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Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1814 Posts

Posted - 17 Mar 2010 :  17:10:22  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi, Kajehase. What you're talking about is what writers call creating a strong "hook." It is good to pull a reader into the story right away. It's vital to pull an editor in right away, particularly when you're still trying to establish yourself as a pro. If an editor doesn't already know your name, and the first few sentences don't grab him, there's very little chance of him reading any farther. So, if the story turns into a masterpiece on Page Two, too bad. You still won't ever sell it.

So yes, you do want to invest a good deal of thought and work into the first few lines. The ideal is to rivet the reader's attention with the very first sentence, although that isn't always possible.

One reliable method for creating a strong hook is to start out with the characters in action. By action, I don't necessarily mean violence and combat, although it can be that. But you want to show the characters doing something interesting.

There are other methods, too, but I think you often need a strong prose style to make them work.
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Rosemary Jones
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
148 Posts

Posted - 10 Apr 2010 :  05:35:54  Show Profile  Visit Rosemary Jones's Homepage Send Rosemary Jones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kajehase

Well, just to make the wait for the next question a bit shorter, to anyone who might like to answer: How much work do you put into the first few paragraphs of a story compared to the rest of it? (I know Lindsey Davis, who writes crime-novels set in the Flavian-era Rome, has said that she gives this special attention so as to attempt to pull the reader in.)



The first line gets rewritten several times, at least in my case. I'm madly jealous of Dick Francis for coming up with some of the best hooks in the business. He had one classic that went along the lines of:

"I never liked my father's third wife, but I didn't kill her."

I believe in the second sentence,the narrator reveals the police are standing on the steps and preparing to question him.

Why is this all so great: because it reveals a great deal of the hero's problem (he's under suspicion of murder) and issues (a father who remarries often and troubled relationship with that fact).

In fact, as the Brits would say, bloody brilliant.

"Call me Ismael" is my second favorite opening line.

Rosemary Jones
www.rosemaryjones.com
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Jorkens
Great Reader

Norway
2950 Posts

Posted - 10 Apr 2010 :  10:02:15  Show Profile Send Jorkens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rosemary Jones

quote:
Originally posted by Kajehase

Well, just to make the wait for the next question a bit shorter, to anyone who might like to answer: How much work do you put into the first few paragraphs of a story compared to the rest of it? (I know Lindsey Davis, who writes crime-novels set in the Flavian-era Rome, has said that she gives this special attention so as to attempt to pull the reader in.)



The first line gets rewritten several times, at least in my case. I'm madly jealous of Dick Francis for coming up with some of the best hooks in the business. He had one classic that went along the lines of:

"I never liked my father's third wife, but I didn't kill her."

I believe in the second sentence,the narrator reveals the police are standing on the steps and preparing to question him.

Why is this all so great: because it reveals a great deal of the hero's problem (he's under suspicion of murder) and issues (a father who remarries often and troubled relationship with that fact).

In fact, as the Brits would say, bloody brilliant.

"Call me Ismael" is my second favorite opening line.



My personal favourite. While not really a novel I think Alfred De Musset's more or less autobiographicThe Confession of a Child of the Century deserves a honorary mention here:

"Before the history of any life can be written, that life must be lived;so that it is not my life that I am now writing."
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Kajehase
Great Reader

Sweden
2104 Posts

Posted - 12 Apr 2010 :  15:45:25  Show Profile Send Kajehase a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My favourite opening (today, at least) would have to be from Lindsey Davis's The Silver Pigs:

"When the girl came rushing up the steps, I decided she was wearing far too many clothes.

It was late summer. Rome frizzled like a pancake on a griddleplate. People unlaced their shoes but had to keep them on; not even an elephant could cross the streets unshod. People flopped on stools in shadowed doorways, bare knees apart, naked to the waist - and in the backstreets of the Aventine Sector where I lived, that was just the women.

I was standing in the Forum. She was running. She looked overdressed and dangerously hot, but sunstroke or suffocation had not yet finished her off. She was shining and sticky as a glazed pastry plait, and when she hurtled up the steps of the Temple of Saturn straight missed me, just. Some men are born lucky; others are called Didius Falco."

And then it gets better.

