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Smooth Strokes

Yesterday, while wandering around aimlessly looking for the temporary post office in Cedar Rapids that supposedly has my mail, I got to thinking about writing. Such an exciting topic, I know, but I pretend to be a writer, so it makes sense to think about the craft of writing while driving around piles of garbage and people who slow down to look at garbage! Okay, I hate gawkers in general, more so for disasters and car accidents.

As some of you know, I'm looking for the magical key that would make all my novels best-selling, all-inspiring, and cult-forming. No such thing, but when I read my stories, I can sort of feel that it was missing something that my favorite books have. I also got it, to a lesser degree, when reading Dragon Prophecy, by Melanie Nilles, but it faded faster than it did for Wind, Bear, and Moon. (Dragon Prophecy is good book so far, but I'll do a proper review when I finish.) But, there was something she said in an email to me that got lodged in my brain.

Then, for a joke, I ended up looking at Sluggy Freelance and User Friendly, two pretty funny web comics when I noticed something. It was the same thing that I noticed with the first Garfield and the latest one. In specific, the artistic style. The earlier stuff, while a good story, isn't as polished and practiced as the later stuff.

It got me to thinking about it. I have two bylines and each one is much different. The other one is more consistency successful at invoking interest and creating fun characters than this one. And, looking at those pictures, I think I know why. Or at least one of the reasons why.

Smooth strokes.

I've written in the same persona, tone of voice, and world for over ten years now. The stories fit together smoothly because I know what I want and I know how they work. It is less of a matter of the plot, but more of crawling into my favorite blanket and being able to just write. The world development for that byline ceased to be broad strokes years ago. Instead, I just develop little areas, expand on details already there, and basically refine what I've created. But, I don't write the same way as "D. Moonfire". I don't use the language the same way and it comes off as giving this "unfinished" feel when I read it. I have a completely other voice when I run games. I create interesting characters most of the time, I like to think and judging from the laughter and comments. Consistently and without effort. But, it wasn't that way in the beginning. But, I view my storytelling style to be a different persona from my two bylines, because they are so different that I look at the world differently.

Fedran (my steampunk world) isn't there yet. I'm still working out why Tarsan (a country) is viewed as the "center of the civilized world" instead of what kind of crops they grow and how they taste when you are running from an army. I'm still finding the language and the tone of the world, changing the broad strokes of the universe. Likewise, I'm still finding the language and tone of my writing.

I don't have that with my other world. And its pretty easy to figure out why. Stories. I write a lot of short stories, over 70 on the site and over 100 in total. Half of that is for a single fantasy world. I have built up the world to the point I'm comfortable with it and it comes off so much smoother, so much richer than Fedran is. That is one reason I think I think the other novels come off better. Like the web comics I enjoy, I've done it so often and so frequently that I can make smooth strokes of words. I have phrases that work in the world and I've shaped the writing personality which writes those stories into a smooth lines.

I might be over-thinking things, but in some ways, it feels right when I realized it. And its a pretty easy fix. Write. Writes lots. Not big stuff but little stuff. Little 5k word stories here and there, flesh out the world and solidify a voice for it. Like starting to play Go, one of my favorite games, its best to start with small 7x7 games and play 10 in an hour than one 19x19 game in 3. Because you learn and correct and move on; though it is easier with people responding than just playing with yourself. :P