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Oh boy!

Yep, I think I’m about to change directions. I am not giving up on NaNo, at least not yet, but I am throwing the idea of a fantasy WIP away and reviving an old idea of mine. How old? How about decades in the making? At least 10 maybe 15 years old.

It’s not first time it happens. Last summer (08) I thought I had the perfect idea for NaNo (mecha-based sci-fi) only to abandon it for Sturm und Drang (urban fantasy) . What sounded like a great idea months ago now has come undone.

It never gelled properly in my, which is where I do most of my organizing and planning. The more I thought about it, the less sense it made.

Then a single image struck me.

A young man walking down rain slick stone stairs.

That was image I could use. But that meant abandoning a recent story for a older one, one waiting to be rescued from the muck of half-forgotten memories.

It seems after a long time, its time has come.

And this is what inspired it:

You heard about “raising the stakes” in your work.

But what are “the stakes” or should I say, what is AT “stake”?

Usually in speculative fiction it’s stuff like a life, a kingdom, a nation, a planet, the galaxy, the Universe, the whole of Existence. It’s what on the table and the reason why the characters do what they are doing. But the object itself is meaningless, it is the value that the author/character/reader give it that matter.

Stakes are like money in that money only has value relevant to what it gets you (what you can acquire with it) and the work you put in to get the money in the first place.

So what do the “stakes” need to acquire this “value”?

1)The stakes are real. Something that it’s quantifiable and observable. It’s hard to care when you don’t understand what your fighting for.

2)The stakes always rise. If you think the stakes are high on page 1 wait until you get to page 321. I mean it’s defeats the purpose of raising the stakes if they already reached their limit. Otherwise the character(s) (and the reader) will call it quits have way through. Thinks are always worse than you can imagine.

3)The stakes are personal. It’s always personal. Ties in with the stakes being real. There is got to be a reason why the character is willing to sit on the table and drop a wager. He may need the money to buy old grandpa’s farm from the bank before they foreclose or his waiting for the fellow who is drinking at the bar to let his guard down so he can drill him one on the head. What that bastard did to his sister won’t go unpunished.

4)The stakes are always constant. Seems to contradict #2 but if the stakes diminish, so does the overall tension that pushes the story forward. Not that the characters should not catch a break once in awhile, but it’s only a break before the story goes on overdrive.

5) The stakes demand sacrifice. Blood, money, life, it’s what your betting and there is always a chance that you are going to lose. You might think it’s a chew in, but it ain’t and before the day (and the story) is through you will lose some to win all. It’s the way the game is played.  Without the possibility of loss, the stakes are meaningless.

So that’s all I got to say about it. Now ladies and gents, the game is on.

By way of a visual explanation here is a short game trailer that will illustrate the above. Enjoy!

(Note: See if you can identify two of the voices in it.)

NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) is just around the corner, well OK, three months away. Still not too early to start the preparations.

As you probably guessed from my last few posts, I’ve been knee deep in world building, title writing and research. All of that leading to the NaNo kickoff on November 1st. I enjoyed last year NaNo (my first) although the stress was unbearable. Cranking 50K words in 30 days is not easy, especially when you have never done anything like that before.

In fact this blog was born out of last years efforts and will served as the platform for this years enterprise.

So are you ready for your NaNo 09?

Mine will be Age of Iron (working title) and to inspire me (and all those NaNo overachievers out there) here is a video for you.  Enjoy:

I noticed that some authors post  “trailers” for their latest release (like movie trailers) on their websites consisting mostly of stock images done to music. Which makes me wonder about a few things:

  • Media Rights: If you’re using music, pictures or even video from other sources how much do their rights conflict with your own.
  • Effectiveness: Do people really buy books based on these?
  • Sources: Connected to media rights. I mean where do you get the music and pictures from anyway? Public domain or do you commission them, and at what cost?

I mean fans make their own trailers for movies, video games (from simple rip/edit jobs to full fledged machinima) and even create their own stories using game software, but can you extend that to books as well?

What do you think?

Are they worth it or just a waste of time?

Here is an example of World of Warcraft inspired machinima so you can see what I’m talking about:

(Oops! I posted the same video twice! Doh! Here is a different one.)