There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

There and Back Again May 31, 2014

Hi everyone!

In November 2012, I gathered a few Fantasy writers I had met online and created this blog. The idea was to share our thoughts on all things related to reading and writing Fantasy fiction. Along the way nearly 300 of you, dear readers, joined us as we walked on our different paths to publication. We shared with you our writing tips, reading recommendations and publishing adventures. In return you commented on our posts, leaving your tips, recommendations and thoughts. It was great!

Unfortunately, last month, it became clear our lives have all become too hectic and our schedules too busy to allow us to continue this blogging adventure. This means this blog won’t be updated anymore, although it will remain online.

If you’re new here, feel free to browse through our archives to find out about our writing resources.

If you’ve enjoyed following this blog, feel free to find us on our personal blogs:

EM Castellan

Blog: http://emcastellan.com/

Raewyn Hewitt

Blog: http://raewynhewitt.wordpress.com/

Jessica Montgomery

Blog: http://www.writerjessica.com/

K. L. Schwengel

Blog: http://myrandommuse.wordpress.com/

Mara Valderran

Blog: http://maravalderran.blogspot.co.uk/

Kate Michael

Blog: www.kate-michael.com

Rachel O’Laughlin

Blog: http://rachelolaughlin.wordpress.com

Rachel Horwitz

Blog: www.rachelhorwitz.com/blog

Thank you for your support during the past 18 months. Thank you for reading, commenting, liking and sharing our posts. I hope you’ve found something useful or entertaining here. I know it’s been a pleasure to be part of this blog, and I’ll miss it.

So don’t forget: keep writing Fantasy. Keep reading Fantasy. Keep working towards your publishing dream(s). And most importantly, keep going on adventures and believing in dragons.

EM Castellan

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Most Anticipated Fantasy Books of 2014 December 29, 2013

Hi everyone !

This is our last post for this year and today I’ve decided to look forward and see which 2014 Fantasy books are the most anticipated… In order to compile the following list, I’ve used several Goodreads lists as well as forums such as this one.

Adult Books:

Bastards and the Knives

The Bastards and the Knives (Gentleman Bastard #0) by Scott Lynch (Expected publication: March 3rd 2014 by Gollancz)

Prince of Fools

Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1) by Mark Lawrence (Expected publication: June 3rd 2014 by Ace)

The Magician's Land

The Magician’s Land (The Magicians #3) by Lev Grossman (Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Viking)

The Broken Eye

The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3) by Brent Weeks (Expected publication: August 26th 2014 by Orbit)

[NO COVER ART YET]

Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5) by Brandon Sanderson (Expected publication: 2014 by Tor Books)

Young Adult Books

Defy

Defy (Defy #1) by Sara B. Larson (Expected publication: January 7th 2014 by Scholastic Press)

Stolen Songbird

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen (Expected publication: April 1st 2014 by Strange Chemistry)

Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor (Expected publication: April 8th 2014 by Little, Brown & Company)

A shard of ice

A Shard of Ice (The Black Symphony Saga #1) by Alivia Anders (Expected publication: April 14th 2014 by Red Alice Press)

Ruin and Rising

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo (Expected publication: June 3rd 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.)

What was your favorite Fantasy book in 2013? Which 2014 Fantasy book are you most anticipating? Make sure to leave us your answers below!

EM Castellan

 

Opening your Fantasy novel right January 13, 2013

If you’re writing a Fantasy novel with the intent to have it traditionally published or to self-publish it, you need to have a stellar opening. Your first pages are what will grab the agent or the reader and make him want to read more. In order to avoid having agents reject your book or readers put it down, here are a few tips to start your novel right…

–          Start with an epic first line. Hook you reader with your first words. Consider these examples:

“A mile above Oz, the Witch balanced on the wind’s foreward edge, as if she were a green fleck of the land itself, flung up and sent wheeling away by the turbulent air.” WICKED by Gregory Maguire

“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.” THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman

They are both from best-selling books and they make you want to read more. Your first line needs to be just as good, whether it “hooks” your reader with humor, surprise, beautiful writing or suspense.

