Posted in Writing

Dear Synopsis

Dear synopsis,
You & me? We got a problem. See you’re supposed to help me sell my manuscript to agents. You’re supposed to be a road map of my stories plot. Event A begets even B etc. I can understand that But see here’s my problem with you. You’re too bloody short! Nobody can agree on the length to make you. One page?, Two pages?, As many as five? How much detail am I supposed to tell you? How do I incite interest and still keep you so short? You irritate me synopsis. I’m coming after you. Put your affairs in order. You’re gonna get done.

Posted in Writing

Everything I know about fantasy writing, I learned from D&D. No, really.

I am a Dungeons & Dragons nerd. These are the things I learned from playing that have helped me in my writing.

1. World building is important. The world must be flushed out enough so that the reader can see how living there has influenced the characters.

2. Its fantasy! Its not supposed to be real, at the same time, it must be close enough to real life that the audience can live there.

4 Just like in real life sometimes the good guys will role a twenty and sometimes they won’t. Make sure there’s always a way to gain strength from the battle.

5. Have fun!

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The Voice of Calliope

From time to time, every writer, from Homer to plain old me, hears the voice of Calliope. She’s the Greek muse of drama and epic poetry. Its interesting how we, as human beings, try to quiet her in our real lives but extort her to speak as loudly as she likes on our fantasies and our entertainment venues. The purpose of drama is twofold; It can excite and entertain us but it can also present us with challenges and crucibles from which we can grow and learn. Look at Odysseus, the challenges that Calliope sets in front of him ultimately help him to become a better person, and through him, every one of the myriad of people who hear Homer’s tale.

I am writing a story that also has lesson contained therein. I am trying to write a book where the main character most learn to over come his self doubt in order to save his land from an evil Goddess. I hope that will be apparent to my readers. From my mouth, to The Muse’s ear.

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I know this is going to be a controversial topic. Maybe that is way I took so long to write it. I am going to write it anyway because I think its important. I want to talk about miracles. Specifically faith healing. “Why?,” you ask? Because I’ve experienced people I don’t know trying to come up to me while I was minding my own business and trying to heal me. Then, look surprised when it didn’t work, the first was when my family was ordering food at a restaurant. It happened a second time while waiting for the bus at college. This is harmful to me as a a person. I am a person with a disability, that means that I need to cultivate and attitude of independence and non linear thinking. I need to be able to be able to think outside “The Box” in order to live the way circumstance says I must. It is exceedingly hard for me to do that if the society in which I must forge a life thinks that I need to be fixed in order to be happy.

I am a Christian. That means I believe that the creator of the universe became incarnate through the birth of Jesus of Nazareth in order to reconcile his creation to himself. I believe he was capable of doing all the things The Bible says he did. I have even asked him to heal me at times, when life seems hard and the simplest of tasks seems impossible. He has not, for reasons of his own, seen fit to do so.

It is precisely because of his decision that I believe I understand something. Jesus did not live so that he could wave his hand and wipe our problem away. We are after all called to love others as we love ourselves, Perhaps The lord allows problems in the world to give us opportunities to do that. Jesus’ purpose was to change people’s thinking about their God and themselves, and finally to give everything of himself so that people could live peacefully with themselves and their creator. The Lord does not see as man sees,” we are told in 1 Samuel 16:7 “Man looks only on the outward appearance, The Lord looks on the heart.” Jesus ministered a lot to the disabled his many acts of healing were meant to inspire those around him to think of them as God did, and still does, as people with a purpose.

I don’t understand why I must live this way. I certainly don’t like it, that’s true and sometimes, I wish things could be different. It would be easier for me to live this way if some people didn’t look at me and see someone who could be healed by simply laying on hands. I don’t want to preach to people, or tell them what to believe, but they’re when I wish I could tell those faith healers, if they were truly to see me with the eyes of God, they would have seen someone with purpose. I don’t know what my purpose is, but I do know that I’m not a magic trick.

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Inclusion of people with disabilities is a concept that is simple to understand but very difficult to implement correctly. If inclusion is implemented correctly, everyone involved learns to work together in order to cultivate strength and overcome weakness. Seeds of empowerment will forever be planted in the heart. If inclusion is implemented incorrectly, weakness can smother strength and self esteem can wither in the burning heat of anger and self pity.

