alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
It's birthday week! My birthday was yesterday, and my husband's birthday is Saturday! To celebrate, I worked hard last week to finish up the next story in The Young Lord's Servants. Take a break (it's only a few pages) and catch up with Tul and Dai and their dragon lords.

Find Custodians of Fire on Amazon, here.

Winter has come, cold and snowy. This tale is about the little things we do, to warm each other.

If you haven't read any of my short stories in this series, you can find them all at Amazon. Start with Protectors of the Rice, first, then Watchers in the Tower.

Protectors of the Rice
Watchers in the Tower

If you enjoy them, please share and review! I tell Amazon they're for 3rd through 6th graders, but that doesn't mean older youths and adults can't read them.
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
(The writing continues. You can see all the posts in the story on the tag, demonspirits.



The coach stuck on the road once, and it took all the horses to pull it free. Rask did not appreciate having to do such menial labor, and I had to take a firm hand with him to keep him from leaving the slower horses behind once we were moving again. Thankfully, the rain stopped soon after and the clouds thinned enough to let the afternoon sun through. The tiny flowers that hide in the scrub opened up to catch the gentle light in little dots of purple and yellow.

Read more... )

We're still at the castle! Darn these people! When will they be on their way? Tonight? Tomorrow?

Also, in a trope-filled setting like this one, obviously Thorgun must be important! Is she:
A) a love interest?
B) a magic using secret agent?
C) a competent servant?
D) all of the above?
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
More with Prince Detlef! Part 1 is here. Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed I've already given this story its own tag, demonspirits.


Read more... )

The vote was for him to visit his relatives, but we're not there, yet! Do you think he'll make it there soon, or will it take a while?
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
I've been trying to get my brain back in gear after last weekend (I helped cook for over 540 people at Maumee Scout Camp). I couldn't make it work on one of the projects I already have, so I started writing something new. Care to see the beginning?

Read more... )

So.. where shall he go?

To see the mysterious elves?
To visit his mother's family in the mountains?
Over the mountains to the green lands beyond?
The kingdom next door?
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
Yesterday, I sent Watchers in the Tower through Amazon's Kindle publishing system. Today, it's available for you to read! This is the second short story featuring Dai and Tul, two young boys who live in a world ruled by dragons. We meet them again at the end of summer, just as the harvest is ready.

It's a quick read (just over 3000 words), but only 99 cents. It's written for the Middle School age bracket in that I avoid any ten dollar words, but I wrote it so I could enjoy it, so other grown fantasy fans can, too.

The first story was originally published as The Young Lord's Servants. It has been renamed to Protectors of the Rice, and the series to The Young Lord's Servants.

[livejournal.com profile] rowyn, who is currently publishing her first book as a serial over on her livejournal (A Rational Arrangement, a regency-style fantasy romance novel), drew a sketch of the Young Lord and posted it on Twitter a little while ago.




I want to write at least ten more short stories in this setting. If you enjoy them, please leave comments, reviews, and spread the word! Comments are fuel to the fire, and keep a writer going when the going is tough.

Protectors of the Rice: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QB4SFGK
Watchers in the Tower: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0195IYZQW
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
I mentioned an idea for a talking gun on Twitter, and was asked to write something, even if just a scene or two. So, here you go! I really like both the gun and the protagonist in this scene. :)

Read more... )
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
Hello! It's been far too long since I last posted anything on here. There are reasons for that.

My day-to-day situation has improved, though things are still unsettled on the housing front. Still, my life is so much less stressful that I can write again! This is an immense relief. I spent a lot of time thinking that all my creativity and skill had just dried up and I was no good anymore. Then my situation changed, and suddenly I can write again. And the ideas are back. I was just too stressed and depressed to spare cycles for creativity.

So! I've started writing an urban fantasy novel about a real estate agent (no, really). I wrote and put some polish on a fairy tale about a shelter dog, but I think Amber and the Fairy Dogmother has to be trunked for now. I can't find a suitable market for it just yet (that I'm actually eligible for), and I'd need it illustrated before I'd want to self-pub, even if it does stand on its own.

