Minutes from April 15, 2019 Meeting

Thursday, April 18 is Poem in Your Pocket Day! Share your favorite poem down in the comments if you’d like us to add it to the packet we’ll be sharing from throughout the day. Yesterday we shared some original poems and talked a bit about our relationship to poetry. We’d had a great time creating found poems last week but struggled when it came to putting together a satisfying poem using our own words. While all art is subjective, poetry doesn’t have as many concrete rules as fiction does. It’s harder to gauge a poem’s quality—even its doneness is a … Continue reading Minutes from April 15, 2019 Meeting

Minutes from April 1, 2019 Meeting

April is National Poetry Month! At our next meeting, Monday, April 8th at 5pm, if you have a favorite poem or find one you like over the course of your reading this week, please bring it along to share with the group. We’ll also do some found poetry exercises—words and materials will be provided, so no pressure! On Monday we wrapped up our diverse fiction discussion by pointing out that no one discussion is going to do the trick. The topic is vast and complicated—we’re talking about the full range of human experience, after all. We picked up a few threads from last week … Continue reading Minutes from April 1, 2019 Meeting

Minutes from March 25, 2019 Meeting

Yesterday we began our discussion on diversity in fiction. You may recall that we touched on this topic a little when we discussed character development and especially cultures in worldbuilding: the more varied perspectives you bring to a work of fiction, the stronger it will be, because it will reflect reality; the more realistic your worlds and your characters, the more immersive your fiction will be. In yesterday’s meeting we discussed how that kind of argument fails to get at the deeper truth. “It will make you a better writer” is a handy way to incentivize inclusion, but that should be … Continue reading Minutes from March 25, 2019 Meeting

Minutes from March 18, 2019 Meeting

Sounds like everyone made good use of their time off! A couple of us have been working on unfinished novels and a couple more have been editing finished work, but we still had brain space to tackle a few difficult questions yesterday. Over Spring Break a question about finding an editor turned into a discussion about knowing when your work is ready to be put out into the world. We continued that discussion in the meeting yesterday and managed to tie it to another question, how things become canon in a work of fiction, sparked by J.K. Rowling doing that thing … Continue reading Minutes from March 18, 2019 Meeting

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