–          In your first page(s):

  • show don’t tell
  • ground the atmosphere and setting of your story
  • give a clear picture of your world but don’t overdo it (avoid “info-dump” at all costs)
  • give a sense of who your characters are by showing their motivations and emotions: make them interesting and complex
  • inject voice in your writing
  • don’t mistake action for tension
  • include your inciting event

–          A note on prologues: many Fantasy writers, especially the ones who are trying to get published for the first time, seem to include a prologue in their novel. Yet agents hate prologues and readers skip them. So before you query or self-publish, ask yourself the following questions: could your prologue be deleted from the novel without affecting understanding of the plot? If yes, why keep it at all, then? Is your prologue absolutely necessary to understand the rest of the novel? If yes, shouldn’t you include this information in the actual novel? (Yes, you should). Is your prologue mere info-dump? Is your prologue mere action? If yes, you don’t need it. As a reader and a querying writer, I promise you, your novel doesn’t need that prologue.

If you want more tips on starting your novel right, check out this blog:

Real Life Diagnostics: First Page Critique by Janice Hardy http://blog.janicehardy.com/2008/01/real-life-diagnostics.html

 Do you find this checklist helpful? What are your tips to make your opening pages compelling? Feel free to leave us your comments below!

EM

 

The Hobbit Movie: An Unexpected Delight December 14, 2012

When Peter Jackson announced he would be bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Hobbit: or There and Back Again to the big screen, the obvious question was how would it compare to his epic Lord of the Rings movie trilogy? Rumours of padding, and taking liberties with the story continued to gain momentum when it was confirmed earlier this year that his adaptation would be told over not two – but three movies. For a book of barely 300 pages that is more children’s story than full blown epic, many wondered how Jackson was going to pull it all together and stay true to the original tale.

Fortunately Jackson has proven he is a masterful film maker with safe hands, and the result is a movie which blends both the light-hearted and almost comical elements of the book, with the darker vein of a wider history (Sauron’s gathering power) foundational to The Lord of the Rings.

The story is based around a group of 13 dwarves, lead by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), set on reclaiming their mountain fortress from the ferocious dragon Smaug. The wizard Gandalf, (beautifully revived by Ian McKellan) who is aiding the group insists the unsuspecting (and put out) hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) complete the party. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey sees the unlikely heroes set out on their quest, armed with only a fancy key, an incomplete map, and a grim dwarven determination to put things right.

Suffice to stay with two more movies in the offing the group barely get a glimpse of the Lonely Mountain, but there is plenty more going on to keep the viewer riveted for almost three hours. The scenes are spectacular and varied, ranging from homely Hobbiton, dreamy Rivendell and the vast Goblin (Orc) halls in the Misty Mountains to the rich gold-laden mines and treasure chambers of the Dwarves.

The special effects are amazing and cutting edge. I wasn’t able to see the new 48 frame per second version which has been roundly criticized (so I can’t comment on how that impacted the viewing experience), but the 3D experience was rich and vibrant. The sequence shot with Gollum was sublime. Even better than previous offerings – as the graphics, writing and acting were all right on point. The action scenes, fast paced and multi-dimensional (at one point there was so much going on I struggled to keep up just watching), didn’t disappoint either.

As for the cries of taking liberties with the plot and padding with back story, there is perhaps some truth. Radagast the Brown (wizard) is introduced to the story to tie in the impact of the growing dark power. Azog the Orc, who rated only a mention in the book (as killer of Thorin’s grandfather), is elevated to the villain of the piece and a new storyline is pieced together to tie the movie into a cohesive whole. Stretching the story? Maybe. But Jackson has made an honest effort to stay true to Tolkien’s wider work while still delivering a memorable cinematic experience.

The movie sits well alongside Jackson’s previous film offerings and was a joy to watch. For fans of Tolkien’s larger works, it’s also a good excuse to dig back into the original text and find the small references Jackson mines to flesh out his film.

Highly Recommended!

Review by Raewyn Hewitt: Reader and writer of epic fantasy. Some of her earliest and most precious memories were of being snuggled up in bed as her Nana read her The Hobbit.

 

The Fantasy Novelist’s Exam by David J. Parker December 8, 2012

Welcome Fellow Fantasy Writers!

So I didn’t write this post. This post was first published by David J. Parker (with additional material by Samuel Stoddard) on this website. Since it is awesome, I have decided to share it with you. Visit the RinkWorks Production website for more information.

