Tag Archives: Writers Resources

Data Dumps

You have a great idea for a fantasy. There are four hominoid races that range from almost good but a little more on the bad side to very good, practically angelic. There are also corruptions of two of the races that are evil.  Of course there are also wizards that really don’t make a race, but are different from the others.  Plus, of course a handful of intelligent and semi-intelligent creatures and monsters, like dragons. They all have their own cultures, religions, myths, personality traits, physical characteristics, ways they use magic (or don’t), etc. And, of course, the world has a rich 10,000 year history plus the “Age of Myth and Legend” which gives another 25,000 years.

So there is all of that detail in your story.  But then we get to the story itself. Hold, though, we need even more detail… Continue reading

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Today’s Editing – Another Show vs. Tell Post

I am currently doing a few editing run-throughs of my novellas targeting some very specific problems relating to “show vs. tell”. Yes, this is a huge topic and many words have been written about it, but I just want to talk a little bit about what I am specifically targeting right now.

There may be technical names for the various types of “telling”.  I’m not sure.  There are two variations that I am looking at, though I will mention a third as well. Here is an example of the first:

The sun was bright causing a blinding glare from the desert.  John was hot, tired and thirsty.  He knew that if he didn’t find shelter soon that he would most likely die.

Yeah, not great writing, but that is not the problem.  I could dress this up and try hiding the “tell” quality in a fancy wrapper, but if it basically boils down to, “the sun was bright, it is hot and John I tired,” it is pure “tell”. A possible solution might be: Continue reading

Writing Exercises and POV (Part 1)

Lost Star

When I first started this blog I did a series of writing exercises.  Every now and again I do more.  I’m not talking about just following the various challenges, like Friday Fictioneers or Sue’s #writephoto, I am talking about experimenting.  As anyone who read the story I posted yesterday, Honor, knows, I am doing a bit of experimentation again. This time it was triggered by the Ursula K. Le Guin’s book Steering the Craft, which I received for Christmas.

Point of View (POV) and tense are two big choice any writer has to make when starting a story.  They are also areas that are very easy to screw up.  Before i started a blog, I spent some time over at the forums on Writer’s Digest and found that people were very militant with POV.  Pretty much only first person and limited third person from a single person was acceptable.  There could be no changes whatsoever in any work.  One POV, solid like granite. Continue reading

The Telling of Backstory?

I recently completed my second draft of The Halley Branch.  Before I even think about doing a third draft, I need to solve an issue.  Maybe…

I have a bad habit in  my books to have a huge amount of history and backstory to fill out.  Sometimes backstory doesn’t need to be told, just implied, but in these stories, you have to know it to understand the present story.  I also include a lot of philosophy, which often is 100% needed to understand the story.  OK, so how do I get it out there?

In The Halley Branch I have four chapters that are dream like sequences where the main character has a dream or vision that tells him about the past (only one chapter is a dream).  I think this works well, but it only covers a couple of percent of backstory and philosophy.

So what did I do?  I have another four chapters of the main character talking to other people who tell him the history.  It all makes sense in the story and gives us pictures of the characters as much as it gives history and philosophy.  In other words, through the characters’ dialog I am telling you backstory, but I am also showing you vital information about the characters by their action, interaction, the words they chose, and how they chose to use them.

There are two problems, or two sides of one.  A lot of people would call this information dumping, which is really frowned upon today.  And people would say that it is “telling”, not “showing”, which is true.  However, I do have those other 30 chapters of showing, so do these four chapters ruin it? Continue reading

How Do You Draft?

hand

About two weeks ago I started a second draft of The Halley Branch, a novel I wrote for the blog in real time in 2015 (I wrote and posted a new chapter every day).  Last night I was talking to someone about drafting, and we were thinking slightly different things.  I am a little curious on people’s opinions about how to draft.  I know, each person does things their own way, like the old arguments about being a Planner or Pantser when writing the first draft, but I am still curious.

I see two major styles of drafting, Old School and Edited Draft.  OK, I made up that last one because I didn’t want to call it “The Lazy Way”, particularly since that is my current technique.  I’ll give you a definition as to how I see these methods. Continue reading

I Need Help – Copyright Laws

Dabble - Sketch by Trent P McDonald

So I was doing a last run through of my short stories and got to the last story and stopped.  I had worried about it before but then decided it would be fine.  I’m not so sure now.

The story is based on the lyrics of a well known song.  There isn’t really much of a story in the song itself while my story is complex and might have bit of magic.  Maybe.  Very, very different from any story in the song itself.  And yet, it is there.  I never quote whole lines of the song (except a couple of key words here and there) and usually just paraphrased the song.  At the end of the story I give the song writers credit.  Before I put in that credit tag I had someone say they loved the story but there were too many cute cliches.  I told them the song I used, they went back, read it and laughed – that is were the cliches came from! Continue reading

Drafts

Fiction

When you read a story here on Trent’s World, you are usually reading an unedited first draft.  Well, maybe not 100% unedited – I usually will take a quick read-through and correct the most obvious mistakes, but it is almost always a first draft.  And you know what?  I’m fine with that.  This is not a literary magazine and most people reading the stories enjoy them.  If I spent the time to get them all “publish ready”, I would have posted closer to 20 stories than 200.

I am bringing this up now because I am in the process of doing another read-through of the short stories that will be included in my short story collection. Continue reading

Expressing the Inexpressible Part 2

Trent's Eye

After “talking to someone on the blogs I decided to try an experiment.  I wanted to write poem to express the inexpressible.  It is possible some of my poems had done this,but this was the only time I sat down with this odd goal in mind.  What I tried to do is increase the rhythm of the poem with the intensity of the words, to build the feeling as the poem built.  You can read “When I Think of You” to decide if I succeeded.

So on Thursday I wrote a post about poetry being able to express the inexpressible, to say things for which no words exist.  Of course I fell flat.  The only way I could think of doing it is by showing examples and maybe two or three people looked at the examples.  It isn’t a new idea,of course.  We express ourselves in poems and others can relate to that expression.  I ended the post by saying i should try the same thing in prose.  So, of course I did.  Try, that is. Continue reading

Expressing the Inexpressible

I love the beach...

Here is a confession: I am not a life long poetry lover.  Funny thing, my mother is a poet and has written poetry her whole life, having a some published and even having an internationally known composer use some of her poems for art songs.  But me?  No, I’ve never been much of a poetry lover.

“But Trent,” you say, “you post a new poem every week on your blog!  You read other people’s poems and make nice comments.  Are you hypocrite, just writing and saying things for some evil purpose?”

Of course not. Continue reading

A Bit of Truth Behind the Fiction

Baby Eagle

Baby Eagle

I had lived in New Hampshire for a little over a year.  I was having job issues and wasn’t sure what was happening in the near term.  I took walks and they became longer and longer every day.

One day as I was walking through the woods I heard an awful, pitiful cry.  A large white pine was straight in front of my, the trail turn as it reached it.  High above the trail there was a large bird on a branch with another large bird a bit above it on another branch.  I couldn’t tell what they were, but my thought was immature bald eagles.  They were huge.  Between the two birds was a squirrel.  The squirrel was screaming at the birds.  He obviously wasn’t ready to be bird food quite yet.  As i approached one of the birds flew off.  Not wanting to upset the balance of nature I quickly walked on.  For the next few months I looked for that bird every time I walked by that tree.  After two or three months I moved and have never been back to that trail (moved to a different part of the same town). Continue reading