Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Surprise me with your characters.

   Lately, I have seen a number of posts dealing with character development. They reminded me of my old role playing days where you took a premade character sheet, and filled in all the details of how you wanted your character to look and act. Some people have even gone so far as to interview their characters to find out about their lives. I have no desire, nor do I feel it's necessary to write a biography on each character. Some writers are so enamored with the characters they've created, they want to share everything there is to know about them.
   As a reader, I like to be able to use my imagination, and flesh out a character as I join them in their journey. It gets frustrating when I imagine a characters traits early in the story, only to have the writer throw those conceptions out the window later on.
 My thoughts on character development follow the same course as my feelings toward plotting. If you lock your character into a preset model, you take away the spontaneity and freedom to act in unexpected ways. The extent of my planning may involve several pages of where the story begins, who the main characters are, and what they need to accomplish to finish the story. What happens in between results in the wild ride I experience as new characters appear and entertain me.
   As an example, in my epic fantasy, I had planned simply for young Navon to leave home, and rescue a young street-wise girl being attacked by outlaws. When he first entered the forest, large wolves appeared in his path. Wolves, really? I had never imagined wolves being involved in the story, but they have added a wonderful new dimension to the story and aided in Navon's development. After successfully dealing with the wolves, Navon is confronted, not by a street-wise kid, but a mature, magical figure who is there to protect him from evil forces he wasn't yet aware of.
   If I had ignored the wolves because they didn't fit into the original plot, or stuck with the street kid, I feel the overall story would have suffered. I love to meet new characters, but just give me the basics. Are they young and na├»ve, old and experienced, short, tall, etc. I have an active imagination, and love to use it.
   I'm only sharing what works for me. If you love to plot and write character bio's, more power to you. There are just as many correct ways to write as there are writers. Find what works best for you, and practice it to perfection.
   Thanks for taking the time to read!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

No Politics or Religion Here

   I have decided that the purpose of my blog will be to share some of my writing. I already share parts of my WIPs on WattPad and Saturdayscenes, so here you will find little snippets I use for character development, or like today, scenes out of my fanfic that will never see the light of day because of copyright issues. That's fine. I'm writing it solely for my own enjoyment, since I love the story so much.
   This is a blog about fantasy fiction, so you will never see a post on politics or religion. I have no problem discussing my views with someone who is serious, and not just looking for a name calling contest. I might offer an opinion on a particular writing technique, or lament the trials and tribulations of trying to create quality stories, but that's about it.
   If you're not familiar with the story my fanfic is based on, sorry but it would take more than a blog post to explain it to you. Hopefully you will like my voice and style. For those of you familiar with the story, I hope you will get some small enjoyment out of this.
   Thanks for your time!

                                                               *           *           *

   Perrin stopped a few paces from the Wise Ones, and swiftly sorted through the aroma of emotions that emanated from each of them. Sorilea’s were easy to pick out, not only because she was foremost in the group, but because they were the strongest. Determination was the most prominent, which he expected, but what he didn’t expect was a certain amount of uncertainty. Well, these were uncertain times, so maybe it wasn’t that surprising after all. The others put off such a jumble of emotions, it didn’t really tell him anything at all.

   “I see you, Sorilea of Clan Shande. May you always find water and shade. It isn’t much, but I offer you the shade of my tent and water to share.”

   Pleasantly surprised by his traditional Aiel greeting, Sorilea graciously tipped her head and replied in kind. “I see you Perrin Aybara. May you always find water and shade. The traditional guest gift I have for you may not be what you want, but I offer it regardless. Several clan Chiefs and their Wise Ones have approached me with the idea of serving under the Banner of one of the Wetlander Kings. Many of the Brotherless, and even several small Septs of the Shaido, who were unhappy with the leadership of Savanna, have contacted me with the same desire. Do not treat this lightly, Perrin Aybara. If you accept this gift, it will be for life. They will become your people and give up being Aiel.”

   The mood turned somber as the import of Sorilea’s words penetrated the thoughts of all gathered there. This cannot be my ta’veren nature at work here, Perrin thought. This was much deeper than that. The fate of an entire nation was at stake. No wonder she had smelled uncertain. Sorilea understood that if they survived the Last Battle, a new Age would come and the Aiel would have no purpose in it. Their numbers would dwindle and eventually die away. Could he provide the leadership and protection they would require?

   “Bloody ashes, woman. This is a heavy responsibility you have presented to me, but I gladly accept. I believe that I understand your reasoning and I agree. I give you my oath, that in the hope of my salvation and rebirth under the Light, I, Perrin Aybara will lead and protect all of my people to the best of my ability. Now I ask of you another gift in return. There are thousands of Aiel warriors who are serving their time as gai’shain. I ask that you release them from their servitude for the duration of the upcoming battle. Every spear will be needed, Sorilea. It bothers me that we may lose a battle because some of our best warriors are serving tea or washing clothes somewhere.”

   Before she could answer, a ray of sunshine broke through the clouds to the north and a perfect circle of blue sky spread out from that ray. A soft breeze sprang up, carrying the scents of green and growing plants. The grass at their feet slowly turned from a yellowish brown to a bright green and started growing taller. It was one thing to hear the stories of how Rand affected the land around him, but to actually witness it was something else. It gave Perrin a renewed sense of hope and strength.