I have ideas (finally) for what to do with the world of The Young Lord's Servants (Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QB4SFGK?*Version*=1&*entries*=0). The plan is to write a bunch more stories with the same two boys, and rename the series The Young Lord's Servants. That means I need a new name for the story. I can put off making that choice until I've written a second story, though.

And I have thoughts about another setting involving asteroid miners and dragons. That's not even on the back burner, yet. Still at the shopping list stage.

So, next up is working on the real estate novel. Then, short stories about the boys. In the spring, if I can line everything up, I hope to be able to run a Kickstarter to fund illustrations for Starlit Rays (Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Q0SZ5II?*Version*=1&*entries*=0) and finally get it published as a short children's book. I have no idea if I'll have finished the novel by then. I've never finished a novel before. We'll see.
alpharaposa: (Tempor)
Tempor,

The enclosed letter of introduction makes clear that you are my representative at the Grante branch. You have my full backing in whatever decisions you make. Do whatever is necessary to bring their records into line with our standards.

With warmest regards,
Mores


----
Tempor hoped that he remembered the local language well enough from his lessons. He picked up his trunk with some effort, and walked inside the grim, grey building.

It took him a moment to see clearly once inside. The daylight outside had been sharp and glaring, but only a small portion of that light slipped through the dusty windows. A large lantern aided three clerks as they worked.

Tempor set the trunk down on the floor, uncertain of what else to do. One of the clerks glanced up at the sound, then leaned back and rapped on the wall behind her with her knuckles.

The dim light was unkind to the man who walked through the door. His florid face stood out like a rash among the gray stone and old wood, and his large frame would have been more at home somewhere with fewer walls. He sported a mustache that nearly touched his sideburns, but no beard. Tempor, having known a few dwarves but no humans before today, found the missing beard more distracting than the presence of the mustache.

"What brings you by?" the man asked. Tempor appreciated the polite tone of voice, and tried not to shrink beneath the gimlet stare.

Tempor produced the envelope from his pocket, pausing a moment to make sure it was the correct letter. "I'm Tempor Amuta. Mores sent me," he said simply. He hoped that would be sufficient explanation.

The man took the letter, then backed up by the lantern to read it. Tempor could hear him breathing through his nose. Finally, the man refolded and pocketed the letter with a scowl.

"I'm Rawlins Colborn. This is- was my bank. Elfreda, take Mr. Amuta to his office." With that, he left back through the door.

The clerk that had looked up earlier carefully set her quill down and dropped from her chair to the floor. Her cheeks were ruddy and her face was thin, but she managed to look cheery and natural in the lantern light. Tempor wondered how she could look so similar to the man and yet so different. "Come this way, please," she told Tempor. When he lifted the trunk once again, she frowned briefly. "It's upstairs," she said apologetically.

Tempor bit the inside of his lip and moved the trunk to the corner of the room, out of the way. Elfreda gave him a reassuring smile. "Don't worry. We won't let anything happen to it before you go home tonight."

That only reminded the elf that he had no idea where he would stay. He fought panic as the human woman led him up a narrow flight of steps. Where would he start looking? How would he know who was reliable? He barely paid attention to where they were going, and nearly ran into the door when she stopped.

"Are you alright?" she asked.

Tempor sighed and tried to sum up his thoughts in the unfamiliar language. "This is all very new," he told her. She seemed as confused as he was, for a moment.

"Oh, do you mean new to you? The building's been here a while, after all."

Tempor nodded.

"Well, I hope you manage to settle in," she told him, opening the door.

The room boasted a large window with light bars that may have held panes at one time. Now, the wind slipped inside easily, stirring the cobwebs that lurked in the corners. The desk and chair were much like the ones downstairs, and looked recently added. Dusty shelves stood bare. There wasn't a lot of room to move around, but the shelves added plenty of storage space for Tempor's needs.

"This is-"

"Oh, I know."

"Very good!" Tempor finished, wishing he knew a better word for his relief.

"It is?" Elfreda asked.

"Light!" he exclaimed, gesturing at the sunlight that gripped the edge of the desk. "And air!" he continued. "It's like home."

"You don't mind being on the third floor?" she asked, incredulous.

Tempor shook his head. "I love it," he told her. "I worked in a tree at home."

