Minutes from December 14, 2018 Meeting

For our final meeting of 2018, following up on our character discussions of the last couple weeks, each of our writers brought in a character, major or minor, to introduce to the group. Some came with lists, while others had chosen to stage interviews with their characters.  Pooled together, we had a range of internal and external details—family dynamics, educational background, personality quirks, physical appearance, religion, favorite foods, full family history, personal traumas, professional history, social skills, etc., and how some of those traits inform the others. It sounds like everybody came out of this exercise knowing more about our characters … Continue reading Minutes from December 14, 2018 Meeting

Minutes from December 3, 2018 Meeting: Character Building

This week’s meeting focused on character building. We covered a lot of ground, so settle in. First off, let me refer you to this helpful post on creating a well-rounded character. We went over those five points and discussed how they can help address some common snags a writer may hit when crafting a character, including something called “the superhero problem” in which a character is too powerful to identify with, too invulnerable to allow the plot any sense of urgency, or too prominent in the plot to allow room to explore how other characters matter and are affected by … Continue reading Minutes from December 3, 2018 Meeting: Character Building

Worldbuilding: Culture

Writing advice: “Write what you know.” Me: “But what I know is boring!” It’s one of many reasons why I tend more toward the speculative in my reading and writing. But even speculative fiction requires some grounding in reality, and I only have one short life’s worth of very limited experience. I know the people around me, how they live, what they look like, what they value. I can write about those lives, and there’s no reason not to. But I’m building a world here. If I fill it only with what I know, I will very quickly lose interest, … Continue reading Worldbuilding: Culture

Minutes from November 26, 2018 Meeting

Happy last week of November! Just a quick reminder that we are holding write-ins this week to wrap up NaNoWriMo. Anyone who’d like a motivation boost is welcome to come by the library at Penn Highlands between 4 and 7 on Tuesday (tonight!), Wednesday, and Thursday. At yesterday’s meeting we discussed some of our difficulties with character development, and we continued our worldbuilding discussion, this time focused on culture. Though creating new geography and language can be difficult enough, creating a new culture or showcasing an existing one involves a lot more care. Some of our character building discussion: how … Continue reading Minutes from November 26, 2018 Meeting

How to create a Fictional Language

Creating Your Own Language Authors use languages to help them tell the stories of the fictional worlds they are creating, from Tolkien’s Elvish, to Dothraki in Game of thrones, Klingon from Star trek and Na’vi from Avatar. Sometimes, it can be as simple as creating a word to name something that doesn’t exist in our current language- other times, the author can create an entirely new language. A constructed language is called a conlang and is created by a person or a small group as opposed to being formed naturally as a part of a culture. Today, we can use … Continue reading How to create a Fictional Language

Mapmaking and Worldbuilding

We had a great worldbuilding discussion during our most recent meeting. One of our writers brought in a map of her current fantasy project, and it was clear from the details that she’d put a lot of thought into how her world is organized. Geological features, place names, coded symbols serving as shorthand descriptors for different nations and societies—she’d even spent time researching river basins in order to draw a detailed hub of the world. She’d generated an indispensable reference tool that will help her keep track of not only the physical facts of her world but also the potential … Continue reading Mapmaking and Worldbuilding

Becky’s Grave

[Challenge: Write a horror story based on a bit of local paranormal history.] Another cat. Another drape of dew-sodden fur over a worn headstone, blood sticky on the granite. Hardened black drips of candle wax make a witch-ring about the grave. Another Halloween. I never understood the part about the cats. A real witch would never. Whatever it is they want from me, living cats draw ghosts aplenty; that poor carcass will only draw flies. I want to bury the wretched thing right now; I can touch things, if I want enough. But any activity on my part would only … Continue reading Becky’s Grave

Pitt-Johnstown Fall Reading Series – Michael W. Cox – November 1, 2018

The Writing Department at Pitt-Johnstown hosts a Fall Reading Series every year, presenting one poet, one creative nonfiction writer, and one fiction writer during the fall semester. The readings are held in room 131 in Blackington Hall and are free and open to the public. For the final event in this year’s reading series, fiction writer Michael W. Cox will be reading this Thursday, November 1st at 7pm from his latest book, The Best Way to Get Even: A Novel. Dr. Cox teaches writing at Pitt-Johnstown and was one of my mentors when I attended. I proofread this novel a while back, … Continue reading Pitt-Johnstown Fall Reading Series – Michael W. Cox – November 1, 2018