The Choice is Yours
September 11, 2020
Good Friday, everyone.
Sit back and relax, for the weekend is here!
Here are some new and neat things on Rahaman Writing:
Optimized site text for better search results
Added a new French/English poem about light: Light Translation
Added Page 8 of my dark fantasy flash fiction series: The Baron's Journal
Also, in addition to the above, I wrote a bizarre and epic fantasy adventure based on the lore created from a poll on Twitter. For those of you who don't know, Twitter's #WritingCommunity is great virtual place for interacting with writers of all kinds from all over the world. In times when going outside can cost you dearly, it's immensely helpful to be able to interact with like-minded creative types. Not just writers, but some musicians and visual artists overlap as well from their respective Twitter communities.
This bizarre adventure I speak of arose from a very specific series of events. Firstly, the Twitter user @LiteraryMemes1 tweeted a poll asking her fellow writers which type of supernatural creature she would be in a fictional setting(with traditional mythical creatures). Many thought this was a fun idea, so they did the same, and each poll became more and more outlandish, as memes sometimes do, until the user @Schan_42 made a similar poll, but with significantly less traditional creatures(you'll see.)
This then sparked a discussion of how interesting it would be to see all of these elements in one, physical, confrontational, setting; as well as how awesome art depicting such a scene would be. All that was needed was an artist talented and crazy enough to make it happen.
Suddenly, that talented and crazy artist, @Ezre131 appeared and took up the challenge. Shortly, they delivered THIS magnificent work:
At such a sight of unbound creativity I could not help but feel inspired! Therefore, using the hilarious poll and this magnificent piece of art as a guide, I wrote a 4000~ word short story depicting a fantasy adventure unlike any other. A weird, wacky, fun romp that ended up being far more action-packed, witty, and deep than I thought it would.
If that sounds like the kind of tale you're into, click below to read it!
As I was editing the above story, I discovered the essence of creativity.
Where it comes from and how it comes about.
Choices, born from a will. Which appear because they can.
The Baron of Beholder's Writing Tip #10:
What you create is not only the result of the choices you make in your preferred medium (painting, writing, piano, etc.), but the choices you make in life as well. You will likely find similar boundaries in both the real world and your mental, creative one.
If you ever get stuck in the process of completing your next project, try doing something different in your life. A change, a new kind of choice, can help you find your way. That which seems blocked may not be. You don't have to break through a wall, sometimes it's better to go around, above, or even below it.
New choices, new decisions, and new questions can lead to new answers.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have such freedom, though.
Choices evade our scholarly protagonist this week as he is stuck within the walls of a library, sheltering which others like himself from a plague spreading through the flying city.
Echo From Beyond
September 18, 2020
The Ender of Weeks!!
Here are some happenings and new plans for Rahaman Writing:
Updated many subtle site features(mostly technical, back end stuff)
Plans to add more to The Baron's Journal
Plans to add more cover art and random art
Plans to post new reviews and interviews on the Interview & Reviews section
I have had more time recently to evaluate the kinds of content that I consume, as well as reflect on why I like the things that I do.
Reflection and meditative thought has been incredibly useful for me, not only for my writing, but for all aspects of my life.
I feel it is something we should all do on occasion, because it often yields positive results and a deeper understanding of not only ourselves, but the world around us.
While doing some of this self-reflection, I took a look at the kind of music I usually listen to.
Depressive Dungeon Synth and Minimalist Post-rock for somber days.
Death Metal and Punk Rock for more determined ones.
You get the idea.
I also realized that the only thing all these bands/albums have in common are that they evoke similar intensity of emotion from me. Though, all different and in their own way, they all can send my mind on an adventure, regardless of whether I'm going for a stroll or typing away in my basement.
Setting the mood and getting yourself into the right state of mind can be tremendously helpful for writing. I'm sure many of you know this already, but for those who don't, I have defined my next tip!
The Baron of Beholder's Writing Tip #11:
Music does magical things to organisms; it can make use happy, sad, or even angry! Though, technically, sound is just the way molecules move in the air. Think of it like energy, instead of matter. As an audio-video technician, it killed me a bit on the inside to leave out so many details, but I digress.
Let this real world magic summon sentiments from within you. Find something new from a different genre that sounds interesting, take suggestions from people you know, or even creep the recommended section.
There's a lot of easily obtainable music out there, in digital form, and most of it is very cheap! Most bands that I look up online tend to sell full digital albums now for only a couple bucks each, and in professional quality as well!
Find the soundtrack for your world.
Certain melodies and rhythms can trigger unexpected sensations in your mind. If nothing you currently listen to has this effect, then try something new!
For Athos, the only music to him is the silence of the library in the midst of a pandemic and the rustling of pages as he, and the other scholars, await news of the city's state.
But the book Athos has chosen to read in this time is quickly becoming as mind-shaking as his current situation. For, within it, he begins to uncover the most ancient secrets of The Sky.
September 25, 2020
Welcome to the end of the week!
Friday has arrived!!
Here are some awesome additions to Rahaman Writing:
Added more Cover Art (The Garden Withers)
Added Page 9 of The Baron's Journal
Added Day 1 (Pages 1-9) of The Baron's Journal
Added a new interview (2nd) to the Interview Section
Added a new review (another 5 stars!) to the Reviews Section
Added another story to the Flash Fiction Section (Post-Mortem Dream)
Updated quotes on homepage
One of my favourite parts of writing is creating new, interesting creatures. Or even manipulating the form and function of existing ones. The Baron's Journal; Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones; and many of my short stories all include weird, curious, and/or deadly beings of various amounts of sentience.
But designing monsters/animals/humanoids can be tricky. If one does so poorly, they would end up with something no one would be able to take seriously.
For example: It would not be the best if one's fictional race of plant-people came off as hilariously dumb when the writer is going for environmental allegory and a more serious tone.
In all uses of the term "Design", the best results are those that marry fashion and function.
The Baron of Beholder's Writing Tip #12:
A great way to design a new creature it to start with the 'function', the core, of your creation and then work outwards to it's 'fashion'.
We'll use dragons(in western mythology) as our control example.
Pick a purpose, any purpose! Then determine how this creature fills, or attempts to fill, this purpose.
Dragons are meant to be terrifying and powerful, so they need to be dangerous! Make them breathe destruction (fire, frost, poison, etc.), be intimidatingly larger than a person, and give them an aerial advantage with wings.
Now that your creature has a purpose and a basic form, you can define how this form appears to your readers.
Dragons use wings to fly, but how many wings? Two, four, six, or more? Are they bat-like, bird-like, or insect-like?
When you reach this point of creature creation, write it into a story and see how it would work in your preferred setting. Considering its environment will help you tweak and change certain aspects of its function and fashion to give you not only a being that fits into your world, but also captures the readers attention for the duration of the tale!
Though, creature creation can appear in many forms. Even in a fun, fictional card game!
After briefly resting his mind while observing such a game, Athos finishes reading the second part of the book, Theories of the Sky: Volume One, and learns of the fascinating sources for the knowledge bound within this tome.
Knowledge from Eons Past
October 2, 2020
Here are some new things on Rahaman Writing:
Added Page 10 of The Baron's Journal
Plans to update text on the subscription form
Plans to make a Halloween quiz of some sort
Plans to do more Halloween stuff in general
Recently I have noticed that my mind is wandering towards thoughts of dwarfs. You know, the Tolkien kind: Gimli, Thorin, Durin, etc.
I've always admired their stoic nature. Their determination and fortitude. And, if I'm being honest, their stubbornness as well!
Their steadfastness in all they do is inspiring and something I feel myself encouraged by. In the face of adversity and setbacks, it is impossible not to feel daunted or even worn down at times.
But do NOT give up.
Everyone gets knocked down once in a while, but you only truly lose if you STAY down.
Every time you get back up is a victory.
Each and EVERY time.
But why are dwarfs so resilient?
What gives them such a strong will?
Is it gold and gems?
Their faith in themselves?
Probably all three, and much more.
They simply care about things. A LOT. And by dwelling on their passions they find reasons not give into the darkness of defeat.
Which brings us to this week's writing tip.
The Baron of Beholder's Writing Tip #13:
Not permanently, anyways.
Setbacks, great and small, are inevitable. But you can get back to doing what you love whenever you want. You have the power to do so.
Remember the reason you started working on your project. That spark of inspiration and the joy brought from delving into your craft.
Look back on old, successful works.
Enjoy some of the content that inspired them (films, books, art, music, etc.)
Maybe even share works you are proud of with those who you think would like them.
Every day is a battle, but you are not unarmed.
Your pen can be a sword and your inspiration a shield.
This week, we learn some of the history and legacy of the cyan-skinned folk residing within the flying city. Athos has a chat with a reliable source and learns a great deal more about his strange and fascinating world.
Calendar of the Aetherians
THE DARKEST TIME OF THE YEAR
October 9, 2020
Welcome to the weekend.
Here are some new additions to Rahaman Writing:
Added Coffee, Book, & Candle to the Friends Page
Added add Page 11 of The Baron's Journal
Updated text on subscription form
Updated Inner Expanses description on the Home Page
Plans to add a Halloween Quiz
Plans to implement a surprise Halloween event!
October has arrived!
Which means it's time for Halloween hype!
I usually enjoy this time of the year. It's a perfect excuse to be creepy and embody darker concepts!
...More than usual I mean!
Vampire, werewolves, and zombies are seen everywhere, but to the delight of people instead of dismay. The festive, fun nature of candy-giving and dressing up as spooky characters was very important to me growing up. Not only because I have a significant sweet tooth, but because the atmosphere was always intriguing. These costumes and practices hinted at strange, unknown things. Things in the dark that fascinated me.
I doubt Halloween is the sole reason I write dark fantasy and horror more than other genres, but it is undeniably an important one! For Halloween is a time of the year when darkness truly reigns.
Have an itch to write something spooky, but don't know what?
Fear not! That's what this week's writing tip is about.
The Baron of Beholder's Writing Tip #14:
There are a lot of themes to choose from in regards to horror, but which is right for YOUR story?
I would recommend writing about what scares you. This way, your prose and dialogue will feel more significant. Your characters will have more relatable and specific reactions that will help to hook any reader. Even those who do not share the same fears, for many human reactions to terror manifest in similar gestures. Just be sure to tie in smaller details!
Fear of something physical, like spiders?
Sometimes people have a crawling sensation on their skin after encountering one of these eight-legged individuals, even if they never make direct contact. Write how your character(s) shudder and scratch at their skin uncomfortably.
Fear of something ethereal, like specters?
Maybe a threat to your character's mental state could have more impact. Internalize their reaction at first, describe what is going on inside their mind. When they see the form of this ghost, it is possible their brain would not be able to process everything properly due to fear and could bend, break, and crumble from the terror; possibly causing a whole host of physical reactions like sweating, fainting, or frantic stammering.
Fear of something unknown, like a sinister presence?
Be more subtle and describe how the character(s) are faring emotionally. Heightened aggression, shedding tears uncontrollably, hysterical laughter, etc.
The best horror stories usually combine aspects of the above examples, depending on the subject matter.
The key to writing good horror is being able to portray why things are scary, and it is easiest to do so while thinking about your own fears and how they affect you.
Speaking of terror, our scholarly protagonist wakes up with a frightful start in the this week's installment for Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones.
He awakes to fire and screaming.
AN ODE TO HORROR WRITERS
October 16, 2020
I have acquired another award for this year's Halloween Writing Competition!
The winner will now be GUARANTEED a spot at Evil Expo 2021. This is a phenomenal way to network in a fun, and sinister, environment! You can set up a vendor spot to sell your goods, join a panel and talk to a LIVE crowd about your work, and much more!
Stay tuned, I'll have more information about this soon.
I will tweet about it and update the Competition Page in the near future.
Frightful Friday has arrived!
Here are some spooky selections on Rahaman Writing:
Added a new review quote to the homepage
Added a new review to the Reviews section (another 5 stars!)
Added Page 12 to The Baron's Journal
Completed the Halloween Competition submission form
Cancelled the Halloween quiz in favour of more engaging Twitter polls
Updated the cover art for Burning Blood across the site
Horror comes in many shapes and sizes, for fears are the same.
Everyone has a slightly different idea of what makes for good horror, though there ARE objective qualities that make good horror stand out from the bad.