She stared at him for a moment, and he realized that the trees around here, however impressive, were probably nothing like the ancient giants at home. The thought of working on a tiny branch made him smile.

"Well, if there's anything you need," she began.

Now he found himself on familiar territory. "Please show me back downstairs," he told her. "I need an item from my trunk, and the books."
alpharaposa: (dragonread)
[livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar has her weekly word challenge. This week, I wrote the scene below:

---

Sometimes, Rhodoleia hated being a spy.

She had spent several hours admiring the disturbing personalia of Rhew's career as a dark wizard. Centaur skins, carefully tanned and soft, decorated both the walls and the floors. A dryad in a glass column was illuminated by enspelled light that flowed through the thick liquid around her. And of course, skeletons everywhere. Some of them moved to look at her as they walked past.

Rhodoleia cooed over the shimmering colors, petted the soft pelts, and caressed the dead animals on their slick skulls.

"I've saved the best for last, my dear," Rhew told her, walking to yet another iron door. He flung it open. "My favorite collection."

The room was full of deadwood built into trees, and on the branches were iron cages.

Every cage held a fairy. Pixies, brownies, quicklings. Even, in one cage decorated with bits of gold, a leprechaun. The elven spy unclenched her jaw and put on a delighted smile. She couldn't quite manage to say anything yet, so she pretended to be completely captivated as she walked through the display.

"Why don't you take one? A little handsel, a token of our association."

He might as well have struck her with lightning. Just one? She wanted to gut him, here and now, and take them all back to the forest.

"Any one I want?" She managed to sound more excited than furious.

"Of course," he said. "I can always find more. That's half the fun."

Rhodoleia ignored his laugh as her eyes scanned the cages. They fell for a moment on one pixie that sat with dead eyes on the floor of her cage, each wing stripped of the membrane, so that only the nervure remained. She'd never fly again.

But the pixie also had dull brown hair, and the role the elf was playing would never allow her to collect it. Instead, she wrenched herself away and chose a different pixie with red tipped tresses and wings that shimmered like a rainbow. Rhew took the cage down and presented the pixie to her with all his mocking courtliness.

She didn't have to endure it much longer, at least. Soon, she could walk outside, whistle for her gryphon, and mount up, keeping the pixie caged as long as the elf was in view of the tower.

The dwarves have a term for this, she thought, called zugzwang. It meant a place or position where, no matter what you do, you lose ground.

Back behind an iron door, in an iron cage with a devastated fairy, Rhodoleia had lost a little bit of her soul. She wondered how much of it she had left.

Sometimes, she really hated being a spy.
alpharaposa: (Tempor)
Read the first part here. Icon by [livejournal.com profile] djinni



Dear Father,

Grante is beautiful when seen from a ship. There are tall white cliffs to either side. They shine in the sun. Grante's harbor lies between them, like an open door. The tops of the cliffs and the land beyond the city is green.

The city itself is loud and ugly, though. I can't understand how so many people can live packed together like this.


----

Mores was right about one thing. Tempor would never forget the smell of the sea or the sound of the waves.

Elves never get seasick. While there were those who would have expected Tempor to be the exception, he found that the sea air agreed with him. The ship he traveled on was an elven ship, and he found he enjoyed the taste of freshly caught fish. Even the rice and dried kelp staples were intriguingly tasty with the right amount of salt.

Tempor loved to stand near the stern of the ship, enjoying the breeze as he watched the creatures that would play in the wake. He made some attempts to catch fish alongside the crewmen assigned to the task, but soon left off as his efforts were a waste of bait. They only had certain windows of opportunity for fishing, and it was best to let the experts take advantage.

Tempor resolved to try it again when he got the chance.

The crew was informal with him and each other. They called him Oyster at first, because he hadn't wanted to come out much. Then it was Mouse. None of it was harsh, though. Even when some difficult weather blew through, the elves of the crew savored every moment.

Tempor wasn't sure they were all sane, but they loved their work fiercely, and it made them good at what they did. For his part, Tempor stayed below during the storm. The ship sailed through as if it was charmed. Which it was, of course.

Still, he was glad when it was safe to walk on deck without mountains of water dropping on it. He liked the sea, but he didn't love it the way the crew did.

