Friday, August 1, 2014

Finding Plots

If you listened to this week's post, you probably heard about my epic Tolkien ripoff of a first novel. I didn't write it specifically as a rip-off, but looking back on it now, it was basically Lord of the Rings in a different universe, written more poorly, and with a far less epic scale. It had a reluctant, peaceful protagonist who had to go on a quest to destroy some sort of magical object that the antagonist badly wanted, with elves and wizards and other ridiculous things along the way.

Giles and I have said a few times that a lot of fantasy writers begin by ripping off Tolkien's ideas and, for me, it was because it gave me a great chance to explore world building on my own. I used an established, successful fantasy plot, but plopped it into my own world and had to decide how that world worked and what I wanted to do with it. It was definitely my gateway writing drug.

But Tolkien isn't the only fantasy author out there (nor is George R.R. Martin, if you're gateway drug was the more recent Song of Fire and Ice series). In fact, there are a wide variety of plots--both fantasy and not--available to pick and choose from, or to twist to our own desires. And that's why it's important to read as widely as you can, in lots of genres and lots of mediums.

Seriously, pick up a book you wouldn't normally read, or check out a graphic novel from the library. Pay attention to how to author does their thing, how they craft words and build their world and put their characters through their paces. See what new tricks you can pick up from something outside your comfort zone, and play around with it in your own work.

I can pretty much promise it'll give you more material to work with!

If you're curious about Emily's first terribad novel, keep your eyes open for an upcoming episode in which we're going to discuss trunk novels and read a few pages from them. In the meantime, check out her website at and follow her rambles on twitter @emilyksinger.

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