Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

I’ve been reading a lot of articles about gritty fantasy or grim dark fantasy, and I had the pleasure of talking a friend’s ear off about everything I knew on the subject. And, it struck me. Gritty fantasy, or books with anti-hero protagonists, have been around for a lot longer than I thought. Let me specify this. I mean, if we were to talk about strictly anti-hero protagonists, we would spend a very long time discussing whether or not mythological Greek heroes counted. (Achilles!)

I’m talking about Glen Cook Black Company style. Game of Thrones. Blade Itself. Those kinds of books. In Game of Thrones and Blade Itself, the magic is substantially underused. There isn’t a strict system like in modern high fantasy books (everything by Brandon Sanderson and Brent Weeks), for one. I think it’s an ironic thing. With a lot of gritty books that try to prove themselves to be every bit as dark as Game of Thrones, they try to be as different as possible from Lord of the Rings style novels. For the really good gritty books, they seem to use the same style of magic from Lord of the Rings style books. (Albeit without a whole new language. Who has the time for that nowadays?)

In my book, the Line of Corruption, my protagonists are all questionable in their morality. We have a former mass murderer, a mercenary with the potential to be the strongest in existence, a politician that controls everything in his city… It’s all very questionable. I like it that way. I like those types of protagonists. They’re very interesting to write, and I like to think that there’s a good market out there for them. However, I have to face the fact that everything has most likely been thought up. I didn’t create a mind-blowingly original magic system (I couldn’t access the mind of Brandon Sanderson. The guys from Being John Malkovich weren’t up for it).

So, if a kid like me is writing “gritty” heroes (although they’re in a world where a definite magic system is in place a la Brent Weeks ), it’s safe to say that the gritty genre isn’t really a subgenre anymore. At least, not what people might think. Right now, George R.R. Martin is considered to be one of the most popular writers alive, and a legend in fantasy literature. Moorcock and Cook started it, GRRM took it to the next level, and Joe Abercrombie’s now in the same level. The Knight in Shining Armor is a cliche. No doubt about it. But, I’m afraid that anti-heroes with questionable morals are quickly becoming cliches, if they’re not already.

Speaking as someone that likes gritty stories a lot, it’s hard to come to terms that it’s no longer as revolutionary or as edgy as it was in the 70’s-90’s. Winter has come and gone. Now it’s summer, and all our dark anti-heroes are baking in the sun with all the rest of the knights in shining armor.

I do think that the next “big thing” will be dark epic fantasy. The Way of Shadows (one of the most popular books of that particular genre) is already well known. But, it’s not yet at the same level of infamy as  Game of thrones. (Which is fair. That’s something that FEW writers will ever achieve.)

Or maybe Tolkien-style stories might make a comeback. Nothing wrong with Wheel of Time-like stories as long as they’re original enough. Maybe books like Mistborn may come into the limelight, too. A Mistborn Tv series. Or maybe Urban Fantasy gets a big shout out. I don’t know. Fantasy, as a whole, is changing practically daily. I still like gritty stories, but I am looking forward to reading stories that don’t try especially hard to have “unlikeable” characters. Filling your entire cast with Joffrey-wannabes doesn’t help, from what I hear.

So, what do you think? Any ideas as to what the next BIG THING will be? Leave a comment. Might be that you’re right. Do you disagree with me? Feel free to tell me why. Now, I’m going to go read a fantasy book. Care to guess what genre it belongs to?

~Jian

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I wrote a post earlier on how I was working a bit more on the sequel LoC, and it got me thinking on my current responsibilities as a writer. Jukepop Serials has given me the great opportunity of uploading three chapters a month, making it immediately available for everyone to read. And they have some wonderful incentives, too! Like I said before, I’ve reached a new point in my career as a writer because I’m also concentrating on the sequel to my first book.

So, it’s time to put behind my past as a Panster (look it up!), and adhere to a daily writing routine. Here’s how my current schedule looks like.

5 PM: Write in Radio Silence for forty minutes. Reread, edit, and if necessary, rewrite.

6 PM: Write in LoC sequel for forty minutes. Reread, edit, and if necessary, rewrite.

7 PM: Alternate between other projects, and write in whichever one I choose for forty minutes. Reread, edit, rinse and repeat.

