Quick-Tip Tuesday: Travelogue and Narrative

In 1987, I drove across the country with a friend. We camped and hiked and saw some amazing places. One of our favorites was Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, in southern Arizona, where we witnessed what remains to this day one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever seen. We camped in the monument for a couple of days, explored some of the backcountry wilderness, took lots of photos, found some amazing wildlife. And, because I was keeping a journal at the time, I wrote page after page about the place, recording my impressions of the terrain, the climate, the night skies.

Six years later, in the spring of 1993, my wife and I spent several days on a barrier island along Georgia’s Atlantic coast. It’s a place that has an arrangement with Nancy’s university, and we were able to stay there for free. It’s an island wilderness, with overgrown […]

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When Life Gets In The Way – And It Will

We are writers. No matter what we write, we are writing about life, about living, about the things that matter to us, about the pain and joy and music and poetry of living. We are writing about the insecurity and excitement of romance, a mystery that needs to be solved, a life decision that needs to be made, a loss that has been suffered, a battle or war that needs to be fought.

We write, and as we write, we incorporate and use every good and wonderful and easy thing that has happened to us, as well as every difficult and painful and dreadful thing that has happened to us in the past. All that we are, all that we have survived, is part of our characters and our plotlines and the landscapes of our writing. The feel of water from a cold shower can be interpreted and twisted into […]

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Darynda Jones — My I Hear Fictional People

My Characters and Me

On more occasions than I can count, my characters have this uncanny ability to make me want things or feel a certain way. This is a quick survey to see which characters influence me most in my day-to-day goings on.

Who makes you stay up at night?

*Ahem.* Yes, that would be Reyes Farrow, for obvious reasons I shan’t go into here.

Who makes you want to make a fresh pot of coffee?

Oh, man, every time I start writing Charley now, the first thing I think is COFFEE! If I don’t have a cup of coffee right there next to me, I feel naked. Well, sometimes I am, but not usually.

Who makes you want to watch TV?

Aunt Lil, actually. I love her and I’d love to hang and watch the tube with her. She has some great one-liners.

Who makes you […]

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Joshua Palmatier — SHATTERING THE LEY

SHATTERING THE LEY Hits the Shelves!

First, I’d like to thank Magical Words for having me as a guest for the next four weeks. I hope to bring everyone some interesting reads about plot, character, my crazy writer’s life, and of course point out that I have a NEW BOOK! Yes, this month marks the release of SHATTERING THE LEY, the first book in a new series being published by DAW Books under my real name, Joshua Palmatier. This first post is all about the new book, since it’s already on the shelves (with a release date of July 1st). So let’s all get LEY-ed! *grin*

Back in the 80s, it seemed like every fantasy novel at least mentioned the magical ley lines that connected the world, usually anchored at stone monuments, like Stonehenge and whatnot. Back then, I vowed I would NEVER EVER write a novel involving ley […]

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In the beginning… no, wait. Before the Beginning…

Here’s a conversation I’ve been having a lot lately:

Friend, Fan or Fellow Writer, otherwise known as some lovely person who’s drawn the right conclusion from the lovely, oceantastic cover of Child of a Hidden Sea: So the new book is a pirate book?”

Me: Um… well… yes…

FFF: It doesn’t have pirates?

Me: It’s just they’re reform, rather than orthodox.

(Which always gets a laugh, but it is more deflection than answer.)

Something I see with a lot of newer writers is a tendency to want to front-load all of the backstory for a book or piece of short fiction upfront.

It’s a natural impulse. Even when we tell stories in person, we’ll often want to start with a quick rundown on everything the listener might possibly need to know to understand how you got away with flipping off the boss, or convincing Mom to make the vegetarian soup […]

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Worldbuilding: Leaving It Out — J. Kathleen Cheney

Most writers who write fantasy do a lot of worldbuilding; they try to understand everything about the world in which they write. This often includes the world’s geography, cultures, economics, and history. In order to write a cohesive book in their setting, they have to know all those things. The same goes for other media like games and TV/movies.

If the creator doesn’t do that, it will show up in their writing as mistakes and inconsistencies. Readers or viewers will pick up on that (and a certain percentage will email in about it!)

But the other side of the coin also exists.

First, it’s true that a writer can do <em>too much</em> worldbuilding. Some people spend all their time creating their world, a quest to make it perfect. But if you spend all your time doing that, you never get around to writing. (In her book <strong>Plot,</strong>, Ansen Dibell […]

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The Wicked Wind Whispers and Moans

Fantasy and SF writers talk a lot about world building, and for very good reason. The world in a novel functions inevitably as a character. It has a strong influence on plot, on other characters, on tension, pacing . . . every aspect of your book. We’ve talked here on Magical Words about world building before, but I wanted to spend a little time talking about Crosspointe and the world, because it’s was both super different for me and very challenging.

Let me first say that The Cipher will be released March 31. Look for it. Put it on your calendar. All right, on to the show. Crosspointe is an island nation set on a changeable sea. The ground under the black waters will change at the drop of a dime. What was once a shoal will suddenly drop away into a deep trench. Underwater mountains rise and fall without […]

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