past this. Even if I manage to get fifty books under my belt (don't think I have enough time in this world to do this, though), I still will have that fear. How about you?

Short but sweet, that's it for now. Good luck with your writing and keep those fingers tapping on those keys!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pointing in the Right Direction: The Open University -- Try It for Free and Other Things

Just wanted to share a couple of sites that might be of interest to both writers and everybody else!

1) This is a free-to-try item. The Learning Space writing course posted on Open University.
Read about how to set up (or improve) characters and settings, and learn the differences between various genres (and how to make those differences work for you). The nominal time for taking the course is 12 hours, but you're free to work at your own pace. You can find a printable word version of the entire course here on the site too. (ePub and html print versions are also available--right under the course contents you'll find a "printable version" link, with a little arrow underneath saying, "alternative formats".)  -- Writing World
I am always looking for new information and when it's free to try ... makes it all the more inviting! Anyway, I am definitely going to take a closer look. Maybe you will do the same ;-) Let me know what you think.

2) And then ... for those who haven't heard of Dropbox, it's an online ("cloud") storage service that allows you to easily share documents, photos, and other files with friends. You can also sync your files over multiple devices (currently, the service also
supports iPhones, iPads, Android phones and Blackberry phones). Think of it as your invisible flash drive that goes everywhere with you. Free accounts start with 2GB of storage, but you get additional free space for every friend you refer.   -- Writing World

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Using the Past Perfect ... i.e. What Happened Before the Other Thing Happened

A few months ago, I received feedback from an editor on a manuscript I submitted. She asked if I would change at least half of the highlighted passive verbs and replace them with more active, descriptive verbs. To my overwhelming dismay, I found over 1,000 highlights and realized I really faced an eye-popping, finger-cramping task.

Now, the thing is that a good many of these involved the past perfect and wouldn't be necessarily labeled passive, but can make writing a bit cluttered when overdone. This is where I move on over into my teacher mode and say that if used wisely and sparingly, the past perfect is an effective tool.

It can introduce a flashback without using trite, boring phrases such as "It was several weeks ago" or "I remember the time when". For instance, "Mary had buried the shoebox under the oak tree. She died the next winter and we realized that her secret might never be told. But then, Max dug a hole to bury his bone and found the box, which he carried proudly in his mouth to the front door..."

Note, I only used the past perfect -- had buried -- once, and then the rest of the verbs remained in the past tense. It does the job and remains clear and tight.

Now, if you are using the verb "to have" -- I have, I have had, I had had; or "to be" -- I was, I had been, then you probably want to change all or most of them to more descriptive and concise verbs. For example, "he had the answer to her problem" could easily be replaced with "he discovered the answer to her problem." Or ... "the bird had a wingspan of at least five feet" could be changed to "the bird carried a wingspan of at least five feet."

I think that it takes practice to defeat the use of "lazy" passive verbs. Sometimes, like in my case, you might not even realize you are using them. Do a word search and tally them up, then toss a good deal of them out! Your writing and stories will thank you :-)

Happy writing!

Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes
Oklahoma's Gold
Not So Snow White
Cinderella Geek