Writing fictional history

I thought I was going to be writing horror a few weeks back (Thank Zeus that never happened). I’ve returned to my fantasy setting and I’m not feeling all to rushed. Which I’m quite happy with. I’m attempting to fill my notebooks with lore. I want to have a fully fleshed out world before I begin writing a novel. In this sense I’m a bit of a perfectionist.

I began working on a world with a friend of mine and I felt very rushed to start writing and getting a full novel out. I went hard for a few weeks and burnt out. It’s not how I write. I like to take my time to create this fantastical world, placing every grain of sand delicately and appropriately. And right now, I’m so in love with it. Creating history, the heroes of great battles, the back-stabbing, the love affairs and the bonds created in these times. I find it quite difficult though, because in order for me to have a timeline, I need a family tree, in order to have a family tree I need a map of my provinces showing which family belongs to what province and for that I need a timeline. I find myself jumping back and forth in between these sub-projects and it’s great. The characters that are birthed and how they’re interacting with others has become so magical. Authors speak of you being the first reader and I totally agree. I feel as if I’m just sitting here and experiencing my world as if I were watching a movie.

How I develop my fantasy world

When ideas for my world come to me I’ll most likely be sitting listening to music, walking, reading or watching a movie and an idea pops into my head. Not something that is always original but something with a twist to it. Once this happens I race to my room and begin my frantic typing session. My story starts, I meet the character. Learn about where he comes from and who he interacts with. Getting multiple angles within your story of your world does wonders. This has helped so much in creating my world. Some of these characters could be ancestors of a present day character or a hero of long ago. Me learning about these characters, that may not have a chance to take the drivers side of my story gives me the opportunity to flesh out things such as: foreign locales, poetry and songs that are common in my world, new systems that have been established, ancient wars/struggles and so on.

Something that I’ve picked up on the way is that planning is key! But don’t get too hung up on it. I find it hard to wake up and say, “I’m going to fully commit to completing this section of my world.” It’s easy to know what you need for your world to exist. But what is pivotal: fresh ideas!

This has helped dramatically. I’ve had to revise: maps (too many times to count, honestly), characters and outcomes of scenarios often, but what has started to shape is a very strong, organic (and I hope fresh!) world.

This video is for creating a D&D Campaign. Very helpful tool!

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Preparing for writing

I’m sitting here procrastinating writing this story. I got the idea on my walk home at midnight. And I absolutely love the idea.

I spent the day at a friends house. We had planned a writing session but it didn’t work for me. I was out of my comfort zone. I didn’t have my hourly tea (yes I drink green tea like no other). I had no smokes and most of all I didn’t have my comfy bed.

For me, I need my tea breaks. I need my smoke breaks. My music (preferably without lyrics). Baggy pants (pajama’s) and sweater. Also I can’t be hungry while I write for I’m constantly thinking about food if I am. Being tired isn’t so much of a problem because of all the tea I drink 🙂

So I’m curious as what you do to prepare for writing. What are the things that you need to do to get into the zone. Or can you just sit down and go?

Game of Thrones rant: Ned Stark

My problem with the character of Ned Stark:

He is an very honourable man and believes strongly in standing up to corruption and defending the weak. During Robert’s Rebellion Lannister men killed Prince Rhaegar’s children and brought them wrapped in cloth to Robert so that he knew their bloodline was broken. Ned was disgusted by what had happened and thought Robert had shamed himself in the process.  After the passing of Jon Arryn (Roberts Hand), Ned knows Robert will come and ask him to be the Hand of the King. He does not deny Robert because “he gets what he wants” but he still remembers the orders that Robert had given during the rebellion.

Fast forward some of Ned’s time in King’s Landing. Ned discovers the incest between Cersei and Jaime and their illegitimate children (Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella). After finding this, he calls Cersei to the Godswood to warn her. He tells her to flee King’s Landing with her children and the rest of her family. His goal was to prevent the death of the children for he is an honourable man. Which I get, but did he not understand what would happen?

Ned would have known that even if Cersei had fled there still would have been a war. Cersei leaving King’s Landing with her offspring of incest would have angered Robert (we know this because Ned wanted Cersei to flee with her children for fear of his wrath being brought down on them). This would most definitely have led to Robert wanting their treasonous lives. Tywin being the richest man in all of Westeros would not willingly give up his two eldest children (leaving the dwarf as his heir). After Tywin denies his request, war would ensue. With a war comes death, not just to soldiers, but to the common folk and their children (shown in Clash of Kings, Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows).

