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What would you ask a fantasy writer?

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Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:18 pm
ExOmelas says...

Thought experiment: if you had the opportunity to ask a fantasy writer any question you liked, what would it be?

What is that one thing that you find difficult, confusing - maybe something towards the publishing end that you have no idea how to go about. Maybe you're just getting into fantasy and you have a whole bunch of questions, maybe you've been writing for ages and you've hit a roadblock that you just can't figure out how to get past. Whatever your relationship to fantasy writing, I'm sure everyone has at least some sort of question.

Luckily, we're on a site full of fellow writers, and I'm willing to bet other people have found their ways through similar difficulties to you, and have recommendations that might work. Or maybe you'll discover that other people have similar concerns to you, and you can try and work through to a solution together.

So, any thoughts?

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Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:54 am
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Holysocks says...

I know this isn't like... SPECIFIC to fantasy... but I'd ask em...

How on EARTH do you stick to one project and finish a novel? Dx The ideas always start out brilliant, and slowly I lose interest in every single one of them. I'm pretty sure the answer is just "sit your butt in the chair and write" but yeah.
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Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:14 am
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Wolfical says...

World-building! I have a sort-of fantasy novel I'm working on right now and I never seem to be able to get far enough in the draft before I have to totally revamp the world because I find a technical error or discover that the people have no way to get the right resources.
John 14:27:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.

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Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:59 am
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Mea says...

I'd just ask how they manage to build everything and make it into a cohesive world. I find it so hard to come up with little details about my world on the spot, (I'm not the type of writer who does it just for fun), it takes a long time for the setting to germinate in my head, and I constantly worry about whether or not something is logical or believable.

I'd also ask how you know when you've given the reader enough information about the world/culture. All the common advice for new writers focuses on how not to info-dump it, but I'm the opposite - I'm a chronic underwriter, to the point that people get confused sometimes because I don't adequately explain the logistics of something I have worked out in my head. How can I know if I have too little explanation?
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Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:50 am
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Cadi says...

@Holysocks - I am probably the worst person to try giving advice on "finishing things", but one tactic I am trying at the moment, courtesy of the wonderful Story Hospital blog, is to have two projects on the go at once - so, when I get bored of one, I switch over to the other, and vice versa. The important part is to limit the number of projects, so it's not just an endless chain of shiny ideas that never go anywhere!

Another tip that I owe to Story Hospital is the idea of noticing that I'm getting fed up with an idea, and trying to sit back and remember all the things that excited me about it when I started, to kind of rekindle the joy.

@Wolfical If you're writing a first draft, I think the best advice is just: let it go! I know it's really hard to keep going when something isn't technically correct, but sometimes, it's better to just write a big note to yourself, like "and then they got hold of the important resource I DON'T KNOW HOW I GUESS FUTURE ME CAN WORK IT OUT", and keep ploughing onwards. When you've got to the end of the first draft, you can sit back and think about which of those unknowns are actually important and need you to sort out a solution, and which you can handwave away. My first drafts are peppered with notes-to-self like this, as well as "[##placeholdername]"s.

@Mea It's okay to take a long time to work out how the setting goes! I spend forever messing around with details, or having slow realisations about a setting I came up with ages ago (*cough* see earlier point about how I never finish anything *cough*). I think I'd suggest something similar to Wolfical - try writing the thing which doesn't seem logical/believable anyway, leaving a note to yourself to check it over later, and come back to it with fresh eyes another time. For under-describing, I think this is the kind of place where you want beta readers and the like - a second perspective can be really helpful in highlighting what wasn't actually as obvious as you thought :)
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Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:19 pm
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BluesClues says...

Sticking to one project


For one thing, determination and setting rules for yourself. If you've got multiple projects you do want to work on at once, I find it helps to decide on when each one gets my attention. So like Monday until the chapter is done, I work on the Chosen Grandma, first draft. (I try to get it done by Tuesday so I'll have the rest of the week for other stuff, but that doesn't always happen.) Once the chapter is done, I work on the next thing - since I don't have multiple novel projects going on right now, that might be a blog post, revisions of the earlier parts of the Chosen Grandma story, reviews, or poems for NaPo.

I also find it helps to have some partners to help keep you accountable and working on one project - whether that's fellow participants in a contest/event (SAW, LMS, NaNoWriMo) - and of course it helps if you're excited about your project.

But you're not always going to be excited about your project, because sometimes you're going to be beset by self doubt and the feeling that the project sucks. You have to work through those feelings. If you let them get to you, you'll never finish anything.

World-building for people who don't like to plan the whole world out in detail beforehand

(@Wolfical @Mea)

Like @Cadi said: don't worry about it so much! At least not in the first draft. Let yourself write and explore the world. Have fun with it. DON'T OVERTHINK. I have some news for you: you won't be able to fix every single detail. There are going to be some things that don't make sense logically, or where the "logical" explanation for them is ridiculous. Example: people are still floored by the fact that wizards went without indoor plumbing for so long in JKR's world. They would just go, wherever they were, and then vanish the resulting mess.

You're not going to be able to fix every single detail of your world, and if you obsess over that and try to do it, you'll drive yourself nuts and you'll never finish a story. Your story is not going to be perfect, ever, not even if it's published professionally after being gone over by you, your beta readers, your agent, your editors, and anyone else involved in the process. Sorry. Get over it now. Accept that it won't be perfect but it can be good enough.

@Mea as far as now knowing what's enough or too much description: ask the readers! Reviewers will probably largely hit on this, especially if they get confused by a lack of description. But you can also help them along by leaving an author's note before each chapter asking particularly for feedback on the amount of description/world-building. Asking readers is the best way to find out if things are either under- or over-explained - as the writer, you can never really tell. I used to over-explain everything because I worried readers wouldn't get it, but I'm weaning myself off of it and I think I'm doing a better job (generally) with the Chosen Grandma story. Alternatively, you might under-explain things because you know exactly how everything goes, wrote the story. ASK YOUR READERS. Ask them. They will tell you.

(And again: don't worry if you don't get it perfect. Try to strike the best balance you can for now, and someday an agent/editor/other publishy person will tell you if it's still off.)

You wake up in the morning and it feels impossible? Good. You do it anyway.
— Martin Scorcese