I have a new fashion blog:
I assume that since you’re here, you should be at least slightly curious about writing, so here’s my take on it.
Now, everyone has different writing habits, so don’t think there’s a model which fits all; there isn’t. I’m simply going to mention some guidelines and suggestions. For me, one of the most important things is a time and place for writing. I have a bedroom all to myself, so I can easily close the door and lock out the world, until someone barges in anyway. There’s a little desk, made with a native hardwood of New Zealand, and it’s full of dents from all those times I’ve dropped things on it. There are four drawers for my stationery, so I don’t have to search everywhere for paper. On top of the desk there’s a desk lamp, a memo cube, and two pen-holders with lots and lots of pens.
My desk faces the wall, on which I have put inspirational pictures and posters. I don’t usually look at them with great attention, but they’re something to stare at and inspect when I run out of ideas. It’s a small and simple space, but it works as a workstation. A nice chair also helps. You don’t want your butt to go numb while you’re writing because that is very distracting. I have one of those spinning office chairs, which does sort of make me spin around aimlessly sometimes when I don't have much to say. The best thing about my workstation is that I’m comfortable with it, and I don’t usually get distracted, unless there’s a shouting match going on outside or something. Sometimes, the train passing behind the house can shake the entire building, but I can ignore that. The thing is, to write, you need a set space where you can do your writing, and it should be a place in which you feel secure, and where you can focus.
It usually helps if the desk is cleared of clutter. I’m guilty of having a messy desktop, I admit. I have a habit of leaving everything lying around, but when I write, I just have to dump everything on the floor so that I have room and a flat surface. It’s hard to write when there are about half a dozen books underneath your notebook/notepad/sheet of paper. You just can’t make yourself comfortable that way. Plus, if the desk is messy, it’s so easy to lose sheets of your manuscript, and you spend ages searching for them. It’s all about comfort and practicality.
Some people prefer writing straight onto their computer. That's fine too. I've done that sometimes. However, typing lacks the intimacy of actually taking a pen and creating pretty little squiggles on a page. Plus, if your computer stops working, it creates a huge problem.
Different people have different times for writing. I used to write late at night, and during the small hours of the day. This resulted in lots of sleeping in. Since I am a student, I can’t really afford to sleep in except for the weekends, so I put a bit of effort into changing my daily rhythm. If it’s on a day which I have class, I get up at about 5:40 am to write for an hour or so (after a mug of hot chocolate or coffee or whatnot). That way, I can make sure that I specifically set aside time for my writing each day, and get everything else done as well. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. The atmosphere late at night and early in the morning seems perfect for me, because everything is quiet and still, and dark. Some people prefer writing in the afternoon, or in the evening after dinner. The main thing is, set aside an adequate amount of time every day for writing, even if it is only five or ten minutes.
The most important thing about the actual writing itself, I feel, is atmosphere. If you feel the right atmosphere, then you can write the atmosphere into your scene. One way to achieve the right sentiments and the right atmosphere is by listening to music. I prefer music without lyrics which I understand, because then I won’t be affected by what the songwriter has written. At the moment, my favourite groups for atmosphere setting music are Immediate Music, X-ray Dog, and Two Steps from Hell. Coincidentally, all these groups make the music for movie trailers. I also use movie soundtracks to set the atmosphere, especially for battle scenes. Percussion really does it for me. Writing is like seeing a movie inside your head and then describing what you see (at least it is for me). Movies need background music to set the atmosphere.
You can’t write if your brain isn’t functioning, and in order to have a functional brain, you need the proper nutrients. I consume lots and lots of protein (and sugar and caffeine). Don’t overdo it with the drugs, because that fries your brain. Caffeine tends to help me to concentrate, but then, I limit myself to one large coffee per day so I don’t become used to it and therefore need more. As well as that, I usually just have hot chocolate before my daily writing session.
Keeping a journal or a diary is very useful, in my opinion. If you write in your journal every day, you become adept at putting down thoughts on paper without needing to think about what you’re doing with your hand. You also develop your own voice as you write your journal, if you haven’t done so already. I’ve planned stories in my journal, written down scraps of dialogue and weird/lame/random jokes which I then incorporated into my stories where I saw fit. It also trains the muscles of your hand so that you can write for longer without getting cramps. Journal writing is also a way to ensure that you write at least something every day. It doesn’t take much brainpower. No one’s going to read your journal, so you can just ramble and rant and generally make a fool of yourself if you want to.
So those are my guidelines/suggestions. I hope they were somewhat helpful.
I remember when I first saw The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was hugely exciting (it still is, but nothing can compare with the very first impression I got). In modern cinematography, a lot of work goes into the special effects. As writers, we don’t have access to CGI, lighting, sound effects, or atmosphere setting music, so how do we enhance our work so as to make it exciting enough to rival Hollywood blockbusters? The answer: Description.
By description, I don’t just mean saying her dress was black and slinky, or that it was a loud bloody battle. Use metaphors and similes. Compare these images to something else. For example, I could set the scene by saying ‘thunder clashed like army against army. Rain pelted down like arrows, cold and sharp…’ and then follow it up with ‘blood sprayed everywhere, creating a rusty mist.’ In fact, I’ve used this comparison quite a few times, only dressing it up differently each time.
Similes and metaphors can also be used to reveal something about your character. For example, I’m writing about a crusader knight in a fantasy world. He compares everything to the Holy Land or his native France. For example, he would make observations like ‘There was a domed roof like that of a grand cathedral, except this was more magnificent than any cathedral that he had ever seen, with stone pillars taller than the walls of Jerusalem carved from the mountain etc.’ This shows that he is somewhat connected to Christianity (something which you would expect of a Crusader) and he has some knowledge of the fortifications of Jerusalem, which I can then elaborate on and say he actually defended the city or designed the fortifications or whatnot, which in turn leads to the fact that he is good at building things and therefore is an engineer. And while I’m doing this, I’m also describing the setting. Two birds with one stone.
However, don’t overdo the description, because then it becomes purple prose which is universally ridiculed. Stephen King, in his book On Writing, gives a pretty good indication of how much is enough. He says four things at the most, for a person or a setting. If you overdo description, you override the reader’s imagination. Now, maybe you find a certain sort of man appealing (e.g. slim, large gentle eyes, clean shaven etc.) but te reader might prefer something entirely different (well-muscled, with facial hair, rough calloused hands, predatory gaze like a hawk’s etc.) and if you describe your character too much, the reader might just lose interest because he is not the sort of character which the reader likes, just because of the appearance. I find showing personality to be better than simply describing a person’s appearance at any rate. Mention distinct features like hair colour, eye colour, skin tone and scars, but leave it at that; that’s how I do it. (You might not agree. That’s all right. We all have our own styles.)
For the setting, do not, and I stress this, do not talk about it in technical terms. We do not want to know that the ravine was thirty feet deep, or that the ceiling was only a meter and a half high or something like that. Most people cannot picture numbers in their minds. Describe everything in relation to something else. You could say, if you want to talk about a low ceiling, that the character tried to stand up, and then let out a string of colourful curses because he bumped his head on the rafters or something like that.
I hope that was helpful, and as always, I am happy to discuss anything that I’ve written.
Writing Tenth Walkers: A Guide
Want to add another member to the Fellowship of the Ring? I did, inadvertently, since I’d never really thought of the extra character as being part of the Fellowship. However, he did go along and take part in the quest, so I suppose he is a ‘tenth walker’.
The thing is, how does one write a tenth-walker story and not be flamed? I’m no expert, but I have some tips after having studied the ‘genre’ for a few months.
Firstly, remember that Elrond is big on numbers and symbolism. The official Fellowship of the Ring must have nine people to go against the nine black riders. He would not invite an extra person to join no matter how ‘speshul’, or special, as it is known in English, he or she is. One way to get around this is to have the tenth walker meet the Fellowship after they leave Rivendell.
While writing, it is important to consider what differences your tenth walker is going to make. If he or she is just going to insert lines in the movie script and generally do nothing much, then stop right there and forget you were ever going to write a tenth walker story. If the tenth walker is going to take over the story and change the entire plot, forget that too. You would be better off writing original fiction.
I would advise against putting girls in the Fellowship. Scientifically speaking, it is a bad idea. Girls do not have the upper body strength of men/males. Their muscles have been compromised by their breasts. They also lack the stamina, because their lungs have a smaller capacity. It’s just sexual dimorphism. I’m not being sexist.
Middle Earth is based on Medieval Europe, and it would be scandalous for a female to travel with a bunch of males. The only females who did that were women of ill-repute.
For most tenth walkers, Middle Earth would be a completely alien place, so a good way to develop their character would be to let them compare aspects of Middle Earth with what they know from their own home. They can make quirky observations without saying much.
Since the tenth walker cannot change the entire storyline, but also cannot just be inserted in between the lines of the film script or the book, it would be best to create little scenarios and side-plots which can allow you to develop the tenth walker’s character. There are lots of little niches into which you can slip your tenth walker. For example, during their attempt to go over the mountains, you can add an event, like the Fellowship gets separated because of an avalanche or an accident, and you can have your tenth walker play a major part in that bit. At the Battle of Helms Deep, give your tenth walker a task to do instead of having them follow the other members of the Fellowship around. They can either help Éowyn with taking care of the people in the caves, or they could be involved in strengthening the gates, or they could try and organize the boys of Rohan into an acceptable fighting force. During the siege of Gondor, you could have them helping with the defences, such as manning the trebuchets or organizing the archers, while Gandalf takes care of something else. These are only examples. Just try and see Middle Earth through the character’s eyes and remember that they play a minor part in all of this.
Rules for Tenth Walkers
· The tenth walker is not allowed to have special powers. If s/he does have powers, they must be normal for the species. (Note: Do not make up a powerful species just so your tenth walker can have special powers. That’s even worse. Stick to the species which Tolkien has written about.) The powers which the tenth walker has should not be particularly useful for the quest and they should not be able to control it. (i.e. quick healing for the tenth walker)
· The tenth walker should not be at the centre of attention. The most important people on the quest are Aragorn and Frodo. Keep it that way.
· The tenth walker should have a functional brain.
· The tenth walker should not fall in love with anyone in the Fellowship. They have quest to save the world. They’re too busy to fall in love.
· The tenth walker should not talk so much. That just gets annoying.
· The tenth walker should not tell the Fellowship what to do. That’s annoying too, and makes readers want to kill your tenth walker with a flame thrower.
· The tenth walker should be confused/scared. Everyone else was. And imagine, any normal person would freak out if they find out that they’re in a fantasy world or just a completely different world. They would at least be completely ignorant.
· The tenth walker should feel the Ring’s call. Everyone else does.
· The Fellowship should be suspicious of tenth walker, at first anyway. If you were on a quest to save the world, and there were enemies all around, you would be suspicious of everyone, especially someone who appears in the wilderness out of the blue.
· The tenth walker actually has skills which would be useful to the Fellowship, and the skills have to be realistic. (i.e. the tenth walker knows how to fight, after lots of previous training, and building siege weaponry)
· The tenth walker should get into trouble with members of the Fellowship. That gives them a bit of depth, and allows you to explore the development of relationships. It’s also a way to involve your tenth walker in the plot.
· The tenth walker cannot continually look nice. They have to get messy. They are in the wild after all, and there are no portable showers. You would get dirty pretty quickly, especially with all the fighting and rough living. Legolas is the only exception, because he’s an elf, and even he gets smudges of dirt on his face.
· The tenth walker should be teased by the Fellowship for being ignorant/different/younger/dirtier etc. This is also something which allows the tenth walker to take part in the storyline, and pointing out their flaws endears them to the audience.
This is a companion piece to On Writing Good Crossover Fanfiction but it applies to more general fiction.
Grammar and spelling may be annoying, but they’re essential parts of good writing. Bad grammar and spelling detracts from the flow of your piece. And don’t just rely on spellcheck. Sometimes, it doesn’t work, and especially not for grammar. It’s only good for indicating things that you need to change, but the suggestions are not always reliable.
Tip: Reading books is a good way to go about improving spelling, grammar and vocabulary. You don’t have to read what is termed ’serious literature’. For me, anything that’s published is good enough.
I suppose style would be included under technicalities. Don’t try to use big words if you don’t normally use them. That just makes the writing sound awkward and forced. Be natural. Use your own voice. Mine tends to be sarcastic or frivolous, depending on my mood. Write like you talk; just correct the grammatical mistakes.
As with everything else, writing a piece of fiction requires that you know something about the subject which you want to write about. However, I don’t believe in the ‘write what you know’ mantra. If everyone stuck to that, there would be no Tolkien, no Harry Potter, no Pirates of the Caribbean. A better way to describe it is ‘write what you believe you understand’. Anything that your knowledge is a bit fuzzy on, you can fill in with your own imagination.
For example, I want to write Historical Fantasy, so I research the period in which I want to set my story, and I figure out how things differed from the modern world. Understanding the setting is very important, because then you can shape characters which are compatible with the setting.
I once went to a writing class, and the tutor said that plot is basically this: ’A character wants something, but there’s an obstacle. How will the character overcome the obstacle to get what s/he wants?’ It’s your job, as the writer, to throw in interesting obstacles for the characters to overcome. And they can’t be too easy either, or else the story wouldn’t be exciting.
I find that creating realistic likeable characters the most difficult part of writing anything. Once you’ve got your characters sussed, you’re basically halfway towards success. A character cannot be flawless, or else he/she wouldn’t be human. For me, the best way to create characters is to visualize someone in my head. I usually base my characters on historical figures or actors. People watching is a good way to get idea for characters. Everyone speaks, moves and reacts differently. You gather a variety of these characteristics, mix them up to form realistic, likeable (or in the case of the villain, depicable) behaviour sets, and voila! You have a character. That’s harder than it sounds, by the way. I still haven’t been too successful in creating my own original protagonist.
Ways to go about writing
When I write, I tend to visualize a film in my head. A film is more than just images and dialogue. It has different angles to show different perspectives, and lighting and music to show the atmosphere. Every scene that I write has its own accompanying soundtrack and therefore, I find it very useful to have music which will go with the film in my head while I’m writing. My favourites at the moment are from actual film soundtracks and music by Immediate Music.
A comfortable work station is important. You don’t want anything distracting you from your work. I either work in my room with the door closed and the music on, or I write on the computer early in the morning when the sky is dark, and the house is quiet because everyone’s asleep. Hot chocolate or one of those creamy coffees make good imagination boosters.
Sometimes, when I get Writer’s Block, I find that changing the writing materials help. Lately, I’ve been writing on the computer only because I couldn’t do it on paper with pencil or pen. However, my essays have been written by hand because I couldn’t write them on the computer. I’m not sure how that works, but that’s how it is with me. Not everyone’s the same.
Well, considering I’m in the middle of writing my third mass crossover fanfic, and am planning a fourth, I thought I would discuss this topic.
Crossover fanfiction–it’s not original, it’s not popular, but it’s been done multiple times. The question I want to ask is, why is it not popular? I mean, putting two stories together, and I presume that these two stories have their own fanbases, what’s not to like? The fact is, there are a number of things that can go wrong.
Yes, you have to prepare before you can actually start writing the crossover. Before I wrote mine, I’d seen the Lord of the Rings movies about fifty-two times (the theatrical versions and extended versions) and I’d seen Kingdom of Heaven about fifteen times (theatrical and director’s cut). I’d done a literature research for school on the two texts, focusing mainly on Balian’s psychological growth, and how Legolas and Gimli learnt to accept each other and become friends. I’d also read the LotR books a few times, and done some reading on the Crusades. To write a crossover, you need to know the character very well so you can write how they deal with being thrown into this bizarre situation. You also need to do some research about the characters’ backgrounds, and think about how this would affect them as people.
I cannot stress how important this is. People only read crossovers because they’re interested in those characters, and how they will react in this entirely strange situation. They want to see the characters they know and love, not people who share the same names and nothing else. You need to be able to describe things in relation to the character’s experiences. For example, Balian compares everything in Middle Earth to his village in France and the Holy Land, because those are the things he knows. If I’d had, say, a Roman soldier in Middle Earth, he’d be comparing everything to Roman things.
