Month: March 2016

New Fantasy Times: Powerful Blades

Ever hear of Flameslayer? A great, two-handed, black blade, quenched in dragon’s blood and of unbreakable steel. It, or so the legends claimed, was the only sword which could pierce the scales of the great fire drake, Garagon. The only small problem being Garagon killed the first hero who came after him, then kept the sword to pick his teeth; apparently it was the only piece which wouldn’t snap in two when he dug out slivers of bones between those great incisors of his…but that’s irrelevant.

The point was, there was only one blade which could kill him and he had it in his possession. Predictably, he grew cocky, and a cocky dragon is not something you want to meet. Worse, though also predictably, he killed every hero who came against him (a surprising amount, given his reputation and Flameslayer’s legend). In the end, it was a woodsman from the next village in Garagon’s route of terror and flame which brought the vile creature to a well-deserved death. And the man accomplished the deed with a magic axe.

What I’m trying to say here is magical swords are greatly overrated, despite rule 107 in the Hero Handbook stating one must find, make, capture, or otherwise obtain a weapon of great power and strength. (Please note, for the record, that it says ‘weapon’ not sword.) Swords all very well in their own time and place, but where are all the legends about magical spears, axes, daggers, and bows?

Whatever you interest in magical blades, be it questing for a dragon, rescuing a captured maiden, or perhaps saving your land from annihilation, there are a few things you might want to consider before drawing the first magical sword you come across.

Firstly, do you need a sword? If you’re going to be in heavy battle, a sword might be a good idea. Of course, invincible armor or undentable shields might be an even better tactic; it really depends on your skill with the blade.

But if you’re going to be leading raiders or assassins, there are other choices which, though less flashy, might stand you in better stead. Ever heard of daggers which are invisible to your enemy? Knives which always hit their marks? Crossbow bolts which you can anchor on a target and let fly no matter how far or how many walls your foe might be behind? Magical bows or arrows which always hit their target are a little more common, but even these have a far greater range than is generally recorded, such as releasing arrows which will remain invisible until a set time before striking down your foe. All of these weapons could very well be a better choice for a quiet operation.

Spears and javelins which return to your hand after thrown, however, are making a rebound. Yes, I really said that. But axes are probably among the greatest of the underrated magical weapons. Strong, hard hitting, able to hew down several enemies at a blow; if you’re going after a giant or even a dragon, you might want to check these out.

Secondly, what fashion of weapon do you want? While it might be harder to rally warriors around a plain blade with a leather bound grip, going to battle with with gold and jewels encrusting your hilt isn’t the best of ideas. Besides it tending to slip as your hand grows sweaty, it will also mark you out as an important foe to your enemies, no matter your true rank. Plus you’ll have trouble from robbers at every other inn during peacetime. Also, it will cause unnecessary emotional turmoil when it comes time to grime up the hilt so it won’t glint in the moonlight on some secret mission and betray your whole company. Balance and strength comes first, then beauty. And while beauty is admirable, it should be in moderation.

Thirdly, do you need a magical weapon at all? Despite being common rallying items, soldiers respect their leader for the man he is, not for weapon he carries. Though more difficult with a mortal blade, tasks which only a magical weapon can complete are becoming extremely rare. There are many cases when a magical weapon might be more of a hindrance than a help, wrapping up the bearer’s attention when they ought to be focused on a comrade, not retrieving their sword.

And finally, if you do buy yourself a magical blade, be very wary of terms and conditions. They always apply. If there are vague prophecies attached, steer clear. If someone is trying to give you a magical blade at no cost, steer very clear…the blade is probably stolen and won’t protect you from those coming to retrieve it. Check to see if the magical qualities have a time limit or a quantity limit; one-dragon swords, for example, are becoming quite common in the market places of Niverteen. Finally make sure you know the name of your blade and can pronounce it right. The weapons tend to be on the sensitive side when it comes to such things. They’ll rarely turn against you but, if ignored, they very well might ignore you back; not a good thing in the heat of battle.

Above all, never place all your faith and hope in a magical weapon. Remember, they are a tool for you to do a task; quite often a good tool, granted, but they are not the only way you can succeed. And it is not what men will rally to and foes will flee from (well, except in rare cases like the Flaming Whiplash…now that was a sword worth writing about). A magical weapon is only that, a magical weapon.

But you; you are the hero.

Have any questions, legends, or trending cliches you’d like Kirin Quillblade to address? Please comment below; he promises to at least read what you have to say between his realm leaper’s missions, even if he holds the rights to choose what to write about and what to ignore.

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Posted by Hope Ann in fantasy, Legend Seekers, My Writing, New Fantasy Times, Writer's Corner, 14 comments

Call Name: Golden Sapphire

Area 7A: Sector 3C

1154 hours

Golden Sapphire, be alerted, Black Fury has been spotted heading east by northeast towards your sector. ETA 30 seconds. Repeat, Black Fury has breached Silver Ruby and is flying low. He must not be allowed access to the core. Repeat, he must be stopped. ETA 20 seconds. Golden Sapphire –

“Golden Sapphire reporting in,” Zevlina’s pulse quickened but she lifted the silver wristlet holding a humming crystal to her lips even as she slapped her boots against her dragon’s sleek blue sides. “Golden Sapphire reporting in. Heading to east. Will not allow Black Fury further access.”

Golden Sapphire, be alerted, a lancer is in your vicinity. He’ll lend his aid.

“Wonderful,” Zevlina muttered to herself, turning Sapphire’s head toward the breach and swaying easily as the beast wove though the gold-lit trunks.

Golden Sapphire, be alerted, a lancer –

“Got it.” Zevlina cut the voice off. A lancer indeed. Of all the numerous arrogants, lancers were by far the worse. And if it happened to be Quivlan…

A high shriek echoed through the air and Zevlina shifted her own javelin as her mount burst into a clearing. The deadly black figure of the Black Fury twisted it’s slender body upward, it’s wings flaring then folding as it spun towards her. Quivlan darted under Sapphire, angling his lance towards the Black Fury and Zevlina lifted her wrist to her mouth one last time, clenching her own lance ad the shimmering black skin of the dragon filled her sight.

“Command, be advised, we have found the Black Fury.”

Posted by Hope Ann in fantasy, My Writing, Reader's Corner, Writing Scenes, 10 comments

How I Wrote a Novella in One Week

Since I wrote a novella in one week, I decided I’d get as much mileage out of the feat as I could and write a blog post about it as well; both how I did it, and how you can do it too. 🙂

Preparation:

In the week leading up to writing my novella, I looked up names, planned out characters, and outlined the story. It wasn’t perfect; there was a character who appeared halfway though and I didn’t figure out the climax until the day before writing it, and even then I changed it while writing. But having an outline to work from, and knowing what is supposed to happen next, is a great help while trying to write a bunch at one time.

Secondly, I cleared my list for that week of everything which didn’t need to be done. No extra writing. No Greek. No extra reading. I’d mainly just school, hat knitting, and normal chores to do.

Finally, resolution. I was determined to get the novella done in a week and I prepared my mind accordingly. If I’d went into it half hearted, only partly wanting to do it, I’d have stopped a few days in. One must have the resolution of the will and mind, not just of the desire of the heart, to accomplish something like this…unless, of course, you absolutely love writing and would sit down and write thousands of words in a day if you could.

Progress:

On the weekend before starting the novella, I’d actually written the first 2000 words to get myself into the tone of the story and make sure I knew the characters’ voices. This also gave me some cushion room if I couldn’t make my 5000 word quota one day (cushion room which, though I didn’t end up using, is mentally relaxing to have). Since my last novella was around 23,000 words, I was expecting this story to run in the 20,000s as well and so I knew 5000 words a day for five days would land me near, if not on the end. Saturday was set aside for any wrapping up which might need to be accomplished.

