Writing poetry

So, In preparation for this post… I searched Pinterest looking for ideas for what to tell you about writing poetry. I found a lot of technical information. And if you need that sort of thing it is easily found on Google. I didn’t want to be just another person telling you what you can easily find.

Instead, I think that I will talk about the stupid stuff that seems to be overlooked. The stuff that I had to learn. Yes, you don’t have to listen. Can you ignore this? Sure. It is just what I have picked up in a lifetime of poetry.

  1. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to follow rules with poetry! Poetic license is a thing… However, I have found that you should at least know what the rules are. Still, poetry is the truest expression of who you are.
  2. Punctuation. When the reader is reading the poem, punctuation tells them when to pause. This increases the impact of the poem.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try new styles. I write free verse most often. However, that is not all of what I have written. It is good to challenge yourself to do more technical styles so your writing can grow.
  4. Write at least one per day. The more you write, the easier it becomes.
  5. Don’t be afraid of rejection. The other day I recieved one and a friend consoled me. What he said really resonates with me. He said that the lit magazine that I had submitted to was not good enough for my poems. You can have amazing poetry and the places that you submit to will not accept sometimes. It happens to all of us.
  6. You are the best writer that your poetry can have. You will know when it is done and what words to use.
  7. Spelling is important. Misspelled words and a lot of archaic words make the poem look unprofessional. Same thing with a bunch of slang(ie bae, yeet, on fleek) as these words are often not understood by everyone.
  8. Imagery is so important… However it is quite possible to do poetry with out similes or metaphor. It merely requires better imagery in the poem itself.
  9. Not everyone actually likes poetry. Seriously, it is such a wonderful form of expression… But there is people who just dislike it. Some because of how poetry makes them feel. Some because it seems too intellectual to them. That is okay. Your reader is not those people, even if they are people whom you love.
  10. You don’t have to share unless you want to. Poetry is often such a personal thing. Sharing feels vulnerable. So if you just wanna write for you? It is perfectly fine.

If you decide to write, and you decide to share.. Email me. I will be featuring the best on my Monday poetry posts.

Character development

All right, we have done the world development. Next we touch on characters. All writing revolves around the characters and how they interact with their world.

Most writers end up focusing some on each of their characters. This is to give you ideas and maybe help you get the details to further your story.

Today I will ask questions that you want to know first about all of the main characters, including the villains. Though during this discussion will include a specific post later on villains. Today is the basics.

Let’s get to it then.

1. What is the character’s name?

That seems like a duh question… But it is a detail where you can enjoy the secret knowledge… Why that name? Does it have meaning? Is there more to their name? Do they like or hate their name?

2. Description?

This is the physical details. Eye and hair color. Height and weight. Hair style, facial hair? Fat or skinny, tall or short? If it applies, what race is the character? Here’s where you can do all of the description you want to do. Whether it makes it into the story or not. Sometimes you need to see the character better, this helps with that.

3. Where is the character from? This includes family… And place? Here is where you work on history. Was the character rich or poor? Was their childhood good or bad? What about their environment, did it affect your story?

4. What do they do for a living? Are they employed? A student? Do they have a side hustle? This also can be affected by something that I think needs answered here… What is their age? Now that may make a difference on their activities. And their race may make a difference in how the age is read, as races that are long lived would see a character who is in the twenties as less than an adult.

5. Sexuality. Now don’t sneer… This is not just do they prefer same or opposite genders. It is are they male or female or even a hermaphodite? How does this affect them? Yes it helps to know who, if anyone, that they are attracted to.

6. What are their strengths? Are they skilled at something?

7. What are their weaknesses? Their fears?

8. What is their pet peeves? What really gets under their skin? Why?

9. What do they love? What brings them joy?

10. Who are the people who mater the most to them? Who is a thorn in their side?

Ok. These are the most basic details that every writer needs about every character they write. There is so much more, but I will touch on them next time. What do you think, are you seeing interesting questions here to help you?

Economics and magic : a lesson in world building

Ok. Back to the background work for writing. Here’s some ideas for questions you should be asking in your worl building.

Economics

It’s not just a “money” thing. Though money is a part of it. Economics is all about how things move in a society – where certain things come from, who produces or crafts those things, and – most importantly for worldbuilding – how the people in a community are affected by that system. The biggest thing to consider is what “wealth” means in the world you’ve created. First and foremost, where does most wealth come from? Does your world use money? Gems? Bottle caps? Credits? Barter? This affects how people see their labor, their belongings, even themselves.

In most societies, economics are centered on two basic principles.

The first is surplus. Having a surplus means having more than is needed of something.

The other is scarcity. You can guess what this is. The more scarce something is (i.e. the less of something there is) the more valuable it becomes.

The more food that is available, the less difficult it becomes to acquire food. It can be freely traded, whether for other items/services of equal value or for money (or whatever symbolic exchange product a society uses, like “credits” in a sci-fi world). If there’s not a lot of food to go around, it becomes more difficult to acquire food. The person who has a lot of a needed thing holds power over those who don’t have that thing.

The system of money also affects how certain things are seen. Items used for making the currency can be seen as valuable to the shady, as they will use it to forge fake currency.

