Space is vast. Earth bound humans have little perspective on just how big it is.

Within 50 light-years of Earth are around 64 stars like Earth's sun Sol. More than 500 reside out to 100 light-years. At 500 light-years the count becomes 64,000. For all types of stars, not just stars like Sol, the count at 500 light-years is at least a couple of million.

Planets reside around these stars. Some of those planets are inhabitable. Some are inhabited. Many species. Many societies. An old species of interstellar explorers is found on many of those worlds, a species that we would call dragons.

Milky Way Galaxy
Earth, Risiria, Hanalei, Dystopia, Utopia
(marked starting in upper right-hand corner)

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

Read Flash Fiction by Lester D. Crawford.

Lester D. Crawford Blog

Enhancing Writing and Editing Skills

After sending out a couple of stories for possible publication with short fiction magazines, I turned my attention to one of the stories in the anthology I’m preparing for publication. The story is novella sized and a call for novellas had come up.

I made multiple edit passes looking for anywhere I could enhance the story. There is always something that can be changed, and every reader has their own suggestions for changes. Whether those changes improve the story is often a matter of opinion. However, I do believe I improved the story. Moreover, the concentrated effort enhanced my writing and editing skills. I look forward to applying those enhanced skills on editing my anthology, and on the other stories I have in progress.

Progressing toward Publishing

Work toward publishing is continuing. Corrections suggested by one reader have been applied. Suggestions from other readers are expected. I’m working through the punch list of items I need to do in preparation for publishing.

Two short stories are ready to send out at the beginning of April and a novella is ready for a May submission window.

Things are happening, but there is still much to do. I wish I could make these things happen faster, but I’m simply not super human enough to be faster.

Preparing to Publish

So much work to do, but I’m making progress on preparing to publish. Many steps are required, such as writing book blurb, creating the book’s front and back matter, formatting ebook and print book interiors, record the audiobook, creating covers, and more. I studied these aspects of publishing for years, but now I’m digging into the details and actually doing the tasks. I look forward to accomplishing something.

Finishing a Book

My anthology The Dragon Universe: Utopia Origins has been through multiple edits (including one I’m doing right now where I’m removing a few scene breaks that are unnecessary). After a couple more beta readers review it, I’ll call it finished. The next step is to share it with the world. That process will be my next great adventure.

Reader Change Arcs

Character change arcs are a mainstay of stories. All characters have a change arc be it positive, flat, or negative. Plotting those arcs is a significant part of my process. However, I never thought about reader change arcs.

Stories can teach readers and change their opinions about local and global issues, but I’m not talking about that type of change. What I’ve become aware of is leading a reader through a change regarding their opinion about a character in a story. Proficient writers may be aware of this. My recent reading experience brought it to my attention.

My enlightenment began with The Dangerous Gift (Wings of Fire Book 14) by Tui T. Sutherland. The point-of-view character is Snowfall, Queen of the IceWings. Snowfall is rude, cold, distrustful, and simply mean. I never liked her. When I heard she was the POV character for book 14, my reaction was why? Snowfall has a character change arc in the story that redeemed her in my eyes. She is now one of my favorite dragons. Sutherland had led me through my own change arc that had changed my opinion about Snowfall.

With Snowfall, the character’s change arc is what led me through my change arc. However, even for a character with a flat change arc, the reader can be led from disliking the character to loving the character. This was the event that led me to realize I was being changed by the writer’s words.

In the Menagerie series — The Menagerie, Dragon on Trial, and Krakens and Lies — by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland, there is a secondary character, a griffin named Nira, who has six griffin cubs who have escaped from the menagerie. Nira is indifferent while her mate Riff worries manically and is losing feathers due to his distress. Her attitude triggered me and I immediately disliked her.

By the end of the series, I had learned the truth about Nira. She wasn’t indifferent. She had faith in her cubs and that they would be fine. She was simply enjoying the time off from parenting. Apparently, Riff didn’t contribute anywhere near enough to the work of parenting the cubs. Nira was exhausted. She was happy when all of her cubs were returned to her. And, the menagerie staff had a word with Riff. He began doing his part in parenting the cubs, which he quickly learned was hard work. Also, during the course of the series, Nira helped the menagerie staff in dealing with problems with a local, which also exposed more of Nira’s likeable personality. By the end of the trilogy, I loved Nira. Sutherland and Sutherland had led me through my own change arc that had changed my opinion about Nira.

Now, when I write a story, I’m thinking about the reader change arc I’m creating.

(It wasn’t until later that it occurred to me that Tui T. Sutherland was involved with both of these epiphany-generating stories.)

Book covers for The Dangerous Gift, The Menagerie, Dragon on Trial, and Krakens and Lies
Book covers for The Dangerous Gift, The Menagerie, Dragon on Trial, and Krakens and Lies

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