Thursday, June 21, 2007

Alternate Worldbuilding

Added today to the Win What PBW Reads This Week box: Transformers by Alan Dean Foster, Call Me Wicked by Jamie Sobrato, Risking It All by Stephanie Tyler, Newsweek June 18, 2007 issue, Quilter's Newsletter magazine July/August 2007 issue, Romantic Homes magazine July 2007 issue, and Southern Living magazine June 2007 issue.

Note: I may drop a book in the box that an editor sent to me. I gave up on this series about five books back, but it's a hardcover and one a lot of people want, so I'd rather pass it along to someone who might appreciate it. We'll just call it a bonus book.

While I've been working on Drednoc, I've been sketching and painting some of the characters and settings that I've never really transferred from vision onto paper (it helps that a friend sent me a set of amazing luminescent watercolors that are sucking my brains out of my skull.)

HouseClan Torin Pavilion, Joren

I doubt the Louvre will want to acquire it, but it was fun painting it, and pretty close to the colors and feel of Joren, anyway. I liked it so much I decided to use it as cover art for one of my personal projects.

When I'm not slinging paint, I also cruise the internet for interesting images and art to stir up new ideas for characters, setting or story. For example, I came across this as I was searching for castle art:

Space Fantasy Painting

which made me curious enough to visit the website, where I found this:

Flying Castles
(both images imported from the Niagara Art Collection website)

At first glance I knew the second painting wasn't Joren. The architecture is too human, there are no deserts on Joren, my floating cities are on Akkabarr, and the sky isn't right. Still, it had a Jorenian feel to it, so I sat and pondered the pic for a while.

In a quantum universe somewhere, this could be Joren -- one that was colonized by the League, enveloped by interstellar war, used as a troop depot, damaged by surface bombardment and ultimately abandoned by everyone but the natives, who have been in hiding since their world was occupied. How would these Jorenians evolve? Would they follow the same timeline and form HouseClans, or would their cultural response be some sort of quasi-socialist society? How would my StarDoc play into all this?

By the time I finished brooding, I had practically rewritten my own series in my head. I don't do this purely for self-amusement, so I also typed up a few notes on a logical historic timeline for my AH* Joren, in the event I want to flesh it out into a short story or novella.

I like revisiting stories from different angles, and seeing what else I might have done with them. Illumination over there on the sidebar is a short version of StarDoc book one from Reever's POV. I wrote that one as a challenge for myself, and to give the readers a different perspective on the character, who is a royal pain in the ass to write anyway. It's a little more difficult to rewrite an entire series, but I'm glad I thought out my AH Joren, because in the process I figured out something about two rather difficult characters I have in Drednoc.

Have you all ever approached a story you've written from another angle? Do you find any benefits from shifting POV or changing circumstances?

*Alternate History

40 comments:

  1. I wrote my second ms in first person, then found it didn't quite work because there was stuff the reader needed to know. I re-wrote the whole thing in the third, using, ah, four (?) different POVs. I found it lifted the tension quite nicely.

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  2. Funny you should say that. I rewrote book 3 of H&J from the POV of a minor character elevating her to protagonist. The plot shifted. I'm not certain that it's better, per se, but it's tighter.

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  3. Yeah, I can imagine Reever is a pain in the tail to write, but i love him.

    Illumination is one of my fave stories.

    Last night, I was trying to think thru the motivations of one of my characters. He's not a nice guy, not the hero, in any shape or form, but while i was trying to put myself in his head, i figured out something vital to the story.

    those are some wonderful images

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  4. You never cease to amaze me (and make me feel lazy! hehe). Cool pictures (including yours). Today I am a fan of parenthetical statements (in case you hadn't noticed).

    When a project isn't working, I'll consider it like this. Maybe I have the wrong POV, maybe I have the wrong POV character, maybe both... etc. When it's working, not so much.

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  5. I love your watercolor! I've tried writing scenes from a different point of view, not the whole story. Mainly because I'm second-guessing myself and want to be sure I've made the right choice. But it does totally change things to shift viewpoint.

