There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

Fantasy Diversity December 14, 2013

Before people wrote down stories, the whimsical orations of fantasy worlds and fantastical events were the entertainment of a population. As such, fantasy has garnished a reputation that seems to demand certain elements be involved in the tale lest it no longer be considered fantasy. This tends to involve magic, people who can use magic and more often than not, a bunch of white guys. Young white guys, old white guys…super old white guys. Clearly, fantasy has not been a shining example of diversity from its beginnings.

However, lately, more writers are branching out from fantasy clichés and introducing increasingly realistic and diverse elements into their plotlines. Characters of color, characters who are attracted to the same sex, characters with disabilities and even characters dealing with substance abuse. This isn’t a ploy to make their story stand out…it’s a way to make it real! Even in a fantasy world, not everyone should be a straight, white man. Our stories should reflect that.

Yes, this might be a prospect that freaks out some fantasy purists, but the times are changing and it’s time the fantasy does too. There needs to be more characters in these wonderful worlds that face challenges that minority groups experience. Think back to classics like Lord of the Rings or Narnia or even Harry Potter. The diversity is slim to none in all of those titles. That isn’t to say a diverse cast can’t be popular with the larger population. Of course it can! In fact, it could thrive based on its diversity alone. If it has a killer plot and interesting worldbuilding like those staples of fantasy, imagine the progress the genre could make?

Is there a group of type of character you’d like to see more in fantasy?

Is there a character or book that you feel represents minorities well?

Share your thoughts and together we can encourage a new generation of all-inclusive fantasy novels.

~Rachel H

Advertisements
 

The Expansion of Fantasy December 11, 2013

We all know the sub-genres of fantasy and the myriad elements of each, and we know our literary categories, those in which every genre, not just fantasy, exist. Well, this last year has seen the emergence of a new category: New Adult.

I’m excited about this. Not just as a reader, but as a writer. Trying to fit my stories into either YA or Adult has been tricky, often frustrating, and at times I’ve changed, or forced, what grew organically into one or the other category, when really it didn’t belong in either. Now, I’m going back through my WIPs and making notes on where I changed specific things, and re-reading my original drafts and thinking, “Aha, this is New Adult!”, which makes me very happy.

Currently, mainstream New Adult is contemporary romance, and though I’ve never been a huge fan of this (aside from reading all of Nora Roberts and Kathleen Woodiwiss) I’ve devoured a ton of these this year. And I have even more on my Amazon wishlist. They resonate with me because they not only center around the age range of most of my own characters (18-25), but because they explore the same issues as mine. And I’m not just talking sex. I’m talking about characters in the midst of that transitory period between youth and full adulthood, struggling to find their place in the world on their own.

But I think other genres, especially fantasy, are about to explode onto the scene. Agents and editors are asking for different genres in New Adult. Those who follow the Twitter hashtag, #MSWL, have seen this, and if you’re like me, reviewing updated agent bios and what they and their agencies want, you’ll have seen this as well. Here’s a great post by literary agent, Suzie Townsend, and her thoughts on New Adult and its emergence into different genres, as well as books already out there that might appeal to this audience.

Suffice it to say, I’m thrilled about all this. Beyond. Belief. And I hope one day to see a whole section in bookstores dedicated to New Adult Fantasy. What do you guys think?

Happy Holidays!

Kate

 

Talking It Up November 23, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 12:11 pm
Tags: , ,

So I’ve been having great fun lately on a new project. Not only do I love the story and the characters (except when they act out), but it’s flowing like a river during spring thaw. Okay, that metaphor isn’t the best because sometimes a lot of ice chunks clog up the flow and . . . well . . . yeah . . . anyhow, one of the fun parts of the new project is making use of 18th century thieves’ cant.

My first introduction to cant came in the book Among Thieves  by Douglas Hulick (an excellent read, by the way). Cant was a secret language used among thieves, beggars, and other types of scoundrels. I believe there is a separate variation used by gypsies. Even though my NP (new project) is set in an alternate world, the thieves cant seemed a natural fit. The addition of this secret language has added great depth to my world building. I suppose I could have made words up, I’ve done that before, creating languages known only to my characters and sprinkling them throughout. And I do find I need to take some liberties with the cant, occasionally bending a meaning or tossing in a more modern slang term, still, it’s like that little sprinkling of hot sauce on a Bloody Mary. Or salt on fries. Or salsa on eggs. Well, you get my point.

This is just the kind of little something that I find I love in the books I read lately. In moderation, of course. Too much can ruin a good story. When I have to spend too much time trying to figure out what the character’s are saying, I lose patience. Yes, perhaps they really speak like that all the time. The problem is, I don’t. If I have to have a companion translation dictionary at hand, I swiftly lose my desire to continue on. Done correctly (and I only hope I am) the addition of such little details can really enrich the reader’s experience. It becomes those little gems that people remember and bookmark on their Kindle. Add in all those other good tidbits of world building we’ve seen here and elsewhere, and you’ll soon be immersing your readers in a land that seems as real as the one outside their door.

