Posts Tagged ‘fantasy writer’

Quests are widely recognized as part of the fantasy genre. In fact, they’re SO widely recognized that I find it difficult to base a story on them. It’s like flogging a dead horse.

For some genres, having your characters stay put can benefit the story. In a dark fantasy, your story gains suspense if the characters are trapped and cannot escape a horrific menace. Military SF isn’t my thing, but I could see a lot of tension if a group of soldiers were pinned down in a location where they could neither advance nor retreat.

Travel across lands and cultures involves a certain amount of work as far as world-building goes. Some of that creative energy might be better spent on deeper characterization or tighter plotting.

For me, personally, having my characters travel has become redundant. Of my 11 books and novellas, 8 of them involve a journey for at least part of the story. That includes my current WIP. I really feel that I’m repeating myself, and that doesn’t make for an exciting tale.

The irony is, my current series, The Minstrels of Skaythe, involves a group of mages who scattered for their own safety. Each one of them has to travel away from where they were. This means I’m going to have to be creative in how I show them dispersing. Which is fine — if nothing else, authors should be creative.

What do you think? Are quests still cool, or are they more meh?

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Ever since Lord of the Rings, it seems like every fantasy novel has to include a journey or quest. Why do we do this?

One advantage of having your characters go on a journey is that it takes them out of their comfort zone. They’re in unfamiliar territory, surrounded by strangers. They can’t anticipate what people will do. No more comfy house to return to, either.

They might have gear if the trip was planned, but if they left suddenly, they have to spend time on survival tasks such as searching for water and shelter. If your story is more humorous in tone, there’s lots of opportunity for fish-out-of-water episodes. For darker stories, you can emphasize heat or cold, adverse weather, thirst or hunger, wild animals, and other hazards of hitting the road unprepared.

Journeys allow the writer to vary the setting and introduce new wonders or dangers. Travel can imply a wider world around the story events. Reactions to these new vistas may deepen the characterization of people in the story. You can add more conflict if the characters get lost or argue about where to go next.

It’s also very folkloric. Many of the great epics and story cycles involve heroes who go somewhere and fight a monster or achieve some other great feat. If the characters need to learn a lesson of some sort, inspiration can come with the travel.

What about drawbacks? I’ll look at those on Saturday.

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I did have a great weekend at MosCon Revival, just as I hoped. For one thing, we drove down Saturday and stayed until Sunday afternoon, so we didn’t have that all-day-in-the-car experience. We got to spend time with a lot of old friends, which was a big reason for going down there. It was especially good to spend a few minutes with my dear old mentor, M. J. Engh. That’s a thing money can’t buy.

The featured speakers were Cat Rambo and Richard Kadrey. They were excellent, friendly, and always on topic. I enjoyed their panels a lot. One of my highlights was getting a first-page reading from them that was on my next novella, The Ghostly Grove. They had nice things to say and were very encouraging.

The panel I was on was about whether women look for different experiences in games and got off more into harassment in online venues. But that is a real issue, so I felt it was productive panel.

Because the event was small, we got a lot of great exposure for SpoCon. We talked about our best programming and passed out flyers to convince people to come. We even got questions from the wait staff at the place where we went for lunch and gave them flyers, too.

We had fun and the response was great. But next weekend? Next weekend, I’M STAYING HOME!

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By the time you read this, I’ll be in Pullman, WA for the MosCon Revival. It’s going to be a fun weekend of panels, stumping for SpoCon, and feeling nostalgic for days gone by.

My panel is Do Women Game Differently? Our first task, I assume, will be to define what KIND of gaming — tabletop role-playing, video gaming, or something else? Then we’ll talk about the intersection of plot goals and play goals and how some of these may be more oriented to men’s interests than women’s. Which doesn’t mean the gals don’t play, just that we have to head-canon things like conversation with NPCs that may not be built into the game. It should be a fun discussion, anyhow.

My other main interest is in a First Pages panel that will be led by Cat Rambo. They don’t give much direction on their web site, but usually it means you bring your first page and the moderator reads it, then the panelists give critiques. I’m going to bring the first page for The Ghostly Grove, the next novella in my Minstrels of Skaythe series. The feedback should be valuable as I prepare for a fall publication.

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After talking with my husband, I will indeed be attending the MosCon Revival convention. The dates are June 21-23, although I will be there Saturday and Sunday only. My topic is “Do Women Game Differently?” I’m hoping they will put a man on the panel with me, so we can have some back-and-forth to compare our experiences. This is even more on-the-fly than Sandemonium, the week before. I’m really not worried, though. I can talk and be entertaining for an hour, no problem.

For those not familiar with Inland Northwest conventions, MosCon holds a special place in many hearts. When they started in 1979, it was the only SF event in the region. The next closest were in Seattle, WA or Portland, OR. One of the two founders was the late Jon Gustafson, an expert in SF art. At his urging, MosCon became the first SF convention in the nation to have an Artist Guest of Honor. They may also have been the first to invite a Science Guest of Honor, but I won’t swear to that.

The conventions continued for 20 years. Although time took its toll in concom burnout or having to leave for career opportunities, they were excellent for many years. I’m thrilled to be part of this revival. If you’re in the region, I urge you to come up and join us.

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A lot of things have stacked up for me in the past few weeks. I feel like I’m juggling time bombs!

The major one is that SpoCon, our local SF Convention, is just two months away and I’ve started laying out the programs. This is always a combination of great excitement, because of so many wonderful ideas for panels and presentations, with frustration because there are 150 ideas and only about 75 spots. Now is when I have to cut back, and it’s always a special agony.

I also have a group yard sale this weekend that I haven’t gotten my donations ready for. Time is short to get on with that.

Next thing is, the end of the school year. I’m madly trying to get the last bit of teaching that I can. Next year I’m assigned to a different school, so I’ll spend the remaining few days packing up my things and making sure the teachers who are left get all the right data from my students.

In two weeks, I’m at Sandemonium, a small one-day convention in Sandpoint, ID. I’m presenting on “Ugly Tropes and How to Destroy Them.” I haven’t really prepared for that one, either, although at least I have done the pre-thinking part. Actually writing the presentation should go pretty quickly.

The weekend after, there’s an event in Moscow, ID that commemorates the MosCon Science Fiction Convention. I’d love to go, even though I’m not on any panels, because I have such fond memories of MosCon. We’ll have to see how the money holds up for that.

And hopefully I’ll get a chance to write on my novella during all this!

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I am happy to say that we solved our Internet connectivity. I’m somewhat conflicted to say that we solved it by bailing from our previous provider and switching to someone else. I feel bad because we were with them for a long time, and this was the first major service outage.

Maybe it’s dumb of me to even feel guilty. We had neither land line nor Internet for almost two weeks. There was a big storm that flooded a junction box, apparently. Still, for a major utility to be unprepared for storm damage is pretty surprising.

Anyway, my husband couldn’t stand it any more and arranged for a different provider. We’re in the thick of getting everything set up. Just like you don’t realize how much you depend on the Internet, you don’t quite realize how many places you have to enter that password. I’m sure we’ll be finding things that need updates for the next several days.

So! What’s going on with you guys?

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