Monday went well. The story flowed pretty smoothly and I finished my 5000 words by late afternoon. But halfway through Tuesday, I’d fallen back on will-power rather than desire. I’d resolved to write the novella in a week, and write it in a week I would, regardless of mental weariness. There were several things which helped me during my writing, especially during the afternoons of that week.

The first item was headphones and music. The music helped keep me focused and it blocked out noise from the rest of house…at least some of it.

Secondly, I only wrote in 500 word sections. 500 words is a natural break, at least for me, and I’d write 500 words before breakfast, then another 500 during cleanup and another later on. After each section, I’d look on social media sites or go walk around or read a chapter in a book; something to give my mind a break. I also had minor goals during the day, such as writing 2500 words before lunch.

Also, I kept in mind that it was a rough draft. Though I wrote as well as I could, I didn’t worry about going back and polishing up unless something important needed to be changed.

Finally, I’d reward myself when finished with the day’s writing, whether it was with chocolate or simply relaxing and letting myself forget about all writing for the rest of the evening.

Payoff:

Besides having the rough draft of a novella complete in one week instead of a month? That, it and of itself, is a great reason to do this, but there is more. Writing a novella this quickly shows you what you can do. Even if you don’t intend to write that quickly on a normal basis, you know you can if you want to. It’s a challenge, but it will strengthen you as a writer and as a person, preparing you for greater challenges which lie ahead.

And besides, how cool is it to say that you wrote a novella in one week, completing over half of NaNoWriMo in a quarter of the time? 🙂

MASTERSOFTHESOUND.COM

Posted by Hope Ann in My Writing, NaNo, Writer's Corner, writing articles, writing tips, 5 comments

Heroes Inc.

Another flash fiction scene; I love the possibilities behind this one:

“Ready?” Katlyn questioned.
I scowled as I tugged at the cloak hanging heavily from my shoulders. “Do I really have to wear this?”
Katlyn rolled her eye. “They’ll be waiting for a knight, a prince. And you want to go in jeans and a t-shirt? Honestly, Haden, one would think you don’t care what impression you make.”
The slightest of smiles curved my lips as I glanced about the huge domed room where white lights flashed off steel walls and great fans. “And in the meantime, I look like a complete fool here. The last hero got to wear black leather and a mask.”
“And that’s less conspicuous?” Katlyn shook her head as she moved about me, checking the straps of my armor.
“Besides, leather would be highly impractical.” Daven didn’t glance up from the set of controls as he spoke. “Jamenson was traveling to the planet Varintena in the Gloom Realm. You’ll be in the Cember Realm, and you’ll be glad for the extra garments once you step onto the Seda.”
“Don’t doubt it.” I pulled my sword part way out of my sheath. Notwithstanding the cloak and tunic, the sword was a cool touch.
“There will be high winds, maybe even sand storms,” Daven continued to ramble. “You’ll be entering the Seda about an hour before dawn, and our intelligence puts a party of Zenovian rangers on a ridge to your left.”
“And now…” Katlyn stepped back, tilting her head as she inspected me. “Is Hero 7C ready for deployment?”
I chuckled, then took a deep breath. “Ready.”
“And…opening.” Daven tapped a button and the wall before me slowly began to split in two, divided by a brilliant blue light.
“Expected operation time five weeks!” Daven called over the noise of a rising wind. “Be back by then!”
“You bet!” I raised one hand in an informal salute, squared my shoulders, then stepped forward.
For a brief moment, the blue humming light of the Realm Gate surrounded me, then I was through. Wind dashed sting bits of sand against my cheek and immediately I was glad for the cloak. Not that I’d admit that to Katlyn.
Below me the blue glow begins to fade, but I don’t look back as I continue deeper into the Seda, ready to lead yet another nation to victory against the dark forces of evil.

Posted by Hope Ann in My Writing, Reader's Corner, Writing Scenes, 8 comments

Building an Inspiration Portfolio

Where does a writer get inspiration for writing? Well, speaking for myself anyway, the answer is ‘pretty much everywhere’. A random line dropped at a store; a sibling’s innocent comment; a heartrending scene in a movie; a thrilling scene from a book; or a random line or picture of my own which tickles my brain right before I fall asleep. But even a writer can only remember so much, which is why long ago I started building what I like to call my inspiration portfolio.

