A New Contributor Approaches!

I’ve recently become a contributor to GeeklyInc, home of the popular Game of Thrones podcasts Cast of Thrones and the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition real play podcast Drunks and Dragons.

You can read my articles here.

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Writing A Novel Vs. Writing A D&D Campaign.

I’ve set a deadline for myself. By the time I turn 31 on April 23rd my novel will be finished. I am talking final draft, not the first draft, as I only have five chapters to finish editing.

At the same time, I’ve become the Dungeon Master for my D&D group. Writing and developing a D&D campaign, at least, I thought would be simple compared to writing a novel. I thought since worldbuilding is so much fun, that it would be a walk in a park. Oh ho, no. It is a very different beast entirely. I wouldn’t say it is more difficult but it is difficult because it is different.

Unless you plan a whole campaign before you start there are no second drafts i D&D. You write what you need and move on. Most of it is improvised anyway especially minor NPC (Non-Player Character) names like the merchant or regular at the tavern your players decide to get into a fight with.

With the characters in your novel, you have complete control over their actions, personalities, and decisions. In D&D, the players are the characters and you have little to no control over them unless you want to make a boring campaign. On the other hand, it takes a lot more pressure off you to write good protagonists. That’s up to the players.

The world of a novel, especially fantasy, can be more organic. The rules are looser. With D&D, there are so many rules. You have to keep track of them for your players, your NPC’s, and the monsters they fight.On the other hand, D&D is supposed to be fun. It doesn’t have to be this deep exploration of human nature. There are no inner

On the other hand, D&D is supposed to be fun. It doesn’t have to be this deep exploration of human nature. There are no inner monologues to worry about. A D&D campaign, in fact, can be a lot more vague since the Dungeon Master isn’t the sole storyteller. The players can and will change the story. This can be both frustrating and freeing.

With a novel, though, unless you are a published author, it’s all on you. You have to sit down and write your story first draft then second draft then third draft then final draft. A D&D campaign is vaguer. You have to take into account how long a session takes, everyone’s plans for the week, what level the characters are at, and where they may want to go.

If the main villain of your novel is in a certain building of course your protagonist is going to wind up confronting him. Not necessarily so in D&D. The players might decide to burn that building down, as we decided to do in my friend’s campaign, instead of confronting the main baddie of that particular storyline who had story beats for us to follow.

It’s much easier, at least for me, to communicate through writing then it is through speaking. Therefore, theater of the mind is much more difficult to work with. I don’t need extensive maps for my novel because I can convey a scene with as many words as I need but with D&D, if they’re going into a dungeon I am definitely going to need a map because there is a lot to remember.On the subject of dungeons, if my protagonist in a novel is in one I can glaze over

On the subject of dungeons, if my protagonist in a novel is in one I can glaze over certain room if they’re not important to the story. Not so with D&D. My player may end up exploring every room of a castle and I need some kind of description, however short, for all of them.

The antagonists has to be one of the most difficult parts. Well, really, anything that involves balancing the game versus telling a good story is what is so difficult. A villain can’t be so overpowered that it is an obvious party kill but he can’t be so underpowered that any threat he makes, plot-wise, goes unappreciated or unconcerned. Same goes for just about any encounter or plot element of your campaign.

However, a D&D is more accepting of aspects you try to eliminate from your writing when it comes to a novel. Your players are inhabiting archetypes, so giving their characters typical archetypal stories is fine. Tropes, cliches, and parody is welcomed rather then eliminated in later drafts.

Plus, though novels don’t have to do this either, a D&D campaign can be silly and less serious. If you tell a good story in your campaign, you get validation every session by the joy your players are having A novel takes much longer to get that validation.

A friend, fellow writer, and former Dungeon Master himself tells me being a DM will likely make me a better writer. I can see where that stems from but what I get out of it now is combining my love for storytelling and worldbuilding with friends who I love to be around.

Author Sam Sykes Tweets About Writing, Characters, and Emotions (Plus My Two Cents).

You should read Sam Sykes’ The City Stained Red, Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles Series, and Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy.

“Why Being A Debut Author Isn’t Exactly A Dream Come True” via Instapaper

“For most writers, publishing a book is the achievement of a lifetime dream and only the most tasteless of people would talk negatively about it”

“The reality, I’m afraid, is more like you’re sitting alone, post-carnival, on a cigarette-butt encrusted patch of grass typing your own name into Bing, but other than that you’re feeling super-duper lucky. Everything is great!”

“This plan of yours couldn’t have come at a better time. Your book has been out for two weeks now and you have a lot of questions. For example, did everyone else get the memo that from this point forward every time you read from your hardcover, you’re also trying to sell it? Hey! Selling a hardcover is tough! Twenty-six dollars is a lot of money. Hell, you haven’t ever spent that much on a dry-aged steak! But wait, what’s that? One of your new debut author friends sold all the books at her last reading? In a town she doesn’t even live in? Eighty copies total? Wow, that is so great!”