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  6. I did that for the first time last spring - rewrote a story so that it came from the victim's POV instead of the murderer's...and it worked so much better that way.

    When I finish the novel I'm working on now, I'm considering going back to some of my short stories and playing with changing the POV, just to see what happens.

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  7. I water color too, and have been dying to get mine out, but I never thought of painting my universe! What a fabulous idea. and it must cement things in your mind s you do it. Very cool. I had a map going, like Holly advised, but this will take it in a whole new direction.

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  8. I've changed POV to tighten a story. Not every character in a story has something to say that's worthwhile. A few months ago, I threw out 4000 words in a short story and changed the principle character. It turned out that the character I thought was the villian was not... and the hero was not the hero. Plus, they didn't have a good story to tell, another character did. the POV change required making one character 40 years younger.

    And I've gone from first to third person or the alternate third to first. Sometimes this improves a story, sometimes not.

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  9. I just did this recently, having never tried it before. My villians were too one-dimensional - classic Evil Overlord wannabees. I tried reworking from their pov, and sure enough, something clicked. They weren't just out to create mayhem. They had goals - quite laudable goals - and a plan to achieve them.

    As it happens I'm going to retain the original pov, but at least the villians are now interesting.

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  10. Anonymous11:40 AM

    You are also an artist by the looks of it; I really like the picture.

    robynl

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  11. Your painting is beautiful....watercolor paintings give me that dreamy feeling.

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  12. Those painting are GORGEOUS!!!!!!!

    Yes, I've changed POV's in my latest wip, mainly to give the readers a different view of the hero's world. It's an interesting place and everyone sees it differently.

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  13. I almost always try a story in a least two different POVs. My usual scenario is to write it in first person from the MC's POV for the first draft, then rewrite in third. Sometimes I find a need to switch characters on the rewrite. For me, it's a good way to get a rounded view of the story.

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  14. Awesome painting ;) I think one of the things I like to do is look at concept art from different artists: the landscapes/city-scapes and other settings for people's projects are just so interesting.

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  15. I think changing POV's can help if you're struggling with a character's motivations for doing something. Stepping outside the protagonist's head and into the villain's or adversary's can help you not only see the villain more clearly but also the hero.

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  16. I've been meaning to write on this very subject, actually, so you spurred me along. Here's my post for the day: http://tinyurl.com/2h73a3

    Awesome painting!!!

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  17. I had an antag taking over the story and become the MC. It all started with that Roman officer waking from unconsciousness because of a wound, bound, in the middle of a bunch of Dal Riatan tribal warriors, and the leader the most outlandish of all, long red hair, torque, chequered cloak and all, and then the guy starts speaking educated Latin. And I wondered, together with my Roman MC, where Ciaran learned it.

    Turned out Ciaran's backstory makes for a much better novel. :)

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  18. Whenever I am having trouble with a scene, I rewrite it from an alternate POV. Sometimes I discover things I didn't know before... other times I discover the problem was I was writing it from the wrong character's viewpoint.

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  19. Jaye wrote: I wrote my second ms in first person, then found it didn't quite work because there was stuff the reader needed to know.

    That's one of the huge limitations of first person: the narrating character can only know so much. In stories that are centered around one character, like StarDoc, it can work to the story's advantage -- the reader discovers things along with the POV character. I originally planned to write the Darkyn novels in first person, from Alexandra's POV, but decided the size of the cast, the way I wanted to work the series conflict, and the huge differences between human and Kyn societies made me go with third person multiple POVs.

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  20. leatherdykeuk wrote: I rewrote book 3 of H&J from the POV of a minor character elevating her to protagonist. The plot shifted. I'm not certain that it's better, per se, but it's tighter.

    That would make a great essay -- how plot shifts and changes according to which character is chosen to be the protag. Almost makes me want to write Night Lost from Elizabeth's POV. :)

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  21. Shiloh wrote: Yeah, I can imagine Reever is a pain in the tail to write, but i love him.

