Dawn Montgomery

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

World Building Conclusion

In Workshops on May 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm

All content © Dawn Montgomery 

Thank you for stopping by during this six day workshop. I hope you had as much fun as I have. Whether you write by the seat of your pants, are a detailed plotter, or anything in between, remember to take notes on the world you’ve created.

We covered: how to create your world, your characters, the rules and how they can be broken, where it all takes place, and how to describe the details without killing the pace of the story.

This has been an introductory workshop. Over time (and as I get more questions) I’ll break down some of the lessons even further.Your world has to make sense to you, if no one else. The art is in translating it for us. Create a world where we can suspend disbelief, and enjoy (or be terrified by) the magic you create.

I’d like to thank Kim Knox and Jerry Russell for their contributions to this workshop.  

For more information and other ideas, please check out some of these websites below:

Lynn Viehl, of pbackwriter, has a blank novel book download, and a book on writing entitled The Way of the Cheetah.

Morgan Hawke’s Darkerotica blog (warning not work friendly). This blog has an amazing amount of information for a writer. She was my first mentor, and the woman who taught me that less is more in description. I own and use her book on writing for profit.  

Lisa Gardner, mystery/suspense author of The Perfect Husband, has a great workshop for writers on her website.

A summary of the lectures til now:

Worldbuilding, an introduction

Creating Characters

Worldbuilding: Creating Rules

Choosing your location

Travel and TMI: When details bog down the story

Thank you for stopping by, and remember…Keep Writing!

-Dawn

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Travel and TMI

In Workshops on May 2, 2011 at 8:16 pm

 All content © Dawn Montgomery 

TMI: Too much information. In your worldbuilding, I’m sure you’ve created amazing things. Wonderful inventions for travel. Unbelievable magical items. In your world building notes, you should definitely expand on these items, explain how they work or whether your character knows how it works (that could be part of the fun, a la the Greatest American Hero).

Your readers (me included!) don’t want to see the explanation, however. Think about real life. I use a microwave. Do I, as the average user, have ANY idea how a microwave works? No. Do I need to know how it works? Nope. If it breaks I take it to a repair shop where HE/SHE has to know how it works. If it can’t be repaired, I buy a new one. Easy, right?

So how does this tie in with Travel?

Glad you asked…

Travel can be any mode, whether walking from place to place within a home to telekinetically launching a space craft to another world. Some of my most memorable reading moments involved unique travel ideas.

Barron Harkonnen from the Prelude to Dune Trilogy, Dune, and Children of Dune. He was so obese that he required anti-gravity units called suspensors. This caused complications that eventually ended in his death.

Who doesn’t remember the icy cold of between in The Dragonriders of Pern series? It was mentioned on several occasions that one never got used to the cold nothingness of between. It was imperative to the movement and survival of the dragons, so was, therefore, integral to the plot.

If your character uses teleportation as an every day occurrence, unless he or she has an unusual fear of the physics and mechanics involved, your character wouldn’t explain in his/her head how it worked.

I don’t get in my car and go through my checks in individual thought. Years of practice has me adjusting my seat, putting on my seat belt, starting the car, and verifying that there are no warning signs (low oil, low gas, check tire pressure). Years of habit has me doing that automatically. If the car breaks down, or shows a warning light, I know what has to be done. Have your characters react to an issue, not bore us to death with details.

Too much information is a pace killer in most books.

TMI and travel go hand in hand. Traveling from one point to another is a great transition piece. If no plot point exists on this trip…why are you making it? Don’t force your character to sit at a train window and stare at the endless expanse of marigolds and sunflowers. If she’s noticing this, it had better in some way affect the story line. Perhaps she had only seen desert land before. It would be a comparative statement for character development. Perhaps she’s looking out the window to avoid being recognized, but sees the reflection of the man she’s running from in the window.

Do I care that the bullet train runs on magnetic propulsion? No. Not until the magnetic resonance is destroyed, causing the train to crash. Would my heroine know what had happened? Maybe. It would be speculation until she finds out how the specifics (and here’s the killer…she (and the reader) may NEVER find out how it happened).