Video games, films, and TV shows tend to manifest the worst aspects of bad horror more than literature. These usually take the form of jump-scares, intentionally poor lighting for "effect", and implying that the audience should be afraid instead of actually scaring them. Here's a quick breakdown of why these aspects suck and should be removed from not only all media, but from the planet:
A cheap tactic that surprises and startles people.
This does NOT induce genuine terror, but rather a cheap imitation.
It's lazy, uninspired, and sadly all too common.
Spooky things happen at night and night is dark, everyone knows this. But intentionally obscuring the visuals in media is, again, LAZY! This lack of lighting allows the viewer to imagine the sinister things happening, but this is the opposite of how visual mediums are meant to reveal aspects.
There is a big difference between a gradual lead up to a reveal and shrouding important imagery because the monster costume looks shitty in proper lighting.
Just SHOW us the scary things.
To HELL with the budget-saving.
That's the producer's problem, not ours.
Dumping exposition onto the audience via a report on the radio or in a newspaper article is fine for some contextual information, but NOT if you want people to emotionally connect with that is happening.
Show us the sinister event that took place as if we were there!
Show us the bloody story you want us to be invested in!
I guarantee seeing a werewolf or vampire attack a human will have a greater impact on the audience than some plebeian reading the Toronto Star.
I've read my fair share of bad horror fiction; this medium is not immune to criticism.
Though, I have noticed that my complaints are usually more subjective qualms about the setting and characters.
Furthermore, bad horror can be as inspiring as good horror!
But in vastly different ways.
Good horror makes me want to read more.
Bad horror makes me want to write something better than the tripe I just read.
This brings us to this week's writing tip!
The Baron of Beholder's Writing Tip #15:
It may seem simple, but here are a few things you should consider while reading:
-Why you like or dislike what you're reading
-How you would do things differently if it was your story
-What are some things you could use to enhance your own work
Writing more will improve your skills, but reading more will improve your knowledge about what makes and breaks a story!
If you're looking for some horror authors to check out, I would highly recommend H.P. Lovecraft over all modern authors, but there are others whose work I also enjoy.
M.R. James wrote tales that incrementally ramp up in terror using subtle and fluid elements. I learned a lot about how to reveal the spookiness of art within some of my stories from his fascinating work.
Richard Matheson wove stories that blend elements of science fiction and horror to create vivid and sinister worlds. He's also one of the few writers who can include funny or amusing bits into his horror and have it feel balanced and natural as opposed to awkward and forced.
Edgar Allan Poe was capable of drawing out a great deal of thoughts and feelings from readers. He is able to use a minute amount of words to convey sinister and sickening imagery, but in a gentlemanly manner.
This week in Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones, the fleeing scholars make their way through the burning city, doing their best to avoid the apathetic gods and the 'cleansing'.
Along the Canal
Pacing of a Predator
October 23, 2020
Welcome to the weekend.
Here are some haunting happenings on Rahaman Writing:
Added Page 13 to The Baron's Journal
Updated the Halloween Competition submission form
A new award added!
Excerpts from unpublished work are now acceptable as entries!
Redesigned the homepage
Added the newsletter subscription form to page footer
While lurking in my basement, contemplating my many schemes and plots, I've noticed that I tend to always choose the long-game over short ventures. In my newsletter series, Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones, I'm creating and putting together the pieces of a world for my next book (that I have yet to begin writing), Salt on the Waves.
I'm also writing a dark power-fantasy homage to The Divine Comedy and tweeting/uploading the pages every week. I plan to expand The Baron's Journal's world (with some changes!) as Hell is a very interesting place to write about.
It's almost like I'm stalking my prey, in that the completion of more books is my target.
Ever moving closer, slowly, steadily.
A notion which brings us to this week's advice.
The Baron of Beholder's Writing Tip #16:
Pacing and anticipation can be great tension builders. Particularly if you reveal subtle details consistently, yet sparsely. This is especially important for horror, where you have to balance between telling too much and telling too little.
What the precise balance will be will depend on the length of the work, the target audience, the subject matter, and many more factors.
Try to do one thing at a time.
Reveal one part of the monster's existence (yellow eyes, the smell of blood-soaked fur, a horrid howl, etc.) as a human character encounters them briefly upon a moonlight night while camping.
