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Trying To Be A Little Less Epic

April 6, 2012 Leave a comment

If anyone asks me about my current main project, Under the Darkened Moon, I do not lie about it.  I freely admit that I plan it to be the first of a series of stories set in the world of Arrnna.  Even if I write something else in the meantime.  However, even though the story is part of an epic fantasy saga I have purposefully tried to write the novel in a less than epic fashion.  Hey, you have to get published first is the way I see it.  Then you have to prove your story can sell second.  Trying to sell an epic five, six or seven book series to a publisher without a track record is certainly a daunting task.  Selling one book with the hook that there can be much more if the publisher desires is certainly more doable.  So it is important for me to make sure that the story in Under the Darkened Moon wraps up completely by the end of it.  I would hate to sell the first book of a saga and never be able to complete it because I never get to sell the second.

Some people that have been reviewing the drafts, giving it good reviews too, have pointed out that the book seems like it could be easily stretched into a two book set.  Originally, to tell the truth, it was headed that way.  The entire story was at first around 300,000 words (two books of approximately 150,000 words each).  But really about half of that story was only of interest to me as the author.  It really was not things the reader needed to know and it seemed to drag in parts.  So I edited the book down to about 140,000 as of right now.  Hey, I look at it like this; if I sell this book and get a chance to sell another, I can always go back and tell the story in those “lost” 150,000 words as a collection of short stories to supplement the novel.

I am about halfway through my current edit.  I hope to have it done sometime around June.  Whether or not it will get another polish or not is still up in the air.

How I Rate Books I Read And Review

March 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Ok, so I get a really snarky email last night from someone that was not at all pleased with my review of Ian Irvine’s latest book Vengeance. I gave that book three of five stars which is a rating of average. But this upset person, obviously a fan of Mr. Irvine’s work, claimed that I gave the book a poor rating.

No, if I had given it none or one stars THAT would have been a poor rating. See, on a five star scale, three is average. That means I thought Vengeance was an average fantasy novel. I gave it that rating because of its many faults which I discussed in the review. To get more than an average review, a story has to really inspire me to give it such a lofty rating. To give you an idea as to what would it take to get higher than three stars? Well, Kristen Britain’s Green Rider got three and a half stars from me and The Alchemist got four stars which is one of the highest ratings I have ever given a story.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Executioness, the companion to The Alchemist, rated a fairly miserable two stars in my book.

It takes a lot to get me to rate a story higher than four stars. But three stars does not mean the story was bad. I see on a lot of sites like Amazon with reviews of books with people who are apparently very eager to give clearly mediocre books “five star” praise for some reason. Almost every darn book has a host of praise proclaiming it essentially the greatest story ever written. I usually ignore these glowing reviews by people that have obviously not critically read the story they are reviewing. And logic tells us that not every book can be “five stars”. Yet there are the reviews and averages ranging up in the 4.5+ star range for so many books.

I believe that I give the book a fair shake. Three stars, like I said, is an average representation of literature. The book is neither great nor horrid when it gets such a rating. It means that the author told a story and that story was conveyed in an average fashion. The story did not make me jump for joy nor did it so repulse me that I want to have the memory of having read it surgically removed from my mind. Don’t get upset with me because I did not go gaga for your favorite author’s latest release. If you really think his or her book is five stars and among the best books ever written then more power to you. I just rarely see a book that I would consider elevating to such a lofty standard.

And lest you think otherwise, I don’t even hold my own stories that I am working on among those high standards. I am not that delusional.

Going In For The (Over)Kill

February 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Something I have noticed in a couple of the novels I have been reading lately is that there is a lot of, what I consider, overkill in certain passages. Especially when it comes to descriptions of things and events in the story.

These passages turn me off because they seem to drone on and on describing what seems to be mundane items or events in exorbitant detail. Even when the item or event is important to the story, I find myself flipping forward and scurrying past the repetitive words. Especially when I feel the author has already sufficiently described what is happening. Sometimes brevity is best I feel, and I certainly do not mind the occasional embellishment to add emphasis. But when it seems to happen over and over, I find myself and my mind starting to wander away from the story and having to refocus.

I am sure some people like this sort of writing. Apparently I am not one of them however. I just unnerves me that a good story gets sidetracked by an over use of over zealous descriptions. I wonder if they are just used in such an overkill fashion to add girth to a story.

I already have gone through my novel Under the Darkened Moon and ripped out huge swatches of these sorts of descriptions because they annoyed me so much. Maybe by doing so it makes the story too simplistic. But to me it makes the story better.