What’s the Difference?

As I’ve mentioned, I write fan fiction.  That means I’m working in an established world with established characters and an established history.  While some fan fiction writers go AU (alternate universe/reality) with their stories, changing whatever they want as they play in someone else’s world, for the most part, I try to be true to the story the original author told.

Because of that, it limits some possibilities.  Even so, the challenge is always to bring something new to the table.  There are a million love stories, battle stories, fantasy stories, etc. and many have similar details.  A guy and a girl falling in love is standard in a romance, but how they get there isn’t.  Unfortunately, some writers keep using the same scenarios over and over.  If I tell you a story wherein John and Mary meet, fall in love and live happily ever after, you are not going to want to read a second story that I write wherein I merely change the characters’ names to Bob and Sue, but pretty much tell you exactly the same story with exactly the same details.  Each time I tell a story, I need to bring something new to it, and so do you.

In my case, I have to think of scenarios for meeting that are ‘possible’ within the already existing timeline/scenario set by the author.  Anything the author didn’t originally tell his readers then becomes the fodder for finding new stories.  Tolkien told us how Faramir and Eowyn met in Lord of the Rings.  But he did not tell us how Eomer and Lothiriel met.  He tells us they married and had a son named Elfwine, but he never explored their history/story or told us much of them.  (Some even say Lothiriel and Elfwine are not canon characters since they did not appear in the main story line, but in additional writings of Tolkien.)

So, if I want to write about Faramir/Eowyn, I either have to flesh out the details of how Tolkien said it happened, filling in gaps that he didn’t bother to mention as to their meeting and falling in love, or I have to pick up my story after they’ve met and continue on from there into the unknown.  But if I write Eomer/Lothiriel, so long as I follow the details of history and the timeline, I have a lot more leeway in the story I tell.

But that’s just part of it.  I’ve written many Eomer/Lothiriel stories.  Others have also.  So why write another one?  There isn’t any point (not even I would want to read it), if a new story didn’t bring something new and creative to the tale.

The same is true for anything we write, even completely original works.  Find something new to say or explore about love at first sight.  Find a creative way to storm the castle and defeat the evil king.  Find/create new and different characters, with different personalities.  Not all dwarves should sound and act like Gimli.  Not every medieval fantasy requires elves that look and act like Legolas.  Love at first sight doesn’t happen exactly the same way for everyone.

It’s easy to copy details that another writer has already dreamed up and written, but we are writers, not transcribers.  We should be creating our own details, or looking at them in new ways, or exploring things they didn’t touch on.

Be the daisy growing in the bed of roses.  Find something different to say.  Then you might not be lost in the crowd.

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Wow, You Really Can Buy ANYTHING on Amazon

I was on the Yahoo page that gives me headline lists of stories, ads, etc. (many of them old, outdated and rehashed from before, but that’s a separate issue…).  They tend to have a thing in the upper right corner with links to 10 things Trending.  One was Chris Hemsworth, so I clicked to see what that was about. 

When I went back to the Yahoo page, one of the items in the list was an Amazon.com ad.  It read:  Buy Chris Hemsworth on Amazon.  Free shipping on Qualified Orders.

Should have checked the price.  Might be too good a deal to pass up, eh?  And if there’s free shipping to boot…

Writers Looking to be Published

Blogger Bryn Donovan recently did a post about Fantasy and Sci Fi Publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts.  You might want to have a look if that’s the sort of thing you write (though the list mentions some other genres to a smaller extent):  http://www.bryndonovan.com/2018/01/08/fantasy-and-science-fiction-publishers-who-accept-unsolicited-manuscripts-2018/

Fantasy and Science Fiction Publishers Who Accept Unsolicited Manuscripts – 2018

by Bryn Donovan

Hey there! I know many of my readers aspire to publishing a novel, and many of them write fantasy and science fiction, so I put this post together to help them. I did a post like this a couple of years back, but it needed updating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Could You Repeat That Three Times, Really Fast?

“English is weird.  It can be understood through tough, thorough, thought though.”

                               – unknown (teeshirt saying found in Signals.com catalog)

I found the above in a catalog, and though merely intended as humor, it has a ring of truth to it.  I’ve heard that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn, because unlike most other languages, we have a fairly blatant disregard for common rules.  “Here’s the rule, except when it’s not…” seems to be the standard.  Even so, as writers, it is our task to make those words all come together in a way that makes sense to the reader, and hopefully has meaning beyond the correctness of the wording.

Best of luck in your writing endeavors this new year.  I’ve rather been languishing myself, but a recent burst of inspiration has spawned two short fan fiction stories (in a new universe than the one I usually write), with a third in progress.  Hey, I’ll take what I can get if it motivates me writing again.  I’ll work on going back to my WIP in due course.

