Book Reviews · Musings · My Writing

Of Writing Progress and Reading Steampunk

Recently I joined a fun website to keep myself accountable about writing something every day, even if it’s just journaling. The website requires you to write 750 words a day, and gives you badges as rewards for hitting special rungs of the ladder.

Here’s a bit of a journal entry today; please excuse my sleepy typos and bad sentence structure:

Journal Entry

Writing is good. I think that is what makes me happy and contented, today and yesterday, basically. I wrote a few paragraphs in Chapter one in Emna’s point of view, ad then I went over them a little, and they were good. I like them. I think they serve the story well, and show who Emna is, an dmake her likeable, and they also show who the queen is a bit and why she is likeable. I wanted the readers to be able to care about her later, when she is in trouble and Emna is very worried, and has to choose between Phen and the queen, who to help.
I think I am getting better at seeing the overall arc of the story and at tying things together. What I want to get better at now is tying overall themes together, and plot. The thing is I still don’t know the exact end and middle, since so much is changing from the rough draft, so….still gotta work on some sort of outline. I think that will help a lot.
Once I get it outlined, I will know what happens. Once I know at least a general idea of what happens, then I can think about what I want the main points to be, and how to say them.
I read this great article on the “golden thread”, where you basically have an “aha!” moment and find out what your story is really and truly all about. What the heart of it is. Then you go through your entire book and you pepper in that golden thread. Sometimes the point gets in a few times per chapter; other times, it is given a rest and doesn’t appear for chapters at a time. But each successive time it is present, Jennie Nash‘s article seemed to say, the golden thread gets more and more powerful. Sortof in such a way that the reader gets an “aha!” moment with you. The readers gets more and more excited about what you are saying in your book, as it gets more and more clear what it is you are saying. By the end of the book, they don’t want to leave it. They want to keep reading. You have succeeded in thoroughly engrossing your reader in an idea, in your characters, in your book. Your book is thus a success.
Thinking of this makes me happy and excited. I want to do this with my books.

worldbuilding
Worldbuilding

At the same time, I am also realizing how many aspects there are to this book I am writing. Fantasy is complicated. There is so much worldbuilding to do. A lot of politics seems to come up in fantasy. I am not a big fan of politics and don’t take much interest in it, but somehow it got in my story. There is a civil war going on. It takes a back-burner to the rest of teh story, but it IS still going on, and of course it affects the story, the setting, the characters, etc. So I have to research and think on all of THAT, even though it’s just in the background.
There is also just so much to think of, regarding magic. I don’t think anyone knows about this except a fantasy author/writer. It is a whole other realm unto itself. For instance, what rules are you to have in the magic of your story? In Harry Potter, they wave wands and have to memorize certain phrases and tricks. In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf has a staff, but the Elves seem to do magic just by force of will, or through song. In The Name of the Wind, Kvothe has to know the names or essence of things before he can have access to them. And etcetera, etecetera, etcetera. There are so many books and so many types and ways of accessing magic. It’s all so interesting and fun! Where I am not excited by politics, I AM thoroughly excited by all the magical concepts. Deciding how my magic works is hard but fun.

nathan-steampunk
Steampunk

Recently I have started a big binge on steampunk. I am hoping to get some ideas that I can jot down, during downtime from Phen and Emna’s story, for my steampunk book about witches, a sort of grief/adventure love story.

The way that the airships work, and the way the books’ authors change history to suit the steampunk genre, are very intriguing. I don’t know the first thing about mechanical devices, but some of the authors make it fun, even for me (others are boring, I do say).

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Illustration from Leviathan by Keith Thompson

The one I am reading right now is a YA, set in pre-World War I drama. It takes the idea that Darwin discovered DNA and that Britain uses it during wartime to make creatures that are animals all mixed up together, that act like machines. The airship in book 1 of Steven Westerfeld’s trilogy, Leviathan, is like this. There are also krakens, and walking machines driven by the “Clankers”, which is the British nickname for the Germans, Austrians, and Russians. The two main characters are a girl disguising herself as a boy to join the British airship, and a prince who has been disabled from a royal title because his royal father married a common woman. The two have individual points of views and individual adventure stories, until suddenly their two points of view intertwine into one story – both points of view still separate, still going – later in the first book. I am in the second book now, still happily reading. A third one is yet to come out, the last of this trilogy. I really recommend these books. They are so fun!

The two  main characters are very engaging. Deryn, the girl in disguise, is a very funny tomboy who has a knack for being more clever at being a boy than some of her male counterparts on ship. Alek, the prince on the run, is less confident of himself but very determined to do right by his friends, and make allies.

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Illustration from Leviathan by Keith Thompson

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Please check out this trilogy! =D

 

Until next time,

Chaitanya

 

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