Writing

How do you share a new world?

How to share a world.png

Ash Dancer is a beautiful world  that has lived in the back of my mind for over a year now. The deeper I dig into the world, the more I fall in love with it. The real question is:

How do I share this world with others?

Of course, I know that the books are a good place to start, and I am excited to say, I have written two of them. The first, Labyrinth of Souls will be out on Monday. Yes, that is a great place to start, but no story can share all of the richness of a living world within its pages.

This is why most major franchises produce sourcebooks and guides to show all of the elements developed during the creative process. Many of these are cash grabs to make more money off their fans, but some are genuinely interesting stories.

I don't want to do things just to get more money from my readers, I just want to share these stories with as many people as I can.

In the past, I have theorized about how to share these incidental stories, and I've already started posting some of these to this site and I have more to come, but I found myself having strange qualms about sharing on Twitter and Facebook but why?

Why is social media so difficult?

My primary social media is on Twitter, and it's not the 280 character limit that troubles me. For some reason, I have a strange nervousness come over me when I try to talk about my work. Why?

I wonder if it has something to do with how personal these stories are so personal to me that I find it hard to talk about the stories in the same place I share anything personal on Social Media.

While I know many people who have met me will challenge me on this, but I am a very shy person. I don't share much about my life at all. In so many ways, my stories are more personal than the details of my life. I have to get over this issue.

Telling a story online

I am sharing these feelings with you because I am trying to be more open than I have. Maybe I am going too far in the other direction, but eventually, we will find a sweet spot.

I don't want the posts to be just a series of "BUY MY BOOK" posts. Those are annoying, and I don't like to see them on my feed, so I don't want to do that with you.

The idea of flash fiction and very short stories (#vss) is interesting and probably the path I will take.

What do you what to see?

What kind of posts do you want to see? Please let me know. I would love to share stories that you want to read.

Is Decopunk separate from Steampunk?

The problem with genres based on aesthetics is knowing where to draw the lines.

Decopunk is considered a subgenre of Dieselpunk set in a more 1920's diesel powered world.  The problem comes in trying to get to the definition of what actually defines a genre.  

I know I am obsessed with literary theory, but these are important questions if we are going to define a genre.  In November, I resolved on a working definition that I am going to use to define steampunk as a literary genre.

A literary subgenre of fantasy featuring a neo-Victorian industrial world where steam and clockwork are the primary sources of power. Technology is retro-futuristic, with a special focus on Repurposing items for uses other than their original intended use. Romanticism and Mysticism form the basis for art, religion, and social values.
No, Seriously, What is Steampunk?

The question is, if steam and clockwork mechanisms power the world, but it has an Art Deco style, does that invalidate a work as steampunk?

Since there are so many pieces of Steampunk Art Deco art on the net that have not met with a cavalcade of criticism and hate, I am inclined to believe that they are aesthetically compatible at least in the way steampunk is drawn.

That is the real problem with trying to pin down this genre.  When something is primarily visual, it is like reading tea leaves to pull out the qualities that would make a story steampunk.

Beyond that, steampunk has been adapted to many visual styles such as Art Nouveau, but yet again, we are looking at the mode in which art is produced rather than the qualities that make it one genre or another. This problem keeps peaking up at me, and makes me question exacting what makes something steampunk.

While steampunk was born out of a neo-Victorian aesthetic, to limit a fantasy subgenre to a terrestrial time period feels overly artificial and pointless.  An art deco building or a flapper girl in a steam powered speakeasy feels as steampunk to me as an adventurer in a bustle, but maybe that is just me.

Taking time to make maps

I've taken the last month to work on a world map.  While I am not sure all the rivers and lakes are in their final positions, it is finished enough for me to move forward on the next phase: a push in on the main story location.

I am so excited about how this has turned out.  So much of this map is hand sculpted and painted.  I didn't expect it to take so long to get to this point, but the world kept revealing little secrets to me from the Ashkelon desert to the great salt seas.  I really feel like I understand the world better than I would have if I hadn't taken the time to make the map.

While none of them are marked on this version of the map, many of the nation states have resolved themselves too.

Building this world is different from others.

Ash Dancer isn't the first world I have built, but it has been a very unique experience so far.  I feel less like I am crafting a setting than I am recording a world.  It is a strange experience.  I can't really explain it all too well, but it feels like they want their stories told.

