Friday, June 28, 2013

Novel Series #5: Lies

As I stated in the last "Novel Series" this is the only novel that has prompted me to write an alternate ending. Why? Well, the ending was way too sad for me to leave as it was. Plus I kept thinking of ways it could have ended differently which prompted me to actually write it. Technically what I wrote was a continuation but that probably won't ever be read even if I do become exceptionally popular. It was for me because I couldn't let go of a character like I normally can.

Genre: Science Fiction

Word Count: 115,327

Prompt: Amanda Hanson marries a man that isn't who she and her team thought he was.

Main Characters: Jasper, Amanda Hanson, Rob Sanchez, Dylan "Twitch" Martin, Glitch, Dragon, Don.

Minor Characters of note: The One Ruler of the World, ID, Joe, Greg Hanson

Summation: Jasper is the Boss of Team D, a Special Response Unit team in the future. When his team-mate gets married and her new husband killed, he and the team discover something is not right with The One, Don or the Dragon.

High Points: Glitch taking Dragon shopping.

Low Points: I can't say or I'll reveal THE PLOT TWIST

The World: Sometime in the future with hover cars, cyborgs, people being able to move with cyborg legs/arms/organs, a being that's able to use nano-technology to fly, entire human gentic code has been discovered, far in the future. Not sure how far.

Major plot twist: It involves the Dragon. Twice.

Thoughts: This is the first novel I've written this year that's gone over the 100K mark significantly. It's tense all the way through (except for chapter 12) and the last four chapters are just...urg. I couldn't even write them one right after another because of emotions.

Memorable Lines:

"So I said to him that he needed a new AI chip." "What did he say?" "That he was human and couldn't get a chip." "And you said?" "That is was unfortunate that he couldn't get a new brain."

"It's morning. There isn't anything good about it."

"Well no one's ever seen the Dragon's face and for all we know the Dragon could be a woman."

"Let the Dragon go. It's not his, her, whatever's fault that Don told the Dragon to follow us" (This is the line that makes everything go to Hell.)

"You stopped your cyborg unit from coming after me. That takes a lot of guts and shows that you care about your team. The other people here, they don't care too much. They're after points and bragging rights of being the best. You're not like that though. I mean, you're  still after points sure but you genuinely want to help people."

"Check it out? You want to do an SRU level background check on my husband?"

"I'll probably have to neutralize him and I'm apologizing in advance. Sorry."

"Well If I'm using logic that a child would then I don't see why you can't understand it."

"I only take it off whem I'm alone. I have a mystic to keep up, you know?"

"The Dragon has no friends and is not allowed to leave the premises unless on a mission."

"Jasper taught me what it's like to be human and I want people to keep being human."

"Does anyone else realize that we just gave a person who's never had caffeine or sugar a soda?"

"Well since I'm in a female clothing item: I'll be she. When I'm in male clothes: I'll be he."

"Stop, stop. I know this sand bar." "Can you buy an apple martini at it? I'd kill for one of those."

"You can have a great ass too if you're a genetic experiment."

Friday, June 21, 2013

The First Draft

A long time ago, when the pyramids were still young (if anyone gets that: cyber cookie), I wrote a little something about the Inner Editor. As a quick summation: I talked about the little voice in most author's heads that tells us plot lines, characters, etc and sometimes tells us we suck. I also admitted to loving my Inner Editor and that hasn't changed.

What I did mention in there that I kind of forgot about was that first drafts don't always suck. And quote: "But not all first drafts have to be big piles of crud. I know, I know: BLASPHEMY! Every first draft is CRUD! Cue the pitchforks and all that. I disagree that all first drafts are crud but more on that another time."

This is "another time." Yeah, it took half a year (or more) to get there. Deal. ;)

Anyway, I am under the firm belief that not all first drafts suck. Now, I'm not saying that all first drafts are perfect. I'm not saying that any author who writes more than one draft is wasting their time. I'm simply saying that the "all first drafts are crap" is perhaps wrong.

The first draft is that stepping point. It's the first thing you've done with the concept, the characters or the scene. For some it's a rushed thing that gets completely scraped when it comes time to write the second draft. For others, it's a thing that with a few edits (simple removing/shifting things around) can become the final copy.

Not all writers write the same way. Some feel that they have to write multiple drafts, while others can get away with writing only that first draft. Those that fall into the second category then go on to remove or add scenes before giving the whole thing a final edit then whacking an editor with it.

