Category Archives: Ideas

Nature vs. Nurture

One of the main discussion points in early childhood development is nature vs. nurture. How much of a child behavior is based on upbringing vs. genetics. The same question can be asked about any animal. Is a pit-bull mean because of its breeding or because of how it was raised?

My world of Kavilion is based on Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D) in fact many of the ideas come from AD&D roll playing. In AD&D intelligent beings have an alignment. This alignment is like the points of a compass good vs. evil and lawful vs. chaotic. A creature may be lawful good, lawful neutral, lawful evil, neutral good, true neutral, neutral evil, chaotic good, chaotic neutral, or chaotic evil. At first glance one might think that lawfulness and evil are mutually exclusive. Hitler was an example of lawful evil. He followed laws though the rules were not in the best interested of society, he demanded order yet it was an evil order. In AD&D a creature’s race has a lot to do with their alignment some races like Humans can be any alignment others like Drow Elves are chaotic evil. Yet, in R. A. Salvatore books Drizzt a Drow Elf breaks off from Drow Elven society and becomes good. So we must ask is it nature or nurture that makes one the way they are.

In the “Elven Lords” books Lord Ferguson’s sister Moenna is raised by Dryads and becomes a Druid, rare for full elves. She embarks on a quest with her brother to battle an Evil Red Dragon that has been terrorizing the local area. Druids are priest of nature and by their basic character are true neutral believing in a balance of good vs. evil and chaos vs. order. They will fight with the underdog no matter which side against a greater force to restore balance to the world. In this adventure Moenna and her companions slay the evil dragon only to discover an egg. The bulk of the group wants to destroy the egg before it can hatch to become an evil dragon. Moenna insist on protecting the egg allowing the dragon too chose its own path in life. As they are actively discussing the issue the egg hatches our baby red dragon sees Moenna first and attaches to her as its mother. Throughout the remaining books Flame becomes a major part of the story as he grows up in a humanoid world raised by an Elven Druid mother and a human Thief father. He experiences such adventures as getting a claw stuck while learning to pick a pocket then in panic flaming his intended victim. Getting excited and burning their house down. He must learn that things in this world are not as straight forward as one might hope. Just because mommy screams when daddy tickles her doesn’t mean she needs to be protected. Flame goes on to become a Druid proving that nurture not nature is the rule.

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Distractions

It seems distractions are a part of life. There are always things we allow to distract us from what is really important. At home it may be the TV or worrying about how we are going to pay our bills that distract us from spending time with our family. At work it might be the Internet that pulls us away from performing our job duties. Studies show that Internet misuse is widespread with the most commonly visited sites are porn sites.

Yes it seems that we allow anything to distract us from an honest day’s work. I am working to become a writer as such I keep getting distracted pulled away from my goals. First I had a stroke, OK that’s not my fault but it has caused new distractions. I can’t work so I worry about money, how am I going to pay my bills. I try to come up with ideas to earn money but they take me away from writing. I’m working on a book but other ideas keep popping into my head, good ideas so I stop and sketch out the basics. Often, tasks that need done at home including honey do tasks keep popping into my head and I feel time would be better spent getting them done. I have the added problem that I am forgetful so when I think of something I either have to do something about it or I forget about it.

In the first of the Kavilion series the Elven Maiden Lady Jesillin is befriended by a Unicorn. Problem is I have no idea what kind of names unicorns have. So off I go onto the web searching for unicorn names. In the process I see something that looks interesting and off I go off on a distraction that has nothing to do with my writing. Next thing I know hours have passed and I’ve gotten nowhere in my writing.

What am I to do to keep me focused? A couple of tricks I’ve heard about

  1. Set aside a specific time to write and make sure everyone knows when it is.
  2. Find an area away from distractions, if possible a room where there is no TV and it is unlikely others will distract you.
  3. If thought interrupt, write them down then keep going, deal with them later.
  4. Do any research at the end of your scheduled writing time thus if you lose focus you’ve already written for the day so no big lose.
  5. Turn the cell phone off
  6. Work on a computer that doesn’t have internet access.

Here is my goal.