An inspiration portfolio is so much fun to build that I’d probably do it simply for the sake of building it. But not only is it fun, it can also be very helpful. I’ve divided mine into three main categories.

Words:

By far the largest category is ‘words’. Originally I had a notebook where I wrote down all the random lines I heard or thought of. I’d other sections for descriptions and others for one line story ideas. But there was simply too much material and, as cool as paper was (and still is) I eventually transferred everything to my computer.

Right now, my portfolio consists of several documents. The largest is titled ‘sayings, descriptions, and one-liners’. It runs over 100 pages and has hundreds of says, categorized under ‘happy/hopeful/inspiring’ to ‘bad guy lines’ and ‘danger/war/fighting’. Some of these lines are based off of books or movies, while others I came up with on my own. I would suggest, when taking lines from movies, to either write down the line exactly as it was spoke and make a note of where it came from, or else change it slightly before you even write it down. This is something regret not doing in the past; it’s nice knowing what is my own idea and what isn’t. This isn’t to say you can never use a direct quote from a movie; there are only so many combinations of how something can be said after all, but I tend to reword slightly most if not all the time.

My descriptions range from a few sentences describing a misty morning to a detailed paragraph laying out the step by step process of my face becoming numb during a dental visit. And one-lines are exactly that that, random phrases such as ‘a dungeon of ice’ or ‘calling helicopters helochoppers’ or ‘hopeless climb’. I also have a page of titles; catchy one-liners full of promise.

The beauty of using a computer and something like Microsoft word is that you can easily locate all your different categories as well as simply search for a keyword. Fore example, when love was a theme for a book, I searched for the word love and then skimmed through all the entries which came up. It’s not a perfect system, but better than trying to do it all manually.

My second largest document bears the title ‘plots, themes, ideas, scenes’. Any fragments of a plot or theme idea I get goes there, along with character ideas, beginning lines for stories, and the bare bones of cool scenes. Again, everything is categorized to help me find what I want easier.

I also have several more documents, some containing names I’ve run across, others holding full scenes I’ve written but which don’t belong to any stories, and others containing interesting bits of research that I can someday throw in a story.

Pictures:

My second largest category is pictures. I use Pinterest for this and have dozens of boards now. Some contain pictures of all sorts which could be used for a character. Young men, older men, women, children…fantasy creatures. I’ve also boards full of random quotes or story prompts and others with inspirational pictures or random pictures of cool items which could be in a story. Pinterest is afloat with ideas of all kinds and you can get a glimpse of my boards here.

Once I decide to write a story, I make a storyboard and go through all my other relevant boards, pulling in the various characters, lines, and settings I think could help me write my story. To be quite frank, sometimes I get so much material it’s as much a hindrance as a help because there are so many cool things I could do and I have to settle on one. But I will say that finding pictures of characters has helped me develop them more than anything else since discovering character questionnaires.

Songs:

There are some songs I listen too over and over simply because they seem so full of story ideas Mordred’s Lullaby, for example…a weird dark song but perfect for a villain. Or the Plague song in Prince of Egypt or Once Upon a December from Anastasia (though I don’t recommend the movie but this song is really cool). Songs can be perfect for characters or stories and, though they take up a much smaller percentage of space than either words or pictures, they are too moving to ignore.

Now please note, this is how I have structured my writing portfolio. There are many different ways you can form one of your own, and there may be other categories which you have which I’ve skipped over. And that’s perfectly find because there isn’t one right way to set up a portfolio. You could have photo albums or photo books or notebooks or files. But, however you structure it, an inspiration portfolio you can search through when you’re working on developing a story, or are stuck wanting something to write, is a great help to any writer. Plus, it’s great fun to create.

MASTERSOFTHESOUND.COM

Posted by Hope Ann in My Writing, Writer's Corner, writing articles, writing tips, 7 comments