Thursday, September 29, 2011

What Dreams May Come

I had a really strange dream.

Some of my friends dream their stories – at least a couple have solved plot problems, for instance.  More than once, someone has come up with an idea for a story in their dreams. 

Not me.  I had a dream for a Science Fiction Romance series.  Sort of like Firefly, the TV series with Nathan Fillion.  Le sigh.

I have no idea if I'm going to even write notes on this idea.  It was disjointed, there were three or four couples and each book in the series was the Romance of their story.  And I usually don't write Science Fiction.  Nothing against SF, but I deal with science in my day job, so writing is for a different sort of dream.

I think it means that I need to write, just write something new.  I've been involved in editing, reordering and analyzing my wip to get it ready to submit.  Using the left side of my brain for the most part.  Paying attention to the internal editor and ignoring my muse.

Well, the muse isn't terribly happy about it.  And she's decided to tell me stories in her sleep.

I still have some analysis to do – a crit that I promised.  But when it's done, I need to sit down and just write.

Have you dreamed story?

Photo: Dream Interrupted by Robert Couse-Baker.  Used under Creative Commons license

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Telling Details

Today in chat we were talking about how to convey culture (Hi Eb!), especially one that alien, either in SF or Fantasy, but it could just be an unfamiliar culture in our world.

The general consensus was that the way to do that was through details, but you had to know your culture fairly thoroughly to be able to pick the right details.

What I want to say here is that you also have to know what you want the scene to do, to choose the right details.  For instance, you can choose to describe a garden.  It's a good way to set a scene and it can be either a formal garden or a wild meadow or just a bunch of flowers near the kitchen door.

But if you want to add tension, say something about your POV character (by the sorts of things she notices) or foreshadow something, zoom in on a specific detail:

Yes, it's the same picture, just changing what I'm focusing on.

I make these changes and add the little details when I'm revising.  That way, I know better what I want each scene to do.

And now, a writing example:

Vidar stepped between him and the girl, black fury darkening his eyes.  I'd seen him in many moods, but never like this.  He didn't quite reach for his sword, but the fingers in his hand flexed and twitched.  All he needed was an excuse.

And the fool gave it to him, drawing his knife first.  Vidar narrowed his eyes and pulled his knife out slowly, leaving his sword in its scabbard.

"She's my bride.  I want her back."  He would have sounded more intimidating if his voice hadn't been shaking.

"No."  Light from the fire glinted off of Vidar's knife.

What kind of details do you use in describing your world?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why Buy?

A friend and I have decided that we need to know more about how to promote our books and stories.  Well, I've decided – she and I just talked about it.  And I don't have any books to promote, yet.  She's got some awesome stories on Circlet Press called The Moonlit Path (go here:  Note: it is Erotica.  You need to be 18 or older.

So, thinking about helping people to buy books, I started by thinking about what makes me buy anything.  What have I bought lately?  Well, in the past year and a half I've made some major purchases.

1)      A Car.  I had to because a tree fell on the old one. (See above.)
2)      A Stove. The old one was, well, old, and I didn't like it much.  Plus, they were having a sale on stoves.
3)      A mattress.  It was time.

I always comparison shop.  The one time I impulse bought a used car, I bought a lemon.  People would shake their heads in sympathy when they heard what kind of car it was. 

So why did I buy the things I did.

1)      I bought the same car that the tree killed.  It was a good car.
2)      I checked a couple of places for the stove, after I realized that everyone had stove sales on.  I went with the place my mother has used for years, on her recommendation.
3)      I tried a whole bunch of places and went where I could get the best mattress for the best price.

In doing this, I realized a couple of things:

Quality – If something is good quality, I'll go back and buy from them again.

Recommendation – If someone whose opinion I trust recommends something, I'll look closer.

Something I need – I wouldn't have bought the car or the mattress if I hadn't needed them.

Something I want – While I didn't need the stove right then, I wanted it.  And I bought the stove I wanted, with the features I wanted.

I bought these things from people who appreciated me and who didn't treat me as if I were brainless.  If they talked down to me, I left and didn't look back.

What does this mean?  Still working that out.  But, for me, the first thing is to give the best product possible.  To write the best book I possibly can.