Magic

How does the magic work? Do you need ingredients to cast a spell or just a word? Are there more difficult rituals that must take a longer time to perform? Is there more than one sort of magic? (I.e. Arcane, Divine {or godly}, shaman, Druidic, Demonic)

What are the limits for your magic? How many spells can you use before you’re “empty”? (Make sure you take into account the difference of using many simple spells up to more than one difficult spell.)

How does one gain magic power? Do they gain it from a higher power, by reading and learning from books, from genetics, or some other way?

How does the people react? Is magic widely accepted and available? Or is it a shamed/secretive thing? Is it legal? Or would those who have it need to hide their power?

Are there forbidden spells or forbidden paths of magic? Some good examples of what is usually seen as a forbidden path or magic are necromancy, demonic, and blood magic. How are the users punished, if at all?

For the higher level spells, why are they more difficult? What about them makes them more difficult? The amount of magical power or prowess needed? The necessary ingredients? The time period needed to cast the spell?

Tell me about the economy and magic in your world! What is scarce? What is so common that the characters don’t even think about it? How rich is the magic in your world?

World building level two

Let’s talk magic and religion. They are not always symbiotic. Is it that way on your world? How does the magic work? Do you need ingredients to cast a spell or just a word? Are there more difficult rituals that must take a longer time to perform?What are the limits for your magic? How many spells can you use before you’re “empty”? (Make sure you take into account the difference of using many simple spells up to more than one difficult spell.)How does one gain magic power? Do they gain it from a higher power, by reading and learning from books, from genetics, or some other way? (You can always gain help with this area from D&D player’s handbooks.) Are there forbidden spells or forbidden paths of magic? Some good examples of what is usually seen as a forbidden path or magic are necromancy and blood magic, or Demonology/pact magic. For the higher level spells, why are they more difficult? What about them makes them more difficult? The amount of magical power or prowess needed? The necessary ingredients? The time period needed to cast the spell?Is magic illegal in your world? Would your character(s) need to hide that they have magic? If it’s illegal, what happened to make it illegal? What are the main religious beliefs on your world? Is one more recognized than the others? Why?

Religion is a big part of every culture that can influence the daily life of large groups of people so it’s important to define it if present in your world. The other thing is that is a good way for world building, you can define the life of people, the way cities are built and the way of thinking of the population.-

Polytheist or monotheist: choose the type of religion that fits best in your world, it’s important because polytheist and monotheist religions have some differences that have relevance when you write. (not only the number of gods but for example how gods are worshiped or how are the followers building temples)

Read about real religions: this is a good base for understanding how religion works and you are going to see a lot of how to write the followers.

Decide the characteristics of the God/s: After have a clear idea of what you want to do (example: religion similar to Romans’ one or a mix between Egyptians and Greeks gods) you have to clear up some points:

  1. Is you god/s good or bad? : so how are they seen by the people, what are they famous for, how is their temper, are they revengeful or are they forgiving, if they are feared or loved or both. If you create more gods then you can decide to make them represent something.
  2. Are your god/s in contact with mortals?: The relationship with mortality; If they don’t meet mortals you have to decide if they communicate with them and how.
  3. Physical appearance: if they have a physical appearance describe it or describe characteristics that the god have when in physical form.
  4. Worship: While the points before where about the point of view of the God/s, you have always to define how mortals venerate God/s.
  5. Is all the population religious?: This is important because there you can determine the relationship between who believes and who does not or between different religions. Or say if is imposed.

Other points of interest :

  1. What role have religion in the State: So if religions have a political power, how much power do they have and if is used for good or for bad.
  2. What are the religion institutions: Is there a leader of the religion, what are the offices and how they are built, how much the institution influences the population.
  3. Where: where does the faithful worship God/s (temples, groves, churches, or at home)
  4. HOW: this is probably the most important aspect. Here you need to define how people practice their own religion, so if they only pray or do make sacrifices, if there are rules that influence the daily life, if there are festivities or particular ritual, if there are symbols that are worshiped.

World Building

I plan to do a whole series of posts on world building. This is the first of several. In future I will likely be including some links to assist you in your  writing endeavors.

The beginning of world building is asking  questions about your new locale.

Start with some basic details.
1. How big is your world. (Is it about the size of earth? Or Jupiter? or is it small like Pluto)
2. How is your world laid out? (Do you have an earth clone? or is it completely different? what is the terrain? Is your world a water world style or a desert planet (Aka Arakkis via Dune.) this is where you plan the general flora and fauna)
3. How is your world populated? (Is there just humans? or is there more races? If so how many are on there?)
4. How does the sky appear? (How many suns? How many moons?)
5. How far from the Star/Stars is your world? (This affects the temperature and weather on your world.)
6. How is your world as far as technology goes? How is it as far as magic? This affects how your cities are. Is it Steampunk? High magical fantasy? Diesel punk? Cyber punk? or perhaps Stellar traveling fantasy? This helps to set the expectation for the genre.

Once you have those details let’s get slightly more in depth.