    He's been such a jerk on the page this past week I'm almost tempted to give him to you. Only I like you too much. ;)

    Last night, I was trying to think thru the motivations of one of my characters. He's not a nice guy, not the hero, in any shape or form, but while i was trying to put myself in his head, i figured out something vital to the story.

    I like seeing the story through the eyes of someone not wearing the hero badge; they're not gagged so much by the rules of heroic behavior. Lucan from Dark Need gave me a lot of insight on Kyn morality (and lack thereof) that I never got from writing Michael or Thierry.

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  22. I work in receiving at a B&N and thought of you when I opened up the box from Harlequin. We got ten copies of the third Raintree book instead of the standard four. I must have missed your earlier recommendations, or I would have picked up the first two. I love opening boxes and finding books that you've rec'd or (better yet!) ones that you've written. I got a co-worker hooked on the Darkyn after I the dance I did when Night Lost came out. :)

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  23. This isn't really a POV story, but I've written the myths of the culture for a trilogy I've been working on. I found that it not only helped clear up the entire culture for me, but that it's kept me from putting way too much in the story itself. I managed to get over that "this isn't really necessary to the plot, but how could I not include it" problem I have now and then. I may think it's a great idea, so I write it out separately and that itch to include it in the plot no matter how useless it may be goes away. (Most of the time, anyway... *Sigh*)

    I have another story that I've been working on for about 10 years now. It's definitely not publishable, but it's kind of my "comfort" story. Whenever I get stuck on my current wip, I find myself going back and adding or editing the other story. It's my cure for writer's block. (I think it's because I know it probably won't ever see the light of day so I can write whatever the heck I want to write because I'm only entertaining myself with it.)

    Anyway, I find that whenever I go back to this huge epic-type story I've got going, the POV in it will switch depending on whatever POV I've been writing in lately. Sometimes it's first person, sometimes it's third, and since it's just my story, I hardly bother to go back and change it. I can't decide which I like better. The third person POV is always limited, but that separation from the mc lets me see her in a different way. Ironically, I think I see her more clearly because I'm not watching her through her own skewd self-perception.

    (Goodness, I'm long winded... *Laughs* And I'm not even sure any of that made sense!)

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  24. He's been such a jerk on the page this past week I'm almost tempted to give him to you. Only I like you too much. ;)

    oh... would you?

    If he's giving you trouble, send him my way and I'll send him back after I figure out what the problem is...

    (i'm going into stardoc withdrawal here)

    As to my character... guh... I'm still trying to work out the kinks because this is actually going to be the first of what might be a new series... and uh... i sorta started the second book before the first. so now i'm hammering out details, but it flowed today. I like it when it flows...instead of dribbles.

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  25. That is one gorgeous painting, Lynn! You are very talented, in my opinion. You should put it up somewhere on your blog. You could even make it a soft, translucent background. ^_~

    This post reminds me that I need to catch up on your e-books--which I love you for posting for free! =) I love Reever because you make him such a realistic character in light of his background, and yet you see hints of who he might have been had his parents not dragged him off into space. He's got a sentimental side to him about a mile long. And the way he craves emotional intimacy is just beyond sweet.

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  26. love your picture. I've always wished I could draw.

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  27. Jess wrote: When a project isn't working, I'll consider it like this. Maybe I have the wrong POV, maybe I have the wrong POV character, maybe both... etc. When it's working, not so much.

    Yeah, when it's working, I don't even breathe on the monitor the wrong way. :)

    Charlene wrote: I've tried writing scenes from a different point of view, not the whole story. Mainly because I'm second-guessing myself and want to be sure I've made the right choice. But it does totally change things to shift viewpoint.

    When I don't like what I'm getting, I do the same thing -- even when I know I'll probably go back to the original POV after I've played with it. Sometimes the problems are easier to spot when looking through another character's eyes.

