Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

Hope you all enjoy this day of spooks and frights. Honestly, it's one of my favorite holidays if only because of the costumes, classic old-fashioned horror films, and the general ambiance of the day.

Church Ruins, Ireland, 2007
Of course, for some Protestants, they ignore Halloween and focus on Reformation Day for today is the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Door. In Catholic communities, it is All Saints' Eve

Whatever the day; whatever the reason you celebrate, I hope you have an enjoyable day.

For the writers ... tomorrow begins NaNoWriMo. I'm looking forward to this month, and I hope you are as well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Last Week Before NaNoWriMo

For the past few years, November has turned into the National Novel Writing Month - a time where aspiring writers and old-timers can dedicate to write that novel they've wanted to write.

I'll participate in it this year, as I have the past few years. If you want to participate as well, I suggest finding a partner to help keep you motivated.

To join the National Novel Writing Month's website visit here.
If you're looking for a writer's program, I suggest the free download, yWriter. It's what I use to write my initial drafts, and have found it very helpful for organizing as well as quick edits later on.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Want to be a Writer - Families

Back to you Want to be a Writer series after a fairly long hiatus. Today, I'm focusing on families as a part of the story. Now, I'm not focusing on writing families into stories, but more of a general over-arching concept of family structure within the story. Check this topic also under world-building as well.

my grandparents, c. 1945
For most Americans, indeed most of the world, family consists of dad, mom, child(ren). It is what is often referred to as the nuclear family. For family-friendly items, the age of the children is usually limited to the under 12 crowd.

In times past, family remained the nuclear family, but also included larger elements as well such as the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We see this when families focus on a common ancestor whether as a matriarchal or patriarchal civilizations. Most often, this is limited two or three generations back, and would include a common great-grandparent.

For others, family is something you choose, not inherit. For some, family is the group of friends that share common bonds. Military individuals refer to their units as brothers, Christians refer to churches as church-family.

Deciding the family

Depending on your story's setting, family may already be dictated with rules in place as well. In other cases, you might create a new world and would need to create the family structures. Two major considerations are (1) the biological family structure and (2) adopted family structures.

For the Adopted Family Structure, this would include families created by circumstances, and typical do not include parental figures. These families primarily develop in military story lines or dystopian worlds.

For the Biological Family Structure, this would include a couple and their subsequent descendants. The largest question is how to limit the family. Will you limit it to mom, dad and the kids, or will you extend it out into a larger portion to include maybe grandchildren or grandparents as well.

Tribes and Clans

At their very basic structure, tribes and clans are extended families. Typically, they claim one common ancestor that unites everyone to them. Tribes and clans develop certain legal structures to maintain order among the members including inheritance, marriage, and property.

In stories where these family structures are established such as the Scottish Highlands, or the Middle East, writers can learn from the cultures to develop accurate portrayals. In stories where that isn't the case, the writer will have to decide what the structure is, though decisions may be under-developed because the story line doesn't require them.

As an example, one of my fantasy novels has a family (parents, children and grandchildren) who are elvish assassins. The family took on aspects of a wolf pack, with the rest of the family submitting to the head of the family. In this case, the head of the family was also the one with the title, Duke.

In early versions of the story, I focused primarily on the main character and the descendants of her father's parents. The story was fairly straight-forward until the characters started interacting more and more with their king and enemies. At this point, I had to start fleshing out how the family worked - what were the social expectations within the family, and what did others expect of the family. Since the family were the assassins, I had to incorporate training into their family dynamic, as well as the pack concept.

In another spin-off of the story's family line, I realized that certain structures would remain true regardless how far apart the various branches of the family had gone. These elements included hierarchy within the clan structure as well as the expectations therewith.

As you develop your story, you'll pick up the family structures used within the world. Sometimes, added tension can be brought together when what we expect is not what is real. For example, if the eldest son inherits the property, what happens when a man has had two wives and both bear a son? Is it his first-born son? Typically yes, it is the man's first born son. Now, what if the man married the first woman because he was forced to, but married the second woman because of love? Does it make a difference in who will inherit?

Sometimes, thinking through the many implications a simply family structure could have can lead to new ideas and story lines.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Thus ends the season

My fair season ended on Saturday without a fair. Strong winds blew in from the West, leaving the only option for the Saturday Artisan Market leaders to cancel the last fair. Oh well, personally, I didn't want to attempt putting up a tent in 15+ miles per hour winds.

Not fun.

Appleumpkin, 2014

This lovely photo is from Appleumpkin this year, where I had the help of both my mom and sister, as you can see. In case you're wondering, they're discussing a book, but I can't remember if it's one of mine, or the one Mom brought with her.

Shifting from primarily weaving to primarily writing offers some different troubles, but in both cases, it takes time. Sometimes, a project forces you to take time. For example, Azure Depths (the third book in the four-part series) spends most of the story in Deep Waters, but I discovered last week that I needed to consider how they built the city.

I cannot use futuristic ideas about building this city since some of the elements may or may not be conducive for Deep Waters. Added to that, the city has existed for several thousand years. Even with various and sundry attacks, most of the city survived throughout the ages. Stones, sand, bare rock, these are the elements most likely used, but the look of the city remains off.

This is one of the times I wish I could draw better. I can see the city in my mind, but how do I describe it on paper is harder - whether through words or through sketches. Oddly, the same is also true for Orfhlait, but not to the same extent. For Orfhlait, I have books I can use to research. Locations in Cairo have remained there for thousands of years, but I can see those. The harder part for Orfhlait is learning what existed when. Sometimes, a writer simply has to make an educated guess.

As one season ends, another begins. If any of you were unable to visit me at the fairs, you can still visit here, like Bridgette ni Brian on Facebook; follow @bridgettenbrian on Twitter.

Also, check out the Bridgette ni Brian Etsy site if you're looking for handwoven Christmas presents. I also have hand bound journals for sale there as well, if you have aspiring writers or artists.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014