For some stories you’re going to spend a TON of time doing research and answering questions that seem less important than your plot: and sometimes not a single bit of that information is going to make it into the final draft. But doing the research is helpful. It can ground your idea, make you sure of your choices, and give you confidence to move forward with a strange concept.
Or, if you’re like me, you find research fun, and eventually have to remind yourself that you need to stop researching and actually write the story.
For my characters’ powers, I’d originally planned on five Elements : Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spark (later renamed Electricity). I wanted the first four because I’m super original, and also because they’re literally the four elements of western culture. I included Spark because – if Dr. Frankenstein taught me anything – it’s that you need a ‘spark’ to create life.
Then I started wondering how my characters would get these powers. Mutation? Gamma radiation? Mutant insect bite? Could there be a mutant beaver* biting people, giving them the power of water? And if so, what kind of animal would give fire? Fire ants? Fireflies? Dragons?
Continue reading WorldBuilding Step #2: Create Life!
It was early in the year 2000, and I was standing in my aunt’s kitchen, trying to destroy the world. No, I wasn’t having a premonition about all the terrible things that would happen in 2016, I was trying to come up with a new world to write about.
See, I had friends who were writers, and they were writing about these crazy, complicated futures, with technology and people with amazing powers. Meanwhile, I was writing about assassins in present day. As much as I liked the story I was writing, I also wanted to write about people with cool powers, so I decided to push myself to come up with an interesting new world. Not an alien world, but an Earth that was different from the one we had now.
For some reason (I forget why), I wanted to avoid big cities. If I was destroying the world, maybe I could do it in a way that smashed the land into bits, and the biggest pieces left over were the size of small cities. Then these islands could be grouped together based on proximity, and joined by overseas highways, and people could travel between them!
But it would be difficult to build up all these new cities if the entire world had been smashed to pieces, so maybe I should keep one large bit intact. Then, once the remaining people had recovered from the huge war that had decimated their world, they would have the resources to go out and build up the islands for habitation.
Yes… this could work…
Continue reading WorldBuilding Step #1: Destroy the World!
So you’ve written a story!
Let’s be honest – trying to get your work published can suck. You write a really awesome story, but when you go looking for somewhere to submit it you realize that publishers are a lot pickier than you expected, and your story doesn’t fit. Maybe it’s not enough words. Maybe it’s too many words. Maybe they’re only looking for vampire romance stories at the moment and you’ve written a really awesome Sci-fi story. What is a writer to do?
What I like about the “From the Rock” series is that Engen isn’t picky about what they’re looking for. They take submissions from new writers as well as published writers, and their parameters are pretty wide open. Just look at the submission requirements for their “Fantasy from the Rock” collection (stories due December 31, 2016).
Their guidelines are:
- Fantasy stories
- a PG rating
- fewer than 20,000 words.
For those of us with a backlog of unpublished stories, it’s like submission Christmas.
And who knows, you might send Engen a story, and they might go “Wow, this world and these characters are really interesting. Do you have any more stories like this?” and then you might go “Yeah, I’ve got a few more stories!” or even “I’ve actually written an entire novel about this universe! Would you like to read it?” Then you send them your novel and they read it and the next thing you know you’re talking about covers and release dates, and you’ve got a novel coming out on October 31! (The Six Elemental – available in paperback and ebook format!)
So dig out your fantasy stories (or get writing them)!
You can’t get published if you don’t try.