Friday, May 30, 2014

It's My World and I'll Build it Anyway I Want! Not!

   I know most, if not all of these things, have been written about many times but it helps me to remember, as I'm world building, by repeating them.
   Unless you are writing a science fiction story based on a starship in deep space, your world will be similar to our own. Therefore it needs to follow the same basic rules of nature and science. Some of you might say, "That's obvious," but I have read some stories where that wasn't the case and they suffered for it.
   I believe writers who live above the equator naturally place their story in the northern hemisphere of their world. Subsequently, the farther north you go, the colder it gets and if your characters travel far south, the world becomes hotter. The opposite is true if you live in the southern hemisphere. No matter where you live, the higher in elevation you go, the colder it will become. Rivers always flow downhill from the source, either in the mountains or a tropical location with lots of rainfall and end up in an ocean or sea.
   For a world to be believable, there should be areas of agriculture to provide food and forest lands for building materials of wood and stone. Rivers, lakes and oceans all provide a source of food, an avenue for travel and provide a source of power, be it electrical or to drive a mill.
   I find it very helpful, as I'm developing a story, to have a notepad with a basic map of the world so I can fill in areas as the story progresses. If your character needs to travel from point A to point B, you will see that they might need to cross a mountain range or a large river. These are perfect places for things to go wrong and challenge your character, making the story more interesting.
   Bottom line is your world needs to be realistic and familiar to the reader. My personal opinion is that the best stories are character driven, based in a familiar world, so the reader can relate.
   There are probably some of you who may disagree. If you do, I would love to hear your opinions. I'll never be too old to learn something new.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Characters in a supporting role.

Not being a published author, I refrain from writing posts on how to write a successful story. However, as an avid reader for fifty plus years, I feel qualified to write about what makes a story stick with me like a hot bowl of oatmeal on a cold winter day.

Strong secondary characters form the foundational framework to support the main character during whatever trials and tribulations he/she must face to be successful. None of us go through life completely alone and without support. Even the lowly dandelion seed must rely on the support of the wind to carry it to its new destination or it would simply fall to the ground accomplishing nothing.

Supporting characters need to fulfill a variety of roles. They should be there to lift up the main character when he/she fails. An understanding mentor who can teach them what they can't learn on their own is sometimes needed. I always enjoy a character capable of providing some comic relief to overcome those parts of a story that can mire us in sorrow.

Typically, the main character is someone who does not want to do what's necessary and it's up to the secondary characters to push/pull or even trick him/her into action. They can consist of family, friends or just someone met along the way.

Of all the stories I've read, the ones with a strong cast of supporting characters are the most memorable. My favorite series of all time, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, has so many secondary characters, I lost count!

This is just my opinion, of course, but I think a well thought out cast of supporting characters will make any story more memorable.

Thanks for taking the time to read. As always, any comments or opinions are welcomed.

Friday, May 2, 2014

If you think you don't need a developemental editor, think again!

    For those of you who have read some of my blogs in the past, you know I don't waste everyone's time posting what I had for breakfast or what kind of trouble my cats have gotten into. I write blogs about experiences that have had an impact on me and that might be of interest or benefit to others.
    This blog is about the importance of interacting with a developmental editor before you thrust your literary masterpiece on an unsuspecting world.
    I've recently undergone an enjoyable and informative session with R.J. Blain who graciously accepted the task of looking over a short story I wrote some time ago. Even though she is busy with her own projects, I needed something to help me get past a slump in my writing and R.J. provided just that spark.
    I must say that I was apprehensive and a little skeptical over having someone look at a piece that has been critiqued and edited several times already. Could she actually make it better or just different? Would hers just be another opinion on how the story should read? We all know what they say about opinions, (they are like a...holes, everybody has one).
    Even though my short story was fairly well written, R.J. found several areas where timing and story flow were off. Her suggestions on making certain scenes stronger were right on and she found several inconsistencies that others had missed.
   Needless to say, I am pleased with the outcome. Working with R.J. on this short piece was a pleasure and a learning experience. I would certainly recommend that any serious writer work with a developmental editor and R.J. Blain would be my first recommendation.
    Remember, you want your story to be the best it can be.
    Happy writing!