Archive | January 2010

manual harvesting

Although I have lived for a long time in a farming community, I don’t know that much about farming. Sure, I know that the beans have to be harvest before the corn, because the snow will cover the beans but you can still get to the corn. And I know that the corn is suppose to be so high by July 4th and such. But the technicalities of it, I honestly don’t know.

Moreover, I don’t know anything about manual harvesting. If I wanted to learn about farming toady, I could probably go talk to a few people at church and know quite a bit. But everyone now uses machines so they can’t really tell me much about how you would do it, say, 600 years ago or longer.

In Dragon Slayers, I needed to know, because I decided to set the time around fall harvest. Not a lot but enough to have a clue. So I did a quick google search and I found  a few okay websites for a quick summery.

My first website gives a general overview of the history of harvesting. This might work well if you are trying to find the exact era you want to place your farmer,

This next website gives a general idea of what it is suppose to look like, and takes you through the steps. I like the pictures the best here, although he does give you some ideas about what they do nowadays too.

This is a more technical approach to grain harvesting and looks at rice, maize and something else, both mechanically and manually.

giant’s wife formatting

I was going to try to make all of the little subpages invisible, so that way it is easier to skim my pages. However, that rather did not work unfortunately. If anyone does know how to make pages invisible without making them private, I would very much like to know.

I was, however, able to make one improvement. All pages now have a little “next” link on the bottom of the page, so there isn’t any mixing up the next one in the story. So if someone wanted to, they could just follow the whole story by clicking next each time. So, enjoy.

what is a short story?

This last semester I had a horrid time coming up with any type of plot. In all honesty, I was worried that the plot bunnies that infected and attacked me so long finally decided to move away now that I was older, which meant that writing, at best, would be a challenge and at worse, impossible.

Between that and the fact that I didn’t have much time to write stories, I figured that with the Anges Hyde writing contest at school, I would just wait until Christmas break, write a story then, and I would be fine. I did just that. I wrote Darkness Swallows in about a week, edited it and put it aside to wait.

This is the story that I referenced earlier in that it grew in length instead of shrunk. Originally, I wasn’t concerned that much, because this one contest that is for short stories say to have a story shorter than 17,000 words. So I figured as long as I was less than 17,000 words I’d be fine. (I have, however, been hit on the writing contest in Minnesota for mine being too long.) I’m about 12,000, so I should be fine.

Then, I started thinking about it. It is about 25 pages in length. When I print it. it will be close to 50 pages (I’m submitting it in MLA format because I don’t know how else to submit it. They don’t say.) I fear that I would scare away anyone who looks at a fifty page “short story.”

I started to look up what defines a short story, to get an idea, and I found this on wikipedia:

Other definitions place the maximum word length at anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 words. As a point of reference for the science fiction genre writer, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America defines short story length in its Nebula Awards for science fiction submission guidelines as having a word count of less than 7,500.[1] In contemporary usage, the term short story most often refers to a work of fiction no longer than 20,000 words and no shorter than 1,000.

This poses some problems to me in a way.  if we even go with less than 9000 words, I am way over. I could possibly go with the contemporary usage, then I’m okay.

However. the problem is that I can’t change it now. The deadline is for it is January 31st. Even if I wrote something today, I would like to have it sit for a while and rest before I edit it. Moreover, I don’t have the time to write that kind of story.

So, instead of looking into this more, I think I’m just going to leave it. There is nothing I can do, beyond submitting one of my older (and poorer) stories. I think that this story is rather good. Hopefully, I’ll have two more years to enter into the contest and by then I’ll have a better clue at what to expect. I am also submitting into the essay contest per my teacher’s recommendation, so maybe I’ll win something. If not, like I said, I have two more years.

about characters

As said yesterday, I role played with a friend for some five to six years. What I found out during this time focused mainly on characters.

3D Characters

Before, my characters let themselves be swept along with whatever happened. If someone beat them up, they didn’t really care. If someone lied to them, well, okay. I tried writing a story where the character was the target of a certain fellow student’s torment and for the life of me, I could not get her to fight back. I could not understand her anger at the the injustice he did to her.

Soon actually, after I began role playing, I began to discover that there is always internal torment involved with characters. This character was tricked to and lied by one of his closest friends (who also happened to have “killed” his family), and when he found out, he hated her but he also felt so incredibly depressed. I learned, through role playing, how to react with that character and for a long time, he hurt.

Now, I’m not perfect at that skill yet of internal conflict, but I’m aware of it at least, whereas before it became more of a case of it nothing. Now, the art of writing them in and how to show it is much more difficult.

Letting the Characters Talk

Also, I learned to listen to my characters. My mom, in particularly, says that it is silly. But there is a certain art to learning your characters and letting the characters speak themselves. The characters are not pawns for us to move as we wish. They are there to help us tell the story.

