Pregnancy in Fantasy?

Conflict drives stories.

It’s probably a good thing.

But it seems to mean that the only time a pregnant woman is allowed “on screen” in a story is when the fact of her pregnancy causes conflict.

And I wish we could explore not only the tense and exciting parts of pregnancy (like the reveal and the delivery), but also the invisible, quiet bits.

Strangers couldn’t tell I was pregnant until just about yesterday (I’m 33 weeks along). Not too long ago a nurse at a new-patient visit, after taking my height and weight and blood pressure, was stunned I wasn’t worried that my last period was five months before.

~Three months. Can you spot the fourth person?

~Three months. Can’t spot the fourth person yet, but she’s there.

From week 1 there’s so much going on mentally and emotionally that affects only one girl. Is it enough to make a story out of? Maybe a subplot?

Can anyone point me to some fantasy that fills this gap? (And I do mean fantasy. I recognize there’s a good amount of contemporary fiction with pregnant characters.)

Happy Nesting! I mean, Yarning!

Concrete Emotions

“Concrete” is the opposite of “abstract.” It’s also a hard, durable substance that can be used to make foundations, walls, roads, etc.

The story I’m currently rewriting involves a lot of emotion. The main characters each have a magical ability to sense the feelings of other people or creatures they are bound to. One thing I’m trying to do as I rewrite is make the emotions real to readers.

My friend Oddstuffs is very good at this. When she’s published and you can all read her work, watch for this. She has a unique knack for describing emotions in visceral terms that grab you by the front of your shirt and make you pay attention.

So instead of writing something like, I could sense Chayña’s disappointment, I say, I felt the chill of her disappointment, adding in a term you can reach out and feel. But even better is when I can link the feeling to a visceral sensation both my main character and readers associate with the emotion, often with a simile or metaphor. I felt the chill of her disappointment–like icy water sliding down my throat.

Personifying emotions is another tactic to sprinkle into a story. I could write about how rage clawed at the inside of my chest, or somesuch, rather than simply stating I was enraged.

These kinds of concrete descriptions are extra fun when the text is read aloud. They add a lot of life to a narrative, and can make it more memorable. They’re durable (like concrete).

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Happy Yarning.

Book Report: A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

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I finally got around to reading Megan Whalen Turner’s fourth book set in the world of The Thief. As usual, I loved the characters. They’re intelligent, but sometimes their emotions get the better of them. They have quirks and backgrounds and plans, and it’s fun to see them grow and juggle the calls of leadership and personal goals.

The setting was as magical as ever.

I wish I’d read this right after The King of Attolia, since I’ve forgotten lots of little things that happened in the first three books. This one looks back on The Thief a lot, because those events were a defining time for Sophos.

My only gripe for this book would be the shifting voice and point of view. Large chunks of the text were in first person (Sophos telling his story, bam, no problems there). But there were also periods of third person limited, in which the POV switched between different characters. I found myself reading so fast that I missed these shifts, and it became a blur of third person semi-omniscient.

I definitely recommend this series to teen and adult fantasy readers.

And for anyone who left off the series after The King of Attolia (because Sophos didn’t look as interesting as Gen), read on! There’s plenty of Gen in A Conspiracy of Kings.  (Also, Sophos is awesome too.)

Mirrors of Struggle

I always try to draw on my own emotions and experiences when writing, to make my characters more life-like and relatable. But sometimes a story idea itself springs from my struggles, and perhaps that is when I do my best, truest work.

Why? Why do I change my name and my face, my culture and maybe my planet, to tell a story from my own life? It might be to gain a little distance, a little perspective and objectivity.

But I think I do it out of loneliness.

I create another person in another place going through my struggle so I feel less alone. Finally there is someone who understands every iota of my pain, and works through it alongside me.

That’s what I hope my best, truest stories can do for someone else in this world, maybe just one person I’ve never met, who picks up a story out of loneliness and finds she is not alone after all.

In writing this out, I’ve realized something else: if I’m looking for the balm that comes of deep, shared pain, I’ve already found Him. I hope I can remember that, going forward, and lean on my Lord Jesus Christ more than I am wont to.

As I write, and try to help, and try to heal.