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Writing Longer Tales

By Nfoster

     When I thought about writing this, I took down a lot of notes. I wasn't sure which order I wanted the article to be in. That's the way I always approach writing: What am I doing? In what order? Why? There are many other approaches. So I'll cover the ones I know and work from there. Let's start from the beginning, though. After all, we're talking about novel or novella writing here. This is a lot of work.

Some Guidelines

     For one, we are only talking about a novel once it has surpassed forty thousand words. But this is a short novel, a children's novel. Most wouldn't say until forty-five or fifty thousand, but I'm being generous. An average paperback might be between fifty and seventy. Above seventy, and you've got a nice juicy work of art going on, and it's probably best that you write fantasy, because most books in the genre double as blunt weapons in case of a burglary anyway. If you're wondering, I stole that joke from Guy Gavriel Kay when I saw him doing a poetry reading for Beyond This Dark House. I have none of my own humor, but the sentiment is true.
     However, SFWA Nebula does note that, 'To sell a novel under 60,000 words to a genre publisher requires a novel that is extraordinary.' They later note that you're better off writing a sixty to ninety thousand word novel if that's what it's going to be. As for novelettes, they can be between seventy-five hundred and seventeen thousand five hundred. Above that and below the novel you have the novella.

Evaluating the Idea

     So, what's your story about? First off, does it need to be a novel? I wrote what would be about a 250 page paperback novel last year. Looking back at it, I realize that it probably should've been a short story. The idea was very simple, but making it long enough for a novel meant creating a complex world with rules and people that I didn't care about writing. If you sit back and say, 'Do I really have to finish this?' (like I did) there's something wrong. Sometimes an idea is great, but what you really needed was a neat, tidy little short story without many secondary characters and no time to worry about the rules of the world. Making a story a novel generally means that there are many characters affected in the world, not just your main character. If you don't care about those other people and can't make yourself care, maybe you shouldn't be trying for a novel-length story. You're going to want to be able to develop all the characters of your world, not just some of them. Of course, you can always take that too far and say, 'Well what about the guy who serves my characters drinks in scene three? What's his angle?' He shouldn't have an angle. People like that are simply background fodder, hardly even people at all. Don't worry about it.
     So if by now you've decided that your story should be a novel, great, read on. Because the thing is that you need a world to put those people in. This is latching on to a later point somewhat, but sometimes authors work better plotting out a world and its general functions and rules before thinking about the story taking place there. That's fine. Any way you feel good about writing is fine. I'll offer up some different angles to take later so you can try them out. Maybe if something feels stale, a different angle will help. If you're still stuck, and maybe it's just writer's block, then try my article, Breaking Your Mental Blockers, for a jump-start.
     Next: Who are you writing for? If yourself, that's great. Your friends? Even better. If it's to get published, good luck. But why? If it's strictly for money, again, more good luck, because it probably won't take you very far. I hope the reason you're writing is because you have and idea that just seems so cool, you can't stand not writing it down. Or because you have so many stories in your head, you'll explode if you don't get them all out. Those are the best reasons, the ones that will keep you writing for hours and even through out the night, and loving every second of it because you see this magical weaving coming out the other end- all of your own creation.
     The only other question you should ask yourself is what are you writing? There is a story about a man who heard that the hottest topics in literature were gangsters, paramedics and dogs. So he wrote a story about paramedic dogs who took out gangs. This is the kind of thing that you want to avoid. The market is already going to be flooded with stories about vampires the second that publishers say, 'We love this vampire stuff.' Stick true to the stories that you are interested in writing about. Kelly Armstrong loved her werewolf stories, but she thought they would never sell, so she tried to finish murder mysteries and put them out instead. Kelly is currently the author of a healthy chain of werewolf novels since the publication of her first book, Bitten. Don't take your first love for granted; it's probably where your talent lies. Passion is not a force that is easily overlooked, even on paper.

