Merry Christmas & A Holiday Haiatus

I just wanted to pop in here and wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannakuh, or a Joyous Holiday of Your Preference.  (We celebrate Christmas in the Casa Chez Watkins; so I mean no offense to those who celebrate elsewise in this season by leading off the blog post with wishes for the same.) 

I don’t expect in the next week or two to be posting often at all, as the Dear Wife and I and our family are currently busily-engaged in our annual festivities.  So if you don’t hear from me again before the advent of 2012, well, take this as a Happy New Year post as well.

Holiday Fun: The Gingerbread House Cometh

These are fun: a series of Gingerbread creations in the shape of icons from Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction.

My favorites (with added points for technical accomplishments): the Gingerbread Burrow and Gingerbread Hogwarts, but they’re all quite fabulous.

Writing Progress: Week Ending December 17, 2011 & A Milestone

Las week was not a bad week in writing:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 2,259 words

Grand Total: 2,259 words

In the previous week I had reached the point in my outline for the “Book of M” where the primary antagonist was introduced.  Up to this point I’ve been pretty uncertain about the final direction of the book: where it was going and what was going to happen.  I hadn’t really settled on a specific climactic moment for the book, as yet.  Given that the motivations and goals of the villain are going to be an important driver on the plot, I decided that I needed to take a step back and really dig into the backstory of that villain, so I could understand him better.

So mostly that’s what I did last week: the majority of my wordcount last week was the villain’s individual backstory and goals and motivations.  I’m pretty satisfied with the progress I made.  Whereas before the villain was sort of a nebulous, ill-defined “bad guy who does bad stuff because he’s bad”, now I understand why he is the way he is, and why he does what he does.  Of course, his story turns out to be fairly tragic.  Some bad stuff happens to him, and this leads him to some pretty stark and nasty conclusions, which leads him to act on those conclusions in ways that are not at all rosy and cheerful. Continue reading

Yes Please

This.

Oh so very much this.  I can haz wantz now!?

Tidbits of Inspiration: Ghost Ship

Now here’s a fun little bit of true-life inspiration: the tale of the ghost ship The Mary Celeste.

It has a very “Scooby-doo” vibe to it, if you know what I mean.

She appears one day under full sail, but completely abandoned and devoid of her crew.

And then they put her back into service, only to have her last captain try to pull a scam – and he would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those kids!

This little tale is worth the read for some inspiration on ghost ships and stories set on the high seas.  I find the unexplained mystery of what happened to her original crew tantalizing.

The Fantasy Prophecy

Several weeks ago I ran across an interesting post on the blog of writer A.J. Luxton.  In this post, Luxton begins a series of posts on the subject of subgenre divisions within the Fantasy genre – and some tools for approaching the tropes and themes of Fantasy – by talking about Prophecies

It was a very good article, particularly if you’re interested in writing or reading Fantasy, and I recommend it.  I had been considering writing my own essay on the topic of prophecies, signs, and portents in the context of Fantasy and speculative fiction, but this essay gets at a lot of what I might’ve said on the subject – at least for now.  What’s interesting is that Luxton divides the Fantasy genre, in this case, along the dimension of “Fate”, giving “High Fate” and “Low Fate” fantasies – i.e. stories where Fate is rigid and flows from some sort of higher power versus stories where people get a “hunch” or “intuition” or where a fortune teller just happens on that one-in-a-million where s/he is actually right, or the horoscope actually proves prescient.  And then there’s everything in between.

I like Luxton’s approach of subdividing Fantasy across multiple relevant, fantastic axes, and look forward to more entries in this series of posts.

Writing Progress: Week Ending December 10, 2011

This week was not as productive as I would’ve liked, but it wasn’t so bad:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 1,571 words

Grand Total: 1,571 words

Last week I finally put the long and ancient history of the world of the Book of M to bed – and this week I started an exciting new phase of the book development: the novel outline.  The fifteen hundred words I put down this week got me right up until the beginning of what I expect will be the tenth chapter (though that could change when I start the actual writing), and the introduction of the primary villain of the book.  At last, the villain has a name. 

The work this week has been really fun.  I’ve had a rough idea of what the first seven chapters would contain for a while, so putting this down on paper was fairly straight forward.  But then I had to start getting creative – where would things go and what would happen after that?  So I started thinking about what could make the situation worse for the characters, and some interesting things started happening as a result.  I’m really looking forward to turning this into actual prose.

I expect the book to be somewhere between 30 and 45 chapters long, so at this rate I’m between a third and a quarter done with the outline.  This week, I’ll need to step away from the outline just a little to focus on the characters introduced in this part of the book, and flesh them out a little more – particularly the villain.  Up until now, I haven’t really had a clear idea of who the villain really was, just an idea of what his title and role were.  But I feel that I need to know him better, as a character – what are his goals, his fears, and how he thinks – before I can really wrap my arms around the plot of the book, because what he does and how the protagonist reacts to it is what’s going to really drive the plot.

So that’s how my writing week went.  How was yours?