Feb 02 2012

Using A Bit Player To Reinforce A Point

Posted by Mathias

I’ve begun to revisit my novel Under The Darkened Moon. I know I last said that I was going to do some free writing exercises and post them here. However due to some computer an server issues this past week getting online has been problematic.

So instead of pulling my hair out over those things I went back to something I already had started. I have nearly done a full rough edit of the novel, finding some major things that needed work including plot holes and inconsistencies you could drive a MAC truck through sideways and taken care of them. Other items I marked for review and further pondering. Now I am nearing the end of the novel and I am struggling with the way it was originally written. Towards the end of the novel I introduce a couple new characters who are just really bit players in the story. They are not there for the reader to become attached to. Although each has their purpose they roughly appear for no more than 50 pages of overall story.

One of these characters I introduce to show and reinforce in the minds of the reader the concept of the racism that exists in the world from humans directed at elves. Throughout the book up to this point the reader experiences this racism through the POV of the main character which is third person limited in nature. The main character’s friend who appears in many scenes with him serves as the major conduit for the expression of this racism throughout the novel previously. But by introducing a second character whom the main character interacts with on a similar level, while at the same time removing the original character who expressed these feelings, I originally felt that this reinforced this part of the story. It was meant to get the reader to understand that this racism is much deeper than just one particular character. While this is implied often throughout the story there is never the other heavy handed antagonist to reinforce it.

Now however I am not so sure about this tactic. This character’s part in the story is so small that it almost seems out of place and awkward. But at the same time it still seems to convey larger sentiments that I wanted conveyed.

I will have to ponder whether or not the introduction of this bit player at such a late point in the story is good for the overall story or not. I still think it is but I am not as sure of it as I once was.

Dec 28 2011

It’s A Fantasy Novel, NOT An RPG!

Posted by Mathias

A friend, who recently found out that I was getting into fantasy writing, approached me with some material he too had written and wanted some advice. As if I, as an unpublished author struggling with my own work, am someone to be giving advice, right? Anyway, after about one hundred pages it became clear to me what was keeping me from actually reading his story through to the end; it read like a RPG game not a novel.

I will use the example of Skyrim, since that is the game I am currently playing and it is a constructed like a fairly typical RPG video game. In games like Skyrim you have the overall story arc but it is constantly interrupted by a myriad of tedious, although often compelling, but also at times repetitive side arcs, tasks, and quests. You are trudging through the icy wilderness of Skyrim headed towards the next point of the major story arc when BLAM you stumble on some caves or ruins. Sure, you COULD just ignore them, but you also know how quickly you can gain some much needed levels by clearing out this little distraction, mining out all the corpses for every last bit of loot to sell in town, and then use the gold you get in return to hammer out hundreds upon hundreds of steel daggers which will increase your smithing skill (and hence further increasing your levels). So you ignore the main quest and spend the next hour killing frost spiders, draugrs, and what not.  Then you spend the next hour after that crafting in town before heading back out and stumbling upon yet another distraction (ie. another dungeon location) where you wash, rinse and repeat. This is the way RPG games work.  It is tried and true. (more…)

Dec 01 2011

“Under The Darkened Moon” Pacing

Posted by Mathias

I’ve been working on my novel “Under the Darkened Moon”, a sequel, if you will, to my short story “Second Chances”. Having completed the first draft, I am now editing it.

I have been having trouble getting the timing down and pacing the start of the story. While there was action early on, things seemed slow and I, as the author, was getting bored. If I am getting bored by the pace, I worry that the reader would have the same experience.

One thing that seemed to stand out was that the slowness seemed to stem from the length of the chapters, about 20-30 pages. They were that size because I was clustering events and scenes that happened within a day of each other as entire chapters separated by scene changes denoted by “* * *” breaks.

So, chapter 1 for example, consisted of three scene changes, the day the story starts, the next day’s morning then that next day’s evening. Chapter two then picked up three days later. I have, right now, split the first chapter into two completely different chapters so that now chapter 1 is the day the story begins and chapter 2 is the next day’s morning with a scene change to that evening. Chapter 2, or at least the start thereof, now is chapter 3.

By doing this, and maybe I am just fooling myself into thinking this, the story seems to move better and flow faster and smoother with shorter chapters. It is almost like the white space that follows the end of one chapter before the next chapter starts on the next page, despite being a break, causes everything to sound better.

Don’t know if I will continue down this path, but it seems to be working and the story seems more energetic and fluid.

Oct 30 2011

Evolution Of A Fantasy Name

Posted by Mathias

When I write, I don’t like to get hung up on petty things.  Like names, for example.

Names are everywhere in a fantasy story and names are, ultimately an important part of the story.  Unless you are writing some sort of comedic fantasy, it is hard to take a take a sorcerer named Tim seriously.  This is why just such a name for just such a character is used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

But while names are indeed important, they are not something that cannot change. And they are one of the easiest things to change in a story.  We’re not talking about some underlying piece of fundamental physics governing the fantasy world in question where deciding to change it half way through a 400 page novel would require massive amounts of rewriting.  We are talking about a name.

In one of my projects which are in development, I had a particular city that when I first named it as Reisen just never felt right.  Every time I said it, it grated on my mind.  Reisen?  I hated it. But it was a minor part of the story. In fact, it was only mentioned once in the whole story!  But because I had drawn the map of my fantasy world and Reisen was on that map, every time I looked at the map for something else I saw that damned named staring back at me.           (more…)

Jul 19 2011

Initial Project “Dark Moon” Begun

Posted by Mathias

I’ve named my first project, preliminarily, “Dark Moon”. This name has significance to the world I have created and also the story that is swirling around in my head.

I will be tracking the progress of this story in future postings as well as under the projects section of this site.

Jul 19 2011

I’ve Got A Basic Story Forming

Posted by Mathias

I have been sitting down the past few nights scribbling on paper. Many of the notes are about the world I am creating. I was pretty amazed at how organically the world has sprung up. And right there in the overall world history an idea for a story popped out. Actually it is a variant of the backstory I wrote for one of my favorite characters in the MMORPG Everquest years ago. But it seems to fit this new world with a few tweaks to it. So I am heading down that path.

I wrote the first page just about an hour ago just to see how things worked and to put something onto paper. No name for the project yet. That will hopefully come.