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I think I've bitten off more than I can chew . . . posted 23 October 2004 in Writing TipsI think I've bitten off more than I can chew . . . by TakLoufer, Candidate

I know this will sound rather strange, but The Prince of Nothing has inspired me to write my own series. The primary reason for this isn't so much the books themselves (though they are good), but rather because the they are Bakker's first.

Before I go on, allow me to explain my history with fiction and writing.

To be honest, I rarely read fiction - at least not any more. In junior-high and high school I constantly devoured science fiction, reading a book every two or three days. Mostly by Philip Jose Farmer, some Heinlein, some Asimov, some Arthur C. Clark, Dune, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, several post-apocalyptic books, some crap by Harry Turledove and S.M. Stirling, hell, even some (yuck) Alan Dean Foster. Out of all of these, though, the book that has had the biggest impact on me was Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany. I read this at age 12, and I was never the same since. I would be a much different person if I never read this book (Dhalgren is where I got the name "Tak Loufer" from).

I always wanted to write, but I never managed to get beyond the first few pages of whatever I had put my mind to. Oh, I had ideas, I would play around with all sorts of concepts and characters and stories that might have been; but it was so much more fun to read the works of others. I'm a lazy procrastinator. The farthest I ever got in a writing project was thirty pages of a fanfic for the anime series, "Neon Genesis Evangelion." But my progress slowed as my interest in the show cooled.

After high school, I became obsessed with the mind-body problem, and my reading content became almost entirely composed of books concerning consciousness, quantum physics, philosophy, with the odd book on history now and then. For three years I read no fiction.

Then, hearing how Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series was "a lot like Dune," I decided to give it shot. I read all three books within the month. And then read them again.

ASOIAF inspired me to write, but I was always under the impression writers should start small with short stories or maybe a novella or two. The problem was that I wanted, in the back of my mind, to write something with a much bigger scope, but I didn't think I could handle it (and this may very well prove the case).

Looking for something to tide me over until A Feast for Crows comes out (which, if I were to guess, will be the winter of 2006), I read on the ASOIAF forum about a new book called The Darkness that Comes Before. How could I turn down a book with a title like that? TDTCB and TWP stirred up my modivative and creative juices for two reasons.

1) If Bakker can jump right in and write a trilogy (?) on his first try, and write it this good, why can't I?

2) The work has philosophical undertones that bring to light the "big questions" such as volition and morality. This compelled me to think what I issues I could explore.

I've had the idea for my story developing in my mind since at least 7th grade, though the setting and characters have changed over the years. But, after ten years of conceptualizing, I've finally decided to start putting the ideas to paper. But the devil is in the details . . .

The problem is that in order to be able to justice to my story, I'll have to do a lot of research. And create a world map. And come up with names for all of these characters. And there are a lot of characters.

I think I've bitten off more than I can chew. <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? -->

Anyway, I'm currently coming up with names for my characters, but the map problem has got me stumped. I've tried drawing a map myself (I have the general idea in mind), but this has proved frustrating, as I'm no artist (or, at least not a good one). And there is the problem of drawing a map that is supposed to be a globe; the northern and southern regions would be necessarily distorted.

Does anyone know of a good computer map creator? I don't really want a random map generator, as I have the general ideas in mind, but the details . . .

Also, while I am fairly well versed in history, I'm going to need to do some in-depth research on everything from the Russian Revolution to the Great Depression to WWI, WWII, Vietnam, the counter culture movement . . . among other things (currently I'm reading up on Howard Hughes).

Does anyone have any recommendations for books over the Vietnam conflict (and WWI &amp; WWII)? And a good computer map program?

-Thanks view post


I think I've bitten off more than I can chew . . . posted 29 December 2004 in Writing TipsI think I've bitten off more than I can chew . . . by Annabel, Peralogue

TakLoufer: Hi! I am responding because, well, this board is just SO quiet. I don't know of a good map program but I'm sure you can find this out on the web. As for good history books, below is a link to what, in my humble opinion, is one of the best academic bookstores in the world. You can search by subject.

Good luck with your writing! Sounds like a mighty endeavor. But, don't forget to actually put words on paper in the midst of all your research.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://semcoop.booksense.com/NASApp/store/IndexJsp">http://semcoop.booksense.com/NASApp/store/IndexJsp</a><!-- m -->

Annabel view post


I think I've bitten off more than I can chew . . . posted 29 December 2004 in Writing TipsI think I've bitten off more than I can chew . . . by Atanvarno, Peralogue

You have to remember while this is indeed Bakker's first set of books, he has been writing for a while (working 15 years on TDTCB). Every single writer I've ever met has told me to start small - short stories and such. Learn the craft of character, plot, and description slowly before rushing into a novel or series.

To quote from George R. R. Martin's FAQ:

Q:I want to be a writer. Can you give me any advice?


A:The most important thing for any aspiring writer, I think, is to read! And not just the sort of thing you're trying to write, be that fantasy, SF, comic books, whatever. You need to read everything. Read fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers. Read history, historical fiction, biography. Read mystery novels, fantasy, SF, horror, mainstream, literary classics, erotica, adventure, satire. Every writer has something to teach you, for good or ill. (And yes, you can learn from bad books as well as good ones -- what not to do)

And write. Write every day, even if it is only a page or two. The more you write, the better you'll get. But don't write in my universe, or Tolkien's, or the Marvel universe, or the Star Trek universe, or any other borrowed background. Every writer needs to learn to create his own characters, worlds, and settings. Using someone else's world is the lazy way out. If you don't exercise those "literary muscles," you'll never develop them.

Given the realities of today's market in science fiction and fantasy, I would also suggest that any aspiring writer begin with short stories. These days, I meet far too many young writers who try to start off with a novel right off, or a trilogy, or even a nine-book series. That's like starting in at rock climbing by tackling Mt. Everest. Short stories help you learn your craft. They are a good place for you to make the mistakes that every beginning writer is going to make. And they are still the best way for a young writer to break in, since the magazines are always hungry for short SF and fantasy stories. Once you've been selling short stories for five years or so, you'll have built up a name for yourself, and editors will start asking you about that first novel.

Whatever you do, though... good luck. You'll need it.

The advice to start off small that everyone gives is given by everyone for a reason. However, that's not to say that starting off small means abandoning or postponing your ambitions: if I were you I'd take each of your characters and write a 2-4,000 word character piece for them, just a short story for each, I think you'll be amazed what you discover about them, and the craft of writing. You've got a good grasp of history, this is also good, write some short stories about some of the more interesting historical events, this will help with plotting and so forth.

While this may seem like a detour, you'll end up with a surprising amount of material for the big work.

Maps... there's no easy answer to map drawing. All the programs you'll find will not be up to what you want to do. You'll have to draw them yourself, but you need not do so without help. [url=http&#58;//www&#46;zompist&#46;com/:1yr3wchm]Zompist[/url:1yr3wchm] is a great site for various world building resources, including [url=http&#58;//www&#46;zompist&#46;com/howto2&#46;htm:1yr3wchm]map making[/url:1yr3wchm], and a nifty way to do those [url=http&#58;//www&#46;zompist&#46;com/howto3&#46;htm:1yr3wchm]global maps[/url:1yr3wchm] you want. view post


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