Techniques for Writing a Long One

     I'm going to suggest a few styles of pinning down a novel here. If you can't figure out a way for you to write efficiently, try them all. But don't be stuck on something that doesn't really work for you just because it seems like the best way to go about things. If you're entirely stuck no matter what, make up your own system as you go along.
     Trial and error will teach you volumes about your own personal style. I wasted a year on trial and error writing my first novel, and then another four months on a novella. I wouldn't take them back for the world. I had the good luck to have a generous Writer's Craft teacher who actually read over my entire novella and gave me some great tips. Can you find someone similar? These learning periods are invaluable even if you can't. And if you think you've come across someone who can help you, ask them. If someone offhandedly suggests looking over your work one day, hound them. I don't believe that anyone can write well without the input of other people. We writers just can't see beyond the end of our own noses sometimes. That isn't a occupational bash, but a fact. Who wants to see the mistakes? Who remembers that Johnny was six years old in chapter five and four in chapter three? It seems irrelevant, and only one out of six people might notice, but you do need to know to stay successful. Being a professional means being accurate.
     As promised, here are some techniques to getting that novel or novella beyond the first ten pages:

Write, and see where it goes. Now, this technique is not necessarily going to get you beyond ten pages. But I know many authors who write this way and just let the story happen. They trust their characters to work things out without them actually knowing about it. One woman I know who has several ebooks published writes this way, and she's completed sixty thousand word pieces in two weeks. How? I don't know, I don't function that way. It's the trust of your pen on the paper or fingers on the keyboard to guide you in the right direction.
     On the other hand, you could end up like certain other writers I know, calling up their friends in a panic: 'Johnny just jumped through the portal and then didn't come out the other side! Where'd I loose Johnny??' This is a distinct disadvantage to this technique because you never know where the story's going. It turns out something did happen to Johnny, but somehow it was supposed to. I believe a lot of these coincidences are your subconscious mind working overtime on the advanced storylines that you haven't gotten to. There is always the distinct possibility, though, that Johnny doesn't show up again and now you have a big, wagging plot hole. Planning from this deep into an unplanned story is very, very difficult.

Start ten pages, and then plan it out. This is probably the easiest thing for the new author to do. The ten pages give you an idea of the direction and the tone of the story, but if you plan it out after that, there's no chance of loosing it to an abysmal plot hole. That can be discouraging to loose, even after ten pages. And new authors certainly don't need to be discouraged. Getting up every day and realizing that you need to work on the story if it's going anywhere is discouraging enough at first.
     This planning does not have to be extensive. But map out your plot line. Give most of the characters names, even the ones that double as canon fodder. Have a good mental idea of the kind of rooms/places that your characters occupy. As well, decide on a climate. Read over your story one time and see if it could be set anywhere from the boreal forest to the arctic tundra. That needs to be fixed.

Let ideas fester until they ferment into wonderful things. This is for the little more advanced writer. Not as much planning needs to be done in the long run because things have already been boiling up top for a long time. If you ever have a good idea or concept but don't know what to do with it, file it away for future reference. My second novel combined two ideas that had been running around in my head: a captive harem princess and a set of daggers that were magical. You figure out how it came together ;)
     Planning in this game is usually the specifics. The larger picture has already been thought about for so long that it's like a second nature to write about. Do be careful of plot inconsistencies, though. That can be hard to keep track of because this type of writing can tend to evolve quickly without the writer realizing every detail.

Build a world, and then build a story. In How to Write Sci-Fi and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card, he talks in detail about how the world of Hart's Hope was created long before the story ever came into existence. You may be the kind of person who loves to do what Card did- plot out every little detail as far as the atmospheric pressure and planet density. Of course, you don't have to go into that much detail, but having a solid world to base your story in helps a great deal. This writer will often be much more interested in medieval fact than fiction, so be careful not to overload your reader with information. Just because you know it doesn't mean they have to- or even should.
     Some things to consider when making a world that you plan to set a story into: is there magic? Will the people who have it be loved or hated or does it matter? How much influence do the gods have, and are they real? How does the political system work? If there are changes in it from our every day expectations, you should outline that for the reader before going any further. This may require some historical backlash, so try to centralize the duller stuff between action so that the reader doesn't drop off completely. Are there slaves in your world? Distinction between castes? Different races? Different tongues? Keep in mind that in medieval times, most empires or kingdoms didn't even have a single tongue. Schooling was too unpopular and the distances compared to the modes of transportation too wide spread. (On a side note, make sure not everyone in your story is literate unless they're all nobility. Reading was not common. Hence the town criers.) What about transportation? That became a problem for me when I realized that I had people riding around on horses in a province that was nearly a desert. Wouldn't have worked out well. So now my people walked a good deal of the time or hitched a ride on an elephant. Look up your climate zone, and see what animals are around to tote your people.
     In a later section, I'll cover a little more stuff on world building, as well as some links.

