Thursday, June 21, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway with Elyan Smith

Help me welcome Elyan Smith to Pants Off! He also brought a great giveaway so be sure to read and comment.



For me writing has always been inherently intuitive. I'm not someone who reads many textbooks or listens to panels or lectures on how to write, I just do what I do, but I remember reading about a panel more or less recently that discussed two approaches to world building. The panelists distinguished between creating the world first and then populating it with a story or making up the world as they wrote the story. 

Now, I write contemporaries almost exclusively, so it didn't occur to me to think of anything I do as world building, per se, but I suppose even with worlds that are as close to the physical reality as possible, they are still worlds that need to translate from the writer's imagination to the page and from there to the reader's imagination. 

The closest analogy I found to explain how a story or a world develops in my head is probably that of a first person video game. Think ego shooter, just less violent (for the most part). Think roleplaying game maybe, where you look at the world through the character's eyes and move your video game character through the world as if you were actually moving in the world yourself. With every step you take, every time you turn your head, a new detail or a different angle or a different aspect appears that remains hidden as long as you don't look at it. The game loads as you progress through it rather than existing and allowing you an overview of the world your character isn't aware of yet. 

On a technical level this plays into style (I tend to write fairly detail-focused) and point of view (very tight third for me, most of the time). On a storytelling level though it leads to the story developing as I write it and as the character discovers it -- I'm obviously not a plotter. 

I generally start with a) a scene and b) a specific tone or atmosphere. Almost automatically there's a character who perceives that specific scene and is somehow connected to that specific atmosphere, without me, as the writer, really knowing anything about that character or the world they're in other than the aspects contained within that first moment. 

Portside opens with weather (windy, wet) and with some details in that world (abandoned building, peeling paint, water in the distance) and only then introduces the character by way of wind creeping into his clothes and pulling at his hair as he stands in the scene. That first idea sets the tone for the rest of the story even if I have, at this point, no idea who the character is and who he will turn into. 

The character then begins to quite literally walk through the world, and like in a video game, the fronts of buildings, associated thoughts, impressions and memories, are loaded into the story to populate the world around the person who leads me wherever he or she is going. It's a very visual way of writing. In fact, I tend to write scenes as if I'm filming them, including panning shots, zooms and close-ups, cuts and different camera angles. 

So ideally, when someone reads a story of mine, it'll be a bit like watching a film. All the necessary details should be in place and implied, unfolding for the viewer as the character moves through the story, building with a few repetitions of themes and ideas and somewhat of a 'that's kinda cool' moment somewhere. 

I only started thinking of this in terms of world building when I began discussing writing with others and kept insisting that I didn't built worlds, I only wrote what was already there. I like the realities of the world we live in, I suppose, and I usually try to put them onto the page as immediate and as direct as possible, allowing the reader to be the person seeing the world the same way I do, and the same way the character does. 

* 
~As part of the Portside blog tour, leaving a comment will enter you into a drawing for a $20 Amazon gift certificate.~





Blurb:
Life on the dole in a dying town is defined by drinking when you can, smoking to pass the time, and, if you’re gay, going down to the barracks at the old port to get some. Iwan’s got the cigarettes and the booze down pat, but he lacks experience, which has him sticking to online porn and watching other people. 

Everyone else seems to have moved past getting what they want, while all Iwan can think of is what could go wrong. He knows who he is, regardless of labels. But no matter how often his best friend Lyn tells him to just go for it, he doesn’t trust other people to see past his mismatched body. 

Paying for what he’s afraid to get for free is a long shot, but it’s better than just watching, and it’s better than porn. It doesn’t change the world he lives in, but it changes him. 


BIO 
Elyan Smith lives in the southwest of England. He works in research during the day and spends most of his free time writing LGBT fiction. Portside is Elyan’s debut release. You can find him at his Website and his Twitter, and purchase a copy of Portside at Riptide Publishing. 

Please join Elyan at his next blog tour stop here.

