Archives

All posts for the month September, 2016

We are Peculiar People

Published September 25, 2016 by nruhwald

pretendI don’t normally participate in the daily prompt, I prefer to write about what I planned to write about. I suppose one could tailor the post to fit, but that seems so contrived somehow.

Fortunately, this week I didn’t really know what I wanted to write about. Fortunately, daily prompt came to my rescue. This prompt is perfect because so much of my life has been about pretending.

As a child I spent much of my time in a pretend world, I suppose that’s why writing novels, especially fantasy, came so naturally. Not the technique of writing a novel properly, but the creative process.

Even now, I may not be daydreaming all the time (though I often am), but much of my life is pretend. I pretend I know what people mean. I pretend I didn’t hear what someone said across the hall from me. I pretend I really want to write a blog post on the one day I reserve as a homework-free zone. I pretend I’m absorbed with whatever I’m listening to on my Ipod, and not listening and watching out of the corner of my eye.

That may sound a bit creepy, but we writers are observers. How can we replicate life if we do not observe it?

Besides, as Patrick Hood is fond of pointing out “it’s not eavesdropping if I can’t help it.”

It is only in observing other people that we realize that everyone is pretending. Pretending they’re really listening, pretending to pay attention in class, pretending everything’s okay. Sometimes, you also find out they’ve been watching you, too.

Pretending is necessary to the writer’s craft. Writers must know how to pretend, or else I suppose just write non-fiction.

But everyone pretends. Everyone sees that other people are pretending, at least if they care enough to look.

We are peculiar people.

via Daily Prompt: Pretend

Advertisements

Welcome to Desylvar

Published September 19, 2016 by nruhwald

Watch your step, though. It can get weird in here.

sky-1494656_640

This the first in a series of posts about the world I have constructed for my novels: Desylvar. It seems appropriate that I begin at the beginning, and present you with Desylvar at its most basic level, as everything else about Desylvar is based on this foundation.

Later on, I will tell you about how faerie society works. Personally, I don’t find humans as interesting, but I may write some about them, too. Today, I’m going to tell you about what I believe is the most important question a story-world can answer.

What separates the bad guys from the good guys?

Desylvar is not an “us” versus “them” world. In too many stories, the good guys wear white hats (metaphorically) and the bad guys wear black hats, and everyone lies, kills, and sometimes even tortures in order to get their way. The good guys are not good, they are simply better, or not as bad, as the bad guys.

However, Desylvar is based on moral and spiritual laws (you could call them laws of magic if you like) which apply to everyone as impartially as the law of gravity.

Even if an antagonist in Desylvar were never confronted by a protagonist, that antagonist would eventually suffer personal destruction as surely as if they had injected themselves with a virus. If a protagonist steps over the line, even unknowingly, there are consequences.

Neither are protagonists at a disadvantage because they choose to adhere to these spiritual laws. Those who choose evil often believe they have chosen freedom and power, but this is an illusion. If a human on Desylvar chooses to utilize the power of evil faeries, for a time they may experience great power, and believe they are free to do as they like. Eventually, though, they come to realize they were simply being used themselves, with no greater freedom than a slave.

The protagonists may not personally possess great power, but neither do the antagonists. The protagonists owe their allegiance to someone else with great power, but unlike evil faeries this master does not seek their destruction.

The protagonists are the protagonists because they are in alliance with the one who created those spiritual laws in the first place. The Seelie faeries call this person Eloheim. I’ve borrowed the Hebrew word for God here. So long as said protagonists continue to abide by the spiritual laws (the equivalent of not jumping off a cliff) they are protected. Nothing the Unseelie do can touch them.

This is the most abstract of the posts I’ll be writing about Desylvar, but I think it is also the most important. Some time ago I read a post by a blogger I respect (whose name escapes me), which said that only an experienced writer should attempt to write an allegory in the fantasy genre. Too late.

I don’t think I could write something without expressing myself in it. Although I have discovered how difficult writing an allegory is, I think I have some pretty great teachers in the novelists I read.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, date TBD, on faerie-circles.

 

Stumped by Stress

Published September 11, 2016 by nruhwald

beach-1085999_640For many of us, the beginning of September brings with it the beginning of a new school year, and whole boatload of stress. Today I’d like to talk about what effect that stress can have on your writing.

For me, stress tends to bring my writing output to a screeching halt, or something very much like it. The first week of school is not a good writing week.

How do you deal with that? Gaps in writing output are bad, right?

I have heard some experienced writers say that, with practice, it is possible to harness whatever emotions you’re experiencing and channel them into productive writing. Needless to say, I have not yet achieved that state of emotion-harnessing. There’s the odd time I escape into my writing just to get a break from whatever is going on, but most of the time I retreat into something less demanding.

Writing has its own stresses, and can be both emotionally and mentally taxing. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, trying to write, particularly trying to write well, may be next to impossible.

Is this necessarily a bad thing? If you don’t deal with the stress and stay in that non-writing place for an extended period of time, yes. But taking a break from your project for a while can actually be good for both you and the project.

Sometimes ideas just need some time to simmer.

This last week, I did no writing at all. But I realized that I had telegraphed a particular event in my novel instead of foreshadowing it.

For those of you who don’t know, telegraphing is essentially being too obvious. Foreshadowing should just be a hint, I pretty much told the reader exactly what was going to happen later. That’s bad.

