Friday, January 28, 2011

Polls, Ainaan, and General Announcement

 This will be a shorter post than normal and won't have to do completely with writing. I just have a few general announcements to make.
  The first announcement is that I have a poll up about, so please vote in that. One option, and it expires on February first.

  Secondly, I'm nearly ready for the second Steam Man post, so you won't have to wait to long. I have some concept art and new setting ideas like G.R.A.S.S. gunships. More on that soon.

 Finally, is there anyone who you'd like to see interviewed in the (probably not so soon) future? I can try to get them, but I'll have to come up with the interviews first.

 Now, if you vote about my fantasy world, it's called Ainaan and has four continents arranged around the Sea of Leionesse with islands in the sea. Currently, I have no stories in active progress in Ainaan, or fantasy in general.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Character Development & Genre: How much is to much?

 Character development is a tricky subject, and there are many ways to do it. So, how deep do your characters actually need to be? Well, it's your choice.
 Do you want an incredibly real and complex character for your explosion filled Indiana Jones style adventure? If you do, go ahead but it might be wasted.  The action genre doesn't normally have terribly complex or deep characters. Why? The characters are second to the action and plot.  Take Indiana Jones for example. What do you know about him? He's a professor and a treasure hunter. He's good with his fists and a bull whip. From the movies, that's about all we know about him. That's enough to know about him. We don't need to know anything else about him to enjoy the story.
 On the other hand, a shallow character more appropriate for an adventure novel won't work for a hefty 950 page literary novel. For a novel of this length and plot, you need fully developed characters. You would need to know everything about them, from motives to dreams. A shallow adventurer just won't have the color to move the story along. It would be like a tiny car engine trying to move a dump truck. It doesn't have the oomph to push it along.
 Back to the same comparison, a fully fleshed out, completely life-like character would have to much information. Does it matter that the main character dis-likes sports because he failed to make a team once? Only if it is directly related to the story.

 But what about the other genres? Fantasy? Science fiction? Historical fiction? Well, it depends on your story. Some fantasy stories are shorter and focus more on the plot. They don't need much character development. Others are extremely long and need rounded characters. It's the same for science fiction. Some need deep characters while others need shallow characters.
  More realistic genres, however, need fully developed characters. This is mainly because in a world remarkably similar to our own, need people that we can know well and understand.

 To wrap it up, speculative genres leave the amount of character development up to the story. Real world stories need better developed characters.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NEW SERIES: Development of a Story: An Idea

 Alright, this is a new series I came up with. Instead of simply telling you about the process in which I write a novel, I'll involve you and share it with you step by step. This is for a project I'm currently calling The Steam Man. Part of why I'm doing this is to receive new input and ideas, creating a more varied and rounded story. In return, you'll get a mention on the acknowledgments and a signed copy if gets published.

   It all started with a conversation during chores. It was simply two people trying to out-do each other in a form of verbal combat. One person is tough, the other uses something to defeat it. Eventually, I came up with the idea of fire running through one's veins. Of course, then the person got doused with water. This created steam, and in a flash of inspiration, the Steam Man was forged. It took a little while to apply the finish to the idea.

   The Steam Man has, since the idea was formed, become an android assassin powered by a small nuclear reactor in a futuristic alternate Earth where cyberpunk meets steampunk. In a  country ruled by a despotic and removed government in which the citizen's only dealings with the government are through TV-like transmissions, a rebellion begins. Though guarded and subtle, the government learns of it. In response, they create a mechanical assassin. Its job is to target the rebellion leaders and eliminate them.  As it goes about its missions, unaware of its own existence, something happens. I don't know what yet, but the it becomes a he. The newly aware person has no history of his past, what his name is, or where he's from.

  That's all I have for the plot, and just a little more on the setting. Most of it will take place in a brick Victorian-esque city with levels built on top of each other and smoke hanging in the air. It will be a city under oppression. The place is also grimy, steam-punk style technology run by nuclear reactors, and dark.

Here's the part where you, my readers, come in. Please give your ideas on anything mentioned in this post and I'll give a short list of things that I need help with.