We have an area beside our house where the prior owner built a work shop. Currently we are using it for storage. My goal is to clean it out and turn it into my writing workshop. I have an old computer I can write on that doesn’t have Wi-Fi thus no internet distractions. It’s not part of the main house so I shouldn’t get distracted by family members asking me questions. All I need to do is get it set up. Sadly one more distraction. Lets  see how it goes.

 

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Shipwrecked

 A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert like island. The two survivors, not knowing what else to do, agree that they had no other recourse but to pray to God.
However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.
The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man’s parcel of land remained barren.
After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing. Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing.
Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island. The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island. He considered the other man unworthy to receive God’s blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.
As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming, “Why are you leaving your companion on the island?”
“My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them,” the first man answered. “His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything.”
“You are mistaken!” the voice rebuked him. “He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings.”
“Tell me,” the first man asked the voice, “what did he pray for that I should owe him anything?”
“He prayed that all your prayers be answered.”
For all we know, our blessings are not the fruits of our prayers alone, but those of another praying for us. Remember this and always pray for others too!
– Author Unknown

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Resonance in Writing

ResonanceThis week I picked up David Farland’s book “Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing”I remember talking about resonance in physics and how sounds resonate with other sounds creating a more enjoyable sound than those that doesn’t. I never thought about resonance from writers prospective.

Having read this book I find it intimidating so much I never thought about. It has got me rethinking about all the names in my fantasy series; I’ll likely have to re think them. There is much more to resonance than just the names. How does it relate to our lives, to other things we’ve read, our loves and fears, etc. he even pointed out the importance of making a cover resonance with other covers. He uses an artist that has created covers for some of the great fantasy writers this even his covers brings resonance to readers of these other books.

Throughout the book he points out how Tolkien use resonance with his words, the story itself and even in the imagery. Tolkien was a master of resonance there is much to learn from his work.

I must confess I never read “The Lord of the Rings”. I read “The Hobbit” which I enjoyed I just never got into “The Lord of the Rings” I did read several other fantasy books and played Dungeons and Dragons for years even became a Dungeon Master. Much of my fantasy world comes from ADND (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) you could say I refined my world through my Role Playing. The story of Ferguson started out in a ADND game where I was a player. Ferguson a wizard Elf and his half elf Druid daughter became two of the main players in my Kavilion series.

I never went much with the ADND elves shorter than humans I always saw elves more like Tolkien tall splinter yet majestic. In many ways superior to humans. Aloft yet protectors of nature. My series also includes the Drow from R. A. Salvatore. Not that I have a Dirzzt. But I do have a Sylvan Elf that gets subdued by the dark elf in an effort to gain power and seek revenge. I guess I am already using some resonance and didn’t even know it.

There is much for a novice writer such as myself to learn from this work. I strongly recommend this to all inspiring writers. I wonder if this would have helped me with me reports in college.

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David Farland’s Kick in the Pants

Today I receiver the latest of David Farland’s writing tips where he talks about writing to the seven senses. He starts out by saying “I was judging a contest this morning and found a story that I really wanted to love. Unfortunately, the author didn’t transport me into the tale. He didn’t use smell, taste, sight, touch, or sound enough. That’s too bad, because the character and conflict were fascinating”.

In the next paragraph he adds this advice from a dear old friend “Dean Wesley Smith, teaches authors that they should reference each of the senses at least every 500 words—or every two pages. I think that’s wise counsel for beginning writers. Doing it might seem mechanical, but if you take it up as an exercise, it will quickly teach you to make sure to ground your story in imagery”.

When I was in school I only learned about the five sense sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. David goes on to add two more kinetic or motion and thought or emotion.

As I read through this email I couldn’t help but think of the writing I did yesterday in one of my books and what I could do to include the seven senses in my story. I need to do a complete write not that it was really bad but there was more tell and less show then there should have been. One of my Characters is a young Sylva Ranger. I talk about what they are; I need to rewrite this with his thoughts and feelings about having become part of this élite group. After all at the start of the story no one knows what Sylvan Rangers are some might realize that Sylvans are a type of elf often called wood elves and rangers are warriors that specialize in caring for nature. Therefore, they might assume that sylvan Rangers are wood elf warriors that care for the forests. Though many readers might remain clueless as to what they are and all will fall short of who they really are.

