Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

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Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

A group for Sci Fi, Speculative and Fantasy authors to discuss the genres, and critique each other's work. 

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Hi guys, I have a question for you all. I'm keen to hear how you approach something I'm having doubts over.

In general, I'm happy with how my WIP is progressing. But the third chapter is causing me doubt, because it is full of backstory. My question is:

How do you approach delivering backstory?

I hate huge chunks of exposition deposited into the stories I read but I've found myself with an exposition problem. I could keep the chapter as-is, with the MC attending a memorial for a tragedy and reminiscing about the cause and effects of the tragedy, or I could rewrite the chapter into three parts, the tragedy, the immediate aftermath, and the present day.

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After all the honest feedback about my last post, I made revisions to my excerpt. I tried to Show rather than Tell and hopefully I succeeded. Please let me know.

Blackness was all Avidius could detect when he opened his eyes. A dark void staring back at him, without so much as a glimmer of light to eclipse it. He blinked multiple times, but the blackness remained. Where am I? His eyes wandered in all directions, but the darkness gave up no discernible shapes, silhouettes, or shadows. He could, however, hear tree branches rustling in the breeze, smell wet grass, and feel a mossy turf beneath his palms where he lay. I’m outside. He drew a deep breath, his iron girded chest filling with moist, crisp air. And I’m alive... but why can’t I see! There he remained for a moment, on his back, pondering. His mind vaulted from one thought to another, scrambling for any explanation other than the one he feared the most. Suddenly, a furious thrashing of his heartbeat boomed in his ears, jolting him up to a sitting position. He waved his hands before his face. Nothing. He rubbed his eyes vigorously then clenched them shut before opening them again. Nothing. Then, like having the wind knocked out of him, he waited in stunned silence, unable to breathe. I’m blind. It was a fate worse than death and one for which Avidius had often suffered recurring nightmares when he was very young.

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Honest feedback... does any of this make sense?

Darkness was the last thing Avidius expected when his eyelids opened. It was if he had awoken deep inside a cave, where light could not penetrate. A terror came over him for a moment, thinking he was dead. But he could hear tree branches rustling in the breeze, smell wet grass, and feel a mossy turf beneath his palms where he lay. No... he was very much alive. But why couldn’t he see? He rose in a panic, feeling for his eyes. Blindness was worse than death. In his youth, Avidius had suffered recurring nightmares about losing his sight and wandering aimlessly through Rome’s back alleys; penniless, friendless, hearing only the pitied mutterings of others. The nightmare would always end with him frantically seeking the nearest sharp object, opening an artery along his wrist, and laying down to die. Nothing terrified him more... except, of course, losing another child.

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I just came across a book on Amazon eerily similar to the one I've been working on for three years. What do I do? Trash it? I think I'm going to be sick... Any advice would be welcome.

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Just posted this in the Lounge for wider commenting, but would appreciate any thoughts from people in this group with our special interests:

I'm struggling with a series title - 1 WIP and 3 others plotted with more in my head. 

The stories are based around the various definitions of Chaos: disorderly mess (dictionary); Nietzche's quote about needing chaos in ourselves to make a dancing star; Lorenz's scientific Chaos Theory (the one about the butterfly's flapping wings); Chaos magic and the manipulation of belief systems; and the Greek concept of the void before creation. An extension of the Greek one is very important to the plots, but they all come into play at some time.

I was going to call the series Chaos Gnosis. Now, having read all the posted discussion about the Flesch-Kincaid reading scores, I'm very worried that the title could be too 'adult'. Do people think modern readers would know what gnosis means? Should I go with The Knowledge of Chaos Series instead?  On a book cover, that would take up a lot of space when added to the titles of each book. 

I don't want to write down to readers but equally, could I be shooting myself in the authorial foot by using the word Gnosis?

Any thoughts, ideas, comments?

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Hey fantasy people! I just posted the start of something new on the peer-to-peer board, but it's definitely in the fantasy realm, so thought I'd put it here as well to get some feedback from the genre... but I can't see how to add a file to the post here, so you may have to go to PTP to read it. If we CAN add Word files here, can someone tell me how? I see videos and photos, but no file link as there is on the PTP page...

