Archive for April, 2011

What’s Next

April 7, 2011 2 comments

Having finished draft four of Wolf: Sins of the Father, I thought it might be fun to brainstorm in public a bit.

What follows is roughly the shape of the world my next novel will occupy. It may be the world of the Five Nations. It may be something else, but these are roughly the things I am thinking. Of course, anything I write here has a long way to travel before it makes it into a novel I write. And I’m not talking about the story so much as the general feel of it all.

  • The Golden Age is in the distant past or never came.
  • People are flawed. Some do the right thing for horrible reasons and some do horrible things for what seem to be the right reasons.
  • True evil only exists in the supernatural. In the mortal, we get shades of grey.
  • True good exists only in the supernatural as well.
  • There are supernatural forces of good and evil. And there is magic.
  • Magic is difficult and mysterious. It is not science by another name. It is an ineffable ‘black box’ of logic and rules.
  • Heroes and villains both come from humble origins.
  • Humble origin <> blacksmith’s apprentice. From a certain perspective, just about anything can be of humble origin.
  • Evil seeks the destruction or subjugation of all life.
  • Good fights this.
  • But. For whatever reason, Good chooses to fight through flawed mortals in far more subtle ways than evil.
  • People, generally, lack faith in anything but themselves.
  • Friendship and camaraderie are important
  • and horribly fragile.
  • and nigh impossible to reconstruct after breaking.
  • Resources are limited. In the Golden Age, they were far less limited than the current age. Remnants of this Golden Age still scatter the landscape in ruins.
  • The Golden Age was marked by hope. The death of the age meant the death of hope for the common man.
  • The Golden Age cannot be recovered. The best one can hope for is an age less horrible than the current one.
  • Cowboys are cool, but I’m still too close to the Dark Tower. So, no cowboys.
  • Hobbes was right. Locke was wrong. The state of nature is: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. Locke would weep.

There is more, but that’s a good broad stroke. The more gets into specific things this list has got me thinking about.  No specifics will find their way here, yet. 

Categories: Admin, Fiction, Novel Tags:

Fourth Draft Finished

April 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I had things I wanted to write about today. Instead, I finished my fourth draft. It’s continuing to improve.

It’s a personal story, as the subtitle Sins of the Father implies. I‘ve enjoyed that. It’s somewhat different for a fantasy novel. The armies marching to war are more peripheral than central. It’s a story about a man and his father. And their fathers.

My next novel, I want to write something more epic. World shattering. I don’t know if I’ll shatter the world of the Five Nations or another one, but whichever world grabs my eye next should tremble. It will not fare well. The very foundations will shake.

Categories: Fiction, Novel Tags:

An Autumn War (Review)

April 5, 2011 Leave a comment

I just finished book three of the Long Price Quartet by David Abraham. I’m fairly late to the party on this series, but it also isn’t as well known as it should be. Book three, like the first two, is excellently written. In this novel two cultures go to war. As in real life conflicts, neither side is pure. There are the characters we’ve followed for two novels, so we’ve grown attached to them. But the general of the army building against them has a very different perspective on the culture and way of life than we’ve been given over the first two books.

Abraham does a great job of capturing human frailty and weakness. How even when we try to be our best, we often do it for the wrong reasons. The cultures of his world are both rich and feel real. This is in part because they are drawn from real life analogs. The Khaiem are Asian in nature, and the Galts are European. But he doesn’t stop there, he invents rich histories that he layers into the tale to flesh out his world.

It’s almost a fictionalized version of of Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations theory, which is, in short, that cultures, not nations, will war in our modern era. Huntington theorizes that as a single, dominant hegemon loses power, there is a period where cultures vie for dominance.  This fits with the world of The Long Price, as the power of an ancient empire fades, other cultures rise to fight against its previous dominance.

Diffidence also figures into this in abundance. In Thomas Hobbes-speak, diffidence is the idea that we as people, or nations, can never truly know the motivations of our neighbors. Because of this, we tend to expect the worst of people.

The characters of An Autumn War all expect the worst of the other side. Each side fears the other will attempt to wipe them out, these fears, of course, become self-fulfilling. It is all very marvelous and well-written.

Unfortunately, Abraham and the series’ original publisher have, seemingly, split, so the four books are not all available in paperback. The first three are, but the fourth is hardback only. However, Abraham has a new publisher who has published the four novels in two ‘omnibus’ editions. As a person who reads primarily on the kindle, I am torn between supporting his new publisher and buying the, cheaper, omnibus edition and buying the, too expensive, kindle edition from the original publisher.

I also wonder if a forth book in the series is needed. I feel fairly sated. Terrible things happen by the end, but not things the world can’t recover from. I will likely pick up the fourth simply because I’ve enjoyed the first three so much- not out of a burning desire to ‘find out what happens’.

Categories: Review

Pronouns, Pronouns- They are everywhere.

April 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Some days I have to struggle to come up with a topic to write about her. Other days, a topic hits me in the face. Today was one of the latter.