Why Being A Debut Author Isn’t Exactly A Dream Come True

May 6, 2015 at 03:54PM

via Instapaper http://ift.tt/1IDvHUH

Speculations for Joe Abercrombie’s next The First Law trilogy

Author Joe Abercrombie tweeted this today:

Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy was one of the best fantasy series I have read in years. I ate it up nearly as quick as Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower or more recently Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards. It felt like reading The Lord of the Rings if Middle-Earth were as brutal of a world of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Just like people you’ll love the main characters one minute and hate their guts another. I never saw the twists coming, and when dialog was spoken I thought afterwards of course they would say that. I left reading the books thinking I could write something like this because of the ease of the prose then jealous when I realized how wrong I am because these books were brilliantly written. It’s one of those series that leave you floored as a reader and a writer.

As always remember that there are spoilers ahead.

Last chance before spoilers.

Last chance before spoilers.

I have to say ahead of time I have not read the First Law side books though I do know the big reveal of Red Country. Red Country, being the latest book in the First Law timeline takes place thirteen years after The Last Argument of Kings. So here is what I am speculating will occur in the next trilogy.

  • Sand dan Glokta and Jezal dan Luthar will no longer point-of-view characters. Jezal will make an appearance, maybe even just a mention but won’t have any prominent plot points. Glokta will be a prominent secondary character to one of the point-of-view characters.
  • There will be three or four new point-of view characters to replace the one we’re losing: Jezal, Glokta and Collem West.
  • I’m on the fence on whether Dogman will still be a point-of-view character.
  • Logen Ninefingers (still alive as revealed in Red Country) and Ferro Maljinn will be the only returning characters with a point-of-view.
  • What the Bloody Nine is will be fully revealed in Logen’s quest to confront Bayaz.
  • Bayaz manipulation of the North and the Union will begin to unravel but perhaps not fully free of the First of the Magi until the third First Law trilogy.
  • Ferro will have to deal with her madness if she is to accomplish her goals with the Gurkish.
  • The spirits that Logen can talk to will become more prominent again, and why he can do so will be revealed.
  • Perhaps Bayaz himself will have a point-of-view exploring his background with the other magi.
  • The Great Eastern Library will make an appearance
  • Maybe even one of the other magi not seen in the original trilogy will get a point-of-view to explore Bayazs background.
  • We will finally meet Khalul in person, perhaps through Ferro but like Bayaz his downfaill won’t come until the next First Law trilogy.
  • Tolomei will be released or break out from the House of the Maker
  • It is implied that Bayaz killed Juvens, we’ll find out why.
  • The other side will be explored more, perhaps be a main focus of the plot.
  • The mythology of Euz and his four sons, Kanedias, Juvens, Bedesh and Glustrod will be explored.
  • Logen Ninefingers will be actually dead by the end of this trilogy, having started what will be the downfall of Bayaz.
  • However, the Bloody Nine may not. With Logen dead the Bloody Nine may takeover to wreak havoc in the third trilogy.
  • Luthar may die before the end of the second trilogy.
  • There is no way there is only two laws by Euz. A third law will be revealed.
  • Cawneil, one of the magi, may be forced to give up her slothful ways in the Great Western Library, possibly even have a change of heart about being a cynic.
  • Zacharus may take a stand against Bayaz, and he will fall doing so possibly revealing Bayaz’s more sinister nature.

Obviously this is all based on having not read the three World of the First Law books, as I understand Bayaz makes an appearance in one of them.

There’s nothing like the feeling of discovering a new favorite book series and I hope Abercrombie will continue to do so with the next trilogy.

How Green Lantern Rebirth Changed My Twenties

Back in 2004, freshman year of Suffolk County Community College, I was in a hip-hop group with my three closest friends. Then in November of that year, they kicked me out and would not hang out with me anymore.

It was deeply upsetting at the time, and pretty traumatizing. In hindsight, if it had continued I probably would have quit eventually. I didn’t enjoy the recording process nor did I have any focus for editing or making beats. The part I enjoyed the most was the writing. I had notebooks full of songs that I never recorded or performed but still continued to write new ones. The other part I loved was performing, it was thrilling. The amount of adrenaline you get from performing on a stage even though they were in high school talent show and a music showcase of all the school’s bands the adrenaline you get from it was crazy.

So my bridges burned with my former friends making music, writing music (and writing in general), and listening to the same music I had before left a bad taste in my mouth. I asked myself who was I before music? Well, before I discovered music at fourteen I was deep into video games. I started playing my GameCube heavily. Then I retreated further back remember this little comic book shop my mom used to take me to where I bought Spider-Man, Green Lantern, and The Simpsons comics.

