Hello world out there world!
What will make your story unique can be a hard question to answer. You have to look at your work and examine it in a way, not as a writer but as a reader. What will make your story stand out? What do you want your story to leave behind?
These are questions I ask myself whenever I’m about to dive into a project. As a writer of YA fantasy, I already know I’m going into a competitive market with more talented people with better stories than myself. With this thought in mind I focus on what makes my story stand out… or at least what I can do to make my story stand out.
What I’ve written below are some ways I’ve tried to make my story unique and have given examples to help you follow along. 🙂
Themes are a great way to create interest in your books. Most of mine are focused towards current events in the world. My first book – although based in a fantasy world all on its own – focused on loss, being able to adapt, and trying to keep from losing one’s culture when immersed in a new one. These aren’t common themes for YA fantasy that focus mostly on conflict resolution, friendships, and love.
Book two I focused more towards gender identity and self identity. These are two things I remembered struggling with as a young adult and even into becoming a new adult. I talk about labels and trying to put everyone into neat little boxes when in reality no one fits perfectly…
Its the themes I choose that makes my book stand out and why people have told me they love what I’m writing. The questions my characters ask and the problems they overcome aren’t the usual facing characters in a fantasy series.
Now, next to creating your characters the next important thing in the world. What makes your world special? In my case, with fantasy I had to try and get away from the traditional but for some reason ended back at where I was trying to get away from. In most fantasy books you’ll find dragons and other mythical beast. You’ll find magic and elves.
My world doesn’t have the elves… but it is starting to get magic. I wanted to create a world similar to how earth was in the dark ages – swords, knights, kings and so on. I achieved that but I needed something more. I knew I wanted mythical creatures like gryphons, dragons, and trolls, but I didn’t want them just there. I wanted them a part of the world, a functioning part of the worlds ecosystem. That’s why I focused on how these creatures and the creatures I created would work with the world, not against it. I settled with making the dragons more dinosaur like. Some have wings but the majority don’t. They work like work horses for the more difficult of terrain, or as war beasts for those desiring to use them as such.
I did the same thing with the gryphons. They were animals at one time tamed and controlled to be used for a task. Just like we tamed horses, elephants, and reindeer.
The led to how I was going to make the physical world unique. We have the two nations warring over one another – like most fantasy books – but I needed more ways of making Gaitan stand out. Come the actual layout of the map.
The South is desert, half of which consists of lava lands that the Southerns call Fire Lands. This leaves very little area for the Southerns to live, forcing them to push the boundaries of their lands more into the West, North, and East. This in turn creates conflict.
The North is very rugged with rocky hills, dense forests, and cliff faces. Perfect for gryphons to thrive but not so easy for people. Instead of going to war to gain the resources the North needed they allied with the West and East where they were provided was they requested. This rugged land fades into ancient Oak over 1000 years old and into a Valley where lush farms thrive. This is the Western Valley that leads up into the Western Mountains which have peaks so high no one has ever been able to fly over, (expect Har… but no one truly believed that story).
These small elements to my world is what makes it unique. It isn’t fantasy because it’s magic. It isn’t fantasy because it has elves or fairies. It’s fantasy because it is a world you can escape into with it’s premise in Tolkin style world development… without the thirteen pages about a sword that doesn’t matter…
When it comes to fantasy there is a lot of writers that jump to magic and super fighting abilities. This isn’t the reason I read books. I love human interactions and characters that overcome their problems with their own natural skills.
Yes, my main character has God given abilities but she only uses them when she has to or they manifest even when she doesn’t want them to. With my main character with passive abilities like seeing past, present, and future events or healing people with the touch of her hand – those aren’t useful in a conflict. I have her needing to rely on what she’s learnt from her mentors or reflect on her on capabilities. More times than not Liora realizes she’s gotten herself into a situation that is completely above her skill set but she is forced to figure things out using her mind verses her fists.
That of course doesn’t mean Liora can’t fight. She isn’t officially trained like other characters in the book but if she needs to she can scrap. I wanted to make her imperfect, curious, and troublesome to a sense because most teenagers are. Most teenagers get into situations that are out of their control that they need to fix on their own. Most teenagers think they know everything when they clearly don’t. Most teenagers are still finding themselves or realizing what they are truly capable of.
Liora is all these things and more, which is one reason why I think she’s a very unique character.
Love is love is love,” he sighed, “and nothing’s wrong with that.”
“Nothing?” he watched his sister sway her feet when she had asked the question.
He watched he turn to smile at him, seeing the weight that had been heavy on her shoulders lift.
“Then I’d like you to meet her,” that had been the first time in a long time my sister smiled without it being forced. It wasn’t fake as the corner of her eyes crinkled and her cheeks flushed at soft shade of pink. “You’ll like her.”
I hope I’m not the only person who does this… who thinks of what a story would be like in
a movie adaptation. Heck, maybe a lot of other people think of this now that there are so many movie to book adaptations out there. After all, there is a whole generation of writers now that grew up in the Harry Potter Generation where the movies and books were coming out at the same time. There were debates on how close the movies were to the books and once HP got popular because of the movies bringing in more readers more authors jumped on the film boat.
Eragon – for example – flopped in the box office but it was a book to movie. Others did better like the Twilight Series, Percy Jackson, LotR… and so on.
I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never thought of it. I have – and honestly if I was offered to turn my books into a film I wouldn’t. Films cut out a lot of the story and a lot of the pieces of the story that make people love the characters. Unless you get someone who truly understands your book, the world you’ve created may not end up like JK’s or Tolkin’s.
If I was ever going to turn my books into something watch worthy it would be a television show; each season a book and each episode a chapter. I would also do computer animation similar to Final Fantasy Spirits Within (totally underrated) or Advent Children just to bring the world to life and the other elements of Gaitan to life. That way I could make the characters look like they do in the books, while having actors voice them. (I’ve also always been fond of the CGI and advancement of digital graphic/ animation – Steven Spielberg’s AVATAR is my obsession).
Yeah… these are the weird things I think about when I’m not able to write… which has been over the last week or so while I’ve been moving. I’m happy I’m close to being settled into my new place so I can get back to my normal schedule of obsessing over scenes and dialogue instead of ‘what if’ scenarios like this. XD
Word Image Search
Today’s challenge is: think of a word and search for it using Google Images. Writing something inspired by the 11th Image.
The word I chose was tranquillity. The 11th image was:
I stood at the end of the board walk. The warm night air off the water stuck to my skin. I pulled my housecoat closer as the fluffy lime material tickled my skin. The smell of salt danced up my nose making me close my eyes and take a slower, deeper breath. The sound of waves lapped around me, slapping up onto my feet covered in white sand.
I open my eyes to see glass reflecting cotton of blues, pinks, and greys. The sky like candy pastels as I run my hand through my hair knocking away the fading electric blue strands.
I’m glad I came out here. I needed a break.
There came a knock from behind me. I turned around, feeling my frustration return. Someone was at my door and I had a good idea as to who it was.
Snapping my fingers the imaged faded, leaving me standing in the middle of the dark room. Photographs plastered the back wall caught the light through the crack in the drawn blinds when a car drove through the alleyway below. I could hear the neighbours shouting across the way as there came another knock on my front door.
The knocking this time was louder.
Secretly I had hoped he had left after thinking I wasn’t in.
“Jay!” it was Royce, as I had expected. “Jaya, open the fracking door – we need to talk!”
I smirked after hearing him use the word I commonly used to replace the oh so boring swears of this century. Maybe there was hope for Officer Bass after all.
Closing the door to my room and making sure the lock was latched, I made my way down the hallway covered in tacky floral print to the living room. I stood facing the entrance and with a snap of my fingers the front latch unlocked. He knocked again, obviously not noticing what I had done.