I highly overused pronouns in my novel. I think it’s only becoming apparent to me because the novel is only beginning to become genuinely readable. As it approaches readability like light approaches the center of a black hole (perhaps never to actually reach), I notice increasingly small details and problems. Today, I spent most of my reading time adding in proper nouns. Because maybe, just maybe, the reader would like to have some idea who is speaking other than ‘she’ or ‘he’. Bah. I’m so horrible at this.

Other than the aforementioned pronoun problem, things are looking pretty decent. I think the voice is smoother, and my foreshadowing is less jarring, which is nice. I read a third of the novel so far today, which means it’s reading faster or I’ve just about got it memorized. Perhaps a bit of both. It does pull me along, though. I had to fight to get through it when I worked on Draft 2. That was many moons ago. My narrator is a different person these days.

This is a story on about an author who sent out review copies of her self-published book when they weren’t quite ready. A reviewer nailed her for it. She, apparently, considered cussing like a poorly spelling sailor an appropriate escalation. I want to take this as an abject lesson- there will be bad reviews of my books. I will not take it personally. People are entitled to their opinions. Even when they are being dumb-headed.

Categories: Fiction, Lessons, Novel Tags:

I Hate April Fools, But This Takes the Cake

April 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Here you will find a marvelous story written about the inability of DC residents to easily access cupcakes. It has a fantastic map. Best line: “Activists concerned with public health have recently made such "food deserts" a social justice issue.”

Maybe even funnier than the article, is commenters on the site are confused as to whether it’s real or not. Tremendous.

I want them to get the LHC up and running as a through-time-communicator, so I can send a message back to myself.

“Self,” I’d say, “Read this article. Going to grad-school will make this article the highlight of your day at some point in the future. I have had real discussion, with real people even, about topics not so dissimilar from this. And they were heated.”

Then, I will watch myself tremble. Because it is bitter. And because it is my heart.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Draft 3, Complete

April 1, 2011 2 comments

Today, I put the finishing touches on the third draft of Wolf: Sins of the Father. It is better than it was.

In this process, I’ve discovered that odd drafts are ‘my’ drafts, and even drafts are drafts to be shared. I still have a load of work to do. Draft 4 will be a revision draft, and should take about a week to complete. Draft 4, like draft 2 before it, is about reading through, finding typos, making sure scenes blend nicely, and overall refining things a bit. I may add some words, but I expect to subtract a great many as well.

I am nearing what I can do on my own, and I fear a decision point approaches. Do I try to get this published, or do I self-publish? I vacillate eternally.

Categories: Fiction, Novel Tags:

How to Love Like an Artist

April 1, 2011 Leave a comment

I am mostly responding to Austin Kleon’s marvelous piece, “How to Steal Like an Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me)”. It’s good, and you should read it.

A stupefyingly brief summary of his post is this:

  1. Steal like an artist (nothing is original).
  2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to make things.
  3. Write the book you want to read (Write what you know like.)
  4. Use your hands.
  5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
  6. The secret: do good work and put it where people can see.
  7. Geography is no longer our master.
  8. Be nice.
  9. Be boring.
  10.   Creativity is subtraction.

It’s a good read. He delves into each of these points to greater or lesser degrees. The lion’s share of his post is on point 1, but everything there is good. I read it and immediately started scribbling an expansion of his point 3.

    Austin points out ‘Write what you know’ is the mantra of beginning writers and those who teach them. He says, it should be ‘write what you like’ instead. The things you like, the things you enjoy, are the things you will most ardently pursue.
    I agree with that, but I wanted to add that I think should be ‘write what you love’. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to write what you lust. It is easy, for me at least, to fall into the trap of having an idea that feels great. I want to spend the rest of my life writing just about this idea! I exclaim in my head. But, before I get around to working on that idea, because I have a different major project on my plate, the intensity of my love, my lust, for that idea cools.
    Instead, we should look to have a deeper, richer love for what we work on. Not fleeting lust, but enduring love. Because one day, at four in the morning, when you have a chest cold, inspiration will strike. And if your bedrock is based on the mercurial, flighty emotions associated with quick-fix lust, you’ll just roll over and go back to sleep. If you have something deeper for your work, you’ll force yourself to scramble around in the dark, cursing yourself all the while, to find your pen and your stupid, black of course, notebook. You’ll write everything you can think of down, and four will turn to five. And you’ll want to spend more time with it.
    Really, writing what you love is a lot like being a husband or a father. There will be times it annoys you. There will be times you want a break, and times you don’t think you can handle anymore. But, if you love it, you go back. You force yourself to do the work you don’t always like, because you love it. Because the world would be a dark, hopeless place if you didn’t have your work to go back to.
    If you’ve ever heard of the three Greek words for love (eros, agape, and philia). You know what I mean. Eros is seductive and burns intensely, but it dies quickly. Agape love is a deeper, richer experience. And sometimes it’s a burden, but it’s a burden you love to carry. Philia is more about keg-stands and fist-bumps. I think. I may have that bit wrong.
Categories: Lessons Tags: