There is a difference between something being essential, and it being necessary. If you take your favorite book and strip it down to what is merely essential to tell the story, it would be butchery. The end result would horrify you. Essential is the bones of the story, but the soul lives somewhere else.
Also, worldbuilding touches all aspects of your story. It touches plot and character as well. If you don't know the culture your character comes from, how can you know what he's really like? You must know your characters on a much deeper level than you would if you just shrugged your way into a cookie cutter fantasy world.
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On the other hand, winning awards is cool. Aside from the warm fuzzy, it creates publicity, and that helps spread the word about the book. Plus, this award was a plaque of some sort. I could have used that for all sorts of things. Obviously it would be useful for decorating the barren walls of my house and intimidating my enemies, but that's just for starters.
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I thought of all the others who had tried to tie her to the ground and failed. So I resisted showing her the songs and poems I had written, knowing that too much truth can ruin a thing. And if that meant she wasn't entirely mine, what of it? I would be the one she could always return to without fear of recrimination or question. So I did not try to win her and contented myself with playing a beautiful game. But there was always a part of me that hoped for more, and so there was a part of me that was always a fool.
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However, while being able to think about two things at the same time is a terribly convenient, the training it takes to get there is frustrating at best, and at other times rather disturbing. I remember one time I looked for the stone for almost an hour before I consented to ask the other half of me where I'd hidden it, only to find I hadn't hidden the stone at all. I had merely been waiting to see how long I would look before giving up. Have you ever been annoyed and amused with yourself at the same time? It's an interesting feeling, to say the very least.
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I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.
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I really enjoy work to a purpose. Maybe that makes me kind of strange. In some ways - and this is going to sound awful - it could be that writing is the worst job that I've ever had. Because it's so much more important to me and there's so much more opportunity for failure and I have so many people depending on me. In some ways it's the most satisfying, the most gratifying, and the most rewarding job I've ever had. But I actually would say it's probably the worst job I've ever had too.
So Stapes conducted a dinner for just the two of us, then informed me of a dozen small but important mistakes I had made. Setting down a dirty utensil was considered crude, for example. That meant it was perfectly acceptable to lick one's knife clean. In fact, if you didn't want to dirty your napkin it was the only seemly thing to do.
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Bad business last night. Chances are, that would be all Graham had to say about the death of a man he had known his whole life. These folk knew all about death. They killed their own livestock. They died from fevers, falls, or broken bones gone sour. Death was like an unpleasant neighbor. You didn't talk about him for fear he might hear you and decide to pay a visit.
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But laugh?" He pressed the flat of his hand against my stomach. "Here lives laugh." He ran his finger straight up to my mouth and spread his fingers. "Push back laugh is not good. Not healthy." "Also cry?" I asked. I traced an imaginary tear down my cheek with one finger. "Also cry." He put his hand on his own belly. "Ha ha ha, " he said, pressing his hand to show me the motion of his stomach. Then his expression changed to sad. "Huh huh huh, " he heaved with exaggerated sobs, pressing his stomach again. "Same place. Not healthy to push down.
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I shook again, tasted plum, and suddenly the words were pouring out of me."She said I sang before I spoke. She said when I was just a baby she had the habit of humming when she held me. Nothing like a song. Just a descending third. Just a soothing sound. Then one day she was walking me around the camp, and she heard me echo it back to her. Two octaves higher. A tiny piping third. She said it was my first song. We sang it back and forth to each other. For years."I choked and clenched my teeth. "You can say it, "Auri said softly."It's okay if you say it." "I'm never going to see her again, "I choked out. Then I began to cry in earnest. "It's okay, "Auri said softly."I'm here. You're safe.
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Perhaps the greatest faculty our minds possess is the ability to cope with pain. Classic thinking teaches us of the four doors of the mind, which everyone moves through according to their need. First is the door of sleep. Sleep offers us a retreat from the world and all its pain. Sleep marks passing time, giving us distance from the things that have hurt us. When a person is wounded they will often fall unconscious. Similarly, someone who hears traumatic news will often swoon or faint. This is the mind's way of protecting itself from pain by stepping through the first door. Second is the door of forgetting. Some wounds are too deep to heal, or too deep to heal quickly. In addition, many memories are simply painful, and there is no healing to be done. The saying 'time heals all wounds' is false. Time heals most wounds. The rest are hidden behind this door. Third is the door of madness. There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind. Last is the door of death. The final resort. Nothing can hurt us after we are dead, or so we have been told.
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I was in my early twenties and I was, to be quite honest, a bit of a punk. A swaggering entitled straight white guy who hadn't but a lot of thought into what it might be like to be anything other than a straight white guy. Because when you're a straight white guy, you don't have to think about that...
If you are eager to find the reason I became the Kvothe they tell stories about, you could look there, I suppose." Chronicler's forehead wrinkled. "What do you mean, exactly?" Kvothe paused for a long moment, looking down at his hands. "Do you know how many times I've been beaten over the course of my life?" Chronicler shook his head. Looking up, Kvothe grinned and tossed his shoulders in a nonchalant shrug. "Neither do I. You'd think that sort of thing would stick in a person's mind. You'd think I would remember how many bones I've had broken. You'd think I'd remember the stitches and bandages." He shook his head. "I don't. I remember that young boy sobbing in the dark. Clear as a bell after all these years." Chronicler frowned. "You said yourself that there was nothing you could have done." "I could have, " Kvothe said seriously, "and I didn't. I made my choice and I regret it to this day. Bones mend. Regret stays with you forever.
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