Tag Archives: sci-fi/fantasy

[Announcement] Finals week.

abc books chalk chalkboard

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Just a heads up that there will not be an installment of “Don’t Feed the Trolls” this week. My university is online, but we still have finals. The professor for one class has given all of us an extension on the ones due for her class, but that’s not the only class I’m in, and my eye has been blurring more than usual (oh joy), which severely hampers my ability to write. Hopefully next week will be back to normal.

In the meantime, don’t forget to check out my Twitter for your #Batfile prompt, and I’ll be back on Monday with a Story and a Song.

[A Story & A Song] Monster

Song and a story-todokonai


He said it would be quick. He said – compared to the disease slowly eating her alive – it would be painless. He didn’t say she would change. He didn’t say-oh, God, he didn’t say…



From the album THE ELEVENTH DAY ~SINGLE COLLECTION~. 

Available now.

Gackt.com

[A Story & A Song] Starlight

Song and a story


I see it coming. Even moving at the speed of light, it’s slow enough for me to slip out of the way. The gas had collapsed on itself, then burst outward. Waves of stardust arching out into the void around it. Around me.

I’m tempted to trail my fingers through it as it passes by, let the particles stream between my fingers before they make their way across the universe. A millennium ago, I might’ve, but I know better now. I know to look ahead in time, and watch all the different paths my interference could set these particles on. The last thing I want to do is to cause the death of an entire solar system. Again.

Besides, I’ve waited too long for this. I spent half of eternity going from one end of the universe to the other, searching for a way to bring you back to me. It took me another three millennia before I thought to look into the patterns of the dust around me, and the atoms that made them up. The way they changed in time, but eventually I found it.

At the very edge of the universe – past what any electric eye on Earth could see – the dying star that would give birth to another – smaller – star, and the death of its child and so on and so on, until eventually it spews forth one final burst of energy before collapsing into itself.

That energy will travel through the cosmos until it collides with another star’s dying breath. The collision setting a chain of events that will give rise to your soul again. It will take a long time, this star is only on its second death and it still has at least three more to go, but it will happen.

In the meantime, I float here, untethered and unafraid, bathed in the light of a thousand galaxies as I wait for you.

From the album Vessels.

Available now:
| iTunes | Amazon | Google Play | Spotify |

#DarkLightChallenge – Prayer

She dug the knife in a little deeper. His screams echoed, filling the room with a prayer for mercy.

She smiled and gave the hilt a sharp twist. “Sorry, Kal. Looks like God has more important things to worry about.” She leaned in closer to whisper in his ear. “So much for being the favorite son, huh?”

#PhotoStoryPrompt – Tunnel Vision Pt. 2

This is a follow up to Tunnel Vision.

 

“Maybe we were too late?” Sarika threw her makeshift staff into the woods. “It did take us a while to find this place.”

“The man said she would leave a sign if she arrived before us and had to leave.” Ash gestured at the walls around them. “There’s nothing here.” She shook her head. “Something’s happened to her, I know it.”

Fumé?”

Ash closed her eyes, and turned her focus inward, searching. “I don’t know,” she said, finally. “I can’t tell if it’s that, or just basic instinct. But there is something off around here.” She opened her eyes again, walking to the mouth of the tunnel. A cool puff of wind twined around her neck, ruffling the choppy edges of her hair at the back of her neck. She lifted her hand, trailing her fingers through the current of air as it passed by, and frowning when she felt the way it suddenly shifted. Instead of continuing on its path, it turned back, curling around her like a child in need of comfort. “What-?” Behind her, she heard Sarika’s footsteps as she moved closer. Pushing the sound away, Ash concentrated on the quicksilver flashes of emotion the wind buffeted her with. Anger, distress, fear…so much fear. And underneath it all, sorrow. She bowed her head.

Choti bahana?

Ash looked over her shoulder at Sarika. “We only checked the forest for the living.”

Sarika stared back at her for a moment, face blank. Then she lunged.