A great example of why this is important is the book Eragon. In the book, the main character Eragon would seem perfectly content and happy one minute and the next go insanely made about something. I actually believe that him not listening to his characters is one of the faults of his book. (I never read the second two, so maybe he got better.)

It’s because of characters listening to you that you can learn if one character likes another (I once, much to my dismay, forced married two characters. I never felt his passion for her as much as I felt it from others.). YOu can learn the background of a character. In this story I’m writing now (Dragon Slayers), I knew almost as soon as I met one of the Dragon Slayers, that he came from a rather well-to-do background and was the youngest son. How did I? I don’t know. But I did. Characters want to tell their story.

(Now, that whole idea might sound like I’m crazy but honestly, I’m not. And when I listen to other authors talk about how they write, I can hear them pretty much saying that the characters talk to them. It’s not verbal but it’s more a gut instinct.)

Get excited about what you’re writing.

Sometimes, people think that they have to wait until they do A and B and C and D and E in order to get to F. But F is going to be a really awesome scene. This undesire to write the earlier scenes might mean that they aren’t actually needed. You might think you need to do them, but in actually, they aren’t needed.

This goes back to the idea of editing and learning when to actually delete.

So, although I’m sure I’ve learned other things, the biggest and most valuable thing I learned was all about characters. What makes up a character, how to develop a character, how to show emotions through dialogue of a character. Characters are probably the most important part of a book. YOu can have some incredible description, and some awesome lessons, but unless the characters are good, many people won’t even read it.

a new story

So, tell me this. I wrote Giant’s Wife last semester and I posted it here each day for about a month actually. (I didn’t expect it to last that long.) Now, it’s over and I’m trying to decide if I want to actually post something else, or if I just want to leave it be.

On one hand, I’d like to have something to post every day. On the other hand, I only really have Shad and Shad, first of all, would take several months to post.  And I did plan on posting Shad when I first started this blog. Shad gives a lot better picture of what I can write and I’d like to be able to have some people read it. But in all honestly, I don’t really think that much of anyone read the whole Giant’s Wife.

So probably, except for the shorter stories I’m writing now, I’ll probably not post that. (Unless, of course, wordpress is misrepresenting my stats and I have a whole lot more people reading this than I except and you all say that you want to read it. But I highly doubt that will happen.)

role playing

A long, long time ago, (well, in 2003),  I met someone named Alyssa on a message board. We started doing silly stuff on there with exchanging a “story” because the message board had a glitch where if you previewed the message, you could place whatever name there you wished. (This was before we have the now-traditional message board layout.)

This little exchange evolved into a story over the next six months and then over the next year to two, it become a four book series (which we never wrote up, except for the first one.) This story became known as ETOLT, based off of my username when we began (lizard tongue) and my evil twin causing chaos for her.

From the spring of 2004 until she went to collage in 2009, we wrote so many stories. We role played them. She would take some of the characters and I’d take some and we would just exchange back and forth between the two. We had some awesome stories, everything from an arranged marriage between a girl who previous eloped, was sold as a slave a month later by her husband, and then was rescued by the person she was arranged to marry and told that they would live completely separate lives, to a man who decided that being a torturer was too much and too stressful on his family, so he ran away to another country.

If we were to actually write all of our decent stories, we’d probably have close to 20 to 30 books. Obviously, we won’t, because we both write our own stories as well. We did however write the first one ETOLT story, but never got around to doing an incredibly serious edit. (We wrote it over three years or something like that and our writing skills developed a lot during that time, mine particularly.) If you really wanted to buy them, she actually self-published them for her graduation as two separate books: For Isrian, Breaking Dawn and then a conglomeration of various other stories. from that same series.

Anyway, I learned some very valuable skills from role playing for that time and if you can figure out how to do it and a friend who can, I highly recommend it. And… I was going to make a post about what I learned (which I might add) but I think that I’m going to first say how to start this.

First of all, obviously, you need a friend who can exchange posts with you. I found it perfectly fine just to do it with just one friend. If you have a lot of friends involved, it will go much slower and you can’t plot as much.

So we now have a friend. Next, you need a place to exchange posts. If you want to at all save these messages (You do, trust me. I just spent two days reread a lot of our stories.), you want to use a message board. I highly recommend proboards We’ve had only slight issues with them once, and they fixed that problem. Compared to MSN (which forced me to reset safari every couple months and went so slow sometimes that we’re talking minutes to load a page) and any of the other places, this one is by far the best and easiest to use.  And it’s free too. Always a bonus.

So, we now have a friend and a place to write. Next, you probably what a story. Sometimes, we just started writing, let the characters figure themselves out. and go from there. So long as you can plot at the spur of the moment, it might not be a bad idea. Just have a clue about what kind of plots work best.  We knew that we could never just do a general girl falling in love with guy story. We always had some other complication, like, their marriage arranged; he thinks she’s flakey and stupid; he thinks he’s married to someone else who he loves but who is dead; he doesn’t want to be married at all, she’s had bad situations with her last marriage; he’s a criminal; she killed his sister as a spy, ect.

