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Friday, December 5, 2014

Done, complete, concluded, down, ended, finished, terminated, and through

It's done. The last corrections have been made and the book is delivered. Dex territory took a really long time to write. It had been a long time since I sat in an English comp, or creative writing class. Composing a novel was probably the hardest thing I'd ever done. I can't even count how many drafts were done on this. It was a learning experience the entire way. You have to love each character, even the despicable ones, they need motivations, they need to feel like the heroes of their own stories. they have to interact with one another, their motivations align, are at odds or somewhere in between. Characters need flaws, nothing is more boring that character who is not at odds with his or her or its' self. All of my characters had a job to do and it was my job to make them earn their pay, but also give them the tools to do their work. The fun comes when you see their struggles to get the tools they need to do their work. It's like having an ant farm when the ants have an amazing complex colony established and everything is good until someone gives it a little shake. The ants will rebuild, but it won't ever be quite the same.

World building. There are books, upon books about world building. World building, for me, came down to one thing, establish rules. But also, know which ones the characters had to follow, which ones could be bent and which ones could be broken. Without rules there's no conflict, there's nothing to stop a character from doing what it wants with out consequence. Everything else is window dressing. The setting, the time, the technology, the established systems i.e. governments, religions, culture, etc. all should serve the story. It's also important to have you view point characters look around and explore their world. It's about finding that right balance between of showing the world, but not let the world consume the story.

Remember the reader has an imagination. Use it. A pet peeve of mine is long-winded descriptions. Nothing bores me faster than knowing what kind of thread is sewn on a button. I know other like this, but I'll usually skip over the excess exposition. What I like is to see is a picture painted in broad strokes that allows my mind to fill in the details. My guideline, for me, is no more than a one paragraph of physical description and then a character interaction based on it. I also break it up so it's not all revealed at once and it's really interesting to throw description into dialog. If two characters are talking about a thing, that thing is now center stage and revealed rather than the reader being told.

For instance, this is exposition only:

A shiny blue beetle flopped on the ground. It's wing was broken. It up righted itself and fluttered a few times, but was unable to gain any lift. A pair of hikers, Claire and Mike, wandered by and noticed the beetle. Claire saw the beetle was unable to fly and they debated about what to do about it. Mike crushed the beetle with his foot putting it out of it's misery. Claire was furious at him.

I'll play the same scene with only dialog:

"Hey Claire, look at the beetle."
"Oh, poor little guy. Mike, it's wing is broken and he's just flopping around."
"What do you want to do?"
"Maybe we should just leave him alone, I think, and let nature handle it."
"He's beautiful. I've never seen that color of blue. He's trying to fly, that saddens me."
"Let's put the little guy out of his misery."
"You stepped on it!"
"You were sad."
"That doesn't mean I wanted it dead."

Now there's tension, a moral choice was made, feelings were involved, conflict ensued and probably divorce. the beetle's conflict with nature over it's broken wing is added to Mike and Claire's conflict over the choice.

I'm going to swing this back around and get out of this blog. Dex Territory is done. Then next and more difficult part is about to begin and that's getting it in the hands of those that don't know it exists, have no idea who I am and have no idea they want to read it. It's not time to turn to the business side of being an author. But that's a whole other blog.

You can find me at look for me on twitter and Facebook, you can find me by name. Drop me a note. I'll provide details for the book release as soon as I know.

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