A work-in-progress. No publication date set.
Read my flash fiction. On Lester D. Crawford Speculative Fiction, select Flash Fiction.
Origin of The Dragon Universe
I love science, science fiction, and fantasy. I always have. Nevertheless, it never occurred to me I could write it as a career. I had dabbled in writing stories for fun, but never considered it more than a hobby. Then along came the Internet and the methods it provided for sharing. I discovered people liked my fiction about Dragons, even as amateurish as it was. When career changes provided the opportunity to move into a new life, I had many options. I settled on pursuing a new career as a speculative fiction writer.
For years, I had successfully written technical documents and articles. What could be so hard about becoming serious about writing fiction? Everything. Fiction writing is not technical writing. Fiction requires a different skill set. I studied everything I could find to learn how to write quality fiction. I set a goal of 10 years, 10,000 hours, 1,000,000 words to hone my skills. I am not yet to the 10-year mark, but I have exceeded the 10,000 hours, and I have created nearly 1,000,000 words of trunk novel material. I am improving, but I still have more practice to do.
During those years of practice, experimentation, and development, I created the worlds, characters, and plots for The Dragon Universe. Initially, I imagined a single book, but I eventually realized the story was too large. Rather than lose the story's heart and soul by cutting it to an acceptable size, I split the five phases of the story into five books. When I finish with the current trunk novel version of the story, I will return to the beginning and apply everything I have learned to create a work of art.
I feel good about how well my writing skills have developed, I am pleased by how the story has evolved, and I am excited for what the future holds. While it is still a work-in-progress, The Dragon Universe is wonderful. Follow me on my journey by following me on my web pages, Facebook, and Twitter. When the final version of the books come to market, read them and let me know how I did.
Lester D. Crawford Blog
The Fairyland Series was a Wonderful Reading Experience
The Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente is a collection of five books, plus a prequel. For me, the whimsical imagery and narrative of the stories created a delightful adventure and was one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I have had.
Valente’s writing style in these stories is amazing. While I have no plans to ever try duplicating the style, I wish I had the skill and talent to do so. I am inspired to use what skill and talent I do have to create my own wondrous worlds even if they are not as magical as Valente’s.
Those of you who are just like me* will also enjoy these stories.
(* I am one in a million. That means there are more than 7,300 people just like me. Are you one of them?)
This is A-Through-L. He is a "Wyverary." His mother was a wyvern and his father was a library.
A-Through-L may not be a Dragon, but I love him just the same.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
The Boy Who Lost Fairyland
The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home
The Girl Who Ruled Fairylandâ€”For a Little While
(This is the short prequel published by Tor.com. You can read it at the link.)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making — Book Trailer
Inspiration Is Exhilarating
Often I speak about inspiration. That’s because moments of inspiration provide me the thrill that keeps me hooked on writing. Few experiences are more exhilarating than being inspired.
I needed inspiration. For a few days, I had struggled with a scene whose conflict was failing. My idea for the scene was wrong, which kept it from achieving its purpose. I could not find the actions and emotions to make it work. The characters’ motivations did not fit the situation and their behaviors did not lead to the desired revelation. Then I went to see Zootopia.
I enjoyed Zootopia. I recommend you see it.
In one scene, the two main characters exchanged two lines of dialogue that caused my mind minions to explode. An entire, fully detailed, exquisitely tuned scene came to me that was exactly what I needed for this precise moment in my story. I was ecstatic. I have yet to quit bubbling. After the movie was over, I rushed home and wrote, creating a scene that not only hits the proper action beats, but it hits the emotional beats perfectly to strengthen the relationship between my two main characters. All I had needed was the flash of insight those two lines of dialogue provided me.
I look forward to the next great moment of inspiration.
Character Change Arcs
Character change arcs are important. The character begins with a set of personality attributes and beliefs. As the story progresses, the character faces conflicts, internal and/or external, that challenge how he or she behaves and/or what he or she believes. Ultimately, those challenges cause the character to change. A character change arc might be as simple as a coward who becomes a hero.
I’m not going to delve into the subtle details of how to manage character change arcs. I only want to mention a concept I find useful.
Thirty years ago, in what was back then a fad, my employer strived to improve teamwork and productivity by providing training in interpersonal relations and working with others as a team. One training opportunity was the viewing of a video by Morris Massey.
Massey’s idea was that a person’s core beliefs and values form in childhood. To change those core beliefs and values in adulthood requires a “Significant Emotional Event,” an event that exceeds the person’s capacity to cope.
Ever since watching the video, the concepts presented have given me a tool for understanding people. Now that I write science fiction/fantasy, those concepts apply to my character change arcs.
A character change arc may follow the story from beginning to end as an integral part of the plot, or it could act as if it were a sub-story within the greater story. Either way, the concepts of story structure apply to the change arc. The point in the character change arc’s story structure where I invoke a Significant Emotional Event is at the plot point that begins the third act.
For example, in my current work-in-progress, over the course of five books, one character has been struggling with his core beliefs. He has dealt with his guilt by justifying the violations as necessary, or finding excuses for committing the violations, or simply ignoring that he is violating his core beliefs. The guilt weighs heavily upon him, but he keeps his core beliefs intact until an additional incident causes him to exceed his capacity to cope, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. He then admits that his life has been a lie, accepts that his core beliefs are wrong, and he changes.
The next time you work on a character change arc, consider the Significant Emotional Event that triggers the final change in your character.
The attached chart was inspired by what I have learned over the years about character change arcs. I use this chart to remind myself what to consider when working on character change arcs.
Fulfilling Promises to the Reader
A writer creates reader expectations by what events, characters, or aspects of the story he or she chooses to describe. When those promises are made, the writer is obligated to fulfill them. Not fulfilling promises will leave the reader dissatisfied, which is not the way to build a fan base.
The How to Train Your Dragon book series by Cressida Cowell begins with “There were dragons when I was a boy.” That is a promise. What could it mean and will I be grief-stricken when I learn the answer?
For twelve books, I followed the story and worried about how the series would end. When the end came, the promise was fulfilled. Without giving spoilers, let me say that I cried, but I was satisfied with the answer.
by Lester D. Crawford
Red and green and silver and gold he was, unlike normal dragons who were red or green or silver or gold. He was a Christmas Dragon. Moreover, unlike normal dragons who had only dragon magic, he also had Christmas Magic.
Santa imprisoned the Christmas Dragon in an icy dungeon beneath his North Pole palace. Once a year, he used the dragon’s magic to make reindeer fly.
Then, global climate change melted the dungeon and the dragon escaped Santa’s claws. Without the Christmas Dragon’s magic, Santa could not fly, could not deliver gifts.
That was the end of receiving Christmas presents.
I wrote this story for the Advent Ghosts 2015 Flash Fiction challenge organized by Loren Eaton of the I Saw Lightning Fall blog.
Every story in Advent Ghosts must be exactly 100 words in length.
To see the stories others entered in the challenge, visit Advent Ghosts 2015: The Stories.