Story Prompt #28

Setting prompt:

A kitchen full of old, nearly broken appliances. The fridge’s door is hanging off it’s hinges, the counters are full of scratches and one’s even dented. Glass from the shattered window glints on lopsided table. The pitchfork shoved in the wooden floor looks like this is it’s final resting spot and it very nearly didn’t get there.

Science and Magic

Hello Fiction Lovers!

First, I would like to apologize for not getting this posted yesterday, but I didn’t have access to the internet, unfortunately. As for this week’s topic I thought I’d talk about the relationship between science and magic  I’ve noticed in fantasy books.

Often, it seems that science is almost omitted from fantasy with only the inclusion of medieval technology or during the few times more advanced scientific understanding is included it’s at odds with magic. I believe that this comes from a belief that magic and science can’t coexist, and I think that belief comes from the stigma we’ve experienced in our world. The social norm seems to rise up science and eschew magic as we use more and more technology. But in fantasy things don’t have to be the same as it is in our world.

I think it would be interesting to see more fantasy books where science and magic work together or where science is a variation of magic (and vice versa). They don’t have be separated, but could help explain each other or be viewed as the same thing.

I’ve been taking an astronomy class and it’s been interesting to see the change in how people used to view the sky and stars as a different place, but now we understand that the stars are like the sun and everything is pretty much made from stardust. There’s something magical about that isn’t there? And there’s plenty science still doesn’t know such as how the universe began or what dark matter actually is, and perhaps in using the two together magic could explain those things. New scientific discoveries and using more technology doesn’t have to mean the end of magic, it just means that maybe we can understand magic in a new way as well.

Of course, if you just want to use magic or science or some new process that’s fine too. I’ve done so myself and it can be interesting and create worlds very different from our own. But perhaps when magic and science do come up in a work together they don’t always have to be at odds. I think it would be a fun thing to explore.

Thank you all for reading and I hope you have a great week! Let me know if you have any questions and feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

No New Plots in Stories

Hello Fiction Lovers!

So this past week I’ve come across the idea that there are no new stories and everything that is being written is some variation on a story that’s already been told once again. I will admit that I believe this to be true in that certain types of stories are going to have similar elements–the hero’s journey, for example–but I also have a couple of issues with it.

The first is that when people mention this, in my experience, it’s typically with a tone of “why bother?” when it comes to writing. After all, if everything has already been written why bother writing more? But just because two or more things have the same foundation doesn’t mean they will look anything alike by the time the construction is finished. Let’s use the example of two identical rooms and only one thing is changed: the paint. One room is painted blood red and the other a bright pink. The paint might be shades of the same color but a visitor is going to have a different experience/expectations depending on what room they enter, and all just because the color of the paint changed. Stories work the same way; they might start with the same foundation–a story prompt or a genre–but based on the different variations they use, however slight, they can be very different by the end and thus give a different experience/expectations to the reader. Writing is worth bothering because of those variations and the entertainment they can give to both reader and writer.

The second issue is the extreme distillation of a story that one needs to employ to encompass them as broadly as the basic plots do. Rags to Riches, Comedy, Tragedy, Voyage and Return are the names of some of those plots. But those aren’t stories, not really. They’re ideas, ideas so broad and vague that there’s barely anything to them and that doesn’t make a story. Even the idea that they are called “plots” drives the point home. Plots aren’t stories but rather the foundations they are built upon. Stories are made up of characters and their decisions, the writer’s voice and style, the emotional journey they–hopefully–take the reader on, and a hundred other little things that people use and play with to make their stories unique. Another way to think about it, to go back to the earlier example, is that plots are the functional parts of the house–the walls, windows, doors, sinks, etc.–that help the people do what they need to do and stories are the lives of the people who live in that house and the personal touches they add to it. It’s why we can read so many books of a farmer boy becoming a king or a person going on a journey or people falling in love and still want more. Those were the plots and we wanted to see what the new story would bring, what variation we never expected would happen.

So there might not be new plots, but there are definitely new stories being written and read every day.

I hope this made sense and feel free to post your own thoughts on this topic in the comments or let me know if you have any questions. I’d be interested in what you all think about this prevalent idea in writing.

Story Prompt Benefits

Hello Fiction Lovers!

First of all, I would like to apologize for not getting this (and the story prompt) posted yesterday. Things got a little hectic and I somehow managed to forget it was Monday.

This week I wanted to talk about the benefits of story prompts/writing prompts since I post them every week. There are, of course, the obvious benefits of having an idea to write from when you seem to can’t think of anything yourself and to help get the writing flowing when your muse is being particularly uncooperative. The nice thing about story prompts is that they can prompt your own ideas as well. You don’t have to take every prompt at face value, but can change it if it sparks a different idea (i.e. if the MC of prompt is a female you could change it to a male or lizard-person that doesn’t have a set gender).

Another thing story prompts can help with is getting to you writing things outside your comfort zone, trying something new. I’ve writing stories I never would have thought of writing because of story prompts and now I’m glad I wrote them. It helped broaden my understanding of the situations and types of characters the story prompts promoted. Perhaps they will do the same for you.

A last benefit to story prompts is that they can be fun and without the pressure of writing a larger work. Sure, they can develop into that but I don’t think I’ve ever looked for a story prompt with the intent to turn it into a novel. They can help remind you that writing is fun when you when you need to take a break from your work in progress because of a difficult scene, but still want to write.

So I do suggest using a story prompt every now and then, and making it your own. No one every seems to come up with the same story despite using the same prompt and I always think that’s wonderful and amazing. Perhaps, too, you’ll get a new interesting character, scene, or plot line to expand upon or use in another work.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything you think I missed. Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a fun time reading and writing!

Story Prompt #18

Scenario Prompt:

It’s the first time a witch has ever summoned a familiar. She’s worried because all the spells she’s cast have never quite turned out the way they’re supposed to. For instance when she tried to call a thunderstorm to help with the drought last summer it lasted three weeks, not the prescribed three hours, and when she mixed a truth potion the recipient had to tell the truth through a bout of sneezes.

A Way to Keep Writing

Hello Fiction Lovers!

For those of you who are writers like me I thought it would be good to share how I battle writer’s block every week. I think of myself as a fairly busy person, especially during the school year, between classes, a part-time job, clubs, studying, and keeping in contact with friends and family as well as having this blog. There would be a lot of times when I would use that busyness as an excuse not to write because I was too tired, should interact with people, eat regular meals–in short, do  actual things, things that would garner immediate results. But writing is an actual thing and does garner actual results such as being closer to finishing the manuscript I’m working on. I just had to accept the fact that I needed to put the effort in to do the thing I loved doing, even when it was difficult and writer’s block was staring me in the face.

So I started writing story sections and sending them out every week to friends and family who would be willing to read them. Most people say not to share what you are currently writing with others but, for me, doing so gave me the kick I needed to start writing regularly. I knew I had to send something out every week because they were expecting to receive a story section. There was no room for excuses: either I sent one out or I didn’t. An added bonus was that for those readers who have the time and are willing I also get feedback as I’m writing which helps me know what I need to work on as I write (another thing I know people advise against, but it means instead of having to edit and overhaul something once I finish the whole manuscript I can do it right then and keep having it fixed). Now I aim for at least 2,000 words a week and send out questions about each section for those readers who want to answer. They aren’t really beta readers but I have found their advice does help as well as simply being accountable to send out the story section. Since I’ve started doing this I think I’ve only missed sending out the story sections twice in almost a year.

If following the traditional advice hasn’t been working for you feel free to try this out or do something completely different. One thing that doing the story sections has reminded me of is that while the traditional advice can be helpful, it doesn’t work for everyone, and if it doesn’t work for you, you don’t have to follow it. They aren’t rules, only guidelines.

Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to comment below. If anyone would like to receive the story sections let me know and I can get it arranged. I hope you all have a good week and thanks for reading!