Thinking Inside the Box

There is the thought that one must not constrain or limit creativity. That you should let it take you anywhere it wants to go. Just sit down, imagine, and let it flow.think inside the box

Don’t “box it up!” But. I want to present to you a different way to look at it.

See, there are some really good reasons to put rules on your creativity, to “box it up,” if you will. In fact, I am becoming of the opinion that it makes you more creative.

So what exactly am I talking about? Well, as it usually happens to be for me, I am referring to writing, and writers, and story-telling, and such. And how does this Thinking Inside the Box apply? I shall tell you. It’s quite fantastic.

So. Imagine you are sitting down to begin work on a new fantasy or sci-fi story. (take your pick — whichever you like working on better)

And so you start thinking up things. In a fantasy, it’d be creatures, like dragons, and centaurs, fauns, satyrs, elves, dwarves, wizards, and how they all interact with each other, and what they can do, and the limits are really… well. They aren’t there. It’s a different list of things for a sci-fi, but a similar thing, all the same. The limit is your imagination. Which can be so wonderful, yet so very terrible. Unbridled creativity can run away, and become lost in the mess of it all.

What I want to present to you is the thought that setting yourself boundaries, very firm boundaries, for your story and it’s world, magic, science, etc. etc., is a good thing. For multiple reasons.

Allow me to use for an example one of my newest favorite books and author.

I recently finished reading the first two books of the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. (working on reading book three right now).

First off. It is brilliant. The story is epic, and the “magic” is really creative and just like “wow, that is so freaking cool.” And you know one of the things that makes the magic cool? It’s limits. There are incredible limitations to the magic of the Allomancers (aka, Mistings, or Mistborn, depending on what kind of Allomancer you are and your abilities), and I believe those limits are what make it really good.

Within the box that Sanderson built for himself, his creativity runs wild. And it is so awesome. Because now that he has laws, laws of physics, and magic, and what not, he is able to think with those in mind, and come up with these amazing things for his Allomancers to do, that are totally “believable.” Because none of it is random. We know what things they can and can’t do. So when they do something that is super creative, you’re like: “I would have never thought of that, but yeah, they can totally do that. AWESOME.”

Sanderson has three “laws” that he uses to apply to writing, and they are pretty fantastic.

(for more about those laws, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandon_Sanderson#Sanderson.27s_Laws )

In his first “Law,” Sanderson talks about “Hard Magic” and “Soft Magic.”

Hard magic is for those magics and technologies that have very set rules. The author sets up the rules, and then the author follows them. Like Sanderson has done in his own writing repeatedly.

Soft magic is more undefined. It allows for the author to reach in, a god in the little world of their novel, and do almost whatever they wish, or need to, to make the story happen. Deus ex machina becomes frequent, and so cheap, and very unbelievable at times, using Soft Magic as your mode of approach.

I would encourage you to read all three of Sanderson’s Laws. I found them very thought provoking, and whether you like them or not, or want to use them or not, it is good food for thought.

What I am saying is that setting up boundaries doesn’t hamper your ability to be creative, but fuels your creativity.

So, next time you are writing, creating a new world, editing your WIP, whatever it is, if you haven’t already, I would encourage you to get inside the box. Set up rules. It makes writing easier, actually, because you know the rules. You wrote them down in that notebook over there. But you can do some awesome things within those rules, and blow your readers away.

So yeah.

(And the TARDIS is just awesome, and a great example of this)

Consider thinking inside the box. It is bigger on the inside.

the sanctuary

The man in the cloak didn’t rush me. He waited as I hesitated.

I looked up at him. “Are you sure it will be safe?”

He nodded. “Yes. It will be safe, child.”

I took another step, and he turned, leading on.

The winding road of before had led to this dark tunnel. It scared me. There was a lot of… dark things out there. Behind me. All around me. Probably waiting for me. And they seemed to all want to hurt me. Control me. Change me.

The man in the cloak had promised me a haven from it all.

I pulled my own torn and threadbare cloak tighter around me. Not that it could really help. The wind blew right through it. And it failed to serve as even the weakest sort of armor and protection when I was attacked.

The man in the cloak had saved me the last time. So now I was walking behind him. Slow step, after slow step. Hesitating every other, just because I was so afraid that this place would be no different. There had been others who promised me a place of rest, and security. But it hadn’t worked out.

The man in the cloak stopped. We had reached a dead end.

“No… No…” I stepped away from him. “You lied.”

“Shhh. No, child. I have not. Just have a little faith in me.”

Faith. Easy word to say. Hard to actually… have.

The man in the cloak ran his hand over the stone wall. Pressed a certain spot. The ground shook as the wall fell away into the ground. A secret passage.

My breath quickened, and I could hear each heartbeat in my ears. What would be on the other side?

The man in the cloak stepped through, and then turned, waved for me to follow.

Eyes down, watching my feet, I carefully stepped over the rock door in the ground, and into the light on the other side of the tunnel.