Ash didn’t fight as she felt her sister’s fingers dig into her shoulder. The familiar sensation of being pulled through a tunnel of air surrounded her, and then she was stumbling, tripping after Sarika out of an alley and down the stairs of a nearby subway station. As she caught up, she heard her sister muttering under her breath, curses in English spattered throughout their native Hindi.

Bright purple petunias poked up between the cracks in the sidewalk as they passed.

 

World building: Putting It Together.

And now for some more advice on building your world. Last time, I talked about things you would need to help you keep your information organized. This week, it’s a bit more general advice. Ways to help you think yourself through issues/ideas you may be confused or unsure about.

Remember, this isn’t something that is 100% going to work for you. Everyone is different, so your mileage may vary – quite a bit, at that.

  1. Talk it out.
    cooperate-2924261_1920If you can’t decide on one idea or another, open up a blank document and “talk” it out with yourself. Or, better yet, with a friend or collaborator (I recommend Google Docs for this).

    Some people like to argue with themselves about which way they want a story to go, or the pros and cons of using one idea or another. If that’s you, hey, that’s fine! It’s wonderful, even. It helps sometimes, believe me, I know. The problem is: sometimes you get so caught up with chasing this idea or that idea, that you forget where you were going with it. Have it written down helps you 1. Stay on track, 2. remember all the ideas you come up with, and why you discarded them, or kept them, and 3. Oftentimes, you will come across an entirely different idea that completely blows all the others out of the water.

    Just remember, when/if you use this method: do not delete anything. No thinking, “oh this sounds stupid” and hitting backspace. Type it out: “This is stupid, what was I even thinking? ARG! Next idea, please? Brain?”

    When you are entirely done discussing whatever issue you’re trying to work out, and you have a final decision on what you are going to do, then go back and delete all the extra crap.

    Bullet point the information you want to keep (remember: keep it organized). You may even want to bullet point the ideas you rejected and why they didn’t make the final cut. That can help prevent the wishy-washy “Why didn’t I do this instead?” question that likes to rear its ugly head halfway through the damn book. You’ll be able to go “Oh yeah, that’s why!” and move on much quicker.

  2. Diversity is good.
    Think about it. Look around you. Chances are, unless you live in a backwoods small town, you’re going to see people of all colors and beliefs. There’s going to be families with mostly blondes in it. Another with mostly brunettes. There may even be a couple redheads in your community.

    Now look at the world you created. Is everyone exactly the same? If they are, you might want to make sure you have a really good reason why. I’m not saying you need the “token black guy” or the “nerdy Asian” stereotypes. You just need to have more than busty blondes and chisel-jawed heroes. Spice it up. Why can’t the hero be the Average Joe or Jane? Why can’t the guy with the sculpted muscles be the spunky sidekick?

    And don’t get me started on the sexualities. Just, seriously, spice. Spice is good. Spice is wonderful.

  3. Pointed diversity is insulting.
    This goes back to the “token black guy” thing. If you are just including a character of color/sexuality/gender to be “inclusive” – DON’T.

    It’s an insult to the people you’re “trying” to include, your story, and yourself. 
  4. Do your research
    This is where it can get fun, believe it or not. You just have to make sure you don’t fall into the Wikipedia abyss. This actually also ties into a major pet peeve of mine regarding research vs. creative license. I understand that sometimes it’s tempting to just write whatever you want, and claim creative license – research can be tedious, believe me, I know – but when you do your research, it shows and it really helps to make things so much better. It feels more authentic. Plus, a person who reads a lot of that particular genre will be able to tell that you’ve put in the work, and will appreciate your story all the more.

    There’s also the chance you’ll get a new idea to play with, which is always a bonus.
    And now for one that is slightly off topic, but still important:
  5. SAVE YOUR SOURCES.
    This one probably sounds insulting at first (“Psh, like I don’t know how to bookmark a site!”), but trust me: sometimes that’s not enough. When I say “save your sources” I mean save them. If the site won’t allow you to download the page, screenshot or copy and paste the important information into a word file and save it (as well as the site address and/or authors of the article). Writing a book can take a long time; you don’t want to do what I did, and lose one of your sources when the person running the site loses interest and lets their domain expire. The internet WayBack Machine can only do so much. 

    On that same note, however, make sure your information is up to date. Don’t use information from the 1950s to write a book in 2018 (unless your story is actually set in 1950s, in which case, your characters can/should only act on the information available in their own time…).This bit of advice is mostly aimed at those of you who are working with ideas that aren’t very well known, or societies that a lot isn’t known about (ie: Sumer, FreeMasons, certain types of cults, religions, etc.). Whether it’s because people lose interest over time, or other reasons – in the case of cults, societies, and religions, anyway – a lot of the sites with somewhat useful information tend to disappear.

    I know some/most of us probably use Wikipedia for our sources, but even those pages change sometimes, so the point remains. Save your information.

 

Keep in mind: I am not here to tell you how to write. We all have different styles, and let’s be honest, there is no real expert on writing. There are professionals in a field, but that does not make them “experts” and what works for them might not work for you.

The suggestions I’ve made here are not rules. These are simply ideas and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way – ones that I wish I had heard about/figured out long before I did. I hope you find them at least somewhat useful.

#PhotoStoryChallenge – Tunnel Vision

It’s late – this is the challenge from last week – but it’s here.

“Are you sure this is the right place, choti bahana?” Sarika Surya asked. “I’m not sensing anyone.”

Ash turned her attention away from her scrying plate to watch her sister twirl a makeshift staff around her body. Two hours ago, it had been a shovel. (“For disguise purposes,” Sarika had claimed.) Twenty minutes later, the wood had abruptly cracked, dropping the head to the ground behind them as they walked on.

“I’m positive.” Ash sent her vision higher. At the edge of her Sight, the city loomed, neon lights bright against the dark of the surrounding buildings – she could almost hear the honking of cars and chatter of people. Where she and her sister were though, huddled in the dark of the tunnel, all she could see was treetops and the road – empty for miles in both directions.

“I don’t get it.” Her shoulders slumped. “I followed the directions exactly. This is the tunnel the Healer is supposed to be at. It has to be.” She dissolved the thin sheet of ice she was using as a scry plate, letting the ice melt and reform around her wrists as bracelets. “Why isn’t she here?”

(Thanks for the Hindi translation, Alex!)

World building: Keep it together!

I’ve recently began helping a friend build a world for a novel she’s working on, and I figured I’d pass on my suggestions to other beginning world builders.

Please note: this isn’t about the building of the world, itself. That will come later. This is about making things easier on you, the Builder of Worlds, as you begin your path to nerdy (or so I’ve been told) glory. Think of it like a shopping list, if you will.

Before I get started though, I feel I should explain that I am OCD as hell when it comes to organizing, and it carries over to my world building, so by all means, tailor the following suggestions for your own needs.

  1. Get a binder.
    It doesn’t have to be fancy, but trust me, it will make your life a lot easier.Now, binders come in different sizes, and different…forms, I guess you could say. There are hard back binders and floppy plastic ones (you’ll see what I mean the minute you start looking at them). So you’ll need to think carefully about what kind of world you’re building, and what all you will need to go into the details of.

    For example, in my Etlan series, I have multiple houses, and some of those houses have other houses they’re responsible for. I also have certain skill based powers, and elemental powers. It has its own language that I’m having to create, including spells and texts. Then there’s the research I’ve done for all of the above. With all of that information, I needed to get a good sized binder. The one I’m currently using for Etlan is 2 or 3 inches, and has a hard cover. It was more expensive than I preferred, but I splurged on it anyway because I needed one that was going to last.

    The one I have for “Say ‘No!’ to Zombies,” on the other hand, is only a 1 inch binder, and I think I got it at the dollar store. The reason for this is simple: not as much information needed. I have their supply list, the traits of the zombies, the timeline, and basic character profiles, and I still have plenty of room left over for any other details I might think of later. I’ll probably be able to use that single binder for all four works I have planned in the series, and then some, if I wanted.

    Think it out, plan it out.