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  28. Misty wrote: When I finish the novel I'm working on now, I'm considering going back to some of my short stories and playing with changing the POV, just to see what happens.

    It can really turn things on their head -- you get stuff you didn't see before the shift (because like first person characters, we develop a little tunnel vision, too.)

    Eva Gale wrote: I water color too, and have been dying to get mine out, but I never thought of painting my universe!

    It's one of the personal perks of writing for me, ever since I wrote a love story in the sixth grade and traced pictures out of romance comics (yes, there were such things once) and colored them with crayons to illustrate it. The kissing faces turned out really cool. :)

    Dave wrote: Not every character in a story has something to say that's worthwhile.

    That's an interesting observation, and one I almost want to argue with, but then I've read too many novels told from the POV of characters I wanted dead by chapter three. I guess I want all my characters to have something worthwhile to say, but given the plot demands, I don't know if that's always possible.

    Food for thought, Dave, thanks.

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  29. Perpetualbeginner wrote: I just did this recently, having never tried it before. My villians were too one-dimensional - classic Evil Overlord wannabees. I tried reworking from their pov, and sure enough, something clicked. They weren't just out to create mayhem. They had goals - quite laudable goals - and a plan to achieve them.

    I used to dread writing from the villain's POV, because I was caught in the same Evil Overlord characterization loop. Then I had a villain who completely blew away my outline by becoming someone else, right there on the page, while I was writing the story, and I had to really think about him as a person versus the bad guy. Now I remember that villains are people, too, and try to get to know them as well as I do the protags and supporting cast.

    Robynl wrote: You are also an artist by the looks of it; I really like the picture.

    Thanks. I don't have the hand-eye coordination I used to when my hands were in better shape, but I like to think what I lack in ability I make up in enthusiasm.

    danetteb wrote: ...watercolor paintings give me that dreamy feeling.

    No argument here. Of all the mediums I've painted with, I love watercolor best. There's just something magical about the way the paint and water flow on the paper.

    Amie wrote: Yes, I've changed POV's in my latest wip, mainly to give the readers a different view of the hero's world.

    It's fun to see a world from different POVs. The views can be so different as to make Paradise seem like Hades.

    Carter wrote: My usual scenario is to write it in first person from the MC's POV for the first draft, then rewrite in third. Sometimes I find a need to switch characters on the rewrite. For me, it's a good way to get a rounded view of the story.

    That's a very neat way to use first and third, Carter. I'll have to try that out myself.

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  30. Applejacks wrote: I think one of the things I like to do is look at concept art from different artists: the landscapes/city-scapes and other settings for people's projects are just so interesting.

    Art can stick with you for a long time, too. Some of the characters in my current WIP were inspired from Frank Frazetta paintings and illustrations that I first saw thirty years ago.

    LesleyW wrote: I think changing POV's can help if you're struggling with a character's motivations for doing something.

    Agreed. I had a hell of a time wrestling with one character's motivations (probably because I hated the bitch from the minute she stepped onto the page) until I finally got out of her head and did the scene from the POV of her adopted daughter, who loved her as much as I hated her. It got me to put aside my personal feelings toward the sort of woman she was and concentrate on the role she played in the story. I still didn't like her, but I could write her with more confidence and insight.

    Crystallyn, great post about your Napoleon technique -- everyone, go check it out here.

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  31. Gabriel wrote: I had an antag taking over the story and become the MC. It all started with that Roman officer waking from unconsciousness because of a wound, bound, in the middle of a bunch of Dal Riatan tribal warriors, and the leader the most outlandish of all, long red hair, torque, chequered cloak and all, and then the guy starts speaking educated Latin. And I wondered, together with my Roman MC, where Ciaran learned it.

    You're really calm about it, too -- me, I hate when that happens. I once had an antagonist switch identities on me in mid-story. He was right to do it, of course, but it threw my story plan into complete chaos.

    Judy wrote: Whenever I am having trouble with a scene, I rewrite it from an alternate POV. Sometimes I discover things I didn't know before...

    That's always the big plus for me; I almost always find out or see something I didn't from the other POV.

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  32. fionaphoenix wrote: I work in receiving at a B&N and thought of you when I opened up the box from Harlequin. We got ten copies of the third Raintree book instead of the standard four. I must have missed your earlier recommendations, or I would have picked up the first two.

    This is one of the best trilogies that Silhouette has put out in a long time for any of their imprints -- reminds me of the old Shadows when they first came out, remember those? I just found the third one myself this afternoon while I was out shopping with the kids.

    I love opening boxes and finding books that you've rec'd or (better yet!) ones that you've written. I got a co-worker hooked on the Darkyn after I the dance I did when Night Lost came out. :)

    Aw, thank you -- I really appreciate that.

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  33. My Flyaway Moment wrote: I have another story that I've been working on for about 10 years now. It's definitely not publishable, but it's kind of my "comfort" story. Whenever I get stuck on my current wip, I find myself going back and adding or editing the other story. It's my cure for writer's block. (I think it's because I know it probably won't ever see the light of day so I can write whatever the heck I want to write because I'm only entertaining myself with it.)

    That's a brilliant cure for writer's block, and also very good for your soul. I think we all need to hold something back; something that is just ours, and that is never offered up on the altar of publication.

    For me, it's my poetry. It's my little daily retreat, my soul's diary, and I write it for myself, so I never feel I have to be clever or entertaining. I can just be who I am in that moment, and say whatever I feel. Spending an hour in that private territory often gives me the creative jolt I need, too.

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  34. Shiloh wrote: As to my character... guh... I'm still trying to work out the kinks because this is actually going to be the first of what might be a new series... and uh... i sorta started the second book before the first.

    Bad Shiloh. No cookie for you. Lol.

    ...so now i'm hammering out details, but it flowed today. I like it when it flows...instead of dribbles.

    Or drips. Or oozes. Or seeps. Or sweats.... :)

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  35. lleeo wrote: I love Reever because you make him such a realistic character in light of his background, and yet you see hints of who he might have been had his parents not dragged him off into space.

    See, you guys, there's one person who doesn't want him dead! Lol. Thanks, L.

    He's got a sentimental side to him about a mile long. And the way he craves emotional intimacy is just beyond sweet.

    Oh, yeah. Now if he would just stop fighting me long enough for me to finish this chapter . . . :)

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  36. Pamk wrote: I've always wished I could draw.

    You should give it a try -- if not drawing, watercolor, acrylics, or pastels. They have some nice how-to kits at the big bookstores that give you supplies plus an instruction booklet to get you started. Even if it doesn't turn out perfect, it's fun to do.

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  37. Your painting is beautiful! You are a multi-talented gal!

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  38. Anonymous1:09 PM

    Agreed. I had a hell of a time wrestling with one character's motivations (probably because I hated the bitch from the minute she stepped onto the page) until I finally got out of her head and did the scene from the POV of her adopted daughter, who loved her as much as I hated her. It got me to put aside my personal feelings toward the sort of woman she was and concentrate on the role she played in the story. I still didn't like her, but I could write her with more confidence and insight.

    If this occured in the writing of BioRescue or Afterburn (trying to keep it a little bit vague here), I think I know which character you're talking about, and she turned out pretty well: she was about as sympathetic as anyone else in the supporting cast and I would not have guessed her to be a problem to write.

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  39. One thing I'm doing at the moment is writing a new story with a minor character from the first novel I finished... only the story is set before the first one.

    My suspicion is that when I'm done with it, I'll want to rewrite the first to make her a more important character.

    The other interesting thing is that the villain from the original story will be a sympathetic character in this one: a courageous, heroic naval officer, and the protagonist's never-meant-to-be love interest.

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  40. I do a lot in first and third and I've also found that when I get jammed up/stalled out it's usually time to switch POV's =)

    I love my new world.

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