Here’s a link to an interview of G.R.R.M talking about this

(Sorry I don’t know how to embed it)

Thanks for the read. I’m working on a short(ish) story at the moment and I hope to have a chapter out by this weekend. If you’re interested in fantasy/short stories I’ll be posting the first parts of my books gradually, when my drafts aren’t so rough.

-Cody

The God problem

In this post I will explain my struggles with the belief of God. Specifically the Christian god. I’ve mostly come to terms with the fact that sometimes nobody can answer your questions. Time and time again I have presented my ideas but most of the time with little response. I hope that any readers that stumble across with any insight on the topic would care to shed some light on the subject. I would also like to disclose that I do not claim to have thoroughly read into the Bible at all, this is merely me coming to this conclusion over just thinking and a bit of reading.

A quick background on myself before I continue. Most of my life in grade school was spent at a Christian school. I had gone to the assemblies, participated in various school productions (as small as they were), played on the teams, and went to the barbeques. I spent most of my life believing that these teachers, parents and peers of mine had it figured out. Praying during chapel over the sick, helping out our neighboring communities and creating an environment where people could feel safe. Which is awesome by the way. I love the positive impact that most followers have had on my life. This isn’t an attack on them or their beliefs this is simply why I can not believe.

The privileged finish first

In my late teens I was hit really hard with real doubts. I had been a sheep, I didn’t truly read into what I said I had believed. As previously stated I was around Christians most of my life. My mother was Christian, most of her family was also. I believe strongly that whatever you’re born into, whether it be Islam, Judaism, Christianity, drug abuse, starvation, or disease; it’s something that will most likely be your path (generally speaking). So my mother is a devout Christian woman, does this mean I’m saved from an eternal pain and granted forever happiness, if I so choose to follow her path. Now that sounds like a very unfair system, yes the world is unfair; but if you’re an all-knowing benevolent being why create such a system? But when talking to Christians about this their go to answer is, “God works in mysterious ways”. Which is totally fine. But if you  are not a believer how is a statement like that going to rest in your mind? Yes you’ve given them the answer, but their faulty judgement has “clouded” them and all you can do is let them work it out?

“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ”

The urgency that is lacking from Christians is frightening. They believe that their souls are saved and that they have found the one true word. The Bible teaches you to treat your neighbor as yourself and this is the word of the one true God. If they believe this why are they not spreading the word like a farmer spreads seed across his fields. Yes every summer in their teens they go to Mexico and build a house for some family that can’t even afford basic medical treatment. Which is awesome, but there’s a trend with them. After the honeymoon stage of being a Christian fades (and I’m not speaking for all of them, just what I’ve observed while at Church, youth group and school) they continue their day jobs, make sure that they attend Church on Sunday every week and pay their tithes, have their “walk with God”, talk with fellow Christians at the nearest Starbucks about their struggles with pornography or coveting. But that’s it. If I knew what awaited me after this life and what awaited my family or friends that have not chosen the righteous path I would walk across glass bare footed to help them.

The failed system:

Eden, Earth and Heaven. I’m guessing most people that are be reading this are into some art form or another. If so, this will be clear to you.

Once you’ve finished that project that you’ve slaved over, whether it be that painting you just finished or the story that had recently come together. There are usually four things that you would like to do first if you have finished a story. (In no particular order) First: save it. Second: Edit it. Third: Back it up (make extra saved copies, be it on flash drives or disks). And fourth: Share it. I want to put emphasis on the “back it up” part. After finishing that gem that has taken up so much of your time (and sleep) you want to make sure nothing taints it. What I’m getting at is a comparison between the creator and the created. You’re not going to catch the bus as it’s raining, with your painting in hand uncovered. You will do what you can to make sure that it is safe even though it may not be “The Creation of Adam”. Because it’s something you have created, a part of you, something that you cherish. My point being why create something, something so great, so vast and allow it to be tainted. Especially when you have the insight. If I had known that I was going to lose my iPod while at work, that had notes for story ideas on it; I would not have brought it with me. As precious as those notes were to me, in comparison to our home we call Earth, they are nothing!

I guess he did “Back it up”, Heaven. The place with no tears.

I love my family and friends, if anything were to harm them and it was within my power to stop it. I would stop it (or hope to). Why not stop Satan? Why allow him to tempt us? As a test? Why must mankind suffer at the expense of some test. “God works in mysterious ways”. This phrase kills me, once I hear it in a discussion I immediately give up. Though I admit I have laughed or shaken my head in disapproval. I feel odd saying this to Christians but I am filled with the belief that we (humans) have the capacity to be more compassionate than their God. I know my Christian friends will read this and look at it puzzled but it’s true. I would do whatever I could, if I was given his tremendous power to stop what harm came to my creations or loved ones way. I would never want anyone around me to suffer.