There is a rumour going around that I have found god. I think is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.
Terry Pratchett
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Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1814 Posts

Posted - 12 Apr 2010 :  20:20:28  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
The Falco series is terrific. I'm two novels behind on reading it. I need to get caught up soon.
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Kajehase
Great Reader

Sweden
2104 Posts

Posted - 27 Aug 2010 :  15:57:58  Show Profile Send Kajehase a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Another question, of a perhaps less serious nature, but still something I'm curious about: Has any of the writer-types (published or otherwise) ever had a GREAT idea for a story form in your mind so complete that you've even started jotting down notes to remember it, only for you to realise that "Oh bugger! This is that movie/book/play I watched/read some time ago? Or is it just me?

(Three years ago, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I'd even started naming the characters when I realised why it all seemed so familiar.)

And to Richard, if you've not caught up to Nemesis yet - she's begun to kill off recurring characters. To say more would be a spoiler, but expect to be a bit shocked by the end of the book.

There is a rumour going around that I have found god. I think is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.
Terry Pratchett
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Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1814 Posts

Posted - 27 Aug 2010 :  17:35:51  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Kajehase: I've often started working with a plot idea, then realized, "Oh, damn it, that's such-and-such." I suspect it happens to many writers.

Of course, there's a judgment call involved here, because it's extremely difficult to come up with a plot that's entirely unlike anything that has gone before. But I find that when the similarity suddenly rears up and smacks me in the face, that probably means I need to start over.

I'll brace myself when I get around to reading Nemesis. Butcher's most recent Dresden novel is kind of like that, too. Must be something in the air.
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Sandstorm
Seeker

Canada
80 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2011 :  05:41:49  Show Profile  Visit Sandstorm's Homepage Send Sandstorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Question. Is writing about halflings prohibited outside the Forgotten Realms setting? I know that elves, dwarves, magic, dragons etc is all fair game, but is the word halfling itself copywrited?
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Dennis
Great Reader

9933 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2011 :  06:15:19  Show Profile Send Dennis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
No. Halfling is originally another name for J. R. R. Tolkien's Hobbit and a gnome.

Every beginning has an end.
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Sandstorm
Seeker

Canada
80 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2011 :  06:25:00  Show Profile  Visit Sandstorm's Homepage Send Sandstorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
oh i know that its a different term for hobbit, but even hobbit im not sure if id be allowed to use in a personal work.
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Kajehase
Great Reader

Sweden
2104 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2011 :  07:36:58  Show Profile Send Kajehase a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There's halflings in Golarion, (including some of the fiction-pieces) so my guess would be that the term is safe for use for your own work. However, everyone who sees the term will think either "Lord of the Rings" or "Dungeons & Dragons," so you may want to consider whether you want to include them.

There is a rumour going around that I have found god. I think is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.
Terry Pratchett
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Kajehase
Great Reader

Sweden
2104 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2011 :  07:40:44  Show Profile Send Kajehase a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh, and if I've understood things correctly - D&D halfings were originally called hobbits, and the change was named because that term (hobbits) were deemed to be part of the Tolkien estate's intellectual property. So: halflings good; hobbits bad. And I'm not going to comment on two- or four-legs.

There is a rumour going around that I have found god. I think is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.
Terry Pratchett
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Sandstorm
Seeker

Canada
80 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2011 :  08:09:28  Show Profile  Visit Sandstorm's Homepage Send Sandstorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well ya, Tolkien was Hobbit, Halfling is DnD, Kender is dragonlance. . . and Im aware that Pathfinder uses halflings, but they use the whole thing, so im sure theres some sort of legal agreement there.
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Sandstorm
Seeker

Canada
80 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2011 :  08:16:45  Show Profile  Visit Sandstorm's Homepage Send Sandstorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
but youre right. . . any attempt at that might hinder a work for people would assume it to be dungeons and dragosn related. not that thats wholly a bad thing.
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Christopher_Rowe
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
879 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2011 :  16:18:37  Show Profile  Visit Christopher_Rowe's Homepage Send Christopher_Rowe a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Sandstorm

but youre right. . . any attempt at that might hinder a work for people would assume it to be dungeons and dragosn related. not that thats wholly a bad thing.



You have an awesome screen name!