Tip: I suggest sticking to the original canon plots as much as possible, and only changing what you really need to change. However, you have to take into account the fact that because you’ve merged these two or more stories, the plot is definitely going to change. The visitors should not change the plot too much though. A good way to prevent this is instead of having them as the centre of everyone’s attention, have them on the periphery, and then tell everything from their point of view. That allows you to step into their shoes. Also, research their background and the sort of world they come from. If it’s a modern insert, then you probably can use your own experiences, but remember, if you’re trying to do period pieces, people are going to think differently from the average modern day person. Research is everything, and anything that research doesn’t answer, you can fill in with your own imagination.
This is much easier. For my first crossover, I just followed the plot of Lord of the Rings, with an extra character or two. Sometimes, the characters want to do one thing but you want them to do something else. Go with the characters. They know what’s best for your story. Your job is to write down what they think they ought to do, and throw in some random events so they can have a reaction. I suggest not changing any of the outcomes of the original story, if you’re following a canon plot. You can take a slight detour — in fact, that is encouraged.
Use of movie/book dialogue
Sometimes, it’s impossible not to use lines from the movie or book, but try to keep it to a minimum, since if your readers want to read a rehash, they can just search out the script. And I suggest you add your own commentary if you have to use the movie lines. If you don’t think you can do the characters justice with your own dialogue, then perhaps you shouldn’t be writing the story at all, since you don’t know the characters well enough. Do not, and I stress this, do not write out the script and then insert a few lines about your other character here and there. It doesn’t work.
Chainmail (normal i.e. crusader style): made of crude iron and composed of tiny metal rings. It is handmade. It will stop the point or hack of a sword. All the wearer will get was a bruise. However, it is always rusting. It is expensive. Some men who went to the Crusades sold their own house in order to be able to buy a tunic of chainmail. The chainmail tunic is often worn with a mail hood called a coif. Helmets are not always worn by common foot soldiers but knights wear them over their coifs. Quilted tunics are worn underneath the chainmail to prevent the rings from being driven into flesh.
Horses: For speed, mares are better, but for strength, soldiers rode stallions.
Bows: Longbows are quick and easy to load but are weaker than crossbows. Crossbows take a long time to load (ten seconds). Crossbow bolts can pierce armour. Rohirrim and Muslims use small bows which are easy to use on horseback. Longbow bolts can also pierce armour, but it's more difficult to do so. There have been reports of knights looking like pin-cushions because of longbow bolts but still charging because the arrows just got stuck in their surcoat and didn't pierce the armour.
Shields: Crusader knights carried triangular shields which had rounded edges (think a coat of arms). The shields of Crusader and Gondorian infantry had long shields which came to a point at the bottom. Muslims and Rohirrim had small round shields which were light and easy to use on horseback.
Catapults: There are many types of these. Two of the main ones are trebuchets and mangonels. Trebuchets are the type of catapults which the Gondorians and Balian used. The main part is composed of an 'arm' and a sling where the ammunition is placed. Mangonels are more or less the same, but instead of a sling, they have a bowl at the end of the arm where the ammunition is placed. Typically, the catapult was either powered by men pulling on the other end of the arm, or by a weight at the other end of the arm. For the weight powered catapults, the weight would work the machine when a lever is hit.
Ballistae (sing. Ballista): Basically large crossbows. (In Kingdom of Heaven, Balian used these as harpoons to pull down the Muslims' siege towers).
Leather armour: This is made of stiffened leather. It's lighter than chainmail but also less effective. Good for light armies.
Spears: Rohirrim use ash spears, which are light. They were carried in spear pallets. Muslims have long lances.
Note: I have put the weapons used by Men since there is very little information on the weapons used by dwarves and elves. If anyone finds any, alert me, and I will update this entry.
Hi everyone! I guess you're interested in fanfiction if you're here. This is a place where fanfics to do with Lord of the Rings, Kingdom of Heaven, Pirates of the Caribbean, Troy and Ned Kelly are discussed.