I was poking around on Orson Scott Card's website recently and came across an archive of essays on writing called "Uncle Orson's Writing Class."
Writers of the Future Volume 34 Review
I've been meaning to read at least one of the Writers of the Future anthologies for years now, and it just never rose to the top of my reading list, despite all of the emails I get from them. It took seeing this volume packaged under the same discount as Witches Abroad for me to finally obtain a copy, and I now wish that I'd done it sooner.
Dialogue Versus Conversation
So I did that. I spent weeks, even months, walking around the school, making mental notes about the ways in which people spoke to different people, how it was different depending on the person and the relationship involved, the different dialects and slangs and jargons that were employed, the patterns to the words. Then I sat down, and in my first serious attempt at a novel length work (which I still intend to finish one day), I sought to incorporate what I had learned about conversation into my dialogue. When I’d written the first sixty thousand words or so, I sent out the rough draft to a few people, and asked for feedback.
M.A.C.E. Versus M.I.C.E.
Creative writing, or the speculative fiction genre, has long leveraged something called the MICE quotient. I first came across this when I was reading an Orson Scott Card book on how to write science fiction and fantasy (I think it was even titled How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy). The premise is that stories in the speculative fiction genre can be broadly binned as having one or more of four, primary drivers: milieu, idea, character, and event. Although most good stories will incorporate multiple of these components, with different ones emphasized at different times, there is usually one that drives the story forward.
Lost in Translation
No, I'm not above using cliche titles, when they serve me. Because I'm so very fond of stirring up controversy, I'm going to talk about something that divides more people than religion, politics, or the Great Pumpkin: movie/book adaptations. Fair warning: we're going to talk about some big name franchises, including Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Jurassic Park, and others, so if you don't want to risk potential spoilers from either the book or movie versions of any of these, you might not want to read this post. Otherwise, let's mire ourselves in controversy.
Unsouled, and the Cradle series as a whole, is described as something called martial arts fantasy. The magic system has defined levels of skill, with each skill level gaining distinct abilities and possessing unique attributes. It's not a design that I generally prefer, but it worked well in Unsouled. Which matters, because Unsouled is not necessarily the kind of book that you read for the compelling characters or political drama. You read it for the vivid magical fights.