Monthly Archives: January 2013
Face it, the plot of any story is secondary to the characters involved. If you or your readers don’t care about the characters involved in your story, then it doesn’t matter how many plot twists, crazy action scenes, or other little tricks you throw in (watch a Micheal Bay film; you’ll see it). It might entertain people for a while, but all the stunts in the world wear out if they’re done by faceless nobodies.
So what does make a good character? When I started the Lightrider Journals, I worked hard at not only having the Knights as a diverse group of beings that would be unique in a group format, but also have real motivations and drives that people could relate to. And while everyone was unique, there were a few characters that really challenged me to make them excellent.
When you start a book, the most important step is to accept the idea that the finished product will likely look different then what you initially envision. Not that you should second guess yourself, and question every plot or character choice, but there are always some ideas that just won’t look as good when you first write them down (or even after you think about them more then once).
I’ve made more changes to the Lightrider Journals then I can remember. The very first draft of this story was only nine pages, and it was all written in first person point of view. I knew two things right away- that it needed to be longer, and that first person was not going to work. So I started brainstorming, and came up with the idea of the Knights being sent off to fight their enemies, the Chaos Demons, and their all powerful leader, in some dark corner of Africa. It got me up a few more pages, but again, I just couldn’t get behind it. So instead, I reworked that little escapade into a training exercise the Knights would undergo in a parallel universe. Which made a lot more sense then sending a group of newly empowered heroes right out to face the Lord of all Evil. There was also a scene where the Demons attack Cleveland and destroy the Indians’ stadium. One week after writing it, I realized this was WAY too big to pull off in the first story
I’ve been able to write in both fiction and non-fiction categories over my life. Is one easier then the other?
In some ways, sure. But for the most part, it’s very different.
My non-fiction work has largely been news and reporting based. I’ve written for local newspapers, online sites, and my own blog. And sometimes it’s very easy. I get to relate about events that have happened, not something I have to make up and think out. And voicing my opinion is great. When I read a great book or see a great movie, there’s nothing better then sharing it with the world. And believe me, writing a rant about something terrible is the BEST way to get all the disappointment out. But if you write or blog, then you have to go through a lot of red tape. Your details, your facts, even your pictures if you have them, all have to be approved. And if you get things wrong, then you look like a fool.
Fiction’s not like that. The only one that gets to decide how the story goes is you. And you can do anything. You can go to space, to a land filled with monsers, make the Boogeyman real, or just tell a little story about a small town. Nothing’s off limits.
Writing is a career everyone asks questions about. They want to know what you’re going to write about. They want to you how you plan to support yourself. They want to know everything you know or are finding out about the process or how publishing works. But most of all, they ask one question- Why do you want to write?
For me, it’s simple. I don’t have a grand design to be looked at as the next great American writer. I don’t expect people to think of in twenty years as the new Tolkien or Asimov or other great fantasy/sci-fi writer. When I sat down and seriously began to write The Lightrider Journals, being self-sufficent on writing and getting some credibility was on my mind. But mainly, I was just eager to start creating my own fantasy world, and using it to talk about what matters to me.
It’s that last one that really matters. No matter what it is, everyone wants to do something they like for a living. But if you’re a writer, then you cannot just focus on the act of writing, or the potential rewards. Let’s be honest, everyone knows writing is not a guarantee and plenty of people have to balance it with another job just to stay afloat. And while the love of writing may be enough to sustain you through that, be able to write and having something to write are completely different things. Beyond anything else, you have to look at whatever you have and think, KNOW, that it’s something that needs to be told. And that when you put it down, that whether people agree with you or not, that it’s something that said what you needed it to say.