    Which brings me to…

  2. Dividers (tabs) are your friend.
    Again, tailor this to your need. SN!tZ currently only needs four tabs, and that’s stretching it. Etlan, on the other hand, has over 30, and I’m not done organizing yet.

    tabs

    Seriously, this thing is a monster!

    I ended up having to make dividers of my own, because I wanted half-sized tabs and to have tabs at the top. Most of the dividers that come with tabs on top, have tabs that are just too big for what I need. If you aren’t picky, however, any old divider will do (I recommend taking advantage of “Back to School” sales).
    Get a bunch of the regular dividers and have fun with it. There are dividers that have write-on tabs – I do not recommend those. They start out fine, but if you make a mistake, you’re out of luck, unless you use pencil (which tends to smear), or keep white-out on hand. Personally, it’s just not worth it, especially when the cheapo dividers work just fine, and you can get them for about a dollar at Walmart or Amazon.

    There are also dividers that come with pockets. Those can be very useful as well, especially if you’re a person who jots down notes on anything you happen to have nearby. You can just slip them into the pocket in the right category, and there ya’ go. I would suggest copying the notes down onto an actual piece of paper and putting in the binder, but that is entirely up to you. You’ll end up paying a little bit more for the tabs with pockets, so consider your budget carefully before you go on a buying spree.

    A word of caution: Beware the Table of Contents!

    I know it’s tempting to make one, but unless you are 100% sure of the way you have everything organized, it is in your best interest to stay far –far- away from a Table of Contents. If you are not completely certain about the way you have the binder set up, or if there is even the slightest chance that you might add something/remove something do not make a Table of Contents. Everytime you add something or move something, etc., you will have to redo the ToC. It is time consuming and just not worth it. Wait until you’re done with that world (or at least the first book in that world), before you even think about making a ToC or an index.

    Use whatever dividers you decide on to…

  3. Get ORGANIZED.
    Seriously.This is one of the most important things when it comes to world building (besides the world itself). The more complex your world, the more you will need to make sure you have your stuff organized. One of the most aggravating things, as a reader, is when it’s like the author doesn’t remember the rules of their own world.

    If a certain race only has blue or green skin, do not introduce a being of that race that is, oh, I don’t know, yellow, without some kind of explanation (skin disease; mutation; crossbreed, etc.). You might think “Oh, no one will notice. They probably didn’t pay any attention to the different races.” To that, I say: ask a reader about the differences between a Tolkien elf and an elf from the Shannara Chronicles. Just warn me ahead of time, so I can pop me some popcorn. I would also suggest using the bathroom and clearing your schedule first. The bottom line is, a dedicated reader/fan will notice the differences.

    Now for my final bit of advice for this post:

  4. PLAN IT OUT.I know I’ve already said this a couple times, but I cannot emphasize this enough, and I am speaking from experience. I have reorganized my Etlan binder so many times, it’s ridiculous.

    Granted, that was because I started out with only one set of dividers, and had to work with what I had, but that is why I’m telling you now: get LOTS of dividers. You might end up not using them all, but it’s better to have them and not need them, than to have to reorganize the information a couple hundred times.

    The best thing to do, before you start buying anything, is to sit down, either with pen and paper or with a document and start outlining what you need to organize.
    Mine would look something like this:
    2017-08-05

    If you are creating a world (or planet) with different races and religions, you will also need to think about those. A sample of that outline might look something like this:

    2017-08-05 (1)

    A VERY simple outline.

    Use your outline to determine how many tabs you’ll need to buy. If the number is over 30 like mine, I would suggest making your own. If enough people are interested, I’ll post some instructions on how to do that.

    Try not to over organize. That was one of the mistakes I made in the beginning. Believe me, it is possible to go overboard with this stuff, and it’s a pain to fix. Keep it simple.

    Shopping list:

    I said at the beginning that this is a short of shopping list, and it kinda is. I already suggested binders and dividers, but here are a few more items you might want to see about picking up:

    • 3 hole punch
    • Notebook paper (if you like making notes by hand) 
    • Sheet protectors (if you prefer typing the notes and printing them out)

    If anyone else has their own tips and tricks for keeping information straight, feel free to let me know in the comments.

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