Nov 05 2012

The TARDIS Principle for Writing

Posted by Mathias

One thing that I dislike, but that seems to be rampant in the genres of fantasy and science-fiction, is over description.  Unless it is necessary, don’t tell me what color the tiles of the castle’s roof is.  If it’s Autumn, a short description of the color of the leaves is good, but a long, multi-paragraph description of all sorts of minutia that tells me it is Autumn is overkill.  Yes, occasional delving into literary prose is fine.  But fantasy and science-fiction authors do way, way, way too much of it at times in my humble opinion.

Those of us who read these sorts of stories do have imaginations after all.  Let us use them.  We can easily envision what the countryside our heroic knight is traveling through might look like.  So, again, unless it is necessary to the story, there is no need to go into great detail.  Besides, as I have already learned, great detail can lead to great problems with continuity.  The more detail you put in, the more you had better make sure that you remember it later on when you write the next scene where that detail comes up. (more…)

Oct 26 2012

Book Review: The Choosing, written by Jeremy Laszio

Posted by Mathias

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of The Choosing from Mr. Laszio in exchange for an honest review. 

WARNING! May contain spoilers!

The Choosing, I’m sorry to say, had a very, very difficult time even registering on my scale of 0 to 5 stars.  For the first three quarters of the book, I was seriously considering giving it less than one star.  The short reasoning for this is that this story is simply not on par with what I expect from a fantasy novel.  I think my standards are fairly reasonable.  But honestly, The Choosing feels like an unedited, or only lightly edited, draft of a story.  It is missing so much.  It does tell a story, but stumbles in doing so.  And in my opinion the story is not that solid.
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Mar 03 2012

Book Review: Vengeance (The Tainted Realm #1) by Ian Irvine

Posted by Mathias

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Note: I am using the Unabridged version for this review.

I want to start off by saying that I give Ian Irvine credit for creating a vast world with some very deep and potentially intriguing history in his book Vengeance. There are certainly a lot of moving parts to the story and the world took a long time to come into complete focus.

However I am not going to mince words beyond that. I was overall disappointed by this novel. It feels like it was rushed to press and not polished in many places.  In other places there was a lot of dwelling on minutia and then an often repeating of it.  The story started out more than all right with the heroine, Tali, watching her mother being murdered. But alas the narrative never regained that opening flare. It tried. It just never succeeded.

Shortly after the start, the story suffered from the introduction of too many characters and the flipping and flopping between their points of view with frequent rewinds past already occurred events. To me it seemed like the entire story tried to accomplish too much, too fast and was scattered. It covered too many characters and faltered in trying to flush them out, not succeeding until very late in the story arc. Character development seemed haphazard and random. The characters themselves, other than Tali, often were very ill defined until long after they were introduced taking simply too long for the characters to fill in. For example, I never felt like Rix was a strong warrior until he and Tobry were in the mountains fighting for their lives well after he was introduced and (pardon the pun which you will get if you read this book) painted strongly as a brooding, artistic type at first. I just think his initial introduction to the story, despite being a key character, was weak. Other characters which were introduced seemed too much along for the ride despite teasing their importance.

By far the character of Tali was the strongest part of this story. But despite her, throughout the book I felt like I was in the middle of a Tuesday night AD&D session. It really did not feel like a story that was happening organically and logically. Rather it seemed as if it were being guided by the invisible hand of a Dungeon Master unwilling to let the characters go off in their natural directions. In my opinion the characters just suddenly realized things too often (flashes out of the blue) which caused them to change course or offered up information that I just found unbelievable to have been realized so suddenly. Also, the constant escaping from harrowing situation after even more harrowing situation after yet another encounter with certain death for all the main characters just drained me by the last third of the book. How many times can people cheat death? I don’t know. But this book certainly tries to find out the answer to that question. Ultimately I never felt that there was any real danger to any of the main character despite being in the middle of a war and their lives constantly, supposedly, based on the words that were put forth by the author, being in jeopardy. Even when Tobry is, once, again, presumed dead at the very end, I as the reader just cannot believe that he is as the novel closes.

As just the first book of The Tainted Realm Trilogy, I am left seriously pondering if book two should be on my reading list when it is slated for release later this year. Thankfully I don’t have to make that decision at this time. However I am inclined to say that I would only pick it up if there is nothing else to read that strikes my fancy when it is indeed released.

I give Ian Irvine’s Vengeance three out of five stars. It was not overly bad, despite its faults. Certainly not among the worst fantasy novels I have ever read. In my opinion however this novel is not for anyone of discriminating tastes in epic fantasy.


Aug 18 2011

Finding Things To Do Even If I Am Not Actually Writing

Posted by Mathias

The past couple days I have been taking a break from working on the actual texts of any of my current story projects. This break has mostly been driven by a lack of inspiration on how to progress on each of these projects. Although “The War Within” is ready for some polishing, I do not want to jump right into it. I want to get some separation from that story before I get into the minutia of editing.

Rather than write for the sake of writing, something that tends to frustrate me, I have stepped back and been catching my breath. However, to stop from getting stale and out of routine I have committed myself to coming up with story prompts for potential future stories. The past three days I have come up with at least four prompts each day and looking at them I was actually well pleased with each of them. The list is quite long and should provide fertile ideas for the next year.

This morning before work I also sketched out the final couple chapters of “Dark Moon” in a bullet point format. That initial sketch to wrap up the story looks good as well. Now it just needs to be translated into the story.

It is good to keep busy as a writer. I don’t like not working at least an hour each day on at least one of my projects. Losing momentum seems like a real possibility any day that goes by where I don’t do something writing-wise.

I started years ago trying to write a novel and worked at it well for several months but then slowly and surely I started to focus on other pursuits and abandoned that project about halfway through it. Maybe if I can find that old novel I should dust it off as well.

I just don’t want to get too many projects on my plate at once.