What happened to the Steam Man?
What is the rest of the world like?
Who are these brave rebels?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Seat of the Pants in Five (Almost) Easy Steps

   It may appear that many people frown on writers who write seat of the pants (SotP) style. It's a shame really. SotP writing is really fun, similar to reading a book for the first time. Or more like playing a role-playing game.
   Their disdain might stem from the fact that just sitting down and writing a novel with no idea what will happen is scary, even less so than outlining. In outlining, you don't actually have to write the novel for a while. You can spend quite a bit of time on the outline before starting the first sentence. You often can have detailed character profiles, plot, twists, character arcs. Everything but the story.
  With SotP, you start out with minimal planning and just dive in. I generally start with characters and a basic plot. I might write a list of scenes I want, but no order, so that the story flows and twists naturally. Granted, it sometimes seems to wander a bit. In Hunter Romero and the Atlantean Curse, I started with nothing. Absolutely nothing. I just started writing and it's the farthest and most developed one I have.
  Let me give you an example of my normal SotP outline along with the first step from Lester Dent's Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot. Here are the steps I've taken so far.
  STEP 1: I had an idea. That's how all my novels start out as, an idea, generally a scene or a nebulous feeling. It was a  modern Doc Savage/Indiana Jones/ Lance Juno character crossing a rickety wooden bridge. I sub-consciously asked three questions. Who was he? What was he doing? Why was he doing it?
  STEP 2: I answered the above questions with the answers Jack Wilder, fighting an Egyptian cult, and it was his job. That was good, but he needed fleshed out and helpers. I learned that he was an ex-Special Forces soldier who was honorably discharged due to an injury. He co-owns a company, Wilder and Gray, Soldiers of Fortune, along with Jonathan Gray, a retired CIA agent. There's a third person, but I haven't made him yet. I figured out their skills and their looks.
STEP 3: Define a basic plot idea. What is the conflict? Who are the perpetrators? Why is the hero there? Why is he involved?  This is also where I filled in the four starting points for the above mentioned formula. This is a simpler step, but it requires lots of thinking to make everything seem reasonable. I might use a plot generator for ideas, I found a good adventure plot generator, or even character generators.
STEP 4: Write. This is the final and longest step. This is where I just sit down and start pouring the story onto paper. It will be pretty bad, but some parts will be brilliant and other parts will need cut and fixed. The twists will surprise you, and they should surprise the readers.
STEP 5: Edit and revise the novel several times so that is perfect. This will take a while and will need several posts to cover fully. 

 So those are my five steps to writing a novel. Sometimes it's rough, it's normally hard, but it's a blast to write.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Windy Bluffs

 Windy Bluffs is a bit of a strange name for a blog, unless it's a blog for poker bluffs. Let me explain. Windy Bluffs has a three-fold meaning for me. The actual dictionary definition would be along the lines of lies that require lots of air or long lies. That's a pretty negative definition. However, it can also mean novels. Novels are long tales that can use lots of air. The personal definition is that Windy Bluffs is a school for bards in my world Edradria, as well as the the history of the world. Much responsibility, that brings.
     In case you're wondering what type of stories you may hear about, I'll give you a brief over view of my projects, the non-classified ones of course. I might as well do the classified ones as well. It won't hurt anybody, I don't think.
 1. The Price of Freedom: The First Chapter in the Untold Tale of America's Finest in World War Three: Despite the long title, this project is at 20,000 words and about 1/3 of the way done. It tells the story of Lance Juno, commander of a commando battalion, as he leads his soldiers against the new Terran Federation, a ruthless and Utopian dictatorship in the year 2021 AD. It's part of a three trilogy series.
2. "A store owner, a professor, and a 13 year old pickpocket race to unearth a cursed idol from Atlantis before the Nazis find it." That's the log-line for Hunter Romero and the Atlantean Curse, a story meant to bring to mind the tales of the pulp era,  which is nearing the 30,000 word mark in the first draft.
3. Wilder and Gray, Soldiers of Fortune:  This series follows the adventures of an ex-commando, retired spy, and a gadget whiz as they are hired to do some of the most dangerous jobs in the 21st century. It's in planning at the moment.

 Those are my top three projects at the moment, as is a jazz song that I'm writing.

 I'll also do my best to publish a post at least two times a month, maybe more.