Guest Post from Alex Willging

September 9, 2010 at 5:46 am (Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

First things first, I have to thank Cassandra for this opportunity to write a guest post on her blog.  I’m an admirer of her writing style and I thoroughly enjoyed her novel, Deaths Daughter (a review of which can be read on my own blog, The Rhapsodist).

As an amateur reviewer and aspiring writer, I’ve gone into quite a few stories over the years—short stories, novels, TV shows, films, and even a few video games.  Some of these stories entertained me, some of them were thought-provoking, and a fortunate few were able to do both.  And there were more than a few stories that didn’t really grab me at all.

I’ve had some time to think about this matter and the conclusion I’ve reached is that it helps to really know the premise of your story and flesh it out as best you can.

It’s all too easy to have an idea.  You’re sitting there, minding your own business, and then wham!  You can see it all in your mind’s eye—the protagonist, the antagonist, the conflict, the setting.  And you go to your notebooks or your computer to start to writing it all out… and you realize it’s not the best thing you’ve ever done.  The premise is kinda cool, maybe you’ve got a few bits of dialogue that are too hilarious not to be used, but not much else stands out.

So you stick it in your drawer or save your notes on your hard drive, and go back to the rest of your life.

I think some of the best stories are built off those randomly-written notes.  You start collecting them after a while and maybe you begin to mix and match things up—the hero in this story idea is now the villain in another concept, the sidekick maybe gets some real development, and you might jump through ten thousand different genres and sub-genres before you find something you really like.

Revision is a painful process, but it wouldn’t hurt if it didn’t care about producing your best material.  And I can think of so many stories I’ve read or experienced where it seems like the author didn’t want to bother with a second or third draft.  However, if you don’t put yourself through the misery of producing a really good story, you just might be giving that pain over to your readers, who’ll be miserably picking their way through your tale, trying desperately to understand what’s going on.

But how will you know what’s your best story?  Well, that’s something every writer has to decide for himself or herself.  You might produce ten thousand non-starts before you hit on the One Good Idea that forms the heart of your best work.  It will be whatever gets you writing more and writing better.  And when you reach something like that, you can sit back and smile, basking in the glow of your creation.

Just don’t smile for too long, because then come the editors, the literary agents, and those critical readers who will tear your beloved work to shreds.  And your cycle of pain and beauty begins all over again, and again, and again…

Note from Cassandra: Thanks Alex for your wonderful post today, and for all your support with Death’s Daughter.  And thanks for hosting me today as I continue my blog tour.

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Blooming Idea

August 14, 2010 at 5:50 am (Feature) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I want to thank Elisa from Where’s My Pencil for passing on The Blooming of an Idea Award to me.

I’m not really sure what the rules are with this one so I thought I would just mention in passing the idea behind this blog and then pass the award on to some very interesting bloggers.

The idea of Cassandra Jade in the Realm is to share ideas about writing. Not just me sharing my ideas but to have the chance to hear from other writers and readers what they think about writing and to learn from that and to help pass those ideas on to others. I love being part of such a helpful online community and the blogs I visit regularly and the people who visit here regularly are always full of helpful and sometimes surprising information.

Thanks to everyone who contributes the excellent comments to this blog.

Okay, to pass the award along:

Alex Willging over on The Rhapsodist for his continuing look into sci-fi television and books. I always love hearing his thoughts on a range of interesting texts.

Lynn Rush for her positive and upbeat view on the world – and her great taste in movies and movie quotes.

And to Lua Fowles who always has something very interesting to say about words and writing.

And that’s all for today. Thanks again for the award.

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Blog Tour

August 3, 2010 at 5:30 am (September Blog Tour) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This schedule might move a bit yet but here is the tour schedule for September. I’m asking the owners of the blogs I am visiting to check the links (I’ll have checked them but mistakes happen) before the tour and let me know if there is anything wrong (date, topic, link).

September 1: Guest post on Eric’s blog (Working my Muse) about character.

September 2: Guest post on Geoffrey’s blog (Misanthropology101) about the writing life.

September 4: Guest post on Lua Fowles blog (Like a Bowl of Oranges) about the need for quiet confidence.

September 7: interview on Sonia  Clark’s blog (Sonya Clark).

September 9: Guest post on Alex Willging’s blog (The Rhapsodist) about writing fantasy.

September 12: Guest post on Laura Diamond’s blog (Diamond – Yup, Like the Stone) about females in fantasy.

September 13: Guest post on Alex J Cavanugh’s blog (Alex J Cavanaugh) about visuals that help the writing process.

September 14: Guest post on Mason Canyon’s blog (Thoughts in Progress) about the origin of an idea.

September 15: Interview on Carol Kilgore’s blog (Under the Tiki Hut).

September 16: Interview on Susan Whitfield’s blog (Susan Whitfield’s blog).

September 18: Guest post on Jemi Faser’s blog (Jemi Fraser) about making fantasy unique.

September 20: Guest post on Nancy Allen’s blog (Nancy Kelly Allen – Writing Workshop) about reading.

September 22: Interview on Lee Robertson’s blog (Only Time Will Tell).

September 25: Guest post on Barb’s blog (The Creative Barbwire) about Death’s Daughter.

September 30: Guest post on Rosemary’s blog (Miss Rosemary’s Novel Ideas) about what happens after the manuscript is accepted.

And this one is not strictly in September but is definitely part of the tour:

October 3: Interview on Little Scribbler’s blog (Little Scribbler).

As you can see it is a busy month but there are still dates free if you would like to take part in the tour and host me for a day. Otherwise, I hope you come along on the tour.

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Politics in Fantasy

July 25, 2010 at 6:04 am (Plot, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have this story outline I’ve been kicking around forever and I have always wanted to write it. Yet every time I’m between projects or looking for something new I have chosen not to begin this particular project.

There may be a very good reason.

Essentially the story is a political thriller but set between two governments that don’t actually exist in a world that also doesn’t exist. See, I’ve always been interested in politics and diplomacy and this story kind of evolved out of that. It really is a guide on how not to be diplomatic and yet still not cause a war. The focus is on two characters that represent opposing governments but each have their own agenda independent of their respective governments.

The reason I don’t think I’m ever going to write this story is because I can’t think of anyone who would want to read it. The sheer number of people that don’t like real politics kind of convinces me that finding out about fictional politics wouldn’t really work for most people. And while other authors have used fictional governments as the scene to make social commentary, that isn’t what I would be intending. The story would simply be about the characters and there would be no social statement.

I have to wonder how many ideas are out there floating around that won’t ever see fruition because their owner decides they just don’t fit their current needs.

Do you have an idea you’ve sent to limbo?

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