#amwriting: prying the character out of the idea

My Coffee Cup © cjjasp 2013I am searching for my character.

Technically, I know his name, and I know what he has to do. I also know why he has to do it. When and where this will all occur is also well-established.

But who is he as a person?

I have several backstories of him as a young boy, but they don’t shed any light on him as a man.

In the Tower of Bones series, he is legendary, a man with a flaming sword who was a superhero. Children’s books are full of the tales of Aelfrid Firesword, a man who lived over a thousand years before the time in which the Tower of Bones series is set.

Alf is a man whose parents survived the chaos of the War of the Gods, and from the ashes of that post-apocalyptic world, he carved the Temple of Aeos and the College of Warcraft and Magic. I know why he has to do that, and what he will sacrifice to accomplish it.

But this story is about him as a young man, and details the incidents that pushed him to the breaking point and forced him to leave his comfortable backwater existence and build a city in the wilderness.

I know who his antagonists are, and what makes them so dangerous.

I know what makes two of Alf’s sidekicks tick. The third sidekick, not so much, but she’s getting there.

I know who will die, why they will die, and why it is important that they die.

I also know who Alf will marry, although he doesn’t know that yet.

I know how this epic fantasy will end.

I know what everyone’s magic gifts are and how the use and abuse of magic threatens them.

So, the story arc is in place, and all I have to do is write to it.

Still, in the opening pages, I can’t quite get a grip on who this protagonist, this mythical man, Aelfrid Firesword. Before the inciting incident, before his comfortable life is forever changed, what does he feel passionate about? What does he want? What makes him get up every morning? Right now he’s just going to work at his forge, pounding on hot metal all day, and then getting drunk at the Dancing Goat. He’s got magic, and he forges weapons that are pretty extraordinary. When he has to, he can fight.

That’s not very heroic. There has to be more to this guy.

So, I need to write some backstory, some side quest that will pry him loose and shed some light on the man in the tin suit. This is back material that will most likely never make it into the novel per se, but it will help flesh him out, make him fully formed in my mind.

So, now that you know what I am doing, I will let you go, while I run off and try to find this guy.

He’s in this manuscript, somewhere.

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#FlashFictionFriday:1998 Boxing up Michael

paul cornoyer rainy day in madison square

1998 Boxing up Michael

Putting his things in boxes,

Placing them on the wet grass by the street,

Rain on my face, stinging.

Tears in my eyes, also stinging.

Anger, hot in my heart because, stupidly

I believed.

Changing sheets, changing locks,

Changing passwords, changing banks.

Doubt should have prevailed.

Sanity could have prevailed.

My trust was his tool and, stupidly

I believed.

His books and tools and clothes resided

In open boxes on rain-damp grass,

And later he found them on Sylvia’s grass

Because some things never change.

He was a lesson learned because, stupidly

I believed.


1998 Boxing Up Michael by Connie J. Jasperson © 2016 All Rights Reserved

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#amwriting: the importance of foreshadowing

Elements of the Story 1st Quarter of the MSForeshadowing is part of the craft of writing, and is a useful tool a when an author is writing fiction. It is a critical trope when writing fantasy. In the first quarter of the story, you should have a few clues embedded in the narrative, something to subliminally alert the reader, little warnings signs of future events.

The key to good foreshadowing is to not spoil the surprise, yet allow the reader to say in retrospect, “I should have seen that coming.”

We insert small hints, little offhand references to future events, briefly, almost offhandedly mentioned, but almost immediately overlooked or ignored. Some readers will fail to notice the suggested possibility just as the unsuspecting characters do, and others will guess what is going on. In a well-written narrative, both kinds of readers will stick with it as they will want to see how it plays out.

We have many reasons to pursue good foreshadowing skills. They help us to avoid inadvertently employing the clumsy Deus Ex Machina (pronounced: Day-us ex Mah-kee-nah) (God from the Machine) to miraculously resolve an issue. A Deus Ex Machina occurs when, toward the end of the narrative, an author inserts a new event, character, ability, or otherwise resolves a seemingly insoluble problem in a sudden, unexpected way.

Then, there is the opposite ungainly literary device: the Diabolus Ex Machina (Demon from the machine). This is the bad guy’s counterpart to the Deus Ex Machina. In this instance, the author suddenly realizes the evil his character faces isn’t evil enough and wham! We see the sudden introduction of an unexpected new event, character, ability, or object designed to ensure things suddenly get much worse for the protagonists.

We have to avoid cases where a character suddenly gets a new skill or knowledge without explanation. In screenplays and TV shows, when a character suddenly gets a new skill without explanation, it’s usually explained away as a Chekhov’s Skill.

In a book, you need to mention prior examples of the characters using, or having received training in that skill. If you don’t briefly foreshadow it, the character doesn’t have it. If the reader realizes the character never possessed that skill before, it becomes unbelievable.

Wm Shakespeare author central portraitHow has literature and the expectations of the reader changed over the centuries? Nowadays, in genre fiction especially, a prologue may or may not be a place for foreshadowing, as modern readers don’t have the patience to wade through large chunks of exposition dumped in the first pages of a novel.

Consider William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a play that is heavy with both exposition and foreshadowing. According to Philip Weller, Professor of English at Eastern Washington University, on his site, http://www.shakespeare-navigators.com:

“Technically, the Prologue (of Romeo and Juliet) is not foreshadowing. Foreshadowing hints at what will happen later, but in the Prologue, the Chorus doesn’t hint — he tells. The second quatrain of the Chorus’ sonnet sums up the plot of the play:

 

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes

A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;

Whose misadventured piteous overthrows

Do with their death bury their parents’ strife (Prologue 5-8)

 

“The next quatrain repeats the same message, and because this message is hammered home early, the later foreshadowings in the play are ominously recognizable.” (end quoted text.)

There is a difference between foreshadowing and telling. How does Shakespeare foreshadow the larger events? Larger events may be foreshadowed through the smaller events that precede them. Again, we will examine Romeo and Juliet. Early in the first act, when Benvolio is trying to talk Romeo out of his infatuation for Rosaline, he tells him,

“Take thou some new infection to thy eye,

And the rank poison of the old will die.”  

As we see later, Benvolio’s advice is correct because as soon as Romeo lays eyes on Juliet, his obsession with Rosaline disappears. More foreshadowing occurs later, in the third act, when Benvolio brings the news that Mercutio is dead. Romeo says,

“This day’s black fate on more days doth depend;  

This but begins the woe, others must end.”

Again, Philip Weller explains,

“It’s as if Romeo is envisioning the death of Mercutio as a dark thunderhead, racing across the sky above him and into the unknown future. Romeo knows he has reached a point of no return; he will fight Tybalt to avenge Mercutio, but he knows that won’t be the end of anything. Then, after he has fought and killed Tybalt, cries out, “O, I am fortune’s fool!” (3.1.136). Here “fool” means “plaything” or “dupe.” Romeo knows he is no longer in control of his fate. (end quoted text.)

William Shakespeare understood the difference between foreshadowing and telling the story, and he made use of both techniques to good advantage.

Modern authors writing genre fiction must be gentler with their foreshadowing than Shakespeare was required to be. Foreshadowing should be woven into the narrative in such a way that the story flows smoothly, allowing the reader to remain immersed, but tantalizing them with hints that will keep them reading.

ok to write garbage quote c j cherryhSmoothness is the key word here. I’ve seen manuscripts that seem schizophrenic as if they were “Frankensteined” together. The author begins by telling one story, and somewhere around the middle, we find ourselves reading a completely different novel as if it were two manuscripts inexpertly sewn together and reworked into one. Foreshadowing, if there was any, seemed like a thread to nowhere.

Clumsy foreshadowing, or neglecting to foreshadow are things we do when laying down the first, rough draft, of our story. These flaws are a fundamental part of the creative process and are why we never publish a rough draft. Let it rest for several weeks and work on something else, then come back to it. In the second draft we check for, and iron out, these kinds of issues. During the second draft, if you have used subtle foreshadowing in advance of the events (usually in the first quarter of the story arc, before the first plot-point) the novel really begins to take shape.


Weller, Philip. Romeo and Juliet Navigator.

Shakespeare Navigators, n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.
<http://shakespearenavigators.com/romeo/index.html>

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Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. Philip Weller.

