Posts Tagged ‘Brent Weeks’

For this blogpost, I’m going to venture into the realm of gritty and dark fantasy, and my take on when an author should back off or not. Let’s begin!

 I was thinking about the Line of Corruption, and I compared its mood to the first book I ever wrote. In the first book, it was a standard YA story. Village kid suddenly finds out he can use magic. The regular works. The only thing that set it apart from other YA books ( at least, the average ones) was the fact that I put him through the ringer. This isn’t the type of ringer where he doesn’t get the girl.

I drowned him, I gave him third degree burns, a concussion, and put him into a two week coma. It was how I imagined a real farm boy would be like against powerful magic users.

So, I took that concept to a different level in Line of Corruption. In the world of LoC, a Chosen One is chosen (hah, wonderful word choice there) every fifty to hundred years. Now, Larik was the Chosen One, but he was ordered to do the “dirty” stuff. I’m talking mass murder types of things. Before Larik dies, he decides to pass on his consciousness/personality unto his successor so he can guide him/her to do the right thing.

His successor, however, is a hot-headed mercenary. I like the idea of using dark characters and giving them the roles that normally ‘good’ characters would have. For example, in another one of my stories, several convicts are chosen to become cannon fodder for the army in an invasion of another planet. The main character is a criminal. 

So, I wonder, what is dark enough? For Line of Corruption, I set out with the idea that if there ever was a damsel in distress… she wouldn’t get rescued.

The strong get maimed, the weak don’t even register to the strong, and the wicked… well, I won’t say they’re victorious, but they sure aren’t poverty-stricken losers. That’s for sure.

However, there are lines that I don’t cross. (I think it’s important to have your own set of “morals” when it comes to writing.) For example, I would never write a scene where one of the main characters takes pleasure in harming an innocent. That’s too far, even for me. 

Also, rather ironically, I don’t actually have my characters swear very often. I counted, and the number of F-words I used tallied up to maybe around forty. Give or take a dozen.

I just invented new curses that are, in this world, much worse than the F-word. So, my books aren’t very clean, but I wouldn’t say they’re very bleak either. There’s a difference, in my opinion, from bleak and dark. Dark is the fact that the characters have questionable morals, and they may do a few things that most people would never imagine even doing. Bleak is all of the good characters dying… and everyone getting enslaved.

Like the Lord Ruler in Mistborn. Imagine reading about how he destroyed all his friends (or something) and watch him enslave the Skaa. Not too pretty, if you ask me. 

An author that, I think, handles the dark side of things quite well would be Joe Abercrombie. His characters aren’t very nice, but at the same time… they’re not all despicable 24/7. Logen Ninefingers has moments where he’s really quite nice. In the First Law trilogy, we saw Jezal improve a bit as a person. Glokta has… well, he has a great sense of humor. 

One of my favorite authors, Brent Weeks, treads the line of grittiness and darkness in the Night Angel Trilogy. At times, I felt that he may have stumbled over the line a few times, but it’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. It’s the author’s duty to pick a line for himself, and to not cross it. It’s the reader’s job to see if s/he and the author have the same lines drawn in the sand.

So, yes. Please comment on your thoughts about darkness in books. I’m really interested to know what people think. How dark is dark enough for you? Tell me about it in the comments!

Ps: Hit the Like and Follow button if you thought this was a cool blogpost. Had fun writing about this stuff. 

~Jian

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From the time when we were eagerly awaiting dessert after being forced to eat our vegetables, to the time when we’re anxiously waiting for the results of a test… A phrase has been drilled into us. What is that phrase? Well, you already know, but I’ll repeat it for good measure. “Patience is a virtue.”

It is a virtue that I’m not really known for, to be honest. I am not patient. I’m impatient when waiting for a new episode of Psych or Big Bang Theory, and I’m impatient for my Birthday. So, how do I handle waiting for results when submitting my writing to be judged and rejected/accepted?

Fair warning, I’m not sure if this works for all writers. It may just work for me, but let me talk about the times when I had to wait to find out whether or not I was accepted or rejected. The first time I had to do this with my writing was the Fantasy Faction Anthology. There was a short story contest, and if I had won, I would’ve gotten lots of cash. Of course, I also wanted my story to be showcased alongside some bona fide, professional authors. So, in one day, I wrote two different short stories set in my current fantasy universe.