The comics I read as a kid, as far as superheroes were concerned, were weird. Superman had a weird mullet, Spider-Man was a clone and Green Lantern had gone insane and replaced by another Green Lantern. When I walked into that same comic book store I had as a kid not knowing what I’d find what I found was the second issue of a comic called Green Lantern Rebirth by Geoff Johns. I held up and asked the guy behind the counter what this it was.

“Oh, they’re bringing back Hal Jordan from the dead and making him Green Lantern again,” he said. He offered me a deal for the first and second issue together and told me comic books came out on Wednesdays. I would buy comics there regularly for the next six years.

Hal Jordan (43)

I became entrenched in comic books and video games to fill the void listening to hip-hop and writing it had left. Comic books though reignited my love for reading that would spread to novels when my girlfriend at the time brought me to a Barnes & Noble. Before this I had only been to Border’s Book, and not in years. Last time I had been there it was not in good condition. This was two stories of book paradise, one with a graphic novel section that was lacking. Instead I picked up this beautiful leather bound copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams  I had seen at one of her friends house and The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King.

The more I read novels, the more I could see the weaknesses in comic book stories. Reading more novels led to more interest in literature. This led to me majoring in English which forced writing upon me. When I briefly dropped out in 2011 and into a deep depression it was writing that got me out of it and brought the love back I had for it back to the forefront of my brain.

All because I picked up Green Lantern Rebirth. 

GL-rebirth-cv

My Perfect Writing Room.

I don’t know what the future really holds for me, with any career or a career in writing but if I own a home, a rather large apartment or am a success in anyway I have an image in my head for my writing room.

I’m terrible with dimensions but it would be fairly large, maybe the size of a master bedroom. Against a wall, really almost two walls would be a large L shaped desk. The corner would be where my desktop would go with a fairly large monitor on the second shelf and a custom PC built only for holding all things writing. Beneath it on the desk itself would be a standard mouse but a Das Keyboard brand mechanical keyboard. Directly to the right of it on the desk would be my laptop, the monitor would have a setting to switch from my desktop to my USB cord plugged in laptop. Above the laptop on the second shelf would be a scanner used for scanning documents such as my handwritten notes and research. In the small part of the L would be where I keep my notebooks on the second shelf and on the desk would be a cup full of my fountain pens. It basically be my handwritten writing section away from my computer.

The rest of the large desk would have open thesauruses, books on writing and generally research that I could turn to when I needed it. On the very end though would be a placemat stained with ink. This would be where I kept my inkwells and disposable gloves for refilling the ink in my fountain pens.

This part of the room would have a wooden floor beneath it for my chair to roll around on without hindrance. The chair would be the most costly part of the room, as it must be, in my perfect writing room, the most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat on. It would have a high back and a thick cushion and when my back was sore and tired the chair would heat up like a heating pad to soothe my aches and pains.

There would be a brown leather couch for reading and napping. Next to it would be a nightstand piled high with books, knowing me, as well as a bluetooth speaker connected to a device that has my music. It would have to not be my phone otherwise I would be distracted real easily. Next to the bluetooth speaker would be a pair of headphones with a long cord and big cushions for my ear, it would be soundproof.

In the corner on the other side would be a coffee pot, a coffee grinder and a water cooler and a set of coasters, mugs and cups for me to use. Underneath would be a draw full of bags of coffee either ground or beans.

There’d be an air conditioner of course, because I hate the heat. Whether it was in a window or not I honestly don’t care as long as it keeps the room cold.

Underneath the refreshment table would be a mat for easy vacuuming because the rest of the room would have a soft carpet for laying on to think. I imagine there’d be a drawing table, especially if I’m doing fantasy for sketching out concepts, maps and rooms. I want to say I would have one of those hand vacs just in case but I know I use cleaning to sometimes procrastinate writing so that would be right out.

A bookcase of course, full of books on writing, history, and anything I would use for research besides thesauruses and notebooks which I would keep on the desk.

Would I need a file cabinet? Would I want to keep the business end of writing separate from the writing process itself? It might be a good idea, it might not.

If we’re getting ridiculous there would also be a punching bag with a set of gloves hanging off of it. Sometimes exercises jogs inspiration, or at least get the brain stimulated for thinking about a problem with writing and punching a bag has always been something I enjoyed as far as exercise goes.

The door would have a lock both on the inside and the outsidee and only I and maybe my spouse would have access to the room. There’d be a large overhead light, the kind that simulated sunlights for keeping me awake but there would also be a yellow lamp on the desk and near the couch for generating a certain mood when writing.

