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

Read my flash fiction.
On Lester D. Crawford Speculative Fiction,
select Flash Fiction on the menu.

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

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

All Writing is an Experiment

All writing is an experiment.

The judge of the success of an experiment is the reader.

The principles of storytelling have existed since the beginning of human kind. Our minds are wired for it, and some people tell well structured stories instinctively. For all of us, the quality of our stories can be improved by studying, practicing, and actively implementing those principles. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of flexibility, but the greater the outlier the greater the risk of failure. It’s also true that the greater your fan following, the more deviation editors and publishers accept.

I strongly discourage writers from harboring the idea that they don’t need to learn the craft of storytelling, that they’re free to do whatever they want, and if a reader doesn’t like how something is written, it’s the reader’s problem, not the writer’s problem because there are no rules. I say learn the craft, learn the principles, learn the rules, and then you can deviate and know that you are. Then you can experiment.

One analogy I use is photographic composition. There are rules to composing a photograph. Those rules are as old as art itself. Most people with cameras don’t know them. Some people refuse to acknowledge they even exist. But all photographers, painters, and other artists benefit by knowing and following the rules.

Image contains two pictures.  One is well composed.  On is not.

Christmas Rock

Christmas Rock
by Lester D. Crawford

My gift from Santa was a rock, a mesmerizing rock with swirling Christmas colors — silver and gold and red and green. I stared at its iridescence, drawn by desire and need and hope. The rock possessed me. The rock was all that mattered to me. Why had Santa cursed me with the rock?

Then, it hatched.

Out came a shimmering silver and gold and red and green Christmas dragon. Before he hatched he had bonded me to him, made me fall in love with him. Now I will spend the rest of my life serving him.

Thanks a lot, Santa.

This is my 100-word Christmas story for 2017.

Sudden Inspiration

On Halloween, a news story led me to a NASA recording called “Chorus Radio Waves within Earth’s Atmosphere.” The sounds are the data recorded by the Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science (EMFISIS) aboard NASA’s Van Allen Probes. It was supposed to sound spooky.

In the first book of my “The Dragon Universe” series, the protagonist is injured and abandoned in a forest, but he does not know he’s on an alien world. That first night, the forest is full of sounds the protagonist has never heard before, sounds that frighten him. This audio file flooded me with feelings of that first night. The challenge I face is capturing those feelings in words.

Talking about my Work

Some people say talking to others about your writing can be fatal to your desire to write, that your ideas will evaporate if exposed, your feelings of intimacy and revelation in the story will be lost, and you risk criticism that can have destructive effects on your desire to write.

They say you should keep your writing a secret. Tell know one you are a writer and never talk about what you are writing. And for those who do know you are a writer, when they ask what you’re working on, do not tell them anything.

The problem with the global admonition about talking about your work is each of us is an individual with our unique thoughts, motives, and inhibitions. What works for one person, may or may not work for someone else. Some people might experience the above problems. For them, keeping their work secret might be best. For me, the opposite happens. My friends know better than to ask me about what I’m writing. They know it will set me off into a long-winded presentation about everything going on in my head. I become excited. I become empowered. I become effervescent, bubbling and oozing, making a mess all over the place. Being aware of this, I try to restrain myself, but it’s difficult.

If keeping secrets helps you succeed, do that. If talking to your friends and family helps you, do that (if your friends and family can take it).

That said, when I talk about my writing and my stories, I tailor my lecture to the audience. For some people — the ones I know don’t really care or understand — I say little more than I’m writing science fiction/fantasy. For others, I give them my elevator speech (especially if we’re actually riding an elevator.) For those who already know a great deal about what I’m writing, I’ll expound on some new story world revelation or nifty scene that has occurred to me. With my first-line alpha readers, I share actual written words. Since everything I write is an experiment, I rely on their reactions to help gauge how well the experiments work.

Beyond simply talking about my writing as described above, when I’m to the point of having prose I consider to some degree finished, I trust my beta readers to help me polish the words. Instead of talking, I give them the manuscript to read and mark-up. This is an entirely different level of sharing my writing, so it does not count toward the admonition about talking about my work.

My advice: Do what works best for you.

Go to the Lester D. Crawford Blog Page