Have you ever stumbled across any dialects or languages used that intrigued you enough to research them? Do you like those sprinklings of gems, or do you find they pull you out of the story?

~ Kathi

 

The Rough-shod Middle Earth of Your Trilogy September 11, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 2:44 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Yup. That’s me right now. Can any of you relate? For your sakes, I hope not.

They say the second book in a trilogy is the one that does you in, and I am here to tell you, believe it. The second book will rip something out. It might be your heart, or your brain, or your eyes, but seriously, you are not getting out of here unscathed.

Why is engaging in the drafting and revision of a second book so terrifying? Well, some simple reasons, for starters. The story must go on, but it can’t be the same. It has to be deeper and more powerful. The stakes must be raised. Whatever the characters were fighting for in book one must suddenly be more of a background issue. You need fresh problems, fresh challenges to face.

Right. That can’t be too hard, can it? Well, here’s where it all gets complicated.

Your second book needs conflict and resolution. It needs clean character arcs. It needs all the same story beats your first novel had. But it CANNOT TRULY RESOLVE. At the end, you need to still have another novel’s worth of even HIGHER stakes waiting. This is where I run into the greatest difficulty. My second book is different from my first in so many ways. It has a different main character. Most of the POVs are swapped. The stakes are crazy high by the time we get to the end — so high in fact that I’m not sure everyone won’t be staring at me with this look on their face:

Everyone goes through hell in this book. Everyone gets hurt. Everyone loses something dear. And yet, the show goes on. (And yes, I have a third book full of even crazier shiz already in my head.) But I can’t help wondering if this is going to be one of those, “Like, for real? You think you can get away with this?”

The thing is, no, I don’t think I can. I’ve been revising this manuscript by chopping it up and deleting and destroying and rewriting and then ripping up the beat sheet and starting a new outline with completely different events…*headdesk*. I just completed a rewrite of 40k of it. I’m still tossing out every version of the ending that I come up with. I tweak the dialogue. I tweak the dialogue again. I kill some darlings. I haven’t even sent it to my CPs yet because it’s too messy to be coherent. If all goes well, I’ll plague them with it later this month, as soon as I can string together all the madness.

Anyone else out there writing their middle novel? Lost in the mire? Neck deep in revisions? Dude, I raise my glass and wish you the best. This is where I’ve been lately, so I thought I’d share. At least we can all commiserate together, right?

Rachel O’Laughlin

 

What’s in Your Wallet . . . um . . . on Your TBR List August 31, 2013

Filed under: Reading — thereanddraftagain @ 5:40 am
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been a reading machine of late. It helps when I’m noodling plot problems, or am eyeball deep in edits. My brain gets to relax and wander in someone elses world for a change. Some of the reading I’ve been doing has been of the Beta/Critiquing kind. I always feel honored when another writer puts that kind of trust in me. And it’s fun to get a glimpse at what the rest of the world is going to have to wait a while to see. Neener, neener.

*ahem*

So, ah, anyway, I thought I’d share a few of the books I’ve gobbled down to give you all something for your own reading lists. I’ll stick to those in the fantasy genre as that’s what we’re all here for. I won’t review them here. Some I have reviewed on my blog, Amazon, GoodReads, etc. And some I still owe reviews for. Suffice it to say, if they’re on this list, I loved and highly recommend them.  Unless I note otherwise.

First, I have to say, for some reason I’ve jumped into a lot of series lately. I have a love-hate relationship with series. I love them because if I like the characters and the world I don’t ever want their tales to end. I hate them because there is usually a wait until the next book comes out. An agonizingly long wait which I find myself on both sides of. So though I understand it completely, I’m terribly impatient.

I’ve also found myself leaning toward the grimdark fantasies. They have a tendency to put you smack-dab in a character’s skin to the point of sometimes being uncomfortable, which is why they get a bad rap from some reviewers. I’ve always figured, if you don’t like it, don’t read it. No harm, no foul. Every book is definitely not for every reader.

Okay, onward. Here we go:

Coldness of Marek by Rachel O’Laughlin

The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan — Actually, the whole Ryria Series. This one and The Rose and Thorn (Release date in Sept) are prequels. Three other books are already written and can be read first without ruining anything. In fact, it made The Crown Tower even more enjoyable.

Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick

Broken Aro and Broken Prince by Jen Wylie

The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged, and Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

The Last Swordmage by Martin F. Hengst

So, there you have it. The one thing all these tales have in common, besides being well-written and engaging, are strong characters and excellent world building. Many of the characters are flawed seemingly beyond hope which only fuels my page-turning addiction. Quite a few of the authors incorporate a dry sense of humor which I am partial to as it pretty much echoes my own. Have you read any of the books on my list? Have some that I may have missed by similar authors? I’m always open to something new . . .

~ Kathi

 

 

The Quest for a Critique Partner August 22, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 6:28 am
Tags: , , ,

Hi everyone!

Today I’d like to share a few tips about finding the right Critique Partner(s).

FrodoSam

What is a Critique Partner?

A writer working alone always gets to a point where he needs another set of eyes to let him know how he can make his Work In Progress better. Beta readers can help by pointing out what they liked or disliked in the story’s plot, structure and characters. But their advice can only take the writer so far, because they are only readers, as their designation points out. Enter the Critique Partner. A Critique Partner is a writer, who can help another writer with all the aspects of his story, from plot holes to grammar mistakes.

Where can you find a Critique Partner?

If you’re lucky enough to have a local critique group, start there. But if you don’t have anyone in real life you feel can fill this role, look online.

– Social media is a good place to start, especially Twitter.

– Specialised websites also offer to help writers get in touch: Ladies Who Critique, How About We CP, CP Seek, She Writes, PublishingCrawl.

– Online writing conferences and writing contests are also a great way to find people who write your genre: WriteOnCon, PitchMadness, PitchMas, PitchWars, GUTGAA, the Haunted Writing Clinic, etc.

– For those of you writing MG/YA Fantasy, do check out the SCBWI forums and YA Writers Reddit.

– The National Novel Writing Months (NaNoWriMo, JuNoWriMo and CampNaNo) are also a good way to find writers in your genre.

– And don’t forget forums like Absolutewrite and Agent Query Connect.

How do I know I’ve found the right Critique Partner?

A CP’s feedback needs to be honest, constructive and helpful. But this works both ways: your feedback on your CP’s manuscript also needs to be honest, constructive and helpful. You need to agree on time frames, manuscript length and genre.

Most partnerships start with a casual conversation, then a first chapters swap. If you’re happy with the feedback received/given, you can move on to full manuscripts, and hopefully a long-term friendship!

How can you make it work?

Finding a good match isn’t easy: don’t be afraid to say ‘this isn’t working for me’ if you feel your CP’s feedback isn’t what you expect. Chances are you are going to be reading A LOT of each other’s writing in the next few years, so you need to be happy with each other’s schedules and comments. Balance is key: this is a partnership, and ideally both writers are at the same stage in their writing.

You know you’ve found the right CP if you feel this balance is there, and if you think your partnership works both ways. Hopefully this partnership turns into friendship, and your CP becomes the first person you turn to for anything related to your writing career, whether you’ve jut received a request for your manuscript or hit rock bottom while drafting your Work In Progress.

So tell us: do you have a hard time finding a CP? If you have a CP, where did you find each other? Let us know in the comments below!

EM Castellan

 

Dare I Say It? Romance in Fantasy August 7, 2013

Filed under: Reading,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 12:55 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Kathi’s post, From out of Nothing, reflected me this week with my own post. It must be going around. Her statement, “As the deadline for my post slithered closer, I sat and banged my head against the desk praying for inspiration because, quite frankly, I had nothing”, is EXACTLY how I’ve felt. So I’m just gonna tell you what I’ve been up to in my current WIP——>Nothing.

Yep. Nothing.

I swear I’m not in a funk, nor do I have writer’s block. But I do have a slight issue with my story. I struggled through my plot issue and resolved it a few weeks back and I was like, Yeah, baby! But when I got down to writing and revising I realized I had another problem: the chemistry between my mc and her love interest was totally flat.

I hear some of you groaning already. Romance in fantasy? Enough already. Give. Me. A break.

Sorry, can’t do it. All my novels have romance. It’s how I’m wired. Anyway, while my two characters are off on their mad quest, battling blood thirsty monsters and defying vengeful gods, they fall in love. Writing sexual tension is nothing new to me, but these two characters have me pulling my hair out by the roots.

So what’s a writer to do?

Read. That’s what.

I’ve read twelve, TWELVE, contemporary romances in two weeks. Some were meh, with the emotional charge lacking even the smallest spark, while others were strong enough to jump start my SUV. I’m now going back through every one I read, and making notes as to what worked and didn’t, and why.

And though my FANTASY novel doesn’t have “in your face” romance, what is there should be as strong and powerful as every other element in the story. I’ve read fantasy novels where the romance or mystery seemed like an afterthought, which left me wondering why it was there in the first place. I don’t want any reader to say that about mine, so I’ll spend just as much time perfecting each glance, each kiss, as I do with world building and swordplay.

What do you guys think?

Happy writing! Kate