Tag Archives: Creative Writing

How to Create a Fantasy World

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Jarrod King

I read Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, after completing my first draft of Pangaea: Unsettled Land. When likening the writing process to archaeology, he wrote, “Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.” I completely understood this to be true. When beginning to write a story, you already have an idea. Now, you just need to uncover all of the elements that make it work.

Know Your Idea

Forcing things like magic and ancient lore into your story isn’t going to work if they weren’t at the core of your idea to begin with. If they are, then you can go places. When I began writing Pangaea in 2009, I started with this core storyline: ‘three friends go on a quest to find a rare magical artifact that would make a huge impact on their world’. I also had the idea of a maniacal antagonist who had gone mad after being in a dungeon for so long. If you read the book, then you know right away what has changed and what hasn’t. None of this is groundbreaking stuff, and in fact could very easily be cliché. What makes fantasy unique are the things only you can bring to it.

Focus On The Story

First, I would strongly suggest an outline – not necessarily for plot in the beginning, but for your characters. This website showcasing the snowflake method is a great source. It helped kick-start me towards completion after multiple start-and-stops over the years. It’s a great way to uncover more about your characters and the world around them. Once you know their motives and barriers, things like the ancient mythology of the land, the world/character’s histories, and a timeline will begin to fall into place. That’s because you’ll have the mindset that “A needs to happen in order for B to happen”. Again, this is not about forcing things into place. It’s about naturally discovering what it is about the world that makes your characters behave the way they do. If you can’t prevent the love interest’s death without changing your story a great deal, it’s probably supposed to happen.

Be cautious! Just because you know the timeline and all of the mythology and history, does not mean your reader needs it. They only need what’s absolutely necessary to the development of the character and the furthering of that story. Otherwise, you could make the mistake of info-dumping and bogging down your story with needless details.

Once you have a firm grasp on all of the details, you can decide on whether plot outlining is best or if you want to get straight into writing. In both cases, don’t be rigid. Allow for some unforeseen changes.

Go With The Flow

When you begin writing, you’re going to learn even more about the world you’ve created and the characters. Things are going to change. Initial ideas are going to seem way overblown, and some of the minor ones will need to be brought to the limelight. This sense of discovery is the fun part! I remember wanting to end my novel with a bang by having Pangaea separate from one super-continent into the world as we know it now. This does not happen. My ending is much simpler and has more impact now because I paid attention to the path of the characters. By not remaining inflexible, I brought the far-fetched (and horrid) idea back down to Earth.

Time For Some RER: Revising, Editing, and Rewriting

It’s so important to edit your work. This is a must for writers in general. However, when creating a fantasy world, it’s highly important to look not just at the grammar and story, but at all of the world-building elements. Look at the government, society, technology, and magic. What works? What doesn’t? Here’s an example of my editing:

My book involves a mixture of old and new technologies, so I had a scene where my characters are flying somewhere on a plane. My editor let me know to make my world a bit more distinct by paying attention to the structures and names of certain technology. I changed the structure of planes into a stingray-like airship called a supertrop. Phones are all called comms, cars are called wheelers, etc. These changes helped distinguish my world from the one we live in today and added even more of that fantasy allure.

This also highlights the importance of an editor. Don’t expect to publish anything that’s been self-edited. Leave that version for beta readers. After accepting or refusing suggestions from them, have a professional with a focus on your genre look over your work and let you know what needs to change. This especially helped me understand what fantasy readers expect and to meet those expectations without compromising my own ideas.

Follow these steps and you can soon have readers escape to a world of your own!

Subscribe to my mailing list for a free preview of Pangaea: Unsettled Land now!

Jarrod King fantasy and sci-fi author. His debut novel, “Pangaea: Unsettled Land”is available on Amazon. You can find him at jarrodking.com or Twitter.

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Video: Reiki Bowl Burning Ceremony for Writing Workshop in Malibu Hills

While working at a trade school in Florida, I first discovered reiki. A female student complained that she had a headache. A male student said that he could alleviate her symptoms naturally through reiki. He asked the female student to close her eyes. He rubbed two silver bracelets at his wrists and placed his hands beside her temples (without touching her). Everyone in the classroom sat in silence for about ten minutes. He asked the female student to open her eyes and explain what it felt like he was doing. She said, “waving your hands fast on the side of my head.”

