Overcoming AI limitations in design.

In my first articles and videos on using AI art for book covers, I pointed out some of the real limitations of the current AI, which many laymen are going to miss: They are bad at composition, that is, mixing forms, scenery, etc. at different planes in one image They are bad at certain details, specifically hands, eyes, and noses. So, how can we overcome these issues? Well, if you are willing to do a little extra work, it’s easy. Instead of trying to fit every element you want in a picture into the AI prompt, you can make several…

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Using AI images for book covers

Today on my weekly Livestream, I designed a cover for an upcoming book using an image generated by “AI”—Midjourney, to be specific. The first hour has the cover design: There are several of these programs around with the idea that they can render images based on word prompts. Here are a few examples I made with the prompt “elven fantasy white castle towers on fire with apocalyptic purple sky and stormy ocean“ Here are the “final 2” images I came up with after upscaling and redrawing them: And here is the cover (note: in the video you will find out…

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Characters: The Drivers of the Story

The characters are the people (or other beings) that execute the plot. It is their motivations that drive the action of a story, and their motivations are at least partly derived from the setting. A coherent plot will be dependent on characters whose goals and desires are believable and whose actions have an impact. Characters fall into many archetypes (which I will cover later on), but in a story, they tend to fall into several broad functions: Protagonists Antagonists Auxiliary characters A story can have more than one protagonist and more than one antagonist, or it can have no antagonist…

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Story Setting – What’s Important

“Setting” covers a large field of elements—not just the place and time but all the extensions of those things. A story taking place in Ancient Rome is not merely a story in a city in Italy in the first century. There is the architecture (which looked different when it was new compared to the ruins we see today). There is the dress, but that is more than the costume that covers the body of an actor. The toga had social significance to the people in Ancient Rome beyond its aesthetic appearance and specific functions, and at certain points in time,…

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The Essential Elements of a Story

Stories of all lengths, formats, and in all types of media have three core areas that make them up: Setting Characters Plot The setting is the place and time in which a story takes place. It can be explained explicitly, or it can be inferred by context, but all stories take place in a where and a when. Even a fantastical story about a man trapped in oblivion has a place and a time. The characters are the sapient or sentient beings (to be very broad) that act out the story. Most often, characters are people, but they could be…

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Odd changes in writing methods

One of the things I started doing at some point was writing my books in the same format as the paperback, that is, on a 6×9 or 8×5 page (depending on the projected length of the book) with the appropriate margins and fonts. I’m not sure when I started doing this, but I think I started a year or two ago. Before that I always wrote in a more standard manuscript format: 8.5×11″ with 12 point Times New Roman font, single-spaced, with half-inch indents. I liked this form factor for a long time because it put a lot of words…

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The Problems with Letting Hollywood Adapt Books

Problem 1 – The producers and executives don’t really WANT to adapt anything. Rather, they adapt things because they already have a proven track record, making production simpler and less of a gamble. Twilight was a huge hit, so of course, a movie adaptation will also be a huge hit. The studio is most interested in making a movie that people will watch, not making a faithful adaptation of a book (or anything else). Problem 2 – The creatives who work on the films don’t really WANT to adapt anything, either. They want to make their own vision, with their…

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Kindle Vella is Live

And I have a book available there: There are 11 episodes available now (there will be 38 total for this run), and the first three are available for free. Since I know many of the people who read this blog are authors or artists themselves, let me run through a few things about Vella, now that is live: First, there is a dissonance between what established authors are already trying to do with the platform, and what the platform was designed/intended to do. Vella is supposed to be a serial fiction platform, not a straight book-reading platform. There are 11…

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“If you don’t push, you’re lazy.”

Around 15 years ago, I sat in on a little talk with Apostolos Paraskevas, a Greek composer and guitarist (among other things) working at Berklee College of Music (in Boston). I got to spend a couple of days hanging out with the guy, but the best thing he said came in that little informal talk with some composition students. One of the college students asked, “How do you compose music?” Apostolos got this odd look on his face, then he smiled slightly and said, “Asking a man how he composes music is like asking a woman how she gives birth.”…

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Auto-Allegory, or how Starfire is a Terrible Mother

I don’t like to give publicity to garbage like this, but it’s such an instructive moment for writing and understanding people I can’t help myself: Basically, this is about DC superhero Starfire’s daughter (Raven, I think), who is an angsty 90s-2000s goth girl who is also obese and a lesbian, and of course resents her beautiful mother. The surface level complain is obvious – this is bad fan fiction and denigrates established characters, pushes a gratuitous woke agenda at the expense of a good story, and is generally low-quality writing and art. Add to that the fact that it will…

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