Next to the light switch would be a switch for one of those red lightbulbs outside of the room letting people know I was hard at work and not to be disturbed. Maybe my spouse and I would have walkie talkies for if she needed me for dinner or to help with something but otherwise there’d be no access to call me to talk to me.

That would be my perfect writing room but this is like putting the horse before the water. That’s the expression right? More important than having a perfect writing room is to write. So off to write I go.

Killing Off Wolverine is the Right Decision by Marvel.

The Death of Wolverine is an event comic currently running at Marvel by Charles Soule and Steven McNiven and I could not be happier the 5’3 Canadian is being killed off. He has become the most oversaturated and uninteresting comic character without any clear or consistent motivation for years now.

He is an Avenger. He is an X-Men. He is part of a black-ops team. He founded and teaches at a new school for mutants. He was possesed by a demon. He discovered his past. He lost his healing factor. He does what has to be done e.g. murder, cut, and dismember people including his own son but doesn’t want young mutants to be on the frontlines when the X-Men are needed. This is just the last ten years of stories for Wolverine so obviously death might be one of the few storylines left to explore with this character. The problem is, with a timeline that basically perpetually frozen so their characters don’t age all of this jumbling of progress and motivation has made Logan impossible for me to care about.

The other problem is that he’s in every book. In one book he’s lecturing Scott Summers about how teenagers aren’t soldiers, in another he’s telling Captain America that sometimes killing is the only solution, in another he’s drinking beers with Spider-Man playing the gruff stoic friend to Peter Park and then in another he’s killing people with his teenage clone X-23 with the rest of his black ops team. The character needs consistency and if they need to kill him off to do that then I am all for it.

There is no change in comics, just the illusion of change. Wolverine coming back from the dead isn’t an eventuality but an inevitability. Hopefully he is in a limited capacity, like say, in one solo ongoing and one team book. If he’s going to be in the Avengers, don’t put him in X-Force or the X-Men. If he’s in one ongoing where he’s trying to fight moon mutant don’t have another one where he’s underneath the Earth’s soil marrying a mole woman. When you put him in all these different books so close together acting differently than he does in all the other books he appears in you’re telling me that Wolverine doesn’t matter, the storyline doesn’t matter, and making me well aware of the illusion of change.

For people who don’t read comics it is much easier to like Wolverine. He is like the definition of power fantasy. He has sharp blades coming out of his hand, he heals from almost anything, has a clear purpose in life (finding out his past) while doing and saying whatever he wants because he’s not to be messed with. Imagine what it’s like to be around that guy all the time but everytime you hang out he contradicts himself. That is what it’s like to read Wolverine in comics.

So go ahead Marvel, kill him. Make X-23 the new Wolverine for a couple of years, explore what motivates her and then when you bring Wolverine back give him a motivation I can get behind instead of plopping him into a story to raise sales of an issue. It makes sense to me. One of the most interesting storylines to happen to Batman in the last couple of years was for Bruce to get lost in time while Dick Grayson took on the mantle. While you’re at it, kill off Deadpool too.

Never Going to Watch HBO’s The Leftovers.

In The Leftovers, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta and developed by Damon Lindelof (Lost, Prometheus) a mysterious, a event has occurred making 2% of the world’s population disappear. Both the Perrotta and Lindelof have said here and here have said it isn’t about the mystery but about how the characters react and change to it.

That’s well and good but it isn’t the kind of storytelling for me. I need both, character development and answers to the mystery. The whole point of even having a mystery in a story is to eventually answer it. What Lindelof loves doing instead is using the mystery in order to explore his pseudo philosophy about the meaning of life, a mystery that he cannot answer. I already have a story like that, we all do, it’s called life and I am not looking for the ambiguity of life in the stories I consume. The problem I have with his style of writing is either he doesn’t answer the question or the answers he provides are so anti-climactic (Lost & Prometheus) that I am left feeling like I wasted my time. The fear of their time being wasted, in my personal opinion, is why people hate spoilers. When you spoil a story for someone you’ve essentially taken the joy of discovery away from them thus watching, reading, listening to it is now a waste of time. With Lindelof everything I have watched by him makes me feel like I’ve wasted my time because his character development doesn’t connect with me, his protagonist often coming off unlikable, ineffectual and his answers are either not there or disappointing.

Modern mystery and thriller novels have the opposite problem. All the stories has is answers, answers I’ve usually figured out early into the book. Without the character development in their protagonist the journey to the answers I already guessed isn’t very interesting to me.

Plus, what I don’t understand is what does that character development even mean if there is no resolution or a poor one? What makes it matter? That’s not what interests Lindelof as a writer. So I am not interested in his writing and I am not going to waste my time with The Leftovers.