Hamlet Navigator. Shakespeare Navigators, n.d.
Web. 20 Sept. 2016. <http://shakespearenavigators.com/romeo/index.html>

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#amwriting:  therapy to get you writing through the block

We’ve all had moments where our creativity failed us. We had an idea, but couldn’t make it real—the words wouldn’t come, or when they did they felt stilted, awful. We felt incredibly alone and isolated in this because we are writers; the words are supposed to fall from our fingers like water down Niagara Falls.

I have learned to write my way through the block. Yes, the work I produce at that moment is awful, and no, I wouldn’t show it to the dog. But the act of writing every day keeps you fit and in the habit of writing. This job requires us to practice, as if it were dancing or ice-skating. And, just like any sport, doing well at it requires discipline. When we stop writing for any reason, we lose our momentum and our purpose.

We lose our passion.

When you have come to a place where you believe you can’t write, save the file, close it, and walk away from that manuscript. Delete nothing. You will come back to this later and will be able to use some or all of it, so file it properly.

Sometimes, the problem is that your mind has seen a shiny thing, a different project that wants to be written. If that is the case, my advice is this: work on the project that is on your mind. Let that creative energy flow, and you will eventually be able to become reconnected with the first project.

writers-block-smallBut what about those times when you need to write, you have to write, but the words won’t come? I think of it like having a sports injury: Dr. Jasperson has diagnosed you with a sprained-brain. (Did she really write that? Insert groans here.)

Seriously, I have some physical therapy for your bruised writing-muscles.

First, we have the fear factor to overcome. You need to be able to prove to yourself that you can write. This is a small exercise, very short, and I got the idea for this while in a seminar on the craft of writing essays offered by the bestselling author of Blackbird, Jennifer Lauck. As I was sitting in her class and embarking on the writing drills for structuring your essay, I had one of those bolt-of-lightning moments, a tangent to nowhere, as it didn’t pertain to essays, but it seemed important so I wrote it down.

What had happened was, Jennifer gave us prompts and asked us to write to them. I have never been good at writing to someone else’s prompts. My ideas don’t flow that way. To make it worse, we were going to have to share them with someone else in the class.

I never share work that hasn’t been revised. it might not seem as perfect to you as believe it is, but it has been revised and is the best I could offer. I felt panicky, terrified I wouldn’t be able to write, and would embarrass myself. My mind was blank.

But then, I saw what Jennifer’s prompt was, and it occurred to me that I could do that.

When I read the prompt and had that “I can do this” moment, I realized that most of the time, writer’s block is a result of not being able to visualize what you want to write about, and if you can’t visualize it, you can’t describe it. Once you have experienced that moment of complete inability, fear of not being able to write magnifies the problem until it paralyzes us.

So, I am offering you the same writing prompt Jennifer Lauck used as the first exercise in her class:

  1. Open a new document. At the top of this document type: Where I Am Today:

This is going to be a literal interpretation and description of your surroundings. Look around you, and see the place where you are. Briefly describe the environment you are sitting in, what you see, and then describe how you feel sitting in that place. Just give it two or three paragraphs.

For me, sitting here at this moment on a Sunday morning and writing this post, it runs like this:

I sit in the small, third bedroom of my home. It’s technically my office, but is, in reality, a cluttered storeroom, known here as the Room of Shame. A glass of water sits beside my elbow, as does my cell phone. My desk holds numerous books on the craft of writing and my computer.  

Two clear plastic bins containing books and paraphernalia organized to take to book signings are stacked beside the door. I prop my feet on a large bookshelf stuffed with books, so full the shelves have bowed. Stacks of cardboard boxes filled with things that were, at one time, deemed important to keep, surround me. Filing cabinets full of legal papers, tax forms, and research also take up space, all stuffed with the debris of our business life.

The desk is not my friend. The sliding keyboard shelf is broken on the left side, hanging at a slight angle. I work with a broken desk, despite the large box which contains my new desk, which leans against the closet behind me. That dusty box has been there for six months or more, unopened.

I could easily clean this space, and set up my desk. It would take no time at all, perhaps a day at most. It’s a mountain I put off climbing.