The first was a change for me. It was more insightful and ‘quiet’, I should say, than any of my other works. The second was a safety net, I guess you could say. I specialize in massive fight scenes. I won’t tell you that I am amazing at them, but I’m comfortable writing them. So, the first was the equivalent of a preachy story set in a desert, and the second was the equivalent of a big, dumb action movie. Except it was even worse.

Which did I pick? I picked the preachy story. Except, I rewrote the heck out of it until it wasn’t very preachy anymore. That short story ended up being called Rakhul. So, once everything was edited, I sent it off to be judged.

It was time to be patient. Like I said, I am not patient. So, when the editors kept pushing the release date – understandably so, considering the massive amount of submissions – I was banging my head against the wall. I tried to write away my problems, but the waiting was killing me. So, at the three month mark, I decided to forget about it. Any time I read about the anthology’s results – I ignored it. I was determined to wait until the official results were in. And guess what… I did forget about it. So much so that I forgot about the short story I wrote for it. Eventually, I found out about the results, and I wasn’t accepted. I wasn’t even on the short list. I was, of course, disappointed. But, I had discovered two things. How to deal with disappointment, and how to deal with waiting.

So, maybe a month after that, I submitted to a literary agency. I was in love with the literary agency, because it was the agency that handled one of my favorite authors – Brent Weeks. So, I bookmarked the site, and I’d read all the rules, and I’d read all the books of their clients. (Yeah, he was REALLY in love with it.) I submitted my story, and maybe three weeks later, I see an email in my Junk folder. I open it, and it’s Donald Maass’s rejection letter.

A few minutes later, after telling the news to my family, I make the joke: “My email’s so thoughtful. It sent the rejection letter directly to Junk because it was trying to protect my feelings.”

Thank you, Gmail, but I’m glad I found out about the news. Because, I knew going into this business that there would be a lot of disappointment. And I managed to hone the “waiting” skill even more. I still wasn’t very patient, but I was a master at forgetting about ever having submitted anything. (Wow, so your horrible memory pays off…)

That brings us to todays waiting game. I submitted my story, Radio Silence, to be serialized about a month and a half ago. And, I still haven’t received word about it.

Image

Originally, I captured the cover in that screenshot as well, but I decided to cut that out. HA! I know, I’m quite devious like that. I promise I’ll unveil it soon, but not just yet. Anyways, as you can see the status is Pending. The word ‘pending’ has never looked quite so ominous to me ’till now.

This was even harder to forget about than my submission to the literary agency. Why? Because the odds aren’t so high against my favor this time. This time, I was confident in my story. The cover is awesome, because my sister took a great picture and slapped my name on it. So, the chances of me being accepted are quite high and in my favor.

The simple fact that they haven’t even rejected or accepted me after a month and a half is excruciating. But, everything that’s happened in my past as a writer has paid off. I’m still not patient, but every now and then.. I completely forget about this serialization. I only remember it right before the day ends so I can check if my status is still pending. Then I forget about it and go to sleep.

So, what am I saying? To forget about it? No, that may not suit your tastes. But don’t dwell on it. The trick to the waiting game is cheating and not waiting at all. How can you wait for something if you’re not even thinking about it most of the time?

You can’t do anything ’till then, so it’s best to simply… move on. Move on like you’ve already been either accepted or rejected or like you didn’t even submit in the first place. My advice? Cheat the waiting game, and win at the end.

Right now, I’m not sure if my status may be ACCEPTED or REJECTED in a month or so. But, this has taught me something. After going through such pains and measures, I will not let my stories go to waste. Even if Radio Silence isn’t accepted, I will still post the cover on my blog, and I will most likely make any and future chapters available to read.

I am doing the same with Rakhul. So, yeah. Make the best out of it, and you’ll basically be pointing and laughing at the Waiting Game… while it cries and sulks in the corner. Yeah.

Thanks!

P.S: Just to note, if you’ve yet to read my previous post, any time I write about writing in general, I will also write an accompanying review of a book/movie/television series. It’s to make up for the fact that I no longer write blogposts as often as I used to. Please remember to Like, Follow, and Comment. Hopefully, all three. And thanks again!