The man in the cloak reached down and raised my head, and pointed all around.

And in that moment, I was breathless. This place was real.

He knelt down beside me.

“There will be hard times, and good times. Happy times, and times that make you cry. Times you feel like hating it all, but times that make the love just seem to gush out. It won’t be easy. Nothing is easy. But the hardship is worth going through. Welcome to the sanctuary.”

Realism – Can being Real be too much?

And the simple answer is, Yes. It can.

 

Lack of realism can be jolting, and pull you out of a story, but being too real can do the same. In my opinion there is a fine line that must be walked. Each story needs a different level of realism, depending on your audience, and the purpose of your story, but there are a few principles that I think should apply to basically every story.

 

For instance,

If you are writing a high fantasy where great battles take place… Your soldiers (and ESPECIALLY your main character) cannot come out of these clean. I mean really. There needs to be some dirt and grime and icky stuff on them. But you don’t have to SHOW the blood splatters. Cause quite frankly, that can become rather gross very quickly.

 

Another thing I saw in a novel I was reading a while back, was the main character was traveling a very long way. Many trials afflicted them on their journey… But you know what stuck out to me?

They never got tired. They never needed to rest.

Mortals get tired, y’all. And if you have a demigod being trapped in mortal form (Thor, for instance), the mortal form WILL need sustenance and rest. Kind of part of the gig. 

Think of Aragorn in the Two Towers. Wounded. Exhausted. Barely able to ride. But he makes it to Helm’s Deep. That has such a bigger and deeper impact than if he had fallen off that cliff, and just stood up and walked there, without a scratch, or blood, or being totally wasted and worn out. 

 

I would never advise you to put content into your story that is too mature for your chosen audience. But even a child will notice lack of details in a story if they are well read. And for certain the story will have more meaning to them if you include just enough details as to not steer their mind into every little thing you want them to see, but to point them in the right direction and set their imagination loose.

 

Don’t be gruesome or overly mature. And don’t spell it out.

 

But don’t skimp either! Realism and details are important!

 

Real life isn’t real… so our stories need to be! And the reality of that is… that we have to tell the truth. And if you lie about a character being tired, it just lessens the impact of the greater ideal you are trying to get across.

Hello, I am back, and also……. Realism 101

HELLO PEOPLES. I am married now, and working my job, and my best friend is there all the time. It is so wonderful, and YEAH. So now time to get back active here on my blog, too! 😀

Cause I KNOW you all missed me posting and what not. 😉

My first few post back are going to be addressing an issue in the story world, character development, and some of the writing I have seen recently.

Realism. REALITY. The Big R. … and yeah. That isn’t Big Red. 😉 Real. Being real.

You need to be real in writing. Deus Ex Machinas can’t be something as common as grass. Your Hero can’t go through battles of epic proportion, and come out shiny and bright without any blood and grime to mar his “hero clothes”. Your Hero can’t have a perfect life. Be happy with every single member of their family, or all their friends, ALL the time. The list here goes on and on and on. Why should you NOT do them? Because they  aren’t REAL. Being realistic adds so much depth to your story, and makes it more believable on many more levels. But we are just starting on the basics here. One reason at a time.

Reason 1? The Theme (and therefore, also the Ideal) of your story. If your story world does not have realistic consequences, realistic struggles, realistic people, then readers, even if they don’t realize they are doing it, will be less inclined to receive whatever message you are trying to tell or teach them.

This might end up being a short list. It might end up being a really long list. And I am not even done with Reason Numero Uno yet, so bear with me, people.

~Daniel

Night of Shadows – IT’S HERE!

Hello everyone! 

My book, Night of Shadows, is out!

For those of you who don’t know what it is about, here:

Ninja are hired to depose tyrants and protect kings, but they aren’t just assassins. The ninja have a sacred covenant, by which they guard the world from shadows.

Isamu Raiden’s family have been the keepers of this Covenant for thousands of years and the time approaches where this task will fall to him. He has one last mission as an apprentice. He sets out, with his partner Amaya, but when he returns home, things have gone terribly wrong. His clan and family are dead. The ninja responsible plans to break the Covenant and free the Shadow Warrior, plunging the world into darkness.

With Amaya at his side, Isamu pursues the ninja in hopes of catching him before he can reach the Shadow Warrior’s prison. All the while knowing, if he fails, there is no hope for world.

 

If you are interested in getting my novel, it is available in softcover, hardcover, and at the moment, Amazon Kindle, though I expect it to also be on Nook and other eReaders soon (so I am told, anyway).

Here are the links to find it:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Thanks, and I hope you will help me spread the word about my first published book!

~Daniel Beals

Night of Shadows

Night of Shadows

Hello everyone! I have been going through the publication process with Westbow Press, and I just wanted to let all of you know that soon, I will have my first review copies of “Night of Shadows” in my hands, and not long after that, it will be released to the world!