Plot out the story, the names, the gods, the parental backgrounds, occupations and character sketches for each and every single person. Alright, maybe I'm going a little overboard here, but this is how I write. When I start a new story, it usually takes me about a week and a folder with four new files on background, synopsis and timeline as well as the body of the story before I start writing. It is a lot of work writing this way, but I like it a) because I'm a very qualitative person and b) it allows me to clear my head of excess thoughts because all the details are already down on paper. Everything is easily referenced. I know the names of every god and how they came to be from who. The characters are all noted with their full names, with small sketches- consisting of point form notes about their past, habits and personal reflections in no particular order- for the main characters.
     For further organization and detail, I plot out every scene in the order I want them to be in within the body of the novel itself. That way, as soon as I sit down to type, I just pick up whatever place in the novel that I want to without having to figure out what comes next. That's already done. For convenience, I usually mark unfinished scenes or scenes-to-be-written with two *'s, or use another uncommonly found character. That way, using the Find command, you can figure out where your unfinished work is as well as keep track of how much more you have to do. I find this is very encouraging because day by day I can watch myself knocking down the number of stars there are in the story.

Pivotal Story Elements

     Starting out, as in any story, your characters must have a good reason for what they're doing. This does not necessarily mean that you have to tell the reader what they're doing at first. Their reasoning can be left as yet another mysterious question if their actions are extraordinary enough. Either way is good, depending on your situation. Things characters do not need include physical descriptions (I like to leave most of it up to the reader, giving a few defining details about facial/hair/build instead.) and thought-provoking dialogue. Most people do not speak in a very flagrant, philosophical manner without any contractions whatsoever. Read your dialogue aloud; make sure it could be mistaken for something you might say someday, short of some archaic or futuristic language, depending on your genre. When trying to show emotion, don't over blow it with exclamation marks.
     Make check points somewhere in the editing of your story for beginning, middle and end points. In your beginning you need to generally do a lot of explaining for fantasy or sci-fi writing. Trolls, gnomes and lasers are pretty generic and well-understood, but if you plan on including some dryads, you may want to educate, just in case not everyone has heard of them. In the middle of your novel you should have two things going: a good deal of questions that build up suspense and character interaction that makes your people more angry/sympathetic/irritating/etc. The middle of the novel will have to do most of the work on the relationships that are founded in the very beginning. Also keep in mind that connecting your middle and end points is a climax. Your middle must have enough build up that it won't surprise the reader with suddenness but not so much that your climax is anticlimactic.
     Finally, we have the ending. Here, we tie up loose ends (or not) and let the reader find out what happens in the ever-after portion (or not). One thing is certain, though: you have to give the reader enough down time after the climax to feel satisfied. Your ending should always be the shortest section of your novel or novella, but to say, 'Then his sword was thrust through the heart of the dragon and it fell dead. They were happy and went home. The end.' is too abrupt to satisfy the reader. Even if you don't plan on telling them every detail about the rest of Johnny's life, there has to be some reconciliation about what has just happened and it should have been a major marker on your character's lives.

World Building

     Now, any way you hack it, this is an essential part of a novel, seeing as most folks around here are writing fantasy or sci-fi. If you're completely new to this process, try out these links.