“It’s open – you Neanderthal,” I called, crossing my arms under my chest as he opened the door.
“It was locked – I checked,” Royce growled, closing the door. A thick manila folder was tucked under his right pit.
“Hope you check crime scenes better,” I smirked, noticing a hazel glare over his sunglasses, a habit I hadn’t yet been able to make him curb. “So, what brings yah to my lair this late?”
He took off his shoes, welcoming himself in like he had half a dozen times, collapsing in his usual spot in the corner of my lumpy black futon. Patches jumped up onto the back, settling near Royce as he gave her a hesitant pat. After they were both settled he set down the folder on my coffee table still covered with takeout containers.
“We found another body,” Royce muttered, moving to lean his elbows onto his knees after firmly planting his feet on the floor. He was hunched over in deep thought as I caught him give me a glance. “I know you’re off… since…”
He paused, taking off his sunglasses to set them atop the folder. He took a deep breath, rubbing the bridge of his nose. Patches was rubbing up against his back now for attention that he wasn’t going to give. I knew he blamed himself for what had happened but it wasn’t his fault. I wish I could have told him I was fine. I wanted to tell him that that Jinn couldn’t have killed me with an injury like that… but I couldn’t. He couldn’t know what I was. I couldn’t tell him or I’d be sent back to the bottle for who knows how long.
“Hey, Bass…” my voice was low but it reached his ears when he turned to give me a smirk at hearing his nickname, “you’re my partner – tell me what you need me to do.”
Ha…. well that was unexpected… didn’t think Jaya would make a comeback. If you don’t remember Jaya – she was a free genie I wrote about a while back [Her First Appearance Is Here]. Maybe my mind is telling me something… XD
Bay’s Lake is a merchant hub that is close to the Derm border. Still considered part of the west, Bay’s Lake welcomes anyone from anywhere wishing to trade or sell goods. They carry exotic items from the far south like silks, perfumes, and jewellery.
Bay’s Lake, although considered a neutral border town, is occupied by Dermite. Those living or visiting will see the guards marching in their royal blue capes, dressed in their polished silver armour and carrying their banners of the noble Silver Gryphon. The guards mainly keep to themselves and rarely involve themselves in the lives of those on the island village, but if there is trouble they are the first ones to act.
The village is not only known for its large marketplace, but for their fishing. As the largest body of fresh water, Bay’s Lake is the main producer of sturgeon, lake trout, and during certain times of the year salmon. They also harvest the kelp and snails.
The population of Bay’s Lake fluctuated depending on the year. During the winter Bay’s Lake has around 200 living within the village, while during the spring, summer, and fall there can be over 500. There are several inns and taverns to accommodate any travellers taste, and with music playing every night by the docks there are things to entertain.
If music isn’t your passion, there are plenty of trails and shops to explore. There is also an assortment of food to try from roasted chestnuts, and dried fruits to the locals favourite suckling pig and kelp chips.
If you are passing through to the north, or making your way to the south don’t forget to stop off through Bay’s Lake for a visit. It is worth any detour.
“The fishin’s great, and the inns are cheap.” -Brek Brambldo (Fish Bank)
“The view of the lake is absolutely inspirational.” -Daislee Patree (Calin)
“Cooler than I’d like but the food made up for it.” -Kal’kin Gir’mli (Syder)
I stared into my black coffee.
The black tar tasting liquid rippled to the same beat my foot tapped against the center leg of the table while my iPod blasted upbeat techno into the cheap dollarstore buds that rested in my ears. After all these years living on this rock with humans nothing compared to the buzz of energy that radiated from hearing a favorite jam shuffle onto my playlist.
