A work-in-progress. No publication date set.
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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
Planning and Plotting Better
As I near the midpoint of book five, I’m evaluating what I’ve learned about the craft of writing and about my story. I had written the majority of what is now book three before I decided the story had five phases that could each stand alone. Also, by splitting the story, I could keep the word count reasonable for each book instead of having a book the size only certain authors can get away with. One result of this decision was the need to rework each book to make their structures standalone.
Years of study and practice has increased my understanding and skill with story structure and character change arcs. Redesigning my story using that knowledge will improve the story, but the skill is not necessarily reflexive. To some extent, my innate story telling ability has served me, but to do better, I must think instead of relying on instincts.
I created a chart to help me visualize my goal of creating well structured standalone books yet have them progress in an overall series structure and to prompt me to envision how character change arcs apply to the books and the series. The chart isn’t spectacular, but I find it useful to stare at as my mind explores possibilities.
This is only a beginning, though. The next step is to document what my explorations reveal and plan how to pace the plot and change arcs across the terrain of each book and the series. How I handle the next step may become a blog post in the future.
Enhancing my Skills by Reading the Best
C. J. Cherryh is a fascinating author. A while back, I read The Morgaine Stories (Gate of Ivrel, Well of Shiuan, Fires of Azeroth, and Exile’s Gate). Her use of tight third-person point-of-view impressed me. For me it was the tightest third-person I had ever read and felt as if it were first-person using third-person pronouns. Her skills at world building and creating characters also impressed me. Reading those stories, I learned techniques that helped me improve my writing.
Cherryh’s Cyteen also struck me as incredible in its world building and characters. The story left me thinking about nature versus nurture and what makes each of us what we are. I am still working on how to apply those insights to my own stories. I need to read Regenesis, the next book in the series.
Currently, I’m finishing up The Nighthorse Series a.k.a. The Finisterre Series, or The Rider Series (Rider at the Gate and Cloud’s Rider). Again I’m impressed, even awed. I see these stories as having a tight third-person voice, yet at moments, information is exposed in a tone that verges on omniscient. Those moments are so well integrated they flow flawlessly without knocking me out of the tight third-person perspective. Cherryh’s use of language and her sentence structures also impresses me.
While my voice is nothing like Cherryh’s, and I will never be able to write like her, or want to write like her since her style does not suit my voice, I am improving my craft skills by reading her work. More C. J. Cherryh books that will enhance my skills sit ready to read in my To Read pile.
by Lester D. Crawford
“We’ll never escape that hungry dragon. It’s my nose. Hide Hermey. Hide Yukon. I’ll lead it away.”
He dashed across the snowy meadow away from his friends who hid in a snow bank.
He was a reindeer. He could fly. He could and would out fly the dragon. He leaped into the sky, but a snap of the dragon’s jaws caught him.
The reindeer quickly slid down the dragon’s throat, a red glow in the dragon’s neck showing his progress until it became a wiggling glow shining through the dragon’s belly.
Hermey said, “Let’s hope for good weather this year.”
This story is for the Advent Ghosts 2016 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 2016: The Stories.
Inspired To Be the Best Me I Can Be
A while back, I read several short stories by Ted Chiang. The stories overwhelmed me with their magnitude, complexity, and depth of concepts making me feel inadequate as a writer. Surprisingly, that did not undermine my desire to be a writer. Chiang’s stories are the product of genius, and hard work. I may not have the genius, but I can work hard. I like what I write. I will never be a Chiang, but I am inspired to be the best me I can be.
The movie Arrival (2016) is based on Chiang’s story Story of Your Life, which was one of the stories that had wowed me. The movie, even with the changes made to turn it into a movie, was as intellectually thrilling as the short story.
I suggest seeing Arrival and if you want to read Chiang’s first eight short stories, check out Stories of Your Life and Others. You too will be inspired to be the best you you can be.
Interruptions Interfere with Introspection
To write, I need uninterrupted time. Time to think. Time to imagine. Time for introspection to bring forth the thoughts and emotions that will fill the written page. My mind enters a state of flow and the story unfolds and streams into existence.
Interruptions intrude into my day and break the flow preventing the story from streaming forth. Frustration and anger at the interruptions and their sources are the result.
Even with the distractions, I write. In these circumstances, I will write a paragraph, or sometimes only a sentence, but I will write. Thought out, planned, and outlined, I know where the story is going and what happens next at any particular point. This allows me to write the next few words even if I don’t have time to issue forth the next hundreds or thousands of words.
Another task I perform in these moments is editing. I return to words already written and tweak them striving to improve the writing and to enhance my skills so I will write better the next time.
One of my editing steps is to search for occurrences of words from my list of problem words. This leads me to places in the prose where I can improve sentence structure and conciseness. In the past, I searched the document by doing a find on each word one word at a time. That was slow and tedious. To enhance the process, I created a Word macro that highlights the words from my list and words ending with ly. Creating the macro was fun, but interrupted my writing time.
A future enhancement to my macro will highlight with different colors the words from my list, and the ly words, based on why the words are on the list. Doing that enhancement will again interrupt my writing time. It seems I cannot escape interruptions.