Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday Writer's Report

Back to work for me. My little summer break did me well, and now it's back to the grind.

"Grind" makes it sound like a bad thing, but it's not. I'm having fun. Probably writing too much material in relevance to the plot and storyline, but that's okay for now. I can edit more later.

As I was telling Raine yesterday, I'm reaching the part of the story that I have fantasized about for months (if not years), the key conflict/tensions that leads to the climax. I have been writing scenes for this part of the story for months; my desk and walls are filled with notes and many of them are related to this next section.

So, yes, I'm busy.

There's always some threads about writer burnout or why authors take so long to finish the next book in their series. I came to a realization of sorts over the break. Much of my writer's block was self imposed. Life always gets in the way. It's really a matter of not allowing it - and that's the discipline that agents and editors and successful authors are always going on about.

For me, though, it was more of a revelation that when I actually sit down and type, it turns out okay. Often better than okay. It's just pure belief in myself and the process of creativity. I think that can be hard to find sometimes, and I think that's why some writers take longer than others.

I'm as subject to burn out as anyone, I suppose. In planning for my "world", I made it overly diverse. My theory is that if I get tired of writing about Elves, I can pop over to another section of the world, and write about another culture or race.

I'm a little windy today, as it's been awhile since I've gotten to chat about the WIP, and I'm excited. Can you tell? :-p

But, let's talk about you! How was your break, what are you up to, what are you reading/watching?

Don't want to talk about yourself? Let's talk genre. Some random questions I came up with while lying in bed last night. No right or wrong answers, in theory.

1) Dragon Pregnancy: From the time two dragons mate, and the egg is laid - how long does a dragon need to sit on its egg before it hatches? How big is a newborn dragon?

2) If the author is writing in an era before modern measurements, we already assume that the dialogue won't include words like "foot, inch, yard, meter, pounds", etc. But what about description? Is it acceptable to say, "The giant stood 6'6"" or would you rather read descriptions like that from the POV of the protagonist: "The giant stood a full head and shoulders above them both."? The debate being the ease of understanding versus immersion into character POV.

3) What do you think about foreign words in dialogue, to show regional flavor? My observation is that fluent multi-lingual people, where English is not their first language, tend to color their English with the occasional word from another language, particularly in casual speech. If the meaning can be deduced from the context, then it should be bueno. Thoughts?

Or just say hi. Whatever. We have a few reviews that just went up and some more are scheduled, as I whittle down my TBR list.

Til the next.


  1. (sorry reposted for typos)

    Raine said...
    First of all....over 99000 words!!!!! Wow!

    I'm so excited, I might have to do a little Raine dance ;-)

    Ok serious business...

    1. Plucked out of the air...I think about 4 months. Cause not really sure why. Cause its gotta be shorter than pregnancy..but also its like a ...DRAGON!!! You know? So it has to take a while. But not stupidly long. Also cause my dragon told me so. ;-)

    2. Second example. Definitley. No use having measurements if there aren't any anyway. Besides it sounds prettier to say 'head and shoulders above' than '6'6"'.

    3. Yes on the odd word..but be sparing with it. Like only every now and then and it has to be obvious what the word means...otherwise it gets a little annoying.

    Missed those weds reports!

  2. 91k words, Raine darlin'. But I look forward to that dance!

    1) Okay!
    2) It's what I've been doing, (as you know), but it's a little challenging. I just didn't want to challenge myself if people were gonna find it annoying.
    3) Well, you can be the judge of usage in the next beta group you get.

    They're back now! :-)

  3. 1) I'd have to blow the dust off my Draconomicon that I won as swag from the Wizards of the Coast booth at Gen Con years ago. It's amazing how much information can be written about dragons, even in relation to a tabletop game setting. :)

    2) I wholly agree with Raine. Given the choice between immersion and accessibility based on arbitrary systems with which the reader is familiar, go with immersion. As long as the communication of what you are trying to convey is not hindered, the prose that keeps the reader immersed in the story is preferable.

    Of course, it is likely that there will be primitive forms of measurement even in non-Enlightened settings. Just remember that necessity is the mother of invention. What would make sense for the people in your setting to measure? How would they measure it? How would they communicate this to another person?

    For smaller distances, using another human being as a unit of measurement makes sense: "the giant stood tall at the height of two men".

    But for longer distances, that would be impractical so even if there is no standard of measurement, they would go "it's three days of hard riding away" - and the reader would still get the general idea of the distances involved.

    3) My views on this are mixed. On one side, I feel that the definition of most words can be derived from context. I also think that foreign words can indeed add flavor to dialogue or prose as long as it makes sense in relation to the material presented. A short story by Dan Simmons called "Dying in Bangkok" did this particularly well, blending Thai words into the story to the point where it felt like an integral part of conveying the story.

    But again, clarity in communication is important. If the writing is so dense with foreign language that even contextual clues are not enough to feel out meaning, that might be muy mala. The reader should not have to struggle to understand the scene being portrayed, otherwise it is something that forcibly pushes them out of the reading. The exact opposite of the feeling of immersion that reading a good book gives us.

    Anyways, good luck with the writing, Bill. Great to see you and the lovely Raine writing again.

  4. Hiya Brian.

    1) Oooh, now that sounds sweet. I'm anxious to know what you come up with.

    Aside, since we've talked about gaming and RPG's before, I'm building a world and magic system that can/will convert well into a gaming dynamic. Why? Probably enough of an answer for another post, but the short answer is that it's the 21st century and multimedia applications have to be taken into consideration.

    2) That's two votes, and that seals my thoughts on it. As I told Raine, and as she has seen, it's what I've been doing. It does challenge my creativity, but that makes it more fun.

    A recent line, "The spear was as thick as (E)'s neck."

    I've been using paces for distance, and heartbeats for seconds/minutes. Day's travel is pretty standard, mentioning leagues or miles is nearly irrelevant to the average peasant anyway.

    I have, however, considered a spec chart as an appendix, with size and lifespans of the various races, the calendar and day measure. Because it's not a 365/24/7 world. It's a little bit slower/longer, so that changes the impact of the measurements.

    They're all relative to a scale, but since certain races can travel great distances in a day, I need to show why that's possible (i.e., it's a much longer day).

    3) My experience with multi-lingualism is that it is most often simple nouns and swear words that get substituted in casual chat. Context is generally obvious there.

    When the Common tongue (English) doesn't have a word for a complicated concept, then the foreign word is surrounded by questions and more context, and that too, becomes obvious. Often foreign languages are superior to English, because they have specific words for complex ideas (i.e., Hebrew has 14 words for "love", indicating differences between familial, intimate, mother-child, God, etc.)


    Thanks, and it's good to be back, and it's good to re-engage our conversations. Til the next.


Thank you for your comment.