In Seduced in Shadow, I needed a way for my heroine and villain to cross over into the human world. There are a lot of options. A magical gateway, a dream sequence, a hidden door, or even a spell. Perhaps there is only one time a year that the doorway opens. Maybe when it does open, you have to exchange something. When the human comes through, a magical item must pass over. Equal exchange (one of my favorite rules. For every action an equal an opposite reaction must occur…even in magic).

Getting from one point to another in your story is a very important part of world building. Description should flow easily, and just like with location before, it should add to the overall story line.

One last little note: remember the advice of the great Orson Scott Card, call a rabbit a rabbit. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, don’t call it a gildersnaff. Your readers are intelligent enough to know that your characters are speaking their own language.

Worldbuilding, an introduction

Creating Characters

Worldbuilding: Creating Rules

Choosing your location

A special thank you to Kim Knox, my workshop beta reader. Up next, the world building conclusion.

Location

In Workshops on May 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm

 All content © Dawn Montgomery 

The last few days have been a little peek inside how I develop my world and characters for a new book. I’ve used my up-and-coming free read Seduced in  Shadow (releases May 30, 2011) as my example.

Today the focus is on Location. I have always felt that location is the fourth main character of any story. You can take an alleyway and make it dark and terrifying, or comforting and calming in just a few choice words.

The yellow light flickered around me. Ice cold ripped through my coat and ran shivers down my spine. I breathed, but the bite of fear didn’t ease. Shadows came alive with the rustle and squeaks of unknown…things in the darkness of the alley. The stench nearly overwhelmed me. I jingled coins in my pocket, a nervous habit, but I took comfort in their smooth texture. A loud clang jerked my attention to the scrawny face of an alley cat perched on a trashcan. Its glowing pupils eyed me like food. Fear settled in my gut, and its copper taste overwhelmed the turkey sandwich I’d had earlier. There was no way I was going down that alley.

The ancient light faded and warmed. A cool breeze, sharpened by winter swept through the streets, teasing open my jacket. It chilled my skin, but I was thankful it swept away the unpleasant odor of the alley. The reflective eyes of alley cats playing chase in the shadows pulled a grin from me. I jingled coins in my pocket and a loud clang told me I had a visitor. I stroked the tufted ears of the at the scrawny alley cat perching on his favorite trashcan. It eyed me with interest and waited. He knew I was bringing treats, the leftovers of a turkey sandwich I had just eaten.

So I hit all five senses. Sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. There are other senses too…the adrenal reaction, the sixth sense that something was going to happen…

Did it set a mood for you? Which alley would you consider stepping into?

For Seduced in Shadow, I needed a unique location, a place I couldn’t call on in my memory. I wanted a home where my villain could commit terrible acts, and still be in his plane of existence. Since my heroine was human, it had to be something/some place she was willing to visit. I chose a historic castle and grounds for my location.

The darkness would come alive, and everything that the hero touches would die. Everything, that is, except the gardens. I wonder why that is…hmmm. The gardens are based on my memory of a tour through the gorgeous rose gardens in Tyler, Texas (home of the famous yellow Tyler Rose).

So many authors use location as a backdrop, a thing that can be interchanged. I urge you to look back on your life…

Do you remember a great summer day at a lake? How did the breeze feel? What sounds do you remember? Think about the worst day of your life. I know mine. It was the day of grandmother’s funeral. I remember it was icy cold but the sun was shining so brightly it made my tear-swollen eyes hurt. I remember thinking it should be raining and that the whole world should be crying. I was irrationally angry with the sun.

Have you ever gone to a gathering and sat next to the woman who bathes in perfume? I’m allergic to most commercial perfumes, so you can imagine…I could think about nothing but her overwhelming floral stench. Every time I ate something, the metallic tang of her perfume destroyed the flavor of my food. My sinuses were a complete mess with alternating sneezes and head aches. I was, in a word, miserable. Did my location (seated next to her in an enclosed room) affect my behavior? You’d better believe it did.

When you build your world, your rules,  your characters…don’t leave out location as one of your most important parts of the whole.

Below you’ll find more of this World-Building workshop:

Worldbuilding, an introduction

Creating Characters

Worldbuilding: Creating Rules

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