Tempor's first glimpse of Lond had caught his breath. From that distance, the sharp, bright colors dazzled in the sunlight. He watched the other ships pulling in to the same port, but his eyes would steal away to the sheer white cliffs as if of their own accord. He wondered what it would be like, to live in a building made from that stone. You could catch the moonlight in a window, spill it across the floor, and it would gleam, alive.

The port city of Grante, on the other hand, was many colors, most of them some shade of grey or very dirty red. The houses were made of primarily brick or weathered wood. The buildings were squat and square.

Tempor hated the thought of leaving the clean ship and the wide open sea. He could not bring himself to leave the pier and enter the noisy, busy city. Everybody seemed to be going somewhere, doing something.

How would he fit in, here? Where could he?

"Don't just stand there like a chick without a hen." One of the crew, an elf named Iovial, picked up Tempor's modest trunk. "Come on, let's find you a nest."

Tempor followed Iovial into the crowded streets. The smell of the sea gave way to fish and humans as they passed the fish market. Then, even the smell of fish was overwhelmed by the stink of people going about their business. A few stalls in the street sold flowers, and Tempor would have liked to linger, but Iovial seemed to have a destination in mind.

The clerk stuck close to the sailor, and they finally pulled free of the narrow alleys near the markets. The streets seemed to fall away into a grand plaza that was packed with horses and coaches. They paused for a time in front of tall, stone buildings, dropping off passengers or taking them on. The people here carried fewer things but seemed in no less of a hurry.

The stone was not the bright, clean white of the cliffs to either side of town. Instead, it was a dingy gray, streaked with dark stripes that matched the taste of soot in the air.

Practically everybody wore hats. Iovial and Tempor's bare heads with bright hair seemed entirely out of place.

"Here we are," Iovial proclaimed, setting down the trunk. "Formerly the First Bank of Green Downs, now the Grante branch of the Folkhoarding Bank." He flashed a grin at Tempor, not at all disturbed by how little he matched his surroundings. "The captain said to thank you; you were a model passenger on the trip."

Tempor tried to reconcile this somber, dirty building with the Folkhoarding Bank he knew. "Er, thank you," he told the sailor. "I don't think I would have found this on my own."

"Glad to help," Iovial proclaimed, and then he headed back towards the pier and the sea, a bright smudge amid the brown and grey.

Tempor watched him go, then looked up at the bank. He told himself that this was his bank, even here, that it belonged to Mores and was not all that different from the bank back in elven lands.

He was not very convincing.
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
"In our world," said Eustace, "a star is a huge ball of flaming gas."
"Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of."

- CS Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Once upon a time, far away in the deep oceans of the sky, schools of strange fish gathered unseen by human eyes.

They were large and flat, with kite-shaped bodies like the giant manta rays that lurk in our own oceans. Their shining scales were as black as deepest night, sprinkled with tiny, blue and yellow and red dots that glitter when the slightest light touches them. They sang to each other with voices of light, spreading news or finding family and friends by following the songs. When they rested, they faded into the space around them, a silent patch of night, complete with twinkling stars.

Read more... )
----
For [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar, who likes rays.

If you liked the story, or thought I could have done better, please comment! I'm thinking I might ask [livejournal.com profile] meeksp to draw a sketch from this story. Is there a scene you think would be striking or lovely?
alpharaposa: (jaunx)
Bantam, level 1 halfling druid from the town of Pleachy Hawthorne

Pleachy Hawthorne was founded by a druid named Hawthorne, who wanted to build a village that built upon existing wilderness instead of completely displacing it. Houses are dug into the ground or built out of stone and earth and roofed with sod. Plows are never used - tilling is done by keeping chickens and pigs in the appropriate areas to turn the earth. Compost is a way of life.

Bantam chickens are kept by most families. Some miniature sheep graze around the orchard, providing wool and enough milk for lovingly crafted cheeses. Diminutive pigs provide tilling power and bacon. Fruit trees, nut trees, and berry bushes are encouraged, and the gardens are planted with cover or kept safe with mulch.

The village of halflings has prospered. Now, the younger generation is a bit restless, with some of them ready to go out and try their wings. Bantam, one of two apprentices to Hawthorne, is among those with the urge to travel.
alpharaposa: (Default)
The Crowdfunding community is in the LJ spotlight this week. (No tags - I'm posting from my phone on break at the dayjob.)

