Nasty Creatures: Wilderness Hound

It looked like a rabid dog, all with the growling face, slobbering snout, and sharp canines. The dog was almost as tall as I was while standing on all fours. The body, however, was made of log, tree bark, and leaves like a really strange tree. Green veins pulsed and glowed between the cracks of the wood shaping the dog-like body and red eyes pierced the darkness of the night with a horrifying and hungry stare. The wood of his body looked strong and healthy, but the rotting smell was unmistakably coming from this creature.

In a place like Andal’Rel, where the trees are full of life and the grass is as green as it gets, rotting wood is rare. The smell of rotting wood, enhanced by the corrupted arcane energies which added their own disgusting scents, was just as horrifying as the sight of the Wilderness Hound itself.

As you can probably imagine from reading previous posts, I drew this puppy before I wrote about him. Today I want to share my mental image. Do however keep in mind that drawing for me is just a tool to help with the writing process, not a career path.

Another thing that I did, but I’ll be keeping the exact details for myself at this time (sorry! I love to share, but I’m not ready just yet) is create a character sheet. If you ever played a table-top role-playing game or MMORPG, you are familiar with character sheets and stats. I basically designed one to note down information that I would need when I needed to write the scene involving the Wilderness Hound. I have the creature stats, skills and rules much like a character from a game using my own system to help understand it.

In any case, here is our nasty friend:

Wilderness Hound

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Confrontations: Sticks and Symbols

In almost every story, there are times when Character A picks up a fight with Character B. The best way I found to describe their confrontation is to draw color-coded stick figures. Once I can see where the characters are and their possible moves, I can get an outline for the confrontation. After that, it’s just a matter of expanding the outline into paragraphs to describe the scene.

Here is a piece of a confrontation as example (this should look familiar):

Combat_solo

Our hero in blue is down on the ground with a broken arm and his large red enemy is approaching to finish the job. Blue moves his head up and lands a spell on the ground. When Red steps on it, he gets frozen in place and becomes trapped.

Sometimes I add emotions on the drawings, but I mostly reserve this for the outline process. The outline is just a narration of what is happening right to the point, much like on the paragraph below the image. Bullet points or flow charts also work.

With all the pages of the stick figures fighting and the outline of their moves and reactions, words just flow onto paper to detail the scene.

Now, what if is not just Characters A and B that have a problem with each other. What if their friends are involved as well? In that case, stick figures don’t work for me. Too many variables are in place with more than two characters up until they are each on their own. For these types of scenes, I use symbols and colors much like a sports team would describe their strategy during training.

Combat_group

Square is unconscious and the Red team is determined to finish her off. The three Red Circles move to Square’s allies still standing, Circle and X, while Red Triangle goes for the defenseless Square. However, Blue Triangle is not completely out of the fight. Blue Triangle casts a spell to knock back Red Triangle and buy time while the other Blue and Red symbols go at it.

At this point I would also divide the duelists with another symbol and draw their individual movements with stick figures. For example, the two Red Circles fighting the Blue Circle would be marked with @. Every page that has their fight drawings will have @ on the top corner. A group confrontation could take several pages, specially once you branch out into the team member’s individual confrontations. Marking duelists with a symbol will help find their experience in the fight easier by just looking at the symbol on top of the page.

I am drawing and outlining each duelist’s experiences, but this doesn’t mean each of their experiences is going to be narrated. I pick the most exciting encounter to describe once each character is on her or his own and go from there. While the outcome of the other duels are going to be noted, they are not going to be as detailed as the “main event.” Otherwise, the scene would just go on and on and that which was meant to be exciting, may end up being boring and skipped.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how you design your confrontations. Just have fun with it!

Short Story Structure

I have been wanting to write short stories again for a while now. I wrote several when I was in school either as assignments or just because I wanted to.

Short stories are fun to write and can help complement a longer story line, such as that of a novel or novel series. I have been playing with the idea of writing short stories taking place in the world of Arion to bring some background for supporting characters and lore. So I noted down some ideas and researched to help me keep my train of thought on track.

A story should have 5 elements: Setting, Characters, Plot/story line, Theme and Style. The structure of the story should have 5 acts: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and Resolution. Before I begin writing my short story, I note these details on a spreadsheet. This will help minimize how often I have to go back and revise, much like I learned with The Snowflake Method for writing novels.

Here are three sites I found helpful:

Teaching Short Story contains a set of slides that explain the elements and structure of a short story. This is where the image at the bottom originated from.

Teaching the Short Story also contains slides with similar explanations as well as points for different genres.

5 Rules to Writing a Great Short Story are a set of tips and tricks to help answer some of questions such as “how long should it be?” or “how much should it cover?”

There is a lot of information out there. If you are interested in writing a  short story yourself, keep looking for as much information as you need.

Happy writing!

teaching-short-story-12-638
Structure of a Story (from Teaching Short Story)

Map of Andal’Rel

Drawing is not my strong suit, but sometimes I need a visual aid not only as a writer, but also as a reader.

As you know from reading Memory Fragments, the story takes place in a kingdom governing the island of Andal’Rel. Before I wrote about where anyone was or where everyone was going, I drew the nation’s map. To help you know our whereabouts, I am sharing a copy with you. Since my original drawing looked like my 2-year-old son had been the one creating it and my file created with Paint wasn’t much better, I collaborated with my friend Campaign Cartographer 3 to share a more decent copy.

However, this is a purposely incomplete map as this is all the information I am comfortable sharing at this time. And yet, there are locations that were not mentioned. Not in Book One at least…

Andal_Rel_Staves