Is a writer who can get away with writing only one draft any worse than a writer who needs more than one draft? I don't think so. All drafts have one thing in common: we're figuring out how to get the story from our heads to the page in the best way possible.

What I believe is that it's not about drafts. It's not even about how you approach writing. It's all in practice. I've been writing for well over a decade now and my writing style improved significantly in the past, oh, three or four years. Why? Because I wrote more.

The more you write means the faster you figure out what works and what doesn't. It means the faster you find you personal voice. It means the less drafts you have to write. That doesn't mean that some of the things I write won't get more than one draft. Most of them are at first draft stage and being honest, they're similar to a second or third draft. This means my second or third "drafts" are merely me adding or taking things away. I won't fully scrap any of my newer stuff. Besides that, spelling, grammar and consistency have to be checked but most of my first drafts are pretty solid.

So, what do you think? Am I being my typical verbose self and rambling on crazily about something? Or is there some merit to "not all first drafts are crap?"

Friday, June 14, 2013

Novel Series #4: Dragon Knights

By the time this thing actually gets posted I'll be about two novels ahead. Why? Well, because I suck at remembering to post blogs so I've scheduled like two months in advance. This post was written in April. It is now June. Yeah. Onward into my lateness of talking about things.

Genre: High Fantasy (Written from March 3rd - March 17)

Word Count: 90,352

Prompt: There wasn't really a main prompt. I wanted to explore the relationships between two cousins forced to live out lives that they don't really want. Rayth should be heir to the throne but Aldtia is the heir. No one wants her to be heir because of a physical deformity and would rather Perbela (her younger sister) to be Queen. Yeah, it's a mess.

Main Characters: Rayth, Aldtia, Perbela, Yin, Yang, Emessa, Tuvino, Kellan, Erine.

Minor Characters of Note: Rismund, Teacher, Amun, Marissa, and Batty.

Summation: Rayth is the first born son of the second son which puts him out of direct heirship when Aldtia, the first born of the first born son is born. Rayth is orphaned shortly before Aldtia's birth so has no one to turn to. He resorts to pulling pranks and being a general jerk before Kellan (the King and his Uncle) sends him away to train with an elite group of warriors known as the Dragon Knights. Rayth must make a dragon accept him to become a Dragon Knight. He has a 10 percent chance. If he fails, his uncle will win and Rayth does not want that to happen.

High Points: Yin and Yang in general. Oh and Rayth finding love. I don't know why this keeps happening in my novels because I'm not normally a romance type of person. And there's the scene where Rayth gets Tuvino drunk.

Low Points: Rayth is betrayed but not by his family. Oh and a few people he cares about get hurt or die.

The World: There isn't really much magic in this one and it kind of has an ancient Asian feel to it. All the characters from Rayth's country are dark haired with dark eyes while those across the ocean are blonde and blue eyed.

The common dragon is not large. It's about seven feet long from head to the tip of the tail and weighs about 350 pounds. I used Kimono Dragons as a base. The huge dragons are rare and thusly called "Grand Dragons."

Dragon Knights are considered the most powerful warrior and to become one is difficult. There are many different factions of Dragon Knights, each with their own oaths, weapons, and colors.

Kingship in Rayth's country is given to the first born which he (and most others) think doesn't make sense. The Kings across the ocean are elected out of the prince/princesses rather than it going instantly to the oldest one.

Kings rule over a mass of land and can barter with goods, daughters or warriors to gain immunity from a war with a neighbouring King. Wars still happen of course and there is a big one in the book.

Major Plot Twist: The betrayal Rayth faces.

Thoughts: I love Rayth, Yin and Yang, I really do. Despite everything that happened to him Rayth was still a sarcastic, funny, SOB and toughed it out. Any normal person would have said screw it at some point but not him. It's also kind of like a fantasy soap-opera but not as dramatic since I don't watch those things.

Memorable Lines:

Rayth's first line: “Is there a specific way to eat? I had no idea.” It sets up his attitude.

“Well, you and I both know I should be first heir. The people wish it, most of the Royals wish it and if someone could actually speak with God, he would likely wish it. But you’re a stubborn git and refuse to pass the crown to your brother’s son even if your brother saved your life. I think that’s more than enough reason.”

“I never get to see the city without guards. I’d like to disappear one morning and see what really goes on.”

