Category Archives: Writing

Mechanics of Writing: Narrative Voice

I wanted to write a post, when I first started this blog, about genre and word choice. On how each genre tends to have its own “style” of writing which contributes to overall atmosphere of each genre. Given how infrequently I write/publish posts on this blog, it’s no surprise that I’ve proobably reconsidered that idea. It’s not bad, but it was incomplete and my views on word choice in writing have shifted a little.

Instead, I came across a thread on twitter that touched on the “beginner writing rules” and how they aren’t necessarily good. It’s well worth reading but there are some points in there that I want to expand on some more.

So instead of word choice, I want to talk about narrative voice and how prose contributes to story.

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The Nitpicks: Media does not exist in a vacuum

Thus continues my discourse series on literature and literary academia. Those of you reading who know me might go “Oh no, Ash why? I thought you hated discourse!” While the other half is more thinking “Oh no, here we go again.”

Listen – there’s a place and time for discourse, and I think often enough, it’s important to address.

Speaking broadly, when writing fiction of any kind we highlight stories to show to the world. This can be in all sorts of media: TV, movies, novels, short fiction, plays, podcasts, whatever. For someone, somewhere, your piece of media will be their first time experiencing a story like that, or will be reinforcing their views.

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Mechanics of Writing: How worldbuilding affects your pacing

This one’s been in my drafts for a while. As have many things, actually. Some of my more lengthy drafts are eagerly awaiting some concrete research that I don’t have the time to do during the school year. Some of these, though, I have no real excuse. Just general bad time management and bad organizational skills.

Lately, I’ve been adapting my dark fantasy world for another D&D campaign, which almost always means I’ve got my mind on worldbuilding, which, for a lot of works I’ve seen, stops barely after the bare minimum. Now, I don’t want you thinking I’m saying this because I have high standards. In fact, I should probably outline a few reasons why worldbuilding is more important than simply the backdrop to your writing.

Worldbuilding creates the skeleton for the rest of your work.

We can consider characters, first, although this isn’t the main thesis for this post. Your characters’ motivations will be affected by the world they grew up in, whether it be cultural, political, or both (usually, both). This doesn’t mean that your characters need to be heavily involved in politics, but keep in mind that the authority in the world trickles down to their level eventually. It affects how others see them, how they view those close to them, what they can or cannot interact with, why they learn the things they do, etc. More often than not, history is an excellent resource for this. Don’t be afraid to use it!

Still, I wanted to talk about something more technical than character building (although if anyone’s interested, I may eventually write that up too).

Stop for a moment and think about what you’ve interacted with on any given day. What sorts of stores are near you? Who runs them and why? What sorts of pressures are they driven by?

Maybe that’s a bit deeper than most people are thinking of on a daily basis.

But that’s the line of thinking you need when you’re worldbuilding. A thorough world for writing doesn’t need to be complete, but it should have some sort of internal logic that doesn’t necessarily need to be explained all at once, but it does need to be there. It should be revealed throughout the story without anything being too unexpected – your worldbuilding should provide a scaffolding for your writing.

Consider that details of a world force the reader away from your characters and your plot. And this isn’t a bad thing, especially when integrated correctly. Even if you’re not writing in a secondary world, these characters interact with just as many things as you might on an average day. As a writer, there’s an important distinction to make regarding these aspects: what’s important to the story? what’s important to these characters?

When you use your characters to reveal your worldbuilding, your pacing can slow, and your readers won’t be pulled from event to event to event.

It can also be very handy in establishing gravity. After all, when a reader is pulled through a series of events, they need to understand the stakes. The world you’re writing in can be as wide and large as international politics, but it could also be as small as two best friends. As a writer, the decision to determine which aspects of your world is important to the story is not something that should be just glazed over. The reader should understand the gravity of what’s happening to these characters, and much of it is revealed through worldbuilding.

Creating and then referencing the internal logic of your world will help readers come to an understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish. Surprises can be good, but surprises should come with an understanding of its gravity.

Genre Talk: High Fantasy

I’ve neglected this blog. Whoops. I blame the executive dysfunction on top of trying to do well in school/make money freelancing and the executive dysfunction when trying to write to get published. It’s a problem. Like a grade A genuine problem. Not much of an excuse, I know, but here I am.

That’s not really what I want to talk about today, though, because while I usually work in alternate histories, my (sub)genre of choice is high fantasy. Like so many others. Like almost every other amateur fantasy writer out there. So what exactly do I have to bring to the discussion?

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Genre Talk: Dark Fantasy

Fantasy is just one giant pile of subgenres and subgenres, isn’t it? But that’s the beauty of it for me. There’s so much that can be done with it, but as I’ll be discussing with all my Genre Talk posts, it seems like almost all of them are stuck in the same rut.

So with dark fantasy, how exactly do we describe it? What is the definition of dark fantasy? As with almost every subgenre, the exact act of defining it is a little tricky (not just literary, either – if you have a day I highly suggest reading a bit on the subgenres of metal but that’s an aside).

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Fact and Fiction: Understanding the place of research in genre fiction

I’m a sucker for a well-researched story. And not just the story/narrative itself, but the worldbuilding. In my experience with various writing communities (both online and off), there are some writers who opt to neglect research with the excuse that it’s just fiction. I have a different view on that.

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Genre talk: Gothic Literature

I feel like a lot of writing blogs focus on the author’s process. The actual act of sitting down and putting pen to paper (metaphorically). What it’s like to churn out the perfect sentence, word for word. You’re probably not interested in that from me – I have a very “sit down and write and don’t give a fuck” mentality about it all. It’s a first draft, I can stress over the exact wording of things in the editing stages. When I think about putting down that first draft, I just tell myself, write crap.

Having said that, the more interesting side of writing (to me) would have to be the process of worldbuilding and exploring genres. And I suppose one thing you should know is that I love playing with dark/Gothic fantasy. But there have been a few challenges I’ve run into while doing it.

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