Writer Workshop February 22nd, 2017

(Posted by chris the cynic)

Those of you who also frequent Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings will find this somewhat familiar.  Here, as there, it was requested that there be a regular post to talk about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). Thus this post exists.

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Are there any questions you’d like to ask or frustrations you’d like to vent?  Writing workshop below!


18 thoughts on “Writer Workshop February 22nd, 2017

  1. depizan77 February 22, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Fight scenes and action sequences are hard. Make it exciting. Convey enough information for the audience to follow it. Be vaguely plausible. Haaaaaard.

  2. alexeigynaix February 23, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    I begin to suspect that the “school” format of magical education I’m trying to deploy in the Val Brown novel series (a la Hogwarts, because this is the “Jo Rowling, ILU but you coulda done so much better” project, except not because I’m setting it in the US and the boarding school notion doesn’t work so hot in a US setting)…

    Well, it’s not going to work so hot given that the other half of my premise is that most of the characters are trying to reconstruct ancient magical (and religious) practices, mostly from scratch with some borrowing from other traditions. There’s not enough there there in the tradition they’re working in, at this point, to justify the school!

    Which breaks the whole damn story ARGH.

  3. genesistrine February 23, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Would it be possible to make it the magical equivalent of one of those immersive projects where people live as, say, Stone Age people, to find out what works and what theorised stuff definitely doesn’t? Sort of a school of experimental magic rather than a sit-down-at-desks-and-be-taught school?

  4. christhecynic February 23, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    I don’t know enough of your setting to know if this would work, but could your school teach a different kind of magic than what your characters are trying you reconstruct?

    Like: “We came here because it’s all there is, but we’re really interested in that.”

  5. christhecynic February 23, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Bonus points if the decision to go to this particular school is because certain professors there are already working on the project of reconstruction, though quite possibly without institutional support because the reasoning is, “There’s not enough there to justify a program.”

  6. depizan77 February 23, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Or, going of genesistrine’s idea, if not an immersive project, something akin to an experimental laboratory? Again, a place that would have the equipment/supplies and whatever safeguards there are for working magic (something that might well also still be being figured out).

  7. genesistrine February 23, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Maybe those professors could even be actively seeking out students who might have skills, family traditions or some kind of existing relationship with the ancient magics?

  8. depizan77 February 23, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Would it be okay if I posted the brief fight scene I’m working on to see if it’s clear/works to someone who isn’t me?

  9. alexeigynaix February 23, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    I love all y’all. *contemplate*

    …no brain no brain no no NO brain. We are not intertwining Val and Maggie and Leona, 2010s, with Kate and Sam, 1990s. Not doing it! Especially since we know how Kate and Sam end!

    depizan: go ahead 🙂

  10. depizan77 February 23, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    This is the scene I’m struggling with.

    The darkness there was incomplete, the canyon partially illuminated by a handheld search light. The pool of light swung toward them as the two guards turned to face them.
    “My lord?” The solder on the left stepped out from behind the rock. “We found this swoop.”
    “Yes, I see.” Savler moved forward, her voice low. “You did well.” Without breaking stride, she kicked him in the chest.
    He fell. She spun, grabbed his partner’s rifle and jammed it back into the weaker armor of his neck. That guard staggered, his grip loose on the weapon.
    “Go!” She yanked the blaster out of his hands, swinging it into the first guard’s visor with a satisfying crunch.
    The second guard was on his knees. She kicked him under the chin.
    The swoop’s engine roared to life. Rocks skittered and bounced as the repulsorfield activated.
    A distant alarm wailed. And then another.

    Comments, suggestions, advice…?

  11. alexeigynaix February 23, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    How does one kick anybody in the anything, especially in some body part as elevated as the chest on a standing (presumed) adult, without breaking stride?

  12. christhecynic February 23, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    How does one kick anybody in the anything, especially in some body part as elevated as the chest on a standing (presumed) adult, without breaking stride?

    Interesting and violent variation on goosestepping?

  13. depizan77 February 23, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    That is a good and valid question. Hmm. How does one convey someone walking up to someone as if all is normal and then breaking out with the violence once they’re up close?

    Though the chest may be too high to aim for short of a leaping kick anyway. Feh. Fight scenes, how do they work?

    (I’ve certainly seen plenty of them in movies, but, contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t much help with putting them on paper. Then again, I admit to a general preference to edging as close to *insert fight scene here* as one humanly can while writing. …Which could be part of the problem. I’m not that terribly interested in fight scenes. But I wanted to put some kind of minor hitch in their plans, and I’d already mentioned the presence of these two guards. I can’t think of any way, short of a fight scene, to take them out, though. Unless the swoop was booby-trapped in some way and she tricked them into activating it? Or had thought to carry some sort of short-range weapon up her sleeve?)

  14. alexeigynaix February 23, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Are the guards necessary, or could you go back and edit them out? Because that would dodge the issue, if you could edit them out. But wanting the complication is a valid reason to keep them…

    …idk, I’m not great with coming up with fight scenes either.

  15. depizan77 February 24, 2017 at 12:52 am

    The guards aren’t necessary, no. But I feel like something needs to go a little bit wrong, somewhere. Otherwise, it’s just all too easy, and that won’t do.

    Maybe I could play up the threat of something going wrong, instead? There is a bit of a chase scene shortly after this. Maybe that’s all that’s necessary if I up the tension a bit. Then it’s: something might go wrong, something might go wrong, everything’s going as planned, chase scene. (I mean, it’s already that, kind of. But the tension’s not high enough for that to work right now. But if it were…)


  16. genesistrine February 24, 2017 at 2:05 am

    The protagonist is sneaking through the dark looking for transport they parked there earlier and not knowing if it’s been found by enemies, right? How about if you build tension with the sneaking and uncertainty? What’s that noise, was that rock accidentally dislodged by a sentry with infrared goggles, is that breathing I can hear, have I got turned around, I’m sure I didn’t leave the swoop this far up the canyon, could I have gone past it? If I show a light to figure out where I am will someone see it?

  17. depizan77 February 25, 2017 at 12:33 am

    Yep, that’s definitely the ticket. To hell with fight scenes, I’ll build tension and the (slightly later) chase scene can be the actiony pay off to the tension. Much better idea all around!

  18. genesistrine February 26, 2017 at 3:51 pm


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