     There are some really scientific ones in there, but, let's face it, unless you enjoy doing this, it's never going to matter what the diameter of your world's planet is nor how fast it spins. Mind you, if you'd like to change days from 24 hr days to 16 hr days, then you might want to think about this stuff. Draw maps or at least mentally have an idea of how the city/town/village your characters are centralized in is spaced out. Keep in mind that most cities, even the bigger ones, didn't expand very well. There were next to no straight streets because no one planned for the buildings that went in. They just popped up whenever someone wanted one.
     If you're looking at pulling a Tolkien, this link is a great starting point. As well, if you're having trouble with names, this is also an amazing site- don't forget to mix and match! That's half the fun.
     Now, you do have to consider that world building is not just a global matter. It makes a huge difference in the feeling of your novel when your characters live in, say, adobe huts as compared to sprawling chateaus that would make a mason proud. And in the same area, you can't mix the two styles. The poor will be using wood and hunks of rock if their wealthy counterparts have houses made of brick. Societies emulate each other's style, creating a repetition of a theme. This is what makes the society distinctive.
     There are other, smaller parts of the world to consider. If your characters spend a lot of time on a certain boat, or in a certain room, you must have a mental picture of what that room is like. Most taverns are very similar: bar, a few tables, big roaring fireplace, and they're all going to smell of ale and food and various other less pleasant odors. But, being that they're so similar, this makes it more important that the writer keeps their imaginary bar stable. For instance, if you write, 'He walked from the bar towards the fireplace on the far wall.' You cannot later say, 'He looked up from his place at the fire to find the bar's patrons staring down on top of him.' Unless the patrons themselves move or your character is imagining things, it confuses the reader about the dynamics of the room.
     One last thought on world building: the time period in which your characters live must be considered. Unless we're talking about a very late period, chances are your characters won't have guns. If it is later, they can have muskets and single-shot pistols, that kind of thing. However, unless you make a point of noting that one society is more advanced than the other, it is a boo-boo to write about a war in which two countries face off at each other, one armed with lances and the other with semi automatics. An exaggeration (I hope!) but you get the gist.
     There are very real periods in time when these kind of overlaps did occur. Take, for instance, the European pioneers taking over North America from the natives. The natives were complete foreigners to concepts beyond spearing and trapping, whereas the Europeans could offer them gunpowder. If you are going to have that kind of difference, keep in mind that it may be necessary to expand on the history of both societies to show how that difference came to be. Or, perhaps, it is part of your mystery to be unveiled in a later part of the novel. Either way, it needs explaining.

Good Habits to Acquire

     So, by now I've covered what a novel is, ways of writing a novel, some things that must be included in your novel, and finally some world building tips. These are all dandy and fine, but they may not turn you into the next Charles de Lint or Ursula K. LeGuin (me, I'd settle for Guy Kay, but what can you do?). I'm not promising that this next section will either, but there are a few things that I've noticed that will make you more successful in your own work if nothing else.

Write every day. You've heard this a million times. But it's a good habit. It makes sitting down and working much easier. I went on such a spree the other day that I finished about five thousand words in a novel, went to work and then came back and wrote about three pages in this article. It felt amazing to accomplish so much, and it only reaffirmed my belief that I'm stuck as a writer, body and soul. Not that I mind J

Keep reading. I've noticed that a lot of the crowd around Elfwood is about as young as is allowed to people in their late-twenties. This, my friend, is your prime age for primping that vocabulary. You've already got a good grip on the basics of English, and now it's time to expand. Reading will not only evolve your ideas about what a novel can encompass and how (Try Jay McInerney's short novel Bright Lights, Big City for a taste of fiction writing in the second person.), but also your concept of vocabulary. If you are trying to work yourself out as a writer, chances are you already have a decent vocabulary for your age, and you're going to soak up new words like a sponge. For instance, have you ever been typing along and then tried to throw in a word in a sentence that just sounded right? You had to go back and double check the meaning to make sure that you weren't making things up, but it was an expansion on your vocabulary anyway. These things don't just happen out of the blue unless you speak to a lot of higher-minded individuals on a regular basis. It'll come, usually, from your reading.