So, that’s my writing schedule. Not as hardcore as some other writers, perhaps, but I’m beginning a slow crawl to, dare I say it, becoming a professional writer? Now, I don’t mean professional as in a bestseller. But I do want to have the habits of a real author.

I’ll be posting weekly updates on how this is going, but I want to talk a little bit on my first few days of following this routine.

Day 1

5 PM: I literally realized I had to follow my schedule when I was three minutes away from 5 PM. So, I stopped watching shows on my computer, and began writing Chapter 7 of Radio Silence. I managed to finish most of the chapter before I got burnt out, and reached the 40 minute time limit. I reread it, edited it, and considered it a job well done.

6 PM: I went through all of the existing chapters, and added a few things to tie up a few inconsistencies. Also wrote half a chapter in the perspective of both Maheus and Ambrose. Deleted a scene or two from the perspective of a new character I introduced, and planned the next few chapters. I reread what I wrote, edited the entire document, and considered it a job well done.

7 PM: I reopened an old project I started with my sister, and I started deleting and writing a few new scenes. I can’t really divulge much information about it, but let’s just say it’s very different from Radio Silence and the Line of Corruption sequel. It was a breath of fresh air, and I considered it less a ‘chore’, and more a break from the two earlier projects.

In summation… It was a good day.

Day 2

11 AM: Started a little early because the next chapter of Radio Silence had to be done. Completed chapter 7. Reread it. And… rewrote it. The ending was just terrible. I don’t know what I was thinking. Reread what I wrote, and I made a massive factual error. I’m glad my mother managed to spot it, and so I rewrote it again. When I finally finished, I was really proud of what I managed to accomplish. Had my family review it, and after some changes, I uploaded it on Jukepop Serials.

I’ll stop right here. I suddenly realized that such a strict schedule was not for me. I couldn’t really stick to times like these, because my mood varies a lot. But, I did realize that I had to have some order in my writing. So, I’ll continue to set apart some time every day to write for Radio Silence, for the LoC sequel, and for one of my numerous other projects.

It’s very refreshing to go back to a daily writing routine, and I honestly feel a lot more productive about everything. It’s difficult. I mean, I’m two days into it, and I’ve already abandoned one part of the schedule.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for my idols. So. Right now, I’m just wondering how I’ll get through Day 3. And Day 4. And Day 5…

If you don’t hear from me for over a week, at least you’ll know why.

Oh, I’d love it if you took the time to comment, and tell me what you think. Do you follow a schedule? I know I wrote a post about schedules earlier, but I’m curious to know if you tried a similar template/schedule to mine, and how you coped with it. I wanna hear all about it. Thanks.

~Jian

Hey, it’s been awhile. Miss me? No? Well, I’ll still chew your ear off with my stories. So, I’ve been kind of busy the past week reading my novel, Line of Corruption. I realized a few things about it while I was reading it. I have way too many run-on sentences near the end of the book (when the fight scenes became very hectic), and I really miss writing in the world of Line of Corruption.

I miss writing about the characters, I miss the magic system, I miss… Well, everything about it. So, I’ve decided to start working on the sequel to LoC a bit more. In the week after I finished the Line of Corruption, I quickly started a new file for the sequel, and wrote eleven thousand words setting up the groundwork.

After reading over the current chapters I’ve already written for the sequel, I have no idea what I was thinking at a few sections. “Who is this incompetent writer?” I shouted. But, I had a ton of fun just reading about the characters that I’d made up almost two years ago.

So, I’ve begun working on the plot for the sequel. I think I have a very rough idea of what I want to happen. I’m no longer fumbling about in the dark like I was with the first book, and now I’m working on the title for the sequel. If I’m working on the first book, I think… The Circle of Insanity would be a great title!

Nah, I’m kidding… No, I’m serious. I’m kidding. I’ve introduced maybe four new characters in the chapters I’ve already written, and I’ve fallen in love with them already. I can’t say they’re great characters, because I feel like that’d be egotistic, but I love writing from their perspectives. I can’t divulge too much, because it’d be spoiling a lot.

But, I just want to talk about both the joy and the meh parts of writing the sequel. I want to make this the Empire Strikes Back of sequels, or the Godfather II of sequels. So, it’s difficult to think of a way to make this a lot cooler, a lot more visceral, yet still staying true to the book I finished almost a year ago.

