I’m joined in the reaction chamber by Tom and Cathy Thrush of Urban Realms. Their current Kickstarter project is running concurrently with my own and I think there’s a lot of shared interest. Urban Realms publishes fantasy maps and related material. The Adventure Journal project is a set of journals specifically designed for recording your adventures and filled with thematic design work. They’re very cool; check them out! The Opposing Forces Kickstarter is still running, providing ready made characters and gaming advice for your Fate Core games.
I’m joined in the reaction chamber by author Phil Elmore, action novelist and editor for The League Entertainment Group. Phil is a long time action novelist, and we spend some time discussing his work on The Executioner, the longest running men’s action novel series to date. Phil has a good grasp of the formula that makes a successful action hero, and he shares his insights with us. In addition to his work for Gold Eagle, Phil discusses his cyberpunk work. Currently available is Augment part one: Human Services, and the serial novel working title “4104”. The former can be found on Amazon while the latter is being released only through Phil’s website. Of course, no visit would be complete without a mention of Duke Manfist, the World’s Manliest Action Hero. (It says so on his card…..) Last but not least, my Kickstarter project for Fate Core is currently funding, so get over there and check it out!
When Jesus called his apostles to a life of discipleship, he challenged them to leave behind everything they knew. He challenged them to step out of their comfort zone and employ their skills in new ways, for a new purpose. The apostles were leaving behind the life they knew and taking a leap of faith into a future relying not on their own skills but on God’s provision. Fishing can be a tedious chore requiring hours of patience for which no reward is ever seen. The apostles had no reason to think fishing for men would be any different.
Every so often, I come across a book series that really intrigues me with elements of the setting. Because I really enjoyed his “Keys to the Kingdom” series, I put some faith in Garth Nix and picked up “The Seventh Tower” series.
The six books of the series describe a world in perpetual darkness, where a magical Veil surrounds the planet, forever blocking the sun from the earth below. Above the Veil, the world continues as it has always been. Below the Veil, the planet is shrouded in perpetual ice, cut off from the heat and light of the sun. Bridging the two worlds is the ancient Castle, home of the Chosen, and the foundation of the seven Towers.
I understand that some people think Superman is creepy and he makes them a little uncomfortable – he does wear his underwear on the outside of his pants after all. But I want to address this idea of Superman as the Nietzchean ubermensch, when in fact, the character hasn’t ever really represented that ideal.
The identification of Superman with Nietzsche’s ubermensch started in the 50s with the famous book Seduction of the Innocent by Frederic Wertham. Wertham in fact disregarded the notion of ubermensch as “Superman” specifically because the character was not the epitome of the ideal. There are a few important differences in both origin and application of the Superman character.
Writers love their work, or they wouldn’t be writers. The problem is that writers also tend to love their characters and plot devices, even when those things don’t stand up to close (sometimes even casual) scrutiny. Reviewing a manuscript provides with the invaluable opportunity to put every aspect of your work to the sniff test, using common sense to check the believability of a plot device or a character’s behavior.
Believability is really the key to this test. A common horror movie trope has the victims exploring the boarded up house in the middle of the night, even though they are fully aware there is a killer loose and their flashlight has just run out of batteries. This seems so unlikely as to be ludicrous in any story that attempts to take itself seriously. While it’s true that panicked people can and consistently do make exceptionally foolish choices, this one just isn’t within the range of possibilities. It’s not believable. It doesn’t pass the sniff test.
Welcome to the first weekly installment of The Writer’s Block blog. Every weekly entry will feature tips, encouragement, advice, best practices, and red flags for new, aspiring, and established writers. Wait … why target established writers? Don’t they already know what they’re doing? Well sure, but every one of those guys will tell you that every well of creativity needs a little rainfall to top it off, in this case, I assume they’re looking for affirmation and encouragement. And maybe, if I’m lucky, someone more experienced than I will take the time to agree or disagree with what I have to say. Enough marketing talk, on to the good stuff!
Every story eventually comes to a conclusion, it’s the writer’s job to make sure that conclusion satisfies both the needs of the story and the desires of the reader. The story needs a conclusion that ties up all of the loose plot threads and ensures that every character has been through a complete arc. These technical details are important to the reader, but only at the basic level. The reader knows they are important to the story, but he is much less interested in the fact that the conclusion to every plot point and character arc exists than in how that point is concluded. The reader doesn’t just want a conclusion to the story; the reader wants a satisfying payoff.
As the main story draws to a close, the writer faces the unenviable task of gathering up the loose ends of the plot and character arcs and tieing them neatly together. As your novel draws to a close, the reader wants to feel a sense of completion, like he’s not missing any parts of the story. The writer needs to identify plot hoots and character points, making sure that each of them is resolved. In a perfect novel, the two will work together to form a single inevitable conclusion.
When the reader looks for the hallmarks of a completed novel, he’s not worried so much about having every single detail of every single event. The reader’s imagination will fill in many of the points left out by the writer, creating a sense of involvement and investiture in the story. The reader is concerned about picking up dropped plot and character hooks; the writer should be concerned with identifying those dropped hooks and carefully extracting them.
The end is in sight; don’t quit now! Writing a novel inside of a month is a challenging task. Maybe you’ve had some false starts. Maybe you’ve missed a few days worth of word count. (I’ve missed a few on the blog, and I’m not trying for novel-length word count.) The holidays make things more complicated. Work schedules increase without regard to what I’d actually rather be doing. Chances are, if it’s happened to me then you’ve had some of the same challenges.
The good news? The end of your novel is fast approaching. Those words are mounting up faster than you thought possible. You may be cruising to a climactic resolution like a warm summer breeze. The words might be leaking with increased difficulty. Nanowrimo is a marathon, and you’re an endurance athelete.