Then maybe later let this same character find a huge footprint closed to a dirt path, allowing the reader to gauge the size of the threat.
After that, possibly reveal the corpse of a deer, or another large animal, with wounds inflicted by your monster (gashes from claws, teeth marks on bone, acidic residue, etc.) to force the implication of impending death into the viewers' minds.
Hideous fiends with foul intent threaten Athos, and his colleagues, once more as he and the Aetherian scholars reach the harbour. Together, with the Bitterwind and her crew, they fight their way past the tongue-beasts and escape the city just as a familiar threat approaches.
Fleeing the City
October 30, 2020
Happy Halloween weekend!
Here are some haunted happenings on Rahaman Writing:
Added Page 14 to The Baron's Journal
Adjusted many page URLs for better SEO
Plans to add more lore to the Reference Guide
Plans for some website layout re-designing
Tomorrow is an important day!
Firstly, it's Halloween.
Secondly, it's the end of Rahaman Writing's first-ever Horror Competition!
From a field of 64 entrants (way more than I thought I'd have) I narrowed the running down to 10 exceptional entries for the short list.
That's not to say those that didn't make the top 10 weren't good. The competition was very stiff! I had to dwell quite heavily upon the scoring of each and every entry. So if you are, or know, someone who made the top 10, give yourself, or them, a pat on the back!
But there can only be one winner.
One with a flawless structure.
One with impeccable style.
One with the spirit of Halloween within them.
And the winner is...
This poem has excellent rhyming and a structure that was appropriate for the theme. There's nothing more Halloween than a Jack o'Lantern! Describing the process of going from an ordinary pumpkin to the symbol of the season in a brutal and vivid manner is genius. Especially when at first the reader does not realize it is produce being butchered.
But don't take my word for it, check out this incredible poem for yourself!
If you enjoyed Lucas' poem and want to check out more of his work, you can find him on Twitter:
He also has writing on Wattpad:
As for others who have placed in the top 10, don't worry, I didn't forget about you!
Tomorrow, I will be revealing the Hall of Halloween!
A page on Rahaman Writing dedicated to the best entries submitted. These will stay on my site until Halloween 2021. Feel free to check back tomorrow night, but fear not, I will include a link to the page in next week's newsletter and will be tweeting about it this weekend.
Thank you to everyone who participated!
I appreciate you all joining me this year for some Halloween fun!
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #17:
Write about what you love.
It's fine to experiment and branch out, but never forget about what drew you to writing in the first place.
Furthermore, don't ever let anyone talk you out of writing about your passion.
It doesn't matter who doubts you.
It doesn't matter what they say.
Stay true to yourself, your content, and your style.
Athos and the Aetherian scholars experience some horror of their own this week as they flee the burning city. During their escape, they look back and watch as the colossal red eel reappears and begins wreaking havoc.
Fury of the Deep
A special thanks to some of my collaborators who helped me make this event more awesome than it otherwise would have been. The inclusion of another newsletter feature and a convention invite were amazing prizes to add that I'm sure attracted many writers to my fledgling competition.
Click on the images below to visit these amazing websites!
Coffee, Book, & Candle is a great site for those looking for blog posts pertaining to reviews, supernatural fun, and much more!
Evil Expo is an annual gathering for writers, artists, and all other creative types who prefer the darker side of things.
Tickets are on sale now!
November 6, 2020
Welcome to the weekend.
Here are some new things on Rahaman Writing:
Added the Hall of Halloween (competition information, the winning entry for 2020, and the top entries for 2020 as well!)
Plans to add Page 15 to The Baron's Journal
Plans to add more lore to the Reference Guide
Plans to re-design the layout
It was an immense joy to hold and judge a writing competition. Due to the success of this year's contest, I will try to do an even bigger and better one next year!
Until then, however, please be sure to check out the winner and the top entries if you need to scratch an itch for good horror.
In addition to the plans mentioned above, I intend to redouble my efforts in completing my second book. I mean to finish editing and formatting this short story collection by the end of the month and will hopefully begin the marketing and advertising phase in early December. Looks like this is going to be either a Christmas or New Years release.