In my world elves are divided into six tribes High (Original), Gray, Sylvan (wood), Desert, Aquatic, and Arctic. One member from each tribe is called to represent “Lord” the tribe to the Elven Council. Each tribe has a small security force the best of the best that protects their interest and to a lesser extend provides security for their selected “Lord” Each is based in Mount Corellon where the Elven Council meets The Sylvan Rangers report to the Sylvan Lord and are warriors with some magical ability relating to nature and the forest. These abilities are different from Ranger to ranger but might include the ability to talk with animals or plants, the ability to control the weather, the ability to make a plant grow, to heal the sick, or purify food and water. There are many Sylvan elves that are rangers but only the best are selected to become Sylvan Rangers. They are selected in their youth based on the skill and potential they show. Few are selected and those who are must work hard to improve not only their fighting skills but also to discover and develop their special skills.

I need to change the start to include this young Ranger thinking about his selection to the Sylvan Rangers, what he went through and his thought of pride for being selected. Then add in the thoughts and other senses as they first see the smoke rising above the forest in the distance then as they arrive to find the burned out encampment and slaughter of a group of their fellow Sylvan Elves.

I’m not going to give away the story line but there is a lot of work to bring these few short pages up to where they need to be so the reader can see and feel through the eyes of this young elf what he feels and sees. Something new for me to learn and experiment with.

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How do elves age?

My experience with elves is mixed between Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and reading fantasy.  In AD&D elves do not reach maturity until they are around 100.  If this is the case how does their body and mind age as compared to humans?

I’ve read in The Lord of the Rings elves mature mentally faster than humans but their bodies mature slower, with them reaching adulthood at somewhere between 50 and 100 years of age.  Again how would they age as compared to humans.

This becomes important to me because I have several eleven characters that grow up during the story.  In the case of Ferguson and his sister Moenna take part in several of the later books and their age will have an effect on how the story plays out.  Ferguson is a young elf, far from mature when his father dies.  At this point his sister Moenna is a new-born.  Even though still a child by elven standards Ferguson must take over his father’s responsibility and lead his people.

How would the elves respond to being lead by a child?  How would you respond to being lead by a child?  In ancient days when the king died if his child was not yet of age they court would often appoint a regent to run things until the child reached adulthood.  A vital part of the story calls for Ferguson to take charge and lead his people.

With the death of their parents Moenna is a new-born.  It isn’t long until she becomes a main character in the stories.  Do the story have to wait a hundred years for her to age to adulthood or is she able to become an active player earlier.  Keep in mind that a major element in the story is human, so a wait of even 50 years would be the passing of multiple generations.

I like the idea from middle earth that elves mentality mature faster than they do physically.  At a year an elf child is able to talk, sing, walk, and dance but their body is still that of an infant.  Their mind will continue to grow faster than a human so by their teens they are metals as mature as a human adult, but their body will still reflect that of a human child maybe a toddler.  By fifty even though they have been mentally mature for many years their body is still that of a young teen.

This type of aging would allow them to be accepted more by elven society even though human society would still see them as nothing more than a child.  A human would most likely have no respect for an elf of fifty because they would see the physical not the mental maturity of the elves.  This will work in my favor in the stories because Ferguson has assumed his role as a leader among his people, but he is forced to deal with humans many of which will see him as a child and act accordingly.

Thus an elf at fifty my assume some adult responsibility but still be physically limited in the tasks they perform due to their physical ability.  You would not expect a young teen ager to be as strong as an adult.

To sum everything up elves mentally age faster than humans but their body matures more slowly.  Thus their body won’t reach full maturity (mid to late teen) until around 100 years.

 

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Bookworms

A bag of bookworms

Bookworms

I saw this the other day on Facebook and thought what a great idea. When I get to the point that I am doing book tours. I think I will make up a bunch of these to hand out to anyone who buys my books. Then I thought maybe the sour worms would be good for books with a bitter sweet ending. So of course at Smiths today they had large bags of both on clearance. So I bought a bag of each to make some up for family and friends. Now I just need to get ink for my printer so I can give it a try.

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