Anyway, some folks have commented how few patrons are participating. That's sad, because patrons have two things that I, and many creators, really crave.

No, not money. Money is icing.

What I crave as a writer are ideas and feedback. I get ideas of my own, but in a slow and rare trickle when it's just me. However, one person talking with me to start sparking from? I can spin a whole world out of somebody saying that they want to read about a villainous polar bear.

Patrons are vital. They provide the proteins that my little creative enzymes can take apart and put back together into stories and poems. Feedback provides a stock of more proteins, to make it grow. (Especially questions. Asking who or what something is? Oooh, amino acids on parade.)

So, patrons, you have a market, too. That idea nobody ever writes about? I bet there's someone out there who's staring at a blank page who would love to know what it is.

And once you cultivate an artist, they may start producing works just because they thought of you. I probably would have never written a short story about giant space rays if I didn't know that one of my friends likes rays.
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
This is something I've been writing off and on, for fun, during stray moments for a while.
____

Tempor Amuta was boring, an unusual trait in an elf. He had no hobbies to speak of, and never went adventuring. Though most elves changed professions every few decades, he was nearly two hundred years old and did the same work with the same company since he first apprenticed there as a youth of seventy-five.

The Folkhoarding Bank was one of only a few elven banks. Elves were not known for money-counting and investing, but many of them accumulated projects or interests in their long lives and it all added up eventually. Tempor spent every day making updates to the ledgers, calculating returns and occassionally losses as news of this or that venture arrived. His desk and chair were worn as if carved for him, as comfortable as his routine.

Tempor's hair was bright and blond and held back in the same ponytail every day, with a few strands that always worked their way loose by the time he took his lunch. His face was unlined and pale, with grey eyes the color of a snowy sky. No matter the weather, he took a walk every evening just as the stars began to appear in the sky. The bridges and gardens of his home town had a few subtle marks where he tended to stop every time to appreciate a particular bend in the stream or lean over to smell a favorite flower bed. His home was a modest apartment high in an old tree, cool and quiet. His siblings sporadically sent him new clothes in an effort to spark a taste for variety in his life. He wore them, but that's all the further it went. For Tempor, the change of the seasons was all the change he needed. The daily rhythm of his work was its own music that carried him through the years as sweetly as a waltz.

But even the longest waltz yields the dance floor eventually, and one day he finished his work, closed the last ledger of the day, and was met at the door by the owner of The Folkhoarding Bank.

"We purchased a human bank today," the old elf told him, "And you will be our representative in their main office."

Tempor stared at him in shock.

"Mores," he said, "I couldn't-"

"I won't hear it." Mores said with a thump of his walking cane. "You've earned this position. Who else could we send to help organize the accounts but our most dependable clerk?" He began to walk and Tempor walked with him. "Your travel is paid for and the ravens will deliver corrrespondence weekly. Your salary will be increased to match your new responsibilities."

Worms of cold crawled under Tempor's skin. "Travel?"

The old elf gave Tempor a kind look and told him, softly. "The office is over the sea, in Lond." Then Mores returned to his enthusiasm, "Ah, to travel on a ship again! You never forget the smell of the sea or the sound of the waves."

Later, when Tempor went back over the events of the day, he remembered the rest of that conversation. All the details, the arrangements, the names he would need to know. But for the rest of the walk, he couldn't bring himself to think of it. The curve of the buildings around him were suddenly dear as life to him. Every tree and branch was precious; he could not bear to look away. He was cold, and the warm spring night could not cure it.

Still seized by this chill, Tempor's evening walk took him to his parents' house. He hadn't lived there since he had been able to afford his own apartment, and yet now he wended his way to it like a child with a bruised knee. The old tree was as solid as ever, and Tempor walked inside the door and up the spiral staircase, running his fingers over the polished, living wood. The air was full of the comfort of vanilla, the tree's own scent deep in its heart.

Illis, Tempor's father, was on the first landing tending to a brace of owls. One was perched on a bark-covered glove, obedient as a well-trained dog.