32 comments:

  1. So ideally, when someone reads a story of mine, it'll be a bit like watching a film.

    This is exactly how I would have described your world building. It wasn't so much how the character effected the world around him but how he fit into the world he existed in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Kassandra, I'm glad that came across. That's pretty much how I see it when I write it, really. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

      Delete
  2. Love the explanation - having played quite a few rpgs & the occasional shooter that made perfect sense :)
    I loved all the detail in Portside; that really enhanced the story for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny enough, I don't play video games at all. Never have, really, but it seems to come closest to how things unroll in my head as I write. Thanks for commenting :)

      Delete
  3. the analogy to a video game was really interesting and I know enough about video games to really get what you're talking about. I am also really looking forward to reading Portside, it looks excellent and it's definitely been on my short list of books to buy for a while now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad that worked for you. Between all the analogies and metaphors, it seems to be the one that fits best. And I hope you'll enjoy Portside once you get around to it. Thanks very much.

      Delete
  4. I love books with a cinematic feel to them...this sounds great!

    vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope it actually lives up to my fancy talking about it, but thanks. Appreciate the comment.

      Delete
  5. I've always said a good book plays like a movie in my head.

    Jase
    vslavetopassionv@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd agree. I love to get fully immersed in a book where the rest of the world just drops away as you read it. Thanks for stopping by, cheers.

      Delete
  6. thank you for sharing the insight of your writing process...interesting blurb too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment, and thanks :)

      Delete
  7. I love when a book draws me into the world inside it.

    Geoff
    decepticonverse@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here, same here. Thanks, Geoff.

      Delete
  8. As a reader, I think that is something like how I experience the development of a good story. It's neat to hear that some writers approach it similarly. I'm looking forward to reading your book! mm_reads(@)live.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Meghan. It's kind of fascinating talking to friends of mine who approach writing and setting their stories from completely different angles and go about it differently, but yeah, this one's mine. Hope you enjoy the book when you read it. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  9. Hi Darien, thanks for giving me the opportunity to stop by and talk about writing for a bit. Massively appreciate it. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  10. If a book is good and descriptive but not too much so, it's always a fine line, I fall into the story.


    Jibriel.O at web dot de

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I agree. It's pretty easy to go entirely overboard with it. Like with most things when writing, it's all about keeping it balanced. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

      Delete
  11. There is nothing more pleasurable than reading a book that absorbs your mind. Those are the stories you don't forget and tend to reread.

    lincat56@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here. I love when books manage to do that since the experience, for me, tends to me so much more intense than with movies.

      Delete
  12. Sounds great! Enjoyed the post and the blurb looks great!
    I look forward to getting this soon!! <3

    Thank you for the contest!

    Judi
    arella3173_loveless(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much. And I hope you'll enjoy the story when you get around to it. Cheers.

      Delete
  13. Your post was interesting to get your perspective on writing the scenes and character. From your excerpts, there is a definite atmospheric mood and setting to your story.

    Jess1
    strive4bst at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much. I'm not much of a believer in magic somehow happening as you write things, but beginnings of stories have to click for me to then properly unfold. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  14. All my best reads are like wathcing a movie...I like your way with words and worlds...count me in please! Mi

    chellebee66 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, yup. Or, you know, better than watching a movie ;) Thanks very much, and done.

      Delete
  15. I agree with the movie analogy, a good book plays in my head as I read it. I even cast my favorite actors in my mind movie. As a new (to me) author I look forward to giving you a try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not just a new to you author :) I am actually pretty much, entirely, new, but that's a lovely thing to hear. Thanks very much.

      Delete
  16. Well it's not always good if one is too absorbed in a book, I'm always reading on my way home and was so lost in my book, that I missed my station and come up after the tube passed three other stops.

    lyra.lucky7ATgmailDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I've ever quite managed to do that, but I've certainly had moments where I lost an entire day to just wanting to finish that one book, so I can relate in that sense. Thanks. :)

      Delete

Go ahead and talk to me!