See? At the end of this exercise, you have written a drabble, a small short story. But, more importantly, you have written the setting for a scene. Those paragraphs are around 216 words and are nothing special. Nor were the words I wrote in the seminar, but I felt good about writing them because I had been given a task that had at first left me feeling helpless and unable to do it: writing to a prompt. However, in that class, because it was a simple, non-threatening thing, I was able to accomplish it, and I felt empowered.

So, now we are going to gently rebuild our damaged writing muscles.

  1. For your next exercise, go somewhere else and take your notebook. Write three more paragraphs detailing what you are looking at, and how you fit into it, and how it makes you feel.

You could do this at the mall, sitting in a coffee shop, or the parking lot at the supermarket.  Or you can do what I am doing: sit on your porch and write a few paragraphs about the space you are in, what you see, and what you sense.

My back porch is quiet, and the day is gray. Rain is falling softly. Just beyond the auto repair shop’s parking lot, and the coffee stand, glimpsed between the conical cypress trees, the sounds of the highway are muted. One of the neighbors has let their dog out without a leash, and the free-range cats are disturbed by it. The scent of sodden vegetation is fresh and speaks of autumn.

The third exercise is more abstract:

  1. Where do you want to be? Visualize it, and describe it the same way as you described the places you could see. For me, that runs like this:

I want to be on a foggy beach, walking along the high-tide mark. I want to hear the gulls and sh-shing of the waves. I want to feel at peace again.

gear-brain-clip-art-smallIf you do these three exercises at the same time every day, describing the environments and your perceptions in a different space each time, even when you have nothing to say that is worth reading, you are writing. With perseverance, you will be writing your other work again. The important thing is to write even if it is only a few paragraphs. This is the physical therapy I recommend for overcoming writer’s block.

Just like an athlete recovering from an injury, you must gradually rebuild your confidence, strengthen your writing muscles, and regain your writing work ethic.  You need to empower your creativity for it to flow.

As I said, this how my mind works. If you are suffering a dry spell, give these exercises try, as you have nothing to lose. I hope that when these exercises are no longer painful, you will be able to write again.

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#FlashFictionFriday: Ode to Autumn, by John Keats

Autumn_Landscape_With_Pond_And_Castle_Tower-Alfred_Glendening-1869Autumn officially begins on Sept. 21, 2016. In honor of the changing season, and because it is Flash Fiction Friday, I bring you a classical poem, written by one of the mainstays of the Romantic movement in the arts and literature, John Keats. When Keats died of tuberculosis at the age of 25, he had been writing poetry seriously for only about six years, and publishing for only four.

In his lifetime, sales of Keats’s three volumes of poetry amounted to around 200 copies. Yet this Indie author is one of the most celebrated and studied poets of the last three hundred years.

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Ode To Autumn – Poem by John Keats

 

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;

To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cell.

 

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,

Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

Steady thy laden head across a brook;

Or by a cider-press, with patient look,

Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

 

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir, the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

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He writes, “Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?” and I know what he feels. I look forward to the changing of the seasons, the the colors of fall, the red of sumac and vine-maple, but  I confess, I will miss the summer. Sometimes, the cold dark, rain of the Northwest winter lacks appeal. I treasure the occasional patch of blue sky and the glimpse of sun.

When I read Keats, I am awed by the bold confessional tone of his prose. He is filled with emotion and passion—and expresses it with no filters. Consider the last five lines of the sonnet Bright Star:

Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever–or else swoon to death.

This is a bold confession of both sexual desire and romantic love—topics that, in polite society, were discussed behind closed doors. The poet was unafraid to say what most young men of his time felt, and he said it so beautifully it connects and resonates with modern readers.

Quote from Wikipedia (the fount of all knowledge):John Keats (Oct. 31, 795-Feb 23, 1821) was an English Romantic poet. He was one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets, along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, despite his work having been in publication for only four years before his death.[1]

Although his poems were not generally well received by critics during his lifetime, his reputation grew after his death, and by the end of the 19th century, he had become one of the most beloved of all English poets. He had a significant influence on a diverse range of poets and writers. Jorge Luis Borges stated that his first encounter with Keats’s work was the most significant literary experience of his life.[2]

The poetry of Keats is characterized by sensual imagery, most notably in the series of odes. This is typical of romantic poets, as they aimed to accentuate extreme emotion through the emphasis of natural imagery. Today his poems and letters are some of the most popular and most analyzed in English literature.


