Monthly Archives: January 2014

Writing Contest Prompt 1

If you’ve been following my posts, you might’ve read about the writing contest that my brother invited me to and the promise that I would follow up with some details about the first couple of prompts. Our group is currently on prompt number four, and I figured with the pace we are keeping I could start sharing a little bit about them.

Prompt one, a randomly selected topic from the initial pool of ideas to start the contest off, belongs to one of my favorite genres, but I can say that it has proved to be the least interesting of all other topics, thus far. For our first prompt we wrote a story in the medieval time period. That includes kings, queens, knights, lordships and such. The plot had to revolve around something unnatural in the woods. It’s my favorite era to read and write about except that generally I like to add the fantasy twist, which I strongly considered doing, but I changed my mind last minute and kept it simple. I ended up coming in second place for that prompt, but I had a lot of fun writing and even more fun reading the other submissions. Everyone had something unique to bring to the table- a story not yet heard- and I am thoroughly enjoying the contest for the sole reason that I am getting the chance to learn a little bit more about writing- more specifically my writing- from the other contestants. I have not had any tips or suggestions regarding areas I might improve, but simply reading the other stories has greatly helped improve my scope of ideas which, I feel, makes my new stories better in turn.

With this one, the restrictions were minimal. There was no page or word limit, and POV was free reign. With the second prompt I think some of us recognized the value of page limits and exercised that restriction for the two prompts following. As far as content goes, everyone wrote great stories but I was most intrigued with the individual in our group that threw us all for a loop when they chose to write their tale as a poem. 

So there you have it, prompt one. I’ll share in more detail about the second prompt, which has been my favorite thus far, when I get a chance between classes and homework.

Question

I often question the direction of my story, the complexity of the world I’ve created, and the vast possibility I have yet to discover. It began as a simple idea- a development that I have now spent many years shaping- but I am far from finished because bits of inspiration continue to flow steady like the river and I am determined to see it through. Where will it all lead once I have pieced together the individual parts of the puzzle and will it eventually turn out as I imagined it to be? I am compelled to believe that we all ask that question at least once in our lives, if not about a novel idea, then perhaps some of us question the direction of the life we govern. Will our choices take us where we want to go, following the path with a vision in mind?

The beauty of a story, whether it be an autobiography, non-fiction or even fiction, is that there are choices made in a lifetime and for every action there are equal and opposite reactions that follow. That may sound familiar, and that is because it is an age-old law. Newton’s Third Law, a concept that we learn early in the education system and is generally applied to science, namely physics. Newton’s brilliant mind put into words a scientific concept that also applies to us as individuals in a world shaped, in-part, by predictable outcome; it is a reflection of choice and indecision, action and inaction. Consequence, whether favorable or undesired, is a road map for the journey we embark upon at an early age and the guiding push that returns us to the track once we stray. One misstep or poor choice and guilt, man-made law, or divine justice (whichever you may believe in) will point an accusing finger to remind us that no one is exempt from repercussion despite the feeling of invulnerability some rely on with unabashed faith. Regardless of the choice being right or wrong, it is an amazing realization when you consider that both help shape and promote character growth in more ways that one. The consequence or result of an individual’s choice is in direct correlation with their values and future decision. You can sum it up to this: Every path has its twists and turns, some might even have a fallen tree or another obstacle blocking the way, but you will most certainly reach the end of your path in due time. Whether you choose to remove the obstacle with effort, rely on faith that a detour will set you straight or hang onto patience with the knowledge that the tree will decay and the path will clear, the end of the road will appear in our scope, in due time.

The most daunting revelation about the road we walk is the uncertainty along the way, the trail and error of our experiences that follow the journey like a shadow as a constant reminder, throughout our course of life, that we all have history and not all of it is unblemished by scars. When uncertainty looms, there tends to be a drive to find the distinction between black and white amidst the chaos of gray. I suppose in a way, that is how we sort out the necessity from the extraneous- need versus want. Unfortunately, that process can consume a great deal of time and energy that might otherwise be better spent on immediate productivity and more feasible results. Then again, there is always a price to pay for results, the most costly -in my opinion- is time.