Do research. You are never going to hurt yourself more until the day when you decide that you're going to write about the pine trees that grow in the tundra that your characters are traipsing through. There is nothing in any tundra that is going to grow (naturally; maybe your story calls for unnatural growth) over a foot high, if that much. We're talking about a forest of lichens here. Writer Kelly Armstrong, author of Bitten and the subsequent novels, told us at a workshop that she made a lot of 'amateur mistakes' in writing the first drafts of Bitten. Among her top five? Having her werewolves jet-set from Paris to London and back again. She'd never been to Paris or London, had no idea what they were like. She just thought it sounded more mysterious that way.
     Research is usually not going to take you all that long, and it doesn't have to be intense. Everyone makes mistakes, and some are not going to be noticed, especially when it's something that the general populous has no idea about. Fiction Factor's Tina Morgan who also happens to be a horse fanatic once pointed out mistakes in one of Robert Jordan's novels when he wrote about storing equipment on a horse. So it happens. Even in the big time, but obviously neither Jordan nor his editor knew any better, so the book was sent out to print. Mind you, you're not going to generate many new fans this way.

Don't restrict your style or structure of writing. The worst thing you can do to your creativity is restrict yourself to writing the novel in the order that its going to be read. Start at the beginning, middle or end if you need to. There is no 'right' way of writing and there is no way that will make you better. The one thing that will make you worse, though, is stifling yourself from the beginning by putting on restrictions that you think is the right way. Personally, I don't even use chapter breaks in my novels for fear of making myself feel like that section had to end there. The chapters don't go in until the first draft is finished.

Keep yourself interested in the story. This is going to be the best way of ensuring that you're still interested when it comes time to sit down and type. How? World build if you haven't already. Sketch out pictures for various scenes in the novel. Plan cover art for the book itself (fun, even if it's not going anywhere). Write out a cover letter for it; even if you don't plan on sending this one out, the next one might be a possible prospect, and this'll be good practice. Plus it never hurts to daydream about the possibilities.
     Talk to other people about your story. I find this is my best motivation. If you have someone who will listen, tell them about what you're writing. It's exciting to think about your story evolving right before your eyes, and imagining where it's going to go. Go home and count the words and pages done. Figure out how much you have left and make a realistic goal for tomorrow and then the next day.

Keep all your old writing. Even if you thought you hated it when you first read it, maybe it wasn't so bad. There's a chance that in between all those juvenile catch-phrases and cliché description, there was something really good. A sentence, a phrase that will make you feel like Ernest Hemmingway himself. It can probably be reworded and applied later in some other project if you keep it in mind. On the other hand, don't keep everything you write that sounds wonderful either. Some of it may just not be useful, no matter how elegant your prose is.

Keep notes; don't depend on your memory. Especially when you first start thinking. I find that my muse loves to keep me awake. I'm lying in bed and suddenly she starts dropping nuggets into my brain and going, 'This is such fantastic stuff!' And I usually agree. But then if I didn't write it down, come morning it would be gone. Keep a pen on you always. Scribble on napkins, on hands and on wrappers if you have to. Sometimes all it takes is a few simple words to start an entire plethora of plot ideas coming in for your next ten pages. But always write it down. Most people's memories are too akin to sieves to risk doing otherwise.

Don't stop with one novel. Or novella. It's wonderful that you've completed one. It's an accomplishment that most people will never come close to. So feel very proud of yourself. Here's the problem: If that first one doesn't get you off the ground, if you haven't already started a second one, you've got nothing to fall back on. And the one day that you write an agent or editor and they say, 'Well, we don't need this, but send more!' you suddenly have nothing to send. Writing should be a passion, not a hobby or a career. It can become either one, but it should be a passion first and foremost. The second that first draft is done and you put it away for a bit to space yourself before editing, start writing the next one. If you've gotten into the habit of writing every day, you won't be able to stop yourself. I found this out quickly after my novel Denying Precedence finished and I was left stagnant until I realized The Sleeping Eye was just waiting to be written. It's an addiction alright, but at least it's an intelligent one.