Illis nodded to him as Tempor approached. "These two are fairly promising. I hope to try them in a few weeks."

His father's passions had tended towards animals for as long as Tempor could remember, though every couple of decades Illis tried a different species. The owls were new. Tempor made an effort to show some interest as Illis told him about the soft feathers that muffled sound and the excitement of hunting at night under the stars.

Finally, his father put the owls in their cage with some bits of meat to keep them happy and sat on the bench carved into the side of the tree.

"What brings you here, Tempor? You don't usually visit unannounced."

Tempor half-settled on an elegantly carved chair. "Mores wants me to oraganize a human bank he recently acquired. It's overseas."

His father nodded. "Are you going to go?"

Tempor sighed. "I don't know if I can." He sat dejected while his father looked up at the sky, as if some star could peep down through the branches to provide insight. The silence stretched on, with tickling spring breezes carrying the scent of violets up from below.

"This little village is a long way inside our kingdom," Illis said at last, standing up. "Only elves live here, and we make our homes in trees that live for over a thousand years." He caressed the bark for a moment. "You could almost believe that nothing ever changes here, that this place merely cycles through the same days, the same seasons, the same years over and again, for ever."

The older elf looked at Tempor and smiled. "It's an illusion. Everything changes. Some things change so slowly that you would need the most careful measurements to find a year's growth. Some things change so quickly that it seems absurd to even try to measure it once. Some flowers bloom for one day, and the bees rush to take hold of their bounty. Others bloom a month or more. But not a single blossom lasts an entire year. Sooner or later, everything comes to an end."

Tempor held himself carefully, holding back tears at the thought of the valley and its great trees dying. Illis paused for a moment, then leaned close.

"But change isn't always an end, or even so terrible. It's merely new, which means we have to learn new things when we see it. When you stop learning, though, you don't make yourself impervious to change. Instead, you become like the old tree on a bank that is worn under by the stream. Eventually, the stream cuts you from your support, even though you never did anything different from what worked before."

Illis placed a hand on Tempor's shoulder. "It's not wrong to put down roots, but you're not bound to one place. You're not a tree, Tempor. Go learn new things." He smiled. "Write me about it. I'll be here to write you back."

Then Tempor cried, but in his parents' house there was nobody to see who didn't love him enough to make it okay. He stayed long enough to speak with his mother, who cried a little bit too, and then he went back to his home.

A few days later, he visited the elf who had been his landlord for so long and settled accounts. Tempor didn't know how long he would be away, but there were other, younger elves who might like to stay in the little apartment. It felt wasteful to keep it for himself.

What few things he wanted stored went to his parents' house. The rest fit into one trunk, and then Tempor left the only place he ever knew to go over the sea to Lond.

fairy tales

May. 2nd, 2011 12:22 pm
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
When reading a fairy tale, do you like it when the names are familiar, like Diane or Rick, or should they be exotic, like Morgana or Ellistrae? Do you not really notice? Does it strike you as odd when familiar names are given to people in a strange setting?

writing..

Mar. 24th, 2011 11:05 am
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
First draft of the short story is finished. I've done the "continuity" sweep to make sure all the foreshadowing is correct, so all that's left is to polish the style.

And now I have a problem. The story is written but I can't think of a good title. Gnar.

This happens more often than you might suspect.
alpharaposa: (Default)
Hat tip to [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar for this one: http://www.ergofiction.com/2010/07/surveying-webfiction-feedback/

One of the commenters on the article (oh, irony, that I link to it but do not comment there!) mentioned a writer that uses buttons on the bottom of their posts for quick feedback. Others mention that they receive emails.

Livejournal is an excellent place for comments, but less so for buttons and emails. If I wanted to have the instant feedback, it'd have to be a new poll with every writing post. The question is, would you enjoy having the poll? Is that the sort of thing that you'd find fun or annoying?

What about emails?

[Poll #1597980]

From personal experience, my one serial project I was trying to write, [livejournal.com profile] rockworm, died from a lack of comments, due to the nature of the story. I was using the serial more for world-building than to focus on a particular narrative, and so the comments on the social and physical characteristics of the world were vital to me.