Sometimes, we would have a situation that the character just found themselves in, like in one of our stories the character just found herself without a family, her house sold because of debts, and completely alone. We then decided after one scene that she should be married spontaneous (We usually had our stories take place in fantasy lands, so spontaneous and arranged marriages worked well for us.) and my friend plotted him, I had her, and everything went rather well.

Finding the story is the hardest part. I will admit that right out. Some of the best parts about finding a story is that you get to keep secrets/plots from your friend, anything from something little to something huge. Plotting is the best for these, because you don’t always know how the other person’s characters will react, whereas with your own writing, you pretty much do.

After that, you just start writing. We wrote it like this:

*puts out the food* So? Who is she?
Sue

Mary is her name.
Jonathan

And who is she? How’d you meet her?
Sue

She’s a maid at the palace. I met her at work.
Jonathan

In this, I was Sue, she was Jonathan. Each of the different dialogue exchanges was a different post.

Obviously, a huge drawback about writing like this is you can’t change much of anything. Once it happened, it happened, and you have to just keep going.

You also probably want to have a certain time to write this back and forth. Without having a set time, the story will go very slowly unless you are together for some amount of time. In high-school, we wrote it for hours at a time, from about four until nine or ten at night.

I will admit, I miss doing it with her. We’re talking about this summer writing one of our stories out for real. (Which, I’m not fully sure how that is going to work out, considering that I have summer school and work (hopefully).) I can’t wait. It was really awesome to do.

Probably in the next real post, I’ll mention some about characters and why this helped me so much.

One more bit of advise. When choosing a friend to do this with, find someone with similar values and morals as you. We only went so far with some things, where as someone with less stringent morals might have done much worse than we did.

giant’s wife, 1/17

I was suppose to schedule this to post earlier and I forgot. Oh well. HEre is the final entry in Giant’s Wife.

******

Heddwyn pressed himself against the shed’s wall and closed his eyes. Beyond the wall was his town. He heard the screams of terror and the people begging, people who he recognized just by the sound of their voice, and then the begs cut short. He smelled the burnt flesh and hair and the smell of sweat. He heard the soldiers shouting, though he did not know what they said.  Still, he knew they enjoyed the slaughter…..

(more)

giant’s wife, 1/15

I actually forgot to post this today, until I looked at my stats. This scene is also why I am not ever having a pregnant character again until I do my OB rotation next semester.

*****

The contractions stopped late in the afternoon and for a few, brief hours, it seemed as if the baby decided to wait. The doctor, however, confined her to bed, since it was too early for her to be having it….

(more)

giant’s wife, 11/14

Only fate could have caused Heddwyn to intercept the spy’s report when he did. Not only was it any spy’s report, but from a man who trusted that Heddwyn knew what he was doing. After reading it, he had to change his plans and he moved towards immediate attacking of Kartigon. Although he regretted that he did not have Major Pauldor to bring up the flank, he could not wait….

(More)

short stories

I recently updated a bunch of pages on the side bar to your right, but never mentioned anything about them. Giant’s Wife is all stored there, along with many of my other more recent short stories. I suppose most of this will just be a directory but it’ll also have summaries of the stories if you would care to read them.

We’ll start with the top. Obviously, about the writer is a little bit of background information about me, Abigail. Has a picture too if you’re curious. :)

Darkness Swallows was originally called Kontyo for those who have read back entries. As the eldest son of the minister of interplanetary affairs, Kontyo never saw much of a need to behave. He knew that he would inherit his father’s title and continue living in luxury all of his life. That changes when an accident happens and he decides to leave for the sweeper ships instead of facing at least a year in prison, only to discover that some mistakes can’t just be undone.

Flashes of Imagination: At fourteen years old, with only writing for six months, my brother brings me a poster for a writing contest at the library. Everyone urges me to enter, only, why would I want to show the part of myself to someone? This is a true story based off of, obviously, the first time I entered a writing contest in 2003 or so.

Pay the Writer: Not a story. I’m just asking for you to sign up to a place to help me earn amazon giftcards if you really like my writing.

The Giant’s Wife: I will just refer you to the front page. I have the summery posted there. That story is significantly longer than many of the other ones, which is why there is five parts to it. I’ve been posting one a day since December 17th and I’ll be done by Sunday I think. After that, I’ll be adding the index differently so the story will collapse.

Turning Crow Calls into Beauty: Lowri hates being the daughter of a rich merchant, she hates growing up and she hates having to learn to be a lady. But more than anything, she hates that stupid, ugly harp that her mother is convinced she can play and would rather do anything except practice.

What to Write: How does one find that magical inspiration that makes someone want to write? Who knows. Sometimes, it just happens.

That’s everything for now. Make sure you look in the side bar ever so often for more stories, because I will be adding them. I don’t think I’ll be adding Shad right now, if at all, although I like it a lot. (It’s also 85,000 words.)