Okay, maybe there were two things…
Across from my table at the small bistro off of Main and Queen, a young man sat hunched over tapping away on his cellular contraption. Never had much interest in getting one of those devices – never saw the point. I understood the benefits sure, but I didn’t have friends or family to really justify the outrageous amount of mullah needed to have one of those things. Then again, I’m a different breed… an older breed that remembers a time when these finger tapping screen junkies were working themselves to the bone to survive.
It wasn’t his obsessed typing that caught my attention, though.
In the big city watching the crowds of people – just like you – sucked into their 300 dollar mini-computer was a common sight. It was how he was typing… what he was typing that intrigued me.
While humans searched for answers in words written on a tiny glass screen I found my answers in their body language.
He was too busy to notice the young waitress deliver his latte, not because he had to get to the next level of Candy Crush but for a more personal reason.
The wincing of his brows, the sniffling of his nose… the slight glistening of tears that he held inside as to not make a scene in public were what I saw. The biting of his tongue, the frustrated pulling of his hair and the panicked look around the bistro before forcing himself to take a sip of the latte to try and calm himself – were all I needed to know.
I knew what the kid was going through. I had seen the same painful expression on hundreds of human faces. Although I could hear him screaming out in his head for help, there was no need to listen to the details.
Mom. Sick. Hospital. Not much time.
Humans make connections with each other. They depend on one another and strive to impress each other. That’s something my kind never cared for. My kind were independent beings; some stuck in crappy jobs, while others – like myself – had the luck to go out on their own.
A freelancer, some could say.
I listened to the boy. He was like a broken recorded with his thoughts, and although I loved to have helped him right then and there, there are some rules a freelancer like myself needs to follow.
Accident. Life support. Oh God!
The big bearded guy in the sky had nothing to do with it. He gave humans free will. With that free will gave the big guy some overdue time off. Of course that’s my own assumption. Never met the being humans called God, Allah… whatever. I didn’t follow their mythology… heck I didn’t follow anything really.
What can I do? How can I help her?
“Come on, kid.” I grumbled into my coffee before taking a sip. My bright blue bang fell in front of my face before I combed it back with one hand, while the other set the chipped mug onto the table top. My black fingernails tapped on the sides of the mug, contrasting against the white porcelain.
He only had to say one word.
One word all humans said constantly like it was some kind of greedy prayer.
I looked through the metal grated table at my rolled down combats. They were practical enough with the amount of travelling my job required and with this no-shits-given, free-style appearance I had going with my half shaved head and thick framed ‘hipster’ glasses no one really paid much attention to me. I liked the glasses ‘cause they reminded me of the pair I busted in the 80s, not ‘cause they were hipster.
Whatever the hell a hipster was anyway?
I sat up in my chair, leaning on my elbows along the edge of the unbalanced metal bistro table. From the years of experience that one word ‘I’ usually had the one word I needed to complete this boy’s request.
Come on! I wanted to scream, grinding my teeth in anticipation.
I want her to be okay. I wish she’d live through this.
I stood after hearing the magic word.
Walking behind the boy, I rested my hand on his shoulder. He didn’t notice me, and didn’t see me. I was but a shadow standing behind him. With knowing that I leaned down close, moving aside his brunette hair and whisper: “You got your wish.”
He didn’t turn around, as I gave him a pat on the shoulder. He reached to take another sip of his latte before his phone rang.
Hopping down into the crowded street I heard him stand abruptly from his place at the table. His voice filled with joy at hearing the news.
Awake? Pull-through? Live? She’ll live!
I’ve been around long enough to know that everyone has a wish.
Some wish for money, fame, or fortune.
Some wish for vanity, luck, and love.
Those are all things humans’ desire but over the centuries of working with them the one thing I found most commonly wished for was time.
You want time with loved ones. You want time with pets. You want time for school work. You want time with special projects. Everywhere I went, I would hear the same damn thing.
I wish I had more time…
Sure, there are those of my kind who live off of materialistic desires.
I was one of them once…
Now that I’m a freelancer, though, I can give my time to ensure they have the time they desire.