Unfortunately, this is a constant temptation in my writing. I love simply peeking into a "day in the life" for a character in order to look at an interesting place or people, but I often forget to have a conflict. Or if there is a conflict, I have no plans on how to resolve it and fall in love with the little details of the setting over the story itself. Without having an idea of where I'm going, I end up needing comments to steer me, or else I lose focus and find that I can't keep the story going.

If I do go forward with another serial (and I have ideas), then I would need to have a skeleton of a storyline ahead of time in order to avoid that pitfall. Or I'd need readers that answer polls or make comments to give me suggestions I can throw into the mix.
alpharaposa: (Default)
So, I had The 'F' Word on today for background noise and sometimes watching. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Gordon Ramsey invites teams of amateur cooks to work in his restaurant for a dinner consisting of appetizer, main course, and dessert. The patrons have an option of not paying for any course that they feel wasn't worth the money. The team of cooks is rated by how many patrons pay for each course. At the end of the season, whichever team scores best gets to cook in one of Gordon's best restaurants.

As a financial transaction, there is no difference between the patrons paying for their courses and patrons here on livejournal giving me or others donations for art we post for free. There is no obligation to pay; the money is given because the patron feels the product is worth it.

However, as a social transaction, there is a big difference between choosing to not pay for a substandard meal at a nice restaurant and choosing to pay some amount for valued art that's available online. The expectation is that food from a nice restaurant (or even a bad one) will be paid for. Art posted on the internet is mostly expected to be free to view. Some people will even criticize those who request donations, even if both paying and non-paying patrons receive the same thing.

The power of those expectations really changes the social aspects of both transactions.
alpharaposa: (wah)
So, I have two stories about Garanemu currently competing in my head. One is a fairly serious story about a pivotal event in his life, which I stopped writing because the muse skipped out on me. The second is a fluffy thing that just came to mind one day. Since working on the fluffy thing, the first one has returned and been more forthcoming.

But now I have a problem with the fluffy thing. What's the conflict? I'm trying to figure out how to make this a story, and not just a sort of day in the life travelogue.

I mean, part of it will be about Garanemu adjusting to the things that happened to him back in the fairly serious story, but... shouldn't there be more?

In any case, I'm glad that scenes and stuff are coming, even so. Cute scenes, like a girl from town pestering Gyrth with all sorts of bizarre questions (from Gyrth's point of view). And the serious scenes from the first story are showing up now, more slowly but in better shape than my first efforts at it.

And they all come out of sequence, which seems to be how my brain works. No wonder I have a hard time keeping a serial going.
alpharaposa: (Default)
Well, once you've figured out what the monster is for, you can pick out some abilities.

For Horror Monsters, there is a strong tradition of things like blood draining, bites that turn you into another monster, and mind control. To go along with the idea that horror monsters make safe things unsafe, powers given to horror monsters tend to be invasive abilities that violate your borders. Draining your blood leaves few marks and removes the vitality from you. Turning you into a monster robs you of your identity. And mind control is, well, just plain invasive no matter how you slice it.

Notice that these also tend to be powers that are reasonably easy to not notice, too. Vampires get mind control, blood draining, can bring you back as another vampire, and are often inhumanly strong and fast. None of this is obvious just by looking at a standard vampire. This allows them, as a monster, to stay an unknown longer.

For Adventure Monsters, we're usually talking about obvious monsters. Dragons don't hide well, unless they're some kind of shapeshifting or shrinking dragon. Giant boars tend to stand out. In fact, being giant is a popular power for an adventure monster. The bigger and more impressive the monster is, the more impressive is your hero's victory when it's beaten.

Unusual but physically threatening effects are common. Dragons breathe fire. Hydras grow more heads when you cut them off. Medusa has poisonous snakes for hair and turns people to stone. Talos was made of bronze and practically invulnerable.

You can let your imagination run wild in designing abilities, but keep in mind what the monster's for. If you want to scare your readers or players, go for subtle or mental effects. If you want something that would be impressive to the by-standers and give a larger than life feel, then go for something big or flashy. You can mix and match, too. Lots of things in stories and myth have more than one power or weapon. On the other hand, things with just one ability can be very effective in the right setting. Scylla is a terror particularly because she is found with Charybdis.

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alpharaposa

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