I’ve struggled with inclusion all of my life. Never more so then when I started college. I needed a lot of help to live in the dorm I couldn’t get in and out of bed on my own. So I often had to go to bed early which left little time for socializing in between classes, because I had to be put in bed when my aid could do it. Due to certain other physical differences, it took me longer to complete classwork. so I was working a lot. I felt that my disability erected a wall between me and my dorm mates that I had trouble breaking and I was sensitive about it.

My senior year, I was required to do a community service project. I was invited to go to a local church to fix burritos for the homeless. No one told us that this church wasn’t wheelchair accessible. I could get in the door but I couldn’t go downstairs to help make food. I remember the priest saying “Handicapped access is a problem for us, but if you stay here and tell people to go downstairs if they try to use the front door, it would be helpful.” I nodded as he locked the door.

This was not inclusion, this was a patronizing attempt to avoid embarrassment. If it wasn’t for the nice young woman who kept me company all night. I would have felt awful.

Since the church didn’t work, I went to a soup kitchen where I was able to work. I helped to peal potatoes and put things in salad. I did it slower than anybody there, but I felt like a part of things. I was there to help and I did.

All people, regardless of circumstance or ability, want to feel seen and heard. Its important for all people to feel included in the right way, for the right reasons.

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World Building

Many characters can grow in the garden of literature, but, they can’t grow in a vacuum. Characters need a context in which to act, just like a flower need soil in which to grow. The world needs to make sense and be consistent. You need to describe the government, the people and the rules of their society and most important, the world needs to be understandable and unique. The world will throw villains and allies at the hero and they must grow organically from the context the world provides. The reader must become invested in this world. These are the most important things to know when building a setting for a story.

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Finding my voice

The purpose of a writer’s voice is to separate them from other writers, the same way a brand separates similar products in the marketplace. Editors look for writers with distinctive and unique voices because readers like unique and different spins on tried and true tales. So I need to find out what makes my voice unique and develop that. Any ideas on how I can further develop my unique voice?

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Shape your world.

I’m going to give you a little advice dear reader. I’ve made the biggest mistakes in my life because I tried to turn myself into something I thought the world wanted me to be. My most anxiety ridden moments happened because I thought that I needed to define myself by someone else’s standard rather than just living by my own. One of the things that writing has taught me is that I need to quiet myself, that is when I hear my characters voices most clearly. The point I’m trying to make is this. Happiness is a subjective state. What makes one person happy might not be true for another. The only person you need to please is yourself. When I tried to shape myself to reach somebody else’s standards, all I got was depressed. Shape your world. Don’t let the world shape you.

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The Badass Problem.

I’ve discovered something I’ve coined ‘The Badass Problem.’ I have a penchant for wanting my characters to be Badass; I want them to always know what to do and I want them to always come out on top. There’s a problem with that sort of thinking. Life just doesn’t work that way. People make mistakes and screw up. Sometimes they fail, sometimes they succeed. But they always grow, and they learn. Where’s the balance between reality and fantasy that must be judiciously observed so that the audience does not lose interest? That is ‘The Badass Problem.’

Any thoughts?

Posted in Writing

The Problem with Evil: A Point of View

Evil is an unacknowledged part of every human soul. Everybody does things they shouldn’t. Everybody has selfish “Me’ moments and seductive, and easy. Sometimes, We all want to do things the easy way. Understanding why is important. People have reasons for the things they do. They might not be valid reasons, they might no even be what you, or I, would consider sane reasons, but, nonetheless, they’re reasons have to be understandable and compelling. Why is this person like this? Why do they view the world the way they do? Revenge? have they been wronged in the past? Is the world so incredibly screwed up that only they can fix it? If so, Why? Backstory plays a key roll. The reasons need to be easily understood by the reader. There’s the rub. We like to flirt with evil. We like to poke it with a metaphorical stick and see if it moves. Good & Evil are simply points of view. A good villain is a hero in his own mind. He behaves in such a way in order to achieve his goal. The same could be said for the hero. When both of these people believe they’re firmly planted in the roots of righteousness, conflict grows naturally. Evil is a part of every person. What makes it compelling is that like good, it is rooted in our own point of view.