The Maze: The engineer. The robot. And the benevolent God who created sin

My over used analogy…

An engineer has been presented with a 3d maze, his mission (should he choose to accept it) is to create an automated robot to complete the maze. So he begins his work and finishes with ease. The robot works his way through the maze choosing between left, right, up and down. The robot makes it through and the engineer has succeeded. Switching to the benevolent God who created sin. I’m going to start from the creation of man and work my way back. God has created the heavens, Lucifer’s fall has already taken place. Adam pops up after God makes some sand castles. Then God gives him the Vulcan nerve pinch and he’s out. God removes a rib. We have Eve (And you ladies thought the creation of life was exclusive to women). Eve gets tempted by the serpent and she convinces Adam it’s fine to have a bite of an apple. “You have consumed a fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that I put in front of you to tempt you! I created you and this test, but you have failed the test therefore you are at fault and banished from Eden!” So God created man and gave him the ability to choose what he likes.

I’m going to step back to the creation of Heaven, angels and the fall of Lucifer before I finish. Now God, the all-powerful, in his loneliness decides to create angels. All is right until Lucifer decides that he wants more power, so he falls from grace. That’s a little odd. What kind of being would create something to harm their own self? The only comparison I can make is a depressed girl who deliberately harms herself. How can you have the insight of what is to come and still mess up? So God’s first mistake (of many) is Lucifer, the devil. His name carries a heavy meaning, people think of pain, torture and brutality. I personally think of a victim. Hmmm.

The comparison is between God and the engineer, robot and man (Lucifer as well). Within this robots world (the maze) he only has the ability to choose between his four options (Left, right, up and down). Now in our universe, we are not limited to simply just four. But there still are choices. Choices that must abide by the rules set by our universe. Choices, the good and the evil. Now who is the creator of these rules and all within them? Christians would say God.

Now the believers are looking at this and saying “I see where you’re going but God is good, the evil acts we commit are result of the fall”. You could back up and say that they are the result of Satan entering the world and it was part of God’s “mysterious” plan. But where did that evil come from? Lucifer was filled with jealousy and left (or was banished from) Heaven. Well where did Lucifer’s evil seed come from?

Why I do not believe

I cannot believe that evil just popped up into Lucifer’s mind, an angel. The idea that his malevolent desires just came to fruit one day and that they were not planted there before, strike me as odd. It’s as if you were reading about Greek Mythology and out of the nothingness emerged Gaia (Earth). Things don’t just appear they have to be planted, created or built. Based off of an inconsistency in the portrayal of God I  have chosen not to follow.

Well thank you for the read and as always I am more than open to discussion via: private message or comments.

Thanks again for your time and I hope to hear from you!

-Cody

The Teacher

So here is my first Short Story. I haven’t really played around with this before. I had 3 separate piles of little papers. Each pile was represented by either a: Character trait, location or a problem.

The three that I picked at random were: Teacher, Beach and witnessed an unspeakable evil. This is also a very early draft but I feel that I can post it seeing as it is a rather short story (>1000 words) I would also like to add that it does have a very dark tone, so those who are faint of heart may not want to read this. So without further delay here goes