My Realms novel, Sandstorm, is now available for ordering.
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Sandstorm
Seeker

Canada
80 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2011 :  18:31:14  Show Profile  Visit Sandstorm's Homepage Send Sandstorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Haha! Thanks!! Its very sentimental to me, so thats nice to hear :)
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Dennis
Great Reader

9933 Posts

Posted - 21 Jan 2011 :  02:04:49  Show Profile Send Dennis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Christopher_Rowe

quote:
Originally posted by Sandstorm

but youre right. . . any attempt at that might hinder a work for people would assume it to be dungeons and dragosn related. not that thats wholly a bad thing.



You have an awesome screen name!



Your novel's title, I believe.

Every beginning has an end.
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Sandstorm
Seeker

Canada
80 Posts

Posted - 21 Jan 2011 :  02:26:02  Show Profile  Visit Sandstorm's Homepage Send Sandstorm a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dennis

quote:
Originally posted by Christopher_Rowe

quote:
Originally posted by Sandstorm

but youre right. . . any attempt at that might hinder a work for people would assume it to be dungeons and dragosn related. not that thats wholly a bad thing.



You have an awesome screen name!



Your novel's title, I believe.



no actually. character's last name from the first book I ever wrote.
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Dennis
Great Reader

9933 Posts

Posted - 21 Jan 2011 :  02:44:36  Show Profile Send Dennis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Um, I was referring to Chris's novel. Which I checked---and yes, that's the title. Awesome cover, too.

Every beginning has an end.
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gomez
Learned Scribe

Netherlands
254 Posts

Posted - 19 Apr 2011 :  07:23:20  Show Profile  Visit gomez's Homepage Send gomez a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One of those few covers that actually depicts a recognizable scene from the book.
Slightly off though as I believe Cephas is bald, I don't think he has spiky hair.

Gomez
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Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1814 Posts

Posted - 20 Jul 2011 :  17:46:14  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Recommended for aspiring writers:

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Science Fiction to Agents and Editors" by New York Times best-selling
author, editor, and creative consultant Philip Athans, Thursday, July 21,
2011 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM EDT.
http://www.writersdigestshop.com/product/sell-your-fantasy-science-fiction-w
ebinar/?r=phil
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WizardsHerb
Acolyte

United Kingdom
23 Posts

Posted - 06 Oct 2011 :  22:15:26  Show Profile Send WizardsHerb a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have some questions regarding writing direction, permissions and copyright. They're not all novel-writing related, but I think this is likely the most suitable thread for them.
I had a look around until I developed a headache, so apologies if some of these are answered somewhere nearby or if I roll badly on my Diplomacy.

For FR fiction, are WotC requiring that it all be set and styled for the 4th edition of D&D?
What kind of target audience do they ask for?
Do they ever request product placement, such as asking for character race or class to be changed to match a new sourcebook?

Do WotC or Hasbro give permission to use the D&D/FR copyrights? Does it depend on what the property would be used for?
I've read that the director/producer of the Dungeons & Dragons films acquired the exclusive movie rights in 1990 from TSR, and noticed that despite the critical and commercial flops of the first two, he still seems to have the rights for making more. To whom or where should I look for information on how those rights are assigned, and permission to use it similarly?

Finally, well, I can at least Google exactly what is considered D&D copyright and not general fantasy, so that's one less question than I intended.

Thank you. :)
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Azuth
Senior Scribe

USA
404 Posts

Posted - 07 Oct 2011 :  00:52:27  Show Profile  Visit Azuth's Homepage Send Azuth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by WizardsHerb

I have some questions regarding writing direction, permissions and copyright. They're not all novel-writing related, but I think this is likely the most suitable thread for them.
<snip>.

For FR fiction, are WotC requiring that it all be set and styled for the 4th edition of D&D?
What kind of target audience do they ask for?
Do they ever request product placement, such as asking for character race or class to be changed to match a new sourcebook?

