Celebrating New Year’s with Writing

Happy New Year’s Day!

I had resolved to make the second of January my launch day for drafting my short novel, Dwarves of Seven–but I forgot! The year is beginning from the first day with brainstorming, note-taking, and drafting a new page for the story.

While working on the opening lines, I could already see gaps from autumn’s research. I know of writers who leave most of their research, world-building, and character designs for last. That’s not my way. Filling in the gaps as they’re noticed helps make scenes flow smoothly.

Anyway, what’s happening is that I am now officially drafting this novel!

This week’s writing soundtrack is Carmina Burana, based on the medieval texts compiled under the same name.


New Project: Snow White and the Real Heroes

working cover for DWARVES OF SEVEN

Folktales (or, fairy tales) are a convenient source of inspiration. Adaptations of the Grimm Brothers’ tales are especially good at inspiring new stories. Whenever I read one to my daughter, I think of ways to absorb familiar elements into retellings.

Most of the time, I jot down my ideas in a few lines for for later. One of these stories poured out into an eight-page outline that could result in a 30,000- to 45,000-word story. This novel (or novella) will feature iconic characters from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and the friendlier “Snow-White and Rose-Red” within a fantasy world based loosely on Germany in the Twelfth Century.

Here’s a logline I’m playing with.

A magical family of dwarves save a princess and overthrow her evil parents to reclaim their rights among humans.

You can read about the main characters and watch for updates on the Dwarves of Seven (the working title) page.

15 Every 15: Growth

"Growth" © Ann M. Lynn


Sometimes I wonder what the perspective of other life forms is like. Understanding the perspective of a monkey is a big enough challenge. Could we ever understand the life of a flower?

An organism doesn’t need sentience to feel. Do they need thoughts to yearn for more life?

This is a part of my 15 Every 15 series. Check back September 30 for the next edition.

15 Every 15: Violation

"Rape" © Ann M. Lynn


Author Commentary about “Violation”:

I know. This piece doesn’t read as fiction. What inspired it was an idea of a sentient machine responding to a routine procedure. The violating human is unaware of the artificial intelligence and the distress the procedure causes.

The words drafted on paper (as this was originally written on dried tree pulp) spoke for a quiet, desperate part of me. I realized it could speak for too many others in real life.

This is a part of my 15 Every 15 series. Check back September 15 for the next edition.

The Hero vs. the Main Character

Grotesque statueDo you ever feel your interest in your own writing is renewed after reading a good piece of someone else’s work?

I’m not sure what it was–the tone, the setting, or simply the quality–but after finishing a WOTF contest winner from 1993, I burned to dig out one of my unfinished short stories for a rewrite.

I had at least six versions of the particular fantasy story already, yet I hadn’t identified the Big Problem. Each version had a beginning, middle, end, and transitions, but something didn’t fit.

With renewed faith that I’d find a solution–I can make this story as good as Elizabeth E. Wein‘s “Fire”!–I started another rewrite. Somewhere in the fourth scene, I finally recognized the Big Problem: I’d convinced myself the hero and main character were the same, and they aren’t.

The story isn’t about the hero, because he doesn’t make plot-driving decisions after the inciting crisis. My goal is for readers to want the hero to achieve his goals–that’s why he’s the hero–but the focus is on another character. It’s this other character’s emotions and actions that result in the hero’s success or failure. It’s this other character who I want the readers to care most about, even as they’re cheering on the hero.

The other character is the main character. He’s an antagonist to the hero, but he’s more interesting. He suffers in more ways than the hero can. He has more power to make decisions and more freedom to act.

After my realization, I started adding scenes to show more of the main character making decisions and taking action.

I feel that I’m on the right path. Thanks go to Wein for creating an inspirational story.

Do you have or know of main characters who aren’t heroes?