Energize your brain. And water it. Author/playwright Jane Bow suggests drinking water constantly to keep your brain in proper working order. And also energize it. Keep your pathways open to new ideas. Try getting up and touching right knee to left elbow, and then vice versa. Bow believes that you're connecting the two sides of the brain that way to work better with each other. Besides that, you're definitely doing a great thing getting up and moving away from the keyboard at any time. Exercise = endorphins; happy hormones that energize your body's functionality.

Check up on them, because they're not always going to check up on you. Keep a record of your work and where it's sent out. I didn't even know I'd had an article published in a local paper until I met up with the editor by chance and he told me. I asked him, 'Were you going to email me back about it?' He said, 'No. You either would have seen it or you wouldn't have.' Well, true, if I'd lived in the town where it had been printed and received the paper. Another writer I know submitted a piece to the Toronto Star (No small publication, you'll know if you live in Ontario or related regions.). Now, they did let her know that they might publish the piece. Unfortunately, they pushed it ahead to release it on time for Mother's Day. The contract was snail mailed to her and wasn't received until a month later, so when others told her about the print with her name on it, it came as somewhat a surprise.
     Which just goes to show you that even if the place you are submitting your work is a professional, legitimate business, it may not always be on top of its work. So you have to be on top of yours. Make sure to call back in about three weeks to find out what's going on with your piece. Keep yourself updated, because no one else (unless you have a good agent, and even then it might be a good idea to do some of your own legwork) is going to.

Get yourself an ideal reader. If you've read Stephen King's On Writing then you already know what I'm talking about. Orson Card talks about a similar concept in How to Write Sci-Fi and Fantasy (which I think is a wonderful resource if you haven't figured that out yet). What you need as a writer is someone who will sit down and read through your work with enough attention to detail that it will be helpful to you. However, this personal also needs some measure of objectivity. Your mom and dad are probably not the right people, as much as they will praise you. Even though I was hoping for something else from them, they still reacted with a, 'That was wonderful!' And when I said, 'You don't think that Antiago [my main character in Denying Precedence] was unbelievable?' 'An Ant... -' They give up trying to pronounce the name at this point- 'Noo! He was wonderful!' This is the kind of attention to detail that is critical in a good critique. Your local writers group or online writing group may be able to help, but it is unlikely that any of those perfect strangers on the list will be willing to give the whole sixty thousand words of your story the attention that it deserves.
     So who do you go to then? Well, you can try sibilings. They were always more objective than your parents, always ready with some jibe about your clothes or hair, so they'll probably still be able to look at your work now and say, 'That just doesn't seem right.' They may not be as attentive as you need them, though. Usually, if you've got a long, honest relation with them, your mate or your best friend is going to be your best bet. They know best what's really important to you, and that by reading the novel, you're trusting them with a lot of needed input. Attach a pen to the side of the manuscript if you need to so they remember to take notes on things that are good, don't make sense or just seem weird.

Book Recommendations

     There are several books that I would recommend on writing. First and foremost, considering my genre: How To Write Sci-Fi and Fiction by Orson Scott Card.
     As well as: Escape Into the Open by Elizabeth Berg. A lovely writer.
     Last but not least, I highly recommend Joan Bolker's book, The Writer's Home Companion which is actually an anthology of advice from different people.

     *whistles* Alright, I had more to talk about in that section than I thought I would. Either way, I think there is at least one nugget per person if you've come to read, and I hope you find yours. If nothing else then write, write, write like mad! It's important that you come to obsess over your craft, especially if you ever think that you're going to try and derive a source of income from it. So get out there and go nuts.

Book recommendations
   How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card Card
This book provides invaluable advice for every science fiction and fantasy writer interested in constructing stories about people, worlds and events that stretch the boundaries of the possible...and the magical. They'll learn: * what is and isn't science fiction and fantasy, and where their story fits in the mix * how to build, populate, and dramatize a credible, inviting world readers will want to explore * how to use the MICE quotient--milieu, idea, character and event--to structure a successful story * where the markets are, how to reach them and get published There's no better source of information for writers working in these genres. This book will help them effectively produce exciting stories that are both fascinating and market-ready.
[More info!]