“How do you feel,” he asked her.

“Actually, better,” she said. “My headache is gone.”

It wasn’t until moving to Los Angeles three years later that I would have reiki performed on my self and experienced its cleansing power. Continue reading

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Writing as a Spirtual Practice: a sound walk experiment and reiki ceremony

Photo via Tomas Sobek

Photo via Tomas Sobek

“The writing of (Soma)tics is an engagement with the thing of things and the spirit of things” … CA Conrad.

Since I discovered CA Conrad, his (Soma)tic exercises have greatly influenced my writing. (Soma)tic poetry investigates the “infinite space between body and spirit by using nearly any possible thing around or of the body to channel the body out and/or in toward spirit with deliberate and sustained concentration.”

Tomorrow, I will start a one-week writing workshop in Malibu Hills at Camp Hollywood Heart. To help my writing students learn (Soma)tic techniques, we will go on a sound walk and have a reiki bowl burning ceremony. On the sound walk, we will focus our attention on sounds and we will incorporate the sounds into our writing. In the reiki bowl burning ceremony, the students will write down negative things that they want to let go of. They will write on biodegradable paper. After finishing, they will tear the paper up, place the papers in the bowl, and we will symbolically burn the paper by throwing it off of a cliff.

As the students write, they will receive reiki energy work from Reiki Master, Carlos Caridad from the Centre For Life in Los Angeles. The energy work is intended to heal emotional trauma and stress and bring back to balance the electro-magnetic energy fields of their bodies. We will have a mini writing session after the reiki practice and see the impact it has on their bodies. The ceremony will take place in a Jewish sanctuary at Gindling Hilltop Camp.

I was inspired to create the reiki bowl burning ceremony after reading one of Conrad’s exercises.

Wash a penny, rinse it, slip it under your tongue and walk out the door. Copper is the metal of Aphrodite, never ever forget this, never, don’t forget it, ever. Drink a little orange juice outside and let some of the juice rest in your mouth with the penny. Oranges are the fruit of Aphrodite, and she is the goddess of Love, but not fidelity. Go somewhere outside, go, get going with your penny and juice. Where do you want to sit? Find it, and sit there. What is the best Love you’ve ever had in this world? Be quiet while thinking about that Love. If someone comes along and starts talking, quietly shoo them away, you’re busy, you’re a poet with a penny in your mouth, idle chit-chat is not your friend. Be quiet so quiet, let the very sounds of that Love be heard in your bones. After a little while, take the penny out of your mouth and place it on the top of your head. Balance it there and sit still a little while, for you are now moving your own forces quietly about in your stillness. Now get your pen and paper and write about POVERTY, write line after line about starvation and deprivation from the voice of one who has been Loved in this world.

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Why You Should Attend the 4th Annual Literary Soul Symposium?

If the opportunity ever presents itself that I could write all day long, I would snatch it. For me, writing isn’t about having an outlet to express my thoughts, writing is an act of faith. And, after attending the 3rd Annual Literary Soul Symposium, I asked myself, why haven’t I attended more writing conferences. The Literary Soul Symposium was my first writing conference and it was a cathartic experience. I was able to meet writers, who I respect and follow their work (like Frederick Smith, Toni Newman, and Donta Morrison), and was introduced to new writers.

Booked Los Angeles Book Club (Los Angeles, CA), Brother 2 Brother Book Club, (Houston, TX), Novel-lites Book Club (Washington, DC), and The View of Dallas Book Club (Dallas, TX) hosted the Literary Soul Symposium. Each year the symposium is held in a different city and fortunately, it was held in Los Angeles this year. In The Meantime sponsored the event and provided the space, The Carl Bean House on West Adams Street.

