I know all my characters sound alike,
but they're so cute!
(You're free to present your own caption. I just couldn't resist the picture! ~~~ Linda)
In a certain sense, all writing is fantasy, although we like to break it into genres. Whatever your writing process—whether you make intricate notes, carry your plot in your head, or catch winds of inspiration—you face, in common with others of your ilk, the task of creating something from nothing. You must scratch from the dry clay a skeleton, clothe it with flesh, and ressucitate it with the breath of life.
This act of creation is harder for some than others by dint of personality but also by choice of genre. At least those who write contemporary fiction have something tangible to go on. Even if they don’t visit a location in person, they can do so online or consult maps of an area. Although the past has passed, historical records may exist, and writers of historical fiction can often visit or view pictures of ruins and relics.
Those of us who write within the fantasy genre have no such resources. It is our peculiar challenge and joy to draw our own maps and create our own relics. Toward that end, fantasy writers employ specific tools—the picks and shovels, if you will, of lyricism.
Whether you write fantasy in its broader sense or within the fantasy genre itself, these tools will help you unearth lyrical descriptions to create beautiful landscapes of your own.
q10: Eliminate distractions with this full-screen word processor. Features all kinds of neat gizmos (including a target word count tracker, timer alarm, and even typewriter sound effects), but remains very streamlined.
Freemind: This mind-mapping software makes taking notes and fleshing out ideas easier than ever.
Zotero: This easy-to-use Firefox extension helps you collect, manage, cite, and share your research sources. It nests within your web browser, but exports info to Word and OpenOffice.
Foxit Reader: This is Adobe Reader’s competition. Super speedy pdf reader.
CutePDF: Use this program to export pdf documents from just about any document creator including Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign.
Enso Words: This universal spellchecker works across the gamut of Windows programs, including word processors and web browsers.
She begins, in very apropos fashion, with three chapters on beginnings. I bought the book specifically for these three chapters, hoping they might help me overcome what was a consistent stumbling block. Kress doesn’t offer slam-bang opening lines or never-fail hooks. What she does offer is the hard facts of how a beginning must function in a novel. Likewise, the chapters on middles and ends don’t make any pretense of helping one write the next best seller. But with the aid of Kress’s straightforward, succinct suggestions, one can certainly find a solid base for at least taking a shot at bestseller status.
Citing solid examples from literature and some of her own writings, she presents the foundational blocks of the writing craft in simple, easily grasped terms that cut to the heart of the problems many writers struggle with. Kress does more than teach writers how to write solid beginnings, middles, and ends; she helps us understand why the underlying techniques succeed or fail. One of the few books in my writing library that I would label indispensable, Beginnings, Middles & Ends is an incisive and intelligent look at the core of the craft.