Most of the characters, at the end of LoC, experienced life changing event. That isn’t a spoiler, because that’s normally a given. Unlike the first book, I need to plan almost everything about this book. I can’t walk blindly in a circle with a blindfold. (Interesting fact: it is impossible to walk in a straight line with a blindfold. See why I’m thinking of the Circle of Insanity? )

I also need to answer a lot of questions I set up in the first book, and make sure I explain anything the reader might construe as deus ex machina. Basically, I need to work a lot harder on the sequel. Sounds miserable, doesn’t it?

Well, weirdly enough, I don’t find any of it miserable. I happen to think it’s very fun, and it’s yet another challenge of my skills as a writer. For Xenon Bane, I also started working on a sequel before I gave up on the series. I wrote maybe… twenty thousand words in the sequel before I stopped writing. It was so much better than Xenon Bane, and I want to do the same with the LoC sequel. I want readers to read the first ten chapters and think: “Well, I won’t be getting any sleep tonight. This is going to be fun!”

It’s like my reaction when I watched season two of the BBC series, Sherlock. I loved season one, but season two episode one was a game changer. Finished the entire season in one day.

Do you have any experience working on a sequel? If so, feel free to comment and tell me about your fun times and not so fun times.

I realize this has been a short post, but that’s really all my thoughts on it. It’s fun and challenging. I’ve had to rewrite a lot more than when I wrote LoC, since I’ve noticed some slight continuity errors here and there already. Like I said, there are some really slow moments, but if you allow it, it will take you out on a really great ride.

~J.A. Romano

Okay. If you’ve been blogging for at least a week, I think you know what I mean. Writing relies on people being interested in the characters you create, but blogging relies on people being interested in what you say. So, after an entire year ( I think ) of blogging, you’d think I’d have learned a way to not worry or obsess over Likes. I mean, Likes aren’t that important, right?

That’s kind of true, but I can’t help but wait for someone to Like my posts, sometimes. A single Like makes a huge difference. This isn’t my attempt at telling everyone to Like my posts, but it’s worth writing about the insecurities that I am sure every blogger – at one point – has felt. I’m now going to list all of the things I’ve tried to avoid obsessing over the Like.

So, a friend of mine told me awhile back that the trick is not to care. And you know, I actually like that concept. But, I think caring is what makes me strive to make better posts. I could just write blogposts for myself, but do you really want to read my rants about books and movies I don’t like? You do? Well, I doubt you’d like to read about it every day.

And caring about the posts that I write is what prevents me from posting everything I write that’s less than insightful. I have technically written 100 posts, counting this. But I haven’t published the dozen drafts I have saved because I don’t think they’re good enough. So, not caring about what you do? While it’s a good concept, it’s not really great in execution.

The second thing I tried was just tell my friends to check the post out, and since we normally have the same opinions, they’d normally Like it. However, this isn’t ideal because most of them don’t actually blog. They occasionally post, but they don’t really care for it.

So, I always felt guilty asking them to check out my newest post. I still do that, but I’m much more casual about it, now. I only bring it up if it relates to the conversation. Like, when my friend was having trouble writing. I just told him I wrote a little post about it ages ago, and pass him the link. Then I just give him the shortened version of it.

The third thing you could do is to write depending on what people want to know. This could actually work, but if you always just write about popular culture like Kim Kardashian’s new baby, or Channing Tatum directing Magic Mike 2, I don’t think you’ll have that much fun at all. Unless that is what you actually want to do.

I, personally, like writing about my experiences as a writer, and I occasionally review movies and books. I get an average four Likes on my posts about writing (if it’s a good day), and maybe one to two Likes (at most) on my reviews. This doesn’t mean that people like posts about writing more, and hate reviews. I just think that there are a lot of other more popular reviewers out there, and my reviews are generally about movies that are no longer in theatres. And people have the Nostalgia Critic for stuff like that.

Yet, I just started a new series called Classic Thursdays where I take movies deemed as classics and see if they hold up to my eyes. I write it partially for me, and partially because I just think that blindly liking movies because they’re called classics is rather weird. Also, because I think my generation really should watch some unknown classics more.

The final option is to just quit blogging. No point in fussing over something if only two people pay attention, right?

Well, if everyone listened to that, schools would be in real disrepair. So, I won’t quit blogging because I haven’t earned my popularity, yet, as much as a lot of other, better bloggers. But I will continue to write about my experiences as a writer, and if anyone is interested, they can read it and enjoy reading about my mishaps.

