Mar 12 2012

Submitting, Editing, Reflecting And New Stories

Posted by Mathias

So much going on. I have finalized my short story Second Chances and am going to starting submitting it for publication. Since it is based as sort of a prologue to my novel Under the Darkened Moon I had to get very close to completion of that project to work out any discrepancies first. As for that novel, it is still in the editing phase. I am about 80% done with my second serious edit. There have been three edits and four versions of the story in all (rough draft, rough edit, first edit and now second edit).

I have learned a lot by writing it including how petty other writers can be and how what one person finds thrilling others find boring. Overall however, reviews from people who have been reading it are positive. You cannot please everyone though. Lots of comments along the lines of, “better than much of what gets published,” in Fantasy literature. So I am encouraged by that.

Right now that novel is sitting as I am working on Her Lovely Blood which is turning into a story that will be not all that unfamiliar to anyone well versed in the stories of ancient Greek gods. No, it is not a copy of one such story. I only mean that it is similar in the sense of the players and how the plot will twist and turn with gods meddling here and there. The trick is going to be to keep the story seeming logical without any, hopefully, unwarranted excursions into the realm of doing something unbelievable to save the story’s heroine from peril.

Right now the novel is 16,666 words and growing by the day. It seems that it will likely be a trilogy or at the least a first book and then a sequel to complete the story arc. The overall ending is unwritten although I do have three alternatives that I am keeping in mind as the story unfolds. This first draft is being free written with very little editing so far.

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.


Dec 28 2011

It’s A Fantasy Novel, NOT An RPG!

Posted by Mathias

A friend, who recently found out that I was getting into fantasy writing, approached me with some material he too had written and wanted some advice. As if I, as an unpublished author struggling with my own work, am someone to be giving advice, right? Anyway, after about one hundred pages it became clear to me what was keeping me from actually reading his story through to the end; it read like a RPG game not a novel.

I will use the example of Skyrim, since that is the game I am currently playing and it is a constructed like a fairly typical RPG video game. In games like Skyrim you have the overall story arc but it is constantly interrupted by a myriad of tedious, although often compelling, but also at times repetitive side arcs, tasks, and quests. You are trudging through the icy wilderness of Skyrim headed towards the next point of the major story arc when BLAM you stumble on some caves or ruins. Sure, you COULD just ignore them, but you also know how quickly you can gain some much needed levels by clearing out this little distraction, mining out all the corpses for every last bit of loot to sell in town, and then use the gold you get in return to hammer out hundreds upon hundreds of steel daggers which will increase your smithing skill (and hence further increasing your levels). So you ignore the main quest and spend the next hour killing frost spiders, draugrs, and what not.  Then you spend the next hour after that crafting in town before heading back out and stumbling upon yet another distraction (ie. another dungeon location) where you wash, rinse and repeat. This is the way RPG games work.  It is tried and true. (more…)

Sep 27 2011

The Rewrite Shuffle

Posted by Mathias

For the better part of the last two weeks I have been writing and rewriting the lead up to the end of my novel project “Dark Moon”. As I have talked about before, I stripped out what would have been 30,000 to 50,000 words of story arc around the 100,000 word mark in order to keep the story under 175,000 words. Current projections have this novel coming in under 140,000 words.

This task however of getting to the end of the story has proven difficult. More difficult than I first thought. (more…)

Aug 24 2011

How To Get Conflict Going

Posted by Mathias

I was sitting down today and thinking about conflict and how we as authors get to the conflicts that drive the stories we write.

Every story needs conflict.  Without it, nothing happens of any importance and no one cares about the story and the characters contained within.

As writers we must set up the conflict.  But before we can do that though we have to know what the conflict will be.  How you set up conflict is important and it is imperative that the reasons for conflict makes sense.  The best character in the world becomes boring without something that motivates him or her to move forward or backward in life.

To be honest, there really are not that many reasons conflict exists on a grand scheme although the details are what make them unique and intriguing to the reader.  Do not think for one minute that you have some unique conflict that has never been seen before.  Everyone major story arc has been tried and written at some point.  Again though, it is the details that make the story unique even if the overall plot driven by the conflict is not. (more…)