So here goes…

“Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis created the worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia, it seems like every windbag off the street thinks he can write great, original fantasy, too. The problem is that most of this “great, original fantasy” is actually poor, derivative fantasy. Frankly, we’re sick of it, so we’ve compiled a list of rip-off tip-offs in the form of an exam. We think anybody considering writing a fantasy novel should be required to take this exam first. Answering “yes” to any one question results in failure and means that the prospective novel should be abandoned at once.”

David J. Parker.

The Exam

  1. Does nothing happen in the first fifty pages?
  2. Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?
  3. Is your main character the heir to the throne but doesn’t know it?
  4. Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme badguy?
  5. Is your story about a quest for a magical artifact that will save the world?
  6. How about one that will destroy it?
  7. Does your story revolve around an ancient prophecy about “The One” who will save the world and everybody and all the forces of good?
  8. Does your novel contain a character whose sole purpose is to show up at random plot points and dispense information?
  9. Does your novel contain a character that is really a god in disguise?
  10. Is the evil supreme badguy secretly the father of your main character?
  11. Is the king of your world a kindly king duped by an evil magician?
  12. Does “a forgetful wizard” describe any of the characters in your novel?
  13. How about “a powerful but slow and kind-hearted warrior”?
  14. How about “a wise, mystical sage who refuses to give away plot details for his own personal, mysterious reasons”?
  15. Do the female characters in your novel spend a lot of time worrying about how they look, especially when the male main character is around?
  16. Do any of your female characters exist solely to be captured and rescued?
  17. Do any of your female characters exist solely to embody feminist ideals?
  18. Would “a clumsy cooking wench more comfortable with a frying pan than a sword” aptly describe any of your female characters?
  19. Would “a fearless warrioress more comfortable with a sword than a frying pan” aptly describe any of your female characters?
  20. Is any character in your novel best described as “a dour dwarf”?
  21. How about “a half-elf torn between his human and elven heritage”?
  22. Did you make the elves and the dwarves great friends, just to be different?
  23. Does everybody under four feet tall exist solely for comic relief?
  24. Do you think that the only two uses for ships are fishing and piracy?
  25. Do you not know when the hay baler was invented?
  26. Did you draw a map for your novel which includes places named things like “The Blasted Lands” or “The Forest of Fear” or “The Desert of Desolation” or absolutely anything “of Doom”?
  27. Does your novel contain a prologue that is impossible to understand until you’ve read the entire book, if even then?
  28. Is this the first book in a planned trilogy?
  29. How about a quintet or a decalogue?
  30. Is your novel thicker than a New York City phone book?
  31. Did absolutely nothing happen in the previous book you wrote, yet you figure you’re still many sequels away from finishing your “story”?
  32. Are you writing prequels to your as-yet-unfinished series of books?
  33. Is your name Robert Jordan and you lied like a dog to get this far?
  34. Is your novel based on the adventures of your role-playing group?
  35. Does your novel contain characters transported from the real world to a fantasy realm?
  36. Do any of your main characters have apostrophes or dashes in their names?
  37. Do any of your main characters have names longer than three syllables?
  38. Do you see nothing wrong with having two characters from the same small isolated village being named “Tim Umber” and “Belthusalanthalus al’Grinsok”?
  39. Does your novel contain orcs, elves, dwarves, or halflings?
  40. How about “orken” or “dwerrows”?
  41. Do you have a race prefixed by “half-”?
  42. At any point in your novel, do the main characters take a shortcut through ancient dwarven mines?
  43. Do you write your battle scenes by playing them out in your favorite RPG?
  44. Have you done up game statistics for all of your main characters in your favorite RPG?
  45. Are you writing a work-for-hire for Wizards of the Coast?
  46. Do inns in your book exist solely so your main characters can have brawls?
  47. Do you think you know how feudalism worked but really don’t?
  48. Do your characters spend an inordinate amount of time journeying from place to place?
  49. Could one of your main characters tell the other characters something that would really help them in their quest but refuses to do so just so it won’t break the plot?
  50. Do any of the magic users in your novel cast spells easily identifiable as “fireball” or “lightning bolt”?
  51. Do you ever use the term “mana” in your novel?
  52. Do you ever use the term “plate mail” in your novel?
  53. Heaven help you, do you ever use the term “hit points” in your novel?
  54. Do you not realize how much gold actually weighs?
  55. Do you think horses can gallop all day long without rest?
  56. Does anybody in your novel fight for two hours straight in full plate armor, then ride a horse for four hours, then delicately make love to a willing barmaid all in the same day?
  57. Does your main character have a magic axe, hammer, spear, or other weapon that returns to him when he throws it?
  58. Does anybody in your novel ever stab anybody with a scimitar?
  59. Does anybody in your novel stab anybody straight through plate armor?
  60. Do you think swords weigh ten pounds or more? [info]
  61. Does your hero fall in love with an unattainable woman, whom he later attains?
  62. Does a large portion of the humor in your novel consist of puns?
  63. Is your hero able to withstand multiple blows from the fantasy equivalent of a ten pound sledge but is still threatened by a small woman with a dagger?
  64. Do you really think it frequently takes more than one arrow in the chest to kill a man?
  65. Do you not realize it takes hours to make a good stew, making it a poor choice for an “on the road” meal?
  66. Do you have nomadic barbarians living on the tundra and consuming barrels and barrels of mead?
  67. Do you think that “mead” is just a fancy name for “beer”?
  68. Does your story involve a number of different races, each of which has exactly one country, one ruler, and one religion?
  69. Is the best organized and most numerous group of people in your world the thieves’ guild?
  70. Does your main villain punish insignificant mistakes with death?
  71. Is your story about a crack team of warriors that take along a bard who is useless in a fight, though he plays a mean lute?
  72. Is “common” the official language of your world?
  73. Is the countryside in your novel littered with tombs and gravesites filled with ancient magical loot that nobody thought to steal centuries before?
  74. Is your book basically a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings?
  75. Read that question again and answer truthfully.

Hoping you enjoyed!

Feel free to leave a comment below…

Good Luck and Keep Writing!

EM

 

First Post and Book Giveaway ! December 1, 2012

Welcome and thank you for stopping by our blog There And Draft Again: A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers.

Today is our official launch day and we’re hoping you’ll come by often in the future to share our journeys in the realms of fantasy fiction.

If you want to know more about who we are, please see the About Us page. If you’re looking for other Fantasy websites, see these Useful Links. If you would like some advice on which fantasy books to read, check out our Books Recommendations.

Then on this blog, you will find posts related to the following topics:

Writing Fantasy: a challenge of epic proportions. Under this category you’ll find posts about word count, world building, writing tips and online resources for Fantasy writers.

Publishing a Fantasy book: how to avoid an epic fail. Here you’ll find posts about the different publishing routes a Fantasy writer can take (traditional, small press, indie) as well as query and publishing tips.

Industry news: making sense of the fantasy world. These posts will bring you the latest newsabout the stateof the fantasy publishing industry: trends, awards, new acquisitions by big publishers, etc.

Reading epic books: here you’ll findbook reviews as well as a guide to all the sub-genres in fantasy literature.

Epic Inspiration: we will share with you our recommendations for fantasy TV shows, movies and photos that we find aspiring.

Now and before you go, we’d like you to follow our blog via email or WordPress, and if you do, you get a chance to win ONE of the following two books:

A SIGNED copy of Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (YA Epic Fantasy)

Inheritance-Paolini

A SIGNED copy of The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie (Adult Gritty Epic Fantasy)

 The Balde Itself - Abercrombie

*Giveaway is now closed*

The giveaway runs from today until Saturday 15th December 2012 at midnight (BST time) and it is international.

To enter please fill in the contact form below with your name and email, and let us know if you follow via email or WordPress. Don’t forget to mention which book you wish to win!

You HAVE TO follow our blog by email or WordPress to enter.

Entrants must be at least 13 years of age.

This giveaway is open Internationally.

The winner will be chosen randomly, notified by email and will have 72 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

We are not responsible for items lost in the mail.

We hold the right to end the giveaway before its original deadline without any prior notice.

We hold the right to disqualify any entry as I see fit.

Privacy information: no information given for this giveaway will be used for other purpose than this giveaway. All information provided (names, emails and mail addresses) will be deleted after the giveaway.

Good luck and feel free to leave us a comment below…

 

Welcome! November 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — thereanddraftagain @ 10:24 am
Tags: , , , ,

Welcome to There And Draft Again, a fellowship of fantasy writers who decided to blog about writing and reading all things fantasy.

Our blog’s official launch date is Saturday, December 1st 2012. In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter or check out who we are here.

Thanks for stopping by!