So then, how are we to better sort through the mess of our own indecision or the muddy ruin of possibilities that could exist without expending too much of our short lives circling riddles? Should it be left to fate? Will answers present themselves in due time, or is it folly to expect a yield if no efforts are made? A hard-working man or woman would probably speak for the latter, justifying their success based upon their own self-sufficiency and commitment to their goals. A religious soul might rest assured under the notion that faith will serve reward. I see through the looking glass, not one color, but many; a glimmer of multifaceted light refracting across my vision. There is always more than one answer, a second option, another choice, but I can attest to the difficulty in sorting the pieces a part. I admire those who have the patience to endure the frustration of not knowing or the nagging irritation when a task or goal is left incomplete, because I certainly struggle with both of these stressing issues in both my writing and outside of my fictional realm.

We all perceive the world through different eyes, opposing visions of what is perfect, and conflicting views of truth versus lies. The concept of perception alone creates a beautiful dynamic in which our interaction with others becomes complex and colorful. Every individual has something to bring to the table, an experience unique to themselves because only two eyes in the whole world saw exactly what they saw and only one soul felt exactly what they felt. Ignoring the obvious notion that connection between two people is developed upon similar feelings and relational experience, I implore you to ask yourself if the person closest to you, in your life, views the world in an identical light to match your own? I am not saying your life goals might not agree with one another, or that your life partner does not reciprocate the same feelings, those things probably align smoothly. However, no single person is exactly alike another, and the difference may be as material as color, movie, food preference or perhaps the defining trait is immaterial, a difference found on a philosophical level. I see beauty in the world through many facets, but I know that any number of mankind, my neighbors near and far, could teach me a thing or two about beauty in places I never imagined to look.

The question remains… What do we do with this knowledge?

Reading List

You might have figured out that one of my favorite hobbies is immersing myself into a good book, but what you might not guess is that I am about as picky with book genres as I am with music genres. That is to say, I can read almost anything as long as the story interests me and the writing is good.

Of all genres though, my personal favorite is fantasy. For anyone interested in this genre I want to recommend a few of my favorite authors and their series in case you have not caught wind of them already. Steven Erikson is probably my favorite of the four listed below, but I thoroughly enjoyed all of these series. The shortest of them is the Mistborn series, at least in terms of book number and easy reading.

  1. Steven Erikson- Malazan Book of the Fallen (10-book series)
  2. George R. R. Martin- A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones- 5 books so far…)
  3. Brandon Sanderson- Mistborn (3-book series)
  4. Robert Jordan- The Wheel of Time (14-book series or 15 if you include the prequel)

Thrillers follow closely behind epic fantasy series in my favorite list. I love watching NCIS, Dexter, CSI, Law and Order and all of those tv series, but sometimes you cannot beat a good book. I suggest James Patterson if you are looking for investment. He writes the Women’s Murder Club series and my favorite- Alex Cross. On another note, he dabbles into other genres as well. Some of my favorites of James Patterson’s stories include:

  1. Alex Cross- (mystery thriller series)
  2. When the Wind Blows & The Lake House-(The Lake House sequel is nothing like the movie with the same name; there is no film adaptation for this book and the fictional stories are about government experimenting)
  3. Sunday’s at Tiffany’s- (more of a chick flick type story and a movie adaptation exists but I cannot attest to its quality. The book was really good though.)
  4. Honeymoon I & II- (another thriller novel and sequel)

Another list of books I’ve read over the past few years include a couple teen books I started in middle school or high school and wanted to finish. I also like to play video games and spend an equal amount of time reading the lore behind the game play. Regardless of interest in video gaming, if you like fantasy and fiction, you may find interest in some of these titles:

  1. Richard A. Knaak- War of the Ancients Trilogy (World of Warcraft lore; elves, demons, dragons)
  2. Richard A. Knaak- Sin War Trilogy (Diablo lore)
  3. Lauren Kate- Fallen series (angels)

I am not a huge fan of nonfiction but I actually enjoyed a couple books from a college history class two semesters ago.

  1. Scott Zesch- Captured (Native American history)
  2. H.G. Bissinger- Friday Night Lights
  3. Erik Larson- Isaac’s Storm (Galveston hurricane of 1900)

 

These are my significant reads from the last couple years, the ones I enjoyed the most anyways. I probably missed a few because I read too much too fast and cannot keep up with them all, but the fantasy novels alone are enough to keep someone busy for awhile. Never forget to make time for a good book, Enjoy!