Okay, so this tag might be over a year old. But our love for Hamilton never dies, amiright, gang? So, I’ve just got to do this tag.
All right, my writing lovelies. It is 2017. And even though so much of the news feels like we’re being dragged, kicking and screaming, back in time, every one of us writing, publishing, creating stories, putting art out into the world, can do our part to make sure that the progress we’ve made, the things we’ve built, the norms we’ve shattered and the fights we’ve started don’t all come crumbling down.
So this is my advice. Advice for how to keep writing like it’s 2017. How to write stories that are responsible. How to write stories that push the wheel of time forward and not crank it back. This is my advice, ten easy tips, for how to write like a decent human being.
Creating a fantasy world from scratch is a daunting enough undertaking, what with having to decide what it looks like, how its culture works, if the world has magic, or dragons, or sea monsters. You need a history, a timeline, a sense of logical consistency. And, unless your fantasy world is steeped in science and Atheism (which, now that I think about it, might be awesome) you’re probably going to need a religion.
Religion has, from the times of men looking up at lightning and surmising a god must be up there throwing down electric bolts, stemmed from a need to explain the inexplicable. And, in a fantasy world, there’s probably a lot that’s inexplicable. A fantasy world might fear sea monsters as demons, might revere dragons as gods, might think magic comes from people touched by the heavens — or by those sprouted from hell.
This week’s WIP Wednesday theme is about danger in your WIP. Here’s the official prompt:
Show us a character in danger. (Doesn’t have to be physical danger, maybe they’re in danger of revealing a secret, or falling in love, or flunking a big test because they were out all night being a werewolf, howling at the moon!)
So, in my fantasy WIP, The Other Side, my characters a stressful amount of time in life-or-death threatening situations. Here’s a few snippets from one of them, a Nightmare attack (a savage thunderstorm that plays with reality to torture whoever it happens to fall on) taking place in a treetop city:
I’m afraid I completely forgot to submit to last week’s WIP Wednesday (we’re deep in puppy preparations over here, people. My seven year old golden retriever Riggs should be getting a new baby brother by the end of the week… If you’re wondering what that noise is, it’s probably me, excitedly and incessantly squealing.) So, I thought I would double-up this week and talk about both themes: Characters Who Read, and Characters Who Write.
I’m definitely guilty of making my characters as bookish as possible. One of my characters is a professional writer (travel books that help explain his encyclopedic knowledge of the WIP’s fantasy world), but I think almost all of my main characters are shown, at some point, with either a book or a pen in their hands. Showing your characters reading or writing can be difficult to fit into your story — after all, a story is about plot and forward momentum, and if your character is taking a break to lounge on the couch with a novel, then they’re not exactly running around saving the world, are they?
There are ways to put across that your character is delightfully bookish, though, without having to hit pause on your story:
One technique I’ve found effective is to slide into the story hints at the characters’ reading habits. For instance, while my main character is snooping around another character’s bedroom, he notices a pile of books:
He gravitated towards the table cluttered with papers. Many of these were unfurled maps and half-finished correspondence. There were books, too, a guidebook and a mystery novel, and a red leather-bound volume with thick waxy pages that stood out from the rest.
I’ve also had him root through another character’s bag (he … doesn’t have many boundaries when it comes to personal belongings, I’m realizing as I type this…) and a quick reference there tells us this character also keeps books on them at all times:
The inside of Ol’s bag was far deeper and wider than it looked from the outside, expanded by some force of nature, or Fog, or Gallifreyan technology at least. Charley shoved aside books and sweaters and cans of green beans. He dug through a layer of boxer shorts; pushed past what must’ve been a dozen sheathed knives […]
If it doesn’t serve your story, you don’t have to show a character sitting down to read. Showing that they have books in their living space, in their bags, having them hold a book as they walk into a scene, or snap a book closed as another character comes in to talk can all demonstrate to the reader your character’s bookishness without slowing things down.