I fell in love with this story when it first jumped into my head, but I have never experienced anything like this in all my years of writing.  I have read accounts of other writers who have had this sort of thing happen to them.  I never thought it would happen to me, though I have always hoped that it would.

This story is so near and dear to my heart.  I can only hope that I can share it in a way that you love too.  More draft chapters of the book should be posted soon.  Let me know what kind of features and story elements you want me to explain more.  Together, we can bring this world to life.

No, Seriously, What is Steampunk?

So the story and world have taken an interesting turn in the last couple weeks.

I want to make sure I am doing respect to the genre of Steampunk, only to discover that there really isn't a genre, only an aesthetic... so if I am going to do this right, I feel like I need to define what I mean by steampunk so I have a guide for myself.


Steampunk

A literary subgenre of fantasy featuring a neo-Victorian industrial world where steam and clockwork are the primary sources of power.  Technology is retro-futuristic, with a special focus on Repurposing items for uses other than their original intended use.  Romanticism and Mysticism form the basis for art, religion, and social values.


The above definition takes in many of the definitions of steampunk, Victorian era, and neo-Victorian I have found in my research.  When  written together like that, they make a basic genre definition to keep me on track.  While I tried to keep the definition open enough to include as much steampunk as possible, I am not actually trying to promote this as the only definition available.  I am just trying to give myself some guidelines to follow, a lens to focus my creativity through.

This definition is open enough to accommodate the music of Abney Park, The Pillars of Reality books by Jack Campbell, and even the applicable Final Fantasy games.  That is a pretty wide spectrum, while being distinct enough to do its job.

I chose to say it is a subgenre of fantasy rather than science fiction because science fiction would require the technology to be feasible or at the very least not to violate known science.  That is not a required element of the genre as I have experienced it, though there may be some who write that way.  I am not an engineer, so I cannot do that.

What do you think of that definition?

I wanted to include elements of gothic fiction, which hit its heights in the Victorian Era, but didn't because while a story may include those qualities, it isn't a requirement of the genre.

Did I miss anything?  Should I add anything?  Let me know in the comments.

Meet the Mage Tyrese the Seer

I always wanted to write a story with a character named and inspired by Tiresias from Greek Mythology.  When I started writing Dragon in the Snow, Tiresias popped up again.

I've never used Tiresias because the name is not an easy one to fit into a story.  That is when the character stepped forward and Tiresias became Tyrese, the Blind Mage who sees more than anyone with sight.

Tyrese is a member of the Order of Nabu Saa.  I really want him to be a different kind of wizard, and that is going to be a challenge in execution as much as concept.  We've all read so many different stories about magic users, and I want to try something else with him.

What will that look like?  I'm really not sure, and that excites me.  I have a few ideas about where I want this to go, but I will say the there are two songs I can't get out of my head when I think about Tyrese and the Mages of Nabu Saa.

If you haven't heard Eppic and TeraBrite's version of Dark Horse, listen to it.  Eppic rewrote the rap and made it a more prominent part of the song.

I would love to get your ideas about what you would like to see.  Remember, the book is still taking shape.

When a story sneaks up on you, write it

I didn't expect to be writing today, but here I am.  The idea was a simple one, Wuxia King Arthur with Dragons, Magic, and a Twist.  That idea was so high concept that I didn't expect it to start crystalizing as fast as it did.

Test image to try to inspire more story.

Test image to try to inspire more story.

Throughout the day, I probed the idea and even made a test cover to see if I could find any inspiration in what I can only call a notion.  That is a very generous way for me to describe this wisp of an idea that I had by midnight.  But I really wanted to write something, anything.

At about 1 am, I sat down in my office to start writing and the words and images started flowing.  The characters and world came alive to me.  I can't remember a story that flowed out of me so easily.

This isn't the book I was planning on writing.  This isn't even the setting I thought I would be writing in, but the story presented itself so aggressively I had to give it a try.

Fascination is more important to me than than inspiration.  I really need to be captivated by an idea for the images to form easily.  I can write when I am not in love with a story, but the stories are harder to do, and I find it hard to get into the character's head.  Fascination is a funny beast.

I hope Dragon in the Snow continues to flow this easily, but I know it will have challenges like every story does.  The best part is, I don't know how the book will end, but I have a funny feeling it does.  

If you want to read along with the draft, check it out here.