“This is Rayth. He has been sent here by his uncle, King Kellan to become a Dragon Knight. He is not allowed to return to his home of Gailsmith or leave until he completes this task.”
“You are Number 66. You have no past, no name and own nothing until you prove that you are worth of it. Breaker, take 66 to a room and show him where he can obtain the proper gear.”

“You always do have to be the odd one.”

Cockiness is only a bad thing when it can’t be proven.”

“Oh, I thought we were stating obvious facts. You know, the sky is blue, you have a really long beard, and dragon claws can render a man to little more than mush.”
“Life is always interesting with dragons.”

“I get that a lot. I guess I’m just special.”

“Oh I don’t know. Between running for my life in a stinking, dark, place and trying to avoid fire, I’m sure I can remember well enough to get a good artists rendition.”

"Friends are human and humans are fickle creatures that can turn on you faster than a dragon can fly."

"Wars happen and people die because of them. I’m only glad that I managed to survive this long.”

“No matter what happens to me, remember to love this country. Fight for it as I fought for it. Love it as I love it. Grow up and marry a beautiful woman as I did and have a son as strong as you. Live but do not look upon the past with sadness. It is what will make you stronger than I am.”

“Everyone says I’m special and I realized I am. I’m special enough that the fates love to beat the hell out of me and make me think that it’s good fortune."

“Well yeah but now I’m an ass with a dragon. People respect that.”

This was book four in three months and I finished it with 16 days in March to spare. During that 16 day no-writing stint, I went a bit crazy and wrote some short stories about me talking to my Inner Editor. Yeah. I know. Anyway, next up in this series will be Lies which is probably one of the most interesting sci-fi books I've written and the ONLY novel that made me write an alternate ending.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Writing is Breathing

As I was sitting around between stories figuring out what to write I found this in my "Writing Goals 2013" file:

I was asked the other day: "Why do you spend so much of your time writing?"
After soul-searching for something deep and meaningful to respond with, the best I could come up with was:

"For the same reason you spend so much of your time breathing."

I'm not sure who said it (though it was likely from the NaNoWriMo forums) or why it was said or in what context but it obviously struck something for me to copy it and save it in a place where I'd eventually find it.

Obviously breathing is important to everything. If you don't breath, you don't live and if you don't live, well obviously you're dead and dead is never fun (unless you're undead but that's entirely different).

Anyway, for some people writing isn't important. There are those few on the NaNo forums that write only during November and the two camps simply for fun. They don't intend to get published, they don't intend for anyone to see their work, they simply want to complete a challenge. If they miss entire months and never edit, that's fine for them and they don't mind.

Then there's those who write because it's a hobby. If they get published, awesome, if not, that's okay too. They don't actively seek publishing and for them if they miss a few days/weeks/months, it's not a big deal either.

Finally there are those who cannot live if they do not write. They may or may not be looking to publish but they know that they have, let me repeat that: THEY HAVE to write. It's not a matter of "I'll only write during NaNo months" or "eh, I'll write next month when life is less busy." It's more of: "If I don't write something I'm going to go FREAKING NUTS."

For those in the last category writing is just as important as breathing. If you haven't figured it out, I'm one of those last category people. I cannot go for long without writing something. Even during a 10 day stint where I stupidly said to myself that I'd only write a book a month *snorts at self* I wrote two short stories. I cannot, let me repeat that I CANNOT stop writing.

Writing is an escape from all the things in life that are not going so well (or going suspiciously too well). It's not just something to occupy time because if that was what was wrong we'd be watching more Netflix. It's something ingrained into our hearts, souls, minds and bodies that has to be done. We cannot and will not stop until our hearts, souls, minds and bodies no longer function.

It's that one thing that makes us, well, us. We are writers. Our imaginations are forest fires and little campfire sparks. We cannot stop thinking "What if?" We cannot live if we cannot write.

So the next time someone asks you "Why write?" ask them why they do the thing they're most passionate about. Watch them stutter, watch their eyes go wide while they really think about it and when they finally come up with something you can feel pride in saying: "Exactly."

And if they can't come up with something productive, then the above "Why do you spend so much time breathing?" is appropriate. Heck, it's an appropriate answer to all those silly questions about why you like/do the things you do. It's a poetic way of saying: "Because it's important to who I am" or "It keeps me alive."

So, what category of writer do you fall into?