Ode to Autumn, John Keats PD|100

Bright Star, John Keats PD|100

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#amwriting: Interview with author Stephen Swartz

Today is the final installment in my series of interviews with working authors who are also teaching writing craft. This has been a wonderful series, as each approaches the craft from a different angle, and my final guest has a great deal to offer.

stephen-swartzA little background on today’s guest, author Stephen Swartz. He is a Professor of English at a major Midwestern university, and is a world traveler, often spending his summers teaching in Beijing, China at the University of International Business and Economics. Also, he is the author of numerous short stories and novels, and is a fellow founding author of Myrddin Publishing. He has also published poetry and written for scholarly journals on the subject of composition and identity, linguistics, and psychology.

CJJ: What do you enjoy the most about teaching?  Conversely, what would you change about your job if you were able?

SS: I’m rather parental when it comes to teaching. I like seeing my students become excited about writing and push themselves to explore their potential. I enjoy seeing their writing improve paper by paper, not only technically but also in showing their deeper thought processes. As it is, there are constraints on what I think would be best when it comes to writing instruction. Partly, it is a matter of budgeting, enrollment, and accreditation requirements. It is also a matter of what students are interested in career-wise; many do not think they will need to write in their careers. So I have limitations I must work within. And, of course, each semester brings a new mix of students so I must constantly adapt the lessons to accommodate them; it really is like reinventing the wheel. Writing fiction keeps me balanced.

CJJ: As you know, many authors are writing for children, preteens (middle-grade), and YA. In a comment on this blog recently, you said, “Meanwhile, the style (I think) should match the nature of the story and especially the mindset and education level of the narrator.” Can you expand on that idea a little?

SS: What I think I meant was in reference to the sophistication of the language the narrator of a story uses. That’s the author’s responsibility. If the narrator of a story is well-educated (for example, see my vampire novel A Dry Patch of Skin), he would speak in a well-educated manner, with sophisticated style and a large vocabulary. A less educated character (or a child) would speak differently, using simpler vocabulary and often incorrect sentence constructions. A foreign character speaking English would have similar language limitations; the dialog should show those limitations. However, we cannot let the language be too authentic if doing so would cause the reader difficulty. I once wrote a character who was supposed to speak with a Scottish accent; the result was rather bad. Having just enough (a particular repeating word or phrase) to hint at the accent would have been enough. I’ve been fortunate to have both studied linguistics and foreign languages as well as listened to speakers of varying ages and accents. I lived in Japan for five years and teaching English there taught me how non-native speakers “butcher” the language. I think I captured that effect well in my novel Aiko, set in Japan. Besides formal training, I also think I have a good ear for speech and so I do my best to replicate the character’s way of speaking based on the real speaking I’ve heard.

aikoCJJ: You have published eight books, in a variety of genres, and are now finishing up an epic fantasy novel (of EPIC proportions!). Yet, none of your characters have a sameness to them. How do you visualize your characters when you begin to place them in their story?

SS: Excellent question. My answer must, however, be simple. I’m schizophrenic. My mental defect allows me to grab pieces of other people’s lives, behavior, speech, and motivations which I then craft into plausible, even realistic, fictionalized personas. I recognize I have a few stock-in-trade character I use over and over with names changed and perhaps a quirk switched for a different quirk. I suppose I take one of my stock characters and customize him/her for the role I need him/her to play.

The hardest character to write is the protagonist because that character usually starts as a version of myself. The challenge is to let the hero act as the hero would naturally act (following his/her motivations and typical behavior) and not as I, the real me, would likely act. When I wrote out the story of a friend of mine who grew up in Greenland, I was writing a female protagonist—and using the first-person point of view. That novel was based on her life so I could imitate her way of speaking from interviews with her. The challenge for me in writing that novel was to make her language style change from her childhood to her teenage years to her adulthood.

For my current work-in-progress, the epic fantasy, I returned to a basic male protagonist, a hunky dragonslayer, and cobbled together a bit of a movie star, a little of me, and a pieces of other people I know to create the singular hero.

CJJ: In your upcoming novel, EPIC FANTASY *WITH DRAGONS, you portray a variety of races in a fantasy environment, each with unique cultures. What tips can you give in regard to keeping fantasy cultures diverse, and yet not devolving into too much backstory?

 SS: Not truly different races, not in the sense that Tolkien has them with dwarves and hobbits. I tried to keep the ethnicity in my story more subtle. Given the setting (no spoilers here), there is a wide variety of “types” among the cast members, not just to make a politically correct checklist but because they mix well in interesting ways. One famous author (I think it was Dostoevsky but it may be a more modern writer) liked to think up unique people and ponder how they might interact if put in a room together. I did the same with my epic fantasy only on the larger stage of the story world.

Regarding the world-building, I cheated a bit in this novel by setting it in a familiar setting (again, no spoilers here). Readers may recognize it eventually but it is not explicitly “given away” in the text. Even so, as I traced the path my hero would take on his quest, I marked certain locations on the map as being “different” societies with unusual customs—not different races or ethnicities. Like all good epic fantasy tales based on a quest, there is a series of episodes—self-contained mini-story arcs, strung together, one adventure after another—so the structure is easy to arrange. Following the geographical layout of the setting, what “can happen” to our hero necessarily changes from location to location.

A better example of world-building may be my science-fiction trilogy The Dream Land, which involves a pair of nerdy teens who discover a doorway to another world—which I created as a fully realized planet with continents, oceans, history and culture, and several different races, as well as unique flora and fauna. The world-building was half the fun of writing those novels; pushing my hero and heroine into this new world and watching them figure things out was the other fun part.

I think the key to “keeping fantasy cultures diverse, and yet not devolving into too much backstory” is to remember that, to the characters in the story, it is all known and common (usually) so they should speak and act toward everything there as though it was all common to them. You have to find creative ways of introducing ideas and details without them coming out as a “Let’s go meet Bill, your cousin, who, as you know, is also my long-lost brother” kind of writing. In my current epic fantasy novel, I can get away with some of that “messaging” because my hero is on a quest and does not know about the places he visits, so having a local character explain things is quite natural. People like to talk, so I let these “local yokels” ramble on and the history and customs of the place come out in a more natural way.

CJJ: In all of your novels, there is a certain amount of world building, even the novels set in contemporary environments. What advice can you give regarding making the settings feel real to the reader while keeping the backstory minimal?

SS: Research, if it is a real place. Read other books about the location, fiction or non-fiction. As I wrote A Girl Called Wolf, which is set in Greenland, I also read a very evocative book on the travels of early explorers written by a woman undertaking her own contemporary travels there. Her writing and descriptions painted such vivid pictures for me that I could describe the locations both accurately and passionately.

The most realistic setting I’ve ever used was my own city in the set in the same year I was writing it. I’m referring to my vampire novel, set in Oklahoma City with places named, set in 2014, when I was actually writing it so what happened in real time happened in the book. That was a fun exercise. But then our hero goes to Europe so I went back to researching.

For make-believe worlds, I think it’s simply a matter of transposing what we know of real locations to an imaginary location. For example, in The Dream Land Trilogy, I would think of an Earth animal and reinvent it as something more exotic: the common mount, a horse, became a 3-toed donkey with a dewlap, stripes on half its body, long rabbit ears, and a rat tail. Similarly, I’m more science-focused so even in a fantasy story I remain concerned with such things as the distance of the planet from its sun and the ratio of land to ocean, and so on. Even in my epic fantasy, a genre where magic is required, I have magic operating on scientific principles but it is explained in highly metaphorical language—but it still looks like magic!

CJJ: Thank you for indulging my curiosity, Stephen. I love talking craft with you around the virtual water cooler at Myrddin, and enjoy your blog, The DeConstruction of the of the Sekuatean Empire.

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You can find Stephen Swartz at any of these places:

Stephen Swartz Amazon Author Page

Website: The DeConstruction of the Sekuatean Empire

Stephen Swartz  Myrddin Publishing page

Twitter: @StephenSwartz1

Stephen Swartz’s FB Author Page

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