The tranquility surrounded me as I walked across the shore. Sand fell in between my toes every time I stepped. The green ocean made its way from the horizon and splashed against my warm white feet. This had been my second time here, first alone. I had traveled here, to this exact same resort with Kate on our honey moon. In two months it would have been seven years. Seven years of hell. I was happy to find out how much of a mistake I made only after two. Every year from the end of June to the first week of September I was given a break from the chaos that ensued within the school I taught at. My class was thought to be an exceptionally well behaved class. Claire, the spelling bee champion the year before. Matthew Glenn, not to be confused with Matthew Stevens, had a brilliant mind with math. While the later one… He was a handful. The two months that I had away from there were spent in solitude. My books, Jays games and summer blockbusters. I had saved for this trip for quite some time, I should be enjoying it, not thinking of my dull life. I walked up the beach to where reclining chairs had been placed on the sand under red and white umbrellas. Tables as white as the chairs, were placed between each pair of seats. I rested there with book in hand while I basked in the remainder of the sun’s warmth. Within ten minutes of sitting a man had appeared, wearing an outfit that matched the boy who had brought my luggage to my room. A red vest, with a black long sleeve underneath, a black bow-tie and dress pants to match it. He looked younger than me, though most men my age often did. His hair was slicked to the right and sideburns protruded past his earlobes. He sported a soul patch which didn’t really suit him. He asked if I wanted anything to drink or even perhaps an appetizer. I asked for a Rum and Coke. The man couldn’t speak a spit of English but I was sure that he understood what I meant. The server returned with drink in hand. “Cuba Libre” is all that he said. I reached into my pocket for my common phrase book. Cuba Libre a tall glass, 1 ounce of Rum, the rest filled with coke and garnished with a lime. The lime was too much for. I pulled it off the rim of the glass and tossed it to the shoreline. I didn’t come here for the exotic foods or drinks. I just came for the place, to see it once more and that was it. Rum and coke was tradition for me. I pounded it back fast and realized that I was on my own and I had very little distractions. My thoughts drifted off to work and back to Kate as it often did. The server made his appearance several more times, with the same order being placed. After two I had lost focus of my book and watched as the same server came out and lit the torches behind me along the beach. Once again he came and asked if he could take my cup and if I needed anything. I simply said “Cuba Libre”. He returned twice more and it was pitch black now. I stared hard at his name tag. The light cast by the torches was barely enough to aid in the finding of what it said. If I made a bet on what it said I was sure to lose. I called him Alejandro but it also could have been Alberto. “Alejandro, can I call you Alejandro?” The man seemed out of place as I asked this and gave me an odd look. “Alejandro, I’ve worked with kids for sixteen years. You understand me? Anyways I had been married for close to two years. Around this time my wife decided that she wanted to have a kid without my knowledge. Crazy huh? So one morning she tells me she’s pregnant. I was shocked. What do you say to that? I had nicked myself pretty bad as a result. What kind of an idiot says that while you’re shaving? I looked in the mirror for quite some time.” At this time the server turned to leave but I reached out for his wrist in an attempt to restrain him. “I’m staring straight into the cut I had made on my cheek. The blood rolled down the freshly shaved section of my cheek to my jaw line. At this point she’s furious, I can only guess that she expects me to be happy about this. I can tell that she’s trying to get my attention because of all the movement in the reflection.” The server uttered a few words of which I ignored and gripped his wrist harder. “She shakes me two, maybe even three times but before she can get the fourth one in I turn. I cup both my hands behind her head and with all the strength I could muster, I bring her head down on the white ceramic sink. Once her head hit the sink I released her. Placing my hands on the edge of what was left of the sink. I stood staring in the mirror at the cut she had caused. The reminder of what had transpired convulsed by my feet.  It continued for maybe three minutes, I couldn’t tell you. But what troubles me the most Alejandro. Was my kid going to be a Matthew Glenn or a Stevens?”

Thank you for the read if you passed by this. I hope to hear criticism as I am open to it. And if you’re also an aspiring author feel free to drop me a message or a comment and I would love to bounce ideas of each other or aid in the critiquing of work.

Thanks for the read!

-Cody

Motivation present, but the will is not

The magic isn’t here. Today I felt ideas flowing through me, I cranked up my favorite soundtrack from the game The Witcher 2. My maps lay by my bedside within arms reach and my writing is open on my laptop. But today I couldn’t get anything to happen. Writer’s block some of us call it. Or not having a cigarette in three days is another. I paused and contemplated the realness of what writers call “writer’s block”. Here I am, self-diagnosed with said ailment of the writer’s field. But I am writing? How is it that my mind has this affliction but I am sitting where I normally sit and doing what I normally do? Could I be some sort of super soldier, able to push through the ditches and under the barbed wire?

Then it came to me, writer’s block never existed. I may not be able to write at this moment about my latest project. But I am still writing. Still honing my craft. I do not know the origin of the term writer’s block but I would not be surprised if it was something that surfaced around the time of my generation. We make excuses when we’re lazy, we give up when it is too hard. But if we are to get what we want (finished story) that end product, we must push onward. The Wayne Gretzky’s, Joe Montana’s, and the Kobe Bryant’s weren’t blessed with the ability to play at high caliber levels from the day they could skate, throw or run. I had recently completed reading the writing memoir by Stephen King called, “On Writing” and he talked of writing everyday even if what you are writing isn’t the masterpiece you had wished it would be. My point being, that whether you’re a writer, painter, dancer or anything involving the arts; you don’t wake up with the skill to do what you love. You may be better than most right away but to further yourself you need to push on. Everyday!

Today marks the day of my first blog post. One of many I assume. For the days when I’m forced to practice, lace up my skates, put on my shoulder pads. And I find my mind is not complying with the project that I am aiming to complete. I will be here, giving what help I can that has already been offered by the greats. But in my own words. mainly to help me. But if it can help a passing reader. Than that is reward enough