   World Building - Science Fiction Writing by Stephen Gilett
This book is designed to give science fiction writers the solid grounding they need in real science to make their fictions read like fact. World Building is a blueprint in words, calculations, tables and diagrams to help writers transport readers from one world to another.
[More info!]

   Alchemy with Words: The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy
By Darin Park abd Tom Dullemond. Written by new and established voices of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Alchemy With Words offers something for writers at all levels. Its sage advice will help you avoid many amateur mistakes. Explore World Building, Religions, Food, Fighting & Weaponry and much more, to craft an exceptional story.
[More info!]

   Aliens and Alien Societies (Science Fiction Writing Series)
Whether you're a writer or a reader of science fiction, this how-to guide provides thought-provoking analyses of the ways in which aliens and alien societies can be portrayed convincingly. It's almost as fascinating as the many classic SF texts it analyses.
[More info!]

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FARP Article Guestbook

24 Mar 2009:-) Caitlin V Lander
Thank you for putting up this article. I’ve been trying to write something for years, but never realized that most of my ideas either need to be expanded more or just made into short stories. Your list of "good habits" is especially helpful to me, as well. So, thanks! ^-^
19 Apr 2009:-) Jan Inge Nygård
Thanks alot! Explended article!! 1
5 Sep 2009:-) Victoria Lia Yu
Thanks! I’ve been doing half of the stuff on here which calmed me down about my writing. I guess I’ll need to work on the "good habits" though. 1
19 Jun 2010:-) Christian Mikael Johansson
Im currently working on a steampunk trilogy, while i was reading this i actually laughed, dont mistake me, the tutorial / help i top-notch, but ive been doing most of the things you describe before i read this 2

I know the feeling about not being able to sleep, when im on steam ill write for hours without breaks, think the most extreme day was 10-hours.

Was good reading though,

20 Nov 2010:-) Meeomy Reid
Fabulous ideas. Thank you for sharing.

6 Mar 201145 Anon.
I know how you feel about the whole "not dividing into chapters" thing, because most of the time I don’t even divide my paragraphs!
29 Dec 201145 Anon.
14 Jan 201245 Klw
If you need a little inspiration to "write, write, write!" I know the perfect song to get you psyched up: "Victory Song" by Ensiferum. It will make you ready to write fantasy any time, any where.
30 Nov 201345 Anon9999999
as a tip if you are stuck with only a proof reading audience of friends and family show them two pieces of work and tell them both are your own. one should infact be a top quality example as long as it is one they don’t recognise, the use the comparison between it and your own as the judgement. if they think you did both they’ll be less inclined to overly praise both and will probably point out which is better. i tried this with my own sci-fi starship versus a viper fighter, my family never saw galactica so thought both were my own. i was quickly informed that "your long pointy one with rear fins and three engines" was substantially better and crucially they said why!
30 Nov 201345 Anon9999999
it worked for me with computer modelling so it probably works for literature just as well.
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The collection of art and writing tutorials in the Elfwood Fantasy Art Resource (F.A.R.P.) is a part of Elfwood.
The FARP logo was created by :-) Miguel Krippahl (The muscular guy in the FARP-logo) and :-) Thomas F Abrahamsson (The text and general graphic design). Those sections written by volunteers are copyrighted to Thomas Abrahamsson and the respective writer. Elfwood is a project once founded by Thomas Abrahamsson.

All rights reserved. Unauthorized Reproduction of the graphics, writings, and materials on these pages is absolutely prohibited! You may consider all material on these pages protected and copyrighted, unless otherwise noted. You may NOT use the images found at the FARP or Elfwood pages on your home pages! All of these images are copyright protected! Everything you see here represent the collaborative effort of the Elfwood community and Thomas Abrahamsson. Please read the Legal Disclaimer for more info on warranties/etc for these pages!


Elfwood™ is a site for Fantasy and Science Fiction art and stories. The site was founded by Thomas Abrahamsson and is maintained by helpful assistants and moderators, owned by the Elfwood AB corporation.