~J.A. Romano

I’ve probably already written a post similar to this already… but I’ll still go on talking about this, regardless. You could say that this is the continuation of my post, Writer’s Assemble.

https://dullboredom.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/writers-assemble/

I want to talk about the books that have inspired me to write. These are also the books that make me feel, simultaneously, like an awful writer. Simply because of how awesome they appeared like after I first read them. We’ve all had that feeling. But, instead of feeling horrible about myself… It inspired me to write, or to write more. Strange, isn’t it?

Like I said, I rarely cracked a book open till the age of eleven or twelve. Incidentally, I only started cracking ’em open because when I was eleven, I wrote my own book. Guess what. It was terrible. You know how when you look back to your past, you shed a tear from the beautiful nostalgia out of it all? Well, I shed a tear from how awful I was back then. I don’t even have the book on my computer anymore. It exists only on my Mom’s computer. I’ve done as much as I can to erase its existence off the face of this Earth and Mars. Why Mars? Because I had a beta reader that—-

Probably shouldn’t tell you about that. So. My sister recommended me a book that she thought I would like. The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. At the time, I shrugged and reluctantly agreed to give it a shot. I mean, this was a book. It was probably going to be terrible. Am I right? Well, I was proven wrong. And I loved being proven wrong. When I read the first few chapters, I was in absolute awe. In just the Prologue, it completely wiped out my book. The book that I spent at least a year working on! That is amazing. It infuriated me, and inspired me at the same time. I devoured the rest of the books. I had eBooks of ’em, but I truly loved them, and I convinced my sister to get me paperback copies.

They were dark – unlike any book I’d ever read beforehand -, they had plenty of magic, and… Dude. They had assassins. Immortal assassins. Wait, they’re wet boys. Immortal wet-boys. They’re way cooler than regular assassins. I know, I sound like a real fan boy… But that’s because I am a huge fan boy. I can’t help it.

So, after reading the Way of Shadows, I started writing more serious works. My book beforehand could’ve been classified as YA, despite all the death… After reading the Night Angel Trilogy, I began to write about mercenaries and mass murderers… It changed the characters I wrote about, really, and I thank it every day. You could attribute my less-than ‘good’ and ‘presentable’ characters to Brent Weeks’ genius.

Now, there was a downside. I scoured the internet for more books like this, and I was disappointed. There was no other book like the Night Angel Trilogy. I was devastated… But I didn’t give up my search. Then, a month later, I happened upon the Mistborn Trilogy… Damn. Okay. A lot of people have said that it’s not gritty enough, not dark enough… To which, I reply, have you even read any of the books? Dear God, man… The premise of the first book was that the bad guy won! He won! He owned the superheroes and the armies… He defeated all of them. And he enslaved an entire race of people. And the main characters were thieves. Heck, they were killers, too, if you think about it. Kelsier, after all, really put people through the ringer. If that’s not dark enough, then what is? I loved it. Sure, it’s not as dark as the Night Angel Trilogy or Game of Thrones. But, the magic system, man… and the characters. The magic system changed the game for me. I wrote fantasy, and I read fantasy. The magic system of Mistborn hands down beat the world building and magic systems of EVERY fantasy book I’d ever read up to that point. Afterwards, I concentrated on making a detailed world and an expansive magic system. Yet, though I like to think mine’s quite good… It just sucks in comparison to Allomancy.

Like with Brent Weeks, I read every new book of Brandon Sanderson’s. (Aside from his WoT books)

Yet, I reached the same problem that I had after reading the Night Angel Trilogy. I had nothing else to read. After reading all of Sanderson’s books, it was done. Nothing else. I lost hope in fantasy. I wasn’t arrogant enough to think that my own book was the last light of fantasy. Or shadow, depending on how you think of it. But, I couldn’t find any other book that could match with these books that so inspired me.

Then my friend recommended me a show. And that show was A Game of Thrones. I know, I know. How could I not have read the Game of Thrones before all of those books? It’s ridiculous, to be perfectly honest. I don’t know how I could’ve overlooked it ’till then. But, after finishing the first season, I just sped through all of the books. They were epic. The scale was vast, and the cast numbered over a dozen. I can attribute my love of different and unique characters to A Song of Ice and Fire.

