One of the great challenges writers face is letting go. When you create a new character, you try to make it unique. Colorful. Realistic. And as different from yourself as possible. Otherwise, it just becomes a self-therapy for your alter ego, and your characters all look and behave a very bland and boring same. The farther you go, the more freedom you have. Then, you face a moral question. What is the one thing you will never ever let your hero do?
Recently, I started reading a 19th Century novel, The Black Coats: The Parisian Jungle by Paul Feval, and translated by Brian Stableford. Predictably, the book offers a very olden writing style. Omnipotent, with numerous interruptions from the author slash narrator, and frequent point of view jumps between characters. This makes for a somewhat hectic read. But.
Admit it, some books are better than others. And not just because a certain author makes a better work with words than his or her fellow companions. Sometimes, it comes down to a purely emotional reaction to the setting. The Hobbit Shire, the Shannara world, Locke Lamora and his band of thieves. So if you had to choose, what is your ideal type of fantasy, as a reader and as a writer?
That’s not actually the title of the book. But that’s definitely the theme of the book. My new book. I wouldn’t call it historical fiction, especially not when you toss in dragons into the bowl and mix it all up. The Book of Revelations, Armageddon, dragons, the end of the world. That’s the basic storyline. How about a sample chapter?
Now that I’m done with my anti-hero Rennaissance fantasy novel and my first-person zombie novella, I decided to try yet another new angle at writing. So my curiosity took me to 8th Century BC, the Biblical times. As a man with a very particular taste for religion, or rather lack thereof, writing from a biblical point of view is a most refreshing challenge for me.
I guess writing a single one is not a challenge anymore. So I have started writing three new ones, more or less simultaneously. Three! Now that I’ve finished The Lost Words series, I am trying new things. The first book is a gunpowder-era fast-action no-magic adventure, with a special kind of protagonist. If you can guess, I’m gonna buy you a dinner. Seriously.
It’s like that legendary British TV series, Are You Being Served?, only completely different. In fact, I want to talk to you about how reading other people’s work may influence your own writing. Emphasis on may, which is why we are here.
My very first fantasy read was The Hobbit. And I immediately fell in love with the book. I was probably twelve at the time. Next came The Lord of The Rings, which really opened the world of fantasy books before me. I was still a youngster back then, and I struggled slightly with the multitude of characters and plots.
Anyhow, what I want to talk to you is one’s change in the like and dislike of certain authors and sub-genres of the fantasy world, and how my own perception of the literary works changed over time, most likely caused by the inevitable aging and arguable mental maturity gently settling upon my shoulders. So what gives?
And when I say mine, I mean yours. Now, so far you have only had two books, which means we cannot discuss those who survive into the third and fourth installment of this series, but we sure can dabble a little into the protagonists, antagonists and other gonists featured in The Betrayed and The Broken.
This sounds like a post-trauma group therapy slogan, but iI assure you, it is not. We’re here to discuss a rather interesting topic, namely, does one improve in whatever they are doing after doing it for a long while? There’s the so called 10,000-hour threshold of excellence and a few other metrics, all of which tell us that you will get better, no matter how bad or good you are, just by doing it. Well, I wanted to see if this was true, so I put myself to a test.
Well, in the last year, I was quite busy finishing Book Two of the series, and then cranking up Book Three in a record time of about three months. The effort gave me a very good opportunity to observe and evaluate my own writing habits and see whether I was improving, so to speak, using my own yard stick as the measurement tape. And I think there might be some truth in old proverbs.