*How do people get water?
Is the water sanitary and if not, how do they sanitize it?
*How does agriculture work?
Is it large corporations or individual farms?
*What sort of agricultural technology exists in your world and how does it affect food production?
*Are farmers wealthy or poor?
*What sort of natural resources does your world/country(ies) have and how are they obtained?
*How does this affect the average wealth of the country?
*How does this wealth affect the culture?
*What livestock or beasts of burden are most valued? Least valued? Why?
*What is considered a luxury good vs. a regular good?

Think clearly on each question. Visualize your answers. Go deeper.

  • How does your world keep time (i.e. watches, sundials, water clock, etc.)?
  • Does your world have a currency system, barter system, or something else?
  • If you have multiple countries, do different currencies have different values across said countries?
      • How does this affect travel?
  • Do you have banks in your world and if so, how are they run?
    • Who owns the banks? Government? Wealthy? How does this affect the economy and/or class system?
  • How does credit operate in your universe?
  • Does your world operate more on big corporations or small business? Something in between?
  • How are workers/laborers treated in your world?
    • Are there workers unions and if so, what are common views on unions?
  • Describe your tax system. If you don’t have a tax system, explain why and how your world is affected by that.
  • Can certain social classes not own property, certain livestock, certain businesses, etc.? Why?
  • How are business records kept? Are business records kept?
  • If your world has technology, does your world prioritize developing entertainment tech, communications tech, transportation tech or something else entirely?
    • What does this say about your world?
    • How does this affect your economy?

This speaks to the way society runs. This speaks to the way  people function on your world.

Government / Politics/ Racial Divide

  • How many races are there?
    • Does the races intermingle? can breeding happen between them?
    • Are there wars  that go on between races? If so then why? what started it?
  • To the closest approximation, what type of government does your world have?
  • How are rulers/presidents/nobles put in place?
  • How much power does an individual ruler have?
  • Is there a veto process?
  • If you have multiple countries, do they have different types of rulers?
  • Describe any large-scale alliances (i.e. countries, factions, etc.) that are present in your world.
    • How did they come about and how are they maintained?
    • Are they strained or peaceful?
    • How does it affect the greater politics of your world?
  • Describe how wars are fought both internationally and nationally.
    • Do methods of war differ between countries/races?
    • What about philosophies about war?
  • If there is a military, what is its hierarchy structure? 
    • How does the military recruit?
    • Is the military looked upon favourably in your society?
  • What weapons are used by each country/type of people during warfare, and how does that affect war strategies?
  • Describe the sentencing system of your world.
    • Is your accused innocent until proven guilty, or guilty until proven innocent?
  • How are lawbreakers punished?
    • If you have prisons, describe how they are organized and run, and who owns them.
    • Does differing ownership change how the prisons operate?
  • What are the major ways in which laws between countries vary?
    • Do laws between cities vary? If so, how and why?
  • How does citizenship work in your world? What rights and privileges do citizens have that others do not?
    • Can certain classes or races not become citizens?
  • Are there certain taboo subjects or opinions that artist/authors/musicians are not allowed to depict (i.e. portraying the official religion in a negative light, explicit sexual material, etc.)? What does this say about your society?
    • How do people get around these censorship laws?
  • What is the official hierarchy of duty in your world? (i.e. is family the most important, or patriotism? What about clan?)
  • How many languages are there in your world, and how many languages share a common origin?
    • How many people are multilingual?
    • Which language is the most common?
    • How is multilingualism viewed?
    • How are different languages viewed? (i.e. is one language ugly/barbaric while another is romantic and sensual?)

Gather the answers. Next time I will link to a couple  of good map making resources, But this is enough to get you started. What world will  come of the answers? Will you create the next fun game? or will  you use it to write a Novel that everyone will want to read. I will be adding more questions next time as well.

Teaser Tuesday

Serena has been very busy. As of Sunday her nano word count was around 7500.

My current volume of poetry was at 56 poems. I have not been able to work on Attack on Shoe Mountain.

Oh… And I will be this month doing some world building exercises for my Facebook group {Fantasy, thrillers, and horror, oh my!} One daily. If I get enough interest I will also post it here.

2017: Reflecting

I sat down to write this morning and realized that though this has been a rocky year personally…. It was a great year for my writing. I finished and published three volumes of poetry this year and am nearly done with a fourth. I put in play a pen name, Serena Mossgraves. As Serena I released a Novella (The Death of Neverland). I am nearly done with my first novel (Rust, Gore, and the Junkyard Zombie)… Just have to finish the editing, the writing is done. I have done several short stories and worked with two children’s stories. I also started collaboration with my sister on our Spiritual Gardening blog.

Looking it all over, it really does not seem like as much as it is. Still, it is more than I have accomplished before. With the end of the year nigh, I find myself looking back at the things that I wanted for 2017…and thinking ahead to what I want from 2018. I refuse to measure my life in regret, so I do not dwell on the things that went sideways. However, I do look at them and see what I can learn from what I have done. This year, though a personal hot mess, I was able to redirect myself back to my writing. I was able to make it a priority. That is behavior that I plan on continuing.

What about you? Was 2017 a good year? Why? What will be carried over into the new year?