But, by that time, I was already expecting to be disappointed when I couldn’t find any more books. I mean, really. I, of course, saw it coming. That does not mean that it still didn’t devastate me, however. I tried the Wheel of Time, it wasn’t to my tastes. I tried a lot of other books. Then, my sister recommended me a book she’d been telling me about when I was only nine years old. Nine! It was Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon. It was vast in scale, just like Game of Thrones, but it had something over all of them… And that was politics. Yeah, the political machinations of ASoIaF is awesome. That can’t be denied.

But, in Wolfblade, you were literally taken on a journey of a young princess learning how to become the greatest politician in her kingdom. It was brilliant, honestly. I loved every part of the story. The first book spanned across a decade, I believe, and we got to see her from the age of 16 up to when she has children of her own. It was legendary, to me. I can attribute my poor attempts at politics to the Wolfblade Trilogy. Sadly, it’s not very well known… To which, I say.. R-E-A-D IT. Now.

I’ll wait a minute for you to open up Amazon and download it unto your Kindle or to order it.

 

 

Done? Good. You’ll have a wonderful time. If you’ve read none of the books I have mentioned… This may hurt your wallet quite a bit, but.. Seriously, read all of those books. NOW. They are amazing. They were awesome. They literally had me in awe, with my mouth gaping open… Read them.

What are some books that have inspired you as a writer? I really hope you comment and tell me. I would love to know. If you agree with my tastes in books, please tell me. If you disagree, please tell me. I really would appreciate it if you took the time to Like and comment. Cool? Yeah. Thanks. Now go read those books. Since… Yeah. Just do it.

~J.A. Romano

 

P.S: I have a guest post on the blog of a cool guy I know next Wednesday. He has this series for guest bloggers to write about their favorite YA book. I wrote about my own favorite YA book. What is my favorite YA book? It’s a secret… but it’s by Eoin Colfer, and it’s an eight book series. I know, not exactly narrowing the list down for you… But you should check out his blog. He writes really cool reviews, and has some cool ideas. He’s also the blogger for a major review site. Check ’em out.

http://baneofkingswritingblog.wordpress.com/

http://thefoundingfields.com/

Ah, been waiting to make an Avengers pun. Wait, is it a pun?

Huh, I’m gonna go brush up on my History of Puns.

So, I was thinking about my favorite authors the other day. Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, and GRRM are all huge now. Yes, those are my idols. But, then I thought about their origins. Brent Weeks managed to completely write and edit the Night Angel Trilogy before he found his agent at a convention. (I actually applied to his agent, but got rejected.) Brandon Sanderson actually wrote Mistborn and the Way of Kings (arguably his greatest books) before he finally got published with Elantris. And GRRM’s ASoIaF series was camouflaged in obscurity for years. I know a few that read it when it first came out, but these people were HARDCORE fantasy fans.

Non-hardcore fantasy fans never heard of it in the 90’s. So, I started thinking, “What makes a writer?”

Agh, so pretentious, I know! But, it’s an interesting question. Like superheroes, our origin stories can be boring or ridiculous or awesome. (Superman’s origin story vs. Deadpool’s origin story. War veteran with cancer tested on by a secret Black Ops group beats alien from a dead planet.)

Yet, even if our origin stories aren’t all that, our time as writers can be vastly different. For example, we could have an origin story of being taught by someone awesome like Brandon Sanderson, but we could be horrible writers. (Unlikely, but possible.)

My origin story (I love saying origin story, makes me feel like a super villain) involves watching an anime series, and getting bored after watching every single episode. So, I tried to find a game based on that show, and ended up stumbling on an RP site. RP sites, you see, are basically text based MMORPGS. You just write everything your character does. That’s how I learned. I quit a year ago. I met a lot of cool people, but at the end of the day, it was just another avenue of procrastination. Plus, the community had really gone down the drain.

What’s your origin story? Mine was very unique (yup) because I hated reading. I actually hated reading up until two years ago. So, the fact that I got into writing in the first place when I despised the very notion of cracking open a book? That’s awesome. It became a driving force behind my actions. I knew what I was going to do. I was going to be a writer. I was 11 at the time, though, so it’s not like the deadline of choosing a career path was breathing down my shoulder… But yeah. I wanted to be a writer, and it motivated me to do more things.

Comment below if you’ve got an interesting (OR HORRIBLE, JK) origin story. I really am interested to know how other people started to write. I want to know if I’m the only one with such a retarded origin story. I knew a guy that learned how to write from chatting. It was really strange.

But yeah. Please comment.

~J.A. Romano