Do WotC or Hasbro give permission to use the D&D/FR copyrights? Does it depend on what the property would be used for?
<snip>
Thank you. :)



Wizards of the Coast bought TSR, so any agreements with TSR are now agreements with WoTC. With respect to copyright usage of the characters in fiction, Wizbro allows you to use the characters in creating works for submission to them for publishing consideration only. The guidelines, which are updated often, can be found at http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/writersguidelines

You're always free to use copyrighted material if it in submission of suggestions to the copyright holder. This is considered "fair use" under the Copyright Act. You may not, however, publish or otherwise distribute the material without the permission of the copyright holder. As to which world, editon, et cetera, I have found that publishing houses prefer books in the current setting. All of the new novels are in the era of the Fourth Edition, but the "rules" aren't exactly a subject of most books. For example, in a book your character either hits or misses when swinging, it doesn't matter if you use THAC0 or the D20 system as the outcome is predetermined by you, the author. Remember: what you submit is never what gets published. Editors (bless their wicked souls) pull sentences and paragraphs and chapters as needed. It's not a fun process, but that helps insure "continuity" in shared-world settings like the Realms. Hope this helps.

Azuth



Mod edit: Removed the period after the URL, so it would work.

Azuth, the First Magister
Lord of All Spells

The greatest expression of creativity is through Art.
Offense can never be given, only taken.

Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 07 Oct 2011 04:15:27
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WizardsHerb
Acolyte

United Kingdom
23 Posts

Posted - 07 Oct 2011 :  01:41:28  Show Profile Send WizardsHerb a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you, Azuth. :)
The link does not work for me. Is it only accessible under special accounts of some sort on the Wizards website? It tells me that the target does not exist.
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Azuth
Senior Scribe

USA
404 Posts

Posted - 07 Oct 2011 :  04:14:27  Show Profile  Visit Azuth's Homepage Send Azuth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
make sure it didn't put a period on the end of the URL.

Azuth, the First Magister
Lord of All Spells

The greatest expression of creativity is through Art.
Offense can never be given, only taken.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
36784 Posts

Posted - 07 Oct 2011 :  04:16:00  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Azuth

make sure it didn't put a period on the end of the URL.



I was about to say that. I've removed the period so that it'll work now.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
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WizardsHerb
Acolyte

United Kingdom
23 Posts

Posted - 07 Oct 2011 :  14:12:08  Show Profile Send WizardsHerb a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks guys, Spot check failure on my part. :P

Unfortunately the link doesn't help me with my questions. :(
Would it help if I elaborated?
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
36784 Posts

Posted - 07 Oct 2011 :  14:17:14  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by WizardsHerb

Thanks guys, Spot check failure on my part. :P

Unfortunately the link doesn't help me with my questions. :(
Would it help if I elaborated?



It certainly won't hurt.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
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Azuth
Senior Scribe

USA
404 Posts

Posted - 07 Oct 2011 :  15:36:19  Show Profile  Visit Azuth's Homepage Send Azuth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by WizardsHerb

Thanks guys, Spot check failure on my part. :P

Unfortunately the link doesn't help me with my questions. :(
Would it help if I elaborated?



You do not require permission to create/submit a work to send to a copyright holder containing their copyrighted material. What they'll decide to do with it is entirely in their realm, regardless of what the pages on their Website say. You may be asked to change to a different time period, you could also be asked to change the color of someone's hair. The key is: write the story you want to tell, and submit the first thirty pages to WoTC, exactly as they request it. If you're looking for movie rights, that's a whole different ball game.

In movie production, first someone goes to WoTC’s office with a pitch. Then, if they like it, they find a studio to whom they will (or have) contract(ed) the rights, and you go to that office and make a pitch with them. If all goes really well, the studio likes it, they hire a member of the Screen Writer's Guild to turn the story into a script, hire a director, a producer, and executive producer, cast the movie, budget the movie, and film the movie. You might get to write the novelization of the movie if it was your story, but even that isn't a given.

Azuth


Azuth, the First Magister
Lord of All Spells

The greatest expression of creativity is through Art.
Offense can never be given, only taken.
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15724 Posts

Posted - 23 Oct 2012 :  00:23:19  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So I was talking to my GF last night, and I think I may have inadvertently made a faux pas (on another, related site).

Is there a 'pecking order' in anthologies? Does it matter to anyone "who goes first?", or what order they are in, at all? This is something I had never even considered until I was asked myself - I just never gave it any thought.

I unfortunately don't have too many FR anthologies anymore, but I think that if the anthology is connected to a related series, then the author of the main series goes first... am I correct in this thinking? What if the anthology isn't related to a series?

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone

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