Basically, I created a new mythological creature years ago, for my actual paid work, but I never thought of doing a story about them until recently... so this is a seahorse unicorn, called a SEANICORN (pronounced sea-ni-corn - I had someone once call it a shawn-i-corn, so now I clarify pronunciation)! They are about twice the size of seahorses, and have scales (like a dragon) and sharp horns they use for protection (as they are vegetarians)... oh, and the females bear live young called FRY (which is also what baby seahorses are called), again different from their smaller hornless cousins, where the female lays eggs which the male then fertilizes and hatches.

Since I can attach a pic here, I'll do that...

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Ok,I'm an idiot :)

I joined this group a while back. I checked here every now and again, and all I saw were people asking questions but no responses at all. So I just assumed this wasn't a very lively group. Today - doh! - I finally realised that the number next to the avatars is comments and not views... and that I actually have to click on it to find the discussion. In my defence, I'm used to traditional discussion boards, where the topics and replies are in a list / table!

Anyway, hello from a fellow fantasy writer :)

I don't get much feedback from friends and family, so I've been asking for comments in the Peer to Peer forum, but I'll share in here next time for some more fantasy / sci-fi specific perspectives.

Happy to return the favour if you have pieces to share, though I don't have much experience and my opinion can't really be relied on!

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Hi Fantasy people!

I would really value your thoughts on this two page synopsis. I have written a 105,000 word fantasy novel called The Way of Unity as a part of the Retreat West Novel Creator Course and I need to submit my synopsis to agents/publishers next month (for feedback). Before I submit it to them...does it make sense? Is it too long?

Also, I am struggling with comparison titles. If this synopsis reminds you of another work of fantasy, please let me know. I have a few ideas, but they are not quite right.

Many thanks in advance,


Sarah Balstrup – The Way of Unity - Synopsis - AUG 2021.docx

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Question for anyone:

Struggling with a sub-plot as I'm writing my fourth draft. It seems the rule is to prevent the sub-plot from distracting from the main plot. That being the case, should I avoid dedicating an entire chapter to the sub-plot in favor of blending it into main-plot chapters?

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Hi. I'd value opinions about a problem (?) with my fantasy WIP. I can't decide if I should put a plot twist in the resolution stage of my novel, or shunt that part of the story over to book 2 in the series. 

Quick summary of my problem. 

At the climax, my main (female) protagonist has saved the world (hurrah) but there are consequences, aka prices to be paid, for how she did it. 1. Her beloved godfather and his organisation of 'good guys' misinterpret her actions and turn against her, decreeing she and her two lovers/partners have turned evil and must die. 2. During the climax, she releases the soul of one of her lovers/partners from magical enslavement, only to discover she's become his new 'owner'. There will have to be a new dynamic between them and he will have to change significantly.

These two consequences could be combined e.g. the lover/partner relationship could be discovered and altered during the attempt to destroy the trio. To me, these feel like unexpected but important parts of the wrapping up stages of the novel, just before the final scene and the end.

There appear to be differing opinions about whether a plot twist should be inserted after the climax in the descending part of a story. Personally, I love to be surprised with an 'Oh, I didn't expect that!' scene after everything seems to have been resolved. 

Anyone have any thoughts about this?

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What are people's favourite steampunk novels? I'm working on something that's 'weird steampunk' at the moment, and could do with some recommendations!

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I recently joined Jericho, and am busy checking out the different venues!  I've introduced myself in COFFEE & CAKE, so I won't repeat that here... but I also just took a deep breath and posted the first chapter of my fantasy novel for peer to peer critique.  This is the first time I've ever shared my writing with strangers, so it was a HUGE step for me...

Two lovely ladies gave me some wonderful feedback, and made some very sensible suggestions, which I have already incorporated into the first chapter revisions.

Now I'm wondering if I should have posted the chapter here, as this is the group that would most likely be interested ... but I don't really see any other postings like that.  So I thought I'd ask... Should I continue posting in PTP, or should I post here... or both?

Thanks for the help... I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone!