“Space is the breath of art.”American architect Frank Lloyd Wright
Nowadays, a lot of us have had the experience of reading a fast-paced, action-packed book that jumps from one disaster to the next with no room to breathe. And according to most writing advice, escalating plot tension is the “correct” way to write. But it is not a reflection of real life. While many events may happen to us in a row, there is also downtime between events for us to grieve or process changes. There is also a baseline “before”, a status quo before things change. Life before the zombie apocalypse /oppressive government regime/ regulation of magic / dragon extinction, etc…
In a book, these “before” and “during” spaces give the reader room to breathe. A temporary release of the tension allows readers to process what they read and to form strong attachments to your characters. Repeat after me: A story needs downtime. A story needs room to breathe.
Continue reading “Room to Breathe: Negative Space in Writing.”
Happy Friday everyone! It’s time for – you guessed it – Friday Photo Prompts! Today I decided to post photos of art installations.
I love how art installations alter our perceptions of the world around us. They make us reconsider mundane objects. They transform ordinary spaces. I think there is potential for some great fantasy world-building in these photos. How could you incorporate elements of these pictures into a fantasy or sci-fi story?
Continue reading “FRIDAY PHOTO PROMPTS: Art Installations”
Let’s cozy up together…and talk about…writing rituals.
You might ask yourself: what’s the difference between a ritual and a habit? Well, habits are things we do every day without thought – drinking water, brushing our teeth, tying our shoes. Through repetition, these tasks have become effortless. Unlike habits, rituals are not passive. Rituals require mindfulness. Rituals are a choice we make, over and over again.
Continue reading “Writing Rituals: Creating a Third Space.”
For today’s Friday photo prompt, I chose photos of people that invite you to tell their story. As writers, it’s easy to get caught up in the physical details – hair color, eye color, skin color – and lose a big portion of what makes us human. Characterization isn’t just what someone looks like – but what they do – their small gestures, habits, idiosyncrasies, the way they dress, the work they do, the things they create, the way they interact with people…
Continue reading “Friday Photo Prompts”
Happy April everyone! I’m happy to report the weather is finally sunny here. While I have some free time, I’ve been trying to work on the last few chapters of my novel. Since it’s good to have a goal and something to work towards, I’ve decided to join April’s Camp NaNoWriMo.
Continue reading “April: Camp NaNoWriMo”
If you’re looking for writing inspiration, go no further. These ten images will get ideas percolating in no time. Let these strange and awe-inspiring landscapes from real life inspire your next project!
Continue reading “Friday Photo Prompts”
There comes a time in every writer’s life where they’re asked to write a synopsis of their book. Not to be confused with sales copy (which is persuasive marketing to get readers to buy your book) the synopsis discloses a book’s entire narrative arc. It divulges to an agent or publisher what happens in your story, from start to finish. And it reveals all the twists and surprises that are held back from your reader. A synopsis needs to convince an agent or publisher that your premise is exciting and marketable. It assures them that character actions and motivations make sense. On the flip side, it can reveal plot flaws, lack of structure or hackneyed or cliched ideas.
The dreaded task of writing a synopsis is not fun or easy, but necessary. Most agents or publishers will ask for a synopsis (in addition to a query letter and manuscript sample) before considering taking on a book. Unfortunately, there is no one “right” way to write a synopsis, but the general consensus is that it should be 500-700 words, single-spaced. So how do you convey everything about your book in a modicum of space?
Continue reading “How to Write a Novel Synopsis”
It’s almost a cliche at this point. The writer staring a blinking cursor in a blank Word document or at an untouched sheet of paper, unable to go on. And while many claim to have writer’s block, it’s sort of like claiming you’re haunted by the ghost of an 18th-century apple scrumper. There’s nothing to prove you aren’t possessed by a barefoot French urchin boy in a neighboring fruit orchard, but nothing to prove you are either. In other words – it’s all in your head.
Continue reading “What To Do When You Get Stuck”
One of the best things about writing in the fantasy fiction genre is that anything goes. I’m not saying there aren’t rules – there are – Harry Potter wasn’t able to bring his parents back from the dead, the One Ring gave Frodo powers, but not without consequence. If done correctly, magic or superpowers shouldn’t be a panacea to all life’s problems or there would be nothing at stake, nothing for our hero to overcome or run up against. There are limits to magic and rules that govern fantasy worlds. But – the good news is, as a writer – you make the rules! You can create a fictional world of fish people, so long as you can convincingly explain to the reader how they’re able to breath under water, what kind of teeth they have for eating prey and how they’re able to navigate the darkest depths of the ocean. Fantasy – no matter how far-fetched – must have a basis in reality or you risk the reader suspending their disbelief.
Which is why a lot of fantasy worlds draw from science, historical events, real people or historical periods. Doing this provides the reader with a recognizable framework through which to view the world. Going forward, let’s call that framework belief glasses. As long as the writer provides the reader with a pair of belief glasses, the reader should be able to comfortably navigate the writer’s world and not get taken out of it. So when you’re creating those glasses, why create ones that only see white people? Why create glasses that can see dragons but not women in positions of power? Why not make full-spectrum glasses?
Continue reading “Diversity in Fantasy: We Can Do Better.”
Writing and creating art are most often solitary experiences – hours spent staring at blank computer screens or pieces of paper or canvas – time spent trying to find the right words or colors. Time, largely spent, in our own minds. But we don’t have to – and shouldn’t – create within a bubble! Most art is made within a community, with support from family and friends, with sage advice from mentors, with the occasional self-help book. If you’re having trouble getting started or finishing a project, here are some books that will help.
Continue reading “1o Books Every Creative Should be Reading.”