   Turning away from the sight and adjusting the shawl on her shoulders, Sorilea narrowed her eyes. “You are uncommonly wise for a Wetlander, Perrin Aybara. The gai’shain never entered my mind. If they survive, they can always go back to their easy life. I will send out the word right away.”

   “Thank you, I think,” Perrin snorted. “You’re pretty wise for a Wise One yourself. Now, I’m sure you wish to meet with the Wise Ones who just arrived and I need to go to Rand. Edarra, I must ask you to welcome the new Aiel to our camp, get them settled, and tell them I will meet with them later.”

   Turning back to study his old friend for a moment, Perrin continued. “Gaul my good friend, as a personal favor to me, will you meet with the Brotherless and find out who leads them? Tell them that if they don’t have a leader, I will give them one.”

   “Dealing with the Brotherless will be distasteful, Perrin Aybara, but you have just given me back my sanity by having Bain and Chiad released from being my gai’shain. Maybe now I can have some peace.”

   Sorilea walked away laughing and called back over her shoulder. “May you always find water and shade, Perrin Aybara.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

At Least I'm Still Writing

   OK, enough with the whining and complaining that's been happening the last several weeks on my blog. The reality of living with bi-polar depression is that I have to wait until I'm back on an up cycle before anything positive will come out of my pen.
   As you may remember, I love to write about characters and character driven stories in a fantasy setting. The magic in my stories is generic. I don't develop complex, logical magic systems that follow precise rules and specific energy sources. Some of my fight scenes may not be totally accurate, but for me, that is not critical to the story. It is all about the characters.
   I also tend to read visually, and therefore try to write the same way. A story with page after page of dialogue drives my crazy because there is nothing to inspire a picture of the scene in my mind. On the other hand, pages of description forces me to see things and doesn't allow my imagination to come into play. It also breaks any connection I had to the characters.
   I try very hard to walk that fine line where there is just enough description to invoke a readers imagination, and the dialogue will open up a window into the characters personality. Your idea of a beautiful sunset may be different than mine, so why should I try and force you to see it the way I do. Granted, while writing fantasy, there will always be a little extra description because my world is not entirely similar to our own.
   This week I wanted to share a little scene that popped into my head while looking at a picture. Even though it is short, I hope I was able to convey the different personalities of the characters, and develop a picture in your mind. Thanks for taking the time to read.

The rays of the early morning sun filtered down from the forest canopy high above to light the way for two un-likely friends.

“Floxie, why do you insist on dragging me out so early in the morning? You know I hate getting my paws wet and who knows what kind of little surprises the birds have left for me to step in.”

“Oh hush, silly. You know we have to be at Wizard Zolars’ early or we won’t get any treats.”

“Fine, but do you have to ride on my back the whole way? Those feet of yours are almost as big as mine and perfectly good for walking. The day you learn how to use those silly things on your back you call wings, I will be one happy feline.”

Floxie’s high spirits threatened to plummet as she thought about her wings. Why couldn’t she figure out how to make the stupid things work. There are two constants among pixies; they have big feet and they can fly. Was there something wrong with her?

As soon as they stepped out of the forest and onto the stones leading to the Wizard’s cottage, Mr. Whiskers began to shake his paws vigorously to dry them off. Floxie hopped down, her head hung low, still thinking about the uselessness of her wings.

The Wizard stepped out of his cottage and came forward to meet them. He bent down and cupped his hand so Floxie could climb on. He raised her up to where his star filled, bright blue eyes could lock onto hers’ and drew her in.

“Floxie, I have a very special treat for you. Today you will learn how to fly!”

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Let's face it, I'm getting old.

   Last week, my best friend from the Navy contacted me after 40 yrs. He found me on Facebook, and sent a message with his phone number. I called and we decided to get together on Sunday at my home. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. We last saw each other in 1975 when I left the ship for another duty station, and he planned on getting out and moving back to Illinois.
   It's one thing to grow old with someone you see on a regular basis. The changes are gradual, and never really sink in to your awareness. When you have a picture in your mind's eye of how a person looked forty years ago, and see them for the first time, all those subtle changes come crashing home. He is an old man! I am older than he, and the realization struck that this must be how others see me.
   I'm sure some of you can relate, and have probably already made this discovery. For me, it is a hard pill to swallow. I have always thought of myself as young looking, and I don't think about things any differently than I did years ago. Now I have to wonder, should I grow up and start thinking differently?
   I dug out a bunch of old Super 8 movies taken during our time in Vietnam, and on liberty in the Philippines and Hong Kong. The number of years that had passed became obvious as some of the film had deteriorated to the point you couldn't tell what was on them. While we watched the ones that were still good, it also became obvious how much the years had deteriorated the two of us.
   While I will be forever thankful that we got the chance to reminisce about old times, and refresh each other's memory of names of old shipmates, some of whom are no longer with us, and the places we visited, the loss of our youth hit hard. I'm not sure if we will get together again anytime soon as I, for one, have a lot to think about. The fantasy of my life has reached a crossroads, and I don't have enough time left for anymore wrong turns.
   Should I continue to pursue my writing, and try to put more energy, that I feel I no longer have, into it or just let it go? I just don't know anymore.
   Thanks for listening.