On Outlining and Not

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

I can’t decide if I’m late or early on this post. The main problem is that I’m on the road with the family and time has become . . . fluid.

I want to talk to you about plotting. When I first started writing, I would create an outline. It wasn’t a really in-depth outline. It usually covered the beginning, the major plot points, and the ending. One thing to remember about plot is that it’s a causal sequence of events. Causal is important, because in my plotting, I’d know why a character did something and how that ended up creating the next plot point, and so on. So when plotting, I’d start with the characters and the world, and I’d stir up some trouble, and think how they dealt with that, and what that caused, and so on. I usually would have some sort of main event or [...]

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It’s Raining Deadlines — Jim C. Hines

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Faith Hunter was kind enough to invite me to do a guest post for Magical Words back in January of this year. We agreed I’d contribute a post for early August, to coincide with the release of Codex Born. And then I did something that makes me Hulk out and smash my desk: I forgot about the commitment I’d made, and missed my deadline.

I emailed her to apologize. Fortunately, Faith is both kind and forgiving. As a fellow author, I think she understands that no matter how hard we try, sometimes life gets in the way. She commented in her email to me, “For instance, today, I have to get groceries, go to the vet and the dry-cleaners, show up for a doctor’s apt, and, oh yeah. Write a couple thousand words.”

Sometimes things slip through the cracks. Sometimes we blow it.

This wasn’t much of an issue when [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — Plot: Losing Control

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SHATTERING THE LEY: Plot: Losing Control

Welcome to my third guest post about my new novel, SHATTERING THE LEY (in stores now)! Again, thanks to Magical Words for inviting me.

As you may have read in my previous post about character, I’m an organic writer, sometimes also called a pantser. What this means is that I don’t have much of a plan when I sit down to write my novels. Usually I have a few “guideposts”—basically a couple of plot elements that I think are going to happen (usually something about halfway through and something at the end). But when I sit down to write, I let the characters take control. Most of the time, the characters end up in situations close to those initial guideposts. But sometimes . . . not so much.

That “not so much” happened with SHATTERING THE LEY. Almost as soon as I sat down [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — Character: Taking Control

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SHATTERING THE LEY: Character: Taking Control

Welcome to my second guest post here at Magical Words! Thanks again for having me, guys.

I’d like to focus on characters, now that the main promo push is over. (You did run out and buy SHATTERING THE LEY, right?) As I said in the previous post, when I described the setting for LEY, having a great idea or setting isn’t enough for a story. The world of LEY had been simmering inside my head for quite a while, but it’s necessary to take that cool idea and make it come alive with the intervention of some cool characters. For this world, I knew that one of the main characters would have to be someone who could manipulate the ley lines that powered the city. If that’s the central element that makes my world different, I needed someone who would be working intimately [...]

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Writer’s Retreats — Our Thoughts, Part Two

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***THE BLOGGER***

Two years ago, I went to my first ConCarolinas and had the great good fortune to meet several of the MagicalWords.net authors, as well as several fans and MW participants. One group of us in particular really hit it off and agreed to meet up again the next year. At the end of *that* con, as Melanie described, our final gathering resulted in “let’s have a writers’ retreat next year”. Like you do.

Imagine my surprise – all of our surprise, I think – as we started trading emails and beginning to discuss plans, and everyone remained enthusiastic. Along the way, a couple of people had to withdraw from the retreat itself for different reasons, but they stayed active and encouraging in the discussions all the same.

And what a real thrill to learn that Faith would be able to join us, both for some much needed post-con [...]

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J. Kathleen Cheney — Historical Research

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Over the last few years I’ve had to do tons of historical research for my writing, quite a bit of it in foreign languages. I’ve even spoken about this at the DFW Writer’s Conference. I’ve had to wing a lot of it. But we writers have one major advantage that didn’t exist twenty years ago. If you’re reading this, you’re looking right at it: The Internet.

(Now don’t dismiss the first line of attack, the public/university library system. Via the public library system, I can get my hands on almost any book/DVD/map in the statewide system. The library also has one thing the internet does not: Research Librarians.)

Even so, when looking only at the internet, there are several resources that might not occur to the newer writer. Yes, there are search engines and via those you can find specialized web-pages that deal with your time period (always [...]

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J. Kathleen Cheney — The Delicate Balance

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I’ve been writing Historical Fantasy for a few years now. I’ve had novellas set in 1905 Saratoga Springs, short fiction set in 1200 Northern China, and just turned in the last of three novels set in 1902-3 Portugal. Those publications have taken up the bulk of the last five years (so it was jarring when I started working on a new series in May that’s a second-world fantasy.)

I do love my Historical Fantasy, and I’ve found some real advantages to writing it.

The main thing that separates Historical Fantasy from other types of Fantasy is that the backbone of your setting is based in an actual historical period. You’re working in a real place that has real history and a very real setting, and in that setting, you’re writing fantasy.

So your setting already comes half made for you. Culture, events, religion…they’re mostly laid out. You don’t [...]

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