The symposium included a keynote address by Rev. Alfreda Lanoix, mini writing workshops, a riveting speech by Daniel Black (of “A Perfect Peace”), a literary cafe, and a Q&A moderated by the Brother 2 Brother Book Club. Also, there was a mixer at Rockwell in Silver Lake, a spoken word/open mic event, and a brunch.

The highlight of the event was the mini creative writing workshop led by Frederick Smith. In the workshop, Frederick should twenty questions as prompts to generate writing. It allowed me to work on a piece that had circled around in my head. I will definitely return back to that writing exercise. Next year, the 4th Annual Literary Soul Symposium will be hosted by Novel-lites Book Club in DC. I will definitely be attending and you should too.

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The Importance of Professional Writing Workshops

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Sign Outside of Beyond Baroque; the Piece I Workshopped

My undergraduate degree was in Psychology. In high school, no one, not my counselor or none of my English teachers, told me that I could actually major in English or creative writing. I wrote constantly throughout middle school and high school. I discovered creative writing programs existed long after I graduated from college and wanted to enter into one. My main reason for entering a creative writing program was to enter the professional writing community. Yes, I had freelanced for various newspapers and magazines, but I did not think of myself as a professional writer.

After enrolling in the creative writing program at Otis College, I learned why professional writing workshops are important. Before the program, I edited my work and would look over drafts countless times before submitting my work to literary journals and magazines. I never understood why I did not hear back from them. After entering the program, I realized my problem (well several of them). Punctuation, lack of moving my writing into a more poetic realm, and my characters did not have a beating heart.

Now that I have completed the Writing Workshop at Otis and have created new material, I have craved sitting in a new writing workshop. I discovered the fiction workshop at Beyond Baroque and took copies of my new short story, “White Justice” there. I was worried my piece would not get read, but it was and the workshop leader echoed all the comments that my workshop leaders at Otis have told me – I have the tendency to over-describe and add unnecessary words. I’m not sure if that will ever leave me, but I know I’m going back to Beyond Baroque.

 

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Video Q&A with Emerging LGBT Leader Carolyn Wysinger

The name Ruth Ellis may not be as familiar to you as Harvey Milk, but it should. Ellis, born in 1899, was the oldest living open lesbian and LGBT rights activist. Before she died in 2000, her life was documented in the film project, Living with Pride, directed by Yvonne Welbon. She came out as a lesbian in 1915 and in the 1920s she met Ceciline Franklin. They moved from Springfield, Illinois to Detroit, Michigan in 1937 and lived together for 30 years until Franklin’s death in 1973. During the three decades that they lived together, Ellis became the first American woman to own a printing business in Detroit and her home with Franklin became “a refuge for African-American gays and lesbians.”

Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis at 100 is being screened at the Art Exchange in Long Beach, this Sunday, starting at 5. Emerging LGBT leader, Carolyn Wysinger, is one of the key people responsible for putting together the screening.

Carolyn Wysinger is an activist, writer, and event coordinator, whose goal is to build bridges within the LGBT community. She earned her B.A. in English from California State University, Long Beach and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University. Organizations that she is involved with include: BUTCHVoices and Black Lesbians United. She is also active in the local Long Beach community as a member of the Leadership Long Beach Class of 2013 as well as a Member-At-Large of the Lambda Democrats.

Qulture writer Victor Yates spoke to Wysinger about the life of Ruth Ellis and Sistah Sinema as well as her community work.

Watch the video above to learn more about Wysinger and go to Qulture.org for more LGBT news and information.

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3 Writing Tips: How to bring your writing above the page

“In order to understand, I destroyed myself.” – Fernando Pessoa

Writing Workshop is where writers can present their work (finished or unfinished), experiment, and receive critical analysis. From my first day of workshop to now, the way I approach writing has changed. The process, working through a scene, heightened, and is more aware of itself. I have encountered challenges and tried to experiment with language, native and foreign. Last week I received 3 great tips from my workshop instructor that I wanted to share. I think that these could help new (and possibly established) writers improve their writing to make it urgent. Click on the video to see the tips.

Also check out these helpful writing bibles:

1.The Art of Writing: Lu Chi’s Wen Fu

2. Writing the Breakout Novel

3. On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

4. The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Classics)

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