This has been a short post, but I’ve just been thinking about this for a long time, and that’s really all the advice I can offer. It’s not much, but it’s something. Hope you’ve enjoyed the post!

~Jian

All right. In an earlier post, I mentioned that I write from the gut. And if I don’t feel very good about something, I don’t post it at all. As such, I actually have about seven unpublished posts that are actually complete. They’re well-written enough, but I don’t feel right about them. Thus, I have given them the status of ‘drafts’. The weird thing is… This is the first time I’ve ever done drafts. When I write a story, I don’t really set out with the mindset: “Well, this is going to have three drafts before the final. So, it’s okay to mess up.” I write it with the mindset that I should make as little mistakes as possible, and that it will be good enough to be the final draft.

Part of the reason is that I hate rewriting things. Not because I cannot deign to see a single word of my “genius” erased from this world, but because it feels anti-progress. It’s like when a ninth grader goes back to 2+2 because he thinks he may have gotten it wrong the first time around. I like moving forward, and I feel that drafts are backwards. Now, I’m not saying that you’re a bad writer if you do drafts. Not at all. In fact, I commend you for doing drafts. This mindset only works for me because I don’t take notes, plot, or outline. I do everything ‘brashly’ and I just write. 

My first book? Who needs a plot? Am I right? My second book? Who needs a coherent plot? Now, my third book… I got it right this time. So, I guess you can say my first and second books were trial runs. They prepared me to adapt to the circumstances. I managed to come up with a plot for the third book while I was writing it, and I was surprised when it actually made sense.

DRAFTY

 

 

I used to wonder, actually, what the difference between writing drafts and editing was. I found out a year ago, though, that they are actually very different. In editing, I just change a few grammar errors, and maybe delete a few continuity errors. Then my family reads through it, deletes some thousand words worth of spelling mistakes, and it’s all set to go. However, writing several drafts of the same book means that you have to set each one ( this is from my Point of View ) from each other. I mean, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

So, you need to change either the characters, the plot, or maybe a few fights. You just need to make it different. The risk here is wasting a lot of time. It’s why writing books don’t necessarily take a year, but writing drafts will take a lot more time. It is this exact reason that I find them unnecessary. I’m not a patient guy, and while I understand the necessity of editing, basically rewriting my book does not sound very appealing. 

I know, writing drafts is different for each person. But for me, that’s what I would basically have to do in order for it to be a draft, instead of it just being an extreme version of editing. 

That’s what my thoughts are on drafts when it comes to books and actual stories. What are my thoughts on drafts when it comes to articles?

They’re actually necessary. You see, articles normally consist of about a thousand words. Maybe two thousand words, so it’s not the same as rewriting a 100k novel, obviously. And in articles, just by altering the way we say things (or by altering the tone), it could either make the article better or worse. That’s how it works with blogposts. We have to find our own voice, like with our books, in order to convince people to click the Like and Follow button.

We have to offer a unique perspective on a topic that has probably already been done before. If we can’t manage that, we probably won’t get a lot of visitors or followers. So, that’s why I think it’s helpful for blogposts. With books, I think it’s a way of dwelling in the What-ifs. If I had simply written several drafts of my first book, it would be better. Yeah, exponentially better. But I would not have been able to write Line of Corruption. It would have taken up a lot of time, and I would be too creatively drained to have written a full length novel. 

Part of the issue with this was that the core idea of Xenon Bane (my first book) was bad. And thus, no matter what I did, it would still stay that way. So, what did I do? I just wrote a new book,recycled a few names, and maybe took a few of the magical attacks from it. My point is – you have to know when to jump ship, and when to take a pen to it and cross out a few commas or add in a couple of apostrophes. There’s a big difference, I am telling you, between writing the drafts of a good book, and writing the drafts of a bad one. 

I hope you liked this post. I sure enjoyed writing about my thoughts on this whole process. I’m not telling you to give up or anything, but I’m just telling you my thoughts on this whole thing. And I’m definitely against giving up on writing altogether. Check out my post Failure is actually an Option to find out my thoughts on giving up. 

Thanks for reading this, and see you all soon!

PS: Would appreciate it a ton if you took the time to Like, Follow, and Comment. Hopefully, all three. That’d be great. Thanks again.

~J.A. Romano