Writing a story is akin to an abstract painting in a number of ways. You are, indeed, directly telling others what is happening…but you are also communicating how it feels to be there.
Take a look at this lovely Monet. It is a depiction of a seaside cliff (cliff at Graniv near fecamp), yes, but it also tells you how it feels to there. The sun, the wind, and the smell of the sea are there, somehow. It’s not a picture merely regurgitating what the artist sees- it is telling you of an experience.
Storytelling should do likewise. We call it atmosphere and it is mercilessly hard to define but you notice right away when a book doesn’t have it.
Mad Genius Club– highly recommended in general, especially for writers, especially especially for indie writers- had a post recently featuring an old interview with the esteemed Terry Pratchett. He made some excellent points about what’s termed ‘genre fiction’ in circles I’ve been in vicinity of- that is, fantasy and sci-fi.
Fantasy is often the target of elitist dismissal but sci-fi gets it plenty, too, though less because science fiction bleeds into modern life so often. You can also pretend it’s grounded in hard fact and real trends and therefore get your Serious Literary Writer cred if you approach it with Serious Writer Voice by way of some current pet cause of the Great and Good.
Elitist approval is an interesting thing to go chasing. I get liking something and getting your hackles up when someone unfairly criticizes it; morons who dismiss Tolkien as a cute, happy fairytale (in the modern sense of that noun) certainly anger me for as long as I care to dwell upon their wrongness. But I don’t understand getting outraged about it as if they’ve kicked your dog’s ribs in.
I’ve had occasion, recently (or so), to visit Antelope Canyon and its surrounding area.
It’s a spectacular sight, a photographer’s dream, whether very amateur like myself or otherwise.
Antelope Canyon(s) are slot canyons, unique flukes of geology. The Navajo sandstone of the region is very porous and long, long ago, flood waters rushed through the canyons and carved away the weaker stone. They’re formed very suddenly as landscapes go. Their smooth, winding walls are sculpted steadily by monsoon rains and more floods.
It’s a funny thing to think about: once, there were no canyons here. Now, and for long ages, there are. Eventually, they will be gone, even if they last to the death of the Sun. And they will always be changing, daily.
I hold that the world building in a novel or movie or show should stand on its own well enough for people to be content if that’s all they have, but I also have it on good authority (well, the internet, anyway) that people like more in-depth looks from time to time.
With the world of the Doomwalker and the rest of the Paladin trilogy, I’ve got you covered. I know the world of the Holdings very well. I know it in ways that have nothing to do with the story of the trilogy. But those ways are interesting, I think.
One of my hobbies, besides writing (alas) is martial arts, specifically Krav Maga. A lot of what we learn at my gym is specific defenses you can use to remove yourself from a bad situation, defenses that have more to do with physics than strength.
My great cultural upheaval of choice would be to have everyone learn practical self-defense from a young age. It does a lot for you. It gives you a tool kit to deal with bad people wanting to hurt you, a tool kit that is both physical and mental (awareness, empowerment, etc.). It improves physical fitness. It also gives you a grounding in the physical, something I believe gets lost in our information-focused age.
My MMO of choice is Guild Wars 2. Insult me at will. I shelled out for this game and the reason I got my gaming tower is so it runs smoothly.
I was fascinated by the charr race and that’s what my character is. They are, of course, basically the kzinti, including their past history of genocidal war with humans, though their sexual dimorphism is not Niven-crazy. I generally find the world interesting, though the new main cast of the story is a deeply uninteresting set of people. Such are MMOs.
GW2 was the first time I ever saw the increasingly common trope of the bad guys being ALL THE BAD. They are not merely cultists of a world-eating god or a remnant of a violently deposed regime. They are also racist AND sexist AND they destroy the environment AND…
A fair number of people have had questions about how my book is doing. It is most certainly doing. In fact, I’d like it to be doing better, and you can help me out by purchasing or reading via KU my novel Doomwalker, which is the first in a dark fantasy trilogy featuring brave heroes, terrifying villains, and plenty of action.
Sorry, professional obligation. After the writing of the book, I’ve found the hardest part to be the marketing.