Though, between the collection editing, freelance writing/art, working on The Baron's Journal and Sky, Sea, and Stone, I'm finding it a bit difficult to balance everything. Moving forward I think I'm going to start making these newsletters a bit short in order to make better use of my time.
I will NOT be skimping on quality, however.
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #18:
Don't try to write 10 books at once. Start with 1, or maybe 2.
The desire to begin new projects and the excitement that comes with it can be alluring, but so is the call of a siren. I'm sure many of us know where this is leading, but for those who don't I shall say it plainly:
Temptation can lead to death.
Maybe (hopefully) not your literal death, but nothing kills a project like distractions.
If you get bored, try writing something more exciting into your current story. Mundane parts of your character's life should NOT be mundane for the reader, but rather informative and should give them insight into why and how the information they are taking in is relevant.
Try making your story more interesting with quirkier dialogue, flashier object descriptions, or maybe change the setting to be more unique.
Not only will this engage the reader more, but will make writing more fun and easier to focus on.
As the flying city crashes into the waves, the crimson eel attempts to disappear into the depths as well, with the city's stolen Soul within its backend maw. Though, a descending typhoon from the west heralds opposition...
Might of the Sky
November 13, 2020
Welcome to the weekend.
Here are some fresh poems and plans on Rahaman Writing:
Added a new poem, in the form of a sonnet (Alone in the Abyss)
Still planning to upload the next page of The Baron's Journal
Plans to add more to the reference guide for the SSS world
Plans to add a new cover to the Cover Art section, my first paid commission!
Big changes are happening to Rahaman Writing, though they may not be noticeable to non-subscribers. I plan on creating a page for every piece of writing. Buttons that lead to PDF files will soon be replaced.
I'm also making changes that will allow the site to feel less busy and more professional, while still retaining my trademark aesthetic:
Dark, yet alluring; like moonlit coastal woods in the night.
Creating and manipulating things is a great joy for me, as many of you are aware, but one of the most fun things for me to create is a fictional creature. In Issue #23 of this newsletter, I went over the basics of how to create a fantasy organism and used dragons as an example. Earlier in the week, I was discussing this topic with a writer friend about whether a good reference guide for creature creation existed. Neither of us could think of any, but since I consider myself qualified to give advice on this matter (professional writing + biology experience, to put it simply), I decided to make such a guide. Although relatively slowly and through my newsletter.
This week's tip is about how and why to consider one specific aspect of your fictional beasts. I will cover other aspects in the future, but let's just start with an organism's diet for now.
As before, let us use dragons as our example.
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #19:
An organism's diet heavily affects their appearance and lifestyle. To begin fleshing out a creature that fits a niche, it can be useful to consider three main things:
1. What it eats
Dragons in most western mythology feed upon large mammals like cows, horses, or sheep. Such animals live in fields that can be scouted and approached easily from the skies; easy targets from above. Though dragons are usually depicted as living in the mountains, therefore it is imperative for them to have a way to travel great distances. Wings for flying make the most sense for frequent, long-distance travel.
Although teleporting, traveling underground, or other methods could also be valid if the dragon is given the means to do so.
2. How it catches what it eats
Dragons are usually aerial predators that swoop down onto prey with claws or fangs outstretched. Being an ambush hunter of the sky would mean that to catch their prey, dragons would have to outspeed and overpower them. Size would be an advantage here, but being too big makes flying awkward, so a balance will have to be reached for realism. Snaring cows or sheep will require large, powerful talons or equally formidable teeth and jaws. Plus, of course, the required muscle to kill and/or transport food back to their home.
The method can be as wild and odd as you desire, as long as the hunter catches the prey.
Roasting food with flame breath could be a legitamate hunting technique as well!
3. How it eats
The dragon would need to either break apart or swallow its food whole. Smaller dragons would need sharp teeth to carve off chunks of flesh, but big dragons might not need any at all if all they do is gulp down prey in one go.
Again, you can be as creative about this as you want, there are no rules besides "food goes inside".
After days at sea, the Bitterwind reaches Athos' home of Orosilla. He leads the Aetherian refugees up Mount Oros to the GLRU Chapter where he hopes the loremasters will let welcome them.
Arriving at Orosilla