Ready or Not, Here Comes 2018

How ever you celebrate the coming new year, be safe and as healthy as possible.  Best wishes for the new year.

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change in mood
And saved some part
Of a day I rued.

               – Robert Frost

 

My Favorite Christmas Songs, Redux

Last year I posted a list of my favorite Christmas songs, with links so you could listen to them.  That list still stands, but I’m adding the B team to the list to update it for this year.

Enjoy, and Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate this season.

  • I Never Spend a Christmas That I Don’t Think of You – Statler Brothers

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQbL8X5xaYw]

  • Someday At Christmas – Stevie Wonder & Andra Day

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmG0mPoWMkA]

  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKb3JKZnfOM]

[heard in The Santa Clause 2, but this doesn’t get cut off during the chorus]

  • Snoopy’s Christmas vs. The Red Baron – The Royal Guardsmen

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sh-J4GSPgAM]

  • Angels We Have Heard On High – The Piano Guys, Peter Hollens, David Archuleta, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5mdybeyLVc]

You can find the original (last year’s) list at: 

https://mymindlessdrivel.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/my-favorite-christmas-songs/

Actual History or Misremembrance?

I’ve mentioned a time or two that I do genealogy research.  One of the interesting things you find is that most families have various “family stories” that get passed along through the years.  Usually, there is at least some element of truth in them, but often they have veered from fact.  Sometimes that is due to someone purposely giving misleading information, but more often it seems to be the result of faulty memory.  Someone told me a story ten years ago.  I tell you about it, but some of the details are hazy so I just fill them in as best as I can remember them.  Then you do the same to someone else, and on and on it goes.

This can be useful in writing.  Perhaps the intent was never to mislead or lie, but maybe someone is acting based on misinformation that is imperfectly remembered.  Haven’t most of us recalled a shared event with someone else (friend or family) only to have them remember the details differently than you do?

In genealogy, while the stories are interesting, they can also be a hindrance to finding out the truth that you seek.  Sometimes, you never do find out all the true details, and the best you can manage is a “guess” as to how the story got started.

Just a thought, when you want to add an element of surprise to a story line.

Don’t Leave Them Hanging

It’s become popular today that authors write a book series rather than single, stand-alone novels.  Whether this is due to what publishers want, or the writer feels they’ve created a world that will take several books to tell the story, I don’t know, but the fact remains that they are common.

In and of themselves, that isn’t a bad thing.  If readers are enjoying a story and its characters, they usually aren’t eager to reach The End.  They like knowing there is more to come.  BUT, it has to be done correctly.

I’ve read reviews on Amazon where maybe the first book in a series is on sale or free (probably to get readers started and encourage them to buy the remaining books).  But too many times the reviews howl with people annoyed that the book never reaches a resolution by itself – you are forced to buy the next book to find out what happens.

An author shouldn’t try to FORCE their reader into buying the second and subsequent books.  The writer’s job is to make them want to buy the rest of the books in the series, because they want ‘more’.  Take for example the Harry Potter books.  Each book was self-contained.  It began, something happened and there was a resolution of some sort.  No, the resolution didn’t solve every single problem of every single character in the book, but it resolved the immediate conflict.  The reader then thought, “Wow!  I can’t wait for the next book to see what else happens!”  And they willingly waited the year to get the next one (albeit not always patiently). 

But if the writer tries to force that, by not resolving the conflict in any way and leaving it til the next book to see if the hero loses their tenuous grip on the cliff face, the reader gets so angry they just toss the book and swear never to read anything by that author again.  I am not aware of any author who has successfully managed to leave one book in a series unresolved without angering readers. 

Yes, there can be cliffhangers.  Rick Riordan writes the well-known middle-school books about Percy Jackson.  In one book of the series, at the end of it two characters are falling into a very bad place.  The thing is, that wasn’t the story resolution needed – there had been a quest to obtain an object, and that quest succeeded or failed.  The cliffhanger was incidental to that quest.  Consequently, the reader wanted to go to the next book to see if they survived the fall (given the premise of the series there was reason to believe they could survive), and if they did, what happened to them next?  It set up the next book, but THIS book still resolved its main story.

Don’t try to play games with your readers and give them incomplete books.  If you do, they won’t be your readers for long.  Do your job – finish the story, then move on to the next story.  It may continue and add to the previous story, but it should be possible to rewrite each individual book as a stand-alone story if necessary.  Beginning, middle, end.  The rest is cream – extra, more, new situations and conflicts.  Separate books are not separate acts or chapters in a story so that the beginning is Book 1 and the ending is Book 4, with Books 2 and 3 being the middle.  They are connected stories in a connected world, but they should work all on their own.

Happy writing!