So if you find yourself stumped by stress, whether because of the start of school or another reason, don’t freak out about it. Maybe a little break to recharge while you ride out the storm is just what your story needs. Just make sure to come back as soon as possible.

via Daily Prompt: Stump

Meet Winnowna

Published September 4, 2016 by nruhwald

Hello everyone. This month I would like to introduce you to my female protagonist, Princess Winnowna Illusia, who I’ve recently discovered whilst doing research for my post on plot points is actually my MC. Originally I had written her as a supporting sub-MC to Patrick Hood, but what do you know? Characters do what they want.

night-1542496_640

 

“What is this?” Matilda said severely. “The princess will be announced at any moment.”

Princess Winnowna winced at yet another tug on her hair, trying to catch a glimpse of Matilda through the swarm of maids hovering around her like bees tending to their queen. “It is the collar. Ouch. It keeps catching my curls.”

The maids worked quickly, disentangling the raven locks dangling from Winnowna’s intricate hairstyle, all the while leaning over the voluminous skirt of her dress to avoid marring the jewel-studded silk.

The magnificent costume was her duty to wear, but Winnowna feared she would never be equal to it. The gown seemed to swallow her whole, while the collar snatched at her hair like a pack of malicious pixies.

Winnowna forced a smile when the last curl was free of the ornate metal collar rising up from the shoulders of her gown. “There. Is my tiara straight?”

Matilda tilted her head, studying the ornament. “Yes, Your Highness.”

The trumpets blasted outside, and the herald’s voice echoed in the courtyard. “Her Royal Highness, Princess Winnowna Illusia of the Kingdom of North Caladavan.”

The princess stiffened, but raised her chin and prepared to walk out onto the balcony. Soon the memorial ceremony would be over, and she could again try to pretend the sacrifices never happened.

Matilda hurried behind Winnowna and took up her train. Winnowna walked through the gauzy curtains onto the balcony, followed by Matilda and the rest of her courtiers. The crowd in the courtyard below shouted and cheered.

Winnowna smiled and waved to her people. Matilda settled the train on the smooth marble balcony and took her place at Winnowna’s side.

“Goodness,” said Winnowna. “One would almost think they were pleased to see me.”

“Your people love you, Highness,” said Matilda.

Winnowna looked up at the adjacent balcony, where her father and mother stood in attire yet more regal and extravagant than her own. A rare sight, to see them together. In all her life the king and queen had not spent more than a few days per year in each other’s company.

A somber hush fell over the crowd as the dracona majora, chief sorcerer of the Inner Circle, ascended to the top of the podium in the courtyard below, flanked by two acolytes.

Winnowna’s fingernails dug into her palms. The dark-clad figures of the Inner Circle haunted her gilded youth and childhood, an ever-present reminder of the sacrifices plaguing her land, and of the possibility that her turn might one day come.

Sometimes she dreamed of banishing them all when she became queen, but she knew better. The Inner Circle held great power, given to them by the Great Dragon and its servants. No one dared cross them in all of Caladavan’s history, nor was such a thing likely ever to happen. Winnowna did not pray to the Great Dragon as some did, but she knew its power was inexorable.

“People of Caladavan,” the dracona majora’s voice echoed in the crisp autumn air. “Today we gather to remember our lost royalty. The blood-children, sent by the will of the Great Dragon into the terrible waters of the gulf, and there murdered by the monstrous strangeling Captain Harbinger.”

Strangelings, part human and part faerie, were another of Caladavan’s plagues. Fortunately there were but few of them on the mainland now, though there were monsters and full-blooded faeries enough to make up for it.

The dracona majora continued, “On this day, as we remember the blood-children, it is perhaps fitting that I announce one more to be added to their number.”

An uneasy murmur arose from the crowd.

Winnowna let out a slow breath through her teeth. The last two blood-children had been from North Caladavan. Surely it must be time for someone from South Caladavan to be chosen.

“I announce with deep regret, Princess Winnowna Illusia shall have the honour of serving the Great Dragon as the blood-child.”

She grasped the balcony rail. Her blood seemed to evaporate from her body, leaving her cold and hollow. She did not know whether the shriek rending the air came from her own throat or her mother’s.

The crowd’s murmur grew into a roar of anger. The palace guards rushed in to beat back the angry people and usher the dracona majora and his acolytes to safety.

None of this was real, it couldn’t be. She was going to vomit.

Winnowna pressed cold lips together and swallowed hard. She turned and ran back inside, shrieking, “Libby! Get me out of this. Matilda, help me get this thing off.” Winnowna began pulling at her elaborate hairpiece. “Libby, where are you?”

Libby scuttled forth out of the lounge adjoining Winnowna’s dressing parlour. The lady dressed identically to Winnowna. She served as an emergency stand-in for events in which Winnowna was not expected to interact closely with the crowd. In this case, Winnowna had a different purpose in mind for Libby.

The maids worked in a frenzy. Off came the velvet sash, the cape, the jeweled netting from her skirt, the heavy metal collar. Doubtless they did not understand why Winnowna demanded they undress her, but they soon would.

“Libby, once I am gone I want you to run about the palace screaming. The rest of you must pretend to protect her. The guard shall realize their mistake as soon as they catch you, but keep away from them for as long as you can,” said Winnowna. “Matilda, if you would give me the loan of your plainest dress and a cloak.”

“But Your Highness.”

“We discussed this.”

“It was a game. This was never supposed to happen.”

“It is not a game now.”

 

%d bloggers like this: