Monday, December 17, 2007

Fantastical Worlds Made Real by Cat Muldoon

Fantasy automatically evokes a new world, and it needs to feel just as real as this world, even if there is magic or flying carpets or mythical beings. Making this happen, for me, means writing by feel. My opinion is that the story needs to be based on the interaction of characters and their rising heroism rather than on an idea. Oh, an idea may spark the story, but the characters are definitely in charge, and I do let them live their stories (with the occasional reining in as necessary).

Don’t get hung up on what part of the story comes to you first. Don’t be afraid to skip scenes if you’re not inspired yet in one area. Your deep mind will show you the way when it’s time. Don’t feel like you need to have a whole scene or chapter “done” before you can move on…unless that’s the only way you feel comfortable writing. I think a writer should let things flow and not get in the way. So if I’m writing a scene and it’s 5 pages of dialogue at first, I don’t stop to put in gestures or bits of action or have someone order pizza. Flow is a beautiful thing and should never be interrupted to worry over a word or fuss over details. I spiral back through the story to fill in details or movements or whatever is missing.

This means my scenes have bits of setting sprinkled through them, for the most part, and not in huge clumps. I like to let readers see through the eyes of the characters. I hate huge clumps of scenery that get in the way of the characters. It’s their story, after all. If you get a great sense of place and don’t know what the characters will say yet, write what you are moved to write for now and once you know the characters, they’ll tell you what they would say and hwo they would act. Trust yourself and trust the process. Also, leave the editing for a day when you’re not writing something new. The editor and writer are 2 totally different functions that don’t belong in the same head at the same time.

Maybe this will serve some of you budding writers reading this. I do what I call spiral writing. Spiraling…I adore spirals, and when I think of how Rue the Day came together, I really did spiral my way through. I didn’t do “first draft,” “second draft” as such. I spiraled through to add or change as the needs came to me. BUT I did have a sense of where the plot was going at all times right from the moment I realized this was not a short story.

Suspense is one of my favorite features in a story, and there is a lot of suspense in Rue the Day, and in many of my tales. I was a bit surprised Wings ePress put the book as fantasy romance, because I had always thought of it as fantasy suspense, or maybe epic fantasy. But they did see the 1 page summary of book 2 and a bit about book 3, which will have more romance, so I suspect that’s why Rue got billed as fantasy romance. The romance in the coming books won’t be soggy, though. There will be plenty of sparks and no easy answers.

No matter what genre you write, a good book should pull you straight in with the characters. You should see what they see and feel what they feel. The book should be luscious and tantalizing, yet full of conflict, especially in fantasy, where you have to create an entire world...

You can get a few bits of Rue the Day sent to your inbox by registering at You’ll also get teasers for the stories I have in anthologies or magazines and find out about my Story of the Month Club.


Cat Muldoon said...

First of all, thank you for asking me to share my thoughts on this blog. I truly appreciate the opportunity to serve your readers something delicious. You are gracious to host me on my tour.

Now I have a question for any and all who would wish to participate.

What powerfully pulls you into a book?


Jim Melvin said...

Dear Cat:

Some of what you said reminds me of the Hemingway short story "Hills Like White Elephants." In this, Hemingway used dialogue rather than narrative description to carry the story. It's brilliant!

As for your question, I think the No. 1 thing that pulls me into a book is when I reach the point where I feel driven to "find out what happens." Sometimes this occurs on page 1, sometimes on page 100. But I'll usually give a book at least 50 pages to hook me. And very often it's the books that hook me later rather than sooner that are the ones I enjoy the most.