A work-in-progress. No publication date set.

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Origin of The Dragon Universe

I love science, science fiction, and fantasy. I always have. Nevertheless, it never occurred to me I could write it as a career. I had dabbled in writing stories for fun, but never considered it more than a hobby. Then along came the Internet and the methods it provided for sharing. I discovered people liked my fiction about Dragons, even as amateurish as it was. When career changes provided the opportunity to move into a new life, I had many options. I settled on pursuing a new career as a speculative fiction writer.

For years, I had successfully written technical documents and articles. What could be so hard about becoming serious about writing fiction? Everything. Fiction writing is not technical writing. Fiction requires a different skill set. I studied everything I could find to learn how to write quality fiction. I set a goal of 10 years, 10,000 hours, 1,000,000 words to hone my skills. I am not yet to the 10-year mark, but I have exceeded the 10,000 hours, and I have created nearly 1,000,000 words of trunk novel material. I am improving, but I still have more practice to do.

During those years of practice, experimentation, and development, I created the worlds, characters, and plots for The Dragon Universe. Initially, I imagined a single book, but I eventually realized the story was too large. Rather than lose the story's heart and soul by cutting it to an acceptable size, I split the five phases of the story into five books. When I finish with the current trunk novel version of the story, I will return to the beginning and apply everything I have learned to create a work of art.

I feel good about how well my writing skills have developed, I am pleased by how the story has evolved, and I am excited for what the future holds. While it is still a work-in-progress, The Dragon Universe is wonderful. Follow me on my journey by following me on my web pages, Facebook, and Twitter. When the final version of the books come to market, read them and let me know how I did.

Lester D. Crawford Blog


2018-06-30
2018 Clarion West Write-a-thon

This year I’m again participating in the Clarion West Write-a-thon. My goal is to practice my writing craft skills on a series of short stories.

The Write-a-thon is a fundraiser for the Clarion West Writers Workshop. If you wish to donate to Clarion West in my name, go to my writer’s page and click on the Sponsor Lester D. Crawford button.

(You can also read an excerpt from my current short story project on that page.)

https://www.clarionwest.org/members/lesterdcrawford/
Clarion West Write-a-thon Badge


2018-05-31
Bad Things Happen

Sometimes, bad things happen. Sometimes, many bad things happen. Sometimes, it feels like the universe is conspiring against me. At those times, it can be hard to work on writing. However, at those times, taking a moment to write can be a way to briefly escape this conspiratorial universe by visiting my universe where I am in control. That is how I feel right now. I’m going to visit my universe where dragons walk two circles and make little marching steps before lying down for the night. I will write the scene where Ladyhawk does just that.


2018-04-30
Setup and Payoff

Tess of the Road book cover

Tess of the Road Cover

Another book that caused me to evaluate my writing is Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman. This story occurs in the same universe as Hartman’s Seraphina and Shadow Scale duology, but it is not a third book of a trilogy. It is the first book of a new duology centered on a new character, Tess.

Having multiple stories in the same universe is something I do, but that is not what struck me about this story. What enthralled me was Hartman’s use of setup and payoff. She introduces objects, cultures, characters, or concepts at organic moments in the story where learning about these items fits perfectly. However, the payoff is later when those items reappear at a pivotal moment in the story. Since we have already learned about them, the story charges forward without pausing to explain. I like the way Hartman does this. I, too, do this to some extent, but I could use with some improvement.


2018-03-31
Twists that Thwart Expectations

Every Heart a Doorway book cover

Every Heart a Doorway Cover

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire is a fascinating read, but this is not a review of the book. If you are interested in learning more about the book, look it up. I only want to mention one of many elements that made me stop and think about my own writing. This element involves expectation and making a twist that thwarts that expectation.

Trying not to be too spoilery, the scene occurs in the first act when we meet the main character. She is described as having black hair with white streaks. We learn that when she was in a magical land, a character there had run his fingers through her hair making the streaks. My immediate reaction was: Where he touched her hair, her hair had turned white. Then the narrative continues with a description of how the streaks were made: The hair that was not touched turned white with jealousy. Oh! That was an unexpected twist. It was simple, straight forward, totally violated my expectations, and it was wonderful.

I often think about the need for big twists in my stories (an example of a big twist occurs in “The Sixth Sense” (1999)), but I had not considered little twists. Is there anywhere in my writing where I make such twists that challenge my readers’ expectations in surprising ways? I fear not unless I wrote the little twists without thinking about them. Reading “Every Heart a Doorway” changed me as a writer. I learned a new skill. Now, I need to intentionally apply it to my writing.


2018-02-28
Structured and Organized

Some writers say they simply start writing having no notion about the story. They simply let the flow of words dictate where the story goes. I do something similar when I brainstorm, but when it comes to writing a story, I’m structured and organized.

In my IT career, I was the same way. I would experiment by writing code heuristically, but when it came to creating a computer application, I performed detailed analyses and design — figuring out what the application would do, how it would do it, and what the end result would look like — before cutting code.

As I’ve developed my writing craft skills, I’ve become a strong believer in story structure. The approach I’m using on short stories is to decide on the target word count, determine the word count for each step in the story structure, and then organize an outline for the plot points. This means that at every point in the story, I know how many words are needed, which allows me to know I’m on target for staying near my word count goal.

The items in the outline can contain very little or a great deal of information, typically from my brainstorming sessions. For example, for a recent short story, the Reaction step (the first quarter of the second act) said, “Boy talks with Friend about his plan to slay dragons. Friend tries to talk Boy out of trying to slay dragons.” From that I needed to create 760 words. This is where discovery writing comes into play; and, magically, it came together. It was thrilling.

Often, as the writing progresses, more ideas reveal themselves requiring adjustments to the outline, but those normally fit. Story elements that occur in one area turn out to be useful in another. And foreshadowing events pop out to help unify the story.

I spend time every evening exploring story ideas, but once those ideas are solid, I find having structure and an organized plan makes the writing of those ideas fun, and I always know where I’m going.

Word Count Goals for a 6,000 Word Short Story

Word Count Goals for a 6,000 Word Short Story


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